Watching the Apple TV…

Just was catching up on my reading of TechCrunch, among other feeds, and saw that Apple is giving video producers some suggestions of ways to make things look good on both Apple TV as well as iPods.

I’ve been watching a TON of Internet videos with my son the past few days. I haven’t found one that really looks awesome yet that can compare with the Discovery Channel’s HD content, for instance.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t watchable. Patrick and I enjoy watching Diggnation, for instance. That content doesn’t require a high-resolution version.

I find myself wanting more, though, in many videos. Particularly ones that actually show something like what my show did last Friday where we got a tour of Franck Muller, famous Swiss watch maker. There the lack of resolution was frustrating for me as a viewer and as a content developer. What I had on tape was a lot more compelling than what came through on my TV screen.

Today I spent a few hours at Adobe seeing its CS3 Suite (ships on Monday). I wish I could push high resolution versions of the videos down, but I don’t have the machines, nor can I afford the bandwidth. Now some companies are offering the bandwidth for free, but that gets back to what Apple’s suggesting for Internet video producers: doing one format for iTunes that’ll play on both Apple TV as well as iTunes.

I don’t think that’s the best practice in the end. I think if we really want Apple TV customers to be happy we’ll offer them one feed for that (translation: something that’s 16:9 and has more resolution than 640xsomething) and another for iPods (cause they can’t deal with more than 640xsomething resolution).

One other thing? Most Internet video content just is really boring. Mine included. Gotta work on that too along with the resolution.

UPDATE: Make just announced an Apple TV version of its videocast.

Comments

  1. Robert, I just started producing video podcasts and I`d like to ask you what Technology you use to produce your show?

    Is it possible to give me some hints, how to produce high resolution videos?

    Thx and best regards from Aachen, Germany :)

  2. Robert, I just started producing video podcasts and I`d like to ask you what Technology you use to produce your show?

    Is it possible to give me some hints, how to produce high resolution videos?

    Thx and best regards from Aachen, Germany :)

  3. I should do a video on that!

    I use a Sony HD camcorder. Bring it in via a Firewire cable to a MacPro. I use Final Cut Pro to encode the video, edit it, and spit it out.

    I gotta get some sleep, but we’ll try to do a video soon about the settings we use, and all that.

  4. I should do a video on that!

    I use a Sony HD camcorder. Bring it in via a Firewire cable to a MacPro. I use Final Cut Pro to encode the video, edit it, and spit it out.

    I gotta get some sleep, but we’ll try to do a video soon about the settings we use, and all that.

  5. Robert – I agree completely. The whole state of affairs in HD vs. Internet video is frustrating. I too love Discovery HD and have my Comcast HD DVR jammed up with shows from Discovery HD and related HD channels. It frustrates the heck out of me that I can’t efficiently archive my HD content from my Comcast DVR to my 1TB Yellow Machine RAID storage device. While sites like YouTube and other video-based content delivery mediums are adequate for the masses, how cool would it be to really get HD quality content on your laptop, ipod, apple tv, whatever. It frustrates me to see the slow rate of progress in this area. To me it boils down to 3 key enablers:

    (1) big ass pipe – need to be able to stream large amts of data to/from lots of devices

    (2) lots of hd content – need to make it easier for people to product hd quality content. currently too expensive for widespread consumption – e.g. discovery hd cameras / tech.

    (3) ability to stream hd content seamlessly from device to device – should be able to go from my dvr to my ipod, to my appletv, to my mobile evdo phone to my car audio system –seamlessly.

    Right now, I have yet to find anything that comes close to the quality on Discovery HD, though I am curious to see how you like your Apple TV over time. I’m currently addicted to the new Planet Earth show on Discovery HD. Anyway, thanks for a great post. PS – I’m addicted to lobby 1 chatroom on justin.tv. check it.

  6. Robert – I agree completely. The whole state of affairs in HD vs. Internet video is frustrating. I too love Discovery HD and have my Comcast HD DVR jammed up with shows from Discovery HD and related HD channels. It frustrates the heck out of me that I can’t efficiently archive my HD content from my Comcast DVR to my 1TB Yellow Machine RAID storage device. While sites like YouTube and other video-based content delivery mediums are adequate for the masses, how cool would it be to really get HD quality content on your laptop, ipod, apple tv, whatever. It frustrates me to see the slow rate of progress in this area. To me it boils down to 3 key enablers:

    (1) big ass pipe – need to be able to stream large amts of data to/from lots of devices

    (2) lots of hd content – need to make it easier for people to product hd quality content. currently too expensive for widespread consumption – e.g. discovery hd cameras / tech.

    (3) ability to stream hd content seamlessly from device to device – should be able to go from my dvr to my ipod, to my appletv, to my mobile evdo phone to my car audio system –seamlessly.

    Right now, I have yet to find anything that comes close to the quality on Discovery HD, though I am curious to see how you like your Apple TV over time. I’m currently addicted to the new Planet Earth show on Discovery HD. Anyway, thanks for a great post. PS – I’m addicted to lobby 1 chatroom on justin.tv. check it.

  7. I was bored about fighting with the different settings for the iPod so now all my videos are in the 2 different formats : iPod and Apple TV. And since this last one is sometime 600 MB I don’t give anything “better” because it would be ridiculous right now to ask people to download a bigger file. Unless thez live in France where those lucky bastards will soon have 200MB symetric fiber for around 50 bucks :(

  8. I was bored about fighting with the different settings for the iPod so now all my videos are in the 2 different formats : iPod and Apple TV. And since this last one is sometime 600 MB I don’t give anything “better” because it would be ridiculous right now to ask people to download a bigger file. Unless thez live in France where those lucky bastards will soon have 200MB symetric fiber for around 50 bucks :(

  9. “I’ve been watching a TON of Internet videos with my son the past few days.”

    “Most Internet video content just is really boring.”

    I have a hard time reconciling these two statements. I can see you sitting through a lot of crap because it’s work related, but why waste quality time with your son on stuff that isn’t good? Or are you saying that despite the fact that most Internet video content is boring, you’ve still found a ton of good things to watch with your kid?

  10. “I’ve been watching a TON of Internet videos with my son the past few days.”

    “Most Internet video content just is really boring.”

    I have a hard time reconciling these two statements. I can see you sitting through a lot of crap because it’s work related, but why waste quality time with your son on stuff that isn’t good? Or are you saying that despite the fact that most Internet video content is boring, you’ve still found a ton of good things to watch with your kid?

  11. “I don’t think that’s the best practice in the end. I think if we really want Apple TV customers to be happy we’ll offer them one feed for that (translation: something that’s 16:9 and has more resolution than 640xsomething) and another for iPods (cause they can’t deal with more than 640xsomething resolution).”

    “I wish I could push high resolution versions of the videos down, but I don’t have the machines, nor can I afford the bandwidth.”

    You think you should do what you can’t do. Brilliant.

  12. “I don’t think that’s the best practice in the end. I think if we really want Apple TV customers to be happy we’ll offer them one feed for that (translation: something that’s 16:9 and has more resolution than 640xsomething) and another for iPods (cause they can’t deal with more than 640xsomething resolution).”

    “I wish I could push high resolution versions of the videos down, but I don’t have the machines, nor can I afford the bandwidth.”

    You think you should do what you can’t do. Brilliant.

  13. Just ran across http://movenetworks.com Run the demo and be amazed. Apparently ABC is using their technology. To my eye, that’s true HD streamed at 2 Mbits/second, about what iTunes movie content requires, only it’s much higher quality. I think these guys have solved the bad internet video problem, it’s just going to take some time for all the players to realize it, and respond by recompressing their content.

  14. Just ran across http://movenetworks.com Run the demo and be amazed. Apparently ABC is using their technology. To my eye, that’s true HD streamed at 2 Mbits/second, about what iTunes movie content requires, only it’s much higher quality. I think these guys have solved the bad internet video problem, it’s just going to take some time for all the players to realize it, and respond by recompressing their content.

  15. Most Internet video content just is really boring.

    Gee, I’d never noticed. Well take away the scripters, and all WGA’ers, and that’s what you get. Mostly talking-heads, and infomericalish product demo’s, and one-off gimmicks, and laff laff’s.

    You could go script and voice-over narrator, History Channel does Ken Burnsish, but then you’d need more resources (and time and money). So no easy answers, but a reason why Vloggers and YouTubers aren’t a revolution. Some of the WalkThru’s if you have some halfway real talent have semi-worked, Printing For Less, for one, but not the PhotoWalks (just my opinion).

  16. Most Internet video content just is really boring.

    Gee, I’d never noticed. Well take away the scripters, and all WGA’ers, and that’s what you get. Mostly talking-heads, and infomericalish product demo’s, and one-off gimmicks, and laff laff’s.

    You could go script and voice-over narrator, History Channel does Ken Burnsish, but then you’d need more resources (and time and money). So no easy answers, but a reason why Vloggers and YouTubers aren’t a revolution. Some of the WalkThru’s if you have some halfway real talent have semi-worked, Printing For Less, for one, but not the PhotoWalks (just my opinion).

  17. Watching Coulter eat a burrito at a picnic table is the most boring video I have seen on the internets.

  18. Watching Coulter eat a burrito at a picnic table is the most boring video I have seen on the internets.

  19. Robert,

    Can you or anyone else on this forum enlighten me as to why DiscoveryHD is SO GOOD? IMO it blows away all other HD programing, including sports broadcasts. My jaw dropped the first time I saw Discovery Sunrise on my Plasma TV. Do they use higher rez cameras?

    Enquiring minds want to know … :-)

  20. Robert,

    Can you or anyone else on this forum enlighten me as to why DiscoveryHD is SO GOOD? IMO it blows away all other HD programing, including sports broadcasts. My jaw dropped the first time I saw Discovery Sunrise on my Plasma TV. Do they use higher rez cameras?

    Enquiring minds want to know … :-)

  21. Hash: I met a Discovery Channel exec and he said they invested in the total end-to-end HD delivery. It’s not just cameras.

    They also are one of the only channels that broadcasts in 1080i on DirectTV too (Mark Cuban’s HDNet is the other one that I really notice).

  22. Hash: I met a Discovery Channel exec and he said they invested in the total end-to-end HD delivery. It’s not just cameras.

    They also are one of the only channels that broadcasts in 1080i on DirectTV too (Mark Cuban’s HDNet is the other one that I really notice).

  23. Orville,

    Thanks for the kind words about my “How to Make a Video”. The resolution in that video is horrible, but we have since solved that problem. I am now shooting all videos in High Resolution (HD), and we have mastered how to make the video look very good on YouTube. Right now, all of my current videos you see on my AsktheBuilder.com site and YouTube channel were shot in Standard Definition. You will know immediately when you are watching a HD one. Furthermore, at the end in the credits, all HD videos will have a slide that will identify the video was shot in HD. So Bob, High-Def is just around the corner. You will love the quality.

  24. Orville,

    Thanks for the kind words about my “How to Make a Video”. The resolution in that video is horrible, but we have since solved that problem. I am now shooting all videos in High Resolution (HD), and we have mastered how to make the video look very good on YouTube. Right now, all of my current videos you see on my AsktheBuilder.com site and YouTube channel were shot in Standard Definition. You will know immediately when you are watching a HD one. Furthermore, at the end in the credits, all HD videos will have a slide that will identify the video was shot in HD. So Bob, High-Def is just around the corner. You will love the quality.

  25. I thought it particularly interesting how widely they sent that email out (at least to everyone who has registered a podcast) and the fact that they are dipping their toes into one of my favorite subjects – knowledge marketing. Use the knowledge of how to make better video a key element of your communications programs and outreach – help people do things better, dont try to take their money -you sell, because of helping and sharing knowledge.

  26. I thought it particularly interesting how widely they sent that email out (at least to everyone who has registered a podcast) and the fact that they are dipping their toes into one of my favorite subjects – knowledge marketing. Use the knowledge of how to make better video a key element of your communications programs and outreach – help people do things better, dont try to take their money -you sell, because of helping and sharing knowledge.

  27. Hi Robert,
    I’ve been over my head in European main stream media, and am checking back in with the future. Standards are important, i.e. PAL video is used here. 640×480 or 640 x320 is a great start, and more definition will come…

    See you soon stateside.
    D

  28. Hi Robert,
    I’ve been over my head in European main stream media, and am checking back in with the future. Standards are important, i.e. PAL video is used here. 640×480 or 640 x320 is a great start, and more definition will come…

    See you soon stateside.
    D

  29. most boring video I have seen on the internets.

    And I concur. Well for that blame ‘Beach Walks’ or whatever that was, I wasn’t really aware the cam was on, pulling in from a Chicago to San Fran I-80 drive, surely something better to film than dorks eating burritos. But being a good sport…

  30. most boring video I have seen on the internets.

    And I concur. Well for that blame ‘Beach Walks’ or whatever that was, I wasn’t really aware the cam was on, pulling in from a Chicago to San Fran I-80 drive, surely something better to film than dorks eating burritos. But being a good sport…

  31. Most Internet video content just is really boring. Mine included. Gotta work on that too along with the resolution.

    I agree with you Robert that a lot of the video content on the internet is boring. I actually unsubscribed from your “long format” interviews a long time ago, because, welll… honestly, I just wasn’t interested in watching that hour long video… I’ve also unsubscribe from RocketBoom, because without Amanda, it just ain’t the same thing…

    Some of my favorite content:

    GeekBriefTV
    The Merlin Show
    Inside Digital Photo

    All of those shows have something in common: They’re short, and well edited generally.

    Thanks for staying at it though. If there’s a “short version” of your video podcasts, point me to it, and I’ll resubscribe and see if the show’s gotten better…

  32. Most Internet video content just is really boring. Mine included. Gotta work on that too along with the resolution.

    I agree with you Robert that a lot of the video content on the internet is boring. I actually unsubscribed from your “long format” interviews a long time ago, because, welll… honestly, I just wasn’t interested in watching that hour long video… I’ve also unsubscribe from RocketBoom, because without Amanda, it just ain’t the same thing…

    Some of my favorite content:

    GeekBriefTV
    The Merlin Show
    Inside Digital Photo

    All of those shows have something in common: They’re short, and well edited generally.

    Thanks for staying at it though. If there’s a “short version” of your video podcasts, point me to it, and I’ll resubscribe and see if the show’s gotten better…

  33. Tim,

    I probably should have been clearer, I wasn’t so much focusing on the equipment question but rather Robert saying his videos were boring and in need of something to improve them. I thought the tips you gave were great on making a video more interesting to look at.

  34. Tim,

    I probably should have been clearer, I wasn’t so much focusing on the equipment question but rather Robert saying his videos were boring and in need of something to improve them. I thought the tips you gave were great on making a video more interesting to look at.

  35. I don’t have any Apple TV yet, but have been reading a lot of reviews the last couple days. (Shelly Palmer posted a good one this morning.)

    The thing I’m realizing is that the Apple TV is *more* than an Apple TV. It’s a device that could completely hose the cable industry. I mean, I could just stop paying for cable, and pay Apple instead.

    What will Comcast do about that?

    - Kimberly

  36. I don’t have any Apple TV yet, but have been reading a lot of reviews the last couple days. (Shelly Palmer posted a good one this morning.)

    The thing I’m realizing is that the Apple TV is *more* than an Apple TV. It’s a device that could completely hose the cable industry. I mean, I could just stop paying for cable, and pay Apple instead.

    What will Comcast do about that?

    - Kimberly

  37. “What will Comcast do about that?”

    Compare the quantity of content you get for $60+/month as opposed to the a la carte payments of iTunes, I suspect. The best content on the web is still video that comes out of Hollywood, and until that balance shifts I can’t see ditching my all-you-can-eat content feed from cable.

  38. “What will Comcast do about that?”

    Compare the quantity of content you get for $60+/month as opposed to the a la carte payments of iTunes, I suspect. The best content on the web is still video that comes out of Hollywood, and until that balance shifts I can’t see ditching my all-you-can-eat content feed from cable.

  39. Robert, as I blogged last week (http://blog.acidlabs.org/2007/04/11/apple-tv-not-feeling-the-love/), I really want to like the Apple TV, but am struggling to do so. Currently, content available on the iTunes Store is limited so that outside the US, the value proposition of the Apple TV is close to nil. I don’t think there are any markets, other than the US, where the content on offer from iTS is compelling enough.

    iTS in Australia (where I am) offers NO television shows and NO movies, so buyers here are left with Internet video. Now sure, some of that is great content, but it’s not compelling enough to shell out the AU$450 for the box.
    I agree with you that adequate HD content, on an HD-capable device, is an issue. However, I personally think that availability of ANY content in all Apple’s markets is a greater issue.

  40. Robert, as I blogged last week (http://blog.acidlabs.org/2007/04/11/apple-tv-not-feeling-the-love/), I really want to like the Apple TV, but am struggling to do so. Currently, content available on the iTunes Store is limited so that outside the US, the value proposition of the Apple TV is close to nil. I don’t think there are any markets, other than the US, where the content on offer from iTS is compelling enough.

    iTS in Australia (where I am) offers NO television shows and NO movies, so buyers here are left with Internet video. Now sure, some of that is great content, but it’s not compelling enough to shell out the AU$450 for the box.
    I agree with you that adequate HD content, on an HD-capable device, is an issue. However, I personally think that availability of ANY content in all Apple’s markets is a greater issue.