“Another big Bag of Hurt” (since the USPTO asked)

June 20, 2011

As Slashdot reported Software Patent Reform Happening Now (17.06.11) and the “USPTO is inviting public comments to change the system”.

Here is my public comment, I took the liberty of adapting some of my favourites lyrics for the occasion. Do sing along by all means!

Another big Bag of Hurt (part 2)

We don’t need no software patents

We don’t need no Jobs control

No unfree codec in the classroom

Lawyers, leave them kids alone

Hey! Steve! Leave them kids alone!

All in all it’s just another big Bag of Hurt.

All in all you’re just another big Bag of Hurt.


Space Visual – Early Period (v2) (2011)

May 24, 2011

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Space Visual – Early Period (v2) (2011), 3:48

Music: Jan Joachimsen Video: Valentin Spirik (CC) 2011 BY-NC-SA

The above video is version 2 of this project first posted last October.

Some thoughts to the project

Overall Space Visual (v2) is closer to where I want it to be than version 1 was, yet a couple of things are not quite there yet:

technical:

- there is an issue with the toon edges, they appear in places where there is a certain 2D/3D logic, yet where they don’t make real sense. Not sure if this can be fixed easily… Overpaints (can be time consuming and not so much fun) will be the most practical solution here. If so then for a full HD rendered version:

- it is still only rendered in 960×540, Full HD simply takes that much longer and files are that much heavier to handle (in compositing). A hardware upgrade will make it much easier to go full HD with my online videos.

- there are a couple of features missing that I originally wanted for version 2 but then left out for various reasons: a believable cam shake, stars and grass (on the outside)

- it’s not been colour corrected in a technical sense, most of my online videos are not. There are practical reasons (effort vs necessity) and then there are artistic, or rather philosophical questions that I still have: basically the artist in me wants this to be a fully trust-your-own-eyes-and-feelings-process whereas the reality of colour correction is a rather cold, technical one with neutral-Grey-workplace-calibrated-monitor-trust-the-scopes-readings.

I want to understand how a Leonardo, a Van Gogh or a Turner could do what they did in a pre-digital time and why we today need all this complex high-tech equipment and then still are rather limited and have to make sure we don’t e.g. broadcast “illegal colours”. The artist in me says: no colour can be illegal. It’s simply a limitation and therefore can/should be challenged.

concept:

- while the minimalism of it is fully on purpose, I am wondering if part 1 (going down) works as well as it could. Since in part 2 we see halo light it may work to have dust/sun rays in part 1, this could further help with getting a feeling for the room (this I already tried to improve via textures and light:)

workflow:

- this was my first Blender project where I was not able to do an all in one render at the end: (in addition to a Sun and a Spot, and Sun/Sun for the Color/Shadow pass layer) I was using AO, Environment Lighting, toon edges and that Color/Shadow pass. So I had 3 copies of the same mesh in different layers for light/compositing reasons. Now in this setup, even if you exclude AO/Environment Lighting from the Color/Shadow pass layer, it seems that you will still get an “overall” AO/Environment Lighting render for this mesh once combined in the Compositing Nodes (=unwanted effect of meshes on top of each other)…! There is a certain logic to it, yet it also seems limiting (at least in this setup) and not quite right at the same time. So I ended up rendering my main layer first without any nodes, and then do a second round and render toon edges as well as Color/Shadow over that first render plus add other 2D effects on top (all by going through the Compositing Nodes, loading the first render and adding the rest).

As with all things 3D: there may well be a better solution for this workflow, I just may not have figured it out yet… Non photorealistic rendering (NPR) can be more tricky than you first think!

(Note: The 3D/visual part of this project was entirely made with Blender 2.57b.)

encoding:

- I still find it ridiculously hard to do open-source video (e.g. VP8) encoding (and no Blender is not the problem…). I really want this. I’m really trying. (See here and here). I’ll get there, our tools are about to get there.

Yet I also know who is to blame for high-quality open-source video encoding not being there today in every video “app” – on all platforms – in the year 2011, about 15-20 years (!) after the digital post-production “revolution” took place:

There are forces out there, multinational corporations as well as specialised law firms, who want a monopoly on a particular video codec since:

- it would be the key to control content ($$$) (imagine the possibilities if you were to own parts of a Hollywood film studio at the same time as well as an online store for movies…)

- it would be the cash cow of the century if you could just get people to pay fees for every single frame of video that is shown (“commercially”) at every given moment on this planet!

Just think of it: you could first sell them the cameras (or better: sell them a “smart” phone with a camera), and then make them work for you! Imagine a whole generation of minors, working for free for you and uploading their videos to Web 2.0…! You could make the video platform pay licensing fees and those stupid kids who work for free for you will on top of it then pay for it via having to watch yet more ads! Wouldn’t that be a plan or what…?!

I know who to thank if high-quality, open-source audio/video encoding still does not work out of the box in 2011.

I know who took care of this and who is to blame.

And I won’t forget!


Larry Horn translated for all non-lawyers!

May 23, 2010

“Yes, in view of the marketplace uncertainties regarding patent licensing needs for such technologies…”

= “In view of the FUD we spread…”

“…there have been expressions of interest from the market urging us to facilitate formation of licenses…”

= “…we’ve been repeatedly told that we are nothing but a patent troll Moloch (supported by Apple, MS and others)…”

“…that would address the market’s need for a convenient one-stop marketplace alternative to negotiating separate licenses with individual patent holders…”

= “…that is simply collecting protection money…”

“…in accessing essential patent rights for VP8 as well as other codecs, and we are looking into the prospects of doing so.”

= “…since we actually believe we own the moving image per se.”

Once more the translation:

“In view of the FUD we spread we’ve been repeatedly told that we are nothing but a patent troll Moloch (supported by Apple, MS and others) that is simply collecting protection money since we actually believe we own the moving image per se.”

Source Larry Horn interview: Digital Daily (digitaldaily.allthingsd.com)

Further reading and discussion: Patent Troll Larry Horn of MPEG-LA Assembling VP8 Patent Pool (www.osnews.com)


WebM (Google’s open video codec VP8) is here!

May 19, 2010

Maybe we now can make all of this about fair competition that serves the consumers/users/artists/filmmakers instead of a few wealthy companies/institutions…?

WebM an open media project (www.webmproject.org)

Introducing WebM, an open web media project (webmproject.blogspot.com)

“The WebM project is dedicated to developing a high-quality, open video format for the web that is freely available to everyone.”

(Update 1)

An introduction to the WebM project:

Google Frees VP8 Codec for HTML5: the WebM project (openvideoalliance.org)

The WebM Project : about : WebM Supporters (www.webmproject.org)

(Update 2)

The announcement/discussion on the web:

BREAKING: Google Opens VP8 Codec, Enables it on YouTube (www.osnews.com)

Microsoft: Internet Explorer 9 To Support VP8 (www.osnews.com)

Google, Mozilla, And Opera Take On H.264 With The WebM Project, A New Royalty-Free Video Codec (techcrunch.com)

Google tries freeing Web video with WebM (news.cnet.com)

Microsoft planning to support VP8 in Internet Explorer 9 – with a catch (www.neowin.net)

Google launches open WebM web video format based on VP8 (update: hardware partners and Microsoft statement) (www.engadget.com)

Theora Founder: WebM Project is ‘Wonderful’ (newteevee.com)

The first in-depth technical analysis of VP8 (x264dev.multimedia.cx) – [Wikitech-l] VP8 freed!(lists.wikimedia.org)

Software and Hardware Companies Jump on Google’s WebM Train (mashable.com)

Google launches open WebM web video format based on VP8 (update: hardware partners and Microsoft statement)


Save free web video incl. my own movie “Vincent”: vote with your browsers (dump all your Apple/MS browsers!)

May 16, 2010

If the MPEG-LA, the patent pool behind H.264 and MPEG-2, has it their way I am an endangered species: “Vincent“, being 44 min. long would not qualify for the MPEG-LA’s “free” offer, latest after 2015 and there is no way that I (or someone else) will be paying protection money to a fucking patent pool for “Vincent”.

My work would simply not be available online any more (thanks to software patents no alternative). Welcome to the age of Corporate Fascism. It’s standing at your and my front door. But you can still act now:

* vote with your browser: since Apple and Microsoft – both H.264 patent holders – are pushing for H.264 as the future web standard for video: simply dump your Apple/MS browsers now and use Firefox, Chrome or Opera. If not: you might be paying for the rest of your life with more ads (yes, H.264 is “free” for the end user…).

* let others know what is at stake here: those people would like to/are about to establish a MONOPOLY ON THE MOVING IMAGE (lock-in via video codec) – a pretty scary systemic change:

Why Our Civilization’s Video Art and Culture is Threatened by the MPEG-LA

And for all my younger – and not so young – readers: if this was a Harry Potter movie Dumbledore would say:

“Dark times lay ahead, Harry. Soon we’ll all have to choose between what is right — and what is easy.”


H.264 may You find the grace to give me my daily fix of decoding today

May 10, 2010

Hail to our new Overlord,

The One and only,

Owner of all legal moving pictures compression algorithms of this world,

Great conqueror of Theora, Dirac and all the other “open source” algorithms,

Master of all moving pictures distribution channels that legally exist:

May You find the grace to give me my daily fix of de/en-coding today.

Hail to MPEG LA!

Hail! Hail! Hail!


Steve Jobs, MS, MPEG LA: keep H.264, I’ll use VP8…

May 1, 2010

…since H.264 is patent encumbered. I’ll never use H.264 again and will re-encode all my online videos with VP8 (once open-sourced and usable).

Steve Jobs (quoted from Open Letter to Steve Jobs): “All video codecs are covered by patents. A patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other “open source” codecs now.”

And as it seems there is “a patent for everything”: MPEG LA

Good analysis: Jobs: Patent Pool Being Assembled To Go After Theora

Very interesting read, from the Theora mailing list: Mutually assured minefields

This is not only about video codecs, this is about the future of (free) video/moving images distribution (including post production) across a variety of devices and services. And it’s about (corporate) control over media content (via licensing fees, that you need to be able to afford, as e.g. big media always would…).


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