Steve Kilisky's Dynamic Media Blog

February 13, 2009

Search or Discover?

Based on my previous track record, I think my credibility would be damaged even more than it already is if I were to apologize for my lack of activity here and promise to do better going forward; so I won't. I won't offer any excuses like, I've been really busy, or all the blog comment spam was driving me crazy. I simply didn't have much to say that I thought would be worthy to compete for all the things fighting for one's attention in a day. And I'm not sure that this post is particularly worthy, I'm rusty but I just felt compelled to write (or ramble as the case may be).

I've been doing a lot of learning; and thinking about what I've been learning over the last six months. I've also become fascinated with social networks and Facebook in particular (don't think I'm ready to be an active Twitterer though).

I've also been spending more time watching video online and less time watching TV (not that I ever watched a lot of TV - other than embarrassed to admit - reality TV shows - but that's because it feeds my fascination with "people watching"). Even my Netflix DVD consumption is on the decline as I watch more and more Netflix content on demand.

The question on my mind lately is of the 68 minutes I allocate per day to watching video online - how do I decide what to watch? Google/YouTube searches aren't that rewarding or productive for me. Yesterday I tried using Truveo and stumbled upon Joaquin Phoenix's appearance on Letterman. And that was the "A ha" moment for me, I didn't search for it. I had no idea Phoenix was on the show or that the interview was so bizarrely funny. I simply discovered it.

I was about to add a link to the video on my Facebook page, when I discovered my Facebook buddy Megan Cunningham had beat me to it. I realized that most of the 68 minutes of content I watch each day come from recommendations from others, whether it is in hallway conversations, Facebook conversations, friends sharing links via email or random stumbling I do around the web.

I very rarely search for video. What I am learning is that I am not alone. Video search (and search in general - anyone else notice getting the best result on the first try with Google is not as good as say a few years ago?) especially as video on the Web grows in leaps in bounds, provides less than fulfilling results. And while discovering video through my social network or my own stumblings provides a better experience in terms of finding content that holds my attention for more than 30 seconds, it feels like it could be better.

How can we make the videos I am interested in more discoverable? After I watched the Letterman excerpt, I wanted to see other interviews with Phoenix, just to see if he was for real or even a better actor than I already thought he was. But Truveo let me down. There were lots of other Phoenix clips, but they were either redundant or not relevant, and so I gave up and went on to other activities.

Keyword search as we know it today will become less and less effective at helping to connect us to what we are interested in. There has to be a better way to discover what I like. And that is what I'm spending my time thinking about.

3:37 PM | Permalink | No Comments

July 22, 2008

Data Into Meaning

While its not necessarily my ideal self-image, (still working on image of myself as cheese-making blues guitar playing sommelier) I wouldn't disagree if a sociologist classified me as a knowledge worker living in the tail end of the Information Age (I'll save the rationale behind the tail end comment for another day). Just like I couldn't argue with my college sociology professor who classified me as an only-child (wonder how my sister would feel about that?).

My seventeen year old daughter thinks my job consists of talking, surfing the web, sitting (in meetings and on planes), and answering email. I guess that is mostly true other than her characterization is devoid of my value add to Adobe: thinking, making decisions, and hopefully contributing in some small way to Adobe being a fun place to work.

Being a successful product manager (I'll take liberty and assume my lengthy tenure at Adobe is in part due to being good at what I do) requires an assortment of talents and skills. Decision making as a skill is looking at data and making a decision based on the data. Decision making as a talent is about the meaning you make from the data. Really hard decisions fall into two categories: 1) making decisions when you have little available data, and 2) making decisions when you have too much data. The ability to turn data into something more than a percentage or some type of numerical output is where the real value lies in making decisions and understanding what lies beneath the data.

At the moment I'm spending quite a bit of time talking to individuals and companies about some product concepts we are exploring. These are in-depth conversations about workflows, product needs and challenges, and a range of other topics. We diligently capture these conversations and then try to make sense of the data and turn it into meaning that can help guide the decisions we need to make. As we talk to people, patterns emerge; some obvious but most more subtle. The subtle ones are sometimes the most interesting ones and would be lost if all we did was send these user a link to complete an online survey (because surveys tend to be quantitative and thus only provide data). Its the conversation and collection of data from that conversation that facilitates the transformation of the data into meaning.

Another example comes to mind. While enjoying Sunday brunch at our favorite local breakfast cafe, my nine year old daughter Sara told me about a National Geographic Kids photography contest she wanted to enter. She took lots of photos on our recent trip to Kauai and wanted to send one in. I asked her how she would decide which one to submit. She didn't have a specific set of criteria other than choosing one that she liked a lot. We talked about choosing one that was technically appropriate (focus, exposure, framing) but then started talking about qualitative criteria. I suggested she look at choosing a picture not strictly based on the technical merits of the image (data), but select a picture that evokes emotion and/or tells a story (meaning). I think she got it.

In the digital world we live in today where the explosion of data bombards and overloads us (whether it is images or information) making meaning not only helps us manage and make sense of the data, but it personalizes it and makes for a more interesting story whether we tell that story with pictures, words, or heaven forbid PowerPoint.

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July 21, 2008

Recovering From Laryngitis

As a reader of my blog pointed out to me not too long ago (and I have to agree) my blog of late if anything is the antithesis of "Dynamic".

Not to make an excuse, but when I lost my product, I temporarily lost my voice as well. At the same time, I am a strong believer that I should not write just to say something, but only when I have something to say.

Thanks to a good friend, I've got my mojo back, have found my voice again, and have given myself permission to expand the boundaries of how this blog will serve as a forum for me to express my thoughts and hopefully provide some morsels of value (entertain, stimulate contemplation, inform, etc...) to those of you who choose to allocate some chunk of your time to following my journey. With that said, let the next leg of my (our) journey begin...

P.S. Does anyone else find humor that the word 'blog' is flagged as misspelled by Contribute's spell checker?

12:09 PM | Permalink

March 28, 2008

Skillfully Talented or Talentedly Skillful - a repost

I posted this on the Adobe blog on ProVideoCoaltion, but wanted to capture it here as well. Apologies for the redundancy for those who follow both blogs.

The video industry historically has been driven by technologists. I’m not referring to the technologists who have invented and developed all the products that allow those waves of light to be converted into electronic signals formerly and now bits, manipulated, and ultimately delivered to a growing number of different screens. I’m thinking more about all of the individuals who produced the content we consume today. Where am I going with this? What’s this got to do with skills and talent?

Well first lets define what my understanding of the differences are. This is probably an oversimplification, but talent is something one is born with and skills are something that are not innate but you can learn.

Back in the early days of my television career and as late as 1981-82, your ability to work in the television industry was primarily driven by your skills, talent was a secondary consideration. If you couldn’t learn to “operate” (there’s a reason they were called Chyron operators and not artists) the equipment and all the buttons, knobs, and dials, if didn’t really matter what your sense of typography aesthetics was. For a video editor who didn’t have the luxury of having a “tape operator” at their disposal, not only did they need to figure out how to “operate” the edit controller, but they also need to figure out how to thread typically a Sony BVH-2K series or an Ampex VPR. Betacam cassettes solved that part of the skill set in the pro video space in 1982 (I don’t count 3/4” cassette as it was generally considered industrial quality). Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure a lot of these skilled operators were also very creative and talented, but without the technical chops, a lot of talented people were sitting on the sidelines unable to participate in expressing their creativity using video.

What happened in 1981-1982? Well, Quantel introduced the Paintbox. While it was a technological marvel, for me it was the first piece of video equipment that was designed to be appeal and be accessible/approachable to “artists” not “operators” (sadly when the Harry came out - users who mastered this piece of gear more than not were called Harry Operators). Everything from the pen based UI, tasteful use of colors, and UI metaphors were designed to be comfortable and familiar to artists. Talented people were allowed to flourish and express themselves, and the “skills” aspect was de-emphasized. Designers just want to design.

When Photoshop 1.0 appeared on the scene in 1990 it brought talent even further to forefront. Because even though the Paintbox enabled artist to participate in the video creation process more directly; with a price tag of several hundred thousand dollars - it was unlikely an individual was gonna set up shop in their garage. And while I’m reluctant to make generalizations - I hope it is not too contentious to say, artists/designers do not come to mind as prototypical “Organization Men” and are more likely to be independent free spirits who would prefer not to work for “da man”.

The desktop video revolution unshackled artists from having to work in a structured environment and to define work to a large degree on their own terms. But it also reduced the “skill level” requirement a notch further as software products in general adopted common UI metaphors and computers (especially the Mac) were considered even more user friendly than sitting in front of a proprietary UI running on a big “black box”. That said, in all fairness, when I look at how complex Photoshop CS3 has become as result of all the features added over the years and the diverse set of users and applications it is used for, I would venture to guess that there are almost as many opportunities for “skilled” Photoshop users as there are “talented”.

If we fast forward to the world of video and interactive content creation today, I see some parallels. While Flash and After Effects are incredibly powerful products there is a “learning curve” associated with those products that may make artists/designers who do not spend the bulk of their time working in the video or interactive design space hesitant to make the investment required to use these products to their full extent. Don’t assume this is an aptitude problem. In some cases it may be (drawing with a pen and writing AS3 are 2 very different disciplines/mindsets), but I believe it is as much an issue of time. Our lives are more complex than ever and there is still only so much time in the day. So in the minds of these artists/designers the ROI on diving into these products isn’t justified - so once again we are in a place where many talented designers/artists are sitting on the sidelines waiting for the day when they can participate in the interactive rich media revolution.

Food for thought....


11:32 AM | Permalink | No Comments

March 6, 2008

6 Months

Anyone home? I've been dark for a while, but should have a lot more to talk about (well I always have a lot to talk about - its more of a matter of would you be interested in reading about it) in the near future.

In addition to all the great video related blogs found on the Adobe site. Several of my fellow Adobe video peeps are maintaining blogs on the new ProVideo Coalition Adobe Blog section. Still ramping up in terms of participation and content, but definitely worth perusing and keeping an eye on.

2:13 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

September 6, 2007

Simply Powerful - Part 1

I've been thinking a lot about complexity lately and I've decided it's a complex subject.

Some might say After Effects is a complex product (the marketeer in me tends to prefer to call it sophisticated). One user quote from way back that captured the essence of AE (at least in the pre-AE6 era): "You can do anything with AE, if you can figure out how to do it". To me this encapsulated a what I believe is a common (mis) perception; Powerful = Complex. A corollary to this is, Easy to Use ≠ Powerful. I would like to challenge both of these notions.

Now this post is not about AE, but before I move on; the last several releases of AE have made a concerted (and I believe successful) effort to make AE accessible to those who don't have years to dedicate to becoming an "AE Zen Master". Text Animation Presets which were introduced in AE6.5 are an interesting example of allowing casual users to tap into the power of AE quickly and easily. Shape Layer presets serve a similar purpose in AE CS3.

When we implemented this feature, we anticipated presets being useful to new and occasional users of AE, but it was an unexpectedly pleasant surprise to learn that advanced users were taking advantage of them as well. Both users saw value in being able to deliver pleasing results to their clients with minimal effort.

We thought advanced user would shy away from using pre-built looks. In many cases since the presets were customizable advanced users used them as starting points, or as learning examples by breaking them down into their individual elements. However, numerous times they were used more or less as is. Maybe the budget didn't warrant spending the time to build a custom look from scratch or from a preset, maybe a tight deadline was looming, or maybe the client was happy with the "off-the-shelf" look. Whatever the reason Easy to Use became powerful in this context.

As I said at the top, I've been thinking a lot about complexity and it's a complex topic. So complex that I've used up my self-alloted time for this entry and haven't gotten to the "crux of the biscuit".

To be continued... (and hopefully it won't be 30+ days between posts).

P. S. There were quite a few Dynamic Media announcements made today:

Adobe Media Player Announcement

Flash Media Server Announcement

Audition 3.0 Announcement

Cisco Flash Streaming Announcement

P.S.S. If you are in the neighborhood, stop by the Adobe Booth at IBC (but think twice before accepting a brownie from a stranger, trust me on this one).

11:54 AM | Permalink | Comments [6]

August 3, 2007

Adobe Design Achievement Awards Showcase

The Adobe Design Achievement Awards (ADAA) recognizing the achievement of students, were held yesterday in San Francisco. I was especially interested in the animation, motion graphics, and live action categories.

I remember the first time I attended the ADAA at least 5 or 6 years ago (maybe more). I think it was the first or second year that animation and motion graphics were added as a categories. The submissions back then were interesting and showed the potential of the finalists, but you could sense a gap between the overall caliber of work done by the students compared to designers already established in the industry. It was more a reflection on the state of the technology (computer and software), than the talent of the students or the quality of their education.

When I look at this year's submissions, the gap has disappeared. The only difference between the student projects and commercial work is how they were compensated for their efforts.

The winning entries along with runner ups and honorable mentions can be seen here. It must have been tough for the judges to make their decisions. All of the pieces I viewed were extremely well done from a creative, narrative, and technical perspective.

I have a soft spot in my heart for film titles, so I was personally drawn to Michael Robinson's "Alternate Endings" submission.

Congratulations to all of the entrants. I'm in awe of how you use our tools to tell stories and express your creativity.

2:44 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

July 16, 2007

YouTube 4 Media Pros

I was sifting through a stack of papers on my desk and came across a flyer that was given to me at NAB promoting a "Free Pro Media Community Video Networking Site called ProMediaTube.com.

The idea as I understood it was to build a community where media pros could upload and share videos, audio, images of things of interest to folks in the biz (product demos, tutorials, demo reels, etc...). In addition to sharing videos it would also include "social networking" features like blogging and the ability to build a network of friends.

It sounded like a good idea at the time, so the flyer stimulated me to check it out to see how the community was evolving. As of today it is still light on content. Mostly videos shot at NAB [including a couple of me demoing AE CS3 and PhotoshopCS3 video features - yikes I have a hard time watching myself, so I don't; but my mom loves showing this stuff off to all her friends in Boca who brag about their son's the lawyers and doctors; he may not be rich or famous, but he's on the internet :-)]

The relatively small amount of content is not necessarily a reflection on the quality of the idea or the content [although I did find the "booth babe" video to be in poor taste], but to me it highlights 2 key hurdles that characterize the state of "WebTV" today: 1) For a content consumer like myself it's a challenge to find content that is relevant to my interests. The choices can be overwhelming and/or not easy to find, and one-stop places like YouTube require considerable sifting to find content that is of interest and with production values that do not interfere with the viewing experience, 2) For the new Web-based channels like ProMediaTube, the challenge is how does their intended audience find them (or they make their audience aware of them), so they can generate revenue by selling advertising (assuming the business model is based on this) to advertisers targeting this particular audience demographic.

The good news I think is that these challenges can be solved. I don't shop a lot on Amazon, but I am more impressed each time I go there about how well they are mining the data they capture about me and other they think are like me. Another example that impressed me is Pandora,"radio from the music genome project". Whatever they've got under the hood works really well at allowing me to create my own personal radio station. I'd love a Pandora for video.

 


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July 6, 2007

Mike & Ryan's Excellent Adventure

I can still remember the first time I stepped inside a mobile sports truck. I had gotten a freelance gig as a "runner" for a Golden Gater Productions shoot of the1983 SF Comedy Competition. I was amazed that a TV control room could fit inside a trailer. I even had fantasies about building mobile trucks for a while. Fast forward to the mid nineties after I joined Adobe. Once a year I would suggest we rent a Winnebago, pimp it out into a post-production suite and take it on the road to college campuses to evangelize the democratization of television production and post-production. Noone took me seriously. Well I am ecstatic (and jealous) that Mike Downey and Ryan Stewart are about to embark on their onAIR bus tour of "Cross Country Coding".

AIR (the app formerly code name Apollo) is one of the most exciting new technologies I've seen in a while. check out some of the cool applications being created using AIR here. Even if you're not a developer, stop by one of their stops and grab a beer, Red Bull, or coffee and get a glimpse into the future of software applications. Tell'm Steve sent you.

10:46 AM | Permalink | No Comments

PPUG

I love watching things grow (children, tomatos, user communities, facial hair...) and contributing to the growth as well. I think there is something special about getting in on the ground floor of anything. I'm not talking about consciously trying to be a trend seeker looking for the next big thing, but serendipitously discovering or taking interest in something that hasn't captured the interest of many people you know or been mass marketed (I will take credit for being an early evangelist of Mojitos (the best ones use fresh sugar cane juice). Xiomara in L.A. is the only place outside Miami Beach where I've had them with freshly extracted sugar cane juice. I also prefer Mount Gay instead of white rum. I also used RIT to dye my Converse Chuck Taylor's purple in 1970 (back when Converse only sold white, red, and black Chucks), but that's another story and I digress...

Jacob Rosenberg and Aanarav Sareen have gotten the ball rolling and germinated the seeds (how's that for mixing metaphors) of the Premiere Pro User Group community. The first two meetings were held in NYC and LA. It's just in its infancy, which makes it exciting to watch it grow. It reminds me in a way of the old AE Fido list that grew out of the demise of the AOL CoSA forum and has grown from a few dozen, to a few hundred, to thousands of user participating in a virtual community. I look forward to seeing the PPUG blossom.

P.S. If you know a place that makes a mean mojito, leave a comment here.

9:37 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

June 11, 2007

Help us Help you

The Flash file format (swf) is extremely versatile. It is used in a wide range of applications; from broadcast animation, to presentations and games. The folks in our user research group have asked me to share this request with you:

***************************************
 
Subject: Adobe’s Customer Research team wants to see your SWF content!  
 
Hello –
Adobe’s customer research team is collecting an assortment of SWF content. We are looking to get a wide range of content for a variety of purposes so that we can better understand the types of projects people are working on, and better support those projects that are not as always posted on the web. We are especially interested in uses of SWF beyond web sites and advertising – such as (but not limited to) presentations, e-learning, character animation, prototypes, games, rich internet applications, etc. We’d also like to get representation of a variety of skill levels, so feel free to submit your project even if you are not an ActionScript user.
 
For every 50 submissions we receive, we will select one at random to receive an Amazon.com gift card for $50 (US dollars). You can submit as many projects as you like!
 
For each submission, please send the following to flashresearch@adobe.com by July 6, 2007:
·         Your SWF or a link to your project or a screenshot of the project
·         A brief description (3 to 4 sentences) describing the audience and purpose of the project
·         Descriptive tags to categorize the project’s content and purpose – Use as many or as few tags as you like, and feel free to make up your own. Some examples tags are included below.
·         Percent of all your projects that are SWFs
·         Percentage of time you spend writing ActionScript
·         Percentage of time you spend using the timeline
·         Your name
·         Your job title and company
·         Your phone number (so a member of the Adobe’s customer research team can contact you for a quick 15 minute phone call if they need more information)
 
Please feel free to forward this message to others who might be interested or post it on your blog.
 
We are looking forward to hearing from you!
 
Adobe Customer Research Team
 
_________________________________________________________
Example category tags:
·         Advertising  
·         Banner ad
·         Broadcast graphic
·         Character animation
·         E-learning
·         Forms
·         Game
·         Interactive motion content
·         Interactive prototype
·         Interactive video
·         Mobile content
·         Presentation
·         Rich internet application
·         Slideshow
·         Software demo or simulation
·         Web design

12:24 PM | Permalink | No Comments

June 8, 2007

Animation and Motion Graphics Conference

I'm always on the lookout for events that facilitate the cross-pollination of motion graphics disciplines (typically characterized in terms of tools by After Effects and Flash).

The Best in the Southwest conference in Albuquerque this Oct. is looking like it could an excellent springboard for exchanging ideas, learning about new tools, meeting new people, and being a source of inspiration. As a disclaimer, I haven't been to this conference before, so I can't attest to the quality of the sessions, but after perusing the speaker line-up looks like an all-star group of presenters. If you are interested in presenting, its not too late. The deadline for speaking submissions is June 30th.

As an added bonus, the conference takes place during the Albuquerque balloon festival which is on my list of events to see before I get too old to travel!

3:57 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

May 30, 2007

It's 1939 All Over Again

I'll credit Bill Bryson for stimulating this entry and providing some of the "factoids".

For many people, the 1939 New York World's Fair was their introduction to television.

Whenever new media technologies appear it is inevitable that: 1) they are compared to existing technologies they appear to have the potential to compete with or replace, and 2) the new technology emulates an existing technology (although not necessarily the one that is threatens to replace).

Some felt motion pictures threatened theatre. However, it initially emulated photography with the earliest movies being moving images of ordinary life activities such as street scenes. It wasn't until a bit later that movies emulated theatre in terms of subject matter: make-up and exaggerated gestures (apparently it wasn't apparent that movies brought the audience up-close to the actors and overacting wasn't necessary). Eventually filmmakers discovered they could move the camera, edit their film, and other techniques unique to the medium that we take for granted today.

Television was a perceived threat to radio. Although the New York Times reported that television would never be a serious threat to radio because it required a change in behavior; unlike radio, people had to sit in front of it and keep their eyes on the screen.

Like film before it, the initial television programs were of people doing ordinary things (talking, smoking, laughing). Many radio programs were turned into television programs. The first television commercial appeared in 1941 and was 60 seconds of watching a Bulova watch tick. In many ways television became radio with pictures.

If we fast forward to the explosion of video on the internet and impending explosion on mobile devices, its not uncommon to hear one industry pundit proclaim television is dead, and another poo poo the thought of watching a movie on an iPod or other small screen device. The reality probably lies somewhere in the middle. Although, those under 20 or who live with someone under 20 can probably see distinct changes in how/where media is being consumed and also who is creating the media being consumed.

While where/how we consume "television" is changing, it is still for the most part a passive experience. While interactive television isn't a new term or concept, much of its poor adoption has been due to the poor user experience a television set offers for interactivity. The computer, handheld devices, applications like the Adobe Media Player, and appliances like Apple TV open a whole new world of "lean forward" experiences that might finally deliver on the promise of interactive television or what some might call Television 2.0 (which seems to mean different things to different people).

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May 24, 2007

HD4ME Part 2

I received a comment about my last entry indicating that the 1366x768 resolution of my TV wasn't fully HD. My first thought, was bummer I bought an "Almost HD Really" set. But recalling the mantra of the "satisficer" I quickly thought, oh well this is a whole lot better than before and "good enough" for me.

I then decided to re-educate myself a bit (getting too hard to keep all these specs straight in my head) and consulted my first (and hopefully only) stop for HD info on Wikipedia. To complicate the HD choice dilemma more than I outlined in my last entry, there are at 3 flavors of HD (more when you let frame rates enter the discussion), 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. The horizontal resolution of 720p is 1280 pixels, which would appear to be supported by the Toshiba I purchased. But alas, I'm losing 536 pixels when I watch 1080i programming. It will be interesting to see if I enjoy ABC & FOX 720p broadcasts any better than PBS, NBC or CBS' 1080i. When I think about viewing distance, room lighting, and quality of my eyes, my guess is that I won't be able to tell the difference and as the commenter congratulated me, I've entered the 21st century.

Since my set doesn't support 1080p (not an issue until a life changing moment causes me to buy a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD player, or become a gamer, and I must say the Wii is tempting as an entertainment and exercise device) this didn't really factor  in for me.

The rub for me is that, while not an early adopter of technology, I do have the aptitude to understand technology. I can't imagine how some of my less tech savvy family and friends handle wading through the mass of confusing specs and contradicting opinions. Its no wonder that based on relatively sluggish adoption of HD televisions that many people are the overwhelmed by the choices/decisions and choose to stand-by on the sidelines avoiding the decision as long as possible. Thus the paradox of choice and a case where less might be more.

Here is a good source for antenna info (a basic UHF antenna works fine if you live in Seattle/Bellevue area).

1:57 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

May 23, 2007

HD4ME

At work I'm surrounded by the latest computer hardware and software technology, and at times feel like I'm living on the bleeding edge.

At home, I'm a technology luddite (well maybe laggard is more accurate). Typically it takes life changing events to cause me to adopt new technologies (my iPod being one notable exception). No Blackberry's or Treo's for me (witness my paper schedule at NAB). It took becoming a parent to make me realize the benefits of a microwave oven and answering machine (my attitude was, hey, if they want to reach me, they'll call back). And much to the frustration of my sister in-law(who apparently has busy signal issues) I don't have call waiting, caller id, or caller anything for that matter.

My television consumption until now was limited to the half dozen semi-snowy channels the rabbit ears on my 15 year old 14" Sanyo television in my bedroom picked up (7 channels if I was willing to mess with the rabbit ears). This hasn't been much of an issue because I don't watch that much TV (I'm a DVD kinda guy) and have been spending more of my limited media leisure time online anyway for the last 10 years or so.

Well a life changing event put me in the market for a new television and DVD player. I got to become a living example of the Paradox of choice (video), or article. First decision was SD CRT (which would have been easy way out) or Wide screen which led me into the world of "HD Ready" HD Almost Ready" and "HD Really". This was before I even reached the, LCD vs Plasma decision, and semi-related "What size screen?" decision and then the various brand choices.

I had just finished reading the "Paradox of Choice" and was determined to not be a "maximizer". Given I don't replace my TVs very often, I decided to go "HD Really" and made sure I bought a set with an ATSC NTSC & QAM (not sure what QAM means) Tuner. Didn't know what this all meant other than if would receive HD off-air signals. Screen size and budget (no TV is worth more than $500) led me to LCD and I was leaning towards a Samsung (even willing to spend more than $500) until I discovered that there was no standardization on how manufacturers report their contrast ratio and that brand X's 14,000:1 wasn't necessarily better than brand Y's 7,000:1. There was one additional spec that got factored in. I didn't know exactly what an HDMI port was, but instinctively knew I needed/wanted at least one (even though I didn't have anything to plug into it).

Anyway to make a short story long, when I saw the Toshiba Regza 32LV67 with a built-in upconverting (sounded like it was and important feature) DVD player (meaning I'd be spared the agony of choosing from the sea of DVD players and I'm not ready to make a Beta/VHS decision on HD DVD formats), I was almost sold (it was still more than $500 sans the $150 I allocated as the DVD player porition). When the sales person offered to discount it by the sales tax (note to self: always look indecisive and enter the store 10 minutes before closing on the last Sunday of the month), I whipped out the credit card (too bad I didn't ask him to throw in the pair of rabbit ears).

Anyway, I got it home, plugged it in and all I can say is WoW. The off-air digital reception is amazing. I don't know why, but I assumed that the quality of the signal would be the same as what I was getting today (after all, I'm not any closer to the transmitter), but its crystal clear SD or HD. Also, once I saw some programming in HD, I must admit it made me want to watch television more than before. The interesting thing I've noticed after two weeks is how few commercials are being produced in HD (I'm assuming HD production costs are still being billed at a premium and are hard to justify).

With only 636 days left until the conversion to digital is officially here in the U.S. (here is a link to converter box coupon program for those of you like me who are laggards in adopting new TVs or accidentally bought an "Almost HD Ready" TV recently), I expect that we are getting close to HD production costs becoming commoditized).

If you are less interested in my television purchase behavior and more interested in how the paradox of choice might apply to design, check out this article in the Adobe Design Center Think Tank.

Now please don't disturb me while I watch the finale of American Idol (in HD?) tonight :-) I hear both finalists are from the Seattle area!

5:06 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

May 15, 2007

Act Fast & Win a Trip to Cannes

The Cannes Film Festival which opens tomorrow turns 60 this year. As part of the Cannes festivities, Adobe is sponsoring the Reel Ideas Studio where virtual teams of documentary filmmakers are competing to create films that will be screened during the Cannes Festival on May 24th in the American Pavilion.

Members of the winning team will receive roundtrip airfare, accommodations, and tickets to the 2008 Cannes Festival; plus copies of Production Premium.

Sounds great, right? Absolutely, but you gotta act fast if you want to get in on the action. The competition started May 1st and all entrants must be fully registered by May 16th (yikes). All submissions must be uploaded by May 23rd (talk about a fast turnaround production timeline). Check out the web site for complete rules.

Even if you decide not to participate you can track the teams and watch the projects evolve over the next week on the site, or follow the "At The Theater" link and watch last years winning projects.

Update: Just learned that registration has been extended until May 18th.

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