Life In A Day

Life In A DayOk, so I’m really behind the curve here but the BBC screened “Life In A Day” over the Christmas holidays and I’m finally watching it. If you haven’t watched it already, you need to put this on your must-see list.

If you aren’t familiar with the film, it’s made up of footage from over 80,000 submissions of video that was all recorded on 24th July 2010 by people across the world. Created in partnership with YouTube, Ridley Scott produced the film with Kevin Macdonald directing. It’s been lovingly crafted into a documentary about the human condition.

And what a documentary it is. It’s a rollercoaster of emotion of taking you across the world to different places, peoples and societies. There’s every facet of human life and the juxtaposition of cultures makes it all the more poignant. One minute it’s a rich nation, the next a poor country. Some of the film is shocking and it doesn’t hide the sheer hard work of existence but throughout it all is the joy of life itself.

The film is available (legally) on YouTube. Warning: there are a couple of scenes that aren’t suitable for younger viewers.

 

Videolicious

I’ve been playing around with video recording and editing for a number of years. One constant with video editing that can always be counted on is that it’s editing video is time-consuming.

That is all about to change. Enter Videolicious, a FREE video app for iOS. This is an amazing app. Videolicious makes it possible to produce short (up to about 50 second) videos in a tightly-edited, documentary style complete with background music and voiceovers.

You start by recording short video clips. I do this all the time – I have my own name for them – “video snapshots.” I take plenty of short video clips, generally following the “rule of thirds” for good photography and holding the camera as steady as possible, compensating for the cheesy fixed iPod camera lens by getting in close and using angles as much as possible to create visual interest.

Once you have up to 10 video clips, you are ready to quickly put them together into a movie in Videolicious. Step One in Videolicious is to select the video clips or still photos from the iPod (or iPhone or iPad) Camera Roll. Touching the thumbnail in the sequence you want to talk about the clips and photos will number them. You can have up to ten per video.

Once You have selected your clips and/or photos, you move to Step Two. Record up to a 50 second long video of yourself talking about the clips, ideally in the order you numbered them in when you selected them in Step One.

Once you have recorded yourself talking about the clips and/or photos, Step Three consists of selecting background music. Videolicious comes with six background tracks though you can also select any other track present on your iPod. I suggest sticking with one of the tracks that comes with Videolicious, since these are public domain and will keep you out of trouble with the copyright police if you share your video publically on sites such as YouTube or Facebook. Once you have selected your track, the video will quickly render into a final *.MOV file, ready to share with the world.

The remarkable breakthrough with Videolicious is that it has predefined parameters that it follows in order to create a tightly-edited final result. Playback starts with video of you talking and then quickly cuts to the scenes you have selected in the order you selected them. Still shots automatically have the so-called “Ken Burns” effect applied. At the end of the video the shot cuts back to you ending your description of the clips, resulting in a brisk documentary style video that takes what would have been boring clips by themselves and makes them into visual elements of your spoken story discussion of the clips.

It is possible to produce a tightly-edited, to-the-point video in just a few minutes and share that with the world, which is an amazing accomplishment.

Videolicious is not a replacement for traditional video editors. It is a way of placing video clips into bins where the software itself decides makes most of the editing decisions. Videolicious spits out surprisingly watchable, entertaining results in a matter of a few minutes. This is a task that can easily take hours with traditional video editing tools.

First Orbit

Continuing the celebration of Yuri Gagarin’s orbit of the Earth in Vostok 1 back in 1961, First Orbit is a documentary film that joins archive footage of the event with modern shots taken from the International Space Station (ISS). The filmmaker, Christopher Riley, collaborated with the European Space Agency to see if it would be possible to film the same view across the planet that Gagarin saw out of the window of his tiny spacecraft. As you might guess, it was possible, and by filming at particular time on a particular orbit, astronaut Paolo Nespoli captured a re-creation of that historic flight.

The film unfolds in real-time and includes Gagarin’s original communications with ground control, call sign Dawn. Fortunately there are English subtitles if your Russian is a bit rusty. There’s a stirring soundtrack by Philip Sheppard and it’s really quite mesmerising to watch. You almost forget that it happened 50 years ago and the real-time nature of it makes it feel that it’s unfolding as you watch.

The film is available on YouTube (below) but you can also freely download it in a variety of sizes. I’d recommend downloading the 1.9 GB hi-def version, and putting on the big TV. Set aside 108 minutes and become Yuri.

OTT And Paid Content

OTT, short for “over-the-top-television” is an up-and-coming acronym that we are all likely going to become familiar with in the near future, provided someone doesn’t come up with a different marketing name. The concept is simple – it’s TV that comes “over the top” of traditional channels on a cable system via the Internet delivered in digital packets. It can either be live streaming video, on-demand streaming video, or in the form of a pre-recorded on-demand podcast.

There are many aspects of over-the-top TV that have yet to be shaken out. Specifically, here in the early stages there are some still-murky areas when it comes to details of how advertising is going to work.

Things that we know about how OTT works successfully so far:

People are willing to pay for bundled on-demand professionally created OTT content in the form of Netflix on-demand streaming of movies, TV shows, and other content. The bundled Netflix price for all-you-can-eat on-demand streaming OTT offers the consumer a real value. In most cases, a great deal of marketing money and effort has been spent promoting the majority of individual movies and other content that are available on Netflix, so the consumer has a fairly high degree of familiarity with much of the on-demand streaming content they offer. These are essentially repurposed movies that are already on the shelf.

People are willing to watch on-demand streaming OTT of professionally-created content with embedded ads as demonstrated by the ongoing success of Hulu.Com. The consumer is likely already familiar with a portion of the content, but Hulu also allows the consumer to discover and explore previously unknown TV show content in an on-demand stream with embedded ads. These are essentially repurposed TV shows, some movies, and other content.

Live streaming OTT of live content is still catching on. The most successful live OTT content as typified by what Leo Laporte and company are generating still offers an on-demand podcast version that can be downloaded later. Currently, on-demand, after-the-fact podcast versions of live OTT generated content end up with many more downloads than people watching via live streams. Both live streaming OTT and the on-demand podcast versions can contain ads. For the ads to be effective in this format, they need to be relevant to the audience’s needs and desires. The old “shotgun” advertising approach does not work in this format. This specific type of content is closely associated with word-of-mouth promotion.

There are a few questions that remain to be answered. Will consumers pay for on-demand streaming of TV drama-type content they are unfamiliar with — in other words, will consumers pay to watch an on-demand stream of a new TV show drama, documentary or reality show? Using myself as a gage, I wouldn’t pay for individual on-demand episodes of a TV show or movie I wasn’t fairly familiar with. Promotion and word-of-mouth still has to take place.

If consumers will pay-per-view for an unfamiliar on-demand TV show, can the content still contain ads? I think the answer to this depends on the content and its perceived value – i.e., how well it is promoted, and the resulting perceived value that is generated in the potential consumer.

Once “Lost” was a hit TV show, would the fanatic fans have paid for on-demand streams of new episodes? Probably they would have, if they could have gotten them, say a week or so in advance of the actual broadcasts. “Lost” fans would have also put up with ads in the advance on-demand stream. They might have grumbled about it, but if that were the only way it was available in advance, many of them would have opened-up their wallets and paid the price monetarily and with their attention to the embedded ads in order to satisfy their “Lost” habit. Clearly, the producers of “Lost” – ahem – “lost out” on a time-sensitive revenue stream opportunity.

Bottom line, I believe it all revolves around the content and the real and perceived values that the content delivers.

I liked last season’s remake of the old “V” television series. If I could be assured the production values remained just as high, I might pay to subscribe in some manner. If the “V” series is picked up again by ABC next season, I would also pay to subscribe if I could get episodes via on-demand streaming before they were broadcast.

In the meantime, we are still dealing with the death-throws of the old broadcast model with its old appointment based viewing schedule combined with the old shotgun advertising approach. ABC broadcast TV affiliates would have had a cow if “Lost” episodes had been made available as a paid on-demand OTT stream before the episodes were actually broadcast via the network.

The final destination of OTT and when it ends up at that destination depends on what is right for the time. Both delivery infrastructure capabilities and consumer demand will make that determination.