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Is The Future Of Television Watching on Fast-Forward? (washingtonpost.com) 296

The average American watches three hours of TV each day, and researchers have found that most people already prefer listening to accelerated speech. "After watching accelerated video on my computer for a few months, live television began to seem excruciatingly slow..." writes the Washington Post's Jeff Guo. "Movie theaters feel suffocating. I need to be able to fast-forward and rewind and accelerate and slow down, to be able to parcel my attention where it's needed..." Slashdot reader HughPickens.com distills some interesting points from Guo's article: You can play DVDs and iTunes purchases at whatever tempo you like, and a Google engineer has written a popular Chrome extension that accelerates most other Web videos, including on Netflix, Vimeo and Amazon Prime. Over 100,000 people have downloaded that plug-in, and the reviews are ecstatic. "Oh my God! I regret all the wasted time I've lived before finding this gem!!" one user wrote.

According to Guo speeding up video is more than an efficiency hack. "I quickly discovered that acceleration makes viewing more pleasurable. "Modern Family" played at twice the speed is far funnier -- the jokes come faster and they seem to hit harder. I get less frustrated at shows that want to waste my time with filler plots or gratuitous violence. The faster pace makes it easier to appreciate the flow of the plot and the structure of the scenes."

Guo writes that "I've come to believe this is the future of how we will appreciate television and movies. We will interrogate videos in new ways using our powers of time manipulation... we will all be watching on our own terms." Will this eventually become much more common? How many Slashdot readers are already watching speeded-up videos?
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Is The Future Of Television Watching on Fast-Forward?

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  • His Girl Friday (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jader3rd ( 2222716 ) on Sunday June 26, 2016 @05:37PM (#52394903)
    I believe that "His Girl Friday" still holds the record for the most amount of words per minute, than any other movie. I don't believe that movie would possibly be more enjoyable at a faster speed.
    • by beep54 ( 1844432 )
      I was just thinking that screwball comedies in general were already pitched at such a furious pace that it would be silly to make them faster. It really is what helps make them so damn funny.
  • What researcher said this? Who did they interview? I don't want my entertainment to sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks.

    • by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Sunday June 26, 2016 @05:42PM (#52394925)

      Pitch correctors mostly remove the chipmunk effect.

      Personally, I don't need to consume entertainment at high speed, the point of entertainment for me is to enjoy a stretch of time, not to consume a quantity of media. If I consume less media, I don't feel less entertained.

      • Pitch correctors mostly remove the chipmunk effect.

        Even better, is a speech to text converter, so that I can just read the transcript.

        the point of entertainment for me is to enjoy a stretch of time, not to consume a quantity of media.

        Not all videos are about entertainment.

        • Exactly. I love watching online educational videos in FFW. Makes an hour video into a 30 minute breeze.

        • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Sunday June 26, 2016 @09:36PM (#52395857)

          Not all videos are about entertainment.

          Bingo. If its NOT entertainment, I'd rather not watch it at all, and just read a transcript.

          The only reason I fast forward video is that it has shitty information density, and 99.9% of all video is extremely poorly bookmarked to facilitate you getting to the part you want.

          For example, youtube... you find an album, and then there are usually time code links to each track.

          All instructional, walkthru, tutorial, informational, educational etc videos should have that list:

          0:00 - pointless intro
          0:15 - i introduce myself for far too long
          1:35 - i introduce the topic for far too long
          2:54 - i chatter about something and irrelevant
          3:05 - this is what you came to see
          3:17 - i chatter about my other videos
          5:02 - something else random
          5:20 - pointless outtro

          Then i can click on the 5th link, watch 20 seconds and move on. Better still would be a transcript under each section, so if I get what i need from skimming the transcript, I don't even need to watch the video.

          Better still, lose the rest of video elements entirely, and replace with a brief text. And only have the 20 second clip that I might need.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 26, 2016 @11:33PM (#52396367)

            I only read your last paragraph

          • Totally agree, which is why I'll read/skim a dozen text pages before clicking on a YouTube "HowTo" that is clearly labeled as being "exactly what I'm looking for."

            Once in a great while, it's nice to kick back and watch somebody do a technical walkthrough of something I'm interested in... I especially like the tools demonstrations where they take you through from ground zero through getting all the tools you need, showing you how the tools are used, and completely doing the job on the video - this could be f

          • Even a 30 minute TV show episode ends up being 15 or 16 minutes after you cut out the commercials and the opening and closing credits.

            I don't watch in fast forward I just skip the intros, credits, commercials and keep half my time.

      • by TopShelf ( 92521 )

        Agreed on entertainment, but for informational videos, a bit of a speed-up is really handy. The Team Treehouse site has nice material, and when you speed up the videos to 1.5x or so, you really feel like you're moving along.

      • I remember when this technology was introduced in the 1980's in order to cram more tv commercials into a two hour long tv slot. There was public outcry on the defacing movies as art to increase profits.

        I didn't have a tv, but read bit on this (I was interested in the technology). So guess now public sentiment has flipped 180degrees? See, the advertisers really do know what's be for people in the long run. MTV did a great job in decreasing people's attention spans and therefor incapable of understanding

  • Modern Family (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fwipp ( 1473271 ) on Sunday June 26, 2016 @05:39PM (#52394913)

    "I quickly discovered that acceleration makes viewing more pleasurable. "Modern Family" played at twice the speed is far funnier -- the jokes come faster and they seem to hit harder.

    Well maybe, but you didn't exactly pick a show worth watching in the first place...

    • Re:Modern Family (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Sunday June 26, 2016 @06:13PM (#52395043)

      Well maybe, but you didn't exactly pick a show worth watching in the first place...

      Maybe he meant that a shitty show watched at double speed improves the shit vs. time metric, or something. I dunno.

      As for me, if something sucks, I don't want to watch it at all, let alone at double speed. But of course I'm out of touch with what the cool kids are up to these days.

    • Re:Modern Family (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Sunday June 26, 2016 @06:45PM (#52395177)
      Maybe selective speeding would be a good thing, like in documentary style tv shows where they feel the need to 'catch you up' after every commercial break. Speeding through those parts would increase my viewing pleasure.
      • And consider the time we would save by speeding through the commercials themselves.

      • Skip works better. You can compress one of those shows into about 10-15 minutes of content.
      • Re:Modern Family (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Sunday June 26, 2016 @08:20PM (#52395589)

        Maybe selective speeding would be a good thing, like in documentary style tv shows where they feel the need to 'catch you up' after every commercial break. Speeding through those parts would increase my viewing pleasure.

        I find it is incredibly useful from content that is deliberately trying to induce a strong enough emotional response to override the logical portion of the brain. Politicians and product reveals are the #1 thing I would like in a condensed (transcripted preferably) format.

        OTOH content where I deliberately want my disbelief suspended, I wouldn't speed up, it would be defeating the point.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        People used to share edited down versions of Mythbusters over Bittorrent. They were much more watchable because they took a 22 minute down, edited all the filler out and give you 10 minutes of interesting content.

        On the other hand we have shows like Suits, where they pack a huge amount into every episode. When you stop to think for a moment it seems really silly, with people going from lowly intern to named partner at a law firm in the course of a few episodes. And even then there is a lot of filler.

    • The General (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ecuador ( 740021 ) on Sunday June 26, 2016 @07:00PM (#52395251) Homepage

      Actually, there are good things that are better accelerated as well, and some silent movies come to mind. For example I was re-watching one of my favorite silent films, Buster Keaton's "The General" on DVD and I found out that PowerDVD (this was at around 2003) could play back 25% faster with sound, which made the film even funnier!

      • I was re-watching one of my favorite silent films, Buster Keaton's "The General" on DVD and I found out that PowerDVD (this was at around 2003) could play back 25% faster with sound, which made the film even funnier!

        That's also because The General is frankly one of the best movies of all time. It's fantastic. (Seriously, AFI listed it as #18 on its list of the best films of all time.) There are very few silent films on that list, and certainly none rival The General (except perhaps Chaplin's The Gold Rush).

        The real test would be to see whether speeding up would make Griffith's Intolerance seem less intolerably long....

  • Okay so let's say that overall this concept makes sense. What are you to do if you have several people, who just happen to have different brains, all needing to process different parts at different speeds? You could argue that it's all good if your watching alone, but that could then become maddening when watching TV with other people, who may only be able to watch at normal speed anyway.
    • I have a ridiculous idea. What if we could somehow encode messages visually and allow people to scan them with their eyes at their own pace? Perhaps even substantial bodies of linguistic information could be spread by these means. But surely that's a pipe dream...
      • by wjcofkc ( 964165 )
        OBEY. Money is your god. OBEY. Happiness is slavery. OBEY. Authority is safety. OBEY.

        I was going to do all that in caps and quote a bunch from They Live, but silly SLASHDOT accused me of YELLING.
  • Sex (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 26, 2016 @05:45PM (#52394937)

    I'll assume these are the types who also think sex is better in ff mode

  • by jimbob6 ( 3996847 ) on Sunday June 26, 2016 @05:52PM (#52394959)
    I would prefer a plugin that removed bullshit to save time as opposed to just speeding up the bullshit.
    • I would prefer a plugin that removed bullshit to save time as opposed to just speeding up the bullshit.

      You're so close. It's actually a plug. Follow that cable that goes from the TV to the power outlet on the wall. Remove plug from outlet. No more bullshit.

  • Honestly, most TV and movies these days can be watched at 2x or greater speed.

    I watched the whole Lord of the Rings series at 7x speed. I don't think I missed much, the dialog is meaningless drivel. I slow down for the action.

  • Even faster: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Sunday June 26, 2016 @05:56PM (#52394973)

    Just don't watch it at all.

  • by taustin ( 171655 ) on Sunday June 26, 2016 @06:03PM (#52394999) Homepage Journal

    If it's not entertaining at normal speed, it's not entertaining at any speed.

    It's entertainment. Efficiency is pointless.

    • +1

      Sometimes the point of an activity is to have no point. After a full day of slinging transistors around, followed by power struggles with a 3 year old, I like some brainless downtime. The anti-TV crowd look down their nose at this, but eff them.

    • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Sunday June 26, 2016 @08:09PM (#52395535)

      If it's not entertaining at normal speed, it's not entertaining at any speed.

      Agreed. This seems like someone listening to pop music on fast forward. Why? Just choose a better song you actually like better.

      Just like music, film and TV has a "rhythm" and a temporal "feel." If you speed it up, you mess with that rhythm, which the director (and editor, etc.) worked so hard to create. Unless the TV show or film is already bad, it probably won't be improved by tampering with its fundamental design.

    • If it's not entertaining at normal speed, it's not entertaining at any speed.

      While that is true in most cases, In general, there are some exceptions [youtube.com].

    • Efficiency may be pointless for watching an entertaining show. It is however very helpful for figuring out if a show is or will be entertaining. I go through a ton of anime at 1.5x to 2x speed (I can go faster on native English shows, but sometimes the translated subtitles don't exactly flow in English and it takes a moment to figure out what they mean), mostly to sample the first 1-3 episodes to figure out if it's something I'd enjoy watching. If it is, I'll watch the remainder at 1x to 1.5x speed (a lo
  • by Tyrannosaur ( 2485772 ) on Sunday June 26, 2016 @06:09PM (#52395023)

    I don't ever watch tv, but I do watch a lot of youtube. Anything that has a lot of action, like video game videos, or anything that involves normal human interaction, watch on normal speed. For sure.

    I also, however, watch a lot of content that is really just a face talking to the camera. Someone conveying informatipn by talking. I watch a lot of these videos at 1.25x and 1.5x speed. Occasionally when there is a video that isn't super interesting and I'm more scanning it, 2x speed. I'd really like if youtube also had a 1.75x speed. Knowing that there are addons to do this is very attractive to me.

  • I listen to podcasts at double speed and have gotten so used to it that they sound weird and slow if I play it at normal. The only time I have a problem is with people that are heavily accented or speak quickly normally.

    That said this idea sounds stupid I can't imagine watching something at double speed.

    Don't they some times alter the speed of film by a minor amount like one extra frame a sec or something to adjust long films to play in a certain amount of time? In addition to cutting scenes.

    • by SQLGuru ( 980662 )

      I'm in the same boat. I listen to many audio podcasts and watch several video podcasts. For video, I found that 1.5x works best.....unless they are just "talking head" videos.....the visual component needs a little bit longer to process. Audio-only at 2x is very do-able. And this is for content that isn't just entertainment --- some of it includes "educational" content (loose definition --- not necessarily meaning academically).

    • Most podcasts i listen to are about science or philosophy where i find i cannot/ dont want to speed up at all, since the material is so dense that i need to contemplate while listening. I rewind a few seconds very often. If i listen too quickly i zone out, or find afterwords that i cannot recapilate to myself what was just presented to me. A great way to make sure you understood it is to summerize it in text after lidtening. If you cannot, the what was the point in listening in the first place? I can lis
  • Like Tic-Tac-Toe. "X", "O", oh fuck, you win. Go again?
  • Film or a TV Show has the potential to allow breathing space and pace for the watcher to absorb the information, use other dimensions of creative output and provide a space for the watcher to use their own imagination to unravel and impart their meaning on the story

    The need to fast forward is stupid videos that could have been transcribed to text... either that or shit entertainment that isn't worth watching anyway.

  • Wither Slashdot (Score:5, Informative)

    by Etcetera ( 14711 ) on Sunday June 26, 2016 @06:15PM (#52395049) Homepage

    30 comments and no one's brought up Blipverts [wikipedia.org] yet [tvtropes.org]? What is this world coming to... >.

  • I do this with audio books as standard practice. I'll typically increase the speed by 10-15%. That's fast enough to create a time savings, but not so fast as to make the book unpleasant. I can see the value in doing this with video, particularly since I'm usually binge-watching a show on Netflix when watching video.

  • Yes, sadly enough, even sex won't get the attention it deserves from the Vine generation.

    Savor the moment will soon be an extinct concept, unworthy of understanding it's true value, all because it requires an attention span longer than a YouTube commercial.

    I wonder how actors will feel as they're turned into helium-charged muppets on speed. Soundtracks mutilated by the FF button. The entire point of suspense and drama in a musical score deflated.

    And we thought Photoshop was a shitty representation of rea

    • It's a good point. It's somewhat akin to reading the "Cliffs Notes" of a book. Sure, you find out what happened, but you miss the art that is presented.

      Granted, for a good deal of popular culture, "art" may be considered an overstatement.

  • Solution (Score:2, Interesting)

    I know a way that you can consume any content at the pace you want to. It's called READING. Maybe too many videos are being made when there should just be an article. Maybe kids aren't learning well enough how to skim for a topic or word and start reading from that point.
    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Naaa, that is old tech. Nobody in their right mind uses that today. It is sooo outdated and you need several years to learn how to do it too. And in addition, it requires you to think about it yourself because you have to reconstruct your own version of what is happening form a tiny, slow data-stream. And not only that, it may even require you to think about things because it does not show you everything. Thinking and understanding are skills that are fast becoming obsolete (just look at this story), and yo

  • Guo needs to have their attention span broadened, and their choice of quality programming is also suspect.

  • I'm sure the author thinks the faster he has sex the more partners he can have.

  • by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Sunday June 26, 2016 @07:12PM (#52395295) Journal

    If the story is so disengaging that you want to speed it up then it says a lot about the story and character development. Sounds to me like it is the same thing wrapped up in "different" shows. Once you realize that all the story does is climb up and down Maslow's hierarchy of needs over and over they all become very predictable.

    Personally I prefer a good story told well that is engaging enough to not want to slow it down, I am just looking for some down time. On the other hand my friend's autistic son watches up to five videos all at the same time, so maybe he can see these shows in another way, i.e. the same story with lots of different pictures all at once.

  • It is _entertainment_! Making it last shorter is about the most stupid thing you can do with it. If you think it wastes your time, then do without it in the first place.

    The heights of stupidity some people can reach is truly astonishing.

  • by lazlo ( 15906 ) on Sunday June 26, 2016 @07:38PM (#52395411) Homepage

    I've always felt like one of the big advantages reading has over other sorts of media is that it's intrinsically rate-limited. The problem with this technology (and it's a problem that might be overcome at some point) is that it's not dynamic. There are some times, in some shows, where I *do* want to speed it up without losing information, while there are other times when I need to pause and say "WTF just happened, and how does it relate to everything else int the show, or the universe, or my life, or what have you?"

    To me, this seems like it might be an evolution of fast-forward. Traditional fast-forward cut out sound, so if you were information-input-starved, that was actually a worse option. I've tried video time-compression, and it didn't work well for me, but I think that's more likely because it was all-or-nothing and was still at a fixed rate that might not be exactly right. Maybe what's needed is a button that says "for the next N seconds (maybe 15?), accelerate slowly, then decelerate back to normal speed", and you can hit that button at a rate that lets you process what you're seeing at a comfortable rate. Of course, the problem with a button like that is that it would completely tear marriages asunder and generally make watching video with company torture for most of the people watching. You'd have to adopt a paradigm like hiking, where the leader should be the slowest person, so as to make sure no one is left behind. And I can think of few party games less fun than "give the remote to the slowest thinker".

    • by rizole ( 666389 )

      And I can think of few party games less fun than "give the remote to the slowest thinker".

      We tried this game and now we have to leave Europe. Worst party eva, don't recommend it.

  • It seems that these people think that most of our movies and shows are filler and only a few interesting bits exist that they actually want to see.

    And bluntly, with the average action movie, you could easily cut it by about 80% and not miss anything important.

  • I've found that many of the recent "blockbuster" action movies (and not so recent, like Matrix {2,3}) are filled with filler and skimming loses nothing. How many people got bored 1/3 into any of the major action sequences in these movies because they were repetitious and/or added nothing to the story?

    Certainly there are parts of TV episodes, movies, and books that can easily be skipped w/o losing anything important, but other parts may (should) have more to them than just the words spoken and actions tak

  • ...you might learn something new about yourself.

  • by bungo ( 50628 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @05:46AM (#52397361)

    I had some time in hospital, so I bought the first 4 seasons of The Walking dead and watched them through.

    I watched the first season in real time, that was ok. For the second season, things just went too slowly, so I watched it on 2x.

    After that, I watched all of the remaining series in 2x. Far better pacing. I know that the show likes to set the atmosphere and be slow, but it was too slow for me. At 2x speed, it was perfect.

    Occasionally, I had to go back and watch a scene in normal speed again, but that wasn't too often.

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