Category Archives: new media

The Future of Star Trek Fan Films

charliexhd533I’m worried for the Star Trek fan films.  Reading between the lines of this preemptive defense of Star Trek Axanar, I’m not sure they understand the real issue.  It’s not about the IP.  It’s the amount of money these fan films are raising from fans that will trigger a crackdown.  The budgets are going through the roof and CBS will eventually see this as competition to a revenue stream that they previously had all to themselves.

It doesn’t help that there is a very vocal group online that spreads their hate for the “new-and-improved JJ Abrams reboot movies.”  Number five in this letter mentions this controversy as a defense for the continued existence of fan films but I don’t think CBS will see it that way if the new film doesn’t meet expectations at the box office.  CBS cares about the money the franchise can generate.  Eventually someone somewhere in that corporation will get tired of sharing it.   …and that will be a sad day.

Picture credit: The amazing Trek Core

Copying is not Stealing

Deviant Art - The Art Theft Discussion 640The art website Deviant Art has started a discussion on Art Theft with eight articles on Copyright infringement and related topics that effect digital artists on the internet.  Based on the comments, the articles are extremely controversial, especially the one on Stealing, where they separate the concept of stealing from copyright infringement.  I’m glad to see this.  Copying may be wrong or even illegal, but it’s not stealing.  Stealing is taking something away from someone.  When a copy is made the person still has the original.  If we’re going to build a future in our changing times where artists are paid and treated fairly, then we are going to have to start by being specific about what we are talking about.  Words have meanings.

About 15 years ago the music industry went bananas over Napster and started the incessant drumbeat claiming that copying and stealing are the same thing.  Now there is a generation of people who can’t tell the difference and I can see a lot of that in the angry comments on Deviant Art.  But the music companies didn’t want to build a future for artists.  They wanted everything to stay the same so they could keep their revenue streams.  They just wanted people to stop copying so they came up with a dramatic short cut to re-frame the discussion and shut it down.  Copying is stealing and that’s that.  Well it’s not, and the reality is much more complicated.

And change isn’t going to stop either.  As artists we need to take charge of this discussion because it’s up to us to build the future for ourselves.  Let’s say what we mean and mean what we say, and not fall into the trap of using language that was designed to stop the discussion and stop change.

The Mercury Men… finally!

Big, big news today.  The Mercury Men is a highly anticipated, independently created, dramatic sci-fi online video series.  There’s been buzz about it literally for years and now, finally, it’s about to be released to the public.  It will be shown for free “soon” on Syfy’s website.  Check out the trailer:

Here’s the official announcement on the Mercury Men blog.  Congratulations to Chris Preksta and everyone else who obviously worked very hard to make all this happen.  I can’t wait to see the show!

Old Spice Guy records a get well video for Kevin Rose

This is social media marketing at it’s best! The Old Spice guy records a get well video for Kevin Rose creator of, Revision3 and host of Diggnation.

This is brilliance in action.  A funny video directed at an unlikely person with a large social network.  Old Spice gets their brand to geeks everywhere.  (And it’s funny too.  This won’t work unless people want to talk about it.)  Old Spice has made scores of personalized message videos to invade other demographics too.  Check them all out in their YouTube channel.

There’s one directed at Alyssa Milano.

After her reaction, Old Spice Guy recorded and posted a response video.

Then Kevin Rose sees the video directed at him and replies on Twitter.  Then Old Spice Guy records and uploads another video to continue the conversation.

Then another video for Alyssa Milano.

This is how it’s done, people!  Old Spice is schooling us all on social media marketing!  Pay attention!

my long, drawn out, and untimely comment about New Mediacracy episode 13

New Mediacracy is an audio podcast about web video featuring industry producers, directors, writers, and other content creators.   It’s not for everyone to be sure – it’s in the form of a casual conversation which usually means that it goes on for hours.  Being a web video producer myself however, I find it an incredible resource.  Creating web video can be very isolating and it’s nice to hear about other web video creators’ successes and failures in this depth of detail.

Episode 13 of New Mediacracy was a discussion that happened after the first meeting of the IAWTV in Los Angeles.  You can hear the episode here.  What follows are my comments about the episode:

Great discussion.  There’s so much to comment about in this episode.

First impression: The most surprising thing I realized after listening to this episode is that the actual members of the IAWTV don’t really know much more about what’s going on than we do on the outside.

My thoughts on Steve’s “gatekeeper” frustration:

I’m frustrated by it too but I think that it may partially be an illusion.  I know I’m still over here doing my thing and I’m guessing there are lots of others that we never hear about in other places doing their thing too.  I think an echo –chamber has started up in new media and we’re all beginning to believe our own press.  Nothing has changed.  Everyone can still do their own thing.  Keep doing it.

That being said, I think an overall attempt to re-structure new-media (open media) to resemble old-media (gatekeepers) is inevitable.  I personally see new media not as a new medium, but what old media is becoming.  They are not separate, just in various states of becoming if you will.  The transition is going to be very painful because old media won’t want to give up their control.  It’s going to get worse over the next few years as the old media ways become more and more threatened farther and farther up the big business food chain.

OK, so we all know that.  Big media would rather sue Napster than buy it.  We’ve seen it before.  What I think Steve is reacting to is that it seems that some in new media are actually trying to mold OURSELVES back into old media, presumably to gain some sort of “acceptance” from old media.  I see it too and it’s really sad.  I came from old media.  I jumped off that ship on purpose and I can tell you there’s no reason to go back.  Old media is dying.  All my old-media friends think I’m crazy for doing what I’m doing now but they are also in a lot of pain with their own old-media careers.  Right now, temporarily, old media still has some advantages, like traditional revenue streams, but those are drying up.  Don’t make the mistake of jumping backwards onto a sinking ship.  You’ll just go down with it.  The only way is forward.  (What “forward” means is unknown but I guess that’s the curse of being a pioneer.)

end of rant –

My thoughts about the IAWTV

Unfortunately I don’t think the IAWTV has any substance to it.  There’s a lot of potential there and I see a lot of people (including myself) projecting their HOPES on this organization, but what is the IAWTV really doing right now that is worth saving?  What does it have right now to build on for all those future possibilities?  I don’t see anything.  I just see a big mess.  I think we’re getting distracted trying to solve all the problems with the IAWTV and we’re not noticing that there’s nothing there to begin with.

I think it might be time to put the IAWTV aside and redirect all our energies elsewhere to build the organization we all really want and need, from the ground up.  We can bypass ALL the IAWTV issues by starting up a new organization with a mission and an organizational structure that is aligned with the core values we all care about.  I know there are some who have put a lot of time and energy into the IAWTV and they won’t want to abandon that hard work but that’s not really a good reason to put more work into it.  If there was some core asset that the IAWTV had that was worth saving I would say go for it, but from here, at this point, I don’t see anything.  Just a thought…

Best quote from episode 13: “The Television Academy isn’t called Visual Radio.” – Barrett Garese

the emperor has no clothes

As someone who has been working very hard for four years to try and bring credibility to web video, I’m extremely disappointed in what I saw on the Streamy Awards Sunday night.

The Streamy Awards which is run by the newly formed International Academy of Web Television (IAWTV) touts itself as the “…most prestigious awards ceremony devoted to honoring excellence in original web television programming and those who create it.”  That’s what it says on their website and that’s what everyone was expecting during the months of publicity that led up to the award show streamed live on the internet on April 11.  What we actually saw during the award presentation itself however was a different matter.

The tone of the entire ceremony was crude, vulgar, superficial, and unprofessional.  There were multiple masturbation jokes in the host’s monologue, a scripted bit with an actor playing a vulgar porn producer that goes on and on and on, presenters in nothing but underwear, not to mention unplanned events like two male streakers and people rushing the stage to molest the presenters.

@streamyawards This is insulting & not funny. Gay jokes & dick jokes are not funny when Vanity Fair called you the Oscars of the internet.

@Destini41 Destini

Sorry to any of our fans who watched and were offended by the raunchiness at the Streamys.The tone of humor was not honoring the evening IMO

@feliciaday Felicia Day

There was a point in the show that I was like “Is this really happening?” I can’t even imagine how the brands and sponsors felt being a big part of the event. This is one of the biggest hurdles in online video is getting brands to trust the content they are advertising against. Now, they can’t even trust a show ABOUT online video!


Worse, the bulk of the prepared jokes played off the stereotype of Elitist Hollywood v. Web Show Wanabe.  From the host’s introductory monologue:

Tonight we have 35 awards to give out but let’s not forget the real winners, the 4 people who actually made money on the internet.

One or two of these types of jokes would be OK but it really seemed like this was the theme of the evening.  You can’t make money on the internet (not true, we do, and so do others) and nobody watches shows on the web (also not true.  We’ve had a thriving and growing community watching our show for years.)

About a third of the way through there was a pre-recorded “man on the street” video that I found particularly insulting. The host repeatedly asked random people on the street what their favorite web show was.  Of course no one they asked even knew such a thing existed, leaving the impression that the industry is a complete joke.  This meme went on and on through the evening…

My biggest personal issue with the show was that it disrespected the professional industry that I (and many others) have been working so hard to build over the past 5 years. The constant jokes about lack of funding in web series, lack of viewers, etc. cheapened our hard work, especially when a lot of the attendees ARE making money and have more viewers (and less publicists) than cable television shows.

Casey McKinnon

All of the technical problems were one thing but it seemed like the jokes were picking on the internet – not CELEBRATING what we do.

@buckhollywood Michael Buckley

The @streamyawards were a complete joke. I felt so bad for the people who make their living from the internet, to be ridiculed all evening.

@ConwayJamie Jamie Conway

To be fair, there were a few very positive moments, mostly by the award recipients themselves, like the Auto-Tune the News gang who sang their acceptance speech in four part harmony.  Amazing.  Or Felicia Day who, in spite of having to take the stage only moments after what happened in the picture above, managed to deliver an extremely uplifting, generous, and authentic acceptance speech.  Very classy.

The Streamy’s could have been about the pioneering spirit of the creators, the excitement of doing something different, the possibilities of the future, but no.  Instead it was about snarky, crude, superficial, mean spirited jokes.  They spent the evening making fun of what I’ve been successfully doing for the last four years of my life.  In short the newly minted IAWTV has brought the absolute worst of stereotypical Hollywood snobbery to my industry and frankly I resent it.

Telling a thousand people that their jobs, content, livelihoods, and dreams are a joke, and that the only way they’ll amount to anything is to beg their “betters” (read: “celebrities,” but the unstated implication was made very clear) to slum it in their crappy webseries…well, that’s not gonna go over well. Repeatedly joking that it’s subpar quality, or that there’s no money, future, or reason to get involved only hurts us all.

Barrett Garese

I can’t fathom what the producers of the show were thinking during the months preparing for this broadcast.  How could they get it so wrong, insult their own membership, and frankly tarnish their own brand on purpose like this.  The producers have posted an apology and have promised to do better next year.  Fine… I don’t think simply trying harder is going to resolve the issue though.   The problem goes to the basic core values of the IAWTV.  What kind of organization do they want to be?  Do they represent all types of web video?  …or only those that try to mimic broadcast television?  Do they truly support all web video creators?  …or are they only interested in getting the attention of a few large studios?  Are they going to be inclusive and truly international as their name suggests?  …or only cater to the worst superficial stereotype of LA based “Hollywood.”  Time will tell…

Is YouTube search weighted in favor of big media companies?

Check out the related videos that are presented after watching an acoustic version of Do You Wanna Date My Avatar? on YouTube.

The big budget movie “Avatar” gets the top three spots. Why? The official music video version of Do You Wanna Date My Avatar? has almost the exact same title and also has WAY more views than any of the other three, yet it gets bumped to fourth position. The movie “Avatar” only matches one word in the title of the current video but it gets the top three spots. I sense something fishy. Are small independent producers getting pushed down in the rankings in favor of companies like 20th Century Fox? It looks like it to me.

We saw Diggnation episode #207 LIVE!

CAT won a contest on the revision3 website and we were able to attend the recording of diggnation episode #207 at the digital cafe in Rockefeller Center. Rachel Maddow was a guest on the show and she made us cocktails!

We had a great time! Check out all the pix I uploaded to flickr.

It's official! Podcasting now in the dictionary

“Podcasting” is one of the Oxford English Dictionary’s new words for December 2008.  It looks like this is relatively soon for a new word to be entered since one of the other words for December is Rashomon, which has been around since 1951.

The first reference to the word podcast is possibly this post to the Yahoo group ipodder-dev from September 2004.  That’s just a bit over four years from made-up-word to “near-ubiquity in 2008.”  The power of the internet is on display.

The only thing that disappoints me is that the new podcasting entry only mentions audio.  Can a video podcaster get a little love?  I guess the video podcasters will just have to wait for a future dictionary update to go main-stream.

I came across this information on Twitter from @GrammarGirl and @MWGblog.   Ain’t Twitter great?  It seems these days that everything you hear, you hear first on Twitter.  Maybe Twitter will be in the dictionary some day.  I just hope they don’t call an individual message a “tweet.”

your interactive adventure starts here

Choose your own adventure!  Chad, Matt and Rob are chased around the office and into a garbage can. Should you get in?

I’ve only watched a few episodes so far.  I’m not sure how interesting this particular story is going to be but, wow, imagine the educational possibilities.

Years ago I worked on a series of choose your adventure type educational videos for kids.  They were supposed be on laser disc so you could make decisions with the remote but they ended up non-interactive on VHS.  Schools just didn’t have the equipment to play laser discs.  Easy access to YouTube makes this kind of thing much more viable.