I’ve been a Netflix subscriber from damn near day one.
I’ve certainly appreciated having the service there as an entertainment alternative long before video streaming was a remote possibility. I’d have three DVDs out at a time and often forget I was holding onto them for months on end. You could say that I’ve wasted a lot of money on Netflix – far more than I would have spent at a local video rental store.
So, last year, I decided to drop the 3-disc option and go with the 1-disc plan plus the on-demand streaming – even though the streaming selection was seemingly stunted (though nowhere as bad as Hulu’s lackluster movie library). For the most part, that’s worked out well – but I still feel like I’m overpaying for media that I’m not remembering to digest.
They think that this change “is a terrific value.” I think it’s a load of shit. This is “forcing” me to drop their disc-only plan altogether (based on my patterns). When I want to rent a DVD, I’ll simply make an online reservation for my local Redbox station. I’d be tempted to drop the Netflix streaming plan if there were a viable alternative elsewhere – but judging by how many documentaries my girlfriend loves to watch, that’s not practical.
I guess at the end of the day, I’m going to be spending less money with Netflix (by $2). Thanks?
There are a million guides out there that will tell you what frame rate, bit rate, codec, and editing software to use. These tips are excellent and should be followed to create as professional a broadcast or podcast as possible. Unfortunately, there are some common traits among amateur web video that find their way in to otherwise perfect productions. Here are five things to avoid when producing web video:
If you’ve got a camera on you, it’s also on everything behind you. As a rule of thumb, everything the camera is or might be pointed at should be treated like a movie or television set. If you film out of your bedroom, take five minutes prior to hitting the record button to make the bed and arrange things around the room to look as open and uncluttered as possible. What may be a typical room to you will look like a terrible mess on camera. Viewers have a tendency to imagine the whole room based on the little section they see. If that little piece isn’t right, the whole space may as well be a cluttered mess.
Video made for the web is compressed and compression does funny things to video. If you have a habit of holding the video camera with your hand and pointing it at yourself or your subject, break it. Invest in a tripod or mount that keeps the background as still as possible. This will not only improve the way your video looks after compression, but it will also improve your subject’s appearance. Each frame is given a certain allotment in terms of bits to generate the image. If little has changed from the frame before it, those bits can be used to make what is moving in the shot look smoother.
Lighting is essential to good web video. If you use a low-watt table lamp that looks alright in person, you can bet the video will prove otherwise. It’s better to have lighting that is a bit too bright than a bit too dark. Artifacts, which appear as colored specks or scattered snow, show up much more in a dark shooting environment. Give your subject some light, and if you want to make things look dark and dreary, you can do it in post using a video editing program.
Low or Inconsistent Audio
Most decent video editing programs out there will include audio controls. If you can’t actually affix a virtual audio processor and/or compressor to the audio track, take the time to normalize the audio to a reasonable volume. Audio normalization is one of the fastest and most effective ways to turn mediocre video in to something more professional. If you have the means, work out a system to mic your subject to get the best audio possible. Built-in microphones on smartphones and camcorders can work, but you are far more likely to get good results with an external mic. Because many viewers actually listen more than watch web programs, poor audio may be one of the most important things to avoid when producing web video.
Bad Camera Placement
The subject you are filming should be front and center on screen. If your web video has someone’s head at the bottom of the frame with a large space between the top of their head and the ceiling of the video, you should consider repositioning either the subject or the camera. As a rule of thumb, allow no more than 10% of the total height of the video to show space over the head of your host. If you film at a wide angle from across the room, make sure that it’s clear the person doing the majority of the speaking is the focus of the shot. No mater how cool your set is, your production will suffer if it doesn’t revolve around the subject.
Netflix Director of Product Management Jamie O’Dell announced today that the company will no longer allow customers to add physical DVDs to their queue from streaming devices such as the PS3 and iPhone. The claim is that they are trying to “concentrate on offering you the titles that are available to watch instantly.” The powers-that-be at Netflix apparently feel that “providing the option to add a DVD to your Queue from a streaming device complicates the instant watching experience and ties up resources that are better used to improve the overall streaming functionality.”
The problem with this thought process is that many subscribers feel this is a huge step backwards. The desktop computer is becoming more obsolete in the days of mobile devices. Why, then, is Netflix only wanting to allow you to add movies to your queue when logged into the website itself? According to the comments being left on the announcement, people aren’t very happy – to say the least.
What are your thoughts? Is Netflix making the right move here, or have they gone a bit off the deep end?
Today, market research company NPD released their findings after surveying millions of iTunes users: we want to see iTunes moved to the cloud. About 25% of iTunes customers would be very interested in a paid-for streaming service that will allow them to access their content on any device. The number of those interested was nearly double when dangling a free service.
Between seven million and eight million iTunes users in the U.S. would have strong interest in one of the paid subscription options, according to the report. These consumers indicated a willingness to pay a minimum monthly fee of $10 — either for streaming music or access to their personal music libraries on multiple devices. NPD estimates that there are 50 million iTunes users in the U.S. According to NPD’s music industry research, a model that offers iTunes users free access to their own music libraries would attract in the range of 13 to 15 million subscribers.
If such a model supported multiple devices, NPD estimated that approximately 8 million iTunes supporters would be willing to pony up around ten bucks per month. As the firm points out, that’s a billion dollar market just in the first year alone. The market would explode growth-wise as more and more people begin to understand what “the Cloud” is.
At 25% of their userbase, Apple is looking at about 15 million people in the U.S. alone. Were they to capitalize on this, they could easily be raking in $80 million per month in revenue. The question is… will they jump at the chance any time soon? What are your thoughts?
I came across two new pieces of software today that are both classified as “must-have”. They’re also both classified as being free. Both programs come from Miro, and are completely open-source. Developers are welcome to submit ideas for improvement to help enhance the video experience the Miro team is bringing to the table.
Miro Video Converter has presets that will convert video to the correct sizes and formats for popular phones, iPods, and other media players, including Android and Apple devices, as well as the PSP! It also can convert virtually any video file to MP4, Theora, or MP3!
The Miro Video Player is so much more than a simple video viewing tool. It can play almost any video file and offers over 6,000 free internet TV shows and video podcasts. It has a gorgeous and intuitive interface that is actually a joy to use. You can even use it to download torrents and podcasts, in addition to watching your media.
You have to love software that is easy to use, powerful, does what it says it will, is nice to look at and won’t cost you a penny!