foo The power of good enough

The Power of Good Enough

The Better is the enemy of the Good.

When I started in video in the 1980s, there was this thing called “broadcast quality”. With few broadcast television channels (and no YouTube or even World Wide Web), broadcasters like the BBC had very strict technical controls on what could be broadcast. Nothing else was good enough.

In this age before High Definition (HD), broadcast quality was merely Standard Definition (SD). As the world went digital, a compressed SD format called “DV” (Digital Video) came out. This was clearly and controversially not “broadcast quality”, but its long tapes and cheap cameras worked their magic. It turns out that even in broadcast, words mean whatever you want them to mean: DV was now good enough for television broadcast.

A decade or so later I met with ITN to explore using the Forscene cloud video platform in News. Journalists shooting on DV were by then uploading their video via $1m satellite trucks – not the sort of things to leave lying around in a war zone. The mooted Forscene workflow had journalists filming on mass-market phones with direct upload into the Forscene cloud. With journalists on location gathering news, a good editor back home could edit the content, with library footage, and distribute news packages within minutes.

The advantages were attractive, but News required broadcast quality. And brand value meant “mobile phone quality” would “Never” be good enough.

But Never is a long time.

Months later, the Buncefield fire put mobile news footage on the map. Zap forward to today, and the technology is good enough. The young watch their videos on the web, mobile phones and tablets, bypassing broadcast TV almost entirely. Internet devices are now good enough for viewing.

Mobile phone cameras have surpassed HD, providing 4K (actually UHD for the pedants amongst us) since 2014. The insatiable progress in resolution and low light sensors, as seen in the Google Pixel phone, mean that for much internet content, mobile filming is good enough.

The changing landscape has driven a previously unthinkable revolution. In the internet age, choice, convenience and time-to-market reign supreme. These are cloud benefits, delivered in spades by Forbidden’s Forscene video platform.

The Better is the enemy of the Good – and now being Good Enough in historical areas is opening up opportunities for new cloud technologies to excel in the modern world of video.

Stephen B Streater
Founder and Director of R&D

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