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Film Festivals Embrace High-Tech

In brand-building, mobile & tablets, social media, Technology, Video, Movies & Television on March 30, 2014 at 3:19 pm
RiverRun International Film Festival April 4-13

by Jeff Sandgren

riverrunThe 16th annual RiverRun International Film Festival will be running from April 4 – 13 in Winston-Salem. Held annually each spring, RiverRun screens a wide variety of feature-length and short films from all genres, and also presents a broad range of special events, including high-profile regional premieres of significant films. This year, festival winners can even become contenders for next year’s Academy Awards.

The festival, like its more famous cousins at Sundance and SXSW, relies increasingly on new technologies to develop and deliver the wonder of traditional moviegoing. We spoke with Christopher Holmes, Program Coordinator for RiverRun, about how they use small-screen and other new technologies to bring this banner event to the big screen in the City of Arts and Innovation.

BTN: How has technology changed the realization of your film festival?

RRIFF: Online streaming platforms have made all of our jobs tremendously easier. Keeping up with the programming landscape at major international festivals like Cannes has become so much more manageable – without ever having to leave the office. In the past it might take several emails back and forth and then the mailing of a physical DVD screener to facilitate the consideration of just one potential film, or even schlepping to the festival in person.

Online filmmaker services such as Cinando and Festivalscope now exist that allow us to request and receive invitations to watch streaming versions of many films, and this can all happen within the span of an hour or less now, given the response time from a particular filmmaker or distributor. Likewise Vimeo and YouTube have become high quality, legitimate receptacles for screeners from filmmakers that respond to our open call for submissions, so it’s really changed things for the better in terms of how quickly we’re able to preview titles that pique our interest.

BTN: How does it help support and promote the event?

RRIFF: Social media tools and their mobile apps have become integral to the way we promote the festival. We used to rely heavily on our in-house printed film guides and brochures, and local print media to get the word out, but now we can do that worldwide within a matter of minutes using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. These tools additionally allow us to maintain a direct running dialogue with our supporters in the community and make everyone feel actively engaged with what’s happening at RiverRun on a consistent basis.

Keeping in touch with our audiences and staying on their radar in the many off months has always been a particularly challenging undertaking and technology has allowed us to accomplish this in a more purposeful and conversational way. And just in terms of design and implementation of graphic elements, it speeds up turnaround time on the creative end as well, since sharing high-res mock-ups and proofs via email is now very simple.

BTN: What is this new connection with the Academy Awards?

RRIFF: This year, for the first time in our history, we’ve been approved as a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards in the category of Short Subject Documentary, of which there are only a handful in the Southeastern United States and just a few dozen overall. Each year we assemble a jury for each competition category, comprised of noteworthy professionals, writers, academics and other personalities from the cinematic arts. Those juries deliberate during the festival to distinguish films with awards in their respective categories.

What the Oscar-qualifying tag means is that whichever film our Documentary Shorts jury awards with the Best Documentary Short prize is automatically in the pool of films that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences members ultimately consider for Oscar nomination. Basically we are a necessary filter between the entire mass of documentary shorts produced every year and what the Academy members are able to consider with their extremely limited time. So there’s a decent chance that one of the films programmed will be among the Oscar nominated shorts this time next year, and directly because of its participation in the festival.

BTN: We hear a lot about multiscreen user experience these days. Are you discouraging or encouraging it for events like this? 

RRIFF: We are certainly discouraging it during the screenings themselves!  There’s nothing more magnetizing to the eye than seeing a screen light up, and it is an enormous disruption to the immersive environment filmmakers covet when creating their work, so we do everything we can to be faithful to that interaction. However we are certainly encouraging the integration of all sizes of screens and technology in representing the festival more generally—talking about viewing experiences our audiences have had, sharing viewpoints on films we’ve shown, events we’ve put on or experiences we’ve created, and including things like trailer links and other visual content on our web-based analogs.

BTN: How can moviegoers use their mobile devices to select films and track showing and ticket availability?

RRIFF: Our website has a mobile version which enables sorting through film listings, viewing the schedule, watching trailers and buying tickets online. Additionally we have a mobile app for both iOS and Android devices that makes simply sorting the films even easier … it even allows the user to filter out a combination of attributes such as genre and venue to achieve a very specific set of recommendations based on a lot of different variables.

BTN: Looking ahead, how do you think wearables – especially devices like Google Glass – may change the film going experience of tomorrow … for better or worse?

RRIFF: Hmm, we wonder…

We don’t see a small-screen application like Google Glass as particularly conducive to the large scale, projected effect that cinematic communication necessitates. After all, larger screen sizes have been positively linked to viewer engagement and interactivity (even on a physiological level) so the smaller the viewing space, the less control the filmmaker has over the way and degree to which the audience engages with the content.

For more small-screen, commercially driven applications like viewing sports, news, film trailers and social media, we can imagine it being very appealing, even if only from a novelty perspective. People are constantly looking for new user experiences and ways to keep their messages fresh and vital, so Google Glass and other wearables seem like they could present new opportunities in that respect.

Perhaps there’s a way to integrate the glasses with 3D moviegoing and TV experiences, as well?  How about it science? – JTS

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The “Ultimate Selfie” — Hollywood’s Oscars at its best — Part 1

In Fashion, Video, Movies & Television on February 23, 2014 at 11:33 pm

by Robert Liljenwall

Hollywood is the best at self promotion — and the March 2 broadcast (NBC) will be one long “selfie” of how to create a major global event in honoring one’s self.  Make no mistake, the Academy Awards is an annual trek that all of Hollywood points to — sort of an Olympics held every year, not every four.

There are 25 Oscars being handed out during the three-hour broadcast and a new host this year — Ellen Degeneres, the popular day-time star on NBC.  In the audience will be all of the nominees, looking their finest after parading down the Red Carpet, which has now become a mini-show in itself — another “fashion selfie” where the emphasis is on “who” was the designer, plus who gets “best and worst dressed” awards from fashion “experts”.  Guys need not apply.

The Academy has nine movies up for Best Picture this year — American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave and The Wolf of Wall Street.  And of course, Meryl Streep (August: Orange County) is nominated, again, but Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips) wasn’t.  Christian Bale and Amy Adams (American Hustle) are back again, as is Sandra Bullock (Gravity) and Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine).  The collective ‘wisdom’ is that 12 Years A Slave will be Best Picture, although Bruce Dern’s Nebraska gets a lot of support, too.  Gravity is also extremely popular with prognosticators, too. We shall see.

The “selfie” has now become a part of our daily lexicon — the ease of taking one’s picture and broadcasting it instantaneously across multiple platforms (Twitter, Facebook,YouTube, Instagram, SnapChat, etc.).  The only real challenge is to make sure your arms are long enough to do your “self” proud.  It does take some practice.

I’ll be watching.  Will you? – RJL

Part II — Post Selfie Awards coming Monday, March 3

Social Media at the Emmy Awards

In brand-building, social media, Video, Movies & Television on September 19, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Media maven Diana Madison gives us the scoop on social media at the upcoming Emmy AwardsHollyscoop

by Jeff Sandgren

(Sept. 19, 2013)  With the Emmy Awards just days away, buzz is building on what to expect from this year’s ceremony. And no one’s amped up more than the celebrities themselves. Social media is playing an increasingly bigger role in how celebrities (and award ceremonies) engage the public. For the inside scoop, we checked in with media maven Diana Madison, TV Personality, TV host and Executive Producer of the Hollyscoop News Show.

BTN: We’re interested in how celebs brand themselves to the public, and how that brand spills over into their public personas, their activities and their public lives. Who’s really rocking it?

Diana MadisonDiana Madison: We live in a culture that is obsessed with seeing what our favorite celebrities are eating, wearing and saying. Some stars have taken advantage of their fans’ interests, like the Kardashians. These girls are smart to promote their clothing line, perfumes and other projects through their social media. Kim Kardashian has more than 9.9 million followers on Instagram, which is four times the audience that her reality TV show has on E!, which can benefit her when promoting projects.

BTN: How important is social media to celebrity branding? Who’s doing an especially good job with social networks?

DM: Social media is a great way for celebrities to build their brands by getting closer to their fan base. It’s a great way to keep stars relevant with social media because they are in the public eye. For example, Lady Gaga is good at this as she tweets hints, teasers and riddles about her upcoming music and tours. Betty White is another example of someone who has used social media to connect with a younger audience. With Betty on social media, fans took to Twitter and Facebook to demand that she get a gig on SNL.

BTN: How about the dark side – can celebrities do damage control with social media? Any negative examples?

DM: If a celebrity has done a bad deed, they can certainly use social media to repair their reputation by apologizing and showing a more sincere side. Amanda Bynes is one celeb that has bombed on social media by oversharing. Some of her tweets and posts make us wonder if she is sane.

BTN: On the technology side, we’re focused on the trend toward multiscreen, interactive and audience-curated content. At the event level, are the Emmy Awards doing anything techy that’s cool and new this year?

DM: The Emmy Awards is getting more tech-savvy this year with their awards show, which airs Sunday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on CBS. They will be giving fans a backstage pass on social media @PrimetimeEmmys. Sources tell me that more than 15 cameras will be positioned in various areas on the red carpet as well as backstage to give viewers at home the exclusive Emmy experience.

BTN: How can fans follow the social media buzz before and during the awards?

DM: The hashtags #Emmys, #Emmyscongrats and #EmmysChat will be used to preview stars having candid moments when they win their Emmys, give their speech onstage, meet the press and take their Emmy photos. This is a great way for an awards show to generate buzz on social media as fans can follow, chat and discuss all of the candid moments that cannot be seen on television.

In Search of Americana

In brand-building, Uncategorized, Video, Movies & Television on August 21, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Our curious obsession with branding music
by Jeff Sandgren

Neko Case @ Henry Fonda Theater

Neko Case @ Henry Fonda Theater (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This summer I discovered Americana music. Or rather, this summer I discovered that what I have been listening to with increasing regularity is sometimes called ‘Americana’ … whatever that is. Like the oft-quoted definition of pornography, which one can’t clearly define but knows when one sees it, it’s difficult to describe the genre of Americana music – but I think I know it when I hear it. And the hearing of it, the discovery of it, the branding of this elusive-yet-distinctive style, has been seeded in my ears and nourished in my aural psyche by a heapin’ helpin’ of high technology.

For a descriptive starting point, there’s a music industry trade association dedicated to the genre, the aptly-named Americana Music Association which offers the following:

“Americana is contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B, and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw. While acoustic instruments are often present and vital, Americana also often uses a full electric band.”

This begs a follow-up question: well then, what is American roots music? And it helps to explain the affinity of a growing number of listeners, since many of the varietal ‘roots’ are styles that resonate with our already-acquired musical tastes. It’s not roots music; it’s contemporary music that, to borrow terminology from the Web, works as a ‘mashup’ of elements of roots music. There’s a same-yet-different, yin-yang part of the listening experience: the analytical side of your brain tells you this music sounds sort of like something you’ve heard before, while the creative side of your brain says yes, but this is different. This repurposing of styles underlies the fun of discovery.

In fact, I didn’t even know there was such a genre as ‘Americana’ until the Three Vowels of Digital Musical Curation – Amazon, eMusic and iTunes – began to pick up on my change in musical preference and start gently nudging me into orbit around it. I began to see the word in reviews and recommendations; but searching would just take me to a recent album by that very name, in this case Neil Young’s 34th studio album (34th!), or to a more general reference of antiques and ephemera that evoked earlier American merchandise – and had little to do with music.

Then one day, while updating my iTunes Genius Mixes, there it was: Americana. It was somehow official. Now I should note that I have come to regard the Genius Mixes with healthy skepticism. To illustrate, right now, on my iTunes screen I see a mix labeled ‘Mainstream Rock’ with the following four corners: Steve Van Zandt, Carolyne Mas, Anita O’Day and the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. Say what? The only possible label I could think of applying to that amalgamation is “Record Store Day Rummage,” which actually is a fairly accurate depiction of how they came to share space in the Music folder of my computer. But Ms. O’Day and the Daredevils are arguably the spectral equivalents of ultraviolet and infrared; and chances are good that you, esteemed reader, might not have heard of either.

In comparison, the Americana Mix seemed like a somewhat tighter cluster, in this case including Leon Russell, Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris (a duo album), Neko Case and T-Bone Burnett. Leon seemed like a stretch … until I thought about it. Mark, Emmylou and Neko all made sense. And Mr. Burnett, from what I perceive, may currently be the de facto Godfather of Americana. Think of the soundtracks for O Brother, Where Art Thou and Cold Mountain. That’s right; you’re starting to hear it.

So what’s in my collection that fits the moniker? Well, for starters, I must confess that I was drawn to some by the Siren Call – my male ears are easily seduced by the female voice. The haunting vocals of Annalisa Tornfelt drew me to the band Black Prairie, where I serendipitously discovered even more instrumental-only tracks, all showcasing superb musicianship, as one would expect from the alumni of The Decembrists who make up the majority of the band. Just in the past month I happened upon perhaps the most genuine and authentic of recent female vocalists: Alynda Lee Segarra, and her group Hurray for the Riff Raff. Alynda’s story sounds almost too rootsy: a Brooklyn runaway who rode boxcars across America until she settled in New Orleans, initially playing washboard with street musicians. Once you hear her voice, all thoughts of such a narrative as public relations posturing fade quickly away.

Then there’s Tamara Lindeman of the Weather Station, and Katie Crutchfield’s Waxahatchee recordings – more musical gems. Other new artists include delightfully surprising Valerie June, Jason Isbell, last year’s breakout stars the Alabama Shakes and this year’s Shovels & Rope. But it isn’t just about new artists on the scene – stalwarts like Bonnie Raitt and Patty Griffin are still raising the bar of their own musicianship with critically acclaimed releases this year, and surely fit this genre. Looking back at artists of yesteryear, The Band is sometimes cited as the “first Americana group,” Neil Young has certainly charted this territory before, as did Kate and Anna McGarrigle. The list goes on and on.

There are even sub-genres. Once can find reference to “Gothic Americana” (don’t ask: I have no idea.) A significant set of recordings bridges the genres of Americana and Classical, coming to musical fruition in the collaborations of Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Mark O’Connor with the remarkable Appalachia Waltz and Appalachian Journey albums. Ma and Meyer collaborated more recently again, this time with Stuart Duncan and Chris Thile in The Goat Rodeo Sessions. Here again is the dilemma: are these Americana? “Symphonic Americana”, perhaps, to coin a new sub-genre name? If I may borrow from The Bard: these songs by any other genre-name would sound as sweet.

The Howlin' Brothers, at the Americanarama day stage at Grimeys (photo credit: Erika Goldring)

The Howlin’ Brothers, at the Americanarama day stage at Grimeys (photo credit: Erika Goldring)

If you enjoy musical exploration, and haven’t tickled your ears with some of these artists, I hope you’ll give them a try. And if you really want to immerse yourself live and in person, then consider the Americana Music Festival coming up in September, in Nashville, which promises a stellar lineup.

So what’s the technology angle in this branding story? Saying I ‘happened upon’ these and other artists sounds like more bargain bin browsing at the record store – when in fact this is where the technology aspect worked it’s magic. From streamers like Pandora, Slacker, Spotify, Rdio, MOG and Rhapsody/Napster; to music lockers like Amazon Cloud Drive, Google Music and iTunes Match; to sniffers like Shazam and Soundhound, and sharing networks like Soundcloud, a vast array of technologies are lined up like … well, like the AM/FM radio stations that once dominated our musical explorations (and for surprisingly many, still do) and these provided the navigation that led me to this new musical playground.

Before closing, I’d like to cite a famous quote that seems rather relevant: that “writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” The problem is that I cannot discern to whom this slyly clever quote should be attributed. No kidding. Google it up and you find multiple ‘experts’ ready to  assert that the quote comes from Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Frank Zappa, Elvis Costello and Martin Mull. Are these the scions of a new genre? Alas, the problem with names. – JTS

MTV’s Very Real McCoy

In Video, Movies & Television on October 19, 2010 at 3:26 am

by Jeff Sandgren

There are two possible explanations for the sudden success of MTV’s Social Media Manager, Jenny McCoy.  Only one of them is supernatural.  Supporting evidence for the ‘good witch’ theory includes the story of how she got the job.  Jenny is a recent graduate of Florida Institute of Technology.  FIT this year made the Forbes list of America’s Best Colleges, but it is not exactly a power-house name in field of Marketing Communications.  Yet somehow with a serendipitous interview she landed a way cool job.

Then there’s the Bewitched nose.  Jenny isn’t old enough to have ever seen the old TV series, much less Elizabeth Montgomery’s trademark nose wiggle whenever she evoked a bit of ‘white witchcraft’ – but Jenny’s got the move down pat, quite unconsciously.  When I interviewed her, there were two or three times when I thought she might suddenly pop off-screen.

The second theory – OK, the only real theory – is that she’s a Social Media Savant who seizes the initiative like a pit bull.  I’ve sat through countless webinars and whitepapers on social media marketing; but I learned more real practical advice in one hour with Jenny McCoy.  Excepts follow. Decide for yourself.

What websites helped you get started?

“I started following these blogs about blogging.  Mashable.com has always been a favorite, and TechCrunch.   Problogger.net was the most influential.   Darren does a lot of really useful articles, very open to guest posts. So you get all these other awesome tips from other bloggers.  That’s when I hopped on Twitter, as a means of blog marketing and meeting new people.”

How often do you blog?

“I used to do 2 or 3 a week, but it’s been harder since I got up to NY, working until 7 or later every night.  Right now I do about 1 a week, but I have to get better.

“We have a News Team on Twitter, and I help get the reporters into social media.  They’re out there talking to all these awesome people all the time.  You can get a little numb to that.  You don’t realize how awesome that is to everyone else.  So I help get that out, getting opportunities for MTV News.”

What do you use to track all these?

“Hootsuite has been my favorite so far.  For personal account, I just go to Twitter.com and use the lists.  My personal account philosophy is that anyone who has a real account and says semi-interesting things, I follow.  I follow about 700 people, and I’m followed by about 1,000, so without lists it’s practically impossible to manage – not to be rude about it – people I actually want to track.  Hootsuite lets you see how many people are clicking on links, makes it a lot easier to tag people. It remembers tags.

“Learning from it is the most important part.  You can pull all this data, and you can analyze that; but the fact that you’re sitting there seeing every reaction all day gives you the instincts.  If I had time, I could write thirty pages on what I’ve already learned.  What gives you certain reactions, what gets you the clicks.  You learn by doing, how your audience reacts.”

So what tips can you share with our readers?

“Here’s one: if you start a Tweet with an @mention, with someone’s user name, only the people that are following both of you see that Tweet.  I see this all the time.  People are trying to construct a sentence – companies that are trying to encourage people to retweet them, their point is that they want lots of people to see that Tweet.  But only some who follows the person they mention, and are also their own followers, are going to see it.

“Hash-tags are good, and @’s can be good, too, as long as you don’t start with that. Putting a period in front of the @ is an easy way to get around that, or you just start with a period, then do the @mention.  I’ve seen people do that.  It’s … well … kind of the cheap way to do it.  Better to just reword the sentence.

“If someone sends me an @mention, I reply to that; I reply to everything like that.  And there are some people who feel differently about that.  I call them ‘Twitter Elitists’.  They won’t follow people back, they won’t reply to @mentions.  I don’t know why they’re even on Twitter.”

What about Facebook?

“What I really like about their ad model is that you can basically see how much you paid for each new fan you got.  When you think about how much that fan gives you back over the lifetime of their being a fan, and the cost is less than a dollar a fan, you know they’re worth far more than that.

What should BrandTech News be doing?

“There’s all kinds of chats on Twitter – get in the conversation.  I find those immensely helpful to getting new followers and meeting interesting people.  One of the important things in reaching out to people on Twitter is that your first interaction isn’t asking for anything.  There are so many people on Twitter doing that – they really don’t get it.  You need to be genuine and join the conversation.

“The best way to meet people is probably just to follow them and stay with it.  When they say something, and you can say something actually interesting or funny in response, usually they’ll follow you back.  And then you have at least a start.  After a while, they’ll probably be asking what you do.”

What about Linked-In?

“I’m not big on Linked-In.  It’s just an extra step for me right now.  Most of the people I connect with there, I already know.  I think it’s important, and I probably should pay attention to it.  The last time you want to start getting active on Linked-In is when you’re hungry for a job and need something.  It’s the same principle as Twitter – it creates a bad first impression.”

What’s the next big thing in social media?

“It’s hard to tell.  When anything new comes out, everyone’s quick to call it a fad.  But look at Facebook, we know that’s here to stay.  They’ve created a lot of value in their network.  Twitter is also very relevant, so it’s here to stay.  Foursquare’s fine, I enjoy that sometimes, but I’m not huge on it.  I think I’m still the Mayor of my old job. I became the Mayor of my local Dunkin Donuts for a while.”

Give us some tips about your generation

“I’m Gen Y.  We entered the workforce … in a different way.  We have this distrust for the 9 to 5, this weird disgruntled but entrepreneurial vibe.  And even when you’re completely happy, it’s like: what’s next, what’s next?

What’s been a high point for you so far?

“The best day of my career there so far was when Justin Bieber retweeted us.  That just set the world on fire.”

What lies ahead for MTV, socially?

“At the start, everyone’s concerned with numbers.  Getting more followers is great, but it’s just a first step.    But now it’s more of a focus on what are we getting from those followers, where are those followers?   I don’t just want to see how many Tweets; I want to understand the context for each jump, each Tweet.  That’s just invaluable.

“We have a good amount of followers, so now my goal is to shape them into this awesome network. I like Seth Godin’s book “Tribes”.  That’s what I’m trying to do now.  It’s better to have 3,000 passionate people than 100,000 who might not really care.”

MAKE JENNY’S DAY: follow her at http://twitter.com/#!/mtvnews

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BTN Goes to the Movies: Looks Can Kill

In Video, Movies & Television on October 19, 2010 at 3:23 am

You have to be careful what you tell us.  When readers say that they like our diversity of material and breadth of coverage, it just encourages us to toss an ever-widening net.  So when your roving reporters had the opportunity to cover an actual feature film pre-release press conference, we asked ourselves, “Where do branding and technology intersect harder and faster than Hollywood?”

…or, that’s just the lame-o rationalization for the fact that we just couldn’t pass up meeting some real-life movie stars and a big-time director.  C’mon, you’d have gone for it too.

Smack dab in the middle of the afore-mentioned intersection is one of our favorite technical/artistic accomplishments: the long-track, unbroken cinema sequence, a masterful recent example of which was in the Academy Award winning film “Atonement”, directed by Joe Wright, who also directed such acclaimed films as “Pride and Prejudice” and “The Soloist”.

In Atonement, Wright pulled off an unforgettable five and half minute unbroken shot of the beach at Dunkirk (if you haven’t seen it, you must).  The enabling technology for this is of course the Steadicam® camera stability system, introduced by inventor Garrett Brown back in 1976.  The technology itself was recognized with an Oscar.  Wright cites the late British director Alan Clarke as an early influence on his fascination with the cinematic power of the Steadicam, which has since become practically a trademark of the Joe Wright style.  For cinema buffs and bar bets, the longest unbroken Steadicam sequence in a feature film was a 96-minute shot through the Hermitage Museum in Alexander Sokurov’s 2002 film “Russian Ark” (dear Santa, for Christmas this year editor Jeff wants …)

The Tiffen Company, who owns the trademark for Steadicam, also produces high-tech glass filters and other film industry essentials.  In fact, Tiffen products are used in almost every major movie and TV production around the world, according to the company.  For those Apple fans amongst our readership, good news: earlier this year Tiffen released the Steadicam® Smoothee™, an image stabilizer designed for Apple iPhones (dear Santa, for Christmas this year editor Robert wants …) [FADE TO WHITE]

[CUT TO PRESENT] So what you probably want to know now is:  what’s the film? who are the stars? are there any awesome Steadicam sequences like Dunkirk in Atonement?  The new film is “Hanna”, set for release by Focus Features next April, an adventure thriller about a teenage assassin raised and trained by her ex-CIA father in the isolation of the wilds of Finland, until she’s ready to go off the chain, tracking her prey across Europe with the sleek, efficient ruthlessness of a tiger shark.

Starring in the title role is the amazing young Irish actress, Saorise Ronin, who has already racked up nominations for an Academy Award (for her role in Atonement), and multiple BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations (for her roles in Peter Jackson’s film The Lovely Bones, and in Atonement).  The role of her father is played by veteran actor Eric Bana (The Hulk, Troy, Star Trek, Funny People…); and Hanna’s equally ruthless CIA operative quarry is played by award-winning actress Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth, The Aviator, and many more).

And, yes, Wright tells us, there are several long-sequence Steadicam shots, one of which is longer than the Dunkirk sequence and culminates in a fight scene with Bana’s character.  The fight scenes themselves are a bit of a technical accomplishment.  They were choreographed by Jeff Imada, whose previous credits include the two Bourne sequels.

Saorise and Eric had several fights scenes, since Hanna is ‘trained’ by her father.   “It was tough to get into it and make it look real,” said Bana. “I mean she’s a girl, she’s only sixteen.”

“I had to slap him around a bit first,” Saorise confided, with a disarming smile.  “That got him going.”

We asked Miss Ronin if having an actor father in real life (Paul Burch) helped her get into the father/daughter character role.

“It’s been great growing up with an actor in the house.  I guess I have performer’s blood.  Dad helps with all my audition tapes – it’s like having a manager in the house.   Plus, he has a Black Belt in karate, and was an all-Ireland Champion one year.”  Apparently, poor Eric never stood a chance.

The two clips we saw were solid, hard-hitting crowd-pleasers.  Okay, so we were a bit star-struck.  But this combination of acclaimed acting talent, movie-star looks, top-flight directing, and high-tech photography leads us to expect this film will be (you guessed it) a real killer.

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Video Takes Lead in the ‘Time To Knowledge’ Race

In mobile & tablets, Video, Movies & Television on July 30, 2010 at 6:32 pm
The Diagram describes the 3 main components ne...
Image via Wikipedia

by Jeff Sandgren

At the Technology desk of the BrandTech News staff, we strive to stay on top of the world of math and science.  Imagine the dismay, then, when at dinner with my schoolteacher niece the other night I learned that grade school kids these days don’t just learn one way to multiply numbers together (i.e. the way I learned, i.e. the Proper Way), but instead learn several ‘multiplication algorithms’.  Really?  A quick Wikipedia check confirmed my ignorance.  Sunzi, Lattice, ‘peasant’, ‘shift & add’ are all legitimate alternatives.  At least I’m forewarned  in the event of any requests for help with math homework.

The point being: even in something as simple as multiplication, learning can be enhanced by different modalities.  The same is of course true for higher learning, and for the learning needs of new employees, mobile workforces, and salespeople rolling out new offerings to their clients.  For the latter, the Sell Sheet retains the time-honored status of good ol’ long-form multiplication, but there are new, supplemental ways .  In learning , as in apparel, change is inevitable.  “Time to Knowledge” is the new black.

Video has long been recognized as a highly effective media for education.  But the time-critical dynamics of today’s knowledge management makes efficiency as important as effectiveness.  To be viable, video has to be easy to capture, easy to search across the enterprise, and easy to share – which these days means across various mobility devices including iPhones, iPads, and Blackberry’s.

A leader in this space is Altus Learning Systems, whose vSearch solution combines digitally recorded video with synchronized slides and scrolling transcripts, enabling users to find and watch mission-critical content just as it was presented by the experts.  “It’s about getting information to people quickly,” Mark Pollard, CMO of Altus, explained, “on desktop or mobile, at the Point of Interest (POI).”

The mobile aspect is becoming increasingly important as workforce deployment becomes more dynamic. “vSearch Mobile allows users to consume video from virtually any device,” said Pollard, “but they need relevant content.  That’s why vSearch granularity is so important; it allows search down to the spoken word.”

Sure enough, in the demo Mark provided us, the video’s scrolling transcript highlighted the exact words or phrases we were searching for.  Search parameters included Boolean, category, topic, and exact phrase (on tablets and browsers).  The video itself is optimized for the various devices, with small formats for smart phones, to minimize bandwidth issues.    And yes, it will support Android, at versions 2.1 and above.

The ROI on POI must make business sense, as Altus’ client list includes big names like Oracle, Cisco, IBM and SAP, with a 25% upsurge in new customers over the past six months.  They’ve increased their staffing by over 50% in the past year, and their most recent results, for their fiscal third quarter of this year, show revenue increase also up 50% versus the same quarter a year ago.

At BrandTech News, we’re still musing about whether our readers prefer PDF or straight HTML email delivery.  Maybe we’re barking up the wrong media tree.  With solutions like vSearch available, maybe we should be making the leap to video … after we hire better-looking spokespersons, of course.  Long-hand or lattice, if video can help us multiply, we’re ready to take our seats in summer school.

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