Did a cheeseburger really inspire the Millennium Falcon?

Millennium FalconWhen I was a teenager the story was going round that the design of Star Wars’ Millennium Falcon was inspired by a cheeseburger George Lucas was eating while thinking about how the space ships in his new movie should look.

He took the cheeseburger, stuck an olive on the side, and the Millennium Falcon was born… or at least the idea was.

I don’t know how these stories spread in a pre-Internet age but somehow that seemed to be the widely accepted understanding of how the Falcon came to be. But is it true? Michael Heilemann at Kitbashed has done some extensive research into the early stages of Star Wars’ design, and come up with an interesting alternative. He mentions the same story I heard, and then rapidly moves on to more believable versions of the Falcon’s origin story. Rather than replicate his material here, why not head on over and have a read of it on the Kitbashed site?

There’s no better source on the subject of design than one of the actual designers, and it’s great to see that Joe Johnston, visual effects pioneer and director, has given some of his own reflections into working on the design of Star Wars. You can find that on his Facebook page, and it both lends weight to some of Heilemann’s article and corrects a few things.

But back to the original question: did a cheeseburger really inspire the Millennium Falcon? Well, perhaps on a subconscious level, but not directly. It certainly doesn’t look like there was a lunch-time moment when the design crystallised. As with most things, the story is a little more complex than that.

Stampy’s Christmas Cake Caper

A few weeks ago I took my children Dundee to see the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Christmas Lecture… with one of their heroes: Stampy.

Who?

Stampy (Joseph Garrett) is one of the top-10 YouTube creators worldwide, posting “let’s play” videos and at least one Minecraft video per day.

The kids loved it, and I have to admit I quite enjoyed it too!

If you’re in the UK (sorry non-UK people) you can watch the video on the BBC iPlayer by going to http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p039030s/stampys-christmas-cake-caper

The iPlayer shows the afternoon show, but we were at the evening one. If you want to see the Let’s Play from the evening check out the video below.

All I’ll say is the recording doesn’t do the volume justice… a whole theatre full of screaming children can be a tad noisy!

Independence Day: Resurgence trailer now out

Independence Day (1996 – wow, was it really that long ago?) saw alien invaders successfully sent packing from Earth. But, if that happened, would the invaders just give up and go away?

What if they came back? And what if mankind had been using tech salvaged from the first invasion to make sure they were ready for when it happened?

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Independence Day: Resurgence.

The trailer has just been released, and the movie is scheduled to come out in the summer of 2016. Watch the trailer below, and don’t forget to tell us in the comments what you think!

Pixels: so bad it could be good?

Pixels the movieI’ll be honest; when I watched the trailer for Pixels I had to check the date to make sure it wasn’t April 1st. Even now, I’m not sure whether it’s going to be absolutely brilliant, absolutely terrible, or that strange mix of the two where a movie can be so bad it’s actually good.

Anyway, here’s the idea: Aliens misinterpret humanity’s attempts to contact them… seeing our video games not as entertainment but as a declaration of war. The result? They come to earth to attack us with the very games we played!

It looks like they’re all ’80s classics, which really appeals to my nostalgic side, but will it actually be any good? I guess there’s only one way to find out :)

Have a look at the trailer below and then hit the comments. Will you be watching this? Is it just a terrible idea? It is the best thing you’ve ever seen? Let us know what you think.

UK Legalises media backups

Radio

Image by The Rocketeer
Used under Creative Commons

Now this is interesting. While it’s been common practice for some time to “back up” your CDs, movies, and eBooks by ripping them or copying them, it has technically been an infringement of copyright to do so. A new law has come into force in the UK, though, that makes it legal to keep backups of media you own either on local storage or in the cloud.

There are caveats, as always: you cannot sell the original media and keep the backup, nor can you share your backup with friends or family. In short, it’s about you having a backup copy of something you still own.

You are also not allowed to record streamed media, even if you subscribe to the streaming service, or to “backup” rented media like games or DVDs. Interestingly, companies like Google, Amazon and Apple are not required to remove DRM so, while you are technically allowed to back your media up, the media providers don’t have to make it easy for you to do so.

Copyright protection is still in place; you can’t copy something you haven’t already bought, but there is perhaps an argument that media providers are going to lose out in cases where a person might have bought an iTunes track to listen to on their iPod, and a CD to listen to in the car. I think this new situation is eminently sensible though: we back up all sorts of important files, so it makes sense to be able to back up your music, videos, and other media.

For more info, check out this article on BBC News.

Do you keep copies of your music, videos, etc. in other formats? Or do you buy a separate copy for every listening or viewing platform you have? Why not share your thoughts in the comments?

Abslom Daak, I presume?

The new series of Doctor Who is forging ahead on the BBC at the moment. I have to say, I’m loving Peter Capaldi as an older, grumpier Doctor!

I also love the fact that the show’s lead writer and producer, Steven Moffat, is a Doctor Who fan and likes to weave references to old stories into the show. Well, on the trailer for next week’s episode, Time Heist, I picked up a reference to a character I’d completely forgotten about.

There’s a point in the trailer where someone is looking through what appears to be a list of criminals (they all have police numbers), and we very briefly see this guy:

Abslom Daak on screen

Recognise him? If you were a reader of the Doctor Who magazine in the 80s and early 90s you might recognise Abslom Daak, Dalek Killer! Daak was a criminal sentenced to life as a Dalek hunter and I loved the comic strips! Now, given that this is just a very brief appearance it’s more likely a nod to the fans than news of Daak actually appearing in a future episode, but it still made me smile.

So, two questions, do you remember Daak at all? And what other inter-story moments have you noticed in Doctor Who? References to previous locations? Characters you’d forgotten ever existed? Tell us in the comments below.

Find out more about Daak here and, if you’re in the UK, you can watch the Time Heist trailer on the BBC website.

LEGO Ghostbusters: The Movie (well, part of it)

So, after Monday’s post about the LEGO Ghostbusters Ecto1 set, there’s more :) Not actual sets this time, but still pretty good stuff.

MonsieurCaron of BrickFun.net has put together one of the early scenes from the movie… entirely in LEGO. Take a peek at the video below and enjoy.

If you like that, check out http://brickfun.net/ for more LEGO and Movie combos.

Ah Knightmare, how I’ve missed you

Remember Knightmare? If you’re around the same age as me (mid-30s) you might have watched this great TV show after school. It was sort of a video game that people physically played… or a visual version of those “choose your own adventure” books.

Well, for YouTube’s Geek Week, Knightmare has been remade. And not in some sort of reboot, completely-different-from-the-original way… it’s just a new episode with members of the original cast and some YouTube personalities.

It’s a real blast from the past, and I certainly enjoyed watching this all new episode after all this time. Check it out in the embedded video below:

What are you thinking? Happy memories? Or is it just terrible? Let us know in the comments.

Peter Capaldi is The Doctor

Peter CapaldiIf you like our Facebook page, you’ll already have seen a quick message about this: the identity of the twelfth Doctor has been revealed. Matt Smith is leaving the role and the next actor to take over the TARDIS is Peter Capaldi.

Peter is a tad older than the actors who have taken on the role of the Doctor in recent years – he’s 55 years old, the same age William Hartnell was when he was cast as the first Doctor. Personally, I’ve been wishing for an older Doctor for a while now. The trend has been for him to get younger with each regeneration but I think an older Doctor will bring some gravitas and, most likely, a change in tone for the show.

I’m looking forward to seeing Peter as the Doctor. How about you?

Here’s the full press release from the BBC:

In a special live broadcast, the BBC today announced that the role of Doctor Who would next be played by Peter Capaldi.

Amid much hype and speculation, Peter Capaldi was unveiled as the next Doctor during a special live television event on BBC ONE tonight.

Widely regarded as one of the biggest roles in British television, Capaldi will be the Twelfth Doctor and takes over from Matt Smith who leaves the show at Christmas.

Peter Capaldi says: “Being asked to play The Doctor is an amazing privilege. Like the Doctor himself I find myself in a state of utter terror and delight. I can’t wait to get started.”

Steven Moffat, lead writer and executive producer says : “It’s an incendiary combination: one of the most talented actors of his generation is about to play the best part on television. Peter Capaldi is in the TARDIS!”

Doctor Who companion, Jenna Coleman says “I’m so excited Peter Capaldi is the man taking on the challenge of becoming the Twelfth Doctor. With Steven’s writing and his talent I know we’ll be making an amazing show with an incredible incarnation of number 12. I can’t wait to start this new adventure!”

Charlotte Moore, Controller BBC One says : “Peter Capaldi has all the genius and versatility needed to take on the mantel of the great Time Lord and make the role his own. He’ll bring his own particular wisdom, charisma and wit to the Twelfth Doctor and take the show into an exciting new era.”

Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning says : “We started thinking Peter Capaldi might be the right person to take on this iconic part a few months ago. But it was only when he did a secret audition at Steven’s house under the cover of darkness that we knew we had our man. He’s an extraordinarily talented actor who can seemingly turn his hand to anything. We can’t wait to premiere his unique take on the Doctor on Christmas Day and we are sure he’s going to become one of the all-time classic Doctors.”

Doctor Who is produced by BBC Cymru Wales

BIOGRAPHY

Peter Capaldi is an award winning actor, film maker and lifelong Doctor Who fan.

He has enjoyed an illustrious career to date in both film and television.

Before securing the coveted role of the Twelfth Doctor, Peter first appeared in Doctor Who in 2008, playing Caecilius in the episode “The Fires of Pompeii”.

Peter grew up in Glasgow and attended the Glasgow School of Art, while studying there he secured his first breakthrough role in Local Hero (1983). He has also had roles in Dangerous Liaisons, The Crow Road, The Devil’s Whore and Torchwood: Children of Earth.

It is his role as Government spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in the BBC comedy series, The Thick of It , that has earned Peter both international and award success. In 2010 he won the BAFTA Television Award for Best Male Performance in a Comedy Role and the BPG Best Actor Award. In both 2010 and 2012, Peter won the British Comedy Award for Best TV Comedy Actor. A film spin-off from The Thick of It, entitled In the Loop, was released in 2009.

As well as appearing in front of the camera, Peter is an award winning film maker. In 1995, he won the Oscar for Best Short Film (Live Action) for Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life. He also wrote Soft Top, Hard Shoulder, which won the audience award at the London Film Festival, and wrote and directed Strictly Sinatra. Peter’s stage credits include Professor Marcus in The Ladykillers at the Liverpool Playhouse, which saw the play transfer to the Gielgud Theatre in London.

2013 has been a busy year for Peter who has been seen on screen in the film World War Z and in BBC Two drama series The Hour, for which he was BAFTA nominated. Not only will Peter film his first scenes for Doctor Who this Autumn, but he will appear in the forthcoming film The Fifth Estate and the Disney film Maleficent.

Peter is currently filming new BBC One drama series The Musketeers, in which he plays Cardinal Richelieu which will launch in early 2014.

Streaming services for the 4G user – Which is best?

This is a guest post by Paul Thompson. Paul is a gadget and technology writer from Manchester and can be found on his blog www.techitorleavit.co.uk.

Picture of a retro-style television setIf you’ve just got hold of one of the new 4G phone options that launched with of EE, you’ll probably be all of a quiver at what video streaming options you can now make use of when out and about – without the worry of buffering that often came with 3G.

Of course, there are free options to consider like YouTube and the Sony-owned Crackle – which are absolutely worth having anyway – but what about the major subscription services that are now vying for your attention? Which is best? How are they priced? And what kind of content can they offer?

LoveFilm Player
The truth is, despite being the one that has been in the market the longest; LoveFilm’s streaming option isn’t available on 4G smartphones. So, why include them in the list? Well, two reasons really. The first being that you can access the service through a 4G dongle on a laptop, plus you can download the app for Kindle Fire HD or iPad. The other reason is that, if LoveFilm wants to compete in this market, it simply has to address this so a smartphone app simply has to be in development. At £4.99 per month for a digital only subscription, it’s cheap. And while the user interface is often frustrating to use, it offers a brilliant selection of TV and films – especially for those who like older, stranger movies that they may not have heard of.

Netflix
Netflix arrived in the UK in early 2012 and was the first major challenger to the LoveFilm crown. It is much more mobile friendly, in that it can be downloaded to Android, Apple and Windows handsets. At a cost of £5.99 per month, it’s slightly dearer, but the way you navigate the player is much more intuitive than its rival and even connects nicely to Facebook. In terms of content, the range of films and TV shows is excellent, with a good mix of old and new stuff that might be ever so slightly more favourable to those with more mainstream tastes. Perhaps one of the greatest things is though; you could be out and about watching a film on your phone and then pick up exactly where you left off later when at home or at your desk on any enabled device.

Now TV
Backed by the buying power of Sky TV, which is usually able to bring content to its viewers well before anyone else, it should be no surprise that Now TV is the service that can boast the freshest options. The streaming package was only launched in summer 2012, so it’s definitely the new kid in town, but it could well prove popular. The user interface is nice and an app is available for Apple and selected Android smartphones, which is great news for the 4G crowd. However, it should be noted that as it stands, the selection is way more limited than LoveFilm and Netflix, plus there is the much more costly price to think about. You can currently sign up for a three-month special offer of £8.99, but after that you’ll see it double to £15.

All in all, Netflix has to be the overall winner, but with three big players in this market, 2013 could well see prices, content and application support change significantly.

Do you use a digital streaming service to watch television and films? If so, which one do you use, and why did you choose it? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.