Desktop Video – Not Yet… Maybe Not Ever

I was reading an entry from Aaron Barhardt’s blog TVBarn. Aaron is the TV critic from the Kansas City Star, though his influence and insight are more than you would expect from a market that size.

What Wired doesn’t seem to get is that the ability for people to produce high-quality video at home for little money will mean they won’t have to live in media capitals like New York, L.A. or Vancouver, where their outlooks are shaped, inevitably, by the cultures of those two media- and creative-saturated communities. And by creative I mean “creative.”

That fit in nicely with an off-the-cuff remark from my boss that, one day, something like Rocketboom might replace today’s ‘big media’.1

It’s certainly possible, but I think a lot of people who fondly look forward to the new golden age of simple and fast video miss the point that even with most of the cost and bother removed (and, make no mistake, most of the cost and bother of video production has already been removed), it is still time consuming while demanding creativity and organization.

Desktop video production has become cheap, but only if you place no value on your time!

A few weeks ago I got together with a group to make a short film for a contest. We all volunteered, but we weren’t all neophytes. Four of the principal players work in the media. Our talented, but game, support crew had almost no experience.

If I were a professional producer, looking to make this movie as a commercial project, this Saturday afternoon’s work would have cost thousands! And, to be honest, there was still a lot of unfinished work between what we did and something people would actually watch. There would have been more cost in polishing what we did.

Don’t count the big media out yet. We may be slower because of our size, but it is easier for us to re-purpose already existing material, or slice and dice what we have to produce additional material, than it is for someone in Kansas City to put together watchable video. We have economies of scale.

That’s not to say some mom and pop producers will succeed. They will. But, most of them won’t and most of what will be produced will be unwatchable or barely watchable. Take a look at the well meaning people who produce on your local public acess channel on cable.

The reason there’s so much garbage on TV isn’t because producers aren’t trying hard enough to produce better stuff. It’s because producing good TV is very difficult, time consuming and demanding of talent. Having 200 or 300 or 1,000 channels makes it much more difficult to aggregate that talent in one place.

1I consider my little TV station to be big media, so you can see the line for ‘big’ isn’t drawn too critically to size. Maybe instead of big, I should say conventionally structured.

Hitch – The Movie

I took Helaine on a date this afternoon. The idea was a romantic movie… I know, 3:30 PM, how romantic could it be?

We headed down to North Haven to see “Hitch,” the new movie with Will Smith and Kevin James. More on that in a minute.

I wanted coffee, but I felt it would be uncool to bring a container of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (my favorite) into the theater – plus, I had seen coffee there before.

Bzzzz. Wrong! No coffee.

Instead, I ended up paying $4 for a large Diet Pepsi. $4! A 2-liter bottle costs 99&#162.

I admit it. I am the fool here. I’m the one who paid the $4… and didn’t get my coffee to boot.

On the other hand, though movie tickets now cost $9.50, we got ours for $6. This is one of those strange, hidden benefits of being a AAA member. Yes, you have to buy them in advance, but they don’t go bad (or if they do, they do it slowly enough that it’s never been a problem).

The newspaper said the movie was scheduled to start at 3:30. Not quite. Between a few commercials, promos and coming attractions, it didn’t get starting until sometime after 3:45 PM.

Hitch is the story of Will Smith, a relationship counselor. He takes hapless schlemiels, like I was when I was single, and gives them the advice necessary to meet the woman of their dreams.

His clients are sweet and earnest, though not classic catches. He is principled – the unexpected attribute for someone in that line of work, and the pivotal element creating the emotional tension that carries the movie.

Ask me what Will Smith does for a living? He is charming for a living. Sure, he acts… but he’s always acting as Will Smith being charming. There is a very good living doing that – obviously. And, quite honestly, it is a role I enjoy seeing.

His main pupil through the film is Kevin James, an accountant in love with a beautiful heiress who is a client of his firm. He lives a life where they are physically near each other, but she never see him.

In this movie, Kevin James was my surprise. I know he’s a comedian, has a successful sitcom (which I’ve never watched), and does a pretty good Jackie Gleason. He was very good.

Kevin James strongest point, was he never overwhelmed the character he played. It was never over the top. This was a nice guy, a good guy, not a beautiful guy.

His restrained physical comedy combined with his timing and interplay with Will Smith are what made the movie for me.

Smith and James love interests, Eva Mendes and Amber Valletta, are pretty and appropriate, but it’s the two guys and New York City that carry the weight here. New York is an integral part of the story and I am glad to see it playing itself instead of seeing Toronto or Vancouver as some wimpy New York wannabe.

The city was portrayed with the same kind of loving charm that Woody Allen brought to Annie Hall and Manhattan.

Even at 4:30 in the afternoon, this was a great date movie. We both loved it. It will be huge at the box office.

Blogger’s note – This is entry 1,000 in my blog. It is a milestone I never thought about… never expected. Thanks again for stopping by to read my words and thoughts.