Posts Tagged ‘ Web Video ’

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

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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.