TV is dead!

No it isn’t. And I don’t think it will ever be, either. It will morph into something that we might not be able to imagine at the moment, but I predict that it will (and must) fuse with the Internet and together provide a richer, more interactive experience.

Production for this new hybrid beast will require a new breed of creative people who are much more aware of various technologies and their potentials and be able to coax as much as possible out of them. The more successful of these new “imagineers” will be those who are not afraid of sharing glory because they will have to depend on various experts in a plethora of fields to ensure that their vision comes through.

The new imagineer will have to think of a lot of factors for his or her show to make it successful, some of which are:

Repurposing: It’s no longer sufficient to invest money and resources in creating a film specifically for one medium. That film must be able to scale appropriately from the large screen to an iPod. I don’t mean that the same image must be displayed verbatim on various devices; that would defeat the object really, but smaller devices might benefit from judicious use of panning and scanning to keep the centre of attention – at least – displayed, among other considerations. I do recognise; however, that there are very legitimate instances where repurposing to that level is not required and not even necessary. I should think that productions will take on different technical personas to accommodate different display mediums and audiences; however, serious thought to repurposing must always be borne in mind and adopted whenever practicable.

Interactivity: iPads/iPods and other mobile devices which are carried on a person lend themselves quite naturally to interactivity. They’re only a few centimeters from their users, so touching a part of a screen or an object on it to illicit a response is quite natural. Imagine then the possibilities available for this type of interactivity. A user can simply touch a plate of food an actor is enjoying and the device would simply email a take-away order to the closest restaurant which can serve such a fair, or to a grocer to prepare the ingredients or maybe even to read a review of the dish! Touch a book or another object and its details would pop up eliciting further action: buy, read, bookmark, send to a friend, and the like could all be integrated into the stream. The options are bound only by the effort (and budgets) available to the film’s producers.

These kind of actions aren’t readily available on a television screen which is a couple of meters away or on a cinema screen which is placed tens of meters away. For those, technologies must be developed to enable the user to exercise interactivity should they wish. We already see gesture based devices available in the market today, the Nintendo Wee, Apple’s Remote Control Software, Microsoft’s latest offering. So I don’t think it will take that long to develop appropriate many-to-one and many-to-many interactive devices.

Of course other than the informational interactivity, there is also the much more important creative interactivity. Ben-Shaul and others have shown us how that kind of interactivity can be achieved in letting the viewer control the plots and the direction of the film.

To me, both forms of interactivity are important; the first will be required to create a direct revenue stream for the producers, who in turn can justify the extended production to accommodate the creative interactivity, both of which will allow for true immersion into the film, elevating it to an experience one undergoes and be part of, rather than be a simple way to while away the time.

What I talked about so far is not too far fetched, and I’m quite certain that programs are afoot to realise those visions as fast as possible. Let me also emphasise that these technologies are not and should not be limited to “entertainment-type” productions, corporate videos can directly benefit from their employ, especially if you consider that corporates don’t need to stick to a rigid format. In fact, I think corporate videos have the potential to drive this change much faster and further than entertainment-type productions. Corporates don’t need to stick to a time limit, though shorter durations are preferable – making them actually harder to produce, as their content and messaging must be carefully thought out.

When you think about it, once a book or brochure is printed, it immediately becomes obsolete. You can’t simply add content to it easily, nor can you correct mistakes. The only way to resurrect a printed material is to create a website through which it could be attached, and in which its readers become engaged.

Films suffer the same fate regardless of whether they be featured films or corporate videos.

Magazines; on the other hand, and due to their cyclical nature suffer less from this natural affliction but they too become outdated very quickly with their only revival being through their dynamic websites with interesting and frequently updated content. It is no surprise then that magazines, newspapers, books and other printed material are now practically used to drive traffic to websites, rather than the other way around!

If the production’s investment is to be properly protected in the corporate video communications world, then a cyclical production approach must be seriously considered. Companies should invest their time, effort and money into creating compelling monthly videos which tell their corporate stories which should encompass their news, views, products and corporate functions. These productions do now have a natural home too in the company’s own website, as well as the various other readily available Internet video platforms, rather than a traditional television channel.

The Internet is a God-send to video production in general, but especially for the corporate video world. Before its advent, the only way for a corporate to display its films was to captured audiences at corporate events, or to dish out a considerable amount of money for it to be broadcast on a television station. With the Internet and its empowering technologies, it has provided a natural and almost free broadcasting medium. What corporates must do, naturally, is to embrace this medium and evolve their corporate communications strategy to take full advantage of the offered potential.

This is what we have done since 2006 with good success. See Riffa Views for a live example. We hope that you might call us to talk to you some more about our ideas to help you capture this window of opportunity.

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