Festival Curator Presentation
Justin Hall is the Playstation editor for gamers.com. Going from a web author to someone dealing with video games affects his view of things. He's very interested in how to reach the 15 year old Generation-Y'ers that he writes for. He says he spends most of his day in online chats with gamers. If you've seen someone carry on several simultaneous chats at the same time as fast as possible, or watched a group playing Doom or equivalent, you can get some idea of how quickly and precisely Justin speaks. It was fascinating, but draining, for us Baby-Boomers in my row in the audience. Here's a blurry picture of him, since it's hard to take pictures of moving people without a flash:

Justin Hall
Justin Hall
Here's a sharper picture -- he has to watch the screen carefully:

Justin bending down
Justin loves games. Especially he loves the old MicroProse games from the 1980's. He points out that a movie costs $40 million to create and people watch it for 2 hours, at most twice for 4 hours total. Games they frequently play for hundreds of hours. And new games are getting up to the $40 million in cost.

To reach the Gen-Y'ers, learn the design of games visually -- and they're getting much more detailed. He points out how you can see the game design influences on teen's web sites. Here's one of the old games he showed:

Non-overlapping windows on screen
Old game screen
Notice, he said, the use of frames.

Justin showing a "cam" web site
He's very interested in "cam" sites and other aspects of individuals' web sites and talked a lot about that.

He says kids today like a "busy experience" -- lots of clicking, little scrolling. (Sorry, kids, about this web site! I'm trying to be like a long narrative.) They're used to simultaneously interacting with lots of people at once.

(Justin put a writeup of what he saw at the Festival on his www.links.net site. He also posted the notes for his talk and his reaction to being there in a more permanent place.)

Reid Kempe
Reid is VP Marketing for X.L. Capital, Ltd., a large company in Bermuda in insurance. They produce slideshows that go on the road to help sell their services and products.

Reid Kempe
Reid Kempe
He distinguished between storytelling as we've been discussing created by and told from the viewpoint of an individual, and storytelling by and about a group.

Invidual vs. Group -- group involves collaboration
One of his slides
He showed some of their stuff. They use stories about how Bermuda learned to build houses on bedrock to survive the elements and relate it to their work and products.

His example
You can watch a streaming RealVideo clip of part of this story about Bermuda, and see Dana introduce the next speaker.

Mike Bonifer
VP Creative Development for iXL, Mike Bonifer talked about making Intranet sites. Having just moved our company, Trellix Corporation, from concentrating on Intranets for 3 years to concentrate on personal and small business web sites on the Internet, this was a bring-down-to-earth shock for me. Like going back in time a year. (Of course, Intranets are still important, just I've tried to stop thinking about them in my work except to use them.) I lost some of the high of this morning (maybe I'm getting used to the altitude?).

He gave some advice which sounds real useful: Give your Intranet a name, but not "Intranet" (sounds too much like "Internet"); use visuals.

Mike Bonifer
Mike Bonifer
He showed lots of samples of his company's work. Here's something for Merrill Lynch in Japan:

Japanese letters, picture of a bull
Sample Intranet page
He concluded with some very passionate pleas for experimenting -- saying that what we are doing with electronic media and the Internet is all very early, that we're all children in the Internet world.

John Worthington and David Biedny, of StrangeGlow and IDIG, respectively, are very experienced digital media and special effects people. (E.g., John led the original development of Quicktime at Apple and David did many special effects you've seen in popular movies, like Hook and Terminator 2.) They discussed special effects.

John Worthington  David Biedny
John Worthington and David Biedny
They showed some of their favorite effects from old and new movies:

From a sci-fi movie
Sci-fi scene
Did you know Disney's Fantasia was the first stereo movie, requiring special equipment in the theaters, and that it took 40 years to make money?

Coming from the audio world originally, they are very sensitive to the importance of audio. They feel that streaming audio is here today. They say that sound will make up for bad visual quality or poor special effects. (That's why I think you can make your RealSlideshows in small windows to give more bandwidth for sound and more slides. You can always click on a link to see a more detailed picture.)

They say to tell stories with visuals. Use cheap tricks if they work. No need to use the most complicated way. (Lots of examples from real films about analog solutions instead of digital or other corner cutting.) "Do with what you have -- master the tools you've got."

I have posted a RealVideo clip of them showing one person making do with what he had and mastering his tools very well.

Special effects should be used only in context to support the story, not just for its own sake, they stated.

Digital Cookout
Dinner, drinks, and marshmallows around the campfire (outdoors in the cold and dark):

During this time I was on the phone back to the East Coast -- what was left of the hurricane was passing through and I was concerned. It feels cheating to be here while everybody else is dealing with reality.

A few performances -- non-digital in general:

Around the campfire
A picture taken with a flash (sorry!)
You can watch a streaming RealVideo clip of this and the Bootcamp stories (note that the campfire stuff was too dark for my camera and is almost all black -- enjoy the sound of the speakers' and audience enthusiasm). Also, Derrick Story has a digital story of the bootcamp (and his entire trip) in his webreview.com article.

Stories from the Digital Bootcamp
Before and after the Festival, Joe Lambert and Nina Mullen run a bootcamp to make digital stories. We watched what was done earlier in the week.

Not as emotional as the professional stuff (and done in much, much less time), but very entertaining. No hankies for me this time. All run as movies with voice-overs.

Player screen
About to start the player
Will I be what I thought I'd be when I grow up?

Girl and doll
A scene
Marc did one asking "Why do I like mowing the lawn?"

Why Do I Mow?
Title slide
Here he is with his newly purchased mower, weedwhacker, and blower:

Mark and equipment
What I learned this evening
I'm struck with what regular people can produce in just a few days with professional tools and intensive training. Quite good, and if you they were people you knew well and loved, it would be (emotionally) even more spectacular. (Don't forget to watch the video I mention a few paragraphs above showing parts of some of these!)

Then I think about the tools that are not for professionals, but rather for regular people. Tools like Trellix Web and RealSlideshow that I'm using to tell my stories of this Festival. I'm producing lots of "video minute" equivalents of content in a fraction of the time. They spent two solid days learning their tools and techniques to put together 3 minutes with help. I know, from our usability testing, that regular Windows users can learn enough about tools like ours in an hour or two on their own to make meaningful web sites. All of this web site up to this point took me 3 days of work, but that was in addition to attending the Festival from morning to 10 at night, traveling all day, and talking on the phone for business. (Well, I did sacrifice some sleep, but I'm having trouble with that at this altitude anyway.)

When discussing interactivity with Dana, he told me that the interactivity that excites him was the ability for non-professionals, regular people, to interact with the computer easily to tell their stories (remember, every human has worthwhile stories to tell...) -- to express them in digital form. I see why he invited me to show our stuff as well as companies like HearthStory.com and RealNetworks. I understand more why I like what we've done at Trellix.

Dana's desire to have people easily tell stories during an event without professional training is a change from what Dave Winer observed when he attended two years ago (see my "Deciding to attend the Festival" for more information about Dave's report). Given Dave's work with weblogs, he would have felt more at home this year, with its coverage of personal web pages, and emphasis on the coverage by me, Shelley, and Heath. The main difference is Dave's lack of use of pictures and sound (something I assume will change over time as the tools and equipment improve). But stories are stories, and even in just text they can be moving and informative if you can write well.

That's it for today! I can't believe this was all in one day. Time to go back and put it up on the web. A few hours later, it'll be there...
(For another person's view of this afternoon, watch Shelley McIntyre's slideshow. RealPlayer G2 required. Also, don't forget Heath Row's material from Sep 12-18.)

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