December 31, 2007

The Story of Stuff

What is the Story of Stuff? ... a movie from from Annie Leonard, Free Range Studios, and the Tides Foundation who say:

"From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world."

They produced a Flash move with nice interactive features and a QuickTime version. Here's the teaser on hidden costs:

Update: and a TED talk, via John Nack who has additional input...

"Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central belief of western societies: that freedom of choice leads to personal happiness. In Schwartz's estimation, all that choice is making us miserable. We set unreasonably high expectations, question our choices before we even make them, and blame our failures entirely on ourselves. His relatable examples, from consumer products (jeans, TVs, salad dressings) to lifestyle choices (where to live, what job to take, whom and when to marry), underscore this central point: Too many choices undermine happiness."

December 30, 2007

FCPUG Network Supermeet January 16

Tickets are on sale for the Macworld FCPUG Network Supermeet on January 16, 2008.

The raffle has over $40,000 in prizes so far--and the first 250 people arriving receive a valuable reusable "goodie" bag. What else is on the agenda?

Apple presents: Something formerly known as Super Secret
Adobe presents: DV Rebel Stu Maschwitz
Blackmagic Design presents: Alex Lindsay
Sony presents: Noah Kadner on the XDCAM EX
Plus: Vendor demos, Show and Tells from Bay Area filmmakers, FCS tips and tricks, and MORE!

Update: Apple's "secret" presentation caused a minor stir as the secret aspect amplified the importance of the event for the Apple Insider. This was clarified a bit in The Edit Blog comments. What Apple might be presenting still isn’t known -- so they could still bring the sex as Stu Maschwitz might say.

December 28, 2007

AE Users blinkx

A new After Effects site from David Basulto called has appeared. So far it there seems to be no practical information there, just press release feeds with a whole lotta ads. There was a blinkx video search engine box:

BlinkX seems fun but needs a better format for search results. As discussed earlier in Another blinkx in the wall and Video search interviews, the main focus seems to be on ad insertion. Here's a blinkx wall made from a search of "After Effects tutorials":

December 27, 2007

'Special effects' of consciousness

Here's an excerpt of a review of The Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness by Jeff Warren, in the SF Chronicle:

"Ekirch kept finding references to something called 'first sleep' in medieval texts. The term was never defined, suggesting that contemporary readers were already familiar with it. But Ekirch was at a loss.

Meanwhile, Wehr was bringing people into the Maryland woods and putting them to bed at dusk, wondering how the absence of artificial light would affect their biological clocks during long winter nights. As his experiment went on, an unexpected pattern emerged. Subjects were getting the eight hours of sleep long thought to be normal, but it came in two shifts. In between was a period of unusual wakefulness lasting an hour or two. Wehr characterized it as a sort of 'altered consciousness.' Subjects typically reported feeling something like bliss.

Fragmented sleep is typically viewed as a disorder, and as Warren points out, there are now medications designed to provide eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. But as Ekirch realized upon learning of Wehr's experiment, segmented sleep may actually have been the norm for humanity until the invention of the lightbulb.

Warren repeats Wehr's protocol to give his account of this forgotten state of mind, and also delves into the practice of lucid dreaming - in which the dreamer awakens just enough to control the proceedings.

Gradually, his pursuit for neurological 'special effects' morphs into a penetrating inquiry into the nature of consciousness itself."

Update: here's a talk by the author and an interview...

December 25, 2007

Santa voice over session

Some, like The Church Lady, may suppose that Santa deserves to work for producers, given his past. For more see Santa’s Crimes Against Humanity by Robert Anton Wilson, The psychedelic secrets of Santa Claus, Santa is a Wildman!, and Is Christmas From Christianity? a video lecture by Abdullah Hakim Quick.

Update: due the uncertainty around Santa, Mr Spock was called in for a mind-meld (starring Mickey Hart and Jerry Garcia).

December 24, 2007

Video on the Web & Adobe

Here's a basic overview of video on the web & Adobe with a few twists I hadn't heard; and comments from John Dowdell:

"W3C: Lynch on video: A 20-minute video interview with Adobe's Chief Software Architect, Kevin Lynch, at the W3C Video on the Web Workshop earlier this month. I haven't listened to it yet, but it likely follows the Adobe position paper submitted to the conference: video needs extend beyond HTML browsers; we need improvement in metadata, search, quoting, text tracks, distribution controls, and delivery to multiple devices; and Adobe has no objections to a VIDEO tag if the browsers change to invoke the user's choice of video engine that way: "[It would be useful to] establish video as a top level element in HTML, and support mapping to player technology. This could be approached even more generally, to enable better integration of technologies such as Flash Player with the HTML document object model." More position papers are here, and there are additional video interviews with the W3C's Steve Bratt and Doug Schepers."

Update: NewTeeVee has some rather involved posts with and about video, including: What Will Happen to Online Video in 2008?, NTV Predictions: Mobile Video, and NTV Predictions: Video in the Living Room.

December 21, 2007

Type casting

As noted on Typographica, before Kirby Ferguson's rant Trajan is the Movie Font (see his links to comic red and DVD art) there was Etched in Stone, a little movie that made the same point with some other detail. This movie was noted quite earlier on the AE-List, along with Behind the Typeface: Cooper Black by the same creator.

The Snog Blog has a nice interview with Cheshire Dave, the writer/director of Etched in Stone and Behind the Typeface.

Helvetica, however, gets a big balanced treatment with a touring film, now at The Roxie in San Francisco (thanks SF Chron review). There's also a DVD, which you can rent at finer video stores like Into Video (Upper Haight & Hayes Valley). Here's a sample:

December 20, 2007

Avid names new CEO

Avid has a new CEO. Capria.TV has good background; Splice Here links you to a conference call.

December 19, 2007

AE CS3 due mid-January 2008

from Michael Coleman, product manager for Adobe After Effects:

"In order to give the After Effects team some time make additional quality improvements, we've decided to [wait to] release the 8.0.2 update until mid-January 2008. We know that many of you are looking forward to the P2 and Leopard compatibility in this release, so we'll have it to you as soon as as it's ready!"

The Corporation -- another viral video

The Secret Strategies Behind Many “Viral” Videos also reminds me that the film The Corporation was really good, so here's the official grassroots version (iPod/MP4 version); the advertising segment starts around 1:04:35:

and part 2

December 18, 2007

Go Viral + a web video swarm

Camcorderinfo has a swarm of new posts on web video:
My favorite post of the bunch is How Video Goes Viral, since I enjoyed how Fox has been leveraging viral video to promote a fictional drink from a movie they wouldn't promote (see an earlier spin Idiocracy kool-aid -- red or blue?).

At a recent SF Cutters meeting, it was noted that much of the business of Phoenix Editorial has shifted to web video (especially HD). It seems that companies want to create video that can go viral, which would seem to be the art of astroturfing (as opposed to grassroots). And like the rest of the web, there are exploits to raise ratings (like on Viral Video Chart); see Blackhat Video SEO on Youtube - Boost Video Views for one example. Companies can also deflate as well as inflate; as noted by NPSC Blog: "Another blogger details how the San Francisco Chronicle uses software to continue to display deleted comments to the people who posted them, leaving them completely unaware that their views have been hidden from everyone else that visits the site. Subsequent commenters to the post then reveal that other sites are using similar techniques."

Camcorderinfo's How Video Goes Viral does note some tips on how to propel video into viral territory. These were summarized from an interview from a CNN video show below:

1. Keep the video short.
2. Design the video for remixing like “The Dramatic Hamster” to allow other viewers to customize it.
3. Don’t make the video an outright ad.
4. Make it shocking.
5. Share the video via social networks like MySpace and Facebook and through e-mail lists.

Dan Ackerman Greenberg, the same fellow interviewed by CNN, also posted a detailed article on TechCrunch last month. Here's a very short excerpt from the heavily-commented article, The Secret Strategies Behind Many “Viral” Videos:

"Over the past year, I have run clandestine marketing campaigns meant to ensure that promotional videos become truly viral, as these examples have become in the extreme. In this post, I will share some of the techniques I use to do my job: to get at least 100,000 people to watch my clients’ “viral” videos.

Secret #1: Not all viral videos are what they seem
2. Content is NOT King
3. Core Strategy: Getting onto the “Most Viewed” page
4. Title Optimization
5. Thumbnail Optimization
6. Commenting: Having a conversation with yourself
7. Releasing all videos simultaneously
8. Strategic Tagging: Leading viewers down the rabbit hole
9. Metrics/Tracking: How we measure effectiveness"

The comments on this article were quite lively, for example Fleet Street PR later presented a starker summary of some of Greenberg's
other tactics:
  • Using fake headlines
  • Paying bloggers to post the videos
  • Spamming forums on websites
  • Spamming peoples' comments on their MySpace pages
  • Spamming email lists
  • Fake comments by his company on videos to provoke controversy
Check out the ViralBlog and B2BbLead for more on viral marketing in general; they track leading viral companies like GoViral, ViralTracker, The Comotion Group, and Promote Socially. Also, Pam O'Neal Mickelson presents a sober overview and case study on viral marketing in a Vimeo video.

Update: of course marketing goes far beyond viral video -- behavioral targeting of ads and content is really still in its infancy. but still has attracted the attention of the FTC.

Update 2: one investor's alternative...Track your videos and stats properly using TubeMogul.

Free Combustion 2008 videos

The Street Productions has some free training videos as well as DVDs for Combustion 2008, compositing software from Autodesk. Back from what seemed the brink of death, Combustion is in many ways more powerful than After Effects -- it's as if Adobe had bought, upgraded, and integrated Commotion into AE (instead of Commotion languishing in a DVE engineer's cube at Pinnacle). Though the rendering engine and other features like nodes are enticing, I'm not sure it's worth more than a peak if you're invested in AE (check out the responses to the release on fxguide). Anway, here's the blurb from TSP:

"The tutorials cover all the new UI improvements and workflow such as being able to drag the size of the workspace panel and the control panels in the UI. Drag and drop operators from the workspace panel to a viewport to target that operator, playing back multiple viewports synchronized plus others. Then there is a tutorial on the new schematic improvements which I think anyone who uses the schematic a lot is going to love. ...these lessons are the exact same ones that are now shipping with my Combustion 2008 Complete DVD set"

Also, there's more video at the Combustion page at Autodesk.

December 17, 2007

Security as resilience & sustainability

Michael Pollan has an interesting article in The New York Times Magazine which manages to mention swine, almonds, antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, and the Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus that's been implicated in Bee Colony Collapse Disorder. Here's an excerpt of Our Decrepit Food Factories:

"For years now, critics have been speaking of modern industrial agriculture as “unsustainable” in precisely these terms, though what form the “breakdown” might take or when it might happen has never been certain. Would the aquifers run dry? The pesticides stop working? The soil lose its fertility? All these breakdowns have been predicted and they may yet come to pass. But if a system is unsustainable — if its workings offend the rules of nature — the cracks and signs of breakdown may show up in the most unexpected times and places. Two stories in the news this year, stories that on their faces would seem to have nothing to do with each other let alone with agriculture, may point to an imminent breakdown in the way we’re growing food today."

Update: in The San Francisco Chronicle Magazine Carl Nagin asks, How Safe Is Your Salad?

Apparently, "new industry rules for leafy greens aim to protect consumers from E. coli. Farmers and conservationists question the science [and the common sense of the grocery industry groups] behind the standards."

Microscope & pen cameras

Jim Tierney of Digital Anarchy posted about Eyeclops on his blog AnarchyJim. It's a $40 video camera with 200x magnification but only RCA out. It could make a good gift, especially if you get to play with it too. Just remember: God isn't one-eyed. There's more videos for this and similar products on Youtube.

Update: And via FreshDV, A Mini Spy Camera Hidden in a Pen.

December 16, 2007

Reduce PDF File Size on Mac

In Mac OS X, you can save a document as PDF from the Print dialog with using an Adobe app. The saved files can be large, but there is a way to reduce size according to Apple.

Apple has a video quick tip, which entails changing the Copies and Pages pop-up to Color Sync, then changing the Quartz filter from None to Reduce File Size before clicking PDF to save.

December 14, 2007

Native MXF support in FCP...SORTA

little frog in high def explains Native MXF support in FCP...SORTA:

"Let me first point you to the Apple Discussion thread that prompted this discovery. Full credit goes to ILMSTMF...whoever that is (real name not given, location unknown)." ...continue

62,000 how-to videos at is attempting to share the passion and wonderment of discovery by offering over 62,000 how-to videos -- on everything from After Effects and Photoshop to remodeling your home and growing great grass.

Co-Founded by Mike Goedecke of motion graphics company Belief, in still private invite mode until February, but anyone can sign up and become a member to use the site. There are a coupla blogs too: WonderWeekly and WonderDudes.

HD Photo plug-ins from Microsoft

As noted earlier in fnord on HD Photo and OpenEXR Brendan Bolles thinks HD Photo is not too shabby. Now, from Photoshop News:

"Bill Crow, the Microsoft Program Manager for HD Photo (originally code named Photon) says on his blog [worth a look -ry], that the final versions of the plug-in for Adobe Photoshop CS2 and CS3 are available for download. The download is free.

The plug-ins are available for both Windows as well as Macintosh. For the Windows, XP SP2 or Vista is supported. For Mac, both 10.4 (Tiger) and 10.5 (Leopard) are supported. The plug-in development was done by Microsoft in conjunction with Pegasus Imaging Systems.

HD Photo, which uses an expanded color space named scRGB has the capability to encode high-dynamic range (HDR) images in a wider color gamut color space."

Also, if you have a Windows box and turn off auto updates, you might try Windows Live Photo Gallery, which helps you manage and share your photos and videos. This is an upgraded version of the iPhoto competitor in Windows Vista, and also supports XP and HD Photo images.

December 13, 2007

WGA Strikers & trying to count video streams

As momentum for internet delivery of TV and movies builds, it's clear there's a lot of money and basic rights at stake in the writers' strike. But there are more than a few uncertainties. Reel Pop notes and quotes a Shelly Palmer post on media business site

"Who in their right mind thinks that the 'number of video streams per quarter is a readily ascertainable number.' First of all, what is a stream? Is it defined as an open socket between a server and a client? What if the stream is peer-assisted? Does that count? How about progressive downloads that are abandoned before they are viewed in their entirety? Are they considered downloads or streams? What about downloads? Do they count? How about off network plays of previously downloaded material that actually has a reported playcount? Wait … there’s more. How about VOD streams over closed IPTV networks? That’s what the cable industry is about to turn into – technically every one of those plays is a video stream. Does it count if you stream data that updates creative on an HD-DVD or BluRay to change story arch or release additional material that creates a derivative work? I could go on for about thirty pages and not come close to creating a complete list."

Reel Pop has also covered aspects of online usage stats, noting that search for video is also important. Now for balance, here's an explanation of the groundbreaking new deal put in a way writers can understand:

OpenHULU sorta

Last100 features an interesting interview by muhammad.saleem with the creator of OpenHULU, which mirrors currently closed HULU content like episodes from this season's The Simpsons, Heroes and Battlestar Galactica. Content is limited to viewers in the US and there are a bunch of scripts and cheesy ads; find out more in OPENhulu: setting Hulu’s videos free?

OpenHULU seems like another reason to use the Firefox add-on NoScript and an ad aware cookie cleaner.

December 12, 2007

From Avid to Final Cut Pro

Splice Here notes a "thoughtful analysis of the differences and similarities between Media Composer and Final Cut" at the Avid to Final Cut Pro site in a Useful Comparison of Avid and Final Cut. It's oriented toward Apple of course.

December 11, 2007

Idiocracy kool-aid -- red or blue?

FreshDV notes reports (Spout Blog, Guardian UK) that "Fox had struck a deal to produce real-life Brawndo, the fictional energy drink that threw the Earth into chaos in Idiocracy, a film that Fox barely released and all but refused to promote." Perhaps part of the reason for all this was that the Fox News brand remained pretty much intact (though more muscular) in the movie's dystopian future.

And as The Chutry Experiment notes, Fox and pals are "going full steam ahead to market Brawndo using viral videos on YouTube, a Brawndo website, and other social networking tools. And, yes, you can 'friend' Brawndo on Facebook and MySpace." Sort of reminds me how The Merry Pranksters kool-aid was re-branded by the SF People's Temple at Jonestown. The Brawndo episode also comes from San Francisco, this time from Omni Consumer Products LLC which borrows its name from Robocop.

By the way, design in Idiocracy was fun; see "The graphic design of Mike Judge's Idiocracy" at SpeakUp and Idiocracy is Reality at (which notes the "flat buns" burger commercial). Seen at the left is the movie's US President -- a porn star and wrestling champ -- at the "House of Representin'", which is sponsored by Pepsi. The Cabinet is sponsored by Carl's Jr, which devolved a new tag line, “F$#k you! I’m eating!” Video segments can be found via YouTube and Google.

At this point you really can't be sure who's zooming who. As shown at FreshDV, the Brawndo attempt to go viral mimics both Ideocracy and this viral video (one viewing is more than enough):

And here's a segment from The Daily Show on Brawndo's sister 'Cocaine Energy Drink':

December 10, 2007

Adobe beta of Brio web meeting tool

Over on Adobe Labs, there's a beta "preview of the next generation of Adobe Acrobat Connect, codename 'Brio.' Brio is a web meeting service built with collaboration in mind for individual professionals and small businesses...

Built on Adobe's Flash platform, Brio operates inside most popular web browsers, so you can start a meeting without worrying if others have a compatible system or the right software."

Brio has screen and file sharing, chat and whiteboards, but I'd also like to be able to record parts of the meeting and play it back right away -- so I'm not sure if this will fit the bill. A name change would make sense too since this has little to do with Acrobat.

CS3 updates nearly finished

from iTWire... "Adobe has delivered Mac OS X 10.5 compatibility updates for two components of Creative Suite 3. The Soundbooth CS3 update is purely for Leopard compatibility. The Premiere Pro CS3 3.1.1 update includes 'important bug fixes' as well as compatibility fixes for Apple's latest operating system and Adobe officials describe it as 'highly recommended' for all users. Leopard compatibility updates for After Effects CS3 and Encore CS3 are still expected this month. Other members of the CS3 family are already compatible with Mac OS X 10.5."

If there's a problem with automatic updates you can go to Adobe downloads.

Update: sort of an aside...with the Abobe site redesign there's a big push for Flash, and little attention to Adobe's actual video tools. See Adobe's broadcast and media solutions are changing the face of entertainment. Flash On. Looks like there might be more elements to be discovered:

NAB 2008 has a similar approach, though the mindshare is red-shifted from creation to commerce, without Avid (see Capria.TV, Splice Here) and maybe a lower profile from Adobe (no logo on floor map). NAB: "...the mecca for those seeking to produce and distribute broadband video across the Internet, via IPTV and for mobile devices, is also where new content deals are being brokered ... between telecom carriers, broadcasters, programming networks and social media outlets..."

December 7, 2007

Hand Held & Bourne

...from FX Rant's Hand Held Cameras:

"I love how author David Bordwell launches into a topic and digs deep. One [in a series] of his terrific articles is 'Unsteadicam Chronicles,' from his website. I don't necessarily agree with his viewpoints, but I adore how deeply involved he gets with his material."

Anatomy of the Action Picture, mentioned here last February, is another thoughtful article by Bordwell.

These sorts of discussions are what keeps me interested in an industry sector that often sells musical groups like toothpaste and sells toothpaste with hate speech.

Update: The Edit Blog notes an Editing organazized post on editing directions right in the script in The Bourne Supremacy script online

Woody Allen on the Writer’s Strike

I think Brightcove could use faster loading and a Flash player that gives you a playlist of episodes (like others have had for awhile) -- there's more at United Hollywood's Speechless series.

Video via Crooks and Liars via WGA Strike: Same Old Same Old. More comments and metacomments can be found through FreshDV's CrispyFeeds RSS aggregator.

December 5, 2007

7 Deadly Sins - Simpson's style

From the recent Treehouse of Horror via Hulu (better sound than YouTube)... starting around 18 minutes...

December 4, 2007

13-hours of AE Basic Training for free

In the old days we had to walk miles through blizzards to pay for AE tutorials if there were any, but now there's tons of worthy free stuff. Video Copilot is offering their 13-hour Basic Training series for free over the web.

Thermo: Adobe's new RIA design tool

Adobe Edge is featuring a sneak peek video on Thermo, code name for an RIA design tool under development at Adobe. Flash the app is enervating for someone used to After Effects, and I've tried using it in every version since Future Splash Animator 1. I'm not sure why Flash never moved to the way of mTropolis with it's easy to use messenger model.

Thermo is the sort of technology metaphor I'd like to see in the Production Premium suite. Instead of limited templates for producing Flash versions of a DVD, I'd like to see new tools more like this, even as an Adobe Elements "Flash Toy" with only branching and looping at first, then migrating to more complex setup with effects and nodes/pipes/flowcharts. Or even better a reimagining and rewrite of After Effects and maybe Flash. If video over the web continues to grow, new tools that share creation metaphors and integrate media creation and interactivity could be useful. Aviary seems to be inching towards this with their RIA/AIR apps.

Adobe ships Flash Player with H.264 video

Emmy Huang and Tinic Uro , Justin Everett-Church, and the Flash Dev Center have the Flash Player 9 news with tons of further references.

And it's already being used by a big player; see NewTeeVee's Hulu Adds HD. Beet.TV noted details on the Hulu blog.

The release covers h.264/AAC audio on Windows, Mac, and Linux, and "improved performance through multi-core support for rendering, hardware scaling in full-screen, multi-threaded video decoding, a new algorithm for image scaling, and the Flash Player cache for local caching of common platform components to reduce SWF sizes and app loading times." Also, there's new stuff on Flash Media Server.

Tinic Uro"the moov atom (which is the index information in MPEG-4 files) is at the beginning of the have to wait until the file is completely downloaded before it is played back. You can use tools like qt-faststart.c written by our own Mike Melanson to fix your files so that the index is at the beginning of the file." In Apple tools (or in CS3 with File>Export>QuickTime), you just check the "Fast Start" box.

CS3 Production Premium and Final Cut

Terry White hosts a Dave Helmly video explaining how to Integrate CS3 Production Premium into your Final Cut Pro workflow.

Hopefully Adobe will someday expand support for XML/OMF, etc export and import so Adobe users can share work across audio and video editing platforms.

The plugged-in family

No it's not another indictment of TV... As reported by Digital Content Producer, plug-in sharpies are joining forces: Toolfarm Inks Exclusive Distribution Agreement with Red Giant Software.