On the BBC iPlayer, as well as watching TV from recent days or weeks, you can also listen the output of national and local radio stations. Most music shows can only be heard for seven days. The podcast versions cannot include any commercial music. For example, I can listen to the Adam and Joe show on BBC 6 Music in full (three hours long, in a format relatively difficult for people to keep on their computers) or the podcast highlights on iTunes (mp3).

Imagine if audio (and video) broadcasts and podcasts were combinations of the broadcasters’ and local playlists. If music cannot be licensed for more than seven days, the podcast playing application could insert music from the playlists on the listener’s device. If tags were added at times when music is played stating the title and artist, it could play from the local device if present. If not, similar music could play. In Apple’s iTunes 8, the Genius system is designed to create playlists of similar music. That system could find replacements in a listener’s library to follow the mood of the show.

If you were listening to a combination radio broadcast/local playlist ‘live,’ there could be user-interface item to how much music content was from the radio station playlist, and how much is local:


This could be the way that future radio stations work, each listener could configure the shows they way they want. They could choose how much control they have over the music, whether they hear news, weather or traffic reports. Different shows might have different settings depending on the music choice or the kind of things the DJs say between the tracks.

Listen to the most recent Adam and Joe radio show using this RealPlayer location. Listen to the highlights podcast via iTunes.

It would be interesting to imagine a similar system for visual content.

What if my visual feed was similar to my audio feed – the way music is played on radio. What if media organisations had playlists that I subscribed to?

Maybe the visual channel that I will tune into will be made up of four to five minute vignettes. Longer than traditional previews, they’d be excerpts from dramas, comedy shows and documentaries. Entertaining and stimulating on their own, but with the option for me to wait for the next ‘track’ to come along, or for me to choose to see the rest of the play, film, documentary, documentary series or comedy show. Like singles on a radio station, I would expect high- medium- and low-rotation pieces. They could be designed to be re-watched.

Movies, TV shows and documentaries usually include ‘set-pieces.’ These are the bits that you talk about afterwards without reference to the plot. The sections excerpted in the better review shows: ‘Remember the bit when they were trapped in the trash compactor and the monster with the one eye attacked them?!’ ‘What about that bit when he had to stab her in the heart with the adrenaline needle! Wow’ ‘I didn’t cry when she told that story about how her owner forgot about her when she grew up and left her to be sold by the side of the road… it just got a little dusty in the room!’ These are the set-pieces that could be included in a visual station feed. Each could have simple intro to explain the stakes for those who hadn’t seen the source film or show. If you register that you have seen the source, the big moments from the second half could also be included in the playlist.

It may be that not everyone will want to pay the full £6 for the 2 hour film, or £18 for the complete 24 part series. They might want to pay a little less for a set piece or two. Just as people today pick the best tracks from an album as opposed to the whole work.

Imagine if short films and animations could get included in the mix. What would a TV channel be then – a filter to prevent you being taken over by the massive flow of content out there? What about shared experience?

We’ll see.

Some radio stations are different from others. They can be divided into two groups: entertaining and stimulating. On the entertaining stations, the vast majority of the tracks I hear, I like. On the stimulating stations, things are less certain. DJs who care about music more than the musicians. People who are still DJs (instead of the industry term: ‘presenters’), who know who they are is less important than the music they choose to play.

I’m not always in the mood for the stimulating choice. Sometimes I even want to have music on that I can ignore at some level. But sometimes I want to hear stuff that I might not like. Then there is a better chance that I will hear something else – one track later – that I would never have heard before. If I followed my demographic and listened to a radio station that played music from my youth, I’d find that entertaining. Just not very stimulating.

That’s radio. How does that translate to the visual medium…? To go in another direction: how can I integrate my media with that broadcast from elsewhere?

I thought it would be months until I had a couple of high-class dilemmas like the two I have at the moment. They’re no big deal, but for an (as yet) unprofessional writer such as I, I’m surprised that they’re already here.

The first one is simple. As I’ve managed to get a good number of links to my Final Cut plugins and tips, I got attention from a company that sells plugins. It might be that yesterday’s post was prompted by that. A nice man from Noise Industries sent me an unlock code for their FxFactory plugins.

I probably wouldn’t have written yesterday’s post if he hadn’t. I would have written it eventually, but having access to the full version of FxFactory made it easier. I know this because I downloaded the trial version back in September. I didn’t write about Quartz programming then. I liked the system but didn’t plan to teach myself Quartz visual programming at that time, and didn’t know I would be creating Final Cut plugins. I can be forgiven for writing about something interesting I’ve recently discovered more about I suppose.

The catch was I missed something out of yesterday’s post: that there is another plugin system that gives Final Cut users access to Quartz composition, that created by CHV Electronics. This wasn’t an oversight, I mentioned it while writing and thought that it would be a sign of ‘ingratitude’ to Noise Industries if I mentioned it. Looking back I’m sure they wouldn’t mind, as competition and comparison in software is a good thing.

That was a mistake. I realised this morning that I had let a free gift influence my writing. Normal among some writers, but probably not for me. This is coming across as po-faced, but I find it an interesting part of my part in social networks.


The other dilemma is slightly different: I’ve been complaining in Vimeo’s forums for the last few months that it is ridiculous that they haven’t yet opened up their pro service (known as Plus) to international users. I was planning to write a detailed article when Vimeo gifted me Plus membership without me asking. That took the wind out of my sails, but it shouldn’t stop me from writing what I want. It is very unlikely that Vimeo is worried about what I write, and wanted to give me something to make up for a long delay, but it is odd that I now have to take this into account.

So if dilemmas are the sign of success, I’m looking forward to learning from the next one!

On my way back from Liverpool by train a while ago, I held my camera up against the window for a while.

If you have a portable media player, and need to go on a journey in the dark, you can play this video instead of looking out of the window.

Click the Vimeo button to go through to their site to watch in HD, and to download the source file.

Last night I went to Clare Kitson’s presentation of films celebrating the launch of her book on the history of British animation since 1982. She was the commissioning editor for animation at Channel 4 from 1989 to 1999. Find out more about the book at the publisher’s website.

One of the films she showed was “Love is All” by Oliver Harrison, an animation inspired by the song as sung by Deanna Durbin in 1940. That reminded me of a TV advert he made based on his graduation film back in 1988.

In 2002 I wanted to get back into using Adobe After Effects as I hadn’t used it for a few months. I had recently heard a version of Noel Coward’s “I’ve Been to a Marvelous Party” by The Divine Comedy, and vaguely remembered a typographic TV ad from some time in the 80s. I decided to make a typographic animation based on the song inspired by the ad.

At that point I might have been able to find a copy on YouTube. There are few visual references to it today, and I might have found some to base my animation on. I decided not to copy the ad, but copy my 13 year old memory of the ad. The advantage being that my memory would combine with my other experiences and interests over the intervening years to create something a little more original.

Here’s what I came up with:

Today I found a video with some excerpts from the original short film mixed in with some other stuff (somewhat spolit by it). There are no more exceprts after 1:30 –

Oliver’s typographic compositions are a lot more advanced than mine, but you can see how his ideas informed mine.

So if ‘immature poets imitate; mature poets steal,’ steal from your imperfect memories of other artists works.

Visit Oliver’s website to see what else he’s been doing over the last 20 years. When I find some video of his work, I’ll post links to it on this blog.

Over at MacVideo there are a couple of videos featuring me attempting not to talk too fast, yet going on for quite a while.

The first demonstrates the problem of Final Cut Pro not being able to use all the fonts installed on a computer and how to use my free plugins to fix the problem.

The second is the first part of an interview with me about how I approached writing my Closing Credits plugin for Final Cut.

More egomania soon…

As this year is 365 days long, your half-birthday comes 182 and half days after your normal birthday.

For example, if you were 29 on May 28th, your 29 and a halfth half-birthday is today from noon today until noon tomorrow. If you were 50 on June 22nd, you’ll be 50 and a half on 21st December.

My half birthday is from noon on November 1st to noon on November 2nd. I was born at 3:45pm BST, so was ‘half a year older’ at 2:45am on November 2nd this year.

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