Jonathan: January 2008 Archives
If you’ve sent us a film and wonder what’s happened to it, you might have realised that the SciCast site’s been a bit wobbly of late. Here’s what’s happening:
- We’ve been having problems with the main web server, which are gradually getting fixed.
- Accordingly, we’re running judging separately from the main site. This means that if you’ve sent us a film, it’s entered into the competition and being judged. Don’t worry if you haven’t seen it on the main site yet, the judges can see it elsewhere.
- We’ll get all the films on the main site as soon as we can, shortly followed by an indication of the shortlisted entries.
Note, however, that some of you we’ve tried to contact about copyright queries with your films, and have had no response. Please please keep checking the email address you sent us when you submitted your film.
The webserver which runs the main SciCast site is having a hard time keeping up with us all, I’m afraid — if it’s not responding to you, please try again later. Our web partners, the Engineering & Technology Board, are working frantically to get everything sorted.
Thanks, and sorry!
At the ASE annual conference last week lots of people were asking about download versions of the films. Are we going to do that? Heck, yes! It’s been the plan all along, but technical issues have rather dogged us. This is about to change.
See, the downloads we’re planning to offer aren’t just the squiddly little web versions of the films. Oh no. You should be able to project these films onto classroom walls, burn them to DVDs and view them on a telly, cut them up and use just the bits you want, and do all sorts of other things with them we haven’t thought of yet. Which all means you need better-quality video files.
So that’s what we’re going to offer you. There’ll be two formats to choose between: WMV9 for Windows, and H.264 for everything else. Thing is, we’ve been promising you this for ages, so what’s the hold-up?
Rather embarrassingly, it’s that we’ve got the wrong sort of iPod. See, if we’re going to offer H.264 video we might as well make it compatible with video-playing iPods, and offer it up via the iTunes Store podcast directory so you can snag the latest films automatically. However, compressing video for iPods is a bit of a black art, particularly when we didn’t have an iPod on which we could test the files. Durr.
So this week I bought one, compressed everything, moved it over, and… it looked utterly gorgeous on the iPod’s screen. But I bought the latest and greatest iPod Touch, and it turns out that despite the documentation and technical specs, it plays very slightly different video formats to the other iPods. Clang!
Immediately after this little farce a huge parcel of film submissions arrived from SciCast Orbiting World Headquarters, which has proved rather distracting, so here’s the new plan: next Wednesday I have an appointment with the local Apple Store, who are assembling every different iPod they can find for a mammoth testing session.
All being well we’ll start rolling out downloads shortly thereafter. We have the infrastructure more-or-less in place, it’s just the details of compression settings that are holding us up.
I’ll keep you posted here.
No, we haven’t disappeared, we’re still here. We were at the ASE Conference in Liverpool last week, and this week we’ve been battling our way through the flood of film submissions. You’ll shortly see a whole bunch of new films — there’s some terrific stuff coming up, and we’re hugely excited about it all.
Sincere thanks to everyone who’s contributed so far, and remember — SciCast 2007 might be finishing, but SciCast 2008 is just getting underway. We’ll be publishing films right through the year, and we’re hoping to have some exciting new announcements to bring you too. Which sounds like the usual marketing clap-trap, but is actually true for once.