Catching Up on Virtual Production and OTT vs Linear TV

Once again I’m going to quote the old London stockbroker saying of ‘Sell in May and Go Away’ – the phrase they would use to indicate that not much would happen in the dog days of summer – better to spend the days schmoozing with clients at Royal Ascot, Goodwood, Wimbledon, the Henley Regatta and other sporting events until the evenings started to darken again.

Over the last couple of months, I have spotted a few interesting snippets that weren’t quite enough for a full Display Daily on their own, so today is a bit of a “Pick and Mix” assortment. You might have thought that the impending IFA event would generate a lot of news about TV, but because of the timing of the event at the beginning of the peak sales season of the year, few brands want to make a lot of noise about future products, preferring to focus on what they can sell to retailers for Q4 and Q1 at the event. They tend to leave their new technologies and products until CES. I had expected to be at IFA for just a quick visit this year, but events have conspired and I will be there for most of the show. If you have some interesting display-related news and will be there, feel free to contact me.

A Really Good Guide to TV Sets and Virtual Production

One of the really hot topics of the last couple of years has been virtual production (hence its appearance in my headline today!). The category arrived as a great help to events staging and equipment rental companies that were looking for something to do with their LED displays during Covid. At the same time, content producers were looking to minimise travel and individual contact. So, especially after the technology was used for the hit “Mandalorian”, the segment has been developing all around the world.

However, if you are from the world of displays, you may not be fully aware of the pros and cons of different content production technologies including virtual production. Dock10, the owner of 10 TV studios and based in ‘Media City’ in Manchester has produced a really good and interesting, free to download (not even registration required!) guide to different technologies used in movie and TV content production. The pdf was highlighted by RapidTVNews but is directly downloadable here.

chaplinClick for higher resolution

The guide goes into the way that virtual studios have been created and used from the days of silent films and Charlie Chaplin right up to virtual production LED sets. It highlights the different ways of doing things and their pros and cons and is an invaluable ‘cheat sheet’ if you are in the LED business and want to talk to TV content producers about virtual sets. I rarely see such useful giveaways!

OTT, Linear TV and Curation

I have also had a couple of articles that I thought were interesting on the topics of OTT, linear TV and the curation of TV channels. I was a very, very early adopter of the Tivo in the UK – I remember explaining what a PVR was to the sales rep in the store I bought it. I had to give it up when I switched to Sky to get its HD service around 16 or 17 years ago.

As a result, I have not been a regular linear or live TV watcher for many years except for sport – and then mainly soccer. I also like watching cycle racing, but that is an event that is always best watched in highlights and often with a fast forward to the last few hundred metres! But I do find myself sometimes with not much on the PVR to watch as I rarely get exposed to new content that I might find worth watching, by chance. Increasingly, I use lists garnered from reviewers that I respect or who seem to share the same criteria as me for what is worth watching. I’m prepared to make some effort to find content, but many viewers are not.

Arguably, that selection process is a curation process – which is what the controllers of linear TV channels do. A week or so ago, I read an interesting interview of Tom Ryan, a co-founder of Pluto TV and currently President & CEO, Streaming at Paramount, who talks about the difference between algorithmic and curated TV experiences. It’s worth a read if this topic is interesting to you.

Another article that highlighted the current challenges and chaos around trying to find the content that you want to watch with multiple services. I try to avoid extra services, but I still seem to currently have Prime, Netflix, Apple TV and Disney+ although three of those are via bundle or promotional free offers. Come to think of it, even Prime is mainly there because I do, from time to time and when I forget how shocking Amazon’s tax payment policy in the UK is, I do take advantage of the next day delivery. I find that the JustWatch app seems quite good at helping me to find what I’m looking for, although, irritatingly it doesn’t seem to like my Chrome settings.

Protocol Entertainment published the article by Janko Roettgers, which nicely summarises the frustrations. (BR)