James DeRuvo, Film and Technology Reporter, DoddleNEWS
Griffin Hammond, Documentary Filmmaker, (independent)
Scott Page, CEO, Ignited Network
Maxim Jago, Director, MaximJago.com
James DeRuvo, Film and Technology Reporter, DoddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight The Buzz we look at how to build your audience. Whether you’re a filmmaker, musician, podcaster or other creative individual, we are all looking to reach more people.
Larry Jordan: We start with Griffin Hammond. He’s a documentary filmmaker with a successful podcast. Tonight, he talks about his podcast, what he does to grow his audience and how he defines success.
Larry Jordan: Scott Page, professional musician and entrepreneur, shares how to use social media to discover who is actually in your audience, how to find more of them, and the tools we can use to reach them.
Larry Jordan: Filmmaker Maxim Jago looks at the potential for 360 VR to create new audiences for filmmakers. He explains what this new technology is, and how we can use it to create new captivating content.
Larry Jordan: All this, plus James DeRuvo with our weekly DoddleNEWS update, plus a report from this week’s SIGGRAPH. The Buzz starts now.
Announcer: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking – authoritative – one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals – current – uniting industry experts – production – filmmakers – post production – and content creators around the planet – distribution. From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, the Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: Welcome to the Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry, covering media production, post production and marketing around the world.
Larry Jordan: Hi, my name is Larry Jordan. There are two sides to any creative project. On one hand is the artist or team of artists that create the work, and the other is the audience that appreciates the work and, ideally, pays for it. Both of these are essential to the creative process. So this week we look at how to find and build our audience. Our guests have lots of ideas on how to use today’s technology to identify, attract and grow an audience. We look at filmmaking, podcasts and music, as well as new social media tools that we can use to find and expand our fan base, and revenue.
Larry Jordan: Also, this week was the annual SIGGRAPH conference and expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center. DoddleNEWS reporter James DeRuvo attended the show and has a report for us on the latest computer graphics, and interactive technology.
Larry Jordan: By the way, I want to invite you to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Every issue, every week provides quick links to the different segments on the show, plus articles of interest to filmmakers. Best of all it’s free, and comes out every Saturday.
Larry Jordan: Now it’s time for a DoddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo. Hello James.
James DeRuvo: Hello Larry.
Larry Jordan: So what’s happening today guy?
James DeRuvo: Boy, this summer I’ve put so many miles on my feet, it’s just ridiculous. This whole week is SIGGRAPH so we’re going to be talking about that later in the episode, but there’s big news coming out of RED this week. We finally got to see a first look of the RED Hydrogen One android mobile device. It’s got a 5.7 inch four view holographic display. We still don’t know what it looks like yet. RED has been really quiet on letting anybody see what the display looks like but we get to see the faces of people that are looking at the displays and they’re just gobsmacked. They can’t believe that’s what the display is. That’s very exciting to see. It’s got a carbon fiber case and these really cool notched sides to make it easier to hold which I think is really good design. But the killer feature is modular accessories that attach magnetically to the Hydrogen’s back. These modules which are referred to as Moto Mods on steroids, will enable them to connect everything from higher quality lenses to built in light leader. The sky is the limit for 360 degree cameras and that’s what gets me excited for android devices for the first time in my life.
Larry Jordan: You said RED was making a lot of news this week. What did they announce with Apple?
James DeRuvo: With Apple they announced a strategic partnership whereby the Apple Store will exclusively carry the RED Raven cinema camera kit. You may remember the RED Raven’s 4.5K camera, it came and went and we didn’t know what happened to it. Now it’s going to be at the Apple Store exclusively and at the Apple website. For around $11-12,000, you’ll get everything you need to hit the ground running and make a movie.
Larry Jordan: That’s RED. What other news do we have?
James DeRuvo: Got some bad news for 3D lovers out there as IMAX has started to back away from showing 3D movies in IMAX theatres. Starting with Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk,’ which is a really good movie by the way, IMAX will not show full length feature films in 3D IMAX. It’ll be 2D moving forward. ‘Blade Runner 2049’ will be the next movie to follow, and it’s also going to be in 2D. It looks like IMAX is going to be shifting their focus towards their virtual reality centers, the first of which is their Los Angeles location which has surpassed all expectations for ticket sales, averaging about $15,000 a week for immersive virtual reality experiences. IMAX plans to open up new centers in New York, Shanghai, China, and Manchester, UK.
Larry Jordan: What do you think this decisions means for the long term health of stereoscopic 3D?
James DeRuvo: As I’ve been saying for a while, 3D has, always and will be kind of a gimmicky presentation, and it has become clear to audiences that studios were just doing it so that they can add additional ticket prices and charge them. However, when 4K and Dolby Atmos arrived on the scene, suddenly those 3D ticket sales started to drop quickly. That IMAX is dropping 3D indicates to me at least that the medium is finally dying.
Larry Jordan: That’s IMAX, what’s our third big story this week?
James DeRuvo: AMD is launching a studio based in Hollywood, it was announced at the Sunday night Keynote for SIGGRAPH. It will be a creative space much like RED Studios which is just down the street, and it will enable filmmakers and technology developers to work on film, virtual and augmented reality productions with the focus on editing and rendering.
Larry Jordan: AMD was making a lot of news this week at SIGGRAPH, so what I’d like to do, if it’s OK with you, is let’s just take a short break and we can come back and have a more detailed report on the big news out of SIGGRAPH. Does that work for you?
James DeRuvo: Oh we’ve got a lot to talk about.
Larry Jordan: Chat with you in just a second.
Larry Jordan: We’re back with James DeRuvo the senior writer for DoddleNEWS and James, what are the highlights from SIGGRAPH this week?
James DeRuvo: I got a lot of ground to cover in both hardware and software, so let’s get right into it. Blackmagic Design announced Fusion 9. It has new tools that harnesses OpenCL and your computer’s GPU for keying, planar tracking and camera tracking, virtual reality and Fusion will also have multi user collaboration from anywhere around the world.
James DeRuvo: Meanwhile Red Giant announced the Trapcode 14, a major update that will add 11 new 3D motion graphics and digital effects tools, including OpenGL, GPU acceleration which everybody seems to be doing, as well as combining systems for complex 3D visual effects and rendering. Maxon has updated Cinema 4D expanding into more virtual reality tools and a host of rendering tools using, you guessed it, OpenCL, OpenEXR and DDS.
Larry Jordan: Well that’s on the software side. What hardware news did we get?
James DeRuvo: On the hardware side of the coin, fresh off announcing their new studio, AMD also showed off their new RX Vega GPU which RED’s Jarred Land says shows that AMD is ready to kick some ass in visual effects. The RX Vega will come in two different versions. The smaller cut down 800Mhz, Vega 56, and the full size Vega 64 which will start clocking at 945Mhz. That’s going to be a beast.
James DeRuvo: Not to be left out though, NVIDIA showed off their new external graphics chassis. Dubbed the eGPU, this new chassis will be able to work with both Titan GTX and Quadro 5000 series video cards for desktop level 3D performance in visual editing, visual effects, rendering and of course, video games. Don’t think we didn’t notice that cheese grater Mac Pro design for the case either Larry.
Larry Jordan: Interesting. Well what other software news caught your eye?
James DeRuvo: I have one more hardware thing. This is what really grabbed my attention. HP has a cool new backpack. It’s a wireless virtual reality PC that you wear on your back. It’s designed for industrial application, and weighs about ten pounds and is driven by Intel 7th generation core i7 processors with NVIDIA Quadro GPUs. 16 gigabytes of GDDR RAM and it can double as a workstation thanks to a dock accessory. Basically you wear this on your back, you plug in your favorite HTC Vive, or Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, and you’re in a virtual world. It was designed for industrial design, so you could literally design a car in real flies rather than virtually. Well, it’s virtually but it’s virtually but in big scale. It got me thinking. Imagine what we could do with that in Hollywood. You could have actors rehearsing in the virtual space of the set before it’s even built. You can have directors working out camera angles in virtual space before the set is produced, and a production designer can literally design the set like he’s building it for real, wearing this thing. It could be a potential game changer. It looks really exciting. Oh, and video gamers could probably play with it too.
Larry Jordan: What’s the benefit of wearing it? If you’re designing something, you’re using the mouse and a keyboard to create. When you’re wearing it you’re just playing it back aren’t you?
James DeRuvo: It’s total mobility. It’s the tactile nature of using the virtual reality controls and being able to move and not be tied to your computer. Especially with the Oculus, you currently have a choice of being wired to your computer to look at virtual reality, or you have to rely on a mobile device like the HTC Vive. However, if you can wear it on your back, then you’re bringing your computer with you wherever you go in virtual space, and so you’re literally no longer chained to the desk.
Larry Jordan: Interesting. James, for people that want more information, where can they go to keep up with the latest news in our industry?
James DeRuvo: All these stories and more can be found at Doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the senior writer for Doddlenews.com and James, thanks for joining us, we’ll chat with you again next week.
James DeRuvo: Talk to you next week about Comic-Con I hope.
Larry Jordan: That will be fun. Talk to you soon. Take care, bye bye.
James DeRuvo: Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Here’s another website I want to introduce you to. Doddlenews.com. DoddleNEWS gives you a portal into the broadcast, video and film industries. It’s a leading online resource, presenting news, reviews and products for the film and video industry. DoddleNEWS also offers a resource guide and crew management platforms specifically designed for production. These digital call sheets, along with their app, directory and premium listings, provide in depth organizational tools for busy production professionals. DoddleNEWS is a part of the Thalo Arts Community, a worldwide community of artists, filmmakers and storytellers. From photography to filmmaking, performing arts to fine arts, and everything in between, Thalo is filled with resources you need to succeed. Whether you want the latest industry news, need to network with other creative professionals or require state of the art online tools to manage your next project, there’s only one place to go. Doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: Griffin Hammond is a documentary filmmaker in New York City known for producing do it yourself filmmaking tutorials for indie filmmakers, plus his award winning documentary, Sriracha. He’s working for Bloomberg TV and MSNBC and is the brand ambassador for the brand new Panasonic GH5 camera. But he’s also a podcaster, which is what we want to talk to him about today. Hello Griffin, welcome.
Griffin Hammond: Hello Larry, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: It is always a pleasure having you on the show. Griffin the last time you were on we were talking about filmmaking, but today however, we’re looking at ways that we can build our audience, and I want to focus on your podcasts. What kind of podcasts are you creating?
Griffin Hammond: My podcast is called ‘Hey Indie Filmmakers,’ and I do it with my childhood friend and tech genius, Nick Bodmer and we’re on episode 28 now. We just talk about behind the scenes filmmaking, our stories, our experience. And we answer a lot of listener questions.
Larry Jordan: Why did you decide to start the podcast?
Griffin Hammond: Mostly because I was getting so many emails and Tweets and Facebook messages with filmmaking questions and I felt like it was kind of a waste to answer these in a vacuum, to just one person when there’s probably a lot of people that could be benefitting from the answers.
Larry Jordan: What are typical subjects?
Griffin Hammond: We’ll talk about DSLR and mirrorless camera filmmaking, we’ll talk about lighting, audio and editing techniques. I mean people have questions about every aspect of making a film.
Larry Jordan: Is it more about the creative process of making a film? Or is it more about the technical side of it?
Griffin Hammond: We try to talk about all of it. That’s the great thing about a podcast format, that we have time. We spend about 45 minutes in each episode, so some of the episodes we’ve talked about storytelling techniques and I talk about Dan Harmon’s Story Circle that I use to craft a narrative. And then sometimes we’re talking completely technical details.
Larry Jordan: How often do you produce a show?
Griffin Hammond: It’s once a week. It comes out every Wednesday, so we started at the beginning of the year and we just published episode 28 this week.
Larry Jordan: Is this something that you’re self-funding, do you have sponsors? Do people subscribe? Or is it at Sam Ervin used to say, an eleemosynary institution?
Griffin Hammond: It is self funded mostly. We do have sponsors for some episodes, but I mostly just thought this would be a good investment in my audience and just a way to give back and share what I’ve learned.
Larry Jordan: Is it audio or video?
Griffin Hammond: I started it with the idea that it would be mostly audio, although because my audience is primarily on YouTube, I thought I would film the first couple of episodes and we could kind of move some people from YouTube over to iTunes and other podcast platforms. But it became pretty quickly apparent with my audience that they want to watch it. They like watching me on YouTube. They don’t really want to change that, so we’ve made it our routine to shoot all of them, so they’re all video and audio.
Larry Jordan: You’ve mentioned your audience. How did you attract an audience which is what I want to focus on?
Griffin Hammond: Yes. I mean, I think it starts with making content that’s useful and helpful to people. I think that’s what’s been so great about YouTube as a platform for building an audience is that so many people turn to YouTube for answers to filmmaking questions. They turn to you for editing techniques, and I mean you can learn everything about filmmaking online, especially on YouTube, so people are already looking for answers there, and I think when you provide useful information, when you share what you’ve learned, people gravitate towards that.
Larry Jordan: I don’t believe that’s a true statement because I have put videos on YouTube and man they have disappeared without a trace and I’ve put other videos on YouTube and suddenly I’ve got 150,000 views in a week and a half. So content is part of it, but I think we also have to focus on more than just simply posting stuff that we think the audience is interested in. How do you attract an audience? Or are you just throwing it out there and hoping somebody’s going to stumble over it?
Griffin Hammond: You can’t just throw it out there and hope that strangers find it, you have to promote it. And the best way, I think if you look at like Kevin Allocca works for Google, for YouTube trends, and he says that one of the biggest things that leads to a viral video, although my stuff’s not going viral, but the common denominator is something he calls pacemakers, which is the idea that you need someone bigger than you to talk about this thing. So I think most of the videos that I’ve made that have done really well are because I made them for my 65,000 subscriber audience on YouTube, but some of those people may have bigger followings than me, and they may share it with their following. But then, maybe it lands in nofilmschool.com or some other online publication. You need someone with that audience to spread it. That seems to be where much of my audiences come from.
Larry Jordan: Do you do any advertising or actually spend money to support it?
Griffin Hammond: I haven’t, and I’m told I probably should for the podcast. The podcast can grow pretty effectively through advertising. But I don’t know, I’m comfortable with the level of growth I’m at right now.
Larry Jordan: You say you’re comfortable at the level of growth, are you growing, and if so, what’s your rate of growth?
Griffin Hammond: For the podcast, I don’t think I’m growing rapidly. Like I said, I have about 65,000 subscribers on YouTube, and the podcast episodes get anywhere between five and 10,000 views on YouTube, and then they’ll get another few thousand listens. We’re tracking those metrics through Podtrac, but I think what’s interesting about the podcast versus tutorial videos is if I make a really tightly scripted three minute wonderful tutorial video, that has the potential to attract anywhere from 25,000 to 100,000 views on YouTube. The podcast has a much smaller, weekly audience but it’s a much more intimate audience. They’re listening for 45 minutes, and they’re getting to know me a lot better, so I think the numbers look smaller, but the engagement time is a lot bigger. And I think that can be valuable for really connecting with the audience.
Larry Jordan: Are you sponsoring this? Are you having ads run? And if so, are you picking the ads, or are you just taking the run of the mill that YouTube provides?
Griffin Hammond: For YouTube, yes I’m just doing ads and letting YouTube run ads on it. But we do have sponsors for some episodes, and so we’ll just work with sponsors to come up with a dollar amount for a 30 second pre roll or mid roll ads is what we’ve been doing.
Larry Jordan: Do you do any marketing to social media?
Griffin Hammond: My primary way of reaching audiences is through YouTube, that’s where most of my subscribers are. And their subscription model works really well where people click subscribe and they’re notified every time I make a video, so that does the lion’s share of my work for me, but a lot of my audience is also on Instagram, and some people are on Twitter in my world, so I make sure I use those platforms as well. I try to share things on Instagram every time I have a new video and tweet about it. But I’m not sure that’s doing a lot.
Larry Jordan: So you’re basically marketing it through word of mouth, and hoping that your 65,000 subscribers are telling friends to check it out?
Griffin Hammond: Yes. I think that is primarily how I’ve been noticed. I think people have discovered me that way, and also I’ve been doing filmmaking workshops around the world this year, so I mention that. I think anytime someone encounters me, maybe they saw a tutorial video I made a year ago, and they send me an email with a question and I’ll let them know that I have the podcast as well. But I think what I’ve found in my career is that I put out a diverse set of work. I make a lot of videos about a lot of different things. Some of them are really tightly edited videos, some of them are these long form podcast videos, and they all have a return on investment. They all come back with opportunities and audience later, so I think people may be discovering me through my back catalog of work and then they realize I’m doing this podcast.
Larry Jordan: I have discovered that stuff on YouTube has a long tail. People will watch stuff that was posted a long time ago. Then they’ll ask questions about why I haven’t updated that video.
Griffin Hammond: Right.
Larry Jordan: What kind of gear are you using to produce the show?
Griffin Hammond: Pretty simple stuff for the podcast. I shoot everything that I do on a Panasonic GH5 mirrorless camera, and I also happen to be the brand ambassador for that camera, so I have a good relationship with Panasonic. But I’m not even sure I need such a nice camera for the podcast. I actually shoot that in 1080 for video, because it doesn’t need to be in 4K even though most of my projects are. Then for most of my work, I use a Rode NTG3 shotgun microphone, and I’ll use that to record the podcast when I’m on the road. When I’m at home, I’ll actually use a studio microphone and actually I keep a whole list of my gear on my website.
Larry Jordan: So you’re posting this, you’re not streaming it? It’s not a live presentation? You’re shooting it, editing it and then posting the finished result correct?
Griffin Hammond: Right, and a lot of people have questions about the software we’re using to do this, and it’s actually pretty simple. I film myself in New York City, my co-host films himself in Las Vegas, he sends me the footage over the internet, and I just edit it together in Final Cut. So we’re just using Apple Facetime audio to listen to each other while we do it. We’re not using live streaming software or anything.
Larry Jordan: Very cool. Griffin, for people that want more information, where can they go on the web?
Griffin Hammond: I have a website at griffinhammond.com where people can find my videos and they’ll find the podcast, it’s called ‘Hey Indie Filmmakers.’
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, griffinhammond.com. Griffin Hammond is a filmmaker in New York City, and Griffin thanks for joining us today.
Griffin Hammond: Thank you Larry.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Scott Page is a musician, technologist and serial entrepreneur. He currently serves as the CEO of Ignited Network, a mobile broadcast network focused on content creators, and he’s widely toured as a professional musician. Hello Scott, welcome back.
Scott Page: Hi Larry, good to talk to you my friend.
Larry Jordan: I am looking forward to it, because you have got more good ideas per spare minute than anybody I’ve ever met. Let’s get ourselves started. Today we’re looking at ways to build our audience. You and your website Ignited Network, have been working on this whole idea of audience building for some time, so looking at it from a high level, how do we find our audience?
Scott Page: I think the most important thing today is most people think they can just throw something out there and everybody will show up. But today with all the technology and the data analytics means you can actually go find your audience. So the days of just throwing it out there are over, and it’s really knowing who the audience and the behaviors you’re looking for, and then being able to target them. What’s great is, there’s a lot of technologies that allow for that.
Scott Page: One of the most important things for anybody to really understand is where everybody thought social media and stuff was kind of a marketing engine, in reality it’s really your business today. We’re moving from the traditional kind of media distributions to a operator owner direct to consumer model, and it’s finally really happening. What people don’t realize is sitting in the palm of their hand is their broadcast network and their direct connect to their fans.
Larry Jordan: It sounds like the whole concept of Field of Dreams, if you build it they will come, doesn’t work anymore?
Scott Page: Really doesn’t. I mean, it’s so hard to find and get yourself out there to rise above the noise. Although I believe this is the greatest time in history for the independent artist, especially one that is really serious about building and growing their business and learning the new techniques, because you can build your audience. I think we talked about this before, the whole idea of the thousand true fan model. A true fan is somebody who’ll spend $100 a year on you. If I have 1,000 of those people, there’s my first $100,000 in revenue. So thinking in those terms, especially for the independent without all the middle men and everything in between, it actually can start being pretty lucrative.
Scott Page: But it is really about finding and targeting that audience, and one of the things that’s really important for the audience to understand is, people do not buy products. It’s really behaviors do. So it’s learning how to identify and find those specific type of behaviors. All this technology that allows us to go and find this particular audience.
Larry Jordan: Wait, last time I checked, I don’t have a single behavior on my customer list. What do you mean behaviors buy products?
Scott Page: Well, let’s face it. Today we’re completely transparent whether we like it or not. Certain people buy certain products, at specific times. They follow specific kinds of people. They do specific kinds of behavior. So an example would be, I’m a big Twitter user. I look for people that have specific kinds of behaviors. Ones that retweet posts all the time. Or they constantly will retweet and like a post three or four times. At least that kind of thing. So you start seeing the behaviors, how they operate. The whole idea is really trying to look and find your super fan.
Scott Page: Who are the super fans out there? An example is, I’m out every day. Right now I’m currently doing roughly 75 to 100 video replies where I’m replying back to people that have followed me, based upon a certain set of behaviors, when I look for specific things that they do. If I put a post up, and I see those same people constantly retweeting and then going in and liking three or four of my posts, I know that those people are engaged at the right level. So then I start to reach out to them, in order to start to build the relationship because today, let’s face it, the money’s in the relationship. You build a relationship with the people that are specially interested in what you’re doing, then you can actually generate the revenue.
Larry Jordan: So Scott what it sounds like you’re saying is that you’re using behaviors more than demographics or psychographics as the screening mechanism to find out who your most actively engaged customers are?
Scott Page: Absolutely.
Larry Jordan: What the behavior is is a flag for you so you can contact one on one with the individual that’s generating that behavior?
Scott Page: Yes, absolutely. That behavior, which is interesting, could be somebody that’s 17 years old or 75 years old. It doesn’t really matter. So it’s very interesting in that way of looking at it. That actually came through our behavioral scientist that we use. It’s actually very fascinating.
Larry Jordan: A lot of us have to earn a living, which means that if we’re on Twitter all the time, and we’re focused on social networks all the time, it takes time away from the creative side of our company and the other business things we need to do. How do we balance and is it all social media focused?
Scott Page: Here’s the thing. Sorry everybody, there’s no way around it, it’s work. It’s a bunch of gigs. Like I said, I get up every day and I start working at what I’m doing like the 75 to 100 replies back, and it’s mainly because I’m building an audience, getting ready to launch my network, so I’m starting to put my people and folks together that I think will really care. The good news is, there are a lot of new things that are starting to happen in the sense of technology, of using automation. Automation is something that can help you like crazy.
Scott Page: Also chatbots, so we’re starting to move into this whole world of AI. It doesn’t mean you’re putting robots on your messaging, but it really is a way of helping you manage your network. Unfortunately, there’s really no way around it. But what’s good is, once you start learning how this works, you actually start to train the algorithms out there that help you find and do your audience. An example is in Twitter, Twitter has a whole set of algorithms and it’s looking for certain types of behaviors and once it finds those behaviors, it starts to promote your posts. In other words, you have to go in and train the algorithms by doing certain specific tasks. Once you do that, then the Twitter starts to really help you promote and find your audience and do specific things. But in the beginning, it’s a lot of work, there’s no way around it, but there are architectures that allow you to do this and find your audience.
Larry Jordan: Scott, I’m a filmmaker, I’m not an AI scientist. What tools do I use and does it require an engineering degree from MIT to be able to use these things?
Scott Page: Actually not. Remember you have to go to school, there’s no way around this. To really take advantage of the opportunity there, you have to go and you got to put the time in, just like making your film. I work with a lot of music artists, and I say “Look, you’ve got to start making this whole idea, finding, reaching and marketing to your audience as much of the process as making the music and doing the stuff you’re doing, otherwise you’re going to get lost in the seas.” There are varieties of tools. There’s one that’s called IFTTT which is an ‘if then else’ kind of idea. It will do processes for you that you can automate, like do specific tasks and find certain things and send notifications. You can go to IFTTT.com and look into that.
Larry Jordan: What was the name of that tool? Go really slowly so we can hear the letters.
Scott Page: It’s IFTTT.
Larry Jordan: That website is IFTTT.com and Scott, what other tools are available?
Scott Page: There’s all kinds of different tools we use in analytics. Even using the tools inside Twitter to look at the Twitter analytics, but learning how to actually read those analytics, and understand how to do it. One way for targeting an audience, and that’s really like knowing who your competitors are and go follow their followers, especially if you’re thinking about it on Twitter, and I really recommend Twitter as being one of the great business tools, especially for content creators. They just don’t really understand it. But the idea is you find your competitors, you go in, you follow 500 of their fans, wait two days, the ones that don’t follow you back, you delete, and then you keep doing that, so that way you can pick up 2-300 fans every couple of days.
Larry Jordan: What are your other top tools that we should look at?
Scott Page: We use varieties of tools for managing your networks, like Hootsuite, there’s Sprout Social is a great one. That’s a paid one, they all actually have paid models. Buffer is another great one for helping you deal with the audience. Those are automation tools that you can basically use for that. Then there’s some real advanced tools and stuff that are out there, but that I would not suggest getting into because it gets too deep and way expensive. Those tools right there, for managing your network, and also using the automation, and then I would suggest that your audience starts reading up on chatbots because chatbots will allow you to communicate with your audience without you having to be there. So there’s a variety of them on Facebook, there’s a whole series of chatbots that you can get and you can program those to basically help manage the conversation between you and the folks out there.
Larry Jordan: Where does Ignited Network fit into this whole situation?
Scott Page: Ignited is really a super fan network concept. In other words, it’s a broadcast media network, but it also has the ways to manage your audiences find and target that specific audience. So think of it like a combination between Facebook Live, Netflix, and a Reddit, which is the conversation. So what we’ve done is we’ve built a platform that takes every piece of media and turns it into a conversation. It’s got a pay wall on the front of it, so you think of yourself like a cable network, cable channel. When you launch your network, the interesting part is when you plug in all your social media, we run all the algorithms against your audience and find your super fans for you. So we find those behaviors and we say, “These are the people you need to spend time with.” Then you can invite them to your network, but they have to pay. So our model is, it’s a subscription business. I think we’re seeing more and more subscriptions coming on line now than ever if you look at the data. We’re moving in that direction. So it’s really a way for you to manage your network, upload your content, control your content.
Scott Page: One of the unique features about our network is when you start a live video stream, you can stream across Twitter, Facebook and YouTube all at the same time. So this allows you to funnel people. An example would be, I can start a broadcast on a specific topic or a show or whatever, and I can start pumping it out over all the public networks, but then I can use that as a funnel and say “Hey, if you want to come to the after show, click here and come over,” and then they go through a workflow, get the application, and now they’re into your private network. And those are the people that pay. Because what we know is, really the money’s in the one to five percent of your total audience. Roughly, when we’ve looked at the data, it’s around 60 to 70 percent of your money will come from five percent of your audience. So it’s really identifying those audiences and targeting those folks and getting them in through the funnels, and bringing them in. So Ignited is kind of a new broadcast network, it’s a mobile platform, and it’s created for content creators. And actually film people, guys that make content, it’s a perfect type of network for them.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information, where do they go on the web?
Scott Page: Well we’ve been in public beta now, but you can go to ignited.live.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, ignited.live, not .com, ignited.live. Scott Page is the CEO
of Ignited Network, and Scott, thanks for joining us.
Scott Page: Thank you very much Larry.
Larry Jordan: I want to introduce you to a new website, Thalo.com. Thalo is an artist community and networking site for creative people to connect, be inspired and showcase their creativity. Thalo.com features content from around the world with a global perspective on all things creative. Thalo is the place for creative folks to learn, collaborate, market and sell their works. Thalo is a part of Thalo Arts, a worldwide community of artists, filmmakers and storytellers. From photography to filmmaking, performing arts to fine arts, and everything in between, Thalo is filled with the resources you need to succeed. Visit Thalo.com and discover how their community can help you connect, learn and succeed. That’s Thalo.com.
Larry Jordan: Maxim Jago is a film director, screen writer and author who splits his time between filmmaking and speaking as a futurist, especially at events celebrating creativity. He’s also the chief innovation officer at filmdoo.com and a mentor for new filmmakers. Hello Maxim, welcome.
Maxim Jago: Hi Larry, how are you?
Larry Jordan: I am talking to you and I’m going to have a great time. This week we’re looking at ways to build an audience, and one of them is to adopt new technology. And one of the newest trends is 360 VR. What’s your take on this technology?
Maxim Jago: Well you know, there’s a ton of buzz about it, and part of that buzz is being generated of course by the manufacturers, because they want you to buy their stuff. But I think most of the buzz is legitimate. It’s a really significant new medium that allows new ways to tell stories, that are engaging in a way that people I don’t think have experienced before.
Larry Jordan: Well one of the challenges we have with 360 VR is it flies in the face of all traditional storytelling. In storytelling generally, we are working really hard to have the audience see exactly what we want them to see, and not see what we don’t want them to see, and that’s the exact opposite. 360 VR is showing us everything all the time. Can we use it for storytelling or is it much more for experiences?
Maxim Jago: I think that’s a great temptation with this kind of technology, and if you look at some of the early iterations of content, it was all things like people skiing or jumping off things or stuff that you couldn’t safely do in person. But you could do it in VR and 360 video. But as the technology is maturing, and as our use of it is maturing, I think we’re beginning to discover that you can do genuine narrative based storytelling. But the mechanism is a little bit different. I would say that the manner in which you tell stories with 360 and VR is more like immersive theater than it’s like traditional 2D filmmaking, and if you think about the ways that you can control the perspective of the audience, their expectations, what they look at, what they observe, it really is much more like immersive theater where you’re using visual cues to attract their attention rather than just fixing their gaze.
Larry Jordan: So it’s more like theater in the round than traditional filmmaking?
Maxim Jago: Absolutely. But more than just theater in the round. There’s some fantastic companies like Secret Cinema in the UK, there was Sleep No More in New York, these are organizations where you, or in fact Escape Rooms which are a new phenomenon, these are experiences where things are happening all around you and what’s interesting is that both with 360 video and with true VR experiences you can have some interaction. You can have different narratives emerge based on what you happen to look at. Or you can have some basic interaction, a little bit like software where a little glowing dot will appear and if you focus your gaze on it, you choose another narrative. Or for example, characters can behave in different ways. So it’s not just a passive storytelling experience. It’s actually something that you’re participating in.
Larry Jordan: One of the other changes that we’ve seen recently is YouTube has modified this from 360 down to 180, simply to reflect that people look at where they’re staring straight ahead, and ignore that which is behind them. Is this a new version of VR, or just simply an easier way to perceive it?
Maxim Jago: Yes, it’s really interesting. As we develop these technologies, we have to agree on the names of things, and there’s a friend of mine in London, Tanya Laird, she’s a real expert on this stuff. She was saying that anything that involves you turning your head in different directions constitutes 360 video, even if it isn’t 360 degrees. And what we’re discovering is, as you say, that people don’t often want to look behind themselves, but they do want that feeling of being able to turn their heads a little bit in different directions to focus on different aspects of the story.
Maxim Jago: So we’re seeing platforms like YouTube supporting this, Vimeo of course has adopted it now. We’re seeing different players for the content. But the technology used to display the content can take one set of limitations, but also dramatically in terms of storytelling, we’re finding that actually nobody wants to look that way anyway, so let’s focus the story in front. In fact, doing that solves a key production challenge, which is that if you do shoot full 360 video, you have to stitch together multiple video streams, and because of the way lenses work, because of the way light works, that means that you’re always going to have a stitching line of some kind, somewhere in the picture. Which, depending on the media, could be visible, it’s certainly going to produce some post production problems. But by shooting a limited range of vision, you can actually do this with a single lens and that opens up the use of a lot more cameras, and it makes post production much easier, gives you better image quality, and we’re finding that the audiences don’t really care.
Larry Jordan: I find it interesting that the audience does not want to turn around and see what’s behind them. I think that’s a very interesting comment.
Maxim Jago: It’s a bit like one of those books, the novels where, when I was a kid, you get to the end of a paragraph and it says, “Do you want to open the door on the left, or the door on the right?” And “Turn to this page, or turn to that page” and what you end up doing is putting your fingers and thumbs all through the pages so you can backtrack and see what happens. Of course if you’ve got 360 video, and I’ve experienced this myself in some immersive experiences, there is this fear that somehow you’re going to miss something important, and you often do miss something good. Partly because the filmmakers aren’t giving you the visual cues that you need to know where to look, and auditory cues as well. So it’s a nascent storytelling technology.
Maxim Jago: We’re still working out the rules, but generally our necks don’t work that way. There are some interesting technologies that allow you to walk around the space. If you look at the HTC Vive, we’re now hearing about obviously Oculus Rift and each of them having trackers, HP have just announced a backpack computing system that you need for more powerful systems, particularly things like Starbreeze’s StarVR headset which is very high resolution and provides an even more immersive experience and even wider vision. But if you’re sitting down in a regular chair, it’s quite difficult to look exactly behind yourself. And so in terms of narrative, in terms of storytelling, it may be unnecessary to provide that experience, which is not the same as a true VR experience, where you’re walking around an environment. In that situation, you’re going to produce a full 360 experience anyway, it’s a different type of journey.
Larry Jordan: Now that we’ve got ourselves figured out with 360 VR, how do we get an audience for it?
Maxim Jago: This is the big challenge. If you look at the development of any new technology, there’s a kind of push me, pull me between the size of the audience and the amount of media available, and the standards of the technology as it develops. There is no easy solution to that. We’re seeing now that there are millions of users with VR headsets, and because YouTube provided support for some form of 360 video, and we saw with things like Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear, that there are ways of using your smartphone to access the content, we saw a little bit of an explosion, a miniplosion, of potential audience, and I think that gave a lot of confidence to people working in distribution. Now, recently, the Oculus Rift went down to $399, and we’re seeing the costs of this technology going down. For me, the critical threshold is when a technology hits about $300. When that happens, it becomes a truly consumer product and you’ll see a bigger uptake.
Maxim Jago: Obviously we’ve got the PlayStation VR and we’ve got the HoloLens from Microsoft. All these technologies are coming along and it could seem like the competing technologies would be incompatible with one another, but thankfully the standards for the media are pretty much universal. So as long as somebody has some kind of headset, you can produce content for them, and we’re seeing all of the major media companies investing heavily in producing content, and that creates that eco system of content and demand for the content. The short answer is, right now the audience is relatively small, but I think you’re going to see over time a continual ramp up. Not all kinds of content is right for VR, and not all kinds of content will be right for flat screens, and so this is a new medium, it’s not really a direct competition for the beauty of good cinematography.
Larry Jordan: It seems to me that short term, the next few months at least, the most viable projects are one where you’re producing it for a client who has a built in audience, as opposed to just creating raw content and throwing it out there and trying to get people to attend, because so few people have the gear necessary to view it. Is that a true statement, or am I looking at it too narrowly?
Maxim Jago: No I think you’re absolutely in the right direction. Some of the most powerful experiences are those where it’s a dedicated set up. The perfect example is that first foray into VR by IMAX. I visited the one in Los Angeles recently, and they’ve got a number of different booths where you have a number of different experiences. For me, the most interesting was again the StarVR headset. It requires really powerful computing, but it gives you this very high resolution screen that I would say is the next generation VR headset, and so it’s worth going to IMAX for that experience. We’re seeing James Cameron talking about developing experiences, Spielberg is, they’re all talking about these things where you go to a place to have an experience. Sort of like a halfway house between going to a theme park and going to the cinema and I definitely see demand for that. But at the same time, people are used to accessing content on any screen these days.
Maxim Jago: We’ve just heard from RED that they’re about to release a holographic smartphone of some kind. Nobody is talking about the screen, they haven’t shown it to anybody, but if RED’s history is anything to go by, it’s going to be phenomenal. And I think we’ll begin to see greater and greater demand, again, as the screens become more available. If you look way back at the take up for HD, a big tipping point for that was the PlayStation. I think it was the PlayStation 3 supporting HD drove demand for HDTVs and then with the HDTVs in place, people started demanding more and more content. I think that we will see more and more of this happening with 360 video, but of course the cost is so high for you to produce true VR content, it’s possible that that will continue to be more specialist. I would say we’ll be more specialist in the direction that gaming is at home. There’s a lot more gamers than people might imagine, and as the technology becomes more accessible, the experiences become more engaging, we see stronger and stronger demand.
Maxim Jago: I’ve had some phenomenal experiences just with an HTC 5 headset in a small space where you can walk around, just in something the size of a kitchen, and these are experiences that you can have at home for relatively low cost. So it’s a slow burn right now, but as the cost comes down, I think you’ll see it speed up.
Larry Jordan: Some very interesting uses of brand new technology, and new ways to discover audiences for filmmakers. Maxim, for people that want to keep track of who you are and what you’re doing, and what you’re working on, where can they go on the web?
Maxim Jago: Well, thanks for asking, the easiest place is my website, maximjago.com. If you Google me, Maxim Jago, a bunch of stuff will come up, but the website’s probably the best bet.
Larry Jordan: That’s maximjago.com all one word. Maxim, thanks for joining us today. I look forward to talking to you soon.
Maxim Jago: Thank you so much for having me.
Larry Jordan: Take care.
Maxim Jago: Take care, cheers.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: It is fascinating all the different areas that we have to create stories, whether it’s from VR or podcasts, traditional filmmaking or music and the key is to find an audience, and we’ve had some really good ideas today. I want to thank our guests Griffin Hammond, the filmmaker, and Scott Page, musician and entrepreneur, Maxim Jago, the filmmaker, and James DeRuvo, senior writer for DoddleNEWS. It’s fascinating listening to the diversity of options that we have in our industry which is really cool. We’ll come back and visit this again because there’s no reason to have all these wonderful storytelling tools if we don’t attract an audience to take a look at the stories we create, so this is something we’ll be following more on in the future.
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Larry Jordan: Our producer is Debbie Price, my name is Larry Jordan, and thanks for listening to The Digital Production Buzz.
Larry Jordan: The Digital Production Buzz is copyright 2017 by Thalo LLC.