Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: That's Entertainment

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  • Don Christie,

    The poll on throng asks if "Will you use TVNZ ondemand?" and gives lots of "no" options.

    Of course, the options that are missing are:

    "No, because of the DRM." and
    "No, because of sucky file formats".

    given the above...

    "No, because the BBC is going to YouTube".

    Otherwise, I would be a "yes".

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1615 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    "No, because the BBC is going to YouTube".

    Otherwise, I would be a "yes".

    The BBC content on YouTube will largely be promotional - clips from both classic and new programmes. In the case of new programmes, it will be driving viewers to the Beeb's forthcoming iPlayer service, which will offer paid downloads to a global audience.

    Unfortunately, it seems likely to suffer from precisely the same sucky-file-format-with-DRM problem.

    TVNZ is, at least, promising a MacOS solution later this year. But it's going to be a hard road, given that their market is the group of people already prepared to download very large files. And that group isn't going to think much of paying for files that - yes, really - die after a week, and which aren't available until the programme screens locally, which may be months after it screens in it country of origin. At some point, this whole market is going to have to change completely

    OTOH, Rick Ellis told me that TVNZ is also in negotiation with the iTunes Video Store, which at least means files you can keep.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18701 posts Report Reply

  • Jason Kemp,

    Re: Your Listener column - On the loudness / compression subject - I have noticed the sound differences as I still don't have an ipod and use a real stereo to listen to music on.

    That this excessive use of compression & audio trickery is actually exhausting is a key point.

    And explaining the difference between loudness and volume etc.

    There is a a great piece on austin360.com see link below - lots of other background on why/how this happens.

    Montrone was essentially saying that there are millions of copies of CDs being released that are physically exhausting listeners, most of whom probably don't know why their ears and brains are feeling worn out.

    Everything Louder Than Everything Else

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 215 posts Report Reply

  • Sebastian,

    Excuse when I lost orientation with all the blinking ads, popping up lately on the public address ... but dont you think it goes a bit over board with the ads here? to replace your header with an ad that´s even bigger than the pa head - it just boggles the mind of a long time hardnews reader ... sorry for this interruption. couldn´t find the right place to vent this ... but it´s so sad to see that also pa gets platered over with ever distracting ads ... i mean, i really know that vodafone runs new zealand, you don´t need to put it here too. do you?

    Berlin, Germany • Since Nov 2006 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Excuse when I lost orientation with all the blinking ads, popping up lately on the public address ... but dont you think it goes a bit over board with the ads here?

    As I said a few days ago, agency creative for internet advertising is a major problem. I suspect it's designed by people who don't use the internet a lot. The particular flashing ads you're talking about are cost-per-click ads served when there isn't other paid advertising for the position (technical reasons, long story) and I agree, they're annoying. I'm working on an alternative: creating a class of ads that do the same job but are designed in-house and don't suck. Bear with me.

    to replace your header with an ad that´s even bigger than the pa head

    I held off banners on the main PA site for a while, but its a fact of life that that's the format advertisers want. It's not necessarily awful - I thought the creative for the Herald Online campaign last month looked really good on the site.

    it just boggles the mind of a long time hardnews reader ... sorry for this interruption. couldn´t find the right place to vent this ... but it´s so sad to see that also pa gets platered over with ever distracting ads ... i mean, i really know that vodafone runs new zealand, you don´t need to put it here too. do you?

    If running a Vodafone ad means I can make this my job instead of scratching around in the increasingly exploitative business of freelance journalism, yes I do need to do it.

    But a question: how many readers would pay a one or two dollars a week subscription for PA without the ads? Like everything, it would cost yet more money to set up (and I've spent thousands in the last few months), but is it worth pursuing?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18701 posts Report Reply

  • James Graham,

    Sorry Sebastian, as a content producer I always get annoyed with people who expect quality content but not only don't want to pay for it but can't even avert their eyes from a few ads.

    The internet does not produce zero-cost content, someone has to spend their limited time to produce it. Thus I consider it a privilege to view a quality web site for free not my inherent right. If someone wants to cover their costs or even get some reward for their effort, good on them.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • matthewbuchanan,

    with an ad that´s even bigger than the pa head

    @Sebastian: the PA header was reduced in size to accommodate the advert and so as to not push the content any further down the page than was necessary. Irony eh.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 161 posts Report Reply

  • noizyboy,

    ad? what ad?

    oh yeah. firefox adblock. niiice.

    and re: loudness. on the local music front: the feelers are loud. (and crap.)

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 171 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Hmmmm, hold off on the subs idea for now, try and crack the creative for better ads for your site and start a wee sub-brand that provides Creative for Websites That Don't Suck. There will be an initial ramp and you may need a few tips, but then you'll be ontoit.
    You are right to get off the freelance journo treadmill, but don't leap too far, ad copy freelance pays way more, I know I did it for 11 years.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Sebastian,

    May I also note on the subject of the "compression desease" - by the way, it occurs to me that another article on "visual compression" on the internet might go well with the discussion of mass compression of audio material -

    I think it´s a very old subject and I can remember the time when - during my apprenticeship as a radio and tv technician - we were reading in books - of FM radio technology and that it was such an advantage to AM in terms of dynamic range.

    In the 80´s only few stations were heavily compressed - at some stations - especially those GDR stations, which were using old analogue technology - you could still have almost 1:1 dynamic range from the record player in the studio, as far as translates into FM. Ok, there was much noise in the low ranges, but it was still better than the "audible foam" that todays stations beam across the country. And think of the costs and effort thats being put into high quality audio equipment in radio stations, just to compress music that apparently has already been compressed.

    It started with the car-optimzed radio stations. And so is probably the thinking of your major labels who mess up music recordings in the way you desribe. The CDs must be car-compatible. In a car you can not listen to a wide dynamice range, you need everything as one static block of noise ...

    I stopped listening even to special music shows on FM, as even those shows are so heavily compressed that you can hear the airconditioning of the studio before the host comes on - in silent moments so to say, when the mic is open.

    But who needs dynamic range these days? Not for your kitchen radio, not for the blurry speakers of your computer or your mp3 player. These devices can not replay good dynamic range anyway.

    Berlin, Germany • Since Nov 2006 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Alst,

    Right, time for some conjecture re the new TVNZ ondemand.

    No Macs...but see below..

    International content will cost.
    NZ content free.

    iTunes 7.1 is out today and lo and behold, little old NZ is one of the only 5 countries that you can now put parental controls on TV and Movies, implying imminent sale of said TV shows and Movies on our iTunes store.

    So....

    Can we assume that the same international content soon to be available on TVNZ is going to be replicated on iTunes NZ?
    Will locally made content be a) available and b) free on iTunes NZ as well?

    If this is all correct...

    Why on earth did TVNZ bother with setting up a whole service when the tech, platform agnostic (sorry Linux) answer was right there????

    Since Nov 2006 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Sebastian,

    Yes, I know the cost argument. In the west it beats dead any criticism against too many ads everywhere.

    I have been working in Multimedia for years, almost exclusively internet. PA has always been quality and back then it wasn´t probably much more expensive to run the service than it is today. It just didn´t have so many features as it has today.

    I can understand that you need to make money to run the thing. Thats ok. If those ads are really the only way to keep PA online, then thats how it is. It was just my personal confusion as I seem to be so old fashioned in so many ways ... it was just a general concern. Keep those ads coming, I will switch to Lynx ;)

    Berlin, Germany • Since Nov 2006 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Alst,

    and also....where is TV3 in all of this????

    Since Nov 2006 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • David Hamilton,

    I have no problem with the PA ads, I reckon its an awesome opportunity you have here to do something you love and get paid for it.

    In a more general sense, I've always been surprised that ads on the internet actually make people any money. After years of working in the IT industry and using the interwebs my brain scans web pages with an utter disregard for the ads. I don't even see them beyond registering that theres something flashing somewhere.

    Do people actually click on them? Do the companies get value for them? Or is it just some kind of exercise in wishful marketing. Don't get me wrong I love me some free content, I'm just curious. Does anyone know what the research says?

    Hamiltron • Since Nov 2006 • 111 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Capewell,

    Its an interesting discussion about compression - it is coming up more and more. I think I'm of the position that I don't own any hi-fi equipment of a high enough quality to really 'get' the difference between 'acceptable' and 'perfect'. Which is a worry, but I can live with it.

    Just wondered though, about preferring to hear it on vinyl - do you mean vinyl copies of current albums? Because surely the mastering is done, and then that master is pressed to CD and vinyl, so the sound (and therefore dynamic range) is essentially the same? I could be wrong, I'm interested to know.

    Oh and I'm more than happy with the ads - as has been said, this site is great value for money as it is right now, so its only fair that you get to pay the bills somehow.

    Manchester • Since Nov 2006 • 62 posts Report Reply

  • Rogan Polkinghorne,

    David, the research says lots of things, depending on where it comes from!

    In terms of overall media spend, online was one of the biggest growth areas last year (but it's easy to achieve high growth off a low base of course).

    Media organisations have been quick to realise it's an alternative revenue stream, and while most of them aren't making mega-bucks, NZ ad agencies are generally acknowledged to be a good 3-4 years behind in their use of web-based advertising. One thing it does offer agencies and their clients is a much higher level of accountability; how many people saw it, where they came from/went to etc etc...

    A-town • Since Nov 2006 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Terence Wood,

    The adds don't bother me at all (to be honest I'm more likely to be distracted by the Monty Burns figurine standing on top of my screen).

    If given the choice between paying for an add free site and adds - I'd definitely deal with the adds*.



    *If you were to threaten me with those evil pop up video things I might yield though.

    Since Nov 2006 • 148 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    I hate audio compression. I especially hate that TV companies claim they are unable to do anything about the volume of advertisements.
    It's also frustrating (and very obvious) if (hypothetically of course) a person was to make a mix CD.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 683 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    "I hate audio compression. I especially hate that TV companies claim they are unable to do anything about the volume of advertisements."

    I recall seeing a really neat design for an "adkill" TV accessory that relied on the typical compressed audio signal to detec ads. It seemed quite easy to build...

    "It's also frustrating (and very obvious) if (hypothetically of course) a person was to make a mix CD."

    My favourite ripping/encoding tool (grip) has a setting to normalize the volume across tracks which helps with this. Maybe yours does too.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2936 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    Because surely the mastering is done, and then that master is pressed to CD and vinyl, so the sound (and therefore dynamic range) is essentially the same? I could be wrong, I'm interested to know.

    That is an interesting question. However, I wonder whether the way analogue representation of heavily compressed audio might be vexed. I look at the wave form of the feelers album from noizy's link, and wonder whether you could make such a wave form from a vinyl surface. Any audio geeks got a better theory?

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 683 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    I recall seeing a really neat design for an "adkill" TV accessory that relied on the typical compressed audio signal to detec ads. It seemed quite easy to build...

    My old TV had a built in solution. When there was too much white space in the picture, the sound turned to white noise. Conincidentally, ads tend to be the most likely source of a mostly white background.

    My favourite ripping/encoding tool (grip) has a setting to normalize the volume across tracks which helps with this. Maybe yours does too.

    Yes it does. I used to have an ethos whereby I attempted not to modify the original data at all. Which I've since given away for the obvious reason.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 683 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    If you were to threaten me with those evil pop up video things I might yield though.

    Not. Going. To. Happen.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18701 posts Report Reply

  • Nais,

    RB: rather have the ads and let all find PA than to 'lock it down' under user-pays content.

    Also, anyone shed any light on this....

    Signed up for iTunes (yea yea teenagers had it for yonks mother finally gets around to it!) and joined NZ store too. Went to download USD1.99 file to be told only avalable to Visa cardholders with US billing address.

    What's that all about? I'm willing to pay for the thing why do I have to live in Bushville to buy it?

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 22 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    ad? what ad?

    oh yeah. firefox adblock. niiice.

    and re: loudness. on the local music front: the feelers are loud. (and crap.)

    I was thinking the same thing James, I've yet to see an ad on PA..until I checked the Adblock log....

    CD compression is simply lazy. It doesn't need to be that way to make a CD sound like it leaps out but doesn't suffocate . ...refer to the work of Rick Huntington, BFM boffin, and the the finest pair of mastering ears in NZ (or Australia and the equal of anyone anywhere if truth be known). Rick has been mixing and mastering loud CDs that jump out of the speakers without audio exhaustion for close to a decade. His secrets include a little $200 spectrum analyzer box with a wave line drawn on it in felt tip which is religiously adhered. Mastering is not about maximising sounds, which is what it's become, its about definition within a range.

    Our secret with the three Nice'n'Urlich albums was the way we mastered. Listen now and they still sound loud, but keeping the warmth of the vinyl and they subtlety of the range were absolutely vital to the success. They push without clipping because the range was maintained. Rick spent days on each one rounding off sounds, emphasizing and, indeed, doing precision editing of each track's final wave. It just takes time (and ears).

    Sadly, shrinking budgets, lazy engineers who are simply doing jobs on a production line, and are under instruction simply make it as loud as possible as quickly as possible, are the culprits. That, and the fact that everybody, in these digital studio in a box times, now sees themselves as a mastering engineer.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • JP Hansen,

    Signed up for iTunes (yea yea teenagers had it for yonks mother finally gets around to it!) and joined NZ store too. Went to download USD1.99 file to be told only avalable to Visa cardholders with US billing address.

    iTunes NZ is fiddly to get started with. After signing in, scroll right to the bottom of the opening page, you can then select your country. I believe it defaults to USA.

    After you've switched iTunes Music Store to NZ, all prices will be in NZ dollars and hopefully the track you're looking to buy will be available locally.

    Waitakere • Since Nov 2006 • 199 posts Report Reply

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