Posts Tagged 'Democracy Player'

Guest Writer Guy Nesher – Who needs Miro?

Miro, formally known as Democracy Player took upon itself an important mission – preventing videoblogging services from monopolizing the market.
While Miro does offer several interesting features for both viewers and producers it lacks two key functionalities which, in my opinion, can determine the outcome of the videoblogging industry.
Revenues
Most video producers rely on videoblogging site to create relationships with advertisers.
In a situation where a videoblogging site becomes dominant in the market almost every producer will use it as it will be able to offer superior revenue share or exposures to their customers.
At this time Miro does not attempt to provide an alternative to the videoblogging sites revenue sharing plan. This in turn means that most producers which relay on commercials to fund their projects will not have a true alternative to the dominant videoblogging site.
Promotion
The second feature video producers seek is a way to promote their content, especially if they are new to the market and try to stand out among the thousands of creators. Today, most videoblogging sites promote content using 3 methods : 1. user generated comments and ranking, 2. editorials promoting content on the blog/main page 3. content discovery mechanism which help viewers discover new movies based on their preference
Miro on its part does offer some content discovery tools however they are inferior to those present in most videoblogging sites. The application lacks user generated recommendations and instead uses a sister site ( videobomb.com) which offers “social bookmarking for videos” but is only partly integrated into Miro. Furthermore, Miro does not offer editorials nor does it uses any content discovery mechanism which will allow its user to “stumble” into relevant new content.

Without these two key abilities, it is doubtful if Miro could prevent a videoblogging site from dominating the market. If Miro is seriously interested in reaching its goal I would suggest changing its current tactic and place a greater emphasis on the tools offered by current videoblogging sites in an attempt to provide an alternative.
Of course Miro can continue and provide its current product which still offers great video player and RSS aggregation.

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User interface and content discovery in video sharing applications

I’ve came across TVTonic after watching an interview with their president on The ScobleShow (great show by the way, add it to your favorite RSS reader).

TV-Tonic has a media center approach to user interface, as you can see in the screenshot below:

tvtonicaddchannels.jpg

As such, the interface itself is clean and aimed at remote control usage. It offers thematic channels, that are combined of specific shows (that from some strange reason are also called shows) . It has a small client that mainly handles video prefetching, and the user interface itself is based on Internet Explorer.

Democracy player has an application that has full functionality as a guide, video downloader/prefetcher and channel guide. Its user interface looks like a website, with various interest area, as you can see from this screenshot:

02.jpg

Who cares?

As I’ve mentioned before, content discovery is a major problem in the industry today. There are a lot of shows, in various topics, and new ones are added daily. How can a user find a new show to watch?

The fact is that I’ve almost never managed to find new interesting shows in Democracy guide. the UI is too clattered, to many moving objects are distracting my attention, and the guide never fits the screen. Two minutes after installing TV-Tonic, I’ve found 7 new ones (I will write about them in later posts). All due to the clear and clean interface, strong channel distinction, and easy signup to new shows. This fact should not be taken lightly.

My main takeaway from this experience:

1. In some cases, less is more, especially when talking about UI

2. Always try new video sharing sites and products. There is still room for innovation in this space.

3. Sometimes complicated issues such as content discovery have simple solution

4. Watch the Scobleshow – you never know what will happen next 🙂

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The Secrets of a Good Fiction Web Show (I) – The Plot

Producing a web show is a complex task. Usually we work without budget, and on top of our day job. The market is in its infancy, so it’s still a challenge to attract viewers. Many aspects of the format are not clear, such as interactivity, format, and length (a key point raised by Justin).

My approach to tackle these issues is that no one can beat a good story.

In this post I’ll share my thoughts on ways to create a compelling fiction episodic web show. Something to be desired (STBD) is an example of such a show – continuous story, with core characters.

The aim is to initiate an open brainstorming between new media producers, writers and actors, via the blogsphere, twitter, and all those nice 2.0 tools we have today.

The challenge

For me, the main challenge in writing dramatic web show is how to retain viewers in a continues story. I believe that the tool to do that is to create dramatic continuity and emotional attachment with the main characters.

How can we achieve that?

Here are the main elements :

Length– Justin wrote an eye opening post about his struggle with episode length and frequency. This issue is not only dramatic -it affects both production logistics and cost. I believe that length of a chapter is of importance – it shouldn’t be 20 seconds cause it is almost impossible to maintain a plot at this length, nor should it be half an hour due to budget constraints and viewers attention span. But the difference between 5 minutes episode to 10 minutes episode is not as important as the first 30-60 seconds. This time frame has to be very engaging in order to keep viewers watching. Both Something to be Desired and Galacticast are doing a great job in creating strong opening for each episode.

Cliffhanger – nothing new here. Cliffhanger is a must in my opinion at the end of each episode. This is the key to get viewers engaged with the show. It requires pre-planing of almost a whole season, or at least a block of episodes, but its importance cannot be overestimated. It is the link to the future of the story from viewers point of view.

Link to the past – some viewers didn’t follow the show from its beginning. it is extremely important to get them involved as soon as they see any episode. Some believe that additional information on the show’s website will do the job. I tend to disagree. I watch my shows on Democracy player, and others watch them on AppleTV, and on sites like Blip.tv. These viewers never get to the website. Furthermore, people want to be entertained, nothing else. We should make their life as easy as possible. I think that the best solution for this problem is “last week on…” clip at the beginning of every episode. Simple, cheap, and viewers already used to it.

Limited amount of characters and plot lines– we need to get people engaged quickly. In order to do that we should have minimal amount of lead characters. This will ease the process (and cut production costs). Supporting characters should always stay in the background, if at all.

Subtext – I am a sucker for subtext. That’s why I am such a big fan of “The Wire“. Subtext fills the characters, their relations, and the plot as a whole, with substance, and make the viewers think about what they see. However, it might be a personal fetish 🙂 .

What are YOUR views on these topics? What else is needed plot-wise in order to create good fiction web show?

I’ve tagged this post with the word story. feel free to tag your relating posts in the same way.

For inspiration, here is a short video clip of Robert McKee talking about Chinatown script.

Flying to Italy – Looking for New WebTV Shows

I am flying tomorrow to IMTC board meeting in Italy, and I am downloading now several shows using Democracy player, after finding them in Network2.tv

Currently on my list:

1. Something To Be Desired

2. Scobleshow

3. Galacticast

4. For Parody Purposes Only

I’d love to hear about new, interesting, episodic shows worth watching.

What do YOU recommend? Leave me a note, or email me at kpravda AT gmail DOT com.

Update 1: Barlow recommended on Nontourage. I’ve added it to my download list…

On Demand World – Spoiled Viewers

My media consumption habits are quite tech oriented. I download most of my favorite shows (Prison Break, The Wire) using Bittorent. I watch them as they air in the US, regardless of local schedule ( I live in Israel btw…). I use my mobile phone for mobile email, news, and where I can locate a hotspot – download videos. I use Democracy to see webisode and shows I find in Network2.tv.

And, most important point is that these channels are the ONLY ones I use in the last couple of years. I don’t have cables in my apartment, and don’t watch regular TV.

Well, at least until yesterday. Me and my better half decided on subscribing to the minimal channel package of the Israeli cable provider. After less than 24hrs with good old television, one thing I can tell you is that when you are used to On Demand experience, this whole programming concept looks ridicules. I was astonished to see the amount of commercials, and even worse – low level content that broadcasted in prime time.

My parents don’t have any problem with that – they like the fact that in a specific time they get show X with production quality Y. But for me it was extremely annoying to wait till the commercials end, to wait till the best shows are on, and to see a lot content, that in most cases, isn’t relevant to my interests.

It seems to me that in an on demand world, viewers are spoiled. As my nephew says – they want it, and they want it now. Content creators who used to rely on obedient viewers, or piggyback low quality productions on high rating shows, should wake up and smell the coffee.

We are spoiled. We know what we want. We know when we want it. We know how we want to watch it. So please, just make sure we can find it, download it quickly, and watch it as we see fit…

An On Demand Viewer Facing TV Programming For The First Time

A picture of a Future On Demand Viewer


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