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Party Time for Sky with HD

November 13th, 2009

Sky TV have gone all festive and are in bountiful spirits, giving their UK high definition customers a complimentary ticket to watch Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Angels & Demons and The Hangover on Sky Box Office HD in their homes the same week that the films are being released on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK.

As part of the Sky+HD Party campaign, Sky hope for customers to share the Sky+HD experience with friends and family. To help the party give customers the best experience, Sky are offering a complimentary Sky Box Office HD movie (worth £3.91) and a £10 Marks & Spencer’s voucher. Now that’s just not any voucher, that’s an M&S voucher (said with a seductive commercial voice).

Sky+HD Party

Sky+HD Party

So are we all ‘HD Ready’?

HD services are already on-air in some parts of the world and they are about to be launched across the UK. To view HD you need a high definition display with HDMI or DVI connectivity, and there is an industry ‘kite mark’ to show whether a particular display is ready for high definition broadcasts.

High Definition TV (HD) is part of the latest digital revolution. HD television brings cinema quality into the home with greater picture quality and sharper images. Like 3D promises (look to the 30th Oct blog entry), there is the hope that such advancements produce a more colourful, exciting and immersive experience when watching television and films.

Sky HD

Sky HD

Standard definition digital TV displays a picture consisting of 720 by 576 pixels. This means the screen is made up of slightly less than half a million points of light.

High definition can display a picture of 1920 by 1080 pixels – well over 2 million – which adds clarity to scenes never before possible with either the old analogue system or standard definition digital.

Large television companies such as the BBC, Virgin, FX, ESPN and the National Geographic Channel have already launched themselves in high definition, magnifying the vibrant colour and quality of such events as the NFL, NHL, NBA, and many more American acronyms that are too tiresome to type. The National Geographic Channel – or NGC – has aired it’s HD content to great success: Alien Worlds, Earth Shocks, Alaska’s Fishing Wars and Inside Nature’s Giants – where a team of experts examine the nauseating anatomy – in full – of an elephant, crocodile and a giraffe, there’s even a 55-tonne whale.

Pixel Value Comparison

Pixel Value Comparison

ESPN HD soon launches on Sky+HD, with the service now offering customer’s access to up to 35 HD channels. That’s a lot of high definition sport! You can see them sweat, up close and in detail.

The Sky+HD Party offer (http://sky.com/hdparty/) is subject to availability and limited to the first 10,000 parties.

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Posted in: The Weekly Wizard

A Hollywood-sized Row

November 6th, 2009

There is a storm brewing in Iver Heath, a peaceful suburb on the borders of West London. Enough intrigue to create a film.

The proposals to expand Pinewood Studios onto a 100-acre site in the Green Belt in Iver Heath have understandably generated substantial local opposition. The Buckinghamshire studios – nearly 75 years old – have produced hundreds of films, most famously, the James Bond franchise. Hollywood routinely uses the studios and this year they have hosted the final two Harry Potter films, a new version of Gulliver’s Travels and many lavish productions. Compare the Market are even filming their new CGI meerkat advert here (sorry folks, he’s not a real meerkat!).

Pinewood World.

Pinewood World.

Project Pinewood, as it is known, will consist of a new working and living community for the creative industry. Permanent lots will replicate European and American locations, including a Parisian square, a Venetian canal and Amsterdam, San Francisco, Berlin, Chicago and Brooklyn vistas. With 1,400 homes on the set, the project has been called a vibrant live-work “creative hub”. The problem is that locals in the South Buckingham District don’t agree.

Dominic Grieve, MP, says, “The proposals are entirely contrary to the local plan for South Bucks district and the national policy for the Green Belt.” The Group Director of Corporate Affairs, Andrew Smith – who has the Bond theme as his mobile ring tone (The Guardian) – has responded that such expansion will create up to 630 full-time jobs, increasing to 960 by 2022. Up to 550 additional jobs could also be created during the construction period.

Project Pinewood.

Project Pinewood.

The expansion is set to include a new Screen Crafts Academy, offering training in the skills required by screen industries, such as carpentry, and wig and model making. The Academy will be run by the National Film and Television School, in conjunction with Skillset.

Locals are not happy at all, believing that the entire proposal is a scam to build houses on precious Green Belt land. Ultimately, the government could be called in and a decision will have to be made.

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Posted in: The Weekly Wizard