Archives For Television

Canadian Self-Identity

kinnon —  October 26, 2009 — 4 Comments

Here's a clip that deals profoundly with the self-identity of Canadians, We Are the Beaver. Please. Try not to laugh. It hurts our little beaver hearts.

If video does not show up in feed, click here.

A Little History As to Why I Posted This:
Sometime in what now seems our distant past, Imbi and I owned a post-production company in Toronto (editing, special effects and audio post-production for television). It had a very '80's name (appropriate as we started the company in 1984), Scene by Scene®. (Link is to our website on Jan 06, 2000 via the Wayback Machine – which runs very slowly.)

A couple of days ago, in a moment of pathetic vanity when I should have been writing, I googled myself and discovered I had a credit @ IMDB…as an editor. Of all the work I've done as a director and editor, it's rather amusing that it would be this project I'd be noted for this. Don't get me wrong, I was honoured to work on Three Worms and An Orchestra with my friends @ JST Productions. After working with so many snakes in the biz, it was nice to work on a project that focused on worms – arrogant or otherwise.

For those interested in tech, I think it was the last project I ever did where we had multiple playback VTRs (Betacam and D-Beta) recording to a Digital Betacam Master deck – switching the program with a "live" feel – actually the antithesis of film-editing, for which I'm credited @ IMDB.

Pushing Pixels

kinnon —  March 20, 2008 — 2 Comments

My world right now is defined by two 24″ monitors plugged into a Mac Pro and a 13″ Macbook laptop sitting beside them. I’ve been living inside After Effects, Final Cut Pro, Illustrator, Photoshop and CatDV. I’m about to add a couple of PC based programs to the mix. All for a project that has to be completed in two weeks.

A rotating globe with a lens flare has just finished rendering (for the sixth or seventh time – as I make changes.) It’s the bottom layer of eight others. Yikes.

I feel like I’m living in the matrix, pushing pixels.

One of my favourite songs from the ’80’s. (And no, favourite is not spelled incorrectly you Shakespeare-hating yanks.) Even if the audio sync is a bit off, it’s worth watching. And remember, this was done in ’85 (the same year we opened our then simple post house) and the effects were rather cutting edge for the time.

Jonathan Brink’s Don’t Stop Believing post prompted this. And while you’re at Jonathan’s, visit this post of his too – ’tis very funny.

Wanna Waste More Time

kinnon —  November 13, 2007 — Leave a comment

For those of us who are desperate to have TV content (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) on their computer screens, with control that’s a little more iTunes like – check out the open-source Miro. I’m downloading some content right now. It’s not Joost (which I downloaded a long time ago, have done all the updates…and haven’t watched more than an hour of content on the software) and actually seems to have some easily accessible, as well as interesting content – and it doesn’t take over your screen as Joost does.

I Just Have One Question…

kinnon —  February 19, 2007 — 2 Comments

…do you think Jack Bauer will read this book?

I need to know these things.

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Ipodblkwreflection-1Everyone wants to watch videos on their portable media device. Right? Wouldn’t that be conventional wisdom. Well, it appears that conventional wisdom is wrong. Nielsen Media Research has done a study that shows that only 1% of all the content viewed on iTunes or the iPod were videos.

Even measured by duration of consumption, where 30- or 60-minute TV shows might seem to have a built-in advantage over three-minute songs, video comprises just 2% of total time spent using iPods or iTunes among iPod owners. Video iPod users consume video 11% of the time.

Kinnon household anecdotal evidence with only one Video iPod is that very little time is spent using it to watch videos – although Rylan does say he watches a few video podcasts. iTunes software is on all five of our Macs and little to no time is spent watching iTunes hosted videos on any of those computers. A lot more time is spent watching YouTube videos on our computer screens – the links shared amongst us (including Liam in Ottawa and our friends and family around the planet).

Perhaps we’ve been trained to watch moving images together – there is an expectation of interaction with others when we watch TV.  Or perhaps the simple reality is that the screen is too dang small. And those who’ve invested in the device are too proud to admit (to themselves or others) that they’d rather listen to music than use the device to watch visual programming. They might, however, enjoy occasionally using it as a player feeding a larger screen with high quality video – if and when that becomes a reality. (640 by 480 highly compressed video is not my idea of high quality.) Or to feed eyewear displays as they become less bulky and more reasonable in price.

My Camera is a Phone. My Phone is a Camera.
And what of the seemingly ubiquitous phone cams? Well research suggests they are becoming the primary digital still capture device for a significant number of people –  according to the CEA.

The digital imaging industry continues to thrive with more image and video devices in the hands of consumers than ever before according to a study by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA®). CEA’s Digital Imaging Study Update: Sharing and Storing Photos and Video II, found that cell phones now account for nine percent of primary still image capture, which is more than double the 2005 rate. The study also found that the digital camera category is nearing maturity and will soon heavily rely on customer upgrades.

Tim Herbert, senior director of market research at CEA, said, "Among consumers who now classify their cell phone as their primary image capture device, 47 percent also own a digital camera. Consumers have yet to significantly engage in the practice of substituting devices, but rather use devices in a complementary manner. As cell phones progress to 3+ megapixels, offer greater storage and more features, this trend may change.

You can draw your own conclusion from these two reports.

W810I-FrontI’m convinced they point to more people wanting a single device that  takes great pictures, plays great tunes, provides telephony and might even be able to feed video to an external monitor/eyeware display – along with connecting to the net for email & web access. My oft mentioned W810i is almost there – the 2MP camera doesn’t quite cut it and it doesn’t have the horsepower or storage for real video playback. But I have used it for pictures on this blog, use it for email daily, regularly listen to tunes on it (although the iTunes DRM does make that a bit of a pain) and occasionally make a phone call with it. Perhaps a combination of the photo/video characteristics of the Nokia N93 and the audio playing capabilities of the N91 would get us a little closer to the right device. UPDATE: Or as Rylan just pointed out to me, the Nokia N95 "multimedia computer" might be the answer – 5MP Camera, Carl Zeiss lens, GPS, good media player, "DVD" quality video…hmmm. Oh, and it also does the telephony thing. Perhaps Rylan would like to buy my W810i

Maybe my question should be, "So Steve, where’s the iPhone?" (If the iPhone only has a rumoured 2MP camera, then they’ve missed the boat.)

UPDATE: Palm CEO Ed Colligan‘s not afraid of the big, bad iPhone:

He pointed out that his firm has "struggled" to make a decent phone, and slammed market expectations that the usability and technology experts at Apple could "just walk in" to the market.

"PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in," he said.

However, critics are already pointing out that Palm uses Windows Mobile to power its phones, software made by ‘PC guys’.

Ed, Ed. Apple isn’t the competition. Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, Samsung, LG are.

Other recent posts on this topic:
Zune: Maybe It Plays for Sure
Why Speculating on Zune’s Success is the Wrong Question
Death of a Cell Phone, Death of the iPod

AND: Stay tuned for achievable media, coming in December – where Bill’s focus on media & technology will find it’s new home.

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A few months ago, I stood in the atrium/lunch room area of a high tech company talking to its founder. A year earlier, he had sold the company to a multi-national. We were talking about the future of broadcast television, the field his company did business in. He wondered if there was a future.

He spoke of his teenagers who watched little to no broadcast TV. Their “moving image” viewing experience came primarily from sites like YouTube – or from rented or purchased DVDs. Only about 10% of their time was spent watching broadcast TV – and that was only to catch the latest episode of one of their two favorite shows – episodes they would purchase when the box set was released.

He told me about his huge HD display…how Discovery’s HD channel played as wallpaper. The sound off. He rarely watched the news on his display – preferring to get his information from the net – whenever and wherever he wanted. He commented how times are radically different from the broadcast market that existed when he founded his company more than two decades ago.

Imbi and I came home from a wonderful Thai dinner on Queen Street in The Beach last night. As we came in, Rylan and two of his cousins were laughing uproariously at a moving image production. It was playing on Rylan’s Mac Book. A Robert Tilton and Methane mashup from Ebaum’s World that one of the cousins had discovered. They played it back a number of times. They then spent a few minutes trying to find something to watch on the tube, but quickly pulled out a DVD boxed set of a comedy show – and the laughter continued.

Broadcast TV reminds me a little of the Monty Python character in the Holy Grail who, whilst eventually dying, proclaims “I’m not dead yet.” The fact of the matter is that Broadcast TV is not dead. Yet. But there are people actively engaged in attempting to kill it.

People like the folk that brought us Kazaa and leveraged the Estonian programmers work that became Skype – busy working on The Venice Project. Arrington points to Janus Friis’ blog and quotes this:

It’s simple, really — we are trying to bring together the best of TV with the best of the Internet. We think TV is one of the most powerful, engaging mass medias of all time. People love TV, but they also hate TV. They love the (sometimes…) amazing storytelling, the richness, the quality itself. But they hate the linearness, the lack of choice, the lack of basic things like being able to search. And wholly missing is everything that we are now accustomed to from the Internet: tagging, recommendations, choice, and so on… TV is 507 channels and nothing on and we want to help change that!

ItvwtvshowsIPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is the future of moving image delivery. It’s what Apple is doing with the iTunes delivery of near DVD quality TV shows. (Not that we in Canada would know as we can’t get them.) Arrington notes that Apple has 220 TV shows available. When they launch the iTV, they will no doubt provide access to a lot more.

I’ve said this before here, but broadcast is a push model. The networks deliver what they want to deliver, when they want to deliver it. PVRs allow us to TimeShift our viewing of their deliverables – but we record their material when they make it available. IPTV is pull – it’s about us choosing what we want, when we want it – and how we want to watch it. From a handheld device to the 54″ LCD screen on the wall. And we want to be able to choose from a wide variety of material – including news and sports.

…there’s big money involved in producing many of the long form shows I (we) want to watch – shows like House, 24 and possibly the Sorkin/Schlamme production, Studio 60. Disruptive advertising pays for those shows – but I want to experience them without the interruptions. (Some of us are willing to download “illegal” BitTorrent files to accomplish this – sometimes waiting days for the files to download. I’m not interested in that.) I should note that a near DVD quality version of Studio 60 is available from iTunes for $1.99 (in the US only). But I don’t really want a Standard Definition copy of the show – for which I have to pay a couple of bucks. I want HD.

We pay about $30/month for basic cable right now. I’m willing to give that money to an IPTV provider if it gives me access to basic service in HD or SD – world news, sports and weather – plus Standard Definition network programming – that I can choose to download – and can playback on whatever DRM-aware device I like. I’m willing to pay another $20 per month to get the 10 or so shows my family wants to watch…in HD. Plus, you can provide me with paid access to special event programming – say, a Sting concert – that I can download to watch and for a few dollars more – burn to an HD-DVD.

I’m even willing to sit through a couple of minutes of high quality, targeted advertising before I get to watch each HD show. But the trick is, I get to choose what ads I watch. Just as I choose what ads I read in a magazine or newspaper, I want to be able to choose what you put in front of me before I get to see my uninterrupted show.

Further, at the end of a show’s season, I want to be able to purchase the content for long-term storage (on a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD) at a significantly discounted rate over a retail box set. This would allow me to “legally” record the TV shows for said long-term storage. The ads would still be there – but I’d be able to fast forward through them – in this scenario.

Is this possible technically. Of course. Will it happen? Eventually.

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Welcome aboard, Tom.

House is the best show on Television. Just ask those of us who are addicted. Heck, Imbi and I even used it to teach students script writing in Kenya. And they are addicts now, to!

We left Season 1 with friends in Nairobi, bought a fresh copy when we returned home and had Season 2 in our hands the day it was available. We may need help. But good television has been hard to find for so long…

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Note: No monitors, no in-ears, Paul’s a little flat, but the performance rocks!
HT: Dave Winer

And this Winer recommended one made me both smile & cry. Watch it!

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A House Memo

kinnon —  September 5, 2006 — 1 Comment

In case you missed the memo, House begins tonight. The favourite TV show of the entire Kinnon family seems to have come back early (which probably means an extended break in the middle of the season) but we aren’t complaining. Tonight at 8pm on Global in Canada and Fox in the States. If you haven’t yet experienced the addiction, it isn’t too late. Watch it.

UPDATE: Hope you didn’t miss it. It was great. House, as tortured as ever…even if he can walk without a cane. I love this show.(Although, as Imbi said, it wasn’t their best show ever – not a particularly strong season opener. And what’s with Cameron’s hair???)

UPDATE 2: But if you (Liam) did miss the premiere, my favourite sister-in-law points out that Fox (Murdoch does get the internet) has Recaps available on the site. Most excellent. UPDATE 2A – Now that I’m back in Broadband Land, I realize these are written synopsis’s – not video…oh, well.

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