philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


The Medium Is the Message, 50 Years Later

Marshall-McLuhan[Philip Lelyveld comment: this story is a really good summary of McLuhan's thoughts.]

Today, of course, the water we swim in is an ocean of information and perpetual connectivity to almost anyone anywhere. To newborns, the latest iPhone will appear just as natural as a pair of glasses or sneakers. In a lecture on McLuhan’s legacy delivered in 1999 at Fordham University, Tom Wolfe stated that McLuhan considered the gap between generations as neurological, not ideological. Children raised on television were simply wired differently than their parents. For the last generation to experience life without the Internet, things are about to change yet again.

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Toshiba Satellite P50t 4K laptop review: The world in UHD

toshibaThe Satellite P50t is a large laptop with a 15.6-inch multi-touch screen. It has a brushed aluminium body with a grille above the keyboard that houses the harmann/kardon speakers.

And this screen is the hero of this device, after all it has a 3840x2160p resolution screen.

If you are one of these who has access to 4K content and will need to work on these files, you should not think twice before buying this laptop.

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4K Ultra HD Inches Closer To Mainstream Adoption

vizio-4k-tvsVIZIO, known for producing affordable, high-def displays, also launched its new P-Series, which features a 50” model priced at only $999, a 70” model at $2499, and a trio of different sized models in between. “Our P-Series collection offers an outstanding Ultra HD picture and performance,” said Matt McRae, Chief Technology Officer, VIZIO. “The shift towards 4K has left consumers demanding new solutions that deliver the right innovations to enhance their viewing experience.  The P-Series Ultra HD line-up is…equipped with HEVC H.265 codec and 802.11 ac dual-band Wi-Fi for faster streaming and the latest HDCP 2.2 support for playback of protected Ultra HD content.  This combination of technologies leaves consumers with the solutions that matter most in an Ultra HD set.”

Support for H.265, 802.11ac, and HDCP 2.2 are all well and good, but it’s the P-Series’ price points and VIZIO’s penetration in discount chains like Costco that will grab consumer attention. When viewed side by side with similarly priced HD televisions, the UHD / 4K VIZIO P-Series is going to look mighty tempting. Even if there isn’t as much native 4K content available just yet, there is some, and 4K displays can scale 1080P content just fine—it’s a clean 4-to-1 ratio (4K displays have 4x the number of pixels at 1080P displays, 8.29MP vs. 2.07MP).

There is still a lot that has to happen before 4K goes fully mainstream, but we’re a heck of a lot closer today then we were just a few weeks ago.

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A new “bundle” format turns the file-sharing network BitTorrent into a way to pay for music and other content.

“It’s the first media format designed with the fact in mind that people share stuff on the Internet,” says Matt Mason, chief content officer at BitTorrent. “Bundles let artists make a better connection with fans by selling to them directly.”

Aram Sinnreich, an associate professor at Rutgers who has studied the evolution of file sharing and the music industry’s response, says BitTorrent’s new approach could prove effective. “Here’s a channel that’s been developed entirely organically by consumers themselves [with] hundreds of millions of users around the globe,” he says. “There’s no question that it’s a viable channel for commercial artists to distribute their work, and generate revenues and attention.”

But since spending on music is in decline, Sinnreich says, record labels may be forced to leave their comfort zone and try BitTorrent’s new format, or work with companies such as Google and Facebook, which are both trying to use their video platforms to generate revenue from music and other content.

“Consumers are sharing media with each other at unprecedented rates, via social platforms and everything else,” he says. “The question is to what degree the media industries are equipped to take advantage of that.”

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Why a leading professor of new media just banned technology use in class

compu6e[Philip Lelyveld comment: these paragraphs are the gist of a very long article.]

Over the years, I’ve noticed that when I do have a specific reason to ask everyone to set aside their devices (“Lids down,” in the parlance of my department), it’s as if someone has let fresh air into the room. The conversation brightens, and more recently, there is a sense of relief from many of the students. Multi-tasking is cognitively exhausting; when we do it by choice, being asked to stop can come as a welcome change.

On top of this, multi-tasking doesn’t even exercise task-switching as a skill.A study from Stanford reports that heavy multi-taskers are worse at choosing which task to focus on. (“They are suckers for irrelevancy”, as Cliff Nass, one of the researchers put it.) Multi-taskers often think they are like gym rats, bulking up their ability to juggle tasks, when in fact they are like alcoholics, degrading their abilities through over-consumption.

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Hands-on: Gear VR is better than smartphone VR has a right to be

gearvr1-640x426As someone who has logged dozens of hours on Oculus Rift development kits and prototypes, I was immediately struck by how much more comfortable the Gear VR was on my face. It lacks the thick, heavy cable that can weigh a device down and throw it off balance. The rigid, cushioned straps on the top and back of the device allowed for nice support without forcing the screen too tightly against my face, as the Rift dev kits do. The device didn't seem overly heavy, and I was able to wear it for an entire hour without feeling any pressure to take it off (except to occasionally scratch a facial itch underneath the device).

One big leg up Gear VR has over previous phone-based virtual reality systems—and even over current Oculus development kits—is its impressive resolution. The 1440p, 515 PPI display on the Galaxy Note 4 doesn't totally do away with the problem of visible pixels, but it's above or equal to most any other consumer-grade VR product on the horizon.

Gear VR also offers the kind of smooth, jutter-free screen refreshing that you just have no right to expect from cell phone hardware. Samsung and Oculus are advertising latency of less than 20 milliseconds between the time you move your head and the time the scene updates on Gear VR, thanks in part to additional head-tracking hardware in the holster itself.

The only thing that really breaks this immersion is the lack of any lateral head tracking on the Gear VR. Unlike the Rift DK2, which uses an external camera to figure out when your head changes position, Gear VR has no way to account for any head movements, aside from angular direction. Very quickly, you learn not to lean in to look more closely at a virtual object unless you want to feel your stomach drop.

For those looking for the best quality VR experience, the Gear VR seems likely to be a mere stopgap on the path to the eventual consumer version of the Oculus Rift. Gear VR will likely be available in a matter of months, and only for a few hundred dollars on top of a cell phone you might want anyway. It seems more than good enough to provide a solid, proof-of-concept virtual reality experience that will be easy to show off to friends.

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Oculus Rift in the classroom: Immersive education’s next level

kids-620x465Aaron E. Walsh, director of the Immersive Education Initiative, a 7,000-member non-profit consortium of colleges, universities and companies developing standards and best practices for virtual reality-based learning, says though the first virtual reality headsets came about in the 1990s, “[for] every one of these immersive technologies, it takes decades of refinement and enhancement before it gets to a point where it’s actually viable.” He believes the arrival of the Oculus Rift and Sony Morpheus, both expected to be priced at a few hundred dollars, signal the crossing of that threshold for headsets. Over time, they could be more cost-effective, than, say, field trips.

Because Kansas City is one of the cities to enjoy Google Fiber’s 1 Gigabit-per-second Internet service, the library project is meant to showcase the capabilities of Internet that’s 100 times faster than average broadband. It uses the combination of Oculus Rift and Minecraft (unofficially dubbed Minecrift) to allow the students to re-imagine their neighborhoods. The idea for the project came out of a discussion between Marcus Brown, the digital youth engagement associate, and a student who was wondering why his neighborhood didn’t have the sort of upscale restaurants or shopping he saw in other areas of town. 

But ultimately, how well educators are able to take advantage of virtual environments remains to be seen. “I could imagine a dystopian world in which only the rich kids go on field trips, whereas the have-nots are forced to view things in virtual environments,” says Ratan. On the other hand, he can envision a utopian world in which virtual field trips make education more accessible to everyone. As technology advances and the obstacles of bandwidth and price fall away, we’ll see what happens next.

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Philip Lelyveld – Virtual Reality primer and overview.

Virtual Reality - the video of my Sept. 14, 2014 brief (18 min.) Virtual Reality primer to the Vizual>NOW conference is posted here on Facebook and here on Youtube


Con-Tech: 4K Production, Color Gamut and High Dynamic Range

Con_Tech_2014_1Higher dynamic range in both the cinema and CE viewing experience was a recurring message yesterday at Con-Tech: The 2015 Preview Seminar. The NAB Show and the International 3D and Advanced Imaging Society held a seminar on content and technology trends including 4K production, color gamut, HDR and new workflows. The event, hosted by Paramount Pictures, featured panelists from companies such as Barco, CableLabs, Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Film Magic, Lionsgate, RealD and Technicolor.

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Video: Cirque du Soleil Does Its Thing… With Drones

Cirque du Soleil is known for doing incredible things with the human body. Now it’s doing incredible things with quadcopters.

In a collaboration with ETH Zurich and its Swiss spin-off company Verity Studios, Cirque has gussied up a brigade of drones to look like lampshades floating about their creator’s workshop. I’ll leave the rest for the video.

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