I don't want to turn this blog into solely Smashface media mentions, we've just had a few more than usual lately. This was a really nice cover story in L.A. Weekly about our friends at UTA. Zadi and I are mentioned a couple of times in the piece when Gendy Alimurung came by to be present for the live show (then JETSET) we did back at the end of July.

It's a nice inside look into a typical week in the life of these guys, who are all trying to figure out the online video landscape with the rest of us. Agents typically get a bad rap, but Barrett Garese (the "nerd" in the article, on the right of the picture below) has been our main representative for the past year and he's been a good friend and contributed a lot of creative thinking to Smashface.

A lot of other content creators ask us about our experience with an agency like UTA, and this is a good view of what things are like. The notable exception is the out-of-context quote from Ryan Reber, who is *not* always schmoozing someone.

Congrats on the awesome article, guys!

Update: the images in this post were hotlinked from the LA Weekly website and have since been removed.

In yesterday's Techcrunch article about Miro's new media player Zadi made a quick cameo. Ha.

whaddaya know...

The good people at Miro have worked really hard to develop their completely open source media player, and they are positioning themselves to take on Joost. They've created a great product, and we're fortunate that EPIC-FU (and JETSET earlier) have been default subscriptions for new installations for a long time. Thanks guys, and congrats on the new player!

Our friend Sunny Gault and her team from Viral caught up with Zadi at the Streaming Media West conference this past week. They sat down and talked about how the show evolved from "Jet Set Show" to EPIC-FU.

You can check out more videos from Viral on their network channel on Veoh, or on their blog site. Thanks, Sunny and team!

If you're in L.A. and into the entertainment industry, there's a panel that Zadi and I are on tomorrow at the Producer's Guild. Downside is it's $50 f you're not a PGA member ($20 with student ID), but it's a nice lineup of presenters and panelists.


DATE: November 10th
TIME: 10:00am to 4:00pm
LOCATION: CBS Radford Studios (4024 Radford Ave. Studio City, CA 91604)

PGA Members: No Charge
Non-Members: $50
Students w/ valid ID: $20

CONFIRMED PRESENTERS INCLUDE: - Head of Product Marketing Jamie Byrne - CEO Keith Richman - CEO Martin Wade & VP of Marketing Robert Gould - VP of Marketing Angela Wilson Gyetvan - Founder Eyal Hertzog - Founder Dmitry Shapiro - VP of Business Development Gagan Palrecha and VP of Content Ian Greenblatt - Director of Product Marketing Sanjay Desai

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As some of you may know already, earlier today we launched a new website and rebranded our relatively successful web show JETSET into EPIC-FU. So far the response has been very strong in support of the new name and feel. There is also criticism and confusion, which is understandable. Name changes are a big deal and people get comfortable with things.

Say Hello To EPIC-FU!

In the run-up to the name change, the one thing we did not have time to properly consider was a communications plans to make our motivations clear. After all, there's really only the three of us doing all the production work, editing, and website design and development for JETSET and other projects. We've had some great support from Next New Networks helping us with the show's myriad distribution points. But the thought behind the name change needs to come directly from the show creators, myself and Zadi. We couldn't ask our partners to explain our decisions for us.

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Without having all the stats in front of me, I would venture to say last week's JETSET was the most watched episode ever. As of right now it has over 630,000 views on YouTube alone -- just one of our distribution outlets. Those are crazy numbers for a weekly web show. But this post isn't about tooting our own horn. It's about consistency in the online video space.

For most web shows, including JETSET, viewership varies from episode to episode. Sometimes you have a great week (like we just did), and sometimes you have an off week numbers-wise. Because consistency is so important when it comes to stats -- especially in an emerging arena like online video -- I think it's important to decrease variance as much as possible. And by that what I really mean is decrease the number of "off weeks," because a steady increase (or explosion, even) in views is never a bad thing -- as long as you can keep doing it week after week.

I thought it might be interesting to start a series of blog posts on the factors that influence variance in online video stats. I'm hoping a few of you will chime in with your own thoughts and experiences, and perhaps together we can get a better grip on the part of this industry we think we have least control over.

Let's start with a factor that many content creators are focused on, but at the end of the day doesn't play a huge role when it comes to variance: Subscribers.

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JETSET and Smashface Productions were recently mentioned in a Guardian article written by our friend and online producer Casey McKinnon. The title reads "Will Hollywood kill the web-only stars?" I wanted to thank Casey for the highlight and to write about my thoughts on the topic.

In the article Casey asks if Hollywood is creating a "new" media if they bring television to the internet. Here are my thoughts on the topic at hand, and what I think Hollywood should be thinking about:

Television is not the Internet
Just like theatre wasn't radio, radio wasn't film, film wasn't television, the television is not the internet. We all watch films on our television, but it's an inherently different experience than watching it on the big screen. The same goes for the internet. Thinking about the audience experience will dictate whether or not you're utilizing the medium to its fullest capacity. A three-camera shoot is par for the course on TV, on the internet it's definitely NOT going to knock my socks off.

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Many moons ago, I wrote a blog post on my personal blog site about how comments do not equate to a community. I had a lot of gripes with the lack of accountability in regular comments, the linear and inflexible nature of the tools available for commenting, and the general one-dimensionality of the experience.

For the longest time Zadi and I were watching the open source projects and commercial sites offering web community tools in the hopes that we could roll out a social component for JETSET. Drupal was the leader and the obvious choice, but quite frankly it lacked attractive templating options. It is also pretty far from a turnkey tool, or at least it was when we were reviewing packages.

Then we found Ning. We were immediately impressed by how easy it was to set up a social network site, customize it, and be up and running. In two days in May, over ten total hours, we built the MIX site that still looks the same today. Our hardcore fans could immediately begin uploading photos and videos, talk in threaded forums, customize their own profile pages, connect over common interests, interact with us about show topics and ideas, and so much more. Just like that, we had a real community.

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Just to reiterate what Steve said, welcome to the new blog! I'm looking forward to posting here every week, and I'm hoping to throw in an occasion audio or video podcast, too. Actually the Smashface blog comes at an ideal time for me. Just a few days ago I took down my personal blog while I re-think its purpose and explore some new ideas about what a personal portal should look like. Until that happens, I don't have to worry about not having a place to express myself and talk about stuff going on in the industry and beyond.

Rick Rey at Wired's NextFest
at wired's nextfest

So first things first. Who am I and how do I fall into the Smashface equation? It's a question I get asked often. Most people don't know there is a third person working on JETSET every week. Yes, that person is me. Keep in mind Steve and Zadi do most of the heavy lifting, so my role as associate producer is more supportive than anything else. I guess you could say I fill in the gaps. Whether it be researching stories, editing, writing script drafts, playing with new apps to review, shooting feature segments, or the occasional correspondent piece -- I do whatever needs to get done. Basically, I try to make Steve and Zadi's life less hellish by alleviating some of their workload.

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Welcome to the new Smashface site and blog!

Smashface was founded in 2003 in New York. At that time, we were doing small-scale documentary work and doctoring screenplays. Seems like a lifetime ago.

When we came out to Los Angeles in January 2005 online video was maturing into a force to be reckoned with. After some experimentation we developed JETSET, where we were free to explore the best ways to interact with the people who watched the show.

Shooting JETSET @ 2AM
shooting JETSET in late 2006

After a couple of months creating that show we realized we were not utilizing the concepts and tools that make web shows unique. To truly engage and interact with our audience we needed to set up the show in a way that made them a part of it. It took some trial and error, but we experimented with our format, our calls to action, and we developed a community tool that works quite well.

Now well over a year and half into JETSET, we have serious experience cultivating a community around a web show and we're going to use that knowledge to inform all of our projects going forward. And we intend to push that interactivity as far as present technology can take it, as long as it's a good experience for the audience.

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