Friday, July 16, 2010

Clever Videoplayer Gimmick: Audio Fader

Here's a nifty videoplayer gimmick we like. It's a fader that enables you to shift between two audio tracks -- kind of like balancing your stereo speakers. You can hear one track or the other track -- or predominantly one with the other in the background.

It's used here by the New York Times, which (except for its stubborn refusal to allow embedding) is often in the vanguard when it comes to online video technology.

In its Anatomy of a Scene: 'Inception,' writer/director Christopher Nolan dissects a pivotal scene from the film, both technically and dramatically, in the manner of a DVD voiceover commentary. You can watch and listen to the scene without his narration, or you can listen to only his narration while you're watching the scene. Or you can listen to both simultaneously:  "Drag the slider to adjust the levels between commentary and the movie's original soundtrack." There's even a "radio dot" so you can position the slider at its optimal blending point -- narration loud and clear, with movie dialogue and sound effects in the background.

By contrast, the Times offers the more conventional approach to VO film commentary for this weekend's other big movie opening, The Sorcerer's Apprentice. In a separate video, The Wizardry of a New York Shoot, director Jon Turteltaub discusses shooting the film in New York City.

Both two-minute segments were produced by Mekado Murphy, and consist of interview segments accompanied by movie visuals. Inception uses a self-contained scene that's dissected both technically and dramatically. Sorcerer uses a series of behind-the-scenes production stills for a narrated slideshow to illuminate the movie's use of New York locations.

Both have their merits, but it's that audio fader that grabbed our attention, and made us wonder what other situations it can be used for... and when more videoplayers will start using more imaginative frills like this.