"There are no mistakes, only opportunities." ~Tina Fey

November 15, 2007 Pioneering Panel at BlogWorld & New Media Expo

A Forum for Insights on Marketing In New Digital Landscape

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When Phil McIntye, CEO of The Brand Gallery and PGM Artists, decided to organize and moderate a panel session at BlogWorld & New Media Expo, he wanted to propose the burning question of the day to traditional media and corporate marketing executives: “Are you blogging?” More specifically, McIntyre’s goal was to stimulate a discussion on how profit-driven companies of all kinds can reach increasingly empowered consumers by bridging the converging, but still distinct, worlds of traditional and cyber-based media.

“It’s certainly not news that the digital media environment is becoming increasingly important for marketing television and film, as well as for consumer advertising campaigns. The landscape has already changed dramatically,” McIntyre emphasizes. “By presenting this panel of leaders in the field to this well-attended conference of bloggers puts us ahead of the curve.”

McIntyre specializes in straddling these worlds at both The Brand Gallery, which specializes in the development of Brand architecture and design for screen media, having created presentation, promotion and design strategies for some of the world’s most-recognized media and entertainment brands, and PGM Artists, which serves as a conduit that links a broad-based consortium of high end brand design, visual effects, animation, live action, music, web development and multi-platform interactive digital producers with the media companies and advertising agencies that seek these services. Additionally, McIntyre shook up the non-linear media community and the blogosphere with PhilTube, a series of on-demand videos that offered a satirical take on contemporary new media trends. It not only attracted positive attention from linear media and bloggers alike for its humorous insight, but caused enough of a commotion that the major entity that is YouTube felt threatened enough to seek a decease and desist order against PhilTube. This proved an important legal decision concerning the promotional use of digital content on the internet. Comedy Central was impressed enough with McIntyre’s project, and the ensuing commotion, to enter a development deal with PGM Artists’ client Hart + Larsson — which conceived, created and executed the project — to develop a PhilTube inspired series for online, and possible cable television distribution.

“The success of ‘PhilTube’ shows the importance of embracing and honoring consumers who are snacking on non-linear content in the new digital environment. The growing legions spending more time on-line and paying less attention to traditional media attest to this,” McIntyre says. “The people attending BlogWorld are addressing this growing audience with a smart, savvy ‘everyman’ authenticity that’s completely counter to corporate interests and the money behind them,” he observes.

The challenge is to present content that’s not intrusive, but informative and entertaining. “Bloggers and new media consumers know marketers have been looking in their direction,” McIntyre explains. “They can be won over if you make an emotional connection with your message. You can’t pander to them. It’s a sensitive task for marketers who have to walk a tightrope connecting these divergent worlds.”

In selecting members of the panel for the BlogWorld session, McIntyre chose industry leaders who have accomplished this successfully.

The Panel: Joe Ferreira, Senior Vice President and General Manager, CBS Audience Network, CBS Interactive; Josh Krane, Senior Vice President, Interactive and New Media, G4 Video Game Television; Patrick Lafferty, Chief Creative Officer, Travel Channel Media; David Rolfe, Vice President, Director of Integrated Production, Crispin Porter + Bogusky; Kesu James, Interactive Writer & Producer / HBO Voyeur Project, BBDO New York; Mark Toney, Senior Vice President of Digital, SmithGeiger Research Consulting; and James Hibberd, Senior Reporter, TelevisionWeek.

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After moderating this high-powered panel at BlogWorld, McIntyre remains convinced there is no reason why those from traditional media couldn’t adapt and flourish in new media formats and outlets. “No industry is better suited to breath in this space,” McIntyre maintains. “Television and film producers as well as advertising agencies have an historically long run of excellent performance in building audience and connecting with people.”

This, McIntyre explains, is counter to the conventional wisdom about the internet espoused by the traditional marketing community. “It”s too often said that it’s an amateur environment with great sensitivity to self-interest and a limited appetite for corporate backing or fakeness. There’s also a concern among bloggers that marketing activities could undermine the value of blogs and could turn this important and expanding informational technology into one big infomercial,” McIntyre observes. “But I have faith that the ultimate consumer can differentiate, and on some level has been embracing new technologies by spending more money on-line. For example, the music industry really dropped the ball with the whole Napster and free music downloading question,” McIntyre maintains. “They took a more defensive posture instead of figuring out how to profit from it. It might mean giving away a small piece of the pie to own an even larger segment of the business. Consumers have been moving away from CDs and will ultimately dictate what will happen with DVD sales. Content is changing,” McIntyre notes. “Technology is allowing us to deconstruct intellectual property and appropriate it in new ways.”

Hollywood is beginning to see the light, McIntyre observes. “Many movie studios, with their very rich, expensively produced content, now monitor the blogosphere weeks ahead of releasing a film. Depending on the on-line buzz, studios might decide whether to take a film wide, or go with a smaller release and focus more on the downstream DVD and video on-demand after-market. The blogosphere has proven to be an up-to-the-minute, upstream/downstream, real-time case study in how to best use marketing and distribution dollars, McIntyre says. What used to take weeks or months of audience research can be determined almost instantaneously. The instruments are changing in the orchestra as studios are changing and tweaking a model that used to be based solely on getting 200 people into a dark room to consume their product.

It’s now important for advertising agencies and marketing departments at corporations to look at how studios are handling content, McIntyre asserts. This provides the first glimpse of an evolving model. When you’re talking about a major film release, it’s really all about brand management and stewarding content. Yes, this can be applied to detergent on a supermarket shelf.

McIntyre sees the constantly changing and evolving digital environment as an important arrow in the marketer’s quiver and an essential part of future marketing plans, but it must be deployed wisely. Cyberspace can be an unforgiving environment in several ways. It’s not only about hurdling the impediments of using this decidedly non-commercial setting for commercial purposes, there are legal issues concerning intellectual properties, as well, McIntyre explains.

McIntyre cited advice from Jim Rosenfeld, a partner in the New York office of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, which recently won a national award given to the top media law firm in the United States, in discussing several concerns at the BlogWorld panel:

The informality and personal nature of blogs often seems to create a lower legal bar, permitting bloggers to appropriate others’ content far more than we would be inclined to do on network TV, in the pages of a magazine or in other mass media. But now that every media company — and just about every company of any kind — has its own blog, can corporate bloggers take advantage of this lower bar, or do lawyers have to be just as diligent in avoiding infringement, libel and other legal claims, whether by licensing content or leaving it out?

The answer, of course, is that it is necessary to be every bit as diligent in self-policing content in the blogosphere as in other media. Rosenfeld also notes:

When individual bloggers use people’s content, there is often little incentive to sue them because they are not as likely to have the resources to pay damages. As a result, bloggers have been permitted to appropriate a lot of content that infringes or violates others’ rights. Media companies, or other corporate bloggers, look around on the internet and see that “everyone is doing it.” Yet they have to be just as diligent as traditional media — and much more so than lone bloggers –in licensing or excluding content, or be relying on good advice that their uses of such content are not violating anyone else’s rights, because they are much more likely to get sued for what others have gotten away with.

This means the same kind of legal diligence in terms of copyrights and other intellectual property concerns must still be carefully considered. With these legal issues addressed, the marketing potential in the digital environment is almost endless. In the past, consumption of traditional media was far more passive, McIntyre says. The new technologies have led to a far more empowered consumer. We need to take a serious look at how to utilize the digital environment to better adapt to changing consumer behavior.

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November 14, 2007 Synthespian Studios & The Radio City Christmas Spectacular

“Celebrating 75 Years of The Radio City Christmas Spectacular”
New Stereoscopic Film Debuts at Radio City

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Williamstown, MA – November 14th, 2007 – This year Synthespian Studios produced a new version of the 70mm stereoscopic 3-D film that has opened “The Radio City Christmas Spectacular” since 2001.

For this year’s show, Synthespian Studios directors Jeff Kleiser and Diana Walczak worked closely with the show’s director/choreographer Linda Haberman to plan an extension of the film. While previous editions of the film started with Santa arriving in New York (just over the Statue of Liberty to be exact), this year Haberman wanted Santa’s journey to start at the North Pole.

Approximately 47 seconds of new material was created for this year’s film. The film opens on a screen filled with clouds and then suddenly Santa and his reindeer burst out of the clouds and take us on a thrilling journey through a canyon of ice, past a Polar Bear with two cubs who throw snowballs at us (creating a startling a 3D effect); over the Canadian tundra and woods where we pass a gaggle of geese (in another 3D effect); and up and over Niagara Falls before we swoop down the Hudson river and under the George Washington Bridge to seamlessly hook-up with the old film at the Statue of Liberty.

The imagery for this year’s film was produced by a small team of exceptional artists working from studios in Hollywood, Western Massachusetts. Blocking; layout; character animation; research and design for the clouds; and compositing were handled by four artists in Hollywood. Artists in Massachusetts took on the task of changing the color of Santa’s sleigh in the older material from blue green to red. They also created a 3D gold 75 logo that was placed on the Radio City marquee that appears at the end of the film.

“We were thrilled to be able to update our film, which has now been running for six years at Radio City, and we hope the new footage will be as well received as the rest of the film has been in the past,” says the film’s co-director Jeff Kleiser.

A 2-D version of this film will be included in “Celebrating 75 Years of The Radio City Christmas Spectacular,” a one-hour high definition broadcast of the Christmas show to be shown on NBC on Dec. 1st. Don Hewitt is the special’s executive producer which will be hosted by Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira.

The telecast, according to a press release, will “bring the show’s unique holiday celebration into homes across America, featuring new scenes, state-of-the-art special effects, glamorous costumes, and eye-popping numbers performed by the world-famous Radio City Rockettes, as well as traditional classics including the famed ‘Parade of the Wooden Soldiers.’”

Credits for the Stereoscopic 3-D Film Produced for
The 75th Celebration of “The Radio City Christmas Spectacular”

Directors
Jeff Kleiser and Diana Walczak

Producer
Amanda Roth

Executive Producer
Michael van Himbergen

Lead Artists
Caleb Owens
Kenny Jackson
Edward Quirk

CG Artists
Travis Pinsonnault
Eric Wilson
Benjamin Fiske
Ron Hui
Stephen Sen

Systems Administrators
Joel Feder
Steve Hagenkord

Large Format Film Editors
Kent Hayward
David Bartholomew

Negative Cutter
James Sheridan

Production Coordinator
Marie Trudeau

Production Accountant
Laurie St. Cyr

Film Recording and Large Format Lab Services
FotoKem

Special Thanks to
21st Century 3D

About Synthespian Studios
Synthespian Studios is a boutique story development, design and character animation studio launched by creative directors Diana Walczak and Jeff Kleiser who, as partners, helmed the bicoastal animation and effects house Kleiser-Walczak Construction Company.

Founded to create original projects for animated characters, in 2005 Synthespian Studios was commissioned to develop, design and produce two pilot commercials for the Sun-Maid Raisin Growers of California and their iconic Sun-Maid girl. The success of these spots lead to the development of more commercials and print ads for Sun-Maid as well as projects for entertainment clients.

In addition to their spot and print work, Synthespian Studios designed and produced an all-CG animated dance sequence spoofing “War of the Worlds” for “Scary Movie 4.” Kleiser and Walczak’s visual effects work may be seen in shots created for “X3″ and “Fantastic Four.”

Jeff Kleiser teaches computer animation at Williams College and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Additionally, he serves on the board of directors of the Visual Effects Society and on the board of the Williamstown Film Festival. Jeff Kleiser and Diana Walczak both serve on the board of trustees of the Norman Rockwell Museum.

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Images available on request.

CONTACT:
Marie Trudeau
413 458 0202
marie@synthespians.net