This question was posed on LinkedIn recently and I responded in my usual disruptive style. Arguments were made against film because 4k sensors potentially don’t have enough dynamic range because of the photon capture well sizes. I think I covered that in my response reproduced below:

While I agree that the dynamic range issue could be a problem, I think that the argument can get a little confused because you can also shutter more quickly and thus you don’t have to fill the electron well. You can shoot at 50Hz progressive frames instead of the archaic 24Hz progressive frames. You then achieve much better motion rendering and make it much easier to shoot motion than with film.

With film the intermediate process immediately reduces quality, even with the finest sensor you can never do a 1:1 transfer of analogue media without loss of ‘signal’ or introduction of noise. Celluloid noise is a nature of the structure of the molecules deposited on the base, as well as the base itself, so while this noise is ‘analogue’ and thus more acceptable to us than digital noise, it is still present. CCDs are not without noise, but it can be more predictable and controllable as many TK’s demonstrate. I think digital origination has more advantages than resolution in presenting an image that is potentially clearer and more reliable than film.

Furthermore I have walked out of films because of the poor state of the print and so I welcome digital cinema for reliable theatrical presentation as well.

If you want to see a picture that can meet of exceed that of a 1950s cinema epic then take a look at SHV from NHK in Japan (demonstrated at IBC in Amsterdam last year with a real live link from London). Their prototype camera uses four 2.5 inch (64 mm) CCDs each with a resolution of only 3840 × 2048. Using two CCDs for green and one each for red and blue, they then used a spatial pixel offset method to bring it to 7680 × 4320. Aptina/Micron are now making a CMOS sensor for NHK’s next camera which is 4112 (H) x 2168 (V) and that can capture at up to 60fps. I dare say four of those will do the job!

OK, SHV will be another 5 years away before it is practical, but it is leading the charge towards very high resolution capture at decent frame rates and someone has to do the bleeding edge development to set the bar.

D-Cinema is here, it has many advantages which balance out and for me the most important issue is doing away with people saying they need to shoot a “filmic look”, Cinema is my favourite medium but film is a legacy and we need to move on. I have no doubt offended someone with this post, but I think it needs to be said 24p should be put behind us as soon as possible.

Now this is cool, I was just browsing looking for silicon for our products and I found quite a funky little chip from Broadcom. It is the new BCM70020 which describes itself as “a single-chip, full featured, multi-standard audio/video decoder/encoder/transcoder solution targeting volume PC and PC-based consumer electronic applications.”

Not only can it encode HD from either analogue or digital sources, but it can transcode between different MPEG formats and also act as a scaler/down-converter! I think someone in the broadcast industry needs to get their hands on these quickly and create a multi-format scaler/encoder/transcoder matrix device! A few of these, a PCI-E bus and voila there you have a cool transmission ops device.

Very cool.

On the business social network LinkedIn the question was posed by Steve Cohn of T-Mobile:

Can TV be replaced as a form of entertainment, and with what ?

And amongst the other answers I wrote the following which I shall share here:

“To provide some background: I work for a company that makes Digital Television receivers, I previously lectured at a specialist college in broadcasting and I also worked for the BBC (among other broadcast companies).

After all this, I don’t own a TV and the result is that both my partner and I couldn’t be happier. This isn’t to say we don’t watch ‘TV’, we watch some downloaded and on demand content, however unlike most peoples experience with television we are not passive viewers. We actively seek out that which we would like to watch and if nothing appeals we don’t watch anything we do something else.

I think the visual medium has worked for so long (theatre, graphic novels, film and TV) that it will never be replaced because it is the mirror of our lives. However, with the improvement in diversity of choice and the move away from the linear viewing experience (through DTR/PVR time shifting) is creating a new generation who don’t just watch what they want but when they want.

One thing however that will sustain is the fact that for the majority of people (not really represented in the demographic reading here) they are happy with the passive experience because it means they don’t need to think. Many people do like to be told what is good, what is right and what to do. They come home, turn on the TV and just accept that which is fed to them and they are themselves complicit in accepting this.

Fortunately this is being supplanted by the non-linear experience where popularity is dynamically decided by the social network and while consumers might only limit themselves to routinely watching the top-ten selection there is still a greater degree of individual influence and choice. Plus, through the growth of linking and “digg”ing you are seeing ‘playlists’ being composed again and what is effectively the return of the ‘mix tape’ through the sharing of content selection as self-expression.

I welcome any comments on my reply or the question in general.

Last night we watched a programme about the British men’s fashion designer Ozwald Boateng:

As a person I’m not keen on Boateng (based on his presentation in this programme he is too arrogant and self-important) and even in fashion I don’t think the cut of his design works for me. However, I can recognise his sense of style and see how it is quite dramatic in comparison to what came before. I think he has had a real positive impact on Saville Row and as a consequence the men’s clothing industry as a whole. Not the impact he thinks he has had, it was by no means a revolution, however he has been a nice kick to bring tailored suits back and to take us away from the Armani casual fit which isn’t very flattering.


This friday Angel and I were both in London at the same time of the evening and I suggested we went for dinner. As I was in Docklands I suggested Canary Wharf as the ideal location to meet and eat. Interestingly when we arrived there was a small anti-capitalism protest in progress, nothing spectacular but a couple of hundred people.

We did a little capitalist shopping and sat down at a capitalist chain restaurant to watch the anti-capitalists at work. They made interesting charges at a line of police taunting them and it was rather childish really.

What really caught my attention was a sign “Capitalism isn’t working!” being heald up by people I think assocated with a group of socialists present. We both thought it was interesting because when did pure socialism work? Well the only examples I can see of socialism are communist and quasi-communist countries such as Russia, Albania, China, Cuba, the list goes on but it lists as a litany of countries which have either complete social unrest, a great deal of poverty or suppression of human rights. Some might argue China is very successful as a socialist state but when you consider it’s reforms involve greater financial liberty tending toward capitalism and it still has a terrible human rights record, I think there isn’t much of an arguement for the alternative to Capitalism.

Personally I think that both systems are flawed, capitalism assumes unconstrained and continued growth when in fact resources are finite and growth cannot be infinate. However socialism does not permit personal growth and requires great self sacrifice, which while noble on paper is actually unworkable. Having read the combined works of Plato I have come to his realisation that no political system is ideal, however you just have to make the best you can of a libertarian state.

Maybe “Capitalism isn’t working” is correct, but “Socialism never worked” is also true.

In Euan Semples recent blog post he talked about the digital divide as it has been on the news of late. I was thinking about it and I don’t think the issue is really rural vs city, infact I think cities are probably logically the places where the digital divide can be much more of a problem. Looking at the statistics I note that Glasgow has the worst broadband take-up in the country, is this because of relative education levels and poverty? In general in the UK rural communities are not poor like they are in other countries. A few weeks ago I was in Greece staying in a small village in the hills and by most economic measures I was in a poor village (however I have rarely seen a happier and more at-peace group of people), I don’t think anyone there would have owned a computer. That is in contrast to the UK rural communities I have seen over the years, most farmers have computers and local schools are increasingly well connected. The real technology divide is about poverty, education and social excusion; frankly it has nothing even to do with the internet, it is about society in general. This connectivity issue is more of a measure of society than the other way around.

 Also Euan posted about disinterest in traditional politics plus how traditional politics and activism is being replaced by new ‘community’ action. These communities need not be local but they are increasingly powerful. It is interesting to see the number of online campaigns that get significant results. I’m very apolitical because I’ve long felt that no politician can be trusted and even those with the best intentions can be side-lined/sabotaged by other peoples efforts. All this despite my fathers political efforts.

This is an email I sent out today to someone I am working with elsewhere but I also think it’s about time I shared my recent thoughts to a wider audience: 
All current issues aside the work I have been doing over the past year has presented a few issues which are encouraging me to wonder if there is place for a corporately sponsored open STB project. I know there is Dreambox but these are expensive and have had various political issues. I also know there is MythTV and the others but they are heavily PC dependent. The concept would be an open platform based on a modern STB design optimised for simplicy and power (possibly a PVR). We could manufacture in modest volumes enough to supply the demand and possibly could sell them at wholesale pricing. It would be a hardware only sale with software to be determined on the project basis. We could support the project through administration and hardware, but further we can drive the project by offering ‘bounties’ on features that are requested by potential corporate customers. In effect we could offer two teirs of product software the "community edition" which is free, but offers only community support and the "commercial edition" which would offer features for the ‘bounty’ with a professional code compile service for validated code.
This is just something I am bouncing around in my head and I wanted to put it around before I built a proposal out of it. Please let me know your thoughts on this.
I think it could fly, I think it could be useful and I think it would address many peoples problems. I’ve had requests for close to 50,000 boxes on different projects, but because each one of them was so small there was no way we could put development resources behind them. Put together that much hardware is reasonable business and I think something that’s worth paying attention to. The ‘bounty’ would fund peoples time to work on the project, or perhaps reward them for their work.
I welcome your feedback…

lol @

 I love the idea. In fact I love it so much I have decided to work on a strategy neutral lifestyle. For every positive step I make I will make an equally stupid decision. Wait… I think I do that more than I realise already!