NAB Show/Thinking Big

24Apr09

NAB was good to the last drop!   Every moment so action packed I wound up tweeting live via my iPhone the entire conference in an attempt to capture it in the moment, the vibe, the scene, the big ideas vetted by industry’s top executives.  Of the 83,000 B2B attendees on the Expo floor, only about 100ish attended the sessions, so in these small intimate forums these big wigs spoke very candidly, unscripted and passionately about vision and lack of.  I look back at my tweets which are utterly incomprehensible at 140 characters a pop and I’m amazed that not only did my Twitter audience grow at every posting, but that it attracted a tremendous diversity of followers, from the Beastie Boys to OnLive to Apple fanboys and everyone else in between.  Here is a summary:

NAB Opening – More than Mary Tyler Moore
Started off with a space flight simulation, the national anthem, a benediction, I Matter stickers and white middle-age men in suits vying for a Sony Bravia.  I thought for sure I was in the wrong room.  But that changed when David Rehr, CEO of NAB, took the stage and delivered his inspirational Right Here, Right Now speech, urging us to invest during the downturn, dare mighty things, find strength from adversity, and not let the future of broadcasting get caught in the grey twilight between victory and defeat.  He highlighted exciting developments like the FM chip for cell phones and laptops, Mobile TV with 100mm users by 2012, TV brands like Lost and Heroes unmatched in ability to drive consumers, tv viewing up 7% from 2007, and the power of broadcast content with 98% of shows produced locally.  Then he introduced Mary Tyler Moore who was being honored for raising$1B for the Juvenille Diabetes Association with her celebrity.   Next up and not so close by…

Adobe Announces Flash for Digital Home – HOLLA
It really should have been huge news with fireworks and ding ding dings, and not humbly tucked behind a Disney CTO Bud Albers and Adobe Evangelist Jason Levine Hannah Montana demo of Adobe Story and Location, which to its credit are mindblowing production tools for capturing rich relevant searchable metadata, making live streams scrubbable by word, phrase and character, and Adobe Strobe’s media monetization modelling.  The real story eeped out oh sooo quietly as a footnote at the end of the session when Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen dropped the bomb …today Adobe announces here at NAB, Flash for TVs, STBs, and Mobile, first devices expected to ship Summer 2009.  This news so revolutionary not to see everyone dancing on their chairs was shocking for the era of Content NOW has arrived!  3 screens, anytime anywhere! Opening the content economy to mass adoption by 100 million US households with all its glorious disposable income and scalable ad revenue.  Finally real money, adios digital pennies. And for the consumer, rich, interactive viewing, immersive transformative experiences with amazing ways to engage with HD content and switch seemlessly between TV programming and Web content.  Its Hulu on the iPhone.  Its Hulu on the Wii.  Its happy holidays.  Come on, get happy!

Million Dollar Look on a Thousand Dollar Budget
Up next was Stu Maschwitz from The Orphanage speaking as the author of the “DV Rebel’s Guide:  An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap” with Rodney Charters, DOP, 24.   Stu showed his the Chapter 12 clip from his Subway Shorts to demo what could be done with DV.  He also sported a way cool Subway Shorts tee from Printfection.  Rodney Charters was just getting into his story about sneaking a RED Kiwi into North Korea when… argggh…it was time for the Bob Newhart lunch…so I made a run for it, all the way back to the Hilton..

@Bob Newhart
Everyone was happy to have their photo taken for Twitter.  Tracee Ellis Ross of Girlfriends, the event’s MC, even checked out the TwitterFon app.   Here’s Deborah Norville in front.  She was at NAB promoting Thank You Power, her new book on gratitude.  With no munchies for the press, I quickly woofed down some Fruit Loops and chatted with SidewalksTV.com who raved about the interviews from the Wondercon press room.  Then the event started.  Some guy got up to talk on DTV, how the $1B industry spend was helping 34.5mm households transition smoothly, although we won’t know the full story til June.  Then Diane Sutter received the NAB Leadership Award.  Then Kelsey Grammar received the NAB TV Chairman’s Award.  Didn’t know that Kelsey Grammar was Sideshow Bob on the Simpsons.  He was pretty funny and thanked the audience for the Hall of Fame award which he remarked resembled a large tongue (Bob Newhart laughing), thanked his fans for his kids toys, shouted out “You gotta have content”, and spoke of bitter disappointment that his show Girlfriends got cancelled because color was out of fashion that season.  Then David Rehr cued the video tribute to Bob Newhart for presentation of the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame Award.  There was the theme song and his life in review….then Newhart took the stage and delivered belly laughs live (Kelsey Grammar laughing), one after the other, I couldn’t tweet them all…Borders kid told him he looked like Bob Newhart and asked if Newhart was still alive…Beat out Sinatra for best album, didn’t take much to upset Sinatra, a bird, the wind….What is retirement?  Sunset Boulevard, you sit in a dark room and Eric Von Stroheim shows you reruns…he closed with a riotous Buddy Hacket impression.  Someone give this man a show!

The Animation of Henry Selick
I ran as fast as I could to get back to South Hall for Henry Selick…it had already begun. His fascinating tour of work since Nightmare Before Xmas, about his start at CalArts with John Lasseter, Tim Burton, Brad Bird…  He talked about the visceral experience of watching stop motion, and its appeal..that its as real as toys from memory…reason for appeal of Robot Chicken, Wallace & Gromit…stop motion with spectacle, big moments and things never seen.  He showed spectacular clips from James and the Giant Peach with its CG sea (the only CG in Nightmare was Disney snow) and then we put on our 3D glasses and experienced Coraline in the garden.  Not the eye-popping 3D of yesterday.  Soft and immersive.  There’s that word again.  Immersive.  He talked about the limitation of the number of 3D screens available.  Only one film can be shown at a time.  After 3 weeks Coraline 3D got knocked out by the Jonas Brothers 3D.  A shame, the clips we were shown were so fantastic I wish I could have enjoyed it in the theatre.  He expressed concern over DVDs being released on 3D before the home experience is optimized and then he ended with how much he was enjoying working with Laika and promised more great stuff soon.

Eclectic Method Riffs VegasPro at Sony Party
Despite  all I was able to get to, it was a mere fraction of what was going on..I missed the Pixar 3D screening of Up, I missed the Jim Henson, I missed the Planet Hollywood party. (Shelly Palmer, Television Disrupted, actually cancelled his NAB mixer to get back to SF for ad:tech.) But I did stumble onto what might have been the best party of the night…Dave Chaimson of Sony opened with offbeat candor about the VegasPro UI looking familiar to make it easier for users to migrate, surprised there wasn’t more egg-stepping over FCP trade dress, and had everyone laughing over the industry’s ability to stick to release dates.  Then after AMD’s relay of Ted Nugent and Dweezil Zappa experiences with Vegas Pro it was time to turn it up with Eclectic Method, a Colbert favorite cuz the EFF says remixing is ok, mashups are fair use…that’s why we have the Daily Show.  The audience was still asleep until this moment when Eclectic Method in demoing Vegas Pro should how by the simple dragging of one image over the other, the tracks were mixed.  Ooooh!  The audience roared.  They continued, “We couldn’t do this with Avid, we couldn’t do this with FCP, only on VegasPro does Eclectic Method exist.” And then it was house party, floor to ceiling thumping mixing ravingpulsing.  These TwitPics don’t do it justice, its just a iPhone 3G after all.  I was tweeting as fast as I could until only one word at a time was tweeting out..Biggie..Beastie Boys…and as I tweeted, fans followed, and then Paulie from the Beastie Boys was on.  No way, I RT.  But yes way, it was the Beastie Boys tuning in…so thank you Twitter! The dance party social commentary mashup from Slash to Britney to Barak and Robocop (see their tee for sale here). Their work really defies description so here and here are videos of the event thanks to Twitter.com/NotaSpringChick and here is Eclectic Method’s site videos.

The More You Tweet, The More You Tweet
The dawn may have been breaking but the Kutcher’s Radio Hour on Twitter was still going strong with Demi and Ashton.  It was then I realized how incredibly addicting Twitter is.  The more you tweet, the more you tweet.  There was gabbing about the Mayor’s run for Governor, Oracle buying Sun, that kid who was making a run at Susan Boyle’s 100 million views and so on.  Like eavesdropping on conversations, or catching a passing comment from corner soapboxes as one after the other shout random remarks, Twitter is a land with no unexpressed thought.  I found a restful spot at Twitter’s Evan Williams who always has thought-provoking comments like “its hard to say asterisk.” And although you wouldn’t be expecting this dry B2B crowd to be tweeting NAB in such hot colors, there it was and Twitter was making NAB really fun.  I was determined to cover it all on iPhone, but must say, tweeting live on iPhone presents maddening challenges like iPhone speaking its mind and auto-correcting tweets with typos as you push send.From time to time, I’d remind my Twitter audience, I am not alone on these tweets…remember HAL from 2001?  I know its Larry Ellison but iPhone prefers to call him Larty…

Feeding the Press/Tips & Tricks
Next morning, I jolted out of bed, grabbed a bagel in the press room on my way to Second Life over in South Hall.  As you can tell from my write up, food is much of an issue at these events and in Las Vegas the distances trekked back and forth are far, so you have a situation of the press running to get the story without time to eat, some wind up grumpy. NAB asked me how could they make the press room better, more collegial…I say, stage catered press conferences in the press room like they do at Macworld 7:30-8:30, 12:30-1:30 and 6:30-7:30 and encourage schwag bags.  That would make for happy press.

Philip Rosedale, Second Life
Now onto Second Life…It was going to be another great day at NAB, starting off with magnetic visionary Philip Rosedale who gave the audience a glimpse into the near future…Second Life will look and feel difference, it will be like walking through the movies, as animation gives way to photorealism, as good as what we experience on tv. He was friendly and attentive to the audience, talked about how 80 year old grandmas were enjoying this fountain of youth online.   Stunning screenshots were so compelling kind of wish there was a demo station right there to see how easy it is to get on and explore.  Past understanding is that its not a casual drop-in, but things have changed and ultimately it will be akin to using a browser.  He talked about the Web as place. Second Life with a million inhabitants and economy onto its own with Linden currency that has exchange value with US dollars.   One day everyone will have a second life, better than the first.  Oh, thats so sci-fi.  When asked what gadget he was most curious about, he said he liked the Flip, site most curious about, he said he’s fooling around with Twitter.

Rob Cohen, In Defense of the Action Film
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about some of the things Rob Cohen said.  He’s so likable and persuasive.  A producer, director and writer with vast credits over 20 years, once the baby mogul of the 70s, he’s now known for his work as an action film director on Fast and the Furious and The Mummy.  He laughed about how he wound up an action film director after not cutting it with the seven day shot schedule for action episodic Miami Vice.  Then he talked about how Rudolf Arnheim in Art and Perception said that synced sound decimated film’s true potential and shifted focus to the spoken word delivered by stage actors resulting in critical acclaim bias for dramas, and the action film which calls for an overreaching command of the process a critical drubbing.  60% of the biggest grossing films of all time are action films and yet they only win best picture 12% of the time.  Apocalypse Now should have won best picture.  He was surprised that not many in the audience had seen the Bill Moyers Joseph Campbell Power of Myth series and urged everyone to check out Campbell’s seminal work on mythology, The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  Every meeting in Hollywood these works are referred to.   Humans worldwide have a need to create and sustain mythology and have done so all through time.  The call to adventure, the hero’s obligations and sacrifice, the very nature of heroism, it’s in the stories that speak to us on a deep level, and that is action cinema at its purest, in its own language, a visceral one, with stories of mythic continuance.  Then Peter Guber of Mandalay took the stage to talk dollars. How do you recover on a Spiderman 3 which cost half a billion dollars, well action has higher ROI than drama and thus less risky, Waterworld still generating money in the ancillaries…and multi-genre action drama romantic comedies do best like Titanic, which has stayed #1 for the past ten years.   Yet direct to digital is not smart for the action film, people need a communal experience of it on the large screen.  Guber joked that Rob Cohen doesn’t do sequels as evidenced by his triplets..then Cohen laughed halfheartedly saying I still need to put my kids through college.  They talked about marketing tactics and trailers giving it all away, saying marketing throws it all against the wall the first weekend to mitigate the risk, the business is so marketing driven that from the start its about if you can sell it we can make it.  To outsmart them, the director must deliver depth that a trailer can’t give away.  On does it have to cost that much, Cohen’s answer is no, you can make a taut thriller with edge like Tarantino on a low budget…start with the story.  On the theatrical experience, Cohen said the theatres suck, he goes to Showest and begs them to turn up the lights, make the bulb fresh, tune the sound system, directors agonize over every last detail, the color blue, fussing over frame, the industry needs to upgrade the theatres to state-of-the-art sound and projection or the home experience which gets more cinematic every day will win, and consumers will stay in.   On 3D, the risk is that it will be perceived as a gimmick like it has been every recession, and there have to be glasses that don’t hurt ears.  Guber chimed in saying he can’t believe the arguments over who is going to pay for the glasses on Avatar.  Then they talked about TV action dramas being a lot closer to theatrical like Heroes, and were saddened by the loss of the 10pm action hour to the DVR and the networks decision to give it to Leno.  As for gamers, these action dramas satisfy them, there are certain things that the eye and brain like.  The bottom line is people like action films and they need more critical acclaim.  So listen up Academy members, in defense of the action film, Rob Cohen has made it loud and clear that he wants an Oscar for Best Picture, and he’s got the law of attraction on his side.  Hope to hear good things soon 🙂

CNET’s Cool Gadgets
What most caught my attention during this review was the rendered rumors of Apple’s netbook, I couldn’t laugh harder.  Apple is so secretive internally that the rumors usually do turn out to be well-founded although can’t imagine who would cross the NDA.  CNET favorite clouds reside at www.hdcloud.com, www.yousendit.com, www.filesociety.com.  They went on to talk about Sezmi, Zillion TV, PS, Xbox, Roku, Panasonic/Amazon, LG’s STB, Verizon FiOS, ATT Uverse, DOCSIS 3.0, WiMAX LTE 4G, in-auto WiFi hotspots, Samsung, LG, Nokia smart phones, they actually knocked Apple for having only one iPhone model (silly, that’s the secret to Apple’s success)…it was then that I got an invite by Eclectic Method’s manager to run over to Sony for something super exciting, but a funny thing happened on the way…

Cars Tokyo 3D in the Panasonic Theatre
I got pulled into this fantastic 3D demo at the Panasonic theatre for Cars Tokyo. What a ride!  and the glasses totally didn’t hurt.  I hope Panasonic gets a pair over to Rob Cohen. Didn’t hurt at all.  Again, the 3D was fun with no eye-popping duck down moments until the credits. But then as I emerged from this 8 minute moment I was lost on the cavernous floor and never found my way to Sony.  Starved and exhausted I stumbled into the press room and was thrilled to have hit the jackpot with lunch, someone brought us lots of lavosh which I dined on with these Russian journalists who were not too impressed withFlash for TV or American’s preoccupation with YouTube, Twitter and Craigslist, whatever that was they snickered.  They told me they’d rather hang out with friends live in a cafe smoking and drinking, not something that can be done on Classmates, their preferred social network.

This Battlestar Galactica Aint No Space Opera
The title of the talk was “The Making of Battlestar Galactica or How To Create a Dark, Desperate, Nihilistic Franchise in the Age of Comfort Food Television.”  So if there was any doubt about the new Battlestar Galactica having nothing to do with the glitzy discoed down version from decades past, it was dispelled in the first minutes of the horrifically violent, knife twisting, blood dripping, post-holocaust apocalyptic nightmarish sizzle reel that Producer David Eick proudly showed off with his doting mom in the audience.  Funny, Eick doesn’t look like Darth Vader.  Now I like space opera escapism and not afraid to admit it…except maybe to David Eick who f—ing hates it…(yes, he really said f—king onstage), the studio insisted the only thing he couldn’t change was the Battlestar Galactica title so he set out to deconstruct every last part til it emerged as uber dark sci-fi realism.  The manifesto of the series detailed the struggle of human survivors following a catastrophic attack by cybernetic beings of their own making.  The series ran for 4 years on the Sci Fi channel and won critical acclaim. Eick went on to prove that there is demand for harsh gritty unflinching entertainment during dark times – 1969 Urban Cowboy, 1971 – French Connection, 1973 – Exorcist, 1974 – Godfather – and in these times, people want relevant drama, they need to feel the passion on-screen.  TV originating from radio had always made the writer showrunner with a focus on words.  Eick talked about the importance of collaboration on a TV action drama because its cinematic in scope and so much more production intensive.  He made it a point of Battlestar to give the director two takes before notes to avoid an excruciating 40 day shoot. The series used a lot of CG and handheld to get a shaky verite look, DOP from American Gothic had gotten zen of life and was great to work with.  Four-walled a bunch of students instead of farming out FX to ILM.  Then David Weddle, supervising producer on CSI, took the stage to enjoy some one on one with Eick.  Here they are together.  Very entertaining and informative.

PGA Cocktail Party
At this point, my brain was overloaded trying to process all of the incredible insight these talented producers and directors of action dramas were sharing.  This high octane content was shaping consumer appetite and driving behavior.   Luckily, just then the Producers Guild of America arrived with coctails and a tale of collaboration between Intel, Facebook and Mass Animation to create Live Music, a short made from a $500 buyout for 50 UGC clips.  Along with their panel, and announcement of their ProducedBy conference where everyone in the industry gathers at Sony Studios LA June 5-7 to discuss the merging of art and action, speakers include James Cameron, Clint Eastwood, Roger Corman, Norman Lear , nearly one hundred in all with topics like elements of an episodic hit, and cable the new home of scripted tv.

MEF Meet The Mobile Entertainment Producers
And yet there was still more, and more.  Not only MEF at Content Theater, but following a party at Blush.  I decided MEF was my last stop for the night. Jim Beddows of Microsoft had a terrific panel introducing Comedy Time (other properties incl. ChickComedy) Ring Tales, Fun Little Movies, WebRides and Canadian app developer Metranome.  And there was Robin Leach, Lifestyle of the Rich & Famous making the introductions.   First there was a screening of the shorts – Comedy Time’s Chelsea Handler, Ring Tales – Dilbert, Fun Little Movies – TurboDates (GSM Winner, distributes via Babelgum etc.).  On monetization – Michael Goldman, Comedy Time secures advances, guarantees, mobile subscription fees, Jim Cox, Ring Tales, would like to get subscription fees, primarily rev share, Frank Chindamo – happy with his rev share, produces original content and also licenses in.  David Kruis of Metranome secures app sales revenue as well as subscription fees and ad share for snackable, 10 min max with quality story line and high production value, viewer has ADD must tell story fast.  Comedy Time agrees, scripts short fast funny programming that really can’t be repurposed outside mobile, made for small screen, even edited in small screen viewer, carriers would like refresh rate weekly, would love 100 films each month, Fun Little Movies produces 10-13 per series.  2-3 episodes not enough for channel.  Comedy Time – content has to be compelling and high value to attract advertisers.  WebRides – is all commercial branding, embeds sponsors.  Fun Little Movies – sometimes retain sponsor first before creating the story.  MSN ad insertion allows 3 links in video and preroll.  Ring Tales – flight from newspapers/magazines has delivered huge comic strip talent pool.  The better the distribution, the better the sponsors.  Comedy Time agrees, moves quick to grab real estate, 7th most watched channel on mobile, distribution includes Sprint, Vcast, Mobi, iPhone app-Video Joke of the Day.   Finding RIM becoming more consumer centric.  Carriers splits range widely but typically around 50% depending on who brings the advertisers, not seeing much in terms of upfronts/advances.   The panel got cut off as it went way passed 6pm and they closed the hall.  Michael Goldman of Comedy Time was sharing very helping distribution and monetization details..offered to follow up with Content NOW in a one-on-one interview after NAB so stay tuned!

Malcolm Gladwell:  Myth of the Self-Made Man
Current crisis is one of overconfidence, mistakes of overconfidence way worse than those of incompetence since those rarely rise to any level of significance,  overconfidence is always preceded by success whereas incompetence has a track record of mistakes, the financial models had not built in any assumptions of instability, feedback mitigates risk of overconfidence, It takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice with focused feedback to hone expertise,  4 hours of day for 10 years to become a concert pianist, a chessmaster, a brain surgeon, need patience to develop expertise and deal with disappointments as built-in blips, you don’t know that you’re good til you’ve been doing it for a long time, this debunks the myth of innate talent.  In Outliers, Gladwell interviewed masters of their field and found the geniuses didn’t get there by themselves, Bill Gates credits success to a series of lucky breaks and wealthy parents.  Talked about the role of culture. To be successful, sometimes one must acknowledged cultural limitations. Korean Air was crashing planes left and right until they became more western in the cockpit with open communication.  Similarly, if Americans became more Asian with their expectation going into a math problem, if I work hard enough at it I can solve it, then we’d see better performance in the classroom.   American kids go into a problem assuming if I can’t do it, I must not be good at it, and they give up too soon.   Expectations make the difference in how we achieve.  We choose the rules we follow.  The US economic problems are cultural, for example:  buying things we can’t afford. Gladwell advocates a return to frugality and waning of immediate gratification.  How does David beat Goliath – outsider trades effort for ability, works hard, stays focused to succeed. On learned optimism, pessimistic people don’t get anywhere, the worse case scenario is only useful in the moment.  Media is at a tipping point, how to adapt to what’s next in an unstable world, the only thing that is certain is those who think they know are wrong.  There is a lot of generational experimentation and its ok not knowing the outcome, can’t extrapolate from Twitter as a dominant form of cultural communication.  What if we started online and paper was just invented a few years ago.  Paper would then be the hottest thing.  A false assumption is Google has all of the world’s information – it doesn’t.  There is a danger of putting all eggs in one basket. Rehr/Gladwell, food for thought.

Discovery/Deadliest Catch
Up next was David Zaslav of Discovery in conversation with Thom Beers of Original Productions, guerrilla producer of Deadliest Catch, primal hyper-action non-fiction wave-crashing drama, its the real world at sea, #1 cable show for men, success rests on foley artist and editor for works like these.  Fan following so strong, launched Catch Con, 2 day festival in Seattle.
Discovery is the #1 nonfiction media company in the world, global leader in producing compelling nonfiction brands – curiosity, innovation, inspiration, reach, ratings up 6% in these down times, looking to grow and investing in content, good ideas, quality makes a difference.

John King, CNN – Interviewing Holograms, Tweeting Onstage
Another NAB treat.   Content Theater was running late when I arrived, and lucky me, CNN was still onstage.  I didn’t expect them for I was trying to catch Bill Bradford, Fox for the Captializing on Broadband Video panel.  So I only caught the tale end of a story of the CNN hologram interview-very cool.  Watch the video.  Bummer, I couldn’t find the stereoscopic hologram walking around NAB.  By the way, John King was caught in a stage faux paux with his eyes on his BB as his pal from CNN was talking to the audience.  He explained later he was texting his producer that he was on his way, and not tweeting which he would never do while a colleague was talking 🙂

Broadcasters Capitalizing on Broadband
Now I only had a minute to listen in on the conversation between Fox, Akamai, WorldNow and TDG before racing off to the Deloitte panel with Fox, CBS, Discovery and Sun.  Even still, in the minutes I stayed, great information was shared:  challenging times to aggregate eyeballs, but an innvoative and creative time too, Fox online surges on Friday nights when everyone is out and when they’re online they watch 4 episodes at a time, 9% watching 5 hours a week, broadband is delivering robust tv experiences and the consumer is completely embracing it 86 minutes a week.  With Adobe and Microsoft announcements of adaptive streaming, and Flash on TV soon, primetime numbers are on the way.

Generations:  Media Consumption Habits and Preferences
On the panel Marc Pearson, Fox, John Nogawski, CBS, Doug Craig, Discovery, Darrell Jordan-Smith, Sun, and Ed Moran, Deloitte.  Across the board, Millennials, Xers, Boomers, Matures – the media conversations are about TV shows, combine music video mobile and you’ve got the Millennials.  Fox – integrated programming with advertisers incorporated into the storyline is not scalable, scripted TV walks a fine line to avoid looking like a commercial.  Family Guy was brought back by popular demand, fan base being DVD buyers made the show economically profitable with a 65% margin for DVD sales, and a 70/30 split on iTunes downloads.  The math worked for bringing the show back.  CBS-  Want to do it all from my 52″, pay bills while watching CSI, CBS programs shows from community blogs.  Kids – computers are an entertainment device, more so than tv, video games are an entertainment source particularly on mobile.  Windowing models – day and date – Hulu credited for stirring up appetite for premium content.  Discovery – not serial in nature, linear programming harder to differentiate, long shelf life, can repeat, repurpose, mashup old shark footage, want to be compensated for content, half the revenue is from telcos, online merely additive, not cannibalizing by putting it all online.  Fox- premium is paid for mass, Saturday night animation block is best reach.  CBS – breaking news or exclusive is a joke because of delay between production and airing, affects the way they shoot the story, all news is immediately old, I’m happy letting Yahoo! feed me my news bits, btw the CBS sweet spot is not the millennials who have no money of their own, the wealth is in the 35-65, 18-34 has no money.  I’m the one in the Apple store buying the Mac, too much attention being paid to the millennials.  Deloitte – Portability of content is key, DRM is good and dead, mobile video is mostly UGC going back and forth and not premium viewing yet, predicts 8 screens in 5years but noone knows what hte other 4 screens will be, Hulu proved the web viable platform for longer form content and not just snacking on clips.  (Hulu+Mac+Adobe Flash).  In the future, perhaps we’ll see one digital media menu across multiple devices that knows you with embeddable games, social, and it will start with the TV.  CBS- can’t wait, that’s when we’ll be able to monetize it correctly with mass and standardized analytics, I like that world.  Sun – It will all be in the cloud and the device reads packets of information regardless of the screen, 4G is coming, were in a place in time that’s just a bump in the road,get over the bump and we’re there, FiOS is step one.  Millennials entire life is wired for entertainment, school, the doctor, everything.  Expect to change job every two years, and aim to make the world a better place in the process.  Lifecycle will play a role in the content served to the millennials, millennials spend more time with UGC because they are making it.  Friends are main source of recommendations, discovery of new sites, products, social networks drive traffic, finally making money with UGC, 320mm blogs online, 300 mm blog readers, 1.3B tweets.   11mm Blizzard users pay $60/month, how to get that model translate to video.

On the Floor – Producer Seeking Distribution, Career Schwag
In the 90 minutes I had before Chuck, I ran 20 minutes over to the Hilton to meet a friend for lunch, and in the process got to know Black Lion Productions who had a giant tree in their booth publicizing their show, Off The Beaten Path, as they hoped to attract a distributor.  Snagged a sandwich, picked up the best schwag of the show at the career fair – CBS yoyos, Tandberg lip gloss, NAB screenduster, sat in three seconds on a panel, attitude makes the difference, appearance counts, put references on your resume, hugged my friend goodbye and ran 20 minutes back to South Hall just in time for Chuck.

Can Twitter and Subway Save Chuck?
In conversation with Joe Flint of the LA Times, Josh Schwartz, Executive Producer of NBC’s Chuck stopped by to talk about the canceling of his show and the fan-inspired Save Chuck Twitter campaign.
Buy a sandwich at Subway on Monday when the last episode airs – and make history. Schwartz says sometimes I feel like I am running across a bridge exploding behind me talking about the evolution of the medium.  My shows get all the buzz but not the ratings, Nielsen is obviously not getting it all.  For the OC more people watched than were counted.  My audience, 12-24, the college kids, take computers to school, not tvs.  Theyre watching online, is Nielsen counting that?  Do they count in Rihanna’s ringtones..there are ancillary ways of measuring, like count in Hulu views for Chuck.  You can get on Rollingstone and still have low ratings..Shows are expensive to make, all are now being made 360, to captured other distribution revenue, online, mobile..studio deal is less valuable as other distribution pays, that said there’s not much money in online unless there is product integration, a sponsor like Chuck/Subway or GossipGirl/Vitamin Water.  Chcuk works at Best Buy, you can sell the shelf space, 30Rock takes place at GE/NBC…as for production costs, the NYC rebate made Gossip Girl very reasonable, you can save $300,000 per episode by filmming in Canada, 10pm the DVR hour lost to Leno, damn, that was the Chuck hour, networks gave Saturdays nights to DVR long ago..so Josh Schwartz new project is online, Rockville, platform for new bands.  There is no money to be made online but you do get huge creative freedom, cast whoever you want…just don’t quit your day job…for Rockville, started with 20 episodes, XMen is coming up, plates full but as a multitasker there’s room for more, will obsess on negative if not juggling a lot so Schwartz co-creates a lot these days to avoid burnout and yet maintain imprint, gotta have your DNA in the show from the start.  These days the life of a show is 4-5 seasons max.  Looks at AMerican Idol, no more 15 yr ERs, ADD burn through stories quickly, audiences move on quickly, Schwartz shows last as long as high school, pop culture shelf life, narrow casting like Mad Men with its audience of 2mm not 20mm put AMC in the spotlight.  OC felt Fox, Chuck felt NBC, but audiences don’t know the difference between cable and broadcast anymore, the 22 episode model has changed and now 6-16 episodes make a season.  Remember how Dynasty would get a 28 share, now 1-2 share is awesome.  Schwartz prefers writing shows, on p55 of a tv show, I’m done whereas on a film I’m just getting started.  Bright Lights, Big City remake won’t be about the 80s with its casual drug use, it will have a current feel, more violent, more PC, family entertainment does shape a lot of what you can do these days.  Schwartz likes symied romantic comedies with twists like a beautiful guy and nerdy girl pining for unrequited love, what if I could be Bond for a day, wish fulfillment, quintessential coming of age story.  Trickiest moment in writing is after the pilot, how much to advance the story.  Best way to hone talent is rite episodes for shows you like….writing spec as well as original, there’s an old rule never send episode of show to show but why bfear of lawsuit, what better way to demonstrate talent..knew he was a writer when he won an award age 6 at summer camp for his treatise titled “Spielberg has done it again with Gremlins!”, was amply rewarded and that positive experience gave him a vision of being a writer and launched his career.  On Twitter, finds 140 characters too much like drawing mustaches on pictures.  On Facebook, gets a vicarious thrill out of scrolling through friends albums seeing all the fun they had at parties he was not invited too.

When Do We Eat?
Then right when it ended, I got a reply from Sal Litvak, Filmmaker of When Do We Eat?, that slacker Seder movie with Jack Klugman whose fan marketing campaign we reviewed several posts ago thanking us for our tips. How exciting!  I love this world of WordPress and Twitter where you can reach out to people in the industry like never before.  Even Joe Flint of the LA Times, as he was jumping off stage checked out my Twitter stream to see if there was anything to add to his writeup on his interview with Josh.  I said sure just realize iPhone is auto-correcting me with typos…oh yeah, blame it on iPhone…

Demand Studios/ZillionTV
Running back to Content Theater there was lots of talk about Web 3.0 on the escalator, integrated apps, etc…I really wanted to hear from Demand Studios on there syndication…they’ve been so successful with their niche in how-to content…joining Steven Kidd of Demand onstage were Steve Rosenbaum, Magnify.net, Doug Knopper, Freewheel,Chase Norlin, Pixsy, and Jeff Karnes, VoloMedia.  And yet, I’d have to hop back and forth to catch the overlap with ZillionTV’s panel with Starz on Personalized TV…and I decided I would skip the RED party at the Rio to have time to prepare for a 7:30am client conference call the next morning…so here is the stream of consciousness between the two last panels…Pixsy has a pay syndication model where clients hire them to reach niche audiences for higher CPM, in this model producers pay them for targeted distribution to get the numbers up, e.g. target 24-49 moms to deliver views advertisers need, contnt needs to follow users. Demand is the most successful syndicator, low cost creation by farming out to freelancers, budding professional creator class needs money and opportunity to build brand, Demand has 160,000 videos on YouTube ahead of AP and CBS with 16,000 each.  Demand is #30 on comScore..using content algorithms optimized for search with indexed metadata, expert village is 3rd most viewed on YouTube, create scale with SEO, YouTube supports social publishing ecosystem and is 41% of the market, others include DailyMotion, Metacafe…  Freewheel is at the opposite end of syndication, first 30 days CBS sells the advertising, then Joost if high CPM, then its whoever can get the highest CPM, typically the money is split 50-60% content owner, 40-30% distributor, ad reseller/commissions 10-15%….back at South Hall..Mitch Berman of ZillionTV is talking about how experience is a name we give our mistakes, change is coming to the content ecosystem…Starz – privacy information is a liability that Starz doesn’t need, makes its money from sub fees not advertisers, but the information does help with programming, understanding what the viewers like, young people not as concerned with privacy, its generational..in the audience, great question from ALly at FIM, the audience wants to feel heard, ok if I opt in but if its uploading to my preferences without permission, then its a violation and will be rejected, that’s the risk.  ZillionTV talked about distribution partnes, open to all, talking with DirecTV, some ISPs taking a wait-and-see approach…but Z is not a threat to ISPs will share in the advertising and T-commerce revenue, Mitch Berman recommends Negroponte on Monetizing Communities of People…

Alternate Reality and the Future of Gaming
True to my opening, NAB was good to the last drop.  I planned to go home Wednesday night, but decided to stick around for Alternate Reality Day, and was happy I did.  Got turned on to immersive action dramas, licensed tv titles, and the scoop on retail’s defense tactics that might trip up the advent of OnLive.  Heroes360 fan fiction huge, Dark Knight 10mm interactive users, Obama 40mm, the challenge is to keep the audience, the community, after the game ends …hoodlumactive.com/spooks and Find815, mainstream experience with TV feel – Bourne Identity, to get mainstream numbers migrate primetime from onair to online, make game play simple, emulate production value of tv show, can’t look like UGC or audience will be bored and not follow, they only follow you on once, Sveriges/Fox Dollplay participation drama, Truth About Marika, tv production value, game with great storyline, clues in both physical reality that players can find and online, fake tweets and blogs promotes game to go deeper, UGC uploads extend game space into other countries, build the shows 360 for transmedia and deconstruct the linear elements with rich interaction … HellBoy, emmy-winning producer Matt Wolf, D20 Productions … www.hetfet.org … http://www.whatisthesecretdevice.com…games are evolving from twitch play to ARG stroytelling, extending the fiction, schedule game episodes like TV so players know when new content is coming out, entering the trailhead, immersed in game before you know you’re playing it, you can be following tweets that are part of an ARG, Matt Wolf storyboard as a boardgame, Jane McGonigal of the Institute of the Future on serious games tackling real world problems, ARG playtesting, Olympics ARG. …. over in Content Theater, AFI DIgital Content Lab was talking with Namco Bandai and others on licensing TV titles for games …. but it was IGN, EA, and Evolved Games that got the last word as they chatted on gaming trends:  iPhone accelerometer working as Wiimote on PC…Gaia, WOW, Call of Duty episodic experience, EA – $50 game good for one week before used games get to them, all future games will have online microtransactions, steam vault, games will overtake film/tv, games could be made cheaper without piracy, packaging and used sales, physical media in all forms is going away, gaming VOD like OnLive is on the horizon, console box has a life of 3 years, STB has a life of 10 years (really?), social networks are a great way to distribute games, Open ID Creature Creator allows one to move Spore character into various social networks, people have multiple personas with LinkedIn probably being the most accurate, indiegamereviewer.com.  OnLive not only faces bandwidth challenges (right now its faster to run to GameStop and back than it is to download a game), but it also faces defensive moves by retail behemoths like Best Buy and Blockbuster.  Sony would love to sell its games direct but needs Best Buy to sell its boxes and Best Buy wants the games, that’s why you don’t see PS downloads, EA made PS download games that died on the vine.  The thought is that OnLive will be bought by someone who sees them as a threat just to put them on ice.  Would love to hear more about it but with that I had to catch my plane..luckily, there is the

LA Games Conference next week
For more on gaming trends, don’t miss Digital Media Wire’s LA Games conference next week, Tu 4/28 – W 4/29 at the Hollywood Roosevelt, with Nolan Bushnell, Founder of Atari, Mitch Lasky, Benchmark Capital, and leading executives from Activision, EA, IGN Entertainment, Mattel, Alcatel-Lucent, Microsoft, THQ, Warner Music, Benchmark Capital, Facebook, Sony Television, Paramount, CNBC, PR Newswire, Reed Business Information, EdgeCast Networks, Best Buy, PopCap, Lionsgate, MySpace, Exponential Entertainment, SNL Kagan, Entertainment Hollywood, PC Gaming Magazine, LA Business Journal, Home Media Magazine, Game Reviews, CBS Television, Hands-On Mobile, Greystripe, Glu Mobile, MTV Networks, Nickelodeon Kids and Family Games Group, Variety, Turbine, Sony Online Entertainment, Sony Computer Entertainment (Playstation), KOCE-TV (PBS), LA Times, Nokia, UK Trade & Investment, Digonex Technologies, Technicolor, GSN Digital, Deloitte, Glow Interactive, Parature, Aria Systems, Inc, SuperRewards, Playdom, Unilever, Product Madness, YouTube, Microsoft, Sony, Disney, Qualcomm, Paramount, Vivendi Games, DirecTV, Playfirst, Endemol,Turbine, Sulake, MTV, Hollywood Reporter, G4, Liberty Media, Spike TV, NBC Universal, PaymentOne, Smashing Ideas, Nokia and many more..see next post for the LAGC Guide.

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One Response to “NAB Show/Thinking Big”

  1. 1 Irene Choldaker

    You are a fascinating person…how in G-d’s name can you write about so much in such detail with such enthusiasm without losing the beat or the accuracy. Terrific website. I recommend daily contact with CONTENT.NOW just to remember how alive one can be when integrated with what I used to think of as a sub-culture!!!!


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