Saturday, September 23, 2006

Murder in the First

"Who Killed the Electric Car" is a little documentary that is picking up steam this year. Sony Pictures bought it, Sundance and Tribeca selected it, RJD2 provided some music and now you can watch two versions of the trailer on my blog. Maybe you'll even fork over 8 bucks to see the whole thing. After all, the way one spends their money can actually have an impact the way the world works. Money = voting.

This film is an example of how the voting-with-dollars system failed to work. It seems that the American public was never given the chance to vote on the electric car because some large companies felt they knew better than the general public. Seems like a disruption in the way capitalism is supposed to work. Kinda reminds me of the electoral college and how Americans don't directly vote for the president. Democracy and the first-past-the-post system was overridden by an archaic political structure designed to take power out of the hands of the actual voters. Two classic examples of our great nation shooting its self squarely in the foot.


So the news was what I expected - Current TV pairs up with Yahoo to create a new web video channel. Check it out here and bookmark it for future viewing pleasure. This move is designed to create more outlets for viewer created content and to draw more people into the Current community. I'm particularly excited about this move for several reasons:
-My travel video series, America7, is going to be one of the first bits of content earmarked especially for the new Yahoo channel.
-I got interviewed and was given a big quote about Current the New York Observer's announcement that this partnership had been created.
-And finally, I've become a moderator on the Current website to help keep community standards high as the traffic to the site goes up. So I'm very excited to be all up in this business.

So what does this mean for Current TV and the internet video revolution? Well to start, this is an interesting model for similar video sites to follow: Create a great concept with independent funding that relies in part on the video creating abilities of the masses, build a decent following (Current has about 50,000 registered on their site) and then partner with a bigger fish in order to try and get into the spotlight. According to Aline Allegra, Current TV VP of Viewer Created Content, Yahoo has no control over what gets aired on the Current/Yahoo video channel. Current will not be sacrificing any of it's groundbreaking philosophical underpinnings in order to ramp up distribution. Brilliant!

Furthermore, it give people like me more ways to approach video content creation for Current. I can aim to make a short series of 2 minute videos designed for Yahoo!, or I can make slightly longer videos in hopes that they will get broadcast. So many ideas are brewing... stay tuned. The revolution WILL be televised.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Video News Roundup

It been a busy month in the world of online video content. Advertisers are catching up, Apple continues to innovate and YouTube is working hard to avoid becoming the next Napster. Les Moonves, the CEO of CBS, made an appearance on the Charlie Rose show and was promptly grilled by Mr. Rose with questions about the new world of video content [Mr. Rose's show is now available for viewing and download on google video, though it'll cost you a buck]. Mr. Moonves replied with cocky, "I'm a rich motherfucker," style comments, demonstrating a knowledge of which companies were making money using internet video without really convincing me that he actually knew how to approach the new world of integration.

Speaking of integration, Apple's bold announcement that they'll be releasing iTV early next year means that integration is getting closer and closer to being what we all expect it to be. Unlike "web TV" boxes or even "media center PC's," this new system promises wireless streaming of computer based video to your TV. They even claim it will have HDMI connectors to yield the true HD picture quality that plasma and LCD TV's are designed for. Pretty soon, the 320 x 240 picture size we've come to accept on the web will go the way of the rotary telephone, Brittany Spears and light up sneakers. The convergence of cheap HD technologies, faster connection speeds, new computer chips that use lasers to transmitt data and the rising consumer demand for choice and control could make iTV a product whose significance is on par with the invention of color TV. This is all assuming that global warming doesn't flood every major coastal city and destroy the world economy.

The NY Times has been on point this week with two related articles worth mentioning. The Media Frenzy article from 9.17.06 discusses the NBC web video syndicate NBBC which aims to match content creators with websites in need of specific types of video. To an independent video creator, this sounds like music. However, all in all this article didn't say much more than "there's gold in them there hills". Ok great. I'm looking for work. There is also the bit about movies on the iTunes store, but this isn't so special considering that people have been downloading feature films free of charge for the past several years. I'm not sold on watching a feature film on a video ipod, but it will be interesting to see if these $15, lower-quality-than-DVD downloads catch on. There is also the question as to whether studios outside of the ABC/Disney empire will get involved.

Today's article on YouTube covers to groundbreaking story that Warner Music will now allow content creators to use their music within video pieces. Shared ad revenues and web distribution of Warner music videos theoretically makes the deal work for all parties, but whether this will really address the rampent stealing, remixing and subsequent reposting of copyrighted materials on YouTube remains to be seen. If this issue does not get cleared up, YouTube may face the kind of suits that knocked Napster from it's perch as a cultural icon. A big difference is that YouTube is making the types of deals that skirt around major suits before the lawyers have time to build a major case against them. Smart. Check out the YouTube boys on Charlie Rose:

While I find all of this very interesting, what I'm trying to figure out is how to carve out a niche in what seems to be a massive potential video market. Advertising is obviously a huge key but I'm also curious as to how to sell video content directly. Good video content is worth something as a stand alone and that is what I'm aiming for. Advertising dollars are great, but if the actual product creates some kind of a profit, than the advertising dollars become the icing on the cake. A delicious cake. Think double chocolate. This is of course what the networks are thinking and doing, but I believe that good indi producing can eventually create content worthy of this dual-profit model. Naturally, my interests are not always profitable ones, though I do think and hope that sustainable living will continue to grow into America's cultural narrative. As always, my fingers are crossed.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Magnum: Shooting the World

Started in 1947, Magnum is a collective of some of the world's best and most famous photographers and photojournalists. These men and women have been around the world and back, bringing to us the images that define the times. Without a doubt you've seen images by a Magnum photographer on the covers of publications like the New York Times and Time magazine.

I got to meet a few of their photographers over the past few weeks as Magnum has been putting together a series of slideshows about 9/11 - the most photographed event in world history. Images from that infamous day are accompanied by the voices of the photographers, whose narration is taken from conversations that were recorded at Gramercy Post (where I work a few days per week). This kind of project is part of the larger inmotion series that Magnum displays on the web. Check out some of these videos - the images and commentary are fascinating and provide amazing insights into many of the more important moments in modern history.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Biodiesel Bonanza!!!

Biodiesel is hotter than Beyonce. If you don't believe me, check out the two videos below and listen to an aging Steven Siegal banter on about his station wagon. While extremely informative, these two videos are WAY too long. I dare you to watch both in their entirety. Something tells me that Steven's been using a bit of his fuel source as a hair product...
If you still don't believe me about Biodiesel's level of hotness, check out this recent NY Times article. Biodiesel was a 1.6 billion dollar industry last year and it's growing faster than the iTunes catalogue. Interesting doings on that front today -- seems like there may be some new features involving video coming out... more on that can of worms later. Back to Beyonce -- that girl is fly but is she kicking out 1.6 billion each year? Not yet anyway.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Current is up to something

Current TV has a new partner. They won't say who but I found out last night that it will be anounced in less than 2 weeks. I think I know who it is and I think it's big. Keep you eyes open because there will serious news in the very near future.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Gowanus - a video/photo essay [original]

Here is my newest video. I took a very different approach to this piece than some of my others. Enjoy!

The Farm

So I'm hoping that we're getting to the point where sustainable living is not associated with San Fran hippies from the 1970's. The problem is, some of the biggest advocates and strongest voices for sustainable lifestyles come out of this kind of long haired, somewhat smelly world. Seriously - so much of America is instantly turned off by someone who might have smoked a joint or two back in the day and it can be hard for strait laced people to listen to the well reasoned views of someone who looks like a liberal extremist.

Until a new generation steps up to the plate to advocate the kinds of lifestyle changes that we all may be forced into making anyway, we must turn to people like Albert Bates to guide the way. Check out this great piece of video about his eco training center in Tennessee.

I love this guy - so smart and articulate. I hate it that his appearance might damage his credibility in the eyes of many Americans.