Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

By now you’ve read about Warner Bros. Entertainment announcement to drop HD DVD and focus on Blu-ray, a Sony Corp. backed technology vs. rival Toshiba.  Warner was the last major studio to put out movies in both formats and after May they will exclusively release on Blu-ray. 

The announcement by Warner rattled the industry nerves to the point that the N.A. HD DVD Promotional Group (which included Intel and Microsoft) canceled a major media event.  Who would blame them?   It’s not the kind of exciting news for what’s to come in 2008! 

I predicted Sony would not allow the “Betamax” struggle to repeat and that Blu-ray would prevail (HERE).  No need to bore you with the technology advantages of each format.  Ironically HD DVD has better interactivity today than Blu-ray, but that will evolve with BD Live.  I also observed evidence of a move of desperation during the holiday season when Toshiba HD DVD players flooded the market at $179.99.  Then Sony countered and jumped on the price discounting wagon with their BDP-S300 (entry level player) at Costco for $278.99 after a $100 rebate.  A $100 premium and never mind it didn’t support 7.1 audio. 

So what will Microsoft do now?  Speaking to Reuters, Albert Penello, group marketing manager for Xbox hardware, said in response to a question about Microsoft possibly supporting a Blu-ray accessory if HD DVD failed that they would consider it.  According to Engadget during holiday ’07 consumers purchased 92K HD DVD players for the xBox 360.   I believe Microsoft really wants the market to shift to digital download (aligns with xBox 360 content download service and their xBox 360 IPTV directions) and the format war was likely viewed as a gift which stalled adoption, create consumer confusion while digital download services improve. 

What is really important to most consumers is that the Warner announcement translates to the release of more movies which we want to watch (rent/buy) in stunning hi-def.  Now that the format battle is over I can plan on the Blu-ray release of Lord of the Rings (LOTR).  New Line (parent Time-Warner) will make this happen in ’08. 

And if all this wasn’t enough good news for the week, Sony demoed at CES the “next generation” of portable cinema viewing.  Samples of Blu-ray movies were successfully copied from a PlayStation 3 Blu-ray drive to a PlayStation Portable’s memory stick, as part of Sony’s new web-oriented service/approach to interactivity and play anywhere portability known as BD Live.  Other abilities include ring tone downloading and other media content to a BD Live media player.  One issue is that current Blu-ray players in the market (including the PS3) do not support BD-Live, but Sony confirmed the PS3 firmware update will be rolling out as early as this month to incorporate BD-Live playback into the system.

Now if Universal and Paramount can see that it makes sense (or is that $cents) to move to Blu-ray we’d be all set for a great hi-def year!

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synctvLet’s see, I slept for 7 hours; it’s a new day and an announcement of yet another start up in the internet video space.  This seems like a daily ritual. 

The newest is Sync TV, a spin off from consumer electronics company Pioneer, which launched a beta download service.

The audio and video quality of the TV shows is comparable or superior to the same show on DVD.  SyncTV will provide HD programming across some of the different channels and will also have programming available in discreet 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus, giving you the “home theater” experience.  They allow you a great deal of flexibility in how you play back the TV shows you download. You can play back shows on up to five ‘home’ devices which mean PCs/Macs now and other home entertainment devices in the future (read portable players). 

That’s the good news.  The bad news is yet another DRM (Digital Rights Management) technology for the consumer to try and get their head around.  Sync TV is using an open-standard DRM called Marlin.  Yet another group of top electronics manufacturers joining forces to develop a standard for content management and protection.  Marlin is also referred to as “OMArlin” because it supposedly bridges between the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) DRM v.2.0 and the Marlin DRM standards.  Does anyone care, outside the companies involved?  Not really.  Consumers might agree that content protection is a good idea but, they just want to play their stuff on all their devices. And they want everything to be cheaper, too. 

It’s another set of companies trying to protect what they see as their intellectual property and make money. You could make the claim as the same motive as Microsoft, Apple, RealNetworks and others in the DRM struggle.  The marketing spin tries to convince us that DRM is intended to make it easy for us to buy content and share it, without being encumbered by content protection schemes.   But, adding Marlin to this mix will be yet another failed attempt to create a DRM “standard”.   

What I do find interesting with Sync TV and all the regulatory noise about bundled programming, is the fact that users can subscribe a-la-carte for a variety of programs they want to watch. Each channel costs about $2 each per month, and currently there are four subscription channels available. Showtime is the foundation partner with promise of more.  

The Sync TV launch underscores the two worlds that now exist–the heavily regulated telecoms and broadcasting sectors and the almost entirely unregulated internet channel.  

Where do you think most of the innovation is?

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Follow the Profit chalkIn May I attended a work function dinner up at Timberline Lodge. Upon arrival in the lodge parking lot it was clear that a film crew was in the middle of prepping and filming a movie. Not thinking much about it I walked around a bit and chatted with a couple ‘grips’ asking questions about what video editing software was being used, what camera’s, was it in hi-def, and then chatted with a couple girls that were stand in’s for the big “star”. I remember the weather being cold and they were standing with latte in hand shivering. At any rate, I’m just now getting around to looking up the details on the film.

Tom Noonan has just joined the cast of Follow the Profit. According to Variety, Robert Chimento, Diane Venora, David Conrad, Annie Burgstede, R.D. Call and Jonathan Frakes will also be starring in the independent drama.

The film revolves around an ex-Delta Force soldier who goes on a mission to save a group of abused youngsters. The impressionable kids are stuck in the clutches of an evil religious organization. Sounds like a yawn’er…,but I’ll go see it because I was there during some ‘B’ roll at the lodge.

The Drew Ann Rosenberg film starts shooting in Portland, Oregon this week.

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The US Open “HD” streams are most impressive quality. But, does 700Kbps, 640 x 360 resolution really qualify the video as “HD?” I think not and is a misrepresentation!

The commercials are tolerable. They have the preroll ad when you invoke the channel. After that, they seem to have the ads synced with the TV commercial breaks since it’s simulcast with the live ESPN coverage.

This is standard definition (SD) – pure and simple. Any misrepresentation as HD is purely false. SD has spatial resolutions up to 720 x 480 (NTSC) and 720 x 576 (PAL). HD is recognized for spatial resolutions beginning at 1280 x 720 and going up to 1920 x 1080.

ESPN’s corporate brethren at ABC are delivering what many believe is the best streaming video experience on the web (via Flash Video and a special “Move Media Player” plug-in that appears to tap into an optimized CDN) at landing, and they are planning to offer full 720p (1280×720) HD next month. See the blog for the details and some screenshots pertaining to the upcoming HD experience.

I’m very impressed by the video quality of what’s available on line now (and the ABC UI is pretty slick). If ABC can pull off the 720p stream, I’m prepared to be dazzled.

There may be a day where I won’t need to pay (as much) for comcastic…

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Need I say more?!!
We should all do this to our TV!!

Photo Courtesy of TELPortfolio

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Lemonade from Lemons

uTube BldLast year uTube.com was angered by a case of mistaken identity. Based in Perrysburg, Ohio and since 1985, Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment, has sold tube, pipe and rollforming machinery. The confusion with YouTube.com sent uTube’s traffic soaring from 1,500 visits per month to more than 2 million. Even the police in Australia mistakenly accused uTube of having child pornography on their Web site and it further hurt their business.

So, Universal Tube did what all American companies do. It sued Google’s YouTube last November after seeing traffic spikes overwhelm its servers. But Ralph Girkins, Universal Tube’s President decided uTube.com needed to make the most of all the traffic it received from people mixing up its site. Ralph decided they would cater to the “lost” YouTube fans by expanding into a completely different market: ring tones and redirect links for social networks and/or online dating sites.

Google is big gun in the market, but Ralph recently reported that revenue generated by the ring tones is making enough to pay for uTube.com’s hosting costs, however it has a long ways to go before it pays off the legal bills.

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America’s Cup

The 32nd America’s Cup started April 3rd in Valencia (well it’s the last of the preliminary rounds anyway). There are 12 teams from the US, Switzerland (defending), France, Italy, Sweden, France, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, the hosts Spain and first ever entries from China and South Africa.

Sailing is a challenging spectator sport unless you are on the boat. You hardly get to view much other than what’s on TV. The web sites are often the best way to see highlights, track races, preview video’s and keep up with the news and/or stream video highlights.

From capture to post production, Charlie and Tall Sails Production along with his video team will get on yacht high-definition footage. The all digital work flow is powered by Intel and utilizes the small footprint of the (2K) Silicon Imaging Camera which is mounted on the racing yachts and connected to the multi-core laptops via gigabit-Ethernet. The high-definition footage is captured in real-time, and is post processed after the race. The content is quickly edited using CineForm capture/edit system on the laptop and then made available for various redistribution paths. The laptops allow the video team to significantly reduce the overall weight on the boat and capture heart-pounding race footage in (2K) high-definition format.

One of the better online sites is Team Shosholoza, the South African entry. It’s an inspiring story and the web site is far and away the best of the bunch. It’s immersive, the navigation is simple and the photo’s are stunning. I hope they do well, but I’m looking forward to a return of the cup to the U.S.

Go Team BMW/Oracle!

Extras: CupInfo CupTracker™ is the ultimate tool to track team results in the Louis Vuitton Acts. Download CupTracker

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