By Tom Coughlin
The SMPTE and Stanford Entertainment Technology in the Information Age conference June 18-19, 2013 included about 300 attendees interested in all aspects of the critical role that the Internet is playing in the media and entertainment industry. The sessions cover many topics related to connected media. On the first day these included Content Creation for the Internet: New Tools and Concepts; Flash Forward-How HTML-5 an Canvas Will Become the Next Interactive Screen for Web Media; Future Fiel Formats for Entertainment Media: What are the Tech Trends and Implications for Internet Distribution?; Gaming, Entertainment and the Internet; Internet Media Delivery Formats-A DASH to the Races?; Next Generation Content in the Cloud: Ultra Violet; and Mobile Internet Media: Content on the Go!
Content Creation and Distribution using the internet was an important theme at the conference. Including consumer interactivity and choices are increasingly important in the more open on-line world. New cloud-based technologies have removed the barriers to greater participatory entertainment in the future. Traditional laid back entertainment has it's place but there are new models that include social interaction with content that are changing the nature of entertainment. Games (whether for entertainment or business) are also an important element in the growth of on-line entertainment and in many ways have prepared the ground for the development of second screen and other interactive media.
Ann Greenberg from Sceneplay pointed out that fans and artists are more connected than ever before. Sceneplay allows users to be "co-producers" using micro-metadata that adds intelligence to scripts. Metadata capture and management is an important element in combining content from disparate sources. Carl Rosendahl from the CMU Extension Entertainment Technology Center in Mountain View, CA has about 20 students per semester developing interactive technology for games and other entertainment.
Peter Hirshberg from Enterprise Marketing showed some interesting video. He was involved with Bill Gates in doing a video to accompany Gate's 1993 book, The Road Ahead. Peter said that the video (and book) missed important trends such as the Internet, Long Tail Content, the Ascendent Audience, Open Systems and Social Media. He pointed out that TV will not make a return to high viewership without the help of other media-note recent Netflix deals with studios. Personal communications, such as twitter, give real time metrics and are displacing traditional measurement methods such as those from Nielson. He said in the future you won't just watch television, television will also watch you. He pointed out patents that use cameras and other sensors built into TVs to observe a viewer in order to tailor advertising to the viewer.
Social media also leads to broader game activity such as a Grand Central Game with global financial simulation New technologies also allow unique ways to communicate such as writing on water streams using water jets controlled by inkjet printer like technology and airborne helicopter drones from MIT with lights on them that can be flown in tandem and controller by individuals to create collective art and communication. An activity called "Conspiracy for Good" in Europe and supported by Nokia involved 130 people in 5 countries with a 3 month long social benefit storytelling alternative reality game.
Making video content interactive and game-like opens up entire new possibilities for entertainment and for people to work together in new ways. Clearly this is an area that will develop much further in the future and is a great example of how the internet is changing our interaction with the world around us and as a consequence changing the nature of media itself.
Tom Coughlin, the founder of Coughlin Associates (http://www.tomcoughlin.com) has over 30 years of magnetic recording engineering and engineering management experience at companies developing flexible tapes and floppy disc storage as well as rigid disks at such companies as Polaroid, Seagate Technology, Maxtor, Micropolis, Nashua Computer Products, Ampex and SyQuest.