Archive for Media

Future of 3D Content

Recently everyone is making a big deal over 3D television and movies! I’m here to say it is just a trend, and will not become the standard with or without glasses. It produces a lower resolution image and gives many people headaches. I would much rather have a higher resolution picture that 3D because 3D is not that big of a deal, and is only beneficial in special movies.    I think the primarily adopted change in television in the next 5 years is the ability to play Internet content out of the box and higher resolution screens. 3D will remain a special feature for certain movies but that’s it. 3D will not be a standard in home entertainment. If you are looking to buy a new TV, do yourself a favor, don’t buy a 3D TV, focus more on the resolution and other features. 3D will not catch on, the producers don’t accept it nor do many consumers, so why bother!

Future of Media Distribution

Over the years media has been delivered in several formats: VHS, DVD, CD, Cassette tape and Records. However its now 2010, it’s time to part ways with physical media and begin a new, more free way of receiving media.  This is, of course is downloading content. I’m not saying this is going to be right away but I think within 10 years we will be away from optical media as our primary form of distribution.

For music the transition has already happened, very few people buy CDs, the vast majority of people buy music from online music stores like iTunes and Amazon MP3. This let’s people buy just the songs they like and not spend $15 on a CD when they only like  1 or 2 songs. This has been a very successful transition for the most part although the music industry has been having trouble with it.

Video content has been available on-demand for some time although not many people have adopted it. You can buy TV shows and movies from iTunes and Amazon although many people still prefer to buy DVDS or Bluray disks. However, now you can watch content on-demand from Netflix and Hulu. With the help of a set-top-box, like the Roku box or Apple TV, you can watch that content on you big screen TV. Plus you can take your content with you anywhere, with mobile applications. This allows you to have access to your content anywhere you go (as long as you either have content loaded on your device or have an Internet connection to stream content). This also doesn’t require you to carry and store optical disks that you want to watch at any given time.

There are some issues with the downloadable content model. On being the ability to backup and move content. DVDs and other physical media can be played on an unlimited number of players as long as you have the media with you. However with Amazon Unbox you can only watch content on computers you authorize and log-in on. With iTunes you can authorize up to 5 computers and other devices to play your content. Neither of these options offer a backup option or in Amazon’s case a way to play content offline without installing their special software. There is also no option to sell or get money back from digital content if you no longer want it. You can rent for a short period if time but if there’s content that you no longer want there’s no way to sell it to get some money back like you could with used DVDS.

Despite these setbacks you really can’t blame this on the stores, it is mostly the content makers who want to protect themselves from piracy. But these issues need to be addressed because downloading is the next major method of delivering content. There is also people creating high quality content directly for the web with free downloads and no strings attached. This content can be major competition for the old content makers because they are making great content that is free to download and can be put on any device without issues.

Web Media Center

It has been a while since I put together a media center. Anymore you can get a lot of content over the web and don’t even need cable subscription, so this collection will be for getting all the media over the web and enjoying it in your home theater.

****Please note all prices are estimations and you can find items for more or less of the price I quote*****

  1. HDTV- $1,000
  2. Mac Mini–  $699 (Newest Model)
  3. Wireless Mouse and Keyboard-$100
  4. HDMI Cable- $5 (Depends on length)

Optional:

Xbox 360– $199

Wii- $199

PS3 (Includes Bluray Player)– $299.99 or $349.99

Tips:

  1. When buying a TV, 1080P is the highest  video quality and is recommended for the best viewing, however if you would like to save some money you could get a 1080i or 720P TV
  2. Keep in mind that the maximum resolution of the Mac Mini HDMI port is 1920 by 1200 so be sure to keep that in mind when you buy your TV
  3. No need to get a DVD player, just use the one built into the Mac Mini
  4. You may want to consider upgrading the Mac Mini Hard drive if you plan on storing a lot of large files
  5. Surge Strips are highly recommended so you can protect your electronics from electrical surges
  6. Game consoles are included for 2 reasons: gaming and media, all three can stream from Netflix and the PS3 can also play Bluray disks- although I do not recommend them

iPad-A Great Portable Media Device

Although many people call the iPad a larger iPhone that can’t make calls. However, that large screen is great for consuming media. Not only for watching movies, TV shows and video podcasts, but also streaming content from the web. Many major media companies are making applications to view their content on the iPad. TWIT is a great example because they made a special app just for the iPad to view the live stream in either video or audio. The large screen iPad allows you to see more details and watch higher resolution video. It also is easy to travel with and take whereever you go and watch either downloaded content or if you can get online over 3G or WiFi you can stream content. This can make the iPad a perfect device to consume content whereever you are and you can enjoy your content anywhere  and very high quality. It adds just one more reason the iPad is a great device!

Creative Commons- The Future of Copyright

While the big record labels and movie studio take internet pirates to court for copyright infringement there is a another way to licence your work that let’s the viewers do more with it and still protect the owner’s rights. It is called the Creative Commons Licence which is also referee to as copyleft becuase it is very different from the standard copyright. Creative Commons let’s the creator of the content choose between several option to regulate what the end level consumer can do with the content.

Commercial:
Commercial: People can use this content for commercial use
Non-Commercial: it may not be used  commercially
Modification:
No: People can’t modify your work
Share-a-like: share credit with the creator

If you want to licence your content there is a for on creativecommons.org and then embedable code you can insert on your website to display your licence. Although the big old media companies are not going to be accepting to this new style of intellectual property management, a lot of web content like videos, podcasts, pictures and music are licenced in this way to help others on the web and share content. I use it now for my blog, The Weekly Spin, Screencast Weekly and my photos on Flickr so people can use my content in their work for free, they do have to give me credit. I think that with the growth of content on the web more people will use this licence method and will be benifical for the web as a whole becuase it will allow more free content to avaible on the web and will prevent long, drawn out  lawsuits over piracy.

16:9 and 4:3- Two Aspect Ratios That Affect How You Watch Your Content

Have you ever watched a video and and it looks stretched out or parts of the video are cut off. Part of the reason for that is the aspect ratio or the shape of the video. There are several aspect ratios, however, there are two standard aspect ratios:

4:3- Which looks like a square and is used mainly for standard definition video.

16:9- Also known as widescreen looks like a rectangle and is the standard aspect ratio for high definition video.

If you don’t know what those numbers mean, they are the dementions of the width of the screen by the height of the screen. So, for example 16:9 means 16 units wide by 9 units high; 4:3 is 4 units wide by 3 units high.

So, if you were watching a video on your computer that was shot in 4:3 and you enter widescreen mode, the video might not look right because there is no more video information which means it has to be stretched to fit making the picture look weird and usually a bit fuzzy. Similarly, If you are watching a video that which is shot and distributed in 16:9 on a 4:3 display, the picture on the left and right side might be cut off. However, while there is no real way to make 4:3 video look better on a 16:9 display, you can scale down the 16:9 video and make it fit within the 4:3 display. If you ever used a non-linear editing program you may notice that in the preview window there is a box on the playback k. That is called the TV safe box and is meant for the editor to see what will be cut off on a 4:3 display.

16:9 is becoming a new standard and very few displays are still made with a 4:3 aspect ratio. For those recording video, I reccommend using 16:9 if your camera supports it because it gives you a better quality image as well as more in the picture.

How Apple Can Save the Apple TV

When Apple debuted the Apple TV in 2007, it was meant to allow the user to access their iTunes content in their home media center to get the best possible experience. Later, users were able to directly download content on their Apple TV but, it never was that popular of a product. If Apple wants to make the Apple TV a successful product, then they need to make major changes to the Apple TV and take some ideas from the other set top boxes like Roku and Boxee.

1. Applications
The app store on the iPhone, iPod touch and now the iPad allows users to browse and download applications they want to expand the feature set of the device. On the Apple TV there doesn’t have to be the over 50,000 apps there are available in the iPhone app store but, apps for extra media and accessing social networks like Facebook and Twitter would be great to have on the big screen TVS.

2. Games
Going with the applications the app store could also open up the Apple TV as a gaming console and would be able to get more great entertainment on their Apple TV. They could target both the casual games that make the iPhone a great gaming platform as well as more serious games appealing to all gamers. The one advantage Apple has in this market is that they have mastered digital downloads through the app store and could use downloads as a cheaper alternative to optical disks.

3. Streaming Web Content
Both the Roku and Boxee box have the ability to stream content from the Internet both live and prerecorded. On Roku you can watch shows from Revision3, TWIT and other content providers. You can also watch the TWIT Live Stream as Leo broadcasts live everyday. This would add another dimension to the Apple TV and make it have the capabilities to replace your cable or satellite subscription.

Apple has done a great job designing the Apple TV’s user interface by making it slick and easy to use. However, they now need to step it up another notch and make it a full entertainment device.

My Thoughts About My First Live Broadcasts

A few weeks back, we broadcasted a live basketball game  and it was my first time doing a live show so, I thought I should share my experience. Last Tuesday, we broadcasted another live game as well!   The first thing is that we were very lucky to have a good team planning and working on the day of the broadcast but, even with them the whole time is very stressful. The other thing is that there is so many moving parts, that technical issues are bound to happen but, we were lucky to have only a few minor technical problems. No matter how much planning goes into a live production, things are bound to go wrong and slight errors will be made. The only thing you can do is to prepare and practice. This is done by an all volunteer crew and i’m sure a professional crew who does this regularly will be able to run a much smoother production. However, the whole process of doing a live show is very stressful and there is no real way to cover mistakes if you are doing a true live show. Although it was stressful, it was also a lot of fun and I hope that we do more in the future.

NBC Comcast Merge Thoughts

Comcast, the major cable conglomerate is buying NBC-Universal which is a television network as well as film production company. This is a very scary purchase for $30 Billion because it give Comcast control of a large amount of content. Comcast has had a history of not being a very good content company and better at the distribution. The best example of this is when Comcast bought TechTV and merged it with it’s gaming channel, G4. While TechTV had high-quality content, G4 didn’t and Comcast made the TechTV shows more like the G4 programming and canceled many of the great shows TechTV had. The main reason that Comcast bought the channel was because they wanted the TechTV audience but they didn’t care about the shows or the people who made the shows.

One idea is for if the merger goes through, which is in the hands of the FCC, is that NBC would operate the same as they currently do, and take over the operation of all of Comcast Productions as well because they have proven themselves very successful at producing content. This is the best option because it would leave NBC to do what it is best at and Comcast would continue to  be the giant cable monopoly that they have been. However, if Comcast tries and interfer with the NBC content, then NBC can be in a lot of trouble! The other fear of this purchase is that Comcast would then have partial ownership of Hulu, the online video site which competes with their own Fancast. I hope the FCC put a lot of thought into the ramifications of this purchase before approving it because it could severely disrupt the television industry.

Sites to Get Free Audio Books

In a previous article, I mentioned how much I have liked listening to audio books, however, they are a bit on the expensive side usually around $15 per book. However, I have found a few websites that offer free audio books although many of them are public domain books meaning there are probably a lot of repeats, but they still are entertaining and if you are into classic works of literature, then this is a great list of resources to hear great books anywhere.

  1. Librivox
  2. Audio Books For Free
  3. Free Classic Audio Books
  4. Books Should Be Free
  5. Learn Out Loud
  6. Barnes and Noble Free Audiobooks (Also has paid audio books)
  7. Project Gutenburg
  8. Free By Chris Anderson (a book about free distributed as a free audio book)

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