Anyone who has spent anytime in the last year on the web has seen a dramatic rise in Internet video. So much so that it is now a central element of many websites across the net. Web video is no doubt here to stay. 'Television, as we know it, will be unrecognizable in five years', that according to the opinion of Bill Gates. Tim Berners-Lee, who is credited by many with inventing the world wide web, claims that the future of television is 'absolutely on the Internet'. Every major entertainment company from NBC, to Viacom, and ESPN and many more have made a major move to distribute their content via the web.
These companies will continue to leverage the vast reach of the Internet, but the question is what about the independent producer and independent filmmaker? The low cost of producing high quality digital video, combined with higher speeds of broadband connected to video friendly computers, and the international open distribution network that is the Internet has created a time of opportunity for the independent producer. The advent of low cost digital video cameras was the quantum leap for the independent filmmaker. With broadcast quality equipment within reach, the small producer no longer has to spend most of their time trying to find money, and can execute a professional project with only a modest budget. Films are shot on cameras that are than used to transfer the footage to a desktop computer where it can be edited using software that has much the same capability as a professional editing suite. A film can then be submitted, directly from a computer to the marketplace that is the web.
Edit a film, and then distribute a film all from the same chair, this is the future of the television industry. The increase in broadband and high speed Internet connections is the next piece of the puzzle. This works in conjunction with 'media center' type computers that allow for DVD quality playback of video on the web. As the number of worldwide households that have a high speed Internet connection increases, so does the potential marketplace for Internet video producers. We are now at level of high speed connectivity that has created a vast market for video, and that is only going to increase.
Likewise any new computer purchased anywhere in the world is going to have the ability to playback that video, and make it look as good as it does on your television. The last element that makes this a promising time for the independent filmmaker, is the nature, and the reach of the Internet itself. The web is ideal in many ways for the independent film and television producer. There are already methods to distribute on the web, already ways of syndicating your content across the Internet that allow people who are interested in the type of work that you are doing to find you. And we are only in early days yet, these methods will continue to evolve and along with it the ability for a filmmaker to find an audience.
Everybody knows about Youtube, and the 100 million video plays a day. That's more then the US audience for the Super Bowl every single day. People are watching, and they may not always be satisfied with exploding coke bottles or celebrities doing embarrassing things.
There will be a place for the independent filmmaker and television producer that create high quality film and video projects. Your audience awaits.
Rick Aitken is the president of Sound and Smoke TV, a broadband television business that specializes in independent film, media, and music.