Image: Time Warner Cable and Comcast can’t rely on one steady stream of profits hanging around anymore.
The Past Week in Review: For August 9, 2011
We search for the more interesting and provocative news and views of the past week…just so you don’t have to.
This week we hear about a web mogul in the making, a gray lady learning new tricks, and why fewer people are tuning in and paying the cablers.
Lady Mogul & Lady Gray
In his article Felicia Day: Mogul In The Making, Forbes’s David Ewalt profiles the TV actress and praises her innovative work in creating small niche web videos that are both artistically satisfying for her and actually make money. Facing consistent typecasting by TV casting agents, Day struck out on her own. In 2007 she created the first few episodes of The Guild and released them free on the ‘net. She filed enough fans to support a full season of shows. By the second season production costs of over $10,000 per episode were covered by sponsorships from Sprint and Microsoft.
This was followed up by Dragon Age Redemption, a further gloss on videogame obsessed youth. Shot earlier this year, it features Tallis, an “Elven assassin” played by Day, who also co-produces. This yet to be released web series moves well towards more established pro realms in its use of sets, props, and costumes, with folks with rather impressive credentials involved including Independence Day associate producer Peter Winther as director and John Bartley (Lost) as cinematographer.
You can read Ewalt’s article by clicking here.
You can watch Day’s The Guild series here. Since it resembles a more standard sitcom, its budget doesn’t show as much as might her upcoming low budget fantasy film. Microsoft sponsors it on Xbox Live, so money and recognition are coming Day’s way. Although Dragon Age Redemption was originally scheduled to debut this summer, after Day spoke to reporters at the San Diego Comic-Con fan chatter on the web now points to a fall release.
Developments in the newspaper world are a bit further afield from our usual coverage. But since this involves media heavyweight and city icon the New York Times, I thought the Gray Lady’s web moves would be of interest.
This past week the Times introduced Beta620, a public site for its experimental projects. A bit reminiscent of Google labs in its approach, it offers consumers a way to test new Times’ Web apps that may or may not be used as a standard part of the main site.
Consumers can try out some seven different projects currently including Longitude, which locates the day’s Times articles on an interactive Google map. Here’s an article on AdAge that goes into some of the different aspects of the new project, which might finally provide the old gray lady with some decent Internet chops.
AR, Apple & Adobe
If you have ever used an augmented reality app on your smart phone, you know how intriguing the idea of combining the phone’s video camera with a data overlay can be. You might also be aware of the downside to current technology—instead of actually recognizing a scene’s elements, today’s phones actually use either a QR code that the camera can lock on to or rough sensors and not very detailed GPS info to enable that useful combination of the virtual and the real that’s the promise of AR. The result is much less precise than the hype has lead us to believe.
Now, however, Layar—the largest purveyor of mobile augmented reality platforms—has released Layar Vision. The new app better employs machine vision techniques, recognizing real world objects and layering over digital content that the user has uploaded to the company’s servers. More here.
Apple, as we’ve come to know over the years, likes to control as much of its ecosystem as possible. Not relying on the kindness of strangers is one reason why they bought two ARM chipmakers over the past three years, with the technology turning up in iPods, iPhones and iPads.
Now, Apple is said to be well on the way to merging its two operating systems—the mobile world of iOS and the traditional Mac OS X–with a new custom A6 ARM chip design. According to this Appleinsider article, you can expect to see it in product by some point in 2012. Peter Misek of Wall Street analyst firm Jefferies & Co. speculates that Apple will turn out a new MacBook Air, iPad, and iPhone all running on the yet to release quad-core A6 chip. While pro-level gear like the Mac Pro desktop and MacBook Pro laptop will still use more potent Intel CPUs for now, the analyst posits that by 2016 all of these products, along with the iPad and iPhone, will be running on a single yet-to-be-designed ARM-type chipset.
If you’ve been following the ongoing battle between Apple and Adobe regarding the place of Flash on Apple’s iOS, you know that HTML 5 is the Cupertino company’s preferred app for web animation.
Click here to read Sarah Perez’s article on ReadWriteWeb.
New Cellphone Tricks
Up against fierce competition in the cellphone market from Apple and Android-based phones, Nokia continues to try lots of things to reinvent itself.
It doesn’t hurt to pair with a leading animation house either, and that’s what they did in this video. Working with UK-based Aardman Animations, Nokia charged them to create the “world’s largest stop-motion animation made with phones” which is some kind of record to shoot for, I suppose.
Shot on a beach in Wales via three Nokia N8 cellphones rigged up to a crane, video producer Sandrine Ceurstemont used ever-changing life-sized sand drawings covering some 11,000 square feet to do this simple silent narrative. Check it out on the New Scientist site here.
For those who shoot with a Canon EOS series DSLR, a new app allows you to control it via a compatible Android device over USB. There are other specifics as to which version of the phone or a Honeycomb tablet you need to pull this off at this site.
Fewer Golden Eggs
As reported by All Things Digital’s Peter Kafka and others, Time Warner Cable has a porn problem—it isn’t selling enough of the stuff these days.
Seems that even though cable companies like TWC and Comcast claim that web video (e.g. Hulu, Netflix, Apple TV) isn’t cutting into their business, their video-on-demand portion had dropped substantially over the last quarter. Reporter Kafka asked TWC CEO Glenn Britt to explain the drop; Britt revealed that there were many fewer viewers paying $10 or so for a VOD softcore video as they were now checking out XXX-rated video on the web for free. That final step to XXX rated material is something the cablers won’t touch.