Oooooh SNAP, Adobe drops Soundbooth

Adobe has announced a public beta of a new product called SoundBooth. The idea is to take a big helping of Audition, along with a dash of Soundtrack Pro, and end up with an easy to use audio production tool for Video/Flash professionals.

It seems like it has potential. The interface follows Adobe’s new palette design, and much of the rest of the look and feel reminds me of Audition or its ancestor, Cool Edit Pro. I’m not sure it’s even fair to call it beta at this point, as it’s obviously far from feature complete. At this point I can’t see anything that would make it worth a second glance when compared to Soundtrack Pro, but I imagine there’s a lot left to be added.

Interestingly, this product will ship for the Mac and for Windows. Even more interestingly, it’s going to be Intel only on the Mac. Sorry PPC users, but that ship has sailed. Or at least, it will have by the time Soundbooth ships in (late) 2007.

It’s very good to see someone, especially Adobe, choosing to compete directly with Apple on Apple’s playground. Oftentimes if feels like Adobe is ceding the Mac market at the slightest hint of competition. As I believe we’ve seen with the Lightroom versus Aperture competition, both products are stronger because neither developer can get away with selling crap.

It’ll be very interesting to watch where this goes. I’ve heard a faint rumor that Adobe may reemerge in the Mac video editing market down the line as well. Hmm.

Politics in the Age of YouTube

Seeing as I have a Political Science degree rotting on my shelf, I figured I’d make a big-picture post about my view on the impact of YouTube during this election cycle.

By providing the ability to distribute video without concerns over bandwidth and storage space, YouTube has had two very distinct impacts on the way the “netroots” groups operate during this cycle. While “netroots” is a rather stupid term, in this case I’m using it to refer to the politically aware, internet savvy folks who troll sites ranging from DailyKos to (gulp) FreeRepublic.

I want to look at two cases to show by example. The first is the case in which a candidate is able to audition ads to the entire country, without making an ad buy. They can then use the ad to raise funds. In this way, folks can give money directly in response to what they believe is effective advertising, rather than giving money in the hopes that the candidate applies it wisely. Whether or not this is a good thing for the political media landscape is yet to be decided.

An example is this ad, from the Ohio 2nd (the fighting second!). The Wuslin campaign has made very effective use of YouTube to get their ads out and to solicit feedback. Other groups and candidates are making similar use of YouTube. Unlike in the past, this isn’t a case of individuals recording ads from TV and posting them, these ads are being posted by the campaigns themselves. The global availability of these ads, combined with candidate websites and political blogs, has made every race a national race.

The second way in which YouTube has become a force in the election is the ability to quickly and easily share video of politicians being stupid. Before this election, a politician would say something stupid, like “We’ve never been stay the course,” and the website hosting the video would get hammered and knocked offline. But now, when someone says “Macaca,” or talks about “the Google” the video can live on and on without the hosting provider pulling the plug. The impact of this shouldn’t be discounted.

Will YouTube decide the elections? Definitely not – just like blogs didn’t decide the election in 2004. But what it will do is increase interest in candidates who might otherwise not get significant exposure. Thoughts?

Panasonic is (nearly) shipping 1080p plasmas

This is big news. Panasonic is now (almost) ready to ship their 50″ and 65″ plasmas capable of displaying a full 1920×1080 image. This is really important for HD monitoring. Now you’ll be able to see every single pixel at a 1:1 resolution. There isn’t a significant price premium for these, which makes them especially exciting.

But hey, it’s just a plasma. Why so excited?

One of the things that causes me great pain on a daily basis is the death of high quality CRT monitors for studio use. Sure, you can still drop $43,000 on a Sony, but that’s just a bit much, thank you.

LCDs are great, but they don’t get very large at a realistic price.

I’ve often considered getting something like a Miranda Kaleido-Quad box, to combine a number of SDI/HDSDI signals into a single feed, and then using one large plasma for both program and preview monitoring. However, the relatively low resolutions of large plasmas had always put me off.

Now however, with decently priced 1080p plasmas a reality, this option is much more realistic. Since the Miranda box can jump between different layouts, you can setup a standard Program/Preview layout for production use, but press a button to jump to a single, full screen, pixel-for-pixel display of your 1080p video.


You’ve been Antiqued!

I’m afraid your shiny new Macbook Pro is now an antique. Might as well toss it to the curb and whip out the Visa.

That’s right, new Macbook Pros have arrived! They’re… slightly faster! Hoorah!

This is a fairly incremental upgrade. For buyers of the 15″, the biggest upgrades are Firewire800 and a dual-layer DVD burner. I definitely approve of two out of the three models coming standard with 2 gigs of ram though.

Behind the Scenes Fun

Personally, I do a lot of my learning through observation – seeing how other folks do something, figuring out why they did it that way, etc. So, for me, “Behind the Scenes” videos are really helpful. With that in mind, here are a couple I came upon this weekend.

2nd Unit TV: This group does on-set interviews and walkthroughs at major TV studios. The current episode is part two of a visit to The Office. Check out the “past episodes” as well. There’s a bit of awkwardness present, but they’re still pretty helpful.

Buzz Image: This is a production house which has done both major motion picture work as well as commercial work. Their making of section goes over some of their work in detail. Most of it is rotoscoping work, but that has been a subject of much discussion around the studios lately. The link goes to a piece of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”

I’ve been Living a Lie

All this time, I thought I was working with HD. You know, the beautiful HD images produced by our $9,000 Canon XL-H1s, or a $25,000 Sony F350.

I was wrong.

You see, I was reading Wired tonight, and stumbled upon a Canon ad which explains that their new HV10 shoots in “True HD,” because it has a 1920×1080 imager. Everyone else is just a poser.

Time to throw out the XL-H1s I suppose. Or maybe not.

You see, the HV10 is an HDV camera. Which means that the signal it puts to tape is 1440×1080. Just like all 1080i HDV cameras. Some 1080i cameras (Sony HVR-V1U) have chips that are actually lower in resolution than 1440×1080. Some, like the XL-H1 and the XDCam have chips that are exactly 1440×1080. It seems nobody else has deemed it necessary to build a camera that images at a higher resolution than it records. Wonder why?