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Am I The Only One?

Monday, August 23, 2004

Viewer-Produced TV: What Digital TV Should Offer

About 6 months ago I took the plunge in the Digital Cable. Hundreds of channels, video on demand, even a DVR for a TiVo-like experience. And like so many of today's high-tech toys, it was great at first. But then the more I saw what digital TV offered, the more I saw what it didn't offer.

Let's say you're watching football. I want to be able to setup a main TV monitor, surrounded by about four smaller LDC monitors. My cable box should support up to, say, 10 monitors. Each sports program should have about 20 video feeds, and all of them should be streaming to hard disk in real time.

So as I'm watching the main broadcast, I can use my remote to put a menu of replays in one monitor, a live player statics in another monitor, and maybe the end-zone camera shot in a third monitor. In fact, I want to be able to pick the view from any of the cameras in the stadium, including the quarterback's helmet-cam.

Think of the experience for auto racing. Each car could have three cameras installed which together provide a 180-degree forward view from the car. You see what Indy 500 champ Buddy Rice sees as he drives. You could arrange your smaller monitors in a semicircle around you for a surround-video experience. Bam! Watch out for that wall in your right-hand monitor.

You should also be able to pick from 20 different in-car views, and change them at will. If I want the shot from the blimp from 30 minutes ago, it should be at my fingertips. I want to see driver profiles without having to use a separate Internet device, and I want to see telemetry data (like G-force loads and RPM) for any car, in real time, in any monitor.

The DVR start-n-stop phenomenon raises the possibility of viewer-directed production. Let's take Survivor, for example. We only see about 44 minutes in each episode, but there are hours upon hours of footage left on the floor of the editing suite. As I watch the show, I should be offered small menus on the bottom of the screen which will pause the broadcast and show me 2 hours of bonus footage which pertain to that moment of broadcast. I want to see the whole argument between Rupert and Tom, for heaven's saks, not just 15 seconds. I want to pause the tribal counsel and watch the entire voting sequence in real time, then resume the broadcast to see the vote.

Survivor does, in fact, have a very nice section on their web site with bonus "Survivor Insider" footage. But I want all of that, plus even more features, at my fingertips during the broadcast.

I realize that I have unrealistically high expectation of today's technology. But let's just say that I'm a visionary.

Random Sample From NPR: Scientists may have found a way to reduce the spread of malaria by genetically modifying the mosquito that carries it. But, who wants to be biten by a frankenstein insect? NPR explores both sides of the issue in "GM Mosquito Offer Hope in Fight Against Malaria" (listen) Bias: none.


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