Technology for the imaginative mind

Initially posted in French on 01/20/2012

Amid the constant flow of technological changes and the ever-changing ways that media space has been used over the past 15 years, it’s become difficult to know which came first—the chicken (technology) or the egg (the new uses). However, one thing is clear: we are witness to an uninterrupted process that seemingly knows no bounds. Today’s technological possibilities are paving the way to the public’s adoption of new behaviors; and communication appetite and the augmenting expertise of users (particularly digital natives), are stimulating continuous innovation in technology.

Mashable offers us its post-CES 2012 recap where we get the feeling that this year’s show can be summarized as “evolution, not revolution” while TechCrunch categorizes its winners and losers of the year.

While the CES was in full swing in Las Vegas, we were invited to travel to France to make a presentation on the Fund’s policies and programs at the FORUM BLANC cross-media (TV+Web) industry conference. A certain amount of technology prospecting was also part of the event, with the technologies presented targeting opportunities for producers of audiovisual and multiplatform content. And therein, we believe, lies the interest. Therefore, to complement and expand on what has been widely reported about the CES, we wish to present a few discoveries made by Emmanuel Rondeau, Project Manager, Innovation, at Imaginove.

Kolor Eyes

Kolor Eyes is a video player for images recorded using a 360° camera. The device offers originality and an added advantage: an HTML5, WebGL-based device, it was not developed using a proprietary language (and therefore needs no extra plug-ins) and will eventually run on all platforms. Currently, however, it is only supported by Firefox 4 and Chrome.

To learn more:

Klynt

Flash-based and developed by Honkytonk, Klynt is an editing and publishing application for Web-based narratives. The tool enables even non-specialized users to easily produce a complete documentary and broadcast it via the most popular social channels. One of its greatest assets is that it offers users the possibility to effortlessly produce non-linear and interactive narratives, opening many new creative avenues.

To learn more:

Shapeshot

Shapeshot is an integrated process that enables the user to capture an element (usually a face) in 3D and reproduce it as a virtual model (visible via the Shapeshot app or a WebGL supported browser) or as an object (a bust, for example). Users must contact Direct Dimensions, the product developer, to capture the model using four off-the-shelf digital cameras, but the potential is there, and it bodes well for the future of personalizing the user experience, notably through the creation of avatars.

To learn more:

Geopositioning applied to fiction

Fictional literary works now exist that take a highly innovative route, exploring the possibilities that geopositioning offers, adding a new dimension to storytelling, and in doing so providing the reader with an entirely new experience. While the process itself is still in its infancy and seems sometimes to harken back to the old “you be the hero” books, its potential is clearly evident. Examples include a story integrated into Google Maps and the personalization of a story based on the location of the reader. Both use Foursquare data.

To learn more:

  • The 21 Steps, part of a six-story series published by Penguin
  • Wanderlust Stories by Six to Start; app is available on their site
  • Interactive walk using the app developed by Walking the Edit

Send us your own discoveries.

Quelques technologies au service de l’imagination

Dans le flux constant de changements technologiques et de modifications des usages que subit l’espace médiatique depuis les 15 dernières années, il serait difficile de déterminer qui de la poule (la technologie) ou l’oeuf (les nouveaux usages) est venu en premier. Chose certaine, c’est un processus circulaire qui semble être sans limite : les nouvelles possibilités technologiques ouvrent la voie à l’adoption massive de nouveaux comportements et de nouveaux outils et plateformes d’accès alliés à l’appétit et l’habileté des utilisateurs (notamment les “natifs”) stimulent l’innovation continue en technologie. De tous les événements dédiés purement à la technologie, la grand-messe annuelle du CES à Las Vegas est sans contredit le plus couru et commenté par l’Industrie. Plusieurs blogueurs et journalistes canadiens étaient sur place et le sujet a été largement couvert par les commentateurs sur le Web. Nous vous proposons ici une sélection des meilleurs “digests”.

Laurent LaSalle livre ses coups de cœur, ses incontournables et ses trouvailles plus originales. De son côté, Maxime Johnson dresse un bilan assez complet de l’événement qui aura été, si l’on se fie à son analyse, plus riche en évolutions qu’en révolutions.

Pendant qu’avait lieu cet événement à Las Vegas, nous étions invités à venir faire une présentation sur les politiques et programmes du Fonds lors d’une rencontre professionnelle Cross-Média (TV+Web) en France. Dans le cadre de cet événement nommé le FORUM BLANC, il a également été question de certaines prospections technologiques. Dans ce cas-ci cependant, les technologies présentées ont été ciblées pour les opportunités qu’elles pourraient représenter pour les producteurs de contenus audiovisuels et multiplateformes. D’où – selon nous – l’intérêt. Ainsi, pour faire un complément ou renchérir sur ce qui a été largement couvert du côté du CES, nous vous présentons quelques trouvailles présentées par Emmanuel Rondeau, chef de projet Innovation chez Imaginove.

Kolor Eyes

Kolor Eyes est un player vidéo qui permet de lire des vidéos prises avec une caméra 360°. Originalité et double avantage revendiqués par ce player : Basé sur HTML 5 et WebGL, son développement n’est pas tributaire d’un langage propriétaire (et ne nécessite donc l’installation d’aucun plugin) et, à terme, il est supposé fonctionner sur toutes les plateformes. Actuellement, Firefox 4 ou Chrome sont cependant les seules pour pouvoir en profiter.

Pour en savoir plus :

Klynt

Développée en Flash par Honkytonk, Klynt est une plateforme de montage pour documentaire web multimédia. Cet outil permet à un utilisateur (même non-spécialiste) de monter facilement un documentaire complet, et de le diffuser via les canaux sociaux les plus connus. Un des atouts les plus intéressants de Klynt est la possibilité de faire très facilement des montages non-linéaires et interactifs qui démultiplient les possibilités créatives.

Pour en savoir plus :

Shapeshot

Shapeshot est un processus intégré qui permet une capture 3D d’un élément (typiquement un visage) et de le restituer sous la forme d’un modèle virtuel (visible via leur app ou sur le web, grâce à WebGL) ou encore sous la forme d’un objet réel (un buste, par exemple). Il faut encore faire appel à Direct Dimensions, le développeur du produit, pour capturer le modèle à partir de 4 appareils photo digitaux classiques, mais le potentiel est là et ouvre des perspectives pour tout ce qui a trait à la personnalisation de l’expérience utilisateur telle que la création d’avatars, notamment.

Pour en savoir plus :

Géolocalisation appliquée à la fiction

Certaines oeuvres de fiction littéraires explorent une façon créative d’utiliser les possibilités offertes par la géolocalisation pour donner une dimension supplémentaire au récit et offrir une expérience différente au lecteur. Même si l’exploitation du procédé en est encore à ses balbutiements et rappelle par moment les bons vieux « livres dont vous êtes le héros », le potentiel saute aux yeux : récit intégré dans Google Maps ou se personnalisant en fonction de l’endroit où se situe le lecteur, en exploitant les données de Foursquare ne sont que deux exemples parmi d’autres.

Pour en savoir plus :

  • The 21 steps, récit faisant partie d’une série de 6 récits publiés par Penguin
  • Wanderlust Stories de Six to Start, app disponible depuis leur site
  • Promenade interactive avec l’app développée par Walking the Edit

Partagez-nous vos découvertes.

2012 TRENDS: Time for coopetition

(Read introduction: Coming up next, review of the 2012 media trends.)

“The more consumers adopt new technologies, the more comfortable they become with accessing content on every available screen and expecting the experience to be seamless across devices and platforms. The companies that are best suited to meet these formidable consumer expectations are those that can deliver hardware, software, content and social integration”. – EmarketerNovember 2011

The level of agility expected from media corporations nowadays is unprecedented.  The frantic pace of technological breakthroughs, the fragmentation of audiences and revenues and the increased demand for compelling content creates a constant state of flux in the chain of value for the broadcasting industry, and corporations have to adapt.

In Canada, in the US and in western Europe, many media corporations have chosen vertical integration to survive the ever-changing landscape, creating media empires that control numerous entities like cable services, broadcasters, radio stations, print media, Internet and sometimes mobile providers.

The launch of Netflix in Canada, the passionate reactions it triggered and the impending arrival of yet more OTT players in Canada seem to have paved the way to an awakening:  in the global digital content market, more and more players share the same objective — to bridge the gap between them and the user.

In the meantime, many other events in 2011 exposed how blurry the lines are getting between content creators, content broadcasters, service providers and device manufacturers.   Google bought Motorola,  Amazons Kindle Fire is shaking the tablets market; rumors of Facebook and Amazon jumping in the mobile phone space, predictions that Apple would be the next screen disrupter in the TV sets universe — and, on the other hand, Samsung, Panasonic, SONY and fellow manufacturers investing massive amounts of money to enter the content space with Connected TV…    It’s as though we’re all playing roulette, and everyone is putting their money on as many numbers and color cases as they can… ‘cause no one can predict where the ball will come to rest.

The 4 Scenarios for the Future of Television

From: Bringing TV to Life, Issue II: The race to dominate the future of TV

All of the above lead to questions that will be crucial this upcoming year: is vertical integration the best answer to all this uncertainty? How many content gatekeepers can the “Digital Era” business models sustain?  Where is the real competition ? (In Canada, the arrival of Netflix has created a remarkable solidarity between cable distribution competitors).

Even if these questions become more and more pressing, we don’t believe any of them will be answered in 2012.  Moves and shifts in the value chain will continue but the times are calling for cross-sectorial collaboration, business models hybridation and coopetition[1] between players.  This approach is certainly more efficient considering that players have less and less time and resources to accommodate rapid market changes, disrupting learning curves and skill upgrades within organizations.


[1] Coopetition or Co-opetition is a neologism coined to describe cooperative competition.

Basic principles of co-opetitive structures have been described in game theory.   Coopetition occurs when companies work together for parts of their business where they do not believe they have competitive advantage and where they believe they can share common costs. (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coopetition)

2012 TRENDS: SoLoMo (Social+Local+Mobile)

(Read introduction: Coming up next, review of the 2012 media trends.)

Widespread availability of mobile and WiFi technologies and the confirmed enthusiasm of social users are paving the way to a new approach to delivering content “just in time” and marrying business models with brands “near you”: SoLoMo.  This emerging term (amalgam of SOcial+ LOcal (or location)+MObile)  will certainly be among the popular buzzwords in 2012.   Why?  Three main reasons:

1) Mobile and ultraconnectivity:
As mentioned by Paul Burns, VP Digital Media from Shaw during a panel at Next Media 2011 – “Since 2008 , we’ve been saying that this year is mobile year!”.  Well it will certainly (again!) be the case in 2012…  Mobile devices are driving unprecedented growth in a) consumer’s adoption both for tablets and smartphones, b) advertising spending and c) technological developments.

2) Location and local content:
Now that GPS capabilities are widespread (according to Comscore, in 2011 three out of four mobile subscribers have GPS capabilities), the interest in local content is also rising as people are looking for things that are relevant to them in their context: their city, their place in the city, the people they interact with.    According to Stephen Hoover, chief executive of Xerox’s research and development unit (PARC): “We’re at the cusp of really being able to integrate all of these different sources of data and understand people’s intention in context and give them the information that’s useful at the time they need it”.  From a strictly marketing point of view, it is highly probable that when you are pushing the right content, at the right moment, in the right place, there are less steps to be made to convert a user into a buyer.

3) Everybody is Social
According to George Colony, Chairman & CEO of Forrester Research,  “social penetration” (ie online users having accessed or used social media) has reached its limits.   Based on extensive surveys, Forrester reports that “social penetration” is over 75% everywhere in the world (86% in Canada), and that people already spend as much time as they can on social.   So what’s next? According to Colony, there is now an opportunity for developing more efficient, faster and anti-”time-wasting” social apps.  This seems to correlate with data related to usage on mobile phones: according to Comscore, “search” is the top activity of mobile browser users. Social networking is second.

In order to maximize the possibilities of SoLoMo in the future, it is important to remember that this is a concept related to how/when to ACCESS and INTERACT with CONTENT… it cannot be considered as a product in itself without having a well thought out content to deliver.    But content producers and brand owners must understand the huge possibilities (both business and creative) offered by SoLoMo.  For example, as smartphones are getting more “up, close and personal”  with voice activation and dictation technologies (e.g. Dragon Dictation; and Apple’s newbie SIRI), that “friendly voice in your phone” could take the concept even further.  Imagine walking by a movie theatre and hearing your phone calling you by your first name and reminding you that new movie from that obscure Bosnian filmmaker you like is only playing there for one more day…

Exemples of Solomo applications funded at the CMF:
My City Lives
Herd.com
Choco-locate

2012 TRENDS: Gamification, the new seed of all digital strategies

(Read introduction: Coming up next, review of the 2012 media trends.)

Dennis Crowley once explained that he had the idea for Foursquare when walking over a chalk mushroom drawn on the pavement – as an avid gamer, he immediately thought: “Hey, I should get a reward for that!”. Almost three years and over 10 million users later, his initial inspiration has become a pervasive trend with a name: gamification.Despite taking the cake as the most overheard buzz word in 2011, gamification still has many glorious days ahead.     Based on the idea that rewarding the user is fundamental in creating an engaging digital media experience,  numerous cutting-edge media campaigns, crossplatform projects and transmedia productions are now putting this concept to work.  Although facilitated by social gaming, the proliferation of mobile apps and inspiring success stories of companies such as Zynga, gamification strategies should not be limited to producing games to complement a media franchise.  Progressive structures, rewards systems and other “funware” features are being implemented left and right into non-game projects, and consumers are playing along.   The future of gamification is actually about extending these mechanisms to a diversity of activity sectors (health, government, services…), business processes and working structures and to broaden brand-engagement strategies — just like what Samsung has started doing recently with Samsung Nation.

Coming up next: review of the 2012 media trends

As everyone is finalizing their Christmas list, digital media experts are hard at work on another type of lists: their 2012 predictions! What emerging trends, technologies and behaviors will impact the media industry in the next year?
As privileged observers, we will discuss those predictions in early Q1 of 2012 since some of these highly expected predictions – such as the TMT Predictions from Deloitte (the 2011 Predictions can be discovered here) will only be released in mid-January.
In the meantime, without trying to play “the crystal ball game” ourselves, we thought we would offer an appetizer: a hybrid between the review of the year 2011 and 2012 predictions. Therefore, we will gradually reveal – starting today and until Christmas- what we believe to be the “Top 10 must-watch” topics.   Many of these themes are not new, but we believe they will reach a tipping point in 2012, often passing from emerging phenomenons to shaping the new norm in digital media consumption.   We’ve selected them because of the influence we believe they had in 2011 and the role they will continue to play in impacting significantly the content production & media broadcast industry in Canada.

 

This week, we will post the original versions of the texts in English and next week, the original postings will be made in French.  Both the English and French translations of all the postings will be available in early January.  Enjoy your reading and Happy Holidays everyone!

 

The Industry and market trends department – CMF

Life of the rich and substantial

Ce billet est disponible en français.

A little over a year ago, the CMF unveiled its new guidelines and introduced the concept of « rich and substantial », a new prerequisite for digital media components in the Convergent Stream that excited some… and puzzled many.  As the CMF is releasing its first annual report, we sat down with the CMF’s English market director at Telefilm Canada Francesca Accinelli to take a look at the challenges and successes of the Fund’s most talked-about criteria.

When the CMF first released its new guidelines in April 2010, it didn’t take long for producers to react to one of the Fund’s new requirements: the now famous “rich and substantial” criteria instantly caused a stir.   “In the beginning, I think people struggled to understand the concept,”  remembers Francesca. “And in truth, without examples of exactly what we wanted, we also struggled to explain it to them.  In television, you know, we have a fixed format, things to respect.  This was much larger.”

As a reminder, there are three ways for projects to trigger eligibility in the Convergent stream: the DM component related to the TV program has to either be streamed on-line in a non-simultaneous manner, be broadcasted by a CRTC-licensed VOD service or – and the preferred option from the CMF’s point of view – present a “rich and substantial” digital media component aimed at at least one other platform than television.  Yet, there was no “formula” or set-in-stone elements that made a project rich and substantial.  For Francesca, being creative and thinking out of the box also means being adaptable: “We try to let people know that there is flexibility. It’s always in terms of why – why is it rich and substantial?  What are you offering other than photos of the cast?

The CMF’s first task was thus to meet with the industry and expand on their expectations, case by case.  As sites became richer and richer, they started to have more examples at hand.  “Now we can sit down with broadcasters and look at their own websites and say: ‘this series, absolutely rich and substantial’ and this series… ‘not’.  We spent a lot of time doing that with everyone (broadcasters and producers), and I think it paid off.

An unforeseen enthusiasm

For its first year of operation, the CMF had set an objective of 50% for the rich and substantial criteria: at the end of the year, out of the 486 projects funded, 65% had a rich and substantial component. For Francesca, this enthusiasm of the industry for R&S translates into creative benefits both for the audience and the producers — which was one of the original intents behind the Fund: “We wanted producers to go beyond the simple promotion of the project, and for the broadcaster to understand that as well — understand that audiences can be reached in many different ways. The projects that we’ve seen as “rich and substantial” really do that, they truly enrich the audience’s experience and the viewership, and it created an additional dimension to the project.”

Spawned from sometimes otherwise unused original content, this new vision often enriches the whole production:  “In the case of documentaries there may be hundreds of hours of footage that they were’t able to put in that brings a whole other aspect, that litterally tells a different story.”

For Francesca, establishing the ‘rich and substantial’ criteria also entailed the conversion of the broadcasters.  “Sometimes you reach audiences through a digital platform and then they will go to the television.  And digital allows audience engagement in between seasons!  Original, on-going content keeps your audience coming back. You don’t want your audience to go away. There is a lot of competition, and when you’re off, somebody else is on. By adding new material every week, returning for new clips, little quizzes, producers keep the audience coming back, and that’s what we want to happen.”

More components… more work?

Francesca recalls many producers first thought that ‘rich and substantial’ meant more work for them.  “Some thought – ‘Oh no, I am going to have to learn a whole other thing’. They think they have to do the work — and they don’t.  There are interactive producers waiting around the corner to help you tell your story in a different mindset.

Francesca firmly believes in the power of partnerships between traditional and new media producers: “I think the ones who are doing it right are the ones who have found individuals to help them.”

Trendscape will continue exploring this topic in the weeks to come.  Comment this post or contact us via email to send us your questions, preoccupations and success stories about past, present and future rich and substantial projects!

Some examples of rich and substantial projects:

Museum Secrets

Tiga Talk!

The Dating Guy

Les artisans du changement