Archive for the ‘ Web Video ’ Category

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.

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

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

Eisner is Betting on New Media

I’ve been watching the business pages for entertainment news more often since I started my Media Industry Perspectives on Digital Media class this September.  While my prof. found the NYT write-up today on Twitter most interesting, I was drawn to a different story, given my background in web video.

Seems that Michael Eisner, formerly of Disney, has been wading into the new media pool.  Now he seems ready to try a different approach and spring from the diving board.  As Brian Stelter reported in todays New York Times, Eisner’s new media company will be spinning off into an independent entity with major backing from Rogers Communications of Canada.

Eisner is being very forthcoming with his goals.  The studio, which currently produces less than a dozen series, is aiming to produce 30 in the next few years.  Some of that content will be exclusive to Rogers customers, as part of the agreement.  Eisner also claims that the company is profitable, although no public records were cited to prove this claim.

Since we’re all trying to figure out how to make money in the new media landscape, the future of Vuguru, as it is called, is of great interest to me, and I’d bet several others as well.  Eisner brings a big name and big money to the new media game, and the ultimate fate of Vuguru will see if it takes money to make money right now in this medium.  Eisner’s statements indicate that he thinks advertisers will embrace new media, and that Vuguru’s ultimate success depends on their willingness to do so.  I and the rest of the new media upstarts are interested to see if Eisner is right in his hope, or wither Vuguru will fall to the same trap that so many other production companies face when considering new media.

Why You Need to Be Good at Compression

As an editor, I know you’ve made a special study of compression of your final export, right?  If not, it should be one of your big priorities.  Why?  Because you’re ability to export a properly compressed file for the medium you’re using to broadcast can make or break the visual quality of the project.

Examples: I’m aware of a lot of shortcomings in the first season of Issues.  However, one of the things that I know we did right was our decision to shoot the show in HD.  It gave us a beautiful, crisp, sharp picture, and it allowed me a lot of flexibility to manipulate the footage as I needed to.  All of the Issues footage was shot in high def. except Jared’s web videos, which were shot with the built-in camera on my MacBook Pro because we wanted it to look like a webcam.  Shooting on a webcam was easier than degrading HD footage to look like a webcam.

However, if you go back and watch the first promos that were released from Issues, you see 4:3 picture in relatively poor quality.  Why?  I didn’t compress it correctly.  It’s a mistake that I corrected as the series went on, and the episodes are all appropriately sized for the computer screen with sharp pictures.  It took some trial and error to get it right – I wanted a precise understanding of which format worked best.  I could have taken the easy way out and just compressed for iPhone, and did at the beginning, but I’m now able to custom program the settings I need to get the show up on the web and looking good.

I’ve been thinking of this for a while, and it came back to me forcefully yesterday when watching the first episode of Bleeder, a new web-series about a hemophiliac taken in by a group of vampires.  I found the show because Sarah Croce, who plays Jane in Issues, plays Daisy, one of the leaders of the vampire clan.  The story line is very intriguing and I’m interested to see how it develops over the next several episodes.  My only critique of the show at this point is technical.  For a show shot on a RED One camera, the picture quality appears low in the finished version.  I’ve become spoiled by my own show, and am looking for that same sharp quality in other shows now, especially if the story is engaging and intriguing.  I would love to see Bleeder in HD, because I know several of the neighborhoods they’re shooting in, and I want to soak in all the detail of those locations.

Compression is tricky, and isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of thing.  Online video sites such as YouTube and Vimeo help out by describing what specs. to use for good results on their sites, but in other circumstances, you’re going to need to know what settings will give you the best picture for your medium.  To give you an idea of how important compression is, I constantly exported 3 formats of each episode of Issues, one for our website/podcast channel, one for YouTube, and one of HD DVD quality.  So if compression isn’t something you’ve given a lot of thought to, I’d recommend that you start now.  If you don’t have access to a compression program like Compressor or Sorenson Squeeze, a $30 investment in QuickTime Pro (for you Mac users) will give you much more control over your videos.  Having a properly compressed video will mean that your audience is spending their time more engaged in the story because there are no distracting visual elements to detract from it.

No Shit, New York Times

The New York Times has apparently discovered the amazing and little-anticipated truth: people will watch web videos that are more than 2-minutes long!  Apparently this fact was also the subject of some deep discussion at the LATV Festival, according to those in attendance.

Forgive my sarcasm, but I just find this story to be so ridiculous.  It’s a discussion that we had on the forums of Broadcast Assassin months ago: how long can a web-show go?  The conclusion we reached: as long as it wants to as long as it’s engaging and entertaining.

I have little doubt that the Times analysis of why web videos remained short for so long (technology that made watching video on the web unpleasant until relatively recently) is accurate.  However, anyone who has poked around a few web series is able to see that times of episodes are getting longer.  The internet is allowing for larger files to be uploaded and streamed at increasing speeds.  Watching video on the computer has become par for the course for us – to the point that we feel too constricted to be tied to the computer, and would rather upload our videos to our smart phones, mp3 players, and other portable devices.

So I’m not surprised that people are watching longer videos.  I’ve at the privilege to start talking to the creators of several series, and I find all of them to be emotionally engaging, and entertaining.  So I’m not put off by the length of an episode of Gold, or Captain Blasto.  In fact, I was surprise to realize how much time had passed after I watched the first episode of Captain Blasto.  I was honestly too engaged in the story to notice the passage o time.  And I have little doubt that their new series, Mercury Men, will be just as good.

So wake up, guys.  Web video is going to keep pushing the envelope, we’re going to keep stepping up production values, and pushing our run-times out.  Network television shows streamed online (hello, Hulu!) have proven that you can sustain audiences at traditional episode lengths online.  Why would anyone suppose that this wouldn’t also be true for original, made-for-the-web content?

Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox now.  Off to the New York Web TV Meet-up tomorrow night.  Probably no post tomorrow as a result, as I’ll save my talking points for a summary of the experience – it will be my first time attending.