Friday, September 28, 2007

User-inputted text populates online promo videos

Not sure it constitutes a trend, but I've seen a couple of nice examples of dynamic text insertion of user-inputted material into promotional videos recently.

The first was (created by digital ad agency Ralph), which Jo showed me a few weeks back. The site (promoting the UK premiere of Dexter on FX) invites you to "give your friend the Dexter treatment". This involves keying in some personal details (name, age, gender, profession) and a message which then get rendered in a faux video news report and emailed to your 'victim' as a link with the subject heading 'This is really weird..." If you really want to freak them out you can also supply their mobile number which will send them a text message reading "Hello Dan. I'm heading to the UK sooner than you might think. Dexter". You can watch the video I received here.

The second was techlightenment's Bob Dylan Facebook app, promoting the release of his latest Best Of album, which allows users to type in ten short phrases which then appear on the cards Dylan rifles through in the legendary video for Subterranean Homesick Blues (which incidentally, just squeezed into my Top 20 best music videos ever). I have to admit I'm both surprised and impressed that Sony BMG is happy for punters to put words in Dylan's hands, opening the door to some potentially undesirable brand associations (I can confirm that the app doesn't have a profanity filter!)

Whilst neither implementation is perfect (both suffer from problems with word wrapping), they're both impressive and an interesting indicator of a likely future direction for promotional videos, which will no doubt soon incorporate user-submitted photos and videos, as well as text, to further personalise the marketing message.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

US TV networks wake up to distributed distribution

It's been interesting to chart the major US TV networks' evolving approach to online video distribution over the last couple of years. Below is a rough timeline of activity from 'the big four' (ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox) which shows the shift from paid-for iTunes downloads and broadcaster-hosted streaming services in 2005/06 to increasingly distributed models in 2007. This change is also reflected in recent proclamations by some of the networks' big cheeses (pasted below the timeline) who seem to have finally woken up to the fact that the internet is a network and that big audiences in this space come from allowing wide distribution of your content, not forcing users to come to you (although as Jeff Jarvis points out on the excellent BuzzMachine, these noble sentiments don't always translate to actions).

12th Oct 2005 - ABC shows made available for download (for $1.99) via iTunes
5th Dec 2005 - NBC shows made available for download via iTunes
1st May 2006 - ABC launches free (ad-supported) video streaming service
4th May 2006 - CBS launches 'innertube', free (ad-supported) video streaming service
9th May 2006 - Fox shows made available for download via iTunes
8th Jun 2006 - CBS shows made available for download via iTunes
1st Oct 2006 - NBC launches 'NBS Rewind', free (ad-supported) video streaming service
22nd Mar 2007 - NBC and News Corp announce what will later become
18th Apr 2007 - NBC creates the National Broadband Company to distribute video
12 Apr 2007 - CBS announces its 'Interactive Audience Network', distributing shows through numerous partners
18 Jun 2007 - Fox partners with Brightcove to offer streamed, embeddable video
31 Aug 2007 - NBC ends contract with iTunes
4th Sep 2007 - NBC shows to be made available via Amazon Unbox
19 Sep 2007 - NBC launches 'NBC direct', free (ad-supported) download service
20 Sep 2007 - ABC begins free (ad-supported) streaming via AOL
21st Sep 2007 - Fox gives away free seasons premieres via iTunes

“If we really want to compete with big aggregators like Yahoo and Google, we need our video in as many places as possible,” (Randy Falco, president of NBC, quoted in the New York Times, September 2006)

“We can’t expect consumers to come to us. It’s arrogant for any media company to assume that.” (Quincy Smith, president of CBS, quoted in the Wall Street Journal, May 2007)

“It is critical that we embrace the Internet as a distributed medium that promotes engagement with users, wherever they are on the Web” (William Bradford, senior vice president, content strategy at Fox, August 2007)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

40 best songs from film soundtracks

Thursday's post on Listphile has got me itching to create a new list and with over three months to go until my end of year film and music rounds-ups I thought I'd tide myself over with a list of the 40 best songs from movie soundtracks. Obviously wholly subjective so don't go complaining that there's no Celine Dion or Bryan Adams...

The rules:
- No themes (hence no Star Wars, E.T, Raiders, Bond etc.)
- No musicals (although I've given The Blues Brothers a special dispensation)
- Nothing from before the Summer of Love
- Nothing from an irredeemably bad film

  1. Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley (The Edukators, 2004)
  2. Stand By Me - Ben E. King (Stand By Me, 1986)
  3. You Never Can Tell - Chuck Berry (Pulp Fiction, 1994)
  4. Mrs. Robinson - Simon & Garfunkel (The Graduate, 1967)
  5. Son of a Preacher Man - Dusty Springfield (Pulp Fiction, 1994)
  6. Wouldn't It Be Nice - The Beach Boys (The Big Chill, 1983)
  7. Things Have Changed - Bob Dylan (Wonder Boys, 2000)
  8. A Life Less Ordinary - Ash (A Life Less Ordinary, 1997)
  9. It Ain't Me Babe - Joaquin Phoenix & Resse Witherspoon (Walk The Line, 2005)
  10. Stuck In The Middle With You - Stealers Wheel (Reservoir Dogs, 1992)
  11. Sinnerman - Nina Simone - (The Thomas Crown Affair, 1999)
  12. Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In) - Kenny Rogers & The First Edition (The Big Lebowski, 1998)
  13. Dry The Rain - The Beta Band (High Fidelity, 2000)
  14. Blister in the Sun - Violent Femmes (Grosse Pointe Blank, 1997)
  15. Where Is My Mind? - Pixies (Fight Club, 1999)
  16. Layla - Derek And The Dominos (Goodfellas, 1990)
  17. Tiny Dancer - Elton John (Almost Famous, 2000)
  18. Wise Up - Aimee Mann (Magnolia, 1999)
  19. Come What May - Nicole Kidman & Ewan McGregor (Moulin Rouge!, 2001)
  20. You Can't Always Get What You Want - The Rolling Stones (The Big Chill, 1983)
  21. Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You - Andy Williams (Bridget Jones's Diary, 2001)
  22. Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison (Born of the Fourth of July, 1989)
  23. Feeling Good - Nina Simone (The Assassin, 1993)
  24. The Power of Love - Huey Lewis & The News (Back to the Future, 1985)
  25. I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow - The Soggy Bottom Boys (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, 2000)
  26. Everybody Needs Somebody To Love - The Blues Brothers (The Blues Brothers, 1980)
  27. Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon - Urge Overkill (Pulp Fiction, 1994)
  28. Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head - B.J. Thomas (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 1969)
  29. Everything In Its Right Place - Radiohead (Vanilla Sky, 2001)
  30. Playground Love - Air (The Virgin Suicides, 1999)
  31. Talk Show Host - Radiohead (Romeo + Juliet, 1996)
  32. Porcelain - Moby (The Beach, 2000)
  33. Born Slippy - Underworld (Trainspotting, 1996)
  34. Perfect Day - Lou Reed (Trainspotting, 1996)
  35. Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen (Wayne's World, 1992)
  36. Mad World - Gary Jules and Michael Andrews (Donnie Darko, 2001)
  37. Lose Yourself - Eminem (8 Mile, 2002)
  38. I Want You To Want Me - Letters To Cleo (10 Things I Hate About You, 1999)
  39. Eye of the Tiger - Survivor (Rocky III, 1982)
  40. Live and Let Die - Wings (Live and Let Die, 1973)
Update: Added to Amazon UnSpun (thanks for the suggestion, Fraser)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Listphile delivers Lists 2.0

As regular readers will know, there are few things I love more than a good list (see here, here, here, here, here and here). So, you can imagine my delight on discovering Listphile, an LA-based startup taking the humble art of list creation and showering it with Web 2.0 goodness.

Of course, we've seen online list makers before, however they've tended to be either geared towards personal 'to do' lists (e.g. Bla-Bla List, Remember The Milk, Ta-da, Tudu), limited in functionality (listography, List of Bests) or frankly just a bit scrappy (ListBums).

In contrast, Listphile is wholly collaborative, looks great and is chocked full of tasty 2.0 functionality including photo and video upload, digg-style voting, wiki-esque edit histories, RSS feeds, tags, comments and integration with Google Maps, enabling you to create an atlas view of your list.

In addition to the map view, lists can be displayed as thumbnail galleries and sorted by a range of criteria (alphabetically, by rank, by recently modified or by the owner's order).

The icing on the cake is that the whole site is shot through with a philosophy of openness, borne out by its use of OpenID, the Creative Commons license and the wonderful list of 'things Listphile is' on their about page (the top ten of which I've reproduced below as a good check-list for any company playing in the Web 2.0 space):

Listphile is...

1. Free
2. Open
3. Flexible
4. Powerful
5. Mashable
6. Shareable
7. Grassroots
8. Easy to use
9. Embeddable
10. Collaborative

The site's only been up and running since June so there are only a few hundred lists at the moment and not many votes contributing to those lists with rankings. However a recent mention on TechCrunch should see usage increase.

One bit of functionality which isn't yet available is the ability to take away lists as embeddable widgets (although I guess you could create your own using the RSS feeds). I therefore present, in a manual style, a list of my top five Listphile lists to whet your appetite:

1. Gifts for Geeks (it includes a life-size Yoda and a replica Space Shuttle Pumpkin Suit for heaven's sake)
2. Famous Left Handed People (there can't be that many lists which feature Jimi Hendrix, George Dubya and Einstein)
3. Open Surf Atlas (nicely showcases the Google Maps integration)
4. Nintendo Wii Virtual Console Games (an extensive list but needs some voting to sort the wheat from the chaff)
5. World Shark Attack Database (Cornish coast conspicuously absent...)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Joost, Babelgum & Apple TV in your browser

Want to get a taste of Joost/Babelgum/AppleTV (they do all sound quite edible) but don't have a beta invite/can't be bothered with the download/don't want to shell out £200? Well, you're in luck. Independent developer, Paul Yanez, has created browser-based Flash mashups of all three products and they're pretty damn slick (see below screengrabs). Whilst they don't feature the same video content as their parent apps, they do give a very good feel of the interfaces and the content they suck in from assorted video sharing sites is arguably more compelling than much of the official offers. Nice job, Mr Yanez.

Joost Flash Mashup

Babelgum Flash Mashup

Apple TV Mashup