Photosynth: A Picture of Things to Come

If you haven’t seen it, download the sample of Photosynth, Microsoft’s Interactive Visual Media Group‘s photograph-based image modeling application. The technology works by gathering miscellaneous photos of a location from conventional image sources (Flickr, etc.), finding key points within each image to match within multiple images, and using those relationships to construct a navigable 3-D image of the subject.

To see this thing in action, watch this TED video demo from last year.

The process is called photogammetry, and the end result is pretty stunning. The University of Washington’s virtual tourism project is pretty novel; imagine visiting the Seven Wonders of the World through your phone.

The point is that across the board, people are expecting more out of their user experiences, whether searching through photos on Flickr or performing high-end modeling.

Viewstream is at the cutting edge of new technologies, constantly adapting our services to this ever-changing environment. We’ve always seen emerging media tools as opportunities to meet our client’s needs.

Are you keeping up?

Viewstream.com Redesigned!!!

It is with great pleasure that we announce the launch of our new and improved website, which can be accessed by visiting www.viewstream.com.  We love the design, simplicity and focus on HD video over the web.

Please comment on the new site if you have a chance — we would love the feedback!

A word about firsts….HD video over the web is another Viewstream first. We designed one of the first search engines called Magellan, conducted the first live webcast, first beta site for mosiac browser in ’94, streamed some of the first video over the internet, first place in quicktime film festival 1.0, and now one of the first companies to offer HD streaming. That’s pretty cool stuff.

Future of Web Development

Check out this great article that talks about web dev, Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight, in a simple and non polemic way.

I know most people don’t read whole articles anymore — so here’s the bottom line — technology decisions always comes back to understanding a mix of three things: functionality, user requirements and business objectives. Figuring all that out is a service that a company like Viewstream provides. We call it “Brains” work, and it’s really what our business is all about. In any case, the article can at least give a good summary of what’s changing and why.

The web anywhere

AIR is here. The New York Times reported the release of AIR, Adobe’s software development system. Like Microsoft’s Silverlight and Google’s Gears, the system allows for web-based programming for desktops and mobile devices and smart phones. The idea is to give programmers the chance to create and customize applications across platforms, creating a more integrated environment between web and PC applications.

It means website functionality without being connected.

Both AIR and Silverlight maintain and manage high-definition video very well (AIR supports H.264, HE-AAC, and encrypted video content), giving programmers plenty of room to play with some really exciting stuff. AIR is Flash based and can also be programmed with AJAX, while Silverlight relies on the .net environment.

These systems open doors for some really great opportunities in the marketplace. AIR and Silverlight technology has been used in the development of interactive attractors to direct web traffic to a site, the performance of systems analysis, online shopping carts, multimedia file management and encryption, and others.

Adobe’s site has some case studies illustrating the potential of the system.

Viewstream is now offering AIR and Silverlight development services to enliven marketing strategies. These systems bring the web experience to devices without the use of web browsers, offering a presence with the potential of the web with twice the usability. From our perspective, there is no Silverlight VS. AIR; it is more a development choice based on your business goals, target customer and experiential requirements.

This is the new age of virals. From a market standpoint, more companies will be creating their own platform-agnostic applications, interfaces, systems, and widgets. By moving your content with web functionality to the desktop, mobile device and smartphone, viewers can access you anywhere.

Take advantage.

HD Web is here

Bringing in the new year with a bang, Viewstream is now ready to handle HD Web video projects. Advances in online streaming have made crystal-clear video on the web easy, affordable, and just plain pretty.

There are plenty of reasons take the leap before everyone else does.

5 reasons why HD Web is the way to go:

1. Retention, retention, retention. HD on the Web offers optimal user experience. A recent Akamai Technologies report says that sixty percent of online users are less likely to return to a site if the video content is poor.

2. Believe it or not, it’s cost effective. Most companies like Viewstream shoot in high definition anyways. Don’t transfer down; add some high-end graphics and some great audio, and you’ve got yourself a top-shelf experience for your user.

3. Your customer’s connection can handle it. In fact, you could wow them with the amazing clarity your site brings over their dsl connection.

4. No new technology on the receiving end. Your customer uses Flash, QuickTime, Windows Media. All the players they know and love.

5. Because imitation isn’t enough. This isn’t higher def. This is true, 720p and 1080i high def.

Viewstream Party

Eight years is a decent amount of time in this business. So last night we celebrated the only way we know how- cocktails, Burmese eats, the best dj in town, and a serious discussion about the advantages of a four-hour work week.

We also launched a couple new Viewstream services, live flash streaming and HD streaming. We are the new school, after all.

Our one hundred or so guests were treated to a presentation by Tim Ferriss, the man behind the bestselling The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich. A real renaissance man, his talk ran the gamut, from time/money relations in professional work to the three currencies of the digital age (time, income, and mobility, in case you were wondering), from the advantages of polarizing people to why the Japanese might think all Americans are cavemen.

The party kept going thanks to music from DJ Damien, who kicked it out all night long. We were going to post some photos, but thought we needed to save some very important people from some very public humiliation. You know who you are!

Thanks to everyone who came out last night, particularly all the new friends we made. Here’s to an amazing 2008.

Also, thanks to our neighbor and gracious host, The Gallery Lounge. Sorry about the mess.

Sesame Street

At Viewstream, we are not all business. Well, we are, but sometimes we like to take a breather from the rat race and take on fun projects that we find fulfilling and worthwhile. So when we got a call from Sesame Street to do a couple shorts for the show, we were both honored and stoked. Pretty much everyone at Viewstream HQ has harbored dreams of being on Sesame Street at one point or another in our lives. In fact, one of our employees was actually on Sesame Street back in ’75. It was a homecoming, in a way. So how could we pass it up?

Doing what we do best, we took on the creative direction, the compositing, and the motion graphics for more than forty four shots in (1080p) HD format. The special effects created a colorful, animated backdrop perfect for kids to enjoy and learn from.

Though we are certainly not experts on the subject matter, the first short explained how the human brain helps us perform day-to-day functions. It also gave us the chance to show the world our zany, twisted view of San Francisco.

The second segment was a noir tale of a distressed woman on the search for a triangle. In desperation, she requests the services of a private gumshoe (not Sherlock Hemlock, but this guy would do), who helps her find triangles all over the place. Even James Blunt got in on the triangle action that episode!

These videos just aired on PBS, so we’ve got public television under our belts. Now back to those product demos!

View the videos.