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thequality.update 1/2001

Update on's current projects and insight into film, TV, and new media issues. is seeking additional partnerships and clients to further the
development of online filmic content.

__ PROJECTS __________________________________________________________________

* in partnership with Reelthing Animation is producing a short form online cartoon (working title: horses for courses) showcasing the process of constructing interactive 3D content. The workspace includes an overview of streaming 3D technology and all production materials

* Conceptual and high level architecture design has been completed for is now defining the functional specification and is planning the implementation of the phase one site.

__ FOOD FOR THOUGHT __________________________________________________________

The Emperor's New Broadband

"We're waiting for broadband" was a phrase often heard in 2000. Here at we can't wait for fatter pipes either, but we're not about to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Producers who view broadband as a panacea, dismissing narrowband content, do so at their peril. Here are the reasons why...

1. Text is here to stay

The framework for online communication, and therefore content, remains text-based. This is true even for sophisticated video applications (e.g. SMIL). The next few years will see a dramatic increase in the amount of film and video content re-packaged for online use. The best productions will continue to use text as a framework and tap into over a decade's worth of narrowband experience. The more things change, the more they stay the same...

2. Content must be meaningful

Unlike TV, the audience for online content is not just human beings. The most widely accessed content will enable software to participate and reference it. Video content simply dumped online without context will have little relevance. Software 'agents' on the Net, and personal agents on the desktop rely wholly on the existence of well-structured information and meta-information (info about info) to do their job. Make content palatable for software. It makes sense. It extends your shelf-life, makes your work more meaningful (in a global context), and it opens up interactive possibilities that are only just beginning to be explored. Baywatch was never intended to be viewed this way...

3. Content is easily mis-managed

The bigger the pipe, the more content you publish, the more you have to manage. Obvious? A truly scalable content management solution is rarely so. Most, if not all, online systems are still partially 'hand-written' (sceptical? ask your sysadmin...). Forget the hyperbole put out by content management system vendors. The term "black box CMS solution" is a misnomer. One process or product cannot manage exponential content growth. Simplicity and flexibility have their place.

4. Broadband is not television Audio, video, and cartoon (e.g. Flash) streaming, has begun in earnest. Over-emphasise broadcast (one-way) content at the expense of usability, interactivity and substance and you are disregarding the medium at your peril. The barriers to entry in this game have been lowered - with unlimited channels to choose from, you don't have a captive audience.

5. The audience will participate Prediction: telcos will be forced to dramatically increase the amount of up-stream (user to network) bandwidth in response to a new generation of applications that encourage streaming and uploading from end users. For reasons of cost, communication, and conscience, innovative broadband content will be defined and produced by the audience.

6. Broadband is relative Ultimately the reason why disregarding narrowband is dangerous is that broadband, as a term, can only be relative. Think of the bandwidth available five years ago... imagine what's coming... and how quickly it will all be used up. The artistry and experience that goes into crafting a narrowband experience remains as invaluable as ever.

__ ABOUT _____________________________________________________________________ is an interactive agency specialising in bridging the creative / technical divide and producing cross-cultural new media. The company was founded in Sydney in 1993 and moved to London in 1998.

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