Archive for May, 2012

Johnny Depp makes it look easy, effortless …charming.

In Pirates of the Caribbean, the movie star smiles through his lines with ease and grace. Captain Jack Sparrow manages to elude Her Majesty’s Navy and various evil doers on the 19th Century high seas. Captain Jack made the Pirates of the Caribbean movies a billion dollar empire. The pirate is romantic and charming.

But video and audio pirates today are far less romantic as they elude authorities. And the damage they do to artists is anything but charming. Pirates take without remorse because sites like Pirate Bay and Bit Torrent make it easy. Pirates rarely if ever think about stealing. Besides, everyone does it.

U2’s frontman, Bono recently wrote a column in the New York Times. “A decade’s worth of music file-sharing and swiping has made clear that the people it hurts are the creators — in this case, the young, fledgling songwriters who can’t live off ticket and T-shirt sales like the least sympathetic among us,” he wrote, listing his top 10 desires for the next decade.

Monday night in COM 583 we discussed the issue and it was clear that piracy is mainly troubling to those of us over 40. Too bad. It reminds me of shoplifters I knew when I was growing up who routinely stole record albums. I’d hear all the time about the profit margins of retailers and record companies. It’s ok (the argument went) for you to rip off the record in the store because if you bought it – you were getting ripped off by greedy storeowners and a bloated record industry.

Unfortunately, piracy today has many victims. It’s hard to say what may have to happen to protect their rights. But we ought to at least consider that someone had to create Pirates of The Caribbean. It all started as a Disneyland ride.

Didn’t Disney have to be paid for the rights to the screenplay, the movie, the soundtrack and the DVD that Johnny Depp made famous?

And when asked where he got the inspiration for Captain Jack, Johnny Depp admitted he stole liberally from the manerisms of Rolling stone guitarist Keith Richards.

But producers made that right by offering Richards a supporting role as Captain Jack’s father in one of the Pirates sequels. Ammends were made. Credit was given. Richards was paid.

Even today’s symbol of piracy comes with a price.


Online Video: ADDTV

Posted: May 3, 2012 in journalism
According to the latest numbers, almost 7 out of 10 of us watch or download video online. This represents a fundamental shift in how we digest new media. It’s as if we’ve not only time-shifted but we’ve unplugged the TV set and put it on our desk or slipped it in our coat as we walk down the street. It feels like this has happened in the blink of an eye.
The special nature of watching a “show” that you’ve recorded is fading. Yes, I can watch virtually anything I want on my computer or smart phone when I want but that also means that I control the duration. It used to be the remote control dictated how short my attention span was.
Now it’s on-line video.
To make my point I look no further than my living room DVD player. I lost the remote in a move last year. I now tend to watch what’s on longer because I don’t want to get up every time to flash through the previews. Technology (or the lack of it) has effected the way I consume it. In the same way online video suppliers such as Hulu now allow me to graze for programming and then choose something else if the programming even BEGINS to lose my interest. As a result, my already gnat-like attention span (honed down by my years of TV news reporting) is even further diminished.
From the consumer side this trend may appear to be a good thing. I don’t have to wade through programming that wastes my time. But from the content producer side I think it’s a bad thing. If you can’t grab the audience in the first 30 seconds (and I’ll bet it’s probably a lot shorter than that) you lose them all together. The bottom line – content will get more concentrated and “top-heavy”.
The result: ADDTV.
It’ll be more difficult for a good storyteller to let a story breathe and build. Of course good story tellers consider their medium before they start to spin their yarn. They grab you off the top, then ease their grip long enough to let the story flow. It’s just important to realize that the trend toward more online video is upon us.
And it’s passing may take longer than the blink of an eye. A lot longer.