Rozovian’s Music Log

Archive for the ‘television/movies’ Category

My Web TV Ideal

Posted by Ad on February 28, 2012

It’s the future. I sit down in the living room and turn on a fast-starting computer hooked up to a big screen and speaker system. I go to a library of the shows I usually watch. A few shows are locked behind a password-protected menu so kids can’t get to them.

I select a show, old or new. The computer remembers which episode I watched last, and even if I had to stop watching mid-episode. By default, I get the standard audio, but if I want a more cinematic experience, I can select a more dynamic audio track, or if I’m watching late at night and the rest of the house is asleep, I can select a less dynamic track. I can just as well select a commentary, official or fan-made, or a different language dub, or opt to have speech, music or sound effects muted or solo.

I’m on my work computer, writing emails or something. I have a show playing in another window. I have subtitles on so I can multitask and at a glance get what any given line of dialogue is about. I need to listen to a some audio a friend and/or coworker sent me, for a music project. I pause the video, listen to the audio.

The film/TV library lists my top films and shows. I can order these on physical media if I want to. They contain more special features, like behind-the-scenes material, a copy of the script, the soundtrack… Upon ordering this, those special features also become available in the library.

I’m abroad. The connection isn’t great. I select lower quality video and audio. I’m watching it with my new friends, and as they might not speak English well, we have subtitles in their language as well as in English.

A new movie is coming out. I have a premium account, so I get to watch the movie without ads, on the day of the release, wherever I am. I have a professional reviewer account. I get to watch movies before their release. Anyone can write a review, and it can be formal or just a thank you or “f u” to the director. There’s some moderation of the reviews, so ugly language isn’t visible to minors, and amazon-bombing events can be filtered out.

The school I teach at has an education account. My students get to remix any film or show online through the library – and to associate their trailer with their own user accounts. Regular users can do the same, except they to buy the show or film. They can, for a slight further cost, make a fandub. Each time someone watches a fan-made trailer, or listens to a fandub, reviewer commentary, or anything else that’s user-generated, the users involved in making this additional material are also paid. Several songs from my album have music videos based on shows and movies. The music comes from Spotify or a similar service partnering with the video service. When one of those vids are watched, I get paid slightly, the music video editor get paid slightly, and the ppl who made the original video get paid slightly. I don’t know the exact amount of money, I just know I get money when ppl watch it.

I watch the news. I don’t know what’s going on so I’m not looking for a specific story. I don’t care about celebrity deaths and scandals, so I skip to the next news story. I watch a tech news show made/sponsored by Toyota. Naturally, it has a lot of Toyota products. I can skip to any individual story in the episode. The show still gives me a positive idea about Toyota, so they don’t mind me skipping through.

If I didn’t have a premium account, I could still watch stuff… ad-supported. These aren’t intrusive pop-up ads, they’re more subtly colored and fit right into the design of the library application, each library skin has it’s own ad color coding. Imagine the choice between white on black, or black on white. That can do a lot to make an ad less intrusive. Likewise, some weeks, select shows are sponsored (ie otherwise ad-free) by select companies. This week, General Motors wants me to watch the timeless classic Transformers. Then I log in and the ads disappear.

I look at my account balance. I’ve seen all of Stargate SG-1 before with this service, so all those episodes are free to me. I’ve bought all of Babylon 5, so those episodes are free to me. This month, I’ve been watching old Mythbusters, and am billed for them, a small fee for each episode I’ve watched. Once I’ve watched 75% of episodes in a season, the rest becomes free. My subscription to the service is split between the service and the shows I already own. Just because I’ve seen Firefly a few times doesn’t mean there isn’t a slight amount of money going to its owners at the end of each month when views and payment are calculated.

Holidays are approaching. I can gift movies or seasons of shows to friends and family. I have some gift credits available. This is how the services lures more users to it – credits for each purchase, that I can only use on other ppl. There are always collections available for purchase, whether r not you want the physical media for it. During the dark months of fall, they were cheap for me. Now they’re cheaper still, as gifts.

My wife and kids are associated with my account, and I can watch any of their purchases/gifts from my account, and they can watch mine. There’s a limit to how many accounts can be associated to one another, tho a friend of mine has loads of kids, most of them in their teens, so they had to request a few more association slots for their accounts. The service likes these association things, it tells them what families watch. A single episode can be watched a dozen times in a week, simply because multiple users watch the same show.

Just like a family can be associated with one another, so can roommates. With a fixed number of slots, and some tracking to make sure ppl who live together are more closely associated than random friends, you don’t get to game the system and create a link of ppl who all watch each other’s purchases for free. However, the system is by design slow to react. I spend a few weeks in the US, my family remains in FInland, but we all have access to my shows and films.

Some time in the future, when I die, my purchases are transferred to my kids’ accounts. probably not everything, but perhaps the most viewed half. If they didn’t have those items listed, they do now. If they do, lower-rung items are added. This may work with a tracker for the kinds of shows and films they like, so that my fantasy  geek daughter gets more fantasy films, and my documentary geek son gets more documentaries.

It’s the present. Illegal streaming and downloading is illegal, and commercial services aren’t convenient. Audio is overcompressed, or has too much dynamics to sound good on low listening levels. Movies are available on disc half a year after they come out in local cinemas, which is a few months after their US release. Sales are arbitrary and I am not informed about them. My DVD collection is sizable, but DVD is getting old. I haven’t found Pitch Black anywhere. Where’s Steam for video?

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Why I Buy Movies

Posted by Ad on February 4, 2012

In light of recent multilateral agreements/conspiracies, I thought I’d comment on my media purchasing habits. Idunno, maybe it’ll shed some light on how someone on internet is thinking, for the luddites with all the lobbying money – which quite frankly could be better spent, as could the litigation budget.

I like movies. I like quality effects, I like quality storytelling, I like quality stuff. I wish there was more good movies out there, rather than committees-designed mainstream hooks. Just compare Attack the Block and Transformers. Guess which one I prefer. A hint: I like it despite my general aversion to almost every form of British English.

But when I walk through the movie store – and I still prefer to buy movies that way – what I want isn’t just the movie. The movie I can find on the net if I want to, and I’d have a way better experience of it if I could see it in the movie theatre. In 2d. So what I’m looking for in the store are movies that I’ve heard good things about and want to see, but haven’t bothered to go looking for them; they’re movies I’ve seen and want to see again; they’re movies I think need my support; and they’re movies I can learn from.

I hate coming across DVDs – yes I still use DVDs – with no special features. No commentaries, no making-of, no cast and crew interviews. The film itself I can experience just fine in the theatre, and I’m fine with doing that just once (unless it’s actually a good movie).

I think this could be the future of commercial media. You can get the basic version for free, but if you want an HD version, bonus materials, associated materials, codes for streaming services – you buy the thing. The film’s extended cut, score and making-of, the game’s music and art, karaoke and DJ versions of every song on the album…

And while we’re at it, it’d be nice to get a data track to go along with any film or tv show, one that maps out the overall levels. Having a TV show play loud sounds ridiculous during the silent parts, and trying to hear the soft parts of a movie without turning up the entire film isn’t convenient. Volume automation, on or off.

I also want a helicopter.

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In Defense of Earth Music in Alien Settings

Posted by Ad on August 11, 2011

Okay, we’re talking science fiction speculative fiction stuff here. Just go with it. 😉

First, almost all rhythm is based on math. Indian ragas are really long, polyrhythmic stuff is difficult to quantize, but it’s all based on math. Rhythm is math. Any alien civ would understand math before going into space… unless they were really lucky and domesticated space dragons or something that just so happened to also live on their homeworld.

Second, pitch is based on math. And here’s the kicker – harmony is a physical phenomenon. That C and G sound good together is not arbitrary – it’s science. G is so close to the second harmonic of C that they sound good together. Harmonics are frequencies that are integer multiples of the fundamental frequency. The fundamental can be arbitrary, but its harmonics will be twice, three, four, five etc times the fundamental frequency. In other words, physics – which doesn’t change much between us and aliens – make the harmonics. Harmonics make the circle of fifths. The circle of fifths makes the chromatic scale. The chromatic scale is on our pianos, our guitars, our synths. Sure, they can tune it differently, use different modes and scales (whole tone scale, anyone?), but more likely than not, they’d have the chromatic scale… If they like harmony, thatis.

Third, the vibrating string, the vibrating membrane, the basic waveforms – they’re based on math. Or rather, physics. Again, we’d have this in common. Would they prefer a sitar over a guitar, or a harpsichord over a piano? Do they want their drums tuned? Do they appreciate raw waveforms, or prefer more advanced synthesis techniques? Taste is different, and their instrument constructions and conventions would be different, but the core of the instruments would likely be the same – no matter the kind of instrument.


This doesn’t mean they’ll like four on the floor beats. Maybe they only like rhythms based on prime numbers. Triplet rhythms might work, but if they’re sophisticated, they might want stuff like 11/8, 19/8, or something even higher. And what are the timbres of their rhythm instruments? If they even make that distinction.

This doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily have music in tune with ours. If they pick a fundamental in between two semitones of our chromatic scale, it’ll sound off-key. And it might not conform to any scale or mode we are used to. If they have and appreciate tonal music at all.

And nothing says their instruments need to be remotely like ours, nor do the techniques need to be the same. I can play part of a Chrono Trigger melody on harmonics on guitar, and often do this inadvertently while just playing. Perhaps they don’t have necks on their instruments, maybe they play on separate strings and/or harmonics. Maybe they play on a single string, which they change the tension of, thus changing the pitch with a more pitch-bend-like effect (our guitars are tuned this way, and played by changing the length of the freely vibrating string). Maybe they use advanced synthesis techniques to create ethereal soundscapes where many aspects of music bleed together into… well, something more sound design than music.

That said, I’m still bothered by how Stargate SG-1, Babylon 5, Star Wars, and so many other shows and movies have alien music that sounds like Earth music. Yes, you can use our scales and tunings. No, you can’t just decide that the aliens’ hat is jazz music or whatever. Composers, take heed.

You know, I should just make some examples. 😀

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Posted by Ad on November 17, 2010

When my sister claims my computer for her video editing projects (which I at some point encounraged), I grab the laptop and sit in front of the TV. Today, I see two commersials that stand out.

One was a McDonald’s Big Bacon/Big Tasty ad. Dunno how international those products are, and am too lazy to look it up, but the commersial was terrible. Black and white flashy blinking stuff, fast cuts, and a pong reference arbitrarily thrown in. An overcompressed breakbeat being ducked under an overcompressed voiceover. Ouch. While on this topic, while I’m in front of the tv: CSI’s intro isn’t much better, more flashy tho less audio problems.

The other commersial was  BMW ad that was pleasantly dynamic in audio and enjoyably cut. Unfortunately, the TV volume was slightly down so as to not wreck my ears from all the crappily overcompressed commersials, so I couldn’t hear what car model it was or anything.

This is a problem. There should be a national standard for how loud and obnoxious a commersial can be and still be allowed on air. There should be a standard for volume and how the sound has been processed.

On a related note, I tried out a tv show delivery service called Voddler. Good image quality, good speed, localized commersials… but unskippable, forced fullscreen, same commersials between episodes. Not worth watching on the computer. The shows themselves aren’t forced to fullscreen, but those I wouldn’t mind as much. Nice try, but legally questionable alternatives are still more convenient.

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