Reviews, Views and Adventures in Content Creation

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My First iPad Impressions

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With the purchase of new Ipad 2 (64 gb wifi-only, to be exact), I feel as if I've entered a new chapter in my social media explorations. I've only had the iPad for a few days, but I'm already beginning to see just what this half-laptop, half-iPhone is really all about.

The iPad, and many of the tablet competitors on the market, are particularly well-designed for the developing social media life-style. Yes, we can update Facebook and Twitter via smartphones, but those websites are better managed on the larger screen of a computer - or the more portable iPad/tablet computer.

Tablets allow for a more casuaul life-style. We're no longer chained to a desk, or even to the comparatively limited physical options of a laptop. The e-book revolution, of course, is connected to all matter of tablets, from the iPad to e-book dedicated devices. I wasn't sure how comfortable I would feel about e-books - but so far, I'm convinced.

There are limitations, of course. I certainly wouldn't attempt to edit a professional video on my iPad - but for most of my social media and word processing needs, the iPad is a pretty good option. More to come!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Content Creation: Some Next-Phase Brainstorming

I'm currently preparing for the upcoming International Family Film Festival, which will be showing my film, "Bollywood Steps" on Saturday, March 19th.  I've prepared a poster, will make flyers available, and will generally attempt to "work" the festival to achieve my primary goals, which relate to generating future projects.  I'm been pondering my next steps. Here are some current thoughts:

I also have the sense that, as the saying goes, "nothing will ever be the same."  My interest is in wholly incorporating and adapting "social media" tools and hardware to create a newer form of expression, combining "documentary" type filmmaking with the immediacy and intimacy of social media.   The challenge, I think, is that any creation might be transitory by nature.  Some elements - recorded and edited video, for example - might be preserved, other more interactive elements would lose some of the sense of discovery that only exists in real time.   In much the way that the news stories of the day - Libya and Japan for example - are more immediately a meaningful "social experience" than ever before, less critical stories, experiences and pure entertainment will eventually engage audiences in the same way -
I don't think that particular "art" is wholly developed as yet.

At this point, from my perspective, a typical web series exists as a single element - the final video.  Everything else drives the audience to create viewership.  I have to wonder if there could be another model incorporating multiple channels simultaneously.  Paradoxically, I don't believe that scheduled entertainment (as in traditional television) will return to dominance.   I continue to watch developments with fascination, and look forward to my own upcoming explorations in this new form of content creation.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Milo Resurfaces!

Recently, a video surfaced related to the development of the "Milo and Kate" concept that was introduced at the 2009 E3 conference.  Milo was intended as a product for what's now called 'Kinect," the add-on hardware for the XBOX 360 game system that allows for a more natural interface with the game system.  Though currently scaled back, the original concept combined the ability to recognize and interpret use motion, voice and facial recognition, and an advance in artificial intelligence (or, at least, the ability to create the illusion of artificial intelligence).  The 'Kinect' system isn't quite as far reaching as promised (at least not yet), but the promise of this advance in gaming (and human-computer interaction) is still exciting. Take a look:

"Emotion Capture" - Directing Milo from John Dower on Vimeo.

This recent video explains the concept behind Milo, and in particular, the idea of "Emotion Capture."  Many people looked at the Milo idea and dismissed it as uninteresting, pointless - and deceptive.  Actually, by design, it was deceptive, as the interaction between user and on-screen character is really a sophisticated "smoke and mirrors" illusion.  Designer Peter Molyneux admitted as such.  Many people looked at the game play videos and pronounced the product dead on arrival.  In fact, the full concept has never been revealed, and I'm fascinated with the somewhat unimaginative disdain many have expressed. A great deal of attention has been paid to the idea that the primary character in "Milo and Kate" is a ten year old boy.  Why, some ask, would anybody be interested in interacting with a little boy?  It was even suggested this was part of the reason that Microsoft killed the program.  Without knowing the full concept, of course, that's pure speculation.

Like more traditional storytelling, however, it's clear that the world of Milo could be hugely effective and engaging.  Imagine a thriller, or a horror based story in which "Milo" is a central figure.  Imagine an interactive version of "The Sixth Sense" (I see dead people), in which the boy not only sees dead people, but hears voices as well - and you're that voice?  Do you terrorize or guide the central character.  Do you drive him insane, or defend him from those who would harm him?  The possibilities of this sort of interactive storytelling are endless.  Whether "Milo" ever sees the light of day, I look forward to the full realization of the technology.