Thursday, July 31, 2008

Networks plot online video assault | SMH

Hulu and iView in the one sentence?

"The fledgling News Corp-NBC Universal online hub for television shows and movies,, is meeting Australian broadcasters this week to discuss an all-broadcaster video portal underwritten by in-program advertising, a move which could stymie talks about ABC's new iView technology being used for a similar venture."

I'm not sure I would have seen iView in that role, but obviously someone did.

I have to admit, the idea of Hulu basically taking over the role of TV's internet portal leaves me slightly disturbed. I keep thinking it smacks of laziness on the part of Australia's broadcasters.

That said, ABC head of TV, Kim Dalton, gets it spot on when he says "The approach we have taken is we want our content on whatever platform is available and people are accessing. We want to be there."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Sky is Infinite...

I didn't break radio silence for a lot of things over the last few months.

I didn't mention my four days at GenCon Oz, which was just incredibly awesome, and I didn't stop and mention the ABC's launch of iView (although I probably should have - check it out).

But I am stopping to say something about this.

One of the problems with working flat out through the day and being responsible for an 11 month old at night is that you don't have time to really stay up to date with what's happening in the world of online video productions. That's why I was happy to find mention of a thread on Warren Ellis' Whitechapel discussion board relating to a student film production called Wormtooth Nation.

Written as a feature and released as a web series, Wormtooth Nation is (loosely) based on the Bard's comedy "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Set in a Steampunk world in an underground city, the inhabitants live their lives from one sleep cycle to the next, never caring much about anything beyond maintaining the city for their "boss", Baron O'Brien. The only things that really break up the monotony of existence are listening to the dulcet tones of their beloved lady Tania on the city's wireless system, and the fear that they might inhale the "Wormy gas", a substance that wipes a person's memory clean.

However, vague, collective recollections of a world outside the city, "the Surface", are sowing the seeds of a revolution, sparked by the mysterious scramblings of an unknown resident known only as the "Grafitti Artist".

The story follows the experience of three people who have lost their memories, slowly unravelling their own pasts and learning the secrets of the city and the history of its inhabitants.

I sat and watch the whole thing yesterday, episode after episode, for 90 minutes. I can see holes and issues with the production and scripting, but the fact is I've spent the whole night thinking about it, revelling in it, which is the first time I've been so engrossed in a TV or film since Serenity, another slightly flawed production that I love to pieces. And I have to say I see a lot of Whedon in Wormtooth Nation, right from the opening titles.

The producers have released the entire series as a feature, both at a cinema release and as a DVD, something I'd like to see to get a handle on how it worked being converted from a series of ten minute episodes to a seamless 90.

At the very least, go to the site and watch it from start to end. Then read the discussion thread about the notion of the "Eternal Now" and how we seem to be seeing it more and more in popular fiction.