Audio News for January 28, 2011

by | Jan 28, 2011 | Audio News | 0 comments

On Performers Issuing Their Own CDs – Many jazz and pop artists have been producing and issuing their own CDs in the last few years, free of the control of commercial record labels and with more assurance that they will receive royalties due them.  Professional level recording equipment has come down in cost considerably and expensive commercial studios are no longer required by many performers. Of course they usually have to settle for poorer distribution and less discs sold. Jonathan Segel of Camper Van Beethoven spoke in a recent interview of the bad side of artists putting our their own CDs – at least in the pop arena.  He says there is now a flood of mediocrity.

”Who knew that having benevolent gatekeepers in the form of record labels would be a good thing? It’s very difficult to find the mountains within the leveled playing field…as an artist myself, with no representation, I am not easily found in the sea of available music.” He said he used to get royalty checks back in the 90s but now sees CDs as only worth the plastic they are printed on. His personal CD sales are in the low hundreds for any new release, and he says the only money he now makes is in live performance with his band – and even the touring market is saturated. On the other hand, self-released albums by classical artists have brought much valuable music to collectors – music that would never have been issued by the major labels. Many individuals and small classical labels have also pioneered SACD and other hi-res approaches to present their music in the best possible fidelity. Of course they have to also live with very small sales of most releases.

Another Side of 3D – An Associated Press article discusses a major drawback of 3D, claiming it makes millions of people uncomfortable or sick. Some optometrists are saying that as many as one in four viewers have problems watching 3D movies or TV – either due to eyestrain or because the person has depth-perceiving problems in real life.  Viewing 3D can make some people queasy, leave them dizzy, or give them headaches. The new version of 3D as seen with the movie Avatar, is vastly improved over that of the former 3D rage in the 50s.  Most movies then used the anaglyph system of red and blue glasses, which is known to cause headaches and serious eyestrain for many viewers (as well as spoiling the colors of color movies). Researchers are working on more advanced 3D displays that might address some of the problems, even possibly one that doesn’t require any special glasses. However, they are years away. Some 3D experts – such as Avatar’s director James Cameron – warn that filming in 3D requires a number of careful adjustments – such as changing the distance between the two lenses depending on how close the objects are in the frame – and most 3D filmmakers are ignoring these details. Plus there are the problems inherent in converting 2D films to 3D after the fact.

However, the entertainment industry continues to create more movies and video material in 3D. Jeffry Katzenberg of Dreamworks calls it “the greatest innovation that’s happened for the movie theaters and for moviegoers since color.” Companies are spending more than $1 billion to upgrade theaters and HDTVs for 3D. Some cable and satellite channels already carry 3D programming. (Of course everything won’t be 3D – just appropriate material. We hope.) An optometrist explains that our eyes track approaching objects by turning inward – toward our noses. If an object comes close enough, we look cross-eyed. But as our eyes turn inward they also expect to focus closer, and the 3D screen isn’t moving closer, so the eyes have to curb their inclination and focus back out. This forces them to work extra hard, and could be causing the discomfort that some people experience. If the screen moves closer to the viewer – as is happening with small home HDTV displays – the problem is magnified.  Some viewers who suffer the most with 3D are those who have trouble getting their eyes to converge properly in real life. Those who easily get carsick might be among them.

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