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July 10

Preview Index and AirPlay

We just wanted to notify everyone of some new additions to the site:

The first major addition is the Free Preview Index, located at http://adultatom.com/free/preview/

We only have a handful of these up currently, but basically they’re in-browser previews of the same videos we’ve been offering via our Free Preview Feed. In the coming weeks we’ll be adding a lot more of these, and as we do this page will get larger and larger. Several cool things to note:

  • The videos are the very same quality as the ones in the feed, the same exact files. They’ll look amazing, but they also might take a few seconds to start playing as the loading time is great. It’s worth it, trust us.
  • Try loading http://adultatom.com/free/preview/ on your iPhone or iPad and select “Add to Home Screen” from the bottom. It’ll load in glorious full-screen, and the newest video will be right at the top.

The other thing we’ve done is extend AirPlay functionality to all these preview videos. All iOS 4 users that have a device capable of AirPlay have been able to do this with the videos they’ve sync’d to their devices, but now even if you load the preview from our website, you can throw it up on the big screen as well. Hope you enjoy.



February 15

The Geek-Kings of Smut - NYMag.com

We were planning on doing a break down of how the porn industry currently works, to give you guys a primer on what we’re doing differently, but we’re much happier letting Benjamin Wallace do the work, since he’s a much better writer than we are:

http://nymag.com/news/features/70985/

Here’s a few of our thoughts on the article:

“Tubes are going to destroy our industry,” says Sunny Leone, 29, an Indian-American knockout who is celebrating eight nominations this evening. “Fans don’t understand that if they don’t pay for porn, we can’t make a living. They’ll have to watch crazy European porn.”

Opening with the porn stars and their message of “if you don’t buy the videos, we’re out of work” is a great angle to start it on because the stars are really who not paying directly for porn is going to affect. However the same holds true for “crazy European porn”, other than it’s slightly cheaper those people also need to get paid.

My specific role in the porn industry has been producing the actual video content for these pay-sites, and for the past few years I’ve had to deal with shrinking budgets and more of said budgets being put towards licensing existing videos.

There’s been a “porn bubble” bursting, where the costs of shooting new scenes was going up while the value of new scenes was going down. HD shooting necessitated better control over the lights and sets used, as well as an increase in the fee for make-up artists as they’d have to do full body work to make the girls look as good as they could. But on top of those costs, as the budgets for shooting were going down, we were unable to negotiate a drop in the rates of these girls to go along with them.

Let’s be clear: We do not blame the stars themselves for this “price fixing”. If there’s anyone to blame for it, the more likely targets would be their agencies. One day we’ll do an article about the good and bad of porn star agencies. Quick preview: it’s mostly good except when it isn’t.

No, the blame is on our human natures to be myopic when it’s in our self-interest. George Carlin once said that dogs think everything will last forever, because their memory is so short (specifically that if they’re eating out of their dish and they finish everything, they look around going “where the fuck’s the food?!”).

We kept pressing that we could shoot more scenes overall if we made each one of them less expensive, and were shocked to see prices continue to go up. Prices had gone up with the boom of online gonzo, particularly by the popularity of Brazzers, and stars had gotten used to the rates, as had their agencies. The prices were kind of understandable, as they’re being paid for their likeness rights in perpetuity as well as for their performance and time. But in the pressures of having to do more with less, something had to give, and the stars rates seemed to be the one thing that wouldn’t.

This effectively stalled all production where I was employed. When you’re looking at spending $2,500 for one brand new scene versus licensing fifty existing scenes indefinitely for the same price, it’s hard to argue the value.

Moving on:

When the old porn companies complained that the tube sites were stealing their content, the tubes claimed, as YouTube did, that the “safe harbor” provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act absolved them of responsibility for “user-uploaded” content.

Piracy seems to devolve into a “chicken or egg” argument, is it caused by people wanting to steal or is it a result of people offering easy stealing. It’s the latter that is only slightly true in our opinion.

The DMCA is fascinating because at the same time it made sure no one would ever be able to do something with Mickey Mouse (like say, make something interesting) except for Disney, it also established rules as to who was responsible in cases of online copyright infringement.

Now, the DMCA is unbelievably flawed. But in a world where you’re computer is connected to a network which connects to an ISP which connects to a global network which is connected to another ISP, another network, and another computer or server, plus all the DNS and other gateways it takes to direct everything everywhere in-between, all running automatically, the source of blame needs to be established on who actually initiated the copyright infringement. Please treat that run-on sentence as further illustration of how many complex links there are in the internet chain.

So the real question is: Are these sites actively trying to profit off these illegally-distributed clips? We believe the answer is yes and no, in that they aren’t specifically trying to do so but they don’t mind that they do so either, not a position with a lot of integrity. However, we also believe the question is completely moot in view of a larger question:

Unlike recorded porn, live cams are immune to piracy, which has made them especially successful as a business proposition. In this sense, the cams function as anti-tubes, but the two technologies have together opened up an entirely new frottage industry, so to speak: a grassroots, DIY porn democracy where anyone with a bedroom, a cam, and a web connection can set up as a one-woman or -man operation.

Any time the question revolves around what’s going to be done about piracy purely in terms of stopping it, you’re already primed for defeat as it’s a war that cannot be won.

Brazzers playing both sides of the field is only really a moral issue in that some people don’t like liars (corporations shouldn’t necessarily have morals, but keeping some things secret is different than telling outright lies) but it does reflect an acknowledgment that in regards to tube sites, the pandora is out of the box (or however that story worked).

The fact that tube sites are free is definitely a compelling bullet point to use them, but beyond that their user experience is much much better than the typical pay-site. They require no username/password to forget, you can recall previously viewed clips you liked by just checking your browser history or bookmarking pages, and it’s generally one click to start watching something. Some of them are streaming to mobile phones as well.

If paysites are offering these things, they aren’t advertising it properly. They also don’t offer anything beyond tube sites, usually less selection and video formats that are antiquated.

Cams have an interesting two-way format of content, where consumers actually affect what’s being produced. I oversaw a few “cam-girls” during my time and was shocked at how much we were able to charge for exclusive shows for one member only or how many of them would buy presents for them, a bizarre mentality but definitely pirate-proof.

Moving on:

In October 2009, the U.S. Secret Service’s Organized Fraud Task Force in Atlanta seized about $6.4 million in funds from two Fidelity bank accounts controlled by Mansef, the Brazzers holding company. By this point, the company was already experiencing internal troubles.

This was one of two major incidents that have recently shook the entire adult industry, the other being the censure and eventual shut down of ePassporte. Mansef was so large, that when they suffered delays in paying their invoices just before xmas in 2009, it caused a few companies to shutter and quite a few more to shit themselves.

This is the perfect story to begin the end of the porn bubble, because for some reason when things equalized in early 2010 it seemed like everyone had memories like goldfish, and assumed that the industry would go back to “normal”.

“It’s a huge misconception that the industry is doing badly,” Feras Antoon tells me over rib eye and lobster tail at Delmonico, the Emeril Lagasse steakhouse at the Venetian in Las Vegas. “It’s moved on. It’s as simple as that.” And he insists that the tubes haven’t cannibalized paid content: People who consume only free porn, he argues, are people who, in the past, would not have consumed any.

This isn’t precisely true. The major players are moving on, and it’s because they had the money to weather the transition the industry is still in. But if you talk to some of the people working at those big companies you’ll hear a different story. They’ve either lost their jobs or they know their job will eventually be threatened.

Every week we hear from another program that is either going under, or being bought up by one of the big boys. The incident with ePassporte has also shut down many of the mid-sized affiliates, but again more on that at a future date.

Allie Chase, operator of solo-site NaughtyAllie.com, takes issue even with the five-minute trailers that plenty of producers deliberately upload to tube sites in the hope of whetting appetites. “Do you honestly think that your average guy watching a five-minute porn, or several of them, won’t be able to get off? Of course he will. And once he’s shot his load all over his keyboard after watching my free five-minute video, he certainly isn’t going to be pulling out a credit card to join my site.”

We believe the same thing, that’s why our Free Preview is restricted to one minute clips. Gives you a sense of the technical and content quality, and unless you’re pre-pumping it’ll interrupt before you shoot off. 

BTW Allie is great a performer who’s never faking it and really sells some great amateur fantasies, click here to check out her stuff and sign up.

Moving on:

A few minutes into our conversation, a middle-aged guy in a plaid shirt walks hesitantly toward us, leering at our trade-show lanyards printed with the logo bang bros. Almost shyly, he asks, “How would I get into that?”

“You mean become a performer?” Randazza asks.

The man nods.

Randazza looks at him wearily, like he gets this all the time. “Honestly,” Randazza says, “the gay side’s where all the money is. There might be 30 straight guys who can make a living at it, but if you’re willing to get fucked in the ass, I can get you five grand right now.”

The man’s smile quavers, and he backs away.

Invariably it comes up that we’re involved in the porn industry, and the question comes from both men and women about what it’s like for the performers and, sometimes, what’s the best way into the industry.

We’ll go into more detail on this in a future entry, but for now, know that what he said is 100% true.

And to sum it up:

“Stolen porn irks the hell out of me.” She tries, at least once a month, to buy a DVD from an adult video store, “so I feel like I’m giving back a little.”

It’s such a sad thing to see people competing with each other to sell products to consumers, but over and over again blame the consumer for not buying enough. Regardless of the legalities of some of these tube sites, they offer a different product, and in most cases a superior product. People don’t mind paying for things, but you owe it to your customers to make it worthwhile.

The day you begin to actually work to compete with free or pirate alternatives instead of bitching and moaning how the only constant is change, is the first day of the rest of your career. You cannot change the landscape, only what you do within it.

Listen to Geek Kings of Smut NYMag.com as a Blogcast (.mp3)


February 7

H.264 and the Future of Video Distribution

Obviously we at AdultAtom.com are biased, as our business depends on selling video content to consumers so we can get paid and buy things like caffeine and, you know, pants to wear outdoors.

But we’ve recently had reason to justify our use of H.264 amidst news stories about how It’s a Trap and wouldn’t it be in our interest to offer our videos in a royalty-free codec and thus lower our costs.

The justifications for use of Ogg Theora and WebM is almost exclusively based on the concept that they’re royalty-free, but what does this really mean? H.264 is a patented video codec, and those creating encoders and decoders will have to pay some sort of fee structure to MPEG LA, the organization that administers the patent licensing. Sounds like you have to pay to use H.264, and you don’t for Ogg Theora or WebM.

However the exact same situation existed and still does exist for MPEG 2 Layer 3 audio files, or .mp3 as they’re more commonly known. Companies like Apple® who build in the ability to encode MP3 files in iTunes® and the ability to decode it on their devices must pay licensing fees to an organization called the Fraunhofer Society (or at least they used to).

We’ve heard about how open MP3 files are, particularly in opposition to the “Apple® Format” of AAC. However, both codecs are patented and require the payment of licensing fees for use. So what makes H.264 different?

Nothing, actually. The reason you don’t know anyone who has had to pay licensing fees for encoding their CDs and other music as MP3 is because Apple® eats those costs. Because MP3 is an extremely popular and compatible codec, Apple® gets benefits supporting it, namely half a billion devices sold to date with great profit margins, making Apple® the biggest consumer electronics company on the planet.

What Google is really talking about in terms of not supporting H.264 is them not having to pay any licensing fees for decoding it from within Chrome. However, the fees are considerably smaller than you would think, not enough to hit Google’s bottom line (and possibly not even Mozilla’s, though they’re certainly no Google in terms of revenue). Also, there’s a clause in the H.264 licensing where free video can be decoded without fees, and the majority of video delivered online via a browser is free. Apple’s licensing fees will be considerably higher than Google’s will ever be (again, YouTube is free video while essentially all video in the iTunes® Store costs), but they know the benefits of utilizing H.264 completely justify those costs.

So if licensing isn’t actually an issue, what reasons do Google have for removing it’s support from Chrome? The answer is simply trying to legitimize WebM.

This makes pseudo-sense in that WebM needs some serious legitimizing. The codec is less efficient than H.264, lower quality, harder to encode (longer encoding time and inadequate tools), and is optimized for exactly zero devices currently shipping. Note that these same issues are present of Ogg Theora, as far as we know.

For both consumers and producers, the goal is to watch content and have their content watched, with as few barriers as possible. H.264 is the closest we’ve ever come to this being a reality.

What really chaps our ass about Google’s decision is their supposed reasoning:

Though H.264 plays an important role in video, as our goal is to enable open innovation, support for the codec will be removed and our resources directed towards completely open codec technologies.

Open is just a marketing point for neck-beards, and Ogg Theora has been around for over a decade, and there’s been essentially no innovation in regards to it.

This statement proves that Google is not a product company, they’re a group of engineers only a mother could love.

Ask this “open” company to share their search algorithms with the world to promote some “innovation”, and you’ll hear some serious crickets. Beyond that, Google’s search algorithms are some of the most innovative things their company does, and keeps them on the top of the search engine market share. They deliver better results than anyone else, but their ability to do that is completely closed.

But beyond their intentions, there are hard realities which this decision specifically ignores and actually tip the scales away from both open and innovative.

H.264 hardware is now built-in to the majority of smart phones shipped worldwide, and mobile traffic is now climbing into the mid-single-digits of total web traffic. This number is only going to climb as the years go on. Ogg Theora and WebM will be incapable of playing well on any of these devices, if at all.

This essential restricts them to only desktop users, but that’s a demographic where Flash holds over a 90% market share. Flash plays back H.264 video. Poorly, but it does play it.

So in terms of producers, there’s still 1 format they can support, and have playback on the majority of desktops and devices. There is zero reason for them to support WebM.

This leaves Google looking like clueless idiots in actually being able to satisfy either consumers or producers. Beyond the codec technology itself, where engineers reign exclusively, consumers consume video and producers produce video. If you aren’t satisfying either group, then why make such a radical change?

The craziest part of this equation is that Google isn’t even satisfying itself. Was the YouTube team consulted on this lack of support for a format that has allowed them to deliver directly to phones and video game consoles? How about the Android team which has H.264 built into the operating system due to the ability to play it back in hardware and improve battery life on their low-power device profiles?

My thinking is that Google has some sort of plan, beyond offering plug-ins for desktop browsers, something that includes solving the device problem and eventually creating the proper tools for producers to get WebM stuff delivered as quickly and efficiently as H.264.

The problem is that eventually isn’t right now. Currently, we have the best codec ever (it is technically superior to both Ogg Theora and WebM), it’s supported in all desktop browsers (with the recent announcement of Microsoft’s H.264 plug-in for Chrome and of course Flash), the majority of portable devices and an increasing number of television set top boxes.

We think Google believes they’re taking an important step before a big battle, but the war has already been lost. Google’s decision only makes producer’s lives more difficult and consumers more irritated, and that’s a terrible place for your brand to be.

Listen to H.264 and the Future of Video Distribution as a Blogcast (.mp3)


January 28

A beginning is a very delicate time…

Except it isn’t for some endeavours. Plus, did you see what we did there? You can go watch it on NetFlix instant streaming and you totally should.

So we’ve launched AdultAtom.com, but not that you’d really notice it. We’ve decided that instead of trying to whiz-bang everyone with a campaign that might cost money and be completely ineffective due to the subject matter our service offers, we’ll take a more slow-burn approach.

What are we talking about? Quick overview is that porn on the internet is currently delivered through a browser, where you stream video in real time to watch at your computer desk. This has supposedly been the future for decades now, but in our opinion it’s still not quite there. YouTube does the streaming better than anyone, and we’re appalled that you occasionally still have videos that either don’t load or load slowly.

AdultAtom.com turns this on it’s ear by offering no streaming through a browser what-so-ever. Instead, we utilize RSS feeds and device-optimized video to deliver porn similar to how Podcasts are distributed. The videos are downloaded using the iTunes® podcast client and stored on your hard disk. Any time you want to watch them, even if your internet is down, they’re there. Also, they work perfectly on all devices that iTunes® syncs or streams to across a local area network.

The point being that watching blocky, stuttering video in a browser sucks; and for $15 per month you get to watch amazing porn that you’re actually purchasing, and can keep forever (we also allow you to re-download videos you’ve deleted as long as you’re still a paying customer).

If you’ve randomly stumbled on this blog, we’d highly recommend you check out our product at http://adultatom.com, because that’s what we’re gonna be talking about here.

We at first planned on this blog just being where we talk about new additions to the service, as well as little How-To’s on using it with your computers and devices; and that content will still be here.

But beyond that, the starting of a business has been a completely fascinating experience, and we believe the interesting experiences will continue past launch.

We’re also surprised at how many people don’t understand how the porn industry currently works, so we’ll go through that as well by contrasting it with our approach.

Finally, we’re concerned about comments, mainly because of our subject matter. While wanting the freedom to be exposed to ideas and images we want to be exposed to, we’re also very firm about not exposing that stuff to people who didn’t mean to see it.

So what we’re doing instead is offering the ability for people to ask us questions. You can either do this via Twitter @adultatom, and we’ll usually respond to them right there cause they’ll be quick

But we’re also fans of ye olde Mailbags and have placed an Ask Us page where you can send us longer questions. We’ve allowed anonymous questions, and we’ll even give you one of those lame “Dear Abby” style names if your question does get answered.

Feel free to follow us here or on Twitter. We hope it’s informative and also a little bit fun.

Plus: go get your porn on. For free.

Listen to this entry as a Blogcast (.mp3)


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