Ultravioleting

In recent years I have been buying, what the trade call, triple play movies, these sets contain a copy of the film on Blu-Ray, a copy on DVD and a digital copy for your mobile device. Though more expensive than just buying the Blu-Ray (or just the DVD) what I did like about it was I could watch the film on my TV and then if I wanted to watch it again I could watch it on my laptop or on my iPad.

With most of the films I bought the digital copy was in an iTunes format. This was fine with me as I already used the iTunes ecosystem for music and video.

More recently, well since December 2011, I have noticed is that the trend now is to use Ultraviolet.

UltraViolet (UV) is a digital rights authentication and cloud-based licensing system that allows users of digital home entertainment content to stream and download purchased content to multiple platforms and devices. UltraViolet adheres to a “buy once, play anywhere” approach that allows users to store digital proof-of-purchases under one account to enable playback of content that is platform- and point-of-sale-agnostic.

In theory what you do (in the UK) is sign up to Flixster and then you can redeem your Ultraviolet code and watch or download your movie.

I say “in theory” as I haven’t actually managed to do this process. The first time I signed up, I think I some how managed to sign myself up as an American. This would have been pointless as I wouldn’t have been able to access my “UK only” films. There was also no way to change your country. this is obviously to stop regional piracy. I do think that these “piracy” measures are short-sighted, as what they are actually doing is stopping me, an actual customer who has paid for the film, from watching the film; whilst the actual pirates wouldn’t even worry about such things, probably using a copy from the film studio or similar…

I have to say that is one thing that does annoy me after spending my hard earned cash on a DVD or Blu-Ray the first thing I see (and usually you can’t fast forward or skip it) is a clip telling me not to pirate films… Hello? I bought the film, I didn’t pirate it, I bought it, why tell me something I already know and do. If I pirated a film, I wouldn’t see that clip would I, so why show customers who are honest, want to watch the film, a stupid clip telling them to buy films… they did. I wouldn’t mind so much, but half the time you are “forced” to watch the clip, as they have restricted the capability to skip or fast forward the clip. Why don’t they put that clip on pirated films?

So back to Ultraviolet, so of course I tried to sign up again, and it wouldn’t let me, as I had already signed up… When I tried a different e-mail address, that didn’t work it timed out. In the end I gave up.

I think part of the problem was that I was trying to do all this on my iPad. Why the iPad, well I wanted to watch the film on the iPad.

I think the best option will be to do it all on a PC and then hopefully, if Ultraviolet will allow it, then it will let me access the films on the iPad.

3D is no more, defunct, gone, finished…

Everytime I think about writing about something which is described by others as “dead” I try to avoid it, as I seem to have gained a bit of a reputation in the edtech world as, well as I was once described as the “Grim Reaper of Education” and “it’s not dead until James Clay says it’s dead”. However I did find this article from The Verge about the death of 3D quite interesting and illuminating.

As it happens if you are looking out for a source of tech news, I do like The Verge, as well as a very nice looking site, there are a range of news and reviews, and more than just repeating press releases or what other sites have said. If you like Engadget, you will like this, if you like The Register, probably less so…

If you attended CES in the US in the last few years, you would have been bombarded with 3D images. There has been a huge focus in the cinema in 3D films, the one that most people would remember was Cameron’s Avatar, but Hugo received a fair few positive reviews. The recent released Hobbit is available in 3D and the movie companies have spent a fair bit of time and money retrofitting existing 2D films into 3D, Titanic for example!

As well as cinematic 3D, there has been a fair few marketing dollars thrown at 3D in the home, 3D HDTVs have been available for a few years now, and aren’t that much more expensive than a 2D TV. You of course need some 3D content, the BBC have experimented with 3D and Sky offer a fair bit in 3D. You could also get 3D Blu Ray discs, but you need a 3D Blu Ray player for those.

The question I would ask you, and remembering that you are reading this blog, so are probably interested in technology, do you have a 3D TV?

Are you planning to buy a 3D TV?

What was the last film you saw in 3D?

Most people I know who are “into” technology and like gadgets generally “may” watch 3D at the cinema, but they don’t have a 3D TV and won’t have a 3D camera either!

I will say that I am slightly biased in that I am not a great fan of 3D, given the choice I will take the 2D option.

3D is not a new thing that has “just arrived” it’s been around for years and every so often comes to the fore. I do remember spending good money and going to see Jaws 3D, which was a disaster of a movie and the 3D added nothing…

Cyberworld 3D

Apart from the odd experiment on TV, the next big thing I remember seeing with 3D was Cyberworld at the IMAX in Bristol. You had to wear these huge 3D glasses and the 3D only really worked if you sat in the middle of the IMAX cinema. The 3D was really only a gimmick, the film had no real story or plot. It was very much about showing off the 3D IMAX technology.

In the last few years, we have seen an explosion of 3D in the cinema. Some would say this was an attempt to make cinema, as in the cinematic experience different (well the movie companies would say better) than watching a film on your TV (or a pirated film on your laptop). However now with 3D on your TV, I can’t see this now as an unique feature that makes the cinema different to the home cinema experience. You can watch 3D at the cinema and now you can watch 3D at home.

I should say that I really like going to the cinema, and the cinematic experience is in many ways so much better and superior than watching the same film on a TV, even a big HD TV. So similarly I do understand that the 3D experience in the cinema is different to the 3D experience at home. I also can’t see the point of retrofitting 3D to films shot in 2D, this is in my opinion just a gimmick.

Toy Story 3

I have seen a few 3D films in the cinema, I saw Toy Story 3 and Tintin, though if it had been my choice I would have chosen the 2D versions. I did initially think it was very clever, but within ten minutes or so I wasn’t noticing the 3D and was just enjoying the film. When there was a 3D “moment” I found it more annoying than wow!

Tintin

So if 3D is defunct, can’t bring myself to say dead, what is the next big thing in video? Well according to the pundits who attended CES it is 4K or ultra HD as some marketing people are calling it.

As you are aware 1080p HD is four times the quality of standard definition television, 4K is around four times the quality of 1080p HD. Some say it’s like looking out of a window.

So do you prefer 3D films over 2D? Or are you looking forward to 4K? Or are you saying I prefer the radio!

Netflixing

Even though I was less than impressed with the range of films and TV shows on the new Netflix service in the UK I decided I would give the service a go (having heard good stuff about the service in the US0 and you get a free trial for a month, so it wasn’t going to cost me anything.

I left it for a few days as I expected that everyone else in the UK would be trying out the service and this would have an impact on Netflix’s servers.

So far I have watched the service on my iMac through the Safari browser, through the Apple TV and using the iPad App.

The iPad app works really well, and I have had no buffering issues, and was really pleased with the quality, which was a good as BBC iPlayer and even Home Streaming from my iTunes collection.

Netflix “appeared” on my Apple TV menu, without me needing to do anything. The navigation was fine and again streaming quality was excellent.

Through the Safari browser, most of the time it was okay, but I did have more issues than through the iPad or Apple TV. Netflix uses Silverlight and though I updated the plugin I did have a few stuttering issues. I know this wasn’t a bandwidth issue as if I streamed the same content on the iPad, it worked fine. I also found that I couldn’t interact with the video controls on the Silverlight player, so the pause button didn’t work, but the space bar did to pause the video.

Overall I was impressed with the technical side of Netflix and if I was to continue with a subscription then I know it would work with my system.

As for the content, I think I *may* be able to justify the £5.99 a month it costs, but I would expect to either see an increase in the quantity of content on the service or regular new releases. Netflix is not the place to see new stuff, but from a back catalogue perspective I do expect to be able to see more than there is in there now.

Introduction to video on your TV from your Mac

I still have a video recorder under my TV, in the main as it has a clock!

I have not used the VCR to record for over five years now, the Elgato 410 connected to my Mac is my way main method of recording TV shows.

However I much prefer watching TV on my TV than watching it on my computer.

So how do I get the recorded video from the Mac to the TV?

Over the years I have used a variety of methods, depending on need, speed, wireless connectivity, even DRM. I have used DVD-Rs, EyeHome, video streamers, PS3, Mac mini, iPod touch, iPhone, iPod, MacBook Pro… each has its advantages and disadvantages. Over the next few weeks I will be talking about, showing and explaining how and why I use all these different methods.

Picture source.

Video on the Google Nexus One

One of the nice things about the Google Nexus One is the beautiful screen which is much much nicer than the iPhone screen.

I did wonder how video would look on the device, so I copied over a video that I had encoded for the iPhone, 480 x 270 H.264 and AAC audio and was very pleased with the result. It played fine, and looked fantastic.

Pleased with the fact that not only did it look good, I didn’t need to re-encode the video from the iPhone version so that it would play on the Nexus One.

Downloading movies

iTunes Movies in the UK - hmmmm

Back in June 2008 when Apple put movies into the UK iTunes Store I had a go and didn’t have a huge success.

So my first proper attempt to get films off the iTunes Store was not a great success, ah well maybe next time.

So now over a year later, what’s the situation?

Well I am downloading a fair few movies from the iTunes Store now, buying and renting.

I do like how quick and easy it is, and sometimes how much cheaper it is too (and annoyed by how expensive it can be too).

I usually watch the movies via an iPod through the TV, as I still haven’t got round to buying an Apple TV, but then I still don’t have that HD TV to watch them on (and I am pretty sure I can’t easily connect an Apple TV to my current TV).

I will probably get an Apple TV if I get an HD TV as I would prefer to watch HD movies on an HD screen.

I was impressed with HD on the TV Shows and downloaded Lost in HD and the newest Doctor Who special in HD too.

So is everything working?

Well not really.

My ADSL is still way too slow, which means it takes hours to download a movie. Also I have a monthly bandwidth limit which means I usually plan my iTunes downloads overnight as Plusnet my ISP gives me a “free” download time between midnight and eight in the morning.

Also now and again iTunes fails to download the movie “properly”, so it downloads it again! As a result I have two versions in my iTunes library.

However despite a few minor issues I am pleased with movies and TV on the iTunes store and use it on a regular basis.

GPS on the PSP via Elgato Video Capture

Finally had a chance to try out my new Elgato Video Capture.

Elgato Video Capture

I connected a PSP to it using the PSP AV Cable and captured the use of the PSP GO!Explore.

It was very simple and easy to use. Once I had captured the movie I could either save as a Quicktime movie, send to YouTube or edit it in iMovie.

Elgato Video Capture

Having just purchased the turbo.264 HD from Elgato I have now purchased their new Video Capture device.

Elgato Video Capture

Transfer video to your Mac from a VCR, DVR, camcorder, or any other analog video device as an iTunes-ready H.264 or MPEG-4 file. Elgato Video Capture’s easy-to-use software assists you through every step, from connecting an analog video source to recording the video on your Mac and choosing how you will watch and share it.

There is no easier way to transfer home video to your Mac to play in QuickTime, to sync with an iPod, iPhone or Apple TV, to edit in iMovie, or to upload to YouTube.

I have been looking for something like this from Elgato for some time. I have a couple of Pinnacle devices for capturing video, however either they capture without a preview which is fine for most things, but not all. Or it is Windows only and this means adding extra conversion time to use the captured footage with iMovie or similar.

I use to be able to do it with my original EyeTV device, however that did not capture at a sufficient quality, but this was a fair few years ago now.

So now I have one, still in the bag at the moment.

Elgato Video Capture

Having just purchased the turbo.264 HD from Elgato, checking their website I was interested to see a new product, called Video Capture.

Elgato Video Capture

Transfer video to your Mac from a VCR, DVR, camcorder, or any other analog video device as an iTunes-ready H.264 or MPEG-4 file. Elgato Video Capture’s easy-to-use software assists you through every step, from connecting an analog video source to recording the video on your Mac and choosing how you will watch and share it.

There is no easier way to transfer home video to your Mac to play in QuickTime, to sync with an iPod, iPhone or Apple TV, to edit in iMovie, or to upload to YouTube.

I have been looking for something like this from Elgato for some time. I have a couple of Pinnacle devices for capturing video, however either they capture without a preview which is fine for most things, but not all. Or it is Windows only and this means adding extra conversion time to use the captured footage with iMovie or similar.

I use to be able to do it with my original EyeTV device, however that did not capture at a sufficient quality, but this was a fair few years ago now.

So I am going to get myself one.