The inaugural event obviously tapped a video vein when 350+ non-registered folks showed up the first day ready to join 400 attendees. The east coast summit is gearing up to offer more of the same great content and speakers at its New York debut this December.
As a relative newbie to the world of web video, I jumped at the chance to blog about an event where technology and creativity converge to level the playing field for content creators, designers, and innovative producers and distribution channels. Veterans of film and television mingled with digital pioneers shaping the visual landscape of high definition.
The event attracted a rich, cultural mix of talent drawn by the promise of event organizers to address the important web video issues of the day and introduce key movers and shakers in the industry.
Ranging from the likes of seasoned Vicente Baldwin, a Los Angeles-based writer, photographer, film producer and editor, who showed up to hone his HD video chops to Maxcess International corporate
media manager, Kasey Stratton Morales, whose goal of sharpening her design
and production skills led her to this 2-day event. At the other end of the spectrum was novice Bryan Olive of The Ayn Rand Institute, who arrived hoping to learn what's hot in web video technology.
They weren't disappointed.
A Healthy Dose of Irreverence
When was the last time you had a conference organizer personally ask about your event experience? Dave Burstein, moderator and summit chair and editor of DSL Prime and Future of TV.net, offered a refreshing alternative to the stale end-of-event surveys by quizzing participants during breaks and lunches about what was working or not working for them. He appeared pained by less than stellar feedback, accepting personal responsibility for problems ranging from speaker content to technical glitches (he promises to correct these prior to December's event.)
Dave encouraged a healthy dose of irreverence between participants and speakers by popping into studio sessions and peppering panelists with questions not asked from the floor. Turning to the audience, he would ask us to challenge the thinking of the thought leaders and to please not take at face value what they were saying.
Blogging at a content-rich, dual-track event offers its own
challenges, but trying to juggle it while sucking in as much learning
as I could from seasoned folks doubles the challenge. I've decided to
give you a taste of the Web Video Summit Spring '07 offerings.
Real-world success stories ranged from the rugged to the corporate, giving us a glimpse of what's possible in today's web video space. Brian Conley's Alive in Baghdad delivers Iraqi slice-of-life stories documented by locals--definitely not your typical prime time coverage. At the other end of the spectrum, Sun Microsystems Multimedia Specialist, Laurent Bridenne, shared his team's creative use of video in reaching their customers.
What's typically top of mind for creative independents? Funding. The Going Corporate panel looked at what large companies were already doing along with some non-corporate alternatives for keeping the creative juices flowing while still managing to eat.
Larry Jordan of Edit Well offered a number of practical tips. His big idea #1 of producing with client money instead of your own drew laughs from the audience for its obvious, but often overlooked, simplicity. A few more of Larry's tips:
- Clients will pay us for what we know that they don't - different perspectives on storytelling
- Clients prefer choices & risk - how do we take them to the next level? Offer them three choices
- Give them what they want (safe choice)
- Take them to the next step (push the envelop 20%)
- Offer them a "way out there" idea and they'll go for the safer option, but not the safest--#2
Dina Kaplan, Co-founder and COO, of Blip.TV
offers independent creatives another funding route through paid
advertising. Blip.TV provides a 50/50 revenue split with content
creators with traction--she mentioned a round number of 100,000
viewers. But even that number isn't set in stone as Brian Conley, whose
Alive in Baghdad show participates in the
Blip.TV revenue model mentioned later in the conference that
their audience was nowhere near that mark.
So now you have some good content what do you do to protect it? The packed session Money Smarts: Talent Agents, Lawyers, and Other Pros Give Advice provided excellent
information for creatives who don't always consider the business side
of the intellectual property house. Content creators are in a good
space for negotiations because demand is high stated panelists, Colette Vogele, author of the Podcasting Legal Guide and podcast Rules for the Revolution, and Morty Wiggins, President, Outhink Media, a company leveling the web video playing field.
Challenges can lie in the fine print where,
let's say, you're offered what appears to be a great deal to
retain full copyright ownership, only to discover that licensing
terms negate copyright benefits through a "perpetual worldwide rights"
clause. Tip from Morty: It's likely that
companies asking for Mobile Rights don't have a mobile strategy, but
are looking to retain future rights on technology not available today.
So ask them, "What is your mobile rights strategy?" Go from there.
Content producers and media distributors offered price points for
every pocketbook--no cost, low cost, and mega pricing. Companies such
as Pando and BitTorrent
are poised to take advantage of peer-to-peer distribution channels as
more content producers look for ways to keep HD distribution costs
During the You and Your Audience: Distribution one
of the panelists mentioned that the peer-to-peer challenge was how to
keep content secure while keeping costs down. Reps of content producer
heavies from thePlatform (Ian Blaine), Akimbo (Tom Hammer), Internap (Philip N. Kaplan), Akamai (Tim Napoleon), and BitTorrent
(Ashwin Navin) offered a spirited discussion on what's working and not
working (although panelists remained neutral about where they/their
companies stood on Net Neutrality.)
With sites popping up to create content anchors on their
sites, reaching eyeballs effectively while monetizing content is a key
focus area of social networking - serve the content well and then
introduce relevant advertisers.
How will search engines find your work and how will consumers discover the video content they care about was the focus of the Video Search Engines panel with Suranga Chandratillake, Founder of blinkx, Dr. Pete Kocks, Chief Architect, AOL Video, David Lee, Business Development, StumbleUpon, and Tom Wilde, CEO, EveryZing.
Cool and Noteworthy
A slew of innovative companies pitched and promoted their business during the two days. Magnify.Net
offers content creators and site owners a chance to build video
channels fast, easy, and elegant at no cost. Users can search, share,
and rate relevant content based on personal interest and value.
Stockxpert offers high-quality stock imagery at its site along with a powerful search engine that speeds the process for finding relevant images. The company plans to introduce stock video footage on its site in the next month (or so).
The FeedRoom offers end-to-end online video solutions for large-scale companies looking for one-stop shopping. When I spoke with The FeedRoom account manager about how I might collaborate with a corporate client in delivering training content as an alternative to in-person workshops and seminars, he mapped out an impressive, cost-effective solution on the spot.
Michael Smolens is connecting the dots of his experience in business to create one of the coolest solutions around. Founder, Chairman and CEO, of Dotsub, a company focused on repurposing English language video content into all of the world's languages, at an affordable price point.
Bay Area Noteworthy
Wednesday evening we had a chance to check-out San Francisco-Style Video Innovation through the eyes of panelists Oscar Grimm, Frestopia, Justin Kan, Justin.tv, Graham Leggat, San Francisco Film Festival, Schlomo Rabinowitz, Echoplex Park, Irina Slutsky, Podtech, and Michael Verdi, Freevlog.
The inaugural event in Silicon Valley raised the content and presenter's bar for New York's summit this December 10-11 (although there's plenty of room for technical improvement). One Silicon Valley company that has my vote to show up in New York is Dovetail.tv.