It has been some years since I put anything in this.

Even just logging into the admin, WordPress looks somewhat different and I am unsure what I will post forward… but I have some old stuff worth reposting and some new stories worth telling. So maybe it’s time to dust this thing off and try again.

Lets see what happens.

COW TV (2004 – Part 3)

Continued on from part 2.

So with free afternoons and a lot of grand ideas of helping on the production, I was thrown straight into helping. Cam was brilliant and was always telling me more about shooting for sequences, editing tips, and cut downs. Some of the earlier things I did were far too long and needed better editing, but this was also helped by better shooting plans.

I ended up shooting with Hamish for the Night and Day News segment quite a bit, and Hamish seemed to enjoy having someone to shoot for him that he didn’t have to direct much, that I could be expected to go off and shoot the content and cutaways needed outside of his pieces to camera and interviews. Otherwise being around during the early evening meant I was also asked to come shoot Flat Raids and other such events too, plus any other crazy things in and around the station for that evenings show. I also ended up doing the shooting for the Walk of Shame segment after a couple of months, and Cam gave me great feedback on the material I brought back. The experience there also led to me working on a few paid jobs for Channel 9 itself and eventually rolling into working on the News in a variety of ways.

On top of this I continued my studio shoots for Cow in the evenings too. More and more often I was doing handheld camera work and enjoying every moment of it. For the first few months I didn’t miss a single show, and so 5 nights a week I was there no matter what.

One night it snowed, and minimal crew came in. So Ivan and I built a fort out of the set materials.

One night it snowed, and minimal crew came in. Ivan and I built a fort, and most of what screened that night was highlights from the year so far.

Sun, Rain, or even snow. The first snow night was cold, and we went out and shot students being crazy in the sea level snowfall. Some of the out of town students had never seen snow that wasn’t on a mountain. It could only be called snow madness what we saw. The studio was so quiet that night that Ivan and I were the only crew for the two presenters, and we built a fort for the presenters to use. Aside from the snow content, we played recent highlights because little else had been shot. For some reason, other than the photos I have from the night, this sticks out as a clear early memory.

It wasn’t until probably late April before I missed any shows. The only one I did at first was a debating show for who knows what, and I still watched it from home. Around Easter I went back up to Wellington for the long weekend, missing the Tuesday night show. But after that for the rest of the year until just after mid July I didn’t again miss a single episode. I was hooked, and most of the time I was in on camera, on the studio floor, having a blast.

Me getting ready for a night of shooting sometime in early 2004. I don't look as thrilled as I normally was when we were on air.

Me getting ready for a night of shooting sometime in early 2004. I don’t look as thrilled as I normally was when we were on air.

Shoots out of the studio though were a blur after a while. I did some event at the Meridian Mall with Nathan Rarere being interviewed, numerous Night and Day stories with Hamish, more Walk of Shame’s including one on a particularly frosty morning with Ivan as my presenter after a major Rugby game between the All Blacks and British Lions. Music interview after music interview, usually with Craig Easson interviewing, flat raids with Rob Dixon, Who Dares Wins Beers with Jim Bush, plus sports interviews with whoever was there to do them. The Hyde Street Keg party (where I got hit with five month old rotten milk while filming, thanks to William Miller), 24 Book Sale coverage, New Zealand Idol coverage, talked to Politicians. We covered the Leith Bike Race, Jaffa Race, setup a Supermarket Trolley race and filmed it as an event, did milk challenges outside on the street by the studio live, filmed events at the Uni Games which was in Dunedin that year. Went to pubs and shot bands. But then also Lip Syncing and Air Guitar competitions at student pubs as well, and many many many more.

Rob Jackson gets hit in the face by a unexpected snowball during filming in the snow in 2004.

Rob Jackson gets hit in the face by a unexpected snowball during filming in the snow in 2004.

After Gwyneth Paltrow filmed a movie in Dunedin (the movie Sylvia) Hamish, Ivan, and I visited Corstorphine House, the most expensive accommodation in Dunedin, where she stayed. And compared it to a scummy student flat on Hyde Street. Hamish and Ivan did some inappropriate things in the Russian Room and Hamish jumped onto the beds, climbed into empty baths, and slid down stair railings. The owners weren’t impressed apparently.

One of the events we filmed at the Oriental Tavern (‘The Ori’) was a talent competition which introduced us to Callum Macdonald. Callum was studying Television and started to come into help on the show. From then on until just last year in 2013 he was a face you’d see around the station a lot.

We had guest try to pin the "tail on the honkey", in reference to a then recent event with Don Brash.

We had guest try to pin the “tail on the honkey”, in reference to a then recent event with Don Brash.

Studio shows weren’t slacking often either. From hallway jousting, cooking segments, setting up former CH9 news reader and TV3 reporter Shaun Summerfield (walking through an old CH9 new promo banner with his face on it), a ‘pin the tail on the honkey’ game (Don Brash inspired, pic above). We had bands play (including one punk band which overfilled the studio – probably should have got us in trouble on the weight and fire hazards no doubt), setup a Female Boxing bout between Sasha and Anna somehow, had Highlanders Cheerleaders in the studio (cheering for anything and everything on that episode), plus numerous other celeb guests and sports stars in and on as interviews between anything else Cam could get in each night. So many I could probably go on and on if I could just remember them all.

Craig Easson often did music interviews, like this one with some possibly well known guy... or whatever....

Craig Easson often did music interviews, like this one with some possibly well known guy… or whatever….

Sadly it couldn’t last forever, for both me and others. In around mid July I left for a couple of weeks back to Wellington, and out of some luck secured some paid contract work while I was away, it didn’t start for a month or so though. I returned to Dunedin in early August and continued to help on the show for a few more weeks until I was due to be back in Wellington for the job. At the same time Cam had also found other work outside of Dunedin and left as the Cow producer in early August. Matt took over now presenting and producing the show.

I can’t comment much on what happened after I left. The biggest highlight for the guys was probably a whole saga with presenter Rob Jackson’s flatmate calling up and playing random midi music frequently, being labeled the “Musicman” and then a Beastie Boys inspired Cow Squad thing trying to hunt him down. William Miller got in trouble for helping himself to a large amount of beer trying to secure an interview with a famous international rap star who visited Dunedin (he didn’t get the IV but the singer got the beer). The guys got on the final episode of the show Sportscafe being filmed in Dunedin and literally tore the set to pieces. There was probably much more again but I never saw much of it.

By the time I returned just before Christmas the year was well over, and because I had so much fun in 2004 I wanted to come back for the 2005 year. Little did I know just how different it would be.

To be continued…

COW TV (2004 – Part 2)

The poster for the show... "We're Back Violating Your Television"

The poster for the show… “We’re Back Violating Your Television”

Continued from part 1.

So I turned up on the following Monday evening to Channel 9. As I mentioned last time, the station is located in the Allied Press building – home of the Otago Daily Times. Allied is currently the only remaining independent newspaper company left in NZ, and had taken full ownership of Channel 9 after it faced financial problems in 2002. This meant that for most all of my time at the company, the station never spent money it didn’t have to. Regional television is done bare bones, smell of an oily rag most of the time… but this generally means the people that come out of working from it really do well with challenges. The station itself is on the top floor of the building, floor 3, and you either took the full set of stairs up or crammed yourself into what is likely to be the world smallest elevator.

Once you’re inside there is a reception area with no receptionist, just a TV showing the current on air material from the station and some couches. At the time I first arrived, the News team was in the front area with the sales people. The office behind that was the production managers, who at the start of 2004 was Dan Wright – who’d been there since 2001. Beside that a large office for the station manager, Keith Collins. Then two edit suites, one analogue tape-to-tape, used mostly by the news guys and a digital suite with two computers running Adobe Premiere.

The Channel 9 station logo and slogan, which used to be at the end of the main hallway.

The Channel 9 station logo and slogan, which used to be at the end of the main hallway.

Behind this area was the old CowTV room, then used for random storage. Beside that a tape store, and then beside that a large space that was the new Cow office… the “Cow hole” I believe I mentioned previously. The other areas in the floor included the studio space, and a moderately small control room with vision desk, three tape machines, Grass Valley switcher, sound desk, and a rack of broadcast equipment that should have probably had it’s own room but never did.

My intent was to do a great job being part of the studio crew, hopefully jump on a camera and show I felt confident as a camera operator, and show my enthusiasm for the work. When I arrived, I was instructed to help setup both the remaining pieces of the set not yet out and the camera equipment. The studio space was surprisingly not as big as I had expected, having not seen it when I originally visited. I’d seen plenty of COW and also the local news, and straight away remembered that things always generally look larger on camera. Half of the studio was taken up full time by the news desk, the other half was where every other production was made at the station. The split was made by two doors on either side – one which went out to the front offices, the other intro the control room. Of the half of the non news space, COW used up half of this space again for the set, and half or so (spilling slightly back into the news area) for a 3 camera setup for the hour of live content. The studio was probably only 4×8 meters square in total size.

My first notice aside from the studio of things was that, while it was still a hive of activity with a number of people around, there certainly wasn’t as many people as had been there the start of the previous week. There was also a few new faces that I didn’t recognize, some people from the meeting, and a few I did simply as they’d who’d been working on the show the last year or so – mostly presenters. Also floating around was Dan Wright, who was Channel 9’s production manager as I mentioned, who I’d never talked to until that point. I had a quick chat with him between setting stuff up, and found him quite an easy to talk to and laid back guy. He seemed to be good friends with some of the crew around, people who’d he’d obviously been working with the last few years.

Those people who’d been around previous years and Dan gave instructions, and so I listened and tried to do or otherwise copy what they were doing. I was spending most of my time setting up Camera One. This was going okay, until I managed to insert the external camera monitor cable into a different plug location. As the camera cables were bundled and already in (power supply, gen lock/picture and reference sets), the power was provided to both front and rear of the camera, and I’d already switched both on being told that was okay… and not knowing this would happen. And so this tripped an internal circuit breaker… meaning the camera was still powered on but nothing would seemingly function including sending out a picture.

As I was providing that feed already into the control room once the power was on, and they’d seen the picture short out… from the control room doorway came this pale dark haired character who proceed to yell at me, tell me I was very stupid, and that I should go home. He proceeded to turn everything off on the camera, flick a tiny hidden switch under the camera which reset the breaker, and then proceeded to finish setting up the camera… give me a glance, and then stomp out.

A voice cut across the room. “Don’t mind him, that’s just Wayne… he’s like that with all the new people.” I didn’t know him at all, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to but I was reassured that I should just carry on. Later I would get to know Wayne… and he was a real crack up. The first few months of 04 he was holding the station together and was under a lot of stress, little sleep, and long hours. He was seemingly difficult and when I had to work with him on actual projects I didn’t know how I would deal with him. In later years when I got to know him better, we’d joke around a lot and I counted on him a lot for helping me with his never ending technical know how. He’d later finally leave Channel 9 in 2006 and eventually moved to TV3 in Auckland, where from what I’ve been told he’s basically just become the same technical guru for them as he was for Channel 9.

Part of the Channel 9 control area. From left to right - Barry, Dan, and Wayne.

Part of the Channel 9 control area. From left to right – Barry, Dan, and Wayne.

Back to that first night though…. intending not to make anymore mistakes, I planned to moved on and just do what I could.

We found that the set of lights in the studio were numerous but old. They were all more or less locked into a general position but could all be turned around with the trusty lighting stick or by climbing up a ladder and positioning them. A call went out for people with lighting experience, and I put my hand up… along with another fellow. We ended up chatting and working out our respective “lighting history.” His name was Ivan Larsen, originally from Levin, and just moved to Dunedin to study medicine at Otago University.

Ivan had done a lot of lighting, sound and tech stuff mostly for school shows, and he had far more experience than I had while I was at film school. I’d done two days of studio work which mostly had us looking over lighting plans. The rest of my lighting experience was just from 3 point light setups for interviews, which was ironically good enough to help out because basically that’s more or less how we were lighting this set – aside from a giant fill light above the door to the control room.

Ivan Larsen on sound duties, looking like a filthy bad man.

Ivan Larsen on sound duties, looking like a filthy bad man.

Between us we went around adjusting lights, having presenters or other people sit in the seats, looking at getting it even, that it wasn’t too harsh or in eye-lines. After a half hour or so, a few placement adjustments, cutting some lights, and some gel/spun work – we’d got it sussed. By then more or less the rest of the studio was set, with mics and cameras all in place. I got to call for a camera position, #3 – one of the close ups. Cam called a meeting and we discussed stuff and did a little bit of rehearsal, probably one of the only ones we ever did that year, just so people could get a feel for the show.

The presenters were Matt and Sasha, both from the previous year. Matt was generally open and funny, Sasha was mostly quiet. As a combo onscreen it generally worked, for some odd reason… both talked fine, they were opposites in backgrounds and seemingly balanced it out. If Matt was over the top, then Sasha was the straight-man… or woman as it was. Two 2003 segment presenters, Jim Bush and Rob Dixon were also around, having been filming flat raids and other things during Orientation. They would be on and off the show during the year based on what they were doing outside the show.

The presenter audition night. Sasha is behind the Cow desk. Matt, in tan, Cam in blue. Tony on the ground getting a shot ready to come back to.

The presenter audition night. Sasha is behind the Cow desk. Matt, in tan, Cam in blue. Tony on the ground getting a shot ready to come back to.

Supporting them in doing the “Night and Day News” segment was Hamish Coleman-Ross, also another last year veteran. Although I think if Hamish was there that night at all, he wasn’t there for long. Hamish’s then girlfriend Victoria Rushton was probably also wasn’t, though later on she often did work on the sound desk. Barry Findley was directing, he’d been doing the show for a while, and was in almost every night to do this. I think William Miller, who was then this young kid was also around, he just wanted to help out and ended up in the control room most of the time (If he wasn’t put in a giant cow suit which had been made). And there was Tony Pratt, who was often the main camera 1 operator and who was on “handheld” for good chunks of the show. Tony and I would usually end up working together on a lot of studio shows, tag teaming the camera work around the static #2 wide cam. The rest of the guys running around were mostly friends of Cam’s who were involved in early shoots, including John Day who’d done heaps for Cam during Orientation – who I’d end up working with a few years later somewhere else entirely. He now does the Sports news for the Rock FM radio station morning show.

The other person that came in for camera in the early days was Harley Neville. Harley was well known for doing a segment in 2003 called ‘Cow’s Rear End’ and mostly was dumb and/or gross stunts that would have fit in with Jackass or similar. The story for why Harley got in trouble for this is better left for another post, but he wasn’t supposed to be allowed to make new content for the show… but Cam had somehow convinced Keith to allow him come work on the show floor at least.

Then as my memory is, I don’t remember much who else was there… and aside from glaring gaps – there was a simple reason probably. It turns out that the promotion of “work” there meant lots of people turned up, as I’d seen the previous week, but the drop off rate was quite high. Between people realizing it’s not at all paid, or could be a while before they’re going to get paid work, as well as students not really having time for it and realizing this, or the simple fact people can’t volunteer every day. This would later work to the advantage of anyone who stuck around – including my own – and was probably a bigger factor than me just doing ‘awesome work’.

The first show went off almost without a hitch. As the week went on I helped on a few small segments, but turned up for every show. By later in the week I got to do some handheld segments and shots, and felt like every day when I came in I was contributing to the show. By show 5 on the Friday, Hamish did a special on party pills mixed with alcohol, and I can still clearly remember getting an extreme close up of his eye which we cut to showing the effect you could see on his face as well as a “party” zone with a smoke machine and strobe light, that the entire cast and some of the other studio crew was in by the end of the night.

In studio the following weeks, later in March, we had a “be a cow presenter” comp, people had auditioned during Orientation and came in. Out of it the show got a new host in Anna Hegarty, who was already friends with some of the guys anyway including Cam, John, and others; and Rob Jackson. Rob lost the presenter challenge by a small margin but hung around to help on the show. Later on in the year Anna took off overseas, and so Rob filled in the presenter position he’d originally gone for.

Anna interviews a guy they found busking outside the Countdown supermarket.

Anna interviews a guy they found busking outside the Countdown supermarket.

I’d started an advertising design course at Aoraki Polytechnic, which was a 2 minute walk from Allied’s building, to up my graphic abilities. I’d done this as I’d found I’d enjoyed making graphics for edits the previous years, when most students were just using basic text in the films. My course normally finished mid-afternoons (and at lunch time once a week on Fridays) so within a few weeks in I started popping in after this time.

By doing so I began helping out on going out and shooting segments… and without knowing a new chapter began already…

To be continued once more…

COW TV (2004 – Part 1)

Last year I somehow entirely missed the fact it had been over a decade since I went to film & TV school at Avalon… which I did in the later half of 2003. So it’s with a little forethought that I think slightly in advance at what I did with my 2004.

The Allied Press building, Channel 9 (now Freeview 39) is located on the top (3rd) floor on the right side of this photo. Image from TrekEarth.

The Allied Press building, Channel 9 (now Dunedin TV Freeview 39) is located on the top (3rd) floor on the right side of this photo. Image from TrekEarth.

In December of 2003 I arrived back in my home town of Dunedin, just shortly before Christmas. Having just finished my course I decided to check in with the local TV station in town, Channel 9, to see if I could put my hand up for work. I met with the then station manager, Keith Collins, and we discussed the simple point of working at the station usually started with those who worked their way up through from volunteering for the student TV show. That show was COW TV.

The logo for CowTV

The logo for CowTV

I’d watched quite a bit of COW in 1999 and 2000, it’s first couple of years, and now and then at random through 2001-2003. The show was created by Clarke Gayford, who’d gone on to reasonable success in New Zealand as a presenter and producer among other work, as a university focused entertainment show. While he’d created the idea while at study in Christchurch, he’d instead managed to get it up and running in Dunedin focused for the students of Otago University.

The first season in 1999 was hosted by a few different people, but the main duo for the bulk of the first year was made of Andrew Mulligan (still on TV, as main co-host Sky/Prime’s Crowd Goes Wild) and Marcus Sonntag (who last I heard is working in upper level banking for ANZ Bank). They probably remain the best known of the hosts as far as the history of the show is concerned, although some other hosts in later years would be more well known for other work in other shows.

CowTV Presenters from 1999, Marcus Sontagg (L) and Andrew Mulligan (R).

CowTV Presenters from 1999, Marcus Sontagg (L) and Andrew Mulligan (R).

The show itself, which started as one recorded, usually in the field, half hour per week for around 40 weeks of the year, was very funny… with skits and segments, the most infamous being the Walk of Shame. I’ll come back to this aspect much later to further discuss the content. However the title itself reflected this screening slot, originally meaning “Campus Otago Weekly TeleVision.” In the 2000 season some sort of outside research told Channel 9’s owners they should move the show from a night slot to a live studio based AM show to boost viewers – which was later found to be a bad move and the show later returned to nights. As the years went on the show increased in duration and episodes per year, and when I’d started watching it again more regularly by early 2003 (following some dramatic changes to the station in 2002) the show was around 1 hour long per episode and on, absurdly, 5 nights a week at 10pm.

Anyway, I was told in the meeting with Keith that he’d take my details and pass them on in the new year to the shows producer, who hadn’t yet been organized, and I’d probably hear from him in early Feb once the show was coming together.

I got a call from the show’s producer in Feb as Keith had said I would. His name was Cam Williams and he’d been working on the show on and off for a few years while also working on other “actual productions” around the country. Being COW’s producer was seemingly a last minute thing for him, as I believe he’d been planning on being elsewhere but when some expected work seemed to be pushed back or cancelled he ended up taking the gig of COW TV Producer for the meantime. Channel 9 it seemed had also struggled to see someone take the position until then and so it seemed of benefit to both parties.

I didn’t know it at the time, but Cam was the best first producer you could hope for. I would find out later that he knew what he wanted, was assertive when it was needed, yet entirely laid back otherwise. He taught you stuff which was important, and while he may not of specifically cared about the show on the surface all the time, he still always appreciated what it allowed for people in learning and always made sure it was fun for the volunteers. I guess especially because he appreciated the people giving up their own time to make his job easier.

On top of it all he did simply his job as the producer, including coming in the day after each show and cutting out highlights from each episode before for highlight shows and reels, pleasing the sponsors with material, and making sure as best he could there was content for every night. This seems like something you don’t need to state, producer does his job… how amazing. However I would learn the following year what the complete antithesis of this would be. but that’s a story for another time.

My brief meeting with Cam was straight forward, he asked what I had studied, what I was interested in as far as the content, and then told me he’d let me know when to come in – but said that it would likely be the first week of the University’s orientation week around the middle of the month. I’d known some of the guys who’d worked on the 2003 season through my Web Design/Animation course the start of 2003 (they were doing TV training in the same building), and I expected a few people to be there and I was hoping I could do something good with my more recently earned skills.

When I got a call to come in during the first week of Orientation I was excited, and I arrived shortly before the time I was supposed to. I was however disheartened when I walked into the back office space, which I would later find out was designated “the COW hole,” was crowded with no less than two dozen people. The meeting divvied up the planned work over the couple of weeks during the University orientation… people being sent to cover concerts, toga parades, doing the ‘find a presenter’ drive, shooting opening credits and stings, creating skits, crews raiding flats in the evening, being sent out to do the years first Walk Of Shame coverage… the list seemingly went on and on.

However once everything was divvied up I, along with a few others, were left with nothing because our unspecific skills didn’t seem as well suited to field shoots it seemed or didn’t know the existing guys well enough to join in. I was instead told to turn up around 6.30-7pm on the next Monday for the first show of the year.

I was disheartened over what had happened and I left the Channel 9 building feeling quite rejected, perhaps even more so because it was volunteer work and yet I didn’t seem like I’d been used for even that most simplest of jobs. But the more I thought I simply just realized there was so many people helping out and there just wasn’t enough work to do. Instead I just decided that I’d try to do my best for that first show at the station itself… maybe that’s where my skills would be best put to use, in the live studio shoot. And so indeed in making this decision to do the best job I could for the live studio part I had, unknowingly, set forward the best plan I could have ever decided.

To be continued in another post….


Hello there internet.

Sorry about the mess, or more specifically the lack there of, for this is the first post while I get a hang of this whole WordPress thing. So for now the site is in a basic look… I’ll get on to changing this up in time.

This is the first post for the new year, and hopefully I will soon be filling this with the sorts of pointless to the world guff that everyone else does. But simply with major moving travel and job changes in the future I hopefully will post the occasional nugget of something actually interesting.

Until then…

Game Of The Post #6: Black

Format: Sony Playstation 2
First Person Shooter
Developer: Criteron Games
Publisher: EA
Released: 2006
Black was an odd title. But fun. In a world heading more and more towards online FPS titles, especially modern based warfare ones, Black would probably be considered the last hurrah to the old school single player titles. Especially given it’s 2006 release. And yet for it’s time it looked incredible. Gun porn was what the developers called it, the menus alone had high rendered real time weapons firing off in the background and the level of detail on the weapons and enviroments throughout the game was exceptionally high.
The difficulty curve was high and hard, but very rewarding. One level involving a bridge attack in particular was very challenging but ranks high in my memory of the game. The plot however ranked low overall which isnt surprising as it was added as an afterthought and ended on a semi-cliff hanger, which never will be followed up on (more on this below).
The game sold itself to me entirely on what Criteron had been working on with the Burnout series which is odd when you think about it… a car series selling on a first person shooter. But visually the Burnout series had been pushing better and better visuals on the PS2 and thus the looks of this game would be amazing, and of course the screens and video sold this.
I sold off Black sometime last year via Trade Me. Had I never finished it at the time, I would have held onto it longer, but I had done everything I could in the game. These days the title is surpassed by stuff like the Call Of Duty series, but if you’ve got only a PS2 or an X-Box and are looking for something like that – Black is where you should head. In fact the X-Box version is avaliable to download and play on the 360 off the Live service as well.

The team who made Black more or less left Criteron, based on differing issues with how a planned Black 2 was handled by it’s potential publisher, Electronic Arts, and are currently working on a new FPS called Bodycount to be released by UK publisher Codemasters sometime in 2011. Having watched the video of it, it hasn’t grabbed me like Black did… unfortunately the competition these days in the genre is so thick and the games so simular, it probably won’t see my console.

Soccer World Cup and NZ’s Turn Of Attitude

No one needs to point out the irony to me that we sent a team called ‘The All Whites’ to South Africa… especially given the turbulent history of that topic NZ has with the country in the early 80’s. Aside from this, which I just wanted to get out of the way first… don’t get me wrong here, but I’m not a Soccer fan… and not really much of a sports fan in general really, casual observer really.

However NZ was the rank rank rank outsiders in the countries that made it in (I think we’re like 81st or 82nd in World Rankings), and so there was no expectation for the team to win. And they didn’t. But they also didn’t lose any match they were in, instead managing to tie all 3 games they played and not making it through on clear points due to Italy’s unexpected defeat. As a country, many were happy to be in and playing that first game. If we drew or even scored 1 goal people would have been happy, and many even said as long as we lost by 1 or 2 points we’d still be happy to have been there. It’s nice to see positive support regardless of outcome by our nation… it’s not something I’m accustom to here.

You see, our main sport here of course is Rugby… our team for this sport is The All Blacks (thus why the Soccer team is the Whites), but they – for mostly as long as I can remember – get a hard time for every loss they’ve had. The pressure is always on, especially for their world cup (to be held here next year too)… but honestly, big or small game, if we lose – even if the team battles well and literally loses by a point or so, you’ll be hearing about it everywhere for weeks as if it was the end of the world.

There are justified reasons for complaining sometimes sure. NZ has a history of still being bitter about the “1981 Trevor Chappell Underarm bowling incident” in the cricket. At the time I’m sure this is all justified, but it’s almost 30 years later and it’s still often cited. Then there is the 1995 Rugby World cup loss for the AB’s, which sparked a conspiracy stories about food poisoning, listening devices, and car alarms going off waking up players the night before the match, all which personally I’d state as poor excuses for just not being happy at losing.

Ref mistakes too seem justified, regardless of if it was unfair or fair, but a team losing is treated as the worst offense ever. Personally I’ve never gotten this… there are 2 teams in the game. One wins, One loses… it’s just a fact. If you don’t win then you don’t win. You can get over this and hope next time you just win. Simple. So of course it was nice to see a change here… constant positive news stories about how well the team was doing, how they were being great role models as being a team to just take part… that it’s what matters the most.

Game Of The Post #5: Auto Modellista

Format: Sony Playstation 2
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Released: 2002

Auto Modellista is an odd little gem that turned up on my doorstep thanks to the late great PSM magazine. Several years ago I entered a competition to win a Capcom prize package, and amazingly I won. The item which turned up on my doorstep? A Street Fighter t-shirt and 3 games. The games were the awesome Onimusha 2, the odd Dino Stalker (aka Gun Survivor 3), and the crazy (and also odd titled) auto modellista.

Modellista peaked my interest however so much I ended up writing a guide for it

Interestingly this is Capcom’s first (and only still) racing game that they’ve ever made. Considering they managed to licence a number of brands and car types, they did an exceptional job and I can only guess a lack of overall sales may have been the cause as to why they never made a sequel or any other games like this. 
The game itself is fairly simple. It’s a mix between arcade and sim, focusing on officially licensed parts and a balance system in the garage in which you tune your car to the best for the upcoming race. This however goes against type and gives you cell-shaded arcade style gameplay. 
Provided you’ve tuned your car correctly, you’ll be drifting and power sliding your way around corners, splashing up marks behind you like in the photos shown.

My friend who saw the game said Capcom nailed what should have been the Anime ‘Initial D’ look which surprisingly the officially released titles hadn’t actually managed to do. I’ve never seen the series myself, so I can’t comment greatly, but looking at the games online they look very standard.

The other interesting thing about it is the replay theatre option, which went beyond the standard editor and allowed you to mix in various visual elements and grades over the top, which wasn’t something often seen. The outcome, mixed with the cellshades, made something of a music video out of your replays.

Sadly the game lacked a lot of depth. Aside from unlocking all of the cars and extras, there was a very limited number of tracks and the version in PAL areas lacked the Online play.

The US had a delayed version which went multiformat and included extra unlocks, cars, modes, and the online play. The game was re-released in some countries as “U.S. tuned” which added these features back into the game for those markets, however it was never released over here and thus I never picked it up.

I currently still own the game, however it will probably end up on my sell pile at this stage as, while doing the guide, I’ve basically played through everything I could in the game. It’s a great quirky little title and I suggest if you get the chance to play it then definitely do so, I don’t think you’ll regret it.

So… my PS3 died… but how are you?

So I had intended on doing my long delayed follow up to the PS3 update saga from a few months back, however last week my PS3 gave way to the Yellow Light Of Death, or YLOD as it’s known online. This in of itself wouldn’t have been an issue as I’d somehow managed to cover myself for problems for 3 years when I brought it.

However, the first thing was I was playing a game when it died… a copy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine that I rented… which was stuck in the console. Apparently every PS3 since the original 60GB BC models have a manual eject option… except mine was a 60GB model. Secondly I haven’t backed up my drive… so while I can re-download all my DLC contents and add-ons, my save files have gone. Which is a shame about for a number of the games on my shelf.

– Assassin’s Creed II
I was 3% away from 100% trophies, which mostly entitled to getting feathers on the game map. This in of itself isn’t so hard to do in perhaps a normal replay, however I also had side quests to do. I also don’t know how that impacts on the stuff I got from the Uplay website via Ubisoft.

– Burnout Paradise
Starting over for the third time (once before trophies, once after trophies).

– Ghostbusters
Was currently replaying in pro-mode, and was a half of the way in and working on trophies.

– GOW Collection / GOW 3
Have to replay the games all over again to unlock the challenge modes which I was going to play next.

– GTA4
Completed save file is gone.

– Lego Star Wars
Thanks to my friend Ryan, my save was around 76% complete. Restart.

– MGS4
Aside from the completed save files and bonus from replaying the game, the MGS Database uses a complete game file. What is more annoying though is the in-game DLC for the game is painfully slow to get from Konami’s servers… it took me a day to get all the bonus music, camo, and podcasts.

– RE5
Aside from the fact I’d just gotten the Gold Edition, which requires me to have at least finished the game for all the bonus content to become unlocked, I have to re-earn everything… which I figure I funneled about 30-40 hours into on the original game.

– Rock Band / Rock Band 2 / Beatles Rock Band
I don’t know how to recover a band stat (will check the RB website, it is assigned to my PSN name), because my band (Sure, Not ) but all my stats on RB1 is gone. Thankfully the unlock key for RB2 unlocks them all for use in it without the legwork, but still I put a lot into that as well.

– Uncharted / Uncharted 2
Was needing to finish Crushing in both titles, plus everything I unlocked is gone. I think you have to play through Hard before you unlock Crushing.

The rest of the games I have can be replayed still and aren’t as a big deal. The only other thing on there I wanted to finish aside from Wolverine, which I was playing at the time of death, was a save for Batman: Arkham Asylum which I was about 40% into from a 3 day rental. Considering I want to buy it still at some stage, thats not so bad.

In any case, you live and learn… and next time I will backup my drive to another drive space regularly and copy individual save files across as well. With any luck my PS3 when it returns will last longer than 2.5 more years.