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Comment: Re: The future is not UHD (Score 1) 308

by Thagg (#48896745) Attached to: UHD Spec Stomps on Current Blu-ray Spec, But Will Consumers Notice?

Go to a friends house and turn on their flat-panel TV. 99% of the time, it will have frame-rate interpolation turned on; which basically means that any content they see on that TV will be at 60 or 120 Hz. Even movies shot at 24.

More and more often as I do presentations to executives, they don't understand why my TVs look so "juddery" compared to what they expect -- it's because at home they're watching everything at 120Hz.

So no -- most people are happy with high frame rate most of the time, and that percentage is getting larger quickly. I am a big 24fps fan, but I believe the days are numbered.

Comment: Re:I won't notice [actually you will notice HDR] (Score 2) 308

by Thagg (#48894909) Attached to: UHD Spec Stomps on Current Blu-ray Spec, But Will Consumers Notice?

The Dolby Vision TVs will have reasonable controls to set brightness and contrast, but one of the selling points to the studios is that we will strive to maintain the artistic intent of the original. The blacks will be black, the whites will be white, and there will be an unprecedented (but realistic) amount of contrast.

It turns out that in high dynamic range content creation, the most important thing is not that the picture be brighter overall; but that there is an increased range between midtones and highlights. In current production, skin tones are set to about half the maximum brightness in the scene. This means that the brightest things in the image (say, a glint off of a chrome bumper) can only be twice that bright; where in real life it's more that 100 times that bright. So, leaving the midtones about where they are, and giving brighter highlights makes the image look better in a way that you have to see to understand. Or, you can just look out the window.

Comment: Re:I won't notice [actually you will notice HDR] (Score 3, Informative) 308

by Thagg (#48894455) Attached to: UHD Spec Stomps on Current Blu-ray Spec, But Will Consumers Notice?

As the article states, two of the most important changes in this standard are high dynamic range (HDR) and wider color gamut (Rec. 2020) images. I have been working on this with Dolby Laboratories for the last few years, and whenever we bring in movie directors, cinematographers, colorists, or studio executives to see our ridiculously HDR wide-color-gamut display, their jaws hit the floor. The ability to reproduce the dynamic range and color gamut of real life is breathtaking. One of the studio executives, when asked if she could see the difference said "Do I look like a potted palm?"

You will see the difference, and you'll be able to see it from across the room. HDR and wide color gamut combined with UHD resolution is a revolution.

I know this sounds like a sales pitch (ok, it is!) but I've been working in the film business for 30 years before I started working on this; I know what creatives want, and this is it. I spent that time working on CG visual effects, and I think that HDR will have a comparable impact on filmmaking that VFX did.

The Dolby Cinema theaters opening in the next few months will have similar extreme dynamic range and wide color gamut. They look astonishingly better as well.

Wait and see. It's coming, and it's not far away.

Comment: Re:They already have (Score 1) 661

by Thagg (#48875309) Attached to: US Senate Set To Vote On Whether Climate Change Is a Hoax


Do you think it's possible in this 'big data' age to come up with an absolute, reasonably accurate, energy budget for the planet? We have storms, and shifting ocean currents, and a number of things that affect the temperatures that are easy to measure; but the net energy is surely growing as inexorably and smoothly as the CO2 concentration.

Now, of course, those kind of facts won't matter to people whose bread is buttered with oil money. Still, it could be useful for tracking our progress or lack thereof.

Comment: Not strictly true (Score 2) 300

by Thagg (#48742031) Attached to: Why We're Not Going To See Sub-orbital Airliners

I've done some research into hypersonic technology, and it's not strictly true that hypersonic flights are necessarily less efficient per passenger mile. Sure, up to this point it has been the case, but we haven't explored in detail.

The US currently has tested a hypersonic glider that goes a heck of a long way, with a surprisingly good glide ratio, above Mach 20. Apparently it was to glide for thousands of miles, while only descending maybe 20 miles, implying a tremendously high glide ratio, over 100:1. If that's true, then you could have extremely efficient flight at Mach 20.

These "waverider" planes use radically different aerodynamics, so the old rules don't apply. They're nothing like the Concorde.

Comment: Re:Typical "Big Lie" (Score 4, Informative) 75

by Thagg (#48693173) Attached to: Apple Pay For the UK

Do you honestly believe that the banks are selling credit card info, and that apple isn't sharing any of that info with anyone?

I don't know if the banks are selling credit card info; but I know that merchants are. Apple Pay prevents them from doing that, which is one of the big reasons that so many merchants in the US have stopped using NFC for payments, as this earlier Slashdot story describes.

A friend of mine was deeply involved in NFC payments at significant companies (not Apple) and says that not only is Apple not sharing the info; they can't. It's just not available. The NFC chips in the phone don't send out identifiable information.

Comment: Typical "Big Lie" (Score 5, Insightful) 75

by Thagg (#48692947) Attached to: Apple Pay For the UK

What the banks are really concerned about is not that Apple is collecting information, but that their customers will realize the opposite -- that using Apple pay is far more secure than other systems. If people start waking up to the fact that all of the information merchants are getting from credit cards can and will be used against them; then systems like Apple Pay are going to destroy the status quo.

What better way to try to stop this then by spouting a Big Lie? The banks are saying that they are worried that Apple is collecting too much information. If they can seed doubt into customers for long enough, then they may succeed in killing it.

Comment: Why is encryption not standard? (Score 1) 90

by Thagg (#48467113) Attached to: New Snowden Docs Show GCHQ Paid Telcos For Cable Taps

It's astonishing that all communication is not encrypted. If you are sharing information over a common carrier, you should expect that somebody is going to be grabbing and examining the bytes.

So, somehow, it is just not the norm to encrypt communication. One reason might be that during the eighties and nineties as the internet was going wide, ITAR and patents on systems like RSA made people and companies nervous and unwilling to go there; that was definitely a missed opportunity.

Perhaps another problem is that there's no money to be made in encryption; and there are real (small, but real) costs in establishing it.

Still, though...

Why is there no encrypted "WhatsApp"? It would not be hard, it would be trivial to deliver through Google Play, and there would be a immediate market. If the connections were truly peer-to-peer, the infrastructure to support it would be almost zero.

How has the world convinced people not to encrypt all communication?

Comment: Re:two bounces (Score 1) 223

by Thagg (#48386331) Attached to: Comet Probe Philae To Deploy Drill As Battery Life Wanes

1) There is/was a significant risk that drilling would push Philae off the comet again. Still, it's a risk worth taking; without the solar recharging ESA has only until Saturday before the batteries run out.
2) The challenge is that either the lander is on its side, so the solar panels can't see the sun; or that the lander is up against a wall blocking the sun most of the time. They are considering possible ways of reorienting Philae; but it doesn't seem too likely. Also, without the harpoons or ice screws, it's likely that Philae will be pushed into space by gasses escaping the comet as it gets closer to the sun; so the extra sunlight is a double-edged sword.

"This isn't brain surgery; it's just television." - David Letterman