iTunes

Baby Driver with iTunes Extras

2017-09-16 - Baby Driver.jpg

Earlier this week the movie Baby Driver was relased on iTunes. I had seen the trailer for Baby Driver before it was relased in theaters and it looked interesting, but it wasn't something I was going to go out of my way to go see. Fast forward a few months and I was spending my first afternoon in Adelaide, Australia after just registering for the INCOSE Systems Engineering conference that was taking place all of the following week...and it started pouring down rain. It was a Sunday afternoon and with all the rain and me walking everywhere I went there was little else to do, so I ducked into a movie theater and watched Baby Driver. The music chosen for the movie combined with just how integral the music was to the entire look and feel totally sold this as a very entertaining and artistic production. Not to mention that is was a heck of a lot of fun!

I'm not doing a review of the movie here, but I did want to point out to all of you just how impressive the extras are that come with this movie. The Blu-Ray version of the movie will have very similar extras, but as I write this the movie is only available through iTunes (it comes out on Blu-Ray October 10th). In addition to the standard extras like deleted scenes there are 4 seperate commentary versions of the movie:

  1. Music Mode: When you watch the movie in this mode you get the full audio of the movie but there are graphics that pop up throughout the movie that explain some of the background and history behind each music track in the film.
  2. Director Commentary: This version of the film has Director Edgar Wright talking over the video from the movie. Edgar Wright has had the idea for this movie for decades so he had quite a bit to talk about.
  3. Commentary with Edgar Wright and Bill Pope: Bill Pope was the Director of Photography for Baby Driver so this version of the film has Edgar Wright and Bill Pope talking about the video production. Shooting the video footage of all the car chase scenes in the movie was quite challenging as you can imagine, so this commentary is extremely interesting.
  4. Storyboard Comparison Track: I've seen some movies have a scene or two depicted purely using the original storyboard, but I haven't seen anything quite like this before. The entire film is shown with the original storyboard drawings as a picture in a picture. They really did storyboard the entire movie scene for scene and it was pretty amazing just how close the final version came to the original storyboard.

If you missed this movie in theaters you might considering buying it on iTunes and enjoying all of the really great extra materials that are included. You won't be disappointed.

Build an iTunes Movie Library on the Cheap

This tip is either going to save you a lot of money or it could cause you to spend money you might not have otherwise spent. I've had a really good experience with it, so I wanted to share it with all of you. But if you have tendency to buy too many things because they are a "good deal," you might want to steer clear of this one.

The iOS app is called "Movie of the Day" and it a very simple app that does one thing and does it well. Each day the app highlights a movie in iTunes that is being offered at a discount. The app is developed by Fox Digital Entertainment so it features movies from Fox and MGM that have been put on a 24-hour promotional sale price. The main screen of the app displays the discounted movie of the day. From the main screen you can select the "i" button and find out things like cast and crew, movie review information and a synopsis of the movie. The main screen also displays the sale price, the original price of the movie, a countdown clock showing you how much time you have to take advantage of the deal and a "get in iTunes" button that allows you to purchase the movie right from within the app.

Today's movie of the day, Marley and Me The Puppy Years, is not something me or my family is really interested in. But this isn't the case everyday. My wife quite often runs across a movie that she would like to own, but isn't willing to pay the standard $14.99 for. I have found it is also a great way to slowly add some really great movies from the past to your movie collection without having to shell out a bunch of money all at once. The movies offered tend to be at least several years old and are offered in the $4.99 to $9.99 range and many of the movies featured in these daily deals are quite good (it isn't just for obscure movies). I travel a lot and having a large library of digital movies to take on the plane with me is a must. My wife also like to sit down with a movie on the weekends, so between the two of us this app has given us a cheap way to slowly build up our movie library. You also don't have to buy the movie from within the app to get the deal. If you go to iTunes separately you will see that the movie is discounted there as well. I should also mention that there is an Apple TV version of the app as well. I highly recommend getting the app and getting in the habit of checking it every day. Just don't feel like you have to buy all of the discounted movies....

iTunes Sale: Interstellar

My new all time favorite movie, Interstellar, is on-sale for a limited time on iTunes. Yes, Interstellar has replaced Gattaca as my favorite movie of all time.

If you haven't yet seen this movie or have and just haven't got around to puchasing it yet now is the time. Head over to iTunes and buy Interstellar while it's still on sale!

What Happened to The Legend of Korra on iTunes?

I cut the cable many years ago, so most of my television content is either streamed through Netflix or purchased from iTunes. This has worked out really great for our family, but every once in a while there is a hiccup. Enter The Legend of Korra Book 3...

The Problem

I purchased the full "Season Pass" of Season 1 (Book 1) and Season 2 (Book 2) of Korra through iTunes. But then all of the sudden out of the blue Nickelodeon airs the 3rd season of Korra (Book 3) on TV. The previous two seasons had all kinds of announcements leading up to the release, but not this time. And there was one more big difference...Book 3 was not available for sale on iTunes. In fact, Nickelodeon went even further and pulled the previous seasons from the iTunes store. There is next to nothing online about why any of this happened. The article at the Lawyer Herald has about the best explanation I could find. The Lawyer Herald article said:

"Forbes said it was a strategy taken by Nickelodeon to regain control of its own content when a Mexican unit of theirs had leaked four mid-season episodes on the Internet as they are working on dubbing and subtitling the episodes for the region."

So it appears Nickelodeon has taken all online content from the series down including the ability to stream past episodes from its own website. Within a few weeks of the airing of the 1st episode the episodes from Season 3 (Book 3) were made available for sale from Amazon, but not anywhere else. So what does this mean for people like me who have purchased the previous two seasons of Korra from iTunes? I wasn't sure so I contacted Apple.

The Response From Apple

The answer I got back from Apple is what I expected. Apple does not control when and for how long content on the iTunes Store is available for purchase. The content providers can choose at any time to pull content from the store and no longer make it available for purchase. No surprise there.

The 2nd part to my question to Apple was how long content is available for re-download after initially purchasing content on the iTunes Store. The initial answer I received from Apple Customer Support was that Nickelodeon had removed all seasons of Korra from iTunes and not only could I not purchase the new season but I also could no longer re-download the previous 2 seasons of Korra I have purchased and watched but never downloaded. Except Apple was wrong. I can still download Seasons 1 and 2. So I replied to Apple and asked more questions. The content providers get to make all the calls with respect to content on the iTunes Store. In this case, it looks like previous seasons of Korra can still be downloaded FOR NOW. Which means if you have previously purchased either Season 1 or Season 2, make sure you have all the episodes downloaded. There is no telling when Nickelodeon may decide to pull previously purchased episodes from iTune in the Cloud.

What is iTunes in the Cloud?

For those of you that don't know there an aspect of iTunes called "iTunes in the Cloud." iTunes in the Cloud lets you do things like:

  • Access your content on all your devices
  • Anything you purchase in the iTunes Store, the App Store, and iBooks is automatically available on all your devices
  • Start watching something on one device and finish watching it from the same space on another device
  • Access past purchases from any of your devices

The last one has a footnote attached to it. It says:

Previous purchases may be unavailable if they are no longer on the iTunes Store

What this means is that if you purchase a movie for a TV show from iTunes the only way to guarantee you will always be able to watch that content is if you download, store and backup those movies and TV shows. I had not been downloading all of the content I purchase from iTunes. I buy a lot of full seasons (Season Passes) of TV shows. So when a new episode is available I simply fire up my Apple TV and stream and watch the new episode from iTunes without having to first download the episode to my computer and streaming the content from my computer to my Apple TV. But in doing it this way I have set myself up for potentially losing the ability to watch content I have purchased when content providers like Nickelodeon decide they no longer want to sell content on iTunes.

What Does All This Mean?

It's pretty simple. If you purchase anything from iTunes (an app, a song, a TV show, an iBook or a movie) you should make sure you keep a local copy of that item and regularly back up that content. In my case, I am going into iTunes on my computer and downloading any TV episode or movie I have I purchased. Yes, even with some movies I have purchased I don't have a downloaded local copy. I really do rely on streaming iTunes content from my Apple TV 99% of the time. If you are in the same boat I am and have some previously purchased content that isn't on your local computer, then how do you download it? Believe it or not this can be a bit tricky. Before you can go into iTunes and download these undownloaded episodes you need to do the following:

  1. Go into the iTunes menu under Preferences the under the Store tab
  2. Make sure the "Show iTunes in the Cloud purchases" box at the bottom is checked

Once you have done this, you can then go into your iTunes library and select a TV show season or a movie that you suspect you don't have local on your computer. In my case it was Season 1 (Book 1) of Korra. You should see something similar to this:

See the little cloud icon off the right hand side of all the episodes? That means those episodes are not local on my computer but they are available via iTunes in the cloud. Click on the cloud icon and the episode will begin to download to your computer. Repeat this for any TV episode you want to make sure you can always go back and view. Follow the same procedure for movies. Movies will look a little bit different, but notice the cloud icon looks the same in each view.

In the grid view it looks like this:

In the list view it looks like this:

The last take away from all of this is that the availibility of the 3 seasons of Korra on iTunes has nothing to do with Apple and everything to do with Nickelodeon. If you aren't happy with what Nickelodeon has done, please contact Nickelodeon. I have contacted them and they have ignored both my email and my tweet. I'm not suprised. Based on what they have done with their content on iTunes it is clear that Nickelodeon doesn't care about the consumers of their television shows (at least not those who purchase their content through iTunes).

iTunes Movies on iDevices

I guess I don’t use my iPhone and my iPad to watch movies as much as I thought, because tonight when trying to load a movie on my daughter’s iPod I was forced to learn something. How on earth do you squeeze a 4 Gb High Definition (HD) movie purchased in iTunes on to a 8 Gb iPod Touch? Well, you could start stripping out all the unused apps and other misc files that an 7 year old will ask to have added to her iPod and then never use. Or, you could go the easier route and simply download the Standard Definition (SD) version of the movie and load that on the iPod instead. There is an Apple Support Article that will walk you though how to download the SD version of a previously purchased HD movie, but I’ve also listed the steps below:

  • Go to the iTunes Store on your computer
  • Sign into the store and under “Quick Links” on the right hand side of the screen click on “Purchased”
  • Select the “Movies” tab at the top of the page
  • Unselect the “Download HD When Available” checkbox at the bottom right of the page
  • Press the nifty little download from the cloud icon/button next to the movie you wish to dowload in Standard Defintion (SD)
  • Enjoy all the extra space you will suddenly have on your mobile device!

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