On issues that matter …

Hollywood and Silicon Valley – a match made in cyberspace September 30, 2012

Well, the future is here already… if the entertainment and communication technology experts have been talking about it, content producers are already doing it – meeting new media head on.

Leading the way is Anthony Zuiker, creator of the hit CSI series on television, who has molded his craft to fit the online  format, while dishing out tried and tested plot lines, and unabashedly mixing creativity and commerce by incorporating the sponsor front and center into the story.

I don’t know how many of you clicked on Cybergeddon, that conspicuous icon on the top left side of the Yahoo homepage this past week… I happened to notice it a couple of days ago and clicked it purely on curiosity and was pleasantly surprised to find this brand new series (or is it a movie?) packaged into bite sized chapters (averaging 10 minutes each), and ending before you latched on to it – a perfect online media experience.

Cyber geeks might find me a tad too giddy over this, but what the heck, I am excited at the real possibilities in the virtual world.

Cybergeddon is a crime thriller on … well, no brownie chips for guessing … cyber terrorism with America’s pet penchant of world-on-the-brink-of-extinction climax. The nine part web series premiered on Yahoo this week. It’s all about cyber terror, hackers (the good ones and the bad ones), the FBI and the oh-so-vulnerable-to-computer-viruses world that we live in.

You can hang me for watching Avatar on my laptop (due apologies to James Cameroon) but hey, that’s me – the quintessential web worm, happy to cozy-up on my bed watching movies (needless to say, Netflix and Hulu love me), uncannily feeling like they have all put up the show just for me. So, Cybergeddon, as a web offering, is made just for me.

As a recluse I may not belong to a popular social segment but there are millions of those newly designated ‘Social TV’ audiences who must be relishing the idea of an exclusive web movie that can be watched anytime anywhere, even on their hand held devices.

Talk of media integration and I know now this is what it really is. Zuiker says cross-platform storytelling is the future; he told LA Times the relationship between Hollywood and Silicon Valley needs to be figured out fast and he wants to be the first to do it.

To critique the drama itself, I would say I wasn’t particularly kicked with the acting talents, except for Kick Gurry (who plays the cute hacker, Rabbit) in the movie and perhaps Olivier Martinez who plays the bad guy.

The exciting new cross-platform format and simultaneous multi-country, multi-language release and all the behind-the-scenes fun and trivia in an add-on web extension apart (all with unlimited access), what strikes me most is the blatant, never-seen-before brand integration. Subtle product placements in the mise-en-scene are so passé. Cybergeddon’s co-producers and financiers Symantec and its signature product Norton Antivirus not only double up as technical advisers to the project, but Norton Antivirus actually plays a major part in the movie.

This is media economics in play, and like how.  Creativity rules, technology monetizes and audiences live happily ever after…

Srirekha Chakravarty


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