I know, I know – how unbelievably boring it is to keep hearing about how it’s the future of blockbusters and TV. It all feels so 1985/1958. And the filmmaker in me knows that it’s pointless, lame, marketing-driven Hollywood tosh. I’ve been wanting to blog about this for a few weeks, but I’ve felt too ashamed.
But ever since Captain EO got his hook into me at EPCOT, I’ve always got a massive kick out of seeing movies in 3D. I’m the guy who keeps all the IMAX theatres in business. Boring spacewalks – in 3D! The featureless ocean floor – IN 3D! FAKE DINOSAURS – IN 3D! About 10 years ago, I tried to convince the National Film & TV School that they should let me study making drama in 3D IMAX, because it was clearly the future of blockbusters. They didn’t agree. FOOLS! Now I’ll be back there doing a short course in 3D production next month.
Meanwhile, YouTube 3-D has been quietly amassing content for the last year. You don’t need to have a special camera. Just a couple of regular cameras, some glasses, and something exciting to jump out of the screen. Like the harpoon in Jaws 3-D. I’m not sure why I haven’t started videoblogging in 3D. My shame has been getting in the way. Time to get over it. After all, surely 3D IS THE FUTURE OF VIDEOBLOGGING, RIGHT?
At the moment, we’re staring down the barrel of a very long and boring format war, where Firefox and Opera browsers will not support h.264 for use with the new HTML5 video tag because of uncertainty over its patent situation – they only support the open source Theora codec (and now WebM).
Meanwhile, Apple’s Safari browser and Internet Explorer 9 will only support h.264, not Theora.
And Google’s Chrome browser supports it all: h.264, Theora and now WebM.
So essentially, whatever format you pick, it’s incompatible with 50% of users or more.
HTML5 promises to enable us to do some very cool things with video – but it looks like instead of just being able to get stuck into playing with it, we’ll have to work around these big problems of incompatibility, depending on what format we choose to work with. It feels like Quicktime vs Windows Media vs Real all over again. We got around all that last time with Flash video. HTML5 is supposed to be the Flash killer.
The excitement revolves around the hope that WebM and its VP8 codec may deliver quality and compression to rival h.264, and will be supported by Firefox & Opera, and potentially YouTube – without the patent uncertainties and costs that h.264 has for commercial users.
Will this make a difference? Will it convince Apple & Microsoft, and gain cross-browser compatibility? Or does the arrival of a serious rival for h.264 just give many years of new life to a battle that might otherwise have been won by h.264 comparatively quickly?
Or is it just generally a good thing to have happened and I shouldn’t be looking a gift horse in the mouth?
So I’ve arrived in Sydney on my way to NZ and finally getting a piece together after my subtlemob experience last Thursday in London (Duncan Speakman’s Subtlemob “As If It Were The Last Time”) I see Rupert has mentioned this in an earlier blog and linked to Hannah Nicklin’s great description of the event.
At 6pm we all turned on the soundtrack, sometimes we were given instructions and sometimes we watching other people carry out instructions. Duncan describes Subtlemob as “a piece of invisible cinema” sometimes you are walking through a film and sometimes you are performing in that film.
When I spoke to Duncan after the event about how the idea came about he said it was about a different way of working, he’d been interested in flashmobs but wanted to make it more about the experience as opposed to a video that would end up on YouTube.
So instead of video of the event itself, here are a couple of clips of Duncan talking about it, that I shot on my new N97:
Interestingly Duncan said that the performed piece didn’t all happen how he expected, there were things that he thought might happen and loads of things that he never expected. There was one point when we were told to move quickly and change direction when people noticed us, Duncan had expected this to be a really intense dark moment but in fact it became a game. For me this was one of the best bits, suddenly we were laughing hysterically with complete strangers in the middle of Covent Garden
Part of the idea behind the piece was to make us aware of our surroundings – as an example, the realisation that if you smile at people in the street they don’t smile back at you. I certainly found this when I utterly failed to get one person to smile back at me.
The soundtrack worked really well on that dark wet night and I especially liked the fact that after it was over other players (strangers!) stopped to have a chat about it in the street… it definitely had the effect of connecting you to your surroundings and others around you. I think the “invisible cinema” is a fantastic concept and highly recommend the experience. I’m looking forward seeing what Duncan does next.
Last night, Charlotte took part in Duncan Speakman’s ‘subtlemob‘ in Covent Garden.
Imagine walking through a film, but it’s happening on the streets you walk down everyday…
when you put on the headphones you’ll find yourself immersed in the cinema of everyday life. As the soundtrack swells people in the crowd around you will begin to re-enact the England of today.
I was in Devon, so couldn’t be there, and Charlotte’s now on her way to New Zealand via Cardiff, so her reporting of the experience might be a little delayed…
Luckily, I just saw that Hannah Nicklin has written a great post about it here.
And Duncan has already posted this video of people talking about their experiences:
After London last night, it happened in Bristol today at 5pm (when I was stuck just outside Bristol in a traffic jam with a screaming baby) and will happen again tomorrow (Saturday), in Liverpool at 4pm.
– Update: Kieran has responded with answers to my questions in the Comments
Even though OpenIndie has been getting a lot of attention recently, it’s taken me a while to sit down and properly look at what they’re planning to do. Partly because of all the other things on my radar at the moment, partly because I knew they’re focussed on independent feature films.
It’s being put together by Arin Crumley (of Four Eyed Monsters) and Kieran Masterton from the UK – seems they’ve been planning it for a long time (5 years and 1 year respectively), and now it’s funded, it’s due to be launched on March 1st.