MIPTV 2010 Review: Total Convergence and Digital Urban Entertainment

Apart from the major aim to bring ‘buyers and exhibitors’ together, this year’s MIPTV again offered lots of insightful presentations with inspiring views on today’s fast evolving patterns of media consumption.

Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes

One central theme was certainly ‘connected audiences’, providing an explanation for the increasing popularity of everything that has to do with ‘social’. Kevin Slavin (Area Code Entertainment LLC), for example, pointed out that the connection of users brings us back to where entertainment originally came from: theatres and cinemas, where people usually never went alone. The ‘laugh track’ of sitcoms was to compensate this lack of social experience in TV, but social media obviously do this job much better. Comments and especially feelings of others are relevant to us when it comes to events and entertainment. If the experience or story you offer is immersive and the interface easy to use, then people will ‘follow’ and start talking. There’s no point in using twitter and facebook just to spread your corporate message. It’s all about ‘communication and engagement’. This was one of the many ‘messages’ that echoed through the auditoriums of the ‘palais’ in Cannes.

Here a few ‘must read’ articles from the MIP blog:
Social Media is the New Laughter Track
Wrap-Up: Building Cross Media Strategies
Mobile Engagement 2.0

But among all the MIP sessions, a panel on ‘digital urban entertainment’ inspired me the most, especially since I had no idea at all of what exactly that should be. Moderator Ferhan Cook, president of AnyScreen productions launched the session by asking ‘Why urban entertainment might become relevant’. Answer: because 60% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2030 (according to UN projections).

A most passionate ‘ensemble’ of panelists envisioned the digital and interactive city of tomorrow, based on what’s already happening today: keywords here were ‘the internet of things’ (RFID/sensors), geolocative and tagged content as well as augemented reality (AR). Imagine walking through your city, let’s say New York, and you’re visiting ‘ground zero’. Using AR, you could observe the location through your smartphone display and view what the original WTC looked like at this place. Reconstructed history! Or get access to ‘tagged’ messages, that your friends left behind at places where they had decisive experiences (first kiss, memories etc.). ‘Contextualized geolocative information’ is the magic phrase. Locate you, what’s next to you, who’s next to you and utilize this data for your idea or product. New ways of gaming are and will be based on this principle (see foursquare). When combined with AR, this approach can have many implications for cultural heritage issues up to education and health services. No doubt, there are many issues to resolve in this regard, like aspects of IP and privacy, but the technologies are in place or in development and the idea of the ‘mobile kid’ that’s learning by walking around via contextualized geo data and AR doesn’t seem to be so far away.

Please also check the related MIP blog article for more details:
The Inconstant Fontiers of the World to Come

Another issue of interest was the focus on 3D television: A panel on the future of 3DTV explained that the industry is pushing this technology forward because the transition infrastructure to HD from a few years ago is still in place and it basically has the capacity to deliver 3D with slight modifications to it. Therefore, the transition to 3D means only marginal investment costs. The technology is promising and two types of 3D televisions were on display during MIPTV: those with glasses and those without. I had a look at both and can say that the former definately provides a pleasant and natural depth to everything that lies behind the screen (it’s not like IMAX, where images seem to come out of the screen). The technology without glasses affords quite some time for the eyes to adjust and really ‘capture’ the perspective while the image comes across quite ‘nervous’ including occasional scanline artefacts. There’s still room for improvement here, but we should not forget that 3D technology with on-screen filters instead of glasses is still in an early stage of development. But as the industry focuses on the solution with shutter glasses (which look pretty cool, by the way), I’m personally quite convinced that it will find the way into public viewing centres and into our living rooms, at least as an ‘option’.

And before I forget: the terms transmedia storytelling and content 360 were, of course, also frequently referred to. In an interview on Monday, 12 April 2010, Tim Kring (Executive Producer/Creator of ‘Heros’) illustrated why crossmedia stories just have to be fundamentally different from normal productions: if, for example, in a usual high quality film every aspect of the plot is extensively outlined and the story is told in perfection answering all potential ‘open questions’, there will be no reason for audiences to follow up on certain issues on other platforms. So it’s rather about unfinished subplots or ‘rabbit holes’ (a term often used during MIPTV) that allow for developing a story within the story, but with considerable audience enagagement.

On the whole, this year’s MIPTV was definately worth attending and the hosts assembled an impressive set of presentations. Even though the number of visitors could not reach the amount of last year, it was a good occasion to stay informed about the main streams of development and thought in the media industry.


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