Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Red Queen's Race Continues

It seems that the proliferation of interesting platforms designed to deliver us media forces us to stay constantly in motion to see what's next.

The old conversation about which "portal" and later which "platform" would prevail -- that conversation has evolved.

Now we are in a conversation for what will integrate and expand the social media space. We can agree that there will be more than one influential platform and our next exploration is that of how to make them work together.

Two recent rollouts speak to the emergence of new needs and requests in the marketplace for media delivery.

The new YouTube design makes it look much more like Netflix and it's clear that they are committed to delivery of increasing quality content. It's been coming for some time, and now the promise of Google getting into the game of media delivery in useful and powerful ways is coming to fruition. I'm quite interested to see how they handle this.

The other rollout that I find interesting is that of the Vimeo Music Store. The Vimeo platform has long been a frequent choice among discerning indie film producers, and the company has done a good job of stimulating use with strong alliances (such as that with Canon).

Now Vimeo has launched a service that empowers unfunded and micro-funded productions to acquire and legally use music from a large database. It's nothing new to have repositories of royalty free music available, but what's fresh about this system is that it offers graduated access to other rights and permissions that readily serve indie producers at all levels of the spectrum.

First, in acknowledgement that more and more media is being produced at the "source point" level, this service offers access to Creative Commons licenses for music, beats, and tracks. Many of my colleagues would say that we don't really need a lot more "shock the cat" videos with lavish scores. But I would say that the "shocker" today is the live journalist tomorrow at an #OWS event.

The democratization of camera technology has given us the possibility of Little Brother. What's next is more shocks in the form of imagery such as that from the Bay Area Transit embarrassment or the UC Davis incident that has become a cultural icon.

What will also happen is that talent which might have withered without sufficient access to the tools, experience, and encouragement could actually have a chance to grow and be expressed.

If a 12-year old can set up a 3 camera shoot with a couple of friends and their parents' phones, if a young filmmaker in an underserved community can create a breathtaking short with borrowed computer time and a $100 camera, then we can hear and see fresh new things that may never have been dreamt before.

So Vimeo Music Store can serve that filmmaker, and for those who have more ambitious production demands, the store offers access to a lot of music that is available for graduated licensing levels dependent upon the likely scope of distribution. That means a web series production that carries less than 20,000 in expected audience can easily afford to incorporate good music.

Also key to the charm of this system is the search interface. The ability to search by instrumentation, tempo, style, thematic elements ... this is a powerful tool and quite welcome to a busy music supervisor. This video demonstrates the whole thing quickly and clearly.

The only thing I could think of that would make me happier is the ability to link selections directly into cloud storage.  As more and more distributed team productions emerge, cloud storage for key media will become quite common, and rather than only supporting download, I'd love the ability to shoot a track to my Amazon or Rackspace share.

They say (although I lack a citation) that the amount of media uploaded in 6 weeks equates to the production output from the three major networks during 60 years. This is now going to exponentiate. And tools for making some of it watchable are high on my list of useful goodies!

(Don't worry, you don't have to watch it all, in fact we'll have computers doing that for you ... and I am making official here, my speculation about whether the phrase "three major networks" will be meaningless by 2015.)

Next Up: Slide Show assembly by program. Let's see a couple of examples.