Category: 3D TV

Although I have not paid for cable in years, and though I couldn’t tell you what the top shows have been for the past ten years, and even though I have frequently proclaimed “Kill Your Television” as a panacea to our collective North American spiritual crisis (highest level of depression in the world) I felt I had to comment on an article that appeared at titled “The End of Television As We Know It”today that said:

“For decades now, the networks and production studios have held a creative stranglehold over the industry. If you were a writer with a brilliant idea for a new show, you had to go through “the system” if you held any hope for your idea to see the light of day and come to fruition as an actual television show. “The system” meaning everything so frustrating and wrong and cliched with modern day Hollywood—-An endless clusterfuck of pitch meetings to tone-deaf underlings, countless script re-writes birthed from asinine notes from dunderhead executives (“I see on page 16 you have Sally eating a peanut…shouldn’t she be eating a cashew instead?!”) who’d never written a thing in their lives but love handing out business cards to aspiring starlets with the word “Producer” under their names, a dizzying array of focus groups and trend research studies so the higher-ups can get their fingers on the “pulse” of the modern viewer and force the creator to change accordingly, and everybody and their wife and cousin has got a fucking opinion to the point where the whole thing gets utterly mutilated. Someone could have the most brilliant idea and these people will more often than not find new and innovative ways to destroy it, all in the hopes of making it more appealing to Harriet and Clarence McAverage in Des Moines, Iowa.”

My response:

Not really.  I mean, it would be nice to think the internet, the platform that made you “famous,” Gawker,  was all that, but not yet. Last year 99% of television was still watched on a “TV.” I was surprised myself by that number, but guess what – Hulu+YouTube+Piratebay+Demonoid and all of it still equals less than 1% of the viewing audience.

People have been crying “Kill Your Television” since it began. And every year we declare its death, but it won’t go away.  Next year when all those new xmas-gift HDTVs start broadcasting 3D content, Lost in 3D, UFC in 3D and the rest of it (sure YouTube 3D is coming soon too) the internet will still be a relative drop in the bucket. Perhaps it is for the same reason radio won’t die; sometimes people don’t WANT to think, they don’t want to make their own choices. Sometimes they just want to sit back and have their entertainment programmed for them by a curator, by a collective group of people who are experts in storytelling, lighting, editing, acting, post-production etc.

“User-created content” may find ways of reaching large audiences, it may even prove to be innovative and of high standard, but what makes television relevant is that it concentrates an audience and its collective experience. The internet lets anyone watch anything anytime – but they do not share in the moment and TV, as the modern campfire creates a certain sense of social unity. You can watch the Superbowl a week later on Hulu, but that kind of misses the point doesn’t it? The collective excitement is gone, the dueling sides, the excitement of participation is lacking in this regard.

Sure this idea of choose-your-own-adventure is neat, but it is still time-intensive and requires research and thus actual work. TV is a passive sport and so long as we work and get tired and just want to chill on the couch and be entertained, TV will be around.

Keram Malicki-Sanchez at NAB 2009For those who follow my multi-platform output, you have invariably been bombarded with my output lately concerning the learning I gained at this year’s National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas and for that I almost apologize. But not really, because there is so much to talk about that I endeavor to cover new elements of it in each post or podcast or video or bulletin or tweet.

Which is kind of my point: last year the NAB glitterati were busy sweating and lamenting the bells tolling for TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, the record industry and all other antiquated media platforms.  This year however, we saw a revitalized community – aggressively interested in emerging platforms for communication of our collective stories and in innovating new technologies to address the zeitgeist.

At his opening day keynote address, NAB president and CEO David K. Rehr began:

“There is no place I’d rather be than right here…right now…with all of you.” Donning a sticker that read “I Matter” he continued:

“We are demonstrating that broadcasters are forging ahead…spurring innovation and creating multiple platforms to deliver our content from moving 3D into the home to incorporating FM chips in cell phones, to exploring all the possibilities of the Internet – we are planning for the future and seizing opportunities in this digital age.”

It’s Not A Recession – It’s A Reset

And though these words can be taken as cautionary, post-mortem and defensive, they were certainly not delivered that way. As author Dr. James Florida delineated later during the opening ceremony – we must consider that we are not going through a new Great Depression, but rather a Great Reset. Where once the economy was built on God-given resources like water, food, ore and wood, and then later the resource of human energy and labor post-industrial revolution, what we are seeing now is a new kind of economy built on that of the output of the Creative Class. What Juan Enriquez called Human Evolutis at TED. As the work of building and crafting is increasingly outsourced to China and India and other countries abroad, in North America the primary export is being that of the human mind itself – of imagination and ideas and creativity. This of course, is not to say that these do not exist abroad, but rather that the North American GDP is shifting the source of its wealth.

Ideas were found in abundance at NAB as CEO’s, Presidents, General Managers and inventors from such companies as Disney, Adobe, Electronic Arts met with independent directors, producers, post-production experts, radio broadcasters and content creators of every type and platform to exchange ideas and talk about what the world will look like and respond to over the next few years.

Mary Tyler Moore, Kelsey Grammer and Bob Newhart were all honored for their contributions to the television programming lexicon.

Henry Selick, director of Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach and Coraline was interviewed about the development of stop motion and its marriage with new digital techniques.

Malcolm Gladwell, author of groundbreaking social analysis books Blink, The Tipping Point and Outliers was interviewed before the NAB attendees by NAB President David Rehr.  He extrapolated his process for coming up with his book subjects and confided that one of his most powerful techniques was avoiding Google searches altogether; Google is essentially empty he explained, it is merely an index of what is on the Web but to go beyond it is to mine massive sources of information available that afford us remarkable insights on who we have been, are and will be especially when seen with our new eyes in this high-speed information exchange society.

The Jim Henson Creature Shop demonstrated their digital puppeteering system wherein one puppeteer controls a head and mouth and another the body via a motion tracking suit and capture grid.  Without any intermediate, they are able to create real-time 3D animation that captures all the nuances and gravity of a real moving body.  Rather than illustrate a variety of movements, they simply shoot another “take” and then use the best take as the final output (after a polish render in Maya).  I asked them whether we might one day see a turnkey system from Jim Henson Company but they reminded us that the puppeteer and experience with working with such technology is really the thing, not so much the computers, mo-cap stage and proprietary software.

Jim Henson Creature Workshop at NAB 2009

Lectures given in morning sessions were echoed in afternoon sessions, but now modified, expanded and reconsidered. By week’s end there were new consensus emerging about how to implement and innovate our proverbial campfires about which we sit and exchange our common experiences through this incredible life we share.

And now more than ever we are sharing it in ways we couldn’t have ever predicted or even imagined.

The Amazing Future of Broadcasting

Beyond all the pontificating – incredible products were on display – Autostereoscopic (which you will come to know as AS-3D) 3D TV sets -(meaning 3D screens for which no intermediary viewing glasses are needed), real-time video cameras displaying in 3D, super high resolution screens that add almost ten times the pixel count of existence HDTV screens, HD radio, FM tuners in all cell phones, HD movies on cell phones that run below real-time Flash based menus, technology that allows every word spoken within a video to be searchable, real-time holographic interview wherein the interviewee appears to be sitting or standing in front the interviewer in spit of any geographic disparity (think Princess Leia’s holographic appeal for help at the beginning of Star Wars except at a resolution almost indistinguishable from reality) and yes YouTube 3D.

Seminar topics ranged from When Will The Web Kill TV to How To Blog In 140 Characters to Alternative Reality Gaming, Second Chances in Second Life and the nature of Web 3.0.

You may have noticed one word popping up an awful lot in this article: “Real Time.”  Other popular keywords at this years convention were Home 3D and Metadata.  Metadata will allow every stage of the production workflow be indexable, searchable and integrated from top to bottom.

It was indeed an extraordinary week and I hope to share and unravel some of the ideas exchanged over the coming weeks and even months. In the interim, you can hear myself and my travel partner and co-host Aimee Lynn Chadwick giddily discussed some of our findings at my podcast