Letter from Chairman of IAWTV

Just wanted to get this out there for anyone who finds it important.  It was released to the wider public on Twitter and should be taken note of.  The Chairman of the IAWTV has written a letter to members that is posted on it’s website.

To me, the most salient part of the short letter is as follows:

The IAWTV is a non-profit organization that selects nominees and, ultimately, decides the winners of the Streamy Awards. We did not produce the Streamy Awards show, nor did we have any knowledge of the contents of the show beforehand. Like you we watched the show with great embarrassment as our industry was ridiculed and debased.

With due respect to the talented winners of the Streamy Awards last night, you and the digital entertainment community deserve much better. To that end, the IAWTV will ensure that moving forward every event we are affiliated with lives up to our ideals. If the Streamy Awards take place next year, we will approve the show’s producers, vision, practices and its content in advance. We have all worked hard to bring our industry to where it is today. Egregious mistakes were made last night.

If the IAWTV did not have any oversight of this year’s show, who exactly did?  Did Tubefilter?  Did an unnamed third party?  Was there anyone providing oversight at all?  The Executive Producers, from Brady’s call to NewTeeVee, don’t seem to have exercised the oversight I expected from them.

I am incredibly glad to see the Board of Directors taking this as seriously as it should be taken.  I’m glad to know that they will no longer associate with an event that they have no details about.  I think they should have been monitoring things anyway, but at least they understand the gravity of the situation and what level of involvement is appropriate for future events.

The executive producers of the awards have also posted an open letter apologizing for the event on the Streamys site.  Unlike the Chairman of the IAWTV, these individuals appear to have been the final authority on the show planning.  Having spoken to Brady in the past, I can only conclude that they were not keeping tabs on the show as they should have, because had they known what was going into it, I can’t imagine they would have thought it appropriate.

So we’re now hearing apologies from all sides.  I’m glad they have been coming so quickly.  It’s a good start.  However, I think we can all admit that the Streamys (and the IAWTV by association) have a lot of work to do if they intend to keep on existing.  Though personally, I think that a flashy awards show isn’t appropriate for our medium anyway.

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Moving Forward After the 2010 Streamy Season

As promised, a separate post on the matter.  I’ve had the benefit of some sleep, and you have the benefit of not having to read a post that could be turned into a small book.  In the spirit of dialogue and cooperation that was established in the wake of the FYC mess, here are my thoughts on moving forward following this mess.  Without further ado, my thoughts on getting past this whole mess. Continue reading

Reactions to the 2010 Streamy Season

Well, now that it’s all said and done, let’s take a look at what I can only call an overall disaster.  I entered the 2010 Streamy Awards season in a rather neutral frame of mind.  To me, the IAWTV was firmly planted on the West Coast and hasn’t done much to involve those of us living along the opposite ocean.  However, my director was excited for the awards, so I helped him promote it, including redoing our entire viewing page structure on the fly over worries that the video wasn’t streaming quickly enough during a major winter storm while the judges just happened to be watching (thanks Hayden, for the heads up!).  And being pissed with everyone else when the non-IAWTV affiliated screening went down out in L.A.  Sadly, things went firmly downhill from there. Continue reading

More Retrans Drama

It may sound odd from a coming from an editor, but as a consumer, I love not being tied to the ongoing drama of cable networks and retrans battles.  In the end, it only means one thing for consumers, and that’s higher prices.  Cable and broadcast networks alike are pressing cable providers for higher payments, which you can be sure will be passed straight onto your cable bill.

Now, I’m used to the retransmission fights cable channels and cable networks go through.  Pretty normal.  What’s new, and what ticks me off more, is the broadcast networks (FOX, ABC, NBC, and CBS) getting into the retransmission fee game.  As we learned this past December, CBS is believed to receive $0.40 per subscriber in retransmission fees.  That was the highest fee leveraged until recently.  Then, FOX started demanding $1.00 per subscriber from Time Warner.  While we don’t know exactly how much they settled on, it’s believed to be somewhere close to that.  That deal closed in the 11th hour of 2009, and FOX’s transmission went on uninterrupted. Continue reading

Thoughts on the IAWTV and Streamy Awards

I may have to change the name of this blog since I spend so much time talking about things that are out of the sphere of an editor.  However, being that I am also a producer, production manager, and anything else that I pick up along the way, I do spend a decent amount of time thinking about the rest of the web television industry as well.  This is going to be one heck of an entry everyone.  My apologies.

As some of you may know, the 2010 inductees into the IAWTV have been chosen (though not officially announced), as have the crop of shows that are up for the 2010 Streamy Awards.  After watching everything play out over the week so far, I’ve been able to form an opinion of the proceeds, and I must admit that I’m not entirely happy with them. Continue reading

Thoughts on Web Video and Monetization

So, in submitting a somewhat fictitious version of what I intend my production company to be today in class, I apparently submitted a plan that was completely useless, just another normal business with a website, that was completely un-scaleable and would never attract a Venture Capitalist at all.  We’ll never mind for the moment that I’m not interested in VC funding anyway.  What I pitched was a company to create and distribute web video.

I, and I’m sure countless others in web video, have a problem with this assessment.  I personally believe web video to be monetize-able.  I proposed several ways in which it was:

  • Subscriptions to long-form content and sales of content through DVDs and channels such as iTunes – much the way The Guild has done
  • Distribution through paid model platforms, such as the rumored soon-to-be paid models of Hulu and Boxee once one is forthcoming
  • The sale of merchandise related to the show – DVDs, posters, t-shirts, and anything else relevant to the show
  • Recommendations on the website that monetize on a cost per conversion basis
  • Choice of ad options in the video: pre-roll, pop-up bar, contextual ad surrounding the player itself, or something I haven’t yet thought of (studies at Hulu have shown that customers tolerate ads much better when they have a choice in how they interact with them)

Also, all of these means of monetization can be pursued with one show.  Produced once, distributed to as many or as few consumers care.  If that isn’t scaleable, I don’t know what is.

Let’s also imagine for a second, as is true, that I really don’t need multiple infusions of VC money.  What is the point of VC money?  Why, to inflate the value of a company so it can have a successful IPO and make all of the investors, as well as the actual owner, filthy, stinking rich.  (Well, in the case of investors, more filthy, stinking rich than they already are.) Except that most production companies have no intention to ever have an IPO.  They know, rightly, that the minute the shareholder’s bottom line matters more than their ambitions, you can say goodbye to your artistic freedom.  Which is why most movie studios and television stations (with the exception of CBS) are owned by parent companies and are not publicly traded.

I’m frankly shocked at the shortsightedness of my professor.  He is so quick to trumpet the imminent demise of the newspaper industry, but when someone presents him with an actual new media plan – for a MEDIA ECONOMICS course – he denounces it as uns-caleable and unsellable to VCs.  I guess my central question for him is: who says VCs are the only way to start a business?  Maybe in Old Media this is how you did it?  But you know the guy who said “The medium is the message?”  Well, this medium’s message is to leave your old models at the door.

Review: iChat Theater and FCP7

This week I got to undertake editing and consulting with Final Cut Pro 7’s iChat Theater option.  It’s definitely been an interesting experience.

When using the iChat Theater mode, you and (from what I’ve learned so far) the other party must both be signed into iChat.  When one of my test runs was with someone running AIM on a Mac, they couldn’t video chat.  Turn on iChat Theater from the View menu in FCP, then start a video chat with the person you’re looking to partner with.  If you’re the one editing, ignore the chat window.  You have better things to do, and your mic will be picking up your voice anyway.  You can also turn on timecode for the chat, so as the video plays and stops, the viewer can see the timecode of the frame.

If you’re on the receiving end, you’ll see whatever video is being worked on – either from the timeline or a raw clip in preview mode.  You won’t see bins, timelines, or tools, just the video.  This means you can see what the cut is looking like and provide feedback, but you can’t see what’s going on in the program while your editor makes those changes.  It is however, hugely helpful.  I was able to preview and entire short film to one of my chat participants, and the quality on his end was reasonable to excellent through the experience.  In my other chat I was consulting on an edit I couldn’t be physically present for.  I had excellent video until I took a break and started streaming a documentary from Netflix.  Not wanting to loose my place, I kept the player open when returning to my chat and noticed a definite degradation in video quality due to my rather overtaxed processor.

Audio from both of my tests was good.  I had some audio problems when I was overtaxing my processor, but when I did what I was supposed to – give over the majority of the system to FCP, audio quality was great.  The participant not editing is audible through the entire chat.  I don’t talk when I screen footage, so I have no idea if you can talk while you’re playing video.

As an editor, the consult was a bit frustrating because there were times I wanted to grab the controls and help out.  That’s not what this tool is for though.  This tool is a way to screen footage to a director or another party who can’t be physically present in the room with you.  It’s not the same as sitting them down in your office – in my case, the living room – and letting things play out on a larger screen.  However, it’s worth it to be able to get live, real-time feedback from key people.

I also attempted a screen share during the chat I was consulting on.  The visual quality of the tiny FCP controls was alright, but attempting to play video back this way is simply too much for a 2-way Wi-fi connection to handle.  If you need to show someone how to apply a specific effect or setting, this would be a workable solution.  However, if you’re trying to preview a rough cut, you’ll quickly run into problems here.

Overall, FCP’s iChat theater option works will for what it’s designed to do – showcase the video.  If you’re looking for more hands on remote collaboration, you’re going to be disappointed by it.  So far, there’s no real workable solution for remotely patching a second person into a computer for editing unless your in a fully networked facility.  A wired ethernet connection may be able to solve some of the quality issues I found during my screen share attempt, but this computer runs off of wireless, and an ethernet connection isn’t an option in my set-up.  So there you have it.  If you haven’t tried out the feature yet, give it a runaround.  It’s a helpful little guy.