The pitching competition for the projects developed at Crossover Nordic was last night and I’m really excited to say that Secret Society has won! I worked alot with this team and am really proud of them – I hope that prize of SEK 100,000 (10,000 Euro) goes a long way towards making the project a reality.
“Our Secret Society is an interactive game and web-series telling the story of 4 girls as they explore their sexuality. With an aim at 13-16 year old girls with some or none experience of sex we let them try out pre-sexual situations in a safe and fun environment. Playing the free web-based game, involving the 4 characters from the web-series, is a way for young teenager girls to approach sex without the risk of being harmed physically or judged for doing right or wrong.” – Andreas Öhman (team member who did the pitch)
One of the things I really liked about this project is that it aims, in part, to use mobile as a way for teens to consume and experience media in a private environment, which I think is one of the most interesting aspects of mobile media that has yet to be fully exploited. The crossover with TV that makes the overall experience both something teens can socialise about AND have a private experience with seems like a great combination.
Well, day four of Crossover Nordic was the day of hard work. All of the teams spent an intensive day working on their ideas – and boy – did they come a long way.
To re-hash, the teams formed after the Ideas Market on Day 3 and put their heads down to work on pitches for their ideas. We’re using creating pitches as a way of developing the ideas and giving feedback because its a useful methodology but also because these ideas will be pitched to real commissioners at Nordisk Panorama. Each group has had three watering holes (described here) with different mentors where they’ve had intensive feedback on both their ideas and their pitches and have been doing tremendous amounts of revision before the next watering hole.
The amount of work that’s gone into each project between has been amazing. The ideas and pitches have been iterated at break-neck speed and the teams have been incredibly open to all forms of feedback and critique – which isn’t easy; especially when some of them have been working almost all night. The teams have gone on huge creative journeys and its been thrilling to help mentor them through the process and see them progress. Each time they’ve presented, the mentors have seen the ideas and presentations progress a huge amount.
This morning I’m sitting and watching the final technical rehearsals for the pitches and they’ve all improved – again. Great stuff. Personally, I think that more than one of them has a really strong chance of getting commissioned and I’m really proud of how well the teams have done.
At this lab I’ve been working as a mentor/facilitator but I know I’d be interested in taking these type of projects forward had they been pitched to me in other labs and festivals where I’ve worked as a commissioner. I’m wishing all of the teams good luck and can’t wait to see the final pitches and see the teams’ reactions to each others work as it will be the first time they see their colleagues ideas since they were just a bit of writing on paper a few days ago.
Crossover is full of producers from across a range of media; mostly independent producers who live off the quality of their ideas and work. So what happens when you get them together in an environment where they need to share ideas and can potentially have conflicts over who walks away with the rights to which ideas?
Well, here’s what Heather Croall, Lab Co-director has to say:
There are lots of development labs where existing teams come in with existing projects and get put through a rapid development and prototyping process. Crossover is different to that because the lab brings together around 20 responsive individuals (approximately half from traditional film and TV produciton and half from new media, games and interactive media). Because these people are not existing teams with existing projects the Crossover process is much more focussed on brainstorming methodologies and stimulus to help get these people from different backgrounds to join forces in interdisciplinary teams and come up with crossplatform projects together through the week. The IP of ideas that are generated through these brainstorming methods is owned collectively in the lab. Any of the participants may ed up actually taking it forward. The lab is much more about encouraging the new media and traditional media producers to consider how to approach proejcts together from the very inception of an idea and bring the best of storytelling and the best of interactivity to the development process. Because the lab is full of indies they often do want to also bring their own projects in and hope to get them brainstormed with the people in the lab. The challenge is that it needs to be made clear that in those cases the IP remains with the producer who brought the idea to the lab and it is already in development. The producers have a 24 hour window at the start of the lab to declare these projects on the IP wall That way the projects remain with them and they can feel safe to bring them into the mix. The overwhelming majority of projects that have been developed in Crossover Labs have been predominantly ones that came out of the brainstorm methods so it is only ever a minority of projects that are brought to the lab already in existance. The process is of course about the ideas but it is also about learning processes and tools that equip producers to develop projects in new ways, with people from totally different disciplines to meet the changing needs of audiences” in a cross platform media landscaspe.
Paula Le Dieu is one of the mentors here and has done extensive work thinking about IP issues and alternative frameworks for dealing with them in her time working on the BBC’s Creative Archive and at Creative Commons.
One of the reasons I find the Crossover process so exciting is because of the thought that Frank and Heather have given to the IP structures. New projects created during the week are commonly owned by all the participants – this makes for the genuine atmosphere of collaboration and creative co-operation that is the heart of the crossover experience. It also subtlely introduces participants to commons or open IP structures that I believe are such an important part of the future of media production.
I was surprised that a number of the projects that the participants chose to work on were ones where existing IP was brought into the lab and where the original owner would be the ‘director’ in the group and would be able to leave with the rights to the group’s work. This is apparently different from what’s happened at past labs and I wonder if there’s a different culture around this in the Nordic countries, or if its because these ideas were shining through so strongly, or for another reason.
The first few days of Crossover were about ideation – generating loads of ideas for cross-platform content – regardless of whether they’re good or bad – through all of the means described in previous posts. This morning, a few more thoughts were added to the ‘Ideas Wall’ where we were collecting them. The process of generating all the ideas was exhausting mentally and creatively for the participants and today, it was time to start scaling back to the ideas that each team would work on for the rest of the week.
The Ideas Market was a facilitated process that allowed the participants to whittle down the number of projects they thought were good and self-select teams to work on them. The process was long and wasn’t easy but we’re now down to six proejcts with no more than 4 people working on any of them.
The teams started working on their projects after lunch to work towards the first of a series of ‘watering holes’ where the mentors gave feedback, roughly using the De Bono hats methodology. It was very early on in the development of the ideas so some of the pitches and feedback were a bit chaotic; but will hopefully be leading to much stronger pitches for stronger ideas tomorrow.
If you’re here, I’d love it if you’d share your feedback on the Ideas Market and the first Watering Hole. How did they feel? What were your thoughts on the methodology?
Here’s what a few participants had to say:
This afternoon we tried an exercise that I video-ed so that even if your’e not here, you can give it a try.
Just try to watch this clip. Watch carefully and try to figure out what’s going on:
Now try to watch the other half of the group:
What’s going on in each? What similarities and differences do you see in the groups? How do people adapt and adopt different roles/characters?
The group was divided in half and each was instructed ‘to copy exactly what you see on the screen without speaking. Don’t stop no matter what happens and don’t make noise.’ They were then shown clips from Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill! while the other half of the group tried to figure out what was going on in the group, in the story, with the characters, etc. The groups then reversed roles and the second acted out a scene from The Wicker Man.
If you’re a participant, please add a comment and let me know your thoughts on how it felt, what you noticed, etc.
These were (approximately) the scenes the groups were acting out:
This morning, we’re listening to another set of pitches as more and more ideas go onto the ‘ideas wall.’ These pitches are based on a grid that the teams developed yesterday where they generated a list of:
- 2 Platforms (eg. YouTube, Twitter, TV, etc)
- Topics (eg. Love, Memory, Dilemmas, Truth in the Media, etc)
- Genres (or Tones) (eg. Horror, Live Coverage, Erotica, etc)
- Target Audiences (eg. Women, White Trash, Pre-schoolers, etc)
Each group had to pick from a list of options for each and work up a pitch. The groups have been keeping each other laughing and having had the night and breakfast this morning to work up the pitches, they’re of much better quality than yesterday. A few of them so far seem strangely sexualised…
Here’s Maria, Hans and Thomas pitching an idea (in front of the growing ‘Ideas Wall’ that would apparently need support from the BBC. I wonder why they were pitching it in front of me? ;)
Maria, Hans and Thomas
The second part of the day was dedicated to the group talking about important factors in the changing media environment and about the keys to being creative in this environment. There was also a long session of ideas generation and pitching, building towards the goal of having about 50 great ideas for the teams to work on developing by tomorrow.
Frank facilitated the group creating a mind map of the factors that are important in the changing media ecology. Major themes the group felt needed to be included were:
Mind Map of the Changing Media Ecology
- Monetization and Changing Business Models: This was about moving towards a ‘weightless economy’ where the goods and services provided by the media ceased to benefit from physical distribution. Words that came up included: ‘More free stuff’ and ‘finding your users’
- New forms: New forms of media were required to work across the changing ecology – this wasn’t to the exclusion of linear media but in order for these to be successful, the linear media needs to ‘combine new and old forms’ to do build things like: ‘direct relationships,’ ‘increasing immersiveness,’ ‘community,’ and ‘location awareness.’ To be successful, media is having to learn to understand the context the user is in when they’re experiencing it.
- Users: Have ‘easy connectivity,’ are experiencing a world where they are ‘Consumer vs. Producer’ or ‘prosumers‘ (interesting post and video on ‘The Rise of the Prosumer‘ on TechCrunch). Media has to ‘produce platforms and inspiration (the ‘and’ is a key there in my opinion!) and ‘social tools.’
- Democratic Control: ‘Freedom/Mobility’ for users and devices, ‘Distribution’ forms are changing, and production (by professionals or users) have very ‘Short Lead Times.’
- Emerging technologies: But then we would say that at Crossover ;)
The ‘ideas wall’ where the ideas the teams came up with and pitched is startin to fill up. Day 2 will start with another pitching session where we’ll hear more in-depth ideas the teams worked up over night. As I write, it’s breakfast on Day 2 and the teams look busy preparing their pitches.
A few links:
- When talking about the creative process, one name that kept coming up was Edward De Bono, a master of analysing creative process and pratices, so I’ve included a link to his site.
- We talked alot about the rules of brainstorming and keys to making one successful or not. There’s obviously no perfect way or perfect set of rules, but I thought these were good and amusingly written.
Ship docked outside Slussen Pensionat, Orust Sweden
I’m participating in Crossover Nordic this week as a mentor to a group of creatives and geeks who have come together to work on developing cross-platform media ideas. Crossover is a ‘lab’ directed by Frank Boyd who I’ve worked with extensively in the past on BBC Innovation Labs. At the Innovation Labs I’ve participated as a commissioner of cross-platform content; this will be my first acting as a mentor and I’m looking forward to it. We’re in a spectacular setting – the Slussen Pensionat on Orust – off the west coast of Sweden.
Today we’re getting to know each other – almost none of the participants or mentors know each other and we’ll need to colaborate and educate each other during the week. Frank introudced the day talking about how Crossover is hoping to create an international network of ‘geeks, lovies and barrow boys’ (the three groups that are required to work together to make digital distribution work) to enable great cross-platform projects.
In getting to know each other, I think we’re mainly split between geeks and lovies (creatives) here. We spent the morning talking about our media habits throughout the day. I was suprised by the variety we saw in people’s routines. A few observations:
- There was alot of people who had ‘continuous partial attention‘ behaviour with media. Emails checked every few minutes while they’re doing something else; radio playing in the background throughout other activities; using the laptop, tv and mobile at the same time;
- Big differences in behaviours between people with and without children;
- Lots of mobile use – especially for checking news and social media – more so than I think we’d have in a group this size in the UK (this, of course, made me happy).
The thing that really struck me was that nearly everyone said they ‘checked online news’ – exactly those words. I wondered if this meant the same thing to all of them. Do they all go to traditional editorial publisher/broadcasters and digest carefully curated headlines and stories by journalists?
I ended up facilitating a conversation about this. We talked about how many people did each of the following behaviours and I’ve ranked them, roughly, in order of their initial popularity (there was a group of about 25 people):
- Getting professionally-created, packaged news from a traditional newspaper/text provider (eg. The New York Times)
- Getting professionally created video news (eg. BBC)
- Using a news aggregator of sorts (eg. Google News)
- Using sites (or services) that exist facilitate social sharing of news (eg. Digg)
- Getting ‘drips’ of news through other types of personal recommendations that come in a more ambient fashion – not in a destination they’d gone to for news (eg. stories friends have posted in their Facebook news feed, forwarded via email or Instant Messenger, etc)
People seemed surprised when I asked about the last category. At first, people didn’t say they did it but as the discussion moved on, more and more people realised they do check the news this way, though they’re not concious of it as a news-gathering behaviour. Those who said this was a means of getting news, they said it was really powerful because it was so personal.
I’ve had a hunch for a while that this was probably the case and think there’s a lesson for online news products there about weaving their content into other parts and behaviours of people’s lives. I’m thinking about how this could apply where I work, on mobile – how else can news and information be ‘dripped’ to people in and around the other things they do with their mobiles? Sure we have news-based SMS alerts, but I think there’s a much longer (and more interesting) way to go on this.