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Made in SA gets VIDI view

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VIDI, South Africa’s video on demand entertainment service has recently added almost 20 locally made titles to its streaming video library. 

Most recent “home grown” additions to the VIDI line up include:

• Township Soul this music documentary takes us back in time to the young men and women who made the music of the 70s. It relives the music that fortified South Africa’s black population and helped them find joyful expression. The audience is treated to a funky selection of tunes from top bands of the era. Through this journey the viewer comes to terms with that intangible ingredient in music that helps people survive even the most difficult situation. It reveals the essence of funky joy and of having soul nomakanjani!  The film also explores the cross-pollination of sound, fashion and politics between South Africa’s ghettoes and Black America. It is arguable that the Soul Vibe of the 70’s was a potent local brew concocted from traditional African and American music.

• Single Guys is the story of three best friends trying to navigate the world of dating: Khaya, petrified of women, is the uptight owner of a failing DVD store; Taps is a smooth-as-silk playa; while their over emotional roommate Zanele can’t stop falling in and out of love on a daily basis. You’d think it would be easier to be a Single Guy when there are three of you but it’s harder to get a girlfriend when there’s always two others peering over your shoulder.  Idiotic advice, failed attempts at being macho, trying too hard to be cool… it’s not easy being young and looking for love in the age of Facebook. The series stars Thabo Malema, Thomas Gumede and Motlatsi Mafatshe.

• For lovers of natural history shows, Shoreline is the South African answer to all those David Attenborough shows. In this 13 episode series, a team of experts (archaeologist, historian and marine biologist) take us on a 3000 km journey from Alexander Bay to Kosi Bay. They focus on the unique points of interest for each area and build an encyclopaedic picture of the South African shoreline, while discovering the secrets, the scenery and the stories that make our coast unique and how life at the edge shaped our destiny.

• Suburban Bliss is a favourite sitcom with South African audiences, as it spotlights the rocky relationship between a black and a white family – new neighbours in what was formerly an exclusively white neighbourhood. These two families are forever at each other’s throats – in the friendliest way possible, of course – as one misunderstanding after another arises out of ordinary day-to-day issues. The wives have a permanent vendetta going. One regards the other as a low class slob, and the other thinks her neighbour a pretentious yuppie.  Ma Moloi – the mother-in-law on the ‘“black” side – and Hempies – the patriarch on the “white” side of the fence – continually wage a war across the garden boundary, as the two are faced with a changing world, and they find in each other someone they can legitimately despise.  The only two people who seem to get on in this neighbourly chaos are the husbands, who spend their days trying to make peace between their feuding clans!

• Stokvel is a hugely popular comedy series from SABC2, set in the vibrant and exciting world of stokvels – a place where friends meet for companionship, good times, and a social way of saving money. This much-loved institution is the dynamic backdrop for the continuing activities of two stokvels in Diepkloof, Soweto.

• The much-acclaimed drama series, Society takes viewers on an introspective journey that deals with subject matters relevant to and portraying a universally true reflection of the stories of young South African women.  In season one, four friends; Akua (Zandile Msutwana – of White Wedding fame), Beth (Sibulele Gcilitshana), Inno (Lele Ledwaba of Stokvel notoriety) and Lois (Samela Tyelbooi) are drawn together by the suicide of their high school friend, Dineo.

• Moferefere Lenyalong is a wickedly human and authentically South African comedy that centres around the antics of the various comic characters that run and work at Kersiefontein, a guesthouse on a farm in a secluded valley in the heart of Ficksburg. With a view of the Maluti Mountains and the sandstone cliffs of the Mpharane Mountains on the Caledon River, it is the perfect location for weddings and love and lots of humour.

And finally – two shows for the kids:

• Adventures at the Water Hole is a series for children aged between six and nine years old and follows the adventures of Toti, a curious little mouse who, together with his friends – a chameleon, a frog, a goose, a warthog, a duiker and a tortoise – enjoys a series of exciting and often hilarious adventures at the water hole in a nature reserve, where his father serves as park ranger. And at the same time, he learns about his environment and how best to protect and sustain it.

• Haas Das Se Nuuskas – that all time classic children’s show about a rabbit and a mouse running a news broadcast in Diere Land. Created by Louise Smit in 1976, at the time of television’s introduction in South Africa, it was the first children’s television programme in SA. The “news” typically revolved around all the animals’ complaints, achievements and scandals. The voice of Haas Das was performed by well-known SABC news anchorman, Riaan Cruywagen.

Other local titles currently available to screen on VIDI include Liefling, Semi-Soet, How to Steal Two Million, African Sky Stories, My Perfect Family, High Rollers, Urbo – The Adventures of Pax, Magic Cellar, Dinner with the President, Gauteng Maboneng, Magical World of Luna Belle, Streets of Mangaung and a doccie on the Soweto String Quartet.  Stay tuned for a lot more local offerings to come on VIDI in the weeks and months ahead.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

Audio/Visual

Planet Radio TV tune in on any device

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Planet Radio TV plans to be Africa’s first online broadcaster that allows its listeners to watch via Internet and satellite TV as well as listen via FM or Internet radio. SEAN BACHER visits its studios.

Planet Radio TV (PRTV) is broadcast much like any other terrestrial radio station, allowing its users to tune into it with a standard FM tuner. But its owner, Planet Image Productions, is about to launch two other means of tuning into the station.

In the coming month, MultiChoice will place a new satellite in orbit that will, by the new year, allow Planet to broadcast to subscribers via the satellite. Planet has also announced the PRTV app, which can be downloaded to Apple, BlackBerry, Android and Windows Mobile devices, allowing users to stream the content to their phones and tablets.

‚”What makes this unique though is that our systems will automatically detect a user’s connection speed and stream content in a format that suits that speed, says Planet Image CEO Wale Akinlabi. ‚”For example, someone connecting through 3G will be able to view high-definition video and hear high-definition audio. A user with a slower connection will still be able to view and listen to the station, but at a lower quality.‚”

This, he believes, will eliminate the buffering issue which discourages many users from streaming video and audio to their devices.

The radio station comprises 80% African music, with the remainder being international, and is targeted at Africa’s youth.

‚”At PRTV we intend to change the way consumers view, listen and interact with television, radio and Internet mediums,‚” says Mabel Mabaso, chief operations officer and director at Planet Image. ‚”It is an exciting platform that synchronises three mediums, providing opportunities for consumers and advertisers alike.‚”

Planet RadioTV differentiates itself from other local broadcasters with its clever use of software and hardware. Planet Image uses a high-definition video-graphics (HDVG) rendering program, designed by Orad, an Israeli company specialising in TV production software. This software suite, combined with four Panasonic high-definition cameras, is able to detect and focus on a person’s voice. When the camera fixes on a voice, that camera is automatically activated and begins broadcasting. Should someone else begin talking, a separate camera will detect the voice and focus on that person.

The software controlling the cameras also performs basic video editing. Mabaso says that, although the initial cost of the equipment was more than that of standard cameras, it will prove well worth it, as it eliminates the need for a dedicated cameraman filming the show in the studio.

‚”Another payoff is that we don’t need that much office space,‚” she says.

Based in Randburg in Johannesburg, the studio is small in comparison to most others and the control room is just big enough for one person.

‚”The control room merely serves as a back-up should one of the cameras fail. It also allows us to control when and where visual adverts appear.‚”

The system is also tightly integrated with applications like Skype.

‚”We can interview someone overseas without having to send a crew there to perform recording. We simply communicate via Skype, making the interviewee’s Internet camera an extension of our own in-studio cameras.‚”

Besides featuring local and international music, the station has regular fashion, food and cooking, music and culture segments, which are broadcast to around 30 000 listeners around Africa.

Rounding up the technology aspect, PRTV has integrated Twitter and Facebook, allowing its listeners to interact with DJs.

Listeners can tune into Planet Radio TV by logging onto www.planetradio.co.za

* Follow Sean Bacher on Twitter on @SeanBacher

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Canon EOS M – small and simple

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Canon has extended the EOS range with the EOS M, its first compact system camera. Although not yet available in South Africa, the EOS M offers DSLR quality images and full HD recording in a compact, easy to use device.

Canon has expanded the EOS range with the launch of the EOS M. The company’s first ever compact system camera (CSC), the EOS M offers DSLR-quality imaging and full HD movie creation in a compact and easy-to-use model.

The EOS M is available in sleek black, glossy white, stylish silver or bold red colours, and condenses Canon’s EOS imaging heritage into a stylish, compact design. The model launches alongside two new lenses, the EF-M 22mm f/2 STM pancake and the EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM standard zoom, as well as a new compact EX Speedlite the Speedlite 90EX. For those who want to push their images even further, the EOS M can also use Canon’s range of EF lenses with the new Mount Adapter EF-EOS M, for even more creative freedom.

The quality of a Canon DSLR

The EOS M’s high-resolution, 18 megapixel APS-C hybrid CMOS sensor also allows you to blur the background for beautiful portraits, or for close-ups with impact.

With the inclusion of Canon’s DIGIC 5 processor, colours ‚’pop’ and skin tones are beautifully natural, while a super-fast shutter allows you to capture split-second action.

Shoot what you see and easily express your creative vision

Every aspect of the EOS M has been designed to make it simple to capture high-quality images. With the high-resolution, 7.7cm (3.0‚”), Clear View LCD II Touch screen, the EOS M gives you as much or as little control over your photos as desired. Simply select different shooting modes and settings via the on-screen icons, or let Scene Intelligent Auto adjust the camera settings according to the subject and shooting conditions, leaving you free to focus on composition and selecting the perfect moment to hit the shutter release button.

Turn film-maker with EOS Movie and Video Snapshot

When a moment calls for more than a still image, the EOS M lets you switch to Full HD video with stereo sound.

Extending the EOS System with dedicated accessories

In addition to compatibility with Canon’s existing EF lenses, accessories and Speedlites, the EOS M launches with its own range of accessories. Two new EF-M lenses offer portability and high performance when using the new model the EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM standard zoom and the EF-M 22mm f/2 STM pancake lens. Both feature new stepper motor technology for exceptionally smooth AF performance, as well as precision Canon optics, while their compact designs offer the perfect form-factor to complement the camera’s pocket-sized body.

Additionally, the EOS M will ship with the new Speedlite 90EX flash unit as standard. Lightweight and highly-compact, it offers a maximum guide number of nine and supports wide-angle lenses, making it an ideal general-purpose flash for everyday use. A wireless master function also allows the control of multiple flash guns wirelessly, allowing more advanced users to experiment with a range of creative lighting effects.

EOS M key features

· The quality of a digital SLR in a compact body

· Scene Intelligent Auto

· Be versatile with interchangeable lenses

· Create out-of-focus backgrounds for high impact

· Easy-to-use touch-screen

· Atmospheric photos in low light

· Full-HD video with Video Snapshot Mode

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