Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lazy Sunday # 247: Blood Or Chrome

Blood: The essence of life, supplying oxygen and nutrients to the body while removing toxins and waste.

Chrome: Odorless and tasteless. A lustrous, hard metal that appears to be highly polished.

"The most watched content on YouTube is professionally produced because people can tell the difference between real stuff and crap." -- Rishad Tobacowala

Five years ago, when media strategist Rishad Tobacowala assessed the internet’s best known video archive, most in showbiz did not believe online video would ever seriously challenge television creatively or attract a significant audience.

Yeah, it was fun, even edgy and challenging sometimes. But monetizing the content was virtually impossible and without money, those with marketable creative skills might dabble or try out a vanity project, but they would never fully commit.

Because creative people need money to survive and keep creating. So the internet might be a marketing or inspirational tool. Maybe it could even be a platform on which to augment the content of a popular TV series.

But it would never seriously compete.

The Broadcasting powers that be saw sites like YouTube as Chrome, the distracting sparkly, a shiny decorative flourish on  the vehicle to which it was attached.

All that is about to change forever.

imageA year ago, YouTube began to offer “Channels”, specialized sub-sites offering content directed at a specific audience.

These include brands like “Car & Driver”, “Maker” and “Machinima”as well as several where Russian guys shoot big guns with an enthusiasm that must leave even the National Rifle Association slack-jawed.

And in that one year, some of these sites have grown to average more than a Billion video views per month.

That has given Google the confidence to begin moving YouTube from a place where people surf to one where they engage, spending more time watching content –- and thus being more susceptible to advertising.

A few months ago, Google pumped $100 Million into its channels, which for a company that earns more than $8 Billion a year is the equivalent of you or me digging through the couch cushions when we realize the Pizza guy is going to expect a tip.

But with that money, the blood and life essence of creativity, YouTube can at last pay professionals to create high-end content.

Fully one third of this investment went to Machinima and its vast audience of gamers, resulting in two of the most polished series currently available on TV or any other platform.

“Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn” is accessible and engrossing even to those of us who have never played the game, while “Battlestar Gallactica: Blood & Chrome” is a far more worthy successor to the 2004 series than its own “Caprica” sequel.

“Blood and Chrome” began rolling out two weeks ago and will consist of ten 7 to 12 minute episodes by the time it concludes its launch in early December.

The webisodes will then be glued together as a two hour movie for SyFy in early 2013 before a DVD release.

Watching episodes of “Blood & Chrome” it’s impossible not to be struck by production values that exceed virtually anything else on television and realize how quickly what we thought only television could deliver has been eclipsed.

Television will doubtless be around for a while. But from a creative standpoint, it will have to depend on more chrome trim, maybe even fins and spoiler panels to maintain its audience. The essence of life and creativity is inexorably moving online.

The first episode of “Blood & Chrome” is embedded below. Go full screen for the full experience and just keep clicking through to subsequent episodes.

And Enjoy Your Sunday.


Joe Clark said...

This is less of the revolution you fancy it is because YouTube is cutting funding to 60% of its original channels.

Cunningham said...

Also, BLOOD & CHROME was originally developed as a SyFy channel movie / D2DVD/VoD show...

However there still are a lot of shows in the webspace that work, on budgets that Hollywood caterers would be horrified at tackling.

Certainly THE GUILD on the Geek & Sundry channel...

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries...

The Mercury Men....

And that doesn't include all of the stuff on Vimeo, Daily Motion and other video sharing sites....

Anonymous said...

Well, looks like I'm gonna have to dust off that manual that shows me how to watch YouTube on my so-called smart TV...