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ATPM 8.03
March 2002




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On a Clear Day You Can See the Hollywood Sign

by Mike Shields,

I’m Not Happy

The Rams lost, 20-17. Ok, that’s not why I’m not happy. Ok, it is. In part. But also, I was treated to another lackluster year of Super Bowl Commercials. And to top it off, no Apple commercial again, from the company that arguably started the Super Bowl commercial phenomenon with “1984.” Granted, two million dollars for a thirty second spot is probably Apple’s entire commercial budget for the quarter, but once a tradition is started, shouldn’t it be maintained? Of course, it could be hard to do better than the Kevin Bacon VISA commercial, but let’s see what I can do.

Right after “1984“ premiered (and don’t believe the hype—it ran more than once, although in an abbreviated form), a lesser known and almost forgotten commercial was created, entitled “Lemmings”. It showed several what would be today called IT managers, walking off the edge of a cliff. The mantra of the time, and of many today is, you can’t go wrong buying IBM. However, as we, my loyal three readers know, there is a superior choice—which this commercial attempts to show. Well, actually, it tells. Which is why I think we don’t see it anymore.

As the new G4 iMac was released a scant month earlier, it was prime time for a modern day version of the Lemmings idea. Imagine the 1812 Overture playing in the background. On each crescendo, a PC compatible or peripheral comes crashing down into a pile, one on top of the other. The guy from the VISA commercials comes in with the following narration: “With all the advertisements out there promising low cost PCs, you might get the impression that they’re cheaper than the new G4 iMac. However, after you pile on all the extras that come standard with an iMac, the G4 iMac comes out on top.” Boom. The iMac drops down from out of the sky and flattens the pile with it’s pancake-like base, and lands perfectly with its monitor forward, running Mac OS X 10.1 like a banshee. Fade to white. In nice big 48-point Apple Garamond: “Get an iMac.”

It would be relatively cheap to produce, and to make it even cheaper, I’d do the narration for scale. Of course, then someone would have to come up with the two million to air it. If every Mac owner that reads this were to send Apple a dollar….of course, I’d rather they sent it to me.

QuickTime Dead

My new six favorite words in the English language are, “I can get you press passes.” In most cases, for what I do, it allows me to walk around with authority and get intelligent answers to my questions, as opposed to being some Joe Schmo saying, “Hi, I wanna make a movie….” Which is how I felt at the DV Expo that I recently reported on. To which I also could’ve received a press pass, but I didn’t know it at the time. Of course, I still didn’t receive a really cool QuickTime Live tote bag, as they were reserved for registered attendees, and speakers—apparently, everyone except me.

So the pass I got was for the recent QuickTime Live event held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. The good guys wear black. Again. Of the 35 companies with booths, Apple had the biggest space, with the dreariest presentation. The walls were black. The T-shirts were black. Black screens on the, OK, grey, Macs when they weren’t being used.

And the big announcement of the entire piece? QuickTime 6 is being previewed. That’s right, previewed. Let me say that again, previewed. Meaning, not released yet. And do you want to know why? MPEG LA. Specifically, the MPEG-4 standard has this really interesting small print in its license agreement, that they seem to be in control of. And before you go firing off an angry letter to us here in Los Angeles, that’s not what the LA stands for.

Anyway, it seems that there’s this thing called a use fee that boils down to this: if you intend to broadcast content with MPEG-4 embedded, you have to pay for the privilege. Every time. Each download. That’s right, for every one download of your iMovie, you pay. Welcome to the wonderful world of distribution nightmares. Of course, according to the MPEG LA Web site, “Details will be covered by the actual License Agreement, which is still in development and will not be available for several months.”

Apple, quite rightly in my not even remotely humble opinion, did the right thing by delaying the release of QuickTime 6 until this untenable situation is resolved. So, before you Mac bashers out there go to it, just remember that, this time at least, it’s not Apple’s fault. So, when do we get QuickTime 6? Hopefully before I get my film financed. Or else, my budget goes up, yet again.

Something good did come out of QuickTime Live: I met the fine folks at Eovia software, with a very interesting 3D rendering tool called Carrara. The special effects for my movie can be bought for a mere $400. So, I guess it’s a break-even.

The Grammys

How many of you attended the Grammys? Like me, you didn’t go either. But not for lack of trying. I found out that Apple had won a Technical Grammy—the first of its kind—for its outstanding technical contributions to the music industry and recording field. When I found this out, I went after the above-mentioned press passes. Unfortunately, it was two days after the deadline for press pass requests. And again, I missed out on a really cool gift bag—this one worth $17K. Ok, I probably wouldn’t have gotten that anyway, but it’s nice to dream.

At this point you’re saying to yourself, “Self, I didn’t see Steve Jobs give an acceptance speech Wednesday night between performances of Destiny’s Child and Bono; did I blink and miss it?” No, you didn’t. As is done with the Oscars, the technical awards are handed out the day before, at a low-key dinner, without all the fanfare and hubbub. After all, what is fanfare without a little hubbub, anyway?

72 and sunny in Redondo Beach.

e You next time.

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Reader Comments (1)

Pio of Switzerland · March 5, 2002 - 03:27 EST #1
According to the second paragraph, we are only 3 loyal readers. I would be glad to hear news from the other 2 (please insert laughter here).

This posting is great. I have been looking for "Lemmings" for quite a long time and finally found it.

Cheers, Pio

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