The Past Week in Review, for May 17, 2011
While you won’t find the music to this Dickson Experimental Sound Film (circa 1894) on the new National Jukebox site, you can still pick among some 10,000 recordings for free.
We search for the more interesting and provocative news and views of the past week…just so you don’t have to.
This look at the past week’s news includes a look at trends in 3D production, tips on what goes into making a successful start-up, and the debut of a national jukebox service.
Technicolor’s DSLR Love, Zacuto’s Rig
This past week I visited with Domenic Rom, senior vice president of Technicolor Creative Services at the company’s Leroy Street offices. Domenic wanted to discuss new products Technicolor released at the NAB last month. With him was Bob Herman, Technicolor’s PR manager, in from the West Coast.
I’ll write about these new services in an upcoming article. The new services include Technicolor’s CineStyle, which is become an instant hit. No surprise, as it offers the ability to integrate the output of Canon’s DSLR cameras into Technicolor’s full DI workflow.
But if you do want to keep up with what’s happening with DSLRs for video production, Philip Bloom’s site regularly offers up good reviews and opinion pieces about the latest production gear and software.
In a recent posting, London-based Bloom reviews the Zacuto Scorpion Rig. Zacuto, out of Chicago, moved quickly to become one of the leading gear makers for the DSLR market. Their latest high-end production rig that offers a much more usable approach for employing these small cameras within a more or less traditional film style shoot.
Sony 3D, Indie 3D, Even Small Objects Get 3D
With 3D production now becoming a serious alternative for filmmakers, educational resources that can shed some light on what actually is required to create usable 3D content becomes a clear need.
Last week I attended an evening seminar by Sony’s team from its 3D school in Culver City, California. I’m writing up that story for the editors Guild website. I’ll post a link to it here shortly for anyone wanting more info about what this free seminar offers.
Meanwhile, it’s no surprise that Hollywood directors with huge budgets can pull together the resources to do a 3D production,
However, for an indie to take on 3D production has seemed an exercise in fiction. High-end 3D gear is well beyond what most folks with meager budgets could ever consider.
But in her recent Variety article “Indies embrace cheaper 3D”, writer Karen Idelson notes that lower costs for 3D production gear and new post solutions have joined with the promise of a bigger box office to attract indie filmmakers.
Here’s one rather eye-popping example: With an average screen pulling in some $27,820 in its debut weekend, Werner Herzog’s new 3D film Cave of Forgotten Dreams (IFC) is not only making the most money of any film in his career but also came out on top of the total US box office–yes, that includes beating out Fast Five--according to website Box Office Mojo.
You can read more of Idelson’s article here.
Another type of 3D can also be important to a production–Indie or otherwise–and it too is coming down in price due to improvements in technology. The Times’ Melena Ryzik writes about MakerBot; the Brooklyn-based start-up has designed a consumer-grade, desktop-size 3D printer that uses melted plastic to build models of your designs.
The ability to easily and relatively inexpensively create 3D objects is a welcome tool. Graphics artists and those doing models for movies and commercials often need a real-world version of their creation to produce molds for final art. Meanwhile, creating your own movie props from scratch could solve production headaches. The MakerBot device was recently demo’d at a weekend Make-a-Thon which the reporter covered in an article you can find here.
The most recent iPhone and iPods have garnered kudos for their high res screens that reach 326 ppi (pixels per inch). Here’s a report of a company–Ortus Technology–which had recently developed a 4.8-inch color liquid crystal display with the pixel density of 458 ppi.
While a display like that might in itself be useful for production or post, a further interesting point is that the company now offers a similar sized screen that can deliver some 229 ppi when used in a dual-screen 3D mode. Ortus spots the development as an ideal viewfinder for use in 3D camera systems.
Cloud Services, Encoding and Video Delivery via the Web
More developments keep turning up to offer low-cost, or often free, production services that rely on cloud computing to deliver the goods.
In January, Vid.ly, a new website and service from Encoding.com, began a public beta. Users need only upload a video once; the service then transcodes it into 14 popular web and mobile formats, according to this article in VentureBeat.
Once the video has been encoded, you also get a short URL link. Once clicked on, that link automatically provides the video file that’s compatible with the device that’s just been connected.
It’s not just for those uploading cute animal videos either. If you have a number of video files, you can point to the source files stored via FTP, HTTP, Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) or other cloud storage services.
What’s it cost? Well, who can keep up with free (at least for now)?
VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi also writes about Zixi, a cloud video start-up that recently raised $4 million in a to fund its web video broadcasting business.
Zixi is completing the build out of the system to deliver HD video via the cloud for broadcast, enterprise and video-on-demand services. Current customers include CNN, Reuters, and CBS Sports.
While Cisco, Polycom and others already offer some form of HD video delivery via the cloud, Zixi claims it has developed methods of making the best use of available network bandwidth, as well as minimizing start-up delay.
At NAB 2011, hardware company Haivision announced it collaborated with Zixi to create its line of low-latency Makito encoder and decoder HD H.264 appliances. Haivision spots the devices as ideal for field use in breaking news (to replace pricey satellite uplinks) and connecting production facilities over low-cost and readily available Internet connections to save “thousands of dollars every month” when compared to managed-performance network services.
More on the Makito product here.
But the actual delivery of movies and other entertainment en mass over the public Internet is hitting a snag as we move further into our age of digital distribution.
A company like Netflix, of course, relies on the Internet to build its fast growing business of delivering movies and TV shows directly to viewers’ homes. But as Netflix’s CEO makes clear in the following article, anti-competitive action by ISPs via new broadband caps and other controls on video traffic might just quash all this as the ISPs fight to keep more of your money and not be tossed aside as nothing more than just the “dumb pipes” as some disparage them.
ISPs also fight the implementation of network neutrality as planned by the chairman of the FCC and Obama’s appointees. A number of members of Congress are siding with the broadband industry, and plan to limit how much control the FCC has over this new growth in network traffic. You can read more in this article from GigaOM here.
Last month, there were a number of reports that Apple was putting the final touch on its huge new data center in North Carolina that will actually be key in the company’s cloud-based video service. While this is speculative, the timing is right as Apple’s new OS Lion is said to move much of its capability to the web.
Check out this article from Business Insider for more on Apple’s purported plans.
VC News ala Scoble
Here’s a short, fun read by the nonstop blogging engine known as Robert Scoble entitled “What I learned by interviewing 23 start-ups in past few weeks”. Scoble offers up videos of his meetings with a variety of successful launches. The hot start-ups turn out photo/camera apps to those who are building apps around non-Apple iOS smartphones. These latter, according to Scoble have, for the first time, the coolest apps out there.
The National Jukebox
Yes there is such a thing, at least after the Library of Congress and Sony Music Entertainment got together to announce it. Now anyone can access “the largest collection of historical recordings ever made publicly available online.”
That’s large as in “more than 10-thousand”. Not bad when you consider that this is only the beginning: only music from the archives of the Victor Talking Machine Company are included, which Sony controls.
Here’s an article from the NPR website that discusses the collection.
If you want to go directly to our new National Jukebox website click here