We've discussed here before the problems faced by festivals and other exnhibitors one one hand and makers on the other, inherent in the proliferation of different digital file formats. The problems of 'how do we put it all together to play it?' and 'what kind of file should i send them?' While, in the past, I had advocated trying to establish some kind of low-cost standardization, where exhibitors would have to agree to 'get on the same page,' there seems to be little interest in that.
As such, I've since concluded that the best practice would be for exhibitors and makers to invest in 'multi-media players.' These are devices, generally about the size of a hardcover book, are designed to create video signals from data files on a USB hard drive, and pass them on to a video display via an HDMI cable. (They often also have internet connections to display streaming video from Netflix etc. though that's not really germane to this particular discussion.) -- I'm writing this post because I just noticed a sale on one of the most popular models of such a device: the Western Digital TV Live Plus HD Media Player is at Meritline.Com 'Daily Deals' for $62. http://tinyurl.com/855pu9g I have no personal experience with this particular model, nor have I compared the Meritline price to other vendors. It seems like a decent deal, and I've generally had good experiences with Meritline. (A lot of their stuff ships from Asia and takes a long time to get to you, but they note that on the item page. This ships from the U.S.). But I don't think this is a 'get it now cause it will never be this cheap again' thing. Just worth noting FWIW. -- Briefly, let me note how playback via such a device differs from playback via a computer: There are two ways to get video output to a video projector from a computer. An 'HTPC' (Home Theater PC) will be equipped with a separate output (generally HDMI) designed to feed true _digital video_ format signals to an HDTV display, in addition to the output for the main computer monitor. In contrast, on a 'regular' computer (e.g. a laptop) you may have an additional _computer_ monitor jack (usually DVI or VGA). Most flat panel TV type displays cannot be driven by these, but projectors can be, since projectors are almost always designed to accept both computer video AND 'true video' video. Video played via a conventional computer output usually looks OK, but there's a lot going on there technically. The computer screen most likely has a different resolution and frame rate (called 'refresh' rate in computer-speak) than the video files being played, and the software is EMULATING a video player: translating the video file into the format of the computer screen. On the other hand, if you do have an HTPC with the proper software, you're getting a 'real video' output (e.g. NTSC, PAL, 720P24, 1080P25, whatever...) This 'real video' video is also what comes out of the little standalone media players. Obviously, the 'real video' option is better, since the processing involved in creating the emulation can only degrade the image. But leaving that aside, and comparing the media player to an HTPC: * The Media Player is much smaller, simpler and it's firmware based OS is much less likely to crash. (HTPCs are basically small desktop computers.) * The Media Player will most likely accept a lot more formats (MPEG2, MP4) and containers (AVI, MOV, MKV), and be much more platform agnostic than the PC. They don't necessarily play high-data-rate formats such as Apple ProRes422, but you can put your work into a 'best' quality H264 that will look as good or better than any BluRay. * The interface of the Media Player will be more rudimentary, and have less flexibility in creating playlists. Thus it may be less capable of assembling a seemless program of shorts that play directly one after another, or doing so may require re-copying the files onto the USB drive in a certain folder structure or renaming the files to a certain convention (e.g. preceeding the titles with a number). These media players strike me as very useful to makers who travel with their work and display it some digital form. This usually winds up being an SD-DVD, since that's what you can rely on to work. This is a bummer, though, if you have a version in any sort of HD. But the media player itself is small, as is the sort of laptop external USB hard drive on which you store the files, so it fits easily into a carry on. It has a variety of outputs (e.g. component in addition to HDMI), so you should be able to hook it up to any projection system that can accept any sort of external device. You just load your files onto the hard drive, no worries about BluRay authoring, or whether your home-burned DVD will work in the player at your destination. And you can load the drive with different versions of your piece (e.g. one in 720P24, one in 720P30, one in 1080I60, etc. etc.) just in case the player only talks to the projector on some formats rather than others. _______________________________________________ FrameWorks mailing list FrameWorks@jonasmekasfilms.com https://mailman-mail5.webfaction.com/listinfo/frameworks