3D better than 2D, says your brain

Libby in Mindlab testing gearHere’s an exclusive feature that I wrote for Pocket-lint.com when the Blu-ray Disc Association invited me to take part in some Mindlab testing.

People are 12 per cent more attentive when watching Blu-ray 3D compared to a conventional Blu-ray disc and 29 per cent more attentive when that same 3D experience is up against a plain old DVD. So says recent research commissioned by the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA). The results of the study, which is good news for 3D evangelists, also showed that people are 7 per cent more engaged when watching Blu-rays in 3D as well.

But how were these results collected and just how believable are they? Pocket-lint was invited to take an exclusive peek at the testing procedure and also to take part. Read on to find out what happened.

The tests were carried out by the Mindlab International team, based at the Sussex Innovation Centre in Brighton which is essentially an incubation home for tech companies. Mindlab is a neuromarketing company founded by company chairman, director of research and “father of neuromarketing” Dr David Lewis-Hodgson in the early 90s, under the slightly alarming title of StressWatch. Thankfully in 2005, the name was changed to the infinitely more friendly sounding MindLab.

On arrival at Mindlab HQ, we had the whole test process explained to us by Mindlab’s MD and director of operations, Duncan Smith, and his friendly team of data analysts and researchers. The technology used by Mindlab may look like something out of a science-fiction film, but it’s actually called EEG testing (or electroencephalography to give it its full title) which provides quantifiable data on brain activity that’s combined with EDA (electro-derman activity) readings taken from small electrodes on the hand which measure stress indicators such as sweat. The point behind all this is to understand responses to subconscious influences, in this case a selection of film clips.

You can read the rest of the article here on Pocket-lint.com (originally published 28/03/11).

Top 13 horror films on Blu-ray

Best 13 horror films on Blu-rayThis is a seasonal Blu-ray round-up that I wrote for Pocket-lint.com.

If you hadn’t already realised, it’s Halloween on 31 October, making this the perfect season for getting re-acquainted with the best horror films ever made. We’ve hunted down the top 13 horror films available on Blu-ray for your viewing pleasure. Of course, to get the best out of the spooky tales, you really need to see them in high definition. Not only will the picture be more defined, but Blu-ray’s excellent performance on dark scenes means that you won’t er, be left in the dark when it comes to the nocturnal nuances that actually make up the vast majority of these films. Grab yourself some popcorn, a slice of pumpkin pie and sit back and prepare to be scared…

Halloween

FIRST RELEASED:
1978
PRICE:
£5.49
FEAR FACTOR:
10/10

John Carpenter’s 1970s cult classic is a masterclass in how to make a really terrifying film on a shoestring budget. Set in the fictional suburban town of Haddonfield, Illinois, the film begins with 6-year old Michael Myres brutally murdering his older sister on Halloween night. Fast forward 15 years and the grown-up Myres escapes from a psychiatric hospital and returns to the town to terrorise teenager Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her pals. The only person with any hope of stopping his killing spree is his psychiatrist Dr Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence).

The film is packed with carefully paced set pieces that have you jumping out of your skin at regular intervals, while the haunting score, penned by the director himself, will also keep you on the edge of your seat. As the knife-happy Myres spends much of the time lurking in the shadows, this is a good one to watch on Blu-ray as the details in even the darkest scenes won’t descend into inky blackness. This is horror cinema at its best, but we would advise you to avoid the 2007 remake like the plague.

Night of the living dead

FIRST RELEASED:
1968
PRICE:
£6.99
FEAR FACTOR:
8/10

This independent film from the late 60s was also made on a tiny budget, but that didn’t stop it cementing director George A. Romero’s reputation as a horror movie legend. The film tells the story of a bunch of survivors who hole up in a remote farmhouse to try and escape the horde of flesh-eating zombies outside. Shot in black and white, the film manages to get away with a fair bit of visceral gore that probably would’ve looked a bit over the top in colour. The Blu-ray treatment has certainly worked wonders with the film, adding a distinct sharpness to the ageing monochrome visuals.

As well as being applauded as being one of the first mainstream films to star an African-Amercian actor as the lead character, the film is also famously said to be an allegory of 1960s America, referencing Vietnam, Cold War politics and the civil rights movement. Crikey. And there you were thinking it was all just about a load of zombies…

You can read the rest of the article here on Pocket-lint.com (originally published 28/10/10).