October 23, 2011

House Lights: S.978, showbiz, and you

Before I say any more, do take a look at this video recorded on behalf of Huntington (Long Island), New York singer/songwriter Patricia Shih (I wish they could have come in a little tighter on her, but hey) and enjoy this little "flash mob" action from 11 October 2011, meant to support the Huntington Arts Council (whose funding was being targeted for budget cuts).

Oh, and by the way, this one was clearly made with no harm meant to the creative team behind the classic Broadway musical Damn Yankees:

©2011 Shih Enterprises, Inc.

Thank you. Now take a look at the lead story in this 3 October Tubefilter episode with Marc Hustvedt (you're welcome to view the balance of it, but it's the first story I'd like to you to note):

©2011 Tubefilter, Inc.

Yes, I wish the first story was a joke, even a late April Fools' one. But there's nothing funny in S.978, according to OpenCongress::

The bill would make web streaming of copyrighted content a felony with a prison sentence of up to 5 years. That means you could go to jail for posting a video to YouTube with the wrong background music, all in the name of protecting big media companies that don’t want to update their old business models for the age of peer–to–peer sharing.

And there is a lot of money being wagered that this bill will become law. Many of the names will be all too familiar (Disney, Viacom, Sony, Universal Music, some very powerful unions, and the usual lobbying groups). And look at the names of the officials being showered with that cash to go their way.

By now, you may have heard that a new digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future is hitting back with a campaign that should make more than just a certain teen idol's fans especially fearful. Because while Justin Bieber may be the biggest of the names to possibly run afoul of S.978, future teen idols aren't the only ones who may take a hit.

Go back to Patricia Shih. The celebrated musician (and a close friend, I should disclose) could also face jail time for her take on "You Gotta Have Heart" even though her target wasn't Broadway but the Huntington Village Board (and she wasn't alone, as you no doubt noticed).

Underground filmmakers, such as the notable Damon Packard (Reflections of Evil, Space Disco–One) could also get hit with the full force of this bill. Ditto mash–up maestros whose inventive takes on pop apparently haven't swayed the minds and hearts of music execs who wonder why their clammy junk hardly ever moves (hint: shouldn't you let a DJ take over and tinker with it?).

What troubles your Projectionist even more is the potential damage to the "Fair Use" clause of the United States Copyright Act, which does allow for the sampling of fragments from Copyrighted works (as in the Tubefilter episode shown above, by the way) for the purpose of commentary and criticism, so long as the samples are worked into an entirely new work. The folks who are Negativland certainly understand this; so do the Media Education Foundation, even if you find their efforts less than stellar (Consuming Kids had to be one of the worst "agenda" flicks I've ever seen — and I actually agree with the points made in that one).

While I could go further, I believe action will indeed speak louder than words. OpenCongress will let registered users (USA only, of course) take action by urging their elected officials to defeat S.978; you can also take action at the Free Bieber site if you feel more comfortable there. Those outside the USA can also do their part to educate people about wrong–headed legislation like this and the damage (intentional or unintentional) it can create if not stopped.

Look at it this way: The next flash mob video you save could be your own.

Just remember Patricia Shih.

October 9, 2011

House Lights: "Once upon a time," reloading [reloaded 2011-10-09]

This is a reposting of the message currently on the Promenade Digital [Mediaworks] website (link at right).

Dear Friends:

This summer started on a difficult note for Promenade, as I was forced to miss the start of Central Park‘s annual story season. That said, I did make up for lost time by recording Diane Wolkstein (our biggest and most kindhearted supporter) telling both Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales and Hasidic stories. I also added a new teller to the Just One Story… roster — Rafe Martin — as he told Jakarta tales.

All that is something special, and I hope it will all be worth the wait. And that alone deserves an explanation.

First, I will be going back to the beginning of Just One Story… and start remastering each episode for the best possible picture quality (at as high a resolution as can be done).

Second, the remastered episodes will get upgraded packaging (specifically improved opening and closing titles) and then be mirrored on both YouTube and Vimeo, in new channels created for each.

Third, my net–studio is getting a re–branding. And it will actually be the first thing that happens — because some recent Google use has revealed that, not only has the name Promenade been spoken for (by, among others, a Christian family–centric company), but so has my Esperanto signature, Konstelacio.

So why “reload” everything? In two words: Internet TV.

Quite simply, Internet–delivered television programming has taken off in a very big way — starting with ethnic audiences (KyLin, Jadoo, NEPALiPTV) and conservatively–religious viewers (Sky Angel) and now moving on a more mainstream level (Apple TV, Roku, and Boxee, not to mention a growing number of widescreen televisions and disc players with Internet capabilities). And for many people, it is simply replacing cable and satellite TV because of what it can deliver for the money.

And your Projectionist is now an Internet TV adopter — of Mela. (One a filmi fan, always…)

All of this forced me to re–evaluate my own show (and in turn, my net–studio), and it became clear to me that, while I do have a foot in the door, the show is still not quite as ready for prime time as it should be. I’m not sure how much can be done about the video quality for the first four episodes (recorded with standard definition camcorders, you will remember), but the content is still valuable.

I want to ensure that it looks as good as possible — not just on 13–inch computer monitors, but on the newest of widescreen TVs as well.

As for the re–branding: It is actually going to be a welcome thing for me, because I have always had issues with naming something after yourself — it has always struck me as exceedingly vain. Thankfully, I think you will like the new name, as it will also better reflect what I now know my net–studio should be doing: cultivating a cultural garden worthy of your attention.

For financial reasons, the re–branded studio will probably not have its own domain name (at least not for a while), and will probably have its home page hosted on Google Sites or tumblr. I will make a decision soon, and it will be announced here.

I promise the reloaded net–studio and all that grows within will be a true garden of delights.

Many thanks for staying tuned to us.

UPDATE 2011.11.08: The re–branding has begun.