LA STEREO Webisode 1 Diz Gibran

November 17th, 2009

This is the first ep to the web series I’v been working on as a producer and director

Introducing LA Stereo .TV www.lastereo.tv

September 21st, 2009

Moves of Praise

August 18th, 2009

I’ve been following a few times Lil’ Tommy and the krumping clowns since I arrived in L.A and they took me to a church in Inglewood where they performed on a Sunday afternoon.
Lil Tommy & his crew are more known as krumpers, they appear in David Lachapelle’s Rize. Tommy the Clown was also present at the performance.
This clip features Boomer, a very gifted performer.

Here’s an improv Eric and Boomer did to Michael Jackson in Hollywood.

why i quit my job… part 2 the 2 ends of the spectrum on Youtube

August 9th, 2009

Depending on the business model adopted, the content creator has the ability to decide the value of the content he provides. So far though, one of the main model has been provided by Youtube, which has enabled a unique type of content to emerge, that
can only be properly monetized on a very large scale. Talking about participation on the production, selection and distribution level, Henry Jenkins writes “Youtube was the first to bring all these three functions together into a single platform and direct so much attention of the role of everyday people in this changed media landscape” (“Convergence, Culture, where old and new media collide”, 2006 )

There are different ways of engaging the viewer with the content, and with those different ways come different business models.
The most used business model is the ad-supported one. It currently exists in all the realms of the online business, but in general it’s not a self-sufficient model. It’s still the main
business model, but the prices are going down, as they’re affected by the financial crisis. It’s widely expected to fall from one year to now. Pre roll ads for example have a very low level of viewer’s engagement (around 1%). Some content providers are reluctant to alienate the viewer with that kind of advertising. The big exception to that however, is Hulu that operates on an advertising model and has just recently become the third most viewed channel on the Internet in the US. It’s interesting to note though that Hulu provides mainly content from TV broadcasting, therefore content that comes from an environment where viewers are used to the ad model. The most common ad revenue model, that is specific to the Internet, is the one based around the CPM: online advertising relating to the cost per thousand page impressions.
Following that model, Charles Baker from Filmaka.com, explained to me how previously working for companies like INgrooves, their strategy was to post videos across multiple networks and monetize the content from ads. It’s a business model everyone can benefit
from, but that gives little return on investment unless the viewing figures are extremely high.
Anyone with a Google account can manage an ad-sense deal that also works on Youtube. Most artists who were revealed on Youtube like Tay Zonday, David Choi, and Bobby Jennings, use this partnership with Youtube. Bobby Jennings, better known as Bobjenz,
has been putting content on the Internet since 1999. He wrote for me in an email: “The content partnership money I get from Youtube definitely motivates me and creating an audience is challenging. I don’t make a lot of money off of it, but it’s starting to pick up quite a bit.” In general the consensus that was confirmed by Benny Fine from the Fine Brothers Films at Digital Hollywood, is that while ads generate some revenue, it’s not enough to make a living. Tay Zonday who came to visit our APOC class also explained that he relied on additional revenues by marketing songs on I-tunes, making special guest appearances,
doing presenting jobs, etc. Youtube has come to existence by enabling those artists to exist independently through the explosion of User Generated Content.The “Youtube” artists could be considered at the low-end spectrum of the online revenue businesses, yet they are some of the top entertainers on the Web with unique brands, their videos often have hundreds and thousands of views, and many thousands of subscribers. The reason one can assume their content is at the low end of the online production is because they often use apparently simple means to make videos (just one camera posted in a room for example). I often find that simplicity deceiving, they actually have actually developed sophisticated ways of grabbing their audience and they can work the Youtube features to their advantage like no one else. They have nevertheless chosen to privilege the quantity
of the output (hence the “lower” production values). Bobby Jennings even goes as far as saying that he privileges quantity over a certain quality: “Most people say Quality over Quantity, and I say, that’s bullshit when you’re building your brand. I mean, you have to
be good – but there are creative choices you can make to be able to create 2-3 videos a week versus 2-3 videos a month.” “User generated content” is often associated with a free online experience, that comes with a cheaper expectation .
On the very high end of the online video spectrum (and the very low end of Hollywood productions) are series like \"Afterworld\" an immersive multiplatform sci-fi series and “Gemini Division” starring Rosario Dawson and currently streaming on NBC.com, by Brent Friedman and his company Electric Farm Entertainment. Brent told me in an interview that those two very ambitious series have been successful both from an editorial and business point of view. His vision is that in order to make money you need to spend money. He created the series from scratch and then opened them up for grabs. By doing so he allowed himself a certain flexibility from a creative and business standpoint to suit the partners’ needs. The deal that came with “Afterworld” was very
sophisticated from a distribution point of view. Thanks to a distribution deal signed with Sony Pictures, the series went to broadcast, broadband and mobile, into different territories in different language with different versions of the show, depending on what had been requested by the territories. The business model was also built with brand integration. The creators were eager to see how the brands could be organically integrated. The science and technology background meant that brands like Microsoft and Cisco fitted easily in the storyline. In a still very fluid and changing context, Brent driven by his passion for storytelling, took a leap of faith and was able to lay a trail for future business models. In doing so he was clear about the importance of owning one’s content to exercise and creative control and be able to aggregate intellectual property. Brent mentioned that the next step at some stage for Electric Entertainment would be to do their
own distribution, but so far he was glad of the deal he benefited from with Sony as it opened the content to new horizons and managed to secure 30 million viewers in a universe created from scratch, for people to engage in.

Flying Turtle Bobjenz

Gemini

Why I quit my job to join APOC… (part 1)

June 22nd, 2009

…or how I’ve always believed in the Long Tail

As viewing figures show that people spend more time watching TV than they do on the Internet, the trend is slowly changing. People are now using different media at the same time, creating a fully interactive experience. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter on what device people watch their content (mobile, laptop, TV), what matters is where the content comes from and how it’s distributed: with the Digital revolution from “atoms to bits” , the Internet is on the way to become the biggest content provider. This is increased by TV broadcasters from all over the world, cutting their programming budgets due to steep competition and a fall in revenue, and by “disruptive forces” such as the writers’ strike equally contributing to unsettle the market.

We are currently in a vacuum in between two worlds: the old one represented by the traditional Media and the new one. The state of journalism is a good illustration of this, everyday newspapers are closing: “ 2009 Digital Future report at the Annenberg ‘s School for Communication Center for the Digital FutureWhile the trend is clear, the new business models for news providers still are to be established. This evolution is part of what Joseph Schumpeter’s described in “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy” in which innovation, led by the entrepreneur, leads to gales of “creative destruction” as innovations cause old inventories, ideas, technology, skills and equipment to become obsolete. Google for example and later Youtube, started by young entrepreneurs in their garages, have in the space of very few years completely shifted the market.

Today most worldwide websites are populated by online video: “In March and April of 2009, the VIEW main index for the 100 surveyed Web sites was 30-65-35, which indicates that 30% of the web sites had video on their home page, 65% had video on their site, and 35% didn’t use any video on their website.” ReelSEO Those numbers are even more indicative if one looks at US websites: “In April 2009, the VIEW main index for the top 10 North American web sites was 50-100-0, which indicates that 50% of the web sites had video on their home page, 100% had video on their site, and 0% didn’t use any video on their website.”

Video is fully part of the Internet landscape and is fast growing on mobile devices. While it’s doubtful that video will fully replace text-mediated communication, it’s the language that spread the most easily in the one big gigantic network system that is the Internet. Viral is indeed an important component of what video is to the Web. Several charts now track the progress of some of the videos on the Internet, and the result is staggering. In the most watched videos of all time, one gets a grasp of the power of that popular culture. Interestingly enough, the videos listed in the 100 Million View Club belong to Universal, Freemantle, RCA, Warner Brothers, Disney etc. They also happen to be mostly music videos, the only videos that viewers will watch more than once. There is an even bigger amount of content that is created by amateurs, semi-pros and professionals populating the Web that can be categorized under “The Long Tail”.

In Chris Anderson’s fundamental article about the Long Tail in Wired he states: “Hit-driven economics is a creation of an age without enough room to carry everything for everybody. (…) Not enough screens to show all the available movies. Not enough channels to broadcast all the TV programs, not enough radio waves to play all the music created, and not enough hours in the day to squeeze everything out through either of those sets of slots. This is the world of scarcity. Now, with online distribution and retail, we are entering a world of abundance. And the differences are profound” (Wired, issue 12-10 October 2004, see also the ongoing Long Tail blog: http://www.thelongtail.com ) Chris Anderson’s theory lends itself particularly well to genre programming, which lives mostly on the Long Tail, and has a niche audience. The Long Tail “has, in short, broken the tyranny of physical space. What matters is not where customers are, or even how many of them are seeking a particular title, but only that some number of them exist, anywhere.” Digital distribution is a way to access that audience and not rely on the “hits” providers.

New Orleans here I come, the real video of what happened on Sunday

May 27th, 2009

NOLA 20” tease

May 25th, 2009

3D or not 3D, that is the question

April 21st, 2009

and yes one day films will have odors too.

The APOC visit to IPG sparked a few questions I decided to explore further. Is the future of 3D tomorrow? Ever since I heard  Scott Kirsner in a talk at Annenberg Hollywood and Innovation, I’ve been keeping my ears open for 3D news. It didn’t take much convincing to go along with his view that 3D is to 2D, what colour was to black and white films, and talkies to silent movies. Why? Because 3D is one step closer to our fantasy of reproducing reality. With 3D, our senses are increasingly overwhelmed, quenching the thirst for thrills we entertain ourselves with. I even believe one day there will be smell on film.

At IPG Lab, we were shown a TV one can watch in 3D without relying on a pair of  3D glasses (still the most widespread way for 3D viewing). The result was absolutely stunning; the images of cathedrals in particular really came to life. Yet we were told that 3D technology would likely remain on the side, as it makes one go cross eyed after a length of time (thanks to the Socialicious blog for retaining that info). It was an interesting and valid physiological point but it sounded a little bit to me like the kind of argument that was used againts the first trains because speed was deemed dangerous for health.

I then had a conversation on Twitter on the @DanceCameraWest account with a very active community of dance and technology bloggers. . @tendutv from broadband network Tendu TV pointed out that indeed, companies were reluctant to invest in a technology that would harm its users. We then discussed the possibility of 3D Internet streaming. He believed that it would take a long time for the infrastructure to develop 3D streaming suppport. He took the example of HD that is rarely broadcast in its native form, and he concluded by writing “Assuming that the infrastructure and egress capacity doubles every five years (as do chip speeds under Moore’s law), you’re looking at about 10 years to real HD, 15 years to 1080p and 22 years before online can support 3D streaming. Maybe.”  He also agreed with the USC Center for Innovation  who gives the technology ten years for it to spread in Another Dimension in Technology awaits.

@dougfox from the blog Great Dance pointed me in the direction of Bjork’s stunning video Wanderlust that can be streamed in 2D and 3D on the Internet. (check the original webiste Encyclopedia Pictures for the 3D version)
So 3D is definitely already there! UK indie band Keane streamed live on Sky (and according to HILARIOUS Charlie Brooker it was a non-event “woah it’s like the disapointement is happening right in front of my face!” in  This week in Bullshit), and even opera is going 3D thanks to smart little Frenchies! L’Opera de Rennes in 3D. Panasonic’s  most recent efforts can testify that 3D is now in the Industry’s mind. Panasonic plans 3D production system. The timing is not perfect as launching a new technology during the crisis is not a very efficient way to get new users. For this reason many electronic companies are putting their 3D pIans aside. In the meantime Hollywood is going 3D (see  Directors discuss 3D ) and as one director puts it “3D screens wouldn’t have been set up if there wasn’t a sense that a lot of films are coming.”

Finally the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) has developed a 3D lab 3D in the news A few of its insights that have been in the news recently are: the more people are exposed to 3D technology, the more they want it, this is also the case for young, uneducated audiences, but the industries are not quite ready to invest yet…

Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe: for an informed view on British TV

April 21st, 2009

mandatory for all Americans watch Charlie Brooker on American news anchors ZE FUNNIEST!

Burning Man: a Google lab

April 8th, 2009

or how Google employs free labour at Burning Man.

Fred Turner from Stanford University gave a particularly illuminating talk at the Annenberg School for Communication, about the strong link between Google and Burning Man. He starts by revealing that the Google entrance has pictures of Burning Man posted everywhere. Why?
Well it’s probably by chance that one of the founders of Google happens to be an early adopter of Burning Man. At its beginnings, Google notoriously put up a sign on their webpage during Burning Man, apologizing that most employees were away for the event. It’s now part of the culture that most Google employees will attend Burning Man: there are internal company videos explaining how to survive the ordeals, and the themes are even reused in corporate meetings! (Turner stressed that some of the execs were known to have come to meetings in costume…)
Fred Turner was also quick to point out that this was a typical San Francisco bay area phenomenon. Traditionally in the US big technological advancements come from the military (our beloved www is a direct illustration of that). As a result computing science is often associated with something a bit dreary. Therefore, for a company that programs algorithms, a connection with a bohemian event of the caliber of Burning Man, is a way to produce a different image. It is not totally by chance that the Silicon Valley lives in the San Francisco bay area: the companies receive a cachet of “coolness” by associating themselves with a strong tradition of counter-culture.
What do employees learn to do at Burning Man? They let it all out. According to Turner it’s common to meet many people from the New Media and technology industry gladly interacting outside of the conventions of a coorporate environment. At Burning man, people work in communities to make a piece of art together, exactly like software engineers do when they build platforms . Turner goes even further to say that some of the ideas developed during Burning Man in this collaborative environment, are then reused by Google in their ongoing research for new features.
So are people aware that they are working for free for Google? It seems so, but they see no harm in doing so. Burning Man is above all a collaborative and free effort.
Doesn’t this remind you of something?!!! After all how do Google’s algorithms work…?? What drives the traffic on Youtube??
Please find a paper of the talk below:
turner-burning-man-at-google-nms-public-3-08
a google map image of Burning Man
burningman-googleearth