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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Hollywood and Digital Content

Richard Hull of eContentmag writes abut, Film Industry Struggle with Digital Content. Excerpts :Almost a decade back, riddle of how Hollywood's content would merge with emerging digital technologies was dominant. The bigwigs at Microsoft made a bold march onto studio lots and proclaimed that they held the keys to the convergence kingdom. Yet in a short time, the two sides called a truce and returned to their respective corners, declaring that Hollywood would stick to content, while Microsoft would stick to technology.
Content : Now for the first time in years, Hollywood's online ad spending is up.Typically a minimum of 5% of overall marketing budgets for a film are being allocated for online promotion, and this is expected to go up. While these numbers can't compete with budgets for television and print, they do indicate a steady improvement in Hollywood's attention to online audiences.For Hollywood content-makers, the Internet boils down to only two things—marketing and distribution. And each represents a double-edged sword.Rather than being an end-all, be-all…the Internet has become simply a piece of the marketing pie.Just as with movie marketing in general, Hollywood learned that some audiences respond to online marketing, and some don't."While studios struggle with using the Internet as a tool to create box office punch, many Hollywood content-makers feel that using it to develop and extend a brand is the real untapped power of the Internet.The Internet for Hollywood is about community. If you build a branded community that people can participate in, they'll come back over and over." Levey points to Hollywood film franchises such as Spiderman, Harry Potter, and Lord Of The Rings. The online communities for these types of franchises can be huge when they emulate the ‘water cooler' atmosphere, giving visitors the ability to chat and exchange ideas between installments of movie episodes. Branding is important - each movie's branded marketing assets—logos, artwork, photographs, movie clips, trailers, and the like—must be created on very short timelines. Digital management of these assets is even more cumbersome.
Using INSCI's ActiveMedia digital asset management (DAM) software as its platform, Sony has created cineSHARE. cineSHARE is designed to move and share marketing materials and stock footage with post, print, finishing, and marketing houses,providing secure access to more than 20,000 assets, accessesible through the Web. Solutions like ActiveMedial together are wrapped up with a bow and become Sony's enterprise-wide solution. As a piece of this enterprise solution, cineSHARE enables access by producers, directors, lawyers, editors, and marketers alike to digital media from around the world and in all parts of the production cycle—digital dailies, location photos, head-shots, and production notes, among others. Because it is Web-based, collaboration can take place in near real time.

Distribution :
Legal online distribution of Hollywood's content to mainstream audiences appears confined to downloadable movie trailers and program clips. But, as the music industry has quickly discovered, things are changing…and fast. Whereas only a few years ago the download time for a full-length feature film was seven hours or more, widely used broadband connections have cut the time to less than one hour. A new study conducted by the Motion Picture Association of America and online research firm OTX reports that an astounding 58% of online users in South Korea—where 98% of the population has high-speed Internet access—have downloaded movies. Although the study claims that the number of Americans who have downloaded films is around 24%, the penetration of high-speed access for Americans hovers at only 46%.And this, 10 years after the start of "convergence," is where Hollywood and technology might be showing signs of becoming bedfellows. In addition to developing its electronic anti-piracy protection and digital rights management applications, Hollywood now seems willing to consider accepting the technology industry's latest overtures. Although each is wary of the other, there's no question that the ability to quickly and efficiently download a film opens Hollywood's content to all sorts of new platforms. This holiday season, Microsoft expects to debut its Portable Media Center, a handheld PDA capable of playing downloaded movies, music, and other recorded programming.If Hollywood indeed gets a handle on the piracy issue, the landscape is clearly moving rapidly towards allowing easily-downloadable, mainstream access to Hollywood content online. With distribution now set to be ingrained in the same medium that is currently seeing a resurgence in marketing attention, perhaps Hollywood will finally become focused enough to allow the two to work hand-in-hand online. It'll become imperative that DAM developers keep these Hollywood'ers supplied with fresh software (and strategies) that will allow them to quickly and consistently extend their properties and their brands online, and to do so in a way that safeguards the creative assets from unauthorized uses. And it'll be incumbent upon Hollywood to actually accept the use of this technology and leverage it to generate new revenue streams.
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