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The last day of 65i, Television for the Web, was yesterday. Here’s an abstract of what I told the students:

We’ve gone through a lot this semester and honestly, I think that this particular class received the best outcome to this study. With YouTube and iPod Video under 5 years old, the University Academe in Schools of Communication across the country have yet to pick this study up as a mainstream topic. We went through webisodes, codecs and compression, distribution and websites, viral content, advertising and the most important topic of storyline and a guest speaker that defines Web Television, Jamison Tilsner. We conclude this semester with the results of the Streamys, the first ever awards show for web-based television.

We are experiencing an amazing time in history. It resembles 1949, when the first Emmy Awards were given out at the Hollywood Athletic Club. It would be another 6 years after that when the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences would be formed. Due to accelerated culture and profiteering, the International Academy of Web Television has already been formed. The Academy is made up of industry professionals and insiders who have pioneered the new landscape of television, yet they contain not one Academic.

This, in the coming years, will most likely change along with the landscape of the industry.

How many of you watched the Streamys? They were held live this year at the Wadsworth Theater in Los Angeles. The show was live directed with an audience of about 2500 people. The quality? Well, it was not the Emmys, but it was the first Streamys and it was televised ONLY on the web.

But what really entertained me was the irony of it all. The first TWO awards of the FIRST EVER web television awards were given to…. drumroll please… William Shatner (for The Shatner Project) and Neil Patrick Harris (for Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog). Two icons of TELEVISION for two separate generations of television viewers. The majority of the rest of the winners were commercial television and film stars and creators.

So what does this mean? Well, until web television has created a Cheers, a M*A*S*H or an ER, web television IS television on the web. Your degrees are safe. The quality shows won the awards this first year. Over 50,000 entries and the television shows or shows related to television won the awards.

You should be so happy to be a television student at this time. The future is gleaming with opportunity in multiple fields!

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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.

Research Links

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