Hi! My name is Jamie Cohen and I am leading the research on teaching television production for the web. Just a short intro for everyone so you can get the gist of what myself and my collegue, Dr Peter Gershon, will be researching in the coming months. Dr Gershon and myself are both television professors at Hofstra University’s School of Communication in the Radio/Television/Film Department. More about the two of us later.

Twebivision is my term referring to the atmosphere of our current culture of television production.

This April, at the Broadcast Education Association Convention in Las Vegas, Dr Gershon and myself will be presenting a panel called “Teaching Television Production in the Age of YouTube.”

We are creating a curriculum to be taught not only at Hofstra University, (the school that held the last presidential debate) but at any university studying the new course of the methods of television producing. What we have that no other university has is the close connection to the working model for this type of production, our alums Brian Amyot, ’04, Angel Acevedo, ’04 and Steve Tsapelas,’03. These three guys founded Hofstra Filmmaker’s Club at Hofstra and later went on to create Ragtag Productions. They created a web series called We Need Girlfriends that aired on YouTube and MySpace. Through ingenuity, hard work and very creative marketing, their webisode series got noticed by Sex and the City’s Darren Star. The show is now in production for a pilot for CBS. (link)

We are studying their process and also following our knowledge of television production in the classical sense, that television is a close-up medium. What we are looking at is a possible renaissance of television production. Originally, television was produced for a very small screen (in comparison to the film screen) and in the recent years, as television sizes increased, the formalities of production have been treated with less respect. Now, with television on a very very small screen (inside a screen), the formal techniques MUST be adhered to.

What Dr Gershon and I are discussing is also the new fact that television production for the web is actually only about 25-50% production… the other 50-75% is branding, creative advertising and self promotion. To quote Benjamin Palmer, CEO of the Barbarian Group, in The Screens Issue of the New York Times Magazine (Multiscreen Mad-Men, November 21, 2008):

Because what TV offers that the Internet doesn’t offer is a guarantee of fame. You know that millions of people saw that bit of you on television.

When producing for the internet, the content creator is on their own. What we are trying to prove is that formal higher education is just as necessary for web television production as it is for television production. It takes more than access to editing software and a camera to create successful content for the web.

We are teaching originality, authenticity and creativity as well as the understanding of the internet’s use of the word democracy (more on that another time).

Even more than the creation of material is the research we are doing with the subject of creator to viewer connection. This new world of web television allows the fans of the show access to the creator in a way never before seen in the field of television.

Please check back for updates on this study. The links on the left are my delicious links that I have been using for RTVF 65i, Television for the Web, the class I created and teach. Also, check my personal delicious site for additional research. In the coming months I will be posting our new findings and our outcomes of the RTVF Department’s curricular (For Your Island, RTVF 164 with the Webshow) and extra-curricular (HTVinteractive) work in the world of Twebivision.

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