Author Archives: Catherine

SoundCloud, But Better

SoundCloud, But Better

SoundCloud has announced a redesign. The social sound platform’s new design will be available immediately but only through via private beta invites. Ho hum. It will go out to everyone else in the coming months.

SoundCloud launched in 2008 and wants to make sharing sound as easy as sharing photos and videos on the internet. A niche that just may make their business one of the next big things.

This is how SoundCloud describe themselves: Capture a voice, moment or music in seconds or upload audio you’ve already created. I use SoundCloud for my online magazine and so does my music writer, Alex. There is a free version and a premium version. The cheapest premium version is €9.00 per month and the most expensive is €59.00.

My favourite thing about SoundCloud is that DropBox which can be embedded into any site. It looks quite cool too.

Alexander Ljung, founder & CEO said: “Over the past few years we’ve been championing the need to unmute the web and have signed up over 15 million sound creators in the process. Today we are pushing further towards that goal by launching a private beta of the Next SoundCloud, which delivers a simpler, faster, more social sound platform to help everyone appreciate sound more.”

Eric Wahlforss, who is the founder and CTO, also said that the next version of SoundCloud “has been re-engineered from the inside out”.

Wahlforss continued “It’s much more than an aesthetic change. By making use of state of the art technologies available in the latest generation browsers, we’ve created a technology platform that enables us to provide a much better user experience and develop new features faster.”

So what about the users? Well, pre-update it is pretty easy to use. It is actually such a brilliant idea that I am surprised no one has done it before, and that is the sign of a good idea.

To find what you are looking for just enter a genre, sound or band, and you will have a wealth of choice in a nanosecond. Then when you choose something it is streamed directly into your chosen device. When you find an artist you like you have an option to follow them and receive real-time updates and their latest track. You can then share any favourites on Facebook, Foursquare, Tumblr or Twitter. You can also record your own sounds or music and send them along to whoever you like.

You can download the free SoundCloud app on iTunes. Sign up for a private beta invite here: next.soundcloud.com

By Catherine Balavage

Selecting The Right Cloud Service – Which Cloud?

Selecting The Right Cloud Service – Which Cloud?

So you have decided to go with cloud computing, now what? Now you have to choose a cloud service.

Price will probably be the first thing on your mind. It is hard to price cloud computing services. The price changes with the amount of RAM, storage, CPU power and OS. CloudTweaks has a cool article on price comparison tools here.

You will have to decide on how much RAM, storage and CPU you need. What platform you are on. Then you have to decide if you want a pay as you go service. When you take all of these questions into account it is easy to see how finding the perfect cloud computing service might not be an easy choice, and will certainly take a lot of time.

Then you have to decide if you want a local cloud computing service or if you don’t mind it being on the other side of the world. Where your data is based should not be an issue but if things go wrong or you want to call customer service you might balk at the price of your phone bill.

You can go with a brand name like Amazon, Google or Microsoft’s Azure. The best thing to do is ask around. Asking friends can save you a lot of time and hassle.

Dreamworks used the Red Hat Cloud for Monsters Vs Aliens and MovieCloud, which I have previously written about, it popular with independent filmmakers.

A filmmaker called Tiffany Shlain has used cloud computing to amazing effect for her film “A Declaration of Interdependence” which was featured on YouTube and has been translated into 65 languages thanks to the Cloud. Shlain says in this article:

“Now, we are taking Cloud Film making to a mobile app. In the coming weeks, we will release the free CONNECTED app for iPhone, android and iPad that will add even more tools to the collective toolbox of participation for both CONNECTED and the LET IT RIPPLE series. This free mobile app has built-in recording so that you can participate by contributing to the next film, sharing your stories about using the films or about interdependence, or your ideas on the “participatory revolution.”

The app also includes a regularly updated database of research and posts about “connectedness in the 21st century,” information on how to host a screening, and instructions on how to use interactive discussion tools where both the host and the audience can engage with the research, conversation cards, and discussion book before and after the film. You can also license our Educator’s Edition and receive both printed materials for the class and the mobile app to engage, participate, and give back. The app is yet another way of redefining the relationship between the creator and the receiver. Cloud Film making is about everyone participating”.

I will research CONNECTED further and get back to you.

Another thing to consider is how easy it would be to switch. Getting locked in isn’t going to help if you change your mind. Read the small print. I am going to look at every cloud computing service from the perspective of a film industry professional. I will also ask film making and TV professionals which cloud service they use. If you work in the entertainment industry then get in touch with me.

By Catherine Balavage

Microsoft Office In A Cloud

Microsoft Office In A Cloud

Everyone from students to screenwriters use Microsoft Office. It is probably the only thing that both Apple and PC users can both love and not argue over.

Last Monday, Microsoft announced Office 13. Microsoft has already began to boast about the features in the new edition of their money-spinner and it involves the cloud. John Jendrezak, Microsoft Partner Group programme manager, has announced on the Office Next blog that the updated Office software will be able to save documents to Microsoft’s cloud computing storage service Skydrive. Once the document is uploaded into Skydrive the file can be accessed from phones, tablets or Window’s 8 PCs.

Jendrezak said: “With the capabilities that we’ve built into our roaming settings service, we’re able to create new settings that will roam with you across any connected device. For example, Word and PowerPoint make it easy to get right back into your work by remembering where you left off in each document or presentation. These features extend to your mobile device as well. For example, your Windows Phone will show your recent files for one-touch access while you are on the go.”

But what for Apple users? Does Microsoft’s rival to Dropbox and Google Drive work on a Mac? Yes. Microsoft has made a very smart move to take on it’s arch rival Google and Skydrive works with Apple OSX. It also works for the Xbox 360.

You will also be able to share documents with almost any device that includes a web browser. This is brilliant for people who work in film. Scripts are constantly redrafted and schedules are subject to the whims of weather and sod’s law.

“We’re also delivering the SkyDrive app with the next version of Office, so you’ll also have all your cloud documents-as well as your photos, notes, and videos – available on your hard drive,” Jendrezak said.

For busy professionals on the go Jendrezak also says “If you’re on the go away from your PC and want access to your Office, subscribers can take advantage of Office on Demand, a new way to quickly deliver full Office applications to a PC within seconds,” Jendrezak said.

“Office on Demand streams and launches a temporary copy of your personalized office application without installing it permanently, and when you close the application, it and the files you were working on are gone.”

Users will also be able to post their projects to social networks like Facebook or email them to a colleague through the share dashboard.

By Catherine Balavage

The Pros And Cons Of Cloud Computing For Film Professionals

The Pros And Cons Of Cloud Computing For Film Professionals

Cloud computing is big and here to stay. In fact it is hard to think why it took cloud computing so long to become prominent. The pros come thick and fast: convenience, low cost, a back up of your data online. But not everyone loves technology. For those waiting to join the cloud movement some questions remain. So, let’s break it down and make it easy for you because cloud computing is becoming a significant platform and you will be left behind.

The first question people usually ask is ‘What if I get hacked?’ Well, it is always possible. Even the Pentagon has been hacked. The way to get around this is to go with a good cloud-based service. Ask friends for recommendation. These services have a business obligation to protect your data and their business. They will access where the risks are and act accordingly. They will have security on their data centre.

For filmmakers piracy will always happen. Security of your content will be higher in a cloud than it is in the hands of people.

Another issue is cost. Not all filmmakers make a lot of money and incomes can go up and down. Most cloud-based services are reasonably priced, especially for what you get. Moviecloud.com is cheap and also gives you access to technology and customers. If you are just using the cloud for storage then you could probably get a good amount of storage from $10 a month. This all depends on what you want and how much data you have. Gigabytes cost money. Cloud computing has tangible benefits so any costs will be worth it.

Another frequent question is streaming. Can you stream your films from a cloud? Yes! That’s what Lovefilm and Netflicks do. You can not only stream your film but you can stream it to a laptop, iPad, Xbox or a Playstation. If you are a small company this may not be affordable initially but the technology is there.

Some people wonder where there data is being stored. The answer is complicated. You probably won’t know where your content is stored. It could be in France, Singapore or America. It shouldn’t concern or worry you. You could also get a ‘private’ cloud. This means you will be given a specific data centre.

I will be looking into pricing in a further article. If you have any questions about cloud computing and the entertainment industry then ask away.

By Catherine Balavage

ScreenerONE: The Latest Cloud For Film

ScreenerONE: The Latest Cloud For Film

Film, like every other business, has to constantly adapt or die. Filmmakers are constantly on the lookout for the latest technology to make things cheaper and easier. Last week I wrote about Ultraviolet and this week it’s Arvato’s platform for cloud computing: ScreenerONE

Arvato, one of the world’s biggest media and communications companies, showed ScreenerONE at The National Association of Broadcasters, which is the largest trade show of it’s kind in the world, in April of this year.

ScreenerONE is a cloud-based content platform. Like most cloud-based platforms it allows collaboration between different people and companies. Arvato showed the features of the new platform along with Microsoft as it uses Microsoft Windows Azure Media Services.

ScreenerONE allows all video, sound, music, storyboards, photos, documents and scripts to be uploaded and edited from anywhere else in the world. The benefits of this are obvious. In the global village of the film industry people from London to Los Angeles, to Canada and Romania constantly have to be in contact with each other and have to collaborate. The ability to do this has vastly improved and reduced costs in the entertainment industry. It also saves time. People no longer have to post things to each other, that also saves money. It also removes the risk of things going missing. The importance of which can not be undervalued.

So who is using it? Well, interestingly it turns out that all daytime drama TV shows in Germany are already being produced using Arvato’s digital distribution services. Daytime TV drama producer Grundy UFA have said that they have made ‘significant’ savings, have increased productivity and that the quality of their work has also improved.

The new version of ScreenerOne can also be used on an iPad now. This is essential as they are ubiquitous in the entertainment industry. The updated user interface also allows direct access to archived content in the cloud and storage systems, you can also put all of the content straight into the editing software. Anyone who has spent hours trying to upload software into their editing software via their computer will rejoice at this. It really isn’t the most fun way to spend your time.

Arvato has chosen Signiant’s technology for its ScreenerOne service. Christian Horz, V.P. of media technology and business development for Arvato said:

“Signiant’s technology was the ideal choice to provide the digital content exchange components of ScreenerONE.

ScreenerONE is fulfilling its promise for our global media customers by eliminating the need for time-consuming creation and costly distribution of physical media. The result is faster turnaround for screenings, reviews, and approvals using a service that enables a mobile work style and reduces time to market.”

What’s your opinion?

By Catherine Balavage

The Adobe Creative Cloud: Designing In The Cloud

The Adobe Creative Cloud: Designing In The Cloud

Adobe is a brand name on the internet. We pretty much all use it. Trusted the world over for it’s design and publishing tools. What is less known is Adobe’s digital hub: Adobe Creative Cloud.

Adobe Creative Cloud allows connectivity with Adobe Touch Apps. Creative Cloud enables a mobile workforce, essential in today’s modern workforce. Adobe Creative Cloud allows you to do the things you would expect with cloud technology, create, explore, share and deliver your work using any Adobe Creative Suite desktop tools, including new applications like Adobe Muse and Adobe Edge, which is not available on the traditional Creative Suite packages.

Creative Cloud is being offered as a membership and costs $49 per month. It is not a small amount of money but medium sized businesses and upwards would hardly notice the sum. Creative Cloud always includes the latest version of every Adobe application. The apps can only be installed on two computers but has the advantage of supporting installation on a Mac and a PC, which resolves any compatibility issues.

Creative Cloud enables a mobile workforce to work from the start of an idea all the way to publishing. The new internet-based services it has allows the user to make high-end digital magazines and first-class, interactive websites.

Adobe has conceived it’s cloud to work in collaboration with their desktop and tablet software. You can use 20GB of online storage, view and share across different devices and transfer any files into Adobe Creative Suite to tweak or improve.

While all files are sync-able you can control what files are shared with whom, you can also do web hosting on five sites, do book app publishing and have unlimited use of iOS magazine. Users can set who can download and view shared files.

Adobe have plans to add more apps to their Creative Cloud in the next few months. Scott Morris, Adobe’s Senior Marketing Director for Creative Pros, told The Mac Observer that in the summer Lightroom will become available to Creative Cloud subscribers, as will Edge.

Creative Cloud doesn’t require online access to use the apps. They apps download and install just like the traditional Adobe software. However, you will need internet access once a month so you can verify that your Creative Cloud Subscription is active. Creative Cloud includes all of Adobe’s apps.

All in all the launch of the Creative Cloud is good for creatives and those working in advertising and marketing. Adobe are the good standard for web design and the possibilities the Creative Cloud brings can only assure it’s place as a must-have in the creative sector.

By Catherine Balavage

Is Ultraviolet What The Film Industry Needs?

Is Ultraviolet What The Film Industry Needs?

Is Ultraviolet What The Film Industry Needs?

It could be argued that the film industry is built on hope. Movies are a fantasy and millions of actors head to LA in the hope of movie stardom. Now the film industry itself has a hope: the hope of getting it’s consumers to buy films again, and this time in a more cost-effective way. Not producing DVDs and DVD cases: the film industry is going online and selling via cloud based services. It is all about the end users.

The film industry is arguing that cloud-based streaming will beat downloading, which takes up a lot of hard disc space and can take time. You can also stream to any device. Streaming also fixes one of the most annoying things about buying films: your purchase becoming obsolete when the latest technology comes out. See VHS, although Blu-ray is yet to kill off DVDs.

If this is a hit and it enables digital sales – or “electronic sell through”, as it is referred to the film business then the film industry will be sitting pretty.

Are these hopes futile? Can cloud-based services make consumers start buying again instead of renting? Well, that is up for debate, but the film industry sure is taking a shot. Retail sales have been dismal but the film industry is hitting back. Last year Ultraviolet was launched. Rick Finkelstein, chief operating officer of Universal Pictures said: “We have to make EST easier, If you can store a movie in the cloud and watch it on any device, that’s a great consumer proposition. And you don’t have to watch it in 24 or 48 hours, like you do with rental.”

So what exactly is Ultraviolet? It is a a cloud based rights locker and authentication system. It also has the backing of big retailers like Best Buy, technology groups HP, Intel and Cisco and phone brands Nokia and Motorola. Apple have bowed out. Possibly working on their own?

Universal, Paramount, Warner Brothers, Sony Pictures and Fox have all jumped on-board Ultraviolet. In fact, every big studio has except Disney.

There has been some controversy about Ultraviolet: Walmart announced in March an exclusive disc to digital conversion service which started on April the 16th in more than 3,500 of their stores. You can bring any DVD or Blue-ray disc and get it adds to your Vudu movie collection, but it will cost you from $2 per movie to watch the movie you already paid for online. If you own a non-HD DVD it will cost you £5 to upgrade. There has been some uproar from consumers at paying twice to watch a film. They may have a point since it cost movie studios basically nothing to store the movie in the cloud. At most you are talking two cents and a further four cents to pay to stream the movie to the user.

By Catherine Balavage

Movie Cloud: Will It Democratise The Film Industry?

Movie Cloud: Will It Democratise The Film Industry?

Movie Cloud: Will It Democratise The Film Industry?

The first thing to really change independent film was the DSLR. Personally I have made a movie on a Canon 60D. It is a stills camera that shoots HD, cinema-quality film. The independent film route is a hard and brutal road which has practically no money in it. Or is it?

cloud movie

Hollywood legend Dov Simens has launched the Movie Cloud with Derek Christopher (president of TV/Film Seminars). But what is it? Simens says it will revolutionize the way independent films are produced, distributed, and consumed.

Simens and Christopher consider Hollywood to be a monopoly. Only 200 of the world’s 50,000 independent films that are made get released every year. Movie Cloud want to make sure people see the other 49,800.

Movie Cloud has three main components and 15 sub-components

1. Movie Studio (Millions of virtual production offices and theatres for writers, filmmakers, actors, directors, producers, movie fans and more)

2. Movie Bank ($175 Million in potential production funds)

3. Movie Theater (50,000 independent films/year)

Anyone with a DSLR, a laptop, some editing software and some friends can make a movie. It is getting it seen and making sure it is good which is hard. Anything that helps you do that is worth shelling out for in my opinion. Simens also has a brilliant reputation in Hollywood as a teacher. I know as a film-maker that having a database and software all integrated together in a movie cloud is an invaluable resource. I am making a film at the moment called Prose & Cons and my film making partner, Steve McAleavy, lives in Doncaster and I live in London. Separations of hundreds of miles are what cloud computing is made for. You don’t even need an office.

In an interview Simens said: “You even get your office. You do not need a brick and mortar office anymore…you pay $3-4 per month… You don’t have to come to Hollywood anymore”. If the Movie Cloud really takes off then there will be a new word in the film industry: democracy.

Getting your film seen is an uphill battle and moviecloud.com offers an audience for your film. Moviecloud consumers can watch your film, and you can network with other filmmakers all over the world.

I personally think moviecloud.com is brilliant and I reckon I will be joining. If I do any downsides I will report in a future article.

What is your take?

By Catherine Balavage

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