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Digital Portfolio Essay

Pete Zonino 

Professor Patti 

MDSC 309: Media Industries and Alternatives 

May 11, 2013

In taking MDSC 309: Media Industries and Alternatives, I gained a vast amount of knowledge on numerous topics, ranging from film distribution practices to defining what “Independent” cinema means. Of these many different subjects that were covered, I was able to hone in on specific facets of new and old media industries that grabbed my attention. One topic that sparked a lot of excitement in me was brought up on the first day of class. We simply watched an entire credit sequence through, pretty boring, yet at the same time intriguing. Like most other filmgoer’s I usually don’t watch the credits and leave the theater or my couch when the narrative ends.  Yet, in watching the credits it was amusing to find out just how many people go into making a motion picture, or television show. I got further evidence of this when our class was assigned our midterm project, in which we would go into the behind the scene process of making a film, without actually filming anything. With each person being assigned to a group that represented the different jobs (distribution, production, marketing…) for the film, I was able to learn about some of these people who don’t get as much credit, but play a detrimental part in the creation and distribution. 

Of the many others lessons from this class I think that the discussion on digital activism was a fascinating aspect of new media. We discussed how people are using social medias like Twitter and Facebook to organize and “participate” in movements. The questions that have arisen from this, look to see if this is actually making any change or are people just taking the easy way out by simply clicking a button on Facebook? Although these questions are still unanswered, our class discussion really let everyone share their opinion on the subject. While there are many other readings and lectures that I liked, the one topic that we covered that enjoyed the most was film marketing. 

Going into the class, I had a previous experience in marketing. Last summer I had an internship at an advertisement agency, where I learned the different jobs that went into say a billboard ad that one sees on the highway, or a pamphlet that one reads at the doctors office. While the advertisement agency’s cliental were mainly hospitals and banks, I really liked the creative process and principles that went along with the job. I liked the fact that what one is making and presenting can be seen by anyone and can sway their opinions/senses, urging them to want to buy a product or participate in a movement. 

In registering for MDSC 309, I had a broad interested in the subject as a whole, but had no idea I was going to find something that I thought I might want to pursue after graduation. When we were introduced to the midterm project, and I saw the different facets of the film industry that we were going to be assigned too, I was eager to be a part of the marketing team. Although I was eventually put into the distribution team, we got to collaborate with the marketing team, and see the final product that they would present. I knew this career path was something that I could definitely buy in to. In one of our class books titled, Understanding Media Industries, the authors make a statement that directly relates to motif to be involved in film marketing. “If a media company pours millions of dollars into a project, and no one see’s/hears/reads it, does it matter that it was made.(Havens Lotz 171)” Without the marketing aspect that goes into making a film, no one would ever hear or know about it. 

“Marketing…typically involves much more direct promotion of particular films, television shows, albums, and other texts produced by media industries.(Havens Lotz 171) The jobs of marketing a film vary. Marketing teams can be in-charge of creating products that relate to the film, promoting the film through star appearances, creating the films poster, and giving away prescreening tickets via a radio shows to create buzz about the film. With this being said, due to the rise of social medias such as Facebook and Twitter, film marketing is being brought to the digital surface. 

I have decided that because of my potential career interest in film marketing, I am going to begin campaign for a movie that has plans to come out in 2014. In 2010, Laura Hillenbrand, writer of Seabiscuit, came out with her second book titled, Unbroken. Unbroken is a true story that follows the life of Louis Zamperini’s triumphs and dark times. Louis was born in Torrence, California in the 1920’s where he would go onto become a track star, eventually making it to the 1936 Olympic Games. With World War II right around the corner Louis was enlisted into the US Army Air Force in 1941, where he was bombardier on a B-24 Liberator bomber that saw action in the Pacific theater. While looking for a fellow lost plane, mechanical difficulties brought Zamperini’s plane, “The Green Hornet,” down into the vast pacific ocean, killing eight, while sparing three. Stuck with two other soldiers in a small life raft, with blood thirsty sharks enclosing and no food, this is truly an adventure story that is hard to forget. 

In recent news, Angelina Jolie was chosen to direct the film. She would not be my first choice just because this is such an epic tail and to me she lacks the experience as a director. The film was picked up by Universal Studios in 2011. It was originally drafted by William Nicholson and Richard LaGravenese (whom co-wrote Gladiator and Les Miserales). Jolie apparently was not content with the script, so she picked up the Coen Brother to rewrite it. Joel and Ethan Coen, have two Oscar screenwriting wins with No Country For Old Men, and Fargo. (Fleming Jr. Deadline)

In beginning my marketing campaign I will be creating a film poster. I want this poster to be somewhat of mystery that leaves people curious and hungry for more information. This poster will be something similar to the “The Dark Knight Rises” poster that has Batman’s mask broken in front of a dark background with villain “Bane” walking away.  This poster will include the date of the films release (05/01/1214). I want to give it a simple feel, and create a sense of wonder when people read it. In trying to accomplish this, I will incorporate a quote from the book that has deep meaning to the protagonist and his situation. The quote reads, “A lifetime of glory is worth a moment of pain.” This quote represents the theme of the book yet still leaves people wondering. I will also incorporate the iconic image from the cover of the book. This image shows a B-24 Bomber, flying during a beautiful sunset. This will help keep the poster simple while giving readers of the book a sense of familiarity. 

To create my poster, I decided to use a program known as Adobe Photoshop. Since I have never used the program, is saw it fit to inquire so help from a master, Stephen Gemmiti. Steve was helpful in helping me create some of the details of the poster, such as the rustic WW2 feeling that image implores. He was also helpful in showing me different fonts, and introduced me to Gump Scribble, a font that I used to show the inspiration quote, and the films release date. This handwriting was detrimental in giving the stranded and wartime letter feel. 

Although the poster looks simple, it was actually a hard process for me. Due to the fact that I have never used Adobe Photoshop, it took several hours to figure out the program. I think the skills gained from hours of work on Adobe Photoshop will help in preparing me for a potential future in the creative side that comes with marketing. This process was very cool for me and I think that it will pay off in the future. 

The Content of Roku

What if there was a product out in the market for Internet TVs that provided: Netflix, and Hulu plus, and HBO GO, and NHL Live, and UFC, and NBA Game Time, and Pandora, and access to iTunes, and Angry Birds, and Pac-Man, and Sudoku, and Disney, and Ameba, and Facebook, and Flickr, and SmugMug to just name a few all in a 3” box from $49.99-$99.99. Would you want it?

Psssh I know I would! That is precisely what Roku offers. With over 150,000 movies and shows streaming through a Wi-Fi connection you have enough entertainment at your fingertips to last you a lifetime. You can watch anything from Modern Family to UFC fight night. Roku was the original TV Internet streaming box that provided Netflix. The company has recently created Roku 2, which offers the capability to access music, photos, podcasts, and radio from the Internet to your TV. What is also unique about Roku compared to the other big name Internet TV competitors is the capability to play games using the Bluetooth motion-based remote provided with the purchase of Roku.

So how does one access this bombardment of entertainment? Simply go to the Roku Channel Store (which is located when you plug the box into your TV) and ‘add channels’. By doing this you will have added the selected channel to ‘my channels’ list. All free of charge. When you add premium channels such as Netflix or Hulu Plus you must have a subscription to view and access the content within the specific ‘channel’. Roku also provides their customers the capability to create their own channel. These channels have the option to be private, and require a code to access and/or are open to the public, but Roku does not approve them.

This past year Google demanded Roku to remove a private YouTube channel from their services because it violated terms and agreements. So new Roku customers are currently out of luck, but maybe not for long. All you YouTube diehards out there that are interested in Roku do not fret. They are not far away.

The image below shows all four Roku box options and their capabilities. The Roku LT is a perfect fit for any college student on a tight budget who wants the Roku experience in their dorm room. For the family you ask? I would recommend the Roku 2 XS. It has all of Roku’s channels, Bluetooth, best HD picture quality, motion control remote for the kids to play games, and a Ethernet cord for lighting fast speed.

 

Ever wondered what it would be like to have all your entertainment needs in one device? Meet Roku.

-Connor Eustace

And in this corner we have Roku 2 coming in at three inches and three ounces, currently the world’s smallest – most powerful Internet streaming device. Roku is also trying hop in the bandwagon of ‘Going Green’ and claims it takes only 2W of energy consumption to run on HD video. After a quick look on my MacBook, which I am using to write this post, I discovered it takes 60W to charge this puppy. Now I am no rocket scientist but 60W is a lot more than 2W. Impressive.

What’s also impressive is what little of effort is required to setup and start streaming. It’s so easy a caveman can do it. First plug in the box to an AC outlet. Next plug the HDMI cord into the Roku box and the TV. Connect to a Wi-Fi connection. Then finally enjoy your 1080p HD, 5.1 surround-sound entertainment!

There has been a lot of talk about Roku’s controller that comes with Roku 2 XS. This simple looking device is loaded with technology that allows for movement of the controller to mimic what happens on the screen. It also includes pre-programmed buttons that allow for a more enjoyable gaming and viewing experience. This device is made to be kid friendly unlike the more complicated remotes such as Logitech’s for Google TV.

If your like me and like your entertainment – a lot. Then Roku gives you the opportunity to store even more data and channels by purchasing a MicroSD card from your local Best Buy or electronic store that ranges in price from $4.99 to $60.99.

Roku is making a name for themselves in the market of Internet streaming devices by coming out with features like their new motion control remote, small device box, and new channels that are surfacing every day!

- Connor Eustace

Roku joined the market in 2008 with its first release of their now famous Internet streaming device. The Roku DVP as seen below was the ‘next big thing’ in 2008 and came into the market as ‘the device that brings Netflix to your living room no longer through DVD’. There were haters at first, but I guess over a million people did not have the same opinion as Mr. Thomas Hawk, because Roku announced in early September of 2011 that they hit 15 million channel downloads. Thought “nobody [would] buy the box” Mr. Thomas Hawk?

I guess he did not expect the news then that Roku plans to go international early next year to Canada (my home land!) and the U.K! AND that they have recently signed a deal with the popular retail company Target to sell their Roku 2 XS and Roku 2 XD in their stores. It is interesting because Target has recently purchased several hundred Sears retail stores in Canada, and now Roku is announcing they are going international up North! Looks like the purchase of a Roku box will be less than a fifteen-minute walk away from my humble abode.

I bet Mr. Thomas Hawk didn’t think that the number of viewers could increase even more in the coming months because of how poorly Netflix is doing. He believed that this was a one dimensional device that he saw wouldn’t expand, but needless did he know that three short years later Roku is the only major company to stream Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon video. This means with Netflix sales falling people in America will want to continue to be entertained and if they have all ready been accustomed to Internet TV streaming, they will more than likely turn to Hulu Plus and Amazon TV. Which Roku provides!

Mr. Thomas Hawk says, “[why] pay $100 to buy a box that streams me old episodes”. The better question is why would you buy an Apple TV, which streams ‘old episodes’ on Netflix just like Roku. Sounds like the issue is with Netflix. Ok with my Apple TV I am going to go watch Lost on Hulu Plus… oh wait! Apple TV does not support Hulu Plus, but Roku does. Sounds like this device may actually be the death of Apple TV. Mr. Thomas Hawk did not see into the future and the potential this device had.

Now not only is Roku on top of the Internet TV streaming market with their $99 product, but also have introduced 3 other streaming devices for lower prices which makes them the best Internet TV streaming company out there because of their versatility. Roku currently offers Roku LT for $49, Roku 2 HD for $59, Roku 2 XD for $79, and Roku 2 XS for $99.

- Connor Eustace

This is where Apple may fall short.  When looking at smart TVs, one must consider what they really want their TV to do.  They do not have quite as much content as their competitors do, but is still packs in a boatload of content into such a little “black box” – literally and figuratively.

In this sleek small little device, you can watch TV shows, rent movies, and play music.  HD movie rentals cost about four dollars and TV rentals come in at only one dollar.  You have thirty days to begin the show you plan on watching, and once it is started, you then have another 24 hours to finish it.  You are able to watch rentals or TV from ABC, Disney, Fox, CBS, NBC, and a few others.

One downfall is once a purchase is made, the video must buffer which can take too long for people who want the content in the snap of a finger.  You can also stream from Flickr, Netflix, and YouTube, which is a big plus.  Unfortunately, HBO is missing and that could be a game changer for some people who like to enjoy free movies.

Overall, the more apple products that you have, the better this device becomes, which is clearly a plus for Apple.  It is a good marketing scheme that allows the fans of Apple to continue to buy their products in order to use them to their full potential.  Once again, you get what you pay for – and Apple isn’t necessarily the cheapest brand out there.

Having this “airplay” option through iCloud allows you to enjoy the simple things in life, such as playing music through your TV within seconds while getting ready, or transferring a movie onto your phone for a business trip coming up.  Who wouldn’t want that?!

The Apple TV may not have quite as much content as say the Roku, or Google TV but for portability of the transferring of music, shows, or movies, the Apple TV is going to be the consumers’ best bet.

Here is a quick video to give you a jist of how the Apple TV 2 looks and plays –

-Jake McHenry

Just like every other device Apple has made, the new Apple TV is sleek, small and is the “in” thing to have.  Steve Jobs, before his death, believed that getting into the smart TV market would create a giant revenue for Apple.  In my opinion, he is right.  Every product that apple makes is at the top of the aesthetics chart and looks contemporary and nice.

The old Apple TV was silver and the size was 7.8 in x 7.8 in x 1.1 in.  The old device weighed 2.4 lbs and was pretty bulky.  Of course, with time, Apple came out with the second generation Apple TV that is only 3.9 in x 3.9 in x .9 in and weighs in at an amazing .6 lbs.  It is pretty unbelievable how Apple came out with an even better product that is literally half the size of its previous model.

The device is matte black with a shiny black Apple TV logo on the top of it and comes with a remote control, which remotely looks like an iPod nano.  It is small, sleek, and fits well in the hand.  On screen, the device brings up a simple menu option similar to that of an Apple MacBook Pro when watching movies.  There is a black background and the content is all easily visible and accessible with quality artwork for movies, shows and songs.  It is not nearly as complicated as its competitor’s menus.

The nicest part of the Apple TV is the application of iCloud.  This is what I had mentioned before with the transferring of television shows, music, and movies.  The second you purchase anything from Apple, iCloud automatically transfers it onto any other Apple device that you have that is registered through your iCloud account.

Another plus is that you can also use your iPhone to control the apple TV.  Also with this sleek coaster sized device, you can hack into your Internet through WiFi or Ethernet.  The downside of downsizing the new model results in no longer being able to store movies in the device itself since they removed the hard drive while reducing the size.

 

The remote control aesthetically works well with the device itself as it has three black buttons.  There is a menu button, a Play button, and a scroll wheel similar to an iPod nano, as stated before.  The remote is silver in color and equally as sleek and contemporary as the actual device.

In my opinion, I love everything about Apple.  The simplicity, the look, the design, the functions – literally everything about Apple is amazing.  I do not think I will ever buy another phone, computer, laptop, mp3 player or smart TV that is not made by Apple.  They are the best at what they do and they know it.  Their aesthetic game is just as pleasing to the eye as any other electronic device out there.

 

-Jake McHenry

Think different.

That is Apple’s motto.  Everything about Apple is simple – everything from the operating system to the layout to the design to the functions.  Sure it may be a bit more expensive, but nothing in life is free, and you get what you pay for.

Against its competitors, there is not much of a price difference, but the formatting is bar none.  It is not complicated and does virtually everything that its competitors does (Google TV and Roku).  Apple is on its second generation of the Apple TV.  This appliance is designed to let you watch what you want, when you want it.  It includes digital content from the iTunes store, Netflix, sporting league passes (NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB), YouTube, etc.  Using this small little device, you can rent movies or stream videos from anywhere on the web.

A chart from PC world comparing the Apple TV to some competitors

The first generation of this product was released in January of 2007, while the second generation was released September of 2010.  However, this device is not an actual TV tuner, but is perfect for the “busy bee” which, in today’s world, is pretty common.  It is such an advantage to be able to come home from work and be able to flip on the apple TV and turn on Netflix and watch your favorite shows or movies.  In essence, it could potentially replace digital cable if you can do without the instant access or news through your television.  The advantage to this is if you buy or rent a movie through iTunes on the Apple TV, you are able to wirelessly transfer it to any other Apple device, such as an iPhone, iPad, or iPod.  This device only costs 99 dollars, and then you can pay for the content you receive within the television.

Here is a match up of the different versions of Apple TV http://ipod.about.com/od/decidingwhichipodtobuy/a/appletv_chart.htm

Apple continues to up the ante for any of its competitors in every aspect of technology.  When ‘Siri’ came to the iPhone, it changed the way people looked at phones.  You can tell Siri what to do, or ask it a question, and the phone actually understands you and performs the task.  Apple is looking into ways to change the smart TV game by adding Siri to Apple TV.  I think it is only a matter of time until Apple adds everything that its competitors have, and more.

http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/258823/20111130/siri-apple-tv-bluetooth-ios-itunes-verizon.htm

-Jake McHenry

Google TV struggled with its first version due to several factors. One of those factor being that the four main television network: ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX, did not want to sign contracts in fear of losing revenue. This is really affecting Google TV, because these are the networks that offer the most viewed televisions shows, as well as offer the ability to watch TV on the networks websites. People who usually follow episodes from ABC or NBC on the web, don’t want to buy Google TV because of this. Another problem with Google TV is that there is no access to Hulu, a prominant instant streaming site. Hulu has not given there viewing rights mainly because it is co-owned by both CBS and FOX. These companies directing there dislike for Google TV, have critisized the new technology for also promoting pirated videos. They see Google TV as an easy way to search the web and illegally watch movies. Without the support of these four major TV networks it will be tough for Google TV to succeed.

The one thing that Google TV does have going for them is the support of major internet companies and media outlets. These include HBO, CNBC, Twitter, Netflix, and Amazon. These features will bring a great amount of versatility when it comes to the internet side of Google TV, but still doesn’t make up for the lack in popular networks. Along with these internet companies Google TV, prides itself on its ownership of Youtube, witch has been a big help in promoting the new TV software. Google Chrome, a very highspeed, and efficient search engine has also been introduced a main adverisement feature. With all of the internet capabilities and instant streaming tools, like HBO and Netfix, it does bring some positive reactions.

Google TV 2.o is coming out in the close future, and although the big four broadcaster names have not signed contracts, close contenders TNT and TBS have offered there services. These two companies are often seen in the shadow of networks such as ABC and FOX, but they do offer a short term solution for Google TV, who hopes to sell more TV’s. TNT and TBS would be availible as apps, and will allow the viewing of full episodes on the same day that the episodes origionally airs.

Google TV has been in contact with big name broadcaster in attempt to get there buisness. Althought it is still in the works, Google TV has stated that they are willing to drop top dollar. At this moment they are looking into buying out networks like NBC and instant streaming website, HULU. We will just have to see how everything turns out.

 

-Pete Zonino

Google TV has several different technology companies working to make their product as great of a successful as it can be. These companies include Logitech, Sony, and Samsung.

Logitech has created Revue, a product that consists of a wireless remote control and a box-top set. The remote control is in the shape of a thin, handheld keyboard. It also includes a touchpad that makes it easy to browse the web and search for channels. The box-top set is a sleek black box that attaches to a HDTV via a HDMI chord. The box is where the Google TV software is located. With the Logitech Revue, one can use their android cell phone or iPhone as a remote control. The only other things that people need for the Logitech Revue to work is a HDTV, with a HDMI plug, Internet (either through ethernet or WiFi) and a Cable or Satellite Box. Recently Logitech has been rumored to get out of business with Google TV, do to the fact that their product wasn’t very successful and  the lost money. One report stated that they think Google TV is a bad idea.

Sony is another company that supplies gadgets for Google TV. Like Logitech, Sony has made a remote control, box-top set, and a HDTV that they call Sony NSG-G71. Sony’s remote control is grey and is smaller in size, but thicker in structure. Its track pad and keyboard allow the user to navigate the web with ease. The TV is an optional feature that come with the Google TV software built in. It is think black plasma screen, with a thin metal base. If one does not buy the HDTV, The box-top set includes two different functions. The box consists of a Blu-ray player as well as the Google TV software, so not only does it act as a Google TV, but also as movie player. Sony seems to be ahead of Logitech in the technology they have created, and it seems that they are going to stick with Google TV through the ups and downs.

Samsung has begun to make a top-box set for the Google TV software, but as of now they have not perfected it or introduced it. They are trying to take the place of Logitech as they leave Google TV. Samsung also provides HDTV’s that are very compatible with Google TV. It has been rumored that Google and Samsung have almost come up with an agreement for their partnership.

The Google TV software itself is very cool. Some of the main features include: the Google Chrome browser, the ability to surf the web and watch television at the same time, the ability to use android smartphones and iPhone’s as remotes, and the ability to download apps for the television from the Android market. The main screen for the Google TV is very similar to one of an iPhone. You are shown a screen that consists of several apps in different rows. Through the use of the remote, you can scroll through the different pages.

 

New technologies and features will most likely surface during the presentation of Google TV 2.0

-Pete Zonino

The Economics of Google TV

So it turns out that all of the gossip about Google TV taking over the television market, was in fact just talk. Although they do have plans for the future, as of now Google TV is struggling to make a name for itself.

There were several different problems associated with this economic fail that occurred with the release of Google TV 1.0. First being that technology was not perfected, second being that the prices where just too high and third being that the prominent networks where not giving Google TV permission to air their  shows. As Google TV is soon to release its 2.o version, we can only wait to see if they have made any positive changes.

The software for Google TV was one of the downfalls for its trouble selling. With partners such as Sony and Logitech, one might think that Google TV would gain a positive reputation, but the fact of the matter is that the bold and risky idea of internet television was just not ready last year when released. Owners of Google TV often complained about complications they faced when using the technology, saying that everything was to cluttered and confusing to use. Recently Google TV claims to be making a new and improved version of their software, top-set boxes and gadgets. Google believes they will set their TV’s back on the right track for success.

Due to lack of profit made from Google TV’s first attempt, they were forced to lower their prices last summer. From what started out at $299 for the least expensive Google TV device made by Logitech, has since been lowered to $99. Google admits that their prices where indeed too high, for a product that is still in the works. As they introduce Google TV 2.0 it will be interesting to see what the company does with their product prices.

The third reason Google TV is struggling economically is because they are having trouble getting content out there. Big network television companies fear that they will lose profit if they give there shows to Google TV. Companies that have bid in Hulu such as CBS and FOX think that Google TV will destroy everything that they have worked for, taking away cable viewers and leading to a decrease in profit.

So is there a future for an idea like Google TV?

Google sure seems to think so. Google itself generated 96% of it profits from advertisements, and they see TV as a means to get even more ads across. According to the IDC, television advertisement is a $70 billion market. Who wouldn’t want to get a piece of that pie, and for a mega brand like Google, they think it will easy to succeed once they really get going.

Another thing that Google TV has done that they believe will make them an economic powerhouse is invest $12.5 billion into Motorola Mobility Holdings. Motorola is a company that makes TV set-top boxes and mobile phones, which could come in handy for Google TV. In fact Google TV wants to put software into the next round of Motorola set-top boxes and use their foothold in the company to persuade people to buy Google TV, by telling them they will save on other things.

Although it is a work in progress, Google TV do have a plan to increase its revenue for the future and make a name for themselves in the television industry.

This is a quick video introducing Google TV

 

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