Don’t Touch that Dial!

With the advent of PVRs like TiVo, (read: death of commercials), and the migration of adolescent eyes from TV shows to video games, advertisers have had to come up with a new game to get their products in front of the consumers. One strategy is to turn the television model on its head. Instead of producing television shows that attract viewers who will then need to sit through commercials, companies like Samsung are developing entertain-mercials (okay, that’s not so graceful but you get the idea). Short films peppered with product that are worth watching. AnyFilms.net is the depository for two such projects. The first, Directors’ Showcase, is relatively conventional; short films by talented directors, actors and film crews. The second, Interactive Films, is a cross between the board game Clue and 1980s young adult books Choose Your Own Adventure. I can’t explain it better than the Web site, so here it is:

"10 Characters. 1 event. A mysterious suitcase. A fascination with underwear. 10 possible endings. 11,000 ways for the story to play out. Samsung brings you the future of entertainment. Configure and re-configure the story to pick up different clues as you try to figure out exactly what happened."

We’re not crazy about obtrusive product placement but these two projects strike a fairly good balance. What does this mean to us video producers? More distribution options for one. It’s not the Spielbergs and Bruckheimers making these films, it’s the not-yet-known directors who have developed some solid talent. There is also the Macromedia Flash/
alternative ending alternative filmmaking style that is broadening the way we tell stories. Jump on this bandwagon while the wagon is not too full.
www.anyfilms.com

Blurry Image? That’s so 2005

First came optical image stabilization for us over-caffeinated shooters. Now Pat Hanrahan and his team at Stanford University have come up with a solution for us camerafolk with less than 20/20 vision: a lens that records the blurry image as you shoot but "focuses" later. At present, if the light rays reaching each picture element (pixel) on the charged coupled device (CCD) are not in focus, the camera records a blurry image.

Hanrahan and his Stanford crew have devised a way to record the light rays before they reach the CCD with a sheet of 90,000 lenses, each 125 micrometers across. The angle of the light rays that pass-through each microlens is recorded, as well as the amount of light arriving with each ray. Software then adjusts these values recorded by each microlens to reconstruct what the image would have looked like if it had been properly focused.

Hanrahan believes this technology will greatly improve systems that typically struggle with short depths of field such as nighttime surveillance cameras (low light) and sports photography (long lens). We are thinking more of correcting the problems concerning 2.5-inch LCD monitors on our camcorders in conjunction with our aging eyes.

More Video Servers Serving Video

Since our mention of Brightcove in the August 2005 issue’s Quick Focus department, we have uncovered a number of additional companies serving video content to a hungry audience. Some notables include:

  • Streamload (www.streamload.com) subscribers get 10GB of storage free, and can link to stored content from other Web sites.
  • Veoh (www.veoh.com) is a "walled-
    garden" style video service that allows you to upload and share your video with other Veoh members, who can then give a star rating to your work.
  • Google Video (https://www.google.com/videohp) lets you upload your video to the popular search site to be indexed for searching and playback by anyone worldwide.

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