Running the Australian Laboratory for Advanced Media production I often have to provide a broad contextual background (as well as detailed insights!) to many of our seminars and labs. Over the past few months I have presented across a range of topics suggested in the blog title and lucky for some these have been captured in video form! So the player below contains (for now) seven separate presentations, a mix of free informal evening ones through to more formal full day workshop intros. The video production value is variable so I add the audio only versions at the bottom too and there are links to the other many great speakers at each session, detailed below the video box. These are unedited and contain the usual umms, arrs, errors, coughs & pregnant pauses, oh and I hope some great content. All are 16by9 apart from the serious games in 4by3, Enjoy
What may save TV may also truly grow Social Virtual Worlds. As online audiences continue to ignore TV and vanilla/social virtual worlds suffer from a lack of direction, perhaps the marriage of the two will save both from irrelevancy? A report by Gary Hazlitt in various TV branded virtual world spaces.
There have been several forays by TV properties (gradually losing their audience and associated ad revenues) into social virtual worlds over the past two years. I don’t just mean branded one-off events but actually setting up shop, building a familiar and representive space for the ‘users’ to play in. These forays range from at one end, simple branded spaces pushing episodes on screens through to actually running variants of the TV format to be played out by participant avatars in a detailed build -with many points in-between. But before the meat of the post (a couple of new entrants) here is a quick list to give you an idea of some of the shows and channels that have tried, had some success or failed. As I have been involved in a few of them and visited all, I have listed ones I think have had most impact (engagement) through to those who didn’t quite get it (reversioning).
There is a rule of thumb regarding TV execs and virtual worlds or serious games initiatives – do not let the TV folk take control as they have too much ingrained baggage around non-participatory media and the resultant compromise is often of no use to anyone – get people who understand game play (and be aware that often excludes traditional game developers) and social media involved or face the consequences. The ones above that really worked allowed the participant audience to really ‘live’ in the shoes of the characters either by having activities similar to the protagonists, meeting the ‘fictional characters’, a social space that resonated with the shows aesthetic or a great set with game-like elements. I have talked a lot about Mixed Reality Entertainment in the past and how one of the most innovative uses of virtual space is to extend the TV or Film property into a 24/7, participatory environment. The main reason for doing this is to drive traffic to the TV but also to keep existing followers loyal to the branded property. As an example there is more detail about the reasoning on my post on Big Brother (good and bad) in Second Life (Witnessing the Birth of an Entertainment Form) as well as posts nearby on CSI in Second Life and many of MTVs properties in There.com (TV Property Branded Virtual Worlds – The Beginning). There are moves around the world including BBC and many European broadcasters who are creating worlds alongside and in some cases in front of the TV episodics and this is the important point. Promoting films with games or virtual world spaces has a very limited life span, forging a strong link between virtual world events and TV episodics is to me a virtuous circle – especially considering the 200 plus worlds populated by the youth audience who are typically turning off TV – teens and tweens. Earlier there were many experiments of TV/World hybrids and I was involved, as mentioned before, in the Mirror. Here is John Wyver (then Illuminations) talking about that (remember this is circa 1997!).
The other key element that contributed to the success of The Mirror, much as in real life, was the provision of regular “hosts” for the space. These needed to be frequent visitors who spent a significant amount of their time in the world, and whom users could have some reasonable expectation of encountering when they logged on. These hosts would greet new entrants, introduce people to each other, point out activities and generally help people around. More than this, however, over time they became the core of the community of the world, encouraging people to return and beginning to develop the particular language and culture of The Mirror. Needless to say, they were the saddest to see it turned off after seven weeks – although a number of relationships begun virtually have continued in the real world – including at least one marriage and one recently born child.
Recent company start-ups or collaborations also suggest that there are moves afoot. Icarus studios are squarely aiming at the TV/VirtualWorld hybrid and about 18 months ago Endemol & EA teamed up to create Virtual World TV formats (VirtualMe) based on Deal or No Deal and Big Brother. Also there have been a plethora of immersive film launches (play-in-the-set-type builds) across the metaverse and I Legend, Digital Hollywood, Iron Man, Quantum of Solace and Transformers spring to mind as I write – but as I said this post is more to do with a continuous, what happens on TV resonantes into the virtual world and what happens there is reflected into the TV episodics. (I regularly consult on this specific area so won’t go into any more detail!)…
So, it is interesting to see this trend continuing as new world Twinity starts to do more experiential ‘film’ property marketing and even more ‘demographically focussed’ the current series of Heroes being extended into Habbo
The agreement was brokered by the William Morris Agency and marks the first time ‘Heroes’ has partnered with a virtual world.
While following directions from a mysterious virtual messenger, the new character will take the audience on an adventure as she discovers the history of ‘Heroes’ through a journey that travels back and forth between Habbo.com and the ‘Heroes’ Evolutions site. “We’re excited to work with Habbo to introduce a new character that will extend the enormously popular and EmmyÂ® Award winning ‘Heroes’ interactive story beyond the official Web site on NBC.com,” said Stephen Andrade, senior vice president, Digital Development and General Manager, NBC.com. On Habbo.com, fans of the show will be able to interact with the new virtual hero through a variety of in-game activities. Habbos participating in a weeklong quest will discover their own special powers and will be recruited as new heroes. Those who successfully complete the mission will be awarded various virtual prizes. On the ‘Heroes’ Evolutions site, the new virtual hero will be woven into several of the in-universe, interactive extensions of the on-air show, including a character profile, the Primatech Paper Assignment Tracker and new chapters of the ‘Heroes’ graphic novels.
One of the more obvious links between TV and film of course is simply to broadcast a seed back story as a series, animated makes most sense to keep a strong visual link and then run a MMOG alongside it. This extends, involves the audience more in the narrative and allows them to personalize the experience. We are seeing this about to play out (in Asia at least) with Fusion Fall on the Cartoon network.
This is a great use of virtual worlds and it also shows that you don’t need richly rendered environments to be able to engage with participants in these spaces. Also in terms of the ‘linking’ paradigm, it is close to ‘my’ level 3 wikipedia cross-media definition
Excerpt “Cross-media 3.0“ Bridges. – The truest form of cross-media where the story or service structure is specifically authored to drive the audience using strong Call-To-Actions, across media devices to continue the journey. The content placed on the other platform is critical to staying in touch with the experience and the narrative bridges tease you towards investigating or moving to another media form/platform. Obvious examples include a TV show that ends suddenly and gives you a URL to explore more. It may be an SMS that teases and points you towards a live concert in a city square which then leads you to a TV show, then to a podcast then to subscription emails. The trigger, or bridge, is the critical component of this in motivating the cross-media action.”
Onto Twinity and the images here and above are me playing around in the pre-build set of the recently released and not universally praised film The Spirit. Although it grossed $10 million in the first 4 days it was pulled up for being unemotional and 2D. Well part of the problem generally with many big features now is that audiences have changed and want something more experiential – especially with ‘comic-noir’ films – why not let them ‘live’ in the story environment (my wikipedia item)? Twinity though have teamed up with Will Eisner studios to do this event (not in any way my ideal episodic but potentially a way for the Twinity user base to ‘create episodic, comic-noir’ machinima on-going?
CineStar Spirits you Away to Another World – CineStar’s CUBIX cinema in virtual Berlin is the premiere address for all movie-related events in Twinity. The cinema is currently showing the trailer and other exciting movie material from the upcoming premiere of The Spirit, a movie based on Will Eisner’s cult 1940s comic book series, which will be coming to a cinema screen near you from 5 February.Â Fans of the movie can get their hands on exclusive Spirit merchandising: including posters, standees, and an incredible Spirit mask that lets you see special visual effects inworld. Find more information here. Save the date and come to the opening party!
Date: Monday, 2 February
Time: 17:00 Berlin, 11am NYC, 00:00 Singapore
Where: CineStar CUBIX
Twinity (by Metaversum, the German created virtual world) are a long ways from a mature stable platform, hence being in beta for the past 12 months or so, but are already exhibiting the best ‘world-led’ event-based, user activation. This in my mind is high on the list of reasons for likely success over many of the areas that over-hyped Second Life suffered from in the early days. OK the world is quite big and empty and many ‘social’ tools are not yet available inworld but the kind of activity quoted below (calling for videos, images, stories etc: attached to some well know brands) is great first step community building and more importantly getting a growing community to market for you. Even I had a go at one a few months ago – video embedded below 🙂 BTW Metaversum you really need to improve the video tools (detached camera please!).
Submit Your Artwork and Win! – Take part in The Spirit Screenshot and Machinima Contest and win an exclusive film poster signed by cult film director Frank Miller or The Spirit action figures.
Things Are Looking A Little Different Around Hereos Wear the mask and see Twinity through the eyes of the Spirit! – Use Twinity’s screenshot and recording tools to create incredible Spirit- inspired images! To be eligible to win the contest, screenshots must be created while wearing the Spirit Mask and its visual effects must be demonstrated in your machinima. Screenshots may be submitted in jpg, png or gif formats. Sensational Prizes – You have the chance to win sensational The Spirit prizes! Three prizes will be given out to the lucky winners of the Screenshot and Machinima Contest:
* 1st prize: The Spirit action figure and film poster signed by Frank Miller
* 2nd prize: The Spirit film poster signed by Frank Miller
* 3rd prize: The Spirit action figure To take part in the contest, all you have to do is:
Submit your screenshots together with your Twinity name to email@example.com or
Upload your movie to a video sharing website, for example “YouTube”, then submit the link to your uploaded video together with your Twinity name to firstname.lastname@example.org
Competition deadline: 28 February 2009
We’ll celebrate the winning entries with a Winner’s Gallery party in the CineStar Event Hall! Artwork will be displayed in the CUBIX cinema during The Spirit promotion. Keep an eye on Twinity’s Event Calendar for further details!
Of course I would encourage all TV producers to think about their current audience and whether they want to reach them this way. More importantly you need to think of the appropriateness of creating inworld characters or environments for them to exist in – serious games (from documentaries) and childrens episodics are hot ones at the moment . The real effort is more about having great characters that are persistant in the space but beware of bots or NPC’s (non player characters) pretending to be real, this can have a strong counter productive effect. More later.
I am presenting at this years Advertising and Marketing Summit alongside a nice array of fellow â€˜bubbledâ€™ keynoters who are tackling a bewildering range of topics, bulleted below that make lovely Google search strings!:
Unleashing the power of brand experience
The Consumer is King Ã¢Â€Â“ forecasts and trends of tomorrowÃ¢Â€Â™s consumer
Creativity techniques to become an idea generating machine
Advertising in new worlds
What marketers want and how they want it
The Digital Leaders forum
You media Ã¢Â€Â“ monetising social media
The future wasnÃ¢Â€Â™t what it used to be Ã¢Â€Â“ creativity that engages
Integrate to engage
Word Up Ã¢Â€Â“ Getting WOM in the mix
The broadcasterÃ¢Â€Â™s insight
Partnerships for success Developing agency client relationships that last
The mobile marketing advantage
Y speaks Ã¢Â€Â“ Y we participate
The Mobile Marketing Advantage
Continual brand repositioning
Where can sport sponsorship take a brand
The power of emotional branding
3 mega trends which are redefining consumer engagement models
Innovation in the Digital Marketplace
The view from the boardroom – the role of branding and advertising to the CEO
The broadcasterÃ¢Â€Â™s insight – the future of television advertising
Experience the message – Profiling experiential marketing
The Power of Experience Ã¢Â€Â“ A high impact marketing programme through a non traditional approach
Integrating Optus: Challenge – Solution – Results
Revitalising an Aussie favourite Ã¢Â€Â“ by an American
Lovemarks Ã¢Â€Â“ giving your brand the kiss of life
Transitioning your brand into a virtual World
New Business Models for a Digital World
A Decade of Delivery and beyond
Original Content equals engaged consumer
Leadership in the digital media
The Mitchell Prediction Ã¢Â€Â“ the media landscape 2008 and beyond
Engage donÃ¢Â€Â™t enrage
My part of the mix is in the closing stages alongside a Word of Mouth session and it will be fun looking at the near term opportunities now Google Lively has joined the mix alongside a tremendous amount of investment ($345 mill this year already) in new â€˜youthâ€™ social virtual worlds. We also have fresh funding being kicked into existing worlds such as Sony and Time Warnerâ€™s Gaia Online, and both are very likely going to really kick start a sudden growth in casual world populations of what are becoming known as Generation V (virtual). I will be posting shortly about the sudden growth in Parallel Virtual Worlds, avatars layered over the top of traditional 2D web browsers – stay tuned! My bit of the programmeâ€¦
14.10 Marketing Opportunities in Social Virtual Worlds 387a6be2bfae954a84e5bc9db296a983 Gary Hayes :: Head of Virtual World Development :: The Project Factory 14.35 WOM Interactive Session 940515f53a10bb6d5b02ddcdaeddd274 Piers Hogarth-Scott :: CEO :: Yooster & Trustee :: VBMA
Full list of speakers here:
International Keynote Speakers:
* Mark DÃ¢Â€Â™Arcy :: Chief Creative Officer :: Time Warner Global Media Group (USA) * Steve Simpson :: Chief Creative Director & Partner :: Goodby Silverstein & Partners (USA) * Ian Stewart :: Senior Vice President :: MTV (Asia)
* Harold Mitchell AO :: Chairman :: Mitchell & Partners * Siimon Reynolds :: Co-Founder :: The Photon Group * Karim Temsamani :: General Manager :: Google * Jack Matthews :: CEO :: Fairfax Digital * Rohan Lund :: CEO :: Yahoo 7 * Richard Freudenstein :: CEO :: News Digital Media
* Mike Morrison * Amanda Howard :: Marketing Director for Beverages :: Pepsi * Bill Obermeier, MD Brand Advertising & Sponsorship, Telstra * Graham Christie, Consumer Marketing Manager, Vodafone * Jon Bradshaw, Director of Marketing, Virgin Mobile * Letitia Hayes, Experiential Marketing Manager, Sony * Gary Hayes, Head of Virtual Worlds, Project Factory * David Whittle, Managing Director, Mark * Rob Belgiovane, Executive Creative Director, BWM * Piers Hogarth-Scott, CEO, Yooster * John Du Vernet, Head of Special Projects, Naked * Lyndall (25 y/o)::John Paul (20 y/o):: Michael (20 / y/o):: Janine (20 y/o) * David May :: Director of Marketing :: Jetstar * Ben Wicks :: Group Marketing Manager :: Fosters Group * Bill Curtis :: Managing Director :: CJB :: & Director :: IAA Australia * Heather Leembruggen :: President IAA Australia Chapter :: International Advertising Association * Joan Warner :: CEO :: Commercial Radio Australia
Within hours of a prediction in the last post that one of the online giants would start to deliver TV-like shows over the internet I find a report “…Reality series pilot to be broadcast on the internet” in the San Francisco chronicle. The article points out that Yahoo! is starting to dip its toes into the future of television by offering an interactive, bells and whistles service from the outset with key audience involvement elements integrated from the start – the only way to go in the broadband TV world of course. The program is called “Wow House” and is rife for advertising as it is about US families equipping their homes with the latest gadgets off an initial sum of $10k.
The program, which follows two families as they refurbish their homes with $10,000 in new electronics, is the most concrete example yet of Yahoo’s Hollywood ambitions. It’s just an early step, analysts said, in Yahoo’s ultimate goal: creating television of the future.
Semel is betting that online video’s popularity is about to take off. Internet users would flock to Yahoo to watch shows on their computers or other Internet connected devices, creating a potentially lucrative opportunity to sell advertising. (snip)
“Wow House,” Yahoo’s new show, will be broadcast in an area for technology coverage that the company is carving out on its Web site. Families participating in the show compete to outfit their homes with the latest electronics, such as theater systems, high-definition televisions and stereos. The family that wins, as voted by viewers, will keep the merchandise.
The pilot cost around $100,000 to produce, far less than the millions it usually costs for a scripted, star-studded show such as “Desperate Housewives.” Revenue will come from advertising and, potentially, companies paying to place their products on the show.
As the web becomes a capable medium for TV-like content, Yahoo! is slowly adding TV execs to its ranks from the ABC and CBS to make sure its skill-set is ready for this years explosion. The numbers of viewers of streamed and on-demand TV through the major portals is starting to break all records and Yahoo! is feeding this fire and also getting a march on Google by offering a couple of re-runs of prime time CBS comedy over the XMas break.
In December, Yahoo broadcast shock jock Howard Stern celebrating his departure from FM radio to Sirius satellite radio. Viewers watched 4.4 million video streams on the day of the event, 214,000 of them at one time, a record for live Webcasts on the site, according to Yahoo.
Last week, Yahoo scored another coup by joining with CBS to stream some reruns of the network’s prime-time comedies, “Two and a Half Men,” staring Charlie Sheen, and “How I Met Your Mother.” The programs, shown without commercials, will be available in Yahoo’s television area until Monday afternoon.
“We are going to put our content in every form on every device,” said Larry Kramer, who leads CBS’ online arm. “We’re testing them all.”
Whether as yesterdays prediction suggests Yahoo! will be seen as enemy or potential partner by the TV networks remains to be seen – broadcasters are very keen to bring audiences to their own sites, perhaps only a company with the unique funding model of the BBC will be able to weild its portal power against the big boys.
Network executives would prefer to have users go to their own Web sites, where they can offer more bells and whistles like games and splashy graphics and don’t have to share advertising revenue. But Yahoo’s has far more traffic.
“That’s the dilemma we have with the portals,” Kramer said. “I want a younger and bigger audience, but I don’t have an instant messenger or e-mail to build as much of an audience on my own Web sites.”
Back to this pilot which suggests there is still a significant amount of learning to come and it will be one of these over the next few months that will really open the eyes of the traditionalists broadcasters. As my namesake from Showtime states…
For now, Robert Hayes, senior vice president of new media for Showtime Networks Inc., the cable channel, doesn’t consider Yahoo to be a rival along the lines of traditional television networks. Indeed, he made a landmark deal to stream the pilot episode of the now canceled comedy series “Fat Actress,” staring Kirstie Alley, on Yahoo for five days.
Viewers could also watch the show online simultaneously with its television broadcast premiere.
But he’s unsure about Yahoo’s threat over the long run.
The evolution of online television has been extremely fast, he said, even just during the last 90 days.
“Right now, we don’t see Yahoo as a rival, Hayes said. “In the future, that may change.”
I think Mr. Hayes that things will definitely change, not ‘may’, but until that happens lets hope Yahoo! and Google amoungst others keep pushing the boundaries and lets hope that the new kind of programming is not ‘all’ advertorial and reality in nature.