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Sizzle Reels: Produce Before You Pitch (Part 1)

Posted By CJ -, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Part 1: Why Make a Sizzle Reel? (Oh and er, um… "what’s a sizzle reel?”)

By Dan Abrams

In 2010, most producers must bring video to an exec to pitch their show, especially reality/non-fiction TV. Titans like Mark Burnett & Jerry Bruckheimer might be able to sell shows on just an idea. However for us mere mortals we need more than that because there is more that needs to be conveyed.

Producing a great sizzle reel is a solid way to demonstrate the three things we want to convey:

First, you’ve got a good idea,

Second, your particular vision of that idea is worthwhile, and

Third, they need you to execute/produce that vision for the series.

Here’s why: since there are so many ways to mess up a project, buying a pitch alone presumes the buyers truly imagines the same show in their head as the producers has in his/hers. By seeing a sizzle reel the buyers can better (literally) see the idea in action. They can get a better sense of the look & feel of the show. And finally, they can gauge the producer’s professionalism.

The pitch has six likely outcomes:

The good news is that now, because of lower equipment costs and their resulting ubiquity, it’s getting much easier to produce "sizzle reels" and increase your chance of success.

Each of the next three installments will provide advice on:

- how to turn your great idea into an effective sizzle reel (by advising on how to ensure it will be something the buyer will want to buy).

- how to actually produce your sizzle reel (by guiding you on the facets to consider).

- how to use your sizzle reel once it’s done)

Good luck!

Go to Part 2

Dan Abrams is the Supervising Producer of "The Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie” airing on HGTV

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Posted By CJ -, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA (September 23, 2010) – The Producers Guild of America has announced the 2010 "Digital 25: Visionaries, Innovators and Producers,” an honor which recognizes individuals and teams that have made the most significant contributions to the advancement of digital entertainment and storytelling over the past year. The recipients will be honored at an exclusive cocktail and dinner reception hosted by comedian Kevin Pollak, on the evening of Monday, October 18th, as part of the Variety Entertainment and Technology Summit at the Digital Hollywood Conference at the Loews Santa Monica.

The 2010 "Digital 25” honorees, listed alphabetically by project then name:

  • Eddy Cue, Jonathan Ive and Steve Jobs for Apple: iPad

  • James Cameron and Jon Landau for AVATAR

  • Justin Day, Charles Hope, Mike Hudack, Dina Kaplan and Jared Klett of

  • Idan Cohen, Zach Klein and Avner Ronen of Boxee

  • Richard Rosenblatt of Demand Media

  • Andrew Adamson, Teresa Cheng, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Gina Shay and Aron Warner of Dreamworks: SHREK 3D

  • Erin Kanaley, Mark Zuckerberg and Randi Zuckerberg for Facebook Stories/The Social Graph/Facebook LIVE

  • Evan Cohen, Dennis Crowley, Harry Heymann and Naveen Selvadurai of Foursquare

  • Rishi Chandra and Vincent Dureau of Google TV

  • Josh Abramson, Barry Diller, Dae Mellencamp and Ricky Van Veen of IAC/Connected Ventures & Vimeo

  • Ron Yekutiel of Kaltura

  • Kevin Macdonald and Ridley Scott for LIFE IN A DAY

  • Max Haot of Livestream

  • Avichai Cohen of LiveU

  • Steve Ballmer, Todd Holmdahl, Alex Kipman, Don Mattrick and Kudo Tsunoda of Kinect

  • Robert Bowman of MLB Advanced Media

  • Reed Hastings of Netflix

  • Dan Konopka, Damian Kulash, Tim Nordwind and Andy Ross of OK Go

  • Jay Fulcher, Sean Knapp and Bismarck Lepe of Ooyala

  • Brett Leonard for "PopFictionLife” FragFilms

  • Peter Anton, Rick Engdahl, Evan Greene and Paul Madeira of The Recording Academy:, Grammy 365, Grammy Live

  • John Ham and Brad Hunstable of Ustream

  • Erin McPherson and James Pitaro for Yahoo – The Upshot

  • Kelly DiGregorio, Salar Kamangar, Chris Maxcy and Kevin Yen for Youtube: Partner Grants

  • Mark Pincus of Zynga

The 2010 "Digital 25” were chosen by an Advisory Panel of esteemed experts in digital entertainment, which included CEO of Mahalo Jason Calacanis, Founder of MySpace Chris DeWolfe, President of AOL Media & Studios David Eun, President of Time Inc. Digital Lifestyle Group Paul Greenberg, GM of Microsoft Windows Live Worldwide Brian Hall, Director of Facebook Developer Network Ethan Beard, CEO of World Wide Biggies/Founder of Spike TV Albie Hecht, EVP of Global Digital Media Marvel Ira Rubenstein, President of Ogilvy Entertainment Doug Scott, CEO of the Webby Awards/CEO of Internet Week Neil Vogel and creator of "The Sims”/CEO of Stupid Fun Club Will Wright.

The "Digital 25” is a unique project by the Producers Guild of America in association with Variety that aims to give a much-deserved spotlight on those who have contributed the most important work in any (or all) of seven categories: Internet (Broadband), Interactive Television, Visual & Digital Effects, Console & PC (Multi-user online) Gaming, Home Entertainment and Mobile & Digital Animation. The 2010 "Digital 25” Committee includes Co-Chairs Shawn Gold and Marc Scarpa, as well as Alison Savitch, Mariana Danilovic and Joe Goodman.

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Producing Animation and Games for Mobile Devices

Posted By CJ -, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

As the fastest growing media segment, mobile devices rely heavily on games and animation. In fact, Disney reports that games have the biggest appeal on users within mobile. Earlier this year, a panel of key players (hosted by PGA Mobile Co-Chair John Heinsen) at the CTIA Wireless conference discussed the producer’s role in developing mobile games and animation for wireless devices.

The producer is key

Panel experts agreed producers are an integral part in all aspects of game and animation development. "The producer is really the glue in designing, developing, and producing the game itself,” stated David Postal, Senior Producer of the Domestic Wireless Disney Interactive Media Group. To develop the "best user experience” producers must be aware of all devices on the market, as content should be equally engaging for high-end as well as lower-end devices. To stay on top of the mobile network, Postal adds, "Producers recognize audience insight is equally important, as the user experience should be constantly improved by advancing tools such as touch screens, favorites menus, and the introduction of additional games that consumers would enjoy.”

Saving time and money are a priority at mobile, so producers utilize existing content several times over to focus on the above priorities. For example, when developing a game Disney will utilize and repurpose different pieces of pre-existing content—for instance, releasing one version of a game with a Hannah Montana-themed "skin,” and a second version with a Justin Bieber theme.

In the beginning

As mobile pioneers, Animax has been producing mobile animation for six years. Through trial and error they have mastered mobile games and animation by developing projects such as How to Cook Like a Soprano , ESPN mobile, Hot Shot Photo DARTS, PopZilla.TV, Little Pim’s Word Bag, and Fun For a smooth project run, at the beginning of any assignment Animax producers ask the following questions: Who is the end user? What are audience expectations? How will users experience this animation piece? The answers to these questions – arrived at with as much clarity and specificity as possible – will impact developing decisions and increase work efficiency.

A journey like no other

Lin Tam, co-founder of Digital Munch, shared her four-month journey developing DJ Music, an iPhone game that is played in sync with music. As expected, there were challenges; most fell into three categories: technical, design, and production. Technical challenges included coding the algorithm in the game (the music component made the algorithm extremely complex), the installation of a cocos2d engine (after Digital Munch invested substantial man-hours building their own game engine), and finally the optimization, framework, and performance testing, which took longer than expected, particularly the prototyping and play testing to determine the final look and feel of the game. Design challenges consisted of redesigning the game’s appearance several times to fit the iPhone. Producing challenges included staying within budget parameters, scheduling , managing overseas teams, training new staff, advising current staff, communicating between technical/design/and business departments and finally translating those conversations into reports to upper management in a language management could comprehend.

After all is said and done, Tam’s best piece of advice to mobile producers is to have a plan for the unplanned.

What does the future hold?

The next evolution of gaming will be focus on Flash and HTML5, social gaming, free primary game offeringswhichinclude fees as one progresses to higher levels, virtual currency, and game advertising specifically targeted to the end user.

While the iPad is the most widely-adopted new mobile device of the past six months, technology continues to advance rapidly. Meanwhile, the relationship between development and execution bring hurdles such as the need to publishing numerous times for diverse devices, and unfamiliarity with a game’s target audience. Future mobile developers should tackle these stumbling blocks through a focus on developing the ability to publish one time for all devices, creating faster machines, and increasing user interactive capabilities.

Tam concludes, "Making a game is not easy. But at the end of the day, when you see all the pieces fall together, it is well worth it.”

By Gina Traficant

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PGA Dodger Day 2010!

Posted By CJ -, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Article and Photos by Michael Quinn Martin

Last month, PGA members enjoyed our annual PGA Dodger Day at Dodger Stadium. The 57 PGA members in attendance sat in what was formerly known as the "Mannywood” section next to the Dodger Bullpen and each received a complimentary "I Sat In Mannywood” T-Shirt (in English or Spanish!) Unfortunately, with Manny Ramirez on the disabled list, and subsequently traded to the White Sox, maybe it should be called "Podsednik Place” after our new left fielder Scott Podsednik.

The PGA members were treated to a pitchers’ duel between two veteran 35 year-old pitchers: Hiroki Kuroda for the Dodgers, and Livan Hernandez for the Washington Nationals. Before most of the PGA had taken their seats, Kuroda had given up a two-run home run to Ryan Zimmerman in the top of the 1st inning that put the Nationals up 2-0. Kuroda settled down and pitched a gem, retiring the next 17 batters he faced to keep the Dodgers in the game.

In the bottom of the 4th inning, Ryan Theriot singled. Andre Ethier then doubled and James Loney walked, which loaded the bases. Matt Kemp came to the plate and nearly hit a grand slam home run, but was robbed by Nationals right fielder Michael Morse with a leaping catch at the top of the wall. Theriot tagged up and scored from third base. Morse threw the ball to second baseman Adam Kennedy, who threw the ball to first base to try to catch Loney off the bag. Unfortunately, Washington had left first base unmanned. As the ball went into foul territory, Ethier ran home to score and get the Dodgers even at 2-2.

Kuroda left the game after 7 innings. Hong-Chih Kuo pitched a scoreless 8th inning and Jonathan Broxton pitched scoreless 9th and 10th innings to help set up some extra inning Dodger heroics. With the score still tied 2-2 in the bottom of the 10th, Ronnie Belliard walked to start the inning. Podsednik singled to put runners on first and third. Ethier was then walked to intentionally load the bases. Loney came to the plate to face Washington reliever Scott Burnett, and slapped the ball into right field to score Belliard from third with a walk off single and a 3-2 win for the Dodgers.

PGA members who arrived early got autographs from some of the Dodger relief pitchers Jeff Weaver, Ramon Troncoso, Kenley Jansen, and Hong-Chih Kuo, who were signing autographs at the bullpen fence next to our seats. This event was planned by the PGA Events Committee, which encourages PGA members to get involved and suggest future events. See you next year at Dodger Stadium!

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PGA Credit Definitions: Video Games

Posted By CJ -, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Look at Video Games Credit Definitions for New Media Producers

Click to view the Video Games Credit Definitions
While film and television have enjoyed official accreditation for decades, new media producers have been the new kids on the block; not until now have their credits had the official endorsement of the Producers Guild of America. On April 5, 2010, the PGA’s Board of Directors officially ratified a clearly defined set of job descriptions and guidelines covering producing titles in new media. The result of three years of research and careful drafting by the PGA’s New Media Council, these new credit guidelines cover a variety of different and discrete new media platforms. Over the course of the coming weeks and months, we’ll be highlighting the various platforms represented by the New Media Council, and the job definitions for each. This week, we are proud to present the Guild’s job definitions for members of the producing team for video games.

New media producers are in the vanguard of storytelling via digital platforms and are proud to have the Producers Guild’s acknowledgment of the importance of their contribution to entertainment. These guidelines, like those for film and television credits, set an important stake in the ground, allowing for consistent and fair accreditation in new media across all platforms. Credits represent and reflect the body of work, the reputation, and the creative personality of any accredited producer. With objective and consistent credit standards, new media producers can present themselves more effectively to potential employers, and appropriately recognize the work of their teams on projects they oversee. And of course, proper accreditation serves as an essential yardstick for membership in the Producers Guild.

This groundbreaking work represents yet another phase in the development of new media as art and commerce. No longer will new media platforms utilize a "Wild West” mentality when it comes to credits, inventing new credits one day and then discarding them the next. As the industry continues to embrace digital platforms, not only as marketing and social networking tools, but as storytelling vehicles unto themselves, we are proud to see the PGA taking a leadership role in recognizing and codifying these essential contributions.

We are well into the new century. The Producers Guild of America continues, like so many of its members, to look forward. Storytelling is, after all, agnostic of platform; the PGA recognizes and celebrates all of it, continuing to keep its eyes on the horizon.

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