Thursday, May 22, 2008

Obit: Ollie Johnston, 95, Disney Animator

Mr. Johnston, an animator who started with Walt Disney with "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937)(VHS 5200), was an "inbetween artist" who specialized in communicating emotion in characters with his use of movement nuances studied from real life. Media Services has Frank and Ollie (VHS 6404), a documentary about his work and friendship with his longtime colleague, Frank Thomas. Other videos in the Media Services collection on which Mr. Johnston contributed include:

Fantasia (1940) VHS 1429
Bambi (1940) DVD 3318
The Three Caballeros (1944) VHS 3296
Alice in Wonderland (1951) DVD 995

Obituary from The Economist

Friday, May 16, 2008

Selected New Acquisitions This Week

The films of Charles & Ray Eames - DVD 4281-4286
Viva la muerte! - DVD 4280
Billy liar - DVD 4270
Kumonosu jô=Throne of Blood - DVD 4268
Divorzio all'italiana=Divorce - Italian Style - DVD 4266
Overstay - DVD4264
Arakimentari - DVD 4260
Sherman's march - DVD 4255
Who gets to call it art? - DVD 4253
Sister Rose's passion - DVD 4249

More streaming video from the National Film Board: Aboriginal Perspectives

In their words:
"The Aboriginal Perspectives module contains 33 documentaries, a short fiction film, and 5 film clips. These productions do not represent the entirety of the films on Canada’s native peoples in the NFB collection, which comprises more than 700 such works. We did want it, however, to be a representative sample of the whole. The user will find films on many important aspects of Aboriginal culture and heritage, its diverse communities, and some of the major issues and significant moments in its history. These films, more than half of which were made by Aboriginal people, are the work of experienced filmmakers, such as Alanis Obomsawin and Gil Cardinal, and filmmakers in the early stages of their career, such as Elisapie Isaac and Bobby Kenuajuak. The selection covers more than 50 years of film production. All the films are available in both official languages, and 18 of them include described video to allow blind and visually impaired people to fully enjoy their content. In addition, 27 films are available with closed captioning for hearing impaired people."


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Streaming video highlight: National Film Board of Canada's Documentary Lens

In their words: "The purpose of Documentary Lens is to show how National Film Board documentaries have portrayed Canada and the world since the founding of the Film Board in 1939."

At present there are about 50 films available in their entirety, dated 1944-2004. Most (if not all) are under 30 minutes - on topics covering arts, politics, social issues, World War II propaganda, and more.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What you need to know about the digital television transition


At midnight on February 17, 2009, all full-power television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting in analog and switch to 100% digital broadcasting. The US Congress was sold on the digital broadcasting transition based on the providers' promises of a clearer picture, more programming options, and that it will free up airwaves for use by emergency responders. We'll have to wait and see how all that plays out.

In the meantime, consumers have a variety of options:

1. Keep your existing analog TV and purchase a TV converter box. A converter box plugs into your TV and will keep it working after Feb. 17, 2009

2. Connect to cable, satellite or other pay service. A TV connected to cable, satellite or other pay TV service will not require a TV converter box.

3. Purchase a television with a digital tuner.

Congress created the TV Converter Box Coupon Program for households wishing to keep using their analog TV sets after February 17, 2009. The Program allows U.S. households to obtain up to two coupons, each worth $40, that can be applied toward the cost of eligible converter boxes.

If you aren't sure if your TV has a digital tuner, check the owner's manual, the manufacturer's website, or check if your set has an input connection labeled “digital input” or “ATSC” (for Advanced Television Systems Committee, which is the DTV format).

The best source of information about the transition is probably the website cited above

Monday, May 05, 2008

Cool website of streaming documentaries:

This wonderful site currently has just over 100 documentaries on American roots cultures. It's a site loaded with classics including films by Les Blank, Tom Davenport, and Alan Lomax. It's indexed by film, filmmaker, region, subject, and featured individual. If you're interested in Dewey Balfa, for instance, you can quickly discover he's included in Les Blues de Balfa, Cajun Country, Cajun Visits: Visites Cajun, and Homemade American Music.

It's a site especially rich in blues and Appalachian music though there's much more. In addition to the films/videos, there are essays about the folk traditions and making of the films. There are also study and teaching guides, suggested readings, and links to related websites.

The creation of the site was spearheaded by Tom and Mimi Davenport in a coordinated effort with filmmakers, folklorists, web developers, and The University of North Carolina to preserve these works and provide greater exposure to them.