CheddarVision – inspired, flawed, and inspiring

The CheddarVision campaign is truly brilliant, but flawed.

Their website claims by very strong implication – not least the counter in milliseconds – that you’re watching a live image of cheese maturing. Not compelling viewing to be sure but their hit count is truly stupendous and they’ve hit mainstream media in a big way.

However, there’s something not quite right. The website image is not streamed. In a cruel twist of fate (for me) today’s image shows the cheese next to an Easter card so it must change from time to time but it’s claimed that you can log on at 10am and see the cheese being rotated. I did, and it didn’t. It just stayed exactly the same. If you zoom right in, the pixels are rock-solid. If you compare different daily images, they’re identical. This is disappointing even though the campaign has been very effective.

The YouTube video shows timelapse images over three months. This implies that yes, the images do change from time to time. But still, it’s not really streaming now is it?

The idea has got me thinking though: in which other circumstances could you use a similar approach? One client of mine produces ink and media with publicly proven claims that when used together they resist fading for literally generations, in some cases well over a hundred years, whereas competitors simply do not.

So how about this: a genuine live feed with a camera pointing at several photos taken with my client’s products alongside the competition, with a promise that this feed will in fact run for over a hundred years? No simulated laboratory test conditions here – this is actual, real-time fading in which you see the other photos gradually disappear while the winner just keeps on going, a-la-Duracell-bunnies. You could have a countdown next to the leader’s image showing how long it will be before it starts to fade, from a hundred years down to zero. It needn’t involve fancypants studios or lighting, a broom cupboard would do. People could even visit the room if they wanted proof.

Inkcam. The Hundred Year feed. There’s got to be some – what’s that word – leverage there. Time to get on the blower.

4 thoughts on “CheddarVision – inspired, flawed, and inspiring

  1. Hi Friendly Ghost,

    Glad you’re enjoying cheddarvision!! You’re right, of course, it’s not streamed.. our servers just couldn’t handle it… not with how popular it’s become.

    The flash widget ( the tv ) will fetch an image every 30 seconds or so from one of a number of servers in Germany that can take the load.

    However, I assure you that a lead machine does grab the camera image from the camera continuously ( every second or so, given the camera’s down an adsl line in deepest darkest somerset.. ) and distributes the image to each of the other public facing servers.

    What’s more, the lead server has motion-detection running so if something does _actually_ happen it tells all the cheddarvision TV’s currently online to pick up the rate at which they collect the image, providing a much smoother experience.

    When BBC Radio 4’s Today Program interviewed Tom ( the owner of the cheese ) during it’s first grading last week people were actually able to watch him poke the cheese with the little cheese-pokey-thing…

    Why all the hassle?

    The image on currently served by two dedicated Linux/Apache servers, capable of serving the image to 1024 people symultaniously.. which all adds up to 10’s of 1000’s of images per minute or ~ 100 Mbps.

    Barmey you may think but we’ve come within inches of having to turn people away on busy days!! 🙂

    Do keep watching… and if you just can’t turn off here’s a little hidden extra…

    A cut down version to have on your desktop:

    All the best,
    Jimbo 🙂

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