Author Archives: Frank Capria

Avid names new product designer

That would be me. It’s official. I’ll be joining Avid May 1 as a (not the) Product Designer for Editors. We made it public at the Avid customer event last night in Las Vegas. How’s that for new thinking?

It’s a great time to be joining Avid. The recent product announcements are exciting and point to a much needed, and oft promised change in direction. Media Composer with hardware at $10,000. Now we’re talking. Xpress Pro gone. I’m not in mourning.

Over the years I’ve had some colorful exchanges with Avid management. As a journalist, blogger, reviewer, and commentator, I never hesitated to say what was on my mind – sometimes more diplomatically than others. Every company has its own culture, but I have always found Avid to be among the most open to constructive criticism. That weighed very heavily on my desire to come on board. I’m joining a great product development team – Owen Walker (Media Composer Product Manager), Greg Staten (Product Designer for editors), Steve McNeill (Product Designer for editors) Olivier Karfis (Product Manager for editors) and Tim Claman (Director of Product Management for editors).

Between now and May 1 I’ll be winding down my activities with Kingpin and Xprove. I leave both in very good hands. Dave Bryand will take over Kingpin, and Dan Sharp will join Dave in heading up Xprove.

While Avid and I were in discussions, I chose not to blog. It wouldn’t have been right to comment on the release of Final Cut Server or Avid’s recent product lineup changes without disclosing that I was actively seeking to join Avid.

My blogs, here and at ProVideoCoalition, will change. The reality is that I just won’t have the time to put into writing that I had before; and working for a publicly traded company puts limits on what I can say about Avid, its market space, and its competitors. Enough interesting topics remain, and writing serves a very important role in my professional development. Putting words to ideas helps me think concepts through. Getting feedback from readers lets those ideas evolve.

Keep those calls and letters coming.

Of social networks and cable TV

This week’s Economist features a brief analysis of the social networking boom and where it all might lead. Some interesting parallels were brought to the fore. Among them:

  • AOL’s acquisition of Bebo is much like Microsoft’s acquisition of Hotmail a decade ago.
  • And that the network effect still holds.

Social networks as they are now constructed are walled gardens – LinkedIn users cannot communicate with Facebook users. Users typically receive invites from colleagues on multiple networks. Fragmenting a user’s network diminishes its value.

The article ends with an interesting twist – that all the social networking we need is contained in our email clients, address books, and calendars.

That is because the extended in-box contains invaluable and dynamically updated information about human connections. On Facebook, a social graph notoriously deteriorates after the initial thrill of finding old friends from school wears off. By contrast, an e-mail account has access to the entire address book and can infer information from the frequency and intensity of contact as it occurs. Joe gets e-mails from Jack and Jane, but opens only Jane’s; Joe has Jane in his calendar tomorrow, and is instant-messaging with her right now; Joe tagged Jack “work only” in his address book. Perhaps Joe’s party photos should be visible to Jane, but not Jack.

This kind of social intelligence can be applied across many services on the open web. Better yet, if there is no pressure to make a business out of it, it can remain intimate and discreet. Facebook has an economic incentive to publish ever more data about its users, says Mr [David] Ascher [a Mozilla manager], whereas Thunderbird, which is an open-source project, can let users minimise what they share. Social networking may end up being everywhere, and yet nowhere.

Everywhere and nowhere. This got me thinking about cable television providers as we move into the IP-delivery era. Clinging to the walled garden approach will lessen the value of cable distribution networks. Letting viewers aggregate content from multiple sources will be more profitable. Comcast, Cablevision, and Time Warner need only look at last decades big walled gardens — AOL, Compuserve, and Prodigy. How are they doing now?

Adobe releases DRM for Flash

In case you have any doubt Adobe is serious about dominating the web video space, this from StreamingMedia.com:

Adobe today announced the availability of its Flash Media Rights Management Server, a product that runs on Windows Server 2003 and Red Hat Linux and offers content protection and business rules for playback and repurposing of offline content.

The Rights Management Server is designed to sit alongside the Flash Media Streaming Server or Flash Media Interactive Server and protect streaming content. The company is positioning Adobe Flash Media Rights Management Server as a way to “protect and controls media content downloaded in FLV (Spark or VP6 codec) or MPEG4 (H.264 codec) format and played back on local desktop.

The full press release from Adobe is here. DRM for offline content isn’t new. Apple implements it with every music purchase, but Adobe’s approach gives the content holder more options. The DRM can be as restrictive as the content owner wants. Maybe reports of DRM’s demise are premature.

RED Post Workflow Resources

RED One cameraTwo esteemed colleagues have just posted detailed and thoughtful post production resources for RED One material. Oliver Peters has a nice article in DV, and Terry Curren of Alpha Dogs and Digital Service Station fame compiled this presentation for those of us who learn better looking at the pictures.

And Mike Curtis at ProVideoCoalition.com has been chronicling his adventures with his newly delivered RED One.

How Comcast blew it

Earlier this week I wrote at PVC of my belief that 2009 can be a big year for independent video producers. Two things have to happen for my dream to come true.

  1. The transition to DTV has to be completed on time, and the auction of the 700 MHz bandwidth has to be open to newcomers like Apple and Google – WiFi everywhere, WiFi for all!
  2. Net neutrality has to be maintained. Small video producers need equal access to the network.

The post coincided with the FCC hearing at Harvard Law School. Briefly stated, Comcast was being accused of limiting the bandwidth available to BitTorrent users on its broadband network. I’m all for net neutrality, but rising to the defense of weasels pirating content via BitTorrent makes me uneasy. Yet, for the greater good that’s where I came down. Comcast has no right to determine whose bits get moved along faster. Nobody signed up for that.

Now here’s what I don’t get. If Comcast wanted to get the BitTorrent weasels off its network, why not just start charging for uploads. Every plan comes with a couple of hundred megabytes upload allowance. Go over that allowance, and you get whacked. P2P networks like BitTorrent require users to make content on their machines available to others on the network. Once that starts costing money, people will begin opting out.

Instead Comcast ticked off the Republican chairman of the FCC. Considering the FCC has been big media’s rubber stamp since the Reagan era, that’s just Comcastic!

Some good background:

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