Wireless Systems Design

Media Shows Foretell Of Products To Come

Are you tired of playing the same old games on your mobile phone? Maybe you should watch a movie instead. Films are now being made specifically for mobile phones. Typically, they last no more than 15 sec. Because these films are inherently short in duration, they're ideal for humorous clips. Customers are already using them to send short video clips of one another in humorous situations.

Video clips are quickly growing popular. They're even spawning a number of events. An example is the Nokia Shorts competition, which took place at London's famous Raindance Film Festival. For the enjoyment of visitors, this show ran screen shorts in the festival's foyer using Nokia's 3650 phone.

With over 1 billion cell phones now being used daily, such mobile events could be spotlighting future content and revenue sources. The same can be said of mobile media festivals like The World's Smallest Mobile Media Festival. It's produced by BigDigits, Inc. (www.bigdigits.com). Though its products may be small, BigDigits has some big-name sponsors like Nokia, BMW Films, Intel, and Apple. By supporting media companies, film festivals, brands, and artists, BigDigits is able to bring both big-name and amateur producers to the mobile screen.

Another BigDigits event is the World's Smallest TV Festival. It is designed to capture the future developments and the potential for the emerging TV-to-mobile-phone markets.

Can anyone produce clips for mobile devices? According to BigDigits, the answer is yes. In fact, the process is simple. All that's needed is a digital camera with a movie-mode setting and some editing software. Once the footage is captured in digital memory, the prospective producer just converts the footage to film with programs like iMovie (for Mac) and Movie Maker 2 (for Windows).

There are stipulations: The film must be saved in a file format that's supported by most mobile-phone operating systems. Not surprisingly, many of these formats are the same ones that are supported by the Internet, such as Quicktime, Real Media, AVI, and MPG. Because the viewing media is a mobile phone's small display, file sizes also must be less than 5 MB. Luckily, resolution isn't very crucial. Nor is the quality of the audio. After all, most cell phones have less than high-quality sound systems.

To view these short clips, a user needs a handset that supports multimedia applications, such as Nokia's 3650 or Sony Ericsson's P800 or P900. The P900, for example, is a GSM tri-band mobile phone that supports both MP3 audio and MPEG-4 video. In addition to taking digital pictures, it allows users to record short video clips and e-mail them to friends. The user can even submit the clips to BigDigits.

For now, the public can only catch this new genre of short (1- to 7-min.) mobile films at one of the major wireless conferences. One such show is CTIA Wireless (wireless2004.ctsg.com). By early 2004, however, U.S. mobile-phone users will be able to watch these strangely entertaining clips on most of the major wireless networks.

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