Creating My Home Cinema aka Making the Most of a Scary Movie!

SPONSORED FEATURE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH PANASONIC

If you read my blog regularly you’ll know I’m a massive film buff. You might have seen I’ve already started to share some of my old horror movie posts, ahead of some new ones coming up, all in the name of October and Halloween. So when I was asked if I’d like to talk about the new Panasonic 4k TV range, I of course said yes!

The first TV in my bedroom was about 4 inches square, had an aerial you had to move around. If you watched it at the wrong angle everyone looked like they were in negative. I then upgraded to a little tube tv which also had an aerial so when Channel 5 came in, I had to get up and re-tune it every time I wanted to watch Sunset Beach.

I have a vivid memory of going to a friend’s house to watch a show I’d watched many, many times, and they had a widescreen TV (which we didn’t have in our home), but they’d not tweaked the settings so everything was set to widescreen – even full screen shows – so my favourite characters were stretched and looked so odd. I supposed they’d gotten used to it, but I was baffled by the idea that people would happily watch things in a way that was, let’s face it, just plain wrong!

Times have changed immensely since then. Not only are televisions so much lighter to carry and sleeker in design, but they’re also incredibly intuitive and even customisable. Not to mention with the addition of apps, YouTube has simply become just another TV station to me.

But when it comes to my film viewing experience, I’m a bit of a geek. If I’m going to watch a scary movie, it needs to be perfect – how can you expect to get the required scares if there’s glare on the screen, the sound isn’t perfect or there’s actually ghosting on your ghosts?

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When me and G-Man decided to upgrade our old Panasonic TV from 42″ to 50″ a few years ago, we did our research, and ended up sticking with the same brand. I say we, but to be honest Gary’s such an AV geek that he did most of it, and then said to me “we’re getting this one”. Which I was fine with!

One of the things I love about our TV is that the blacks are REALLY black. Meaning, and especially for horror films, that you’re seeing things as dark as they were intended when they were filmed. So if films like Paranormal Activity are your thing, you’re going to see the dark shapes and changes exactly as you would in the cinema, with no additional shading or shadowing that could possibly spoil your experience.

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Another majorly geeky thing we did with our TV as soon as we got it, was to set up our own personal picture settings profile. There are loads of suggested setting changes on places like AV Forums and YouTube, specific to your make and model of TV. These people have done all the hard work for you, so you can simply make the settings changes to the darkness, red, green and blues etc (and make sure you take off the default IFC setting which alters the frame rate you view things at and smooths the movement) and then apply this custom profile to each HDMI slot you use (so Sky, DVD player, console etc…) I know, after doing this, that I’m watching everything the way it was intended to be watched! It’s so important to me.

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It might seem like a lot of effort (and it is a little effort) but you’ll be so much happier with your viewing experience.  And wow, this is all without even beginning to mention the clarity of a 4k display and how bright and beautiful the colours are. I can’t wait for the new BBC Blue Planet series to begin, because the trailer looked breathtaking on our TV.

When buying a new TV it can be so overwhelming. There are so many brands, all offering special things and so many different prices. But when it’s all said and done, and you’re in your living room it’s just you and the TV – and you want the best viewing experience possible.

We’re made up with our TV and the little cinema we’ve created in our set up. We just need to get around to getting some kind of surround sound system set, and my horror film binge sessions will be that much more enthralling!

 

DISCLAIMER: Though this post is sponsored by Panasonic, this TV was paid for by me and my opinions and choices are honest and my own.

 

 

 

The Small Screen

I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to a lot of things, and TV is no exception. I talk about movies on my blog but never really tv. Watching the Golden Globes today made me realise that there have been a lot of really great shows in the last year. I want to run you through a few of my favourites.

Let’s start with Homeland – This show was amazing in its first season and the second season was no less great. I love Damian Lewis and people who know me will know I’m a little bit in love with Claire Danes. So it was a given that I would watch this. Throw in that it’s all about politics and Homeland Security and you’ve got me hooked. I’m not going to go deep into what the show’s about (click the link above for the IMDB’s synopsis) but I will say the plots, action, characters and of course the acting are flawless. Last year’s season 2 was explosive and I can’t wait for season 3.

Last year saw the third and final season of Forbrydelson (or The Killing) a Danish tv show (which has been made into a US series but I wouldn’t even bother with that) with English subtitles. From the offset this show was amazing. A murder mystery with wonderfully written detectives and a political element (seeing a pattern in my tv tastes?) Last year saw the airing of the final season of the series – long-awaited. I won’t go into detail because I know it hasn’t aired everywhere – but I will say you won’t be disappointed. If you love the show then you’re going to love this season.

Let’s talk about Girls. This is the kind of show you can’t admit to your parents that you love (sorry Mum!) It’s sexually explicit, the characters and rude, the behaviour isn’t quite right – but it’s amazing. Lena Dunham has written and starred in my favourite show of the past year. The people and what they get up to are so relatable, in a messed up way, that I just absorb each show as it’s aired. And thankfully UK are seeing the new season only one day after it’s aired in the US. Another wonderful HBO show that I can’t wait to watch each week.

The Newsroom is a show I was predestined to love. It’s written by Aaron Sorkin who also created The West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. The West Wing is my all time favourite tv show, so I knew I needed to try this out. Not only does The Newsroom feature reaction to real life events, it also includes footage and soundbites from real news coverage. The characters are interesting and funny, and you really root for them. The subplot which runs throughout the whole show is also interesting and keeps you watching. The season ended with an interesting inclusion of the phone hacking scandal. I’ll be tuning in for next season.

New Girl was a grower for me. The second season has been leaps and bounds better than the first (which I also enjoyed!) and it seems to have settled into its niche. I find myself laughing out loud throughout the show. It’s found a place with The Big Bang Theory as a fantastic go to short episode comedy to make myself feel happy!

I’ll mention Treme briefly even though the 3rd season wasn’t my favourite. However a not so great season of Treme pretty much trumps a good season of anything else. Made by the same people as The Wire (another of my faves!) it’s set around New Orleans and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. So well written and acted that each episode seems like a mini movie in itself, it’s definitely one to try out.

You may have noticed that most of these shows are American and I’ve not even mentioned Downton Abbey (because I refuse to watch it). That’s mainly because most of the drama that comes out of Britain is rubbish. But I will mention one show I watched last year and thoroughly enjoyed. The only reason I chose to watch The Syndicate was because it had Matthew Lewis in it (Neville from Harry Potter) and girls, if you didn’t know, Neville grew up to be a hottie. I was so glad I did switch it on though. It’s set around a group of people who work in a little corner shop and who played the lottery in a syndicate and won the jackpot. Each episode focussed on a different winner and how their life had or hadn’t been effected by the win. Of course the character’s life intertwined. Such an interesting and well executed idea. definitely try it out if you can.

I’ll also briefly mention Dexter which is consistently amazing (season 7 was as jaw dropping as the others) and American Horror Story; Asylum which makes you feel right on the edge of your comfort zone but always has you wanting to know what happens next.

There’s been a lot of good TV in the last year, and the new year seems to be pulling it out of the bag too. Here’s to another year of watching the goggle box!