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Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday links: Can a Joint Venture Take on YouTube? ... Dick Van Dyke on VFX ... Venice Project ... Revver Re-Org

- Ben Fritz and I have a piece in Variety this morning that asks whether a joint venture of several big media companies can unite to take on Google/YouTube. From the piece:

    Insiders insist they're serious about trying to build their own site, but there's no denying that saying so is also a smart negotiating tactic. Now that it has bought YouTube for $1.65 billion, Google has been talking to big media companies about deals to license their content.

    Media congloms could be in a better negotiating position if they were setting up, or can at least threaten that they will set up, a vid site of their own.

    They would then have more leverage in "setting the right kinds of terms and pricing for licensing deals with other sites," said Nicholas Butterworth, founder of Diversion Media and former CEO of the MTVi Group. "That would be a smart strategy: setting a financial model that others, like Google, would have to play by."

- Great Sheigh Crabtree piece in the LA Times today about Dick Van Dyke's affection for visual effects, which dates back to 'Mary Poppins' and 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' in the 1960s. She writes:

    Recognizing a fellow visual effects enthusiast on the "Museum" set, Rhythm & Hues visual effects supervisor Dan DeLeeuw had Van Dyke come into the effects studio for a cyberscan. They gave Van Dyke a digital 3-D model of himself to work with on his home system.

    And he had a lot of new tricks he wanted to try at home after studying the complex effects-laden shots on "[Night at the] Museum," about a night watchman (Ben Stiller) at a natural history museum who is shocked to find the exhibits coming to life.

    "We had the best visual effects team in the world on 'Night at the Museum,' so I came home [after the shoot in Canada] all fired up," says Van Dyke, who also plays a night watchman. "I have a number of figures that are caricatures of me with an extra-big nose and a longer chin, and I do a lot of animations with myself dancing. But the tough stuff is really smoke, water and fog. I'm forever working on my water effects."

- Not a big surprise that GigaOm is all hopped up about The Venice Project, the latest Web site that is trying to reinvent television. (Didn't Veoh try that last year?) Yes, I believe that someone needs to build a Web site that delivers higher video quality than YouTube, with great content. But will it be something like The Venice Project, which requires you to download special software, and own a Windows computer? YouTube took off in part because it didn't require you to install software, and it worked on nearly every platform. At least Om acknowledges that The Venice Project will need to somehow attract a lot of content to its site -- also no small feat at a time when media companies have prospective partners knocking on their door day and night, and their radar is much more attuned to illegal content posting than it was a year or two ago.

- Two of Revver's co-founders are leaving, according to AdAge, and the one who remains, CEO Steven Starr, is bringing in three execs with marketing, Internet, and advertising experience.


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