Archive for June, 2007

Good and bad movies

“Children of Men” is an amazing movie, great directing and camera work.

But as I write this, Sci-Fi Channel broadcasts this. Terrible acting, terrible directing, terrible dialog, terrible CGI. Possibly one of the worst movies ever created. I am pretty sure it didn’t cost more than $200,000 to produce, but when you think that great movies like El Mariachi were produced for just $7,000, it makes you wonder. Why is Sci-Fi Channel even bothers with these tele-movies?

In other news, our Netflix queue gets bigger and bigger, at around 100 movies right now… We will be busy for a year. I don’t think we will be visiting a cinema any time soon, Netflix and our 55″ TV does the trick for us as it also saves us money and time.

Update: Download this free, just released, sci-fi short movie, created by two twin brothers filmmakers, great job — especially for their budget.

Banter

I just checked out Banter, a next-gen C# colab tool with video-chat support, looks very interesting. I met one of its two main developers, Brady Anderson from Novell, at a party last week too.

I am a dog

For those who know me, or have visited my living room, they already know that I love sheep.

However, as a personality, sometimes I resemble more that of a dog rather than of a sheep. For example, when JBQ comes home I feel like a dog that sees his master coming back home: I jump up and down and I run in his hug. I am very dependent but also very loyal to him. And when JBQ takes me in his arms and hugs me, I can’t stop making small happy noises and taking fast breaths while my tongue is half-out (no, nothing sexual/gross about it). If you were to record me, you wouldn’t know if it is a human making these noises or an over-excited dog. And I do all that without thinking, but subconsciously & naturally.

And of course, when I am angry, I can be a real bitch.

Prostitution photos to go public

An Italian town’s mayor hopes to shame men into not using prostitutes by photographing cars that pick them up and publishing the details in local newspapers.”

The funny thing is, that according to most countries’ laws, this is not illegal. Pictures taken in public places are free to be published/scrutinized. Ingenious plan. :)

Proposed Amendment Would Ban All DVD Copying

A proposed amendment to the current copy protection license governing DVDs would completely ban all DVD backups, and prevent DVD playback without the DVD disk being present inside the drive.”

Dear Congress, or whoever the hell votes for that shit, I want to be able to use my media in our family without DRM, region-coding or other such silly restrictions. Give me the benefit of the doubt.

Video gear

My beloved JBQ bought for me –and arrived today– a fluid tripod head, filters and 52mm adapters for my Canon HV20. Next, we need to get a few more filters, a mic-to-line-in adapter, and the wide angle lens. Isn’t that romantic? :)

In the meantime, Sony Vegas 7 and its book arrived today, while I am still reading through the Rebel DV bible and “how to shoot a music video” Vegas tutorial. By the end of July, I should be the master of film making (not really).

I am also trying to setup a date for Dan Dennedy (the primary DV Linux developer, known for DVGrab, MLT framework and Kino video editor) to come over and test my Canon HV20 so he can add HDV support for Linux (currently, there is none). Dan only lives 25 minutes away, and it would be very cool to meet him.

Nokia 770 on FF4 movie

Did anyone notice the Nokia 770 featured a number of times in the Fantastic Four sequel? Talk about product placement… Anyways, a review of the FF sequel I wrote is here.

Youth

There was a time that I looked nice. Ah, not anymore. This picture is from August 2000 during my first visit to US (I was living in UK at the time).

Imprint

I just published an interview with the 2nd-place winner of the SpyFest film competition, Van Blumreich. His “Imprint” short movie was my favorite from all the films in the competition, it showed real character. I think that the first place winner only won because its style was very Tarantino-ish rather than truly interesting (my opinion). Hopefully, Van will find the finances to turn “Imprint” into a full feature film or maybe employ this idea, on how to turn the web into a new medium. Have a read!

Open letter to YouTube mobile web devs

And so the mobile version of YouTube was launched. Too bad that there is no feedback page for their mobile service, so here’s an open letter instead:

Dear Mobile Web Developer of YouTube,

1. Your mobile site is CSS-dependant for lots of things. This is a no-no if you want good mobile browser compatibility. I am not advocating to ditch CSS, but I do advocate to include alternatives in the code (e.g. attributes on the BODY tag for bgcolor, topmargin, link colors etc). You see, phones that don’t support CSS will pick up the HTML and phones that do will pick up the CSS by default. For example, Nokia’s S40 phones can playback your videos, but your pages look dreadful, and that would be easily avoided wtih a bit of legacy coding as a fallback.

2. The videos are resized to 192×144. While this retains the 4:3 aspect ratio of the source YouTube videos (which are in fact 320×240), the 192×144 resolution is very, very, incompatible with most phones. Not only most 176×220 phones will REFUSE to playback that video because 192 > 176 (even if they technically would be able to), but also even some QVGA higher-end phones will choke. You see, cellphones prefer to only support predefined resolutions, e.g. 128×96, 176×144, 176×132 (rare), 320×240, and that’s about it. It is easier to program a mobile video player this way and so MOST phones don’t support random resolutions, even if they adhere to 4:3.
The solution should have been this:
When a mobile user is clicking to view a video, there should be two links:
Click for 320×208 or smaller screens
Click for 320×240 or bigger screens

For the first case a 176×144 at 15fps 3GP video is served which will be slightly out of proportion (small price to pay for compatibility) and for the QVGA case a 320×240 at 15fps MP4 video is served (not 3GP). Yes, it makes the UI a bit more perplexing, but it guarantees better compatibility with most phones. Eventually users will find the right choice for them and a cookie can help the situation to never have to choose ever again. The way that Mobile YouTube is setup right now, only about 20% of the modern phones are supported (estimation). With my solution, while still not ideal, you can go up to 80%.

3. All the video thumbnail images on YouTube Mobile are either 130×97 or 122×100, and then they are resized to either 40×30 or 80×60 on the fly. Why?!? Not only you waste bytes for no good reason (images are between 3 and 4 KB each, while they could easily be 1 or 2 KB each if they had resized them properly) while we all know how slow even EDGE can be, no matter if you have an unlimited data plan or not. More over, many mobile browsers ignore the forcing of on-the-fly resizing of images and that will make things worse. Each thumbnail should have been properly resized by your engine in the two required sizes, not be resized forcefully. Let alone that forcefully resized images by browsers only use the faster “smart resize” algorithm instead of the bilinear algorithm, resulting in much lower quality.

4. Are you blocking Apple’s QuickTime?

Your friendly neighbor,
Eugenia