Views from Phanfare CEO and Co-founder Andrew Erlichson

Link Phanfare Geekazine Interview

Andy McCaskey interviewed me at CES talking about the Phanfare app. This was an e prelease version of the app and it was not perfectly behaved during the demo.

  • Will

    So you're keeping archival video at the original bitrate now, huh? I'm guessing that was just a slip of the tongue.

  • http://blog.phanfare.com erlichson

    yes, I stumbled over my words and meant to say that we keep the video in archival quality format, which is true for non-HD video. We are going to investigate increasing the archival bitrate after we switch the archival to h.264 because 4 megabits/second is NOT archival for the video that comes off my canon 5D mark II (that video starts at 25 mbits/second and is already h.264).

  • Will

    I don't think I can say enough how jealous I am of your 5D Mark II ;)

    Anyway, in your opinion, is the video that comes straight out of the camera already compressed well?

    I got a new SD 880is, which I think you said you had… and that video is encoded as a h.264 .MOV file (if that makes sense), which is certainly a better compression than the .AVI files the older powershots produced, but I still compress it further on my computer with no noticeable loss of quality.

    I wonder how much you could lower the bitrate of the video coming out of a 5D mark II and still call it archival.

    IMHO the real difference between the 5DII and most consumer-level (not that it's really a consumer-level cam) 'HD' video cameras is that the image quality actually lives up to the extra pixels. A lot of HD amateur footage I've seen looks like… normal, washed-out, choppy, flat video that just happens to have more pixels.

    here's to hoping there's a good way to keep archival HD video without breaking the bank or needing to spin it off to a pro package! (for the someday that I get my hands on 5D MkII)

  • http://blog.phanfare.com erlichson

    I have not investigated how much I could compress the video and have it retain its look. I can tell you that the video is 1280p, so is much larger than most people's monitors.

    the mark II is awesome. i love it. the only issue with the video, which is, in my opinion, the reason to upgrade, is that you have very little control. there is no depth of field control for eg and the autofocus is not effective when shooting, so you need to manually focus, which is not easy off the lcd.

    lack of a video mode was the reason that I still carried my SD880is even when I went out with the Canon 5D.

    I wound up getting the 5D kit because I could not find a source for the non-kit camera. I sold the 5D on ebay – got $1100. not too bad considering I bought my 5D the first day it came out so it was a solid 3+ yrs old.

  • fokusnik

    Hi there,

    I am a big fan of Phanfare for understanding the importance of bringing pictures and videos together. Would love for you to support HD video — just ran across a company that promises unlimited HD video for $30/year (unreal) http://www.motionbox.com/

    While I agree that HD video is larger than most monitors, there is a move of connecting PCs to HD TVs and that is where HD video is important.

  • http://blog.phanfare.com erlichson

    We do support HD video. We keep it and you can download it, but we don't display it. We may display it in the future.

  • fokusnik

    My apologies, I wasn't clear: I meant .MTS files that come out of AVCHD camcorders (I have SONY HDR-S1). Motionbox supports those. I just tried and I wasn't able to upload MTS files into Phanfare

    I am also not clear what you meant by “we keep it, but don't display it” — what is the point then? Just backup?

  • http://blog.phanfare.com erlichson

    we dont take mts file and don't plan to..my take is that the format is not getting traction. we don't get many requests for it.

    phanfare is archival. we keep the the original video you give us, if the video is below 4 megabits/second. otherwise we encode it to 4 megabits/second. you can get to the original video by clicking download high resolution video on a phanfare webite. we dont display the highest resolution video since nearly nobody has the bandwidth to stream it without hiccups today.

  • fokusnik

    There are quite a few companies that expressed support for AVCHD format (http://www.avchd-info.org/) and a number of camcorder manufacturers as well. I don't know the specifics: is AVCHD available in other extensions that you take?

    Unrelated to HD video: when is face recognition coming to Phanfare? All the “cool” kids are starting to add this functionality :)

  • http://blog.phanfare.com erlichson

    i dont think tape camcorders have legs with consumers. solid state units tend to use h.264 and we take that.

    face tagging never bubbles to the top. it never works as well as you might hope.

  • Pingback: Phanfare, AVCHD and Face Recognition « You’re a smart guy, figure it out!

  • fokusnik

    Andrew — i certainly appreciate you taking the time to respond.

    I have to disagree with you about AVCHD/MTS not catching on: I just received my new toy: Panasonic MCD-ZS3 and it uses AVCHD Lite format (which is an MTS file)

    According to reviews (and according to my first day experience) it is an excellent camera that is better than other point-and-shooters that support HD video. I expect quite a few people will purchase it.

    I expect that most of Phanfare customers do not jump onto the latest/greatest, but being a part of that small niche of people who do, I would like to request support for MTS files.

    Sony and Panasonic are significant players in the point-and-shoot market and I expect more and more of their products to support AVCHD format.

    —-
    As far as face recognition — i assume you refer to the surveys that you send out when you said “never bubbles to the top”.

    I used to/still run a development shop and we also asked users of our products what features they want/need. In extremely rare occasions customers brought to us ideas that were really great. In most cases they just suggested minor improvements to current features. They just didn't see the big picture and that is ok as it was our responsibility. Most times it was our ability to anticipate the “next big thing” or just integrate already exiting ideas/techniques that made a real difference in our products.

    While I didn't research it enough and you might be right that it doesn't work that well yet, I think this is the “next big thing” in photo/video sharing. Just take into account how popular Facebook photos is — while it is a pretty rudimentary photo sharing app, it does extremely well and I believe it is due to ability to “tag” faces/people and then easily search across it. But manual tagging will not work for massive amounts for existing pictures and that is where I see automatic face recognition pick up the slack. Yes, it will not be perfect but even if it eliminates 80% of the work, that is a great first step.

    I think you can also use it to further enhance Phanfare's social networking aspect: a friend from high school/college that I lost touch with uploads his college photos and tags one of them with my name. I get notified and now i reconnect with a friend and have access to pictures I would otherwise not even know existed.

  • fokusnik

    Andrew — i certainly appreciate you taking the time to respond.

    I have to disagree with you about AVCHD/MTS not catching on: I just received my new toy: Panasonic MCD-ZS3 and it uses AVCHD Lite format (which is an MTS file)

    According to reviews (and according to my first day experience) it is an excellent camera that is better than other point-and-shooters that support HD video. I expect quite a few people will purchase it.

    I expect that most of Phanfare customers do not jump onto the latest/greatest, but being a part of that small niche of people who do, I would like to request support for MTS files.

    Sony and Panasonic are significant players in the point-and-shoot market and I expect more and more of their products to support AVCHD format.

    —-
    As far as face recognition — i assume you refer to the surveys that you send out when you said “never bubbles to the top”.

    I used to/still run a development shop and we also asked users of our products what features they want/need. In extremely rare occasions customers brought to us ideas that were really great. In most cases they just suggested minor improvements to current features. They just didn't see the big picture and that is ok as it was our responsibility. Most times it was our ability to anticipate the “next big thing” or just integrate already exiting ideas/techniques that made a real difference in our products.

    While I didn't research it enough and you might be right that it doesn't work that well yet, I think this is the “next big thing” in photo/video sharing. Just take into account how popular Facebook photos is — while it is a pretty rudimentary photo sharing app, it does extremely well and I believe it is due to ability to “tag” faces/people and then easily search across it. But manual tagging will not work for massive amounts for existing pictures and that is where I see automatic face recognition pick up the slack. Yes, it will not be perfect but even if it eliminates 80% of the work, that is a great first step.

    I think you can also use it to further enhance Phanfare's social networking aspect: a friend from high school/college that I lost touch with uploads his college photos and tags one of them with my name. I get notified and now i reconnect with a friend and have access to pictures I would otherwise not even know existed.

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