What does this have to do with film? Everything.
A while back, Microsoft introduced the interface for Windows 8 with its new smartphones and let’s face it, most people think an OS is the interface. More recently Microsoft showed us what “proper” Win 8 will look like as a teaser for the next batch of PCs. The truth is I don’t think most computers will upgrade to 8 since it relies on using a touch screen interface on a PC and most people don’t have touch screens on their existing workstations or laptops. So 8 will exist mostly on future PCs.
And tablets, apparently: http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en/us/default.aspx
For a long time I’ve said that the power technology has to influence media production is in increasing the reach of humans across distances. If you have an AE on set loading media into a drive and transmitting it to the editor in a post house in another location, you’re using tech to save time and money. Such an arrangement means your editor can spot problems while you’re still in the field, saving time planning reshoots.
So what exactly does this tablet mean?
Tablets have enormous potential as media production tools. On one hand they can store media for review and some light editing (with the right software) so you can work on a plane or something. Sony has recently demonstrated its new tablet http://discover.store.sony.com/tablet/ can control other Sony devices. I think the ultimate use of a Microsoft tablet is not just as a stand alone device, but as a control device for a workstation.
Some iterations of Avid software (like Curator) allow the PC to work like a terminal, letting the big server do the heavy lifting computations when pushing to a playout server or rendering a big movie. Likewise, a tablet could be used as a terminal, like gotomypc.com thereby allowing the editor to work on something from thousands of miles away, with no equipment. Also, it could work like a fancy keyboard, with total customization to the keyboard allowed, enabling specialist configurations for editing, gaming etc. The only thing that this arrangement leaves out is tactile feedback, which is handy when you’re touchtyping. Sometimes you don’t want to cover the image with your hand because you won’t be able to see the image you’re adjusting.
So I applaud Microsoft for its first taste of the future in a while. And when Microsoft wants people to test it out, I volunteer! Gorilla glass is killer.