Friday, December 31, 2010
1. Anything Beige. No beige or chocolate brown suits, shirts, undies, ties or hats. OK, sometimes when adhering to wardrobe requirements, I am required to don the camel chinos (can you believe it?? Chinos!!). But fashionable as beige might be...it's not for me. On that note, brown curtains, brown lounge suites and brown cushions are also off-limits.
2. Lycra Shorts. Perhaps in my previous cycling youth I did indulge in the comfort these afforded on longer city treks, but no more when heading for the wrong side of 40. If you enjoy the figure of a moderate athlete and undertake running, jumping and skipping on a regular basis, then go for it. That's legitimate.
3. Cutting Edge Fashion. At one point, I was once described as the Yves Saint Laurent of the production department at Channel Nine in Sydney, but that was way back in the 80's, and we all know what fashion was like back then. Today, I doubt if I could pull-off a look like this, waltzing down Norton Street Leichhardt, without scoring a Pizza in my face or a Tiramasu lobbed at my back. Perhaps these guys could.
4. Footy Jersey. Yes I do have pride in my nation's sporting achievements in whatever code, but wearing one of these just looks ridiculous on me. And please, don't ever wear one at christenings, weddings or regular Sunday church services. If co-ordinated, you might be able to get away with it at a funeral if the rest of the team is honouring a one-eyed fan. But certainly fly the colours at any sporting event where the Aussie's are sure to prevail.
9. Bluetooth headset when not on the phone
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
My profile of Julian Assange as broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 can be heard here:
Copyright RTÉ Radio Ireland 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
With a combined total of 18 grand slam titles between them, John McEnroe, Mats Wilander, Goran Ivanisevic, and Australia's own two Pat's, Rafter and Cash, are all making an appearance. Held at Sydney Olympic Park from November 11-14, the tournament will feature classic rematches of former Grand Slam tussles, in a party-like atmosphere never before seen at tennis in Australia.
What makes this competition different? To be eligible to compete on the ATP Champions Tour, players must have been either a World No. 1 during their competitive playing careers, a Grand Slam singles finalist, or a singles player in a victorious Davis Cup team; and they should have retired from the ATP circuit. The event can also invite two players of its choice to take wild cards.
The round robin tournament splits players into two groups over the first three days, with a finals day on Sunday featuring all eight players in action, with the winner of each group playing for the Champions Downunder - Sydney title. Players will be vying for vital points to be crowned year end champion at London’s Royal Albert Hall in December.
The event is taking place at the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre, home to the Medibank International each year, and this Champions Downunder event will pre-empt Australia's Summer of Tennis, culminating in the Australian Open in Melbourne.
For tickets, head to Ticketek. Weekend matches will be covered by Foxsports in Australia.
I'll be at the Champions Downunder event, making venue announcements and doing some MC work as well.
See you there.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Kristian said the doctors first thought he may have had Deep Vein Thrombosis from a flight, but a sign of lesions on his liver led to a full scan. They found cancer all over his liver that had spread from a primary tumour in his bowel.
Please give generously to the Cancer Council, which Kristian - who is self-employed - says helps with his finances as well as cancer research.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Irrespective of whoever governs, it stands true to say that this election describes the Australian public as either:
- hotly torn between being comrade lefties or conservative beige cardigan wearers; or
- the two parties are so similar in their politics, it takes little for a voter to step across the line and swing their preference 'to the other side'.
We've seen some amazing 'firsts' this election. At 20 years of age, Wyatt Roy is the youngest ever member elected to the House of Representatives. We welcome Australia's first indigenous member to the House of Reps (we've seen others in the Senate previously) and finally, a greenie has coveted a seat downstairs as well, remarkably from an urban electorate.
This election of 2010 is crazy, disappointing, inspiring, remarkable and typically Australian all at the same time. In other countries (some in our region), elections are commonly marred by militia, bombings, standovers, and killings. In our country, parents push babies in their prams to school based polling booths, while volunteers cook-up sausage sizzles in the playground and the ladies auxiliary serve at the cake stall.
We're reminded of why this is so by 35 year old Grant Kirby and 21 year old Tomas Dale, the two Aussie soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan on polling day. It's because of such sacrifices made by them and those before them, that irrespective of the result, the sun always seems to shine on election day in Australia.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Elena Skordelli (pictured) has been charged by Nicosian police as being part of a conspiracy to kill Andy Hadjicostis. Skordelli stands accused along with her brother and other conspirators, for paying to have Andy ‘taken out’.
Media is a tough business in Cyprus, with on-air presenting saved for the nation’s elite. Skordelli, with heritage hailing from a peasant village, didn’t fit the mould. But after attending journalism school, and previously catching the eye of a rival channel’s executive, she landed the anchor role on the nation’s top TV bulletin.
But driven by ambition beyond her means, and a good dose of paranoia, Skordelli sold property inherited by both she and her brother and bought a 20% stake in her employer’s channel, a seat on the board and subsequent on-air job for life…or so she thought.
Enraged from knowing nothing of the bid before the deal was sealed, the channel’s owner Andy Hadjicostis immediately suspended Skordelli from her broadcasting role.
Police allege that Skordelli then hired two bumbling hitmen to tail Andy, a job that took longer than expected due to them initially following the wrong guy for weeks. Eventually hitting their mark, police identified the shooter as a known low-life, who easily rolled under questioning…with immunity and witness protection…and pending the extradition of another co-accused from Moldova, the trial is set to finally get underway later this year.
Of course, all the accused deny the charges.
It all seems like ambition gone wild. With respect to any hot-blooded Mediterranean cousins, surely there must be some predisposition for anyone to become so incensed that the only means of retribution is to kill. It’s a nice way of saying ‘mentally ill’, or perhaps ‘unstable’ to be kinder. At times when I’ve been seriously hot under the collar, I’ve fallen back on the “24 hour rule”. That is, let 24 hours go by, then weigh up the options and the strategies. By that time, a sense of perspective and sensibility has usually prevailed.
In this tragic instance however, no common sense was employed. I guess there never is with murder.
Friday, June 4, 2010
I was warned that the experience could be claustrophobic, but I found it not so. Initially, the basis of my character's face was formed by a prosthetic mask, moulded from soft foam and perhaps latex that fitted over the contours of my face like a glove. This was aligned to match my features, generously glued in place, that allowed for amazing reproduction of my facial expressions. Being restricted to the chair for so long was alleviated by the attention paid by various 'assistants' who ensured water, juice, tea and coffee was continuously offered (and consumed via a straw) as well as ample goodies in the form of gummy bears and other sweet treats.
With the basics in place, a break for lunch was called and the artists, along with their own 'beasts', retired for a time to congregate around the catering, made up of various wraps (yes, versions for vegetarians as well), soy crisps, wagon wheels and a cheese and fruit platter.
Back in the chair after lunch for the finishing touches by way of acrylic and grease paints, as well as the more traditional powder-puff.
Lunch had kicked-in, and as brushes left dabs and splodges on my new appearance during the ensuing hours, I certainly drifted off to the land of nod once or twice. I believe this is common in 'the business'. Finally, fitted with costume, it was time for shooting, which never does justice to the magic and skill of the artists. Talking and performing various emotions via facial expressions is key to creating 'realism' in any film's fantasy world, and this make-up technique allows for both in spades. The blending between the prosthetic pieces and my natural skin is the real skill, and truly results in a convincing on-screen character.
So amazing was the finish, I didn't want to have it removed. It was work of art, with me as the proud canvas. Eventually though, two artists spent time slowly removing the layers of paint and powder, carefully peeling back the mask and brushing on copious amounts of fluid to neutralize the glue. Bit by bit, reality returned albeit over another 90 minutes or so in that chair, as the fantasy was finally detached, and life returned to normality...until the next shoot...
Monday, April 19, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
Anyone who saw Garry’s presentations can understand why this larger than life man could draw a crowd. His delivery was engaging and enthralling, and safety on the water was one of his passions. Apart from his adventures in more than ten Sydney to Hobart Yacht races, he also represented his country in the Admirals Cup on more than one occasion.
But it was when he was swept overboard in Bass Strait in 1998 that he became a legend. In ten metre seas, and with rescue from the air impossible, he found himself amongst the waves without any flotation device and no EPIRB….in the middle of the night…ghastly! Six yachtsmen succumbed to the conditions that year, while 55 others were plucked from the water via helicopter.
But Garry always acknowledged the skill of his crewmates to turn the boat around and park it right by his side that night. The only safety device Garry had in his hand while in the water was a weatherproof Dolphin torch, which he used to signal his position to the crew. He later indicated that it saved his life, and the torch manufacturer subsequently built an entire marketing campaign around his survival. The relationship continued as Garry presented safety seminars and talks around the country up until his death this week.
Every year at the Sydney International Boat Show I would enjoy Garry’s daily talks, even though I had heard the story every day at the show for the past seven years. The look of wonder and astonishment on the faces of the audience as Garry unfolded his story of survival was always priceless. He would often be detained by the crowd for quite a while after his presentation as everyone was hungry to hear more from this amazing man.
We’ll all miss Garry terribly, and I’ll personally find it difficult to introduce the speakers at this year’s show knowing that Garry is not on the daily roster.
He leaves a hell of a hole to fill in all our hearts.
Garry's obituary in the Melbourne Age here:
Thursday, February 25, 2010
One of the greatest tales of epic seamanship is soon to be retraced as 4 virtual strangers set sail in April 2010, re-enacting the 4000 mile journey forced upon Captain Bligh when Fletcher Christian led the Mutiny of the Bounty 221 years ago:
This is better than reality TV. In a tiny boat, these intrepid seamen will sail from Tonga to Kupang, living off no more than what Bligh and his loyal crew had at the time (400 grams per day), using navigation technology dating back more than 2 centuries. No GPS, just sextants and octants, a sailor's almanac and whatever Bligh was able to scavenge moments before he was set adrift.
The team leader, Don McIntyre, is well known in Australia as an adventurer par excellence. A solo round-the-world yachtsman himself, he's spent a year alone surviving in the Antarctic and was once named Australian Geographic Adventurer of the Year. The Second in Command is a mere 18 years old, but has experience to boot. Mike Perham from the UK became the youngest person ever to sail round the world solo in 2009. They complement third crewman David Wilkinson, an ex-pat Brit now living in Hong Kong, with 53 year old American Peter Stier hailing from Minnesota.
The seven week expedition aboard the Boat – a 25ft long, 7ft wide, open wooden vessel – will subsequently see the crew face the same deprivations as the original crew that were cast adrift in the middle of the Pacific, including no luxuries such as torches or toilet paper. Will they survive the hunger? The elements? The fatigue? Each other?
But it's all for a good cause. Don and his crew are also attempting to raise over $250,000 for The Sheffield Institute Foundation for Motor Neurone Disease (SIF) which is building the world’s first research Institute into Motor Neurone Disease (MND), Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Don't get me wrong, I embrace new technology. But we all know that the recent 3D blockbusters are produced on new technology virtually built from the ground up, much like George Lucas did when first devising Star Wars effects for the big screen.
I can't wait to forward my first 3D corporate proposal. I believe the CEO will be very excited, until we start talking logistics and cost. "I thought you just run it through some software or something". Yeah well maybe James Cameron might eventually run his old flicks "through some type of software or something" sometime in the future for his 'special edition' release, but that ain't today.
I know that by the time this blog entry is trawled by Google, some propellerhead will be compiling epic code to create a simpler method of converting our flat 2D media into the new expected stereoscopic norm (and some of you perhaps already know something of that today). Remember how Fox converted all the old black and white films to colour? Don't be surprised to the see the ‘restored’ 3D version of Gone with the Wind coming soon.
So now we look towards double headed or twin chip single lens projectors, and mandatory synchronous dual digital video feeds as the 3D vision we run to the big 3D screen has to be encoded differently to the same 3D vision we run to the 3D LCD (or rather LE3D) because the technologies are incompatible. "Oh, we do have converters, but that adds at least another frame delay" And as for IMAG, imagine the processing power required to achieve relatively realistic 3D in real time. "And for those of you who missed the presentation, the 3D render will be available for viewing in the foyer after lunch."
But I jest. When I first saw an early new-era 3D representation in 2001 that didn't require glasses, I was mesmerised to the point of undergoing a spiritual experience (it was in Las Vegas, so other factors may have been at work). And while glasses are fine for home and the cinema, the real breakthrough will come when regular folk walking in the shopping mall view 3D as easily as they ignore regular digital signage today. We might not even call the display device a screen. It might be called “Special Projected Animated Message” (SPAM) or “Character Replicated Automated Projection” (CRAP). Either way, it will probably be more than 3D. It will simply be 'real'.
This development could be the start of the next major change in sociology. If our displays generate 'real' imagery, powered by a back-end PC equipped with artificial intelligence and data feeds via what we now call wi-fi, our whole social structure could change. History shows that entertainment systems like home cinema and gaming consoles put an end to regular social events at the local dance venue, fellowship meetings at the Masonic Hall and first dates at the rollerskating rink.
In the same way, the first vestiges of modern 3D herald another shift in what people expect and how they might interact with the rest of the world. No longer will we merely click on an icon to order a pizza or pay a bill. With 3D screens and technology, we might 'reach-in' to select our choice of toppings, or hand over 'cash' to the merchant virtually standing in our living room. And as for 'adult entertainment', those opportunities are inappropriate to discuss here, although that industry will probably lead the technology charge, as it often does.
Depending on how it's developed, these 3D representations could ultimately be projected to act as virtual fascias overlaid on our real world. The cost and effort put into shop fitting, theatrical designs and architecture could all come to a grinding halt. The environment we live in could become nothing but mammoth 3D displays through which we spend our regular lives. Staging and lighting for our clients’ next event could be 'constructed' entirely on a laptop at the office, and then merely 'applied' to the venue's '3D environment display system'. Much of this we already do today, but only ultimately in a 2D environment. Add technology that simulates the sensation of touch when stimulated by virtual 3D ‘textures’ and we’re well on the way to transforming our world. It would spell the end of many auxiliary construction industries. The new world millionaires will the "3D habitat designers".
And it all started with 3D movies. Viva la revolution!
(A version of this article originally appeared in AV Magazine)
An example of the broad accent would be that spoken by the late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin. The population that live in rural Australian often speak with an extreme version of this Broad accent, characterized by very little opening of the mouth when speaking. This is colloquially described as “not letting the flies in”.
Movie star Paul Hogan could originally be described at having a broad accent, although his exposure to other international accents has now turned his regular speaking voice towards being General. Due to the obvious characterization of the Broad accent, it is the one most likely to be mimicked by non-Australian actors attempting the accent. It’s derived from cockney English, transported to Australia with convicts from the late 1700’s, but little of the cockney twang remains today.
The General Accent is the most easy to understand, but can be the most difficult to master for the foreign actor
Of all non-Australian actors, those from New Zealand and surprisingly South Africa appear to master this accent the best. Spoken mainly in cities (with variations across the country) it often includes affectations from other countries, due to the high level of cultural assimilation in Australian cities. Of the variation between capital cities, most surround the emphasis on syllables and vowels. For example, the town ”Newcastle” could be pronounced either as “New-Carrs-ell” or “New-Cass-ell” depending on the speaker’s native town. The General accent is also commonly used by TV and radio journalists.
The Cultured accent can easily be mistaken for an educated British accent. Most Australian’s can achieve this accent by ‘rounding the vowels’ and concentrating on speaking ‘properly’. It’s the native voice of actors such as Geoffrey Rush and Sam Neill, although it is an acquired accent for Sam as he originally hails from New Zealand. Many Australian actors find work in the UK using this accent to play native British speakers. This Aussie author has been mistaken for a Brit in the UK itself when using this accent.
It’s difficult to phonetically describe or teach the Australian accent without one-on-one tuition and exercises. The teacher needs to identify the underlying accent of the non-speaker and then tailor a phonetic guide specifically for the student. This is not required in all cases of course, as some actors do have a ‘knack’ for accents. Listening, repetition, recording and listening again is another way of mastering the accent. This is the next best thing to immersion, which would require the actor to live among the native speakers for a longer period of time.
Speakers from North America usually nail the Aussie accent after taking the journey via a New Zealand accent. The New Zealand accent is similar, but with some significant vowel alterations, which an Australian can spot a mile off. As a brief example, a New Zealander would say “thes” instead of “this” and “eccent” instead of “accent”.
Generally, only Australians will identify a phony Australian accent. Non-Australian speakers can usually be convinced of the accent, unless they have spent some time Down Under. Your best Steve Irwin impersonation might work in most territories around the world, but for any Australian or New Zealand market work, a native speaker is a must.
A recent popular TV campaign in Australia for orange juice made a point of this. Ronn Moss from the Bold and the Beautiful is seen in the commercial dressed as a traditional Aussie horseman, touting the worst Australian accent ever. The tag on the commercial says “You can tell when it’s not Aussie”.
You can see the commercial here:
and learn more about what Ronn Moss thinks of his accent here:
Of course, using the Internet, a native Australian voice has never been easier to source. Many Australian voice-artists do significant international work at 24 hours notice from their own home studio (myself included).
Now, that ‘fair-dinkum’ Aussie voice for your kangaroo steak restaurant commercial is dead-set simple to source, mate.
(this article originally appeared at www.voices.com)