Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Write-up for Show #2 and new format announcement

So, VCinema II has come and gone and I, for one, was generally pleased with the results. At one time, we were able to draw twenty people in, a most generous increase from the first show, which drew thirteen. More impressively, we were also able to draw in people outside of the Varied Celluloid and real-life circle of friends. In fact, blogger Micah of Reel Distraction stayed for pretty much the whole event and even wrote up a nice blurb about the whole affair:

When I got my first "real job," I bought Meet The Feebles and [Riki Oh] on VHS. Feebles because I'd read about it online, and [Riki Oh] because I knew it was the movie that Craig Kilborne used an excerpt from on The Daily Show. I was just getting into "weird" movies back then, and remember being constantly amazed by how over-the-top everything in this film was. I'd never seen anything like it before.

I'm not sure if I ever watching Riki-Oh a second time, so when I found out on twitter that Varied Celluloid ( was hosting an online chat/webcast of this film, I decided to check it out. It was the first time I'd watched a movie online with a crowd, and I had a blast watching the film while talking to other film geeks. They put on a show at the end of every month, and it's definitely worth checking out. Next month is Shogun Assassin.

Not much to say about the movie itself... it's patently ridiculous... but a lot of gruesome fun.
On the production side, Josh and I really upped the ante for this show; content was basically tripled across the board - there were three movie reviews - Tales From the Crypt, Vault of Horror, and Heroes of the East, a much longer introduction with thanks to a couple of podcasts who assisted with promotion (The Gentlemen's Guide to Midnite Cinema and Zombiegrrlz) and everything, several announcements, a contest, and live voting for the next show (of which Shogun Assassin was the winner, see VCinema event announcements for more details). This pre-show added up to over an hour whereas the first show was about half that long. In addition, I had to handle all "studio duties" (sound design, cuing up videos, and equipment changes) by myself so there was a lot for me to do in addition to talking. I'm sure the audience probably got a little bored of me talking while I fumbled around, my eyes darting around everywhere, trying to master the controls. If you don't think that can be disconcerting, try to have conversation with your parents while looking around everywhere except in their face. Most likely, they will suspect you're on the reefer.

During the show, I brought up having impromptu film events. VCinema, as you may already know, broadcasts once a month, on the last Sunday every month. After the first show, there was a such an immediate 'high' (not sure why this post has so many drug references in it) among the attendees that Josh and I immediately put thought into the next event. In addition, the Varied Celluloid forums started drawing more members and they became much more active. However, between shows, there is a lot of prepping, touching bases with people, promoting, posting information, movie watching, music and sound production, not mention real life to contend with. This being the case, a month between events is a long time for people to remember the sort of community that both VCinema and Varied Celluloid want to create: a strong active genre film community. In order to keep our community active then, I decided to do impromptu "hit and run" shows under the moniker of the "Varied Celluloid Secret Society" or VCSS. VCSS shows differ from the 'regular' ones as follows:

  1. VCSS shows will be announced only a few days before they occur to keep with their "impromptu" nature
  2. VCSS shows will only be announced on VCinema and Varied Celluloid 'fan' channels (Twitter, Facebook, Steam, and the VC forums) and word of mouth.
  3. VCSS shows will focus on more obscure films, genres, filmmakers, and personalities than the regular shows
  4. The movie shown will not be announced until the actual event. Clues of the title, however, will be given.
  5. Pre-movie segment will be shorter and there will be no music mix beforehand.
With that said, again as you may know, the first of these impromptu events is happening today (09/07/09 as of this writing) at 5pm Pacific/8pm Eastern so we hope to see you there. Feel free to leave comments on what you think of these impromptu events either here, on the forums, or message them to me personally.

Enjoy and thank you for supporting VCinema and Varied Celluloid.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A little about show #2 and the genesis of VCinema

First off, the second show, as many already know, has been decided. It's been dubbed "VCinema Part II: The VCinema-ing" and sub-tagged "THIS TIME...IT'S PERSONAL". I won't post details since they've already been tagged up on the Facebook fan page where, I'll assume, most of you are receiving this blog post from. The name of the show was swimming around in my head for the past couple of weeks and a take on "the reckoning". I liked it because it sounded like a bad ass sequel title (like, for example, Road House 2: The Reckoning). The tagline "This's personal" is taken completely from Jaws 2: The Revenge which basically rehashes the first film with a different shark.
But, hey, who's quibbling, the movie gave us this great tagline which has been recycled more times than one can count.

Anyway, I didn't want to spend too much time promoting the second show and, instead, start talking about how the whole VCinema project began. **Cue flashback music** One Thursday evening last American football season, I was stuck wanting to check out that evening's game. I don't remember who was playing but I just wanted to watch and, unfortunately, since I don't have cable since I very rarely watch TV, I was high and dry. Instead, I logged onto some football boards I knew about to get up to date scores and happenings when someone posted a link to what he described as "his buddy's feed".

Now, I had already known about live feeds before via blogging and video blogging so I assumed the feed would be some rabid fan ranting about how his team would make the playoffs. Instead, the link led to someone's feed of the game being recorded by his video camera directly to other viewers (about 130 in total) like me. What really surprised me was the picture and sound quality were pretty good, not HD quality of course but definitely good enough to see players' jersey names and numbers.

After watching the game, I became interested in checking out what other 'channels' were available. Clicking through other feeds, I saw that many were predictably 'down' (i.e. their owners weren't broadcasting) but a few were broadcasting anime, video gaming tips and speed runs, and the predictable blog ranters much as I described above. Since the feed page had a search option, I typed in 'horror' and one entry appeared. This feed apparently was started by a horror magazine or podcast whose name I didn't recognize. They appeared to be broadcasting old B-movies that were in the public domain. The public domain is where intellectual property (i.e. movies, songs) goes once the copyright has expired or somehow been compromised. Any property in the public domain is usable free of charge by the public. Coincidentally, the original 1968 version of "Night of the Living Dead", one of my favorite zombie films, was playing so I decided to watch the hour or so that was left. Unlike the earlier football broadcast I had watched, the picture and sound were nearly the same as if I had played a DVD of the movie on my computer. Apparently, instead of using a video camera to broadcast from a secondary screen, these owners were somehow broadcasting directly through a media source. At that point, I thought, "Wouldn't it be cool if someone had their own horror movie show?"


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What is this? The FAQ

This is a preliminary FAQ for the show. If there are any other questions you think might fit, comment and let us know.

What is Varied Celluloid?

Varied Celluloid (linked here) is a cult film fan site run by webmaster Josh (aka pantsman111). It qualifies as a "fan journalism" site which provides news, reviews, and discussion via message board about cult films (including, but not limited to, horror, exploitation, westerns, Eurocrime, martial arts/Asian, sci-fi, and art house).

What is VCinema?

VCinema (linked here) is a for-the-fans live movie show hosted by me, Coffin Jon, a longtime cult film fan and, by profession, teacher and library staff member. The 'back end' of the show is provided by Josh and me.

How can I contact VCinema or Varied Celluloid?

Varied Celluloid:

What is Livestream?

Livestream, our current feed provider, is not affiliated with Varied Celluloid or VCinema in any shape or form. They provide us with a service and some of the tools to allow broadcast of our show to the general audience. Information about their service can be found on their site (linked here).

What is the format of VCinema?

The VCinema screen is set up in conformity to Livestream's page format. The left side is the viewing screen with a lower side tool bar that has the following controls from left to right: power (turns off screen without shutting down chat), embed (provides HTML code to embed the screen on a web or social networking page), full-screen (allows viewing screen, and not chat, to go full-screen on your computer monitor), On-Air (turns red when feed is live, otherwise white; number indicates total number of viewers), On-Demand (opens on-demand video menu of pre-recorded videos), Mute (looks like a speaker icon; click to enable, click again to disable), volume up ('+'), volume down ('-'), and Menu (opens up submenu which contains several options described previously).

To "exit" the menu screen, click on the viewing window.

On the right side of the viewing screen is a standard text chat interface with options to change the color, bold, italicize, or underline your text. The far right of the chat interface shows the number and names of people in the chat room. You do not need to be a member of Livestream, Varied Celluloid, or VCinema to chat or watch the VCinema show. When you first start chatting you will be prompted to enter a username for the purpose of chatting.

Why isn't there voice chat?

Technologically speaking, voice chat can take up a lot of bandwidth which, in turn, can slow down the show. As well, several people chatting at once can be a headache to listeners so simultaneous voice chat will probably never be used in the show.

However, a 'call-in' segment, in which someone Skypes in or calls from a telephone, might be used in future shows. Stay tuned.

What are the contents of a VCinema show?

Show contents will change at any time but will usually include a short (30 minutes) pre-show with music and chat, a live hosted broadcast including film reviews, clips, contests, and/or games, then a full-length feature film.

Are there any restrictions about the show that I should know of?

VCinema shows should always be considered VC-17 (NC-17 ;) ) and participants should be over the age of 18 since visuals in movies shown can be graphically intense but tasteful -- we will never knowingly show pornography or real violence (unless it's a documentary). All movies and pre-recorded content is screened by me before broadcasting.

Technically, VCinema is an amateur broadcast controlled by regular people with jobs and lives and brought by less than technologically optimal means. Because of this, shows can be cancelled at any time and we can not guarantee the quality of broadcasts or any technical troubles caused by the result of technological limitations on your or our end; i.e. the show is meant to be taken 'as-is'. With that said, if you experience any problems during a broadcast, let someone know in the chat room and/or try refreshing your screen. Technical problems on the broadcasting end will be handled on my end.

If I miss a show, can I re-watch it?

No, sorry. Livestream provides very limited recording capabilities so no shows will be recorded for the time being.