Friday, December 12, 2008

How to use YouTube

Just read this article from The New York Times, a real sunshine story amidst all the doom and gloom of failing companies and huge national debt. Just goes to show that it doesn't matter who you are or where you are, as long as you have a good story to tell - or good content - and a way to distribute it, you will make it.

So, what are you waiting for?? Go do it!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Adobe or Silverlight?

News in from the UK, where both Sky TV and ITV have been relaunching their online tv players with new versions based on Microsofts Silverlight. At the same time BBC are trying, and succeeding to a certain extent, to get people excited about their Adobe-based iPlayer. William Cooper over at informitv has more on the subject, but I can't help but thinking that there are just too many options whenever we're talking about online or mobile video - and it won't be resolved until one company has grown big enough to buy up all the others... Which then again leads to that company becoming too big to be efficient, and new open source etc projects jumping up, and then we're here again.

My point? Well, the only one worth making is probably that it was easier back in the old days, without alternatives. But a whole lot more boring as well!

Dear me...

... if China is really going to devalue their currency by 30-35%, the shit will hit the fan, and not in a good way. We could see all manners of odd behaviour - new tolls, trade wars, massive unemployment, the works.

On one hand I just can't imagine what the world will look like in 12 months time. On the other, I'm convinced it's inevitable, and may turn out to be a good thing in the end. So, buckle up everyone, we're in for a bumpy ride. And to friends and relatives in the US - hope you'll be OK. If not, cosy on over here to Finland, at least we've got enormous amounts of wood, so heating should be no prob :)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Congratulations Strix

...on getting your format The Farm commissioned to Brazil and broadcaster Rede Record. As has been concluded before, the format market is going more and more global, with more and more formats coming from territories outside the traditional ones - UK, US and Holland. It makes me very happy to see Scandinavia doing well with a number of formats worldwide (partly because it makes it easier for someone else from the Nordic countries, well, yes, like me, to be taken seriously with our excellent ideas and formats).

So congratulations! And happy anniversary Finland, independence day tomorrow. Whee!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

New series over at ABC, CBS

What's happening over at the US broadcasters will soon find it's way over here, at least when it comes to scripted drama or comedy. So it's with interest I note that Boston Legal, Dirty Sexy Money and Eli Stone will be axed from ABCs schedule to make way for three new series - Cupid, Castle and The Unusuals. Should be interesting.

Over at CBS, a fun show to watch could (and should) be Game Show in My Head, where contestants have to live their ordinary life and carry out secret orders from an earpiece to win money. Degrading? Probably. Funny? We'll see.

A couple of the coolest things around

Just saw this video above, and it's brilliant. See, what they do is they reflect an image or a stream onto a mirror that rotates reallyreally quickly... An "interactive 360 degrees lightfield display", as they call it. (They should call it something c00l though, like "MEGA 3D MACHINE!" or "3DATRON") Thereby you get that funky 3D effect that is just stunning.

Well, stunning from my point of view at least, as I'm a format developer by trade. This little thingee would fit perfectly into a couple of the projects I'm working on, as a really cool gadget or to create that spacey futuristic feel. So, developers, do you have one spare?? :)

This on the other hand is plain funky - the Fi-Fi (Fin-Fish). THe developer must've thought that "well, if it works for a shark in water, why shouldn't it work for a shark-zeppelin in pure air?". And quite rightly so! It's something that I would love to be able to use in one of our projects...

Now, none of these things would be essential for anything that we're working on. But dear me, they would add something a little bit extra to them!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Nokia N97 - the "social phone"

Well, here we are. Continuing the fight for supremacy in the mobile phone market, Nokia just released the new N97 model at the CCIB in Barcelona today. Just looking at it it seems like a nice, modern phone. It also has most things you could want, or as Nokia themselves put it, it's a product that "carves a new space in the otherwise blurred realm between smartphone and laptop".


No, but seriously, this looks like a really up-for-it phone. If phone is the correct word to use anymore, that is. It's also clear that Nokia are tapping into the whole social media market - Facebooking, Beboing, Twittering, what have you, it's all done better with this phone than with any previous Nokia phone. The step to a full fledged laptop is still quite substantial, guess you'd need an inflatable screen and keyboard to bridge that gap.

Other than that, I'd be happy to get my hands on one. The pricetag might just be a little bit prohibitive, in Finland it's estimated at 550€ pre-tax. With the current economic climate, the timing could perhaps have been a bit better. On the other hand, this product probably just goes to show how on-the-edge Nokia is. The real money is in the cheap phone market.

But, well, if you happen to have one spare, do send it this way :) I promise to evaluate it thoroughly!

Joost on iPhone, iTouch

Joost was seen as "the next big thing" when it opened up it's P2P television venture a good while back. And yes, it was a bit exciting, and a bit like no one had done before (although there was, and are, quite a number of competitors with the same idea atm, like Babelgum, Vuze, Veoh etc etc, including the real competitors like Hulu or the BBC iPlayer).

But it was not really meant to be, at least not as the creators had intended. It's since evolved from a download application to a purely online and Flashbased videofeed, and it did seem as if it was meant to go out with a whimper at some point, sooner or later. Alas, perhaps not.

Joost has now teamed up with Apple, designed an interface specially for iPhone and iTouch (since the iPhone as of yet does not support Flash) and is now offering the full Joost experience on iPhone as well.

This is definitely a step in the right direction. What remains to be seen is if Joost can up their content to something a little bit more engaging and exciting than what they have on offer now - if I as an iPhone owner have 10 minutes to watch something, I don't want to spend 4 of those searching for anything watchable... so, more premium content, thank you! :)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Experience 2008 day 3

Petri Kokko from Google is talking about the 'Net, searches, services etc. Not per say anything new, but pretty good looking slides... must do something similar. And a good quote from Charles Leadbeater; if we during the last century were defined by what we have, in this century we'll be defined by what we SHARE. Something to think about!e

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Experience 2008

No, it's not a central European country in the mid-30s, it's people at Experience 2008 experiencing different views of the same thing.

I'm attending the Experience 2008 conference in Vaasa Wednesday to Friday (which I probably should, since I was presenting a paper before noon).

Some interesting stuff has been presented and discussed. Prof. Wim Veen from Holland was very much into what he called "Homo Zappiens", the online, multitasking (most often young) person that is the future of mankind. I agree to a certain degree, but I believe prof Veen falls into the same category as many other researchers and people in the industry... There are two kinds of views - the first is that Internet, games, LAN-parties, Twitter, DVB-H, whatever, is crap and unnecessary. The second thinks that all that once was will disappear since kids just interact online nowadays - and the people representing both these groups most often belong to generations before the first IT-generation (of which I am a member, like it or not).

The truth is, I think, somewhere in between. Of course everything will change. Everything always change, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. But just because kids of today watch YouTube clips and chat via MSN instead of watching television doesn't mean that the world will turn itself upside down. We will have kids playing football in the streets, we will have girls playing "home" in the yard, we will have boys running around with their guns playing at cowboys and indians.

And when they grow up, we will have youngsters that like nature. We will have youngsters that love to go swimming. We will have "the old stuff", side by side with the new stuff.

So, a bit more perspective, perhaps.

Right now listening to something pretty interesting from Dr. Kaj Storbacka of Vectia Ltd - experience is bullsh*t, brandbuilding and helping the customer to understand what is going on, that's the key.

Kaj Storbacka presenting stuff at Experience 2008.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Interactive YouTube adventure ahoy!

Well, this very interesting endeavour has been up for a couple of weeks already, and some 400.000 hits it has as well.. but that should not deter you, since this is one of the glimpses of what a part of the future will be like, if we're talking media, cross media, interactivity, great content and compelling stories.

Technically, this is easy as anything. Remember them books that were around ages ago? Fantasy or murder mystery books, which were divided into small parts, each ending with a "If you want to do THIS, go to page 74, but if you want to do THAT, go to page 112!". Then you did, and saw what happened. Mostly, you died, if I remember correctly.

Well, this is much the same, only on YouTube instead. Still, very nicely done. Hats of to you guys!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Interactive storytelling... in a slightly different way

Well, now there is a saviour for all the pople who can't make it home in time for their kids bedtime.

Microsoft and literary agents Chorion have teamed up to create "an online interactive storytelling application on Windows Live Messenger" as reported by C21 Media.

It's basically storybooks that the kids can play around with, touch the pictures etc, while their parents read the book to them over the Internet. There is also, naturally, a live cam feed so parent and child can see each other.

Dear me.

Next up, the virtual hug, and a easily programmed bot that tells your chidlren you really really love them. If it's not programmed in Vista of course, then it will get stuck and ask you for permission to continue.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mobile television - going anywhere?

We've had DVB-H, we've had DMB, we've had lots of stuff for mobile television. Some of the solutions have been fairly successful, like DMB in South Korea, or have had a strong backing, like DVB-H in many parts of the world. Still, it's not like there would be a consensus on what should be the all-conquering technology.

Now yet another player is emerging on the market - it's NXVisions product, coming out of Dunfermline in Scotland, that will try to enable smart phones to become mobile television sets. The project sounds fairly innovative; it focuses on the new generations of set top boxes and their added processing power, helping them to transcode programs to be streamed or loaded as files onto mobile devices. This then is a bit like Slingshot, but without the need to buy yet another box.

Time will tell if this venture works out, but I wouldn't mind testing one of these thingees... if anyone's got one spare somewhere :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

G-20 accomplishes.... not very much

So, this weekend saw the leaders of the "free" world get together for some nice snacks, a great dinner and some fabulous wine to go with all that.

At the same time the world was eagerly anticipating news from said gettogether, news that would right the wrongs of todays financial market, news that would point towards a better, more viable future for all mankind. Perhaps not news that would taste really good right now, but news that would show that the leaders understood what was happening, and furthermore cared about the hundreds of millions of people who had appointed them leaders.

Well, it was not to be. News? What bloody news? Everything is fine, stop complaining, instead be content - that was the message from the G-20 meeting. For a much better take on it than I can master, go to this blog.

So - looks like we're going down, all of us. And something tells me that the leaders leading us towards the abyss will jump off the bandwagon at some point, cheerily waving the rest of us goodbye.

Friday, November 14, 2008

George R R Martin as tv series on HBO? BRING IT ON!!

Just had to post this - looks like HBO are interested in producing a drama series based on one of the best fantasy novel series of the past 20-odd years, George R.R. Martins Game of Thrones series. This according to C21 media, who are reporting that HBO have ordered a pilot for the series, to be able to decide on possible production later on.

Now, as HBO really do pretty nice drama stuff - they're not exactly withholding necessary funding, at least not in project so far - such a series could (and should!) be very interesting.

They're also reporting that Anthony Kiedis (of RHCP fame) is making his childhood into a series for HBO - expect lots of drugs and sex, then :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Workshopping cross media format

Me and a colleague are holding a workshop on cross media format development in Sweden at the moment.

As a quick reflection from watching the student digging into the depths of how to create a functioning cross media whole, some things do come to mind.

- to create a cross media concept is pretty easy. the hard part is to create a GOOD and COMPELLING cross media concept. Why should anyone bother? If they bother, what's in it for them? If there's something in it for them, are the instructions clear and easy to understand? If everything else is good and jolly, is the story engaging enough?

- it's really easy to get stuck in details, and the wrong details for the most part. These details WILL CHANGE. As long as the premise is sound, the details will come.

- never mind technology. the story is way more important.

- try to find out if anyone else has done something like what you are trying to do. Make yours better, or if that's impossible, do something else.

lots to think about... but that's the path of the format developer :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Formats and the economical collapse - what will survive?

I don't think anyone hasn't noticed we're heading for a bit of a bump in the road of free market capitalism. And, to be frank, it's not a bump, it's more like the bloody Himalayas and no one knows HOW we're going to get over them and WHAT will lay ahead on the other side of them.

For the television format business, of special interest to me, there should be interesting times ahead. On one hand, we have people saying that as viewers can't afford to travel or have expensive hobbies anymore, television offers a lot of bang for the buck and as such will gain from the economical strain. On the other hand, we have people saying that everyone will have to cut back on everything, and that tv channels will not want to go for anything without a proven track record anymore.

C21 Media has a good take on the situation, pointing out - amongst other things - that MIPCOM this year was more about library sales than production or format deals. At the same time many channels are pushing forward expensive drama to 2010, going for cheaper format-style or factual stuff.

Read it, and be prepared. I'll try to, at least :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Social media FTW!

Social media is the most hyped up thing since... well, since the last hyped up thing, which was probably User Generated Content (nowadays re-branded as Loser Generated Content) or mobile television or MHP or what have you.

Well, lots of people use social media, be it Facebook or Myspace or Flickr or Jaiku or Orkut or any other of the myriad of available social media out there. Now this, of course, has gotten the attention of a lot of people - how can we make money out of it??

If you're in that niche, you could do worse than familiarizing yourself with almost everything there is to know about social media, here, here and here.

Go ahead - perhaps YOU can make the next killer social media-utilizing app thingee!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Credit crunch biting the entertainment industry as well

I saw an interview by C21 Media from MIPCOM, which took place in Cannes in October (it's a large television industry fair, basically) where people were sitting saying that "in dire times people turn to television, as it's a lot of entertainment for little money". So everything should be looking nice and rosy for the tv-industry, right?

Well, not quite. Today Disney, for example, announced a drop in earning of 13% in the 3rd quarter of 2008. Not to worry, they're still making an obscene amount of money, but declining they are. The German broadcaster ProSieben Sat is planning to introduce cost-cutting measures, to counter faltering ad-sales and problems caused by the global economic decline.

If anyone has read what Karl Denninger says over at Ticker Forum, or what someone like Peter Schiff has been saying for quite some time, you know that this is not going to be just a bump in the road. The US debt is so massive, only a thorough cleansing action can be of any help whatsoever. An such an action will bring a lot of pain - that's just the way it is.

Bottom line is I don't think anyone or anything can avoid being influenced by the global economic situation. Best we can do is prepare and be ready. And eat lots.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wow... the new MacBook.

Just got my first Mac, and I have to say I'm suitably impressed. As I've never had a Mac before, this felt like a pretty huge step for me. I was looking at moving away from stationary computers to a laptop, but I'd been mainly looking at HP:s dv5t model or perhaps one of the dv-series... but then I saw that a new MacBook was on it's way and.. well, I just had to have one.

So far (four hours and counting :) I've not been disappointed with anything. It's quite powerful, really nice looking, everything works a treat. Well, there are a lot of stuff I need to learn, of course, but well - it's worth it :)

Fancy a stay?

Why not at this fantastic hotel. What a location!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election time

Well, if the WORLD was to choose the new leader of the US, the answer would be pretty obvious. Check out how the voting goes and cast your own vote. Almost a million people have already voted, so... Seems like McCains support is strongest in Iraq, Colombia and Eastern Europe, while the rest of the world thinks Barack is the man.

Well, I wouldn't be surprised at all if McCain still won it - for all it's "we're the leader of the free world"-talk, the US is still pretty good att f*cking up elections with silly voting systems, discarded votes, provisional votes etc etc.

If Obama would win, he'd probably stay in power for less than a year before someone would pop a cap in his *ss. That's what happens to Democrat presidents, right? If they're not impeded, that is - an even worse fate.

If you're from the US, please vote. And PLEASE vote sensibly!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Successful tv formats, no 1

1. Protect yourself and protect your idea. Now. Or even better, yesterday.

Good ideas are few and far between, in the rest of the world as well as in the television and cross media industry. That's why so many people flock to the conferences and markets around the world, that's why organizations like C21 can operate their virtual trailer vault, that's why Endemol har grown so huge, and that's why you, with your idea, have a great chance of making an impact on the market.

Remember, however, to be careful. Very very careful.

There's nothing as easily stolen as a good idea. A big organization, like for instance Endemol (and I'm NOT saying they would EVER nick ANY ideas from ANYONE, no sir, it's just and example ;) ) has lots of experienced people working for them. They can spot a good idea, or what's good in the core of an idea, and take it to their creative team immediately. And with their resources, chances are you'll see a format almost identical to your idea being sold and produced worldwide within a few months.

And trust me, if you're just starting out, it's going to take you a bit longer than a few months to get your idea out there.

Even if you manage to sell your idea, your format, into production in a territory, there's no stopping someone else to nick the general idea from you and go do their own stuff. Then, the only resort is to go to court.

So, there is an obvious dilemma. You need to market your idea, but as soon as you start marketing it anyone can nick it.

Now, there are some things to do. You can choose whom to speak and pitch to - some have a better reputation than others. You can ask for an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) to be signed before the pitch - although that might not happen, as buyers do not want to be tied by a formal agreement, chances are that you will have to cancel the meeting if you insist on an NDA.

Another way is to join an organization that protects formats - FRAPA is the most well known such organization, and for a fee you can register your ideas with them. This registry comes in handy should anyone rip off your idea straight off, as you then will be able to prove that this was your idea at such and such a time. The counterpart must then prove that the idea was theirs before you had it registered, or pay damages.

The most important thing, though, is to have your format as detailed as possible. This makes it much easier to spot copyright infringements and win a court case at the end of the day.

To conclude - be careful, protect your ideas as best you can, but at the same time be brave. If it's a good idea, you'll get it going.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Successful tv formats, no 2

2. Work on your pitch. And when you've worked on it, work on it some more.

So, there is this great idea. It's TransMedia, it's functioning, it's sanctioned by all the gurus you've brought in on the project, it's been tried and tested and analyzed on the market, you've shot a couple of test pilots and a real, big one, you've edited the material and you've made the trailer. You're all set, right?


There are millions of ideas out there. All of these compete for the attention of the buyers and investors, be they acquisition executives at Channel 4 or some investors willing to finance an online experiment or anything in between.

Everyone who's buying stuff gets pitched a lot of ideas daily. At markets like MIPTV, DISCOP or MIPCOM they get pitched hundreds of ideas. And now you have to, somehow, stand out from the crowd.

That's where the pitch comes in. You pitch your idea to a buyer, try to get their interest, so you can pitch them a little longer pitch. In five or ten seconds - one or two senteces - you should be able to pitch your idea well enough to catch their attention. This then allows you to expand on your idea for one more minute, and if the interest hopefully still is there, you can go into the full-length, 3 minute pitch.

Now - REHEARSE these pitches. They should flow like water, naturally, with confidence. One good advice I heard was that you have to LOVE your idea. It's your idea, it's the greatest ever and you LOVE it! Don't apologize, don't diminish your own idea. It's THE BEST EVER! If they don't like it, it's their task to say so.

Don't overpitch either. Let them in the discussion. Don't assume that they like your idea so much that they want to hear about all the possible problems you have with your format - that's a sure way to talk yourself out of a sale.

Be prepared for questions, answer them honestly - and if you don't know, say so. Don't try to fool anyone, that's a good way of not getting another meeting when you have a new idea to pitch.

Lastly - ALWAYS think of the next step! When finishing a meeting, be sure to suggest an action plan - if they liked your idea, make an agreement to talk next week about how to proceed. If they didn't, wish them well and enquire about if they want to hear about new ideas in the future - that'll basically give you permission to confront them again, with your next BRILLIANT idea that you just LOVE!

Good luck once again :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Successful tv formats, no 3

3. A pilot is a pilot is a pilot - and you need one!

Now it's about time to get down to the real stuff with regards to the idea you have. What you want to do is shoot some kind of pilot, so as to have something to show people when you want to market your idea. Format ideas have been sold as paper formats, or even as an idea written on a napkin (or at least that how legend would have it). Truth is, however, if the buyer doesn't know you and trust you, you need to show that you have a good idea and that you can deliver. So - a pilot is a good thing

A pilot can be anything from you setting up an old HandyCam in your home or your office, engaging a few friends or colleagues to play the different parts of your format (game show contestants, interviewees or what have you) to renting a television studio with a built set and a seven-camera HD production. This pilot should, however, be the pilot that you can show to people, to buyers, and get their interest.

What you should do BEFORE this pilot, however, is a number of smaller pilots. Just test the ideas you have, shoot the different parts of the show at home, try out ideas, get a feel for if your ideas work as well as you think or not. This will serve you well when it's time to shoot the real pilot. Not only that, it'll save you money in the end, and probably make you more in the long run.

When you have shot your pilot, take some extra shots of even more exciting situations with the people on the set. This is for the 1 minute trailer that you'll also have to make, since it'll be a much better way to reach many potential buyers.

Recap - take your idea, shoot small pilots, as many as needed. These are used to TEST your ideas. Make one big pilot. This one is used to SHOW your idea. And take extra shots for a trailer. Good luck!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Formats - no longer the commodity of only a few

I'll continue the series on how to create a successful tv format tomorrow (since I KNOW y'all can't wait..., right? :) but in the meanwhile I thought I'd point out something quite interesting.

Back in the days - and we're talking early 2000s now - formats could come from the US, the UK or Holland (thanks to Endemol of course). Formats from any other part of the globe were few and far between, and channels and producers were reluctant to pick up new formats from sources they did not know. An age-old truth that - channels really really want to have the next big thing that no one has seen before, be groundbreaking and interesting. They just want to see the ratings of the format first.. :)

Today this has all changed, a fact that gives hope to format developers like me from fringe countries like Finland. The world IS smaller, the format world decidedly so. At this years C21/FRAPA Format Awards the awards went all over the world!

The best game show format went to The Encounter (Koz in Turkish), a format from Sera Film in Turkey. It is based on a combination between drama and game show, where two contestants are thrown into a fictional mafia world and have to manage a quiz show there to get away with a shitload of cash.

The best factual entertainment format went to Born to be wild, from Broadcasters, the Finnish subsidiary of Zodiak Television. That one is about getting old people (over 70 at least) to form a choir and sing true rock'n'roll. Hats off to Saku for bringing this format forth!

And of course, the scripted format award went to Caracol TV from Colombia for their scripted format about drug-running. Since telenovelas came to the fore, South America has really been up there when it comes to making exportable scripted formats.

What I'm saying is that the format world is now wide open. A good format can come from anywhere, and everyone is prepared for that. Without further ado, I will now go and create a great format. Be well! :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

....apparently not really yet :)

With Dow Jones holding up nicely on the back of the latest housing figures in the US, it looks like it'll be a while before the world ends.

Nice though, I did get up a bit early and I am a bit tired atm.

until later.

The end of the world as we know it?

So, today should be the day when it all goes to hell. The end of the capitalist world as we've come to know and love (or hate) for the past decades.

Nikkei is down, Finland is down, Hong Kong is down 12%.. and as it is not only the stock markets that are in trouble, it's the very life we are living, we will be in for some major changes.

In a way I'm happy. We should get back to basics, to communities, to REAL LIFE goddamit.

In the meanwhile, read the excellent Karl Denningers take on it all from last Saturday. Whomever is elected president of the US should hold the responsible parties RESPONSIBLE! Favourite quote: "A capitalist society is one in which those who make bad decisions fail and go bankrupt, not one in which those who fail are rescued by taxpayer money."

Tin foil hat on, seat belts fastened... here we go!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

It's not that I want to make a stand...

...or, hang on... I DO want to make a stand!

Please please pretty please (with sugar on top), anyone from the US reading this, vote Obama on the 4th.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The collapse of the economic system as we know it?

If you visit ONE new site today, you could do worse than going to this site. It's a handy forum where intelligent people meet to discuss finances.

Please go there, read up and realize that what we've seen so far is probably not that much to tell the grandchildren about. It the coming months this will all seem like a walk in the park.

See you Monday - should be interesting!

A quick link...

... just found this site, which is a really nice find.

If you like me are into US tv series - since they do a lot of fun stuff, of lately Heroes, Lost... and my current favorite, True Blood, then you're going to dig that site. It reviews and recaps all kinds of tv series on air in the US.

Keeping up to date made simple, simply!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Successful tv formats, part 4

Finally, the next instalment in the series. What do you mean, "what series?"?!?!?! My series on how to create a successful tv format, that's what series! :)

4. Think XMedia, think TMedia... think BIG!

The idea is there, the market SHOULD be there, everything is more than alright. Yup, but don't forget to think a bit bigger than this.

In todays world, television in and of itself continues to be the most important media, financialwise. But looking at what people are doing, they're spending way more time on their computers or on their smartphones than by the television. This has been the case for quite a while now, and as the tech-savvy 80's generation slowly matures (or do they?) and give way to the first Internet generation of the 90s, the trend will just become clearer and clearer.

Whatever you do, therefore, be sure to think of all the possibilities. Could your magnificent quiz show also be re-appropriated for mobile use as a stand-alone quiz show game? Could your ingenious travel format live it's own life on the Internet during the 4 months it's off air between seasons?

Once you've developed these ideas, be sure to look them over once more. It's not enough that they are great and working nicely on different media, you would also ideally need to have a sound business plan at hand. How does the producer / broadcaster / service provider / you make money out of this? Where's the financial windfall?

Once you've got all this wrapped up, you're well on your way to a very nice format.

("XMedia" and "TMedia"? It's "cross media" and the new hype word "Transmedia", of course. Read a good definition by EBU:s Nicoletta Iacobacca from last spring at Lunch over IP.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


... Too much to do, too little time. Sorry I haven't been updating this as I promised... I'll get back with the top-5 "How to create a successful tv format" any day now :)

In the meanwhile, why don't you check this out - it's the truth, I tell you! - and visit the pages of some of the people who wite the best economic analyses around, here and here. Read, learn, and if you have a spare 10-20k € lying around, why don't you make a load of cash now while it's possible!

until later.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Bloody idiot.

Breaks my heart to hear my 8 year old daughter (as we're living some 80 kms from Kauhajoki) solemnly stating that "well, it only happens once every year".

That's not the way it's supposed to be.

BAN all handguns! NOW! And FOLLOW UP people who are in need of help! FFS!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Successful tv formats, part 5

Continuing the series...

5. Always - ALWAYS - rethink, test and analyze

When you have your idea, your niche, your intended target audience, you've done your homework regarding market analysis - basically, you have it all set - then it's time to develop. Believe me, the clearest and most straightforward idea is not that straightforward after two hours of serious development work.

One golden guideline is to keep it as simple as possible. If you are tempted to throw in scantily clad women hopping about in the background, since you really like scantily clad women, take a good long thought on if this really adds something to the format as a whole.

It is very easy to make a complex format - just add a lot of rules along the way to "iron out the wrinkles". "If you go to level 2, you can then have the opportunity to double up, unless your opponent has the STOP card, because then he can make the turn of play go over to him, unless..."

This takes half an hour to explain, and even then it's not clear. Lots of work in the edit at the very least, cutting out all the "what could I do now again?" moments.

Always get a second (and a third and a fourth) opinion. Someone might see something that you don't. And always do office pilots. Test your ideas - how do people play your game? How do they think in a given situation? Does your idea work or do they get hung up on details you never thought could pose a problem?

Always be prepared to rethink, if a better twist comes up.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Secrets of tv formats, no 6

Continuing the short series of advice regarding the development and marketing of tv formats.

6. Believe in what you do - in fact, you've got to love it

You have a brilliant idea for a new show. You can see the story line, you can see how the excitement builds, you know where the climax is going to come and you firmly believe that the pay-off will be good enough to keep the viewers coming back.

There's only one thing that's not really right. You see yourself as a serious documentary maker, and this brilliant idea is a game show - a lot like Weakest Link only feel good and with a really funny and engaging twist. It's even interactive, in a logical and fun way!

The development work goes a bit slowly, because you'd rather be doing documentaries. The sales pitches aren't really up to scratch, because you'd rather be selling - yeah, documentaries. In the end, you come back home from MIPCOM, a pile of business cards in your bag but no deals, no signatures and nothing better than an "interesting idea, do get back to us when it's been broadcast for a season somewhere!" as feedback.

To create a great format you have to love it. It's perfectly alright to hate it at times as well, but the bottom line is - you have to love it. When pitching your idea to someone, nothing shines through as much as a non-really-interested pitcher. The pitchee will immediately sense this and think "well, if the MAKER of this format isn't interested in it, why should I be? Next!".

Love it. Hate it, scream at it, throw it in the bin from time to time. But ultimately, you have to love it. Or else, let it go.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Successful tv formats, part 7

Flu struck the family, so no update for some days. Well, better late than never, eh?

7. Find a niche, if possible

There are about 3 gazillions of game shows on air throughout the world as we speak. Some have been around for aeons, some have just started, most are somewhere in between. We have all these experts on gameshows and quiz shows, Endemol being one of the foremost, that have enormous development teams involved in coming up with new ideas. And they do!

At any given gathering for the television industry, a buyer will be pitched a multitude of game and quiz show ideas. "Think Deal or No Deal meets Fear Factor!" or perhaps "Well, it's Millionaire meets Wife Swap" or whatever. Very, VERY few of these will be original and exciting.

The same goes for reality tv programs, makeover shows etc. These genres have been exploited for years and are extremely hard to be original in.

My suggestion then, is to go for originality. Find a niche where there is a bit more space. It could be educational or edutainment formats - like this one - or it could be cross media shows. It could be something with interactivity or perhaps a really really novel take on current affairs?

Whatever niche you choose to focus on, you will find fewer people to pitch to. On the upside, however, the queues leading up to these persons will be significantly shorter, and their attention will be all the greater.

And I probably shouldn't have to say this, but do a thorough market research of the niche you choose. What's out there, who's producing it, what kind of ratings do they have and whom should you pitch to?

Best of luck :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

The secret behind successful tv formats, no 8

Had a lot to do yesterday, adn the missus flew off to Vilnius, so apologies for not updating. Here, no 8 on the list of the things that IMHO are important when devising a new tv format.

8. Keep up with trends and anticipate them

The recent economic crisis in the US and worldwide wasn't that hard to predict. Everything that goes up must come down, at some point, which is just what is happening now.

The same goes for the television industry. Where we, some years ago, had the upswing of reality shows like BB etc, now we have for a couple of years seen the rise of feel-good formats, many with more of a family value to them.

Furthermore, looking at the technical evolution, we had the hype around interactive television some years back, which quickly changed to a hype around UCG (User Generated Content) which next year was the enormous hype around mobile television... none of which has really really taken off as of yet, at least not to the degrees that was predicted at the outset.

What can we learn from this? Well, a good place to start is to look at what formats channels are broadcasting and buying at the moment. Think one, or several, steps ahead from the current situation - what could be the next trend coming around the corner? Right now all sorts of feel-good shows are doing the rounds. Perhaps it's more green television shows? Some have already been made, but there's room for more, if they're done well enough. Or perhaps more elaborate cross media formats, integrating the Internet, television and mobile in new and exciting ways?

I have my ideas, but since you're not paying my wages, I won't reveal them here :) But the conclusions are there to be drawn - go to c21:s pages to look for the latest news from the television industry, to informitv to read up on the interactive and cross media field, and why not the different ratings institutes (like Nielsen) around the world to look at what's selling right now.

With regards to technical solutions, don't jump on bandwagons. It'll only end with a crash, most likely. As Bill Gates said in 1995 (I think) - "We ALWAYS overestimate the technical progress for the coming two years, but we always UNDERESTIMATE the progress for the coming FIVE years".

Once again, think ahead. Don't do what everyone else is doing - in 2001 it was thousands of rip-offs of BB, Survivor etc. In 2008, rip-offs of Strictly come dancing or Farmer wants a wife, or why not game shows like Deal or No Deal. You can find hundreds of them, just go to MIPCOM this year and you'll see.

If you need any further hints and tips, gimme a call :)

Tomorrow, number 7!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

10 secrets behind successful tv formats - no 9

Continuing the series...

9. Steal a little, but not too much

Some call it inspiration. Some call it "being influenced by..". I call it necessary.

Well, unless you have been living under a rock for the best part of your life, you have probably seen some television programs at some point. And since what has once been seen cannot be unseen, what you've seen will probably influence you in one way or another.

But be sure to do it in the right way! Watch lots of shows a bit or a lot like the idea you are working on. See which solutions work, and which don't. Make note of the things you would change, do better, see more of or less of. Go back to these shows when you get stuck in your own project.

And, when looking at other shows, make sure you're looking at the right things. For example, you should not get stuck on the fact that "Millionaire" has a blue lighting rigged - that's not important. But perhaps you would instead note how they've avoided any close-ups of the people in the audience - or rather, their faces? Probably just to avoid getting someone yawning in the background, and focus on the competing person, but pretty neatly done nevertheless.

Bottom line - don't steal. Inspiration and fresh ideas, that's a whole different ballpark.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

10 secrets behind successful tv formats - no 10

This is a list I've been thinking of writing for a while now. It's a list of the ten things I believe are the most important when it comes to developing and selling a tv format. This list will probably be updated in the future, but this is how it stands right now. In no particular order - the countdown begins here:

10. Know your own strengths and get people in to compensate for weaknesses.

No one can do it all by themselves. Well, Rambo can, but that's him. And you're NOT Rambo (probably).

Some people are creative brains. Some are good salesmen. Others can work magic with numbers and economic figures. Ideally, you'd need a team consisting of all these types of persons - the creative minds coming up with the ideas, the salesperson getting sponsors in and selling the formats to productions companies and tv channels, and the economy guy keeping everything in check.

If you're starting out, however, chances are this is not very possible. But you still have a GREAT idea for a tv show! Well - get someone else in as well. Just make sure that this person is not too alike you. What you need is different perspectives on things, someone to question your ideas and come up with new viewpoints, and vice versa. There will be a great many people that will have to like your idea before it's on air somewhere, and very few of them are likely to be carbon copies of you.

...tomorrow, number 9 on the list!

John Lennon, a tape recorder and a great artist

This has got to be one of the best videos I've seen in a long while. The story goes that in 1969 a young man named Jerry snuck into John Lennons hotel room for a chat. This was recorded on a reel-to-reel tape recorder, and has now been released, together with some amazing pencil art by James Braithwaite. Watch it, for once it's 5 minutes of your life that are WELL spent on YouTube.

Monday, August 18, 2008

TV formats - why buy them, when you can just steal them??

Phew. The row that has been going on for a couple of weeks now is just getting messier and messier - and I must admit I'm a bit disappointed, though not overly surprised. C21 has the story, but to make it brief, this is what happened:

A memo from ABC leaked. The memo, from the exec VP of ABC Studios, encourages everyone not to license formats from abroad. Instead, they should be brought to ABC.s creative studios to be "evaluated", to see if the "underlying premises" can be used without licensing the format itself.

Phew once again, I say. As a format creator, this is what I fear the most. We have some pretty original and nice ideas going at the moment, but WHY ON EARTH would I pitch them to someone who is instructed by his or her boss to steal the "underlying premises"?? Sheesh... I mean, a year ago we were debating whether we should pitch one of our ideas to Endemol or not - seeing as Endemol has a reputation for nicking ideas - when we had a scheduled meeting with them. In the end, we did pitch it, but only because it was pretty funky and relied a lot on technical stuff.

ABC, don't expect much sympathy from the format owners. Last I heard FRAPA were going to have some serious talks with you guys.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dear me

Back at work.


Papers to write, pilots to plan, trips to book, people to meet, seminars and speeches to hold... and that's just the beginning.

Here's to holidays! :) Now on with the workload!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Back! Watchmen, summer, interactivity and all that

Hi! Back from a LONG vacation - which actually is not over yet, as I still have 1 week to go. Then I'm all out of vacation, and back in business.

First on the agenda - finish a paper for the DREAM conference in Odense, Denmark in mid-September. If you have the chance to attend, please do - looks like it's going to be pretty interesting stuff.

Also: WATCHMEN, the classic Alan Moore-comic from the 80s, one of the first comics that really could be considered graphic novels rather than comics, is coming out soon - well, March 2009 supposedly - with Zac Snyder of "300" fame directing. I really cannot wait. Even if Alan Moore himself has said that he's "never going to watch that fucking thing".

Summers been nice. Lots of fishing and swimming and traveling and time with the family. Great all in all. And Iron Maiden live in Helsinki - that was pretty neat, even if it was as unpredictable as the weather in Sahara.

Now off, kids to bed. Later.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

wooh, halfway to 70!

There it is, and 35 I am. not long to go to the grave anymore!

Good party tonight (writing this a little bit intoxicated) with nice people and nice atmosphere. I really do like you all. :)

now, more vacation. Turku archipelago calling!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Back... for a second

Back in Finland, and a big THANK YOU to all of you people arranging and participating in EuroITV 2008. All in all, it was great.

Now some sleep, then a train to Åbo. Until later.

Friday, July 04, 2008

EuroITV 2008 day 2

Day two of the conference is coming to an end. The best paper was just awarded, called 'Usages of the secondary screen in an interactive environment', i.e. how can one use mobile phones together with interactive television. Pretty interesting stuff, read up on it if you have the chance.

Many of the presentations today have however just given me a big 'why?'-feeling - some of the things people are doing and researching into simply seem really not worthwhile. A coffeetable with which you can change tv channels? Why? A new interface to change channels on tv and adjust the volume? Why? A 3D world - fairly low on graphics - as an interface to YouTube? For the love of God, why? Is anyone ordering these things? Is anyone buying them? Does anyone need them? Does anyone want them? I don't know. Perhaps I'm just being too harsh.

EuroITV will be held in Belgium next year, in Loeven. Year after that, Tampere.

Note to self: when your newfound friend pulls out a full bottle of vodka at 2 o'clock in the morning, I do not HAVE to drink all of it. I can, but it's not worth it.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

euroitv 2008 day 1

This is what it looks like, EuroiTV 2008. The aula is actually the venue where Mozart performed his first opera. They're REALLY big on Mozart here ;)

It's been a pretty interesting day so far. Some obvious stuff, some old stuff, but also some good stuff.

For me, one interesting session was the one on mobile tv. Research shows that we should NOT promise or advertise mobile tv as 'tv in your pocket', as this gives the wrong reference to people - they compare it to normal television, and for many reasons, technical and user experience ones, mobile tv falls short. We need to give users other reference points.

Nokia had done a test with 24 people in Dublin over the weekend - Nokia people - sending live videos to friends and family, and also to youtube. A good idea, but as only 11 of the 24 managed to send videos, and these people were from the company mind you, it goes to show that the usability and technical issues are still very much something that needs to be worked on.

From Japan there was some results showing that people use mobile tv without sound, with subtitles and no headphones. Short entertainment was the most popular genre.

Right now we're listening to 'social television'. Some nuggets here as well, though not many so far.

Salzburg is 30 degrees right now, next to no wind, all in all pretty stifling. Here's hoping for a thunderstorm a bit later!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Off to Austria (again)

Tomorrow morning I'm off to Salzburg, Austria, to present a poster/paper on our work with THE SPACE TRAINEES at the EuroITV 2008 conference. It should be an interesting event, and I'll do my best to update this blog during the conference with comments and reflections on what has been said, shown and discussed. Now off to pack some bags!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Correct predictions - Nostradamus watch out!

Now, I don't want to boast... well, actually, I do want to boast :)

Check out the blog entry on the 10th of June, below, regarding the European Championships in football in Switzerland and Austria.

Spain to win - CHECK!
Torres to score in the final - CHECK!

To bad I didn't put my money where my mouth was... Next time!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Off to the European Championships!

That's it for me for a week or so, I'll be heading for Austria and Innsbruck on Sunday, to watch a couple of games. Poland-Croatia in Klagenfurt on Monday should be interesting, even though Croatia are through thanks to the Austrian penalty last night. Poland, on the other hand, have everything to fight for.

On Wednesday we've got Russia-Sweden, and depending on how matches go this Saturday could be a make or break game for both teams. Swell.

We'll be staying in Möser close to Innsbruck, so I'll get to go running in the Alps for a bit. Only thing is the weather predictions - rain all week!

I'm off, bye!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

8 hours of media consumption per day

I know I'm in the television and cross media business, and I should be thrilled that people are availing themselves of an increasing amount of media. I should, but in truth, I'm not.

A recent survey foretells that US citizens will consume an average of 8 hours of media per day by 2013. Of that, close to 50% will be traditional television, the rest web programming, games, DVD:s, mobile content etc.

The reason I'm not thrilled? I honestly believe that this is not the way to go. My firm belief is that we would need a healthy balance between entertainment and so-called Real Life. EIGHT HOURS per day spent consuming media means EIGHT HOURS less to live your own life, to meet people, to really DO SOMETHING, to create something MEANINGFUL... To be a human, not a consumer.

I realize I'm probably a hopeless romantic when it comes to this, but I would be quite happy to see what would happen would we turn off all television and Internet media, close all DVD-rentals etc for a week or two, and let people try to find out what they would do instead. I believe that media has its firm place in the world of man, but it shouldn't be the single most important thing by far.

Seeing as man in 99 cases out of 100 takes the easy way out - i.e. turns on the telly and wastes away - something else must happen. I hope it does.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

3G iPhone , Geni, tv pilots and more...

... how to keep up? :)

Firstly, great news from Apple. The new and improved 3G iPhone is on its way, in an 8 Gb and an 16 Gb version. Moreover, we'll be looking at funky packages on offer by the operators - O2 in the UK, for instance, has some fairly attractive offers lined up. Goddamit, why did I go and buy a Nokia N95? Well, have to make do I guess.

Stumbled upon the nice little family tree / genealogy website called Geni, a handy tool for anyone who wants to get their family tree up and running. Fairly intuitive, easily managed, the possibility to go into great detail if necessary - it's all there. I like the "never shared, never spammed" motto they have on their opening page - on the other hand I am still a bit careful not to submit other peoples e-mail addresses, not even relatives. Facebook is sucky enough today, I don't need something else spamming everyone I care about.

I did promise to keep you up to date regarding the tv pilot we shot last week. It's now being edited and it's going to be really great! It's a football quiz show called Game On, and I'll give you all a link to a trailer for the format as soon as it's edited. Good feeling though, I believe that format can go places.

On another note, still slightly similar, I'll be heading off to Austria for the European Championships in football next Sunday. I'll watch Poland-Croatia and Russia-Sweden, so hopefully some great goals and a magical atmosphere, pretty please. Spain to win the tournament! Yes! Torres the scorer in the final. Double Yes!

I'm off to bed now. Last links though - if you want to understand what's going on in the world of economics, why the world is in a pretty shitty state at the moment in the economical sense and why it all is the fault of president Bush, look no further than the Calculated Risk blog or the insightful discussion on the Market Ticker Forum. You see, the world is changing, and not for the better, not with regards to economics. I will not mind the day when everything has to change because there is no more oil, but I believe some other people will mind. Just beware, and prepare, ok?

Until later.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Shooting pilots is fun

Today we'll be shooting a pilot for our football quiz show GAME ON. It's a really neat format, which gained a lot of attention at MIPTV this spring. Two teams compete, using a board game and their knowledge to score as many goals as possible. The scoring is live, they get to shoot penalties at a goalkeeper from the other team. All in all, should be an exciting day. Will keep you posted!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

And the awards go to...

The Internet is a wonderful thing, especially if you find some people who really really use it to it's full potential. Have a look at the Webby Awards for a look at the best of the best at the moment. Kudos to Swedish ad agency Farfar - they look like a seriously creative and innovative bunch. If you at Farfar need someone to strengthen your team, let me know :)

My personal favourite? Well, I haven't yet looked through them all, but Cokes Happiness Factory is pretty neat.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Work environment

I've always heard it was important to have a good work environment. One where you could relax, feel comfortable and let the creative energy flow. I myself have a large window overlooking the sea, which is nice (but slightly annoying at times when I would rather go for a swim than work).

However, my workplace pales in comparison with Googles Zurich office. Mee too want a pool table and a firemans pole! Goddamit!

On the other hand - it could be worse.

Will now go and pressure bosses, perhaps I could get a pole like that installed. Somewhere. Ouch.

Friday, May 23, 2008

NILE 2008

Now, if you can't make it to Amsterdam as mentioned below, perhaps you'd like to join up for NILE 2008? I'm not really sure if I'm going yet - if I do I'd like to present some of the stuff we are doing - but as NILE stands for Narrative in Interactive Learning Environments I belive it touches upon the same ground we're working on at the moment. And with things like "Creative Learning by Designing Digital Board Games: Practicing deep-reading skills through game creation process" or "Learning through the Construction and Use of Intelligent Image Narratives" on the agenda, it might just be a bit interesting as well.

Edinburgh, early August (the time of the Edinburgh festival as well, so if the conference doesn't live up to your expectations, you can just go out for a beer or twelve instead :)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Out for a PICNIC?

If you're interested in cross media, in the latest findings and projects and in meeting company and research people from all over the world, you could do worse than attending PICNIC in Amsterdam in September. Topics include: The Global Mind, The Tupperware Economy, Almost Real (3D Cinema etc), Future Urban Spaces (How can we develop sustainable cities?) and Creative Leadership.

Lots of speakers as well. Should be a good thing! Perhaps we'll meet in Amsterdam later on!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Been a while

since i last updated this blog. Better start updating now agin, methinks.

Toyday, if you're going to read something, read this (in Swedish though!). A very comprehensive listing of the injustices the people behind The Pirate Bay have experienced in the hands of the Swedish juridical system. Quite appalling, if you think about it.

On another note, has there ever been a less exciting Champions League final than this one? ManU - Chelsea... Scum vs Arrogant Divas. Plah. I'll still watch it, though - hope both lose! :)

Now there is work to be done, so - until tomorrow!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter bunny came to visit

...and brought a lot of FLU!!

I do not like being ill. Not only does it sap all my strength and make me pretty miserable to live with, it also interferes with all plans made up by me and mine.

On the other hand, today was a beautiful winters day - a bit cold, but hey, better that way!

happy easter everyone, and have lots of chocolate eggs!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Skating on the sea is infinitely more fun than skating anywhere else. This kind of clear ice is a bit rare - wasn't the greatest though, more like 7½ out of 10, since it was fairly uneven sometimes.

I like to have the wind in the back as well, otherwise it'd been torture :)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Time to get going

Have you got an excellent idea for an iPTV concept? Well, then, you could do worse than entering Deutsche Telekoms iPTV competition with 1 million euros in prize money.

iPTV is gearing up, but I believe we should be looking at what can be done with iPTV that will set it apart from other means of television - regular, mobile or what have you.

Best of luck, and see you at the awards ceremony later on ;)

BTW - Deutsche Telekom, if anyone of you are reading this - the starter kit looks really really technologically heavy. Now, I know that it's important to know what ratios are possible to include, and that JPGs work but PNGs don't and suchlike. But please - do NOT scare away the creative minds too much! What you want are GOOD IDEAS! You do NOT want things that look good and fit all the technological requirements but are lacking in content!

If you need some consultation regarding this, you know where to find me :)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hmmm, winter? spring? what's up Mother Nature?

This is the kind of weather we should be having 1½ MONTHS from now. Mid February should be the time of the year when we're all complaining about how cold it is, and when is spring coming along, and why do we live in this country.

I mean, look at this:

Honestly - melting snow and ice? a warm and nice sun? That's NOT Finland in February! Someone correct this AT ONCE!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Att utveckla det svenska språket


- En avart av den s.k. "cliffhangern", ofta använd inom film- och tv-industrin. Den kännetecknas av att den är så snarlik en oerhörd mängd tidigare cliffhangers att alla som ser den vet EXAKT vad som kommer att hända härnäst.