Tech Briefs: Mobile-Video Issues in Focus

Apr 25, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Last year at this time MobiTV was about the only service offering video for cellphones. Now Sprint TV, Verizon and others have joined a marketplace that’s expected to grow rapidly. But a tangle of business issues needs to be resolved as content providers look to move forward into this new market. The emerging mobile-video business needs more customized content and traditional brand marketing to grow beyond the small user base of today. Those were the themes of the Mobile TV and Video Forum produced by iHollywood that ran concurrent with last week’s National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas.

“The thing that strikes me is the complexity that faces the content owners,” said Ian Blaine, CEO of thePlatform, which publishes content across digital platforms. “We are looking at a world that is more complex, and not only the type of content but proper editorialization of the content … just spitting a clip out may not be the appropriate scenario. It’s not only the right content but presenting it in a way that can be digested easily.”

While short-form content seems to work best for cellphones, it’s conceivable that over time consumers could watch an episode of “The Sopranos” on the mobile phone while on the go, said Dean Macri, president and CEO of Cielo-Group, which delivers content for wireless customers. But for that to happen, the cellphone will need to evolve into more of a digital video player that’s converged with the phone and can draw content from a DVR in the living room and then sync up with that device when the viewer is back home, he said.

Last week SprintTV added live content from Fox News Channel to its service. The service delivers a simulcast of the cable network with commercials included at up to 15 frames per second.

Avid Unveils Editing Component

Avid has introduced a new component to its iNews newsroom computer system that incorporates nonlinear editing capabilities into the system, but in a way that’s easy for journalists, rather than editors, to use. The new option for iNews is called “Instinct,” and it’s designed to allow reporters and producers to work with video directly in the user interface of the newsroom computer system. They can cut and edit video for stories without the complexities of a traditional editing system. A producer can click on a piece of B-roll, for instance, and drag and drop it into a script. The system can then indicate how many seconds are needed to read that copy and trim the video accordingly, said Jonathan Edward Howard, principal broadcast designer with Avid.

“So it’s built with the journalist in mind,” he said. “One of the design criteria was to have an editor look at this and say, ‘It’s useless.'” That’s because the system needs to work for a journalist, not a trained editor, he said. He added that journalists could send their stories to editors for finishing or directly to a playout server for less-complex pieces. The system will be available in the fourth quarter, and ABC News has committed to buy Instinct for 100 workstations.