Jump to content


Photo

The Intuitive Video Camera


  • Please log in to reply
7 replies to this topic

#1 Tenolian Bell

Tenolian Bell
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 907 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Brooklyn, NY

Posted 04 March 2006 - 02:16 PM

Welcome to the Age of User Experience.

One key aspect of modern digital devices is that technical specifications are easily copied and replicated: mega-pixel count in cameras, storage capacity in music players or processor speed in personal computers are the same everywhere. As a result, they provide only poor distinguishing factors for consumers when it comes to choosing between different brands.

That's where the overall user experience comes in. As computing and digital devices move more and more into the consumer space, features and functionalities will increasingly take the back-seat as motivators for technology adoption: as the iPod abundantly shows, user experience (along with a strong brand, and clever marketing) is much more important for the success of a device then technical specifications. Web designers have grasped the importance of good user experience a long time ago; now it is time the big technology providers to understand where the industry is headed.

10 fundamental rules for the age of user experience technology:

1) More features isn't better, it's worse.
Feature overload is becoming a real issue. The last thing a customer wants is confusion-and what's more confusing than comparing technical specifications, unless you are en expert? Only nerds get a kick out of reading feature lists. (I know - I'm one of them.)

2) You can't make things easier by adding to them.

Simplicity means getting something done in a minimum number of simple steps. Practically anything could be simpler - but you don't get there by adding features.

3) Confusion is the ultimate deal-breaker.

Confuse a customer, and you lose him. And nothing confuses more easily than complex features and unintuitive functionalities.

4) Style matters

Despite what nerds may think, style isn't fluff. On the grand scale of things, style is as important as features-if not more so. Style and elegance can contribute significantly to a good user experience. But style isn't just looks, it's a global approach. Fancy packaging isn't enough.

5) Only features that provide a good user experience will be used.

6) Any feature that requires learning will only be adopted by a small fraction of users.

Learning new features, even the ones that a user might find interesting or intriguing, is a real issue: nobody has time. Getting consumers to upgrade and adopt new features is one of the biggest problems software publishers face these days.

7) Unused features are not only useless, they can slow you down and diminish ease of use.

Over time products become convoluted and increasingly complex to use. The frustration of not finding the one feature you need among a flurry of stuff you don't need, want or even understand, can be considerable. (Ever heard of program called Word?)

8) Users do not want to think about technology: what really counts is what it does for them.

The best tool is the one you don't notice. Why do you think pen and paper remain vastly popular for brainstorming? Because you don't have to think about them. Pencils don't crash.

9) Forget about the killer feature. Welcome to the age of the killer user-experience.

When technology achieves something desirable without being in your face, when it know how to integrate itself into you wishes and desires without distracting from them, that's when technology lives up to its potential. Unfortunately it's it's not that simple to get there.

10) Less is difficult, that's why less is more

Let's face it: it's usually harder to do simple things exceedingly well, than to just pile up features. The 80/20 rule applies here too: do well what 80 percent of your users do all the time, and you create a good user experience.

Andreas Pfeiffer (posted January 19, 2006)

©Pfeiffer Consulting 2006


http://www.acm.org/u...7_pfeiffer.html





This article perfectly illustrates the problem with professional video cameras.

Too many switches and dials, difficult to use software menus.

To add, all of these things are different on each camera.
  • 0

#2 Kai.w

Kai.w
  • Guests

Posted 05 March 2006 - 07:18 AM

Well, I'm not a cinematographer so I don't know about cameras but in general I say these guidelines work well for consumers, but not for all professional users.
Working in compositing / CG I can tell you that most of the rules are not applicable.
"People are not interested in technology"? Give me a break! If I had no fundamental knowledge of how things work internally and what is dones exactly and how it is achieved, I'm pretty much screwed quite often.
"Less is more"
Well sometimes maybe. But quite often I found myself glad that some rarely used feature is implemented cause its just what I need in this special case.
"Only features with good user experience?" What is a good user experience?

Honestly, I think these rules are meant for designing cosumer tools, where really the user just wants to repeatedly achieve one single specific goal. Whereas if you professionally use a tool you find yourself in a much more complex environment with constantly changing and unexpected tasks and often fighting with the limitation of your toolset. This is a rather different situation.

As a sidenote. I think its a rather interesting trend that lots of artist in the electronic/digital realm are trying to get back all the control that is lost by the approach you quoted, trying to fight against their degradation to a user by the people who create the tools and want to become a creator again.
They are aware of the fact that this means much more complexity for them to handle which might become a barrier for the intuitive creativity but they rather deal with this than lose their freedom.
Good indication for this trend is the popularity of all the modular "programming" tools for audio/video:

http://www.parasitae...itaeten.net/Pd/
http://vvvv.meso.net/tiki-index.php
http://www.cycling74...products/maxmsp
http://www.cycling74...products/jitter

or to quote from a cg forum: "...stop crediting Apple for the world's creativity" B)

-k
  • 0

#3 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11936 posts
  • Other

Posted 05 March 2006 - 07:23 AM

Hi,

In many ways I agree, but it's important to differentiate between complexity and flexibility.

I think what he's talking about is stuff like the photo shooting function on the XLH1 camera. I mean, what the hell? You're going to pay four grand and use it as a bad digital stills camera? And then use it to present a slideshow of images? C'mon. In situations like that I completely agree.

On the other hand, having control over the way image processing works is important. It would be nice to have a standardised interface for things like colour matrix, but I don't personally have a problem with just listing "master saturation," "knee level" etc in a menu and I can't think of a better way to do it. It's only like the various kinds of skip-bleach processing after all, and there's a huge amount of variation with that. It's fallacious to consider that a video camera should be particularly simple in this regard because it's combining the functions of stock manufacturer, camera, lab and grading suite all in one.

Phil
  • 0

#4 Adam Frisch FSF

Adam Frisch FSF
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2009 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, USA

Posted 05 March 2006 - 06:07 PM

I completely agree. Why on earth do we need gamma and color correction in cameras? It's insane.

I've always said that "endless choices is the enemy of creativity". Look at non-linera editing- it was supposed to save time - today it takes much longer to edit a feature (because you can try so much more), than it ever did. Are the films fundamentally better edited? No. Do new bands with access to 132 recording channels produce better music than 4-track Beatles? No.

Too many choices is the antichrist. True creatvity is born from having obstacles, or the necessity of invention.

It's the same thing with Steadicam - you use a moving camera that's all over the place, because you CAN. "Hey, we got this cool rig that can go everywhere - let's use it!". That's the only reason.
  • 0

#5 Dan Salzmann

Dan Salzmann
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1143 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Paris, France

Posted 06 March 2006 - 07:01 AM

I completely agree with Adam. In camera gamma and colour correction is insane.
Give us less "gimmicks" and bigger CCD's for the money.
The more unnecessarily "complex" things get, more concentration is devoted to HOW than to WHY which I believe is the heart of creativity.
A film does not exist to be a gadget showcase but as a complete piece of creative vision.
  • 0

#6 Kai.w

Kai.w
  • Guests

Posted 06 March 2006 - 07:36 AM

Are the films fundamentally better edited? No. Do new bands with access to 132 recording channels produce better music than 4-track Beatles? No.

I happen to disagree. I think with options things become possible that otherwise would have been not. To exaggerate with only 4 tracks you can only make music like the beatles but maybe thats not what every musician wants to do. Same with editing, you may think that editing did not "improve" but it did change and thereby allowing for different movies.

Too many choices is the antichrist. True creatvity is born from having obstacles, or the necessity of invention.

Stasis is the antichrist, the true genius knows to handle both limited tools and ultimate choice. It all boils down to the question if you have a clear artistic vision! Cause if you do, you know which options to pick out of thousands to achieve your goal, you are able to decide what you chose for which purpose.
Too many choices is only bad if you don't know what you want.

-k

Edited by Kai.w, 06 March 2006 - 07:37 AM.

  • 0

#7 Brian Drysdale

Brian Drysdale
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5069 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 06 March 2006 - 08:12 AM

I don't mind having adjustments within the menus for setting the camera up. Features like knee, detailing and gamma table etc are creative tools, it's up to the user if they want to learn about them and use them. Also, once they're set you usually don't need to go into the menus again. However, operations that you regularly undertake shouldn't involve digging into the menus.

There are too many functions on the consumer cameras which just get in the way. Battery savers that switch the camera off when you're just about to take the shot is one daft one. The buttons on the side that always seem to get pushed when you're hand holding these small cameras. Unfortunately, they often override how you want the camera to operate while you're in the middle of a shot. The stills function is a total waste, unless you want to do single frame animation and even then a digital stills camera is the way to go.
  • 0

#8 Tenolian Bell

Tenolian Bell
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 907 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Brooklyn, NY

Posted 06 March 2006 - 03:06 PM

The article I listed is speaking more to consumer electronics.

But I would in many ways include professional electronics, specifically video cameras, I do not believe that dizzying array of switches and dials is necessarily the most efficient and intuitive way to accomplish the task. Its obvious engineers have set that up and not people who have studied human interface.

The current Betacam design seems to work fine for the videographer. So if that's what they like that's fine.

The worst offenders certainly are the "prosumer" market of cameras. The clear motivation here is to make a camera that does as many things as possible to be marketable to as many people as possible.

The problem isn't so much the need for less options, but feature over kill, mixed with bad design.

But as video enters the film market most of that stuff is unnecessary.

Example of the Arri D20 and Panavision Genesis. Arri seems to have been able to design a camera that required five buttons to accomplish its task. Panavision has done about the same. From what I remember the Genesis only had a few buttons to accompish what was needed.

Simple efficient design that accomplishes what is needed.
  • 0


Ritter Battery

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Opal

Wooden Camera

CineLab

FJS International, LLC

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Metropolis Post

rebotnix Technologies

Willys Widgets

Abel Cine

CineTape

Tai Audio

Visual Products

Aerial Filmworks

Rig Wheels Passport

The Slider

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Technodolly

Glidecam

Paralinx LLC

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Wooden Camera

Rig Wheels Passport

The Slider

Broadcast Solutions Inc

CineTape

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Visual Products

Metropolis Post

Paralinx LLC

Tai Audio

Willys Widgets

Glidecam

Ritter Battery

Technodolly

Opal

Abel Cine

FJS International, LLC

rebotnix Technologies

Aerial Filmworks

CineLab