Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Pro-sumer model

Most of the talk in video conent is either about consumer video (user gen) or professional video - the big studios cranking out original content online.

Today's post is about pro-sumer video.

I'm talking about the content aquisition business model employed by, among others, Current TV and TurnHere.com. I find this model fascinating and forward thinking.

These companies take what's best about user generated video - interesting and authentic content from a wide variety of perspectives and channels it into a package that is easy to consume, monetize and distribute.

Turn Here, for example, solicits short travel videos from pro-sumer producers. The freelancers create fun short videos about a neighborhood to specs provided y Turn Here. If Turn Here likes the videos, they aquire them, brand them, and distribute through the distribution infrastruture they've built. And they also foster a community for their participating producers, ensuring a stong stable of filmmakers to keep turning out content that fits the Turn Here brand.

The prosumer model meets a need that many businesses find near impossible - to provide content that is consistent, entertaining and of good quality at an affordable price. I think web people are finally coming to the understanding that video content costs. A lot. This model addresses that need.

AND... it addresses that need using an untapped resource.

The history of the prosumer filmmaker is really a story about technology. Sony's VX1000 was the first DV camera on the market in 1996, and really, it was the first time you could buy a camera for under $10,000k that could shoot video anywhere near broadcast quality. Before that it was Beta SP or 3/4 inch analog tape.

By the I finished film school in 1998, DV cameras were just coming into their own - Canon released the XL1, a dv camera for filmmakers, and Sony came out with the PD-150: the VX1000 upgraded with enough professional features that news organizations and documentary filmmakers started using the $3,500 camera.

Shortly thereafter, Apple bought Final Cut Pro and released Final Cut Pro 1.2. For $1,000 you could buy a software package that rivaled, and in some ways trounced, the $30,000 Avid for video (you could get it for $500 if you used your mom's educational discount). Creative people did what they always do when they're given access to resources.. they created. And poof - the prosumer revolution was born.

Since then the prosumers have, in many ways, taken over the documentary community, they've fueled the ever growing production of reality tv, and they've led the way in putting video online - populating sites like ifilm and atomfilms and now, with the emergence of YouTube and mySpace, posting their films there.

But while these producers and filmmakers have, in some cases, forced their way into the mainstream media, they have been mostly ignored. I think that any business model that harnesses the skill and enthusiasm of the pro-sumer community is a smart bet.




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