Imemories White Paper Part -i
One of the hottest trends in social media today is online home videos, which often involve an extra step up front to first transform the older physical media (reels and tapes) to digital format before posting and sharing online. In order to understand both the scope and future directions of this trend, it is helpful to define the term “social media.”
As explained on www.wikipedia.com, social media are the online tools and platforms that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other. Social media can take many forms, including text, images, audio and video. Examples include blogs, message boards, podcasts, wikis, and vlogs (video logs).
As testament to the popularity of social media, Time magazine designated “You” in their Dec. 25th, 2006 issue as their Person of the Year, noting that “the new Web is a very different thing. It’s a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter. Silicon Valley consultants call it Web 2.0, as if it were a new version of some old software. But it’s really a revolution.” The Internet has become a tool that facilitates the contributions of millions of individuals in a way never before seen.
Several Elements Converging
How did this occur? Several technological, economic and cultural developments have converged to create this phenomenon. First, there was the availability of inexpensive broadband capability to individual homes, a veritable “last mile” of Internet highway to facilitate digital video with the appropriate fidelity and resolution. Instead of 15 frames per second, the new cost-effective broadband now permits the broadcast television standard, 30 frames per second.
Second, computers continue to become faster and cheaper, with high performance processors that facilitate online video. Older computers in contrast struggled to keep up.
And third, the audience has increased both in their Internet savviness and age range, with users now including anyone from pre-teens to seniors.
Popularity with Teenagers
Journalists are divided on their opinions regarding the worth of such social media, but they do agree that it enables mass consumers to claim their 15 minutes of fame. As Gary Nelson of the Arizona Republic described it, YouTube, for example, is one of the sites “devoted to the postmodern world’s insatiable narcissism. MySpace.com is an online temple of self-adulation, a bottomless well of hopelessly average people desperately seeking attention, deluding themselves into the idea that having a Web profile somehow equates to genuine accomplishment.” [Arizona Republic, Dec, 2006]. As the Time article pointed out, “Web 2.0 harnesses the stupidity of crowds as well as its wisdom.”
Statistically, the majority of users of mass social sites are younger and often seeking their 15 minutes of fame. They represent the so-called Generations X, Y, and the Millenniums. A Parks Associates study on the digital media activities of Internet users ages 13 and over, for example, shows that approximately 1 in 3 (33%) play online video games and watch online videos (31%), while 1 in 4 (25%) use a social networking website and upload digital photos to websites (23%). [“Digital Media Habits,” Parks Associates, Q3/2006].
Lack of Filters Levels the Playing Field
For the first time, the lack of “editorial” filters has leveled the playing ground so that anyone who has a digital camera or cell phone camera and access to the Internet can participate. PR guru Richard Edelman noted in his blog on Dec. 8, 2006 (http://edelman.com/speak_up/blog/ ) that the older, more traditional form of media was the “top down model of communications, where the news agenda was determined by elite media (the TV network news, the top newspapers, newsmagazines, and business magazines). It [was] a one way flow of information, from the top of the pyramid of influence down to the mass audience….” Today, however, anyone can be the first to “break” the news, and on a global scale. Connecting with others and generating content on one’s own have clearly become easier.
Older, Mature Users Have Different Needs
It is tempting to categorize all social media video into the same niche as well-known sites such as YouTube, Grouper, or Jumpcut. But there are very clear and distinct differentiators between the users of these sites and those who seek private sharing of home videos online. In contrast to the YouTube audience, which is made up of teens and twenty-somethings, there is another group of older yet still Internet-savvy users who are motivated by completely different goals.
These Baby Boomers seek a digital environment in which they can share old home movies with a secure, private, and most important, self-filtered network of family and friends. They want to convert and post longer-form videos that were originally captured in older “physical” media such as 8mm and16mm films and VHS tapes.
The subject matter of these old reels and tapes, particularly the films from the 1930s – 1970s (videotape became popular in the 1980s), is most often of sentimental moments: a birthday, an anniversary, a family gathering, or a special trip. During those years, the cost of film materials was prohibitive, thus videographers had to choose very carefully which moments to film. Their motivation was primarily to record for posterity, as opposed to pure narcissism. Similarly, when it comes to digitally mastering and posting these older home movies online, videographers want to share them privately with family and friends as a testament to the enduring family legacy.
iMemories Customers Are Microcosm of this New Market
The feedback from iMemories’ customers reflects this focus on sentiment and posterity. Many customers found themselves with old reels of 8mm or 16mm film taken by their parents in the 1930s and 40s, and no projector on which to view the footage in the 21st century. Many of the old reels weren’t even labeled, so customers had no clue as to what treasures might reside within the frames.
Stumped by the problem of getting the movies into a format that could be viewed easily by family members spread across the country, they put off the task and filed the reels away in boxes in basements, attics, closets and garages. It would often take a precipitating event, such as a reunion, relocation, or illness in the family, to spur them to look further for a solution like iMemories. Suddenly, it became important to find a way to digitally master their old physical media into a form that would halt further degradation as well as promote widespread sharing.
Mark D., for example, became the administrator for a relative’s estate, and discovered many reels of 60-year-old home movies that he never knew existed. He came to iMemories to have the reels transferred to DVD so that he could both share and preserve family history that he thought had been lost forever. “My children and I were excited to view family gatherings and the good times that our relatives experienced before we were even born.”
For Marge R., the illness of her father was a wakeup call to find a solution. She happened to attend an event near the iMemories headquarters, and found her solution that way. Her goal was to convert old family movies into a format that her entire family could watch. She had initial fears that the old 8mm film might have been damaged to the extent that a final transfer wasn’t possible, but with sophisticated equipment and specialized software, the miracle of digital is undeniable. And unlike the videos posted on popular sites like YouTube, the home movies converted to digital format are meant to last another 100-200 years.
Jay M., another customer, had several old 16mm film of high school sports from the 1970s in his possession. Jay was motivated to get the conversion completed in time for a reunion of his high school buddies, and used iMemories’ services. “The last time I had viewed the footage was in 1971,” says Jay. “I found it fun to view it again in 2006. Back in the 70s, we had prided ourselves on being so athletic. Looking back now, however, sometimes we looked like pro’s and sometimes we looked like a Pop Warner team.”
It is the passing of time that motivates home movie users, who appreciate the value of these extraordinary moments more as they grow older. They want to capture the images and preserve them in a format that halts further degradation. And they want to ensure that future generations within their family as well have access to these memories as part of their heritage. The sense of their own mortality is heightened by the existence of older home movies with images of older relatives, many of whom are now long gone.
The next generation or iteration of online video is consequently expanding from a preoccupation with the comparatively frivolous and transient content of younger users to encompass the more enduring content of the older users. In other words, as older users become more comfortable with the Internet model and take the reins of online videos from their younger counterparts, the scope and dignity of the Web content are being re-asserted. While perhaps a less-flashy version of the popular social sites, online home videos nonetheless promise to bring the respectability and wisdom that are too often lacking in the younger generations’ rush to their 15 minutes of fame.
Future Trends in Online Home Video
Given how rapidly home movie editing and sharing online has exploded in growth in 2006 within the larger context of social media, what more can we expect technologically, economically, and culturally in the next few years?
We know that consumer electronics typically draft behind the entertainment business, as movie studios go digital and companies build rich experiences for the home theaters, the distribution channels become more ubiquitous. Families can view videos anywhere now. And with new developments such as Apple’s iPhone, multiple technological devices are consolidating into one portable device. Pretty soon, every home will be down to just a few simple devices: a handheld for every individual family member for its portability; a high definition TV/DVD player for its clarity, and a PC or Mac for its powerful processing. Next generation gaming devices will also continue to contribute to the market for high end audio and visual quality.
The comfort level with using video to record a moment has increased dramatically. It is interesting to consider what the outcome would have been had the JFK assassination occurred in this age of consumer-generated content, rather than in 1963. It has taken experts years to piece together from different photos and film taken what actually happened in Dallas, Texas. In the technological transition from physical film to digital cameras in the 90s however, there has been a corresponding social effect on picture-taking. Today, there is almost nothing that occurs in the world that isn’t caught on camera from every angle, and subsequently uploaded to the Internet and shared.
Technology has also created an environment where people regardless of their generation connect more frequently with each other, and in a multitude of ways that are all designed to be instantaneous and cost-effective – instant messaging, text, e-mail, cell phone. The addition of video makes the communication that much more powerful – a picture says a thousand words. iMemories will facilitate that trend to an audience who wants it to be fast and easy to connect with others by sharing home movies.
Social media, by which people share their insights, experiences and perspectives with each other over the Internet, has exploded and is represented by the growth of online video sites as YouTube and myspace.com. An important market within this category is home movie archiving and sharing online. While benefiting from the same technological advances that helped companies like YouTube grow, online home movies have a different purpose, and are designed to last for the next 100 years, not the next 15 minutes. Their content is meant to be more enduring. Consumers want their content on DVD as well as on online, so that it is not only preserved, but able to be shared at home on their TVs in the highest fidelity format. Future generations will rejoice that there is so much information documented in digital format for generations to come.
iMemories is a leader in the dynamic Web 2.0-generation of Internet services. The company transforms old-media memories into crystal-clear digital files that consumers can enjoy and share—whenever and wherever they like.
In iMemories’ 8,500-square foot fiber-optic studio, production professionals use state-of-the-art technology and techniques to convert old home-movie films, videotapes, photographs and slides into organized archives and full-length digital productions. Memories that were deteriorating in the dark are preserved forever on optical disc—and easy to edit, organize, store and share worldwide through iMemories’ private, secure online user experience.
In a market crowded with audiovisual houses and small firms offering basic video-transfer services, iMemories’ technology and expertise enable it to deliver a premium product efficiently and affordably. Founded and led by new-media entrepreneur Mark Rukavina, iMemories is privately held and based in Scottsdale, Ariz. To learn more, visit imemories.com or call 480-767-2510.
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