Friday, January 23, 2015


YouTube in Spectro-vision

I appreciate this is all a bit 'first-world problems', but what is it with the recent trend for people to upload to YouTube full episodes of TV shows and have them play back in a diminished rectangle, making space for a perennial title surrounded by a worthless vacuum? It's like playing a Spectrum game where the coders had to compromise on the size of the game-play window because the little 8-bit computers didn't have the processing muscle to interpret and re-draw a full screen array of animation. All that's missing here is a status console/HUD displaying our high score, remaining lives and energy bar.

Shadow Warriors for the ZX Spectrum. Look Ma, no 'colour clash'!

Take Channel 4's The Undateables, pictured below, for instance. This is exactly what you see if you maximise the screen. It's painful to watch on a decent-sized LCD monitor, so imagine what an endurance test it is on a 4 inch phone screen.
It's not entirely clear if this is being done by the programme's producers, or third parties, though as these are the only episodes to survive Google's copyright infringement cull, it suggests the owners of the channel also own the rights to rebroadcast the show on YouTube.

Either way, what precisely does it achieve? Is it to deter people from inserting shows into their own web sites, pretending they're called 'Differently-abled Dudes Struggle to Find Love' and claiming they produced them? Maybe it's a disability-inclusion, box-ticking exercise catering for viewers with Alzeimer's. I know I often forget entirely what I'm watching so this kind of perpetual reminder is really helpful, and surely it must save carers up and down the country countless minutes of elucidation.

But wait, it gets worse! The screen shot below is taken from the BBC 1 show, 'Waterloo Road'; an overly sanitised, politically correct school drama in the Grange Hill mould, only with all the edgy bits sanded off and wrapped in cotton wool.

Instead of the title of the show, we now have a static image of some of its 'stars', which takes up even more screen real estate. If perma-titles are for viewers with Alzeimer's, this abortion of a YouTube presentation must be for those of us who are illiterate as well as having Alzeimer's.

I'd be fascinated to know what went through the mind of whoever thought this would be a good idea. Answers on a dinner ticket to...