AL on MF(A)

The Media Festival Arts which took place on 8-10 September at the Roundhouse, London had a bit of a scattered remit. If it had to do with new media technology and art, in was in. So while a lot of sessions were irrelevant to a lot of delegates (and a lot of delegate-pass swapping took place), there were some gems.

I could only attend half a day, but here’s what caught my attention:

Project Canvas.

  • Intriguing, even though a many organisations seem to have decided to un-like it, or at least are suspicious of its motives and methodology. Maybe it does all boil down to ‘show me the money’? Given that it is a whole new platform and not just a re-flowing of your website content, and given that views will expect a certain quality when they sit in front of their TV screens, who are arts organisations going to afford to create content? Content on this platform will have to be exciting, an ‘event’, something experiential to ‘pull’ people in. We can’t just view it as a form of internet in which just about everything is out there if you search hard enough. But for the like of independent film-makers it has the potential to change the distribution game significantly.
  • On the other hand, should Project Canvas be a place to talk about art – as TV currently is – or to be art?
  • On the other other hand, the Project Canvas set-top boxes will have geo-locators to spot where they are, so producers could tag their content as for local audiences only. Neat, huh? Although I hate to think what MI6 might do with the information!
  • In the first instance, according to new Project Canvas Chair Kip Meek, we should view it as ‘a way of getting your stuff out there to people who wouldn’t otherwise see it.’

Collaborations and partnerships session discussed NT Live, the launch of The Girl Who Played With Fire film and the Last Word Challenge books. What could they teach us?

  • That the NT Live pilot summer brought a 25% increase in audiences over those that attend the South Bank venue. They were rarely totally new to theatre-going, but used it as a way of accessing the National’s performances elsewhere in the country or of trying out new type of plays with relatively low risk. While the NT wanted the ‘sense of occasion’ to emulate that of attending a theatre performance, in fact audiences experienced it as almost a whole new artform; and many felt more emotionally engaged with the performance than those attending the actual live performance.
  • There was a lot that all the collaborators in NT Live learned about establishing which brand values it was important to hang on to in creating the experience, and where they had to adjust to collaborators’ ways of working. For example, the NT wanted to keep the emphasis on the showings being one-off and time-fixed, while deferring to the cinemas’ knowledge of marketing to cinema audiences and how they behave.
  • The collaboration behind the launch of The Girl Who Played With Fire film stressed that the key to success had been to create many ‘touch points’ between the potential audience and the film and to view the film micro-site not as an end in itself but as a springboard for activities such as Facebook campaigns or games through the FindAnyFilm website.
  • The team promoting the Last Word Challenge books stressed the importance of respecting brand values of the New Scientist Magazine, generators of the books and those of the Last Word column in the magazine, which has always been inherently interactive. That enabled them to produce quizzes and challenges that complement rather than replicate the books.

The Art of Making Videos – Part 3: Useful links and free resources

And so we end the week with the third and final part of ‘The Art of Making Videos’ series, here at the Audiences London blog. To catch up on Part 1 (The Basic Rules) click here, and to catch up on Part 2 (How to distribute your video) click here. This series has only touched the surface of producing video content for your organisation, and I hope that it has encouraged you to be creative with your resources. Today, I’ll be providing you with handy links to some free service providers who can help you further with producing video content.

Technical

Miro Video Converter, free software that converts video into mobile and other platforms

Miro Player, provides free video player software

Universal Subtitles, subtitling resource for YouTube

Boosey & Hawkes, offer affordable back-music for videos

Resources

 IT4Arts, helps UK not-for-profit arts organizations manage their IT effectively

Openmute, a web resource project aiming to support cultural practice in the information age

Inspiration

Somethin’ Else, a cross-platform media company producing work for radio, digital media and branded content.

The Art of Making Videos – Part 2 : How to distribute your film effectively (and cheaply!)

If you’ve just stumbled across this blog post – welcome! This is the second part of our ‘Art of Making Videos’ series. You can catch up with Part 1 by clicking here. 

Today I’ll be showing you some tips on how to distribute your online video. If you read Part 1 of this series, you will know that the most important aspect of making a video is understanding who it will be shown to. For example, if you want to promote a ballet performance by featuring exclusive interviews with the principle dancers, you would first need to build up a picture of the audience who you hope will end up watching the clip. This can be done through profiling your audience using tools such as Mosaic.

The importance of understanding your audience means that you can adjust the mood and tone of your video. A good example of tailoring a video to suit the end user’s needs are the ‘Super Me’ series of clips, commissioned by Channel 4 to inspire young people to develop better self esteem:

Understanding your audience also means that devising a distribution plan becomes an easier and more effective exercise. But before you begin planning, ask yourselves the following questions:

– Do we have an idea of where our target audience will spend it’s time online?

– What are their likely web habits?

A really simple way to help you answer these questions is by searching for and collaborating with popular independent blogs and ‘twitterers’ who are vocal within your artform. Develop relationships with them and don’t be afraid to ask them for advice in exchange for providing exclusive video content for them to host on their own websites and pages. There are, of course, other ways of publicising your film.

Video hosting sites

The easiest and most common way of publicising a video is through uploading it via a social media site such as YouTube or Facebook. These sites contain a wide range of viewers, many of whom will already be aware of your organisation. It is usually free to upload and watch videos on these sites, although there may be some restrictions such as length of films and quality. YouTube also allows you to build a ‘homepage’ where you can then stream your videos- much like your own TV channel, and provides you with some fantastic Google Analytics-style tools to show you exactly who is watching your clips. Other websites, such as Myspace, also provide a free video hosting service, but be aware that each social network site attracts a different demographic (Myspace attracts a predominantly young demographic, for example).

Labelling

If you do decide to host your video on a social networking style site, the most important factor to take into account is how to label your video. In the case of YouTube for example, you are required to give ‘keywords’ that sum up the content of your film, so that people searching for similar clips online can find your video easier. It’s never enough to just provide your organisation name as a keyword- be as precise as you can about what the clip shows. If it’s a video showing an interview with some principal dancers in a dance production, make sure you mention who those dancers are, what they are performing in, as well as summing up in a few words how you would describe the interview.

Hosting your video on your own website

This may not be as daunting as it sounds. If you don’t want to use YouTube as your video provider then there are now many free open-source companies who provide software that allows you to integrate a video into your website. I will be featuring some useful links in the next part of this series.

The Art of Making Videos – Part 1 : The Basic Rules

Can you remember the last time you watched something on the internet? The chances are that you probably can, and that it was pretty recent. Thanks to websites like YouTube, it’s easier now more than ever to upload and watch videos online. I couple of weeks ago I went to a really interesting session on producing video content for online and mobile platforms, hosted by Openmute for the Art of Digital London programme.

By the end of the session, I realised just how important it was for arts organisations to make the most of the opportunities which video hosting can bring- whether to enhance a website experience, to market a certain performance or to just spread the word about something. I took down too many notes so I thought I would share some with you, and will host new topics on here through the next few days. Today, we will focus on the basic rules behind producing video content.

Before you begin embarking on a video project, ask yourselves:

– Who is the target audience, and where will they find your film?

– What are the objectives for the film? Is it to inform, is it to boost awareness of something, or to promote a production?

In trying to answer these questions, think about these tips:

– Length of your film- the general rule is not to exceed 5 minutes. If you think you have too much footage then produce two different versions – one can be 20 minutes long and one can be a condensed 3 minute version.

-Particularly for arts organisations, it is so important to convey the fact that downloading and watching a video is not the same as witnessing the experience in real life.

Explain your production rather than just showing the highlights. Film some audience feedback, or interviews with actors and directors. This grabs the viewer’s attention and arouses curiosity much more than having all the good bits served up on a plate! It’s important to mention here that there are always copyright issues when it comes to broadcasting artistic output (be it a performance, or even the music used as a background). Also be aware of the fact that even though a musician or actor may allow you consent to use their material in a video, this may at times still be unlawful, so always consult with the relevant unions prior to undertaking any sort of filming.

– And one last tip: avoid trying to intentionally create viral videos- these very rarely become star attractions, and your audience are savvy enough to realise if something has been staged.

A great example of an organisation demonstrating these guidelines are the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, who I have featured on this blog before. Check out their famous video below- I hope it inspires you!

That’s it for today. Next, we’ll be looking at all the different ways to distribute a film online.

How will the coalition affect culture?

Torin Douglas, Media Correspondent, BBC News, considers how the coalition government may affect culture, specifically the BBC, the Olympics, the Lottery and digital media policy.

Art on the Underground

Dryden Goodwin has created a series of drawings of Underground staff. The artist attached an HD camera to his drawing pad and you can see the drawings being created by clicking on the thumbnails here. It’s quite mesmerising watching the portraits build themselves up.

Teens don’t blog.

Pew Internet has published a report showing that young people are in decline when using blogs, while their interaction with social networking sites (like Facebook and Myspace) is on the up. Check out the findings here. The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

In a hurry? Fear not! Mashable have covered the report in a quick and short article which you can find right here. And while it focuses on American teens, it’s still a useful insight into the ever-changing shifts with teen behaviour!