Tag Archives: hulu

Why is NBC dimming 30 Rock?

I cannot be the only person who has noticed this: For some reason, 30 Rock’s scenes are being aired at approximately half the brightness of other programming, or even the shows own title sequences. The issue can be seen clearly in every episode of Season 5 on Hulu.com as well as NBC.com, but is not present on Season 4 or any other show on Hulu.

Here is a screenshot from last week’s episode of 30 Rock – ‘Plan B’:

Compare that to a screenshot from last week’s episode of The Office – ‘Garage Sale’:

30 Rock looks very dark and lacks contrast.

Now here are the histograms for each image:

30 Rock – ‘Plan B’

The Office – ‘Garage Sale’

If you’re not familiar, a luminance histogram measures tone in an image from pure black (on the left) to pure white (on the right). The mountains and valleys you see in the meter represent the concentration of that tone. As you can see, the histogram from The Office has bits of data from end to end, but the one from 30 Rock is solely concentrated from the black point to the middle, meaning there is no brightness data in the second half of the spectrum.

Now here is what the picture looks like when we fix the histogram.

Better, right?

The thing is, it appears to be intentional because, as I mentioned before, the issue is not present in the shows title sequences (and select cut-away sequences).

So, why is NBC doing this? It’s already well established that the show does its best to shoot on Tina’s right side to not showcase her facial scar (which is oddly mirrored in the show’s title sequence) and many TV shows used to use soft focus lenses to hide the blemishes of its actors or actresses.

Is this dimming of the footage an attempt to hide the looks of aging stars Fey and Baldwin? Is it just a very weird, but completely consistent, mistake? Or is there some other less obvious reason I’m missing?

Flash Free: The Way to Be

Not long ago I removed Adobe Flash Player from my iMac. Despite all the political things between Apple and Adobe I did this mostly for performance reasons. I am often working on photos in Aperture while having a browser window open and I find that Flash just running ads in Safari use a ton of resources. Since disabling it I see a noticeable gain in speed and responsiveness on my machine in general.

Now I’m not entirely without it, I have Google Chrome installed as my secondary browser which has Flash built in, so when I want to watch Hulu it’s still possible. However I’ve started to notice that most websites offer HTML5 video options and I got an excellent extension for Safari to make most sites default to it.

John Gruber wrote an excellent piece on how to do this and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

That said there are two things that annoy me right now.

  1. Google Analytics relies on Flash for it’s charts… which is unnecessary… it could all be done in HTML5
  2. Boing Boing….

I’ve mentioned before that Boing Boing uses a ton of Flash, when I called the hypocritical Cory Doctorow a hypocrite (well he is).

Well it turns out, this is what happens when you visit the BoingBoing.net main page in safari without Flash installed:

Forcing my computer to auto-download useless SWF files? Good job gentlemen. You suck again.

Noticeably this does not occur when you read their site through a RSS reader. Maybe they should just stop being hypocrites and stop running Flash ads?  Are you listening Cory? Probably not.