Posts made in December, 2010

Five Creativity Predictions for 2011

Posted by on Dec 21, 2010 in Featured, The Future | 2 comments

2011 predictions are hot right now so it seems appropriate to take a guess at what creative trends we might see come to life in the near future. Below are my thoughts and observations. Enjoy!

1. We’re entering a new Romantic era

Creativity, like everything else in culture and nature, follows a cycle. It may be best understood as a Baroque to Romantic to Baroque to Romantic, and so on, model. The Baroque era in music was defined by an emphasis on structure and convention – Bach was a master of making amazingly intricate and mathematically precise music using traditional Western scales. Beethoven ushered in the Romantic era with new chord progressions and epic movements designed to evoke human emotion, rather than logical sensibility. Today this cycle continues in the arts, think Disco (Baroque) and Prog Rock (Romantic) of the 70s or the transition from Gangster Rap (Romantic) to top-40 Hip-Hop like the Black Eyed Peas or T-Pain (Baroque) in the last 20 years. The intention of the remaining predictions is to illustrate the coming of the latest Romantic era, and some of the technology that will help us get there in 2011.

2. Movies defy narrative logic and story convention, instead focusing on sensory and emotional experience

This is already playing out in a few ways. Think Inception, Avatar and 127 Hours. The success of these films in the last few years is setting the stage for more to follow in 2011. Look for movies that play with our perception of time and space, overwhelm us visually and aurally in theatres, and evoke tears, laughter and joy through the unconventional use of plot, narrative, characters, relationships and environment.

3. Blogazines go mainstream

If you haven’t yet seen what’s happening with “blogazines,” you’re not alone. I just came across this trend last weekend. Wow! Does this make more sense than anything I’ve seen on the web in a while. Until recently, blogging has been extremely standardized. Thanks to templates and conventions like posts, pages, headers and sidebars, it’s been super easy for anyone to become a blogger. As a result, most of them look the same. Like mine.

Enter the blogazine. Usually a full-screen visual experience, breaking through the unnecessary 500-600 pixel walls of regular blog posts, and totally overtaking your browser with classic magazine-like layouts, illustrations, images, multimedia and big vibrant fonts. They literally jump off the page. Since they seem like a perfect match for the iPad and other tablets, the timing is also in favor of widespread adoption.

4. Indie content producers become cross-platform publishers

Not too long ago, getting on TV was a big deal. Only the elite, the beautiful, the highly skilled or uniquely talented, could land a coveted spot on the tube. Now you can upload a video to Youtube and be on any TV that’s hooked up to an Apple or Google TV. The three-screen paradigm (TV, computer, mobile device) is moving towards a screen-agnostic paradigm where the same content can be consumed regardless of which device you’re using.

Savvy content producers will look to get in early on interactive TV, potentially with apps that will be accessible through the emerging devices. Just like you can access Netflix on the Apple TV now, you may be able to access your next door neighbor’s basement home repair show as an app too. This is not new to mobile, but the opportunity to be on TV will draw more creative-minded entertainers, educators and engage-ers into cross-platform distribution, landing them on your laptop, iPad and TV, with medium-appropriate content at each stop.

5. Creative learning goes virtual

Much of the creative learning process has traditionally required live, in-person interaction. You send your kids to your piano teacher’s house. You learn improv or painting or creative writing in a classroom. You have to do this because these creative skills require a high level of tactile and interpersonal resolution.  Meaning you have to see the keys of the piano up close, or you have to stand face to face with the person you’re doing improv with.

Thanks to innovations like Cisco’s Umi, which allows people to interact real-time in high-resolution from anywhere in the world, the traditional constraints of creative skill-based learning will diminish. This opens doors for creatives with a teaching bug (like me) to offer their expertise to a global audience of students, following in-step with wide-spread adoption of new communication technologies.

Your creative plan for 2011

Look for opportunities to break traditional conventions and challenge the status quo. With new platforms for the distribution of your creative ideas – iPad, Google TV, Umi, etc. – comes a blue ocean of opportunity. Consider that many of today’s stars of Twitter or Youtube are no more talented or insightful than you, they just got there early. Be on the lookout for low-cost (dollar-wise, time-wise, learning-curve-wise) ways to get in front of a mass audience you haven’t had access to before, and research what that audience wants in terms of entertainment, education and engagement.

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Lessons in Going Viral: With Frozen Food Master Gregory Ng

Posted by on Dec 7, 2010 in Advertising, Entertainment, Viral | 0 comments

If you’ve ever stood in the frozen food aisle… wondering which chicken parm you should get, you probably had to make an impulse decision, based solely on packaging and your experience with the brand. Odds are, you then waited four minutes and thirty seconds at home, the microwave beeped, and you experienced that familiar taste – disappointment.

Enter The Frozen Food Master

Gregory Ng, local Raleigh creative executive, aims to take the guesswork out of shopping for frozen foods. And he’s built a cult following doing just that. Every episode of his popular Freezerburns series, featuring online reviews of frozen foods, will gain 100 – 200 thousand views a year. Four hundred episodes into the life of the show, The Frozen Food Master knows a thing or two about his audience, the products they’re looking for, and producing great content on the web.

In anticipation of his guest appearance at Going Viral: Making and Distributing Online Video next Wednesday, December 15 at Designbox in downtown Raleigh (click the link above for tickets), The Frozen Food Master and I caught up for an interview to preview some of the insights he’ll share on-site at the workshop. The interview is below, followed by his top 6 most watch videos of all time:

How many views does a typical Freezerburns episode receive?

On average, episodes will get 10,000 views the first week, and that’s across 30+ video networks. Six months out,  80 – 100k views. My Father’s Day episode comparing frozen hamburgers made it to the front page of Youtube for the entire weekend, and received 180k views in those three days, I haven’t checked in a while, but that was the most successful episode to date.

Describe the progression from the first episode to today.

In the beginning it was a playground, a lot of experimentation. I knew I wanted to produce a show, so I turned on the camera and started shooting. Back then there was no editing, I just wanted to get something published. I’ve talked to a lot people, and it was true for me too, we’re all afraid to put something online at the beginning, so we tweak and edit and it never happens. The truth is, its an evolution. I set out to do five videos a week for the first year, and it really wasn’t until my 75th video or so that I felt comfortable. Looking back at my earliest episodes, I had no camera presence, I was stumbling over words. I used to look at tape and think everything was pure gold, so I couldn’t get anything down below 15 minutes. Now, I’m much more deliberate in what I want to saw and how, and much more liberal in editing. Everything is between 5-7 minutes long, because that’s my sweet spot.

You don’t consider your content viral, what is your strategy for getting views?

Very few people can capture lightning in a bottle more than once. Name another video by the guy who did Chocolate Rain,  or David After the Dentist, or JK Wedding Dance – those videos that are truly viral. Those are impossible to reproduce. And what I’ve found is there’s a formula for what people will share. The value of my videos is in the information gathering I do. Someone can find my video because they saw a frozen food product they might want to try, they searched for it online, and they came up with Freezerburns. They can subscribe to my feed and tune in when they want. So I don’t shoot to produce something that’s universally appealing, and my subscribers don’t watch every episode. But 5% of my entire audience watches Freezerburns religiously, and for the most part the rest find me through search engines, because I’m optimizing them well.

What other content (series, viral videos, shows) do you use for inspiration and why?

Gary Vaynerchuk. He’s a New York Times best-selling author, and the host of Wine Library TV. He changed the way online video is done. How do content producers interact with their fans? How can they foster that real one to one relationship? He’s the godfather of all that. I watch a lot of online video, mostly in series like Gary’s, and what I really like is the conversation you can have over a full body of work.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer to potential viral video producers?

The big question for me is how you define viral. There’s a lot of videos that trend towards the 300-400k view mark, but they never make it across the divide. They’re trying really hard to be viral, and I think they don’t succeed because they don’t feel genuine. You have to really understand your goal. If its to have one great video with millions, great. But most likely, that’s something you’ll never achieve. If your goal is to produce content that people relate to, and grow an audience over time, stick to something you’re passionate about. Only so many people can get kicked in the nuts. And we know spoofs and parodies work, but if you’re not enjoying doing it, people can tell its fake. The best videos, in my opinion, start with passion, not a play for views.

The Freezerburns Top 6

Father’s Day Frozen Hamburger Frodown

Tofurky Vegetarian Feast

Frosty Paws and Cool Claws Frozen Pet Food

Pepperoni Threepeat Belly Buster

Can Anything Make Steak-Umm Taste Better?

Which Tastes Better: Item A or Item B?

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