Instagram TV has a chance to change the Movie Industry

Instagram just launched a new feature (which could also be considered its own platform) named “IGTV” or “Instagram TV”. It’s their take on long-form content. Initially, it appears content is tailored for vertical video, but it is possible to watch in a standard landscape orientation — albeit with some tweaks required from the content creator (more on that later).

It’s no secret that I have been harsh on Instagram over the years. I bawked and bawked about being limited to square videos in regular posts (vs. the relatively recent addition of Stories). I whined and whined about Stories cropping landscape videos/photos uploaded from the camera roll, and their ephemerial nature. Both gripes have since been solved. Hooray! I suspect IGTV will inevitably allow the upload of landscape videos without cropping them to a portrait orientation.

Yes, sometimes I enjoy watching Instagram Stories in a vertical orientation. Usually when I’m quickly skimming through a handful of stories while waiting for a video to export or a bus to arrive. That said, unless I’m watching a show about ladders or giraffes, I’m not going to spend 20-40 minutes watching a vertical video. The first channel I saw on IGTV was natgeo. They have a show called “One Strange Rock: Home“. The first 3 minutes were compelling enough for me to want to watch more, but I’m frustrated by it not being in landscape. One Strange Rock. Rocks. Land. Landscape.

Thankfully, some creators I highly respect have placed snarky responses to IGTV’s vertical video limitations. First, I saw that Philip Bloom uploaded a video (https://instagram.com/tv/BkTKKUJnCkI) to IGTV in landscape orientation. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Then I realised he had edited the video to be rotated 90º and exported it in a 9:16 orientation. I do not appreciate the extra work these platforms make content creators do (i.e., pan and scan*) just to get our content to be displayed as it was recorded. It would take less than a week of development for the Instagram team to add a feature that allows videos to be rotated 90º/-90º. But, why bother when they could just display videos in the orientation they’re uploaded? Kraig Adams uploaded an iPhone screen recording of his YouTube channel and titled it “How to not use IGTV“. Hilarious! He did mention in the caption that he is excited to start making native content for IGTV though. Justine posted a tweet that simply reads “Vertical video 🤦🏼‍♀️” and has a vertical version of one of her recent YouTube videos. The replies to her were mostly against the idea of vertical video. These are her fans, but they also appear to be creators who know what they’re talking about.

While the public doesn’t yet know what the monetisation options will be for IGTV, I think this will be a great opportunity for Instagram to encourage other platforms to set standardised practices for international content distribution. In other words, being hindered from watching Australian content (usually the limitations are only on mainstream content — not YouTubers) within the United States’ geopolitical borders — and vice versa — is frustrating and outdated. If Instagram can lead others to distribute their content globally, then I think this will be a huge benefit for customers and the creators. Everyone is well aware of the lack of borders on the internet. Seeing “This content is not available in your country” is jarring. It leads people to go and steal the content through nefarious methods. Even with that awareness, production and distribution companies aren’t always able to agree on pricing to have content delivered globally. IGTV can and should pave a way forward for standardised pricing. Here’s are two examples of how that could work:

Chris Lilley (Australian director/producer) creates a new TV series.

      • The production company partners with an Australian distribution channel to get it on TV and online streaming channels.
      • Depending on global partnerships, the Australian distribution channel could charge 12% for every partner that wants to license the show in their country.
      • If their partner in that country doesn’t want the show, then it goes to an open market — not to the highest bidder. In theory, every channel/service in that country could distribute the show, but that would hinder competition between them.

Ricky Gervais (British director/producer) creates a new TV series.

        • The production company launches it on their YouTube, IGTV, Netflix, and Facebook channels with no global restrictions. (At minimum, they should have closed captions for countries which don’t have the native language of the show.)
        • The show (or movie) is ~$10 to watch the entire season, or included with the platform’s subscription membership (typically less than $10/mo).
        • To market the show (something the distribution channel usually does), they can target specific audiences on Google AdWords and Facebook Ads. This will likely gain them a larger (trackable) audience than traditional platforms like television.
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Lastly, while most content is viewed on mobile phones and tablets, many people still enjoy longform (movies, TV shows, etc.) content on a larger screen. Personally, I prefer watching anything on YouTube on my laptop; if I see something interesting on my phone, I’ll move over to my laptop to view it. IGTV being limited to phones (Instagram still doesn’t have a good tablet experience) will hinder most of what I’ve described here. It won’t be able to compete with Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube Red if it’s not available on all platforms.

Further reading

DKTHINKS – Siri in AppleTV

I don’t pay close attention to technology rumour mills. Apple rumours that get a lot of hype eventually reach my radar, but I don’t enjoy following something that has the potential to be completely fabricated just to get a few views on a blog/site. I do like to make predictions. Almost any prediction anyone makes it bound to come to fruition… some day. Although, some predictions are more logical than others.

There have been rumours and predictions in recent months regarding the future of Apple TV, and how it will contain Siri sooner rather than later. I don’t think any of these predictions have much thought or imagination put into them though. Hence, here’s mine.

A few things to note: When I refer to “record” I also mean access/download the episode/movie after it has gone live to air. This may be by auto-purchasing the media via iTunes, or adding it to your Hulu/YouTube queue (whichever is the cheaper/better/faster option). “Siri” is referred to when commanding the Apple TV to perform a function (record, play, save, download, brightness, etc.). “Apple TV” is the device/software that records, performs functions, and commands the television to perform its respective functions. That said, “Siri” and “Apple TV” could be used interchangeably.

Siri in Apple TV

This one is obvious: You’ll be able to speak commands to your Apple TV — even if you’re not near your Apple TV. Siri will be in all your devices (iPhone, iPad, MacBook, etc.), so you’ll just need to tell her what you’d like to do with your Apple TV:

  • Record a show/movie — Siri will have access to an EPG which is updated every 30 seconds. If a live show or sports event runs overtime (cutting into your program), then Siri will be able to adapt and record the show at the accurate time, and, more importantly, stop the recording when the show is over (not when it was originally scheduled to finish). Also integrating media fingerprint recognition technology (e.g., Soundprint, Gracenote) into the recorder/system would allow Apple TV to know when the show is actually over. The combination of this accurate EPG and media fingerprint recognition would result in 100% successful viewings and recordings. If you choose to watch a show ‘live to air’, and it’s not going to air at the scheduled time, then Siri would notify you via any communication method you choose (e.g., call, SMS, push notification, email, etc.).
  • Controlling volume — Not only will you be able to increase or decrease the volume of the television, but Siri will always be sensing (microphone, motion sensor, ambient light sensor, etc.) what you’re doing. First, advertisements (if any) will be the same volume as the content you’re watching. Second, if you walk out of the room, then Siri will pause the show and cue it back to where you left off by rewinding a few seconds. Third, if you receive a phone call or SMS, then Siri will pause the show and display it on the TV screen. Contacts you frequently communicate with will receive priority over others or unknown callers. In other words, some calls may be forced directly to voicemail if you choose to not be disturbed while watching a show/movie. Of course, all of these options can be configured ON/OFF in the settings menu of Apple TV.

Your iPhone/iPad is Apple TV

  • Eventually, Apple TV will no longer be a standalone device. It will be integrated in to all iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, etc.). Thus, you’ll be able to use Apple TV on any TV — no matter where you are (home, friend’s house, hotel, tech conference). This will be exceptionally great if you’re in a foreign hotel and you don’t know which channel has the show/movie you’d like to watch. Hotels are notorious for having such poor user interfaces (TV and remote control) because they choose to lock down what you are able to do with the television. Apple TV could fix all this.
  • You will be able to connect your various media check-in apps (e.g., GetGlue, IntoNow, SideReel, Tunerfish, etc.), and Siri will pull data from them in order to know your viewing habits, likes, episodes/shows you have/haven’t watched, and so on.

Siri and Apple TV know where you are

You will be able to program Apple TV to switch on your television when a show/movie is about to go live to air. If you’re home, and unable to watch the show/movie at that time, then you’ll be able to command Siri to “wait [n minutes/hours]”. Siri will turn off the display and/or mute the volume until that time comes around. Additionally, Siri will know where you are thanks to apps like Foursquare, Google Latitude, and Find My Friends. If you’re not home at the time a show is scheduled to air (and subsequently turn your TV on), then it will not turn on, and it will record the show instead. Your calendar will also be involved in this decision making process. If you’re scheduled to be away at an event (e.g., South by Southwest), then your Apple TV will never turn on your TV during that time, and it will record the shows instead.

I’ve been referring to Apple’s Apple TV throughout this prediction, but Google (and others; less likely) could just as easily create a similar product that is just as intuitive and forward-thinking. We will see.

Johnny Cupcakes TinyChat

A few nights ago Johnny tweeted that he was on Tinychat again. After being unable to join the first couple of times he and Pasquale had tweeted about it, I decided to pop in. I made a whole bunch of new JC friends and we all ended up brushing our teeth together. Lots of fun!

You should join us next time and become a JC fan!

Australian Adventures with Rachel

As many of you know, I flew back to Australia at the end of June in 2009. My return flight was only valid for a year, so it was my plan to spend some quality time with my family before uprooting my Australian life and moving to the USA.

Unbeknownst to me, Rachel flew down to Australia not much more than a month after I returned. Well, I had a hinkering something was going on because her best friend tweeted (proof of tweet no longer available) confusion when Rachel said/tweeted that they were going camping together. Nevertheless, Rachel surprised me at Pancakes on the Rocks (one of my favourite places to eat) after my mom and sister picked her up from the airport.

Since it was Rachel’s first time to Sydney (and Australia) I aimed to show her all the glorious places (some touristy, and some hidden gems) my home city has to offer. First, I took her on a walk down a bush trail called the Cascades Track. At the bottom a couple of rivers/streams converge in to one. It’s great for photography, and on a sunny day you’d be lucky to see more than ten people during the whole walk.

Shrubbery HDR by Rachel Mayo on FlickrCreek HDR by Rachel Mayo on Flickr

The Royal Botanic Gardens is situated right next to the Sydney Opera House (and the hustle and bustle of the city) and yet the gardens are very tranquil — another great place for photography. At sunset you’ll see thousands of bats flying around and hanging in the tall trees here.

Bats by Rachel Mayo on FlickrFurther Entrance by Rachel Mayo on Flickr

Watching the sunset while standing on the edge of a cliff is quite romantic. Please excuse the powerlines, hun. 😛

An Australian visit isn’t complete unless you do some acting on Home & Away. In winter. In a bikini. On the beach. At 6am. Trust me, these memories are great! (And you make some descent mulah to spend at POTR; full circle.)

That’s all the content I have online from Rachel’s adventure to Sydney. If I find some other sweet pieces of media, then I’ll update this post. 🙂

Katy Perry’s Firework inspired this

Katy Perry recently launched the music video for her single “Firework”. I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of Katy Perry, but Rachel sure is. I don’t know Katy Perry; I don’t know much about her; I don’t know how much of her music is her work; or how much is the work of the music label(s) and other money-making producers. What I do know is that the message behind/in this video is powerful.

“Firework” is probably one of the most important songs compared to Katy’s other music/videos. I mean, “I Kissed A Girl” is a fairly pointless song. Albeit, popular because it was catchy in 2008. When it was popular, I remember hearing girls as young as 5 singing along to it. That appalled me. Not because it was about two girls kissing (children should learn about as much of the world and various cultures as soon as they can), but because they had listened to the song enough times to know the lyrics — at least the chorus, anyway. Exposing children to top 40 music is a story for another day though…

I’ve always been considered ‘different’. Throughout all levels of education I’ve had little quirks which made me different:

  • In primary school I tried to convince my classmates I was from a different planet. I also enjoyed exploring the school grounds rather than playing sports or other games kids play.
  • In high school I carried around a camera to parties rather than a case of beer. I have far too much footage of intoxicated teens.
  • In college I fit in pretty great because everyone in my course enjoyed what they were doing — Digital Media. However, most of them chose to hang out at bars or clubs (places I had lost interest in) on the weekends.

I’m not gay; I don’t have any physical or mental ailments; I’m not a nudist. But I am different. I don’t drink alcoholic beverages and I don’t take non-prescription drugs. (Heck, I don’t take prescription drugs unless it’s absolutely vital to my well-being.) Also, a lot of my beliefs and actions in life are fundamentally different to those of my peers.

I like to make a fool of myself. I like to go on adventures. I like to play in childrens’ playgrounds.

My differences are extremely minor compared to the differences that many other people (like those portrayed in “Firework”) in the world deal with on a daily basis, but I still feel I know how those people feel (to some extent). It’s hard. It’s a constant struggle to not conform with mainstream actions and beliefs. Even with such struggles, I wouldn’t want to live any other way.

It’s easy to live under mainstream principles. It’s easy to pick on those that are different. It’s easy to hurt someone’s feelings and make them feel all alone.

I know I picked on people in primary school and high school. I was nothing like the traditional “bully” you see portrayed on television, but I know I’ve directly bullied one or two people in my life. It wasn’t through violence, but it was bullying.

I’ve been bullied too. Far more than I realised — now that I think about it. Physically, emotionally, mentally. I guess I’ve purged most of it from my mind, but I’m sure such experiences helped me grow as a person. Though, I wouldn’t wish some of the experiences on anyone.

In addition to Katy’s “Firework”, another example of mainstream media displaying young people with immense courage is “Glee”. In Season 2 the character Shannon/Coach Beiste (a.k.a. “Beast”) was introduced. To explain this in the best way possible, I’m going to hand you over to Wikipedia for a moment:

In “Never Been Kissed“, the boys (and Tina) from the glee club use mental images of Beiste in a compromising position to “cool themselves off” when it gets too hot and heavy with their girlfriends. Beiste finds out and decides to quit. Will talks to her and learns that Beiste has never been kissed, which leads to him giving her a first kiss.

Bullying of a teacher has occurred in front of my eyes, yet I didn’t do anything to stop it. That’s not the kind of situation anyone (teacher or student) should be, but I hope a human being in 2010 would  have the willpower to put it to a stop. If we want to advance the world to a future of greatness, then we need to put our petty differences aside and work together.

I’ve embedded Katy Perry’s “Firework” music video below, as well as a 6-minute ‘making of’ video, followed by a 20-minute ‘making of’ video.

Katy Perry – Firework / 3:54

The making of Firework / 6:18

The making of Firework / 21:02
Mostly different footage than what’s in the shorter version.

Are you inspired now? Are you going to stand up for yourself and be proud to be different? Tell me your stories in the comments.

Friendship & Communication

It appears that sometimes being friends with people can be difficult for some. More people need to communicate with their friends and family frequently.

Excessive communication is better than little or no communication.

Here’s a video with more of my thoughts about this topic:

Do you fail at communication? Have tools like Skype increased your communication with friends and family? Share your thoughts below.

Tip: Parking a car safely

I’ve always said if I ever buy/own a car then I will take impeccable care of it because it’s an extremely expensive piece of machinery and I don’t want to be wasting my money making unnecessary fixes on it.

Parking your car might seem like a trivial thing to do, but choosing a good parking spot could be the difference between your pristine car and a dent in your car.

A few things to pay attention to when parking are:

  • Parking under a tree.
    They can be great for shade and keeping your car cool, but keep an eye out for sap and other oils that could be dripping from the tree along with any birds in the tree. Sap, oil, and bird droppings will damage the paint and could remove sections of it completely — exposing the metal frame to the elements and eventually rust.
  • Don’t park next to oversize vehicles.
    The drivers of large pickup trucks, semi trailers, and construction vehicles will most likely need lots of room to exit their parking space. You don’t want your car to be nearby when they attempt to do that. Also, these vehicles have large heavy doors and could easily open wide and dent your car.
  • Don’t center park on a hill.
    As visually described in my video, leave more of a gap between the car that’s higher on the hill than your car. This way, if they lose grip on their door when it opens, then it will be less likely the door will swing wide and dent your car.
  • Park farther away from your venue/destination if it means your car will be safer.
    Being lazy and parking as close to the place your going by taking a parking space on the street rather than in a secure parking lot can result in scratches from cars driving by. For example, they could drive over a rock and fling it along the side of your car.

In the end, you can’t prevent all scratches, dents, and other mishaps unless you just don’t drive your car — which is the point of owning it.

This is just some advice for looking after your car a little better when you need to park it.

If you have any of your own tips, then please leave them in a video comment or a text comment below.