Emma Sterling and I have spent the past several weeks in an intense collaborative bubble, producing and performing (essentially VJing) video content for an innovative new theatrical performance for children. Directed by Andy Packer and performed by Ellen Steele, ‘Wolf’ is an original story by Andy Packer (written by Finegan Kruckemeyer) and developed by a collaborative team of specialists spanning many artistic disciplines. Full team credits are available at the Slingsby website. ‘Wolf’ explores the theme of fear and anxiety and their roles in our lives and Western folk story traditions. The performance is part physical theatre, part video diary and part new media performance, as the lone character Ruby slips into a dreamscape in which she is pursued and confronted by her fears and insecurities.
I’m writing this blog entry from just south of Tailem Bend, an early whistle-stop on the road to Mount Gambier, the place of the play’s original conception last year, and soon to be the place of its public premiere. As latecomers to the project, we had the task of devising the delivery method for three different screens of video content, and producing video sequences for several scenes, in a style harmonious to existing footage created by Sophie Hyde of Closer Productions. Requiring a combination of wrapping double-screen images, and rolling single screen content, the imagery is at times immersive and environmental, at others direct broadcasts from Ruby’s video diary and in more surreal moments, manifestations of pure imagination. The video system prototype before we became involved required three networked computers, syncronised, each driving a single projector.
Our first challenge was to devise a neater technical solution that would also provide us with the performance flexibility we need to allow us to respond spontaneously with video, augmenting the performer’s movement and the story’s progress. Since we were already committed users of Arkaos’ and Numark’s NuVJ package, we roadtested and ran with Arkaos’ GrandVJ for the ultimate solution. Using this concise and powerful program, we are now able to run all three screens from a single Acer Aspire 6930G laptop, which we bought with the spoils of the commission. The key factors in running the system smoothly are many, with tech specs an important part of the picture. The Vista laptop we run has a 1 Gb dedicated video card, 4Gb of RAM and a dual core 2.4 GHz processor. Feeding the software files with the best compression codecs and ratios is critical. For GrandVJ, I’ve followed the recommended workflow and use H264 for HDV dual-screen clips, and Quicktime PhotoJPEG for SD clips. Starting the compression at 80%, I wind it back on some of the longer HDV clips when they start to stagger on playback.
Theatre: Slingsby’s WOLF Premieres May 6 (TVC)
Another early task we were set was to deliver a TVC for broadcast in regional South Australia, advertising the show and its imminent tour. For this we re-edited the existing prologue, shot by Sophie Hyde, and inserted an animated sequence created by Luku. We’ve also distributed the TVC via TubeMogul, a terrific tool for re-distributing online video across multiple portal sites.
So we’re passing twisted gumtrees, expansive pastures and the occasional road-train, racing towards the official premiere on May 6th. After three showings with test audiences last week at the Odeon Theatre in Norwood. After Mount Gambier, we hit a string of country towns across SA, including Kadina, Keith, Bordertown, Port Augusta, Whyalla, Port Pirie, Roxby Downs, Ceduna and Port Lincoln. As always, Em and I are packing multiple cameras so we’ll be documenting the trip as well as the show as both unfold.
Guilty as charged… I’m a heavy internet user and early adopter of web 2.0 services. I’m not a geek or a nerd though- just keen on mass communication and the dissemination of ideas, knowledge and creativity. The internet is by far and away my favorite place for this, but with the myriad of platforms offered here for social networking, video and music sharing, it’s easy to get lost in the maze, or simply not know how best to spend your time.
I’m happy to say that in the last two months I’ve discovered some terrific new online services which do (or promise to in the near future) allow you to maximize the impact of your sprawling web-presences. There are three gems that I will discuss here: one for individuals and general social network users, one for online video distributors, and another for musicians.
I only discovered this site today after following a Twitter link. While the service is in ‘closed beta’ (that’s nerd speak for ‘we’re still testing, but we’ll open to the public soon’, the labour-saving and syncronising services it promises to provide are exciting. Basically AtomKeep allows you to enter status, information and content updates to their site once, and it will in turn redistribute this information to the web 2.0 social networking sites of which you are a member.
At this stage, these include: LinkedIn, Monster, Facebook, CPGJoblist, Twitter, Mixergy, Slide, Jobster, Yelp, Blogger, JOBcentral, LastFM, YouTube, digg, Ning, Flickr, Google, WordPress, Disqus, Pownce, Technorati, Meetup, Plurk, Mixx, LiveJournal, Indeed, Job.com, Friendster, imeem, Bebo, Myspace and Unyk. Services listed as ‘coming soon’ include: HotJobs, Dice, Yahoo! Groups, Careerbuilder, Hi5, Vimeo, Upcoming, Plaxo, Epinions, Evite, TheLadders, Photobucket and StumbleUpon.
The above list covers a range of general social networking sites, job seeking ones, photo and video sharing sites, bookmarking sites, blogging and commenting portfolios, email list managers and more… surely this is a service every web 2.0 user can benefit from!
On the online video frontier, TubeMogul provides a service truly in a league of its own. Essentially a video re-distributor and tracking service (my description, not theirs) TubeMogul accepts your video uploads, complete with descriptions, categories and tags, and then redistributes the video to other sites of which you are already a member. The site even transcodes your video (if necessary) to suit the requirements of each different site. As if the service isn’t great enough already, the real pay-off comes when the stats come rolling in. Graphs of your video’s popularity within and between services can be customised with easy, and you can even track the progress of your peers/competitors. The site also offers some promotional services which I hope to explore soon- these include spruiking your videos on social networking and bookmarking sites. Getting involved with tracking our online video footprint via TubeMogul has got me really excited about online video. If you have an interest in this field, check it out pronto.
The third, and probably the most specialised service I will describe here is ArtistData. Also currently in ‘closed beta’ ArtistData gives musicians and managers the capacity to easily handle presences of their artists across numerous sites and platforms. There are truckloads of web 2.0 services offering musicians distinct audiences for their work and forums for its discussion and proliferation, so the need for a service like this has existed for some years. As I’m yet to be invited to sign up, I can only cite the services the site claims to provide. It claims to:
Import your shows from MySpace or allow you to enter them manually.
Synchronize your shows to social network profiles on PureVolume, Virb, and soon Facebook.
Submit shows to concert databases such as Jambase, Last.fm, and many more.
Update your official website through XML or a customizable calendar widget.
Updates your desktop calendar (iCal, Outlook, Thunderbird, Google Calendar).
Export formatted show lists for import to SonicBids and ReverbNation.
Automate the submission of shows for listing in local publications. *See screencast.
So there you have it folks, one service to leap on and two to watch for their pending public launches. I don’t know about you, but I really dig the way the web is evolving right now.
I’ve been devoting much of my time of late to exploring Web 2.0 possibilities in the last few weeks… services, sites, widgets and ways to integrate them. Now that we all have profiles all over the place (Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, YouTube and countless others) keeping them all relevant can be pretty time consuming. Fortunately developers appear to be aware of this and are doing something about it. Here’s a cute little example of my most recent Web 2.0 chain reaction (websites updating other websites and profiles automatically). This is a pretty neat development, and can be handy both socially and professionally.
In this case, my goal was to proliferate my online video, and share the awareness of it as broadly as possible.
- TubeMogul.com – The chain reaction begins when I upload a video to TubeMogul. The site then redistributes the video to multiple video sites, including YouTube and a dozen or more others.
- Viddler.com – Viddler receives the file from TubeMogul reposts it there, and notifies my Twitter account. It posts my ‘followers’ a link to the vid automatically.
- Twitter.com – my Twitter account is linked to my Facebook profile, so in turn, Twitter updates my Facebook status and voila… my video upload is all over my major social profiles for minimal sweat.
Other sites that are worth a peep and help integrate your various profiles are FriendFeed and Wink. It seems Facebook is wise to this being a key aspect to the future of social networking, and has added an ‘Import’ button on your profile Wall… check it out and get linkin’!