Tag Archives: video
Sorry Audiophiles: It’s All About The Video
By Paul Konikowski, CTS-D
Last week, rumors surfaced that Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is secretly developing modular, large-scale video displays. Yes, you heard me right: Google is reportedly making their own video walls. This should be of no shock to anyone in the so-called “audiovisual industry” which has been completely taken over by the so-called A.V./ I.T. convergence. In the past few years, both AV and IT have become caught up in the Enterprise Technology sector, while the consumer electronics have themselves caught up in terms of resolution and cost. Nowadays, audio and video are often considered to be two Things in the much larger Internet of Things (or I.o.T. if you are into the whole brevity thing). Personally, I hate using the term Internet of Things, but I am just one Voice of Reason, and I am outvoted.
Many television news studios and even Dr. Phil are investing in large-scale, multi-touch sensing video walls, much like those that Google is supposedly developing. But there are plenty other examples besides these large touch/video displays that illustrate why 2014 is turning out to be the Year of Video.
If you or a family member is on Facebook, you must have seen at least one, if not one hundred, ice bucket challenge videos. The ice bucket challenge trend signaled not only a change in social media marketing for non-profits, but on a more basic level, it was a perfect example of what I call the “new” Facebook news feed; have you noticed that roughly half of your Facebook feed is now composed of videos? Why did you think the ice bucket challenge was such a viral phenomenon? Also, did you notice how these videos will auto-play, unless you tell Facebook not to autoplay videos? Keep an eye on your data plan.
Twitter has big plans for video too. Very soon, Twitter and Facebook will both turn into a combination of video ads, movie previews, political satires, short films, or tv-like series. Sure, these sort of video trends have been around for years on YouTube, but now that they are major parts of the Facebook and Twitter news feeds, a lot more people will be seeing a lot more videos on a daily basis. And media companies will quickly learn that video is the new way to capture an online audience, while engaging their own networks.
ESPN, which is owned by Disney Time Warner (NYSE:DIS) recently played Let’s Make A Deal with the NBA to allow live streaming over-the-top (a.k.a. OTT) meaning end users will soon be able to watch NBA using a set-top box or similar streaming player. No cable, satellite, or TV antenna needed, just internet access.
Soon, sports clips and reality show fights will be uploaded instantly, and there will be more and more live voting and audience polls. Video clips on Facebook and Twitter combined with a “buy” button means users can click to view the full feature movies or instantly buy the products they are advertising. Twitter also has a deal with Comcast, if your friends are tweeting about a certain reality show or breaking news, you could hypothetically just watch the show inside Twitter’s main feed. But wait there is a twist: the two contestants who have the least amount of internet bandwidth will be voted off of the show; the rest of you are safe.
Where will all of this new video content come from, anyway? Well the obvious answer is the zillions of mobile phones and tablets, many of which come with “decent” digital cameras / video camcorders, and with the right steady cam, tripod, or selfie-stick, just about anyone with a decent smart phone can make a video and upload it to their social networks.
For folks who want a so-called “real camera”, GoPRO just announced some new models including the HERO 4, which combined with the new LiveStream application, will allow live GoPro streaming live to the web, with just an Iphone. If GoPro’s stock ticker is any indication, it looks like their new cameras may be the big hit this holiday season. NASDAQ:GPRO up 200% in just over 3 months since it began publically trading. Other video related stocks that are riding this video trend include GoPro component maker Ambarella (NASDAQ:AMBA) up 29% Year To Date (YTD), Digital Ally Inc. (NASDAQ:DGLY) who make law enforcement cameras, is up 58% YTD; and last but not least Mobile Eye NV (NYSE:MBLY), a video technology that helps automobiles stay in their lanes and avoid collisions, is up 42% YTD.
In closing, I just want to be clear on a few things. First, I currently own stock in GoPro. Second, I am not a financial advisor. and you should do your own due diligence before investing in any stock. And last but not least, I just want to say that I don’t know if this trend towards more amateur video is necessarily a “good thing” for social media, for society, or for the video professionals of the world. But I do believe that if so-called AV professionals can adapt to this new consumer trend in video, that we can then offer more value to more potential customers,
We will see if I am right.
Watch What You Wear When On Video
By Paul Konikowski, CTS-D
As I religiously watched Nightly Business Report with Tyler Mathisen and Susie Gharib last Friday, I could not help but notice the dapper suit coat that Tyler was wearing. Unfortunately, the reason I noticed his coat was because of the wavy moiré pattern his coat created in the YouTube video stream, see below. The moiré pattern is instantly recognizable when Tyler comes on about 40 seconds into the program:
I can not say if this pattern was detectable on high-definition or standard-definition television sets, because I recently “cut the cord” of cable television, and now watch NBR online. The YouTube video stream is decent, but not high definition, and it could be the down-sampling that caused the moiré pattern. Here is another YouTube video that illustrates the moiré effect when two similar sets of parallel lines intersect:
What happened in Friday’s NBR video was Tyler’s coat had vertical and horizontal lines that intersected with the horizontal scan lines of the video stream. Video is traditionally recorded as of horizontal lines of pixels, and each pixel is essentially a sample of the actual color or pattern being recorded. So when these sampling lines intersect with Tylers’ coat lines, a moiré pattern emerges in the video.
I was surprised to see this happen on such a long-running business news show on PBS and other stations, but maybe the pattern was not visible on the professional 1080p cameras and broadcast monitors? Maybe they did not notice until it was uploaded to YouTube? My guess is that Tyler only had one coat with him, so there was little they could do about it before they started airing. Hopefully, CNBC and Tyler learned a lesson, and he will try to avoid those patterns in the future, at least when on video.
This video lesson applies to all of us, not just television newscasters. For example, if you are working at or attending an online university, you certainly do not want moiré video patterns that distract from the teaching. Corporate video conference systems like GotoMeeting, Webex, Polycom and Cisco are also prone to moiré patterns, and many people use Skype, Facetime, or Google Hangouts to video conference with family and friends. So how can you avoid it? First, avoid wearing shirts or ties with small parallel lines. How small depends on the resolution of the camera, the sampling rate, and the distance. Since there are so many variables, just avoid parallel lines, or plaid or checkered outfits (like Tyler Mathisen in the first video).
In addition to avoiding moiré patterns, and watching what you wear, you should always think about two things whenever you video conference: sound and lighting. Is there any background noise from windows, televisions, or other people talking? You should reduce this background noise before you start any conference call by closing windows and doors. You should also close the blinds or shades and turn on all of the lights, as this will help with the room acoustics as well as the lighting. Sunlight is the enemy when it comes to indoor video, because the contrast is too much, so its best practice to use artificial lighting from above, ideally angled towards the faces.
If possible, you should always do a test video call beforehand, and ask the “far end” how you look and sound to them on video. Tell them exactly why you are asking, and ask them to be honest. It’s the video conference equivalent of asking a friend, “do I have anything stuck in my teeth?” after eating a big meal. In the end, everyone wins.
If you have any questions about moiré patterns, video conferencing, lighting, or room acoustics, please don’t hesitate to comment below, or write me directly at pkav.info @ gmail dot com.
In The Future, Higher Education Will Be Free, Via Massive Open Online Courses (And Advertising)
By Paul Konikowski, CTS-D
Last month, Starbucks announced a new program called the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, that would essentially give their employees the opportunity to achieve a college education at a reduced cost. Baristas and other team members can attend Arizona State University classses online using a special discount code. 3rd and 4th year students will even receive reimbursement for non-tuition expenses like books, beer funnels, bongs…just kidding.
Google openly “supports the development of a diverse education, as learning expands in the online word. Part of that means that educational institutions should easily be able to bring their content online and manage their relationships with their students.” Google has worked with edX as a contributor to their open source platform, Open edX, as well as MOOC.org. Google also leads the Girl Code effort.
AT&T now offers nano-degrees that unemployed people, retirees, or even teens can use to get into the workforce. Dell recently released a YouTube video mockumentary about the Center For Selfie Improvement as part of its real-life Learning Means Doing campaign.
Sure, there’s been hundreds of programs designed to teach kids geography, history, or math while they play video games (Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego or the classic Oregon Trail). And computer software and programming courses, from Logo to Java, have been taught in schools for years’ but recently, something has changed in education.
The kids learning to code today are no longer lonely individuals playing video games in a AV closet. Nowadays, programming is a very social endevour, and you must know how to work as a team, just like you would work as a team in the new first-person-shooter video games. Teens are also learning to drive better with web-based training tools. Yes, there’s an app for that.
High schools and universities like Stanford are adopting their programs to fit this new style of online learning. There are also for-profit schools like the University of Phoenix where students can earn a degree on their own time, taking the classes at night or on weekends while working other jobs. Its important the classrooms that are used to “film” the video course have adequate lighting and good acoustics so that the quality of the video course is as good as being in the classroom.
There is also a new type of online video student that has emerged, who learns new skills by watching videos on YouTube, Linda.com, live webinars, and/or other sources of video classes that are definitely not typical college courses. Many of these skills could not be learned as easily before the Age of YouTube, unless someone had shown you how to to do it in person. Here are some examples:
- Learning a new recipe, gardening, or .i.y project
- Cyclists can learn to do their own bike repairs
- Sewing or knitting techniques, fashion trends
- Restoring a classic car, boat, or motorcycle
- Promote your business using Facebook & Twitter
- Become a better investor by learning stock charts
- Teaching yourself guitar chords and cover songs
- Optimize your Linkedin Profile for search engines
Getting back to Starbucks and Dell, I believe these corporate video education models are going to be more and more popular moving forward. The skilled worker gap will be filled by companies who realize that the only way to fill it is with education. I envision companies like CVS and Walgreens starting their own indentured-servant-style pharmacist degree programs. In the future, maybe medical students will go to school for “free”, as long as they promise to work for Kaiser when they graduate. As companies become larger and larger, they will realize its easier to offer “free” education, than it is to recruit and hire.
I keep putting the “free” in quotations because as much as I love the word free, we all know that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Although not widely monetized, many YouTube videos have commercials or pop up ads that users have to sit through like movie previews. Free apps and video games are usually subsidized by banners, audio, and video clips.
It hard to say which comes first, the chicken (the audience who want things for free) or the egg (advertisers who want the audience) but in the end they both need each other to survive, and I believe that will be the future model of educational videos. Online college students will have to sit through video commercials during classes. Electronic books will be free with banner ads. Computer and tablets will be available for free as long as they can track everything you do online. “Free” education will continue to grow as advertisers realize the potential sales of the online audience, and foot the bill.
In closing, I shared this infographic a while back, but its still very relevant to MOOCs. By the way, I am not sold on the term MOOC, but I am quite sure this learning-by video thing is here to stay. -pk