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

Archive for August 2010

Video: Flash on Android Is Shockingly Bad

And yet, people think it can be done on an iDevice and even want it!

While in theory Flash video might be a competitive advantage for Android users, in practice it’s difficult to imagine anyone actually trying to watch non-optimized web video on an Android handset, all of which makes one believe that maybe Steve Jobs was right to eschew Flash in lieu of HTML5 on the iPhone and iPad.

So, to be clear. There is no working version of Flash running on any smartphone, but somehow Apple should magically make it work on their devices with no access to the source code? In what reality is that reasonable?

From DVMagazine via Twitter: Hodgetts Leads Web Video Tech Sessions at Digital Video Expo

I’ve got a reasonably full DV Expo Schedule this year with three sessions on compression and web video on Thursday September 30th: Video Compression Options, Web & Mobile Video: Web Video Production Workshop, and Web & Mobile Video: Web Video Production Workshop | Part 2. That’s in the paid conference track, which has 11 days left for discounted registration.  Fun fact: in the audience will be a friend from my high school days I haven’t seen in more than 35 years.

The day before, Wednesday 29th, I’ll be on the main stage off the Exhibition floor with a free presentation “The New Now: Surviving the Changing Biz of Production The New Now — Surviving the Changing Business of Production”.

All the details are at

Plus, that Wednesday night’s LAFCPUG meeting will include the first public demonstration of our newest piece of software prEdit. I’ll be writing more about prEdit coming up as tomorrow will be the first day I use it on a real project: a documentary we’re producing to find out how better to improve prEdit, but also to have demonstration media we own the rights to.

By the way, you can check my schedule for upcoming events on the Upcoming Presentations link at the top right of the blog. Next presentation will be at OCMA, Orange County on September 21: Part 2 of the New Now presentation. Marketing, sales, working more efficiently and owning an income.

Viral Video bad for producers and advetisers

Jim Louderback is one smart guy. Revison3 is doing well, building strong audiences and yes, getting enough advertising support to make a business. In this article he debunks the idea that going for “viral video success” is the wrong strategy for producers:

Let’s start with producers and show creators. Media is all about building habits. Successful producers bind an audience to their creation, building an insatiable hunger for the next installment, next episode, next post. But when you focus on viral success, you throw that focus on repeatability out the window. By its nature, viral videos are designed to surprise, titillate and entertain. They are, by nature, unique…

They do nothing for the producer long term (with some exceptions) but worse they’re not good for advertisers either:

Viral videos may be bad for creators and publishers, but they are actually worse for advertisers. Your typical viral video gets passed around, yes, and drives a lot of views. And yes, those can translate into impressions for an advertiser. But as we’ve seen at Revision3, advertising associated with viral videos has only a small fraction of the impact of an ad that runs inside, or alongside, an episodic video program. We’ve seen tremendous results from putting brands next to our long-running episodic programs — those with real communities, high comment-to-view ratios and predictable views. We’ve seen terrible results by associating the same brands and services with the few viral-focused shows we’ve tried out over the last five years. And if you try creating those viral-focused videos yourself, you are in for a real surprise. It is overwhelmingly likely that you’ll end up with closer to a thousand views than a million.

Concentrate on building an audience? What a concept.



Getting There From Here,

Getting There From Here, Technology Gruber’s take

I agree that the net would be better off with a much reduced use of Flash. Use it where it brings something valuable by all means, but a proprietary (show us the player source code) format should not be the dominant one.



Pirate Bay Movie Fully Funded in three days

Pirate Bay Movie Fully Funded In Three Days

People involved in the P2P scene are generally thought of as not wanting to pay for anything, despite the evidence actually proving the opposite. (People who download unauthorized copies of music and film/tv actually buy more.) More evidence from this example. I nearly posted the request for funding a couple of days ago but it wasn’t really newsworthy. Getting funded – even a small $25K budget – is always worth celebrating.

Just three days after filmmaker Simon Klose started a fundraiser to complete his upcoming Pirate Bay documentary, the seed funding goal of $25,000 has already been reached. The Pirate audience has been extremely generous, with a full 27 days left the counter currently sits at $28,099



Computational Photography?

Comutational Photography? Some new cool idea from Adobe. Nice concept piece (not software announcement)

Re-adjust focus in post. Nice technology. Watch the video.



Connecting the Dots (AV Foundation and QuickTime)

Connecting the Dots (AV Foundation and QuickTime)

It seems increasingly likely that the reason that QTkit hasn’t had much work, is because the focus has gone into recreating what QuickTime does, in iOS, with a plan to move it back to OS X with 10.7.

Remember, Final Cut Pro can’t be “Pure Cocoa” and 64 bit before “QuickTime” is.

Ogg: The “Intelligent Design” of digital media

The only thing Ogg is good for, is being open source, which isn’t relevant to professional media producers.

People who actually work in media don’t mind paying for stuff, and don’t mind not owning/sharing the IP. Video production professionals are so accustomed to standardizing on commercial products, many of them become generic nouns in industry jargon: “chyron” for character generators, “grass valley” for switchers, “teleprompters”, “betacam” tape, etc. Non-free is not a problem here. And if your argument for open-source is “you’re free to fix it if it doesn’t do what you want it to,” the person who has 48 shows a day to produce is going to rightly ask “why would I use something that doesn’t work right on day one?”

The open source community doesn’t get media. Moreover, it doesn’t get that it doesn’t get media. The Ogg codecs placate the true believers, and that’s the extent of their value.

Introduction to AV Foundation To be honest I don’t know why this isn’t hidden behind an NDA, but it’s not and until someone has it taken down, and asks me to do the same, I’ll consider it public knowledge.

Now, AV Foundation is the iOS media system, so we’re not talking about QuickTime per se but I have to wonder.

QuickTime – the real OS-centric media framework, not the little sub applications that function as players – is transitioning from C APIs (Carbon) to Cocoa via QTKit. Trouble is, QTKit got a lot of work around QuickTime 7’s release, but not so much in recent years. And yet Final Cut Pro needs a lot of what’s not written, before it can release a Cocoa version of Final Cut Pro.

Actually, Apple could do what Adobe have done for Premiere Pro CS5. In rewriting their core media handling engine, Adobe retained QuickTime support by spinning it off into a 32 bit thread, but that’s a complex workaround that does nothing for performance, nothing positive anyway.

When you consider slide 9… Even though it was only introduced in iOS 2.2, extended in iOS 3 and “completed” in iOS 4 (consider the reference framework growth in slides 6, 7 and 8), AV Foundation has 56 Classes and 460 Methods (the more you have of these, the more you can do with it). QTKit has 24 Classes (less than half) and 360 Methods. Compare that with the (very mature) QuickTime for Java with 576 Classes and more than 10,000 Methods. Something tells me that QTKit is not in favor at Apple.

Not that I think QuickTime is going away, at least not as a brand for their media players and the overall technology. I say that because, although the code that’s in iPhone OS shows a simplified player, that was all that was originally released and it shared no “QT Classes or Frameworks”. So, the QuickTime brand is likely to be retained.

If I was extrapolating from this presentation, and I am extrapolating wildly from a small amount of data, I’d guess that the direction within Apple was toward the more modern Classes and Methods of AV Foundation, and that, eventually, AV Foundation, Core Audio, Core Animation and Core Media will replace what we currently have under QuickTime on OS X: Core Audio, Core Video (well, just a subclass of Core Image) and a lot of deprecated (do not use) C APIs.

If you consider slide 14, and the similarity of Classes between QTKit and AV Foundation it makes no sense to build two technologies in the company that were essentially doing the same thing.  Slide 29 shows how similar an AVAsset is to a QTMovie. The other Classes all seem to duplicate functionality that’s in QuickTime now, but in efficient, new, modern code. Capture, editing, playback, media formats… they all seem to be in AV Foundation duplicating work done (or not yet done) in QuickTime’s QTKit.

Importantly Core Media Time is in “n’ths of a second” not “ticks” or “events”. Media based on time will be better for video frame rate uses than one based on ticks or events, which caused the “Long Frames” problems of earlier versions of Final Cut Pro.

In support of my hypothesis I offer slide 42: specific references to AVAssetExportSession.h being available in OS X with 10.7 and likewise CMTime.h has a reference to becoming available in 10.7.

So, I’ll go on a limb and suggest that QuickTime as we’ve known it is somewhat dead; long live a new QuickTime. QuickTime will continue being the branding, but everything “below that” will transition to new architectures essentially ported from iOS to OS X.

This would be a very good thing. A completely new, modern, efficient (you see what it does on the iPhone) underpinning for QuickTime down below that QTKit layer.

Who wouldn’t want to use that in an modern NLE, even if it means waiting for OS X 10.7, which hasn’t been announced yet? It would make it much easier for the Final Cut Pro team to create a much more powerful media engine than it has now; one that really understands time and not events and one that mimics the power of Adobe’s Mercury Engine. Let’s face it, media performance on a 1 GHz A4 chip is in some ways better than the performance on 8 core processors. iMovie for iOS, built on these frameworks (if slide 24 is to be believed) can edit Long GOP H.264, which Final Cut Pro can’t! (And in both cases the H.264 playback is accelerated by hardware: dedicated chips in the iPhone, on the graphics card in OS X.)

As always, conjecture on my part, and this time based solely on what I’ve learnt from the quoted slide show. Chris Adamson does not work for Apple but he does claim expertise in iOS and QuickTime. Other posts on his blog indicate some differences between AV Foundation and QuickTime; and Classes still missing from AV Foundation that are in the current version of QuickTime. That shakes my confidence in the hypothesis a little, but given how little work has been done on QTKit in the last two years, and the need to have the foundations for QuickTime modernized, it still seems like the most likely path Apple will take.

Another data point is that the QuickTime X player was promoted thusly:

Using media technology pioneered in OS X iPhone™, Snow Leopard introduces QuickTime X, which optimizes support for modern audio and video formats resulting in extremely efficient media playback. Snow Leopard also includes Safari® with the fastest implementation of JavaScript ever, increasing performance by 53 percent, making Web 2.0 applications feel more responsive.*

Pioneering the technology under iOS, and then porting it to Mac OS X has happened already.

UPDATE: Chris Adamson, who did the presentation I referred to, clarified many of the points I get wrong or wrongish, including the fact that AV Foundation is not under NDA. His Connecting the Dots post is essential reading if you’ve got this far!



Is 3-D Dead in the Water?

Is 3-D Dead in the Water? 

Not a lot of commentary from me on this one. I’ve remained a skeptic about 3D production and it’s ubiquitous future. The graph in the center of the article tells the story.

According to Daniel Frankel of, who published a version of the graph late last month, “no matter how it’s spun, the data on the expected 3-D explosion just isn’t going in the right direction.” Hollywood isn’t ready to give up, he reports, but there’s serious concern over the downward slope. As one theater-chain executive told Frankel, “the truth is probably that not everything should be in 3-D.”

Older posts >>

August 2010
« Jul   Sep »