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How MythTV Detects and Flags Commercials 403

peterdaly writes "Automatic commercial detection is the "killer app" feature that none of the commercial DVR's dare to include. MythTV's automatic commercial detection does a great job of properly separating commercials from content. Here's how the commercial flagging works."
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How MythTV Detects and Flags Commercials

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  • by darien ( 180561 ) <darien AT gmail DOT com> on Monday October 30, 2006 @12:22PM (#16643877)
    Automatic commercial detection is the "killer app" feature that none of the commercial DVR's dare to include.

    A sentence that (I think) neatly points up the big problem with the USA's legal system...
    • by feld ( 980784 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @12:27PM (#16643971)
      the coolest thing is that they've said on the mailing lists that if they start forcing / flagging commercials so you have to watch them and you can't skip through them, MythTV will use those flags to skip the commercials entirely.

      Ahh, the power of chee^H^H^H^Hopen source.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by udderly ( 890305 ) *
      In my mind the biggest problem is how people who produce programming are going to be paid. Don't get me wrong, I almost always record anything that I watch and skip the ads. But, aside from paid product placements--which I've noticed are becoming ubiquitous--I can't see how revenue will be generated to produce programming.

      Personally, I'm willing to pay for whatever I watch, like I do with HBO. I just don't want it interrupted all the time. Maybe some sort of a la carte system??

      Sorry, I have lots of
      • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @12:56PM (#16644543)
        I already pay for a lot of the commercial-free TV I watch: it's called Netflix.
        Lost, 4400, Firefly... I've gotten these on DVD from Netflix, and enjoyed watching them all commercial-free, for the flat-rate price I pay to Netflix for monthly membership.

        If I didn't have to wait so long for these shows to come out on DVD, then this would be even better.

        The TV show makers need to abandon this silly idea of having to broadcast their shows on a weekly basis, and wait for the season to be over before releasing them on DVD. Let's just skip broadcast altogether and go straight to DVD.
        • My wife and I just watched seasons 1 & 2 of Veronica Mars on DVD via Netflix. We'd never heard of let alone seen it because, frankly, who the hell actually watched UPN? We both had it recommended to us on Netflix, were intrigued and added it to our queue at the same time.

          We got hooked, loved it, and sucked it all it over the summer. We couldn't wait for season 3 to start on, what is it, CW? So we sit down on opening night and it sucked! The pacing was all off, we couldn't rewind it to hear that line we
      • by SCHecklerX ( 229973 ) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Monday October 30, 2006 @01:05PM (#16644755) Homepage
        We pay for cable tv. So why are there still commercials at all? Same goes for tv-type advertisements that have been showing up in digital movie theaters the past several years.
      • We clamor for better content in movies and TV shows, along with other entertainment. Why not push for better advertising content quality? Yes, when I record something on my MythTV box, I skip the ads. It's a godsend - especially when you want to watch the latest Real World/Road Rules challenge and you don't want to spend 30 minutes watching the 6 minutes of content. Even better is the torrents of CSI - HD recordings with the commercials already cut. Sweet! But I watch a lot of real-time TV, too.

        Bac
        • by udderly ( 890305 ) * on Monday October 30, 2006 @01:21PM (#16645069)
          Maybe MythTV can also remove the BS filler that is in programming too. As an example take any HGTV half hour TV show:

          Step 1(Minutes 0-2). Useless introduction and program intro
          Step 2(Minutes 3-5). Explain the situation
          Step 3(Minutes 6-8). Commercials
          Step 4(Minutes 9-10). Re-explain the situation
          Step 5(Minutes 11-14). Try to create some drama out of thin air
          Step 6(Minutes 15-17). Commercials
          Step 7(Minutes 18-19). Re-explain the situation
          Step 8(Minutes 20-23). Try to create some more drama out of thin air
          Step 9(Minutes 24-26). Commercials
          Step 10(Minutes 27-29). Restate what happened
          Step 11(Minutes 29-30). Cue the music and intro the next program

          As you can see, there's not too much real show in there.
      • The same way they already make money: By charging you.

        Let's be honest here, in "free" (as in software, not beer, i.e. uncrypted) cable you get mostly reruns, silly talk shows, braindead "reality" shows and game shows. The real good movies or first time aired shows are few, far between and you've already seen them in chunks by the time they're finally aired 'cause they have been promoted for at least 2 weeks so you don't even want to see them anymore. And when they finally get aired, they're interrupted ever
    • It certainly is a little bit disappointing that a lot of "disruptive" technologies are being held back for fear of lawsuit because they might be sued for damaging someone else's revenue stream. This sort of thing really seems to be getting out of hand in the US (and to a lesser degree in other places). Hopefully other countries will take advantage of the opening this creates and put out more truly innovative products than the US is able to. Maybe then there will be some concrete example we can point to and
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Iron Condor ( 964856 )
      So what would this system do with something like KLentucky Fried (the movie), which contains a lof of spoofs of what this supposedly filters?
  • Another check (Score:5, Interesting)

    by renfrow ( 232180 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @12:23PM (#16643887) Homepage
    Another thing they might try is to look at average loudness. It seems like commercials are pumped up a bit from regular shows.

    Tom.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lisaparratt ( 752068 )
      I believe they're more compressed - perhaps analysing the distortion characteristics of the sound could be helpful?
    • Get a working speech recognization software, and scan for the words "erectile disfunction". You should be able to reject 90% of the commercials that way.
    • I don't think that they are "louder" per se, just that ads tend to use the full frequency spectrum more often, and that ads rely more heavily on music and sound effects than movies. Few ads are really "quiet", after all their goal is to draw attention. And they want to apply to as many senses as they can, if they could spray a scent or grab you, they would.

      You might have noticed that music in shows also tends to be "louder" than dialogue.
      • Re:Another check (Score:4, Informative)

        by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @01:41PM (#16645493)
        I don't think that they are "louder" per se, just that ads tend to use the full frequency spectrum more often, and that ads rely more heavily on music and sound effects than movies.

        No, they are louder. They are told what to submit in order to have the levels be equal. They submit clips with sound outside the bounds they know they should. It is purposeful and calculated. If you ever have sit in a TV station or cable head-end, you can watch the levels and tell when commercials come on. Even "loud" shows (like 24 and the constant explosions) are quieter than some guy talking about his low-priced furniture.
    • Re:Another check (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fred fleenblat ( 463628 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @01:26PM (#16645181) Homepage
      Might also be interesting to try to flag entry/exit frames from known commercials (with a checksum or fingerprint sort of thing) into a shared database, then just look up the frames. If your show has 2.5 minutes with matches every 30 seconds, that's a commercial break. People can do a P2P vote with their FF button to contribute. Just a thought.
  • by abscissa ( 136568 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @12:23PM (#16643895)
    Videoredo edits mpeg files without re-encoding them a la adobe premiere. ( == lightning fast)

    It also has extremely sophisticated commercial detection (never failed me), based on blackouts, duration of blackouts, duration between blackouts, percentage of screen changed to black, etc.

    http://www.videoredo.com/ [videoredo.com]
    • VideoRedo is a great little app. It repairs many MPEG-2 streams that other programs choke on as well.

      Similar to VideoRedo, I also use Womble MPEG [womble.com]. It also can cut sections without reencoding, and can do transitions, fades, and text overlays. It doesn't do the automatic detection, but its very fast at seeking and stream copying, so it works well for manual removal of commercials.

      I'd sometimes use all three methods if I had an extra MythTV box around.
  • by necrodeep ( 96704 ) * on Monday October 30, 2006 @12:23PM (#16643903)
    "Automatic commercial detection is the "killer app" feature that none of the commercial DVR's dare to include."

    Ummm, no.... I'm sure many people here are already aware, but if not - check out Beyond TV (http://www.snapstream.com/). The guys over at Snapstream have been doing automatic commercial detection for a while now, and Beyond TV is in the category of a Commercial DVR. And, I'm pretty sure that other companies have been doing it too. This is nothing new - and hasn't yet been a 'killer app'.
    • "Automatic commercial detection is the "killer app" feature that none of the commercial DVR's dare to include."

      Ummm, no.... I'm sure many people here are already aware, but if not - check out Beyond TV (http://www.snapstream.com/). The guys over at Snapstream have been doing automatic commercial detection for a while now, and Beyond TV is in the category of a Commercial DVR. And, I'm pretty sure that other companies have been doing it too. This is nothing new - and hasn't yet been a 'killer app'.

      I'm not s

      • If you take that definition of a "DVR", then that leaves out the very subject of the article out as well: MythTV is also a software solution. There may be third party integrators that sell complete solutions based on either of these sofware though, not sure.

        Even Tivo I think detects commercials. They just won't let you skip them outright, you have to fast forward through them.
    • SageTV has 2 different plugins for commercial detection as well.
    • Ummm, no.... I'm sure many people here are already aware, but if not - check out Beyond TV (http://www.snapstream.com/). The guys over at Snapstream have been doing automatic commercial detection for a while now

      Yes they have, with code taken from MythTV.

  • What will happen... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Channard ( 693317 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @12:28PM (#16643999) Journal
    .. is that you'll get people making cleverer or less obvious infomercials.
  • by Control-Z ( 321144 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @12:28PM (#16644001)
    Does MythTV record the whole show and then just skip commercials while it's playing it back, or does it cut commercials entirely out of the file?

    The detection couldn't be 100% accurate.

    • Well, it depends on how you set things up. It can be set to remove them, but personally, I just let it mark the commercials. Basically, it puts timestamps in the database for the start and end of a commercial. You can then set myth to automatically skip them during playback, or, as I do, play them, and then I use the remote to skip the commercial. I find myth to be probably around 85% accurate on its detection. Pretty good, but far from perfect.
      • Basically, it puts timestamps in the database for the start and end of a commercial. You can then set myth to automatically skip them during playback, or, as I do, play them, and then I use the remote to skip the commercial.

        And, of course, you can optionally edit the resulting cutlist, and then use it during the transcoding phase when producing an archival copy (for, say, burning to DVD).
  • A shame (Score:3, Interesting)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday October 30, 2006 @12:29PM (#16644013)
    It's a shame that DVR makers are so scared of lawsuits from the networks, affiliates, etc. that they cave so easily on this issue. Instead of forcing networks to deal with the increasing obsolescence of their traditional "annoying 30-second commercial spot" model, they cave in and remove features like the 30-second skip (which used to be standard on Tivo's) and commerical removal/editing (which should be a standard feature on any DVR with a DVD-R drive, but aren't).

    -Eric

    • by Kombat ( 93720 )
      It's a shame that DVR makers are so scared of lawsuits from the networks, affiliates, etc. that they cave so easily on this issue.

      Why? Are you willing to pay significantly more money for a PVR that skips commercials, or would you expect such a feature to be included for free? Of course, people will expect the feature for free. So why does it surprise you that PVR makers would shy away from a feature which is virtually guaranteed to invite expensive lawsuits, without a commensurate increase in unit price?
      • Well, because the PVR you get is tied to the digital cable/satellite company, you don't really get to pick and choose your PVR in most cases. Because of this, they have no reason to offer features that may get them in trouble. However, if you buy your PVR on the free market, separate from your cable provider, I could see a lot more features being offered to try to woo buyers to buy one PVR over the other.
  • Article Text (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 30, 2006 @12:29PM (#16644019)
    How does MythTV's Commercial Detection work? Surprisingly well. Ever wonder how it does such a good job of identifying commercials?

    There are three key indicators that MythTV uses from recorded content to identify commercials.

    A blank frame is many times sandwiched in-between the television show and the commercials. The most simple form of detecting commercials is to search for blank frames in the video feed. The problem with this is that it can be very misleading. There can be a blank frame anywhere. Just because there is a blank frame, doesn't mean it's a commercial break. You could easily end up with commercials marked as part of the show and parts of the show marked as commercial.

    Scene transitions are another indicator. A scene transition is a cut between one video of something and a video of something else. A simple example would be in a newscast where someone is being interviewed. While the anchor is asking the question, you may see both the anchor and the person being interviewed. When the person being interviewed starts to answer the question, the scene "cuts" to a close-up of the face of the person answering the question. In regards to commercials, there is a scene transition "cut" between each commercial. Each commercial usually is unrelated to the next. The last frame of one commercial would be totally different from the first frame of the next. Looking for patterns in scene transitions is one way to identify commercials. Five groups of 30 second scenes all grouped together may be a good indication of a block of commercials. This method works better than the blank frame method, but also isn't foolproof. There's no reason scene changes in a show might not mimic commercials, and vis-versa.

    The third indicator of commercials that MythTV uses I find rather ironic. Bugs, also referred to as DOGS (Digital On-Screen Graphics), or Watermarks. A Bug is that little TV station logo in usually the bottom right corner of your screen during a TV show. I find this ironic because one of the reasons or it being there is to build channel awareness in the world of digital video recorders like MythTV. Since DVR users usually find shows by name rather than by channel, they are less concerned with which station a show is on than are other viewers. MythTV watches for these things. Because the digital watermarks are generally not shown during commercials, identifying one and then watching for it is a good indication of when a commercial break starts or stops. While much more complicated to implement than watching for the blank frame or screen transition, in theory it's probably the most effective in some circumstances. Because in practice they are hard to identify on some stations, the actual implementation can be error prone.

    MythTV looks for all three of these identifiers to locate commercials. It breaks each show up into scenes, and then applys a series of score for the scene based on looking at all three factors in relation to one another, especially taking timing and patterns into account. Based on the final score of a scene, it's either (essentially) dropped into the show bucket or the commercial bucket. It's not a black/white type thing. Because of the scoring, there are a whole range of grays in the middle. You end up with scenes that looks "more" like commercials or "more" like show content, and they are then flagged as such.

    I've been quite impressed at the quality of the commercial flagger that MythTV has implemented. In my experience, the system does an excellent job.

    Commercial flagging is set globally in:
          Utilties/Setup -> Setup -> TV Settings-> General

    Do you have ideas or talent that can help increase the quality of this great tool? Check out and contribute to the MythTV commercial flagging developers' wiki.
    • How does MythTV's Commercial Detection work? Surprisingly well. Ever wonder how it does such a good job of identifying commercials?

      There are three key indicators that MythTV uses from recorded content to identify commercials.

      A blank frame is many times sandwiched in-between the television show and the commercials. The most simple form of detecting commercials is to search for blank frames in the video feed. The problem with this is that it can be very misleading. There can be a blank frame anywhere. Just be
    • Very cool. But a method that might work even better is looking for that gigantic, obnoxious TV rating graphic that comes up on the show when it returns from a commercial break.
  • Reminds me of the character Sol Hadden in Carl Sagan's book "Contact", who made millions from the invention of a box named "AdNix" that would automatically filter commercials from the user's TV signal. (The book also mentions a second product named "PreachNix" that did the same thing for evangelical TV shows - Sagan was outspoken in his criticism for religious extremism).
    • The difference between "religious extremism" that Carl Sagan was against, and Carl Sagan is that the "religious extremists" Carl Sagan didn't like do not preach against Carl Sagan like Carl Sagan preached against "religious extremism".

      So, is that Hypocritical or Ironic (or both)?
  • In europe, Topfield's [topfield.co.kr] DVB PVR's and receivers have become very popular. They allow the user to install his own programs and therefore add to the functionality. Lots of stuff [topfield.cc] available around the net, googling for "Topfield tap" yields lots of results. The entire toolchain [berlios.de] is there for anyone to start developing.

    Anyway, as I don't really fancy a full-blown PC to my living room, I'm wondering if someone has either already made a TAP for this purpose, or if the MythTV stuff could be ported to Topfield?
  • by Control Group ( 105494 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @12:43PM (#16644299) Homepage
    ...upon thinking about it, I don't know that it's all that far-fetched. Designing a system that can segregate commercials from television with a high degree of accuracy is probably comparable to information compression [slashdot.org] in the level of information/context comprehension required by the device. I begin to seriously wonder if there might be advances in AI that come out of work like this.

    I say this because, ultimately, the difference between commercials and "content" is entirely made up of the information they present. As advertisers and broadcaster get better at removing the "flag" type of marker (blank frames, scene cuts, predictable timing) from commercials, there will be incentive to develop more intelligent ad-blocking mechanisms. Obviously, we're not at that point yet, as the methods described as employed by MythTV are fairly naive flag detection mechanisms - but with growing incentive, the odds of working towards a truly intelligent ad-removal scheme increase.

    I think it would be hilarious if the biggest mind-mushing technology of all time (television) turned out, indirectly, to contribute to the rise of alternate, machine, intelligence.
    • They'll just push to increase product placement in shows. Watching Seinfeld reruns is like playing Product Placement Jeopardy. There's George holding a bag of "Rolled Gold Pretzels" very conspicuously. Now they are plugging Buicks.
  • I've been fairly impressed with MythTV's commercial detection. It has one drawback though: it doesn't skip those short promos channels throw in right before cutting back to the show (e.g. "Politicians are inept, full story at 10"). It seems to get the rest of the commercials. Of course, this is a little picky, as once I start a show I rarely have to touch the remote again (unlike with a TiVo), but is there any hope of them improving it to catch these? I'm guessing there are no blank frames between it an
    • by Se7enLC ( 714730 )
      I notice errors when the show itself goes dark or low-light. Usually the most suspenseful part when a character goes into a dark room suddenly, it skips ahead a few minutes. For the most part, I don't see any errors. I typically leave the commercial skips on automatic, but if it errors, I skip back and set the commercials to "Notify", which puts a small OSD indicator at the top that it thinks it is in a commercial, and how long is left in it. I have a remote key mapped to "commercial skip" that I can push a
      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        You know, they could really improve things by realizing that commercials are always in fifteen second increments, and almost always fifteen, thirty, or sixty seconds. If there is no apparent scene change within a second or so of the correct duration, it's not a commercial. Maybe add a little audio pop detection to catch badly timed inserts by cable providers that can be off by a couple of seconds. Either way, if it skips ahead for a dark scene by several minutes, it clearly is ignoring the consistency of

  • by StefanJ ( 88986 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @12:47PM (#16644375) Homepage Journal
    Homeland Security and the CCLA (Concerned Citizens Liking Advertising*) can now reveal the horrible truth:

    MythTV is a front for American's sworn enemy, Al-Qaida.

    Also, some people who use MythTV have French accents, and many others have eaten French Bread.

    Do the right thing. Install a wholesome, American operating system on your MythTV box and run a Advertising Ready (tm)** PVR solution.

    It's the patriotic thing to do.

    And we'll be watching.

    * A product of the National Association of Broadcasters.

    ** Advertising Ready is a registered trademark of your friends and fellow consumers at AWMC (Americans Welcoming Mind Control) ***

    *** A product of [REDACTED BY HOMELAND SECURITY]
  • does anyone know if that v-chip [wikipedia.org] signal is present during the commerical? if not, that would make it very easy to detect commericals.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Last time I investigated the situation, commercials dont put out a v-chip signal, so they would be able to be blocked like that.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Look. Its this simple. The let this out. It will kill the advertising INDUSTRY. I say INDUSTRY in all capitols to hopefully hammer home that advertising is a HUGE piece of the economy now. Cut it out and thousands (if not millions?) loose their jobs. So call the advertisers what you like, they are people like you and me trying to keep their jobs from dissapearing. And you would too, if put in the same place.
    • It will kill the advertising INDUSTRY. I say INDUSTRY in all capitols to hopefully hammer home that advertising is a HUGE piece of the economy now.

      Sure television commercials are big business, but it's not the only avenue for the advertising industry. In-game ads, in-store displays, product placement in TV shows and movies, roadside billboards, newspaper and magazine ads, and... oh yeah, I heard that the Internet has some advertising in it, I think....

      Advertising isn't going away any time soon. It'
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by locokamil ( 850008 )
      I'm sure they'll find other work. I hear there are plenty of burgers out there that need flipping. The fact that most of them will be unable to find work doing anything else should tell you plenty about how worthless they are at actually adding value to the economy.

      -1 Troll? Indeed. But the fact of the matter is that people are being forced out of their chosen industry all the time... It's happened before, and it will happen again in the future. "But people will lose jobs" should never be considered a valid
  • Volume? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alta ( 1263 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @12:56PM (#16644553) Homepage Journal
    Why not use volume? I think it would be a good addition. Anyone trying to NOT wake up their significant other, or a small child while watching TV has noticed this. The Volume for the commercials is much louder than that of the shows. I can't tell you how many times the 'kids' have been woken up because I was out of the room when the commercial came on, and it was LOUD.
  • I'm surprised the major broadcast networks haven't tried displaying commercials at the bottom and/or top of the screen for the duration of the entire program - be difficult to block that using a DVR; Myth might be able to do block them with some fancy programming though.

    I know some stations displa brief pop-up ads, but never seen any that displayed on the screen the entire time of a program.

    Ron
    • I'm surprised the major broadcast networks haven't tried displaying commercials at the bottom and/or top of the screen for the duration of the entire program - be difficult to block that using a DVR; Myth might be able to do block them with some fancy programming though.

      a) It would piss people off. Ads are bad enough already without having distracting banners on-screen.
      b) It would require fancy programming at all. Just crop the video. Voila, done.

      Heck, you could probably automagically detect where the ad
    • by WMD_88 ( 843388 )
      I would love that. That way, I could tape a slab of cardboard to the bottom part of my TV, and see nothing! :D
  • by Peter Simpson ( 112887 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @01:01PM (#16644667)
    Comcast where I live (Boston, MA) has lately begun offering a targeted advertising service - "Spotlight" - which detects and overwrites network and affiliate commercials with their own (usually very cheaply done) local commercials. You'll get part of a network commercial, then some guy selling couches in the next town, then the tail end of another network commercial.

    So, I'm sure they're compensating the networks for the commercials they're overwriting, right? I mean, with network commercial time costing in the gigabuck$ and all. And when we viewers do the same thing, we're stealing the networks' life blood...

    I'm going to need a little more convincing.
    • which detects and overwrites network and affiliate commercials with their own (usually very cheaply done) local commercials.

      Umm, dude, that isn't anything new. Local avails have existed on cable television for a long time. Most major cable operators offer local avail insertion to companies, and insert those ads in slots marked by the network for local insertion. If they did anything else, they'd seriously piss off the networks, likely resulting in losing the rights to rebroadcast the content.
  • by happy_place ( 632005 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @01:02PM (#16644709) Homepage
    A close buddy of mine who makes "ripping" software for Tivo, also has a suite of tools that he cannot make public, one of which automatically will remove the trailers and credits of a show, and all commercial breaks.

    He wrote this on his own, and said it was pretty easy to figure out if you just watched the mpeg stream (though I've never done it...)

    He had a discussion with the guys at Tivo once, and when they discovered that he had this feature, they told him NOT to make it public, and that if he did, "bad things" (involving lawyers) would happen.

    So he kept the tools for his own personal use.

    --Ray
  • Another technique that can be used (and was discussed at one point on the Myth mailing lists) is to create a database of the closed captioning text of commercials. The simple approach is to use the existing commercial detection to determine what is a commercial, then create a database from that to auto-detect repeated commericials (even if they lack the blank frames). A more clever approach is to use spam-filtering techniques like baysian filters to determine if a given scene is an ad.
  • Although it saves me a lot of fast-forwarding when it does work, it is far from perfect. Often times it will only skip part of a large commercial block common during prime-time shows. Even worse is when it skips part of the actual show due to a black frame or corrupted digital signal.
  • I want to test this against the old SNL mock commercials, and see if it filters them out. That'd be hilarious.

    Actually, I think the best commercial remover at any point would simply look to see if a particular 30+ second sequence repeats itself. If so, it's probably a commercial (most commercials run multiple times throughout a show). This would also work nicely to not cut out superbowl commercials, which have far more value - as they aren't usually repeated.

    Article is /.ed at time of post - so I disclai
  • If they can get it to detect the network bug in the lower-right corner, how hard would it be to remove it? Most of the bugs are tranlucent, so you can use some sort of filter to remove it and reconstruct the missing bits based on extrapolations. While more complicated, using motion between frames, you could often get a nearly perfect bug removal.
  • As the technology like this improves, expect more and more product placements. I don't blame anyone, who wants to skip the commercials. But I don't blame the creators of entertainment for wanting to get paid either.

    We refuse to watch the commercials, that would sponsor them. And we refuse to pay them directly by sharing their works with everyone, who can connect to our computer.

    Can't do anything about product placements, so the phenomenon is here to stay and grow.

  • I hate commercials so much I stopped watching TV 20 years ago. This being saud, I thought the main way to detect commercial was a special signal as part of the final and/or initial lines of the frame, those that don't display on the screen and that are used for various purposes (subtitle for the deaf, show start and stop info, etc). I read somewhere that this signal was used by substations to sometimes broadcast localized commercials instead of the default ones. Of course that's all just hearsay.
    Another m
  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @01:34PM (#16645347)
    I think that there should be an open commercial ID (maybe a frame with certain properties, like a specific color or shade of grey - it should be very easy to pick out.

    If there was one, we (AmericaFree.TV [americafree.tv]) would use it, and I suspect other Internet television broadcasters would too. Why ? Because in the long run commercials (as opposed to product placements, sponsored events, etc.) will only work if people want to receive them, and because people will just fast forward through them anyway.
  • fanless MythTV box? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GodWasAnAlien ( 206300 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @01:59PM (#16645873)
    Myself along with many others are looking to buy a set-top media box that:

    - is open: can run MythTV,Linux,Vlc,mplayer,... and no reverse engineering is required to use basic hardware (and hopefully mpeg decoders).
    - has DVI output
    - has S/PDIF out
    - is fanless

    Basically an open DVD player with DVI out. A DVD player costs $50, but an "open" DVD player costs $1500? $300-$500 would be ok.

    Or basically, a fanless mac mini, fanless MiniPC,...

  • by nblender ( 741424 ) on Monday October 30, 2006 @06:49PM (#16650965)
    I also want:

    (1) bug-blocking. ie: get rid of the channel identifier. It's annoying and gratuitous. Most of them are semi-transparent. There ought to be some way to xor them away.

    (2) pop-up blocking. Those annoying animations that some networks are starting to put up on the bottom or right side of the screen right in the middle of a show, that are not related to the show.

    (3) auto unsquish. When the network squishes the credits to the left 1/3 of the screen to put in some talking head telling you what's next. I want to squish the talking head.

    (4) kill the talking head's overdubbed voice.

    I know. I'm dreaming. Usual complaint applies: "I already pay through the nose for this. Stop making me get TV the way _I_ want it (from the torrent channel)."

Trying to be happy is like trying to build a machine for which the only specification is that it should run noiselessly.

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