Sunday, March 30, 2008

If there's one thing that can't be rushed...

I discovered something on Friday, much to my chagrin. Video, it would seem - yes, even YouTube videos - simply cannot be rushed. We were due to announce the winners of the FXhome VideoWrap competition, the selection process of which had taken a little longer than expected due to the excellent calibre of the finalists. After we had selected the overall winner and runners-up, I put together a spiffy article with mini-reviews of each with which I was perfectly happy.

Then it hit me. This had been, primarily, a YouTube competition, announced and managed through that distinctly low-fi phenomenon. We really, really needed to announce the winners through a YouTube video, not just a well-written news piece on our site.

In an attempt to make the announcement video interesting I unwisely opted for the 'throw everything in there' approach, and ended up with a bit of a mash-up involving a greenscreen, a greenscreen suit, a floating Holly-style head and wavy, dis-embodied arms, not to mention some slightly ropey motion graphics.

Needless to say, I wasn't overly happy with it, but that's the way these things go sometimes. It's a shame, as a lot of people that entered the competition clearly put loads of effort in, so I hope they don't feel we skimped on the announcement. Still, the decent prizes hopefully offset that.

Next time we'll make sure to put together an astounding announcement video that will amaze everybody. YouTube competitions are remarkably good fun, we've all decided.

Nothing like hundreds of people around the world watching you prat about. :)

p.s. In other news, lots of hugely exciting things going on at FXhome at the moment. Of course, I can't actually say anything about them yet due to contracty things....but soon, soon!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Orbital 2008

We just attended our first convention! Or 'con' as everybody calls them, which was at first slightly worrying. On Friday we jumped in the car (after completing Leiali's Integral Cleaning Regime, that is) and headed off for a lovely long weekend break at....Heathrow. Not exactly the number one choice of holiday destination, but thems the breaks.

The drive down was surprisingly trouble-free given the Bank Holiday weekend (I was continuously expecting a gargantuan traffic jam to rear its head, and with every passing minute that such a creature failed to appear I become increasingly convinced that it was simply biding its time) and we arrived at the Radisson Edwardian hotel in good time - just in time, in fact, to get completely lost in its labyrinthine corridors, occasionally resembling a well-lit Shelob's Lair (look: a fantasy reference!).

After checking in (after locating reception) we carefully consulted our maps and started to discern a kind of reason within the architectural madness. Leiali became instantly excited when she spotted Neil Gaiman lurking in a room, mostly disguised by a slatted blind but clearly given away by his big, Gaimanish hair that really refuses to be hidden.

And thus commenced the panels. These usually took the form of about 4 people seated behind a desk talking at the overly-nerdy audience, before opening the debate to the floor. Almost all the panels were excellent, with particular highlights focusing on 'politics in young adult fiction', 'the use of mythology' and 'fantastical London'. Gaiman's solo talk and reading was also absolutely superb - he's a remarkably natural public speaker for someone that should, by all rights, be a quiet, bookish writery type.

Plus points:

+ Neil Gaiman & China MiƩville (both frighteningly clever)
+ Graham Sleight & Roz Kaveney
+ The Canadian author whose name escapes me, but who was spiffy
+ Excellent panels
+ Very well organised event
+ Unexpectedly bumping into: Nat from Canterbury, Nik from the sci-fi writing course and Leiali's old mate Jo
+ Leiali finally managing to track down the elusive Joe Abercrombie in the bar (of course), making up for a false positive the first night (another tall guy with a Himalayan nose)
+ Really, really friendly atmosphere
+ Easy drive there and back (despite all the snow!)
+ I'm feeling properly inspired to get on with my book again!

Negative points:

- Lots of super-nerds = bad smells, nose picking & eating and other unsavoury habits
- Bizarre temperature changes in every other room, which would have deeply concerned Egon Spengler
- The guy that wasn't Joe Abercrombie
- I want to be on the other side of the panel