Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I have seen the future of TV!...

...unfortunately, it tends to be a bit stop start.

Yesterday I ran across Digital Life TV. Turns out it's a weekly Tech show available only on the net. Going back today I learned that the show was being streamed live so I figured I'd catch an episode. There's a few issues to deal with here, so I figure it's best to do a Pro/Con comparison.

Pro: It's nice to see a media company taking some risks, having some fun, and Digital Life TV is definitely presented in a seriously lo-fi but heck-of-a-lot-of-fun way. Hosts Patrick Norton and Robert Heron bounce off each other well and keep the show interesting, even when they have no idea what's happening next.

Con: I have no idea who Ziff Davis Media are, but they seem to think that the way to go in video distribution is to live in the late 20th century and stream live. Other than the "Train Crash" school of marketing (create something that's prone to failure and let people watch) I can't see why this show needs to go live. It doesn't make use of interactivity or immediacy beyond a few user questions garnered from throughout the week.

Pro: These guys know what they're talking about and there's a lot of good information tied up with the presentation.

Con: The same ads, repeated three or four times throughout the show. In fact, ads in general. The producers are using TV models in a non-linear environment.

Pro: Versions of the show are available for download after it airs in a wide range of codec flavours; WMV, Quicktime, MPEG4, Flash, even an MP3 Podcast. The hi-res version is a nice 420k stream that puts out a clear image, obviously good enough to get some viewers to pipe it to their TV sets and watch it there. The birth pangs of IPTV right here folks.

Con: To reiterate, I don't understand why this show goes out live. To me it makes more sense to record links, patch it together in post, GET IT RIGHT, then put up links to the different versions.

Pro: The set builders are still halfway through building the studio, so the background is a tan wall with wires hanging off it. I LOVE IT! Now that's guerilla TV!

Con: Take a look at the credits. A bunch of titles like "Executive Producer," "Line Producer," "Executive Director," etc, but only one camera guy (and an intern). From the looks of things there's one guy on the floor trying to be all things to all people.
GUYS! SURELY THE BUDGET CAN STRETCH TO GET SOMEONE ELSE ON THE FLOOR DURING PRODUCTION! Of course, because the FM is busy elsewhere and the cameras no doubt have no tally lights, this leads to lots of off camera presentation.

Pro: Sound and lighting for the studio stuff are good, and that right there is more than half your battle won.

Con: The switching is too automated, stiff and plodding. Transitions to and from ad breaks need some work. For instance, I think a five second bumper in and out to breaks could only help create a more seamless production.

Pro: Did I mention these guys are a lot of fun to watch and know their proverbial?

Con: Audio levels to and from interstitials aren't consistent. When the people paying for the show aren't in your face, there's sure to be some eventual backlash. THAT'S what I mean by recording the show, getting it right, then releasing it.

But don't take my word for it. Go and watch it yourself and enjoy. If nothing else I'll be watching next week to see if they've finished that damn set.

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