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Friday, May 21, 2021

Comic Cuts - 21 May 2021

As some of you will have seen, Saturday's Lawless appearance continued my war with technology — the only difference to my day-to-day life was that this was being broadcast to the nation via livestream on YouTube!

With the country still in lockdown to one degree or another, a live convention has been impossible for over a year. The Lawless Comic Convention has been running in Bristol for seven or so years maybe, originally known as Lawgiver when it debuted back in 2014, but this year was held online, with a number of pre-recorded interviews appearing on Friday/Saturday and a day of live broadcasts on Saturday.

I spent Friday morning making sure that a new set of headphones was working properly. They had a built-in microphone and that, too, worked. Unfortunately, I realised there was an annoying underlying buzz that I couldn't get rid of. So on Saturday morning I rearranged everything, using another microphone and taking the headphone mic out of the loop. I also played around with the lighting, arranged some books behind me and beside me, should I need to reference anything, and had the whole thing set up how I wanted it by ten o'clock.

We signed in to Zoom at 11:50, ten minutes ahead of the broadcast, and I hit a snag immediately. I could hear other people talking, but the screen only showed one person at a time, and would freeze after a few seconds. As we went live, I still hadn't resolved the issue and, as anyone who tuned in could see, my image on the livestream was mysteriously split in two. While I was playing around with the settings, I could listen in to some of the conversation, but after five or six minutes, I realised that this was all I could do.

The solution was to decamp to one of Mel's computers upstairs, which we've used regularly for playing boardgames online with friends. It isn't perfect, but at least it had been tried and tested and I knew it would work. On the livesteam video, I disappeared at the 2hr 8m 28s mark, and spent the next two minutes shutting down, unplugging lights and recovering the camera. I then reappeared at 2hr 14m 35s, in time to answer a question about creators of colour, which led to the panel discussing the work of Maori artist Peter Ford.

Once I was able to participate, I settled in fairly quickly and we had quite a freewheeling discussion, chiefly centred around David Roach's Masters of British Comic Art book — always worth discussing, of course. Everyone was able to pull out their copies of the book except me, as mine was downstairs. If I'd had  time (and hadn't been in a bit of a panic), I would have brought some of my Bear Alley Books upstairs.

We crashed through the 1 1/2 hour barrier and were still going strong until we had to make way for the next panel. Hopefully we will get another chance to do a similar thing again in the future. Or maybe do something pre-recorded. I now have a slightly better set-up than I was operating with when I did a few lockdown videos last year, so it might be worth experimenting with and seeing what's possible.

What I haven't solved is why my computer fell apart the moment we went live. All I can think of is that my computer is ancient and the video card probably wasn't designed to cope with Zoom. Unfortunately, I don't have the money to replace the computer or even to get a new laptop. My laptop is even older than my computer! I think the laptop dates from about 2003 and nowadays I only use it to play films on as it has a large screen. I do have a tablet, but that was what I used to film my previous videos on, and was only a cheap little thing I bought because I wanted it for reading and playing a bit of music when I was working out of the office.

Talking of reading, I have been wearing my new glasses for a week and a half now and my eyes quickly settled in. My eyesight isn't brilliant (I've worn glasses all my life) but I'm no longer getting eyestrain at the end of the day. I'm still taking quite a long break mid-day, but I usually make up my time later in the evening or at night.

And more good news to end on. I got my second jab on Tuesday and am now fizzing with antibodies. Unlike the first jab, I haven't had any flu-like symptoms. Just a slight ache in the arm, not even as bad as last time. Give it a week or two and I'll be rampaging around the charity shops of Colchester once again.

1 comment:

  1. Your input very much appreciated, Steve, even if net gremlins delayed you. Thanks for taking part - and later steering me back toward re-reading some “The Munsters” strips by Peter Ford!