Archive for November 15th, 2006

Interview with the director of the “Oceans” video clip

Here’s my interview with Mike Hodgkinson, the director of Rob Dickinson’s “Oceans” music video clip which was shot using a Nokia N93. If all goes well, I might be able to get an interview with Rob in a few days too.

UPDATE: Interview with Rob Dickinson is up too.

Put the map back the way it was

I am a boring person. I don’t like changes. I like things the way I know them.

I left Greece exactly 10 years ago for UK, but only a few months ago I found out that the government has re-arranged Greece’s peripheries and for some of them it has changed their names. For example, Patra is not part of Peloponnese anymore, Thrace is called “East Macedonia and Thrace” now, while there is no Sterea Ellada, and Dodecanese & Cyclades are souped up now. Why the hell was there a need to change something like this? Cutting down Greek Macedonia in 3 and “elliminating” Thrace is stupid. If they wanted to change something, they should have renamed Sterea Ellada to “Roumeli” (its original name) and be done with it. Why make changes over changes for something that it’s already so well-crafted in my mind since my school years and it made more historical sense? I fail to see how the new changes make it easier to administrate these peripheries. Although it might be better for the Aegean islands now, I don’t think it’s better for the mainland. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

So, you want to publish a video online…

Here is a guideline about resolutions you need to offer your online readers in the event you want to make public some of your camcorder video captures (use QuickTime Pro to do the conversions for best results).

Desktop, TV: 848×480 (HD’s version of 480p), h.264 codec, 128 kbps sound
Use 720×480 (DVD’s version of 480p) if your camcorder is not a recent one. If you have an even older camcorder, export to the VGA resolution.

Handhelds: 320×240, simple mpeg-4 codec, 64kbps sound
Use this resolution for the iPod, Zune, PSP, PMPs, QVGA cellphones, or when you want to embed it in a web page. Retain the aspect ratio in the event your video clip is widescreen (e.g. 320×180).

Phones: 176×144, 3GPP (v1) codec.
Use this resolution and codec for less-than-QVGA cellphones, or for cellphones that don’t support mpeg-4/aac (e.g. the cheaper ones).

The problem with online video

I was browsing YouTube, DailyMotion, GoogleVideo, iFilm and Metacafe earlier. The french DailyMotion has huge amounts of piracy in it, way more serious than YouTube’s (e.g. all episodes of “Heroes” or “Lost” are uploaded and easily accessible in seconds). GoogleVideo and iFilm have smaller bits of piracy, usually parts of documentaries and such, rather than blatant full copies of hit shows. And then there’s Metacafe, which it seems to break the copyright law less than the rest. Searching for “Madonna” for example, it will only yield 2-3 Madonna results, while YouTube will yield 10,000. And from these 2-3 results, none is actually pirated.

So I decided to take a look at Metacafe a bit more. There is some interesting user-created video in there, like this one and this one. But if you check out the professionally-made videos on Metacafe, they are all commercials.

Now, go back to YouTube. Use your imagination and remove all copyrighted material from it (including user-created videos with cellphones from concerts) and see with what you’re left with: all allowed professional videos are actually commercials OR promotional material and most of the user-created ones are in fact commercials too. For example, searching for videos of gadgets (e.g. cellphones) made by users, are in fact commercials. When a user has just bought a new cellphone and he makes a video out of it, or he walks you through the UI of his new mp3 player, that is in fact a commercial — even if it’s interesting to watch and even if his intention was not as such.

I am not saying that other kind, non-commercial type of videos are not to be found on these video services. It’s just that I feel that 90% of the interesting non-pirated material is essentially commercials in one form or another. Maybe it’s a “new kind, user-created” kind of commercial, but a commercial nonetheless. Not a bad thing necessarily (usually they include useful info about products), but you know, it’s not what a person is looking for at the online video sites. Normal people want to watch music video clips, full or parts of documentaries, movies, TV shows and other copyrighted clips. This is what made YouTube the $1.6bn venue it is, not a random guy who’s recording his bungee-jumping. Take all that away, and online video is suddenly a boring place made out of videos shot with shaky cameras and terrible sound quality. But then again, maybe this is what it is supposed to be…

Good camcorder deal

Remember my blog posts about the need for a camcorder and my recommendation on getting a ZR500 for $230? Well, screw the ZR500. Amazon has a great deal on the Elura 100, which is a better camcorder: $300 bucks. Make this the Christmas present to yourself.