Movies Politics

Racism is Over

To identify 12 Years a Slave as merely a story about slavery is to miss what makes race the furious and often pathological subtext of American politics in the Obama era.

— Jonathan Chait: 12 Years a Slave and the Obama Era

Misc. Movies

Flushing Dumpling Makers

Some friends and I played neighborhood tourist for a day last month in Flushing. If you are looking for great Asian food for cheap, the Golden Mall has a lot to offer.

Interface macOS Movies

Better Desktop DVD Display

Mac OS X’s DVD Player allows users to set the title and a jacket picture for each disc. Some DVDs specify the jacket picture already, as in the case of Samurai Rebellion. These two pieces could be used to better present the DVD on the desktop.

  1. Disc Info
    DVD Player Disc Info
  2. Jacket Picture
    DVD Player Jacket Picture

Put them together…

DVD Jacket Picture and Title on Desktop

Interaction Interface macOS Meta-data Movies

New Tricks for yFlicks

A few comments for Many Tricks’ yFlicks, a video player and organizer for Mac OS X.

  1. A first-launch-only prompt to import the user’s movies (searching based on UTIs or whatever magic is required) and perhaps user-selectable locations would help them immerse themselves in the application. Creating groups from folders might help them orient themselves by carrying over their existing arrangement.
  2. An option to set up folders to monitor for new videos would be nice. Sensible defaults could include ~/Movies and the user’s Safari Downloads folder and whichever other folders the user picks at first launch (should such an option be presented).
  3. Allow drag-and-drop to the main pane; it is usually a much easier target because of its size (Fitts’ Law).
  4. Group renaming is quirky. Double-clicking quickly does not engage the rename mode, but single-clicking a selected group does. The Enter key should also activate rename mode.
  5. Command-Left Arrow and Command-Right Arrow should be bound to opening and closing the group folders.
  6. The active group’s name should be displayed in the window titlebar. This is particularly useful if the Library pane is hidden, leaving no visual indication of which group is active.
  7. Display metadata embedded in QT files. At least Title! Please! Director and Performers would also be nice.
  8. Center the movie thumbnails within the right pane.
  9. Retain the main window’s size across launches (ideally, in a relative way so that it can adapt to different screen setups, but I don’t know if that is feasible with available OS X technologies).
  10. Allow multi-select and contextual menu star rating assignment. Having to rate videos individually is tedious if you have a large existing collection.
  11. Clicking the Hide Library button in the lower left moves the right pane over, triggering the preview playback of the bottom left movie. This seems to be a bug with calculating the position of screen elements.
  12. I dig the mouseover video previews, but I think the delay should be increased by a wee bit to prevent them from starting unintentionally.
Interface macOS Movies Windows

A Hideous Hybrid

As part of a series of Mac Pro performance tests before putting down for a new system, I watched the 1080p trailer for The Departed, looking for smoothness in playback and scaling. No problems there, but I did catch a mighty fugly interface in the trailer itself.

Screen 1: Windows Explorer tree, buttons stolen from Safari, Graphite theme scrollbar (1 MB).

Ugly Windows/Mac hybrid

Screen 2: Mini Mac window widgets, goofily labeled Aqua drop-down menus (1.32 MB).

Goofy widget layout

I guess the budget all went to the parade of stars.

Accessibility Interaction macOS Meta-data Movies

Source of Labor

As with all annotations and chapter titles, it would be nice to have QuickTime video subtitles indexed by Spotlight. I have no clue as to the technical feasibility of this, but the text of the displayed frame is searchable within QuickTime Player (Command-R), so I would think it could be done.

  1. I am trying to recall a labor statistic that Stephen Colbert mentioned on his show. I know he used the specific phrase "Labor Department", so I enter that in the Spotlight search field.
  2. The subtitled QuickTime movie appears in the result list.
    Spotlight search for 'Labor Department'
  3. Opening the movie automatically moves to the point at which the phrase "Labor Department" first appears.
    Stephen Colbert cites a Labor Department statistic

If both a chapter and subtitle contained the same text, I think the subtitle should be given more weight; it is more specific and likely easier for the user to put in context.

Interaction Interface macOS Meta-data Movies

Movie Annotation Actions

I forgot to include the action menus in my previous mockup of a revised QuickTime Player Info window, so here it is:

Annotation action pop-up

I also fixed the alignment of the top and bottom section labels.

WordPress 2.0 is nice!

Design Interaction Interface macOS Meta-data Movies Pro Bono Portfolio

QuickTime Video Chapters

Continuing my exploration of QuickTime’s metadata capabilities, I’ve been using Metadata Hootenanny to add chapters to videos ripped with HandBrake. Chapters are similar to the Scene Selection or Index screens on DVDs, allowing you to jump to points in the video without having to scrub. Handy, but chapters aren’t as useful as they could be.

Chapter Title Indexing

Like a lot of QuickTime metadata, chapter titles are not indexed by Spotlight. Here’s how it should work:

  1. The user types “Impressions” into Spotlight
  2. Because the chapter titles are indexed, the Coltrane tribute video I’ve imported appears in the results list:Spotlight search for Impressions
  3. Rather than the beginning, QuickTime Player opens the video at the chapter whose title contains “Impressions”, similar to how Preview opens PDFs to the first page containing a query string:
    QuickTime Player at Impressions chapter

Chapter Display

The pop-up menu is functional, but it doesn’t provide any visual or much linear context:

Actual QuickTime Player chapter menu

To provide such information, a drawer like that in Preview for multi-page PDFs could be used. Drawer haters can stick with the pop-up menu, but it would be nice for videos with 25+ chapters. The drawer would look something like this:

QuickTime Player chapter drawer

  • The thumbnails could play a few seconds of video when moused over, playing audio only if the open movie was not already.
  • Display of the drawer could be toggled via a View menu command or the keyboard using Shift-Command-C.

Chapter Editing

They would probably be buttheads and make it a Pro feature, but a way to edit chapters in QT Player without having to write a text file (gadzooks!) would be great.

  • Users could create chapter markers by dragging video frames to the drawer, selecting Add Chapter from the Edit menu, or using a keyboard shortcut (Option-Command-C is available).
  • After dropping a frame in the drawer (or using the keyboard shortcut), a name input field would immediately come into focus.
  • Given the strictly linear nature, chapters would auto-arrange with a sliding animation.
  • Users would be free to edit the chapters of purchased videos; they wouldn’t be modifying content, so preventing it would just be a needless imposition of the creator’s organization.
Design Interaction Interface macOS Meta-data Movies Pro Bono Portfolio

Playa, Playa

QuickTime Player improved with QT7, but there are still plenty of lingering problems.

Playback Windows

QT Player redesign preview

Generally, I’d use the new iTunes look instead of brushed metal. Clickable side margins might be useful, but there is a lot of space at the bottom of movie windows that can be used to move them.

The status area would use the subtle gradient seen in iTunes 6 and adopt a few of the behaviors used there:

  1. Annotations (except the title, which is always displayed in the window titlebar) would be displayed above the playback scrubber, rotating through (automatically or when clicked) the director, composer, writer, etc. Performers would have to be displayed one at a time.
  2. Clicking the enclosed triangle widget at the left of the status area would toggle the display of the level meters that are currently displayed at the right of the playback scrubber.

The Movie Info Window

Here is the current Movie Info window:

QT Player Info window

It’s as though the top and bottom sections of the Movie Info window were designed by different people.

Here is my design:

Revised QT Player Info window

My Info window clearly labels movie annotations and allows the sections to be hidden by clicking on the header section or rearranged by dragging the handle at the right edge.

Annotation Access

Not all of the movie annotations are available through the Properties window. Instead, you have to use Automator or another tool to access things like Director and Performers.

The post title is a reference to one of my favorite albums, D’Angelo’s Voodoo, available at the iTunes Music Store or Amazon.

macOS Meta-data Movies

QuickTime Annotations

As of 10.4.3, Spotlight indexes only a few QuickTime video annotations, which I use to add metadata to videos downloaded from Crooks and Liars and vlogs accessed through DTV. Relocating videos is easier when they have structured metadata that is indexed and searchable.

The below table does not include every annotation available and many of the generic metadata mappings are suggestions based on the descriptions of existing kMD mappings. The new QuickTime metadata format documentation explicitly names a few mappings; the rest are based on the syntax.

Spotlight-Indexed QuickTime Video Annotations
Annotation Indexed Generic Metadata Mapping New QuickTime Metadata Mapping
Title (Full Name) Yes kMDItemTitle kQTMetaDataCommonKeyDisplayName
Copyright Yes kMDItemCopyright kQTMetaDataCommonKeyCopyright
Comment Yes kMDItemComment kQTMetaDataCommonKeyComment
Author Yes kMDItemAuthors kQTMetaDataCommonKeyAuthor
Description Yes kMDItemDescription kQTMetaDataCommonKeyDescription
Keywords No kMDItemKeywords kQTMetaDataCommonKeyKeywords
Producer No kQTMetaDataCommonKeyProducer
URL Link No kMDItemWhereFroms kQTMetaDataCommonKeyURLLink
Performers No kMDItemContributors kQTMetaDataCommonKeyPerformers
Director No kQTMetaDataCommonKeyDirector
Writer No kQTMetaDataCommonKeyWriter
Artist No kQTMetaDataCommonKeyArtist
Album No kMDItemAlbum kQTMetaDataCommonKeyAlbum
Genre No kQTMetaDataCommonKeyGenre
Composer No kMDItemComposer kQTMetaDataCommonKeyComposer
Encoded By No kMDItemEncodingApplications kQTMetaDataCommonKeyEncodedBy
Warning No kMDItemInstructions kQTMetaDataCommonKeyWarning
Information No kMDItemRights kQTMetaDataCommonKeyInformation
Software No kMDItemCreator kQTMetaDataCommonKeySoftware
Make No kMDItemAcquisitionMake kQTMetaDataCommonKeyAcquisitionMake
Model No kMDItemAcquisitionModel kQTMetaDataCommonKeyAcquisitionModel
Original Source No kQTMetaDataCommonKeyOriginalSource

A few related thoughts

  • I believe Apple will release a real video manager sometime in the near future. iTunes is my preferred music manager, but it is a lousy video manager.
  • A video manager that would handle television show episodes and feature films would need a more flexible metadata infrastructure than the old QuickTime annotation system, hence the extensible system introduced with QuickTime 7.
  • Download distribution rights for all of Pixar’s feature films are probably part of Jobs’ negotiations with Disney. They’ve already been (more than) amortized, so why not sell them through the online video store for four or five dollars? Pixar, Apple, and Disney all get a cut and Apple gets some quality content to launch feature film sales.