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Archive for December 2012

Canadian WWI Book Finally Available in Canada

I am pleased to announce that this holiday season Amazon.com (USA) finally made Kindle books available to our great neighbor to the north, Canada, at www.amazon.ca

This was a frustratingly long time in coming and I was watching it fairly closely.  I have a book about Canada's participation in WWI that has sold well on the Sony, Kobo and itunes Canadian sites but Amazon.ca was the lone hold out.

So to my Canadian visitors follow the specific Canada / Amazon link below to find out more about the book and purchase it in your own great country if you so choose. Happy Holidays

How Canada Won The Great War @ Amazon Canada
Thursday
Posted by Robert Child

DVD Review of America and the Civil War


I’ve seen a lot of documentaries about the Civil War and to be honest, some just rehash information and visuals from previous programs. America and the Civil War collects five programs that avoid that fate, as each provides an in depth, insightful look at a unique element of the conflict

From: Blue Ray Authority (4 1/2 Stars)
America’s Civil War is a landmark in our nation’s history, so it is no surprise that countless documentaries have been created about every facet of the conflict. In this 2 disc set from the PBS Explorer Collection, you’ll find five programs that look into specific elements of the Civil War in great detail. Gettysburg: The Boys in Blue & Gray (written and directed by Robert Child) gives an in depth look at the Battle of Gettysburg, from a personal perspective. John Brown’s Holy War deals with the controversial actions of John Brown, including how he was viewed at the time and in the modern era. Lincoln’s Secret Weapon tells the story of the U.S.S. Monitor, a key edge in the war and revisits the ship in the present, as recovery efforts are undertaken. The Massachusetts 54th Colored Infantry reveals the true story behind the regiment portrayed in the film Glory, with a wealth of archival photos to help bring the story to life. Reconstruction: The Second Civil War deals with the trials & tribulations the nation faced as it tried to rebuild after the epic conflict. This is an excellent look at the impacts the Civil War left in it’s wake.


I’ve seen a lot of documentaries about the Civil War and to be honest, some just rehash information and visuals from previous programs. America and the Civil War collects five programs that avoid that fate, as each provides an in depth, insightful look at a unique element of the conflict. These topics have been covered in other documentaries, but not with this level of attention and detail, so history buffs should be quite pleased. I found the Reconstruction program to be the highlight, since the fallout of the war isn’t often dealt with in this extensive fashion. The John Brown program is also of high interest, with a focus on how history has looked back on his actions. But all five offered the kind of detailed, polished presentations you’d expect from the acclaimed sources like American Experience and Nova. With almost seven hours of content on tap, America and the Civil War offers a great value that history buffs won’t want to miss.

Some episodes are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, while others are shown in full frame. In either case, the episodes are always shown in their intended format, so no concerns there. These programs looks good, about what you’d expect from a non-HD broadcast. The images are clean and sharp, with no digital errors or other concerns present. There is some variance in terms of source, so some elements look better than others, but that’s to be expected with documentaries. Overall, these programs looks good and fans should be satisfied.

Some programs feature a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, while others offer a stereo presentation. These kind of programs don’t need expansive audio, so the sound design is simple, but effective. The narration and interview dialogue tends to be the focus, so vocals are clean and easy to understand. The rest of the audio takes a backseat, but still sounds fine. So not much else we could want from this type of material.  The programs also support English subtitles.
Wednesday
Posted by Robert Child

Minecraft - The Future of Video is Now


And a child would lead them...

Anyone who has young boys knows that there is a phenomenon happening on Youtube and gaming that in my view is rewriting the  rules of content production and delivery. My boys Josh, 9 and Jamie, 7 are Youtube addicts but they are not watching cats play piano or anything like that. They are addicted to a series of videos produced as far as I can tell by a couple of guys in their basement. What these guys do is narrate their game play on a game called Minecraft. Josh and Jamie don't actually have the game they just watch these two guys play narrate,  joke and sometimes swear. I had a talk with my boys about that when I heard it.

They no longer watch television unless they use the Youtube app on my Samsung to watch Minecraft on the big screen. One day I thought I am going to sit down with my guys and find out what this is all about. Within about two minutes I was bored silly but that's not the point. The point is these video are getting hundreds of thousands of hits and they are redefining what we consider to be "entertainment".

And this entertainment is happening online and growing right under our collective noses. Why bother any more jumping through flaming hoops to get a movie made. Just find an audience online and deliver them what they want - production values be damned.

Now this of course has been coming for a very long time and I believe we have reached the tipping point with online video consumption. DVDs died a very sudden death in 2008 and they ain't coming back. I could see that in the royalties payments for my films they sank like a stone. And even my newer films and the one that is getting the most notice and publicity, The Wereth Eleven, has not moved the units it could have ten years, even five years ago. No we are definitely in the streaming age and thank goodness.

Watching a DVD disc in my house has become a frustrating ordeal. First you will find the empty box and then you will locate the heavily scratched silver disc under the couch and hope you can clean it enough to play. Most times it won't.

Cable is for all intent and purposes is dead. It is cheaply produced content and unfortunately disposable. This is to be expected as the audience has shrunk drastically. The ad revenue is simply not there to support producing the content/ Streaming, watching Minecraft and other gameplay on Youtube this is what is growing and this is where the future is now. In fact is probably already old news.

If you want to explore more Minecraft content I recommend checking out The Top 15+ Minecraft Mods over at Lyncconf.




Friday
Posted by Robert Child

A PBS Civil War DVD Collection for the Holidays

I would like to alert all Civil War enthusiasts to a 2 Disc, Civil War DVD box set that PBS just released which is a perfect gift for the holidays, America And The Civil War. My, Gettysburg The Boys in Blue and Gray, film heads the collection of five signature films from PBS's top series' NOVA and American Experience.
“There is no doubt in our minds that Gettysburg The Boys in Blue and Gray is one of the finest programs we have seen about the Civil War. The music accompanying the film is simply incredible and adds a great finishing touch to what is an already compelling film.”
- Steven Thum and Elaine Larson, South Dakota Public Broadcasting
 If you are going to get just one DVD for the Civil War lover in your life this Christmas this collection would be it. It features over 450 minutes of award winning program material. Note the details below.

Programs include...

Disc 1 (227')
Gettysburg: The Boys in Blue & Gray - Discover the sweeping epic story of the Battle of Gettysburg, as experienced by the soldiers who were there.

American Experience: John Brown's Holy War - Martyr, madman, and murderer, John Brown was as controversial and misunderstood in the mid-1800s as he is today.

NOVA: Lincoln's Secret Weapon - The Union's USS Monitor was a decisive factor in the Civil War. Now, join a team of Navy divers as they attempt to recover the priceless artifacts.

Disc 2 (231')
American Experience: The Massachusetts 54th Colored Infantry - The historical narratives and archival photos in this fascinating documentary reveal the real story of the heroic African American regiment dramatized in the movie Glory.

America Experience: Reconstruction: The Second Civil War - Spanning the years from 1863 to 1877, this dramatic mini-series recounts the tumultuous post-Civil War years, as America struggled to rebuild.

This DVD features subtitles in English (SDH) Purchase at shopPBS.com
Wednesday
Posted by Robert Child

DVD Review: USS Franklin: Honor Restored


"The story of Big Ben and what became known as The Big Ben 704 Club is one that transcends anything out of Hollywood!"
"There have been many documentaries and books written about the USS Franklin, but this is by far the best one I have encountered."

The following review appeared on Blogger New Network November 28, 2012  


Directed by Robert Child
From Blogger New Network: (Simon Barrett)
"I have to start this review with a gripe! The USS Franklin has always been an honorable vessel, at no point did it need to prove it’s honor! The USS Franklin is a story that alas most people, particularly young people have never heard of! I couldn’t wait to watch this DVD. What angle would the film makers take? However before I discuss the DVD, let me give you a very brief introduction to the story. That well known repository of information, Wikipedia has this to say about the USS Franklin:

The USS Franklin (CV/CVA/CVS-13, AVT-8), nicknamed “Big Ben,” was one of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers built during World War II for the United States Navy, and the fifth US Navy ship to bear the name. Commissioned in January 1944, she served in several campaigns in the Pacific Theater of Operations, earning four battle stars. She was badly damaged by a Japanese air attack in March 1945, with the loss of over 800 of her crew, becoming the most heavily damaged United States carrier to survive the war. Movie footage of the actual attack was included in the 1949 film Task Force starring Gary Cooper.
While I might grudgingly agree with the broad definition, I will fight tooth and nail that the story is far larger. The new DVD release from Janson Media, USS Franklin: Honor Restored is a must watch. This documentary is a little different from most. I have a friend involved in the publishing business, he uses the term ‘living history’. He only publishes books written by people that had a firsthand knowledge of an event. Obviously the film makers behind this DVD share those same convictions. USS Franklin: Honor Restored is a superb marriage of vintage footage and modern interviews with some of the seamen who lived through the gruesome events of March 1945.



 There have been many documentaries and books written about the USS Franklin, but this is by far the best one I have encountered. The story of Big Ben as the Franklin was nicknamed is a contentious one. At the time, and indeed decades later ‘finger pointing’ goes on as to exactly what went wrong. How could a single Japanese dive bomber cripple a ‘state of the art’ Aircraft Carrier? Some argue the fault was in the failure to sound General Quarters when radar picked up the intruder. Had they done so, they might have been able to get most of the fuel heavy planes of the flight deck, thus minimizing the effect of the Japanese dive bomber. There are many twists and turns in the Big Ben story. One of the strangest being sailors accused of ‘desertion’ because they jumped into the cold ocean water to avoid almost certain death from the Fireball that had engulfed the deck. USS Franklin: Honor Restored is a very unique piece of work. Yes, I am a fan of History, but this DVD goes far beyond just appealing to history buffs. The story of Big Ben and what became known as The Big Ben 704 Club is one that transcends anything out of Hollywood!" - Simon Barrett

Read Further about USS Franklin: Honor Restored on this Blog:

Honor Restored Debuts on Hulu
The Captain Who Court Marshaled His Crew
Robert Child Named Honorary Crew Member USS Franklin
Dale Dye Completes Narration for Franklin Film
Posted by Robert Child

New Review of The Wereth Eleven

Written and Directed by Robert Child
A new review of The Wereth Eleven was released yesterday on Blogger News Network. (see below)


"If you are interested in history, this is without a doubt one of the finest documentaries about a little known, or understood part of World War II."


Blogger News Network 12/3/12 by Simon Barrett.
"World War II has spawned thousands of books and movies. Many of which are disturbing. How can man be so cruel to his fellow man? Most of these books and movies tend to look at the big picture, famous battles for example. Many of these works quote staggering statistics about the dead and wounded. But the numbers are so large that it is often difficult to comprehend. What does 4 million look like? What does 1 million look like? To most people these numbers are hard to visualize.
I prefer numbers that I can understand. The Wereth Eleven refers to eleven men that needlessly were slaughtered by Hitler’s Waffen SS near Wereth Belgium. It was not about who they were, but what they were. They were eleven men of African-American descent.


Although I previously stated that big numbers were hard to deal with, I have to use one. When the US entered World War II there was a need for man power. Over a million men of African-American descent were conscripted into the battle. But one has to understand that the America of the 1940’s was a far different place. Segregation was the name of the game, integration was not to happen for years. As a consequence the African-American soldiers were put into their own units. Maybe the most famous of which are the Tuskegee Airmen. Less celebrated was the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion.

There are few members of the 333rd still alive, the Filmmakers did however track down the now 90 year old Staff Sargent George Shomo. His comments are both thought provoking and deeply disturbing. Hitler’s Third Reich viewed people of African origin as “Monkeys, less than Monkeys”.  He also goes on to explain some of the friction even with the US hierarchy prior to his deployment to the European theater. I will not tell the story here, it is better that the viewer discover it for themselves. It is better that your hear it from George rather than me.
The Wereth Eleven is a very sad story. The setting is the huge conflict known as The Battle Of The Bulge. But the story is far more complex than a mere fire fight. The Wereth Eleven story is so unique that in Wereth, Belgium there exists a memorial.
If you are interested in history, this is without doubt one of the finest documentaries about a little known, or understood part of both World War II and our heritage." - Simon Barrett.
Tuesday
Posted by Robert Child

Canada's Last 100 Days of WWI in Color

A few years ago I had the good fortune to be asked to helm a project in Canada called Dominion Day. I knew very little about Canadian military history but dove right in. With the incredible research that had been done by John Wood on the team I was given a binder at least four inches thick and I studied it like a fiend. The material was meticulously put together and I learned the story of how, General Sir Arthur Currie, rose from obscurity to command the most powerful fighting force on the western front, The Canadian Corp.
WWI became real to me and not some distant out of focus story that happened, "over there" in the very distant past. The stories I read were filled with emotion and very real to me and for the film I wanted to make it as vivid to viewers as possible. One of the creative decisions I made was to use, as part of the visual look, colorized stills of iconic scenes. We hired perhaps the best Photoshop® designer in the country and he went to work. He studied the fabrics used, the paint colors on tanks, flags, wall paper and just about everything else. Once he delivered his first colored WWI photo it hit me hard - suddenly the people had life... the days had sun, the grass was green - the story was up close and personal.

The production unfortunately decided to go off in a different creative direction as happens with projects and the stills were never used or seen...until now. I have held onto these images as I thought them absolutely stunning and I now believe they should be shared with the world. I just released a book based on the script I wrote for the Dominion Day film called, How Canada Won The Great War and these photos are in sequence and follow that story. My favorite photo is the last one in the series and when you see it you'll know why. I hope you enjoy these images and I can say with confidence this is the only place in the world and on the web you will see them. Best wishes and prepare to be transported back in time.

Sunday
Posted by Robert Child

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