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The Sherlock Holmes BD-Live Community Event
With Special Guests Robert Downey, Jr., and Susan Downey
1 April 2010

Not-ready-for-prime-time technology once again undermines an otherwise great online event.

Not So Elementary, My Dear Warner

Warner Bros. has staged several BD-Live events now, including The Dark Knight, Watchmen, and Terminator: Salvation. The only one I’ve been able to attend was The Dark Knight; the other two I missed because of scheduling conflicts (travel and stuff, don’t you know?).

The cool bit of news for the Sherlock event was that audio would accompany the text messaging of the community conversation, starring none other than Sherlock himself, Robert Downey, Jr., and his wife, Susan, who co-produced the flick and goes by the perhaps unwanted nicknames of Little Downey and Downey Jr. Jr.

It started off great. It was so awesome to hear them chat about the movie, while a transcription also appeared in the upper-right quarter of the screen. With The Dark Knight, it was text only and not nearly as fun.

But the fun lasted only about 10 minutes before the audio crashed. It was a system issue on Warner’s end and the moderator “hoped” it was because so many people were online. I’m not sure that makes sense, but I’ll give him that hope.

The event was put on pause for several minutes before resuming the session. When things got back online, there was a huge lag between the transcription, which was well on down the road in terms of the real-time conversation, and the audio, which was restarted from when the problem began.

Even so, it was undeniably enjoyable listening to Robert and Susan... for the next 14 minutes or so. Then the audio crashed again – this time for good. The moderator didn’t even bother to acknowledge the problem the second time around.

Getting a Clue

In theory, given a couple weeks time, the transcript and audio will be posted on BD-Live. We’ll just have to see about that. I still need to check if they ever posted The Dark Knight transcript.

That’s the bad news. The bulk of the presentation went back to text only. And it can be a bugger reading the scroll box, especially given some heinously egregious typos. For example, I had to use my own not inconsiderable powers of deductive reasoning to determine that “Chat ‘um’” meant “Chatham,” similarly that “spes fee” meant “specify,” and, of course, “10 sis” meant “tennis.”

Throw in some syncing issues, with questions popping up in the text box while others were still being answered and it began to devolve into an unstructured hodge-podge of information that could’ve been avoided with a fully functional audio feature.

Nonetheless, incredibly, it was still a better experience than the freshman Dark Knight community screening. During that one, far too many extremely lame-ass questions were posed.

This time around, I was delighted by the caliber of the questions and the repartee of Robert Downey, Jr. It’ll be great to go back and LISTEN to the event again, if Warner Bros. fulfills the promise of posting the complete audio.

There was good information to be had, including a few tasty tidbits about the sequel. Moriarty? Yep. And it won’t take place entirely in London. And how well will Holmes cope without Watson? Not well at all.

Plus they acknowledged something that had puzzled me after seeing the movie: There are scenes of Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) in the trailer (viewable at the top of this page) that are not in the final cut. Turns out those scenes were reshot on account of concerns about the character’s appeal.

Super Sleuthing Insights

Even the goofiest question of the evening got a damn good answer from Robert: What’s your favorite animal and why?

Sherlock Holmes BD-Live Event

Sherlock Holmes BD-Live Event

Such a simple question. Such a complicated – first – answer: It’s an insult to the rest of the animal kingdom to declare a favorite, he said.

But then Robert gave it another thought and answered: “Poison Dart Frog.”

Ah, but the third and final answer was the “Dirty Ham Sandwich Frog.” The response of which provokes one participant to post a photo of such a creature on the Web. Didn’t get the link. It SHOULD be in the full transcript, though.

And, with Robert’s 45th birthday coming on April 4 (same birthday as this writer, albeit a different year), he acknowledged he front-loaded his life with crises and drama, so now he can enjoy himself and not contend with things like a mid-life crisis.

A further glimpse into his life came via a question about how long it takes to get into and out of character. Robert commented that Tony Stark comes on fast and lingers longer. The extended visits by that particularly narcissistic character apparently make for some interesting times at the Downey household.

Most of the questions were equally intelligent and all of the ones getting air time received a considerate response. Well, maybe not all of them. There was one witty question that seemed to get lost in the shuffle: “Did anyone ever say, ‘No shit, Sherlock,’ on the set?”

I think the answer was along the lines of “No,” but that’s when the questions and answers in the text presentation were getting jumbled together and the audio would’ve more clearly delineated the trains of thought.

Probably delineate, anyway. At one point, Robert was saying something about his wife and then the text stopped... Another technical glitch? No. Robert came back with a comment that he saw himself on the screen and was, essentially, mesmerized by his own appearance.

Funny stuff. Highly entertaining.

So the quality of the screening’s content this time around was superb, proving the idea of these online community screenings is a truly terrific one. Now it’s just a matter of getting those technical kinks ironed out.

It was a great leap forward to move from text only to audio. The next natural step would be a video picture-in-picture of the moderator and guests. But that’ll be a resource hog, no doubt. First, get the audio working. And maybe make the font size bigger.

Gotta take these things one baby step at a time.

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