Friday, October 14, 2005

Video i-Pod and indy distribution...


Apple has finally released their new video capable i-Pod. While I'm not an i-Pod owner/user (I'm tragically unhip, sorry to say. I always seem to be 3 years behind the curve on stuff like this) and I don't use i-Tunes, this little number intrigues me. Not from a consumer standpoint. I doubt I'd use it much. See when I watch a TV show or a movie I tend to get very immersed in it. If it's a particularly good show or movie I easily get sucked in and get lost in time- I'll emotionally buy in for all it's worth. Which is fine if you're in your home by yourself. Not so good if you're watching the mini-tele while waiting for the elevator to open.

No, my interest in the v-Pod is the new video content distribution system Apple has started. Their deal with ABC/Disney to sell popular shows and such for $1.99 a pop is the video version of i-Tunes. Suddenly the barrier between filmmaker and buying public is much thinner. In response to a content creator driven trend Apple hooked their i-Tunes to handle podcasts natively. Is it a stretch to think that given sufficient creator movement in the independent video vidcasting that their video side of i-Tunes wouldn't hook into vidcasts eventually? Combine a vidcast enabled i-Tunes in conjunction with clever animator type dudes who put out the content and let the world know via a blog and RSS... welcome to self syndication. Podcasts have turned the stoic broadcasting world on its ear. Not that the content available on podcasts is overwhelmingly superior to commercial radio. Like all content that has a low cost of entry (ie: alot of rank amateurs are making a lot of stuff) most of it is trash. (except for The Animation Podcast. That rocks!) No, what kicked commercial radio in the groin in podcating was the freedom of choice for the consumer. Suddenly the power has shifted and commercial radio is still scrambling to catch up. It's the world of the longtail.

Will the v-Pod and vidcasts (anim-casts?) do the same for TV? Sure, making small Quicktimes and putting them on the web is not a new idea. Shoot, I released my first short film on my website over 8 years ago. But there's something about having a consumer product designed specifically for this content that lends a certain amount of critical mass to the movement. MP3's were not invented by Apple. Apple just made a clever gadget that made MP3's stylish, easy and popular. The hope here is that the same can happen for online video.

Have any of you started crafting your master plan to be a self supporting animator who sells their episodes to a faithful fanbase via i-Tunes? You know somebody is gonna be able to do it. Why not you? Heck.. why not me?!

8 comments:

michi said...

hi keith,
maybe the vPod would also be a good way for distributing your video tutorials? I'd definetly get one to study them wherever i go... :) think about it.

Nathan Gilder said...

Very awesome ideas, Keith. There is potential for grabbing an enormous audience if the correct steps are taken ... inspiring :-)

Brenton said...

Yeah, it's actually an idea I had in high school, for an indie art site that locks content to the web, and allows downloads in exchange for tipping. I'm putting it all together right now - if anyone is interested, contact me.

Roger L. Waggener said...

"Have any of you started crafting your master plan to be a self supporting animator"

They don't sell episodes via i-tunes, but I think the folks that make homestarrunner make a pretty good living selling stuff off cafepress and giving away their animations on the web for free.

I think in the long run, this is a much more viable model for making a living. While it is very cool for small indies to be able sell episodes of animations, I think such a route will in general not allow artists to make a living. They may make some nice money, but the best way for an artist to 'make a living' off their animations would be to do what the homestar people did- give the product away and sell branded loot.

If the animation is good enough to grab the interest of popular culture- the money will be there on merchandise. If the animation, for whatever reason doesn't generate that kind of audience, selling it will not likely produce enough revenue to live on anyway.

Keith Lango said...

Well, quality is the given X factor. Whether you charge for the animation or the ancillary stuff or if you give al of it away, if it isn't any good the whole conversation is a bit moot because nobody will care what you do. But there is reason to believe that consumers will still pay for content. People pay for TiVo, movie tickets, DVD's, cable TV and satellite dishes. People will pay for content if they perceive the value to be commensurate with the cost. I don't think a good business plan would rely only on merchandise. Anybody who's dealt with that side of the business knows just how slim those margins really are. But little chotchke's are always fun to have. :)

Justin Barrett said...

Interesting point, Roger, but remember that the Homestar Runner folks *do* sell DVD's of their work on the CafePress site as well.

So, Keith...have you thought about selling the VTS on iTunes?

Keith Lango said...

Hey Justin,
The idea has crossed my mind once or twice. If I do it I will be waiting untl I have at least a year's worth of stuff to put up. When you start something new in such a large space (iTunes being a rathr large market space) it's good to have some critical mass behind the effort. Single VTS vids coming here and there won't have the same footprint on the minds of the buyer base I don't think.

navi said...

I need Mr Keith Lango Video Tutorials