• Published in Film + Web

Facebook's F8 Conference. Photo courtesy developers.facebook.com.

Facebook’s F8 Conference. Photo courtesy developers.facebook.com.

Video hosted and shared on Facebook is changing.

While Facebook has been a valuable marketing tool for films and filmmakers since 2008 when they rolled out Facebook Film (since re-named), Facebook has still been considered a “walled garden” that’s painful to search and continues to play catch-up to many other video delivery networks.

At the first of two days of the F8 Conference, Facebook announced a few worthwhile upgrades that are relevant to filmmakers and, more specifically, anyone uploading video within Facebook instead of embedding or linking another video (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo, etc.).

Here’s what caught our eye in yesterday’s announcement on brand-new ways to use video on Facebook:

  • Until yesterday’s announcement, video uploaded to Facebook was not embeddable on other websites; now it is (documentation); it’s unclear if embed views count toward the view counter
  • You can now “set an expiration date for a video and retain insights after takedown (currently in beta),” which might be a creative tool for filmmakers and other video content providers (read: advertisers)
  • As of yesterday, you can “restrict the audience of a video by age, gender, and location,” which opens up a whole can of worms for why one might do that
  • Playing catch-up with YouTube (which allows only its verified users — a fairly easy process) to pick their own video’s poster frame, Facebook now allows you to “add custom thumbnails for videos” rather than getting stuck with a random frame grab

Here’s a punch-list to get up to speed on how video on Facebook can help filmmakers:

  • Facebook recently provided an optional “call to action” after a video ends, allowing some choice over what to do next (source); they also work for Facebook Pages and include “Book Now,” “Contact Us,” “Use App,” “Play Game,” “Shop Now,” “Sign Up,” and “Watch Video” — all of which allow for leaving Facebook (source)
  • As of December 2014, Facebook has a department called Facebook Media, which promotes the movers and shakers (or business partners?) using Facebook for video
  • As of December 2014, video began to auto-play while muted (source, 12/24/2014); this was followed soon after by 15-second auto-playing video advertisements (source, 3/13/2014)
  • As of December 2014, select Facebook Pages can feature a video front-and-center and also have YouTube-esque playlists (Source, 12/24/2014) but it’s a very slow roll-out for public, non-partner Facebook accounts; this may be fast-tracked in yesterday’s announcement, which says “manage featured videos and playlists for a Page” (source, 3/24/2015)
  • As of May 2014, Facebook began to roll out Video Insights, which show retention per second and other stats (source)

Finally, in rare circumstances, some filmmakers or film companies may be invited to participate in “Facebook Live,” which is essentially a comment box alongside a live-streamed video but isn’t a feature that’s available to the general public:

  • Back in 2008, Facebook featured a creative project by Spike Jonze
  • While there’s now a lot more competition in social viewing experiences (e.g. uStream, LiveStream, etc.), they’ve just recently had video-specific live events for the 2015 Academy Awards and Game of Thrones Season 4 and now Season 5 (aka watching the red carpet premiere), which essentially provided a mini-feed alongside the live-streaming video player

But what’s wrong with all of the above? Show me the money.

What’s still missing from Facebook is monetization. Facebook “likes” and “views” may appear to be good, but still not in the pocketbook.

“The new stuff looks great but at the moment it’s vaporware. There’s a huge ecosystem around YouTube,” notes Daniel Keywan Hollister, who works at RocketJump and is a co-founder of 5-second Films. (By ecosystem, that’s referencing the search, users, money, and services that YouTube provides.)

“If we got a ton of views on Facebook and then those people didn’t watch it on YouTube, we’ll have lost money and the view count. We may put stuff on Facebook if we can still monetize it the same and whatnot, but there’s still so much more than just that over the last few years, especially for bigger channels like RocketJump. There’s a lot of merit to the ‘long tail’ effect and having our stuff everywhere, but there’s also a huge value to being a juggernaut on YouTube even if we’re nowhere else.”

Any thoughts on Facebook’s move with video that may help or hurt filmmakers?


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact
@aaronproctor



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While one can appreciate to-the-point thank you speeches, reminding us to “call your parents” and “thank your agent,” here are some of the 2015 Academy Award highlights in the context of unconventional ways of rocking the boat. Way to go!

  • birdman-poster“Birdman,” which won four Oscars this year, also had the most stunning “for your consideration” website. While most of these kinds of sites provide screening information throughout award season, Birdman Backstage provides a great mise-en-scène of the film. Watson Design Group is behind the effort. Check out their social media “sharables” on Behance.
  • ida-kitchen-interior“Ida,” which won Best Foreign Film — and is currently streaming on Netflix and iTunes, had its director, Pawel Pawlikowski, ignore the sound of the Academy orchestra prompting him to wrap up, right in the middle of thanking his cinematographer, and he just kept going through the music queue giving up. On that note, don’t miss a feature on the American Society of Cinematographers website with a thorough breakdown of technical notes and diagrams for three scenes shot by Lukaz Zal.
  • grand-budapest-hotel-matte-painting“The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which also won four Oscars this year, took Best Production Design. Part of their team was Simone de Salvatore, who did many matte paintings for the film at Moving Picture Company. See The Creators Project for an interview with the artist. Here’s one excerpt about using elements in balance, rather than over-doing it all one way or another:
    “For this movie I think [director Wes Anderson] brings his style to the next level but always keeping its magic untouched. In my opinion neither the only use of miniatures nor the creation of matte paintings alone made the difference, but the combination of the two. In most of the shots you won’t find a matte painting without a miniature and vice versa. Most of the time, when I was working on single shots, it was not easy to understand how this bizarre combination would work in the end, simply because you can’t see the big picture at that early stage, but after I watched the movie I was completely blown away, the final result had gone far over my expectations. I think he didn’t simply decide to give it a try with matte paintings, he knew exactly what he was doing and he knew that this choice would have affected his style in a way that to me looks magical.”

  • Graham Moore, who won “Best Adapted Screenplay for “The Imitation Game,” ended his poignant speech with a pay-it-forward reminder for us all who think they don’t fit in:

    “When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself. Because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong. And now I’m standing here and so, I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there that feels like she’s weird or she doesn’t fit in anywhere: yes, you do. I promise you do. You do. Stay weird. Stay different, and when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along.”

  • Best Original Song went to “Glory” from the film “Selma,” where we heard from Lonnie Lynn and John Stephens — aka the real names for musicians Common and John Legend. They used their win as a platform for making a larger message on the current state of race relations:

    “We wrote this song for a film that was based on events that were 50 years ago but we say that Selma is now, because the struggle for justice is right now. We know that the voting rights act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised now in this country today. Right now the struggle for freedom and justice is real.”

  • “Citizenfour,” directed by Laura Poitras, won Best Documentary. Her speech touched upon the challenge and allure of investigative journalism:

    “The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself. When the most important decisions being made, affecting all of us, are made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control. Thank you to Edward Snowden, for his courage, and for the many other whistleblowers. I share this with Glenn Greenwald and other journalists who are exposing truth.”

    Right after the win, The New Yorker quickly published an opinion piece on “why “Citizenfour” deserved its Oscar,” which elaborates upon the two sides of the whistleblow / espionage debate that’s still going since the 2013 leak.

Did you have a favorite Oscar moment? Share your comment below.


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact
@aaronproctor



  • Published in General

banned-godaddy-ad-tn

The Super Bowl ads sucked so bad this year. All that angst and guilt and tender dad-child moments.

I mean, it’s the Super Bowl, people. The ultimate celebration of our national battle religion.

The Super Bowl is for simplemindedness, misogyny and gluttony. It is not the place for sentiment in advertising. It is the place for fart jokes.

You don’t advertise emo-drenched fatherhood moments. You show guys screaming at the TV, beer dribbling down their chins, spittle flying everywhere, and glow-in-the-dark Doritos turning their insides bright orange.

You know what my favorite Super Bowl spot was? The original Go Daddy spot with the puppy getting its ass sold off on eBay that the domain name advertiser had to pull.

Oh, my. Go Daddy so mean to puppies.

Feh.

You know who’s to blame for the sappy sack of advertising shit that was the Super Bowl commercials?

Millennials.

All that tear-inducing nonsense during the Big Game’s commercial breaks was intended to lure your self-entitled eyeballs, because marketers believe what Millennials want to see and hear from their brands is to be genuine and good corporate citizens.

Of course, lost in all that advertiser angst about reaching you and your shiny purchasing power (actually probably, your parents purchasing power) is the reality that Millennials won’t sacrifice anything for anybody.

Ad Age ran a story recently about the emergence of specialized ad agencies that focus on Millennials. No doubt you think that’s just a swell idea (use of outdated slang term very definitely intended).

It’s not enough that you get a job and three months later wonder why you’re not the CEO yet.

It’s not enough that you demand companies show a social conscience and be “authentic,” whatever that means, but even a cursory review of your own lives reveals that what you all really want to do is get rich and be on TMZ.

It’s not enough that you are helpless without a digital crutch of some kind. (Watching a Millennial navigate physical space, or try to get information from a live phone operator, or figure out how to use a fax, or do anything that requires more than clicking on a keyboard is like watching shit-faced drunks singing at a karaoke bar.)

I am so glad my generational cohorts trashed the planet you’re going to inherit and spent all the money you’re going to need for retirement. That’s what you get for screwing up the Super Bowl.

Boom, bitches.

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Author

Jack Feuer
Advisory Board, FWD:labs
Bio




Part of a series of posts about the FWD:labs web platform for cinema artists and their work.

facebook-integration

FWD:labs is all about going super fast forward through the doldrums and onto your latest and greatest work. Logging in or registering to a site via Facebook is sometimes a love/hate relationship, but we wanted to see if it was a viable option for new users to our site.

For a few months now, we’ve had Facebook’s “Login” (previously called “Connect”) as an option to login to FWD:labs. This month we rolled out Facebook’s “Login” to allow new users to create a new account here, too.

Before getting started, we were curious to research and implement how to connect with Facebook. According to a recent press release, there are 864 million daily active users. Chances are, right now, you’re logged into Facebook.

What we unveiled in January for FWD:labs is a quicker — but just as secure — way for users to sign up or login here using Facebook’s incredibly popular platform. For logging in, sure, there’s a win-win for skipping the username/password across any device. But for signing up, a handful of data like your full name and your e-mail address can be filled out for you right away.

We want to share with you how we tailored this functionality, which is not an embed, does not use any third-party services, and had little help from Facebook’s own documentation to develop.

First, we needed to set up a few things on Facebook. Here’s what we need:

  • Create a Facebook app at developers.facebook.com/apps
  • Save and upload one of the Facebook SDK libraries to your server
  • Add the Facebook app ID and its app secret in the SDK’s config
  • Review their developer documentation on the flow that Facebook needs (which lacks clear documentation for using Facebook Login with your own site)
  • Eventually, make the app public, aka flip the switch to “make this app and all its live features available to the general public”

Second, we needed front-end code on our own site. We found a relatively easy way to get Facebook’s authentication to work on our site, which they call Facebook Login. It has some unique markup and can be demoed in the most basic way at developers.facebook.com/docs/plugins/login-button.

Our intent here is not here to force people to use Facebook. We’re just focused on saving a step to speed up a task, whether that’s the login process or bring a user on board for the first time with a few things filled out faster than if they did it by hand. (Don’t worry — we’ll still have our standard username/password option.)

Now, the way we’re using Facebook’s “login” doesn’t use the bleeding edge SDK release, which appears to change up frequently. We’re only asking for the base permissions (e.g. “email,public_profile,user_friends”), not “publishing” rights, which more people take issue with if done willy-nilly. We also hardly modified their front-end code because it works quite well.

When the user clicks on the “fb:login” button to connect via Facebook, the response that comes back from Facebook to our server shows three kinds of responses:

  • “Connected,” meaning the user clicked the dialogue box to approve data sharing via your Facebook application
  • “Not authorized,” meaning the user did not approve
  • No response means the user is not logged into Facebook, so we can’t check yay or nay

Third, we need to process the new information via our back-end code. When “connected,” we can see the user’s e-mail, name, and Facebook ID. Maybe we want to display it back to them or — in our case, with logging in or signing up — we can use that to continue the process. Here’s what we do when you authorize our app on Facebook to login or sign up:

  • We’re checking for the “accessToken” which verifies we’ve made the handshake on the previous page. This can also be remembered to allow for the page to refresh if need be, and it gets checked with Facebook so it can’t be spoofed.
  • We’re loking at the data that we could use to pre-fill some fields, along with one more layer of information just for us: a username and password for accessing FWD:labs beyond Facebook’s connect functionality
    • If registering for the first time, we prompt the user to come up with a username and password for FWD:labs. Now, they saved a step by not having to type in their name or e-mail address, which is great. Once everything checks out, we save to our database the “handshake,” meaning the user’s Facebook ID that now corresponds to the user’s FWD:labs username. This comes in handy later to safely bypass the username/password-based login system on return visits.
    • If logging in, we use the Facebook ID to check against a FWD:labs username / Facebook ID match, which also saved time for everyone.
  • Finally, we either want to redirect the user to the correct place, or display very friendly error messages to them about what exactly is amiss.

Last but not least, we wanted to cover the bases with error checking. You know the expression — “with great power comes great responsibility.” Rather than any user trying it out without us, here are some other scenarios we tested:

  • You’re signed up to FWD:labs without Facebook and you either want to login or re-register with Facebook
  • You are logged out of Facebook
  • You are logged into Facebook as a page, as opposed to a personal profile
  • You have a FWD:labs account but remove the FWD:labs app on Facebook; see facebook.com/settings?tab=applications if you’re curious
  • You have a FWD:labs account but remove the Facebook connection within FWD:labs (under Account > Integrations when logged in) and perhaps change your mind later
  • You close your FWD:labs account, but still have the FWD:labs app enabled on Facebook (for perhaps re-joining in the future)
  • You disable JavaScript, but still wants some functionality and all the same security
  • You are already logged into FWD:labs, so all of the above is unnecessary and we re-direct you to the right spot in no time

All in all, it’s been a fun experiment. Feel free to try it out — signing up or logging in — and let us know what you think!


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact
@aaronproctor




best-posts-of-2014-lg

We published 23 articles on film, web, and design this year. Here are my favorite subjects covered this year, often by guest columnists.

  1. Is It Popcorn Time?
    There’s an increasing demand for digitally-delivered entertainment. While the black market has quite innovative approaches, when might older and slower media take a hint?
  2. How Filmmakers Use Pinterest
    The digital corkboard isn’t just for recipes and fashion. Many filmmakers use the up-and-coming social network for project moodboards and self- or project-promotion.
  3. This Time It’s Personal: 3 Tips for Connecting with Your Audience
    Insight through an example indie film, “Gasland,” on getting personal, showing vulnerability, and ending strong. (Guest post by Andrew Linderman.)
  4. Texting Portrayed in Film
    Filmmaker Tony Zhou examines when texting in film is a good thing, and how it’s becoming a more engaging as a storytelling device.
  5. Making the Apps: How Screenwriter John August and His Team Make Apps for Screenwriters
    This well-known screenwriter has a business on the side, filling a void of tools for writers both on desktop and mobile platforms.
  6. Three Efforts for Defending Net Neutrality
    This year’s debate in Washington affected filmmakers who use the web as their delivery platform, since large files and slow bandwidth (proposed by legislation to cap and charge extra) would change today’s open landscape.
  7. To Win An Oscar, Enter These Festivals
    We rounded up the 77 Academy-preferred film festivals to more easily gauge and click-through to where to send your short films.
  8. When a Short Helps Make a Feature
    We rounded up short films that directly led to a feature film counterpart being made. This highlights the few-and-far-between strategy of turning a short into a feature script, while also showcasing how it can be done with memorable results.
  9. “Inspiring Advice” from Matthew Silver
    What began as a meme online – a homeless man in New York City with a great take on life – proved after further investigation to be all an act — from a very creative fellow
  10. Good to Great: 8 Steps to Improving Your Storytelling
    Using “The Karate Kid” as an example, the host of The Story Source shares insight on making a story all the more compelling. (Guest post by Andrew Linderman.)

Got a favorite that’s not here? Browse the archive and comment below.

Finally, check out our 10 best posts of 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008.


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact
@aaronproctor




Part of a series of posts about great film, web, or design artists and their work abuzz online and in-person.
  • The Wire. Poster design by Ignition.

    The Wire. Poster design by Ignition.

    There’s a new debate about re-framing cinematography in post-production years later, not the way it was ever meant to be seen, but because it was captured in a way that now fit our 16:9 televisions and phones. David Simon, who created the show “The Wire,” has his critique of the re-alignment effort with videos comparing the 4:3 original and new 16:9 crop, presumably to sell a new Blu-ray edition. /Film has a clear overview of the issue with the so-called remasters. This hot topic gets talked about a lot by cinematographers, who usually aren’t involved with their shots being re-framed. Variety recently interviewed some DPs about where the collaboration often breaks down and composition goes separate ways.
  • Stars of the big screen and little screen are doing something different. Julia Roberts and Harrison Ford among other name actors lend their voices to pro-environment adverts called “Nature is Speaking” for Conservation International, according to a write-up in The Guardian. The short-form videos are quite effective in using just a scripted voice-over to something you wouldn’t expect, therefore giving the advert more recognition. Then, on the small screen, there’s a great opinion piece in The New Yorker about how YouTube has graduated from amateur hour while one of their rivals, Vine, has become a hub for up-and-coming professional talent. According to the article, Vine really took off when mobile phones began to have better self-facing cameras. There’s also something to be said about very short storytelling online, since Vine limits you to six seconds. (Footnote: Vine is owned by Twitter, not YouTube.)
  • The Interview. Poster design by Ignition.

    The Interview. Poster design by Ignition.

    Best reactions to the Sony hack / “The Interview” yank include Aaron Sorkin’s opinion piece in the New York Times. The co-editor of Variety also summarized his thoughts on how Sony and theater owners aren’t the bad guys. One issue that hasn’t been well reported comes via PBS Newshour and discusses the poor I.T. security at the studio and how the hack was easier than usual due to bad practices. After all of the drama, out of solidarity, small art house theaters around the country banded together to show the film as planned for Christmas Day despite the threats. This was followed by video-on-demand — renting or buying the film for a fee — thanks to Google Play, Microsoft XBox, and YouTube all stepping up. Inversely, this effect also made “The Interview” ineligible for any Oscars, since they frown upon films that debut online first. That’s the price to pay for finding a solution.

Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact
@aaronproctor



  • Published in General

you-are-awesome

Did you have a stellar year? Did all your clients pay on time, you were constantly being given amazingly fun projects, and the work was never hard to come by? Okay, so maybe that’s not exactly the case. Either way, as we near the end of the year, it’s a good time to take a breather and be grateful for what you have. To get into the holiday spirit of generosity, here are a few ways you can give back during the holidays and also some benefits that may be associated:

  1. Donate some of your time to clients.

    If you’re feeling particularly generous, offer an end-of-the-year special where clients can receive and hour or two of your services gratis for every X number of hours of work you put in.

    Benefits: Besides it being a nice way of to show your appreciation for working with your clients, it might be able to help you pick up any work if things are slow while not having to lower your rates.
  2. Volunteer.

    There are a ton of awesome organizations out there doing great work that would really use your known-how. Whether it’s creating a short educational video, doing some copywriting for their website, or designing some of their marketing materials, you’ll be able to flex your creative muscles and feel good about doing it. Hit up a charity whose mission really jives with you, or you can search for one via Idealist or VolunteerMatch.

    Benefits: Although you won’t be able to write off your services, you’ll be able to deduct any traveling-related expenses such as gas mileage. And who knows, the charity may consider you for paid work in the future. Just mention that you are available for paid work if they ever have it in their budget, or if they can refer you (which they will most likely do if they like you).
  3. Donate a percentage of your earnings.

    Publicize on your site or through your Behance profile that for the month of December you’ll be donating a percentage of your earnings to a featured charity. It can be one that’s related to your line of work, for instance if you are a freelance writing you can donate to a literary organization such as WriteGirl.

    Benefits: You will be able to write off any donations to not-for-profit organizations. Just be sure to keep a proof of payment.
  4. Teach your skills to newbies.
    Tap into your zone of genius (what you do uniquely best) to You can do this by creating an online tutorial and put it up on your website or volunteer at a organization. You might even want to pitch seeing a weekend workshop or series.

    Benefits: This will establish credibility and could open the channels of dialogue between you and potential clients. You’ll also be more visible and could attract your intended audience.

Although giving back is rewarding in and of itself, there are some benefits to giving back for solopreneurs. While this may appear as being a bit opportunistic, it also wouldn’t hurt to know that you can save a little beans or maybe get more work. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking: What’s in it for me? Because what’s better than giving? Giving and receiving.

(Originally published at Cheapsters.)


Jackie Lam
Personal finance blogger helping people thrive in the gig economy



  • Published in Film + Web

Part of a series of posts about great film, web, or design artists and their work abuzz online and in-person.
Terry Gilliam on the set of "The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus."

Terry Gilliam on the set of “The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus.”

  • Back in 2011, Terry Gilliam’s shared ten lessons for directors — given to a Master Class to Moroccan film students — which was re-printed in Filmmaker Magazine. Tips include anecdotes like “surround yourself with improvisers” and “all you’ve really got in life is story.”
  • Feature filmmakers behind “The Guest” decided to give away their soundtrack for free. According to a promotion on their Tumblr, by hashtagging their film with a photo of your ticket stub, you could get the digital download. The effort engaged early fans well enough that they extended the promotion for longer than planned.
  • Mike Monteiro (Design Director of Mule Design Studio) recently wrote 13 tips for designers to not screw up client presentations, which can easily apply to anyone in work-for-hire professions, like “[don’t] talk about how hard you worked” and “[don’t] ask ‘do you like it?'”

Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact
@aaronproctor




raiders-of-the-lost-ark-black-and-white-tn

Steven Soderbergh showcased an experiment in cinematic staging yesterday on his website, Extension 765. For educational purposes, he notes, Soderbergh put online a full copy of Steven Spielberg’s “The Raiders of the Lost Ark” that he easily converted into black-and-white, and then also replaced the entire audio track with a wall-to-wall soundtrack.

Why would you want to watch “Raiders” in black-and-white with electronic music? Soderbergh’s point is regarding the visual staging via the cinematography and the edit, and how it affects how the film is consistent and iconic. Like a silent film or a foreign film without subtitles, Soderbergh believes “a movie should work with the sound off” and wants us to watch and “think only about staging, how the shots are built and laid out, what the rules of movement are, [and] what the cutting patterns are.”

The original 1981 film was shot in color by Douglas Slocombe, who before this picture lensed several black-and-white features. The replaced music is the soundtrack of David Fincher’s “The Social Network” by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, as well as “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” by the same director and musicians.

We would include the video here but the file’s embed settings appear to be limited to only Soderbergh’s website. View the feature film on the original article at Extension765.com.

(Thanks to Charlie Beckerman for the head’s up on this effort.)


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact
@aaronproctor




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