Archive for April, 2009

The Long, Winding Road

This is my final editorial for the year in The George-Anne Daily, the unedited version (100 words were trimmed for print). They asked me to write a piece to wrap-up the year, so I tried to cover the events, while paying tribute to those graduating. I hope you enjoy it.

Some of my best friends are graduating in a week, leaving the 30460 forever. This is the great tragedy of life, I suppose. We have a short time to really become a part of another person’s life before that era is over. Suddenly, your best friend is a person who represented one part of your life, but no longer is in it. The relationship becomes less important, while the moments you shared linger.

This year, our campus community has shared many of these moments. Ten of us began the semester attending the Presidential Inauguration, witnessing history in person. In these difficult times, it reminded each participant that a new page turns each day, some more significant than others. Bill Ayers, who became a household name in the past election cycle, re-discovered that everyone is not willing to turn a page, sparking a great controversy on our campus. While he was unable to speak at Georgia Southern, and all students were not able to attend the Inauguration, we learned that Eagles enjoy having a conversation about these topics.

We witnessed the first broadcast of the Statesboro Film Festival, a new creative avenue for students and community members to enjoy each year, while watching last transmission from Michael Guido. The Sower has left his seeds to the soil, ours to cultivate. No matter what your story may be, there is an opportunity for you in our town to tell it and find listeners.

Georgia Southern reached a record spring enrollment at 16,664 students, an increase from 804 last spring. Each year, more and more people are discovering that special something we have here, even though no one can really put a finger on it. As prospective students have toured our campus this semester to capture this spirit for themselves, the Regents’ System has ended guaranteed tuition for incoming freshmen. I hope this change will not prevent prospective, future Eagles from discovering the conversations and opportunities for expression in our town.

These represent only a few moments in our time together. There are countless others that I will never know, because we did not share them. These are the nights you shared with your best friends and significant others, the moments we talk about when stories are told. Indeed, for many of us, it is hard to grapple with the concept of staying in Statesboro without our closest circle at our side.

People come and go, the times change and we grow, as every encounter defines the person we are becoming. As these moments come to an end, it is not necessarily bad, but simply the end of one era and the beginning of the next.

Raise your glasses high for a toast, to the times we have shared, the comrades we’ve lost, and the moments yet to come, because there is a long, winding road ahead.

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Impressions from the 2009 NAB Show

nabshow

There is a recurring theme occurring across the entertainment spectrum: as a content producer, if you’re not ready to take your productions to mobile platforms, very shortly, your content will become obsolete. This theme was ever apparent at the 2009 NAB Show in Las Vegas, NV, where each vendor clearly demonstrated this quickly moving trend in the broadcasting industry.

The days of programming for Sunday at 8:00 PM are dying, no matter how hard the networks try to fight it. I attended an extremely insightful session with Stephen J. Davis, CEO of the Family Entertainment Group, where we discussed this in an engaging Q&A format. While his company does work with traditional programming methods (they have a new show coming to ABC Family this January), he recognizes the fact that social media is going to be a critical component of promotional platforms in the future.

Utilizing the Internet for promotion, this type of mobility will require content producers to accept the fact that we must be placing content on the web as part of our distribution model. We as professionals must maintain the quality of our productions, just as we were creating it for primetime or a theatrical release. Today, we’re sharing the same outlets as amateur creators on YouTube. In the near future, it is not going to be about budgets or production length, but how traditional advertising methods can be integrated into programming.

Product placement is back to stay, as viewers don’t want to sit through advertisements that aren’t masked as entertainment. Most of our most popular television shows are using it today, and not all successfully. Take “90210,” which plasters Dr. Pepper around everywhere. It’s even part of the script. As an aside, this really breaks my heart, because I respect Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, the showrunners, more than about any other duo working in television (though, they are leaving the series at the end of this 1st season, so I wonder if they had much to do with it).

Anyway, as people quit watching scripted television on scheduled airing, the cost of production requires product placement models to keep costs under control. It will require creative executives to find ways that it can work, without being obtrusive to the show. Working on Theater of the Mind, I am reminded of the beginning of radio and television history, when companies like Maxwell House sponsored specific hours of television and radio with an advertisement at the beginning.

After NAB this week, I am a lot more willing to move to mobile platforms, and think that I will do some experimentation with Di Passaggio before we go to DVD on Amazon later this year.

The second emerging trend goes back to the home; this, of course, is the advent of 3D Television. Now, I know that I just waxed on for a while about mobile platforms, but 3D Television is coming. With everyone demanding mobility, there’s got to be a way to keep people watching television in their homes. Industry leaders, such as Sony, were demonstrating these technologies. Alioscopy actually had a “glasses free” 3D TV, but it gave me a headache looking at it (I apologize, you can’t take a 3D picture with a 2D camera, but you can see some of the artifacts):

Glasses-free, 3D television by Aliscopy

Glasses-free, 3D television by Aliscopy

One thing is clear; content is still king. No matter what format consumers demand as a delivery option, the material delivered must be watchable and entertaining. While YouTube and other such services are popular, people ultimately want to see a film or a television series.
They simply want to watch it their way.