28. November 2015 · Comments Off on Top Tips for Positioning Your TV · Categories: electronics · Tags:

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Just a decade or two ago, TVs were monstrous beasts, wide as a castle wall and often encased in a nasty wood-effect frame. But not any more. Typically made in discreet black, TVs are also as slim as a paperback, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for positioning them creatively. From hanging your TV above a fireplace to concealing it behind built-in cupboards, this essential technology can slot into your living room scheme beautifully. Channel-surf your way through these 10 top tips and find a slice of TV heaven.

Store on built-in shelves
These handsome shelves have been built slightly proud of the alcoves, providing extra-deep storage and making the perfect discreet home for a TV. Painting the storage black helps the technology blend in, so the eye is drawn to the books and treasures lining the other shelves.

Go for a gallery effect
Give your TV a home alongside art, shelves of favourite finds and oversized prints. Choose dark frames for neighbouring artworks for a coordinated look, or mix it up, as here, for a more eclectic wall.

Mount against matching tones
Hanging a flatscreen against a dark backdrop helps it to blend in, even when it’s a whopper like this one. The wall behind this TV has tons of texture, too, and it’s flanked by logs stacked high for a nice rustic contrast.

Stand away from sunlight
Do not position your TV where it will be bathed in sunlight. We might like to feel the sun on our skin, but sun on a screen makes it difficult to watch. Instead, stick it to the side of a window, especially one as big as this, to avoid direct sunlight hitting it.

Tuck it in a corner
Choose a small screen and hang it on a strip of wall or off in a corner, so it contributes to, rather than dominates, a room. This works well in an open-plan home, where free-flowing space has multiple functions.

Hang it high
Wall-mounting works well in this narrow living area – no trailing wires to trip over and no boxy furniture eating into floor space. A black and white photograph blown up to wall size makes a striking backdrop, and means that, when the TV’s off, it’s the artwork you look at, rather than the blank screen.

Use an alcove
The alcove to the side of a chimney breast is the natural home of many a TV. There’s no need to build in shelving, though. Here, a small set sits on a simple metal unit with space underneath for other technology. Thanks to castors, the unit can also be pulled out to give anyone sitting on the sofa a better view of the screen.

Hide it away
We don’t necessarily want a TV to be the sole focus of our living space. So help to make the room somewhere to socialise, chat and relax by mounting the TV inside a concealed cupboard, with pocket doors that can be pulled out and across to hide the screen.

18. November 2015 · Comments Off on 6 Tips to Turn Off the TV and Start Exercising · Categories: electronics · Tags: , , ,

After a long day of work there’s nothing more relaxing than putting your feet up and watching TV. It’s a guilty pleasure that, unfortunately, takes up precious time. Don’t be embarrassed, many people do this.

It’s so easy to sit down and flip on the TV. Before you know it, an hour has flown by and you didn’t make it to the gym. When this happens, many people say, “Oh well, I’ll just work out a little harder tomorrow.” Don’t let this be you. Here are a few suggestions to turn off the tube and start moving.

Take Advantage of Reruns
It’s summertime, which means reruns are on. Use this time to break your television habit. Take advantage of the longer, sunnier days: get outside, move around, and enjoy nature.

Work on Free Time
If you feel like you don’t have enough time in your day to work out, then make some. Minimize unnecessary actions throughout your everyday routine. The main obstacle that seems to get in the way of a healthier lifestyle is being a couch potato.

Save Money
Think about the amount of money you can save if you cancel your television account. It’s just a thought, but you’ll be surprised as to how much time this will free up. Plus, no TV in the house forces you to do something else…like go for a walk.

Ditch Your Habit
Studies show that it takes about three weeks to make or break habits. Ditch your favorite shows for 2 to 3 weeks and notice your desire to sit down in from of the television dwindle.

Grab Your Friends
Instead of a movie night in, grab your gal pals for a Zumba dance party or an afternoon walk. Use this time to catch up while you burn calories. It’s a win-win situation.

Reward Yourself
Don’t let yourself watch any of your favorite shows until you have worked out and cooked a nutritious meal. Use TV time as a reward.

10. November 2015 · Comments Off on Nine Tips for Pitching Your TV Series · Categories: electronics · Tags: , , ,

With the arrival of the Golden Age of Television, many indie-slanting stories are finding a home in episodic series. And if you’re one of these independent filmmakers with a hot series concept, you might find yourself in the least “indie” situation possible: pitching a network executive. But don’t be intimidated — as more and more non-traditional TV formats become runaway hits, networks’ doors are wide open to new ideas and innovative visions. If you can find a way onto the network exec’s couch, the following tips — culled from recent industry events, like the IFP’s Screen Forward, as well as personal experience (I attended the 2015 Sundance Episodic Story Labs with my TV series, Degenerates) — will be your lifelines:

1) Define the format. As Filmmaker reported from September’s IFP Screen Forward Conference in 5 Tips on Pitching Web Series, defining format is crucial when pitching a long-form series. Is your show a drama or a comedy? Half-hour or one-hour? Limited (mini) series or ongoing? Open format (it’s serialized) or closed format (it’s procedural)? Yes, it feels yucky to confine your uniquely beautiful world into such rigid categories, but this is the language of network television. Meet the execs halfway by learning it. Then, if your series really does transcend these rigid boundaries, you have the vocabulary to explain how and why your series needs to blur these lines.

2) Define your personal connection to the material. This is another tip from Pitching Web Series, but this tip will ring true in anything you pitch in your lifetime, from a non-fiction book to a Broadway musical. Producers and network execs want to know why you’re the only person on Planet Earth who can tell this story. What happened in your childhood or what defining life experiences have you lived that make you able to come at this story from a personal point of view, enabling you to personally relate to these characters? Yes, you wrote a compelling pilot, but network execs need to know that you have seasons and seasons of additional material in the same vein that you’ll be able to tap into as the series progresses.

3) Talk about your characters as if they exist. All too often, pitch noobs will go into a meeting talking about their “main character” or their “protagonist.” “But she’s not your “main character,” she’s Jessie Oberlin. Or whatever her name is! Use your characters’ names as if they’re real people to explain the way they behave, and then use anecdotes to illustrate how these qualities come to bear in their lives. So if you describe Jessie as “feisty,” go on to explain how “most girls try to make themselves smaller when they find themselves next to a manspread on a crowded subway, but Jessie is the kind of girl who takes up more room when she’s stuck next to a guy like this.”

Always use the present tense to talk about your characters, especially if the show is historical or autobiographical. Eschew sentences like “Jessie will be the kind of girl who marches to the beat of her own drummer.” Jessie already is that kind of girl because she already exists and she’s vibrant and real in your mind. Another no-no: “Jimi Hendrix was a bit of a rascal.” Jimi is a bit of a rascal, if he’s the one you’re writing about, because he’s relevant and his story is unfolding now, in real time, not 50 years ago.

4) Have your elevator pitch at the ready. You might actually be in an elevator with your dream producer someday, (more likely your amazing friend will introduce you to this producer and mention you’ve been developing a series), and if you want to seize this opportunity, at the very least you’ll need your series logline as spit-polished as humanly possible. Practice communicating the gist of your series in a single sentence so if you only have 10 seconds of someone’s attention you have a tantalizing one-liner that makes any listener want to know more. Painful as it might be to reduce this enormous story you’ve poured your soul into down to a sound bite, it’s true what they say: if you can’t fit your show concept into a tidy sentence, you honestly might not know it that well. The entertainment-industry Mad Libs version of your logline will sound a lot like this: “It’s a [length + format] about an [interesting protagonist] living in a [unique world] who’s struggling against [the central question of your series.]”

5) Use visual aids. While your verbal explanation of this incredibly exciting series should paint an enticing picture on it’s own, you can’t assume that everyone has as vivid an imagination as your own. Employing a visual element to supplement a verbal pitch can be just the thing an exec needs to help them share your vision. And the term “visual aid” can be interpreted pretty loosely. Jeff Bezos of Amazon is a fan of using Pinterest to put together a mood board that captures the look and feel the series. (Tumblr can be used to the same end.) Having shot a teaser for the pilot or cut together a sizzle reel that captures the tone of your show can be ultra-valuable. And if you’re developing a show that takes place in an esoteric world, images or props are an excellent way to invite your audience in. So Jessie is a scuba-diving spear fisher? Show us the reef where she fishes, the equipment she uses, the lionfish she hunts. If you’re pitching an animation, have character designs at the ready, or at least the work of artists that could inspire the design. If what you’re pitching is historical or autobiographical, bring in photos from the historical era or from your childhood.

6) Know the life of your series. It might go without saying that you know your pilot episode inside and out, but how does the first season unfold? What happens in future seasons? And how many seasons do you think this series has in it? Have sample episodes in mind when you go into the room and make damn sure each of these scenarios is consistent with the show you’re pitching. And above all, be sure you really love these characters and this world, because in a best-case scenario you’ll get a greenlight to series and many season renewals, and you could be spending the next decade of your life with these characters.

7) Do your research. With so many networks redefining themselves with original programming that’s radically different than what they’ve aired in the past, it seems less important than it once was to try to pitch shows that are in line with a network’s current programming slate. And with platforms like Netflix and Amazon who have no one demographic they’re trying to reach, the main thing to make sure of is that your show isn’t like something else they’re currently airing. So if you’re pitching ABC, whose advertisers must reach a certain targeted audience, definitely study their programming and be able to talk about how the audience they already have will love your show, too. But if you’re pitching Netflix, whose demo is everyone, just be sure you aren’t pitching a dramedy about the occupants of a women’s prison and how they wound up there. They’re all stocked up.

8) Make it a conversation.While there is a little bit of tap-dancing inherent in pitching a show, it should be more of a conversation than a performance. And know that if your audience is asking questions, that’s a very good sign! It means they’re interested.

And, finally, the golden rule of pitching:

9) When they seem like they’re interested, stop talking! Don’t give them more to say no to!

01. November 2015 · Comments Off on 5 Tips to Increase the Longevity of Your LED TV · Categories: electronics · Tags: , , ,

LED TVs provide beautiful and bright pictures, but they also come with a high cost investment. No one wants to spend thousands of dollars on a TV only to have to replace it in a few years. By understanding how their TV works, there are several tips and tricks buyers can use to help increase the longevity of an LED TV. Following these tips allows buyers to make a wise investment when purchasing these televisions.

LED LCD TVs
There are two types of LED televisions currently on the market right now. The one most people are familiar with is the LED LCD TV, which is often shortened to just LED TV. In truth, these are not pure LED TVs. They use an LCD screen that is enhanced with LED technology instead of the traditional fluorescent tubes used in normal LCD TVs. This allows the TV to be incredibly flat, usually only an inch or so thick. LED LCD TVs use either LED backlights, which are placed directly behind the screen, or LED lights around the edge. Both types have their advantages and disadvantages. Backlit LED LCD TVs can produce deeper blacks because the tiny lights are turned off, but because the light-to-pixel ratio is not the same, this can also cause a darkening effect on other areas of the screen. Edge-lit LED LCD TVs do not have this problem, but they also cannot reproduce the same deep black levels as backlit LEDs.

OLED TVs
Organic Light Emitting Diodes, or OLED, is the second type of LED TV and the only one that uses pure LED technology. Because of this, OLED TVs do not have the problems associated with either plasma or LCD TVs. Instead of using color filters like LCD, or UV light like plasmas, OLED TVs create the basic colors of red, blue, and green by transmitting electricity through different materials that create a glow. This results in incredibly thin TVs with high brightness and contrast levels. Because of this superior picture quality, OLED TVs are the most advanced thing to hit the TV market. Currently, OLED TVs tend to be on the smaller side, but as the technology catches up, the future will see bigger OLED TVs.

TV Lifespan
One of the questions that should be asked before purchasing a TV is how long the expected lifespan will be. Keep in mind that TV lifespan does not mean the TV will just die once it hits some magical number. Instead, lifespan refers to how bright the TV remains as it ages, compared to when it was new. Once a TV has diminished to half the level of its original brightness, it is considered to have reached the end of its lifespan. In other words, lifespan refers how dim a TV becomes before it is unwatchable. Of course, the truth is that all TVs dim with age. It was true of the old CFL tube TVs, and it is true of all the HDTVs that exist today. So how long does an LED TV last before it becomes unwatchable? Numbers vary depending on different manufacturer claims, but it is often estimated to be between 60,000 to 100,000 hours.

What Causes Dimness?
Why do LED TVs get dim over time? The lights simply wear out, much like an old light bulb will start to grow dim before it utterly dies. LED LCD TVs use white lights, which do not last as long as their color counterparts. This is because the white lights have to be exceptionally bright. Therefore, they will start to dim faster than the other components. Some OLED TVs use white lights, while others simply use RGB (red, green, blue) lights. In the case of OLED, blue lights always dim faster than red and green. Again, this is because the blue light is brighter than the other two. However, advances in technology have managed to bring blue LED lights up to speed with their other color counterparts. In fact, it was this leap forward that led to the creation of OLED TVs in the first place.

Protecting Longevity
Now that the basic difference between LED TVs has been explained, as well as the reasons behind the limits on TV lifespans, buyers should learn ways to help the TV last longer. Keep in mind that it is the brightness of the TV that must be protected. As long as the TV screen stays bright, it will continue to last. Once it starts to dim, its performance will suffer. Use these following tips to help keep the LED TV looking as bright as new.

Turn Off the TV When No One Is Around
This probably seems like common sense advice, but many people simply leave the TV running all day as background noise. While they are busy doing other things, the LED TV is busy conducting electricity through its lights. 60,000 hours might seem like a long time, but if a TV is left on as background noise for just 3 hours a day, that easily equals over 1,000 hours a year. Many people leave their TVs on for far longer than 3 hours a day without watching them, which only increases the number of hours being wasted. Turning the TV off when nobody is watching is probably the simplest way to increase the longevity of the LED TV. Not only will the TV last longer, the power bill will also be cheaper.

Adjust Brightness
Unless the house is as brightly lit as the showroom where the TV was purchased, there is no need to keep the LED TV at high brightness levels. Remember that the hours used to determine TV lifespan are based on average TV settings. Running a TV at high brightness levels can easily cut 60,000 hours into 30,000 hours, since the TV has to work twice as hard to keep up. Once the LED TV is purchased, adjust the brightness levels. Different manufacturers have separate brightness settings. “Film” or “home” settings work well enough on most TVs. For those who display brightness based on room, select either “dark room” or “medium room.” This small but highly effective adjustment will help keep the LED TV looking its best for years.

Adjust Contrast
Contrast is the control on the LED TV that measures the difference between the brightest and the darkest colors. The higher the contrast, the greater the power the TV uses. This, in turn, will decrease the television’s longevity. In the showroom, most LED TVs are set to “dynamic” or “vivid.” While either setting works best in brightly lit rooms and truly shows off the TV’s power, users should not leave the television on these settings at home. Doing so will burn through the LED lights faster. Instead, set the contrast to “standard” for the lowest power usage or to “movie” for enjoying HD broadcasts. Both of these settings use less energy than the “dynamic” and “vivid” options.

Use a Voltage Regulator
The LED TV is not the only electronic device in the house taking power. Every time the AC comes on or the furnace starts, electricity is used. This causes temporary power dips to other electronics, like the LED TV, which in turn affects the TV’s processes. In fact, one of the reasons why many LED TVs fail early in life is not because of their display technology, but instead because their power caps get busted from power surges or dips. Install a voltage regulator with a battery backup that can provide additional power during dips. Not only will it protect against hazards like power surges caused by lightning, it will help keep the TV operating efficiently no matter what other electronics are being used in the home.

Ventilate
The LED TV is going to be using a lot of power in the home. This power produces a lot of heat, which is removed by the ventilation system. However, many people install their LED TVs without giving them room to breathe. This affects the ventilation system, keeping the television hot. LED TVs do not last long in high heat conditions, as their internal parts start to be affected. Make sure that the TV has at least four inches to breathe around the ventilation vents. This means if it is a flat panel TV, but the vent is on the back of the television, do not install it against the wall. Instead, install it on a tabletop or entertainment center where the vent is four inches away from the wall.

Conclusion
LED TVs are expensive to buy, but the exceptional picture display is worth the cost. Remember, the picture is the reason why the television was bought in the first place. While these tips should be used as guidelines for increasing the longevity of the LED TV, do not sacrifice picture quality altogether. Adjusting the brightness and contrast are crucial for conserving power, but do not do so at the expense of the viewing experience. Set the television to levels that still look good while saving energy at the same time. With the exception of purchasing a voltage regulator, which should be done anyway to protect the TV from power surges, all of these tips are simple and free. Heading these suggestions will help any LED TV live for many years.