ANT

Ant

Jay Deadman (with Josh) has been responsible for developing a video aggregator for OS X. The result is ANT, which is now in public beta.

While there are issues that video aggregation raise (more on this later, it’s nearly the weekend), this is amazing work. And a great example of North American chutzpah. He just found a brilliant, interested, developer in the Netherlands, came to an arrangment, and a couple of months later this is where we’re up to. Awesome.

Visit ANT’s Not Television to get the beta, 10.3 on OS X ONLY. (For now.)

More Time Away

I’m on another week’s holidays with my kids so there won’t be much happening here for a while. Videoblogging is building hand over fist, so in a week’s time we’ll have had the first videoblog gathering and the lists will be apace… Me, I’ll be at the zoo, seeing the odd kids flick, and going walking in the bush.

Popular Music and Vogs

In a recent vog, the last of the Canberra commentaries, I finished with some musings about how music is perhaps the major poetic trope for vogs (I included an extract from the commentary here). I’m not sure how important ‘pop music’ is as a specific term, or just ‘music’, but I do think that if people approached vogs as musical then things would make more sense. We could then easily recognise the legitimacy of a range of production values, styles, and methods. Aesthetically it might let people relax more about the ‘content’ question and instead of getting lots of too long linear simple commentaries people could think productively about (and with) repetition, rhythm, poetry and the minor.

For example, I’m sitting here listening to Lambchop’s 2 CD album which I think is called Aw Cmon and No You Cmon, and I notice each CD starts with a variation around similar musical themes. One is called Sunrise, the other Being Tyler. I don’t know what they mean, but I recognise the repetition and the pattern and so I know one speaks to or from the other. This gives it depth, beauty, and history. I also see that one track is called ‘Four Pounds in Two Days‘ another is ‘Steve McQueen‘ and yet another ‘I Hate Candy‘ (ith the lines “And I hate candy/But I like rain/And I like substance/To tickle my brain”). My point is not about the merit or otherwise of the titles or the music, but the ease music has with writing music and lyrics about anything. The obligation is to being musical and lyrical. Being interesting comes from this.

So last week in response to a tongue in cheek conversation on the videoblogging list I made an hour long video that is 1MB. I’ve written about doing this before, and it is the same principle that I used for the piece I made for the International Day of Time Dependent Art. To make it I filmed the content, compressed it, and then using QuickTime Pro stretched its duration to an hour. Since QuickTime assumes that the computer and the computer screen are the medium of publication (unlike video editing systems – frames per second are an aretfact of linear media), it simply holds each frame for as long as is needed so that it now runs for an hour. In other words it adds no additional frames, and the file size remains as it was, regardless of the duration of the work.

The work I made, which is at http://hypertext.rmit.edu.au/vog/1.2005/1hour.mov, was just me jumping around in front of my iSight for probably a minute. So it is very (very) slow motion. I then recorded a brief commentary which is loaded into the movie as a child movie track, so that it is not affected by the slowness of the one hour video. Now this is a work of no content in the usual sense. It isn’t about my day, or whatever else you might make a vog about, if you watch it in real time it is a very long hour indeed. So how would I characterise this work in relation to music? Well, it is the vog equivalent of something like the work of Cage. All I mean is that it interrogates the idea of the vog, and it does this by concentrating on some of the formal properties or elements of the vog. So rather than concentrate on content, it asks something prior to content. A way to frame this would be to ask what would you do with an hour and 1Mb? What could you do? Why? Imagine a dissolve that lasted this long…

Work in Progress (aka Andreas)

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time today trying to make a new vog. It is called Mitta Mitta River, and is from our recent camping trip. The interaction design was informed by something Andreas asked me via email and I think it has solved a problem I had. Basically I’ve got five videos that I want to present all together. I could just have 5 images to mouse into or click on to show each video, but that’s a button dressed up as a photo. Andreas wanted to know if it was possible to have multiple videos playing as small windows, and clicking on one would make it 340 x 240. Voil I thought, that is just the way to present my five videos.

Then trouble. I can make them dynamically resize (which is really cool) but at the moment to get them back to their small size is a real pain. Just looks awful, and takes a lot of CPU. So what I’ve done is make a movie with all the video tracks at 320 x 240 and again at 40 x 30. They all play, all the time. The thumbnail videos just stay on top, mousing in means you get the full size version of it. And its sound. Mousing out goes back to the background movie.

There’s been some discussion about length and bandwidth on the videoblog list so this work plays with that a bit. It is nearly 6 MB. That contains 5 videos. Each has a different commentary. I could have posted them as one a day, but then the fact that it is 5 views of the same thing across 5 days (while on holidays) gets dissipated. So there’s a sort of density of information and video inside the movie. This also means the user gets to perform the work in some manner. They are all compressed differently, so that the last one is the most heavily compressed. An aesthetics of compression artefacts, since everyone seems so frightened of ‘bad’ video. It’s a bit like Hollywood lighting versus New Wave. If it’s too dark to see the actor, it’s too dark to see the actor. Other things are more important.

I’d like to make another one of these just playing around with it a bit more. At the moment the 40 x 30 video is so small I think it’s a waste of time being video. Perhaps as child movies, though it would make more sense for the 320 x 240 to be loaded as a child movie, even though you’d get an appreciable lag as each has to load.

Since this is made up of about 15 video tracks it will stutter, splutter, and bring you grief, I’d recommend downloading it and playing it locally for more joy.

Mr Bit Torrent

Wired interview with Bram Cohen, the author of Bit Torrent. If you don’t know what the fuss is about, this will help.

BlogTalk Sydney

There is a conference dedicated to blogs and social software happening in Sydney this May. The site is now up with details. Mo

Mist Vog

This is an extract from part of the long commentary attached to a new vog:

So what? That’s a productive question here. It doesn’t matter. The model we should adopt is musical. 1. The format of the videoblog is the pop song (short, repetitive, lyrical). 2. There is a range of production styles, skills and aesthetics (from punk to the postproduced control of any contemporary pop diva). 3. Content varies from country ballads or blues to the post-advertising hooks of teens and tweens (Robert Johnson to Jessica Simpson?). 4. The form will support and evolve into numerous styles (like pop music, like blogs). 5. Like popular music the works will be about repetition – what will the chorus of your video be? 6. The basic units in a vog are musical. It is not about filmic narrative, the linear cause and effect of most popular television and cinema. They are melodic chunks that get placed in variable relations to each other. 7. At the moment we are all garage bands. Some won’t stay there.
From here it is easy to identify the affinity to video clips. Vogs are the video clips of the everyday.

The vog is called Mist, and it was shot at the mist sculpture at the National Gallery in Canberra. It uses child movies again. The comments above are starting to think about a poetics of vogs.

Recent Events, etc

There are a lot of things I have strong opinions about, and I’ve tended not to include them here. Something about this being more a research space than a soapbox for a pile of political whatever. And anyway, people who know me know my politics. I also figure I’m an academic and not a political commentator and so lets not assume my opinion on everything actually matters. Having said that, I’m going to post a quote from an email today from the Vice Chancellor about our Tsunami appeal. I like that our organisation can do this.

Further to my recent announcement of RMIT’s support to the people and communities who have been deeply affected by the tsunami disaster, RMIT has been exploring a number of options for providing assistance to those affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami and its aftermath.

Staff can now make donations directly from their pay to major aid organisations. As pledged in my earlier correspondence, RMIT will match staff contributions to these organisations on a dollar for dollar basis (up to a maximum of $40,000 in total). To assist staff in providing the most generous donation possible to those affected by this extraordinary disaster, RMIT will facilitate the deduction as a “pre tax” salary packaged amount so that you will receive the tax benefit immediately (see attached ‘Tsunami Appeal’ form). Also, to ease the financial burden on staff, donations can be made progessively over a maximum of the next 10 pay periods (up to the pay day on 23 June 2005) if required.

Another option which is being developed is the establishment of the RMIT Student Emergency Education Relief Fund targetted to our students who have been affected. The fund will be established through the RMIT Foundation and all donations will be tax-deductible. It is expected that the fund will take some days to be formally established and I will advise you as soon as it is able to receive donations and bequests.

3ivX Details

I’ve played with the 3ivX codec off and on, but kept away because I never understood the specifics of the advanced options. Today find a page that explains this on OS X. The QuickTime Compression Settings page details what each of the settings does, and also indicates what will break playback in QT 6. This complements Sean and Michael’s tutorials well.

Vloggercon

Vloggercon, the first ever official meeting up of videobloggers, is happening this month in New York. Of course as the first video blogger I’m pissed that I don’t have the time or the money to travel to NY. Of course as a good contemporary academic I also know that there is no immanent value accorded imaginary origins. Sometimes North Americans blow me away. So much will-to-achieve nets results.

3ivX

Michael Verdi has written a four page pdf about using 3ivX on a Macintosh to optimise compression. For those not familiar with this it is well worth getting.

Post Holiday

Was remiss of me to leave for summer holidays without actually leaving a note here….

So, a week on the Mitta Mitta River in the north east of the state, and then 4 days on another mountain river closer into the major mountains. Relaxing, restful, and today I really don’t want to be in the office.

More soon as I catch up on email, administrivia, writing, and all the flotsam that accrues to minor academics in minor institutions.