Industry Report: Cinema Jove: How to make a web series without ending up in prison
Producing for new screens
by Laura Nanchino
- From 19 to 21 November, as part of the SATIS expo for audio, visual, and audiovisual professionals, the Screen4All training course on augmented TV – Producing for new screens, was held
At a time when digital technology is changing the way we consume audiovisual products, as well as their formatting and distribution, this training course aimed to bring essential know-how to the production and broadcasting of transmedia content for new screens (smart TVs, tablets, smartphones).
Cineuropa, having attended Screen4All, has the following points for reflection.
When the viewer becomes the user – the evolution of the way we consume images
The spread of digital technology has led to new habits in the consumption of images. 60% of consumers of (televised) audiovisual products use multiple screens simultaneously. The viewer (passive) has become a user (active) who wishes to get closer to the content, to take part in it. So how can you satisfy this demand and successfully engage the user in an enriched experience? According to Jean-Yves Lemoine, a digital design consultant specialised in the consumer value of images, you need to think about the content of the audiovisual product (is it interactive and/or social?), but also the production function (what type of user is watching my programme? when and how do they watch it? with what device? how can transmedia be incorporated into the programme before, during and after it?). “Anything is possible, no rules have been established yet”, concludes Jean-Yves Lemoine.
The challenge lies above all in commanding a person’s attention, adds Bruno Rouanet, an expert in new media. The second screen (tablet, smartphone) actually tends to divert users away from the main screen: in the majority of cases, the second screen has nothing to do with what’s going on on the main screen.
For this reason, when producing augmented content, you have to reflect on what both the viewers and broadcasters expect to get out of it, and how to gain an audience, keep it for the duration of the programme and established their lasting loyalty.
What is the second screen used for?
The second screen is an experimental domain – the ways of using it have yet not been clearly defined and its business models are fragile, explains Bruno Rouanet. It can be used for three functions: search and discovery, monitoring and access, and contextual reinforcement.
The second screen can thus be used to enrich programmes by synchronizing them with live programmes (Future by Starck, a documentary broadcast on Arte), as a remote control, to experience a brand in an immersive way, or even to immerse oneself in a film’s environment (as was the case for the film The Hunger Games with the creation of a blog, a magazine associating the brands used, and the use of Twitter and Facebook).
It can also be a way of acquiring more information on audiovisual content, or of commenting on the programme directly, adds Fabienne Fourquet, director of new content at French premium pay television channel Canal+, which has tried out different ways of using the second screen, just like French television channel M6, which recently developed an augmented TV/Social TV application for smartphones and tablets, 6Play.
Whilst experience takes precedence over all other factors, the appeal of this second screen lies in the attention and loyalty of the user, but also the potentially lucrative benefits for the producers of content.
A business model for multiscreen productions has yet to be drawn up. “Developing an application for a second screen is expensive and the ROI (return on investment) can vary… it’s therefore more worthwhile to invest in regular programmes”, say Bruno Rouanet.
A number of different categories of stakeholders are nevertheless willing to fund these kinds of projects, for example TV channels, local authorities, Internet stakeholders such as Google, or even brands. Advertisers have every interest in investing, as digital technology allows them to get to know their users and thereby better target their advertising campaigns, making them more lucrative.
At French institutional level, a fund for supporting new media has been set up by the Centre National du Cinéma et de l’image animée (CNC) [National Centre of Cinematography and the moving image], offering writing, development and production assistance, the details of which were presented by Pauline Augrain, in charge of the project at CNC.
Funding can also come in part from crowdfunding campaigns, the majority of which bring in between 5,000 and 10,000 euros, with an average of 50 euros per donation, and around 8% of the total donated by the website if the campaign is successful. Stéphane Bittoun, the managing director of My Major Company (interview), a pioneering website in crowdfunding, gives the following advice for a successful campaign: first you have to pull in a group of people who will donate, and they will, in turn, pull in another group, and so on and so forth. That’s why it’s important to make a video presentation, to develop a true storytelling concept, and to prepare a solid base of core donors.
Screen4All was also an opportunity to present a number of particularly inspiring case studies of multiscreen programme designers.
Belgian producer Peter de Maegd (Potemkino) (interview) talked about a number of his participatory projects, all based on calls-to-action: finding swindler Gary in the 2009 documentary Where is Gary, organising his own preview for his feature film Miss Homeless, finding stolen paintings in series The Spiral, buying virtual traps for boy scouts via a crowdfunding campaign during the development of the film Cub, which due to be released for Halloween 2014 in Belgium.
Going beyond the call-to-action, the interactive production The Spiral, broadcast simultaneously in several European countries, offered two experiences rolled into one: a television series in the traditional format on the one hand, and an online experience grounded in reality on the other, all of these experiences making up an eco-system to be explored independently and/or all at once.
Another one of the participants of the course, David Grumbach (interview) also talked about a number of his innovative initiatives in the production pipeline, such as Initio, a project on microfinance. Initio is developing in three directions: a documentary all about microfinance; a website with extra material allowing users to go beyond the documentary, following the 50 entrepreneurs from the documentary and watching interviews with experts; and finally, a call-to-action allowing the audience to engage with the subject matter, with a social network game but also through various events and educational projects.
With The Builders’ Challenge, a transmedia adventure at the heart of gothic cathedrals, the producer, Cédric Bonin (Seppia), talked about the challenge of associating a 3D experience with multiscreen. A film, a web documentary and a mobile application were produced on the story of the master builders that worked on Strasbourg cathedral. All of these experiences were interlinked: the film, on the history of builders, was shot in 2D and 3D; the web-documentary was inspired by video game storytelling, with the slogan “You are the master builder of the tower!” and a mobile phone application offers a game and an interactive tour of the cathedral. Different points of entry into the transmedia project were set up, each one leading to other points. To coordinate and promote everything, a series of events were organised (through national events such as cultural heritage days, Museum Night…).
Video games, which have already adopted new screens (computers, tablets, smartphones…) can and must, at any rate, be a source of inspiration for developing augmented content. Stéphane Natkin, doctor/engineer at CNAM and director of the Ecole nationale des jeux et médias interactifs [French National School on Games and Interactive Media] worked on alternative content for the successful French television series Life’s so sweet, creating an online video game, based on the show’s regular characters, that gives the public the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of the series, and make an impact on it.
For more details:
The next Screen4All training course will take place from 28 to 30 October 2014. For more information, or to register, click here.
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