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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New way to drift around in film-land. YouTube Warp.


You may be interested in a new (kind of secret - but not really) interface for YouTube. It is called Warp. It allows you to swim from film to film in some kind of floaty film filled soup.

Hard to describe - but easy to use.

Go here to play.

As a writer and film maker it makes me think about the potential of using that interface to create a truly non-linear film. A story that starts in one place, but can grow into any direction. Cool stuff.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How to make your treatment look great




You guys already know what goes into a great treatment content wise. But sometimes, if your layout is crowded or confused, your cool idea can get lost.

A good layout means that you give the producer / reader / funder the very best shot at reading your work easily. Help them help you. This post is about giving your documents a layout which makes them easy to read and have some impact - and to do that very easily so you can concentrate on what you do best, the story and content.

There is lots of advice on design and layout on the web. But this is written especially for writers (used to dealing with nothing more sexy than 12pt courier) and assumes you only have Word at your disposal, no fancy layout program or photoshop. In fact, I thought I would write the advice within the layout itself.

If you click the above pics they will scale up. And you can download them as word docs below to allow for your own adaptation of these generic, bland, core versions. My over riding advice is to get to grip with 'styles' within Word. That way you can change the look and feel of the whole document with just a few clicks rather than going through tweaking with each paragraph.

Download example 1 here and example 2 here.

If the links above don't work then the actual URLs are:
http://www.projectorfilms.webspace.virginmedia.com/treatment_layout.doc
http://www.projectorfilms.webspace.virginmedia.com/treatment_layout_v2.doc

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Viral 'Rules'

Here is a great article by Rob at Zen films that goes as a fantastic companion post to my recent round up of web video websites.

Where as I looked at the sites Rob looks at the content. Great advice with carefully selected examples. Check it out ASAP.

Here is an extract...

Ask yourself these questions. When I send someone a link to this video:

Will I look cool for sharing this video?
Will it strengthen my friendship with the person I’m sending the video to?
Will they look cool passing it on?

Unless you can answer “yes” to all the above then revisit your video idea until you score 3 out of 3.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Bad news day

I have never seen such a 'bad news' day in today's Media Guardian.

Just about every single article is about falling revenue and searching for new sources of money.
  • Murdoch is wanting to charge for access to The Times online (can't see that working in an age of most people reading news by following links from friends)
  • Ad revenues generally falling across all formats.
  • And we all know about deep cuts in commercial tele.

What are we to make of all this as people a bit further down the line of revenue streams? Should we be concerned that companies find it hard to make money by selling their programmes / products - and even harder by using ad revenue? And therefore are making fewer new shows? Hiring less crew? Commissioning fewer writers?

I say - it just means shift perspective.

It means working on ideas that can benefit from some ad revenue, PLUS some funding, PLUS have other spin offs. That is what I have been working on with Delete Friend - getting it ready for Pixel Pitch. This is a story pre-designed for a multiple outlet, multiple revenue source age.

It means only doing projects that you are totally passionate about. Ideas that you don't mind talking about again and again - because you love them. For me, that is Circumference. The kind of projects that you will keeping going with - whatever the economic situation.

Lastly, it means just going it alone and sorting it out yourself. When the status quo is rocked is that it disturbs that market. It creates a vacuum. Good news. People may as well watch Mr Vista as anything else.

Above all - and this has been an ongoing theme on this blog for ages - remember that...

... you want to tell stories and other people want to hear them.

Everything else is just detail.



Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Best online platforms for film makers - how to get your films seen and making money

crashed PC progress bar

As the second series of Mr Vista stumbles over the finish line (with quivering legs - but egg still in spoon) it seemed a good idea to have a BIG round up and review the online video platforms available to film makers. Particularly around:
  • which bring in viewers - how visible is the platform - how much does it have a community
  • which offer you cash - different revenue models
  • which are 'film maker friendly' with a good image quality - and which have certain niche offerings or approaches - which have neither

YouTube - the big daddy.
Now owned by Google of course. And up until recently this was seriously lagging behind on features such as HD. This has now all been put in place to make it much more friendly for web film makers. You can also add subtitles and little text boxes onto your video. However it still has a major image problem for film pros who see it as a place full of skateboarding cats. The level of stats however is decidedly pro. More detailed than would be available to film makers who distribute on TV or cinema. The 'hot spots' feature, for example, allows you to see a second-by-second graph that shows the exact moments when the audience clicked away to watch other things. There are also viewer demographics etc etc. Beware dear film makers however of stat overload. You can spend all your life chasing the figures rather than doing the work. I even did a Mr Vista satire on this exact concern. I am now signed up to their Partner program which means that I get a very small income through ads. To give you an idea of how much - they measure it by $0.001! Getting on the program would seem to be hit and miss according to what the other partners say. But anyone can set up there own channel and start uploading - so this is one platform you have to be on.

Visible 5/5 Revenue 2/5 Film friendly 3/5

Facebook - the mystery man.
Not the best way to get your film out there at all. Which you will see if you try to click on the link and you aren't logged in. It is all behind the facebook firewall. And the only way people will really see your video is if they are already your friend. Plus you have no stats. So all in all - generally poor for film makers, excellent for the first rate picture quality. But ideal to get your existing contacts to see your work. Good place to set up a group too - if you don't want to sort out a full-on blog or website.

Visible 1/5 Revenue 0/5 Film friendly 1/5

MySpace - old skool.
Now known as - that thing before facebook. Definitely now set up for music and music fans more so than video. It has a film maker section and has tried to get into the film spirit - but it doesn't seem to have caught fire in a big way. Everything works well - it is simply that the audience is on there for bands and singers. Top tip for being visible on MySpace however is to keep updating your 'status'. It shows at the top of your friends homepage and can have links in it to your films etc. Picture quality is okay, but not as good as facebook or youtube.

Visible 2/5 Revenue 0/5 Film friendly 2/5

Dailymotion - Europe fights back.
Dailymotion is a European site rather than US based. And this seems to make it a more friendly and supportive place to be for film makers - whether they are serious or comedy, pro or amateur. It may not be as well known over here - but the stats can be very high because of the untapped Euro audience. So suits international films and dialogue free films. Subtitles can be added online. No revenue opportunities however. But if they like your work you can become a MotionMaker to get your work on the homepage. I once interviewed a couple of the guys in the UK office about how they keep ahead in business for a corporate gig. Nice guys - but they have both since moved on. Perhaps the UK arm is in retreat!

Visible 3/5 Revenue 0/5 Film friendly 4/5

AtomFilms - grandpa
The original - from the ye olde days - aka 1999. But losing its edge. The site has issues for uploading if you don't use IE - and a few similar small irritating quirks. They lost my profile once for instance! It doesn't look as good as some other sites and it seems to have less of a 'social' feel to it. One plus point is the Showdown - where you can win $500. But, as you will see, that doesn't draw in a crowd. When my episode of Mr Vista was on there for a week it jumped about 4000 views. Used to be a money spinner. Not really anymore. Picture quality is average.

Visible 3/5 Revenue 2/5 Film friendly 3/5

Revver - spend, spend, spend
Not sure what is happening at Revver towers. This was launched a few years ago on a 'youtube that gives you revenue' ticket. But perhaps the business model is now under stress. Certainly the income per click would seem to be falling. And sometimes the server goes down. Not really a destination in its own right for film makers or indeed for anyone - so that means you need to embed your revver film into other locations. One other thing to bear in mind is that they manually match up your film to adverts, which takes time. This can be a problem if you want to 'upload and go' and start straight away.

Visible 2/5 Revenue 3/5 Film friendly 2/5

BlipTV - the workhorse
You may not have heard of BlipTV as it isn't really a site you would visit in its own right. But what makes it great for film makers, especially those doing a series, is that it sends it out to other sites for you. You upload here and it repackages it. For instance, for Mr Vista, Blip creates a podcast meaning people can subscribe via iTunes. Easy. But that does mean it is normally used by podcasters and not serious film makers.

Visible 2/5 (5/5 if you syndicate to other sites) Revenue 0/5 Film friendly 2/5

Babelgum - the lexus
A totally smooth looking site. It started off as an application you had to download - and has now made itself available via a normal browser too - which works most of the time! Great image. Good reputation with film makers thanks to a festival judged by Spike Lee. It does offer a revenue share model, but you need to be a company to apply to be on it. I have found the people there to be friendly and fast to respond to ideas and feedback. But generally viewing figures are low.

Visible 2/5 Revenue 1/5 Film friendly 4/5

OpenFilm - new kid on the block
These guys are trying to grow a premier film making portal. And doing well. Definitely one to watch. The image is great and can show really large HD films with no problem. Plus they have a cool feature which dims everything on your browser except the film - for better viewing conditions. They are actively trying to build a community and have got in touch with me several times with suggestions and ways they can help. They also have a revenue model which is generous. The hard part will be getting enough viewers in. In the meantime this a great place full of film makers doing their stuff.

Visible 3/5 Revenue 4/5 Film friendly 5/5






SPECIALISTS IN GENRE

Spike - just for men
They took over the once great iFilm. Now it is a destination for FHM style clips. Which could work for you if you have some cheap laughs as the audience is loyal and repeating. If you have a nice piece about the injustice of the modern age then stay away. No revenue sharing or extra features either.

Visible 4/5 (or 1/5 if no girls in your film) Revenue 0/5 Film friendly 0/5

Funny or Die - just for stoopid
A celebrity led site - comedy only. Big viewing figures for the right kind of production. Picture quality is good and the site is fun to use and easy.

Visible 3/5 (or 1/5 if no knob gags) Revenue 0/5 Film friendly 3/5

CollegeHumor - just for really stoooopid
A site for crazy comedy. Again big viewing figures for the right kind of production.

Visible 3/5 (or 1/5 if no one gets hurt) Revenue 0/5 Film friendly 2/5

Current - serious films for serious people
Although a documentary only site it isn't just for serious issues. But it is factual based. They have various initiatives to help film makers including low budget commissions. I have heard various stories around how well this works, or doesn't.

Visible 2/5 Revenue 2/5 Film friendly 4/5

Yobi - the dark house
You may not have heard of this US based site. That may be because it bills itself as an online reality show - but that would seem to be only because viewers vote for competition winners. They have a film section. Of surprise to me was the fact that this has had a faster growth in viewing figures than any other site on here for Mr Vista. So worth checking out - but image size and quality is nothing special at all.

Visible 2/5 Revenue 2/5 Film friendly 3/5





Also rans

These are worth a look but with nothing that you cant get elsewhere - Break, Metacafe, Veoh and Vimeo. Check them out. They are still good enough for big Mr O.

Si-mi was good - but seemed to go quiet.

Crackle has dropped out of allowing people to upload as has become a platform for TV and films you can see elsewhere.

Google video used to be like YouTube - until they bought YouTube and then it just seemed unnecessary. Now it is a great video searching tool which scours the sites above.

If you know of others - especially ones that would help film makers drop us a link. Cheers.