Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cinema 2009

1 Year, 342 Movies, 12 Months of hard work, 7 Minutes; all the films of 2009 as a trailer (rated PG).

Magicland Trailer

Trailer for a film about two brothers, confusion and terror (rated PG).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Connection Can't Be Detached

We are all faced with clients that want to know ROI, that don't "get it" and I know that when I'm looking to educate these types of clients, every piece of data and every quote that supports my point of view comes in handy. So, here are the pieces I think will help me, and hopefully you in future decks and meetings:
  • Simply put, digital brand experiences create customers.
  • Our findings lead us to believe that marketers need to be dramatic...and not simply settle for awareness or impressions: engagement = affinity

(from she dorks out). Off the cuff, by the way, and without fully thinking it through I'll say this: "engagement" is often another word for connecting with an audience, and "affinity" is a way to keep at arms length the idea of people liking you (or your brand). In both cases they seem to be accepted ways to gloss the audience's desire for human connection, and intimacy. While I understand the corporate reluctance to embrace things like intimacy, moving people emotionally can't really be done from a distance. Someone must take that risk, and if companies aren't willing to, perhaps they just choose to hire someone who will and hope it will still work.

Santa the Fascist Years

Who knew that he has a dark hidden past that's very un-jolly (rated PG-13).

Monday, December 28, 2009

Bicycle Throw Stops Thieves

A man throwing bicycle at thieves to stop them (rated PG-13).

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Let's Enhance

Sequences of characters asking for image enhancement in TV and movies (rated PG).

Saturday, December 26, 2009

TV Show ChromaKey

Impressive montage of green screen use in television shows (rated PG).

Friday, December 25, 2009

Carol of the Bells Christmas Lights

Christmas light show synchronized to music (rated PG).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Animaniacs Noel

The Animaniacs mis-sing Noel (rated PG).

Monday, December 7, 2009

Steppenwolf Flash Mob

Flash mob to promote Steppenwolf Theatre Company's 2009-10 Season of Belief (rated PG).

Dog Water Slide

A dog, home alone, plays on a water slide (rated PG).

Happy in Paraguay

Extraordinary Star Trek redub (rated PG-13).

Monday, November 30, 2009

Vans by The Pack

Their song beginning "got my vans on but they look like sneakers" (rated PG).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Web Video: An Intermediate Case

Video on the Web is an intermediate case between broadcast video (TV) and page-based Web navigation. Preliminary data indicates that most Web videos should be short - typically 2–10 minutes - indicating a usage velocity between Web and TV, but closer to the Web's velocity of one user decision every 10–120 seconds.
When you develop content, services, and designs for the Web, remember that this medium has a much faster velocity than older media, whether print or TV

(from Velocity of Media Consumption: TV vs. the Web).

Spectrum Brass Quintet

Their concert showcase (rated PG).

The Muppets: Bohemian Rhapsody

The Muppets sing Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody (rated PG).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Compulsions Trailer

Compulsions tells the story of three seemingly normal people who instead of repressing their dark desires, act on them (rated PG-13).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How to Make Any Page Your Homepage

How to make example.com your starting page (these instructions were written about 5 years ago and may be too old for some systems).

Netscape 4.0-6.0

  1. Select "Preferences" from the "Edit" menu.
  2. Click on "Navigator."
  3. In the "Navigator Starts with" section, select "Home page."
  4. In the "Home page" section, type "http://www.example.com/" in the text box.
  5. Click "OK."

Internet Explorer

  1. Select "Internet Options" from the "Tools" menu.
  2. Click on the "General" tab.
  3. In the "Home page" section, type "http://www.example.com/" in the text box.
  4. Click "OK."

America Online

  1. Make sure you are on the page, http://www.example.com/.
  2. Click the link below with your right mouse button and select "Copy URL to Clipboard." (If the "copy" option didn't appear, highlight the following address: "http://www.example.com/" then go to the "Members" drop down menu and select "Preferences")
  3. Click on the "WWW" icon.
  4. Click on the "Home Page" box at the bottom of the pop-up window and then depress your "Control" and "V" keys (at the same time) and paste in the address. If the address does not appear in the box, simply type in what you tried to paste from above.
  5. Click the "OK" button.

Internet Config (some Mac OS configurations)

  1. Open the "Internet" control panel (in the "Control Panels" folder in your "System Folder").
  2. Select the set for which you want to change the home page.
  3. Click on the "Web" tab.
  4. Within the " Default Pages" box, in the "Home page" section, type "http://www.example.com/" in the text box.
  5. Save your changes ("Save Settings" in the "File" menu, or type "command-S"), then close the "Internet" control panel.

Drunk Woman Almost Run Over By Train

Woman survives extraordinary subway near miss (rated PG).

The Shining Recut

Trailer for The Shining as a romantic comedy (rated PG).

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon

Richard Gale's brilliantly funny horror movie short (rated PG).

Monday, October 26, 2009

Yahoo Abandons More Than 20 Millions Pageviews (Closing Geocities)

5 years ago I paid 1/3 of my bills with a 1 page Geocities site. Today Yahoo takes more than 4.8 million geocities pages offline permanently. That's about 11.9 million visitors a month, who made about 21,420,000 pageviews a month, now getting some sort of 404 or "we removed this page" site instead of what they expected (data from Quantcast and Alexa).

Yahoo didn't make enough money with Geocities to keep it online because they didn't know how to, because they didn't try.

5 years ago Yahoo stock was trading near $35, today it closed at $16.87, losing 2% of it's value today. It's a shame to see a company misstep as badly and often as Yahoo has, and I'll miss the opportunity to make money with them through their Geocities sites.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Kid Shreds on Accordion

Aleksandr Hrustevich plays amazing accordion (rated PG).

19% of US Internet Users Tweet

Twitter and Facebook have been to big too ignore for sometime now. While estimating pageviews of sites is inexact, some numbers help reveal just how big these 2 sites have become.

The army of Twitterers is growing quickly, per the Pew Internet Project report released today. The report found that 19 percent of all U.S. Internet users now use either Twitter or smaller services, such as Yammer, to share social updates. This was up 8 percent from the 11 percent who used such services in April 2009

(from Adweek). Things change quickly, and twitter is a big part of the audience, as is Facebook:

In the US Facebook accounts for, now get this, 1 in every 4 or 25% of our total pageviews

(from Drake Direct). Drake bases his numbers on compete.com data, which can be imperfect. Alexa estimates Facebook got about 4.5% of global pageviews in the last month. Suffice to say, big enough to be important to anyone doing anything online.

Disneyland Halloween Fireworks

Phone video of Halloween Screams - a villainous surprise in the sky (rated PG).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Search Comments on YouTube in Real-Time

YouTube's real-time search of comments may compete, someday, with Twitter for in-the-moment audience reaction to moving pictures.

Comments Search moves into Test Tube, the place where our engineers and developers test out new features and gather data and feedback before pushing them out to a wider audience. This feature allows you to search the comments people are making on YouTube in real time. The full comment will appear on a continuously updated results page, and 'trending topics' indicates the hottest topics of conversation on YouTube at that particular moment

(from YouTube Blog).

TV Windows Collapsing

Traditional television viewing patterns are collapsing and the industry needs to quickly figure out how to profit in a world where people can watch TV shows anytime, anywhere, NBC Universal's TV chief said.
The challenge now was drawing viewers to network shows at designated times when people can either record those shows or turn to online outlets to watch at their convenience, said Marc Graboff, Chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios.
Networks need to figure out how to make their content more immediately available in a lucrative way, such as by charging viewers to stream episodes shortly after airing - narrowing viewing 'windows' - or providing them to multiple outlets, he told an industry conference.
The biggest U.S. networks are currently struggling with declining advertising revenue, dwindling viewership and rising production coasts [sic]

(from Reuters, via Yahoo News).

Grocery Store Musical

Six undercover actors burst into song in a grocery store in Queens (rated PG).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Video Stairs (flash)

Three flights of plasma video stairs were created as part of a new store in Hong Kong (rated PG).

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hollywood's Present is Online

Many talk of online video as a wave of the future; they are flat wrong. It is now, right now. I know a government employee that 4 months ago discarded their TV and now watches only online. I know a lawyer that uses Tivo as an on-demand that in combination with online TV and DVDs doesn't watch broadcast, cable or satelite live, ever. I have never owned a television, yet I watched three shows tonight and also appear on TV from time to time. Anyone who thinks online entertainment is a future, and denies it is a growing present tense event, is either not paying attention, about to lose their job or both. All things are more online and mobile than ever before and they are right now (I write this post on my phone; please forgive any spelling mistakes ;-).

"Hollywood's future is in Bannen's hands" by Lisa Marks may be over selling a single show as some sort of vangard. I love that this show is being made and am excited to see it, but Sony is not first with web content that costs more than $1 million (Seth MacFarlane, Burger King and YouTube did that over a year ago) and the CEO of Sony Pictures (parent of Crackle) said he "...doesn't see anything good having come from the Internet... Period." This show may be Sony's late, half-supported-by-the-studio attempt to be in the now.

A month online is equal to a year offline, and to not learn from history a from a year ago (like 12 years online) is to retrace steps taken by many before, and risk being obselete before you've begun. In 3 months, the generation referred to as digital natives will be the largest and most important demographic for entertainment. This demographic is already watching, listening and experiencing their entertainment where and when they want to and media companies are only just now pretending this will happen? That is like acting as if the wheel or fire might catch on when it's already the year 1500. People's careers and livelyhoods as employees and stockholders are suffering because of antiquated thinking (yes, 3 month old is antiquated). Get present or be irrelevant; there is no half way.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

555 KUBIK (flash)

Building projections on the visual pattern of the Hamburg Kunsthalle (rated PG).

Building Projections (flash)

Video mapping building projections at a secret festival in the North East of England. The theme and logo of the party was the heart (rated PG).

Advanced Video Mapping (flash)

Advanced techniques for projection mapping onto architecture (rated PG).

Valid HTML Code is Better Than Invalid Code

Valid HTML code will look better more places, function as designed more often and be well liked by things like search engines. The W3C Markup Validation Service is a good one since they are the organization that maintains the specifications.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

CEO Bingo (flash)

Demonstration of the CEO Bingo app (rated PG). The free CEO Bingo App for iPhone/iPod is in iTunes' app store.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Badge for Your Site Your Visitors Can Use on Their Sites

How to make a "badge" available to others who like it and want to display it on their sites/blogs.

  1. upload the badge so it can be accessed by everyone on the internet
  2. create code that people can use to use the badge on their sites, like this: <a href="http://www.example.com/"><img src="http://www.example.com/badge.gif" alt="a badge"/></a> where example.com is your site, and the "a badge" is a short text alternative text describing the badge for those who do not load or see the image
  3. tell the people who want to use the badge about the code

Sand Sledding (flash)

Rob rides a sled in White Sands National Monument, sledding down dunes (rated PG-13).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Conditional Comments in Internet Explorer

Conditional comments allow you to have one block of code for some versions of IE and a different block of code for everything else. I've found that IE 5.2 for mac, for instance, does not support conditional comments, but IE 5 through IE 7 on windows seem to support conditional comments.

This code loaded in a browser will tell you whether or not it supports conditional comments:

<!--[if IE]><p>You are using an Internet Explorer that supports conditional comments.</p><![endif]-->
<![if !IE]><p>You are not using an Internet Explorer that supports conditional comments.</p><![endif]>

I recommend using it on live sites sparingly.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Scarcity and Social Media

In social media and in fact online in general many are trying to create scarcity as they would in the off-line world. This is a mistake that will, in pretty much every case, lead to destroying businesses and brands.

Seth Godin has written some interesting Principles of Scarcity and points out that with scarcity the ...danger is that you can kill long-term loyalty. You can annoy your best customers. You can spread negative word of mouth. You can train people to hate your scarcity strategy.

Signal to Noise Ratio for Social Networks and Social Media

The more the recipient wants the message you are sending, the better. As with all online communications, it is more important to send what they want to read/view/hear than to send what you want them to read/view/hear. This is by and large what being a good producer is in the offline world as well.

Typically a email list with a growing subscriber base only sends messages that make people want to subscribe and/or stay subscribers. It is the same with social network profiles. A social networking profile only communicates with its friends/connections/people-who-opted-in-and-gave-you-permission-to-communicate-with-them when the communication will make them want to remain your friend/connection or become your friend/connection.

I've heard people refer to doing an "email blast" to get the word out about something, or to try to connect with key bloggers or online influencers.

As Seth Godin said:

Don't bother engaging with customers unless you are prepared to invest enough to exceed expectations and delight them. It's better to do nothing at all.

In social networking, your friends/connections/anyone you communicate with are your customers.

Social Media Addicts Anonymous (flash)

A meeting of the S.M.A.A.; an ad for a laptop (rated PG).

Monday, September 14, 2009

Family of Four (flash)

Trailer for the feature film "Family of Four" (rated PG-13).

Diamonds In The Rough: The Movement (flash)

Episode 2 of Diamonds in the Rough (rated PG-13).

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sudden Ominous Music Heard Across US, Nation Panicking (flash)

Officials have not determined the source of the music or what it could portend, but they urge Americans to avoid deserted mansions, woods, and eerily quiet lake cabins (rated PG).

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Redirecting Web Pages Using PHP

You can redirect the root level of your site http://www.example.com/ to a lower level webpage like http://www.example.com/directory1/directory2/filename.html ) in many ways.

One way to make such a redirection, if you have a Linux hosting plan with GoDaddy, is to make a text file named "index.php" and have the file contain:

 <?php
//Redirect browser
header("Location: http://www.example.com/directory1/directory2/filename.html");
?>
 

Place it in the root of the "web/" directory in your hosting space and, barring a lot of complex configuration changes that may have been made previously, it should gentle redirect web visitors from http://www.example.com/ to http://www.example.com/directory1/directory2/filename.html .

Monday, August 24, 2009

Twitter Analysis Tools

Here are three useful sites for analyzing your tweets/twitter accounts:

  • TweetStats - reveals frequency and timing of your twitter behavior
  • TwitterFriends - examines how and who you connect with and converse with on twitter
  • TweetEffect - shows what impact your tweets had on followers starting or stopping following you

These ought to be only used to organize the underlying realities of what you tweet. Getting lost in the numbers and graphs and forgetting it is about communication and people will not be good.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Kinder, Gentler Philosophy of Success (flash)

Alain de Botton examines our ideas of success and failure - and questions the assumptions underlying these two judgments (rated PG).

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Barbie Girl (flash)

Performed impromptu, in the Krispy Kreme parking lot (rated PG).

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Fate of The Duel Star Wars Fan Film (flash)

A lone Jedi wanders a Sith world meeting an evil warrior, produced by Dave and Tom (rated PG-13).

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chaotic Good Online (flash)

DnD style fun in this web series (rated PG-13).


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Distribution Is Part of the Show

Your plan for getting your work out there has to be as original as the actual work, perhaps even more so. The work has to create a totally new market. There's no point trying to do the same thing as 250,000 other young hopefuls, waiting for a miracle. All existing business models are wrong. Find a new one

(from gapingvoid). The old school way to put it is: The Medium is the Message. Perhaps I can help you figure out how to get your work out there /plug.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Viewership Growing On YouTube

graph of top 100 new media/mid-tail video publishers' daily video views on YouTube summed by month from December to May
Basically, we took the top 100 all-time most-viewed "mid-tail" or "new media studio" content creators (i.e. Next New Networks, Howcast Studios, The Wall Street Journal's videos etc.) and looked at their viewership growth. The results? Over the past six months, publishers saw their daily average views grow by an average of 4.98% per month. Although there have been several recent failures in the space (60Frames, ManiaTV), overall the sector is growing in terms of viewership

(emphasis added, from TubeMogul's blog).

Social Media Salaries

There are no surprises, but I can tell you that consulting fees range from $20 an hour to $400 an hour, salaries range from $24,000 a year to $170,000, and the difference is based almost entirely on your non-social media employment background

(from Social Media Headhunter).

Social Network Dominance by County

While now some months old, there is a map of the world with the dominant social network for each country shown. Might be useful as a starting point if trying to reach a given country's audience.

Page Rank Is Not What It Once Was

Google's pagerank is shown most commonly by the green bar in the Google toolbar in your browser (if you have it installed). While Wikipedia says this ...numeric weighting from 0-10 for each webpage on the Internet... denotes a site's importance in the eyes of Google, this is no longer true. Pagerank is now a deceptive, essentially useless number leading many to make bad decisions (e.g., buying ads on sites based on pagerank, when foreseeable results will actually disappoint).

There was a time, a few years ago, that Google's pagerank was a great indicator of how much traffic Google would send to a site. After that traffic got to the site, the site would have a chance to connect with, or sell things to those visitors. That is no longer the case, pagerank is no longer very important and like so many things online and in life, numbers aren't everything.

In all things, the shorthand of a number seems convenient, but is likely useless for revealing the most important truths (e.g., "I love my parents 72" is fairly meaningless).

Printed Newspapers Are Yesterday's News

The Daily Show pointed out online news is faster than print. This is part of what makes people prefer online news, and by extension, makes advertisers shift their focus and spend from print to online.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Get Twitter Direct Messages as txts

You can have twitter send DMs to your cell phone as text messages (SMS). Go to http://twitter.com/devices and set-up your phone. Remember to set up the times you do not want texts (or else it may wake you, interrupt work, etc.).

You can also have people's tweets come to your phone as texts (their public tweets, in addition to DMs). After your phone is set up, go to their twitter page (http://twitter.com/[their twitter name]) when logged in, and below their name on the left, change the "Device updates" next to where it says "following".

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Market Value of Content Hard to Assess

There are new untried ways to make money with moving pictures with synchronized sound, and lots of other ways it's currently being done, but I think who pays for the means of distribution and how is interesting and worth noticing. Substitute "moving pictures with synchronized sound" for "journalism" in this quote and interesting ideas form.

So long as our information economy treats journalism as overhead, valuable only as advertising-bait, then our economy will be glutted with free, low-value journalism. We won't be able to study specific indications of value - in terms of price or quality - so long as it's produced as a subsidized commodity. The Web merely revealed that truth

(from The fire that frees the seed).

Various forms of infrastructure are needed for video/film/TV distribution, for example:

  • physical DVDs and shipping
  • movie theatres and their films which can cost >$30,000.00 per print
  • cables/wires/wireless systems that carry the internet to you
  • etc.

The costs of the moving picture distribution infrastructure are covered directly and indirectly in different ways.

  • Movies in theatres can have the physical reels of film paid for by the distribution company which often affords to pay for the prints by getting a part of the box office receipts (charging the viewer directly). The final stages of distribution, like the projector and screen/speakers, are paid for by the exhibitors that get part of the box office but make most of their money through concessions (candy, popcorn, drinks).
  • Broadcast television through the air has its first stages of distribution paid for in the early stages by the station (transmitter and licensing fees) which it sells ads to pay for. The final stage, as with online video, is a viewing device usually owned by the viewer.
  • Video uploaded online, say to YouTube, has its hosting and first stages of distribution paid for by a web site (an internet company) like Google, which often sells ads to make the money to afford do so. The final stages are covered by the telecommunication companies (which charge the viewer) and finally the display device which is usually owned by the viewer.
  • On-Demand, be it iTunes-like or through a cable or satellite company, is paid for by charging the viewer directly.

This is not a complete list. All of these models can change, with the last two changing most quickly today (internet ad supported and on-demand).

Paid-Content for Newspapers Not a Solution

Quality journalism is expensive, and to the extent that it provides a public good, we will find ways to fund it. But top-heavy, poorly run, arrogant-to-the-bitter-end media companies? This is their crisis, not our crisis, and it certainly isn't about journalism.
Newspapers that are turning to paywall plans today are gambling on a risky revenue stream that even the experts aren't predicting will provide a replacement to their lost advertising revenues (their biggest financial problem is the rapid decline in advertising rates, not the slow decline in print circulation). It's a "well, we've got to do SOMETHING" solution, not a logical, do-the-math solution.
They don't get it. They don't want to get it. And in many cases, they're literally paid not to get it

(from The newspaper suicide pact).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Record Year - unofficial music video (flash)

Fan made Music video for 'Record Year' by the Decemberists (rated PG-13).

Terminator Behind the Scenes Footage (flash)

Raw behind the scenes video from the movie Terminator: Salvation

  1. video 1
  2. video 2
  3. video 3
  4. video 4

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Google In Upfront Marketplace

Google is now buying and selling TV ads in a big way.

Google TV Ads has begun booking upfront deals with major agencies and advertisers for the first time.
Marketers are committing upwards of seven figures to buy ads through the TV spot buying system in the year ahead, with agencies like Deutsch and Saatchi & Saatchi and advertisers like Coldwell Banker coming to the table, said Mike Steib, director of Google TV Ads.
Steib explained that marketers can still buy or tweak their campaigns daily; they're simply agreeing to use Google TV Ads throughout the year.
What our customers told us if the planner can put us into the upfront plan, then the buyers are free to utilize the platform in the way they works best for them, he said.
They can also buy ads on YouTube now using Google TV Ads

(from The Hollywood Reporter).

Parazynski Descends Everest (flash/news)

Astronaut Scott Parazynski and other IMG climbers descend down the summit ridge on Mt. Everest; especially spectacular starting at 1 minute 10 seconds (rated PG).

Whack-A-Kitty (flash)

It's time to play Whack-A-Kitty (rated PG).

Monday, May 18, 2009

Legal Terms of Video Hosting Services

...I was researching a video hosting service that would match my requirements of:
  1. Which rights of my work I would have to give away,
  2. what usage rights I could assign to my viewers,
  3. what level of privacy I could expect in terms of disclosure of my data,
  4. and where a service had its legal residence in case of a dispute.
I’ve decided to collect and extend my findings in this post in the hope that it can help others in choosing their preferred video hosting service

(from Owned? Legal terms of video hosting services compared). Since these can change at any time, double check, and consider speaking with a lawyer; caveat producer.

Numbers and the Net

But the great thing about the internet is that it allows every minor interest, every academic specialism, every rare and refined hobby a place, so the numbers really don't matter in the same way as the old media

(Emphasis added, from Codecs and Capability).

Never 'Sorry for the Mass Email...'

If you begin with "I'm sorry for the mass email, but..." you clearly aren't and everything said after should not be trusted. Don't say that.

Video Release Timing: Go Live Early, Announce Late

When first releasing any online video, it is best to make it live (soft launch, push live, etc.) well before you expect the audience to want to watch it. Usually this means at least a few hours before. For web shows targeting North America as a main audience, put the episode up (publicly available and live where you want it to be) at a few minutes after midnight pacific time on the given release day. This accomplishes many things at once, including:

  • This is 6 hours before East coast prime time begins (Weekdays 9am-5pm local time) allowing time for people and computers to react to the upload.
  • If the video is incomplete, corrupted, or simply not the right video, there are 6 hours to trouble shoot or delete and re-upload before large numbers will begin to try watching the video.
  • Titles, descriptions and tags do not always appear on the live site as originally written or intended; these can be checked and rewritten or fixed as needed.
  • Many computer systems take time to encode, transcode and syndicate the content. Give them time to finish their work and have the video fully live and available on all platforms before the audience wants to watch.
  • Search spiders and third party video search and syndication systems have automated components that need time to discover, process and make useful the information about the video that they discover. Since you can't know every system that may need time to react to your upload, give time for these unknowns to prepare so they can support your show. Make it live early to both give them a chance to respond and give yourself a chance to notice their reaction.

No two shows are the same and no single formula can address all the unique artistic and business needs, but in all cases: make sure the audience will be able to successfully watch the show how and where they want to before asking them to do so. This means send emails, publish blog posts, micro-blog (e.g., twitter), status update and make all forms of public requests for people to watch only after the video is fully functional and available.

Failing to give adequate time can mean you send audience to watch and they can't. When the audience can't watch what they want where and when they want to, they will blame you (even if it isn't your fault). Simple timing can save some of the disappointment from ever happening.

For example, YouTube needs a non-trivial amount of time to make a video available on cell phones in addition to the time it takes to make it available on the website. If, as I witness many producers doing, you send an email asking people to view your video on YouTube only after the video is live on the website, iPhone users who click on the YouTube link in the email will get a disappointing message telling them the video is not yet available. Rarely will they then make a special effort to seek out the video later or on a computer. Sending the email too soon loses viewers and fans just because it was too soon.

There are many other factors impacting video release and announcement scheduling, but usually doing a soft launch (it's up and works) significantly before a hard launch (hey everybody, come watch!) solves many problems.

Related note: releasing an entire 'season' at once often makes better sense than spreading it out over weeks.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Once It's Live, Leave It Live

About a year ago a highly rated TV show built a fictional company's web site to tie in to real life events at Comic-Con, the convention in San Diego. The finale of the newest season was this week. Just a few minutes ago a friend on Twitter and Facebook changed their status to say he wanted to work for that fictional company, and I wanted to comment/reply to my friend's status with the link to the fictional site. The site is down, offline, 404.

I wanted to share a part of the show with a friend, and they won't let me. I wanted to promote their product for free, and they stopped me. Instead of allowing all the money spent on the site and its very good videos and promotions pay off forever, they took it down. Estimated annual savings in taking down the site: $2000 (which ought to be lower, but for various reasons in this case is not lower). Estimated loss of audience engagement, good-will and ability for the franchise's value to increase over many decades: infinite.

The stock of the parent company that owns the network that carries the show has lost about $20,300,000,000 of market value since mid September (admittedly this may not only result from company wide failure to understand or capitalize on the internet).

A Google-less World

Starting at about a half hour ago, I noticed that the adsense ads I have run on some of my sites weren't loading. Then I began having trouble connecting to the blogging platform blogger. Hoping to stay productive while the network hopefully adjusted, I went to YouTube planning to change the avatar image one of my various YouTube accounts. YouTube wouldn't load. Remembering these are all owned by Google, I tried to load google.com. It was also was sluggish/non-responsive. I checked my gmail, nothing.

While navigating my cable company's phone system seeking a person to see if they were having a problem keeping my cable modem connected, on a lark I tried yahoo.com and it loaded, immediately. Still holding for an operator at my cable company, I checked twitter. Others couldn't get to google services either. And not just near me but on other continents too. This surprised me. Thursday morning (in North America) is not a time anyone would chose to have their sites off-line, and while a few on twitter seemed to still have Google's sites running just fine, it highlights how enmeshed we all are with Google's systems, and how good they are at keeping them up for people like me to assume they will be up and available virtually always.

For a few moments I had to mentally step back and assess how I'd react if Google, and all of it's wonderful products, vanished. It reminds me of an article I read years ago asking how much of your business Google controls. Between search traffic they provide, videos they host, email, and the myriad of other products they offer, what would you do if they simply stopped? I know what I would do: I'd grouse, whine and moan for a few minutes, and then swap the services of theirs I use for other, in almost every case inferior, services offered by others. The fact is Google is as successful as they are because in so many ways they do what they do better than anyone else. Yet still, with all the bright people, deep pockets and prestigious name, if they stop being what the audience expects, in minutes the audience will begin replacing them.

Not quite an hour later, the hastag #googlefail is already the number 6 trending topic on twitter, with "gmail" the number 3. That's some of the most active users of technology on earth already reacting to this hiccup. This does remind me to back up things offline ;-). I wish the best to the Googlers I imagine are already hard at work fixing things.

Update: Google's systems seem to be working again and coming back online for most people. Worth noting: spread your content widely, exploding your content makes you less susceptible to problems at any one company or on a single site.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Leary Mission (flash)

Hulu's latest funny ad in their evil plot to destroy the world.

President's Plane Scares NYC (news, flash)

The President's plane (Air Force One when he is on board) flew over New York City for a photo shoot, costing taxpayers $300,000 and frightening the nation's largest city (watch AP video or citizen video of the flyover below).


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Presidential Press Conference Without Broadcasters

Right now I'm watching the Presidential Press Conference live on YouTube. There are no 20th century broadcasters (ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC, etc.) involved in the distribution. I hope this gives them and their news divisions pause, and they realize that business as usual is not an option.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Don't Say 'Feel Free' If You Mean 'Please Do'

Many people have begun to use phrases like:

  • "feel free to tell your friends/retweet/share this video/post/site"
  • "feel free to comment/rate/favorite this video"
  • "feel free to ask a question"

Online and in emails when they really mean:

  • "Please tell your friends about this video/post/site"
  • "Please comment/rate/favorite this video (because I really want it to be on the most discussed/highest highest rated/most favorite lists so that more people will see it)"
  • "Please ask a question (because this podcast/channel/site only has content if the audience participates)"

Are people allergic to "please"? No. But many seem to have forgotten the simple, honest power of saying please and asking for what they want.

People seem to think concealing what they want is better than coming out and saying it. They are wrong. Of course people will feel free to do all of the things mentioned; the internet is one of the most sophisticated and far reaching communication and distribution systems ever and everyone using it will share and access information as they see fit. To tell your audience they can "feel free to" do what they are already doing is to be redundant at least, and often conveys a simultaneous air of superiority and lack of understanding of the medium; it suggests you are giving permission to people already empowered. Coating a request in a foolish condescension helps no one.

While being as specific/pedantic as the parenthetical phrases in the examples above isn't necessary, be honest and say what you mean. Many already do this with the simple convention of "please retweet" on twitter. Using "feel free to" as wrapping makes the call-to-action marketers love so much a dishonest attempt to be polite; it actually erodes trust, candor and transparency. It's like our mothers told us: don't lie.

"Be sure to check back..." is the illegitimate cousin of "feel free to..." online. There are many ways to let visitors opt-in to more communication from you: email lists, feeds, follows, friending, etc. If you are mentioning something that does not exist yet, but will in the future, help your audience chose to opt-in to be informed when this event-in-the-future happens. If you can't be bothered to use such common methods for communicating with your potential future audience, do not expect your audience to be bother to care about your future creations.

We all make mistakes (myself included) but being as clear and honest as possible makes the many messages we all encounter everyday more useful. And now, just for fun, I ask you to please share this post with everyone who asks you to "feel free" to use the internet ;-).

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Viral Video Best Practices

Viral-ness cannot be bought into or out of any more than gravity can. Like gravity, viral-ness is not strictly in your control. Unlike gravity, viral-ness is not a law of nature, but more a tendency.

You can't pay a fee and know your video will draw millions of viewers in the way you can buy a plane ticket and fly. You can buy your way to tipping the odds in your favor, to weighting the dice, if you will, encouraging it to catch on and lead people to spread your content.

Content is viral if upon viewing it, the viewer encourages other people to view it (to become viewers), who then encourage others to view it and so on. What happens when the user presses play is still the most important part the viral equation, but best practices can help get users to press play and then tell others about it after they've watched.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sheep LED Art (flash)

A huge LED display 'powered' by sheep (rated PG).

Hardly Working: Airplane (flash)

Dan and Streeter experience terror at 4 1/2 feet (rated PG-13).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Make It Free

if you do not make your product free, piracy will do it for you (via @Awesomeosity).

Facebook Nearly 6% of Online Time in US

As of February 2009, Facebook is the "Monthly Attention Leader", commanding nearly 6% of all time spent online by Americans.
While Facebook leads in engagement, it still lags well behind Google and Yahoo! in overall audience. MySpace is the losing end of the trends in Compete.com's numbers, showing a dramatic fall in its attention share since Facebook's platform launched

(from Compete.com, via AllFacebook).

Facebook partly succeeds because they explode their content more than almost any other social networking application. They use Facebook Connect, the large number of feeds they provide and their numerous different supported interfaces (web, mobile web, text messages, smartphone apps and others) to make Facebook a ubiquitous and portable experience.

Supporting Facebook can make anyone more effective than those corporations that limit the use of their content on Facebook (including some major media corporations). By keeping content off of Facebook's "social graph" the best one can accomplish is 94% success.

For instance, MySpace would benefit at this point by building a compelling Facebook application to make MySpace available from within Facebook. This would be admittedly bold, but since MySpace is now in the shadow, bold is the safest choice. They also need to improve their mobile solutions and explosion of content (making it accessible in numerous ways).

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Be Amazing! (flash)

Step-by-step guide to destroying civilization with nanotechnology (rated PG-13).

Friday, March 6, 2009

Video Virality on Twitter

[an image of steeply rising traffic over time coming from twitter and going to video websites]

This is the souped-up version of the age-old tradition of IMing or emailing a friend a link to a funny video. Now, users themselves have huge audiences that they intercept in real time.
And while a user who searches clearly wants to be led somewhere useful, a user who clicks on a link recommended by a friend may just be more valuable.

(from NewTeeVee).

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Recond Labels Talking With YouTube

Universal Music Group, the world's largest music recording company, is in talks with Google's YouTube division to create a musicvid venture.
Instead of just receiving licensing fees or a share of ad revenue from the online video site, UMG is seeking an equity relationship on an ad-supported site focused on high-quality musicvideos unlike the grainy, user-generated fare common to YouTube's main site.
Other record labels such as Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and EMI have also been contacted about the plan, although they are not part of the talks. UMG is a division of France's Vivendi.
The discussions began about a month ago but are still in the preliminary stages, said people who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions are supposed to be confidential

(from Associated Press, via Variety, via msoefer's twitter).

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mobile Video is Growing

TV networks, like TNT, A&E and VH1, have all recently launched iPhone applications in a bid to make money in the mobile video and features market, including a spooky new iPhone app from A&E.
Plus, mobile video growth should be astronomical over the next few years, experts say

(from Ahead of the Curve). As I've mentioned before, people want to watch what, when and where they want. Let them.

Canonical Link Element

There is a Google Webmaster Central blog post about the presentation about canonical link elements made at SMX West and talked through in a video:

Monday, March 2, 2009

Fingers Breakdance 2 (flash)

Breakdancing fingers (rated PG).

Viewers Watch When They Want (Not When You Want)

Traditional TV or otherwise, people want to watch what they want when they want, and want to watch where they want. This is as real as gravity and just as useless to deny. From ads to shooting to distribution, the viewers' expectation of themselves controlling the place and timing of viewing must be supported.

...the 'Dollhouse' premiere episode's rating increased 30% once time-shifted viewing was added in. 'Dollhouse' went from a 2.0 adult demo number to a 2.6.
'Dollhouse' lead-in 'Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles' gained even more - 36%

(from The Live Feed).

Urban Light (flash)

Friends amongst the streetlamps at LACMA (rated PG-13).

News Feeds (Not RSS)

The first, and strongest, guideline about news feeds is to stop calling them RSS. In our study, 82% of users had no idea what this term meant

(from Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, June 12, 2006). This was why Forrester under estimates feed use; they called them RSS which is meaningless to 82% of users.

Call feeds, feeds. That's what they are in plain English and referring to feeds as feeds clearly tells even the newest users that one item is being fed into another.

I also have more technical advice for feeds.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Internet with a Side of Fail

  • If your site is down for 14 hours in middle of the day, on a Wednesday: you are fail (why).
  • If your page takes over 25 seconds to load at noon on a Friday, or your server is in Europe and your audience is in North America: you are fail (why).
  • If you promised an episode at a given time and place, and it isn't there: you are fail.

You must delight, not disappoint. All the brilliant content and marketing in the world will never save you if you're building internet with a side of fail.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

IAB Needs Platform Independent Video Ads

TV Week covers the IAB's efforts to standardize ads in and near online video, and mentions the size of the current online video market:

The IAB's latest initiative reflects the growth in online video viewing. According to comScore, Internet users in the United States are watching more than 14 billion videos each month. TV series are a relatively small portion of that total, but they command the bulk of online ad dollars. Research firm eMarketer predicts online video advertising will grow 45% this year to $850 million

(emphasis added).

Among those standards, "companion" ads should not be sold. (Companion Ads: Commonly text, display ads, rich media, or skins that wrap around the video experience... typically run alongside or surrounding the video player [from the IAB PDF on video ad format standards]). Companion ads, or synced ads, have no equivalent on mobile devices or TVs. Many sites (like studio and network sites) only sell video ads with these companion ads; this makes no financial incentive to embrace other platforms like mobile devices and internet video on TV.

Companion ads bundled with video ads mean lost audience (all non-web-browser viewers). A viewer may want to watch a TV show or other online video on a portable player (e.g., an iPhone) while commuting by train, or waiting to pick up children from school. Right now, audience often can't view videos because the ad impressions guaranteed by major providers (studios, networks, etc.) include these companion ads. Since companion ads can't be viewed on anything that isn't a web browser on a desktop/laptop computer, there is no incentive for the major ad space providers to reach that viewer (and build the systems to support bringing content to the non-web-browser viewers).

The IAB must also go further than uncoupling the companion ad from the video ad sale; the standards for video ads must be platform independent. True that an ad viewed on different devices (platforms) seems different since ads on a computer in a web browser might mean different viewer demographics or ad effectiveness than on an iPhone or on Tivo, but the audience wants to watch what they want, where they want, when they want.

Millennials will be biggest audience by 2010 and they know how to use technology better than many of the decision makers at major content providers (studios, television networks, etc.). Whether legal or otherwise, people will find a way to view what they want on the device on which they want to view it. Since the audience now has the technology to watch video where and how they wish, the IAB standards must allow platform independence to be financially viable for the providers too.

Major providers must make advertising guarantees that can be filled on any platform. If a content provider does not, the audience is left to seek out either a pirate or non-entertainment / media company (like YouTube, which is currently the most platform diverse video provider). Not only is YouTube not primarily a content creator (yet), but they are not an entertainment or media company (yet). Failing to support every platform leaves traditional media and entertainment companies out of the equation, both financially now and building audience habits for the future.

YouTube can control all non-browser views if they continue to be the only ones to significantly support so many platforms for online video. The IAB cannot continue to build platform dependence into their standards. According to the IAB, their members are [currently] responsible for selling 86% of online advertising in the United States, but that number will shrink unless IAB standards become platform independent.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hollywood ASST (flash)

Assistants in Hollywood made this rap video (rated R).

Making of 3D Street Art (flash)

For this year's Festival of World Cultures renowned German artist Edgar Müller transformed a huge slice of the East Pier into a dramatic ice age scene (rated PG).

Monday, February 23, 2009

Rise and Fall of the Nazi Dinosaurs (flash)

Good silliness produced in five days, with $20 (rated PG-13).

Making Mistakes (flash)

HaIeybop's original song (rated PG).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Call of Duty (flash)

The video game as live action (rated R).

Secrets of success in 8 words, 3 minutes (flash)

Richard St. John condenses years of interviews into an unmissable 3-minute slideshow on the real secrets of success (rated PG).

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Escape From City 17 part 1 (flash)

Short film series is an adaptation based on the Half Life computer game; shot for less than $500 (rated R).

Speed Counts

I've mentioned earlier the importance of uptime and now want to draw attention to website response time. If a website loads slowly, people will leave it, often never to return. Your website must load as fast as is affordable and practical.

People have response time limits when using computers and Human perception of delays starts kicking in at under 400ms or just under 1/2 second (quote from Bwooce's Log). The closer the server hosting the site is to the user, the faster a site's data will arrive. The faster the load, the better the chances of the user enjoying the site and returning or telling their friends about it.

A video website that has been very popular say in Europe may host all of its content on servers in the Europe since it is close, and therefore fast, to do so. Such a European site will want to seriously consider redesigning their systems before a North American launch of a new site (one intended for people accessing the internet from North America). If they don't, the data will take more time to reach most North American users. The videos may not load fast enough; the audience will have the annoyance of videos stopping every few seconds. Studder-ing video will lose audience. The initial design for Europe may be great, but may not be good for a geographically different audience.

To lose viewers because a site is slow is unnecessary since many have already solved these problems; making a site faster is always an improvement is the user's experience.

If you'd like guidance on how to make a video site run quickly (without buying your own data centers) contact me directly.

Property of the Queen (flash)

Sketch with Andy Samberg and the Jonas Brothers including the line " What are you guys? Highlanders?" (rated PG-13).

Friday, February 13, 2009

Inglourious Basterds Trailer (flash)

Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Bastards is the story of a group of Jewish soldiers in Nazi occupied France, set to kill as many Nazis as possible (rated R).

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Create a Great Website

No matter the type of site, certain things are consistent among all great sites. Seth Godin's list is a great starting point, and includes this gem:

Fire the committee. No great website in history has been conceived of by more than three people. Not one. This is a dealbreaker.

Broadcast Quality TV on Net

Broadcast quality TV on the Internet may reach critical mass this year (from Los Angeles Acting blog by David August). You can read more about the future of IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) as well.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Social Media is Not Broadcast

Many companies want to use social media as a channel to push marketing messages at customers, while those customers are using social media as tools to connect with and communicate with others. They have almost zero interest in receiving marketing messages via social media, so predictably, companies that try to do just that, see their efforts falter.
If you want to use social media, consider why and how your customers use social media, and align your goals for your efforts accordingly.
Remember that at the end of the day, you are wanting to reach people. Respect them and their time, and you'll be rewarded for your efforts

(emphasis added, from Why Your Community-Building and Social Media Efforts Aren't Working).

Moms' Online Habits

Some interesting data about how mothers use digital technology and social networking sites (from Razorfish and CafeMom). Their methodology isn't entirely clear, but the information may be useful.

Epic Fail: ESPN Charging ISPs, Net-Non-Neutral

ESPN is sending a telegram through a phone line, as if the failure of AOL dial-up's 1990s and early 2000s business didn't clearly show that internet-provider-exclusive-content is pure failure.

If your ISP doesn't want to pay for you to watch ESPN360, there's nothing you can do about it, short of switching to a provider that pays for it... ESPN is doggedly pursuing the same strategy online that made it a success in the TV world: licensing pipes, not people.
Free Press' Ben Scott thinks the this new internet model will ultimately be bad for providers. 'My gut reaction is that it's a terrible business model,' says Scott. 'The beauty of the internet is that you put a piece of content on your server, and it's available to anyone with a computer anywhere in the world that's connected to the internet. If you begin walling off your content and selling network operators [the right to distribute content], that defeats the whole idea of maximizing the exposure of your content.

(emphasis added, from Wired). This goes against the paradigm of the net, and tries to perpetuate the Broadcast and Cable TV model to a medium that is fundamentally different; the internet demands ubiquity of access. It would be better to charge customers directly since premium content is often monetized that way, and the audience accepts that reality.

The audience wants what they want where and when they want it. To ignore this is to ignore the audience.

Christian Bale Out (flash)

Remix of on set distemper (rated R).

Update February 9, 2009: Christian apologizes mp3

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Video Views Over Time on YouTube

In the first month on YouTube
  • 70% of videos get at least 20 views
  • 50% of videos get at least 100 views
  • Fewer than 20% of videos get more than 500 views
  • Fewer than 10% of videos get more than 1,500 views
  • 3% of videos get more than 25,000 views
  • Around 1% of videos get more than 500,000 views

(from Data Mining: Text Mining, Visualization and Social Media).

Loving Fan Mash-Ups of Your Work

Cobbling, the word a PDF presentation 'Sailing the C’s of Change' by Kate Rutter, uses for mash-ups, work arounds and adaptations, can start to be embraced with these steps:

  1. Accept that cobbling will happen. Look beyond the threats to see the opportunities.
  2. Screws, not glue. Make it easy to open [DRM-free might be the equivalent for online video and social media].
  3. Decide who has the first response: legal or marketing.
  4. Identify and participate in emerging communities about your products.

Monday, February 2, 2009

History of the Internet (flash)

An animated documentary explaining the inventions from time-sharing to filesharing, from Arpanet to Internet (rated PG).

Old, New Media Play Together

It's not that the Internet isn't enough, said Tom Guida, an entertainment attorney with Loeb & Loeb who represents new-media clients including Comcast Interactive and EQAL.
It's that every property needs to be everywhere. You can make money with a Web series if you have advertising, but to maximize the value proposition you need to put the show everywhere, he said.
That's no different from what networks must do today. Networks are releasing their shows on multiple platforms. Digital producers need to do the same.
No one gets to play in just one sandbox anymore. We all have to get in each other's sandboxes

(emphasis added, from TVWeek).

Every Audience Member/Visitor/Customer Counts

Let's suppose you own an online advertising platform and someone is running ads with a daily budget of $2.00. A week ago your systems showed this advertiser's ad to one of the advertiser's friends, even though that friend is not in the targeted group that is supposed to be shown the ad. Today your systems showed the ad to the advertiser themselves, despite both not being in the targeted group and being the person running the ad (which your systems are intimately aware of as they choose what ads to show).

Since your 'fictional' ad platform allows an advertiser to target only specific groups of people, showing the ad to people outside of the targeted group is a failure; you didn't do what you told your customer you would do, and you are charging them anyway.

What will you do to make things right with this $2-a-day customer? How quickly will you address their concerns? What's the return on investment in a quick and complete response to this customer?

You might think with the $2-a-day budget the advertiser doesn't matter to your bottom line. You would be wrong. The company the advertiser works for spends millions on online ads. Millions. Fail them, lose millions. Please them, and your return on investment is millions.

In fact the relatively small unit the advertiser works for alone spends around 3.6 million dollars a year on online ads, or about $10,000-a-day. The advertiser is evaluating your ad platform for possible future advertising for their business unit (that $3.6 million a year).

The $2-a-day spend is a test, a test you are failing since your systems aren't following the targeting rules the advertiser set up. If you don't explain yourself, and quickly, you lose not only the $2-a-day, but you'll likely see no part of the $3.6 million a year. Plus the advertiser will advise other business units in the company of your failure as well.

If you let your product look unreliable, or uncontrollable, an entire fortune 500's online ad spend is at risk. There are literally millions at risk if you fail to address why you showed ads to people this $2-a-day advertiser didn't target. Many think making your customer service effective even for the customers spending very little money with you isn't worth the money.

Turns out you can't afford not to delight every customer. Disappoint the customer who spends little with you, and best case they tell a friend, perhaps online on a blog or in a twitter for all to see when searching for you online. Worst case you lose millions.

As you may have guessed, this 'fictitious' ad platform example is not fictitious at all, it is very real and happening as I type this. Time will tell how it turns out for them.