Apple’s launch of iBooks Author ups the ante for what’s achievable in content creation. It appears to be a fluid and elegant tool for bringing together text, animation, video, images, audio and interactivity. Certainly seems more fluid and elegant than my use of WordPress right now to craft this blog post. Providing environments for content creation, we at Market7 are pleased by enhancement of how people can extend rich, media-based experiences to other people. Yet, the iBooks Author launch also exposes several areas that could be improved:
There is the well covered limitation of distribution techniques via iTunes and to iPad devices for consumption. It is indeed ironic to leverage technological advances in order to elegantly bring multiple types of media together, and then unnecessarily restrict how the results can be consumed.
Collaboration is vital in bringing together substantial works, and especially in mixed media situations because of the varieties of skills and perceptions related to the different kinds of content, but currently collaborating on iBooks Author requires saving and sending files for teammates to work on in isolation.
While iBooks Author may be great for bringing media together, it’s more for high-level assembly of content built in other applications, and is not a comprehensive or consistent suite for the different types of content in isolation. Granted this is an unfair criticism of a new environment sure to take on more context and deeper functionality over time, but this tool coming from Apple does cast highlight on the fact that the same company has gutted its Final Cut franchise that had emerged as the leading environment for accessible work on video content, and that never seemed to benefit from the same stewardship prioritizing great usage experience that seems clear in the results of Apple’s newest applications.
I spent time this month at the annual Cable Show in Chicago. This is where cable operators, programming networks, technology vendors and more gather to talk about the latest trends, issues, show new tech capabilities and more. One of most discussed topics at the event was the opportunity that exists to deliver content that meets multi-screen demand. Essentially, as more consumers walk around with video-capable smartphones and tablets, how will the industry deliver programming to these devices?
Along these lines, we’ve had more than a few discussions with customers lately about how they’re adapting the creation process to accommodate viewing that’s extending beyond traditional TV and PC screens, to mobile devices. Here are some interesting takeaways:
More Devices = More Viewing Opportunity. Many companies used to justify a lack of video content by pointing to a small potential audience. As I write this, I’m surrounded by three screens (TV, PC, smartphone), all capable of competently displaying video content. So now, even on the go, my smartphone makes me a constant potential audience member. (And there are many more like me.) Ready or not, the audience is there, waiting to be engaged.
Different Screens Demand Different Content. Maybe you already recognize the opportunity to deliver content that can be viewed across a variety of devices. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should just repurpose all of your existing video for viewing on all platforms. When creating content, consider the size of your viewer’s screen when thinking about video length, shot composition and your video’s purpose. And think about the circumstances under which they’ll be viewing. For instance, a long training video might work better for TV or a PC during the workday. But a training recap or refresher might work better delivered to a phone for the commute home. Sure, anyone might be willing to compromise and watch Avatar on a 4” screen if they really want to see it at that moment. But will the same be true for your video? Make the viewing experience comfortable and purposeful.
Be Smart About Tech Requirements. We don’t want to get into a big discussion about codecs here, but remember that not all video can be displayed on all devices or with available bandwidth. For instance, if your video is set up in Flash, you’re going to lose iPad and iPhone users. If your file sizes are large and/or you’re not using adaptive bitrate streaming you’ll lose those that don’t have a good 4G or 3G connection. Pay attention to the browsers being used to access your site and prepare accordingly.
You have more opportunities than ever to reach viewers with video content. Use these opportunities wisely and watch your view count grow!
A lot of attention gets paid to the break-through products, services or events that are held by the top tech companies. And how are all of these various moments in time being introduced? With video, of course. We were particularly impressed with videos introduced this month by Twitter, Apple and Google and wanted to share them here as examples of how corporate video done right can educate, inform, promote and excite.
If you’re bold enough to feature one of hip-hop’s OGs talking about “waking and baking” with Martha Stewart alongside the current Speaker of the House and of one of the ESA’s most Twitter-savvy astronauts showing us his view of the world, there’s a good chance you’ve also created something original, unique and engaging. Twitter, working to build its case that you don’t need to Tweet to use Twitter, put together this really tight, celebrity-heavy video showing the many things you too could have access to if you engaged with the Twitter platform. It works so well because it effectively captures the diversity of Twitter, the close proximity that users can get to their favorite people, hobbies and interests, and how simple Twitter makes it all.
Meet the Apple iPad 2
Apple has a reputation for introducing products that are sleek and simple. Naturally, its video content should exactly mirror this. With Apple’s introduction of the iPad 2 this month, Apple released the below video that covered all of the various tech improvements that were made in the latest version, the hard work that went into aesthetics and design and all of the new things users will be able to do. It’s a bit on the long side at more than 6 minutes, but Apple knows it works for their audience: cult of Mac members that love the company and are heavily invested in their products. As they get ready to plunk down no less than $500 for Apple’s latest creation and mentally prepare for 12 hours in line at the store on launch day, they have this video to further feed their excitement and help them start thinking of all the many ways they’ll use their new toy.
Google Goes Gaga
A suggestion has been made that the top tech companies are trying to trump one another by landing the hottest surprise guests to come speak to employees. When Marissa Mayer, Google’s VP of consumer products, brought Lady Gaga out for a one-on-one discussion at a recent company event, she was visibly taken aback by the whole thing. (It’s unclear if it was at the thought of introducing Lady Gaga or just knowing that Google was now ahead in the informal “land the biggest celebrity you can” game.) Lady Gaga got her verbal intro from Mayer, but the proper introduction came with a a video that charted just how big of a celebrity Gaga had come. Being Google, the focus was on milestones Gaga has hit in search, video and fan engagement and connections. The video not only uses Google’s various services to validate her overwhelming popularity, but also to source content – in VERY clever and creative ways. (The video below shows the entire event. Skip to the :43 mark for the intro video.)
The three videos above were obviously done with access to big budgets, a lot of creative personnel and TIME. Thinking about the various elements featured in these productions, we immediately recognize areas where Market7 could’ve possibly added some efficiencies. That includes everything from lining up international (and out of this world!) video shoots to script and edit feedback. It’s possible that your organization doesn’t have the resources required to produce this level of content, but that doesn’t mean that what you do create has to be any less effective. Market7 can help unleash the full potential of any team coming together to produce video. Click here to check out how.
I’m catching up some this evening on tech news. Yammer, a provider of in-a-company social-networking software, which we’ve used, just raised $25 million, bringing its total funding to $40 million. Despite all of that funding, an interviewer still hammers the company on deficiencies in its offerings for Blackberry, iPhone and Android. This highlights a couple points:
One is the clear importance for collaborative software (like ours, in addition to Yammer’s) to support every user, at all times, in any place, on whatever device is in use.
Secondly, doing that through specific applications for specific environments is hard, even with $40 million.
Market7 is currently rallying fiercely towards complete support for mobile usage, but we are endeavoring to do so without compartmentalizing essential features to a variety of device-dependent applications. Instead we are doing it through standards-based web-access to rich features performing well within browsers on any device. This has always been a major element of the web’s promise, and a notion seeming to regain momentum as both the benefits and challenges of device-specific apps become apparent.
Five days after surgery and for first time some pain is felt. Nothing too acute, feels like a thigh bruise, a bit above the knee. Appointment with doctor tomorrow, we’ll see what he thinks. For now I’m tired & uncomfortable, so today’s deep thoughts are short.
Again staying with the news, the initial iPad reviews have been coming out today. Considering this platform, along with the energy that’s in Android & iPhone app development, some are speculating a future in which portable, wireless devices with minimal hardware peripherals, including no physical keyboard, will increasingly be the environment for all computing.
All computing of course includes a broadening range of activities. Watching video? Agreed that seems great on a pad that’s light, easily held & presents content brightly. But I’d rather write a blog post, even as short as this one, with the benefit of a keyboard. Laptops have been with us in just about their current forms for a long time now, I suppose two decades, and the hinged keyboard motif is due for some innovation before long. But right now the screen-only pad does not appear to provide a solution for many tasks that require not just consumption, but also user input & interaction including much on our video.Market7.