Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for October, 2008

I just watched the premiere of my friend Mary Feuer’s new webisode series, “With the Angels” on Strike.TV.  The story is about a young religious Arkansas woman moving to Venice, California and discovering how much she is a fish out of water.  Some fun stuff, good acting and writing, which in the end is the key to good webisodes.  In fact, there were a few webisode shows on Strike.TV that I found better then most other websites.  I shouldn’t be surprised, Mary comes from doing close to sixty shows as the head writer for LonelyGirl15.  She was also the Story Editor for “Buried Alive” on FEARnet.com.

It really gets you wondering where all these web series are headed.  When I did “Unconventional and “Senior Year” back in 2002, there were very few webisodes, now they seem to be everywhere.  The big question is are people watching.  So many of these shows have the feel of failed television pilots, but others hold up on their own.  The previously mentioned LonelyGirl15 continues to be a leading force, building storylines beyond the original character, Bree.  A whole conspiracy theory and underground resistance keeps the show interesting and worth watching.

Most of these webisodes use YouTube both as a server and as an audience resource, a viral marketplace.  In July, five billion videos were viewed on YouTube, was one of them yours?  Now after experimenting for months with long-form, YouTube recently made the announcement that they would start offering full length episodes of television shows.  YouTube also created “theater view,” a larger video player for longer content.  So if YouTube is now showing television shows, what happens to webisodes?

The longer videos will include advertising before, during and after each episode. YouTube has resisted this for shorter videos, which makes sense, but are now looking at in-video overlays.  I don’t know if you’ve seen these, but I can’t stand them.  The overlays resemble the banner advertisements that appear at the bottom of television programs.  As a content producer and director, I find these things distracting and irritating.  But I guess that is the point.  Unless you’re going to pay for the series yourself, it’s got to have a money source and advertising and sponsors is what is paying those production costs, no matter how small.  So even the advertising banners and advertising breaks will resemble television.

I prefer the format of Strike.TV and FEARnet.com.  They have interactive areas that include advertising banners and usually you get a short commercial before the requested video, but once the program begins, there are no interruptions. In fact, the whole interactive qualities of comments, games, behind the scenes documentaries, etc. is really the thing what separates these webisodes from regular television.  I firmly believe that any web series has to have interactive elements if for no other reason then to draw your audience in and remain on the site beyond the short video.  This is becoming the only difference between a series on the web and one on television.  Something to consider if you are creating a new show.

Read Full Post »

As many of you know, my sister Lindsay Mofford’s husband, Tucker was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) a few years back.  I make mention of this here because I think some of the artwork Tucker has been doing since being diagnosed speaks volumes of the creative potential of the internet.

Tucker Stilley, former Mass Art student has always brought a unique perspective to his creative and professional work as a musician, artist, sound designer and film editor.  I’ve worked with Tucker on many professional projects including the redesign of the sound for the DVD release of my film, “Travelin’ Trains.” Because of the disease, he is no longer able to use his limbs, instead using a reflective bindi dot on his forehead to control a complex system of computer technology, largely of his own design.

His website, The Permanent Record is a portal to computer art, songs, ideas and videos rearranged and redesigned from media sources scrounged from the depths of Google and other web search engines.  Recombining the found visuals, Tucker forms multi-media collages of sight and sound, a self-described “Anarchival Research Gimp.”  A couple years back, I commissioned a video piece from Tucker for an upcoming feature film project, Press>Play.  I was amazed by the images he discovered and edited that related to the subject matter of the effect of the media on a relationship, just by surfing the net, all public domain.

A social networking support page of friends and family called “All Hands on Board” has been created through Ning.com and it has become a work of art in it’s own right.  How exciting to see all these creative people add photographs, videos and even artwork stimulated by Tucker’s life and work.  To me these are just some examples of what is possible when talking about communication and new media.  Musicians, artists, writers, filmmakers can build their own social networking sites beyond Facebook and MySpace.  These spaces become testaments and build memories.  Exciting times indeed!

An exhibit of Tucker’s work will be on display at the beginning of the new year, but if you are so inclined, some of his artwork will be on display October 23 at the REDCAT Theater (Disney Hall) in Los Angeles along with a special screening of acclaimed documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman’s film “HOSPITAL.”  This is a very special treat since Wisemen rarely releases his older films, (years ago, Tucker and my sister, Lindsay worked for him).  Time magazine called this Emmy award winning film, best documentary of the year in 1969.

* Get your tickets now by calling the REDCAT Box Office at 213-237-2800 *

You can also help us end this horrible disease by clicking on this link ALS/Team Tucker or send a donation to:

The ALS Association, Greater Los Angeles Chapter
Attn: Walk to defeat ALS/Team Tucker
PO Box 565
Agoura Hills, CA  91376-065

Read Full Post »

Michael Catalano and Eric Mofford greet guests at opening.

Michael Catalano and Eric Mofford greet guests at opening.

Last Tuesday, October 14th, Unconventional Media, in conjunction with PLA Media, officially opened the Southern office, Unconventional South.  Pam Lewis, a public relations and marketing guru with over twenty years experience, opened her doors at the PLA Media building on Music Row to welcome my partner Michael Catalano and I to the agents, music publishers, record executives and other dignitaries of Nashville, Tennessee.  Fun was had by all, or at least by me.  Pam served a home cooked meal and “Unconventional” Sangria.  Videos from UM’s most recent production “Need for Speed:Undercover” and the first film Michael and I worked together on, “Travelin’ Trains” played in the background accompanied by the music of jazz maestro, Denny Jiosa.  Unconventional South is a full service production company handling the small corporate job to the large New Media production.

Most of the talk at the opening was about discovering new ways to build audiences and sell music.  There is so little independent radio these days that artists and labels are finding it difficult to get any airplay.  I’m a firm believer that if you build an audience, they will buy the music, but how to build that audience was a topic of much debate.  I think the right approach is to use the many internet networks available like MySpace, FaceBook, etc and add music documentaries, music videos, viral videos.  Everything about the artist should have a music soundtrack.  The songs are associated with the musician.  This will lead to downloads and purchases.

I also like the idea of virtual cafes, Cafe Sonique is just one of many.  The idea is a band or singer performs live at a certain time in a virtual world.  Anyone in the world can get on the internet and see the performer live.  Just like any other performance, CD’s (and in this case, downloads) are made available for purchase at the show.  The hardest part is getting an audience to discover the musician in the first place but the same holds true for independent films and documentaries.  It takes marketing and word of mouth.  Part of any budget these days has to cover the costs of getting the word out virally on the internet and in the press, because otherwise the money spent for the videos, documentaries or for a virtual live performance is wasted money.

Read Full Post »

The referee steps between Billy Mitchell and Eric Mofford

The referee steps between Billy Mitchell and Eric Mofford

On October 3rd, I gave myself a birthday present and headed over to the E for All Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  This event caterers to the video gamers as they compete against each other for prizes and accolades.  I was there mostly to get a better idea of the future of video games, but was surprised and disappointed by how few new games were displayed.  In fact, if one didn’t know better, you’d think the whole industry was now being served by “Guitar Hero” and EA’s “Rock Band.”  Lots of wanna-be rockers holding fake plastic guitars trying to keep up chord progressions on colored frets.  At Unconventional Media, we have a few ideas of how to incorporate the live action style like we did for the upcoming EA release, “Need for Speed:Undercover” into the next generation of these Rock Star games.  In fact, I saw a lot of opportunities to upgrade many of these old video games with interactive storytelling and live action.  It seemed symbolic to run into Billy Mitchell (although, at first, I didn’t know who he was).  He has been documented in the terrific film, King of Kong, as the best player of that old classic video game, Donkey Kong.  He is an icon of the video games of the past, like much of the other games on display.  I was looking for the games of the future.

One of the few things that I did find intriguing was Prototype161.  They’re starting up an interactive online and real world detective game that begins at the end of October.  Hard to know how successful it will be, but I love the idea of taking the game literally “out of the box” and into the streets of the USA.  I’ll be watching this one closely.

That’s the whole philosophy behind Unconventional Media, to combine the best of online, video gaming and traditional media to revolutionize the way these games are designed, developed, and delivered.  We hope to deliver a fresh angle for new entertainment, incorporating movie storytelling into game play.    Like anything new, we are always looking for innovative partners with funding leads.  You got some ideas, I’m real interested.

Read Full Post »

A very nice article in the October issue of American Cinematographer on why we chose to use the RED cameras for the “Need for Speed:Undercover” video game is now available at newstands and online.

Read Full Post »