[POLYV Insight] Let’s talk about film review aggregation websites

Nowadays, if we want to watch a new film in the cinema, we would check the review of the film first – like IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, MetaCritic, or Chinese sites like Douban Movies (豆瓣电影) and Dushe Movies (毒舌电影). They act like the “testing probe” of the movies, telling us if the movie is worth watching.

Nowadays people rely on movie reviews to determine the quality of the movie.

While many audience search the reviews in these sites, the Hollywood industry – from filmakers to investors – recently condamned Rotten Tomatoes for “ruining their business”. (Source in Chinese)

From the first weekend of May, to the Labor’s Day in the U.S. on September 4, the gross box office in North America during the period dropped 15% compared to the same time last year, a great decline that the industry never has over the last 20 years.

The Hollywood industry is not the only one that got pissed off. Recently, some of the directors from the National Day blockbuster movies, condamned their work got rated poorly with “1 star” way before they are out for public. (Source in Chinese)

Now, are the film review aggregation websites the culprit to the downfall of the box office, or the poison to the film’s box office?

First of all, the reviews on the film review aggregation websites are not just for professional film critics. Everyone who have watched the film can rate and write a review on it. When the rating count gets large enough, the overall rating and review is reliable and basically revealed the judging and thoughts of most audience.

This mechanism works fine and fair for almost every film of every genre. However, there are some KOL critics violate the rules, leaving bad reviews on purpose before the film release, and ask the directors or investors of the film for money to remove the bad reviews. For these malpractice, the operation group of these websites should be checked often, and take out these bad reviews to prevent them from misleading the audience.

But there’s another type of malpractice that make the audience more dissatisfied – the crew or the investors of the film release fake reviews along with ads or other pomotions before the film release to disguise the film as a good one, while it is actually a poor-made, nonsense BS. This means by the time the audience discover the film’s poor quality, the investors have gained a lot of income.

In the case of National Day blockbuster movies, two of the three directors are actually making false accusations of Douban Movies for “ruining the reputation of the film and the crew”. But, is it actually the story?

If you watch the trailer of these movies, you will find the scenes, the costumes, the plot, the music and everything else is rubbish, and never keep your eye a second more on them. Obviously, these accusations just reveal how bad the movies are.

What’s more, the early stage rating doesn’t mean everything. A lot of films that are not well rated at the beginning, eventually get good reviews and reputations, like Mr. Donkey (驴得水), Duckweed (乘风破浪) and Da Hu Fa (大护法), they get a rating of 7/10 or more, even there are a lot of “1 star” ratings before they are released.

We always emphasize, “Content is always the core”. Without the great content, the work is just a white elephant and not worth a second taste. This is not just for movies, but also for other videos, music, literature and other forms of art. The rating in these film review aggregation websites doesn’t mean everything, but it also reveals how the public speaks to the film industry.

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[POLYV Insight] When video meets 5G communication

We are in the age of 4G LTE communication. Compared to 3G, 4G network is significantly faster, with higher bandwidth capacity, and the network quality is much better.

While we still benefit from the ever evolving 4G LTE network, 5G – the next generation standard of communication, is already in progress.

You may ask, what is 5G communication? How does 5G change video technology and application? These are the topics we discuss in today’s article.

I. What is 5G?

5 th generation mobile networks, a.k.a. 5G, are the proposed next telecommunications standards beyond the current 4G standards.

In the definition made by Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance, a 5G network should meet the following criteria:

  • Data rates of tens of Mbps for tens of thousands of users
  • Data rates of 100 Mbps for metropolitan areas
  • 1 Gbps simultaneously to many workers on the same office floor
  • Several hundreds of thousands of simultaneous connections for wireless sensors
  • Spectral efficiency significantly enhanced compared to 4G
  • Coverage improved
  • Signaling efficiency enhanced
  • Latency reduced significantly compared to LTE

All in all, 5G network has significantly higher speed and network capacity, better coverage and signaling, with much lower latency.

II. How 5G changes the game of video applications

You may ask, how fast is 5G? Well, let’s take videos as example –

If you connect your device to the 5G network, you can watch YouTube videos in 1080/60p without any lags or long bufferings; and if the network continues evolving, it is very likely that you can even watch 4K/60p smoothly without lagging.

Besides general videos, new video experience, like 360 panorama, VR and AR, can also benefit from 5G.

They all need fast graphic processing as well as high network bandwidth. For current computers and mobile devices, graphic processing is not a big problem, but the network bandwidth of 4G is still far from enough for smooth, real-time immersive experience.

With the deployment of 5G network, the bandwidth is no longer a problem –the network capacity is big enough that everyone in a 100 m 2 office can watch VR movies at 4K/60p simultaneously without any lags, or play Pokémon Go with significantly better details. That means everyone can have better VR/AR experience, making these video technology gets commercial use even sooner.

Besides, live streaming will take great advantage of 5G communication. As we know, the live streaming technology we use are usually based on HTTPS-FLV, RTMP, RTSP or HLS, which has seconds of latency. And even though YouTube now reduces the latency of live streaming to less than 3 seconds, it’s not very close to what we know as “instant streaming”. With the new 5G network, it is able to develop a new protocol for live streaming that deliver high quality live streaming while it is compatible to the protocols we currently use.

Additionally, some applications of live streaming, such as remote clinical diagnosis, psychiatric treatment and bespoke scanning, will be benefited from 5G as well, as they require very high bandwidth to high-definition video transmission or massive imagery data in a very short period of time, which is not likely to be done in current 4G network.

III. Conclusion

5G network is currently under development, with ongoing some lab tests led by Qualcomm, Huawei and Samsung. We expect to see the new generation of 5G standards being introduced as early as second half of 2018, and the 5G network to be deployed in 2020.

We can also that the technologies of videos are still evolving for the better during the time. With all these factors, the near future of video application is bright and will change dramatically from what we have now.

[POLYV Insight] We’d Love to See This Spread Worldwide – Some Thoughts on 1-800-273-8255

We always emphasize “Content over form”, even in the era of Post-truth where everyone would believe what he wants to believe. Emotion takes over sense completely and the true calls are ignored.

Yet we still see some KOLs (Key opinion leaders) trying to change the post-truth environment – like American hip hop artist Logic and his work 1-800-273-8255, named after the phone number for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL), a United States-based, toll-free suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

American hip hop artist Logic performed 1-800-273-8255 on 2017 MTV's Video Music Awards.

American hip hop artist Logic performed 1-800-273-8255 on 2017 MTV’s Video Music Awards.

First released on April 28, 2017, this song drew the nation’s attention as the title showed the topic of suicide and caring about mental health. It later went more viral as the music video released on August 17, which centers around a young man who struggles with feeling accepted due to his sexuality; and the live performance of 2017 MTV’s Video Music Awards (VMA) ten days later, where Logic, along with co-performer Alessia Cara and Khalid and a group of suicide survivors, to express that everyone is born equal, and to urge everyone to fight against discrimination, bullying, domestic abuse and many more.

His effort soon paid off – According to the NSPL and other media reports, in the three weeks following the single’s release (April 28, 2017), calls directed to the NSPL rose by 27%, while visits to their website increased from 300,000 to 400,000 over the following months; and on the night of 2017 MTV VMA performance (August 27, 2017), the NSPL experienced a 50% surge in the number of calls to their hotline.

It sounds impossible, but that is reality – the call from Logic and fellow artists have made public focus and think about the issues of suicide and mental health nowadays, epecially for the new generations.

Frankly speaking, the music video of 1-800-273-8255 has deep topic and confronts more social issues like racism, school bullying, and recognition of sexual orientations. This is way different from many music videos today where the artist showed his fortune and inflated ego, not concerning for any humanistic care.

And for the cinematography, the dim ambient, the plot that goes with the lyric (I don’t wanna be alive→I want you to be alive→I finally wanna be alive) and the change of protagonist’s mind (happy→down→devastated→recovered from the past). They are the form and style that serve the content and topic very well.

What’s more, as many people comment, the title1-800-273-8255 is straightforward and can immediately relate to the hotline to call for help. I can’t stress that everyone remember the phone number because of Logic’s influence, but the title just stands out from those literal titles and effectively impressive to everyone.

And, as September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, the song as well as its music video and live performance, adds deeper meaning to this special day.

With great topic, excellent story-telling techniques and straightforward promotion, the work of 1-800-273-8255 is a positive example of speaking on important subjects and issues. And we would say, “We’d love to see this spread worldwide”.

[POLYV Insight] What can we do with live streaming? (Part 3 – Education)

In the previous article of this series, we talked about some possible ways for using live streaming in the field of consumer products, which has a great number of audience and potential conversions.

While consumer products draw most of the spotlight, another important field – education – is also rising for live streaming demands. “Knowledge is power,” and the power is growing strong and more realistic.

Here we list some of the possible scenarios of using live streaming for the education industry. Let’s get started!

I. K-12 & in-class training

Education is vital for the next generation, especially for those under 18. Besides the traditional classroom, we can set up live streaming sessions for Q&A and additional assistance for those who want to learn even more outside the class.

For Q&A sessions, the teachers can answer questions from one or more students. Using the microphone connection feature, the communication between the teacher and the designated student(s) is instant without latency. Or, the teacher can pick up some typical or representative questions to answer, with the help of the chatroom feature, just as most of the live streaming services do.

And for personal assistance or private classes, the teacher can show the presentation along with the narration and in-class Q&A, with the help of the three-way player. Besides, the teacher can set up some key points or questions during the live session, to check if the student has mastered the knowledge taught within the session.

In some major cities, we can even see several online education platforms or education agencies combine these services into an integrated solution, making it an online-offline personal courses, improving the performance even more than tradition classrooms or personal assistances.

II. Skill training

While fundamental education is vital for kids and teenagers, skill training is equally important for college students and in-service staff. With the training needed, they can seek more opportunities for finding jobs as well as promotions.

To meet the need of learning skills in spare time, it is now very popular to do live streaming classes, or to hold webinars after work or on weekends.

The night-time live streaming classes or webinars are mainly for sharing thoughts, skills, or case studies. They are not like any kind of the courses in textbooks, K-12 classrooms or university courses, instead they are practical cases and experience that can be used in similar situations, or transplanted to other scenarios.

The bottom line, these live streaming classes/webinars are extension to the knowledge and skills that you have learned over years. Compared to traditional learning or courses, they are more case-oriented and more likely to pinpoint your questions or problems encountered in practice.

III. Studying abroad

Nowadays, more and more parents as well as students themselves have put their eyes on the education resources abroad, mainly universities and colleges for undergraduate, master or Ph.D., while some may focus more on high schools. Studying abroad is now a new trend, not only in China, but also in many other countries.

Some of the high schools, universities and colleges, have come up with the idea of using videos to give a good first impression to the potential foreign students, as well as to promote the advantages studying in their campus.

And, apart from those general introduction videos and open course videos hosted in the website, many schools and colleges now use live streaming to present the daily life of the campus, the communities of different interests, or to have interactions to those potential students who want to have a closer look to the campus and the teachers.

With the help of live streaming presentation and Q&A session, students can have a closer look to the schools they like and make the right call, while the schools can attract the potential students more efficiently than before. This is a win-win situation, and everyone can be happy at the end of the day.

IV. VR/AR Classroom

Have you ever felt bored with the dead silent classroom? Or those dull, lifeless textbooks? Now, with the help of VR and AR technologies, learning is no longer boring nor painful – instead, it’s full of fun.

With the help of VR, you can now explore prehistoric creatures such as dinosaurs and trilobites, experience the story of Grimms’ Fairy Tales or Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio develops, or travel around the world and see the landmarks in real time, without even going out of the classroom.

That’s what VR gets in the upper hand – bringing immersive, extensive experience that texts and simple images can’t provide.

And if you afraid VR is too immersive or easy to get yourself hurt, we have another plan – AR.

No matter you use Hololens, hologram projections, or simply your mobile phones, AR doesn’t separate you from the real world. It just adds different image or animation layers for presentation or note, to help the viewer get knowledge faster and more intuitive.

Besides, AR doesn’t bother you to interact with the real world. You can interact with the virtual characters or animation, while continue receive instructions or read the books you have, no bother.

For this idea, Corning Glass has portrayed it in the A Day Made of Glass series dating back in 2011. In one of the scenes, the students are in a classroom where they can learn animals and plants through a tablet with AR feature.

And for closer cases, a development team in Jiangsu, China has made a first batch of AR textbooks, which can display different characters or portray the plot when students point the camera in their phones to the images, titles or QR codes.

V. Conclusion

There are many more possibilities for the industry of education. We just listed some of the more probable use of live streaming, and we believe there are many more if new demands arise. Video technology has changed the industry a lot over the last decade, and the use of live streaming will be the next game changer.

Now, time for the discussion – what do you think about the use of live streaming in education or training? Let us know in the comment section down below, and stay tune for our next article!

[POLYV Insight] What can we do with live streaming? (Part 2 – Consumer products)

In the first chapter of the insight, we talked about live streaming service for entertaining, and draws that it is hard to maintain a steady growth for the audience as well as the commercial value. Here from Part 2, we will start discussing live streaming service for various type of  business and other professional needs.

Consumer product is currently one of the major use for commercial purpose, especially in smart devices, household appliances, clothing and accessories. Millions of customers have learned about how to use the product or how it looks like with the product through the livestreams, and there are more things that live streaming can do.

We have come up with several ideas for using live streaming for now or in the near future.

1. Unboxing

Live streaming is a good choice for unboxing -- especially fresh from the press conference or the first impression of a new product.

Unboxing videos are currently widely used in product review channels or websites. The audience can learn a lot information – including the appearance, the features and how it works – from the videos.

And since live streaming is more timeliness-demanding, when unboxing events combine with live streaming, the audience can now learn about the new features of the product right at the press convention or first hands-on, with the help of the host or professional reviewers.

The bottom line, live streaming speeds up the way people learn about new products and features even at thousand miles away, and influences their impression on the products and the decision of buying them or not.

2. Product demonstration for training

Demonstration is also good for making it live.

Product demonstration is also a major use of videos. We’ve already seen a lot in both television and internet, but what if they are on live streaming?

If we put a product demonstration for livestreaming, it is more like a live tutorial for those who are new to the product, to train what it can do and how to use it. For this situation, the live streaming can be used for internal/corporate training and help freeing HR staff from the repetitive job.

3. VR/MR fitting and tailoring

With the help of VR/MR, you can complete the bespoke tailoring through a livestream.

Well, this is literally the “next big thing” in the near future. Even though the VR/MR fitting is still in development, there are some prototypes in progress surfacing to media, and even a few early products (such as FXGEAR) coming into reality.

However, the VR fitting gears currently still sit in big shopping malls and require a set of devices and softwares that are too expensive and complicated for general consumers. And for the VR devices like Oculus, HTC Vive VR and PlayStation VR, the fitting application is not yet developed.

But there’s still hope for the virtual fitting – some developers try to build applications that can scan and build the 3D model of your body using 1 to 3 cameras or even webcams that are easy to get, and the fitting result takes only seconds to send back to the customers. And with the help of MR using projectors, you can even see how the fitting and style is.

At this point, you can find and shop the clothes and accessories that match your style and size, without even going outside.

Another industry that will get benefits from VR/MR is the bespoke tailoring. Traditionally it requires a lot of precise measurements which should be done in the tailor shop, and another 1~3 fitting adjustments during the process. It takes a lot of time for both the tailors and the customers.

With the help of VR fitting, the tailors can instruct the customer how to pose and do the measurement, and obtain all accurate body measurements through a set of cameras or infrared measuring devices, then make a cast from these data using 3D printers. Now they can start the tailoring, and require only 1 or even no fitting adjustments during the process, which saves a lot of time and make the bespoke delivery from at least 3 weeks to only 12~14 days.

Of course, there are many more aspects live streaming can do in the field of consumer products that we don’t mention above due to limitations of the length. So what else aspects do you come up with that related to live streaming and consumer products? Let us know in the comment section down below, and we’ll see you in the next article!

[POLYV Insight] Video conference or Live streaming?

Video conference has been one of the most common ways to connect and interact with each other. It helps people to communicate face to face even they’re thousand miles apart, eliminating what we know as “deserted islands of information”.

In the past, video conference is a common choice for getting coworkers together from different places.

However, with the rise of mobile internet, video conference gets old-schooled – especially when businesses and enterprises require online collaboration, cloud office workflows and many things else.

Besides, video conference has several critical flaws:

  • High expense – the whole set of video conference system costs at least tens of thousands of dollars; what’s more, installing it and training sessions afterwards costs another thousands of dollars as well as the time consumed;
  • Poor quality – the transmission of video conference system really depends on the quality of internet, and even with gigabit broadband and super-low latency, the graphic quality doesn’t go very well as expected; and if disconnected, it needs more time to reconnect;
  • Lack of collaboration – you can only hear what other colleagues talking and not able to anything else, or vice versa.

All in all, video conference is not an efficient choice.

Live streaming provides a different choice for work collaboration.

Now, we have another choice – holding conferences with the help of live streaming.

It’s not a fully perfect plan — the latency of live streaming is within a few seconds, but still acceptable for group discussions or brainstorming.

And its advantages are obvious – you can attend the live streaming conference and continue your work at the same time without interrupting each other; or you can record the ideas together with other colleagues in cloud office applications, Evernote or mind mapping tools; with the help of big data and cloud analysis, you can draw accurate conclusions to the analysis and make improvements to your workflow.

What’s more, this new workflow can be applied to various situations and industries – from long-distance office collaborations to massive live events or exhibitions, from e-learning to financial analysis, you can find its way to the situation or field you are working in.

Still troubling with the old school video conference systems? Now it’s time to embrace the new technologies and switch your workflow to video live streaming!

[POLYV Insight] Virtual Reality or Mixed Reality?

2016 is the year of Virtual Reality – with headset devices like Oculus, HTC Vive or Sony PlaySatation VR, and VR resources like Resident Evil 7, Rick And Morty VR and Google Earth VR, and even some interactive VR commercials, the technology of VR is rapidly changing the way we feel the world – you can now concentrate to the context of the story, and make yourself more involved into it.

YouTube gamer Sean McLoughlin (a.k.a. Jacksepticeye) demonstrating VR game

YouTube gamer Sean McLoughlin (a.k.a. Jacksepticeye) demonstrating VR game

The issues? You have to wear a heavy headset connected with cables to your computers, and interact in the game with some specially-designed controllers; your vision is “limited within the headset”, and not able to see the surroundings or environment, which causes you to knock things, other people or even yourself down.

Then, some researchers and developers begin to build what we know as “Mixed Reality” (MR).

The users don’t need to isolate themselves from the reality – instead, what they see is the combination of reality and the computer-generated graphics that are projected in the environment. The users can react to or interact with both reality and the CG graphics in real time, without them interfering each other.

Currently the most-mentioned solution of MR is the HoloLens by Microsoft. It seems to be similar with the project of Google Glass, but with stronger computing to generate holograms and other CG graphics, making it able to use in practical needs and demands, such as architecture design, clinical research, product demonstration & experience, K-12 education and more.

Microsoft HoloLens in various productive scenarios

Microsoft HoloLens in various productive scenarios

And for France-based THEORIZ, it has a different perspective for MR.

Their solution doesn’t require user to wear a headset or use controllers. It uses multiple projectors to simulate a virtual environment within a specific space like a room or a hall, and cameras or sensors to locate the user and capture his motions or movements. When the user interacts with the virtual environment, the system simultaneously generates graphic that respond the user’s behavior.

The solution makes it simple and intuitive for user to understand and start interacting with the virtual environment, and is very ideal for solo or even group interaction in some specific scenarios like trying on clothes, psychological experiments and zoology study simulations. And with this breakthrough, THEORIZ rises fast and gains much attention around the world.

Demonstration of THEORIZ MR solution (screenshot from Vimeo)

Demonstration of THEORIZ MR solution (screenshot from Vimeo)

The development of MR shares a lot of things in common with VR, but has higher criteria and needs more work on the environment buildup and motion capture. Therefore many MR solutions are still in small test currently and not yet ready for public test.

And there’re chances for VR to evolve while MR is not widely ready – Intel has announced that a technology of fast wireless transmission, specifically designed for VR devices, is under development. It helps the VR devices go wireless, making users can move and interact freely without the restriction of cables and wires between the devices and the computer. Besides, Oculus, HTC and Sony are improving their VR devices based on the feedback and advice from the users, and upgrade devices will be ready in months.

To draw the conclusion, the fight between VR and MR is still on. It’s hard to tell which is better for now, but we can see that both are changing the way we sense, interact and learn about the world.