October 5, 2011

Products should be designed to get the job done

I read an article from Harvard Business Review about Marketing Malpractice. In article they say that thirty thousand new consumer products are launched each year. But over 90% of them fail. Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt used to tell his students, "People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!".

Thing is marketers often solve the wrong problems, improving their products in ways that are irrelevant to their customers' needs. In my Superior EPG for Connected TVs (I need some name for that...) idea I simply try to solve customers problem choosing what channel to watch when he/she turns on TV. And that's it. Nothing more. But do it in superior way that hasn't been possible before connected TVs. So probably my service won't include social media connectivity, deep search functions, mobile app integration etc. because those are irrelevant to job I'm trying to solve and just make service bloated and more difficult to use.

So I think it's very important to remember products should be designed to do some particular job. To make people's lives easier. And when adding new features you should ask are those features really helping to do this job or actually just making things more difficult.

Business Model Canvas for my idea

Based on the concepts found from Alexander Osterwalder's book Business Model Generation we were supposed to develop a business model canvas for our ideas. So here's business model canvas for my Superior EPG for Connected TVs idea.

(Click on picture to see it larger)

Some further things we were supposed to consider.

Is there growth potential in the field you are in?
  • Whatever people are saying TV watching is all-time high. So TV is far from dead. Truth is it's much more fragmented nowadays because we have more channels.
  • Connected TVs are now niche but 2015 most TVs sold will be connected.
Is there $$ involved? Are your future competitors making money?
  • There's lots of money involved if it's possible become THE PLACE where people first go when they turn on their TVs.
What is the consumer need for the service and how big is your potential market?
  • Consumer need is to have the best and easiest to use EPG on the planet. Potential market is all people who own connected TVs.

October 4, 2011

Another media service idea - EPG that doesn't suck for connected TVs.

Generally EPGs (Electronic Program Guides) suck in televisions. Those are landmark of bad engineer driven user interface design. Why we can't have have great looking visual EPG with information, pictures and videos about TV programs? One reason is that with current technology it's been impossible to transfer anything else than TV programs name, short information and schedule data to EPG. Bad UI design is to blame the TV manufacturers.

Now we're seeing first phase of connected TVs in market. Samsung, Sony, LG and Google all have TV-sets/set top boxes available with internet connection and app framework. So theoretically anyone can create apps for these televisions. By 2015 almost every television sold will be connected.

What if we build superior EPG app for connected televisions? It must be very simple and it's only purpose is to show quickly and visually what's coming at the moment/next from different TV channels. Of course you could also look forward and backward for a week but it'd be targeted especially to what's coming now (+-2 hours) so it could be made visually very attractive.

Even traditional television is nowadays more complex with new channels coming almost monthly. Often when I sit down and turn on TV I have no idea what I'll watch and try to look something interesting from EPG. So If we could make superior EPG that people prefer over television's own text based and boring one it could become huge advertising medium and so on business.

September 29, 2011

My media service idea - refined

As an pre-assigment for MediaBizLab we had to generate some media service ideas. Now after first lecture we were ordered to refine our ideas. I decided to continue with my advanced web grocery store idea. I call it now grocery shopping 2.0. Main motivator for me is that everyone has to eat (except zombies), I hate shopping and therefore I'm big fan of web shopping. So here's my refined idea as SlideShare slides.

Manual of Me

In first MediaBizLab lecture we had to analyze ourselves based on Foursight analysis technique. My result was that I'm driver. Means I'm high ideator & high developer. So here are some points you should know when working with me.
  • I usually have lots of ideas and if I get excited about some idea I might feel little bit aggressive to other people because I put so much energy to implementing it quickly. Just remind me that maybe we should think little bit deeper and I'll calm down. And I really value all opinions :)
  • If you're more clarifier or developer I really need you because you slow me down and focus better on right problems and select what ideas we should really push forward.
  • Clarifiers! If you need some implementing horsepower maybe I'm the right guy for your group.
I promise to remember my strengths and weaknesses to make most out of group work. And yes all the skills are really needed to make breakthrough innovations. Point taken.

September 20, 2011

Experimenting with Adobe Muse

As a part of MediaBizLab studies I'm participating to Tools of Digital Media -course where we have to do some exercises with Flash, Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Final Cut Pro. Our first exercise was to build website where we can host all our other exercises. We were supposed to use Dreamweaver for that. I'm not a coder (although I've done some webpages by hand in the beginning of 2000) and maybe because of that Dreamweaver has always felt awfully complex piece of software for me.

I read from Adobe Muse and realized it's freely available for beta testing. So I grabbed my copy and started to experiment. I have to say I feel very positive about the software. I understand it's restricted at the moment for simple websites without content management systems and maybe the code it creates is little bit long and not so clear but it seems to be valid and working. There's definitely still need for real web developers with coding skill but for some small businesses, personal home pages, prototyping etc. Adobe Muse is awesome!

You can find the page (only in Finnish) I did as an course exercise with Adobe Muse here.

September 16, 2011

Pre-assignment for MediaBizLab

So like I posted earlier this academic year I'll be doing MediaBizLab minor studies program. It's about to begin next friday (23th of September) and we had to generate some media service ideas as an pre-assignment. So here's mine.

1) Advanced Web Grocery Store (with open API)

With some limitations it's been possible to order food from web and get it brought home. I'm super bad/lazy cook and even if I found recipe I like, I find it painful to find all the ingredients from market. I would any day pay for the service where I could choose food I'd like to cook this evening and with one click get all the ingredients brought to my home few hours later. I think Kesko or S-ketju should build database (I guess they already have some kind for inner use) for all the foods etc. they have in their each individual market and create open API that 3rd party developers can access and build services on top of that. Of course they should build their own web grocery store also but API would let many recipe sites, courier companies etc. build different services on top of that. Everyone benefits. I'm sure there's market for this. Everyone has to eat :)

2) Final Cut Pro X Freebies

Apple Final Cut Pro X is an video editing program that was launched this June. It should narrow the gap between professionals and amateurs because it's easy to use interface. Final Cut Pro X has never before seen possibilities for different kind of effect templates, graphic templates, storyline templates etc.. And people are creating lots of these templates at the moment because it's so easy and fun. Nowadays more and more companies & individuals are creating video for different kind of purposes and any help they can get from professional created templates is valued. At the moment free templates people have made are all over the internet and it's very hard to find the good ones. So I'd like to create ad-driven website called fcpxfreebies.com where I gather best of the best templates with clear descriptions, pictures and videos. Actually I've already registered fcpxfreebies.com domain but it might be I'll never have enough time to put it up. Previous version of Final Cut Pro has over two million users (probably more to come with Final Cut Pro X) so there should be some kind of market for this.

3) "I want to be in silence" -service

People want and need silence to be healthy physically and mentally. It might be difficult in todays technological landscape where you're interrupted constantly. I'd like to make service that integrates with phone, email, Facebook, Twitter etc. and informs people that I won't be available for next X hours/days and puts some nice quote there telling people how good it's for your health not to be always available. Someone said "killing your account in Facebook" is todays "I don't have television". I think not being available/being in silence can easily become trend. I think it's already for down shifters. Maybe the service itself is not bringing money but all the other things you can link to this thing (books, seminars, courses…) can easily be monetized.

August 10, 2011

Cool new plugin from MotionVFX

I've been lately testing MotionVFX's new lens flare plugin called mFlare. It should be soon available to Final Cut Pro X and Motion 5 and I can warmly recommend it. It's great! In this promo I used mFlare for beginning sequence (first 8 secs) and also very subtly to some other shots.

Learn more about the mFlare plugin: http://www.motionvfx.com/mplugs.html

July 5, 2011

Use clean title as adjustment layer in Final Cut Pro X

I love the collaboration between Final Cut Pro X and Motion 5. You can make generators, titles, transitions and effects to Final Cut Pro X with Motion 5. Each of these behave little bit differently in Final Cut Pro X.

One thing I love in After Effects are adjustment layers and I just realized you can actually use titles as effects in Final Cut Pro X and they behave just like adjustment layers (actually you can go much further in Final Cut Pro X). For example if you color correct in Final Cut Pro X it's very easy to create illegal colors and to get colors back to legal you're supposed to create compound clip and then apply broadcast safe effect to it. I also love compound clips but those can make your projects really complex and another thing is that you have to render everything once again after you apply filter to compound clip.

So titles process everything below in Final Cut Pro X even with effects applied to those. So why not just build clean title in Motion 5, put that to top "track" before starting color correction and add broadcast safe effect to it. This way everything is rendered straight to broadcast specs and you don't have to hassle that much with compound clips.

This technique works with all effects (also color board works on titles) so for example if you want to have certain look for some period of time simply add clean title to top track for that time and add effect to it. I think this technique has tons of potential for people who want to keep their timelines in order and don't want to create complex compound clip messes.

If you don't have Motion 5 you can download Adjustment Layer here. Just extract contents to your Movies/Motion Templates/Titles folder and you'll find it in Final Cut Pro X Titles under Adjustment Layer.

UPDATE 10.7.

Mark Spencer informed me in CreativeCow with this very essential information:

If you don't have Motion 5 installed, you won't have the necessary folder structure for placing that title into. You'll need to create a "Motion Templates" folder in your "Movies" folder, and inside it, create folders for "Titles", "Transitions", "Effects", and "Generators".

And still, this won't work until you do a get info (command-I) on each folder and add the ".localized" extension.

THEN it should work.

June 19, 2011

Here I come MediaBizLab!

I just got information that I'm accepted to MediaBizLab minor subject studies (http://mediabizlab.fi/2011/06/new-students-in-the-mediabizlab-minor-studies-program-2/). So my next academic year will be about innovation and business development process of digital media services. I don't know if I told you already but my first year was really media art focused so it's very interesting now to focus on business side (dark side?) of things.

June 12, 2011

Views From My Windows

I almost had forgotten I recorded some views from my windows with iPhone 4 and TimeLapse app in March. At last I had some time to put clips together. If you want to do some time lapse with your iPhone I really recommend TimeLapse app because it can save original stills to your camera roll. So you'll have much more possibilities in post.

June 2, 2011

My summer job

I'm working once again! Next three months I'll be working as an promotion producer at Sub television channel. So back to old good promos. It actually feels very nice now when I haven't been doing those for last nine months. Yeah... Sometimes it's really good to have breaks if you've been doing same thing for years. Anyway here's the first project I did after coming back. It's simple showreel of TV shows coming from Sub next autumn.

May 6, 2011

My experience about how to make international DVD with multiple subtitle tracks

Recently i onlined a documentary called My Brother, Buddhist Monk. Now I was asked if I could make a international DVD from it with multiple subtitle tracks. My first idea was that I simply burn subtitles to picture and put all different versions to DVD but then I realized that all the versions wouldn't fit to one DVD and it'd be anyway very amateurish way to do things.

I decided to do authoring in DVD Studio Pro. First problem was that i got my subtitle files in EBU STL -format and realized there's no way to open those files with free softwares. Second thing was that even if I could have opened the files, subtitles would have looked poor when done in DVD Studio Pro.

So I did some googling and found perfect solution to all my subtitling problems. The program is called Belle Nuit Subtitler and it allows you spot, edit and render subtitles for video editing, DVD authoring and digital cinema. It opens all professional subtitling formats and makes great looking subtitles for Avid, Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio Pro etc.. It costs 130€ but it's nothing compared how much easier it makes your life. I warmly recommend trying the software if you need to work with translators and subtitles.

And BTW in addition to authoring the actual DVD I also created covers for it.

(Click on picture to see it larger.)

April 3, 2011

I made RjDj scene with RJC1000 & Pure Data

I just participated to Sound design and interactive music -course where we had to build experimental interactive sound piece for course exercise. We worked mainly with Pure Data and because I was already little bit familiar with how to build scenes for RjDj I wanted to try taking things further.

I found out RjDj guys have made easy to use software called RJC1000 where you can actually build RjDj scenes without using Pure Data (you can still make advanced things inside Pure Data). I wanted to try it so I made four page scene with RJC1000 & Pure Data called Tapio's Cool Beats where you can control soundscape and some instruments with microphone and accelerometer. It's far from perfect but at least you can get some meaningful sounds out of it :)

If you have iOS device and RjDj installed you can download scene here with mobile Safari.

March 28, 2011

Playing with iPad 2's new iMovie

Just bought new iPad 2 last friday when it was released here in Finland and immediately downloaded new iMovie app. I have to say iMovie is much more usable on iPad 2 than on iPhone 4. You can actually edit hours with it. So I uploaded some material from my christmas holiday to iPad and edited short cheesy holiday piece in an hour.

All the material was shot with iPhone 4 and Flip Ultra HD. Nice surprise was that it supported Flip Ultra HD's video natively. Although I had to put video material first to pictures folder in my computer and then sync through iTunes because connecting Flip Ultra HD straight to iPad gave me an error for consuming too much power.

Also now when looking video I actually realize that there seems to be sound glitches in cuts where Flip Ultra HD's video material was used. Strange. Anyway if you shoot with iPhone 4 then iPad 2's new iMovie is absolutely the easiest way to edit short pieces on fly.

March 21, 2011

I color corrected & onlined a 30-minute documentary

I've been mostly working with short form audiovisual production such as trailers, promos, advertisements. So getting a chance to color correct and online a half an hour documentary was a nice opportunity to try something new.

Name of the documentary is 'My brother, the buddhist monk' and it tells about Santeri (26) who decides to become a monk in Thailand and give up everything he has in Finland. His sister and the director of documentary Anja Ahola, wants to understand her brother's great decision to leave behind his possessions, friends and family and to become an ascetic Buddhist monk for the rest of his life.

Anja shot all the video herself. Mostly with Sony HDR-FX1 but also with some cheap HDV camcorders. So I got all the material in HDV format. I decided to master documentary in 720p because I had to reframe, deinterlace and noise reduce many shots so after all the post-processing there wouldn't have been actual resolution up to 1080p.

I onlined documentary inside Final Cut Pro 7. For color correction I used mainly Red Giant's Colorista 2 and Mojo. For deinterlacing shots from cheap HDV camcorders I used Red Giant's Frames. Almost all the products from Red Giant are great but I have to say what really saved some shots is Neatvideo's excellent denoiser. There were some really dark noisy shots with lots of HDV compression and Neatvideo did excellent job getting rid of all the artifacts. I think Neatvideo is one those plugins everyone who shots in not so ideal conditions should own. It really makes your production value higher.

(Click on picture to see it larger.)

And if you're in Finland remember to watch it!
Documentary premieres on April 5th at 8pm on Yle TV1.

February 25, 2011

My first real Flash job

Okay, everyone hates banners. So do I. But after learning Flash for a while it was nice to have some real life project where to put my new skills to use. So I made series of animated banners for Merlin TV-series which premieres 19th of May on Sub. I definitely won't become full-time Flash designer but it's nice to have one more tool in my pocket where I can make some basic things if needed.

If interested you can still see one original live banner here (Megaswf puts uploaded flash files offline after half an year).

January 4, 2011

Subject of my master's thesis

Christmas has gone and I'm back to studying. We spent three great weeks in Thailand with my girlfriend. If you want to have super relaxed holiday in Thailand I can highly recommend Bamboo Hideway resort in Koh Mak. If you don't believe me you can also read Bamboo Hideaway's raving reviews from Trip Advisor.

But back to topic. I've been lately thinking the subject of my master's thesis which should be done by march 2012. So I've little bit over year left to make it. As you might know I've been very interested about realtime graphics and particularly about realtime graphics in television broadcast.

Usually the systems used to play realtime graphics in television are very expensive and difficult to use and maintain. Also because those proprietary systems are not used by big masses there are usually lot of bugs. Another thing is that those systems are often developed from engineer perspective so user interfaces aren't very friendly for designers who are used to Adobe's After Effects, Photoshop etc..

Last years I've been experimenting with VJ softwares and other realtime video manipulation softwares and thinking why I can do complex realtime video stuff on desktop with cheap laptop but in broadcast world I must buy some super expensive and difficult to use system for those things. Okay I know there are lot of technical stuff why you don't want to use VJ softwares for television broadcast (drop frames, jitter etc.) but still nowadays you can buy quite cheaply SDI output card from Blackmagic, AJA or Matrox and output broadcast quality SDI signal from your desktop computer.

But what makes things interesting for broadcast is that with right software you can actually output videos and graphics through SDI output (without drop frames, jitter etc.) and also get fill + key from separate outputs. And when you get fill + key separately it's easy to connect computer to video mixer and play graphics overlaid on top of video.

I've been looking for some cheap desktop solutions and came to conclusion that at the moment two most interesting platforms for realtime broadcast graphics are Adobe Flash and Quartz Composer. Both have some pros and cons and I'm not saying those are easier to learn (or better) than systems used nowadays but at least those are commonly available and you can find tutorials and help easily from internet. Also for both platforms there are already some commercial applications made for broadcast use.

So what I plan to make as my master's thesis is to research how suitable these platforms are for 24/7 broadcast television. What are the advantages and disadvantages. I also plan to make some real life broadcast project with Adobe Flash or Quartz Composer and see how it works out. I have lots of stuff to do and I think I'll have to start with getting myself more familiar with systems used nowadays. I guess this is best accomplished by visiting TV-stations. Let's hope they let me in :D I'll be also testing different softwares, learning flash etc. and keeping this blog as my master's thesis diary from now on.

So in short I think my master's thesis subject will be: Adobe Flash & Quartz Composer for Realtime Broadcast Graphics - Case X.