Posts tagged CES

How Not to do a Live Stream


Like many others yesterday, I eagerly awaited the Microsoft CES keynote and the chance to see Steve Ballmer once again have a Developers Developers Developers moment on stage.  Although it was initially marred by a power outage which delayed the conference some 20 minutes and damaged a Media Center TV and an ASUS eeeTV demo, what really made me pull the plug was what Microsoft did to the live stream itself.

Initially it was plagued with audio problems. The stream started too quiet, then suddenly lost the left channel, then the left channel came back but killed the right channel. At one point I’m certain there was some sort of loop in a volume normalization system, as gain increased continually for at least an entire minute. Of course, these issues are technical and completely understandable given the fact that nearly everything needed to be restarted after the power outage.

So imagine my disgust, and the disgust of others, when during the Microsoft Xbox 360 part of the keynote, the following comes up right as they prepare to show the Halo Reach trailer:

Microsoft LiveStreams, now with DRM

Absolutely incredible, censoring a live keynote because of IP concerns from the very company throwing the keynote. Even better, apparently the Xbox team wasn’t made aware that there was any problem at all with what was going to be shown:

Sorry that had to black that out….I did not know :(t -Major Nelson

Even more strange, the content that was shown wasn’t new, in spite of the fact that the announcer lead-up to the video made it sound like it was going to be. It was nothing more than the Halo Reach trailer released over a month ago.

It’s a video…not a #haloreach demo. -Major Nelson

Why then did this content merit censoring the live stream for nearly 3 minutes? Is Microsoft not comfortable with using the public spectacle and attention that is CES to promote its own products and games? Is it honestly concerned that showing a trailer for a game in a live video stream constitutes some sort of breach in IP? What?

That, by itself wouldn’t be noteworthy, it was what followed that really iced the proverbial cake for the Keynote.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice...

Yes. They did it again. If you’re so inclined, the video is here for everyone to view, now that we’ve been all made feel like children.

There is seriously so much wrong with doing something like this to the thousands of people watching the live stream that aren’t at CES but are still interested, that I don’t even know where to begin. In fact, I don’t even have to, because so much of that is obvious. But not, apparently, to Microsoft. Shortly after was when I stopped watching.

Nice of Microsoft to leave end-user-facing employees that work and try hard like Major Nelson to pick up all the pieces:

Reagarding[sic] the Reach blackout on the stream…..I am going to talk to some folks about that #notcool -Major Nelson

Ok, I need to take a walk and have a little chat with some folks. -Major Nelson

Fast Forward to Today

Imagine how shocked I was today, when during Paul Otellini’s Intel CES keynote the following popped up on the livecast:


I’m still not entirely certain whether, once again, the stream had been interrupted due to intellectual property concerns, DRM, or simply because they didn’t want to show more 3D parallax (despite having done so just minutes before).

Whatever the case, this seriously needs to stop.

The Challenge of Marketing 3D

Although I couldn’t make it to CES this year, I have been following it pretty closely through reading liveblogs, news items, press releases, and unsurprisingly live webcasts. Unsurprisingly, probably the main highlight of the conference this year is popularization of 3D media. Displays, cameras, movies, and all the compute power to render, edit, and distribute it.

What’s become immediately obvious, however, are the challenges that this new format will face before becoming widespread. The most glaring of which, is how all the 3D I’ve been able to see so far is this:


No, not Bono or how content providers hope this will sell yet another copy of media we already have, or how 3D is somehow the end of movie piracy ( this time in a 3D format. Parallax.

Of course, parallax is fundamental to how 3D displays work; you present different images to each eye with the subject shifted proportional to how much depth should be perceived. The chief problem that I think adoption will face is that, ultimately, you need to see an example of 3D to become a fan of 3D. In essence, it’s impossible to convey what 3D displays look and seem like (especially over print or 2D monitors) until you already have one.

Forget the primary hurdle to 3D, the glasses (unless you have a very special 3D monitor that doesn’t require them because it uses voxels or a surface pattern to create the parallax). It seems to me like, already, you’re going to have to go either see a 3D movie or find a very lucky friend who has a 3D monitor to make an educated decision about it yourself. And although it seems like the industry has already decided this is the next big trend, consumers must first be convinced it’s the way to go.