REVIEW:  Hulu Plus

REVIEW:  Hulu Plus

If this is the future...give me the past, thanks.

By Bruce A Johnson | December 14, 2010

It's kind of hard to believe I started gushing over the Roku box over two years ago... and again here... and here. This little plastic box has really revolutionized the distribution of content, from heavy hitters like Netflix, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League, to middle-level new entrants like the TwiT Network and Revision 3, to seemingly home-grown efforts like Trigger Talk TV and Proud Television. In fact, the Roku Box just passed the 100-channel point, and there doesn't seem to be any limit to what the little box can offer.It's in the wake of this that the folks at Hulu decided to offer their new pay-service, Hulu Plus, on the Roku and several other devices. As a consequence of buying a Roku for my mother-in-law for a Christmas present (shhhhh! Don't tell her!) I got a 1-month free trial of Hulu Plus. What I have seen in the last few weeks doesn't give me a lot of optimism for Hulu Plus as a service.First, the good: Same-week streaming of network programming from Fox, NBC and ABC, the three co-owners of Hulu. This means you can catch up on your "Glee," "Modern Family" and "30 Rock" fixes without a DVR. But sadly, that's pretty much where the good times end.Much has been written about Hulu Plus' allegedly fabulous interface, but really, it seems to me to be much too linear and inflexible, arraying long lists of programs in a horizontal line for you to page through. And while they do have a fairly good selection of network programming, there are many odd omissions (where, for instance, is Fox's "The Simpsons"?) And beyond the network TV fare is a very limited list (about 525 at last count) of B-movies and unheard-of documentaries that weren't very popular in their first incarnations. But worst of all is the inclusion of commercials in a service that you have to cough up $8 a month for. In a previous life, I switched a lot of master control for a network affiliate station. All of us MC switchers knew what was at stake in every break, and we strove to make the flow as seamless and - dare I say it - artistic as possible. If Hulu has any humans inserting the commercials into their shows, I suggest they get replaced immediately. However, I'm quite certain that the closest any beating heart gets to this process is punching a schedule into a computer and pushing the "go" button. Breaks are poorly executed, oftentimes jumping into a show early (in the biz this is known as a "downcut",) sometimes to the point where you miss the punchline of a meticulously-crafted joke in a show like "30 Rock." And as dismal an experience as this is, it is a hundred times worse in long-form programs without defined breaks. One of the few documentaries I wanted to watch in the Hulu Plus list was "For All Mankind", a meticulous recounting of the NASA Apollo moon landing missions. It kind of breaks up the flow of the show when as the Lunar Module is starting it's descent to the Moon, a clumsy cut inserts a commercial for REI. And this happens just about every five minutes! Add to this the occasional video lockup and it makes for an experience that doesn't really merit the $8 per month they are demanding - especially when the new Netflix streaming-only service (albeit without the same-season network TV programming) costs the same, with much better streaming, a much, MUCH larger selection of content, and no commercials.In short, I predict a quick death for Hulu Plus. The service just doesn't justify the expense. Have you tried Hulu Plus out? What do you think of it? Read More


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Pixel Farm brings AirGrade to your iPhone and your Mac

It uses your iPhone as a controller to grade photos on your Mac. Fun if not super useful.

By Scott Simmons | December 09, 2010

Press releases flew fast and furious a week or so ago as the Pixel Farm released AirGrade for your iPhone (iTunes link). AirGrade a color grading app for your iPhone that connects to a companion application on your Mac to allow you to use the iPhone as a control surface for grading still images on your Macintosh. I hadn't played with it until a discussion of AirGrade went around Twitter the other day so I decided to try it out. It's fun and it works well but as it says on the Pixel Farm's AirGrade website: "please remember it's primarily intended as a learning tool" which, at this point, it's probably not much of practical application except as an easy way to get graded photos from your Mac to your iPhone without the use of iTunes or any other application or service. Read More


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Kicking the tires on The Foundry’s Storm beta

It's in beta, it's buggy but you can see a powerful, well-designed tool inside. Oh the future ...

By Scott Simmons | December 06, 2010

It was a busy week this past week as November changed to December and The Foundry released their long discussed Storm product as a public beta free download. Storm is a "RED Digital Cinema Camera Production Hub" and has been described by RED's Ted Schilowitz as REDCine-X on steroids. After kicking the tires on Storm for a few hours over the weekend I'd say it's not just REDCine-X on steroids but rather what will be a much more well thought out version of REDCine-X that will hopefully be more robust, less quirky, easier to use and an overall better application. And that's as it should be as Storm will cost $375 when it finally ships its paid version around March 2011. Read More


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Gifts For the HDSLR Shooter in Your Life

That Won't Break Your Budget!

By Clint Milby | November 25, 2010

For those of us in the industry who spend most of our life engaged in activities that many of our friends and family don't really understand, shopping for us can be a daunting task. Although warned to just get gift cards, sometimes our loved ones insist on getting something more personal. The result can be a gift that never sees the light of day, is re-gifted or we have to make that awkward request for a receipt which never sets well... Read More


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TecnoTur 6 (Castilian): interviews with Escuchalibros, RAMM Animation, and actress Carla Sánchez

2D animation in Latin America, audiobook production in Spain, and Venezuelan actress/model Carla Sánchez

By Allan Tépper | November 24, 2010

TecnoTur episode 6 in Castilian (aka "Spanish") is now available. In episode 6, we learn about Venezuelan actress/model Carla Sánchez's latest projects, and we briefly discuss Allan T©pper's book Unleash GoogleVoice's hidden power for 3G, WiFi, and free international roaming. Then we present the 2nd part of our interview with Rafael Andreu of RAMM Animation, whose projects have included the Castilian version of Sesame Street (Plazo S©samo in Latin America or Barrio S©samo in Spain). Finally, we discuss audiobook production with Victoria Mesas García of Escuchalibros of Spain. Here are details about how to hear TecnoTur free, or become a subscriber. Read More


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When is a NAS not just a NAS

Network Attached storage as sexy as I could make it

By Steve Hullfish | November 20, 2010

Why do other guys on PVC do all the sexy reviews about stuff like new cameras and I always choose to write about unsexy stuff like waveform monitors and network attached storage?Probably because when I write about something it's because I just need something that is going to do a job for me in the background while I get the work done with my clients and creative partners. Hence, another unsexy, but critical review of something to make your life a little better while you get out and get stuff done. May I present the QNAP TS-659 Pro? QNAP has a bunch of other NAS and server products, but this one seems pretty well suited for my small business. Read More


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Capture One - contender for Aperture and Lightroom?

Darkroom on your desktop

By Steve Hullfish | November 18, 2010

Capture One has been the professional photographer's well-kept secret for a number of years. I am not a professional photographer and learned about it from a friend who is. We were discussing Apple's Aperture and Adobe Lightroom and he said, "But there's a better option." That option is Capture One from Phase One. ( Read More


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Hey, how about a MacPro clone to give us the system we need

It'll never happen but a Mac clone might be just what the doctor ordered

By Scott Simmons | November 17, 2010

For professional editors and post-production artists the choice of Macintosh is usually almost a religious decision. We want to nothing to do with the PC, not in the edit suite or with our machines at home.Macs have always had a prominent place in creative disciplines like graphic design, photography so Macintosh dominated post-production is no surprise. The Mac OS has always felt like it was created as a simpler, more elegant way to work with your computer so that has appealed to the right-brain thinkers since day one. Read More


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Hands-on with the Panasonic AG-3DA1 S3D Camcorder

Using the 3DA1 at the Createasphere / Panasonic 3D Workshop

By Adam Wilt | November 14, 2010

Last weekend I attended the two-day Createasphere 3D Production Workshop Utilizing Panasonic AG-3DA1 Cameras in Burbank, and got a good overview of the issues in shooting stereo 3D (S3D) content, as well as some immensely instructive hands-on experience with the AG-3DA1 S3D camcorder. Read More


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Tangent’s vWave-Lite iPad app hits the app store

It's no hardware control surface replacement but it's fun and it's free

By Scott Simmons | November 12, 2010

Today Tangent Devices saw their first ever iPad app approved by the Apple Gods and with that blessing vWave-Lite is available from the iTunes App store. I took a few minutes and gave it a test run in Apple Color (sadly no DaVinci Resolve for Mac support) and while it's most certainly no replacement for a full-on Wave hardware control surface it's great for free! Read More


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Adobe Delivers Salvation for HDSLR Shooters

Cutting 7D Footage Natively with Adobe Premiere CS5

By Clint Milby | November 12, 2010

Without a doubt, the greatest challenge for HDSLR shooters has been editorial. I recently read of another new software that's supposed to magically make your HDSLR footage palatable for the finicky Final Cut Pro. Why you would ever want to put yourself through the misery and expense of purchasing an additional piece of software that takes hours to work and may crash your computer just so you can cut with FCP is beyond me. The good news is, now you don't have to... Read More


Let’s Clean Up That Shot - Beforehand!

...Without Actually Moving Anything

By Bruce A Johnson | November 10, 2010

We've all gotten our footage back to the edit bay and found something we didn't want in the frame. Light stand, audio cable, water bottle, you name it. What if we could remove irritants from the picture BEFORE the fact - without actually moving anything? Check the next page for an amazing demo. Read More


My Adobe (Non-)Switch Story

Premiere Pro Works For Me

By Bruce A Johnson | November 09, 2010

I can clearly remember my first experience with Adobe Premiere. It was in the early 1990's, and I was working full-time in the News Department at Wisconsin Public Television. I had managed to talk the news director into buying me a really new-fangled device - a desktop computer. I believe it was a first-generation Pentium, maybe 90Mhz. I had been into computers since about 1984, and had composed music and scored a lot of TV programs using Atari computers. Geekery was in my blood. So once I got the Pentium, I was poised on the launching pad for what was to come.And then I got a copy of Adobe Premiere, version 3 I think it was. And I couldn't make heads nor tails of it. Strange, buggy, crash-prone, you name it, it was just not good. Read More


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Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 Helps Keep the Peace at Home

The native 7D editing means it's easy in, easy out

By Scott Simmons | November 08, 2010

This probably isn't the usual article on a piece of non-linear editing software. There will be no discussion of professional workflows and how it's used to create broadcast television or feature films. But rather it's a discussion of how a modest beginning, dabbling with a new piece of software and one of its signature features has grown into more than just a passing curiosity. It's also about how that single feature drew me in to Premiere Pro CS5 and how that feature is helping keep the peace at home.

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TiVo Premiere for professional use

How to transfer TiVo recordings to your Mac over Ethernet or WiFi for journalistic or other pro use

By Allan Tépper | November 05, 2010

For a long time, I have had my eye on TiVo to use instead of the Comcast-provided Motorola DVR. I have known for a few years that the workflow required to re-purpose DVR recordings is much smoother, cleaner, and easier with a TiVo than what's feasible with a conventional DVR. Up until recently, the price for an HD TiVo unit -together with the monthly TiVo fee- had kept me away. However, in the month of September 2010, TiVo was giving away the latest entry level model known as TiVo Premiere when one signed up for a 2-year contract. Under this agreement, the TiVo monthly fee is only US$3 more than what Comcast charges for the old Motorola DVR rental, so the offer became irresistible. This article describes the process to upgrade from your conventional DVR to TiVo Premiere, and the available workflows to re-purpose content for personal or professional use, including the steps to enable editing in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 or (with additional steps) with Final Cut Pro.{C} Read More


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Quicktip: Easy access to the Mac OS System Preferences

I can't believe I didn't know about this before now!

By Scott Simmons | November 03, 2010

Every now and then you might come across a little tip, trick or shortcut that when you see it you scream eureka! Why didn't I know about that before now? That's exactly what happened the other day when I accidentally right+clicked on the Mac OS System Preferences icon in the dock. Read More


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REVIEW:  ProDAD Mercalli

Image Stabilization Software

By Bruce A Johnson | November 03, 2010

If you have been paying attention to PVC lately, you may have read my recent article "An Aerial Adventure." If you haven't, go ahead and have a look. I'll wait.There, now wasn't that fun? You may remember that my experience with Loran Nordgren and his AirCam aircraft wasn't entirely successful. While the pictures were certainly usable, even the combination of the Canon XL-H1's optical lens stabilizer and the Kenyon Labs KS-8 gyro wasn't enough to smooth out all the buffeting caused by being out in the wind at 70 MPH.Software to the rescue! Read More


How To Pick The Perfect Font

One Chart To Rule Them All

By Bruce A Johnson | October 27, 2010

My buddy Mark Suszko sent along this link to a great flowchart which takes the mystery out of choosing the right typeface for you project. Me, I want a copy in poster-size! Thanks to Gizmodo, too. Read More


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You can reframe your R3Ds in Redcine-X

And you can use After Effects too for creating nice closeups out of 4K media.

By Scott Simmons | October 22, 2010

When you're working with high resolution RED media in a high-definition world then one of the advantages of the original 4K image is the ability to reframe shots in post due to the different sizes of the acquired image. You can quite literally create entirely new shots without any softening of the image since the resolution is there. It can be accomplished in RED's free software Redcine-X though I have to admit it took me a bit of time to figure out how to do it. Read More


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After Effects Leftovers - Part 5

Reheating old features you forgot you had...

By ChrisZwar | October 21, 2010

This 5-part series looks at a selection of features that were in After Effects before CS5 but have been often overlooked. A total of 40 tips, tricks, workflow suggestions and general reminders are given covering topics including layout, masking, rendering and even using the interface. Part 5... Read More