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Old July 2nd, 2006, 04:56 AM   #1
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Episode Downloads?

Firstly let me say I love the idea!

Secondly, I'm a bit disappointed in regards to the website design. For starts, the site title is "Blank". Very unprofessional. It's also not the most attractive site on the Internet. Black backgrounds and white text should be avoided. I've never been a fan of frames either. So, unfortunatley, I have to give you a very low score for the actual website design. However! The content is good - and that's really what's all about.

My question is, when will the episode downloads become availible? Streaming is a pain in the butt on a slow Internet connection. I'm not a fan of Windows Media Player either.

My 2c.
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Old July 2nd, 2006, 07:26 AM   #2
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Hi Chris.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hocking
Firstly let me say I love the idea!

Secondly, I'm a bit disappointed in regards to the website design. For starts, the site title is "Blank". Very unprofessional. It's also not the most attractive site on the Internet. Black backgrounds and white text should be avoided.
The "Blank" is true but it's quite a minor point and can be rectified easily. Second, why white on black should be avoided? There are tons of site like that and it's quite pleasant, a style that has its place. My Hellriser Customs site, http://www.hellrisercustoms.com has been like that for 5 years and I receive lots of compliments for the design continuosly. Any rationale about the dislike of white on black?
Quote:
My question is, when will the episode downloads become availible? Streaming is a pain in the butt on a slow Internet connection. I'm not a fan of Windows Media Player either.
We are addressing the WMV issue as we speak. I'm a mac guy so wmv doesn' t cut it for me either. The problem is that PCs doen't seem to move video as fast as Macs and QT streamed files have a bad start in all the test we made, while the same exact file plays just fine even on a slower Mac. There seems to be an issue on how QT buffers the file initially.
I'm experimenting with different configurations and we should have something working pretty soon. We are also going to have the shows available as iTunes podcasts.

Thanks for the feedback.
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Old July 2nd, 2006, 08:13 AM   #3
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Thanks for your reply Paolo! I really appreciate it.

I guess the "white on black" dislike is just a personal opinion. For one reason or another, I just don't like it. Your Hellriser Customs, isn't "white on black", but rather white text on grey backgrounds, which is slightly easier to read and in my opinion, looks better. I'm a big fan of simplicity. Think Google. White background, black text, blue links, simple colour scheme. Another common example is Mozilla's Firefox page. That's one of the reasons I'm such a big fan of these forums. This site looks great. But more imporantly, it looks great on most, if not all browsers. My laptop screen is currently using a 1920x1200 resolution. DVi fits perfectly to the screen. When viewed in 800x600, it looks exactly the same, just proportionally smaller. But, yeah, like I said, just an opinion. I'm not expecting you to re-build your whole site!

The format (WMV vs QT) wasn't my main problem, it was the fact that you had to view it via streaming. I would much prefer to be able to download a small (ie. iPod resolution) Quicktime file. I would love to be able to just go to your site, click "downloads", then right click on a QT file, download it and view it at a later time. Again, this is a personal preference, but one I think a lot of people would prefer.

Also, for the record, I've never experienced any streaming problems with Quicktime 7.1 on Windows XP systems. Seems to work fine if you have a fast Internet connection.
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Old July 2nd, 2006, 09:47 AM   #4
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The white on black works for me but you are right, Chris, I do prefer the simplicity in design of the sites you mention.

The issue I found was the fonts used on 2nd-Unit for the side navbars (not the top navbars).

The font used makes it hard to read. An example would be at this link.

http://2nd-unit.tv/archives/index.htm

I've also found an area which might have been done intentionally or not.
On this link, I found a backslash near the top left hand corner.

http://2nd-unit.tv/front%20page/editing.htm

And on this link, I found a V near the top left hand corner.

http://2nd-unit.tv/archives/index.htm

Now, 2nd-Unit being a company about innovative ideas might be going for some secret link to show us users something interesting like the time they had a link in the dot of the I in the image for 2nd-Unit. Then again, it might just be a bad typo that was missed...

Paolo, your Hellrisercustoms site looks great, the reason is you're not using different fonts, design wise-it's navigable. Certain bold fonts lead to areas of interest. As a question, totally off topic from 2nd-Unit, what web design program are you using? For easy design I find WebPlus 9 from Serif the best. You can design a masterpage for the layout (think CSS) and design your site from there. It'll let you do simple things like keywords and titles that Chris is mentioning. Off course, for a more professional work, you'd probably be using something like Dreamweaver...
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Old July 2nd, 2006, 11:25 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Kang
Paolo, your Hellrisercustoms site looks great
Thanks!
Quote:
As a question, totally off topic from 2nd-Unit, what web design program are you using?
The one between my ears and a good text editor like Emacs (on Linux) or BBEdit (on a Mac) :)
The site is all hand-coded and all pages use dynamically-generated HTML via PHP scripts. I worked as a software engineer for more than 20 years writing in C/C++, assembly, Perl, Pascal, etc. Writing code by hand is what I did for the largest part of my life :)

While you see something like "roadstar.html" and "vtx.html", the pages are actually PHP scripts, I re-write the URLs using mod_rewrite in Apache. It's just a way of making some of the URLs a little shorter and more "connected" with the subject. When you click on any product you'll see that there is only one page, called selector.php, which receives the parameters for querying the database. From the moment you click on "Handlebars", for example, to the moment you see the page on the screen, my script queries the database, formats the descriptions and creates a table with all the thumbnails and links to the larger picture. In this way, if I need to add a feature or change the look, I have one place to change. Plus, we have 14,000 products in the catalog, I need to have a dynamic search or we would be writing web pages all the time :)

As you mentioned, CSS is the key to correct and design nowadays. If you look at the code of Hellriser's main page you'll see that all those sections are actually made with CSS-P and not tables. OK, there might be a couple of small tables but just for internal formatting, the main layout is all CSS.

I heard that Dreamweaver is good, I didn't use it. I made part of paolociccone.com using Adobe's GoLive, I like it, it's flexible enough and easy enough for most designs. I re-wrote part of that site with Apple's iWeb just for the heck of it. iWeb has some really advanced features that are really cool, like the automatic conversion of text to bitmap, when using non-web-legal fonts. At the same time it embedds the original text in the alt="" property so that search engines can parse the content.
Also the command of CSS-P in iWeb is nothing short of fantastic. The main drawback is the export logic of iWeb but you can work around that easily.
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Old July 2nd, 2006, 11:34 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hocking
Your Hellriser Customs, isn't "white on black", but rather white text on grey backgrounds, which is slightly easier to read and in my opinion, looks better. I'm a big fan of simplicity.
Past the main page the product pages are all white on black. I like simplicty as weel but I'm not a fan of spartan design. I love Google but their intereface is borderline spartan and it works for them. It would not work for something like "2nd Unit". It's a hard balance to strike to keep it simple but attractive at the same time. Mozilla's pages are well designed but I have to say that I prefer's Jonathan's choice of Blue+Black+white text. Having said so, Jonathan and I are working on all aspects of "2nd Unit" so the website is something that we are discussing right now. We defintely welcome your suggestions and we thank you for the time taken to post here.

Quote:
My laptop screen is currently using a 1920x1200 resolution. DVi fits perfectly to the screen. When viewed in 800x600, it looks exactly the same, just proportionally smaller. But, yeah, like I said, just an opinion. I'm not expecting you to re-build your whole site!
Au-contraire, I'm expecting to do whatever is necessary :)

Quote:
Also, for the record, I've never experienced any streaming problems with Quicktime 7.1 on Windows XP systems. Seems to work fine if you have a fast Internet connection.
Me neither. It's just that at this time we don't have a QT streaming server yet. We have tried to stream using simple http via the normal site and it works but there are some buffering issues that we want to solve if we can. I hope to have a solution very soon, it's a very time-intensive process.

Thanks again for the feedback.
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Old July 2nd, 2006, 04:04 PM   #7
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Geez, Paolo you code too? The respect meter just went up another peg. How did you ever find time to ride bikes?
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Old July 2nd, 2006, 04:29 PM   #8
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First hi Warren. I'll have the schedule of guests so you can pick the days you want to come down and shoot.

OK, now to what I really want to say. I have to respond to this because I've been here at the studio on a Sunday all freakin' day and haven't had a chance to even check into our site. And when I did, well, I know Paolo is going to chew me out for saying this publicly because we're trying to get a site launched and really don't want to offend people who quite frankly we serve because we choose to. But, well, that's just tough because what you have to say to all these people donating their time is, quite frankly, offensive.

"Unprofessional"? Are you freakin' kidding me? Give me and everyone else who's working today, Sunday in the middle of a long 4th of July weekend to bring this site to you and all the other filmmakers a freakin' break. We have 11 people from this board donating their time as they are able in shooting and editing and recording and capturing and compressing to make this the best INFORMATIONAL site possible for 150,000 independent filmmakers out there who want to see and hear George Spiro Dibie and Michael Mann and Michael Bay talk about how they shoot and light. People like Paolo who's working through the 4th of July weekend when most people are playing in the sun or enjoying their family. And Joyce and one of her two business partners Kathy who are sitting at their desks in Westwood compiling the video and audio on Filters we shot yesterday so viewers would know how a polarization filter works and why it's indispensable, all this on a Sunday 4th of July weekend when they should be working on their own shows having just left the comfort of Warners after 14 years or playing beachball with their kids. And Tom who's working on compression schemes so our viewers will SEE what results can be achieved in the smallest space possible. And Paolo again who's working to make QT files work not because he hates Windows but because he wants his best possible work to be available to all of you. All of these people who realize what we're doing here and the importance of it so they give of their time to make all of us better filmmakers. And I don't have one of them working on the website design. It is what it is. 132 e-mails and posting said they like it's simplicity and spartan look. We started this site as a democracy so people can have a say in how it's built and people like "Click this button to get this information." That's it. Click her. Go there. Get this. That's all. With respect, it's not the damn buttons that's important, it's where they lead. And to that end, we're already preparing the downloads so people can download and play the shows when it's convenient and not have to watch them while it's inconvenient for them while they're sitting at their computer. We have people working to reduce them to i-Pod size and not lose all the importance the images being shown provide.

Alot of people apologize to me for me "taking offense" on this site and I have to keep telling them I'm no offended when the advice is constructive. And it virtually always is. How do I know? Because they not only point out problems that matter, they offer solutions and they end up working here, donating their time and making this site what it is. That's why we have a waiting list of people waiting to join us on shooting days. That's why we have the number of people donating their time to this effort. That's why we have a who's-who lining up to be a guest on this site's shows. "Unprofessional"? Now that I take offense to and I know I told Paolo that I'd let him handle the responses while we're again on a Sunday 4th of July weekend here taking care of 2 active productions, wrapping one and pre-proding another all while still working on this site but I'm sorry. I can't let this go for me and all of us who are not only citing problems but working to correct them.

So again, with respect, can't read the wording on the left side of the page? Great. Thanks. We'll change it because that matters. Frames, black background, white letters? Boring site. Sorry, no. No one here has time for that kind of stuff. We're a little busy trying to get professional filmmaking out to you. This site will never be fancy. It'll always be boring. It'll always be dull and I guess, it'll always appear unprofessional except to those who are looking for interviews and information from the greatest filmmakers around. To them, it'll be what so many have said it was and is, a great informational site.
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Old July 2nd, 2006, 04:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warren Shultz
Geez, Paolo you code too? The respect meter just went up another peg. How did you ever find time to ride bikes?
Hey Warren. Thanks. I guess something gotta give, didn't ride much lately :) I've been "commuting" between Santa Cruz and LA quite a bit and it looks like it will be like this for some time. I gotta find the time to fix the brakes on my bike and go for a ride, I need it :)

Take care.
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Old July 2nd, 2006, 04:50 PM   #10
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No, Paolo's bringing his beast chopper down to LA so I have an excuse to pull my Harley out of the garage and we can take a Sunday and go riding to the Rock Store and the beach!
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Old July 2nd, 2006, 04:58 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Jonathan Ames
No, Paolo's bringing his beast chopper down to LA so I have an excuse to pull my Harley out of the garage and we can take a Sunday and go riding to the Rock Store and the beach!
Sounds good. Should we strap it to your plane and fly it there ;) ?
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Old July 2nd, 2006, 05:06 PM   #12
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No. Take the ML home with my trailer next week or sometime B4 summer ends, load it in and bring it down. It's not like we're strapped for cars around the house. Don't you love a site you can hi-jack anytime?!?!?!
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Old July 2nd, 2006, 05:25 PM   #13
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We can't agree more. We voluntered to do the segment on filters because Jonathan didn't want to disturb any of the guests he has lined up for this week show so we decided to pitch in and do a piece for him so he didn't miss a week and you all would have a show. Jonathan opened his home to a crew of 5 and we filmed all day yesterdy in the heat of the desert (AND SWAM ALOT TOO, THANKS JL) and have been cutting all day today on the Adobe system 2nd Unit gave us (thanks again JL) Yeah, Jonathan 's generous cuz we get to keep it and use it in our office for our shows but that's what I mean. We're giving back. So the next time you wanna pick a word, try something besides unprofessional...oh yeah, and when you do have a comment, put your money where your mounth is like all of us do and work to make this site what you want it to be like the rest of the people on this board like Warren and the others do. It's your site and its a gift from all of us who make time to make it happen. So try making a difference instead of just noise.
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Old July 2nd, 2006, 05:29 PM   #14
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Firstly, in regards to the design/look of the site, like I said, it was just a personal opinion. I was just offering my view. I never said the site was "boring". As stated in my first post "the content is good - and that's really what's all about". Why don't I like frames? Because they are unpredictible and are not viewable on all browsers. As no one else has complained, I guess it's safe to assume others like your design. Congradulations.

In regards to it being "unprofessional", yes, not having a page title is unprofessional. I'm sorry, but it's true! Page titles are important for search engine tracking, but also so when someone bookmarks your page the browser stores an appropriate label. But stress less, it will only take 30 seconds to fix.

I'm sorry if I offended you and your team. I understand you are volunteers. But as you said, "it is what it is". If you're not putting as many resources to the web design as you are to other aspects, then why are you getting so wound up? If you need help with the website design, then why not ask for it? The Internet has MILLIONS of people willing to help with website design for non-profit sites.

Jonathan, I really appreciate the work you've done on the 2nd Unit project. I think it's a great idea. Paolo, I'm sorry if I offended you. I was just offering my opinion. Take it or leave it.

Last edited by Chris Hocking; July 2nd, 2006 at 06:16 PM.
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Old July 2nd, 2006, 05:32 PM   #15
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Joyce, I'd be more than happy to assist the project with the web design aspects.
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