February 29, 2008

Webware Web 2.0 video projects

From a list of thousands of nominees, Webware selected 300 finalists for the public vote in the 2008 Webware 100 Awards. It's a quick way to see what's happening with video in Web 2.0 projects.

The Video category contains tools for storage, playback, streaming, editing, live broadcasting, and animation. There's bunch of worthy ventures that didn't make the cut (was live video site Stickcam too sexy?). Sites like Hulu and Seesmic weren't in the 100 because they were still in private beta when the eligibility period ended.

(via Ryan Stewart, who points out the Flash/flex apps).

AIR and its implications for video

Beet.TV has an interview on AIR and its implications for video with Ryan Stewart, a Rich Internet Application Evangelist for Adobe. Beet.TV has more from the Adobe Engage conference, just scout around.

Apparently Microsoft's Silverlight will be in the spotlight next week. Silverlight 1.0 is primarily focused on video, and word is that the features management wanted could only be done now in Flash (which is often done on the Mac inside MS). That should change with Silverlight 2; see Scott Guthrie's blog post First Look at Silverlight 2 (beta release 1).

Update: there's more on this from Adobe VP David Wadhwani (and more analysis on Beet.TV and a 2007 overview in The Architecture of Flash):

Update 2: eWeek (3/3/08) talks to CTO Kevin Lynch about AIR and Open Source in Adobe Floating on AIR.

Adobe Director 11 Does Physics & 3D

Create Digital Motion notes the upcoming release of Director 11, which does more Flash plus AGEIA Physics and 3D rendering with DirectX 9.

Not sure what you'll find if you scratch the surface...

February 28, 2008

SF Cutters meeting tonight

The next SF Cutters meeting is tonight Thursday Feb. 28th in San Francisco, courtesy of Adobe Systems. More info is on the SF Cutters' website.

The Ripple Training team is scheduled to talk about Motion 3, Compressor, and Final Cut Pro.

And Karl Soule of Adobe Systems will deliver a customized presentation of Adobe Encore. He will focus on workflow on the Mac and Final Cut Pro. In addition Adobe is giving away a copy of Premiere Pro which contains the Encore Blu-ray Disc authoring tool.

February 27, 2008

SFMOGRAPH to launch March 20 with AE founders

Matt Silverman and friends are starting SFMOGRAPH, a new San Francisco After Effects user group that will kick off on March 20th at Adobe's San Francisco office. This group will be user-focused and not limited to AE.

The 1st meeting plan is to host Dave Simons and Dan Wilk -- "the two brains behind After Effects."

More info can be found at www.sfmograph.com.

Pollan on food

Michael Pollan, mentioned in previous posts on corn & biotech, a UC Berkeley webcast, and sustainability, has a new book -- In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. This book was summarized last month in his New York Times Magazine article Unhappy Meals. One way to keep up with books is to listen to book tour podcasts; searching for podcast and the author's name gives you a decent number of audio choices. Pollan recently spoke on these 3 shows which provide audio dowmloads: Democracy Now, KQED Forum, and KALW Your Call.

Also recently available is Pollan's presentation at last year's TED conference, part of the green theme. Here Pollan returns to his thesis from The Botany of Desire and asks us to see things from a plant's-eye view -- to consider the possibility that nature isn't opposed to culture and that biochemistry rivals intellect as a survival tool.

MacTex offers free texture images

David Torno has a new blog called MacTex, "which comes from the words macro and texture. Basically a collection of macro photography images I've taken and will be taking in the future... They may come in helpful with your artistic creations in After Effects, Photoshop or what ever tools you use, and are 100% free for private or commercial use. They are offered as 2304 x 3456 JPG with no warranties / guarantees of any kind."

Update: a wide variety of free textures are available at CGtextures.com.

February 25, 2008

RichFLV among Adobe AIR Apps to Check Out

Read/WriteWeb has a coupla articles on Adobe AIR, which was launched at the Adobe Engage 2008 event today in San Francisco: The Best Things About Adobe's AIR Platform and 6 Adobe AIR Apps to Check Out.

RichFLV (pictured above) seems cool; it let`s you edit .flv files and metadata.

There are more AIR apps at the Adobe AIR Marketplace, and John Dowdell and Ryan Stewart note other press coverage.

Update: Lee Brimelow has an article on Streaming Media on Building Video Apps With Adobe AIR.

Update 2: Adobe released a new version of the desktop color harmony browser kuler.

Omino Effects Suite - free AE filters

There's a new release of the After Effects plug-in set Omino Effects Suite, which is thanksware for Mac OS X Universal Binary and Windows. It’s also got a new Kaleidoscope effect (movie below).

February 23, 2008

Blu-ray Blues - 7,085 of them -1

The Fini blog has The Blu•ray Blues -- because the "first project licensing alone will cost $7,085. That's in addition to the actual costs of replication/duplication and packaging that we're already used to paying." AACS copy protection was optional on HD DVD but mandatory on Blu-Ray replication.

Also, "Apparently some Bluray players want to see a copy protection folder, even if it is empty and some authoring apps don't put those folders on their burns."

But wait, there's more... at Fini and at PC Magazine's Who Will Pay Next-Gen DVD License Fees?

Update: from ZDNet, "in the news today was some information about JavaFX and the Blu-ray specification. It turns out that the Profile 2.0 spec for Blu-ray adds a networking ability so you could start building things on the players creating an interesting living room development model. What makes it interesting for Sun is that JavaFX is part of the Blu-ray spec so if you get networking support and JavaFX support some creative Java types could go to town."

Interactive 360 degree video

from Click Z: "As part of its Red Bull Surfing team sponsorship, the energy drink company sent its creative agency Taow to film surfing action off the shore of Tahiti using a specially rigged 360 degree video camera from Immersive Media. Team members wore the camera in a backpack that filmed the area around them while they surfed last November... The resulting videos, now available on Redbullsurfing.com, use Flash to allow viewers to click and drag the perspective of the camera in whatever direction they choose."

There's more at Immersive Media.

Plus 360movies has QT videos, including an interactive video pano of a car race, and VideoThing posted More DIY 360° tests a few years ago.

Walkthrough of Oscar-nominated edits

In a Slate magazine video, Hollywood editor Mark Helfrich walks through well-edited scenes from this year's five Oscar-nominated films.

Via Hollyn-wood, who has some comments.

And from Salon, the Best-looking Oscar films looks at cinematography nominees as part of the IFC News Beyond the Multiplex series.

'Taxi to the Dark Side' is back

Roundups of the Oscar 2008 Best Documentary nominees are at Salon's From "Sicko" to Iraq-o and All These Wonderful Things' Wagering on This Weekend's Doc Awards.

One of the nominees, Taxi to the Dark Side, has been picked up by HBO after being dropped by a spooked Discovery Channel. The movie is about "an innocent Afghan taxi driver tortured to death by U.S. officials at Bagram Air Base, and has received wide critical acclaim since its debut in April at the Tribeca Film Festival. The New York Times’s A.O. Scott said, 'If recent American history is ever going to be discussed with the necessary clarity and ethical rigor, this film will be essential.'" The original big spread in the NYT was quite disturbing.

There's more at Think Progress; here's the trailer:

A chat with 2008 VFX Oscar Nominees

VFXWorld posted an interview with Oscar nominees Scott Farrar, Mike Fink and John Knoll about Transformers, The Golden Compass, and At World's End:

VFX Oscar Nominees 2008: Conversations with Farrar, Fink and Knoll (via CinemaTech and vfxblog)

February 22, 2008

Prolost on Dynamic Range.

Stu Maschwitz "opens a little window into my current thoughts about digital cinema, dynamic range, and some recent and ongoing testing of the RED One camera." Put on your thinking cap -- because you'll need it to seriously consider the meaty post Digital Cinema Dynamic Range.

Update: You can also whet your appetite with Digital Cinema Dynamic Range, Short Version.

EFF critical of Flash Video DRM

from Last 100:

"In a recent blog post, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Seth Schoen lays out a number of criticisms of Adobe’s push to introduce Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology into its Flash Video and accompanying Flash Media Server products. If DRM was to become commonplace for Flash Video (the dominant format for streaming video on the Web e.g. YouTube) then it would stifle competition and dramatically hinder the burgeoning “remix” culture that the Internet has spawned, argues Schoen."

Read more of EFF critical of Flash Video DRM at Last100. NewTeeVee also has coverage in EFF Stirs Fear of Flash DRM.

Update: it might be interesting to compare the Adobe and Apple approach; see for example, Apple patent hints at a future of podcasting mash-ups at Last 100.

February 21, 2008

SF Cutters meeting Feb 28

The next SF Cutters meeting is on Thursday Feb. 28th in San Francisco, courtesy of Adobe Systems.

The Ripple Training Team is scheduled to talk about Motion 3, Compressor, and Final Cut Pro. Also planned is a demo of Blu-Ray Disc authoring with Adobe Encore. More info is on the SF Cutters' website.

3D lenses in Silicon Valley

CNET posted articles after conference presentations on Adobe's 3D camera lens (October 2007) and a Stanford University project using a multi-aperture image sensor (February 2008).

There's video of both projects: at Stanford (YouTube) and at a French website featuring a nice Adobe presentation (a shorter audience sample is on Flowseeker). John Nack posted additional details in October. I'm not sure how the projects are related to each other, or to Refocus Imaging in Mountain View. All 3 use some of same images.

By the way, Bill Moyers hosted an interesting video on photography and consumption by photographic artist Chris Jordan.

Fake 3D for St Patrick's Day & beyond

Dean Velez posted some ideas for St Patrick's Day on Motion Graphics Lab. Dean found the sweet spot using the After Effects CS3 Echo filter to build 3D-ish ribbon-like things and other cartoons. The customizable AE projects are free up until March 17th . You have to register and add them to a shopping cart individually, but you can preview the renders at the website.

Also, Steve Whatley did a introductory-level video for Terry White's Creative Suite Podcast 3D layers, light and Cameras in After Effects, and Alan Shisko posted an interesting fake 3D video tutorial several months ago in Creating Trees in After Effects.

Quicktime Gamma Stripper

Besides the usual gamma differences and Windows graphics acceleration, gamma tags in QuickTime files can change appearance of files across platforms.

Frantic Films Software explains: "Quicktime has a feature, mostly hidden from users, which is designed to adjust the display gamma of quicktime movies on different machines to compensate for display difference. Deep within the file, there is sometimes a little tag called 'gama' lurking which tells the Quicktime player what gamma correction the file was encoded with. While this is well-intentioned, motivated by the difference in display gamma between PCs and Macs, the Quicktime player offers no way to view this tag and change it.

To work around this issue, we have created a small tool that strips the 'gama' tag out of offending quicktimes. It's a very simple tool which operates on all the file names and folders given to it."

There's more info as well as the
QuicktimeGammaStripper utility at Frantic Films Software. It's for Windows but there appears to be instructions for Mac too.

Adobe has a technote for strictly After Effects-related issues: QuickTime movies exported from After Effects CS3 are darker or lighter than expected.

Update: this utility appears to be missing from Frantic; I'll look around for it.

Update 2: File found on internet; see QuicktimeGammaStripper utility for Windows.

Update 3: Some websites directly copy postings (cf. here & Windows Live) and/or hide their sources, but at least some of them give something if only to keep viewers from leaving their site. In one case, The DV Show follows but at least posts QTGammaStripper.

Update 4: Check out updates
QTGammaStripper for OS X PPC and Win32 (another gamma stripper app) and Brightness Issues with H.264 QuickTime, a survey and x264 solution by Chris & Trish Meyer.

February 19, 2008

Animated buttons using After Effects and Flash

Lee Brimelow has a new video tutorial at gotoAndLearn() on creating animated buttons using After Effects and Flash. There's a better quality version and download from that link above.

February 16, 2008

Free Snow filter and blizzard effect

The Boris Continuum Complete Snow filter for Apple Final Cut Pro and Motion is free until March 1st. It's an auto-animated snow generator with extensive options that allow you to create drifts or make flakes pile up along the edges of an alpha channel.

Download the free Snow filter here, and look at the tutorial too. You must install the free BCC Fxplug before March 1, 2008.

There's also a free "blizzard" effect from DVCReators.net.

Update: for other options, see Creating snow in After Effects.

February 15, 2008

New QuickTime preferences

finalcutpronews notes Some new QT features -- well preferences at least -- for hi-quality, timecode, and color compatibility. I haven't checked them out because I haven't taken to the latest update yet.

Update: whoops, this preference panel goes back to QT 7.2 at least.

Read, Write and Edit Metadata with ExifTool

On the AE-List, Lloyd Alvarez noted a tool to view embedded metadata in files, including projects embedded by After Effects into QuickTime renders.

It's pretty cool if you want to root around inside files -- and there's a lot going on in there.

The previous link gives you a .TAR archive, but there's an additional link to the Windows .EXE and Mac .DMG for ExifTool, "a platform-independent Perl library plus a command-line application for reading, writing and editing meta information in image, audio and video files."

Update: according to Phil Spitler on the AE-List,"it looks like the AE project details are not stored as EXIF data." Dave Simons added, "... IIRC the data is stored in a QT user data blob with the tag 'Cr8r'. Not sure if there are any scripting languages that access QT user data. Related question: does anyone use the Embed Project Link & Copy option (i.e., embed the entire project in the movie)? Or just the Project Link?"

American crisis of memory and knowledge

Bill Moyers posted video of his talk with Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason, who offers an fairly accurate description of what she calls "an overarching crisis of memory and knowledge."

People are often guilty of errors in judgment when they confuse opinion and fact.

But facts are facts -- like the fact that we as a country exist because of mass genocide of Native Americans or that we attacked Iraq although 'we' knew the official reasons were false. The 'we' here are the vast majority of people who could actually find Iraq on a map. Of course this vast majority of knowers is quite small since in one poll, only 23 percent of the college-educated and only six percent of high school graduates could find Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and Israel on a labelled map. Then again you don't have know the difference between Sunnis and Shia to make a killing in war profits and real estate speculation, or to get a big tax cut defended by people who don't know that Genesis is the first book of the Bible.

The problem of knowledge that the masses do sense is that in spite of advanced technology, or more likely because of it, the world seems to be going to hell in a bucket. Mad scientists seem to be creating a terminal mess as well as the matrix of illusion that controls technical development of the beast. The mass of people do sense that there's little chance that evolutionary theory is literally true.

The funny thing is that modern people seem to be revisiting historical cycles of debate over faith and the limits of human reason. Accepting human limits is charity in the wider sense, and is needed to avoid hubris or overweening pride, which expulsion from the Garden of felicity.

Moyers and Susan Jacoby might do well to consider currents in the sociology and philosophy of science and knowledge (for example Langdon Winner and Michel Foucault) as well as historical debates involving Ghazali and Averroes who were copied verbatim by Europeans like Thomas Aquinas.

Update: Susan Susan Jacoby and others joined KQED Radio's Forum to discuss the topic from other angles in Anti-Intellectualism in the U.S.

Update 2: In a more modern scientific vein, Kahneman and Tversky and others demonstrated some of the limits of human reason by showing how the framing of decisions expose human heuristics and resulting biases.

February 4, 2008

Conduit update includes AE filters

Conduit Suite is now available from dvGarage. It lets you "composite and analyze live video input on set, use nodal techniques in Photoshop (PC or Mac), use nodal compositing techniques in After Effects (Mac or PC), and of course, use nodal compositing in Final Cut Pro and Motion."

There doesn't appear to be a way to purchase the Windows filters for AE and Photoshop seperately fom the the $149 bundle special. Also, a bundle of dvMatte Pro Studio 3 and Conduit Suite is just $199 for now.

Update: Stu Maschwitz likes Conduit's phat nodes.

As noted earlier, much more info and explanatory movies on Conduit and nodal compositing can be found in the demo section of dvGarage Conduit pages, and on the blog Lacq’ing in Depth.

February 2, 2008

Custom Adobe Media Player channel with Blip.TV

Adobe Media Player prerelease 2 is available on Adobe Labs. It is improved from a user perspective. Also, there's an easy way to start your own iTunes or AMP channel with custom branding using a Blip.TV account. Bob Donlon walked through this the other night at the SF Cutters meeting and it's quite easy. When you log in to a Blip.TV account, click on distribution in the blue panel at the left to create various RSS feeds.

February 1, 2008

Pro Video Coalition blog network launches

A new blog alliance has launched, The Pro Video Coalition. It seems to be a reincarnation of much of the old crew of DV Magazine, including Chris & Trish Meyer, Adam Wilt, Mark Christiansen, Mike Curtis, Bruce Johnson, Scott Gentry, Jim Feeley, and Frank Capria.

It's still in beta, so not everything works, but content so far makes it seem to be an important new destination.

Seam Carving hits the New York Times

Seam Carving, noted in previous posts, hit the New York Times yesterday, as noted by Create Digital Motion with added value in "Savvy Stretching: Free Pixel-Resizing Tools, But What About Real-Time, Video?"

It would be nice if After Effects got better resizing and scaling,