By Sahil Patel
Last night, Big Screen Little Screen held its monthly showcase of interesting web video creators and innovators in NY. Hosted by Paul Kontonis and Magnet Media in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, the July BSLS event was called “July Hot Stuff” — ostensibly to match the intensity of the feeling one gets when venturing outside in NY this week.
“This is a forum for people to present their creative works,” said Paul Kontonis, the GM of Magnet Media Originals, to a crowd that included web video producers, creators, and writers, as well as others heavily invested in the current and the future of the industry. “We’ve had 300 presenters come through here. Some cool people showcasing some very cool stuff. Tonight will be no different.”
If you were unable to attend, here is what you missed:
“Buzz60” from Zazoom
Presenter: Steve Bradbury
Zazoom is a web video producer and distributor founded by three very successful broadcast journalists — in the sense that they have won 32 Emmys between them. The idea was to take this depth of knowledge and experience in video journalism, and bring it to the web via short-form, topical, and widely distributed content, said Steve Bradbury, COO of Zazoom. Zazoom’s distribution network features the likes of AOL On, Grab Media, Blinkx, NDN, and YouTube.
This resulted in “Buzz60,” a daily news show that Bradbury said goes beyond just covering the news, by also adding “a take,” an interesting item or angle which audiences will remember long after the video has finished. Zazoom produces 10 videos per day (or 50 per week) for “Buzz60.” “We started at about 30 a week, and will probably scale it up even more,” said Bradbury. And all videos largely cater to the 18–49 and 25–54 demos.
Bradbury showcased three “Buzz60” videos, one of which the company produced for Yahoo. Zazoom has a partnership with Yahoo to produce topical, “in-demand” content. In other words, Zazoom sends pitches to Yahoo every day. If Yahoo likes any of them, Zazoom will produce a “Buzz60” video for that topic (Bradbury says the company is able to turn around a video in two hours or less). Sometimes, Yahoo tells Zazoom what they need a video for and Zazoom will produce it.
A small, privately-funded company, Bradbury said Zazoom is looking for producers and on-camera talent (paid), as well as people on the business side of things.
“Do or Dye”
Presenter: Stacie Capone
Stacie Capone, an actress and producer for “Do or Dye,” showcased the pilot for the show, which follows a group of people working at a hair salon. The pilot was created as part of a competition set-up and sponsored by small business marketing materials and services provider Vistaprint. “Do or Dye” is competing with four other pilots for a chance to produce more episodes of the show, which will be sponsored by Vistaprint and distributed via YouTube and Vistaprint’s website. The Vistaprint “slate” is targeting a female/small-business owner audience.
In an interesting note, Capone said she does not own the pilot. She owns the idea for the show, but not the pilot that was shot.
Presenter: Erick Schonfeld
TouchCast isn’t a web series. It’s a new video platform that wants to change how videos are created and experienced on the web and mobile devices. The platform, which Schonfeld described as a “TV studio in a box,” allows creators of all types to shoot a video and add interactive elements into the video via what TouchCast calls “vApps” (video apps). vApps can be anything from YouTube videos to web-pages, polls, and maps, all of which the viewer can interact with when watching the TouchCast video.
“The internet hasn’t changed video, it just has changed distribution to a different pipe,” said Schonfeld. “The creation of video hasn’t changed. To date, no one has taken advantage of the interactivity and software that is available.” Until TouchCast, that is.
TouchCast, which we have written about before, is currently available as an iPad app, but the company has plans to launch a desktop app as well, which, as Schonfeld said last night, will allow creators to bring in pre-produced videos.
As Schonfield noted during his presentation, a platform like TouchCast could change how online video creators shoot content and engage with their audience. Instead of a 5-minute vlog, the creator has the capacity to “communicate” with his or her viewers for a much longer period of time by adding interactive elements.
While TouchCast definitely has a lot of applications, the co-founders made a conscious decision to enter the market with a focus on media companies and video creators.
Presenter: Jeff Koenig
From Digiriot, SciFIRiot is a new sci-fi programming channel, which aims to help creators market and bring in audiences for their content by packaging similar shows in a themed channel or network. In this way, each of the shows are able to reinforce each other, according to Koenig.
“Two things generally work online. One is consistency — no matter who you are talking about, putting out videos consistently is one of the best ways to build an audience for a show,” said Koenig. “The second is cross-promotion and treating things like a network and a channel.”
Which is where Digiriot and SciFIRiot come in. The channel launched on July 1 with six sci-fi shows. Koenig said his plans are to grow that slate to nine shows during this quarter, and grow it even more next quarter. The network allows creators to “monetize as a whole,” as opposed to going at it alone, said Koenig. Ideally, this should increase the chances for success.
And this won’t be restricted to SciFIRiot, as Koenig noted how what Digiriot is doing with the sci-fi channel/network is a central element of his new company’s philosophy.
That was it for July’s Big Screen Little Screen event in NY. The August meetup is scheduled for August 14. Titled “August Slam,” you can bet VideoInk will be there.