Thursday, November 25, 2010

TV and Movies

We like TV and we like Movies. Regardless of how they are ultimately consumed, those terms describe the two major classes of moving picture entertainment with marketplace value. There are a host of other possible terms that come up short or give the wrong impression. The future of entertainment driving the Novacut vision is linked not to "video" but entertainment that rivals traditional notions of TV and Movies - content emerging thanks to radical developments eliminating traditional and substantial barriers for aspiring artists.

Not video
Novacut does not dream of the day when you can finally monetize that great clip of your cat in a birthday hat or your buddy falling off a skateboard. We are excited by artists who are for the first time able to tell stories in the medium of moving pictures with quality on par with what you watch on TV or rent on DVD. Ubiquitous video devices have driven an explosion in user created video and YouTube is the great dumping ground for that content. While most everyone has some device capable of shooting video, only recently has tech advanced to the point where Hollywood like results can be generated with equipment costing thousands of dollars, not hundreds of thousands.

Not film
We don't like the term film because there is no longer any film involved in the process. One of the greatest forces driving emergent market TV and Movies is the advent of cheap digital camera tech that can produce professional quality results. We don't want to confuse anyone about the nature of new production techniques made possible by eliminating film from the equation. There are a host of terms that are relevant - film school, film studios, filmmakers. "Film" describes a specific industry, its supporting roles, and its output - yet the future uses no actual film, so we avoid the term.

TV and Movies
Even for existing notions of the TV and film industries, the terms are arbitrary when talking about actual content. There are "made for TV movies" and short films that make TV spots seem long running. There is no single term that covers both without emphasizing one at the other's expense. We are interested in any story told in moving pictures that is professionally pretty and has commercial value. We bench that notion in terms that make sense given how people enjoy such entertainment. The perspective of the audience makes the most sense to us.

What do people spend money to see? TV and Movies.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Why Does "Just" So Easily Roll of My Tongue?

I've been thinking a lot about my Ubuntu Developer Summit experience as of late, and the one thing that keeps running through my mind is something Allison Randal said during a lightening chat that she gave: "Don't say that you're 'just' a community member."  Allison the super-star linguist and chief architect of the Parrot virtual machine - she thinks that little 'ol me, the non-technical end-user writing this blog-post, has something to offer Ubuntu?  Answering this question, my critical mind says, "No, she means community members who file bugs have something to contribute."  But when I allow myself to acknowledge all that I did during UDS-N (taking photos and making them available to the community on Flickr, or shooting an insane amount of video in order to make a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike documentary about UDS-N), I say to myself, "Hell yeah she thinks I have something to give!"  Duh Tara, she thinks EVERY Ubuntu end-user, active or not-so-active community member, and developer has talents, skills sets, and most importantly, the innate intelligence necessary to grow Ubuntu.

So why did it take me so long to take Allison's comment at face value?  Why does the word "just" so easily roll of my tongue when talking about the work I do?  Maybe my liberal use of this word has something to do with being conditioned to believe that credentials (e.g. a college degree, certification, stripes, etc.) reign supreme - that a person needs to jump through a ridiculous number of meaningless hoops before doing what he or she wants to do.  I can't teach until I'm teacher certified; I can't write code until I've gone through a computer science program; or I can't make movies until I finish film school.  Believing that listening to a bunch of lectures given by experts is more important than doing what interests me, I have spent most of my adult life in lecture halls instead of engaging in creative play.  I'm not saying that there's no value in learning by listening to others.  I'm simply saying that my myopic view of what constitutes a worthy contribution is rooted in my learned obsession with credentials.  In my mind, I'm not doing helpful, useful work if it isn't backed-up by a rubber-stamped piece of paper that says, "Yes Tara Oldfield is qualified to do this kind of work."

Listening to several people at UDS-N talk about their work in the Ubuntu communtiy, my fixation with credentials relaxed, and I began to see that what matters in the Ubuntu universe is doing, not talking about doing.  Ubuntu community members don't sit around waiting for the rubber-stamp!  No, they jump right in and problem-solve while learning new skills.  And to help community members tackle problems they feel passionate about solving, Ubuntu's architects have created a well-oiled infrastructure (e.g. bzr, Launchpad, loco teams, a Code of Conduct, etc.) that allows people to help one another develop skills and collaborate effectively.   With this kind of support, a person can learn from others while doing a whole hell of a lot!

This community model, learning by sharing while simultaneously going for whatever catches one's interest, is exactly what I want for the Novacut community.  I want people who can't afford New York University's film school to be able to access knowledgeable mentors while making their dream movie or TV series.  I want to see people who are fascinated with post-production video work, but can't afford Final Cut Pro, to be able to learn the skill of editing through Novacut's free video editor.  I want to see entertainment become a cottage industry - an economy accessible to anyone with the drive to go after what's in their mind's eye.  Ubuntu has paved a way to creative freedom, and Novacut hopes to do the same along a complimentary route.

Announcing dmedia 0.1

I'm happy to announce the first stable release of the Distributed Media Library. At this point dmedia is really just for developers and highly adventurous end-users, but the design and implementation are both progressing quickly.

However, one big fat point of caution: neither the content-hash nor the schema is yet final! I'm reserving the right to make incompatible changes without regard for backward compatibility in the 0.2 and 0.3 releases. So this is for testing and play, not yet for seriously organizing your life's cinematic work.

You can download the source tarball here: dmedia-0.1.0.tar.gz

Packages are available for Lucid, Maverick, and Natty in the Novacut Stable Releases PPA.

Contributors to the 0.1 release

Code contributors:

Special thanks to:

Contribute to 0.2 and beyond!

We do monthly time-based releases, always releasing on the last Thursday of the month (except when I'm too excited and release a day early). That means we promise to make a release on time each month, but never promise what exact features will land.

dmedia 0.2 will be released on Thursday December 30 2010, and development is already underway. To get involved or track our progress, checkout the dmedia 0.2 milestone.


An IRC quote from #novacut:

(01:07:29 PM) ssj6akshat: m4n1sh, jderose was a debian user since ancient times

That's all, folks!

Thanks to everyone who is helping make this dream a reality!


Monday, November 8, 2010

UDS Hallelujah Video (let's help the Graner family)

Tara and I just met Amber Graner at UDS, and she is a force of nature. She is super friendly, outgoing, and knows everyone. Amber introduced Tara to a zillion people and helped arrange the many video interviews we did at UDS.

I didn't have a chance to talk to Pete Graner or their two kids, but everyone in the Graner family has a big warm light-up-the room personality. So it's such a shame that misfortune struck during UDS - the Graner's house was hit by lighting and basically burned to the ground.

I just got an email from Jono Bacon asking if the Novacut team happened to catch any video of the Hallelujah song that Becca Graner sang at the end of the Ubuntu Allstars Jam, and we did. None of this is edited yet, but I wanted to get the raw clips out ASAP so anyone can edit them. Jono's idea is to get this edited into some nice videos to put onto YouTube and whatnot to help spread the word about the Graner's situation.

Update - I just finished a page where you can easily browse the videos and play 450p versions over the web to decide which 1080p clips to download: you need to EditForGraners! Plus there are now a full 56 clips from the UDS Jam!

The Novacut team will work on some edits also, but here is the raw video and audio, so go crazy Ubuntu community! You probably want to download this with some right click + "Save Link as" action.

The tricky thing is that the in camera audio kinda sucks, so people probably want to sync with the HQ audio recording we made on our Zoom. As a bonus, here are some clips taken as Pete was singing "Highway to Hell":

This raw footage is all released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license, so please respect its terms and license your edits and remixes under the same.

And please chip-in with a bit of financial support for the Graner family!