Friday, 22 November 2013

Work: Through a Google Glass...Darkly

Pic: xkcd
In 1996, noted science fiction author David Brin wrote a non-fiction piece for Wired called The Transparent Society in which he peered ahead into the new future and the lives of two cities; one where surveillance cameras on every street corner were the absolute norm, another where their use was tightly regulated. Neither seemed particularly palatable.

"A few voices out there...have begun pointing out the obvious: that those cameras on every street corner are coming, as surely as the new millennium. Nothing will stop them," he wrote.

He wasn't wrong.

Fast forward to 4th July 2013 and PR consultant and filmmaker Chris Barrett is walking along the Jersey Shore Boardwalk when he sees a fight break out and a subsequent arrest. Nothing atypical for the time and the place that's for certain, but Barrett was one of the first wearers of Google Glass as part of its Explorer program, and that scene was edited and uploaded onto YouTube a day later, where so far it has been watched 982,000 times and counting.

You may not be familiar with the term sousveillence, which considering how ugly it is is not much of a surprise, but it is a useful term. It unpacks surveillance — from the French sur, meaning "from above”; and veiller, "to watch” — and substitutes the prefix sous, "from below”. The cameras, in other words, are everywhere…

There has of course been much angst about the development of citizen journalism over the years, but none of that seems to have stopped its continuing use as the voracious maws of the 24 hour news channels gobble up content. Indeed, any trade show you cared to attend over the past years has likely featured new tools for ingesting and processing video sent in from viewers’ camera phones along with the prerequisite software for regurgitating Tweets and other socially-generated material on screen.

Google Glass though feels like a tipping point into something else entirely. A five megapixel camera is capable of recording 720p video and, as Barrett observed to website VenutreBeat, “I think if I had a bigger camera there, the kid would probably have punched me. But I was able to capture the action with Glass and I didn’t have to hold up a cell phone and press record.”

Google Glass hits the mass market in the spring according to the company’s own estimates and there are already news outlets prepping for it. CNN has an entire citizen journalist service, iReport, ready to go for it, which already features an assignment desk for mobile phone users, and there are any number of start-ups looking to aggregate cloud-sourced video of events automatically into a single video narrative with no editorial input whatsoever. Check out the likes of Ushahidi, which allows thousands of people to report on an event and place their reports on an interactive map.

In the spirit of Brin’s essay it’s almost pointless asking whether this is a good thing or not: to coin a phrase, ‘the avalanche has started, it is too late for the pebbles to vote’. What may hold Glass back from actual news organisation deployment just now is an under-specced mic for broadcast work, plus the fact that without the physical presence of even a cameraman reporters find themselves jostled, separated from their interviewee and generally swallowed up in oblivious crowds.

As far as the public and potential citizen journalists are concerned though, little holds them back apart from the law. And while it is moving fast — the UK’s Department of Transport is already implanting a ban on Glass-wearing while driving, for instance —whether it is moving fast enough to catch up is another matter entirely. There may well be another explosion of citizen journalist-sourced content on its way.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

TWTIBCTW - That Was the IBC That Was

So, what was that all about then?

Well, for a start it was more of an IBC that confirmed things we all already knew, rather than one of the shows that turns things on its head. Both on the showfloor and in the Conference it sprung very few surprises but it did at least console those that have backed a mix of 4K/IPTV/companion screens as the future of broadcast that they’re largely on the right track.

The show floor was packed with new 4K products and upgrades of existing kit at all stages in the production chain, happily which also seemed to be pitched at a much lower price point than could have been predicted a year ago. It is finally starting to worm its way into all the niche areas that will help build a complete workflow too, such as the ultra slo-mo units and video servers that will drive sport  production workflows in the format. And in the conference that manufacturing effort translated into the will to establish HEVC-encoded 4K services into the home as soon as is technically feasible.

When will that be? HBS’ Francis Hellier confirmed that next year’s World Cup final, and possibly other matches too, will be captured in the format, while there are also plans to capture events from the Sochi Olympics at the start of the year. TX of all this is more of an issue, with both projects talking about cinema and cinema-style events rather than any pipeline that ends in domestic homes. For that, the consensus seemed to be we will have to wait until the Rio 2016 Olympics....which considering that HD adoption turned out to be a 15 year project, seems almost indecently rapid.

Arguably the companion screen plans for next year’s tournament are more exciting, and will offer a huge degree of app-based personal interactivity, from choosing camera angles to cueing up replays, accessing ultra slo-mo and more. This whole area is steadily getting more sophisticated and essential to event television plans; something probably reflected in IBC’s launching of a new event, IBC Content Everywhere, that replaces the old Connected World and will become peripatetic after debuting at next year’s show.

Preoccupations at the Conference were: Big Data and how broadcasters can mine it to maximise revenue and start targeting ads at specific customers or demographics – or indeed change the mix of adverts in realtime depending on who’s watching (a much easier task now that companion screens offer a data return path); Spectrum and the diminishing amount thereof; and the perils and opportunities that the currently booming market of India represents – leavened somewhat by the fact that average wages are so low and that broadband on the subcontinent is defined as any connection over 256k. Money and time will be required.

Picks from the showfloor? It was a quiet year to be honest, but ARRI’s documentary-style Amira camcorder was probably the talk of the show, Avid had a new scalable modular control surface on display for its audio line, and BBC R&D’s IP Studio demonstration in the Future Zone was interesting enough on the surface, but then got really intriguing once you dug under its surface and grappled with its new concept of treating content as dedicated elements termed ‘grains’ (white papers are available online and well worth a quick search via Google).

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Work - IBC = Insanely Busy, Ceaseless

Really, it is this year. Huge amounts of logistics planning and subbing on the IBC Daily, and then a lot of work on behalf of the good people of IBC itself, and on top f that the odd IBC-related feature. As such, the poor blog tends to get neglected, so here's something I did for Red Shark a month or so ago about the growing use of cheap drones for filming by way of recompense...

Drones reach take-off

We have become a bit addicted to UAV or drone flying videos here of late, partly because they produce some astonishing images and partly because the skill of the pilots involved is occasionally phenomenal. The good news is that it’s a field rapidly taking off (ahem) and prices are tumbling, all of which makes it easy to get involved yourself.

Of course it’s the ubiquity of the GoPro camera that has brought the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle out of the realm of the military and into the range of not just the broadcaster but the hobbyist as well. Now, for somewhere under £1000 – and that covers camera and vehicle – you too can start flying your own semi-pro rig.

DJI’s Phantom Quad probably represents the low end of the market at the moment. It flies right out of the box, meaning that all you have to do is attach the four propellors, charge the LiPo and install the transmitter batteries before use. Control distance is roughly 300m (it operates in the 2.4Ghz ISM band) max speed is 10m/s horizontal and 6m/s vertical, and a fully charged unit will give you somewhere between 10 to 15 minutes of flight time. It also features a host of flight aides to help the novice pilot, probably the most useful being a Return to Home function aided and abetted by its inbuilt GPS which triggers when it flies out of control range.

The price for all this? Around £500.

If you want to step things up a notch, the company also does a hexa-rotor platform which can carry loads up to 2.5kg and adds another £1000 to the price. As is usual with a rapidly developing market, there are a serious amount of different systems available now in this mid-price range with four, six or eight rotor blade configurations. Equally they are capable of carrying a variety of different weights for a variety of different durations. Still, at least the research process if you’re looking to buy one should be fun.

After that, things ramp up a bit. If you really want to invest in improving your aerial images stabilisation is key. Of course, this can be done in post with varying degrees of success depending on the quality of the original images and how much grunt you can throw at the problem. Or you can invest in a gimbal whose inbuilt server motors react quickly enough to damp down any image vibration. This is a particular problem for live TV, and the reason why so many sports events use blimps as they provide a stable, if immovable, image platform, Gimbal prices start at around £2000 for a model lightweight enough for aerial work and head rapidly north from there very quickly.

Of course, at the hobbyist end of the spectrum you can’t typically lift enough weight to be looking at live video (though Parrot’s tablet and smartphone controlled A.R.Drone will stream live video via its internal 720P camera with a few hacks over the Wi-Fi hotspot it generates for itself for control purposes – look to pay about £250). For that you need something like Freefly Systems’ CineStar 8, an octocopter that will set you back somewhere in the vicinity of £6000 – more with gimbals etc - but has a payload capacity of 2.3kg, which is big enough to mount a camera such as a RED Epic or all the various electronics you’d need to be beaming back a live signal over RF.

In fact, there is a sometimes happy/sometimes incandescent subgroup of fliers online busy explaining and investigating different tweaks, hacks and modifications so that they can pull enough juice out of various vehicle’s batteries to power more onboard kit for longer without melting things or crashing. The whole scene really has a fecund Maker/Hacker vibe going.

Above that, things start to get seriously expensive. Flying-Cam’s SARAH 3.0 is a single rotor electric machine that filmed the opening bike chase over the roofs of Istanbul’s Grand Bazar for ‘Skyfall’ with an Epic and can take a maximum payload of 8kg up into the atmosphere. The company has also developed a Pilot in Relay system, which allows a second pilot to take over operation of the craft if it moves out of its 400m flight control envelope. Cost for that? Considering that the only things that take to the air between it and the full-sized, manned helicopters with the £200k FLIR gimbals are military UAVs capable of doing rather more (and sometimes rather more lethally) probably more than most people will want to spend.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Life - Ow

Completed Nightrider 2013 at the weekend with my chum, Andy Hayford, managing to raise £1800 and counting for the CF Trust as we did. Maybe it was the weather (dawn just changed the quality of the grey essentially) but it was more exhausting and way less exuberant than last year's efforts.

Hence the shortness of this entry...For entertainment I recommend last year's writings: I'm a Nightrider (Asleep in the Day)

Friday, 10 May 2013

Life: with pops and crackles

[Posted as part of a debate on digital vs analogue and what we lose over on the Red Shark website]

Have a very non-technical argument to throw into the mix: one thing that we lose [with digital] is our history with the media in question. Pops and crackles and distortions accrue over time, giving us a sense of time passing and a sense of ownership. I have digital versions of albums that I owned as a teenager which my brain still inserts a scratch or a jump into, because that's the way I remember it. It makes it mine, it makes it unique, in many respects it makes it alive - not in the living and breathing sense, but in the sense of change being possible.

In the same way that I've given my Kindle away so I can read books again, maybe I'll soon go out and buy a turntable and start getting some of my special favourites (Dark Side of the Moon, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Raindogs, Permanent Waves) back on vinyl. Might wait till my daughter's slightly older though. There are pops and crackles, and then there is someone covering everything with a thick layer of crayon...

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Life - another way to look at it (and death)

By Aaron Freeman

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

And at one point you'd hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

And you'll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they'll be comforted to know your energy's still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you're just less orderly. Amen.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Life: Golden boys and girls...

...all must/As chimney sweeps come to dust.

That's Shakespeare that is. That's literature...

Seems he was talking about chimneys and architecture in general too, as the selection of photos that appears over at a list of 30 Abandoned Places That Look Truly Beautiful attests. A website that very much does exactly what it says on the tin...

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Life: online mindfulness

One of the things I've been increasingly puzzling about recently is the disconnect between our online lives and our real ones; the personas if you like that we present to people in the real world and the ones that we forge for ourselves online.

There's a tradition of this, of course. Back in the early days of the internet, it was possible to have an enormous amount of fun in the Usenet groups you frequented by pretending to be a 16 year old schoolgirl from Helsinki. Certainly fun when troll-baiting. But with the rise of social media and its interconnecting webs of likes and dislikes, follows and retweets, our online personalities are designed to be much more faithful extensions of ourselves. The problem is, we don't treat them that way.

Maybe it's because our online relationships are mediated via the keyboard, and even with the rich complexities of language - and the less subtle interventions of emoticons - we are always a step removed. But it seems that this is particularly the case when it comes to mindfulness. A quick quip, a sarcastic is all too easy for us to participate in conversations that we perhaps wouldn't chose to in real life. I've lost count of the times I've been within a button press of tweeting something or commenting on something on Facebook and then pulled back and run through the usual quick Buddhist mantra: is it kind? Is it necessary?

Often it's not, and at least online there is a delete button (depending on how Facebook is running its privacy policy that week). But, again in Buddhist parlance, right thinking and right speech should also lead to right typing and our online relationships - ephemeral sometimes though they may be - are poorer when this isn't so.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Work: The History of VFX Part Two - The Model Men

This next part of my History of VFX for Red Shark takes us from A Matter of Life & Death, and the problems that the VFX technicians of the day had with the introduction of colour, all the way up to 1977 and a certain couple of films that not only caught the public imagination but also showcased exactly how far you could push optical effects technology.

Read it here: The History of VFX Part Two: The Model Men

Work: Vegas musings - cloudy, with a chance of hype...

[Final part of this year's NAB preview for Harris]

Every year in the broadcast industry has its buzzwords, but few have been as persistent, potentially transformative and also frustratingly nebulous as the cloud. It doesn't make sense for every sector of the industry, and indeed is facing a certain amount of resistance from within it, but 2013 is the year where it finally looks to be becoming relevant in a real world context.

Cloud-based services have always promised to cut costs via the holy triumvirate of increased scalability, flexibility and collaboration, and increasingly there are areas within the broadcast industry where it makes sense. Given the definition of cloud computing as services that are delivered over a network - typically over the internet and typically via a browser - there are even areas of the industry where it is already firmly established, with news production at the vanguard.

Web-based, distributed production, editing, archive mining and the like has already enabled field-based teams and bureaux to collaborate across continents and time-zones, and this trend is only going to continue as cloud-services become culturally embedded in news organisations. Their sport colleagues are already ahead of the game, mining remote archives when on location - especially at the big events with established broadcast centres such as the major tennis championships - to create quick-turnaround packages based on topical events within a competition.

It's not hard to see this being replicated in other areas of the industry - promos and graphics departments would possibly equally benefit from cloud-based workflows - but it is post which has seen the main mushrooming of services to date to the extent that you could even set up a facility with no specific geographical location if you wanted to. Editing, VFX, compositing, client approvals, rendering, production notes and planning, even invoicing and expense tracking...all this can be achieved to a greater or lesser degree in the here and now with cloud-based services.

Currently, there are a few instances where there is currently only one service or manufacturer fulfilling these various niches, and so NAB will probably see a significant expansion of both the players in the market and also that market itself expand into other areas, with live and near live in particular fecund target areas for the cloud and all it brings with it.

Those providing cloud-based services reason that the the winds of technological progress are behind them and that the ascendancy of the cloud is almost assured. There is perhaps a certain amount of hubris to this, especially given broadcasters' intransigence in particular on some very valid issues such as reliability and security. That said though, the only real technological missteps in the industry recently have occurred largely as a result of either consumer indifference (stereo 3D) or misapplication within an overall trend. Add in the general progress to more reliable and faster communications technologies (4G networks being a prime example) and it's difficult not to see the cloud as part of the general convergence between the broadcast industry and IT. And that is not going to ease up at any time soon.

Work: Vegas musings - more connections more of the time

[Part two of my NAB preview for Harris...]

There is an underlying dichotomy in the broadcast industry at the moment as it chases two screens at two very different ends of the scale. On the one hand, you have the 50in + displays associated with Ultra HD, on the other the sub 10in screens of the tablet and mobile market. Happily though, while one - Ultra HD - requires serious infrastructure investment, the other is as much about a change of production culture than anything.

That's not to say it's without it's challenges though. Indeed, responding to the changes in the newly consumer-driven connected world might be more problematic for broadcasters than any mere format progression. After all, in all the transitions from SD to HD - and historically from monochrome to colour, digital widescreen, NICAM stereo etc etc - the way people watch television didn't change. With the new connected world, everything's up in the air.

The latest figures from the UK's TV Licensing Authority in its 2013 TeleScope report are rather instructive. Some things have changed massively - for example, the UK leads the world in PVR ownership, with 47% of households owning one and watching 20% of their television time-shifted as a result. Also, around one third of Internet users in the UK have used one of the main broadcasters' catch-up services and a fairly astonishing 40% of all tweets during peak-time hours are about TV programmes (we shall draw a hasty veil over the fact that the most tweeted programme is The Jeremy Kyle Show).

Interestingly though, for all the online efforts, it is debatable whether that convergent device, the Smart TV, is really getting anywhere. While sales are growing, only 5% of UK households possess one, and 35% of those have never connected it to the Internet.

Tablet penetration, however, has reached 11% and it is this, along with increasing use of smartphones, that is looking increasingly disruptive. As an example, Dave Price, Head of the market (and world-leading) BBC iPlayer, said in January: "BBC iPlayer had a record-breaking festive period, with performance driven by new mobiles and tablets unwrapped on Christmas Day, and it looks like these devices have yet to be put down. There were 272m requests for TV and radio programmes in iPlayer throughout January, with TV requests from mobiles and tablets rocketing - and up 32% in just one month."

These are impressive figures. But broadcasters know that if they want to truly engage with the audience via new conduits such as the second screen, they have to do more with it than simply offer video on it. While it may require less actual capital investment than a move to Ultra HD, it does require some investment in interactivity research and the development of a truly transmedia approach that reaches back to the beginning of the commissioning process.

Talk to people involved in this sector of the industry, and once you get past the snake oil salesmen, you'll find people very conversant with the Gartner Hype Cycle. This charts the introduction of new technology via distinct phases, with the first three being Technology Trigger, Peak of Inflated Expectations, and the wonderfully named Trough of Disillusionment. The feeling is that with the second screen we are now on the Slope of Enlightenment and heading towards the Plateau of Productivity, or, in other words, there is now the chance to properly monetise all this effort.

For those chasing the smaller screen end of the market, that will probably be most welcome.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Work: the History of VFX

Have been commissioned by Red Shark to write a six part series on the history of VFX. This is the link to Part One, which tracks the developments in the industry from the birth of cinema in 1895 to one of its greatest masterpieces in 1941.

The History of VFX - Part One: From Mary Queen of Scots to Citizen Kane

Work: Vegas musings - here come the Ultras

[I was asked by Harris to contribute a couple of articles to their blog regarding general industry trends in the run up to this year's NAB. This was the first piece...]

Undoubtably one of the big themes of this years NAB will be the rise of everything to do with 4k/Ultra HD. Long considered to be just over the horizon, the past 12 months have seen several significant events occur that has given the format the impetus it needs to really breakthrough to mainstream production… and broadcast not long after that.

Indeed, so far 2013 has seen several significant 4k stories emerging each week; everything from the BBC Natural History Unit starting to film in the format, to major sales to hire companies, to Japanese plans for commencing 4k broadcasts during next year's World Cup in Brazil. Momentum it seems is unstoppable, and NAB is probably going to be a fecund area for the format.

This far out, companies are keeping their efforts under wraps, but persistent rumour suggests that the price of 4k cameras is going to drop significantly across the board at the same time as the range of models is ramped up to cover multiple pricepoints. Partly this is due to the relative lack of interest in stereo 3D models, with the manufacturers desperate to make new sales. Back during IBC, no less a person than James Cameron said he thought 3D and 4k were locked in a struggle for resources, and at the moment that's a battle which looks like having only one winner.

This is especially true given the impetus that the adoption of HEVC, the next generation codec that is set to supersede MPEG-4/H.264, is giving to 4k broadcast. It was always assumed that 4k would become a production format in the next few years, but what is surprising is the speed with which the industry is heading towards 4k to the home. And with HEVC (which is at the Final Draft International Standard stage) already suggesting that it might be possible to squeeze 4k transmissions into ‘very nearly’ current satellite bandwidths, a bevy of production tests underway, and rumours already swirling around some high-profile pay-TV broadcasters looking to introduce a service perhaps even sooner than the Japanese one, that speed is only accelerating too.

Again, much of this is due to the lack of penetration of stereo 3D. Nature might abhor a vacuum, but the broadcast industry abhors a gap in the market even more and the industry is proving to be very quick at changing horses. The CE manufacturers have sets out in the marketplace, albeit at eye-watering prices, and expect to see many glue products in particular featuring HEVC-capable chipsets at NAB as the manufacturers look to establish a 4k production chain in a hurry.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Work: Une affaire très française

Just a link to a piece I wrote on the post-War development of French TV technology for Red Shark that a) I rather enjoyed researching and writing and b) is a lot more interesting than it sounds...honest

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Work: Have 3D films had their day?

Probably... A simple link to an interesting BBC News piece on the subject. I shall refrain from saying I told you so....but I did.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Life: or iLife to be more accurate

I think my daughter was three months old when I first got an iPad. In other words, she's grown up with the device.

She's only rising two at the moment, but it's fascinating to see her interact with the device. The UI seems completely natural to her, and she's already starting to find areas in her software that I haven't found yet, unlocking as she explores and learns.

Of course, being of an advanced age myself, I believe I came across my first computer at school when I was 14. The school had a computer club too, but you could only join computer club if you had a computer at home, which seemed a little bit counterintuitive even at the time.

Now there are reports in the press that Apple is working on the iWatch and that wearable computing is finally going to come of age (as opposed to simply strapping huge hulking great hard drives to your body as the MIT Media Lab chaps did back in the 90s). Makes me wonder slightly what iLife is going to be like for Freya. Hopefully it will be a good thing, but for that to happen perhaps we need to do more with 24/ connectivity than start flame wars on Twitter and feel compelled to overshare on Facebook. All this technology has to be good for something more than making Californian start-ups money...

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Life: Marking time

Strange to think that my mother died 30 years ago today - that's a whole lifetime ago. And sad that I'll be heading off later in the week to help bury my Aunt in the most tragic of circumstances. But I type this with my daughter standing beside me, drinking milk, crayoning on the table (ooops, #parentingfail) and burbling about planets with her ginger hair flying in many directions. Even if the Buddhists are wrong and life is not a cycle of death and rebirth for us individually, it is for us as a species. I see my mum's face in my daughter's sometimes, and that makes me happy. Life goes on in all it's wonderful, chocolate-demanding, crazy cacophony.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Work/Life: Zzub words

Huge respect to Twelve Thirty Eight which has released the latest edition of its annual Buzzword Report - the phrases and slogans used by PRs that annoy us journalistic types the most. Hell, annoy anyone with a brain and a rudimentary grasp of the English language if you ask me.

Here's the Top 20 (oh and I was cheered by its special singling out of the phrase 'reaching out' elsewhere in the piece. Really worth a read)

1. Brits / Hard-working Brits / Hard-up Brits (an attempt to be ‘accessible’)
2. Dynamic (likely not to be)
3. Paradigm (a ‘silk purse’ word)
4. Elite (i.e. the best thing in Scunthorpe on a Thursday at 3pm)
5. Hotly anticipated (i.e. never heard of it)
6. End-user (‘customer’)
7. Influencer (probably not)
8. Evangelist (a tendency to tweet with loads of hashtags)
9. Deliverables (‘tasks’)
10. Icon/iconic (‘use before 01.01.01 or never’)
11. Rocketed (‘made modest progress’)
12. "An astonishing x per cent" (it rarely is astonishing)
13. Marquee event/marquee client (probably ‘very local’)
14. Going forward (‘in the future’)
15. Ongoing (‘a bit behind schedule’)
16. Optimised (‘changed by consultants then changed back’)
17. Horizontal, vertical, etc (two words in lieu of a strategy)
18. Phygital (easy to press or swipe we guess)
19. SoLoMo (no idea)
20. Well-positioned (‘hopeful but a bit scared’)

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Work: D = decreasing; K = inKreasing

You probably won't be doing much of this in the future...
Or less D more K as one correspondent from NAB last year put it.

It really does seem that the momentum behind 4k is becoming unstoppable. I've written two stories about it so far this week (here's one of 'em) and it's only Wednesday. There seems to be approximately one significant one a day hoving into view down the newspipe too.

Latest one is about the BBC filming meerkats in the format for its new all-singing all-dancing natural history doc Survival, due next year.

No, it's not, sorry...the latest one is about China leading the way into the 4k future.

Oh, hang on, no's another one.

You get the picture.

Meanwhile, poor old stereo 3D seems down and out. One of the most significant parts about the arrival of 4k in Japan story linked to above is that it will in turn be linked to coverage of the World Cup in 2014. Last time round, in South Africa, Sony paid for 25 matches to be captured in 3D for 'future-proofing in the format of the future' type purposes. Really difficult to imagine them doing that now. Stereo 3D just looks*.

It looks like it's going to be an either/or decision, with 4k being the probable winner. Unless, that is, auto-stereoscopic displays suddenly take off at an affordable price in the next 18 months...(which is a tad unlikely to say the least).

*To which I have to add a) told you so and b) shame in many ways because some of the nicest people I've met in the industry were amongst those driving it forward.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Work: Here's one I made earlier

Seem to have spent most of the winter subbing and editing so far (the pre show sections of the ISE Daily were down to me, though, of course, I'll blame any errors on people working downstream ;-) ) all of which means there's no vast amount of writing to share. Here are a couple of pieces published online from recent months, however, that prove I can still string a sentence together when I put my mind to it.

To paraphrase Eric Morecombe, it's something to do with using the right words in the right order...

Extreme Sports feature (InBroadcast)

4K lenses. What does that even mean? (Red Shark)

Looking to the second screen future (SVG Europe)

Life: Random acts of photographic happiness

A lucky one from last month taken with the iPhone's panoramic feature (in other words you have to click on it to see the whole thing). What seems to have made the difference was that the sun was not quite up at the time, allowing for an exposure that didn't simply bleach out the sky.

Come out of our gate, cross the road, and this is the view. Very fortunate to live here methinks...despite the occasional pre-dawn dog and baby walking...

Friday, 25 January 2013

Work: The Connected Fridge...

Just finished a huge tranche of pre-show work on the ISE Daily (was meant to be going out there and working on it as Exec Editor too, but them plans got scuppered unfortunately).

ISE starts next week, but of all the thousands of words I've read about the show and what will happen at it, one quote really stands out: an expert on Smart Buildings suggesting that by 2016 there will be between 60-100 connected devices sitting on your home network.

The pic above used to be the take on how that will look, but he wasn't thinking that. He was thinking fridges, microwaves, curtain motors that adjust the amount of sunlight getting into a room to regulate temperature, televisions, short, if something can be given an IP address and put on a network, it will be.

Remember the Big Bang Theory episode where they let some mirror-image geeks from China turn their lights on and off? That.

One suspects that hacking could get a lot more fun in the near future...

Life: My God, it's full of stars...

Daughter has suddenly become obsessed with all things to do with space - planets, galaxies, shuttle launches and, particularly, anything to do with Saturn. Am not sure I'll be able to keep up with her long after she's two...

All of which makes the recent decision to home-school her when she's older all the more interesting. The main driver in thinking about this was her CF - this will keep her free from infection and mean we can ramp things up or dial them down depending on how well she is  - and it still is, but that it increasingly being joined by the knowledge that a) it'll be fun and b) she might really benefit from it academically.

And it is very interesting that you mention home-schooling to people and their first reaction is worry about socialising. No-one has said anything about the learning aspects of education at all...Do we all really feel that that is mainly what schools are about now?

Anyway, current plan: a visit to the National Space Centre for her birthday seems only right and proper. Set the controls for the heart of the sun etc...

Thursday, 17 January 2013