Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Time - it’s never running at the right speed

Of all the various ways of measuring things, Time is generally the most important or critical, at least it is to me. Size doesn't matter, distance can be reduced or extended by speed and volume can be altered, sometimes by the flick of a dial. But Time, that little four letter word that I have given a capital "T", has a mind of its own and will never change, despite the best efforts of the Large Hadron Collider scientists.

Twenty-four hours a day, Time rules my world; where I have to be, what I have to do, what has to be finished, deadlines. I can't change these. I ask for one more minute to finish editing a piece and if I get it I lose a minute from the next Time period. The producer tells me we are on air in five minutes and EVS need the cut in three. I need six, but somehow I finish in four and we get to air. Yes! I beat Time, kind of.

So with all these Time pressures, why on earth do I love making Time lapse sequences? Because, let's face it, the world looks much better when slowed right down or sped right up. It's boring at normal speed, that's so everyday, so dull. In slow motion you can see things missed in real Time. Footage from the Phantom Flex or Hi-Mo cameras analyse movement in a beautiful and intriguing way.Timelapses truncate Time and let you see in thirty seconds what took hours or even days to actually happen. You can't comprehend that as a human, so to see a flower opening, a bridge being built or even the view from the highest building in the world (see Philips Bloom's fabulous film) is a miracle because it manipulates Time.

So I am bored of the speed at which I live and want to control it and if I can't become a Time Lord, then timelapse photography is the closest I am likely to get.To see some of my attempts to control Time go to my Vimeo site at http://vimeo.com/pukkatv/videos

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

What goes down must go up (in price)

A lot of people seems to be getting quite excited and Tweeting with nervous energy - the Canon C300 DSLR-in-a-video-body is about to be delivered to those who are happy to stump up around £10,0000 or $15,000 for a camera body. Of course for that money it won't work. You need to spend another few thousand on handy things like lens adaptors, storage media, cheese boards (don't ask) and so on.

Apparantly this camera will produce footage that looks as good or slightly better than the Canon 5D MKII but with proper video stuff like mic inputs and decent metering. But is the C300 five times as good as the 5D MKII that has been used to shoot prime-time drama (House MD) and now an Oscar nominated documentary (Hell and Back Again)? Well we won't know until the side by side reviews are complete and Philip Bloom gives his highly important verdict.

But if you can't wait, umm...wait. Don't buy a C300 yet because even more exciting is the overdue announcement of the Canon 5D MKIII (yes Mark 3). Canon may have delayed the launch of this so it doesn't effect the initial sales of the C300, because even if the new 5D only improves a bit it is going to be a very worthy video camera (that happens to also take superb stills by the way). And everyone will already own all the peripherals needed to shoot great video with a stills camera.So how do Canon pitch the new 5D MKIII?  Well I would double the price of the body up from around £1,600 for the current model to £3,200. It would still be almost £7,000 cheaper than a C300 (and cheaper than Canon's top of the range still cameras) and be within the reach of semi-pro operators, but it would make it look like a premium upgrade. Buyers wouldn't have to spend any extra on batteries, lenses or cheese boards.

Would I buy one at that price to shoot video? Probably not. I would get a Panasonic GH2 with a Driftwood hack for less than £1000 because it gives fantastic results and at that price I can employ a sound-man, an assistant and someone to make the tea.

Is there anything that can’t be copyrighted?

On 12th January 2012 a London Court came to the conclusion that one company had breached the copyright of another by using an image of a London Bus in front of the Houses of Parliament. In both images the London bus was in red but all the background elements were in a flat monochrome. But there the similarities end and you can see them both here.

The two photographs were taken at different vantage points, taken at a different time and even the buses are slightly different.According to a lawyer quoted by Amateur Photographer: 'His honour Judge Birss QC decided that a photograph of a red London bus against a black and white background of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, with a blank sky, was similar enough to another photograph of the same subject matter to infringe copyright.' 

Aged Big Ben
Image from iStockphoto
Ok so what about this image from iStockphoto. It ticks the same boxes as the two in the court case, so should iStockphoto remove it from their catalogue or will I be taken to court if I pay for an extended license and use it on the packaging of my new brand of Red Bus Chocolate Buttons?Debate about what can be patented or copyrighted started in the United States in 1790 when the first patent was issued and in England in 1449 when King Henry VI granted one to John of Utynam.

More recently in the world of TV, in the 1980's Quantel successfully destroyed the company that made a graphic design package called Pastiche that worked in a similar way to the Quantel Paintbox, the then market leader. Quantel proved in court that they had the patent for mixing colours in a palette, just like artists have been doing for thousands of years, and the Pastiche could not use this way of mixing colours. At the time there wasn't a viable alternative and the product died.

Unfortunately common sense rarely applies in case of copyright - I would like to see the "don't be so ridiculous" plea made admissible in court - something that Apple lawyers have made into an art form. So now I need a way of copyrighting every image I take or film without it costing me anything - ideas?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Will Google do an Apple?

Despite posting a lower than expected earning result last week Google still managed to earn$37,900,000,000 in 2011 of which 96% came from advertising . Now Google do a lot more than just offer a search engine, but the question is “why bother?”.

If you make such a huge amount from your core business isn’t it good business sense to jetison the less profitable sides that might be dragging you down. Apple had revenue of $24.67 billion in Q2 last year - yes just one quarter - with Macs and iPhones selling in huge numbers.

But desktops, peripherals and in particular software make up such a small part of the revenue that Apple will generally stop or reduce development in non-core products.

The most obvious example of this is their editing software Final Cut. When it was launched it ripped open the professional editing market and everyone from the BBC down jumped on the bandwagon. Now that wagon is going around picking up the Macs no-one wants because FCP is now FC Pro X (or FuCXed as some call it). It doesn’t sell millions of packages because there aren’t a million editors out here.

So Apple will call it “a revolution in creative editing” but I think it is rotten to the core and will gradually become a way of editing whatever you are watching on your iPad. It makes sense to ditch it - to me and the much smarter people at Cupertino.

So what will Google do when they see that they don’t really need to supply all these great aps that people love but not quite enough to pay greenbacks for? Hopefully they will say “we’re making enough, let’s give something back”, because if I lose Google Calendar my future looks as bleak as that of Final Cut Pro X.