Spot the deliberate mistake

29 August, 2007

There was has been some barking in the local media columns about inaccuracies in the new Australian naval drama, Sea Patrol. Yes, ok, perhaps there were some and there shouldn’t be, but Sea Patrol and Australian production in general is not alone. Two recent episodes of the British crime series that gets all kinds of smiles and nods, Midsomer Murders, had errors so glaring they almost might be classed as “spot the deliberate mistake”.

Rolleiflex TIn A Picture of Innocence, the opening sequence features a senior amateur photographer setting up a landscape shot with the excellent Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex camera on a tripod. (Anyone remember tripods?). He takes a light reading then adjusts the camera’s shutter speed and aperture settings — with accompanying loud, crisp clicks which no Rolleiflex ever made.

He then adjusts the focus — with more absurdly loud crispy clicks. The focussing action of the venerable and superbly-engineered Rolleiflex is absolutely smooth and completely silent.

He then uses the fold-out handle to advance the 120 roll film to a new, unexposed frame, but the frame counter resolutely stays at “0” indicating there is no film in the camera. In any case, advancing the film (which also cocks the shutter) is always the first step so the framing is not disturbed after composing the shot and the camera is ready to take the next shot.

Multi-pocketed photographer’s vestAnd, please, not all amateur photographers wear hunting/fishing vests, not even old amateur photographers, especially when the vests’ many pockets are obviously empty of extra lenses and camera accessories and film (anyone remember film?) — and almost never over their business clothes and when not taking pictures. The gaggle of ageing amateurs all in their hunting/fishing vests was unintentionally farcical.

In King’s Crystal, a character with a rifle is apprehended in a field. He appeared to be taking aim at another character but protests he was hunting rabbits. This explanation rings no alarms with Chief Inspector Barnaby, notwithstanding that the rifle in the scene is a “civilianised” version of the Lee-Enfield .303 Mk. III. In its various versions, this was the basic, and best, infantry rifle of WWs I and II. The three-oh-three as it was commonly called, fired almost half an ounce (14 grams) of copper-jacketed lead at 2,440 feet per second (744 m/s).

Lee Enfield .303 modified as a hunting rifleHit a rabbit with that and you might find fragments of fur and occasional pieces of skin surrounding the previous rabbit — but certainly nothing to make a meal of.

I owned a weapon very similar to the one in the program. Making a clean hole in the steel wheel of a old traction engine presented no difficulties. Ned Kelley’s armour would have been a mere trifle.

Oh, yes, I also own a hunting/fishing vest but I only wear it when out taking pictures. Honest!


Rolleiflex: The Rolleiflex line of twin-lens reflex cameras was continuously manufactured by Franke & Heidecke in Germany from 1928 until recently, steadily advancing features and quality. At its height of popularity in the 50s and 60s it was the camera of choice for such luminaries as Philippe Halsman, Richard Avedon, Bert Stern and Cecil Beaton. I believe modern versions are still in limited production but Rollei’s recent focus has been on digital cameras, both amateur and top-end professional, the latter costing upwards of US$20,000. Batteries not included.
(Picture credit

Photography vest: For me the khaki vest of many pockets conjures images of the Vietnam War and combat photographers, some of whom were friends or acquaintances. True, some of them did wear this gear around the odd bar or Foreign Correspondents’ Club when not actually taking war pictures.

SMLE .303 rifle: This is very similar to the rifle in the episode and to one I owned. I think I even did the cross-hatching on the stock, too. As I can best recall, the calibre of my version was designated 7.7/54 to distinguish it from the military version. The cigarette lighter indicates scale.
(Picture sourced at

Advertisements for themselves

17 August, 2007

Station promos: don’t we love ‘em? In the first outing of Channel 10’s “there’s no better place to be” series of promos, stars of the station’s leading imports (House, NCIS, Numbers) performed stylish, minimalist, tongue-in-cheek snippets to camera. I am guessing here but the clips were shot in the US and the lines, apart from the obligatory tags, were largely ad-lib.

Then 10’s promo department clambered on the bandwagon using home-grown star-equivalents. Sadly they missed the boat, the wagon and the point.

No doubt, every attempt was made to match the look and understated wit of the originals but either they just didn’t get it, or just couldn’t do it.

In any case the result only highlights the difference in production values in general between (most) Australian TV and that of the USA; the home of the best worst television in the world.


Bad weather

17 August, 2007

It seems a pretty fair bet that the word “drought” in a TV weather bulletin refers to a lack of rain — for time enough adversely to affect the environment.

So why does Channel 7’s David Brown insist that we have a “hydrological drought” — unless to distinguish it from a drought of intelligent weather commentary.

For the benefit of any other aspiring weather Barbies out there, hydrological merely refers to the study of water on earth and in the atmosphere. As in drought. Duh.

What’s in a name?

26 January, 2007

Perhaps the greatest danger of modern media is that it perpetuates errors by continually referencing itself rather than any original source — to the degree that the error eventually totally occludes the truth.

Eventually, the error becomes the truth.

The reasons are many: laziness, time pressure, lack of professional training or basic education, ignorance, stupidity, herd instinct. None of them noble and all have the same result.

Maria SharapovaA trivial but really annoying example: these days, a very large proportion of female tennis players have Russian names which sports commentators appear to have great difficulty pronouncing (along with many English words encountered above a grade three primer).

For their benefit the World Tennis Association has published a guide for broadcasters. Sadly, this has eight out of ten seriously wrong.

The WTA’s response to criticism has been that along the lines that “this is how most Americans would pronounce them and the players would go along with that”.

The prime example would be one of the world’s highest earning and most successful women players, Maria Sharapova. Russian speakers assure me that this is pronounced “sha-RAH-pa-vuh”, as do authorities overwhelmingly and, most significantly of all, the lady herself.

Now here is the kicker. I have read reports of prominent sport and news broadcasters knowingly using the popular but incorrect pronunciation for fear of being thought ignorant!

Truly, the inmates now run the asylum.