Joshua Greer, right, is president and co-founder of RealD, a Boulder-based company developing 3D technologies.
It’s the story, stupid.
Forget for a moment, if you will, all of the latest 3D excitement and new media technologies. If there’s one thing nearly every panelist could agree on at Boulder’s 2nd annual Digital Media, or DiMe, Symposium
, it’s that those who can still tell the best story ultimately will come out on top.
“Brands (another name for money) seek out the good content,” said former Saturday Night Live writer Andrew Steele, now creative director for the very edgy “Funny or Die” website and HBO series.
Steele was one of five media experts discussing the topic “Digital Distribution and Monetization.” And for every YouTuber, blogger or independent moviemaker searching for answers to that oh-so-elusive monetization question, panelists offered some encouragement.
“You should be making some noise,” said David Slayden, executive director of the Boulder Digital Works learning program at the University of Colorado. Students in the program believe “they can become famous,” he said.
“You are the broadcaster,” said TV and web personality Shira Lazar, co-founder of the Disrupt/Group. As a digital correspondent for CBSNews.com, Lazar discovers some of the rising stars on YouTube. New media technology, she added, “enables you to find your audience and your audience to find you.”
Don Hahn, producer with Stone Circle Pictures, shares thoughts with DiMe attendee.
But can you break into the big time of film and TV from smaller cities like Boulder or Austin?
Much still depends on who you know and meet, said Steele, and for independents, the real networking side of the entertainment world continues to be New York, L.A. and Chicago. But everyone now has the “means” to get attention, and very talented people are emerging from the smaller media savvy communities.
“Artists want to collaborate,” Lazar said. “A lot of YouTubers are moving to L.A. just so they can work together.”
At last year’s inaugural DiMe, the talk was all about James Cameron’s new 3D movie “Avatar,” and how 3D would begin to change the movie industry.
At this year’s DiMe, an entire panel was devoted to The Future of 3D, and the talk was still about “Avatar,” but everyone agreed 3D is here to stay, especially as the new 3D high-def TVs are adopted by consumers.
In the St. Julien Hotel
hallway, attendees gathered around two 3D TVs set up by RealD, a Boulder-based company in the forefront of developing 3D systems. One one, game players blasted a machine gun as opponents jumped out in 3D; on the other, a 3D demonstration film showed ski jumpers twisting in the air, gold fish swimming around your head and colorful excerpts from the popular opera “Carmen,” the first opera to be staged in a 3D movie. Carmen, screened at the Boulder International Film Festival, opens in theaters on March 6.
The cycle for 3D adoption, panelists said, will be similar to the conversion to high-def TV, with a good three to five years to go. This difference this time, panelists said, is the transition is “on steroids.”
The first 3D cinema advertising is now being released, said Kurt Hall, CEO of National CineMedia, which runs ads on some 17,000 screens across the U.S. And companies like Comcast are learning “on the fly” how to broadcast events like the Master’s and the World Cup in 3D.
Shooting in 3D, with higher costs and challenging camera setups, remains a steep learning curve, experts agreed, and getting enough 3D content will be a challenge. Some 35 3D films are in development for this year.
Oh yes, and there’s the story thing again, too.
“We’re seeing an evolution of story-telling,” said Joshua Greer, president and co-founder of RealD. 3D movies won’t succeed without a good story.
Directors are learning to use 3D to let viewers look inward, moving beyond the effects that just “punch you in the face,” said Don Hain, producer with Stone Circle Pictures with the Disney films “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King” in his credits.
Next year’s DiMe is expected to be expanded after receiving a $25,000 grant from the City of Boulder’s Arts and Business Collaborative program. DiMe organizers, including Project Coordinator Sue Salinger, Kathy Beeck with BIFF and Mary Ann Mahoney of the Boulder Convention & Visitors Bureau, accepted the check between DiMe panel presentations.
The Digital Media Symposium, or DiMe, returns for its second year in Boulder on Friday, Feb. 18 with a great lineup of national and local panelists weighing in on new digital media. Tickets at $50 are on sale at www.dimeboulder.com.
DiMe recently received a $25,000 grant from the City of Boulder’s Arts and Business Collaborative (ABC) grants program, and the funding will help support the expansion of the symposium into a multi-day event with workshops, digital art exhibits and opportunities for collaboration.
The DiMe, which starts at 1 p.m. at the St. Julien Hotel in downtown Boulder, takes place during the?Boulder International Film Festival, which runs Feb. 17-20. DiMe is an initiative of BIFF, the Governor’s Office of Creative Industries and the Boulder Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Two panels will fill the afternoon event covering “Digital Distribution and Monetization” and “The Future of 3D.” A full listing of panel members are on the DiMe site, but panels will include Andrew Steele, a TV and cable writer with “Funny or Die,” and Don Hahn from Stone Circle Pictures, a Los Angeles-based animation and 3D film producer.
DiMe is a great event not only to learn more about new digital media technologies, but following the event you can mingle at a cash bar reception starting at 5 p.m. with local leaders and artists in Boulder’s growing sector of film, broadcasting, gaming, mobile and other entertainment-based digital media.
Renovation Nation, the national TV show featuring the green home building movement, is coming to Boulder to film the new SmartHome project being built by Imagine!
The filming is scheduled for March 25-26 at the Bob & July Charles SmartHome, which is being built at 1806 Iris St. An older residence for Imagine! consumers was razed at the site to make way for the first of two energy-efficient SmartHomes planned by Imagine! The other SmartHome will be built in Longmont.
Imagine!, which serves people with cognitive disabilities, believes the SmartHome projects could set an example of a sustainable and tech-friendly group home for other organizations working with the disabled around the country.
The Boulder home will feature geothermal heat pumps for heating and cooling, low-water plumbing fixtures, Xeric landscaping, natural lighting and solar tubes, solar hot water panels and solar photovoltaic panels, Energy Star-rated appliances and low VOC paints among numerous green building ideas.
Steve Thomas, the former host of This Old House, will be working on several of the green building features during the filming.
The SmartHome also is being wired to accommodate numerous technologies to assist the home's residents. Kitchen countertops will adjust to wheelchair heights, sensors will provide alerts to caregivers and new Web-enable systems will let residents communicate with friends and family on the Internet, as well as operate TV, music and video conferencing.
Fund-raising is continuing for the projects, led by the Imagine! Foundation, on which I am a board member. Donations can be made online at their site. And you can see that I've set up a simple TipJoy donation box on my blog, where all donations will go to the SmartHome projects. TipJoy is a way for Web users to easily make "micro-payments," and although not too common right now, I believe this is a way more nonprofits will be able to reach donors.
Bob Charles, who helped start the Imagine! Foundation, and his wife Judy have been generous donors to the organization and recently made a large pledge at Imagine!'s annual Celebration dinner and auction in January.