Are blogspodcasting and networks a precursor to video blogcasting? If so, what would that mean for production and post-production businesses? Channels of information, subscriptions, and a value add – direct to customers.
Why does the Apple rumor mill get so frantic coming up to NAB? It’s not like we don’t all know to delay purchases until after NAB unless you can get a pay back in the months between now and then. So what is it that makes us frantically review rumor sites and set the forums and email groups buzzing when ThinkSecret purported to leak (yet again) from within Apple?
Nobody can confirm or refute the rumors until Sunday April 17th, and in reality the rumors don’t do much more than supposedly “confirm” what can reasonably be inferred from existing public announcements (HDV support in FCP “next version” is an announced feature); known intentions to meet customer desire (heck there was even an obscure reference to Multicam in the FCP 4 manual suggesting it was, at one time, proposed for that version); or reasonable inference (CoreVideo technology in the OS would enhance FCP’s real time). New applications for sure – that’s called progress and until Apple have a full and complete set of professional tools in the Pro Apps product lineup then they’ll keep announcing new tools.
Since I am only guessing and have no knowledge, I won’t be publishing my guesses here or on DV Guys but ask me privately and I’ll make my guesses. Even though I think I’m as good at guessing as the next person I still expect to be surprised and impressed come NAB.
But that’s not the point – lots of opportunity for rumor mongering all over the place. It doesn’t do any good, it doesn’t influence business or buying decisions so why is there this intense speculation about what Apple might be going to announce? And why mostly Apple? Avid haven’t pre-announced their NAB releases. There’s the same level of secrecy going on but not the speculation.
Is this some bizarre desire to be “on the inside”? A sort of technological one-upmanship? It’s not like knowing there’s a new version of Final Cut Pro coming sometime (probably) in the next 2-3 months makes editing any easier today, or eases the pain of any “undocumented features” currently existing.
Until this last year or so I was as keenly interested in listening to, and spreading, any rumors I could find and yet now I find myself strangely disinterested. Curious yes – I’ll go read the rumor and consider whether or not I think it’s reasonable – but I find myself not as interested in spreading the guesses and inference.
I wonder why that is? Is it finally maturity, or is it finally evidence that I am, officially, jaded? 🙂
Update March 1 – there’s just been a purported “leak” of Avid’s NAB announcements. While the leak is almost certainly bogus, this type of malicious leak can be very damaging. The supposed prices are way below what is reasonable for Avid (although if true, would be a real change of direction) and there are other key giveways for the educated reader, that this is not a real release. But now, whatever great announcements Avid had for NAB will be compared with a totally unrealistic, bogus release setting up expectations that were never reachable.
At least that’s my take. If not and Avid do announce $5000 Unity and open interoperability with AJA and Decklink on April 16, then that paragraph will have never happened 😉
From the blatant self promotion department…
Apple just put up a Pro story about the most fun job I worked on last year: A Musical Journey. This was one of the DVD Extras for the 40th Anniversary release of Mary Poppins.
The relevance for the blog is that we were able to recreate, and improve on, the effects done for the movie using standard desktop tools that 40 years ago had been cutting edge technology that lead to an Academy Award for the effects. Most of what I do every day was not possible for any amount of money when Mary Poppins was released.
Where do we end up if we continue down this path? I’ve been looking at game commercials on TV and the rendering is getting more and more realistic. On last night’s news there was a game commercial juxtaposed with some “war area” footage that looked like 10th generation VHS, and the humans in the game looked more realistic. The games are not even close to 100% realistic… yet. But it seems to be only a matter of time before we at least get close. Perhaps the “uncanny valley” effect will kick in. That’s what happens when animated characters get very close to being human, but turn out to be creepy because we become even more aware that they are not. (Think Polar Express and the eyes which couldn’t be motion tracked.).
Let’s assume that technology will overcome that little problem – 40 more years is a long time. Will completely synthetic storytelling replace acted ones? I’m certain it will become an option: what will be the “killer application” that keeps human actors employed?
Immersive storytelling is also likely to be everyday. A recent article talks about a more advanced version of Playstation’s EyeToy� that puts the player in the game or ToySight that uses your iSight camera as a game controller. The games right now are hardly deep storytelling but that’s only a matter of time. Heck, holographic projection is far enough advanced in the lab now, that a 30 year lab-to-loungroom cycle would put truly immersive storytelling within reach. (No work or breakthrough currently has ‘solid’ holographic project in the mode of Star Trek’s holodeck – these projections would be walk–through.)
I believe that game play will become a much more dominant form of entertainment than it is now, with realistic interactive stories – why watch James Bond when you can be James Bond (bring on the tactile body suit for the love scenes!)? If it’s possible, someone will do it, so what is the killer application that will keep human actors in “the movies” when your interactive “Friends” respond to you and include you in their hijinks? Will it simply be the lay-back inertia factor that will keep at least some entertainment totally passive? Will people want to get up and get involved with their entertainment – even part of the time. (Would this be more like going to the movies than home entertainment now?)
In the meantime, doing stuff on my laptop that couldn’t be done 40 years ago is a head trip.
I’ve just added a comprehensive briefing paper to the Pro Apps Hub on HDV called, as the title of this post suggests, “Is it something or is it nothing?” Bottom line, it’s something all right and it’s going to be the final factor that drives production inexorably to HD.
Here’s the introductory paragraph:
“It’s hard not to be caught up in the HDV hype but is this 19/25 Mbit High Definition format going to take the world by storm, or does the heavy compression make it unworkable? This briefing paper takes a look at:
- the format and how they fit an HD signal on a DV tape,
- how it looks in practice,
- how HDV can be edited,
- distribution HDV, and
- how it is likely to fit into, and change, the production and post-production industries. Particular attention is paid to working with HDV with Apple’s editing applications.”
You can access the briefing paper by downloading the free Pro Apps Hub software and following the link to download. The Pro Apps Hub is the most up to date, no time-wasting news for Apple’s Pro Apps users, daily productivity tips, briefing papers, the only index to the best of what’s free on the Internet – tutorials, articles, resources, forums so you don’t waste time with what isn’t great, and an online catalog. (Did I mention that I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve created with the Pro Apps Hub?)
Check out the HDV article and follow the link at the end of the article back here to comment. This entry will load directly in the Hub.
I’ve been prompted this week to think about 16:9. 16:9 is great but the problem is that clients (oh, them!) buy or rent these lovely big plasma screens and suddenly we have to miraculously convert 4:3 source into 16:9 and make it look good. How do we communicate that you can’t get there from here! How do we communicate to clients that 16:9 display is not a decision made somewhere between commissioning the project and turning up at the trade show? How do we make it clear that, unless the decision to shoot 16:9 for 16:9 display is made at the start of the project, then everything from there on is compromised?
There are three ways to get 4:3 source to “fit” a 16:9 display. Two of them are quality compromises and the third is a compositional compromise. Some choice! First option is to blow the 4:3 source up 133% so the 4:3 fills the full width of the 16:9 but crop at the top and bottom of the image (oh, right, that’s both a quality and a compositional compromise). Choice two is to simply keep the 4:3 at full height and stretch the width out to fill the 16:9 space. That keeps the top and bottom composition correct, but compromises the quality (it’s about 120% width stretch) and makes everything look wide and fat. (Now that’s the way to keep a client – make them look fat! Maybe it is a way to make the point that this is not an appropriate way to get 4:3 to 16:9?). Still, there’s a good chance the client won’t even notice that the image is stretched. Seriously, every sports bar and restaurant takes this approach for their 16:9 displays and typically no-one notices. There is one difference here though… typically a 16:9 set will apply a non-linear stretch so the effect is more exaggerated at the edges than in the center. That’s not an option in NLE or compositing tools right now.
The final way to convert 4:3 to 16:9 is to consider that there’s a 16:9 canvas into which we place a 4:3 element and surround it with “something” relevant. Design elements or additional information. Place the 4:3 element in the center or off to one side to create a more balanced display. Useful for trade show type displays where the information can be useful.
But regardless of how well we work around the problem, ultimately it comes down to an unreasonable client request. How do we handle them? Same way as always… More than a small part of the job of a post production specialist is to educate clients and it seems it has been for a while now. Ever since the world stopped being “BetaSP=Professional.” That’s the problem with a diverse set of choices: it’s no longer a simple message and then suddenly it’s an “educational opportunity” with the specialist as the educator.
So, how do we deal with this educational role? Depends a lot on the client. If you have a long standing relationship with the client who’s happy with your work, then taking the “mmm, this isn’t such a great idea, here are the (unsatisfactory) alternatives” will probably work. If it’s a one-off or new client, then it’s more difficult. Then you have to feel out the client to find out what their level of discomfort is. If they’re budget focused (a very nice euphemism for cheap) then the stretched 4:3 into 16:9 solution is probably going to meet their needs. A client who cares about their public image will either realize that a 16:9 display isn’t the right solution, or allow the time and budget to find a creative solution for the extra real estate not used by the 4:3 image.