Glenn's Junk Chest

An assortment of Glenn's writings, photography, gaming resources, flash movies, and other creative output.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Photos: Confusion 2005

For the past three years, my family heads up to Sturgeon Bay to hook up with a dozen or so other families for an event we call Confusion. In general, the idea is to enact a science-fiction convention in miniature, with as many of the trappings as practically possible. As I do at Oddcon (a real SF con), I run a movie room, but other activites abound, and this year, as in previous years, we had plenty to do. Here are some photos.
Ivy Prepares to Travel
Rose Readies for the Art Show
Gaming in Living Greyhawk
Dread Pirates Bill and Griffin

I'm also working on a quarterly newsletter to help us plan for next year, which looks like it will be in late March. I'll post a link to the newsletter here for people that don't want to track down the dead tree version.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Video: High Definition Trailers

I'm really into movie trailers. I like to download them to my computer and show them to friends at parties and conventions, or associates at business meetings, for that matter. For quite a while, Apple has been my staunch ally in this effort, putting almost every movie trailer of note online on their site in high quality, easily downloadable Quicktime movies.

Now, it may be that they've gone too far.

With last week's release of Apple's new OS, Tiger, they've included a new version of Quicktime. (Version 7, for those keeping track). One of the things introduced in the new version is a video codec called H.264. From wikipedia:
The intent of the H.264/AVC project has been to create a standard that would be capable of providing good video quality at bit rates that are substantially lower (e.g., half or less) than what previous standards would need (e.g., relative to MPEG-2, H.263, or MPEG-4 Part 2), and to do so without so much of an increase in complexity as to make the design impractical (expensive) to implement. An additional goal was to do this in a flexible way that would allow the standard to be applied to a very wide variety of applications (e.g., for both low and high bit rates, and low and high resolution video) and to work well on a very wide variety of networks and systems
Now, with each movie trailer for a movie I'm really interested in, it can sometimes be hard to resist the temptation to go through the trailer frame by frame, analyzing
Serenity's Crew in HD
what is (or isn't) there, and trying to figure out stuff about the movie that the trailer shows inadvertently. With the upcoming Firefly-based movie Serenity, this temptation was already there, but Apple has made it far, far worse, because they are posting some trailers and clips in High-Definition resolutions, such as 1920x816, using their fancy new codec. (I've extracted a frame of the video so that you can get a sense of the amount of data we're talking about, here. Here's another.)

And my lowly 867Mhz G4, so good at so many things, is totally and completely unable to play them at speed. It drops frames like crazy. If I want to peek at the all the HD goodness that Apple is offering, I practically have to do it one frame at a time.