Monday, April 05, 2010

Moby Video Contest

My friends Holly and Dylan created this excellent entry for Moby's "Wait For Me" music video competition. Please have a look and vote for it if you like it.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Playing a DVD movie on a Blu-Ray Player = Weird

We watched Four Christmases on DVD played via a Blu=Ray player on an HD flatscreen TV.  The result was very strange -- it was like being there on the set as the actors were making the movie.  All cinematic distance was squashed and flattened into something too close to regular every day eye-sight for there to be any magic.  (The fact that it wasn't a particularly funny or interesting movie did not help matters)

Not entirely sure how this happened.  Had we watched the Blu-Ray version would we have seen this, or was this an artifact of the playback enhancement? 

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Monday, July 20, 2009

First-Person Shooter Disease

Hard-core gamers, this could happen to you!

via Jeff Pidgeon

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Kutiman + Youtube Amateur Music clips = The Future of Media?

Man, we are almost at Beatles-level in the world of mashup artists. DJ Earworm continues to weave top 40 hits together. Now, Israeli artist Kutiman has taken unrelated bits of amateur music performance clips on Youtube, blending them together magically to make new creations, like this one:

My advice to the RIAA and media conglomerate executives? It's time to learn to love the world without excessive copyright, because this IS the future, like it or not. No amount of litigation, government crack-downs, or lobbying will end these "violations." Not even a doomsday lock-down on electronic communications itself, China-style. Time to evolve new business models, not cryogenically preserve archaic ones.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Douglas Rushkoff's "Life, Inc" book and short film preview

Media ecology professor, author, and documentarian Douglas Rushkoff has been writing a book called Life, Inc: How The World Became a Corporation and How To Take It Back. While Joel Bakun's book (and documentary film), The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Power, describes how public corporations are basically psychopathic neighbors that are bound by Law to make choices detrimental to humanity and the environment (in the pursuit of infinite profit growth), Rushkoff's book will discuss how Kings fabricated an economic environment designed to control the merchant class, bringing rise to chartered corporations and a mindset of self-interest, consumerism and profit above all other virtues that people, particularly Americans have adopted as the default nature of being.

Above is a short video preview.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Video Editor from the Future!

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Friday, February 22, 2008

LifeFormz: Mr. Stick

*sigh* Ok, I had promised you some LifeFormz footage months ago (last year in fact), but I became frustrated with the results of digitizing the 15 year-old VHS tape I had -- bad sound, all washed out or too dark, and generally crappy. But just this past week I discovered I had another, much better tape. Yay!

So here's one of everybody's favorite sketches, Mr. Stick. Brian Flumen came up with the idea of a silent film actor who happened to be a stick. Somehow we evolved it into having a historical film host guy showing off a few of Mr. Stick's films, Mr. Stick Goes to Town, and the sequel, Mr. Stick Comes Back from Town, plus Mr. Stick Walks His Dog.

Brian performed the voice of the host here while I simultaneously listened and lip-synched along in front of a green screen Chroma-keyed (using an old JVC analog video switcher) with footage taken from U.Penn's Fine Arts Library. Besides wanting Brian to perform, the reason we did it this way was that Penn's UTV Station did not have good microphones in the studio at the time, only in the control room. That's why sadly, most of our sketches did not involve multiple characters speaking. Separately, Brian also performed Mr. Stick himself in front of a green screen with a Chroma-keyed image taken from a book of old streets we found somewhere.

Oh! The piano music... Well, in the grungy basement of the studio, back in a far storage closet, Steve and I found a piano, and one day, a young woman was practicing on it. We asked her if she would play something ragtimey, so she played The Entertainer. Perfect! Steve ended up speeding it up old-school style, by dubbing it off of one S-VHS player to another that was recording at a slower speed. Man, we would have LOVED having Logic or ProTools back then.

The Amiga Video Toaster provided the film-look and black-and-white FX.

One technical challenge we faced was that we could not do compositing after the fact like you can today. So anything being Chroma-keyed had to be ready, up and running in either the JVC switcher or the Amiga Video Toaster, or in some cases both! That also meant we needed enough people on hand to operate everything, essentially live. Although editing-wise, we often shot in a film style. This drove UTV nuts because we used WAY more S-VHS tape than everyone else and we produced episodes much much slower than they would have liked. (Not to mention the fact that our puppets and building materials were slowly taking up a huge section of UTV's office!) Cié la vie. We had a hit show and it won a Student Emmy, so they stopped complaining eventually.

Up next, "In Search of the Unknown Unexplained Mysterious Things We Do Not Know Anything About".

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lessig on Whether Clinton Can Win

Lessig has another video out.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Facebook Begs For Attention

See? I'm glad it's not just me. Facebook is cool in a way, but also annoying. Facebookworms collect and share new applications (I think "toy" is a better word -- application implies you're getting something usseful done) every few hours it seems like. Come on! Nobody has time to use hundreds of these on each of their friends! Time to manage your Zombie, Vampyre, and Jedi hordes, to accumulate TV Trivia points, to build entourages, to send Eggs, stock rooms full of gifts, to poke and superpoke all your friends on a regular basis. The only one you'd have time to do is NOT fill out the Where I've Been? widget because you won't have time to go anywhere anymore.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Sesame Street Clips Online!

Whohoo! Finally! Sesame Workshop (formerly known as Children's Television Workshop) has begun offering classic and newer Sesame Street clips online after seeing so many of them posted by fans on YouTube. It's in Beta and lacks the ability to link to favorites right now, but here are some keywords to type in for my favorite clips so far:
  • "painter"
  • "monsterpiece theatre" ("upstairs downstairs")
  • "news: angry reporter"
  • "can remember"
  • "kermit calls a plumber"
  • "song: subway train"
  • "news mother hubbard"
  • "question song"
  • "disco"
  • "daddy dear"
  • "lonely n song"
I just love the energy, spontaneity, weirdness, and subversive humor in these sketches. Some of it I'm just getting now, clearly meant for the parent watching with his or her kids.

There are some untagged clips in there, some really rare ones, and all in pristine quality. Enjoy! Let me know if you discover any great ones.

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posted by Brian at 9:49 AM 3 comments links to this post

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ordeals In Upgrading Media

In 1994 I bought a Panasonic 4-Head VCR. In 1997 I bought a Hi-8 Camcorder. Now it's 2007 and I have amassed a relatively small but still space-taking collection of VHS & Hi-8 tapes, mostly recorded off of TV (when cable was still $12-40, had few commercials, and a diverse set of channels), some recorded events like my brother Colin's wedding, San Francisco Bay Area Puppetry Guild shindigs, and other random stuff.

Sadly, that very well-made VCR would cost a lot to repair (Note to self: Never pack a VCR in styrofoam peanuts!) though it is so much better built and (when it worked) records better than the crappy plastic JVC behemoth I had to buy in a pinch (2003). And in any case I don't watch Cable or Satellite TV anymore (a growing trend in Hollywood. Ironic, huh?) so having an analog playback device around constantly is no longer necessary. Soon the U.S. government will be forcing everyone to upgrade to digital TVs (2009) and shutting down analog TV signals altogether in 2012, so my eventual goal is to move entirely to computer-based playback.

Anyway, this desire to upgrade my media situation coincides with my recent post about wanting to put clips from "Lifeformz" online, the only copy I have of which is on VHS. I bought a Canopus ADVC-110 for this purpose, a cute little box that digitizes analog to DV quite nicely. Granted, DV is not the best format because it can cramp colorspaces but for my budget and purposes it should be fine.

Discovered that even DV footage takes up a TON of disk space! My poor Mac was running dry after just 2 tapes. So I bought a Lacie 1 TB drive with USB 2.0, Firewire 400 & 800 ports. There we go. 60 hrs!

Today I just took a look at the entirely open-source Neuros OSD multimedia device, which seems to have evolved a bit since I last checked. Might have bought that instead had i known I could watch Youtube with it and that it doesn't need a computer. Ah well.

Incidentally, you can actually recycle VHS tapes and other media through a company called Green Disk.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Video Projection Technology for Theatre

Interesting New York Times article about how a theatre company is using an old-fashioned technique in new ways for creating special effects in live performance.
The Eyeliner system makes use of an old stage trick called Pepper’s Ghost that by most accounts was first seen onstage in an 1862 production of Charles Dickens’s “Haunted Man,” at the Royal Polytechnic Institution in London. John Henry Pepper (1821-1900) is usually credited with discovering the illusion, though an engineer named Henry Dircks was really first to suggest placing an angled piece of plate glass between audience and actors, allowing off-stage objects or people to “appear” reflected on the glass as if they were onstage. When the off-stage lights were turned off, the ghosts seemed to vanish.

With Eyeliner, the unwieldy glass pane is replaced with a lighter, nearly invisible screen invented by Uwe Maass, the managing director of Event Works, a company in Dubai. Another company, Vision4, from Denmark, holds the licensing rights for New York.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Video Camera, or a Pencil?

Quote of the day:
It's easy to design a video camera with a pencil, but impossible to design a pencil with a video camera.

--- Bruce Sterling

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Monday, October 25, 2004

HBO vs. Consumers

HBO has decided to take copyright law into its own hands by locking its content and allowing only one copy to be made of its programs.

Problem is, let's say you have a Tivo. That counts as one copy. Now you want to archive it. Nope. If your DVD recorder or computer complies (as it will soon be required to), you won't be able to.

Now they justify this on their website by saying "You have no need to time shift (i.e. use Tivo) because we provide our OWN tivo-like functionality with our premium (i.e. more expensive) on-demand satellite content, and therefore we comply with the law."

Oh come on, HBO. We, the consumers, can choose to buy Tivo. Why are you entitled by Law to force on us your own proprietary system of Tivo-like functionality? This is akin to Microsoft preventing people from using different browsers.

Actually, the answer is that the Law makes an exception for non-broadcast content (it lets them do whatever rights management they want). That means, Tivo-ing your cable/satellite content may be severely restricted in the near Future.

Lovely. Who wrote this part of the Law, I wonder?

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