Tag Archives: video

Refocusing a photograph after taking it and other seemingly magical technologies

Arthur C. Clarke once said that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Entire religions have been built around apparently magical events. In this PodTech video interview, Robert Scoble converses with Professor Marc Levoy of Stanford University about ongoing computational photography research that will simply blow your mind.

It’s almost an hour long (and worth watching entirely), but if you can’t afford that much time (really, it’s brain food.. it’s good for you) these are some of the highlights:

11 minutes: Using stock photography to recompose or fix images. Read more about it here.

Carnegie Mellon Scene Completion Technology

16 minutes: A camera that allows you to refocus a photograph after taking it. Ever taken a photo only to find that the camera auto-focused on the background? No problem… this technology will solve that. (Even more amazing is that this technology was presented two years ago at SIGGRAPH and is currently under commercial development by Refocus Imaging, Inc. – How did I miss this?).

Stanford University Refocusing Technology

38 minutes: Gigapixel imaging. Creating gigapixel panoramas. Check out the Gigapixel Panorama viewer at Microsoft Research.

42 minutes: Microscopy research. Using the image refocusing technology to create a three-dimensional image of neurons firing throughout the brain at a particular moment in time.

45 minutes: One of the interviewers asks Prof. Levoy what’s next for image search? His answer is priceless: “I know too much, sorry.”

46 minutes: A bit of trivia: the real origin of Google‘s name.


It’s hard to find words to describe this presentation by Professor Randy Pausch at Carnegie Mellon University. Titled “Really Achieving your Childhood Dreams,” Prof. Pausch’s lecture is a wake-up call, an entertaining how-to manual on how to truly live our lives. It’s an hour-and-a-half long and worth every second.

[Link to movie @ Google Video]

Thanks to Jason for sharing this via Facebook. I think he found it via Michael Arrington’s Techcrunch, who in turn found it via Meetro‘s founder.

Bonus: If, like me, you were ever part of the Computer Graphics and Virtual Reality scene, you’ll enjoy this lecture even more.

One of my favorite quotes from this lecture was when he talks about the value of criticism and why it’s a good thing: “When you’re screwing up and nobody says anything anymore, that means they gave up.

New Tools for Tracking NBC vs. CBS at YouTube

TubeMogul, the awesome online video traffic analysis tool, now (finally guys! 😉 ) offers embeddable charts, as well as a number of new social features.

Here’s the latest month of YouTube data for NBC and CBS, showing NBC’s continuous lead over rival CBS.

I’ve set the chart to show data from May 13 to Jun 12, 2007 – but you could just as easily set it to continuously auto-update and show the last thirty days.

TubeMogul – Empowering Online Video.

NBC and CBS Neck-and-Neck on YouTube ratings

According to the latest YouTube stats, NBC has caught up with CBS on total daily page views (*) at YouTube. The change took place around Feb. 06, 2007, and is likely attributable to the highly popular D*ck in a Box Uncensored video.

Since then, it’s been pretty much neck-and-neck, with NBC pulling ahead in the last few days, as evidenced by this chart:

NBC vs. CBS YouTube Stats

The latest push by NBC seems to be due to Saturday Night Live’s Chris Rock spot, among others.

Most of these stats come from a new service I’m involved with, TubeMogul, which lets you track your videos across several video websites, compare different publishers and group your videos to compare how they’re doing across different versions or websites. I’ll be posting a more in-depth article about TubeMogul shortly, but in the meantime give it a try… You’ll like it.

(*) As I’ve said before, page views -as reported by internet video websites- are almost useless. We need more detailed stats, such as actual views (playbacks) and how far each viewer got through the video.

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Pecha Kucha

The term Pecha Kucha (pronounced pet-shah coot-shah) is Japanese for “the sound of conversation.” It’s also, I’ve recently learned, a place for designers to meet, network and show their work in public.

The idea is quite simple… each presenter gets 20 slides which are shown for 20 seconds each. This gives each designer a total of 6 minutes 20 seconds to present their ideas and, since the slideshow is controlled by the organizers, presenters can’t overrun their alloted time.

This sounds like a great idea for places like Congress, where participants tend to go on-and-on, sometimes even as a tactic to keep others from speaking.

YouTube, with its 10 minute limit on video uploads, has unknowingly adapted this idea to user-generated-videos. Say what you want… but keep it under ten minutes.

The DEMO conference, with their tightly controlled schedules and presentations, is a nice example of the usefulness of the concept outlined by Pecha-Kucha.org. In true Pecha Kucha tradition, each participant gets 6 minutes (I think) to present their ideas, followed by a couple of days to mingle and smooch with investors (and really explain what they’re about).

Have you seen any other implementations of Pecha Kucha? Any ideas of where it could be implemented?

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Gaming the Cheaters

The Problem

Users of internet video websites trick the system to inflate the number of views recorded for a particular video. They may do this by setting several browser windows to auto-refresh on their video’s web page, or rigging a number of different computers to do the same thing, over and over again. A group of friends may attack together to confuse any IP tracking measures.

Why It Happens

Fame & Fortune. Bragging Rights. 15 minutes of fame. Why else?

The main reason internet video websites are so popular is because people crave attention. We love to show off. “Hey, look what I made!” – “Look, Ma!!! No hands!” (The other reasons are that people love to be entertained and people are naturally curious).

We can divide the cheaters into two non-mutually exclusive groups: the attention whores and the fortune seekers. Their means are the same, their ends are different. I’ve made the distinction because they affect different websites in very different ways.

Services like YouTube, that thrive on visitor stats and video views, have no real incentive (yet) to do anything about the problem. It actually benefits them. So what if there are users on YouTube who claim to watch 70 videos per hour every single day? It only helps YouTube boost their numbers.

Services like Revver or Metacafe, on the other hand, who pay users for their content, do have a problem. Users who cheat the system into believing more people watched their videos, could steal a lot of money from them. For these services, it’s not the number of views that’s important, but the number of real, attention-paying viewers.

The Solution

So, how do we stop the cheating? Turns out there’s several ways. Most of the internet video services require you to press the PLAY button on the video player to start the video. A simple Page View should not be counted as a Video View. Mindlessly refreshing the web page should do nothing to your video’s view count.

Secondly, videos have length. So measure the amount of time people spend on the web page after they’ve pressed the PLAY button. (You can also write some code to track the video being streamed through the Flash player, but this just seems a lot easier).

This simple method will tell you two things in the long run: how many people actually clicked on your video and how long through it did they watch it.

Granted, some people may just click PLAY and just let the video play while they do something else. This is something we’ll have to live with for the time being. Advertisers don’t know whether you pay any attention to their ads on television, but they still pay for them. You adapt to the limits of the technology. (Advertisers also trust AGB Nielsen to have selected a reliable sample of viewers, but that’s another story).

One problem with the simple method (using time spent on the page) is that you can’t use it to reliably track videos embedded on other websites. This is one point in favor of developing a reliable system to track the actual video streamed through the Flash player. Or you can simply restrict your stats to those from within your website and group the rest as “unreliable off-site video views.”

Yes, you can always write a script to open a web page, click on a button, wait some time and do it again. But it’s about making it harder for the cheaters and reporting more accurate stats.

Thus, three easy steps:

  1. Track video views only AFTER the visitor has pressed PLAY on the flash player.
  2. Use the video’s length and the time spent on the page to measure how far through the video they watched.
  3. Filter IP addresses.

What do you think? Any foolproof techniques to stop the cheaters? Leave your comment below.

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Detailed CBS-YouTube Weekly Stats and Charts

I’ve been compiling data about CBS videos on YouTube for the past week. Here are some charts with the Top 15 videos from the CBS channel on YouTube. I began gathering data on November 21st and have charted the week from Nov. 22nd to Nov.28th (inclusive).

On to the charts!

The CBS|YouTube Top 15 Videos by Net Daily Viewers

Cbs-Youtube Top-15-Net-Daily-Viewers 20061128

  1. Michael Richards (“Kramer”) Apologizes [309,188 views on 11/22]
  2. Michael Richards (“Kramer”) Apologizes [270,853 views on 11/23]
  3. Kirstie Alley’s Bikini Shock [208,408 views on 11/22]
  4. Michael Richards (“Kramer”) Apologizes [169,902 views on 11/24]
  5. Craig is Changing America! [165,804 views on 11/22]
  6. O.J. Simpson’s Rejected Product [151,557 views on 11/24]
  7. Craig is Changing America! [132,860 views on 11/25]
  8. Borat Meets David Letterman [128,636 views on 11/26]
  9. Coast to Coast Goal – Gretzky Style [125,763 views on 11/24]
  10. Rumsfeld Gets Cute At The Podium (extended version) [120,157 views on 11/27]
  11. O.J. Simpson’s Rejected Product [112,174 views on 11/23]
  12. Michael Richards (“Kramer”) Apologizes [110,864 views on 11/27]
  13. Craig is Changing America! [110,079 views on 11/23]
  14. Kirstie Alley’s Bikini Shock [108,399 views on 11/25]
  15. If OJ Won’t Admit, You Must Cancel It. [108,290 views on 11/24]

The CBS|YouTube Top 15 Videos by Average Daily Viewers
(total views for each video divided by the number of days since the video was uploaded)

Cbs-Youtube Top-15-Avg-Daily-Viewers 20061128

  1. Michael Richards (“Kramer”) Apologizes [127,754 average daily viewers since 11/21]
  2. Kirstie Alley’s Bikini Shock [89,259 average daily viewers since 11/20]
  3. Craig is Changing America! [61,678 average daily viewers since 11/21]
  4. O.J. Simpson’s Rejected Product [61,596 average daily viewers since 11/22]
  5. The K-Fed/Britney Sex Tape [59,315 average daily viewers since 11/9]
  6. Rumsfeld Gets Cute At The Podium (extended version) [58,552 average daily viewers since 11/13]
  7. Borat Meets David Letterman [55,905 average daily viewers since 10/30]
  8. Rumsfeld Gets Cute At The Podium [43,083 average daily viewers since 11/9]
  9. Playstation 3: It’s Just so Old and Outdated [42,576 average daily viewers since 11/17]
  10. If OJ Won’t Admit, You Must Cancel It. [42,540 average daily viewers since 11/22]
  11. Coast to Coast Goal – Gretzky Style [42,143 average daily viewers since 11/22]
  12. Most Memorable College Plays [40,238 average daily viewers since 11/20]
  13. Curious George W. Goes To Vietnam [38,892 average daily viewers since 11/21]
  14. Borat wrestles Harry Smith [38,762 average daily viewers since 11/1]
  15. NCIS Cat Fight [38,138 average daily viewers since 10/17]

The CBS|YouTube Weekly Top 15
(most viewers during the week)

Cbs-Youtube Weekly-Top-15 20061128

  1. Michael Richards (“Kramer”) Apologizes [968,127 viewers during the week]
  2. Craig is Changing America! [478,404 viewers during the week]
  3. O.J. Simpson’s Rejected Product [425,746 viewers during the week]
  4. Kirstie Alley’s Bikini Shock [414,882 viewers during the week]
  5. Curious George W. Goes To Vietnam [295,015 viewers during the week]
  6. Most Memorable College Plays [289,991 viewers during the week]
  7. Coast to Coast Goal – Gretzky Style [289,481 viewers during the week]
  8. If OJ Won’t Admit, You Must Cancel It [285,106 viewers during the week]
  9. Rumsfeld Gets Cute At The Podium (extended version) [268,507 viewers during the week]
  10. Borat Meets David Letterman [256,363 viewers during the week]
  11. Make A Celebrity Turkey [138,201 viewers during the week]
  12. The Newest Bond Villain [132,611 viewers during the week]
  13. A Field of Dreams for Judy Coffman [127,846 viewers during the week]
  14. Track Star Faces Biggest Hurdle in Iraq [116,377 viewers during the week]
  15. David Letterman’s Angry Audience Guy [111,669 viewers during the week]

The CBS|YouTube Video of the Week Award

By now, it should be obvious that Kramer’s apology was the most popular video on the CBS|YouTube channel this past week.

Here’s a graph showing the evolution of total viewers and the daily viewers during the past week. I’ve included Nov. 21st on the chart since that was the day the video was uploaded. That way you can see the complete evolution of an Internet hit.

Cbs Topweeklyvideo 20061128

One Final Note Regarding Last Week’s Article

On last week’s article, I noted a difference between CBS’s Top-15 list for Nov.17 and my own list for Nov.21 (please refer to the article for details) and wondered whether CBS had somehow doctored their list to make it more marketable. Having looked at one week’s worth of data I feel there is no evidence of foul play. Kramer’s video hit 800,000 views just three days after being posted, and the average daily views indicate the growth predicted in the article would have been not only possible but quite normal.

If you have any requests for particular channels to track or a specific chart you want to see, please leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to accommodate your request.

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Article Roundup and CBS-YouTube Data

A number of interesting articles across the net, CBS|YouTube numbers for the past week, and some upcoming surprises.

First off, the articles:

The Fuzzy Math of Big Media’s Digital Revenue – at AdAge.

It seems like every major player expects to make US$500 Million from digital ad revenues, even though everyone defines digital differently. Good read to get an idea of who’s playing where.

Is Mining Virtual Gold Exploitative? – at MTV Overdrive

This is one of those mind-blowing news segments straight out of some Sci-Fi book. Imagine hordes of Chinese adolescents working twelve-hour shifts mining gold… virtual gold, that is. The gold in question exists only inside the virtual worlds of World of Warcraft (WoW) and is sold through international brokers to wealthier players who lack the time (or skill) to obtain it on their own. On a similar vein (pun fully intended) a recent press release announced Anshe Chung had become Second Life’s first virtual millionaire. Don’t you just love this?

Will Paying for User Video Pay Off? – at GigaOM

A nice round-up of Internet video companies that pay their users for uploaded content.

YouTube vs TV – at Mashable
Apparently, internet video websites are stealing users away from regular television (according to a BBC report – not that I trust the BBC a whole lot, anyway). But this seems reasonable – after all, time spent watching internet video is time spent away from the TV.

Why the Verizon/YouTube deal doesn’t matter – at CinemaTech
A simple explanation of why this YouTube/Verizon deal is not important… mainly, it’s too restrictive (which is exactly the opposite of why YouTube was such a success in the first place).

And now the good stuff:

All the coding/learning time paid off and I now have one week’s worth of CBS|YouTube data which I’ll be reporting on this week.

Total Views for CBS videos on YouTube between midnight November 21 and midnight November 28 were: 6,849,294.

Most Total Daily Views were on Wednesday, November 22nd (1,333,848) and Least Total Daily Views were today, Tuesday, November 28th (410,094).

Most Daily Views for any particular show were on Wednesday, November 23rd: 309,188 viewers watched Michael Richards (“Kramer”) Apologize.

Please note that since I do not have direct control over YouTube’s servers, these numbers may be off by a couple of late-night viewers. Nothing serious, in any case.

Stay tuned for graphics and additional data.

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A Recap of Recent Articles

Yesterday’s article – Analyzing the CBS YouTube Stats – proved to be very popular, more than doubling the number of visitors and sending page views through the roof.

So, to welcome all the new blog readers, a short recap of our latest posts is in order.

Remember that you can subscribe by email to the blog if you want to receive new articles on your inbox. Simply click here to subscribe. No spam, just the latest article.

On to the recap…

Analyzing the YouTube Stats attempts to shed some light on the recent press release from CBS regarding their first month on YouTube. Using their Top-15 videos and comparing to a more recent Top-15, we can analyze the viewership volume of newer videos and determine their viral growth.

Google Does Video Graphs critiques Google Video’s latest feature, view stats for your videos, and shows where there’s room for improvement.

Blast From the Past – Multidimensional Data Analysis presents a graph I came up with years ago, while doing rating’s analysis for a TV network. If you’re a fan of Edward Tufte, this one’s for you.

The Advertiser’s Dilemma is about optimizing ad purchases in the Internet video age. When videos go viral overnight, and go cold almost as fast, how to you place your ads to maximize exposure while minimizing cost?

An Informal Chat with Second Life Creator Philip Rosedale – random musings from the recent Forbes MEET Forum (held at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles).

Rethinking Ratings analyzes current television rating methods and why they’re inappropriate for the Internet video industry. Suggestions for improvement.

Where are the Editors is where I ramble about the need for trustworthy editors in an era of endless information. This was a recurrent theme at the Forbes MEET Forum (even though this article was posted before the conference).

Hacking at Apple Stores is a short piece about the copious amounts of personal information people leave behind on the computers on display at Apple Stores.

Why Google Should Buy YouTube – posted before the actual purchase, this articles presents a number of reasons why buying YouTube would add enormous value to Google… and why the US$1.65 Billion they eventually paid for it might actually be a bargain.

Case Study: NBC’s Heroes details the good and the bad about how NBC is taking advantage of Digital Media Integration with their new hit series.

The Paris Hilton School of Blogging is a humorous look at name-dropping in blogs and its advertising value.

Google Media – an in-depth analysis of the way Google will change the way you experience music, television and media in general. Includes interface mock-ups.

Well, there you go… Now you have something to read over Thanksgiving.

Have fun and come back soon!

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Analyzing the CBS YouTube Stats

Today, CBS issued a press release celebrating their first month on YouTube. I first heard of the press release on the CinemaTech blog.

Coincidentally, I was just writing a Ruby program to access YouTube data for a project I’m working on with some friends at UC Berkeley… so I decided to put it to the test against CBS’s press release data.

According to the CBS press release, the Top 15 CBS videos watched this month (as of November 17) on YouTube were (Total Views in parentheses):

1. NCIS/Cat Fight (1,603,364)
2. Letterman/ Borat Meets David Letterman (1,057,180)
3. Early Show/ Borat Vs Harry Smith (969,391)
4. Letterman/ Bush is drinking again (698,806)
5. Letterman/ Message About February for Bush (524,697)
6. CBS Evening News/ Michael J Fox Talks to Katie Couric (465,563)
7. CSTV/USC Cheerleaders: The Song Girls (374,623)
8. CSTV/ A Field of Dreams for Judy Coffman (358,572)
9. Letterman/George W. Bush Fakin’ It (357,213)
10. Letterman/ Dave and Bill O’Reilly (352,747)
11. Letterman/The Guy Who Swears At Dave (316,258)
12. Ferguson/ Fun is Dangerous (314,093)
13. Letterman/Do Maggots Go With Scorpion (278,283)
14. Ferguson/ Bush visits the Un-Late Late Show (221,462)
15. Ferguson/Bad Kerry (219,556)

According to my stats, the Top 15 CBS videos as of today (November 21) are (I’ve added the Upload Date at the end of each video):

1. NCIS Cat Fight (1,626,323) [10/17/2006]
2. Borat Meets David Letterman (1,420,773) [10/30/2006]
3. The K-Fed/Britney Sex Tape (1,152,283) [11/9/2006]
4. Borat wrestles Harry Smith (1,038,996) [11/1/2006]
5. Rumsfeld Gets Cute At The Podium (826,849) [11/9/2006]
6. Britney Spears Surprises Dave (815,027) [11/7/2006]
7. Bush is drinking again! (Late Late Show) (728,940) [10/16/2006]
8. Rumsfeld Gets Cute At The Podium (extended version) (668,323) [11/13/2006]
9. a kiss is not a kiss… (610,691) [11/3/2006]
10. Letterman’s Important Message About February for George Bush (550,967) [10/26/2006]
11. Cheerleader Whacked by Leprechaun (536,502) [11/13/2006]
12. EXCLUSIVE: Michael J. Fox Talks To Katie Couric re Rush L (473,574) [10/27/2006]
13. Playstation 3: It’s Just so Old and Outdated (414,019) [11/17/2006]
14. Kirstie Alley’s Bikini Shock (388,452) [11/20/2006]
15. USC Cheerleaders (The Song Girls): CSTV (384,265) [9/29/2006]

It’s a very different list, with eight newcomers (shown in red). Now, I have no practical way of obtaining the data for Nov. 17, so I have to work with what I have. Either CBS doesn’t want to advertise certain shows or there’s some very interesting viral growth going on here.

The newcomers where all uploaded during November, so they got quite popular very fast. Now, I don’t think CBS has some hidden agenda to hide K-Fed/Britney shows and Rumsfeld sketches (they seem quite happy to show three Bush clips on their Top 15). On the contrary, this gives me an opportunity to do some quite interesting analysis (at least until I gather more complete data on my own).

On November 17, according to CBS, a show needed about 219,000 total views to make the Top 15. That means that on 4 days, eight CBS shows gathered enough views to break into the Top 15:

At #3, the K-Fed/Britney Sex Tape (on Craig Ferguson), must have garnered almost 1,000,000 views on those four days. At #5 and #6, Rumsfeld and Britney needed about 600,000 views on those four days. At numbers 8 and 9, Rumsfeld again, and The Adventures of Old Christine, entertained close to half-a-million viewers.

Let’s list the newcomers, along with the number of viewers that watched them between November 18 (after CBS’s Top 15) and November 21 (my Top 15):

3. The K-Fed/Britney Sex Tape 932,727 Viewers [11/9/2006]
5. Rumsfeld Gets Cute At The Podium 607,293 Viewers [11/9/2006]
6. Britney Spears Surprises Dave 595,471 Viewers [11/7/2006]
8. Rumsfeld Gets Cute At The Podium (extended version) 448,767 Viewers [11/13/2006]
9. a kiss is not a kiss… 391,135 Viewers [11/3/2006]
11. Cheerleader Whacked by Leprechaun 316,946 Viewers [11/13/2006]
13. Playstation 3: It’s Just so Old and Outdated 194,463 Viewers [11/17/2006]
14. Kirstie Alley’s Bikini Shock 168,896 Viewers [11/20/2006]

Those are very interesting numbers for a four day period.

I also drew a couple of graphs to try and understand my CBS data better.

The first one plots CBS’s 328 YouTube videos, charting Total Views by Upload Date. Though a whole bunch of videos are down in the under 200K view range, there might just be a pattern forming where newer videos are gathering more views. Eventually I’ll be able to plot views over time.

CBS: Total_Viewers vs. Upload_Date

The next graph, plots Total Views for each video against the Average User Rating they received. On YouTube users may rate a video on a 1-5 scale. A “0” means the video has not been rated by any viewers. These graph shows that most CBS videos receive a rating of 2.5 or more, and that the more Views a video gets, the higher its average rating. Nothing extraordinary here.

CBS: Total_Viewers vs. Average_User_Rating

The final graph for today plots Average User Rating vs. Upload Date. Again, nothing clear but a very slight pattern might be forming where newer videos are getting higher ratings. The other funny pattern obvious from these Upload Date graphs is that CBS does not upload any videos on weekends – as evidenced by the small vertical gaps every five days.

CBS: Average_User_Rating vs. Upload_Date

So there you have it. A first attempt at analyzing CBS on YouTube. Expect more as time goes by and more data comes in.

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