The world’s most innovative animation and game companies have just put their video software in your hands.
The world’s most innovative animation and game companies have just put their video software in your hands.
If you worked at Valve, the videogame company that brought you Half-Life and Portal, you wouldn’t get a title, a boss, or a pre-defined department (or even team). What you would get is a job with perhaps the most innovative company in the industry today.
Studies suggest 3 million jobs are still open if you have the skills, and some companies are even willing to train you on the job. This sneak peak at Valve’s employee handbook tells you what they expect of their employees, from peer reviews to T-shaped people.
It’s been a mixed season for copyright champions and opponents. On the side of copyright maximalism are the Supreme Court’s upholding 6-figure filesharing fines and the revelation that astronomer Carl Sagan had to get copyrights before beaming songs into space.
There are some really compelling demonstrations out there that showcase the use of video in conjunction with WebGL and other modern web standards. For example, the spinnjng cube at webkit.org and video shader demo from the 3 Dreams of Black interactive film give you a taste of what’s possible when Web pages go 3d.
Three-dimensional effects don’t yet work in every browser, however. Some have been hard-coded to work only in Chrome or Safari, though Firefox should support them soon.
Confused? Help is on the way.
A new website helps web developers decipher the often confusing world of HTML5 and CSS 3. Which elements are ready to use? Which are still not widely supported? And where can you find polyfills and fallbacks for older browsers? HTML5 Please has your answers.
For many developers, the best thjng about HTML5 is that it will drastically simplify the now byzantine process of adding video and audio to a Web page. Here’s a report just on exactly where it’s safe to use this new technique:
For a very thorough rundown of exactly where and how well HTML5 video works on the web right now, check out the excellent report on the state of HTML5 video from Long Tail Video. Put together by the makers of JW Player, an HTML5 video player toolkit, the state of HTML5 video report is mercifully free of any evangelism for any particular technology. Instead it offers a level-headed look at reality, answering the basic questions — where can you use HTML5 video? How well will it work for users? And when will you need Flash fallbacks?
Firefox 10 now has a suite of sophisticated developer tools baked in–though my early tests suggest that its popular add-on Firebug remains the best debugger in the business.
Mozilla has released Firefox 10, which features new and improved tools for web developers as well as more support for emerging web standards.
One problem that Mozilla hasn’t solved is less technical than philosophical: whether to add DRM to an open video standard so Netflix et al. will adopt it.
“The problem is that some big content providers insist on onerous DRM that necessarily violates some of our open web principles (such as web content being equally usable on any platform, based on royalty-free standards, and those standards being implementable in free software),” O’Callahan wrote. “We will probably get into a situation where web video distributors will be desperate for an in-browser strong DRM solution ASAP, and most browser vendors (who don’t care all that much about those principles) will step up to give them whatever they want, leaving Mozilla in another difficult position. I wish I could see a reasonable solution, but right now I can’t. It seems even harder than the codec problem.”
Hollywood’s resort to draconian tactics like SOPA may have cost them the moral high ground.
Venture capitalist Paul Graham is already looking to fund Hollywood’s successors.
Hollywood appears to have peaked. If it were an ordinary industry (film cameras, say, or typewriters), it could look forward to a couple decades of peaceful decline. But this is not an ordinary industry. The people who run it are so mean and so politically connected that they could do a lot of damage to civil liberties and the world economy on the way down. It would therefore be a good thing if competitors hastened their demise.
That’s one reason we want to fund startups that will compete with movies and TV….
Fortunately those successors can take advantage of technical infrastructure like the Cloud, as the chief creative officer of a small digital arts company attests.
After turning to Amazon’s Elastic Cloud Computing service for the first time to finish animation under tight deadline, [John McNeil] was impressed by how it would let him compete with bigger studios. He said, ‘Cloud computing is the first truly democratic, accessible technology that potentially gives everyone a supercomputer…it’s a game changer. I could never compete or be able to deliver something at the level of a Pixar or a Disney, given what I have at my disposal inside the walls of the studio,’ McNeil said. ‘But if I factor in the cloud, all of a sudden I can go there. And then the limitations of whether or not I can deliver something great will be on my own talent and the talent of the people that are part of the studio.’”
Meanwhile, an admission from the horse’s mouth: the movie industry’s real worry is not piracy but the loss of control.
“Miramax CEO Mike Lang has admitted to what we all suspected. The biggest worry is a distribution monopoly, not piracy. They saw what happened to the music industry with iTunes, and vowed to not lose control and be at the mercy of Apple or whoever becomes the dominant distributor. From the article: ‘Lang, whose company today debuts the Blu-Ray version of the cult classic Pulp Fiction, emphasized that people don’t necessarily want to pirate, as long as they get what they want. “Innovate or die,” should be the motive of entertainment industry companies, where it’s key to listen to customers.’”
Gabe Newell, chief of the company that brought you Half Life and Portal (and former classmate of mine, hi Gabe!), finds a comparable misunderstanding in gaming:
“In general, we [at Valve] think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem. For example, if a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the U.S. release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate’s service is more valuable. Most DRM solutions diminish the value of the product by either directly restricting a customers use or by creating uncertainty.”
One game company is taking control of this…loss of control?
“Indie game company tinyBuild Games, who released a platformer called No Time To Explain recently, uploaded their own game to the Pirate Bay. However, there’s a key difference between the game they uploaded and the version you can purchase: the game characters wear pirate hats, and everything else has a pirate theme. One of the company’s founders, Alex Nichiporchik, said, ‘[S]ome people are going to torrent it either way, we might as well make something funny out of it. … You can’t really stop piracy, all you can do is make it work for you and/or provide something that people actually want to pay for. For us this is humor, we like making people laugh.’”
Mompreneurs look to family life for product inspiration. And maybe Steve Jobs did too.
The rise of “mompreneurs” has been helped by the rise of Internet and social media, which allow child-raising women to exchange ideas without having to leave the house….
“In many households, moms are the chief buyers. And in the new millennium, if they can’t find what you need, they just invent it themselves.”
THAT was true for Ms. Monosoff, who couldn’t figure out how to stop her 8-month-old daughter from unrolling all of the toilet paper and stuffing it down the toilet. “I was like, ‘O.K., where’s the gadget?’ ” Ms. Monosoff recalls. “I was trying to figure out how to design something like that, but I really had no experience. Then I was buying shampoo at a beauty supply store, and I saw a hair permanent rod, that little roller thing, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that might work!’ ”
She worked on a rough prototype of what would become the “TP Saver.” The basic concept is that a small, plastic rod — that grown-ups can lock into place — keeps the toilet paper from unspooling.
(This mom ends up a commercial success–though one hopes other moms would question whether we really need more gadgets manufactured in China.)
Steve Jobs was renowned for his attention to design detail, calling Google’s senior vice president for engineering one Sunday morning with the urgent message that, “The second O in Google doesn’t have the right yellow gradient.”
It turns out one of Apple’s most “human” design features was also Jobs’ idea. If you’ve ever watched a loved one sleeping, you know why that rhythm is so compelling.
But the greatest example of Mr. Jobs’s attention to detail and design can be found in the little millimeter-sized glowing light that appears on every MacBook Laptop. The light, known as a sleep indicator, glows when the laptop is closed, or sleeping. Competing laptops have this feature too, but Apple’s is different.
The Mac sleep indicator is timed to glow at the average breathing rate of an adult: 12 breaths per minute. As with the space between typographic letter on the Macintosh, only Mr. Jobs could pay attention to such detail.
One author in the New York Times argues that those who run our government should take a cue from Jobs’ focus on the human scale.
After all, if you wanted to really get a picture of how the national culture has evolved in the last few decades, particularly in the urban areas that drive economic growth, you could do a lot worse than to study Apple’s string of innovations. Mr. Jobs understood, intuitively, that Americans were breaking away from the last era’s large institutions and centralized decision-making, that technology would free them from traditional workplaces and the limits of a physical marketplace.
This was the underlying point of “think different” — that our choices were no longer dictated by the whims of huge companies or the offerings at the local mall. This was the point of a computer that enabled you to customize virtually every setting, no matter how inconsequential, so that no two users had the exact same experience. This was the essential insight behind devices driven by a universe of new apps, downloaded in seconds depending on your lifestyle and interests.
At the same time, while Mr. Jobs saw a society moving inexorably toward individual choice, he also seemed to understand that such individuality breeds detachment and confusion. And so Apple sought to fill that vacuum by making itself into more than a manufacturer; it became a kind of community, too, with storefronts and stickers and a membership that enabled you to get your e-mail, or video-conference with your friends, or post a Web page of your vacation photos.
How long before the Occupy line of cosmetics hits Bloomingdales?
This project reminds me of a Heath Bunting proposal to paint anamorphic pictures of people on the ground in front of security cameras to confuse their operators.
“A New York-based designer has created a camouflage technique that makes it much harder for computer based facial recognition. Along with the growth of closed circuit television (CCTV) , this has become quite a concern for many around the world, especially in the UK where being on camera is simply a part of city life. Being recognized automatically by computer is something that hearkens back to 1984 or A Scanner Darkly. As we move further into the 21st century, this futuristic techno-horror fiction is seeming more and more accurate. Never fear though people, CV Dazzle has some styling and makeup ideas that will make you invisible to facial recognition cameras. Why the ‘fabulous’ name? It comes from World War I warship paint that used stark geometric patterning to help break up the obvious outline of the vessel. Apparently it all began as a thesis at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University. It addressed the problems with traditional techniques of hiding the face, like masks and sunglasses and looked into more socially and legally acceptable ways of styling that could prevent a computer from recognizing your face. Fans of Assassin’s Creed might feel a bit at home with this, as it’s all about hiding in plain sight.”
Meanwhile, for those times when you want to get your face out on your terms, protestors have taken to occupying the sky.
Meet the Occu-Copter. The live-streaming media stars of the Occupy movement are using cheap technology to provide streaming coverage of protest events from the air – challenging the big budgets of mainstream TV news stations.
Wired showcases some stop-motion shorts that break the rules, including Filmmaker Tomas Mankovsky’s “Sorry I’m Late,” which plays with uses a camera on the ceiling pointed at the floor to weave objects near and far into a rambunctious narrative.
Imagine an apartment where kitchen waste provides electricity, your interactive bathroom mirror helps prevent disease, and mushrooms in your composter devour plastic bags.
If you call yourself a twenty-first century design student, you should be studying this.
This is a pretty cool product that allows users to very quickly create website and moblile phone mockups. It uses a very simple drag-and-drop interface. The actual product is $79, but I used this free demo to create the mockups I wanted, then I took screen shots of them.
I think this is a fantastic idea, really useful and would be utilized effectively by so many people.
Lay down some trippy tunes with a $1 Moog while the offer lasts. Plus, Sim City meets music looper in the addictive Isle of Tune.
This vintage-looking virtual instrument resembles Zoran Djuranovic’s New Media capstone from last year.
The Animoog takes the familiar, spaced-out sound profile Moog is famous for and warps it, using the iPad’s multi-touch interface and some very cool animated visualizations to create a unique instrument. It’s simple enough for anyone to play, but also deep enough to encourage extended experimentation. On top of that accomplishment, the Animoog is just about the trippiest sound-thing available for the iPad.
The app debuts in the App Store this week for an introductory price of $1. After a short while, it will go up to $30. If you’re at all interested in making music on your iPad, you should download this and start playing with it….
The musical instruments company, founded by electronics pioneer Bob Moog in the 1950s, makes keyboards that sell for thousands of dollars and are used in studios and on stages by the biggest names in rock and pop. Radiohead, Rush, Air, Stevie Wonder — they’re all Moog devotees.
Back in the 1990s there was a grid-based looper called Absolut DJ. Musicians like DJ Spooky would add arrows and other symbols to the matrix, steering the music around like virtual traffic cops. That site is long gone, but this sounds like a worthy successor.
We haven’t seen anything remotely like Isle of Tune for iPad, which was released Friday, with the exception of the web-based Isle of Tune, which impressed us late last year with its utterly unique approach to songsmithery.
Both apps let you draw roads, populate them with houses and trees to indicate beats and notes, and then activate the whole thing with cars that drive down the streets in predictable patterns, “playing” each thing they drive past.
And speaking of New Media capstones, this throwable camera is reminiscent of Jesse Melanson’s Club Ball capstone.
Jonas Pfeil, a student from the Technical University of Berlin, has created a rugged, grapefruit-sized ball that has 36 fixed-focus, 2-megapixel digital camera sensors built in. The user simply throws the ball into the air and photos are simultaneously taken with all 36 cameras to create a full, spherical panorama of the surrounding scene. The ball itself is made with a 3D printer, and the innards (which includes 36 STM VS6724 CMOS camera sensors, an accelerometer, and two microcontrollers to control the cameras) are adequately padded, so presumably it doesn’t matter if you’re bad at throwing and catching.
According to Richard Florida, readily available digital tools like Firefox and Final Cut were supposed to empower artists, designers, and other “creatives” to steer the world’s future in a 21st-century Creative Economy. So why aren’t we all employed in creative industries by now?
It’s easy to point to the usual suspects like job outsourcing to China and Wall Street fat cats. But it is also true that some creative economies are thriving–even in epicenters of economic recession such as Greece–but they are organized around barter and free software rather than dollars or drachma.
Motion capture used to require actors and stunt artists to perform in a controlled studio. This radically different approach can capture a child swinging on monkeybars in a playground or a figure skater performing in an ice rink.
“Traditional motion capture techniques use cameras to meticulously record the movements of actors inside studios, enabling those movements to be translated into digital models. But by turning the cameras around — mounting almost two dozen, outward-facing cameras on the actors themselves — scientists at Disney Research Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University have shown that motion capture can occur almost anywhere — in natural environments, over large areas, and outdoors
Thought up a foldable power-cord or a new device for straining pasta? Pitch it to “social product-development” Web site Quirky, where crowdsourcing meets professionals.
Now if only Quirky didn’t outsource its manufacturing to China. Maybe someone could launch a site that connects local ideas to local fabricators. (Any of your neighbors have 3D printers…?)
“Quirky was based on my realization of how hard it is to find a manufacturer, get financing (and) know all the disciplines like industrial design, mechanical engineering, prototyping, merchandising, retail logistics,” [Ben] Kaufman, 24, told Wired.com by phone. “All these things need to come together just to push one little product out into the real world. Basically, if you have the right idea, we’ll do all the heavy lifting to make the idea you have in your head see the light of day.”
The Bieber Shaver is only one of the works by the artist-hackers of F.A.T. Lab, which also include a fake Google Street Views car and the QR Stenciler mentioned previously on NMDnet.
As new laws force ISPs to become copyright cops, the ramifications of intellectual property in the digital age just get more and more absurd.
Anti-Piracy Lawyers Accuse Blind Man of Downloading Films
“As the mass-lawsuits against BitTorrent users in the United States drag on, detail on the collateral damage this extortion-like scheme is costing becomes clear. It is likely that thousands of people have been wrongfully accused of sharing copyrighted material, yet they see no other option than to pay up. One of the cases that stands out is that of a California man who’s incapable of watching the adult film he is accused of sharing because he is legally blind.”
Maybe he just liked the music?
Can a Monkey Get a Copyright & Issue a Takedown?
“Last week, the Daily Mail published a story about some monkeys in Indonesia who happened upon a camera and took some photos of themselves. The photos are quite cute. However, Techdirt noticed that the photos had copyright notices on them, and started a discussion over who actually held the copyright in question, noting that, if anyone did, the monkeys had the best claim, and certainly not the photographer. Yet, the news agency who claimed copyright issued a takedown to Techdirt! When presented with the point that it’s unlikely the news agency could hold a legitimate copyright, the agency told Techdirt it didn’t matter. Techdirt claims that using the photos for such a discussion is a clear case of fair use, an argument which has so far been ignored.”
“Dice Age,” sounds like…?
Dice Age — Indie Gaming Project vs. Hollywood
“Dice Age, a independent game project that raised nearly $35K through Kickstarter, is apparently facing some scrutiny from a certain movie studio that has produced movies with a similar name. From the latest project update: ‘As if the Ice Age was exclusively the name of a movie, or if Dice Age was a movie itself, the 20th century fox has just asked for an extent of time (till 10-26-2011) to oppose to the registering of our beloved Dice Age game name. My point of view, as a scientist, is the Ice age is a geological era before it is a movie.”"
Wendy Seltzer is an ace cyberlawyer who’s worked with Still Water to craft more enlightened forms of intellectual property law.
ISPs Will Now Be Copyright Cops
“Wendy Seltzer, Fellow at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy, talks about the new plan by ISPs and content providers to ‘crack down on what users can do with their internet connections’ using a 6-step warning system to curb online copyright infringement.”
Looks like six is the new three:
“American Internet users, get ready for three strikes^W^W ‘six strikes.’ Major US Internet providers — including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Cablevision, and Time Warner Cable — have just signed on to a voluntary agreement with the movie and music businesses to crack down on online copyright infringers. But they will protect subscriber privacy and they won’t filter or monitor their own networks for infringement. And after the sixth ‘strike,’ you won’t necessarily be ‘out.’” It’s not suspicious at all that most of the ISPs signing on for this are owned by or own media companies.
On the pro-sharing front:
A federal judge ruled Monday that publishing an entire article without the rights holder’s authorization was a fair use of the work, in yet another blow to newspaper copyright troll Righthaven. It’s not often that republishing an entire work without permission is deemed fair use.
A federal judge backed the music storage-locker business model Monday while ruling that companies may develop services that store their customers’ songs in the cloud. The closely watched case brought by EMI against MP3tunes comes as Amazon and Google recently launched similar services without the music labels’ consent. Apple is expected to launch a cloud-storage service… http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/XGIJztQaOPw/
Who knew? Maybe the Pirate Bay should start an ecommerce site called Arrrrmazon.com.
Suppressed Report Shows Pirates Are Good Customers
“The movie and music industry think pirates are criminals and parasites who cost both industries billions of dollars in lost sales. In order to prove this fact a number of studies have been commissioned to help demonstrate the effect a pirate has on sales of entertainment. GfK Group is one of the largest market research companies in the world and is often used by the movie industry to carry out research and studies into piracy. Talking to a source within GfK who wished to remain anonymous, Telepolis found that a recent study looking at pirates and their purchasing activities found them to be almost the complete opposite of the criminal parasites the entertainment industry want them to be. The study states that it is much more typical for a pirate to download an illegal copy of a movie to try it before purchasing. They are also found to purchase more DVDs than the average consumer, and they visit the movie theater more, especially for opening weekend releases which typically cost more to attend.”
Flickr FTW; Facebook WTF.
The Flickr circles you draw on your map are refreshingly intuitive.
Flickr, the granddaddy of online photo sharing, has introduced some refreshingly simple privacy controls designed to limit who can see where your photos were taken. Facebook, please start your photocopiers.
Sadly, Facebook seems to have botched its approach to privacy yet again.
Blogger Dan Tynan was one of the recipients of the new privacy controls that Facebook promised last week. The bad news: They still don’t work, and may even be worse than before. ‘Using Facebook’s new improved privacy controls, you can tag someone else in photo and then keep them from seeing it,’ says Tynan. ‘It’s pretty simple; just change the sharing option so they don’t see what you posted. So if you want to tag a picture of some jerk with your friend’s name on it and make it Public, everyone on Facebook will be able to see it except one — the person whose name is on it.
A bunch of anarchist hackers, the Graffiti Research Lab, and an entrepreneur named Mick Ebeling hack together an eye-tracking device that enables a paralyzed former graffiti artist to draw on the parking lot outside his hospital window.
The nerve disease ALS left graffiti artist TEMPT paralyzed from head to toe, forced to communicate blink by blink. In a remarkable talk at TEDActive, entrepreneur Mick Ebeling shares how he and a team of collaborators built an open-source invention that gave the artist — and gives others in his circumstance — the means to make art again.
On the occasion of his retiring, Apple’s CEO is being hailed as the “recombinant mash-up” innovator par excellence.
The New York Times quotes innovation consultant John Kao as summing up the essence of Steve Jobs’ creative achievements as “recombinant mash-ups”–products like the iPhone that remix elements of existing technologies in new ways.
Wired, meanwhile, contrasts Jobs’ artsy inclinations with the engineering bent of his rivals Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.
What is the secret to Apple’s success? After introducing the iPad 2 in March, Steve Jobs gave one answer:
“It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing — and nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices….”
Without Jobs, Apple’s only missing piece is the role he unofficially filled for years: Chief Advocate for Media, Humanities and Liberal Arts. If that sounds trivial, remember this: at several key points in its history, Jobs’ skill in this role saved and transformed the company.
Jobs famously isn’t a trained programmer, engineer or MBA, or even a wünderkind dropout steeped in any of those fields like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. (The New York Times even did a discussion panel earlier this year titled “Career Counselor: Bill Gates or Steve Jobs?” contrasting the two founders’ engineering vs liberal arts approach to education….)
Apple’s unique success with the iTunes store shows that “technology married with the liberal arts” is not just an issue of making devices that look pretty and are easy to use. User-centered design is a huge component of what Apple does and why it and other companies have been successful in the consumer market. But it’s also a question of being able to translate between technology, media and creative industries. This ability is what delivers key partnerships; this ability is what allows technology companies to build platforms.