The Evolution of Web Video Continues…
Over the last decade, web video has evolved from postage-stamp sized low-resolution video delivered on web pages (with the help of specialized plugins) to full-screen, high-definition video that plays almost instantly in any browser. Download speeds are getting faster, screens are becoming larger, and quality cameras and equipment are cheaper.
Sites like Youtube and Vimeo are now serving up HD content at blazing speeds… and we will soon be migrating from the computer screen back to the couch to watch it due to services like Apple TV, Google TV, Boxee and others.
Watching video on phones and tablets is exploding. We can also connect our phones (aka “media players”) to the television and watch our own custom curated content wherever we go. It’s on-demand, and chosen by us.
The Missing Component…
What’s missing from the online video viewing experience is the ability to “sit back and relax”. Since the advent of television, we have gotten used to being fed our television shows and movies. We turn on the TV and start watching. The networks give us what they determine the masses want. It’s easy and thought free. It’s the good ‘ol Tube.
Youtube and Vimeo are filling this void with new functionality that will surely usher in the next era of channel surfing: Vimeo calls it “Couch Mode” and Youtube dubs it “Leanback Mode“. Viewers can now build playlists (or subscribe to curated lists), and these modes will play video in sequential or random order, and enable us to quit clicking and get back to “casual watching”. Only this time, the entire internet video library is at our disposal.
There’s something in it for the cable companies too: As technology improves and consumers begin watching more online, on-demand content directly on their television sets, cable and satellite providers could have a role in bringing that content to consumers by providing customer service for Internet TV like they do for “regular” TV.
“If consumers want high-quality content with a high-quality experience and high-quality service, there’s a place and a role for companies that have cables piped into your house,” said David Wertheimer, executive director of the Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California. - Get Ready to Pay for Online TV – CNN Money
What this means for viewers is simple, straight-forward access to incredibly customized “channels” that display content just like a traditional television would, with robust social features that stream content based on “likes” and Pandora/Stumbleupon-like technologies.
Back to the living room.
What it means for producers is that they will be able to gain even more new audiences. If and when web video services replace the cable box (among the masses), anyone can build a “channel” and produce a show. It’s not unlike the way iTunes changed recording industry or wordpress changed publishing. There will be a lot of new players, but the cream will naturally rise to the top as always.
Will video production quality suffer?
I hope not. We can’t curl up on the couch and watch Star Wars Kid all night long.
It just so happens that the Internet video revolution is happening at the same time that new video technologies and equipment are dramatically dropping in price. For under $5K, aspiring videographers can purchase rigs and software that outperform what $20K would have purchased 10 years ago. We all know that buying video equipment will not make someone the next Scorsese… But it may help the next Scorsese find his or her calling.
New motivations for aspiring producers.
And with this evolving democratization of video, the aspiring filmmaker may be motivated to continue to develop his or her storytelling, cinematography, audio and directorial skills. They will find ways to spend less on production and creative new ways to finance projects. They will create innovative formats that tie-in with marketing initiatives for “sponsors”. Think product placement, reality shows, educational documentaries, and maybe even dramatic stories built around businesses. The final outcome is high quality content on a tighter budget that depends less on “ad revenue” to justify the production.
What we will watch:
One thing is certain. It has to be interesting or we wont be watching. Just like any other industry being shaken up by the web, video has a bright future ahead of it. Digital music distribution didn’t stop musicians from making great music music, it just cut out some the middlemen until they reorganized. It’s the same with video. Here are a few that explain some of the new ways we will watch TV: