Archive for December, 2007

Quickies, Part II

* I put together a Christmas tree last night (not my style to do that stuff you see). It went all well, except that at the end I found out that half of the lights were burned off and wouldn’t light up. Bummer.

* I dreamt of Tiger Woods and his wife last night. I was trying to convnice him to let go of his career, “go chill man, you got enough money now…”.

* We will be going to Reno, NV for the holidays. I hope to shoot some video of snow and skiers.

* I am watching the “Lost” season 3 on Blu-Ray. Looks really good. In one of the documentaries on the discs we see a typical day for the writers. They go to work at 9:30 AM, but they also leave at 9:30 PM… Hard work.

* Speaking of Blu-Rays, it seems to have won the war. Not clearly yet, but it currently sells 2:1.

* JBQ seems to be happy at Google. He’s becoming fat.

Nokia: over-promising, under-delivering

Nokia wrote on their feature-list of their Tablet OS2008 for the N800/N810 devices:

Supported video formats: 3GP, AVI, H.263, H.264, MP4, ASF, WMV, MPEG-1, MPEG-4, RV 7/8/9 (RealVideo)

I was shocked to find out that absolutely none of my h.264 files worked (.mov or .mp4), none of my DivX files worked, and none of my ASF & WMV8 files worked. I later tested mpeg2 (QVGA, always) and that didn’t work either. The only files that I managed to playback was 3GP, XViD, WMV9, Mpeg1 and *some* Mpeg4-SP files (not all). Given the fact that XViD and DivX are very similar, their decoder should have (or should have been made to) work with both MPEG4-ASP formats.

Last night, Sony had a firmware upgrade for their PS3 too. They promised DivX and WMV support. They both worked perfectly, and we also got XViD support and partial MPEG4-SP support for free too. If Sony was to add .mov container support for h.264, their solution is perfect for video viewing, beating even the AppleTV which was created for that reason alone.

I like the OS2008 upgrade for the rest of its features, but for video support, it sucks. It sucks less than OS2007, but it still sucks hard. Nokia needs to get their shit together. As a video person, that’s all I have to say.

Sexybot

Who’s the man, huh? Who’s the man?

Optimus Prime is the man.

(we watched “Transformers” last weekend with JBQ on HD-DVD)

Apple and filmmaker lock-in

If you start using Final Cut Studio or Pro/Express with a Mac, forget about interoperability with the PC world. There is not a single intermediate format that works out of the box between Apple’s video software products and the PC products. Apple has not made the effort to support some common intermediate .avi formats.

I put an ad on a filmmaking forum to help indie filmmakers with color grading, and we haven’t found a single lossless codec that can be read on the PC right off the bat (and that includes the PC version of Quicktime which can’t read the Apple Intermediate Codec while the Mac version can). Even the .mov uncompressed version someone sent me didn’t work (seems that the format has somewhat changed in the latest version of FCP).

There are few ways to do it: you either export in DVCProHD on the Mac and then you buy the Raylight decoder/encoder for $200 on Windows, or you buy Cineform on both platforms that costs much more than that (my personal preference would be Cineform if cost was not an issue). Another trick is to load the lossless video on the Mac version of After Effects and export again from there, but that costs another $1600 and it takes lots of time.

This would be a great opportunity for Lagarith to step in and port the codec as a Quicktime component for the Mac and part of ffmpeg on Linux. This way, the open source Lagarith codec would be truly useful and help in an area that right now is simply a no-no area. Heck, the guy who maintains that could even charge some money for it. That’s how big the need is right now.

BeOS icons on “Journeyman”

A vectorized version of the BeOS/Haiku icons were shown last night half-way through on “Journeyman”, the scifi NBC series (series finale tomorrow, it only lasted half a season). It was nice to see the BeOS icons on a supposed next-generation holographic screen.

Also, on “Heroes” a few weeks ago, on Ando’s computer screen, there was a Japanese version of KDE. Konqueror was clearly visible in HD.

Greek education == SHIT

If I ever have a child (chances are that I won’t), I will never, ever, let it go to school in Greece. Why? I’ve written here why, 3 years ago. In most Greek school exams, the only thing that matters is how well you can remember a book’s words, not what you truly understand in that book. And don’t get me started how little world history Greeks get taught, and how much Greek history do in return (about 10 to 1).

So in a recent competition, Greece found to be the WORST country in Europe in terms of education. An official talked to the journalists about it and he spoke the truth: “it doesn’t matter how much information you have in your head, it only matters how you can use that information to solve problems” (loosely translated).

So obviously, the officials understand the problem. And yet, after 50 years, they haven’t done a fucking thing to fix the situation. We have supposed reforms of the Greek education every 3 years, but all change, and all stay the same.

This is one of the top 5 things that I hate about Greece. Moussaka remains the No1.

Green Day going indie

Some (if not all) the Green Day members have formed a new independent band as a side project, and it seems to be all in secret. The music of the Foxboro Hot Tubs is very ’60s and rock’n’roll, and it seems that their label didn’t like the idea, given that they removed direct access to the new band’s site after the whole thing leaked out. However, it’s still possible to download their EP for free, and it’s obviously legally too as the music is still up on their server. Although you might be selling your soul to the devil by downloading it, not because their label might claim so, but because there’s the Satan symbol on the top right of their album back cover. 😉

Update: A band that no one hardly knows anything about, and yet they have great alt.rock music. The Longwave. Two songs are offered for free download on their myspace page.

Student Arrested After Cutting Food With Knife

Ah, the joy of a fearful policed nation.

In Greece, and any other common sense country, the girl would just be asked by the teachers to not bring a food knife back to school. If she wouldn’t listen, you call her parents, and if they don’t listen either, you expel the girl from school. That’s it, end of story. In US, they had to call the police and get her to the “Juvenile Assessment Center.” What a joke.

720p with the Kodak V1253

This is a video testing the 720p HD quality captured by the Kodak V1253 digital camera. Unfortunately, there is no exposure control on that camera, so a lot of the scenes came out over-exposed. The video is color graded and was edited using proxy files because Kodak’s mpeg4 .mov format is too slow on Sony Vegas 8. HD version here, review here.

Sorry, I forgot to “disable resample” on Vegas before exporting, hence the ghosting when panning.

Multicast

Video on the web has not seen it’s peak yet. And I am not talking about more people watching youtube, but about having all major TV networks streaming their line up in real time in an efficient manner. For TV on the web to take over the traditional cable/sat/aerial, multicasting is needed.

IP multicast allows to share the bandwidth needed to stream video on the web between “nodes”. Right now, if 1 million people request a specific video on a server somewhere, that video will be served 1 million times from that server. This is very expensive bandwidth-wise, and obviously more clever solutions are needed. Multicast allows to share the load with ISPs. The ISP will receive the stream and then share it in real time to the customers who request it, instead of hitting the main server over and over again. It is like a cache, but a cache that updates all the time.

We are years away before multicasting becomes common. I’d say anywhere between 5 and 8 years. In fact, 2015 sounds like a good year… The problem is that it requires the ISPs to support multicasting. I don’t think Comcast does (or that it wants to support it). Operating systems will need to be updated too, Vista has support for it, Leopard doesn’t. And the most difficult change of all: it requires new features on people’s routers/firewalls. Only few router models support “IGMP” right now, and the ones that do, are usually ridden with problems. If you are in the UK and you have the right router/ISP, then you can try BBC’s multicasting.

But eventually, the situation will straighten out. And then video on the web will be really cheap, which means that most will jump on streaming HD video right off the bat. And then it will flourish for good and cable-TV companies will go the way of the dodo.