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Issue: December 1, 2006

HOLD THE PHONE...AND PDA

By: Randi Altman
It's December, and that means it's time again for our yearly outlook issue. We again polled some industry experts on what they feel are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of their particular market segment.

One theme that kept popping up was how new technology involving mobile phones, PDAs and the Internet is playing a role in post and the entertainment industry as a whole.

Kim Waugh from Warner Bros. is one of many who see it as a positive trend filled with potential: "Post audio opportunities also exist with projects that are being launched and distributed on various digital platforms, including MP3 players, the Internet and mobile phones. New technologies are making the possibilities limitless."

Some see it as becoming easier to deliver for these handhelds. Steve Beres from PlasterCity says, "I think editors will soon be able to deliver for the iPod and the Internet with a couple of clicks. Making Podcasts and streaming dailies over the Internet will be integrated into the software."
Others have already felt its effects in terms of "multi-targeted" deliverables. "It used to be we'd do the :30 commercial, someone else did the print, someone else did the Web," says Quiet Man's Johnnie Semerad. "Now they give you a campaign. You're designing the commercial, the Web page, [product] bag art, [billboards]."

Yari Film Group's David Dinerstein believes these new platforms are offering creatives more eyeballs. "New technology is also enabling independent filmmakers to cast a wider net than they have in the past. As technology becomes more accessible, we're seeing more opportunities in ancillary markets such as VOD and handheld devices."

But he says, "There are also threats. We're now competing against the Internet, cell phone downloads, PDAs, video gaming and HDTV for the consumers' sacred time. As DVD windows continue to shrink, we must be more inventive in order to maintain a healthy theatrical experience."

One manufacturer that has grabbed hold of this new trend is Adobe, which is offering an easy-to-use pipeline thanks to its Serious Magic DV Rack, Production Studio and Flash Media Server. "A clear trend is the multi-target world," says Adobe's Simon Hayhurst. "It's about being able to rapidly re-use and tie together whole sets of usable assets. Companies like Lucasfilm and Disney have been doing this for years in a very consistent way, but the integration in our tools is helping make this a mainstream reality."

Adobe sees a lot of opportunity, with 75 million Flash-enabled devices and 600 million Flash-enabled PCs currently looking for content.