How do you make a TV Show about making a TV Show even more self-serious than Aaron Sorkin did?
Somehow, Apple found a way.
Say what you like about Aaron Sorkin’s Sports Night, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and The Newsroom. The fact is, for all these shows could struggle against the sense that Sorkin was taking things far more seriously than the stories they were telling justified (Particularly Studio 60 with its heavy handed post-9/11ism and The Newsroom with its anvilicious – albeit justified – skewering of the modern news media), Sorkin at least understood that Television is supposed to be fun and the shows about it should be too. Continue reading →
Paul “TVPaulD” Douglas and Tom “SteepInKline” Kline are back with another roundup of their thoughts on the Electronic Three…But this time, there’s Video. And it’s broadcasting LIVE. This manner of nonsense can only lead to trouble, and it’s all right here.
Nigel has a dead-on understanding of the nature of TV going forward. I have long been trying to make people realise that the traditional TV is the natural home of video content, and integrating content with the existing TV paradigm is the optimal experience. Hence my belief that Smart TVs are the only worthwhile innovation TV manufacturers have pushed since FullHD (except ultra narrow bezels, which are also fantastic).
Going into this week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, I was as jaded and cynical about the video gaming industry as I have ever been. In years gone by, for every E3 in the past eight years, I have gone in excited to see what was going to be shown. Ready and eager to be wowed by the big three platform holders. Usually, at least one always did manage to excite me. More often than not, it was Nintendo, whose fun-first games design philosophy has always really spoken to me. But many a time, Sony showed a Killzone 2 or Microsoft a Halo: Reach (Halo. But with jetpacks) or what have you, and I was as delighted with their showing as I as when I first saw Nintendo’s Wii in action, in 2006.
Last year though, nothing anyone had to say about home consoles enthused me especially. Nintendo’s Wii U revelations were neat, and it’s undoubtedly a cool bit of hardware, but not in a “huge leap forward” kind of way. And aside from the interest in the exciting newness of Wii U, nothing but 3DS games really caught my eye and made me go “wow, I need to own this!”.
The back half of last year, I got Halo 4, Epic Mickey 2 and Borderlands 2. There were some other games I was interested in enough to have played if I had more money, but nor was I sat in my room before E3 2013 thinking “gosh I missed so many good games”. I’m going to be playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown from tomorrow, thanks to Sony generously giving me a free month of PSPlus, and I have wanted to check it out. But it was the game’s coverage upon its release at Giant Bomb which got me interested in that game, not E3 2012.
Really, I left E3 2012 feeling throughly bored. Very little in the home console space felt new, exciting or fresh. The PS3 and Xbox 360 were still pushing Call of Duty and Fifa and Madden…I’m so done with Call of Duty I can’t even describe it. It bores me to tears. And seemingly every other game being touted was an out-and-out clone of it.
Madden and Fifa were given frustrating prominence at Microsoft’s #XboxReveal
Microsoft’s damp squib #XboxReveal event, where they unveiled the improbably named third Xbox; the Xbox One; compounded my feelings of detachment and boredom with the console gaming mainstream. All I could see were games I’d either had my fill of or never wanted to begin with. Sony’s “The Future of PlayStation” PS4 reveal event left me with a slightly more positive impression a while before, but it was too early to say for sure if the games were going to draw me in.
Microsoft’s event in particular presented a vision for the future of gaming which, to me, was a total non-response to everything that was wrong. It was as if Microsoft were oblivious to how expensive and unsustainable things were. As if they saw no problem with assembly-line sequels to generic games with little creativity. As if the rise of the increasingly high-quality and inventive indie games on platforms as diverse as iOS, Android, Windows, OS X, Wii U, PlayStation 3 & PSVita was mere rumour and conjecture. Here then was a console which would do what AppleTV and Roku already do at a significantly lower cost (and without the recurring subscription fee Microsoft demands for Live Gold to get at the media streaming services) and also play a load of painfully unexciting games which are virtually indistinguishable from the ones you’ve been playing for the past seven years. Except for those powered by EA Sports Ignite, which are distinct in that the engine makes character models more detailed but a million times less believable.
Apple’s diminutive AppleTV already does a lot of streaming video, for a low cost
I had been told to wait for Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference. There, it was said, Microsoft would roll out the games that make the Xbox One worth a damn. Well; after confirming ahead of time that yes, they are – unaccountably – messing around with the existing game sales model; Microsoft trotted out first at E3 and showed some relatively interesting games. None that made me sit up and really go “whoa”, but some decent ideas that had some nice graphics. Then they said they wanted £429.99 for their console. A price eerily similar to the one Sony charged for the PLAYSTATION 3 (£425), back before they resolved to make amends for their hubris in planning that system’s launch. Nothing I saw from Microsoft, game-wise, justified that cost of entry.
So then, it fell to two of the third party juggernauts to have their say. EA and Ubisoft. EA said the magic words for me with “Star Wars Battlefront”, but I was (at the time) disappointed that it was coming to platforms I wasn’t planning on owning. Nothing else they showed particularly excited me. Their next-gen sports titles continue to look horrible, and their presentations annoyed me with their superfluous buzzword names for minor physics and graphical subroutines. Ubisoft showed a couple of games I was already interested in (South Park, Watch_Dogs, Assassin’s Creed 4) but had nothing new that piqued my interest. And to be honest, I would go on to be more enthused by the Assassin’s Creed and Watch_Dogs demos in Sony‘s Press Conference than those in Ubisoft’s own.
Ubisoft’s inventive “Watch_Dogs”
Then came the wait for Sony, with me in a sort of “Meh” sate of mind. Nothing I’d seen of E3 had yet completely sold me on the continuation of the big-budget high-end video game. However, I had less reasons to run in the opposite direction than previously. If nothing else, at least they had stopped parading Call of Duty in front of me as if it was new, and had instead shown things like Watch_Dogs which are a bit more inventive.
Sony nailed it. They sold me games-wise. Kingdom Hearts 3’s mere announcement was a standout, along with the demos of Assassin’s Creed 4 & Watch_Dogs (As I mentioned), the trailers for inFamous: Second Son & Killzone: Shadowfall, the procession of great looking indie games like Transistor, Outlast and the Abe’s Odyssey remake and…Well, the real jaw dropper was Bungie’s Destiny. I was already mostly on board with the game conceptually. But seeing it in action floored me. It combines the appeals of Halo, Borderlands and MMOs into a gorgeous package. For me, it looks very much like Destiny is the next big thing – succeeding, with any luck, the painfully repetitive Call of Duty. And probably obviating the need for more Halo.
Then, as if that wasn’t enough, Sony confirmed the PS4 will not lock down games with draconian DRM, won’t require online authentication checks and is coming in £80 ($100) cheaper than the Xbox One, at a more than reasonable £350 for the 500GB hard drive equipped machine (And yes, it ships with a headset in the box, undoing a frequent PS3 frustration – unlike the Xbox One incidentally, which instead includes the divisive KinectOne. Also in the box is an HDMI cable, undoing another PS3 foible). Their hardware is significantly more attractive too, evoking the much-beloved PS2.
Indeed, the only bad news from Sony was them putting multiplayer gaming on the PS4 behind the PSPlus paywall. But with online entertainment services like Netflix still available on the free tier (Unlike on Microsoft’s platforms), and PSPlus being so compelling a service as it is with Instant Game Collection that I was planning to buy at least a year’s worth later his year anyway, I wasn’t particularly phased by that.
You can buy a PS4 and a year’s PSPlus, and be set for a year. You’d get a new game every month, for an upfront cost less than the price of one new boxed game. It’s tremendous value. Which is the key thing here. Xbox One, and the vision of the next generation it follows, and which I was afraid of, is terrible value for money. PS4, in stark contrast, is terrific value for money. I’m on board. Sony, you’re PS4 is my number one pick among next generation hardware.
So where does that leave Nintendo? They went earlier today with a slightly more understated event, a Nintendo Direct @ E3 broadcast. They didn’t blow me away. But nor was I disappointed. Mario Kart 8, the latest entry in my favourite franchise, looks fantastic. Similarly, Super Mario 3DWorld and the new Super Smash Bros pair look like wonderful new games. And the Wind Waker HD remake sure looks pretty, and having not had a chance to play it the first time around anyway, its lack of out-and-out newness doesn’t really bother me. Oh, and on a handheld aside, the new Pokémon games look like must-haves.
Definitely a more attractive slate of exclusives on the Wii U than on the Xbox One, for me at least. I’m still interested in having a Wii U, but now it’s behind the PS4 in the queue, so to speak. A PS4 I am willing to buy any time I can from launch day onwards. With the Wii U, I can wait at least until Mario Kart 8. If Nintendo are smart, they’ll do a Mario Kart 8 bundle, and I’ll probably buy that. It seems likely, given the success they had bundling Mario Kart Wii with the Wii.
So there you have it. E3 2013, when I was successfully brought back into the core gaming fold. Bravo Sony, keep on trucking Nintendo, make Battlefront good EA, for the love of god, just make it good. And Microsoft…Well, there’s always the integration of Bing with Apple’s Siri to console yourself with.
(Oh yeah, that reminds me, iOS 7 adds gamepad support, so AirPlay games are about to get a lot more awesome. That happened yesterday too. It was a busy day.)
Get hype people! For the 2012 Edition of the Electronic Entertainment Expo is nearly upon us. In just over 43 hours, the biggest week on the video gaming calendar will kick off when Microsoft Entertainment & Devices/Microsoft Studios take to the stage to deliver the first of the E3 Press Conferences, which play host to the biggest announcements in gaming’s biggest week.
It’s always worth paying attention to E3, not just because you find out about all the coolest, most exciting news regarding upcoming games and hardware but also because of the spectacle. And the memes. Dear god the memes.
And so, I am suitably excited about the week ahead. So here’s a look at what it is about E3 2012 I’m looking forward to. And in case anyone’s wondering, I’m still planning to do a Post about the 2012 Eurovision Final and the fact Soluna Samay obviously should have won, but I’m holding off on it until the EBU releases the split jurors/tele-voting results, because I want to give them a look over first.
Anyway, without further ado, let’s get to my Thoughts & Wishes for E3 2012!
Oh Microsoft, what is with you guys anyway? You had it all. Mindshare, loyal users, buckets of income, a cornucopia of beloved franchises on your hardware…And yet you’ve spent the past three E3s wasting everyone’s time pursuing a fool’s understanding of the Nintendo formula.
I’m not sure what it is which has caused Microsoft’s Nintendo envy to swell to such incredible heights over the past few years…Certainly Nintendo’s considerable success with the Wii had them looking at the Big N with considerable envy – after all, Microsoft had it in their heads that this generation was their turn for dominance. Every platform gets two generations to call their own, right? Nintendo had two, Sony had two…Then Nintendo, in Microsoft’s eyes at least, stole another turn in the winner’s circle.
Winner’s envy has never been a good look or move for Microsoft. The same thing is what led to the stillborn “zune” line of personal media players. Nor has copying ever done Microsoft much good. Windows Vista was a straight clone of Mac OS X with the Windows legacy and it bombed. Windows Phone 7 in contrast, is critically acclaimed. Microsoft, for all its history of shamelessly ripping off other people’s work, is at its best when it’s doing it’s own thing.
Which is why I think they’ve dug themselves into a hole with the Kinect. Kinect is Microsoft copying Nintendo on a conceptual level. The problem with copying that, as it has been with all notable examples of Microsoft copying other people’s stuff, is that Microsoft doesn’t understand what it’s copying. The flagrantly shoddy user experience of the Kinect is the result of Microsoft’s under-developed understanding of the success Nintendo has had with the Wii. They boiled it down to “motion controls = casual audience”. Wrong, so wrong. So painfully, juvenilely over-simplified.
The casual appeal of the Wii was baked into its very being. It’s not motion controls, it’s simplicity that won the day. Simplicity breeds intuitiveness. Kinect is wholly non-simple, and thus counter intuitive. Microsoft failed to realise that while Nintendo fixed the over-complexity of controllers with the Wii, controllers themselves are not inherently complex. Quite the opposite. They abstract complex actions into simpler ones. Kinect does not. The result is a terrible user experience. But nonetheless, one Microsoft seems to have unwavering faith in. No doubt spurred on by inflated hardware sales. The software sales tell a different story. So the big wish for me this E3 in terms of Microsoft…
For the love of everything you hold dear Microsoft, stop banking on the Kinect. The Xbox 360 is awesome in its own right. You thought so once too. Remember 2007?
Do more of that. Don’t go another year spending half your presser showing off games and game features that most people don’t want, and which will suck. No, seriously, almost anything related to the Kinect can and will suck in some way. Because it’s a wrongheaded solution to a non-problem. You’ve done it now, so continue to pursue it if you will, but let’s have some stuff that ignores it, please?
Halo 4 is so far Kinect-less. Keep it that way. New Gears of War, huh? Do yourselves a favour and keep the Kinect the hell off it. If you absolutely have to use it, just use the voice commands. And let’s get some new game announcements which are also Kinect-free. I can’t think of a single game announcement from you last year that was Kinect-free except the two Halo titles.
Cut that shit out Microsoft.
I’d also like to see you un-tie some of the internet service on Xbox 360 from Xbox LIVE Gold subscriptions. It’s flat-out dumb to expect me to pay you for services other platforms provide free access to, especially (though not exclusively) those which are themselves subscription based services. Of course you’re not going to do that though, are you?
Majorly uncool, Major Nelson.
So…About time you cut the price on the PlayStation Vita, huh?
Sony seems to be a company taking two steps forward then (at least) one back lately. They got away with the PSN debacle last year with surprisingly few wounds to show for it, then set about repeating past errors in the handheld market for…No adequately explored reason. In launching the PS Vita, Sony didn’t learn from Nintendo’s troubles with the pricing. More egregiously, they did not learn from the mistakes of the PSP.
“But Paul!” I hear you cry, “The PS Vita has two thumb sticks and like, zero piracy!”
Yeah, see, those were actually by far the least of the PSP’s worries. The lack or a right stick and the poor security were periphery mistakes. They were lessons easily learnt. Even Nintendo quickly supplied an option for a second analogue input of the 3DS. The lack of a second stick was never as big a deal on the PSP or the 3DS as it was made out to be. The PSP was a failure because it was wrongheaded on a purely conceptual level (The basic system vision and design was fundamentally unappealing outside of a theoretical scenario).
And the Vita is…Identical. The vision and design are…Unchanged. It’s so much just the PSP again that not calling it the PSP2 is quite frankly a laughably transparent coverup of its sameness.
Still, while – like its predecessor before it and unlike the 3DS and DS – it fails to offer anything unique to justify its existence, it could still find a level of success akin to the PSP itself if they’d just drop the damn price. To the point I’ll actually be shocked if they don’t announce a price drop.
In contrast to the poor fortunes of the PSVita, the PlayStation 3 is ticking along nicely. The third-placed home console is nonetheless the most successful third-placed gaming platform ever. The Xbox 360 is only beating the PS3 to second place by a few million units despite a year head start and the PS3’s preposterously shaky origin story as the Five Hundred And Ninety Nine US Dollars PLAYSTATION 3.
Sony needs to continue with its efforts to one-up Microsoft on the entertainment services front, and it looks likely they will. Meanwhile, some of Sony’s special blend of “high profile exclusives” would do well to materialise this holiday season, to see off the juggernaut that is the mighty Halo franchise and Nitendo’s Wii U.
It’s probably tempting for Sony to push a lot of high profile developments to PSVita, but that would be an error. The PS3’s position for the next year is more important. Big games for the PS3 Sony, it has to happen. The Vita has time yet, especially if you drop the price. The PS3’s got a limited opportunity to strike the Xbox 360 dead. Don’t give up on that.
A fascinating rumour doing the rounds pre-E3 has Sony acquiring cloud gaming service OnLive and integrating the service into their gaming ecosystem. It makes some strategic sense – Sony seems to be in love with the idea of PlayStation Anywhere & EVERYwhere. Seems amazing they’d be able to pull off such a high-profile gambit though. Colour me intrigued by the prospect at least.
Oh boy, this is gonna be a big one.
Nintendo are the first platform holder to blink in the arms race that is developing the Eighth Generation Home Consoles, and last year showed off some impressive tech demos and introduced us to their latest wacky idea: “I know, let’s make the DS, but like…HUGE and with your TV!”
Snark aside, Nitendo heard you liked to iPad while you TV’d and TV while you Wii’d & iPad’d so they put an iPad in your Wii so you can iPad while you TV while you Wii.
Again, snark aside, the Wii U is Nintendo’s (unfortunately named) latest vision for disruption in the industry. They’re playing a risky game though – they’re going first. Ask perennial “first out the gaters” Sega, and most recent first blinkers Microsoft, how well going first in the home console arms race usually goes.
Nah it’s probably quicker if I just tell you: Poorly.
Still, Nintendo has never been one to play by the beat of someone else’s drum. The mere existences of the Wii/DS and the DS/Wii U are proof enough of that. What Big N sorely needs to do at E3 then is show us why this…Tablet thing is worth our attention. They need to showcase games which shift the paradigm the way Wii Sports did. Having a map on the tablet isn’t gonna cut it. Blown up DS games won’t either. It needs to be fundamentally disruptive, something totally game-changing. Wii, with Wii Sports, showcased approachability unparalleled since the NES. Wii U is more complex, so approachability will be the remit of the existing Wii Remotes (Which are part of the Wii U ecosystem too of course). The centrepiece tablet controller has to offer something else.
Versatility seems like the obvious pitch Nintendo is going to run with – not least because their promo video last year showcased a number of different use case scenarios.
To that end, Nintendo is in big trouble if they don’t get their online services house in order. Nintendo Network is already an improvement on WiiConnect24, but it needs to put on a pair of big boy pants if Nintendo’s power play on versatility with the Wii U is going to pay off. It needs accounts. It needs to have communication (Seems likely they’re at least planning on sorting that out, the tablet controller is confirmed to support video conferencing in some way at least). It needs periphery entertainment solutions.
Day one, Nintendo needs the Wii U to be as personal as its name and main controller imply, but it also needs to take Nintendo’s existing social strength and combine it with their weakness, online. Nintendo blows the doors off their competitors at local multilayer and intimate social interactions. Now they need to recognise the importance of broader social and networking features and do them right.
This is something they should try and do with the 3DS too. It would benefit from software updates adding these kinds of features. In terms of games, the 3DS is doing alright. There are already some great 3DS games slated to appear at the show (Luigi’s Mansion 2, New Super Mario Bros. 2, Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion) so Nintendo are probably in good shape there.
I’d like to see Pokémon Black & White 2 make some kind of appearance in the presser, but it’s unlikely. Game Freak and Creatures Inc seem to keep their own counsel on when to show off Pokémon franchise stuff. Still, Black and White 2 is probably the DS’s last major hurrah – to the point that it’s almost baffling the pair are not 3DS games – so it’d be nice to see Nintendo show off something.
We have got to see more about this:
Professor Layton Versus Ace Attorney (Née Professor Layton Versus Gyakuten Saiban) is one of the coolest collaborations ever. It’d be great to get a date for it – especially if there as a Western date alongside the obviously earlier Japanese one.
On a similar note, if Capcom could see their way to showing or telling us something about Gyakuten Saiban 5, confirmed as inbound in January. Who’s the star? What’s the platform (It’s obviously 3DS and probably Vita, but damn it I want you to say anyway)? And when can we play it!?
I hear EA is prepping a sequel (Or some kind of revival at any rate) to the most beloved of all Need for Speed games. If the mooted Need for Speed: Most Wanted title does materialise, you bet your ass the Fandom Will Rejoice. I’m really keen to see if they can recapture the magic of Most Wanted’s story, characters, modes and aesthetic. There was something about Most Wanted that was like lightning in a bottle. It was so correct it seemed obvious – hence Carbon was mostly a clone of it (A passable if unspectacular one) and the later Need for Speed games which diverged from its formula have been, to varying degrees, let downs.
Need for Speed needs a kick in the pants after the hugely disappointing The Run (Failed to properly execute on an actually decent premise). Reviving Hot Pursuit did the franchise favours not too long ago, so there’s high hopes for reviving Most Wanted.
I also want EA to announce a Mass Effect Trilogy pack. It seems almost inevitable that such a product will come to be. Having not played Mass Effect but recently having finally found time for Knights of the Old Republic, I’d be very interested in such a pack. Meanwhile, EA also has a giant elephant in the room to deal with from the same developer: The Old Republic.
Despite EA’s repeated posturing that they have no intention of making TOR an F2P title, you have to wonder at what point the dwindling subscription numbers will force their hand. Perhaps they have another solution to the problem up their sleeves. Regardless, it will be interesting to hear what, if anything, EA has to say about TOR. Also, MAKE WITH THE MAC PORT ALREADY.
Another big one from the third parties is Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed 3. After a serious bout of Capcom Sequel Stagnation, Ubisoft is finally bringing out an all-new AC and it looks fantastic. They never, in all they hyping of the previous fur games, gave me any idea of why it was I should care. But AC3 looks like it could win me over. In a similar vein, Hitman: Absolution looks like drawing me back to that franchise after some brief flirtations in its early days.
From our friends at Disney, there’s two new Epic Mickey games. The big budget sequel, Power of Two, and the first portable entry, Power of Illusion. They both look absolutely fantastic and I’m keen to see and hear more about them.
Those are the big third party games that spring to mind as being what I’m looking out for. I’ve doubtless missed a few.
As I tweeted earlier, one of the games I want to see isn’t even a real thing, it’s a nebulous wish for a certain kind of game with a certain theme. I don’t even care who makes it. I just…I want a dinosaur game, guys.
A big-budget, kick ass dinosaur game. I want someone to do for Dinosaurs what has been done to death for zombies. I want like Jurassic park: Trespasser done right with modern technologies or something. Maybe you can capture the dinosaurs and try to train them or something? I dunno. Just…Dinosaurs guys, come on. Jurassic Park: The Game from Telltale Games is pretty good (Not quite as good as their Back to the Future effort mind you), but I want something a bit less Heavy Rain and a bit more…Actual video game.
Hell I think at this point I’d buy a Turok game.
Just get it done. Dinosaurs are rad. Why is nobody making dinosaur games? Seriously, I saw like THREE new zombie games last year. It’s played out – and I LOVE killing zombies. Let’s shoot dinosaurs for a while, how about it?
And the Pro Editors are hopping mad about it. You’ve probably seen the brouhaha all over the tech corner of the web, with Pro Video Editors fuming at Apple’s slick new upgrade for Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Pro X which EOL’d Final Cut Express and the Final Cut Studio Package, unifying Pro and Express and splitting the Studio Suite into three core Apps all available on the new Mac App Store. What’s got the Pro Editors hot and bothered? They’ll tell anyone who asks (And anyone who doesn’t) that it’s simply the fact that Apple has abandoned them, Apple doesn’t care about Pro any more because this App is “unsuitable” for professional video editing – it’s not Final Cut Pro, it’s iMovie Pro! (Note the irony here: the iMovie Pro name is supposed to demonstrate that Final Cut Pro X is not a tool for Pros. One would wonder then why it has Pro in its name even in this derisive nickname?)
Here’s the truth. That’s all a load of FUD. And I’ll tell you why: the reality is, the world of video has grown and changed. Pro Video Editors? They have not. They’re dinosaurs, stuck in a world of TV (TV Networks in general can be considered at least partially responsible for the dinosauric attitudes of the Editors owing to their cheapness and general unwillingness to upgrade technology – many still require masters on tape) and film in an era where video has shifted.
Simple question for you: where would you say you saw the most video content in the past 24 hours? For most of you I’d wager the answer is not “Traditional TV broadcast” and certainly not “in a movie theatre”. Nor is it likely to have been film or TV on DVD/Blu-Ray. For most of you, the answer is probably “the web”, or some variation of it – such as on-demand on a TV.
Apple’s aim with Final Cut Pro X was to produce a Pro Editing App for the modern era. Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere and even Sony Vegas are all built from he perspective of the past. And it’s one the Pro Editors love. It’s conservative, it’s heavily keyboard-driven, it’s bathed in dependence on timecode and syncing and preposterously complicated formats and drivers and encoders and decoders and tapes and format wars and piles of jargon-heavy windows with unusual and complicated interfaces. It’s built on a foundation of “you’re going to do x by doing y or else z is going to break unless you a b and reverse the c of n”. In short, it’s complex, hard to learn – harder to master – and inaccessible.
Existing Pro Video Editing Apps are built with the wrongheaded belief that you should be made to learn the App to edit the video. It’s My Way or the Highway with Avid and Adobe. Even FCP 7 was guilty of this to a certain extent.
And that was weird, because it’s not Apple’s way. Nor is it a credible way to design a video editing app. A lot of Avid Editors will scoff at the idea of someone using the new Smart Tools Avid added in the latest version of Media Composer. Know why? They use the mouse. Editors don’t like the mouse, they like the keyboard. Know why? Cos anyone can use a mouse, and video editors are special. But that’s their own hang up. If they want to prove you need to be a Pro to be great at editing, then the tools shouldn’t matter. A Pro should always be able to edit better than a consumer, regardless of the App, otherwise their training in editing theory was an expensive nothing.
The real reason the Pro Editors all hate FCP X so much is simple and twofold: it makes editing too easy and it’s not optimised from a conservative worldview.
Final Cut Pro X is optimised for an all file-based workflow. Do you know who uses all file-based workflows?
Oh sure, some independent web producers use tape or DVD in their workflow right now (I believe Cinemassacre do, or at least did until recently) but it’s more about that kind of work than any specific producer. I myself do use a tapeless workflow. And FCP X cures literally all the bottlenecks and hangups in my workflow. Better yet, it operates in such a way that editing is easy, the App gets out the way and lets you arrange the video and audio and export for the web with ease.
Independents like me and the other examples do need Pro grade tools – I couldn’t use iMovie for what I do – but that doesn’t mean we need Avid Media Composer. I’ve been professionally instructed in Avid and I still hate using it because it constantly gets in my way. Likewise Premiere Pro which I found to be mess of complications and incompatibilities – as well as being hideously ugly and suffering the worst UX of the big three (FCP, Avid and Adobe Premiere). The App being simple o use is very important in the era of democratised video:
Sometimes the editor is the talent. And the producer. And the cameraman. And the writer. And the director. Certainly that’s the case with me. In this era, we need pro tools which do not require speciality training in order to use.
Pro Editors hate all this because it means change which offends their conservative nature and it also means they might not be able to command such high salaries or face tougher competition. Unfortunately for them, that’s just the way it is.
About ten years ago, Apple heralded the birth of a new era when they claimed that home video production was about to be the next Desktop Publishing. Like the way desktop publishing took longer to evolve than assumed and wound up a very different beast (The World Wide Web supplanted the original vision of people printing their own newsletters, but had an all the more devastating impact on the traditional print industry because of its inherent advantages, including cost) Apple is being proved sort of right, much later than they probably planned.
The big growth in video is small operations – less than ten people on the whole production, often as few as one person or two people doing to the majority of the work – producing for the web. Final Cut Pro X was designed with that in mind. The response thus far has suggested it’s the answer to a question no one asked at best and at worst, the wrong answer to the question the pro editors asked.
The truth is, the Pro Editors were asking the wrong question. FCP X is the Right Answer to the Question the Modern World Asked.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Twitter. In fact, I’m notorious for it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Twitter is my “life online”. But it’s not just interesting for the way in which I can update friends on what I’m thinking or doing. It also represents an exciting shift in the way the web is acting.
Ever since its rise to popularity, the Web has been hailed as the fastest and most up to date way of accessing news and information. But in it’s so-called 1.x state, it remained largely a daylight system, at least for the mainstream.
Geekery continues at all hours of course, and if one has an interest in things taking place on the other side of the world, you can often find new stuff at any given hour.
But these are relatively limited, altogether niche applications of the Web’s ability to update at any given moment. They are constrained by that human phenomenon, “Office Hours”. Web 1.x was characterised by a revision of the same Publisher mentality that reigned in Print Media, later augmented by the rolling update mentality of Television.
But with the advent of Web 2.0, those mentalities are no longer relevant. News sites and so on continue to function in this manner, by necessity, but User generated Content is unaffected by Office Hours. And cares naught about time of day.
Web 2.0 has spawned the true 24-Hour Web. Users are constantly providing a live or near live stream of information and content, updating sites like Wikipedia instantly with breaking news. Twitter tracks reactions to events in real-time.
Qik, a leader in mobile web streaming, and similar desktop-oriented sites have given us a platform for providing video coverage of just about anything, far faster than any TV or WebTV crew could arrive on the scene. This change, as it stands, is nascent.
There has yet to be a major event that can demonstrate the power of the User-Controlled 24-Hour Web, but it’s already showing signs that it is coming. Real-time reactions to Elections, international sporting and media events and so on have already become the norm. I, for one, would feel lost without a Twitter to post my thoughts on breaking events.
The time is coming and coming soon when you’ll be able to ignore conventional reporting and just get your news from the 24 Hour Web.
I don’t know about you, but I think that’s awesome. And it should prompt innovation in conventional broadcasters/publishers, as they need to find a way to catch up.
CBC has a show called The Fifth Estate (Or, in their world, “the fifth estate”). It’s ostensibly an investigative show, roughly in the vein of the UK’s Dispatches or Panorama. Recently, the show aired this monstrosity. It is the single worst piece of journalism I have seen in quite some time. It is a textbook example of where media is evil.
As someone who loves to make and consume media of all types, it pains me when I see it being used for ill-deeds. To some, that sentence would conjure up images of government propaganda, to others it would connote “corrupting our nation’s youth with the values of people with more open minds than us”.
Few though would recognise a very real misuse of the media which occurs, to varying degrees, every day. I call it casual sensationalism. Casual sensationalism is a very special kind of lying, a unique way of mis-leading people which is impossible without the media.
Traditional sensationalism involves what is sometimes referred to as “superliminal” messages (A reference to an episode of The Simpsons). That is, very, very open statements of opinion proclaimed with an urgency of conviction and provocative rhetoric designed to encourage the audience to agree with the general message. Newspapers such as The Sun and The Daily Mail do this all the time, as does Fox News in the US when they run exposés.
Casual sensationalism is far more insidious and is in use across all outlets in all media. In casual sensationalism, the outlet does not make it obvious they have an agenda – often proclaiming the opposite (Fox News does this with much of its output). This is the biggest moral problem with casual sensationalism. This lack of honesty is used to fool untrained audiences into believing what they are seeing is news and not opinion.
But how is it done and how does it relate to Top Gun?
The most common trick is the “expert”. Media outlets often bring out an “expert” to back up a claim. This talking head then says a piece which reflects the editorial opinion, and then the conversation is done. The interviewer/moderator does not call this person out or question them – maybe only presenting the alternative viewpoint in order to allow the “expert” to dismiss it.
By bringing up the alternative viewpoint at all, the outlet makes itself appear unbiased. But pay attention to the framing of the questions. Compare it to the interview with the dissenting voice. These interviews are almost always later, and are tonally more aggressive than those withe “expert”. most would never notice this discrepancy.
Why? Because the outlet inserts sufficient screen time or column inches between hearing from the “expert” to enforce their claim as truth in the audience, so that by the time the dissenting voice is heard from, unsuspecting viewers are already being told he or she is wrong, no matter what they say.
In panel discussions, the gap between hearing from the two is not there. But rest assured, you always hear from the one the outlet agrees with first, and questions directed at the dissent are usually “response” questions – designed to make the dissenting opinion appear weak, on the defensive.
Then of course, there is the selective use of quotes, where only material which helps the outlet’s point is used. I think it’s pretty obvious what that does.
The Fifth Estate’s “Top Gun” does all of this and more. The presenter acts as if she is a concerned citizen, only looking out for our interests. But she never gives the people who are in favour of gaming a fair shot.
Whenever they cite a positive, or a flaw in her argument, she immediately puts them on the defensive, or is aggressive in her attempts to force the into proving her point (In one section, she badgers the interviewees, trying to force them to give a quote which supports her apparent belief that video games are immoral rot).
Not once does she question the parade of psychologists, therapists and concerned friends or family about their belief that games are at fault. She fires off questions which allow them to make their case, and spoke to them first. It’s classic “expert” interviewing – softball “make my point for me, you’re right” questions.
The dissenting voices? They are left to be under siege by aggressive “you’re wrong because of this, that and the other thing, how dare you think what you do” questions.
The impression an uninformed viewer would get is that:
A)All gamers have addictive personalities
B)Brandon Crisp’s death was more to do with video games than personal problems
C)The video game industry should be doing parents’ jobs for them
D)A majority of gamers are immoral and aggressive, and those who are not fall prey to the evil machinations of this multi-billion dollar brain-rotting empire
E)The report must be accurate because the kid’s family and game-playing friend seemed to be agreeing with it
F)Major League Gaming is irresponsible
G)This was not an isolated incident
None of these things are true. And yet, without prior knowledge of the events, the gaming community, games as a medium and media tricks in general, I might not have known this.
And therein lies the concern for me. This is not a show watched by people who are involved heavily in the gaming community. Rather, it is watched by the same kinds of people as are likely to allow it to create a moral panic.
It is dangerously irresponsible for a show with such an audience to be allowed to present such blatant falsehoods as fact for the purposes of spewing editorial drivel, without any dissenting opinion being given adequate coverage.
Top Gun is an utter disgrace. It is a disgrace to CBC (Who should not have allowed it to be paid for). It is a disgrace to Canada (Which is more open-minded and left-wing than this corrupt drivel reflects). It is a disgrace to television (Which gets a bad name every time rubbish like this is aired).
The show’s producers, directors and writer/presenter should be ashamed. But they probably aren’t and here’s the worst bit:
Neither are the thousands upon thousands of other producers, directors, writers and presenters guilty of this kind of thing the world over.