Posts Tagged 'Justin Kowancki'

Come See New Shows – Right Here On Your Right…

As you can see, I’ve added Vod:Pod feed to my blog. Pressing the videos on the widget on your right will play them without leaving this site.

I see this feed as another method of content discovery. I will present there only shows that I find entertaining, interesting and worth watching.

The first three shows I’ve added are my all time favorites: Something To Be Desired, We Need Girlfriends, and Romeo Theater.

Hope you’ll enjoy these shows as much as I do.

This is also an open call for producers – please tell me about your shows – I’ll add the ones I like best to the widget, as well as interview the creators.

Enjoy your weekend.

Kfir Pravda


Can Someone Please Create The HBO Of Online Video?

Video sharing sites are all around the place. Since YouTube fame, everyone are trying to create portals that will capitalize on online video consumption growth.

Most of these players are offering wealth of video clips. Some are focusing on niche, some offer superior video quality and some are certain they have a differentiator but didn’t tell anyone yet.

But, at the end of the day, most market players are offering vast amount of content to their viewers – all in the name of content democratization.

Open and honest, I am a bit tired of that. I don’t want a lot of content – only good content. I don’t need another portal with tons of video clips – I want only the ones that worth something.

The area of content discovery is very complex, and I’ve written about it in the past. There is still a lot to be done in this direction.

But, is there a room for a site with only 10 shows, but all of them amazing (like Something To Be Desired and We Need Girlfriends)? Is there a place for a destination with  high quality content only – the best of web shows? In other words, does it make sense to create a brand that only broadcast the best shows, and is a sign of quality, just like HBO logo is for me?

What’s YOUR opinion?

BlogFerence -International Bloggers Conference

The Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya (Israel) is having the first International bloggers conference. The guys behind the event managed to bring some heavy weights- Om Malik, Andrew Baron from Rocketboom fame, Kent Nichols & Douglas Sarine from Ask a Ninja, and Justin Kownacki from “Something to be desired“. I am honored to join this event, doing a session on how to increase Internet TV viewership – similar to the one in Podcamp Europe. It will be very interesting to get local views on this topic, as well as do a brainstorming session in a conference (and not an un-conference…).

I am certain it is going to be an amazing event, thanks to the hard work done by everyone in IDC.

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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 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.

Cable Companies Beware!

Jeff Pulver posted his views on the future of Cable companies:

“…In the near future, I expect cable companies may start to suffer a similar parallel fate as the wireline phone companies. This eventually will mean billions of dollars of revenue loss without any notion of being able to replace the lost revenue. And I expect we will start to see this trend happen first in the 16-24 year old demographic.

How does this happen? It happens because there is a portion of the existing 16-24 generation which does not watch traditional broadcast TV and they are not watching Cable TV. What they are watching is TV content on the internet. And when these kids leave home and go off to college, they are not signing up for cable TV service in their dorm rooms. Instead they are continuing to watch their favorite TV shows thanks to BitTorrent or are going online to the network websites to catch up with a missed show or in some cases they are also going to iTunes and purchasing the shows to watch on their video iPods and computers…”

I agree, though believe that there are also the 25-35 age group who are willing to consume media in non-traditional ways, as long as it is good.

It seems to me that these industries are kind of dinosaurs, looking at the meteor coming and thinking that everything will be ok. Just like some of the big production companies, missing the fact that people create good content for fraction of the money they are spending.


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

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…

Delivering Web Video to TV – How Will It Affect Content Creators?

In the recent months we see new ways to deliver web videos to your television. Apple TV, and Tivo’s new features are just two examples of this trend. With new Media Centers out there, we can assume that this trend will increase in both magnitude and importance.

How will it affect the world of independent content creators? I believe that this process is a double edge sword:

1 . We will see more exposure to independent content creators – as shows like Ask a Ninja and Something To Be Desired will be shown on living room TV sets, one of the major barriers of entry to these new media creators will be removed – people won’t need to watch video online, but in their regular TV. Though seems logical, I believe that this process will take some time to happen. Though Tivo users are not necessarily early adopters I still believe that it will take some time till my mother will use media center. Therefore, it is not clear how many new users will start watching web shows, as I assume that media savvy early adopters already watch them.

2. Production quality will rise – though current production quality of indie content creators is very good, when moving from small video screen in a web site to full blown TV format, things change. In the 3D animation company I had in the past, we had a clear distinction between productions for internet, mobile, television, and cinema as the effort to create high quality show is correlated with screen size in some aspects. Small details are more apparent.

3. And it will be harder to beat the competition – today most people do not expect the same level of product from internet video as they expect from television show. When users will be able to see a web show, and a minute later another episode of Studio 60 or Prison Break, their level of expectation will change, starting with script level, through actors, and general production value. This is THE major challenge for indie content creators in my opinion – as they begin to be an alternative to regular television.

4. Indie content creators will change the type of content they are creating – from short, 5-8 minutes flicks, to longer formats. The attention span in television is longer than in the internet, and people are willing to watch longer formats there. However, it might prove to be the killer of this industry. Longer formats are usually more expensive, and complicated to produce. As production cost and complexity rise, the competitive advantage of indie content creators, the ability to create quality content cheaply, is lost. Time will tell if there are enough talented creators to face the high profile, high cost productions out there. It might be that this will be the first wave of Creative Darwinism, when only the most talented content creators will survive.

How do you see it?

More to come…

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