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Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Why the Streamys Matter

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Much has been written about the fail-factor at the Second Annual Streamy Awards. Inaugural IAWTV member Kent Nichols wrote about it on his blog and Nominee and Radio Producer Chance McClain wrote about it from the nominee’s perspective on his blog. Rightly so. Even though I laughed-out-loud at the streakers, the unsavory jokes, etc., I cringed with Chance McClain at the thought of bringing my son to such a show (my eight-year-old and I are working on his first webseries and he is completely excited!). I hope he has a reason to attend the 3rd Annual Streamy Awards. What felt most disappointing, having flown from Connecticut as an attendee and member of the IAWTV, were the persistent industry-self-deprecating jokes from the stage. Like my work or don’t like my work, much of it has been viewed by the millions (though admitted some by only the tens). The truth is that it takes a dedicated team of people to craft a webseries. But, to make a REALLY compelling webseries takes even more than that.

Why They Really Matter

My first year as a voting member of the IAWTV, I had the privilege to view and vote on the many, many webseries that  were up for awards. Here’s what struck me: the high quality of the work that was nominated. Sony posted some great work (and wins, for that matter), but so did those charming musical kids from Radford, VA. Here’s me with Michael Gregory’s Aunt in front of the theatre:

The women of OzGirl respresented from down under tapping the unofficial network of indie web television, blip.tv, to achieve the self-described “web’s hottest drama’s” global reach.  Nominated were compelling dramas, incredible documentaries, laugh-out-loud-funny comedies. These works set the standard for what people will strive to compete with and exceed this year and subsequent years. Many of these works display the fruits of lessons learned in traditional media as well as from the years that YouTube reigned supreme in online video content.  Working against the running industry-self-deprecation joke was the fact that there was an award for Best Branded Entertainment where the international brands joined the competition (competitors included: Topps, Altoids, IKEA, Lexus, & Spherion). If it wasn’t clear during the event, it should be clear by the line-up of nominees that online video is important to major entertainment companies (Sony, MTV, etc.) and significant international consumer brands alike (see the aforementioned nominee list). Every winner in every category has done something unique and special and set a mark to be bettered. Every year new technology and techniques develop but as they do, they have history to improve upon. The slate of nominees and winners have set the stage for even better webseries in years to come. Simply put, that is why the Streamy Awards matter.

Putting on an awards show or any major live event is not like creating online video. There is no POST production, save the after party and a good postmortem. Budgets help. So does experience. With promises to sponsors (and an improved event in year three), budgets will grow. The show will improve…no doubt. What remains constant is that when there is an opportunity for the best and brightest to compete, it compels many of them to even better works. I, for one, am looking forward to the Third Annual Streamy Awards and hope to be assigned a seat next to my son, who will be nine.

Jeremy Allaire, Online Video Industry Leader, Discusses its Future

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Most segments of industry were hit hard last year! Remember just a month ago when we were all kissing 2009 goodbye ready to see it gone forever? Well Jeremy Allaire‘s company, Brightcove, managed to grow its revenues 50% year over year, in 2009. Their customers have ranged from media companies (The New York Times, Fox, AOL, etc.) to plenty of non-media companies (Reebok, GM, Ticketmaster, etc.). And, seeing an opportunity to develop customers on the lower tier of online media, they rolled out Brightcove Express for $99/month; perfect for your local newspaper just dabbling with online video or that travel company looking to grow its community of travelers!

Jeremy Allaire is no new-comer to this space, either. Having co-founded Allaire Corporation where he developed Coldfusion and then teamed up with Macromedia to develop Flash, he is truly one of the online video industry’s leaders.

Rocket’s Tail caught up with Jeremy Allaire at the Brightcove Headquarters in Cambridge, MA to talk with him a little bit about where the industry is right now, where it might be heading, and how that intersects with other industry segments.

Interactive Video As Easy as Tagging Facebook Photos!

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Rocket’s Tail caught up with Roger Wu at the NY Video Meet-up this week. His company, Klickable.tv, has a unique take on making videos interactive. Inspired by pop-up music videos of the 1980’s, Roger liked the idea of tagging a video and allowing people to engage with the content directly by then having pop-ups upon scroll-over or opportunities to click for more information or to even make a purchase. He described Klickable.tv as a wrapper that can take your already-published video (on say YouTube, or Vimeo) and allow you to create interactive opportunities as easily as tagging a photo in Facebook. The end-user experience is that of being able to click on a portion of a video to get information, links, and other fun interactions.

Here is the video interview with Roger:

Additionally, you can see Klickable.tv verion of the video by clicking here: http://rocketstail.tumblr.com/

I asked Roger a few additional questions just prior to this post:

1. Are their any limitations to the length or source of footage that can be used with Klickable?

Nope – we’ve had people stream 90 minutes through – just remember your audience, i’d rather watch 90 1 minute clips than 1 90 minute clip

2. When I wash a video through Klickable, and somebody watches that, does it count as a video view on the source video portal (say YouTube or something else)?

It does if you are using the video portal’s video player, which our free version does for YouTube and Vimeo.

3. Are their ways for video creators to make money with Klickable?

Yes, affiliate links, advertising, analytics, engagement, etc etc!!

4. Does Klickable do any matching up of content with advertisers?

We do. If you check out the “free” version we utilize LocalPages to serve up contextually relevant Pay per click advertising…

SodaHead.com Wants You to Disagree!

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Jason Feffer, one of the people who helped start MySpace, is creating a different kind of community; one that thrives on opinion. A quick perusal of SodaHead.com and one will find what looks like a typical online social community. But SodaHead brings a little something more to the table: community building widgets. The hottest widget is the fully customizable polling widget and an ability to integrate polling into other social networks (twitter, facebook, bebo, etc.). ABC News uses the polling widget on its front page. Rocket’s Tail recently sat down to talk with Jason Feffer. Here is what he had to say:

Best Online Video Startup 2009 (NY Video)

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Holiday recipe for 2009

  • Yaron Samid and NY Video
  • A hearty startup competition
  • A month of preliminary online voting
  • Approximately 200 Online Video Professionals in one room
  • Live online demos
  • Mobile SMS voting

Take the ingredients and shake ‘em up. Throw in the coldest night of the year. Place them comfortably in the Columbia University Business School. Let the ingredients fight it out for 90 minutes. When you’re all finished, you’ll have a rockin’ good time.

Shout Outs!

Shout outs of the night go to Israel Drori, Founder of Zixi who, after his demo froze, came back strong with a live performance of “Stairway to Heaven” by his neighbor’s son some 250 miles away. And to Mike Sommers of KickApps who, when questioned, gave some good ole fashioned smack-talk; claiming Brightcove’s customers would one-day come walking through their door.

How The Contest Went Down

Yaron Samid welcomed professionals and newcomers and introduced the top six competitors: Kaltura, 5min, Adotube, KickApps, Popscreen, and Zixi. Each company presented an online demo. And then attendees voted from their seats via SMS. Despite a couple of minor technical glitches, all six companies demoed their products and responded to two questions. The audience spoke—and 5min came out on top. Congrats to 5min, and to all the finalists, for their excellent work, products, and presentations.

Rocket’s Tail condensed the night into 10 minutes of video. Meet the contenders here:

Bunchball’s Peter Daboll Wants You to Have Fun.

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Peter Daboll wants you to have a little fun, or at least stay engaged when you visit your favorite brands online. He is the CEO of Bunchball, an organization that creates interactive experiences for the likes of NBC, USA, and SyFy. Including aspects of gaming and social networks as well as linking to user’s social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter; their closed environment allows them to not only create the experience, but also to track how engaged the end-user is with the brand. They power the the interactivity behind NBC’s The Office (dundermifflininfinity.com) and USA’s Character Arcade.

I had the good fortune of sitting down with Peter Daboll this Fall in Santa Monica at Digital Hollywood to talk a little bit about Bunchball. Here is that conversation:

Online Video: Teens and Cops Working Together

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Every once in a long while, one of those projects arrive that is more than just a video. Last month, I was contacted by the Assistant Director of Community Services, Tammy Trojanowski, in the hometown of Saxon Mills (Stratford, CT) with just such a project. They wanted to document an experience where teens and cops would sit down for four round table discussions over lunch. The goal was to foster understanding, see the people behind the labels, and take the resulting video out to other parts of the community as a conversation starter to share what they had learned during the sessions. Made on a very short time-line, here is the video that was made:

Bob Dylan Must Be Santa!

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Some years ago I saw Bob Dylan play with Paul Simon in Northern California. It was a joy to see these sages play a double-bill and perform duets together. But, Bob keeps on playing and touring, constantly writing new music and giving new voice to old songs. Love him or hate him, he has been one of the most prolific song writers of my parents generation, my generation, and probably my children’s generation, too. Yeah… WOW!

Last month, this musical American bard released “Christmas in the Heart” an album that will raise money for charities around the world.

Dylan has been much criticized for his music video of “Must be Santa” (see below). I have to disagree with the critics who think it’s just too bizarre. What is Santa but play and merriment? This polka-infused version of the song is nothing but fun as Dylan oscillates from Sage to bartender to leader of a party of merry-makers! Pat Boone can sing about Mommy kissing Santa Claus and Dylan can’t have a little fun with this Christmas myth?  Bob Dylan has a long history of doing Christmas right with plenty of respect, even on this album. I, for one, finished the video and felt like gettin’ up and dancing to celebrate Christmas. Not bad for a new rendition of an old Christmas Song.

Don’t take my word for it, decide for yourself:

 

You can see the exact same version on Bob Dylan’s page by clicking: here.

FlipMino HD Reviewed

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(Please note the YouTube Demo of the FlipMino HD is embedded below.)

As you can imagine, I shoot a lot of video. Usually, I find myself behind Panasonic equipment and have grown to like their P2 system and the incredible color they provide. But, let’s face it, none of the Panasonic P2 cameras tuck nicely into your back pocket. Earlier this year, I was watching something on Tim Street’s Blog and asked him what he was shooting on. Turns out he was using one of the Flip standard definition cameras at that time. Quick perusal of their website and I picked up a FlipMino HD. I’ve now shot some 20-30 interviews on the camera and plenty of other footage. What I have found is that I have some strong likes and dislikes about the camera. Here they are:

What I like:

  • This thing is darn small! Truly it’s smaller than my mobile phone (a blackberry), so it tucks away nicely, even into tight pair of jeans.
  • Especially in bright daylight, the clarity of the images is pretty spectacular. In the demo below, please note the incredible blue sky and silhouetted mountains behind the subject about half way through.
  • The flip-out port/USB charger – on the ultra models you have to buy batteries, but on the Mino, the charge comes directly from the computer. (Please note that I once uploaded video from a hub, which didn’t provide power back to the camera and spent a day wondering what the heck happened to my new camera, which the hub had drained of power!)… This is a personal preference thing, but I like the fact that if I plug it in each night when I’m shooting, the camera is ready to go when I wake up in the morning.
  • The software needed to make a quick video is located on the camera, meaning that if you have access to a computer and the internet, you can make a quick video edit and post it to the world from virtually any cafe in the world (save parts of China and Cuba, where they would be screened).
  • Surprisingly, the camera is pretty good in lower light situations. In side-by-side comparisons with the Insignia, the footage from the flip was much better.
  • This may seem funny, but I really like the handy little pouch the Flip comes in. Not only is a storage bag, but it doubles to keep the lens clean; excellent for yielding high quality images.

What I don’t like (or just bugs me silly):

  • A red/orange light comes on the front of the camera when you are shooting. My finding is that this can unhinge a subject. We were shooting a public meeting one time and as soon we hit record, the public officials stopped talking. LAME!
  • The codec – What I have been told is the way Flip fits so much video data into its camera is by shooting to square pixels. Whether or not that is true, I don’t know. What I do know is that the Flip video has difficulty when being edited outside of the Flip video software. I captured some excellent interviews earlier this year and wanted to marry them up with a cool intro for Rocket’s Tail. The Flip Video just wasn’t compatible. Additionally, I have tried to upload the movies to Youtube without going through the export process or it’s native (upload to Youtube) option only to have Youtube’s file conversion fail. So, while I like fitting so much footage into the camera, I want video that is more compatible with other systems (PLEASE NOTE: I also shoot on an Insignia, which comes at a similar price, and I find similar issues with it’s footage).
  • The editing software – On the one hand, I very much like that there is editing software in the camera. On the other hand, some aspects of the software are limiting: 1). Low word count and/or control of the title screen and credit screen, 2). software only allows 4 pieces of footage to be edited together, 3). it doesn’t natively allow you to incorporate non-flip video in the edit (I know I keep coming back to melding video from different sources… but, it’s important to me!)
  • The microphone is located on the operator’s side of the camera… this is completely weird. I have heard that newer versions of the camera have fixed this… but for now, when you watch a Rocket’s Tail interview that was done on the Flip… my questions will be louder than the subject’s answers.

The Demo:

I had the fun happen stance of unknowingly introducing Liora Mendeloff (InstantMediaKit.com) to Matthew Gill (Burn the Boats Produtions), one of her clients. After raving about his experience with InstantMediaKit, Liora did what any good marketer would do; she asked for a testimonial. She pulled out her Flip Ultra and I immediately pulled out my FlipMino HD. What I tried to do was capture various lighting and sound situations available in the moment. There are some close-up and perspective shots. At times the subject is in silhouette. You be the judge.

Summary

The FlipMino HD has some great applications, but it’s not great for every application. If you’re doing Gotcha! journalism, the record alert light is not going to help. However, it’s great for those on-the-fly interviews or footage that will be instantly posted through the system, the images are great. If Flip comes out with a camera that delivers footage fully compatible with alternate editing systems, I want to check it out!  For versatility, ease-of-use (and pocket), the Flip takes the cake!

Blender for Dummies Author Jason van Gumster

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It was a complete pleasure to interview Jason van Gumster, whose kicked-back demeanor made for an interesting and fun interview about open-source animation software BLENDER.

Written by @SibLaw_Official

September 30, 2009 at 3:20 pm

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