January 2005, Issue 70

Published by Sonaris Consulting, Felix Bopp, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

You can find the online version at: http://www.sonaris.info


Scientific findings: Celebrity shots probe face recognition, Adaptive Learning of an Accurate Skin-Color Model, The Changing Face of Speech Rec
Recommended book: SONAR Power 4! by Scott R. Garrigus
Summit for the Future: Media & Entertainment
30.000-years-old flute
Club of Amsterdam Open Business Club
Challenging Routines - Jazz musician Branford Marsalis reflects on sources of renewal
Conferences & events
Subscription & feedback

: Scientific findings

Celebrity shots probe face recognition
by Helen Pearson

The brain uses three steps to identify faces.
By transforming the features of Margaret Thatcher into those of Marilyn Monroe, researchers have revealed hints about how our brains put a name to a face.

Neuroscientists already know that certain spots in the brain play a vital role for recognizing a familiar face, even as it changes with age or a new hairstyle. But they have not been clear precisely what each area does.

Using mugshots of celebrities, Pia Rotshtein at University College London and her colleagues have shown that there are at least three separate areas for processing and recognising faces. One processes the physical features of the face, one decides whether or not the face is known, and a third retrieves information about that person, such as their name.

Rothstein's team used a computer to create a series of images in which the countenance of film star Marilyn Monroe gradually morphed into that of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, or that of James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan transformed into current prime minister Tony Blair.

Although the physical features gradually change from one face into another, the researchers showed that subjects looking at the images tend to "suddenly flip" from seeing Marilyn to seeing Maggie, explains team member Jon Driver.

Adaptive Learning of an Accurate Skin-Color Model
by Qiang Zhu, Kwang-Ting Cheng, Ching-Tung Wu, University of California, Santa Barbara Yi-Leh Wu, VIMA Technologies Inc. Santa Barbara, CA

"Due to variations of lighting conditions, camera hardware settings, and the range of skin coloration among human beings, a pre-defined skin-color model cannot accurately capture the wide distribution of skin colors in individual images. In this paper, we propose an adaptive skin-detection method, which allows modeling true skin-color distribution with significantly higher accuracy and flexibility than other methods attain. In principle, the proposed method follows a two-step process. For a given image, we first perform a rough skin classification using a generic skin model which defines the Skin-Similar space. In the second step, a Gaussian Mixture Model (GMM), specific to the image under consideration and refined from the Skin-Similar space, is derived using the standard Expectation-Maximization (EM) algorithm. Then, we use an SVM (Support Vector Machine) classifier to identify the skin Gaussian from the trained GMM (which contains two Gaussian components) by incorporating spatial and shape information of the skin pixels. This adaptive method can be applied to both still images and video applications. Results of extensive experiments performed on live video sequences and large image databases have demonstrated the effectiveness and benefits of the proposed model."

The Changing Face of Speech Rec
by Jennifer O'Herron

Over the years, it's become fairly commonplace to call up an airline or a financial institution and encounter a speech rec system; these industries were the early speech adopters. But as customers become more familiar with the software, it's making its way into other areas, such as retail, catalog and health care.

In a study last year, commissioned by Nuance (Menlo Park, CA) and conducted by Harris Interactive, it was reported that 61% of speech users were highly satisfied with their most recent speech encounters, 56% of users indicated that they would definitely or probably use the system again, while only 7% said they wouldn't use speech rec again.

"Any transaction that is structured and repeatable is a good fit for speech," says Steve Ehrlich, vice president of marketing with speech app provider Apptera (San Bruno, CA). "Even some of the earlier limitations around recognizing large lists (such as names and addresses) have been overcome. Assisted self-service systems where the speech application handles the definable answers and agents handle the more complex tasks should become more commonplace."

Many of the issues we used to hear about so often, such as dropped calls and end-user rejection, have fallen by the wayside. Companies are getting better at designing user interfaces to provide their customers with systems that are easier to navigate, understand and use. And the most successful companies realize that automation complements live agent service, not replaces it.

"Automation is awesome," says Lynda Smith, vice president and chief marketing officer with Nuance, "but companies have to sit down and think about what is best for their customers when deciding where live agents are needed and where it makes sense to add automation." [...]

: Recommended book

SONAR Power 4!
by Scott R. Garrigus

About the Author
Scott R. Garrigus has been involved with music and computers since he was 12 years old. After graduating from high school, he went on to earn a B.A. in music performance with an emphasis in sound recording technology at UMass, Lowell. In 1993, he released his first instrumental album on cassette, entitled Pieces Of Imagination. In 1995, he began his professional writing career when his first article appeared in Electronic Musician magazine. In 2000, he authored his first book, Cakewalk Power! This was the first book to deal exclusively with the Cakewalk Pro Audio, Guitar Studio, and Home Studio software applications. In 2001, his second book, Sound Forge Power!, which was the first book to deal exclusively with Sonic Foundry’s Sound Forge audio editing software, was published. Also in 2001, his third book, Sonar Power!, which was the first book to deal exclusively with Cakewalk’s Sonar software, was published. In 2002, his fourth and fifth books, Sonar 2 Power! and Sound Forge 6 Power!, were published. Today, Garrigus continues to contribute articles to a number of print and online publications.

Product Description
Dig deep down into the new features of SONAR 4 and learn how to conquer each one through step-by-step examples and exercises that are designed to make your composing and recording sessions run more smoothly. From initially customizing SONAR 4 to creating and producing a surround sound mix, get ready to explore all that SONAR 4 has to offer! Learn about MIDI and audio effects and how to use them in offline and real-time situations. Explore mixing music via software and discover how much control you can have when you're using an on-screen software mixer. Take a look at the advanced features of SONAR 4, including StudioWare and CAL. Wrap things up as you learn how to prepare your completed SONAR project and burn it onto a CD.

: Summit for the Future: Media & Entertainment

Club of Amsterdam
Summit for the Future - Media & Entertainment

Date: January 26-28, 2005
Location: HES Amsterdam School for Business, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Website: http://www.clubofamsterdam.com/press.asp?contentid=373&catid=61

...the future of Media & Entertainment

..You can download the descriptions about the Knowledge Streams
..[*.pdf, ~ 100KB]:
Media & Entertainment

Content Knowledge Stream Media & Entertainment
Why should you attend?
Who should attend?

Opening Event
When: Wednesday, January 26th, morning

Media & Entertainment Session 1: Positioning
When: Wednesday, January 26th, afternoon

Lecture & workshop
Paul Kafno: Bye Bye Box? (or Is the Future Flat?)

Media & Entertainment Session 2: Knowledge Exchange
When: Thursday, January 27th, morning

Lectures & workshop
Wim van de Donk: A new Map & Compass
Helen Shaw: The public right to know in a sea of global media

Media & Entertainment Session 3: Preferred Futures
When: Thursday, January 27th, afternoon

Lecture & workshop
Gerd Leonhard: Music like water: everyone uses everyone pays

Knowledge Stream Leader: Jonathan Marks

Round Tables: I Students, II Philosophers, III Futurists
When: Friday, January 28th, morning

..Content Knowledge Stream Media & Entertainment .. Media

Is Europe's Duopoly Model sustainable?

In 2004, several public service broadcasters have been put under severe political pressure to show they are providing value for money. In the Netherlands, there are varying degrees of support for sport on the public networks NOS, with rights purchased with public money. The Netherlands Scientific Council has been asked to advise the State Secretary for Culture on a new way of thinking about media policy. Content regulation happens in broadcasting where there is perceived spectrum scarcity. But what will broadband and Wi-fi do to all this? BBC is going through a major restructuring, with the loss of up to 5500 jobs. VRT in Belgium and DR in Denmark have re-positioned themselves as "public". ARD in Germany will face funding problems in 2005. Have they been sleeping for too long?

Why Wrinkles Will Matter
In 10 years, the average age of consumers of information radio and TV channels could be 60+? Does that matter? Why have media companies been so slow to adapt to the ageing populations in Europe? Will MTV finally grow up? What kind of films will Hollywood/Bollywood be turning out then? What kind of games will be played on portable devices?

Conversion Completed?
In 2015, most of the analogue transmission systems should be off the air. The convergence process done. What kind of technology can we expect to entertain us, stimulate a conversation, save time, spend time. Devices may become smaller, lighter, faster, cheaper…. Makers of digital radios, TV’s, phones, and PDAs expect to be around. But in what form? And who will be controlling and producing the content we watch? You don’t need a license to start a newspaper. But you do need a license to start a radio and/or TV station. But who will want to legislate the content of WIMax when it has the potential to bring wireless broadband to a radius of 30 km? Do our children need to be protected? Who will be the gatekeepers when analogue is dead?

Freedom of the Press – RIP?
Traditional freedom-of the media and freedom of the press arguments say that access to free information and a free press is a basic human right. Certainly press freedom campaigners and organisations support and promote this concept. But beyond the argument that press freedom is moral and a self-evident good thing, there is now compelling evidence that a strong, independent and free media is a powerful ally to economic and social development and the reduction of poverty.

In short, independent media pays dividends for a country.

To what extent can media have a catalytic role in boosting economic development, and particularly in the fight against global poverty?

[See also: "The Right To Tell" by the World Bank Institute"]

Specific Objective
Some future scenarios that examine where newspapers, mobile entertainment, radio and TV, cinema COULD be in 15 years from now. These are not predictions…just scenarios that might happen. If they did – how would the companies concerned react?

Why should you attend?
Club of Amsterdam has rapidly become a melting point of different visions. Communications (including broadcasting) is by far the world's biggest business. It's also the most influencial. Find out where it is going and how you can anticipate the Media Evolution. Network TV in the US is losing viewers and advertisers. Yet, growth of Wi-Fi & Broadband in North America and Europe seems to be beating all predictions. CD piracy is at an all time high. But so are sales of certain music artists. Press Freedom is at an all time low. So what is the world not talking about?

If you're looking for Vision, rather than just Television, make sure you're part of the Media & Entertainment stream discussions in January.

Who should attend?
This stream is designed to interest and involve senior management and strategists within the following media sectors.

Print Media [Publisher, Head of Business Development, Editor-in-Chief Print, Editor-in-Chief On-Line], Broadcaster [Program Director, Editor in Chief, Head of Business Development, Senior Current Affairs Producer, Head of On-Line], Music Industry [Publisher, Distributor, (Rights) Lawyer, Retail, Musician, Head of Marketing], Entertainment Industry [Publisher, Games Producer, Distributor, Retail], Wireless Industry [Mobile Business Development, Telco, Lawyer], Generalists [Media Student, Philosopher]

..Session 1: Positioning Media & Entertainment
..Lectures & workshop: Wednesday, January 26th, afternoon
.. Media

Paul Kafno
Managing Director, HD Thames
With a career in both commercial and public broadcasting, Paul knows how to use the right technology to share emotion. His productions have won a string of awards including Prix Italia, RTS, BAFTA, the Prix Gemini. Able to enthuse as well as amuse.

Bye Bye Box? (or Is the Future Flat?)

Europe’s television screens are getting bigger and flatter. What will we put on them? Programmes? Interactive games? More Hollywood? And from which tap - broadcast, broadband or disk? With an apparent profusion of choice, younger viewers seem too bored to watch, while the older ones claim they cannot find anything they like. With DVD triumphant, commercials easy to avoid and broadband steaming over the distant horizon, broadcasters are desperate to recapture their audience. So, will the future have us leaning back to yawn at the same old content or leaning forward to something exciting and genuinely new?

And what might that something be? Paul Kafno explores the possibilities at Summit of the Future

See: Bio

..Session 2: Knowledge Exchange Media & Entertainment
..Lectures & workshop: Thursday, January 27th, morning
.. Media

Wim van de Donk
Chairman of the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy.
Professor, Faculty of Law, Tilburg University
The Netherlands
As chair of the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy, Wim van de Donk spends his time thinking 'out of the box" and encouraging others to do likewise.

A new Map & Compass

Discussion about the future of Dutch media, both commercial and public, have lost their way. It has become focussed on issues affecting broadcasting, when the future will bring us many more platforms that traditional broadcasting. The Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy will publish a report on its recommendations for the future at the end of January 2005. Wim van de Donk believes some fundamental changes in approach are needed in order to revitalize creativity and investment in Dutch media. This is important for the position of companies operating both in The Netherlands and in the rest of Europe.

See: Bio

Helen Shaw
Managing Director, Athena Media Ltd
Helen understands the power of radio, but also that a clear policy is the key to its continued success. Winner of a Gold Sony award , she led the digital transformation in RTE Radio (Irish Public Broadcasting ) and launched RTE's fourth national radio service, Lyric FM, featuring arts and classical music.

The public right to know in a sea of global media.

Global media dominates our media lives and that content is dominated by a handful of media conglomerates. As convergence takes places and more and more content moves into mobile applications like our phones and hand-set what happens to the public space and the public right to knowledge and information? Is there a future for public broadcasting or will it become a dinosaur of media's industrial age? What are the factors which will support the survival and development of information media which is not designed for profit whether traditional public broadcasting models or new ones to suits the digital age? Helen Shaw looks at how a new model for public media can grow and considers how it can benefit from digital technology rather than be destroyed by it.

See: Bio

..Session 3: Preferred Futures Media & Entertainment
..Lecture & workshop: Thursday, January 27th, afternoon
.. Media

Gerd Leonhard
Music Futurist

"The" global music futurist. Always interesting. Always controversial. Trust Gerd to come up with something different!

Music like water: everyone uses everyone pays

By 2010 Music will be flowing in digital networks like water flows through faucets - everybody will use it, and everybody will pay for it, one way or the other. Why try to get the water for free when it's already prepaid? MusicFuturist Gerd Leonhard believes that the music industry will, step-by-step, embrace the flat fee / bundled model, and voluntary compulsary licensing within the next 2 years, and that all involved parties (the artists, the consumers, and the music companies) will be better off for it. When distribution becomes simply a given, in all digital networks, the music industry will focus on what really matters: discovering new artists and writers, and marketing them. In a Music Like Water system, 9.9 out of 10 people will use music, thereby exponentially increase the worth of the music industy.

Still some important questions remain : once digital distribution (legal or not) of all content becomes the norm, how will content creators get the user to pay attention to them? Will digital radio (like XM-Radio or DAB) serve the music user so well, anytime anywhere, that downloading or 'owning' becomes less interesting?

These are just some of the questions being explored in the Media & Entertainment stream in the Summit of the Future.

See: Bio

..Knowledge Stream Leader about the future of Media & Entertainment .. Media

Jonathan Marks

Director, Critical Distance BV
The Netherlands
Jonathan is a media detective trying to make sense of how creative people can make the most of relevant technology. Has held several production and managerial posts within European public broadcasting. Works as an insultant as well as consultant!

See: Bio

. .. Media

If you want to attend the Opening Event of the Summit for the Future -
see: http://www.clubofamsterdam.com/event.asp?contentid=442&catid=85



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: 30.000-years-old flute

30.000-years-old flute

The ice-age instrument, which was carved out of a wooly-mammoth tusk, was found in a cave in the Swabian mountains of southwest Germany. It was found in fragments, and pieced back together.

Nicholas Conard, a Tübingen University archaeologist, said of the discovery, “Ivory was the most beautiful material available back then. It’s a clear clue that music was extremely important.” Whether the flute was meant for recreational or religious purposes in unclear, but its age does suggest to the archaeologists that music a part of human life far earlier than previously thought.

“The flute is a technical masterpiece,” Conard said. “Nothing like this from the Paleolithic era has been found until now.”

: Club of Amsterdam Open Business Club

NEW: Club of Amsterdam Open Business Club

Are you interested in networking, sharing visions, ideas about your future, the future of your industry, society, discussing issues, which are relevant for yourself as well as for the 'global' community? The future starts now - join our new online platform - and it's for free ...:


: Challenging Routines - Jazz musician Branford Marsalis reflects on sources of renewal

Challenging Routines - Jazz musician Branford Marsalis reflects on sources of renewal
Source: Egon Zehnder International

Jazz has always had a reputation for being able to create something out of nothing. With improvisation as one of its fundamental elements, jazz derives its vitality from the idiosyncratic styles of its interpreters and the passion of its performers. That’s not to say, however, that jazz is devoid of tradition, or that a jazz musician can only be truly creative by discarding what has gone before. It is a popular misunderstanding that musicians have to consciously deconstruct in order to construct – a misconception fuelled by the ignorance of the musicians themselves. Of course, for a musician it is very convenient to embrace a philosophy that says destroy the past. Because then, anything you put forward can be called original simply because it’s new. It’s yours and you don’t owe anything to anyone. By destroying the past a musician also avoids any obligation to study traditional music. But the less you learn, the fewer options you have as a performer.

In this respect, jazz is really no different from anything else. You might invent a new language, but since it will be a language that no-one else understands, you won’t be able to use it to communicate with others. In music there has to be a balance between discipline and order on the one hand, and spontaneity and creativity on the other.

Charlie Parker was one of the ‘fathers’ of be-bop, but he was a player who did his homework. He learned how to imitate the styles of different musicians in his playing, and in doing so he developed his own way of listening – and ultimately his own style. But it is the kind of intuitive process that can only be based on years of hard work.

The jam session is also much misunderstood, and seen by many as stereotypical of the creative process. But of all musical platforms it is the one perhaps least likely to give rise to anything new. It is a sort of democratic tradition, but it is not really innovative. It is nice to have an environment where everybody knows the body of songs. I can go to Moscow tomorrow, walk into a club, call out a song and we can start playing. Sure, that is one of the things that makes jazz flexible – but that’s not innovation. Innovation calls for a very different set of rules. It calls for tremendous musical experience, foresight and reflection – and that is rare air for anybody.


The kiss of death for creativity
I’m not really defined or motivated by money. That’s a good thing, since financial incentives are probably the kiss of death for any creativity in music. The real danger is when you start to look at popular culture and become desirous of it.

What happens in American business is very similar. There are two ways to look at business. You either provide a service to the community and in turn take your profit. Or you regard business first and foremost as a venture from which you make a profit. And in our country there is an overwhelming philosophy that embraces the latter and not the former.

The record business is antithetical to the creative process. Whenever you find yourself in a situation where you are having a musical discussion and the person you are talking to pulls up a computer chart and starts talking about how many records you have sold, it is clear that the music is no longer the primary focus. Record companies are clearly not creative and clearly not flexible. If they were creative and understood the process, they would sign up two groups a year and in ten years all of their groups would be successful. Instead they sign hundreds of acts per year and by the end of the year most – if not all – are no longer around. They have no idea what they are doing – they are guessing all the time. The sad reality is that for every musician who signed a stupid contract and is broke by the time he is forty, there is another one just waiting to take his place. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy, a system that fails to adapt or learn from past experience. I think that is also one of the reasons why the music industry has so many problems today.

And because I couldn’t change the system, I decided to form my own label. We have an established philosophy that we believe in for the long term. It is not about changing anyone. It is about believing in something; believing in an ideal that is larger than popular culture. Our mission is not an active rejection of popular culture. It is just that by the nature of what we choose to do, we disassociate ourselves from popular culture. We want to make creative music and we want to make music that caters for people who like creative things. We don’t want to be a trend, if only by some glorious accident. To be mainstream would be nice – but on our terms.

Who knows what my next adventure as an artist will be? That’s the joy of it. If I knew, it wouldn’t be any fun. Right now I’m listening to Kurt Weill’s Dreigroschenoper. When I heard it for the first time five years ago, I thought it might be possible to do a jazz version. I heard the possibility, but I couldn’t do it. When I put it on again just two days ago, I could suddenly hear a big-band arrangement. So it has grown in my head. I have moved on, and that’s why I was meant to find it again. It’s a miracle and it happens over and over again. I can’t tell what next year will bring. There is no legislating for innovation. The only thing you can do is prepare the ground. You cannot plan it. It either happens or it doesn’t.

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