The present and future of post production business and technology | Philip Hodgetts

Archive for April 2010



TV Ditches Paper Scripts for iPads

TV Ditches Paper Scripts for iPad, Saves $2,000 a Month Reporters use the iPad to write and read scripts.

A TV station in Albany, Georgia is saving US$2,000 per month in printing costs by using iPads for writing and reading scripts. The station, WFXL, is one of 15 stations owned by Barrington Broadcasting, and it made the switch to both save money and reduce the company’s carbon footprint.

According to an article by Poynter Online, the station e-mails new and edited scripts to individual e-mail accounts set up for each iPad. Each iPad is also set up with a $6.99 iPad app called iAnnotate PDF — a PDF reader and annotation tool — for using the scripts in live and recorded situations.

In the discussion about Flash-on-iDevices following yesterday’s post it occured to me that not only was there no Flash on the iPhone, et al., but there was no QuickTime either!

Not what QT was at least. The iDevices support H.264 video and AAC audio, primarily in a MPEG 4 file wrapper (although some devices will play H.264/AAC in a MOV wrapper) that is really not what QuickTime has been. (More below). Try playing a Sorenson video file on an iPad. What about QuickTime interactivity (Wired Sprites)?  Ever seen a QT VR play on an iPhone?

Of course not. QuickTime is not supported on any Apple device other than desktop and laptop computers. I also believe that the QT I loved and evangelized heavily late last Century is destined for the scrapheap. It’s been increasingly obvious, since around 2002/2001 that Apple decided that the future of web video was MP4: open standards. Initially they supported the MPEG-4 Simple Profile (just MPEG-4 in Apple’s world) in QuickTime 6 and then H.264 – the Advanced Video Codec from MPEG 4 Part 10.

Now, a lot of MPEG-4 is adopted from QuickTime. Apple donated the QT container to the MPEG group for consideration as their container format. Because of that MPEG-4 can do pretty much anything that QT could do, except there are very few implementations of anything beyond basic video playback. So with the QT container at the center of MPEG-4 it was easy for Apple to adopt and support this evolving (at the time) technology.

So QuickTime became the pre-eminent MPEG-4 player. When it came to the Apple TV, iPhone, iTouch and now iPad, the decision was made to only support simple MP4 playback. When QuickTime X was announced it referenced “the experience of the iPhone video” suggesting that QuickTime X was a different approach. When it was released it’s clear that QuickTime X will be the next generation of consumer-facing video playback.

So I expect that QuickTime X will never get the advanced features that QuickTime currently has. There’s no business model for it within Apple, which was always the problem with QuickTime. Frankly that Apple never provided a development environment was why Flash was able to so quickly “take over”. Remember that in QuickTime 6, Flash 5 was a supported media type. (Support was dropped because of security concerns with that version of Flash.) It took Flash to version 8 before it equalled all the features of QuickTime 3! (Seriously).

Few people made use of the advanced features of QuickTime. Our Australian company was one of them, making all the movies for the DV Companion for Final Cut Pro, and most of the other Intelligent Assistants with QuickTime wired sprite animations so the file size was acceptable. We were in the era of small hard drives after all. There was never a development environment from Apple: Totally Hip stepped up with our development environment (LiveStage Pro). Had there been a business model within Apple for QuckTime then the story of the web would have been different.

The advanced features in QuickTime have had no development since, well, QuickTime 4 (before the return of Jobs to Apple). I believe, without proof, that there was a fundamental shift within Apple around that time to, really, abandon the features they could get no return on, and make QuickTime the best MPEG-4 player; a great architecture for creating media and the foundation of their total media strategy. Without the advanced features, because, by this time Flash had “won” the interactivity war.

Now we can have better interactivity using features from HTML5, Javascript and CSS, which are all web standards overseen by a body outside of one company. It’s not just Flash that won’t see the iDevices, but any resemblance to the old QuickTime won’t make it either.

And I’m OK with that. QuickTime – MOV distribution – served Apple well and continues to power their iLife applications and Professional Video and Audio applications, but without the features that it had, and no longer needs. Apple are always “good” at dumping technology that no longer meets their need. I think it’s one of Jobs’ strengths.

I also believe Apple are being consistent by not allowing Flash: it’s on a par with their own technology also not getting on the platform.



Steve Jobs bets the company?

Steve Jobs betting the company or the future of computing.

Charles Stross has a very interesting take on Apple, Flash etc: it’s not just about keeping Flash off, it’s about the future of computing and how Apple are trying to build the mobile web – the future of computing according to Stross – in just five years. Plus more on changing PC business models.

Overall, an excellent, thought provoking article.

I’ve got a theory, and it’s this: Steve Jobs believes he’s gambling Apple’s future — the future of a corporation with a market cap well over US $200Bn — on an all-or-nothing push into a new market. HP have woken up and smelled the forest fire, two or three years late; Microsoft are mired in a tar pit, unable to grasp that the inferno heading towards them is going to burn down the entire ecosystem in which they exist. There is the smell of panic in the air, and here’s why …



Microsoft weighs in on the future of the web: HTML5

RT @dougluberts: From @engadget:

From Dean Hachamovitch, General Manager for Internet Explorer:

Echoing the Apple CEO’s words, Hachamovitch describes HTML5 as “the future of the web,” praising it for allowing content to be played without the need for plug-ins and with native hardware acceleration (in both Windows 7 and Mac OS X). He goes on to identify H.264 as the best video codec for the job — so much so that it’ll be the only one supported in IE9’s HTML5 implementation — before turning to the dreaded subject of Flash.

Adobe are quick supporting the hardware h.264 acceleration in Flash Gala release API only publicly documented last week.

On April 22nd, Apple published a tech note on some new H.264 decoding APIs and today Adobe announce that a beta version of Flash Player for OS X – the “Gala” version, calls those hardware APIs for decoding H.264 Flash. (Most “Flash Video” is h.264/MPEG-4 just like the video used for HTML5 and Apple devices, just that Flash is the player.)

That’s really walking the walk on Adobe’s part. Flash on OS X will likely suck less if you have one of the appropriate cards with H.264 hardware decoding on board.

Conrary opinon to CoC Fair Use (loose IP laws) grows Trillions of $$ in US alone Somewhere btwn 2 istudies s fact

Two studies, same day, and yet this study shows that Trillions of $$ in the US alone are because of the Fair Use provisions of the Copyright legislation.  Few studies ever consider the upside of loose IP law because most studies are intended to support the (unsubstantiated to date) assertions from the RIAA, MPAA and their cousins on how much harm they’re suffering. Except their industries are not suffering, just their obsolete business models.

This report also acknowledges how hard it is to get really accurate figures on any of this, something the pro tighter copyright (pay us for every listen or view) tend not to do, wanting us to believe their rubbery, fudgy figures are in some way connected to reality.

Change in business models is inevitable. Just as lamplighters, linytype operators and buggy whip manufacturers.

[Update] I love the way Boing Boing puts this:

The “fair use economy” is enormous, growing, and endangered by the relatively tiny entertainment industry

The report is a counterpoint to those crazy Hollywood stats that show that every job in America will disappear unless copyright is extended to infinity, all network connections are surveilled, and every infringer is fined her entire net worth and stuck in jail.

Chamber of Commerce posts bogus IP study as if it was researched

How do we expose these charletans? Do they think that no-one will examine what the study actually considered and what factual conclusion could reasonably be made, instead of the insane headline, which is antithetical to any known real research. (Even the US Government Accounting Office comes up with research that suggests “piracy” is a net good for the enterntainment industry.)

Of course, they get away with this type of behavior because the “media” (newspapers and television) do not actually read the research. They grab the headline and press release and publish it as if they had done some work.

The US Chamber of Commerce (which many people mistakenly think is a government organization — it’s not) has a long history ofgetting the facts wrong about intellectual property. The folks at the Chamber of Commerce have one basic mission, which is to protect the big businesses that fund it. And what better way to do that then to have the government help give them monopoly rights and then enforce those rights. The latest is that it has released a report which it falsely claims proves that stricter IP enforcement would boost the economy. But that’s not what the report actually says. The Chamber of Commerce hired NPD Group to write this report, and you can read the results yourself (pdf). It’s significantly weaker than even the most ridiculous studies we’ve seen in the past.

Preview of my free seminar on Branding your post production business now up.

The preview covers the topic of “what business are you really in” and what you should be projecting to your clients right now. The entire free seminar is next Tuesday, May 4th and will cover:

  • Know what business you are you really in?
  • Building your Brand
  • Why doubling your prices may be smarter than reducing them to the levels of your competitors.
  • Marketing, PR and Social Conversations
  • Network in the physical and virtual worlds
  • Maximize your visibility on the Internet

Did I mention it was free to sign up and attend, and three people will win a copy of my book The New Now.

RT @goSimian: Facebook Starts Serving iPad-Friendly Video

About the time the iPhone and iTouch were released without Flash support I had a series of email exchanges with a friend in Australia, who is something of a Flash fan. I predicted that the rise of the iPhone would make it imperative that a video service – any site serving up video – couldn’t afford to ignore the iPhone/iTouch (and now iPad) market.

Now at 80 million devices we’re seeing exactly that happen, with Facebook now joining the HTML5 camp for iPad et al support.

[Update] The definitive word: it’s H.264 MP4 using the standard player in Safari Mobile. From Techcrunch

Yes, videos on Facebook do play when clicked on from the iPad or iPhone, but only ReadWriteWebnoted that this was through an h264 player (which both the iPhone and iPad have always supported), and not actually any sort of HTML5 implimentation. We’ve since confirmed this with Facebook which says, “You are correct, this is not html 5. All new videos are encoded in h264 format, so we’re playing videos natively in the iPad since it supports h264-encoded videos.”

The distinction is the non-use of the <video> tag, otherwise that’s an HTML5 video! As I said in the comments, not being HTML5 at this point is probably a mistake, or simply not enough time.



Social Media rocks Film and TV

Social Media rocks Film and TV Anything that gets the audience more engaged is good.

I’ve long thought that integrating social media into a production is the clue to success, and these case studies support this. If you’re going to be at Showbiz Expo anyway, this might make it worthwhile. (Otherwise, give Showbiz Expo a miss, big bore, and they try and upsell throughout registration, even pre-registered get the hard sell.)

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