Drew Rattray : Design vs. Functionality
Drew Rattray
| News and views on design vs. functionality balance across the communications and technology space.

Video Software

Big is Small with On2 VP8

September 16, 2008

On2 Technologies, a leading provider in video compression solutions, has just introduced it's latest generation proprietary video compression format, VP8.

VP8 has been designed with 40 new innovations to the well established technologies used in previous generations. It provides the functionality to lower the cost of encoding by enabling greater throughput through its computational efficiency.  VP8 encodes in realtime on low end machines, and takes fewer cycles to decode than other leading algorithms.

Using VP8 as your web-video compression codec, you can potentially experience huge savings in bandwidth and storage costs without jeapordizing video quality. VP8 can deliver the same video-quality in 1/2 the bandwidth of existing implementations of H.264 advanced video compression.

Read more about the release of VP8 here.







Nine Inch Nails Melds Music, Technology, and Design

October 24, 2008

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails wanted to get into the use of visuals to frame his music on stage to create an "organic" performance.  He calls it an interactive way to "use video as an instrument."

The Lights and Sky Tour features Trent and 4 band members on an elaborate stage where they control video loops and computer effects at will.  The company that brought this all of this together is the Moment Factory based in Montreal.  The company, which is mostly know for its work with Cirque du Soleil, was founded in 2001 to create "visual environments, mixed media entertainment, and multi-platform content".

During approximately half of the concert, the work of the Moment Factory is on display,  and half of that is interactive.



Netflix on Xbox 360 Frustrating

December 20, 2008

I haven't had much time until yesterday to actually play with some of the new features of the improved Xbox 360 interface that was released a few weeks ago.  One of these improvements is the ability to now stream Netflix movies right to your console for your viewing pleasure (once you have an account of course).  Seeing as I'm on vacation, I figured it would be a decent time to check out the two week free trial.

So...  I log into my Xbox 360 and search for the Netflix area.  I click through a few menu options and supply my email address and password, and then end up on a screen that tells me to "go to netflix.com/xbox to create my account".   So now I have to get up off the couch, stroll over to the computer and punch in a url.  I do so and go through the regular hoops of setting up one of these trial accounts, including choosing a service that I can cancel anytime over the next 2 weeks for no charge (of course), and giving them a credit card number.

But now... it sends me back to the Xbox.  I go back to the couch, ready to watch a movie, press a few buttons and then my Xbox gives me an activation code and tells me to go to netflix.com/activate to activate my streaming account. Again I get up and go back to the computer, plug in the code, and boom, I'm ready to watch movies on my Xbox, Right?

Wrong.

Maybe I was a little too eager, or maybe the frustration was already kicking in and I had ignored a direction somewhere, but I went back to the couch assuming I could browse through lists of movies on my Xbox, hit a button, and spend the next few hours watching something I wouldn't cough up 11 dollars for at the theaters a few months ago. What greeted me at the couch was nothing.







YouTube Client Offers Richer Experience for BlackBerry Storm Users

December 31, 2008

The BlackBerry Storm's built-in web browser is capable of browsing YouTube, but it was a little depressing that my new toy did not come with a YouTube application out of the box like the iPhone does.  The experience worked well enough for my purposes, but a dedicated client is usually much more user friendly and offers more on a mobile device.

Google answered the call and has now released a YouTube client for the BlackBerry Storm (Version 1.6.10).  According to Google this dedicated client will offer Stormies a much richer mobile video experience.

I downloaded the 520.1KB client to my Storm this morning and I fully agree.  This is a much better mobile YouTube experience. 

Features included in this client:
  • Browse through millions of videos through different criteria on your phone
  • Access favorites and playlists from your YouTube account
  • Upload videos directly from your Storm to YouTube
  • Share and rate videos
  • Keyword search for videos
  • Related video suggestions to videos you watch
If you own a Blackberry Storm and you use YouTube semi-frequently...  I highly suggest downloading this client.

Download YouTube Mobile for the BlackBerry Storm.









Welcome to the Inauguration Waiting Room

January 20, 2009

Like many people around the world, I've been trying to tune in to see the Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America via Internet.  CNN.com Live and Facebook have been advertising that they will be streaming Inauguration coverage all day today, but I just keep getting dumped into a waiting room.  I get cycled back out and then just sit on a loading page.  I've let it sit there for 15 minutes twice already.

Sorry CNN, you should have dumped more resources into this system because you're losing my impressions for your advertisements today.  I hate their coverage, but I'm heading to Fox News because I know their player works.

Congratulations and good luck President Barack Obama.



How Do You Not Review That Last Play?

February 1, 2009

First and foremost, congratulations to the Pittsburgh Steelers for their 27-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl 43.

But, the NFL better be ready for the hell they are going to get about the officiating tomorrow.  It's one thing if a bad call is made, or if something gets missed, especially during the regular season.  However, this is the Super Bowl, and the technology surrounding instant replay almost borders on obscene.  6+ high definition camera angles locked onto each play, all able to be played back instantly at insanely slow speeds...

I'm not saying the call would have been overturned, but the replay official Bob McGrath should have issued a challenge to make sure Kurt Warner's arm wasn't moving forward on that forced fumble call.  It was that close.

It's not like the NFL had anything to lose by reviewing the play. If the ruling on the field was overturned, the last play had the potential to be one of the most exciting finishes to a Super Bowl. The Arizona Cardinals - the underdogs - down by 4 - one play left in the game - a bomb thrown by Kurt Warner - to a wide receiver core consisting of Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston - against Troy Polamalu and the rest of the Pittsburgh Steelers defense...

Man, it had so much potential.

It's one thing to blow it on the big stage because you didn't have the resources or technology to help you make the right call.  It's another thing all together to have them at your fingertips and then choose to ignore them.