13/02/2016 Click


13/02/2016

The team go behind the scenes of $100m crowd-funded game Star Citizen. Plus a look into what went into some complex Star Wars Episode VII movie scenes. Includes tech news.


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Transcript


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Now on BBC News, it's time to Click.

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This week, Star Citizen.

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Star Wars.

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Bar wars.

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And spam karaoke.

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# I am Mrs Lily Jones... #

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Well, this is a strange place.

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It's digital art, but art that seems to follow you around the room.

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A collection of exhibits at London's Whitechapel Gallery that date from

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1966 right up until the present day.

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Everything here has some sort of relationship with technology,

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from CCTV chandeliers to karaoke performed with lyrics taken

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from spam e-mails.

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# Though this medium has been greatly abused

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# I choose to reach you through it. #

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Moving swiftly on, this exhibition goes by the name

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of the Electronic Super Highway.

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That term was coined all the way back in 1974

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by the father of video art, Nam June Paik, from South Korea,

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who was really excited about the potential

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of telecommunication systems.

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This is one of his pieces from 20 years later, from 1994.

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This is called Internet Dream.

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Go further back in time and you get to this,

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the history of moving images, which is all blips and blobs

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until you move a bit further away from the screen.

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Videogames feature too and it's weird watching games in this

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gallery setting, as you do start to appreciate the artistry that goes

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into their creation when viewed in this context.

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Look at me, I'll be hosting an art programme next!

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The games in this work are some of the most expansive in history

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and are also some of the most expensive in history to develop,

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at least.

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But there's one videogame on the horizon

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which promises dwarf everything and it's been funded by the fans.

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Mark Cieslak enters the universe of Star Citizen.

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It blew away its initial crowdfunding goals,

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raising over $100 million,

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making videogame Star Citizen the most successful

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crowd funded project ever.

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It's an ambitious game for PC, featuring a gigantic explorable

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universe, with tons of spaceships to pilot

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and shooting stuff in first person.

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All online and massively multiplayer.

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It's the brainchild of Chris Roberts.

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In the 1990s he created the successful Wing Commander

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series of games.

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Star Citizen is going to be an absolutely massive game.

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So big, in fact, that the company behind it, Cloud Imperium, have got

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four different studios in three different countries.

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This is the Los Angeles studio, currently being made ready

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for all of the developers and designers to move in here.

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There are a lot of different activities going on in the studio.

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The full game isn't yet completed,

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but ships can be purchased with real world money

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and played with in limited, pre-release tasters of tiny

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portions of the game.

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At ease.

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It's been a difficult campaign, but we're winning this thing.

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Thanks for your efforts.

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As well as in the US, developers Cloud Imperium have studios in

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Germany and the UK.

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Just outside Manchester is where I caught up with Chris Roberts.

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He first announced the game back in 2012.

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It was supposed to be released two years later.

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It's still in development now, which means Star Citizen is late.

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One of the oxymorons of crowdfunding is that

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you're asking for money to make this game.

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You don't know how much you will get.

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Unless you want to pocket the rest of the money,

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which isn't my thing at all,

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I want to make the best game possible,

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so if you give me $100 million I'll give you a $100 million game.

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If you give me $10 million, I'm making you a $10 million game.

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Of course there are big scales between those things, but you don't

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know upfront that you will get $100 million.

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But the time it is taking to recognise the grand vision of this

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game has drawn criticism online.

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If you are in the game business, games get cancelled all the time,

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games get pushed back, schedules.

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By the time you hear about the game it's probably been in development

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for three years and already had a bunch of delays.

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But that, I guarantee you, isn't the first time we got

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pushed back, you just didn't know about it.

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So there's a whole bunch of stuff that I know, from when I was an EA

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or working with Microsoft making games,

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where loads of games got cancelled, loads got pushed back.

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Things always took much longer than they thought,

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but the general public isn't aware of that.

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I think maybe on the crowdfunding side we can all do a better job.

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If I was crowd funding again I would, like, spell this out more.

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Stateside is where Cloud Imperium handles communications

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with its fans and backers.

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As this is a crowd funded title that's raised an enormous amount

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of money, they've decided to do something quite unusual.

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They have their very own television studio here.

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A small team here produce online videos almost daily,

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filling in the audience on how the game's development is going.

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Crowdfunding can be scary thing.

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It's still a relatively new frontier and we're at the front of it.

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Everything is geared towards pulling back the curtain and letting you

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get an inside look at everything.

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The developers are also working in innovative ways to get this title

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ready for the public.

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You've got different studios in different countries.

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Does that affect the workflow in any way,

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with time differences and things of that nature?

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Absolutely.

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It allows us to be more versatile,

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because it's this idea of follow the sun development.

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We're never asleep, we're always making Star Citizen.

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So that allows us cool opportunities of

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say there was a bug we wanted to fix before release.

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We couldn't get it done here, so we send it to the UK when we go to bed.

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They say money never sleeps.

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Games design never sleeps.

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Absolutely. Absolutely.

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While the team in America continue to work on Star Citizen's persistent

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universe, in the UK they work on the single player story driven

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element of the game, called Squadron 42.

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Here the player assumes the role of a rookie pilot, preparing to

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rumble with some unfriendly ETs.

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We are at war!

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Roberts has assembled a starry cast, including Mark Hamill,

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Gary Oldman and Gillian Anderson.

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Incoming! Stay sharp!

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I had a great time.

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We shot last year at Ealing Studios in London.

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We shot for about three and a half months and did this

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really long shoot, about 66 days,

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which was the longest shoot I've done for any movie.

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What the goal post for release?

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The next year?

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The year after that?

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We are starting to layer on additional game features

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and functionalities.

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We'll flesh out the star system and then towards the end of the year

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we will open it up so you can visit some other star systems and that's

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existing in our online universe.

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And, in parallel, we are working on Squadron 42.

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We we're aiming to have that done by the end of this year.

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All right, gentlemen, fire up!

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Try to keep up.

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Well, Mark's here now.

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What is it about this particular game that has attracted

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that much backing?

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I think there are a lot of people who are sitting back and

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waiting for something to be finished before they put their cash upfront.

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Some fans must just want the game out already, never mind expanding it

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and delaying it and delaying it.

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His plans have changed quite dramatically, because

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they managed to raise as much cash as they did.

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He says it's the dream game that he has always wanted to make.

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While it has caused a lot of fuss, there have been some very vocal

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people online who say they want to see something happening right now.

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he's also had a lot of support from quite a few of those fans,

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quite a few of the people who paid for this to be made in the first

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place, and they've said to take as long as he needs to make the thing,

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which is being planned on this huge, huge scale.

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So you've played portions of the game.

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Is it any good?

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It's difficult to say.

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It's like watching a tiny bit of a movie or listening to

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a small bit of a song or reading a tiny bit of a book

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and trying to figure out whether the whole work of art is any good.

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The bits I've seen and the bits I've played I like,

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but you kind of need to see all of it to get a sense of whether the

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whole thing is going to be any good.

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Hello and welcome to the Week in Tech.

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It was the week that robotics manufacturer iRobot announced it

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would be selling off its military division of awesome machines and

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concentrate more on household vacuums.

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And the record for the world's fastest mobility scooter

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was smashed to pieces, reaching an incredible 107 mph!

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Google's driverless car project also revved up a gear.

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The smartly named National Highway Safety Administration says that, in

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light of the tech getting smarter, Google's self driving system could

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soon carry the same legal definition as a flesh and blood motorist.

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Music to the search giant's ears, as up until now any car without

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a human driver wouldn't be considered roadworthy.

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It was also the week that Twitter started tailoring its timeline.

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In the new opt-out service, tweets it thinks you'll be most

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interested in will appear at the top of the timeline, above new tweets

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as they come in.

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They will stay there until you swipe them away.

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The change could be one of many, as shares in the social network

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fell, following news of slow user growth late last year.

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And, finally, researchers in China have developed

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an artificially intelligent robot chameleon that can change its colour

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to blend into its background.

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The cute bot uses light sensors to detect surroundings

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and then quickly projects similar tones onto its surface's screens.

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AI camouflage. Oh, yeah.

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Meanwhile, in India this week, Facebook's Free Basics programme

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was dealt a blow.

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To its supporters it promised internet without charge to

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the world's poor, the billions living in the developing world

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who can't afford to get online.

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For those against Facebook's mobile platform it was

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a cynical online land grab that would destroy the open internet.

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Now Mark Zuckerberg has been told the venture can't go ahead

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in its current form at least.

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So, what now for Free Basics?

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David Reid is in the Indian capital, Delhi.

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Late last year Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sneaked

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into a side entrance while visiting a technical college in Delhi.

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Waiting students were deprived a glimpse of their hero

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and got a little miffed.

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Now I hear he has entered a secret way and it somehow

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disappoints me a lot.

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Limited seating meant only a few could get inside.

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Facebook's Free Basics was limited to the number

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of lucky website allowed on the platform but it is free to access.

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Free Basics has been criticized in India from the outset with opponents

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seeing it as a threat to net neutrality, the idea that everyone

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should be free to go unhindered where they want to on the net.

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India's telecoms regulator launched an inquiry and asked for

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submissions on how it should rule.

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Facebook argued that Free Basics would bring

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the Internet to those who cannot currently afford to go online.

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The net neutrality complainers called it a walled garden,

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great if your website or online service is hand picked by Facebook

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for inclusion but not so great if it isn't.

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By using these walled gardens, they influence consumer choice

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and the ability to create content and we don't want that kind

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of marketization of the web.

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After months of public consultations, the regulator came

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out with its verdict this week.

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They have come down on the side of net neutrality, saying operators

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cannot discriminate on price.

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Needless to say, for Facebook and Free Basics, this is a setback.

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Free Basics in its present avatar is clearly dead in the water.

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OK, it's a little bit more than a setback.

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They will have to immediately withdraw that from the marketplace.

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On Twitter, the reaction to the Free Basics ruling has seen Facebook

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branded as the East India Company and one of its directors forced to

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make a groveling apology for blaming India's economic woes on

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anticolonialism but in all of this, little has been heard from the

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people who vote most often during the debate, the country's poor.

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India's telecoms regulator to much of its founding through the Internet

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which, as we have seen, the poor have little access to.

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When it asked for responses back, guess who responded?

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Anyone who had access to a computer or a smart phone or who

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knew how to put together a response to the questions.

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You are looking at 800 million people who don't have

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that so clearly their voices were not heard in terms of recognising

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the need of that segment.

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Back to talk of gaming and in the heart of picturesque

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Amsterdam, it is not just about beautiful canals, museums,

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a lot of bikes, and a vibrant nightlife but also a hotel that is

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all about keeping guests indoors.

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Hi there.

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Arcade is the new gaming hotel.

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It is a work in progress and not one for those lusting

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after a spa but when all levels are complete, every room here should

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have a different console.

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Whoa!

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With devices old and new and a library loaded with games to

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choose from, this is hoped to become a destination

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for the gaming community.

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It is still early days for this project but it is clearly

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one driven by passion.

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You can go to a hotel and find Netflix or Apple TV

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but there is nothing for us gamers.

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We have never really been focused on it and I think this is

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the time where we are 30-40-year-olds, we are businessmen,

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dentists, lawyers, what ever.

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We may not have a lot of time to play the old classic

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games that we love, but by coming here, we get that chance.

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At the moment we have an Atari, a Nintendo, a Super Nintendo,

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a Nintendo GameCube, a Sega Dreamcast, a Sega Mega Drive

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is on the way, a Sega Eight Bit is on the way, we have a

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Playstation One, an Xbox original and and Boy me Boy and Gear.

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Game Gear. We're looking for of umber

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of others. Eventually we will have an S4, and box1, and

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Nintendo Wii.

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That is just showing off but this doesn't mean

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game over for sightseeing, it is just somethin

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little something extra to take or leave as you desire.

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Now, if you have kids, you may have heard of the Activision Skylanders,

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Disney Infinity, or Lego Dimensions.

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They are all part of the wildly popular toys to life

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video game genre.

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It has only been around for a few years and is now worth

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billions of dollars.

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These toys at a 3-dimensional element to the game by unlocking

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new levels and characters.

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Independent games makers are also getting in on that action with

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some more experimental designs.

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Jen has been to learn more.

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I'm going to a place where you can play Doom

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on a piano and drink cocktails with names like Assassins Mead.

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This bar is inspired by Tokyo's gaming cafes.

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Its patrons include independent hardware gaming designers.

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We have come to try their games.

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Fabulous Beast is like a digital animal Jenga.

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Launched on Kickstarter, its prototype parts were created

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on a 3-D printer.

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Instead of blocks, you have mishapen creatures fitted with tags so you

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can scan them into the GameCube.

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When you scan it, it asks what piece it is and then tells you what it is.

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There is also a weight sensor.

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The tablet app creates jeopardy by introducing new creatures

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and challenges including time constraints.

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Am I playing against you?

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We are playing together.

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Oh no.

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What about this?

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I also got to try Codex Bash, designed for use at festivals or

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parties which incorporates physical and online play.

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It uses a wireless button for the lights, which are connected

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to a computer by Bluetooth.

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The programme is done on the small boards.

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The small size and cheap cost make them easy to

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prototype on different levels.

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In one you have to search for links between spies on a piece

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of paper and clues onscreen.

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We are creating games which involves people using real, physical spaces.

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We have the opportunity to engage people's personalities and get

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them to come out of their shells.

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And get them to work together and communicate.

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How you delegate in your team is up to you to discover for yourself.

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And this totally 1-dimensional game is more like a piece of art.

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It uses a joystick and LED light strip.

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It is a 1-D game but it exists in a 3-D world.

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Every time I set it up I try to conform it to

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the existing architecture so it is going around pillars or

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trees and here, up this bookcase.

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I think it is quite an interesting aspect of gameplay.

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It was inspired by pawing at the springy doorstep in an online video.

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The game uses an accelerometer and the LED strip makes it slightly more

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expensive than the others to make.

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Just before Christmas there was an awakening in the force.

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Have you felt it?

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Well, obviously a whole lot of us did because Star Wars: The Force

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Awakens has earned almost ?1.4 billion in the worldwide box office.

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The film has earned praise from diehard fans

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for its combination of practical and computer-generated effects

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and it has even been nominated for a visual effects Oscar.

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Over 400 shots for the film were put together here

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in the new London office of Industrial Light and Magic.

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A large portion of time was spent working on this

0:20:550:20:58

character, a bar owner, played by Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o.

0:20:580:21:02

And I was lucky enough to peek behind the curtain and get

0:21:020:21:05

an exclusive break down as one of the film's most complex scenes.

0:21:050:21:10

This is the entrance into the castle.

0:21:100:21:13

It is a technically tricky shot because it is joining three

0:21:130:21:16

different plates together.

0:21:160:21:18

You can see the breakdown here.

0:21:180:21:20

We go into the studio set further inside the bar and we have to join

0:21:200:21:23

the camera through the doorway.

0:21:230:21:30

As she turns around, you can see that her face is covered in dots

0:21:300:21:33

and it looks like every possible muscle they could have tracked.

0:21:330:21:36

They are evenly distributed across her face.

0:21:360:21:39

We will take those markers and track those, and work out where

0:21:390:21:42

they are so we will be able to rebuild a 3-D representation

0:21:420:21:46

of her face and how it was moving.

0:21:460:21:48

Then we can analyse that and work out what expression she was making.

0:21:480:21:58

Then transfer that into the CGI person.

0:21:580:22:02

It is a block version of the actor's performance, the animation layer

0:22:020:22:08

on top really brings the character to life and captures all

0:22:080:22:11

the subtleties of the performance.

0:22:110:22:13

Simple things like how much of the whites of the eyes you can see.

0:22:130:22:17

When are her teeth visible?

0:22:170:22:19

Things like that that helps to transmit the performance.

0:22:190:22:23

And the genius about this kind of motion capture is she can be

0:22:230:22:26

on set with other actors, so there is a proper interaction.

0:22:260:22:29

Yes, it is super important that whoever

0:22:290:22:34

is performing is onset, not just for the performer who we are taking

0:22:340:22:37

data from but also for the other actors, so they can see the person

0:22:370:22:41

and interact directly with them.

0:22:410:22:46

Give us an idea of how long a scene like this would

0:22:460:22:49

take to design and then render.

0:22:490:22:52

It was one of the first shots sent over to us and it was pretty much

0:22:520:22:56

the last shot that was completed.

0:22:560:22:58

Because of the complexity of the camera moves but also it had to

0:22:580:23:02

go through a lot of design phases.

0:23:020:23:09

It was quite a long shot.

0:23:090:23:15

In terms of rendering, we will do it in different passes

0:23:150:23:18

rather than all at once.

0:23:180:23:19

You have the castle and the flags, we will split all of that up to keep

0:23:190:23:23

working on our own little bits.

0:23:230:23:27

At the end of the day, it was something we got going

0:23:270:23:31

in the evenings to do overnight.

0:23:310:23:34

To render a file, we'd process it overnight and we

0:23:340:23:37

would get them back the next day.

0:23:370:23:42

It would go through iterations as we got closer to the end of production

0:23:420:23:45

and we had less because there was less time to make changes.

0:23:450:23:49

Also people have zeroed in on what they are after.

0:23:490:23:51

So this sort of shot will probably have gone through

0:23:510:23:54

400-500 versions of the shot.

0:23:540:23:56

My goodness.

0:23:560:23:59

We wish the team all the best of luck at the Oscars at the end

0:23:590:24:03

of the month.

0:24:030:24:05

That is all from the Electronic Superhighway here in East London.

0:24:050:24:07

More next week from BBC Click and see you soon.

0:24:070:24:12

Hello there.

0:24:340:24:35

We saw winter wonderland scenes across parts of eastern Scotland

0:24:350:24:38

and north-east England on Saturday, frequent snow showers giving

0:24:380:24:40

considerable accumulations of snow in places, as proved here by a

0:24:400:24:43

Weather Watcher picture in Aboyne in Aberdeenshire,

0:24:430:24:44

and also this lovely picture showing heavy snow in the Pentland Hills

0:24:440:24:47

just outside Edinburgh.

0:24:470:24:50

Meanwhile across southern Britain, Saturday was a grey,

0:24:500:24:52

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