Saturday, October 24, 2009

@BettyDraper goes Hollywood

At the kind invitation of Writers Guild West, I spent the week in Santa Monica, at Digital Hollywood, a four day thinklab exploring all that's erupting on the frenzied frontier of digital entertainment. Which is to say, entertainment.

I sat on a panel about Transmedia Storytelling with a distinguished lineup of fellow panelists that included Flint Dille, Dungeons and Dragons, Adam Armus, Heroes, Chris Ord and Matt Corman, Covert Affairs, and Jay Bushman, Orson Wells Sells His Soul to the Devil.

It was fascinating to hear how Flint is turning toys into TV shows. How Adam is working with Heroes writers to extend the show impressively across multiple platforms. How Jay is turning Halloween into Tweetplays. And Matt and Chris are turning Betty Draper's best friend into a spy for Covert Affairs.

I spoke as a Mad (Wo)Man on Twitter, about how to free TV characters from ordinary contraints of the medium, and how doing so can result in benefits for a show. I hate dealing with reading glasses on stage, so I used slides as talking points. Which I'm sharing here for anyone interested.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

RIP Marty Forscher, Patron Saint of Photographers

Readers who remember F-stops and finders and diodes will mourn with me Marty Forscher's passing. For over 40 years, he ran Professional Camera Repair Service in Midtown, founded in 1946 just down the street from LIFE magazine. Any photographer I worked with in my early ad days used him. Used? No. More like, he was their confessor. Generally regarded as the most sought after camera doc in the country, he was beloved by Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, Joel Meyerowitz, Annie Leibovitz and myriad others whose work he made possible. Even a strictly edited NY Times obit writer was allowed to wax eloquent:
To the supplicants who thronged his counter, and the others who placed frantic calls from obscure corners of the world at obscure hours of the night, Mr. Forscher was equal parts detective, diagnostician, conjurer and psychotherapist. Many photographers referred to him as the Savior. The more concision-minded simply called him God.
What I didn't know: Marty was also an inventor. He invented the Pro-Back, a Polaroid attachment for a 35-mm camera that gave photographers an instant proof print, allowing them finally (in 1982) to test a shot without having to develop the roll of film.

He also contributed to the 60s civil rights movement, begging cameras discarded by magazine staff, fixing them and sending them South where students used them to document images published around the world. When cameras were dashed to the ground or drenched by police fire hoses, Marty repaired them and sent them back.

because it's after midnight, i'm on deadline and in need of diversion

From (where else) The Onion comes a list of 26 real titles from old movies, shorts, and cartoons that wouldn’t fly today. "The Gay Shoe Clerk" is a short made in 1903. Its riveting plot summary (in case you don't have 1 minute 19 seconds to spare): A woman being fitted for shoes exposes her ankle to the shoe clerk, who is intrigued. He kisses her, but her chaperone hits him with her umbrella. 25 other un-PC titles listed below. To remind us we've come a long way, baby. Ahem.

1. The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938)
2. “Billion Dollar Boner” (1960)
3. “Don’t Get Gay With Your Manicure!” (1903)
4. The Bank Dick (1940)
5. “Pussy Willie” (1929)
6. “The Boob Detective” (1914)
7. Three Nuts For Cinderella (1973)
8. “On The Knocker” (1963)
9. Dandy Dick (1935)
10. “Oh, What A Boob!” (1913)
11. “Burlesque Cock Fight” (1903)
12. “The Gay Shoe Clerk” (1903)
13. “Bush Doctor” (1954)
14. “Beaver Trouble” (1951)
15. “A Boob For Luck” (1915)
16. The Gay Divorcee (1934)
17. “The Boob’s Nemesis” (a.k.a. “Nuts Nuts”) (1914)
18. “The Hairy Ainus” (1913)
19. “Dick Wakes Up” (1954)
20. “Three Arabian Nuts” (1951)
21. “Boobs In The Woods” (1925)
22. “Jim Post, The Great Facial Comedian, And His Troubles” (1903)
23. “Two Nuts In A Rut” (1948)
24. “The Coming Of Sophie’s ‘Mama’” (1914)
25. “Pimple Gets The Hump” (1915)
26. Death Race 2000 (1975)

hat tip to Michael Czyzniejewski

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

software turns doodles into digital photos

First animators threatened by advancing photographers. According to the Huffington Post, students at Beijing's prestigious Tsinghua University (the MIT of China) have created web-based software that transforms basic doodles into composite photographs. As long as you label the doodles, so the search engine knows what to look for, PhotoSketch presents composites for you to review in just minutes. You can reject and revise until you are satisfied. No casting calls. No location fees. No artistic temperments to appease when requesting a reshoot.

You can download a free 30 day demo of PhotoSketch here. But only if you're running Windows. A Mac-based version was promised for September. But like artists it emulates, the software missed a deadline.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

beware f*cking awesome social media gurus

An ingenious PSA is making the rounds on networking sites, warning social-media-wannabes against falling for claims of self-proclaimed gurus. It was created not by an ad grunt, but by a freelance journalist in Dublin. Markham Nolan scripted, animated, directed and produced the whole thing using Xtranormal, a free site designed to "bring movie making to the people." Based on a sophisticated text-to-speech generator, the product actually lives up to its improbable tagline: "If you can type, you can make movies."

Nolan created "Social Media Guru" to pitch to Ireland's SFA (Small Firms Association) but decided "screw it – have it free via Youtube." Doubtless he guessed a business association would possibly take exception to NSFW language. But Nolan might not realize--the film he created belongs to Xtranormal, according to stringent TOS delivered on the site by a deceptively benign-looking cartoon character.

dear john to AMC from john deere

Imagine the tizzy in the John Deere boardroom the day after their tractor ran over a character on Mad Men, severing his foot. I think I heard screams from Moline that Monday. Was it AMC's revenge for a product placement deal gone sour? JD sent out a statement to AMC for publication, presumably to assure Maddicts that appendage removal isn't standard when operating John Deere machinery. (Though, honestly, how many of us are in the market for tractors?)

Perhaps the CPSC will make mandatory the handy warning label a fan developed, which I found on Mad Men Show, an excellent new fan site featuring episode guides, schedules, previews, quotes, script insights and random facts about all things sixties.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

honored to be a slideshare top preso today

Delighted that of all the great shows posted to Slideshare, they chose to put ours on their homepage today. Where it will stay for another, oh, 8 hours or so. Fame being fleeting as an unsaved doc. Interested viewers (hi, Mom) who happen to want soundtrack, it's here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

social media turns anti-social for Advertising Week

Last week while New York resounded with fervent proclamations from ad agencies saying they are "going digital" (Grey's president: We're bringing in kids with mohawks and tattoos!) more than 200 social media practitioners gathered on the opposite coast for Adweek’s Social Media Strategies Conference in San Francisco. Michael Bissell and I were honored to be among presenters from Razorfish, Mattel, Facebook, Gap, Ogilvy, DDB and others on the forefront of new media. Keynoter MC Hammer (who tweets to show he's "not just parachute pants") proved surprisingly articulate and insightful on the subject.

Give me anyone in this audience and $15 million and I promise you I can make 'em hot. That's easy. But social media is disrupting this model--creating brands + buzz with little investment...Social media is to Hollywood what Napster was to music.
Other retweets throughout the day:

Trying to retract something from the internet is like attempting to remove pee from a pool. (Rohit Bhargava, Ogilvy)

The first social media manual was written in the 30s. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. (Brian Morrissey, Adweek)

You can't optimize traffic until you optimize content! (Paul Beck, Ogilvy)

Dunkin Dave from Dunkin Donuts is an actual person. Who knew? (MC Hammer)

Barbie's Ken is going to be 50 in 2011! [say it ain't so!] Cynthia Neiman, Mattel

If Facebook was a country, it would be the fourth largest in the world: 1. China, 2. India, 3. US, 4. Facebook. (Ian Schafer, Deep Focus)

from Ian Schafer's keynote presentation. Which can be seen in its excellent entirety here.