The Production Room was founded in 1995 as one of the first full time digital commercial recording facilties on the central coast of California. We started with 4 stereo tracks, 16 mb of ram and a 250 mb hard drive. A lot has happened since then. Today we're focusing on ways to serve clients who are creating web based media content. This includes strategic planning to integrate the benefits of traditional media, web design and IT solutions into new programs produced especially for on-line consumers. Join in the conversation. Throw rocks at glass houses. Share your vision of the future. This is the most progressive time in the media arts since Johannes Gutenburg invented movable type!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Pumping Up A Flat World

VBrick Streamed a live video program to my desktop today. I must say, hats off to this company for doing a great job of demonstrating their exciting new streaming video capability in a program they called, "The World is Flat". The picture and sound were clear and the content discussed strategies and the benefits of using "Enterprise Video Communication".

"The World Is Flat" is also the name of Thomas L. Freidman's touchstone for the modern media world. His definition of "Globlaization 3.0" has caught the attention of corporate leaders and media technology innovators. Incorporating Freidman was a good use of associative branding. "Hey I've heard of that", helps clients identify VBrick as a "fellow traveller" and opens the door to recieving information.

VBrick has packaged thechnology into a turnkey application that companies can use to deliver their video communications for various valuable and strategic purposes.

Whether intentional or not, the program was exceedingly well focused on white male corporate IT professionals. The language of the presentation was very corporate and very technical which helped me see who the intended target was and illustrated how rarified the air is in America's corporate enterprises. Is the language of IT really becoming a secret code for communicating within the sacred brotherhod of the net?

The email invitation I received to register was brilliant, the embeded video clip that encouraged me to participate and the mechanics of the registration process were well written, well built and easy to use.

The program itself featured a moderator and three panelists seated on stools in front of a three camera setup. Information was presented in an interview format like a talk show and the resulting program was dry, corporate and cold.

I spoke to an advertising agency about on-line media yesterday. One of the owning partners said that talking to young IT professionals left her with the impression that they were intentionally using technical jargon to talk over her head and impress her with their knowledge of things that she couldn't possibly understand.

I watched today's program with a documentary film maker, a visual communications artist and a marketing strategist. All of us are entrepreneurs who deal with businesses that need to communicate more effectively. Our focus is on creating the messages companies need to communicate. Our harshest critique of VBrick and it's partners is that they were totally inept in this area. Now that critique may be unfair. As I said, it appears that the target was corporate IT, and what would they know about creating media? But the implied benefit of this technology was that companies can create and deliver their own media using this system. At one point a suggestion was made that companies could just shoot a bunch of rough / raw video and distribute it through their system.

Huh? You mean you want me to buy a gazillion dollar system so I can deliver the equivalent of Uncle Ed's digitally compressed home movies to my regional office in Kansas City? Dude, FedEx is plenty fast enough for that.

The fault lies with MTV and some brilliant film makers who make professional style look easy and natural. I like BB King too. He makes playing just the right note on the guitar sound so easy don't you think?

To break it down further - and put in OUR terminolgy, the program contained solid technical information but totally lacked a sense of inspiration and human warmth.

It was as if you had walked into Sears and told a salesmean that you wanted to buy a refrigerator. Instead of showing you a gleaming side by side with freezer below and ice water in the door, he hands you a glossy technical manual and tells you his refrigerator can reduce the ambient internal air temperature to a degree that is optimal for 89% of Americans. You see?

These guys were pitching raw meat. I like a nice juicy steak.

But that's okay. What VBrick is selling is my next opportunity. Once "Enterprise" finds out that nobody in house can produce anything that their media savvy emlpoyees will watch, I'll be getting email at record@prodroom.com.

10 comments:

Estaban said...

New Media - old media will soon just be media. I've been saying this for 10 years. Traditional media outlets are concerned. They should be scared, very scared. Wendy are you listening?

The Internet is still in its infancy ... as it grows up we must become smarter.

Flat world, flat stomach either way we win.

E.

Anonymous said...

The program was clearly targed to corporate IT and "C" level exes...and I think in the right language.

This blog starts with "4 stereo tracks, 16 mb of ram and a 250 mb hard drive". Non-video producers might call this "intentionally talking over my head"..what's a 4 stereo track??

The blog comment suggests that ALL video should be "Hollywood". This is silly and misses the point. It's like saying every telephone call should be professionaly produced (cue the music!).

The point made is that there is a need for both casual video and professional video, depending on what you are seeking to do.

Hey! IT people, AV people, Video Producers: in the words of Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along"?

John Quimby said...

Anonymous,

I love you man!

Thanks for the comment.

A phone call is a phone call. It has a specific purpose eh? Immediate communication. I get that. Your point taken.

And I really wasn't excluding IT from the concept of Enterprise Video, clearly they are making it possible.

I was noting that in this presentation, IT was excluding the VALUE of video production and dare I say, a skillful human touch.

Hmmm.

Maybe I'm just stuck in the video as entertainment mode instead of video as communications. That's a very good point considering this new application.

But why exclude an enhancement of the ROI? Shooot, we could create a whole new job category called, "Enterprise Video Communication Host". And let's not forget the value of cross-platform delivery or repurposing video? So you made a live streaming program. Why not make it downloadable from a web address, availble on DVD and broadcast on TV. Mutiply delivery and your increase the number of people you reach if that's your goal.

We have communications technology,
but technology is not communication. See?

I think Video communication has to have a purpose AND be delivered in a way that people will recieve / comprehend / intake.

That means scalability in terms of value.

What I mean is, you don't invest a million dollars in dispoable instant communication. You send it out and, "poof" it's used Kleenex.

But if you invest nothing in communicating important information that has to stand up to multiple impressions and a shelf life of more than 10 minutes, you're going to embarrass yourself with amateur production. (See: Local Cable Access Channel) If value is in the eye of the beholder - presentation is everything.

So again, I take your point, casual, professional, temporary or institutional, webinar or program, longform, shortform, immediate or permanent - all of those are real possibilites with variable requirements.

So when do you wanna come over and watch some of my home video?

And Ummm...what's a "C" Level exes?

Thanks & stop by again!

Taymar said...

Okay "anonymous", I have to defend John here. He actually organized a small group of entrepeneurs from Santa Barbara who are involved in the emerging new media genre to watch this program. We were all excited to get more information about what's going on out there from "the experts". So let me break down for you our experience:

#1 We couldn't see the program, and nobody answered the technical support line.

#2 John finally reached somebody in sales who knew nothing about it.

#3 We figured out on our own that this program was only visible in Internet Explorer. (Which I personally never use because of security issues and the fact that it hasn't been updated for the mac in years.)

#3 We were impressed by the high quality of the video, although we were disappointed that we couldn't make it any larger.

#4 We tried to force ourselves to watch.

#5 We even tried to take notes.

#6 I couldn't take it anymore. I began to mumble that this was the most boring dribble I had ever seen.

#7 One of the panelists started talking about how this technology could be used without the support of professional video production services, and I began to get angry. (I think I used the word "wanker" several times.)

#8 The thing suddenly ended, and we waited for several minutes for the q&a to start, which it never did. John had sent in a question, and was bummed.

#9 We all sat and discussed what we wished had been done differently.

I suppose we weren't the intended target audience for this panel, but I think we should have been.

Here is the panel that I would like to see:

A small, but diverse group of well informed people speaking in plain English about where they see this technology going and how it is going to make it easier for businesses to communicate more effectively with their employees and their customers, AND how to make it easy and fun so people actually want to use it.

Hmmm...what do you think John, do you think we know a group of people like this?

Anonymous said...

John -- your points are well taken.

But frankly, I think the "average joe" presupposes he must have high production value in order to communiate a message...which can be counter productive. If it were true that production value were *always* required, it would limit the casual use for live video.

If I felt I could or should not give a daily live executive broadcast from my office to my 20,000 employees without hiring an expensive production crew, I might not not do it.

Now, with that said, I think that production value is often vital -- even if it is seems otherwide "unnecessary" it shows a degree of respect for the audience and is "jacks or better to open" in many cases.

But Enterprise video users are on training wheels -- you folks want them to buy a Mercedes on day one, when in reality they need to learn how to drive using a VW.

Taymar, I viewed the broadcast without trouble for what it's worth. The launch page says (and still says) "for Internet Explorer on Windows". Step 1: Read the instructions.


I must say, the Video Production folks already "get it" -- little need to convince you (us) of the value.

But if you want to get traction with people who don't speak "Avid", "Media-100", "FinalCut", "B-Roll", "in-the-can", "chromakey", and similar video production languages, you folks should cheer this event. John's blog about this increasing the need for production value (in time) is correct.

Ahh, when you are a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail :)

-Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Oh, and John, by-the-way and to your point, the program has been available for your iPod:

http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=170373166

John Quimby said...

Sometimes the drawback of email is that it's really easy to mistake passion for hostility. So let me be clear that I am passionately and happily interested in this technology and its eventual uses.

If Anonymous and I were working together to serve an enterprise situation, we would be developing ways that we could meet THEIR needs, and presenting them with strategies that we could help them implement.

Every concept we've covered here would have a place in the overall design I would want to present to a client.

Part of what I learned from the VBrick Systems presentation is that I don't speak the language they are using. So how am I going to pitch my ideas in a way that sounds credible?

I also learned that enterprises may need help understanding that this is a sophisticated medium and these are tools that have to be handled carefully.

All of the presidential candidates are issuing video on-line. I'm fascinated by this because I think they're defining what works in executive communication. At some point we may even see a colossal campaign disaster when somebody gets it wrong. And you can ask Howard Dean what happens when somebody re-purposes your message against you.

With that said, I'd like Anonymous to comment on what he/she thinks a client would want us to do for them. And what do you think WE should do to be prepared to meet their requirements?

I also got a followup email from VBrick Systems letting me know that the program is available for download at their site. This is a nice touch.

you can watch it at:

http://www.exploreevc.com/

If you want to join this thread, take a look, and let us know what you think.

Anonymous said...

John,

I love this dialog. I hope I don't appear hostile!

I think this video sums up the classic disconnect between the artistic folks and the technology folks:

http://www.videoprogramguide.com

scroll down to "Misc Videos" and select "The Convergence Zone". Be sure you use IE on Windows :)

It's an excellent question, John: what do clients want from the professional video community and what can we do to get ready?

Well, like the lament that came with CableTV, "I now get 100 channels and there is still nothing good on" -- there is about to be 10's of thousands of channels with "nothing good on".

Thankfully, creative community will ultimately make the difference.

I'm not sure what a prospective client might want and how to get ready, except I'm pretty sure they will do business with whoever gives them the greatest comfort. Mutal language is a key part of such comfort, and since the client will likely speak the lanugage of IT, constructive engagment seeking mutual respect would be the order of the day. Forming partnerships with IBM, MPI, VBrick, and similar companies sounds like a good idea too.

A.

John Quimby said...

Dear - A.

No hostility taken.

I checked the link you sent. Very interesting to see. As you said,
"...there is a need for both casual video and professional video, depending on what you are seeking to do."

Also you said, "Forming partnerships with IBM, MPI, VBrick, and similar companies sounds like a good idea too."

Sure does.

We are re-defining The Production Room by learning how to meet the needs of a brand new type of client. I'm excited about that.

Technology can deliver "signal", I'd like my business to improve "reception" and this conversation is helping me think through how we can do that.

Thanks for the link! And thanks for dropping in to visit.

John Quimby said...

A suggestion to any company planning on-line events:

1) Be sure to offer a help number.
2) Change your automated phone greeting to welcome participants and direct them to whoever is in charge of tech support for your program.
3) Be sure somebody is ready to answer the help line.