Sunday, April 27, 2014

Convergence + digitisation

def. of convergence: the concept of the distinctions between once distinct media platforms/institutions collapsing under the influence of new media and the ongoing processes of digitisation. For example, a typical newspaper (print) now offers web content, including podcasts (radio?), video (TV?), blogs etc
To further explore and explain this several additional terms are used; note all opportunities to utilise terminology for your exam! 'Digitisation' is explored below.
NB: I have posted on this topic many times since creating this post some years back!!!

Thats how I'd define 'convergence', an especially important concept for Media Studies and your AS exam, as so many consequences flow from this both in terms of how audiences access and consume/interact with the media and the institutions that produce, distribute and market media products.
(The exam board pick out 4 areas you need to be able to discuss with reference to your case studies - WT v Warp, + a brief comparison of both to the big 6 blockbuster Avatar - production, distribution, marketing + 'exchange' [the point at which an audience buys/consumes, perhaps co-creates, a text])

Here's a vid which further explores the idea

It is a concept which has been discussed for some years now, with its consequences and whether its an entirely good thing seen as up for debate:
Perhaps we will reach a point of consolidation when the pace of technological change slows and the audience catches up, but at the moment most companies with both offline and online enterprises still see the vast majority of their revenues and costs lying with their traditional, offline businesses. Yet they are increasingly aware that this will tip in the opposite direction in the middle distance. So how should the transfer be managed?
... What we will see from media companies are assumptions about the dominant medium, be it print or TV, transferred to the newly converged online world without adequate recognition that the two are completely different entities. (Emily Bell:

Friday, April 18, 2014

4 Weddings Reunion

Listen yourselves here.
Students aren't exactly a prime demographic for BBC Radio 4, so its a fairly safe bet that none of you were listening to the latest episode of The Reunion, a series which brings back together those involved in major cultural, sporting and news events to reflect. This saw the director, producer and several of the cast reunited, along with archive material of Hugh Grant, Andie MacDowell, the great Barry Norman on Film 94, and so forth.
At the time of writing you can still listen to it yourselves through the iPlayer.
"A fabulous object, says Curtis, as Kenworthy heaves out a huge, leatherbound folder. It's the size and weight of a couple of Britannicas – a shooting schedule filled with miniature detail about the day-to-day demands on cast and crew. The volume, Kenworthy explains, is a relic of pre-computer film scheduling. "Four Weddings was on the cusp of old-style British film-making," Curtis adds. "It was the last movie I worked on that was cut on [original] film stock, not computer. I've always been grateful that it was shot by Mike in such a lively, gritty way. It's a sketch movie, and he directed it as if it were a drama."

A few interesting points from the R4 feature - though this is obviously far from a 'contemporary example' it is still useful to help to grasp how the industry operates, and to get a feel for how student productions do echo some characteristics of major feature film shoots!
  • Given the role the film played in laying the foundation for the phenomenal success of Working Title as the leading UK film production company (discounting the Potter/Bond franchises), its easy to forget how very, very modest the budget was: just $4.5m (about £2.5-3m).
  • Director Newell recalls how this meant even basic reshoots were generally impossible, and most shots had to be done 1st take - student filmmakers actually work under less (financially-directed) pressure than this! Unlike Newell and producer Duncan Kenworthy (his involvement predates WT picking up the film for development; he played the main role in putting together an attractive package, with name stars, tight script and distributor-friendly director attached), you're not considering the cost of overtime for salaried crew, plus catering, travel and accomodation costs and how to cover this from a budget which is already carefully calculated to see you through the entire production!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Anita Elberse (2013) Blockbusters - must-read book?

"Because people are inherently social," the Harvard business professor Anita Elberse points out, "they generally find value in reading the same books and watching the same television shows and movies that others do." What's more, and equally understandably: "People have a taste for winners: if, say, a book is popular and has been widely discussed in the media, consumers have more reason to read it." [from Guardian review]
Scroll down for sample quotes and review snippets, such as Bloomberg's fairly critical view
Use the look inside feature for a preview
I'd recommend at the very least sampling this, a book that basically argues that the tentpole strategy (or blockbuster as she terms it) is vital for any and all modern media/entertainment giants. Her examples take in music, film and other media, but also widen out to incorporate 'entertainment' industries such as football, looking at the examples of Barcelona and Real Madrid, and the latter's 'galacticos' strategy.

She very convincingly picks out examples of major conglomerates that have tried more austere, penny-pinching approaches ... and shows, with forensic financial detail, how disastrous this invariably proved.

Interesting that she's not simply referring to production, but also as much about distribution, and the marketing muscle and capacity to make very widely available and prominently placed a given release, Lady Gaga being one such example she dissects.

You can preview some samples by using Amazon's 'look inside' feature, or GoogleBooks (add keywords related to cinema, music or whichever industry you're most interested in to get the most relevant sections), and its for sale as a Kindle book too.

Here's a few snippets from various articles/reviews:
"Because people are inherently social," the Harvard business professor Anita Elberse points out, "they generally find value in reading the same books and watching the same television shows and movies that others do." What's more, and equally understandably: "People have a taste for winners: if, say, a book is popular and has been widely discussed in the media, consumers have more reason to read it." [Guardian review]

Fanbase not Audience the future say YouTube

Various web 2.0 theorists have signified the end of the old analogue/early digital producer-consumer paradigm through such bold statements as "the former audience" ... now one YouTube's top honchos says we should abandon the very term audience, with its links to scheduled programming, and think in fanbase terms instead...
Simon Cowell and Disney are picked out as exemplars of the new more copyright-flexible order, in which UGC is seen as benefitting copyright-holders, not cannibalising their revenue streams.
“An audience tunes in when they're told to, a fanbase chooses when and what to watch,” said Carloss at the MIPTV television industry conference in Cannes. “An audience changes the channel when their show is over. A fanbase shares, it comments, it curates, it creates.”
He also praised Simon Cowell’s You Generation brand, a YouTube-focused global talent show, and Disney for the way it encouraged fans of its film Frozen to post their own cover versions of its songs on YouTube. One by musician Alex Boy√© has been watched more than 30m times.
“The studio could have very easily issued copyright claims against this video and any others and taken them down, but they made a different choice: a fan-friendly choice. They chose to let those videos stay,” said Carloss, suggesting that the buzz around Frozen on YouTube contributed to its strong performance at the box office.
“Creators everywhere can make the choice Disney did. Allow fans to pay tribute, and you will see the incredible benefits of their passion.”
A lot of this closely echoes some of the arguments put forward by Anita Elberse (a Harvard economist) in her fascinating (a highly recommended read) book Blockbusters, published in December 2013.