Ask photographer and video producer Seth Resnick for his business card, and he'll hand you a diskette. When you stick it in a Mac and click on an icon, you're treated to a 30-second video highlighting Resnick's work. In fact, lots of companies have thought about passing out commercials-on-a-disk, but they've been frustrated by a technical barrier: 30 seconds of decent-quality video normally take up at least eight megabytes of space, or more than four times as much disk space as a diskette holds.
So how did Resnick do it? He invented a technique for squeezing video data by throwing out those parts of the image whose loss won't degrade the video much. When he saw how well the technique worked on his own digital business card, he started showing the card around to companies that might want to follow suit.
Now an auto manufacturer and a major software vendor are among those negotiating to license the scheme for their own video diskettes. The hope of those companies is that they can mail out diskette-based commercials to a target audience for far less than the cost of a television ad. Now the only question is, Will anyone bother to load a commercial into a PC?
Seth Resnick is cofounder of the Reel Design, a digital production service in Santa Monica, Calif.