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Trimming Television to Sell More Ads

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the blood-from-a-stone dept.

Television 536

gambit3 writes: "Tech TV has an article about a device called a "Digital Time Machine", that does something called "Time Trimming", which is basically a way to cut single frames from different scenes in TV programs, which, over the course of a 30 minute program, can add up to 30 seconds, which is, incidentally, the perfect length to add ANOTHER commercial."

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536 comments

More... (1)

BrianGa (536442) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911655)

Just what we need, more bad ads. How much will they charge for this one at the Superbowl?

Re:More... (0, Redundant)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911723)

Even though it's called a "Time Machine", it won't work on live telivision.

Re:More... (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911804)

sure it will. live television isnt really live anyways. im sure they can spare the processing power to squeeze out a few frames over the course of half the game and only be 30 seconds further off-live than when they started.

what you post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911734)

all your first post are belong to us!

Sounds like "Cash" on radio (5, Interesting)

sulli (195030) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911657)

It compresses the audio, taking out blank space, to fit in between 30 sec - 2 min an hour. Rush Limbaugh among others have blasted it for ruining the listener's experience.

Re:Sounds like "Cash" on radio (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911684)

Damn .. if Rush Limbaugh doesn't like it, it MUST be good .. but if it gives you more ads, then it's BAD, cause ads are BAD .. argh .. my brain hurts!

Re:Sounds like "Cash" on radio (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911777)

Take it from Rush Limbaugh, a guy who is completely deaf in the left ear (coincidence the "left" ear went out first), and almost completely deaf in his right. Sheesh

Would I be rendered sterile.. (-1, Offtopic)

SumDeusExMachina (318037) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911658)

...if I got my tremendous penis stuck in a digital time machine?

The QUANTUMABITY of the penis is unknown, BUT... (-1)

L.Torvalds (548450) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911680)

Your penis could go back in time, and screw your grandmother, giver her prodigy 2 heads.

The possibilities are mind-and-pant-boggling.

Re:Would I be rendered sterile.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911681)

no, but you would if your nards did

Re:Would I be rendered sterile.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911758)

Sorry, the MPAA/DMCA willl be on your ass for reverse engineering the storyline of Kate & Leopold.

Re:Would I be rendered sterile.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911776)

And if you had ham, you could have ham and eggs, if you had eggs.

Old news (1)

thesupermikey (220055) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911660)

There was a story about this a few days ago.

Re:Old news (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911724)

There was a story about this a few days ago.

There was a comment like yours a few hours ago.

Not new stuff... (1)

pro-mpd (412123) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911661)

This particular machine has been around for a long time. I can remember seeing it advertised in Video Systems or TV Technology or some such trade mag for a long time. Apparently, it has been in use for quite some time (think years).

Blip Verts (1)

oddsheep (221539) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911662)

How long before we see the blip verts (a la Max Headroom) make their network debut?

Re:Blip Verts (2)

Webmonger (24302) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911750)

We already have them. Advertisers optimize their ads so that if you fast-forward through them, you still get the basic message.

Yea! (2, Funny)

soupforare (542403) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911667)

Let's degrade the already not-that-great video quality from broadcast television!
Though, I suppose it won't matter in a few years when we all have HDTV over DSL and a free DMCA Skullfucker 4000 Market-Reaving Device free in the box
::sigh::

::hugs his LDs and shortwave::

Yep nothing new (2)

catseye_95051 (102231) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911671)

Its an application of inter-frame interpolation. They've been doing it for years.

Everytime you watch a movie and it starts with that little stop watch symbol next to text that says something like "This movie has been modified for time" its in use.

Re:Yep nothing new (5, Interesting)

thogard (43403) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911737)

The time modifed means they may have cut out entire scenes.

Many years ago you would offten find M*A*S*H running at one of the time slots between the 5:00 and 6:30 news. The reason is that it had so many sub plots they could cut out huge amounts of it. It started out as a 30 minute show and I've seen it run in 1/2 that. I was told that a TV station would get the show from the distributers, it would be sorted by run lenght and so if they ran the news over by 7.5 minutes, they could go pull out a shortend show and then they would be back in time for the all importaint 7:00 primetime network slots. This became very clear when they showed the same epposide two days in a row and they were different cuts.

Re:Yep nothing new (4, Informative)

Spoh (241279) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911768)

Not true.

When you see that "This film has been formatted to fit this screen and edited both for content and to run in the time allotted," the editing to run in the time alotted is not done through some mystical automatic process; it is done by humans deciding which pieces of a film will be cut. Although frames can be trimmed, the removal of words, sentences, and even whole scenes is much more common.

The only "inter-frame interpolation" that occurs in the broadcast of a movie takes place in the conversion of a movie from 24fps to 29.75fps (or 25fps) for playback in NTSC or PAL. This process (called 3:2 or 24:1 pulldown) does not affect the running time of the content.

For what it's worth, I'm a broadcast editor.

-Tom

Re:Yep nothing new (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911788)

For what it's worth, I'm a broadcast editor.

It's worth nothing! Why would someone who works in the field know more than some lay open source zealot.

So what's wrong with this? (2)

wadetemp (217315) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911672)

No one these days has enough time to do anything they want to do anyway... why not do something useful with that 30 seconds? Perhaps this means you'll be able to get more done during commercial breaks now. The whole point of the system is that you won't notice if the show is made 30 seconds shorter anyway... so will you?

Or, you could just not watch TV and gain 1/2 and whole hours at a time!

Re:So what's wrong with this? (-1)

Pr0n K1ng (160688) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911686)

Why don't you shut the fuck up, propstoalldeadhomiez? God you're a moron.

How's the new trolltalk working out for you?

Re:So what's wrong with this? (2)

Krimsen (26685) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911728)

It is the principle. Do we really need another ad? You seem to be taking the "there's a silver lining to every cloud" or "look on the bright side" mentality. If we keep looking on the bright side of all these stupid ideas, we'll break our necks trying to find a bright side soon enough.

Re:So what's wrong with this? (3, Funny)

Cheetah86 (136854) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911759)

From one of the thinkgeek demotivator posters:
Pessimism: Every Dark Cloud Has a Silver Lining, but Lightning Kills Hundreds of People Each Year Who Are Trying to Find It.

Re:So what's wrong with this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911775)

The whole point of the system is that you won't notice if the show is made 30 seconds shorter anyway... so will you?

Yeah, like you won't notice if coca-cola starts putting 1/60 more water in their coke. Ask yourself why they don't do it.

Re:So what's wrong with this? (5, Offtopic)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911787)

What pisses me off is that Fox went to all the trouble to pay for Futurama and The Simpsons, and then they keep running the "NFL Postgame" over the Groening time slots. Sometimes they "join the program already in progress," i.e., roll the last scene and credits for the show that "Howie" has blathered over for 25 minutes. Retarded. Shut up, Howie. We all saw the game already.

The one hour of TV I want to see during the week, and they fill it with redundant lip-flapping that contains no new information. Fucking football.

Dont' Forget, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911675)

NPR had a spot on the radio equivalent that went by the name of C.A.S.H. If I remember right it would just speed things up rather than drop information. I think they first tested it out on rush limbaugh, and he was rather upset as well. ha!

Single Frames... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911676)

Given 24 frames / second, they're going to be cutting 720 frames / show. That's actually a lot of footage. Weak sauce.

Re:Single Frames... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911694)

They dont' take it out of every frame, and besides, video goes at 30 frames/sec, at least VHS does. Film does 24

Re:Single Frames... (1)

Easy2RememberNick (179395) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911766)

Uhhh yeah...video is something like 30 frames/second. So if you want 30 seconds you need 30*30 or 900 frames. Wouldn't that make the show look weird? You can tell that syndicated shows/re-runs are already chopped up a lot, you miss the ends of jokes that you know were there.

video speed (3, Interesting)

AdamBa (64128) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911795)

is actually 29.97 frames/second, that is exactly 0.1% less than 30 fps. Actually it technically runs at 59.94 half-frames per second. Anyway, when you convert a movie for TV you take it from 24 frames per second to 60 half-frames per second, then you have to lose 0.1% of the frames to get it down to the proper speed. This is considered unnoticeable and there is a standard for which ones to axe (in an hour, with 108,000 frames, you need to get rid of 108. The convention used is to get rid of the first two frames of every minute that is not a multiple of ten). But this device here is trying to lose more than 16 times as many frames, even to only cut out 30 seconds in 30 minutes. That might be noticed.

- adam

Is it possible? (1)

Brigadoon (520066) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911682)

I didn't think it was possible to get more advertising in. Hell, a round of commercials in 24 is four minutes long. Yet another reason why it's time to record and _NEVER_ watch live TV again. Fast-forwarding is a marvelous thing.

Just what we need. (2, Insightful)

Restil (31903) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911685)

Isn't 33% of the showtime for commercials enough already? I guess not.

So which frames are they cutting, and do they plan to cut the audio too? I suppose during moments of intense silence, cutting a 24/th of a second of audio won't be a big problem, but still.

I just hope its not something that chirps..or is otherwise obvious what they're doing.

-Restil

Re:Just what we need. (5, Insightful)

augustz (18082) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911714)

Did you read the article?

The article clearly says that it does not pop or chirp, and that over 170 stations are already using it. I mean, if it was poping and chirping first of all everyone would know, and second of all the stations wouldn't use it.

Hey Rush you're catching on (1)

junkster191 (551312) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911687)

Just like the software they were (are?) using on Rush Limbaugh's show to cut out periods of silence between sentences and words.

This sort of thing worries me because I feel like we're losing some of our good old American entrepenurial spirit more and more all the time. It no longer seems to matter if you have a good idea, make a better product, or do something truly innovative, rather companies seem to think that the bigger the marketing department the better the company. I think sooner or later the consumer will just get pissed off at the ever-increasing advertising in all places at all times, and hopefully get back to spending her money at the companies that produce something truly innovative and superior (as opposed to just the image of something truly innovative and superior).

Pointless device in Canada (5, Informative)

LordOfYourPants (145342) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911690)

Here in Canada, we have the CRTC which regulates how many minutes of commercials a Canadian station can show within the period of 30 minutes. On top of that, stations also have requirements for what ratio of Canadian programming to foreign programming can be shown during primetime hours, etc. Stations which violate these licenses enough times likely won't be renewed.

Basically, this device would sell up here about as well as bottled yellow snow.

Re:Pointless device in Canada (2)

nomadic (141991) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911715)

The US has the FCC, which is supposed to regulate the airwaves, but they gave up any real responsibility years ago.

Re:Pointless device in Canada (1)

Ubergrendle (531719) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911784)

As an added point to this effect, I believe the US is the only country in the Western Hemisphere (okay, 1st world western country) to not have a public broadcaster. Canada's got the CBC, England has the BBC, I think France has TV5... etc etc.

Re:Pointless device in Canada (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911814)

hmm, last i checked i still get PBS here... (goes to turn his TV over to Antenna)... Yep, its still there. Just like everywhere else in the USA that I've ever lived.

Re:Pointless device in Canada (2)

wesmills (18791) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911816)

I think the Public Broadcasting System [pbs.org] would disagree with you ..

Re:Pointless device in Canada (1)

Nykkel (264932) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911797)

"Basically, this device would sell up here about as well as bottled yellow snow."

Well, of course bottled yellow snow wouldn't sell. It's far too easy to make yourself!

On the bright side... (1)

Luggage (250884) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911691)

those confounded X-10 pop-under ads seem slightly less annoying now, especially since they aren't thirty seconds long. And, on the whole, if it were a matter of having to close another X-10 add every half-hour or watching a nauseating thirty second comercial, I'll take the X-10 add.

Re:On the bright side... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911794)

Try using Opera, and configure it to refuse pop-ups. If you want to allow that page to display pop-ups then reconfigure Opera again.

They should collaborate with.... (1, Funny)

mt404 (534127) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911696)

...ZeoSync and eventually we'll all be able to watch a 30 minute TV program in 30 seconds without missing a thing.

PAL Format (2, Interesting)

Ooblek (544753) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911699)

They would probably have to be pretty selective in trimming frames in places where PAL is the video standard (Europe). It might make the show look like a bad Wang Chung video.

If the show is running in NTSC, they could probably get a lot more out of it than 30 seconds.

The problem with these types of "automagic" machines is that it can never do it perfectly. HP has a device that fits in 1U on a rack and it will force video into your programmed specifications. We used to use it when transferring rented videos into an online editor so that we could cut preview spots together for DTV. The problem is that the video usually looked like crap after it was transferred. I'm sure it didn't make a good case for purchasing the pay-per-view version of it.

Devil's Advocate here... (3, Funny)

bethorphil (241623) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911700)

Maybe this technology could be used for GOOD! Instead of adding 30 seconds of commercials, they could squeeze one or two more jokes in the the Drew Cary show? Or one more idiotic plot twist into the X-Files?

You guys are always naysaying! Why don't you come up with an invention like inward sing--- oh wait, wrong rant....

Where to get addl time (5, Insightful)

beiaterm (552507) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911702)

They could use this to cut out frames from other commercials! Also, isn't there black space between commercials as it it? They could just cross fade everything into everything else, Just like on the more annoying radio stations. No wonder I don't own a TV! ::alan

I already do this . . . (5, Funny)

Ezubaric (464724) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911704)

If only I had a patent.

Each year, I prepare for the Super Bowl. Not that I like the Super Bowl, but apart from knowing the score at each quarter, the only knowledge you need to prove that you watched the game is what commercials were shown.

After programming my VCR to record the game, I watch the amusing commercials and fast forward through the game itself. This new-fangled "Time Machine" just gives you the illusion of actually watching the show between ads.

bah (2, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911705)

What kind of soulless, greed-driven monster came up with this? I mean, what kind of person do you have to be to work in television? This isn't rhetoric, or hyperbole; I seriously just can't fathom the mental processes of the people who spend their lives doing this kind of stuff.

Re:bah (-1)

DivineOb (256115) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911767)

Wow will you please give me your recipe for 'cooked principle'... last time I tried to live off of mine I found the meals unsatisfying...

Re:bah (1)

DEBEDb (456706) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911805)


What kind of soulless, greed-driven monster...


I agree, the drug companies' greed is out
of control, and while people are dying left and right of curable diseases in the third world... no, wait... these guys
added ANOTHER commercial for my not-giving-a-flying-fuck-about-anything-beyond-my- TV ass to watch? Now this is personal!

This could actually be good (3, Interesting)

QuasEye (98125) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911707)

Think about it - it's commonplace now to re-edit shows for syndication. Lots of times they cut out a whole gag on The Simpsons to get more commercial time. If they can garner the same amount just by removing the occasional barely-perceptible frame of deadwood, I say go for it. On the other hand, if this is implemented as making every transition between scenes sudden and jolting, it will be much less preferable.

New Technology? (0)

coene (554338) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911708)

My GeForce2 does this all of the time!

You folks are looking at it wrong... (5, Funny)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911709)

Don't look at this as being "another commercial" - look at it as "overclocking your TV" - just think, that's thirty seconds less time per show you have to watch, just by skipping over it with your Tivo.

Heck, I've often wanted the ability to do just this - compress a TV show I want to see so as to be better able to fit it into my time.

Now, if we could just compress the time wasted by laugh tracks....

Re:You folks are looking at it wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911801)

What are you complaining about, Wowbagger the _Infinitely Prolonged_? You've got _lots_ of time!

Re:You folks are looking at it wrong... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911809)

Given the small number of quality shows, I think that you might prefer to "underclock your TV" so that they last longer.

Hey, Open S0urce Beggars! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911717)

Do u want to sell me a mug or tee-shirt???

Why don't you go work for AOL or MS?

I can't belive how delusional you are!!

Why don't they use the frames instead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911718)

Instead of chopping out frames and using the space for an obvious commercial, why don't they just interleave single-frame ads into the content? No one would ever notice, and we'd all start buying Stuff(TM) right away.

Television content is called "programming" for a reason! Subliminal advertising is a cult practice.

Re:Why don't they use the frames instead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911781)

subliminal advertising was made illegal in the 60s or 70s. Anyhow, all scientific studies of it showed that it didn't work.

Maybe It's needed (1)

erik umenhofer (782) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911719)

I know for a fact TV stations aren't easy to keep in business. Just because biggies like KTLA and the like can stay afloat, doesn't mean the other 90% of the smaller stations can afford to keep up with business. Commericials make up most of a TV stations revenue. The rest is done with making commercials or whatever side business they have. 30 seconds isn't that noticable in your life. The more money the station makes the better everything is. Better shows can be bought, better equipment for news casts, ETC. Better stuff will make you the viewer happier.

Re:Maybe It's needed (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911819)

I plan to live to be 75.

I started listing to Talk Radio at 21 for 4 hours per day.

60sec*4 = 240sec per show i.e 4 minutes.
4*365 = 1460 Minutes per year
54*1460=78840
(Forgive me I forgot leap years;0
For a grand total of 54.74 Days of being ripped out of entertainment.

Now you say that entertainment is free.. What do you want. Shall we do the math for 4 hours of TV per day and standard commercials at par.

Here is the deal people, we pay for our entertainment with our time. In exchange we agree to take a gander at a few sales pitches.

What this means is that we are taking a pay cut. Plain and simple

It hit the fan before.. (2)

RAruler (11862) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911722)

They employed something similar, or this device during a football game somewheres. Now, heres a good question, what happens when you take something thats happening live, and start cutting out frames? It gets desynched very very quickly, people were freaking out, plays were happening on the radio before they saw it on 'live' TV. The NFL spasmed on the station that did this, and any other station even attempting to do something like this is fearful of the NFL and a army of Lawyers.

No Self-Respect (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911725)

Free Software Loser says:

"hey! wear our hoodies"

ROFL! Go work for MS or AOL and stop selling stuffed monkeys!

Shorter without Loss of Content? (2)

gehrehmee (16338) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911726)

"We don't change the pitch, you cannot detect that the images aren't there. You see everything, you hear everything, just in a shorter period of time."

- Bill Hendershot of Prime Image
s/pitch/plot/
s/images/scenes/
s/hear/read/
s/period of time/number of words/

Is it just me, or does that start to sound alot like Coles Notes?

Where's my time-compressing pitch-shifting tivo? (5, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911727)

This is only vaguely on topic, but what I don't understand is why no PVR maker offers this feature - let me adjust the playing speed from -100% to +100% (possibly faster), pitch shifting the sound back to normal (just like most voice-mail systems let you do now).

I'd be more keen to watch some things if they'd take a lot less time - I think I might not even skip ads if I was watching at 200% normal speed.

Am I wrong, and Tivo or RePlay offers this feature already?
.

Re:Where's my time-compressing pitch-shifting tivo (1)

cadfael (103180) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911790)

If TiVo is using MPEG2 transport stream frames for transmission (and storage) there is a clock reference in the stream that would take some effort to "fast forward" since its sync'ed to a 27MHz clock. Not that it can't be done, its just a bit of work that no one has thought of yet...

I guess that fast forward could play with the clock, but a variable clock is what we are trying to avoid (clock wander and long term degredation keep me up at night doing simulations...). My guess is from the technological point of view its feasible, just not desirable...sorry.

Wonder what the actors think? (2)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911730)

I just thought - what do the actors who's delivery is being altered by this think? Since I know of at least one SAG member [slashdot.org] who reads this board regularly, maybe we can get some insight what the pros think?

WWWWS [What Would Wil Wheaton Say] (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911791)

I asked Wil Wheaton about this on his web site.

His response:

"I like l'il boys!"

There you have it.

James Gleick (1)

uchi (534979) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911733)

James Gleick brings this up often in his book entitled "Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything" It's an interesting read, focusing on the way society seems to be so time-oriented, losing sight of the truly meaningful things.

do ads really have an effect anymore ?? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911736)

personally, advertising has become background noise ... i mentally "tune out" when commercials come on and close pop-up windows when they get in the way. now if you excuse me i have a craving for fabric softner

better idea (2, Funny)

verbatim_verbose (411803) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911742)

Just shorten the commercials instead. Duh. :)

time compression (3, Interesting)

abraxas (19266) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911743)

Imagine working for a movie studio taking older films and time compressing them to make them more palatable to today's market. Punch up slow scenes with digital effects such as camera jitter, zoom and cut, or any of a dozen very accepted post-modern camera techniques to increase the cut pace.

I can't take credit for the idea but when I read this in a science fiction novel years ago, it really made me wonder what the average attention span will be in twenty or thirty years.

OTOH: Subliminal Aspects (1)

vchoy (134429) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911745)

In the article they said they can make a program shorter by certain frames...on the other hand, I remember in the good old days where advertising would be done by inserting single frames on periodic occassions throughout the screening of the program.
Check this link [compuserve.com] .

The Four-S System Revealed! (-1, Offtopic)

New Movie Troll (550262) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911748)

The Slashdot Story Submission System or Four-S (pronounced "force") is a closely guarded Slashdot secret. As much as Slashdot claims to be anti-patent, in their well-known hypocritical nature [microsoft.com] , they have a patent pending [wired.com] for their story submission system. It is this very system's precision and robustness that explains why slashdot is so popular yet other similar slashcode sites [howstuffworks.com] get less hits that the average AOL user's personal homepage [aol.com] .

Like the formula to Coca-Cola [snopes2.com] , KFC's [topsecretrecipes.com] secret recipe, and the chemical structure of SPAM [spam.com] , the workings of the Four-S system was the question keeping me awake at night. After weeks of saving my allowance, obtaining a fake ID and making a few trips to the seedier parts of town, I finally had everything I needed to discover the truth behind one of mankind's greatest mysteries.

Thanks to a life-size inflatable tux doll [suse.com] and a keg of mediocre quality lukewarm beer [enemy.org] , I had little trouble coaxing the secrets of the Four-S system out of Rob Malda. Between mugs of beer and unspeakable acts against nature (and vinyl inflatable dolls), in his drunken slurred speech, he explained the most intimate details of the four-s system.

R.M.: Well... Hey, your kinda cute. Wanna see a cool trick I can do with a taco?

Me: Umm, I think I know what you have in mind - it won't work. When I was mowing a lawn last summer, I had an unfortunate accident and was involuntarily castrated. How that would effect the outcome of your trick should be self explanatory.

R.M.: Damn, that sucks. Hey, since you've taken yourself out of the gene pool, did you win a Darwin award [intel.com] ?

Me: Did you win a Queer of the Year award? All fags like you should be given a Darwin award for taking themselves out of the gene pool. One more comment about my lack of balls [amazon.com] and I'm deflating Tux!

R.M.: No, not Tux! I'm SO sorry! How can I make it up to you?

Me: The Four-S system. Tell me about it.

R.M.: Never. I'll take it to my grave.

Me: Damnit Rob, tell me or I'll shove my withered scrotum in your face. It's so nasty BME [time.com] , Stileproject [tomshardware.com] AND Steakandchese [sonymusic.com] refused to post the picture!

R.M.: You make a compelling case, but no.

ME: Damn you, I'm so mad I don't feel like typing A HREF= anymore! Now you're gonna pay!

At this point I pull down my pants.

R.M: OH LORD OF ALL THINGS HOLY!!! I'M BLIND! OH THE AGONY! FOR GREAT JUSTICE, PUT YOUR PANTS BACK ON!

ME: Not until you tell me about the Four-S!

R.M.: Okay you win, I'll talk, I'll talk. Just put your pants back on.

ME: I don't trust you. Tell me about the Four-S first!

R.M.: Sigh. Okay, the Four-S. Most people think the Four-S stands for "Slashdot Story Submission System", they're wrong - it's just the public codename. It really is an acronym for the four steps involved in story selection. Scratch paper, spin, semen, shredder - That's what the Four-S really means.

During the first step, the "scratch paper" stage, hardworking monks here at Slashdot HQ carefully transcribe each story submission on to a piece of environmentally friendly recycled paper. For the "spin" step, these pieces of paper are then placed in a Kenmore dryer (set to air dry only, heat caused us to lose a whole day's worth of submissions once when the paper burst into flames!) for 5 minutes for a good randomizing effect. Now ready for the "semen" stage, one of the Slashdot editing crew opens the dryer door and proceeds to masturbate into the dryer. Whichever lucky paper happens to catch the wad of jism will be posted to the main page of Slashdot and then placed in the shredder. The reason for shredding a successfully submitted story is simple, if it's shredded, we can be sure we won't see the dried semen on it and accidentally post it again. Since we can only masturbate so many times in one day, you can understand why we're only able to post so many stories in one day - and why so many are rejected. This is exactly why the Four-S system is so much more versatile than other story submission systems.

Me: Wow, that explains a lot. So how did you come up with the Four-S anyway?

R.M.: I was up late one night trying to write a script to randomly pick story submissions, but everyone at Slashdot HQ kept complaining it wasn't random enough. After debating for hours, my throat was becoming sore and I was starting to go hoarse. In frustration, I finally yelled, "Well how do you propose I make it more random, use the for..(cough)..se?" At that moment, the idea dawned on me.

Me: Why am I not surprised?

R.M.: Now that you have this information, you have entered a circle of trust. Promise me you won't tell a soul about what I have told you today!

Me: (With fingers crossed) Sure, I promise.

old hat (2, Interesting)

the bluebrain (443451) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911749)

I remember in '86 or '87 seeing a program on TV (ironically) about speeding up films on TV to make room for advertising. They had a nice comparison between Humphry Bogart smoking in "Casablanca" at "true speed" and "on speed" (weeeeee!). The latter looked ... unreal - but just in direct comparison mind you.
'Course - I have no link, because them there were (gasp) pre-web days.
Kind of an obvious use of vid-tech though, innit?

this would concern me if (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911754)

I actually watched TV. At least with commercials, they are 'honest' in how they are selling me things based not on value or efficiency/effectiveness of the product, but merely inconsequential and superficial noise that bears no real value in anyones life (based upon an assumption that one has a life).

I no more buy products because some clown makes me laugh, or some half naked girlie makes me excited. So what is the difference when instead of 'directly' selling me something, they are pushing some agenda that must use a fantasy environment (the fantasy environment created by ANY book, film, theater, etc) to make it sound plausable?

As long as Discovery, et al don't fall prey to this I imagine I will not even notice it.

KDKA + Steelers + Time Cutting == bad (2, Informative)

SirStanley (95545) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911755)

KDKA did this / does this with the steelers. If you're a god fearing 'stillers' fan you watch the game on TV but listen to Meyran and boys on the radio. A few months back, while doing this I realized that there was about a 20 second gap between what Meyran was screaming about and what was on tv. Needless to say the radio was ahead... So I kept the head phones on and was calling the plays left and right for my friends who were just watching the tv . (Sacrelig) They thought I was psychic. But anyhoo. Others noticed it too and I believe the station got in alot of trouble for that.

The end of 24fps? (1)

J. Random Software (11097) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911761)

Yeesh, next they'll stop doing 3:2 pulldown in telecine (spread 24 film frames across triples and pairs of 60 NTSC interlace fields) and just run film at 30fps. That'd shorten a two-hour film by 24 minutes, and progressive displays wouldn't need a comb filter. How noticeable would it be when all the sound is shifted up about four semitones?

I have to wonder how they cover the discontinuities if they cut whole frames' worth of audio, or how close they can sync with the video if they cut more opportunistically.

Dupe? (1)

Hexact (22921) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911764)

I'd swear this is a dupe. Anyway the story is kind of old see this story [uniontrib.com] dated 11/08/01.

Clem.

ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911770)

the only ad that has ever annoyed me is that ThinkGeek hey! wear our hoodies! ad when reading Slashdot

not good (0)

tux-sucks (550871) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911778)

unless you're one of the people that thinks the ads are usually better than the crap programs themselves

Some more linkage (2, Informative)

headkase (533448) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911783)

The device itself [primeimageinc.com] and another story [go.com] for the article.

Similar HTML Implementation (1)

sigma (53086) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911785)

Perhaps Slashdot could use this technology to put another banner ad up:

gabit3 wites: "Tech TV has an aricle about a deice called a "Digital Time Machine, that does something caled "Time Trimming", hich is basically a way to cut ingle frams from different scenes in TV programs, whic, over the course of a 30 minute program, can add up to 3 seconds, which is, incidentaly, the perfect length to add NOTHER commecial."

It's better than the alternative (3, Interesting)

ColaMan (37550) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911786)

I'd prefer it to drop a few frames here and there than drop whole scenes.

I noticed this scene-dropping one day on a re-run of "the simpsons" ... some scenes had been removed - it was quite noticeable (and irritating).

But still, yet another ad can be squeezed in. I can't wait.

A few more years, and broadcast TV everywhere will be all shot to hell. The only channels left worth watching in Australia are the ABC (which doesn't have ads, being gov't funded),and SBS (who at least lumps their ads together at the end of each show). The other 3 networks are crap, with over-sensationalised news (how many more "shocking","horrific" news stories can there be?) and it seems more ads than content.

Who's up for making the next slashdot on the internet2 with video comments instead? Count me in :-)

My favorite part of the article... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911792)

...Confident that Rob Malda had control of the bike, Richard Stallman placed his hands on Rob's hips and drew him upwards so that the cold wind rushing by bathed most of Freddy. To his credit, Rob didn't take his eyes of the road, allowing Richard to move him up and down, off and onto his cock with ever increasing force, ramming and slamming his arse onto his cock, over and over until both men were sweating profusely and Rob was shaking with the incredible need for release. Richard had come a couple of times, depositing his seed deep inside Rob, feeling it coat his cock and drip out of his lover's rectum to pool in the coat. He scooped some up with one hand and after removing the cock ring, smothered his lover's balls and cock...

Laugh Tracks.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2911793)

>Now, if we could just compress the time wasted by laugh tracks....

I despise laugh tracks.
-I- myself KNOW when to laugh.
I KNOW when something is funny...or not.
People who need these over obvious cues
(for a "suggested response")
have NO sense of humor to call their own!
Laugh tracks are the sole reason we have so many god aweful sitcoms...
if you tell them to laugh,(subconsciously) they will laugh...
(the reason for so many UNfunny shows)
The Simpsons/Futurama/Family Guy have no laugh tracks....why? because they're FUNNY on their own!

more (1)

mlong (160620) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911798)

If you want to know more you can read the canoe article [canoe.ca] or read about what radio has been doing for a while (cash) in NYTimes [tripod.com] .

Television Subscription service? or Spam service? (2, Interesting)

M3shuggah (162909) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911799)

I just had an epiphany! What if we had the option to pay a flat fee per month for more than basic air reception service?... oh yeah, it's called a CABLE BILL.

But wait, with this service it is atleast 1/3 unsolicited forced "spam!"

I understand commercials are a necessary evil that we have become acoustomed to, but why can't I have the option to pay a little bit extra for no commercials. Here's how I think the ideal situation would work...

Most television programs are filmed where approx. ten minutes of every thirty minutes are for commercial sponsors. Why not play the programs back to back, and be able to broadcast three episodes in the place of two episodes with commercials. Hopefully the concept would catch the attention of the masses and have a wide subscription clientele to make up the lost revenue brought in from commercials.

I realize that there wouldn't be much incentive for any parties other than the consumer, but I can dream - can't I?

This is nothing to worry about (2)

Afrosheen (42464) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911806)

Just wait until they start airing the Blipverts!

Of course, it is patented. (2, Interesting)

zeiche (81782) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911808)

So another company has been awarded a patent for a device that has existed for more than a decade. Only time will tell when they sue Lexicon for enabling 1" type-C machines with the same capability. Or does the fact that it handled digitally make the idea completely different? This is not novel, folks. The shifting up-and-down you've been seeing for years on TBS SuperStation is time compression. And before you jump on the "delay" feature, that has been done too with even older "quad" format. (Klunky, but it worked.) I'd love to see Lexicon go after these guys. RCA can't because their "delay" was well over 20 years ago.

Its great! (2)

isorox (205688) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911810)

Playing a 30fps program at 30.5fps will not harm the average user experience, and it means Enterprise is shorter! Combined with cutting the theme tune and credits you can nearly get 2 episodes on a VCD!

30 minute Shows?? (2, Interesting)

christooley (215314) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911812)

How many half hour shows actually have 30 minutes of the show to compress? Aren't most shows only 20-24 minutes anyway? That means you're not going get a full commercial in every show unless they are going to compress commercials as well. Which means there are probably going to be some upset advertisers.

wait till the next step.... (2, Funny)

kireK (254264) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911815)

My DVD player lets me watch movies at twice the normal speed... wait for the next generation of tv shows and commercials. 10 minutes of super speed show, and 20 minutes of ssllooww speed commercials.

Speaking of sneaking in Advertisements.. (1, Offtopic)

AnalogBoy (51094) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911818)

I have no problem with advertising. If I get something of quality for more or less free, i expect to have to watch something I may or may not find interesting (And i'm of the mind that i'd rather it be targeted, than not.) Now, i'm not an expert on economics or anything, but it seems to me slashdot is a -tad- too jumpy when it comes to stuff like this. As mentioned a bit earlier, they've been doing this on radio for ages.

[Note, the below doesn't neccesarily state my views, just an interpretation of the circumstances. The comment may or may not be based in rational thought; The statement has been engineered for slashdot audiences].

Has anyone else noticed that, if you havent entered your own URL, your url is set to http://slashdot.org/? Now, in a way, that could be interpreted as slashdot branding your comment. Say, for instance, if your post was quoted somewhere, in its entirety, that would be analogus to having one of those annoying "Come read at www.yahoo.com!" banners at the bottom of a mail. Doesn't seem very slashdot-like to me. How about have it default to, say, NOTHING like it did a few months ago.. or better yet, to the slashdot meta thread?

$0.02 refundable w/ $15.00 restocking fee.

Doesn't it affect the experience? (2, Informative)

Radical Rad (138892) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911823)

I saw a segment on TV about this months ago. The machine looks for consecutive frames where not much has changed and removes them.

If they only used it on half hour crap sit-coms and talk shows it wouldn't be so bad. But It seems like it would ruin scenes from classic movies where a director has purposely inserted a pregnant pause or an uncomfortable silence in the dialogue or an actors face frozen in horror.

But hey! If it makes someone a few more bucks then what the hell. Maybe they could frame the Mona Lisa with LCD panels and sell advertising on them.

It makes me watch less (2)

Mike Hicks (244) | more than 12 years ago | (#2911824)

The number of ads has kept going up and up. I don't know about you guys, but it just makes me flip channels more. It makes for distracting TV watching, since I end up surfing for something new every commercial break.
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