Showbizreporting's Blog

November 14, 2009

Needing a Publicist

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 12:25 am
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We are at a point in our campaign where we need the expert help of a publicist and security consultant. If you know any who can work with us on a number of projects pro bono, please contact me at richard@richardstellar.com.

We are self-funded at this point, and have not asked for donations. Anyone helping us will be compensated with love and the satisfaction that they have helped to save lives, and the future of motion picture and television healthcare.

I was at the Motion Picture Home yesterday and I am happy to report that the residents and caregivers were all smiles. You’ve buoyed their feelings with the renewed hope that we will be able to return the MPTF to the original standard of excellent world class care that it was before the current regime stepped in.

As you may know, the original date of closing was to be late October, 2009. Here it is almost mid-November and those who refuse to leave are still there. The MPTF was forced to renew their operating license.

They will now be forced to adhere to their motto of ‘taking care of our own’ for years and years to come. We’re not giving up, and we ask you to dig in for the battles yet to come.

Great job again! You guys rock!!

Richard

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October 7, 2009

ATTN: INTERACTIVE V.O. Meeting — Show up or Shut Up

Dear Friends,

This is for those of us who work in interactive voice-overs. There is an important meeting at SAG on Oct 13th at 7pm. Significant changes for better or worse could be in store for us. Too bad for us if we don’t show up to this meeting.

In interactive v.o., we have two contracts with two unions for the same territory that are out of sync, so significant gains are pretty much impossible. Producers can easily play one union against the other, or choose to only sign with one union to cripple the other’s bargaining abilities, all of which we have now with interactive v.o. If we continue without intelligently merging our unions, I feel this is the future for all other contracts.

On to the meeting: The good news is that our two unions have heard us and have come together and bargained a new interactive agreement with modest gains with a re-sync’ed end date, which I feel is a significant and much needed gain. However, there is a new feature in this proposal that those of us who work in interactive must take a careful look and and let BOTH our unions know our feelings on. If our attendance is as paltry as it was at the informational SAG interactive caucus was a few weeks ago, this change will be passed by both our unions’ boards whether we like it or not.

Even though SAG has pretty much lost all animation and interactive v.o. work over the past few years, they are at least holding a second informational meeting over this new SAG/AFTRA tentative interactive agreement. If you work this contract, you need to be there and listen and speak up. In particular, there is concern over a new feature producers want called “atmospheric voices” which BOTH our unions need to hear our opinions on. I believe there is a pro and a con to this concept and I’ll try to lay the two sides out as fairly as I can:

“Atmospheric voices,” as I understand it, allows for producers to record many more individual voices per session fee and an infinite number of different voices for only a double session fee, where the number of voices we can perform are significantly restricted with our current contract. It seems the argument for this new category is that games with greater numbers of voices, such as MMORPG’s like “World of Warcraft” which have literally hundreds of voices in a game, will be enticed to sign up union voice talent (WoW is non-union as are other mega-voice games). More games like this are on the way in the future, the argument goes, and with this new feature in the contract, more big games could choose to go union, and this could potentially mean a lot of new work for union voice actors. Many such games that feature a great number of incidental characters are populated with characters that say only a few sentences anyway (a vendor, a page, a merchant, a citizen, someone you happen to bump into etc), not a ton of vocal work per incidental for the most part, the argument goes. With the addition of the “atmospheric voices” provision, big games of the future which would have remained non-union would turn union, sign more union actors for more work. Win win. At least, that’s the pro pitch, as I understand it. As a gamer, I’d say this could possibly change some big v.o. games to “go union.” Possibly. And that could be a significant amount of work. I would also say that the evolution of gaming cuts both ways, with the “next gen” titles (Xbox360 and PS3 and some Wii “portages”) needing to sound increasingly “cinematic” and professional (union), but “low-res” and retro gaming (iPhone, Wii, DS, etc) are expanding possibly faster (voice acting here probably tends to be more non-union in cheaper games if there is any voice work at all). I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the top selling next-gen games mostly use union v.o. talent. Could be wrong there, though. Most games I believe are non-union and for many games (some might say most) the voice acting is not nearly as important as game play and game design, if it is a factor at all. Frankly, I’d like more data on all this and hardly any was presented at the last SAG interactive caucus. I don’t think that most of our negotiators are gamers and I’m not sure they necessarily know video games or that biz. As someone who not only works in interactive v.o. but is also a fairly active gamer, I am honestly not sure about this pro argument. I admit the possibility of populating future iterations of games like “World of Warcraft” with all union voice actors could potentially mean a lot of work for us. Most of the voice work in that particular game strikes me as pretty “light duty.” Modest gains with re-sync’ing the contracts is great. Okay, that’s the pro.

The con argument is that “atmospheric voices” simply gives up what little firewall protection our interactive contract already provides and just gets us less money for essentially more work. The number of voices we currently perform for scale (most of the work in this realm is scale, if it is union at all) is restricted as it is in television animation, where producers are required to pay essentially for very few voices, although the session can last four hours even for one voice. Certainly there is merit to this restriction for game v.o. work, although you’d be hard pressed to find an 11 or even 22 minute t.v. cartoon with literally hundreds of individual voices. The comparison of games to t.v. only partially holds. The con argument sees an easy opportunity to further work union voice actors to death in a realm where (unlike television animation) we are already worked to death as it is- with no residuals, potentially four hours of working solo, and often to the point of blowing out your voice with screaming or yelling without some kind of “hazard pay.” Game work is also often much more demanding and punishing than television voice work. In fact, the only worse union contract might be SAG’s anime dubbing agreement (another multi-billion dollar industry where the union contract is long hours with no residuals– most of the work here is also non-union). Despite resync’ing the contracts between SAG and AFTRA and other modest gains, this “atmospheric voices” feature is potentially a massive give away and cannot be allowed– at least that’s the con argument.

Frankly, I think both sides have points and the fact that these contracts are re-sync’ed means that when they expire (I think it’s in a couple years) if this “atmospheric voices” thing is abused and we don’t like it, we can kill it– assuming our unions are either bargaining together or merged, which may not be the case, though it looks better these days. Perhaps opening up “World of Warcraft” type games to union work would bring us a ton a new work, each such game is like a country that we could populate with union voice actors instead of non-union. Or it could make an already problematic contract even more punishing and difficult for less pay. I honestly think there can be a discussion about this (not a screaming match). Let’s make an informed decision as a community.

But there can be no discussion without any of us showing up to listen and talk on October 13th.

One thing I do know: if the interactive v.o. community chooses shows up in such pathetic numbers as we’ve seen recently, this will pass, whether it is a good idea or not. We must let both our unions know our opinion, not just SAG (the one producers have abandoned) but AFTRA as well– they are set to sign off on this on Oct 14th, as I understand it. Either both must pass or both must reject, but it should be with our community’s input.

Please show up.

Thanks

Dee

—-

Attend an Informational Meeting Regarding the Tentative Agreement for the
2009 Interactive Media Agreement, Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Screen Actors Guild will host an informational meeting for the purpose of providing a report to members on the Tentative Agreement reached for the 2009 Interactive Media Agreement. The meeting will be held in Los Angeles.
Members of the Interactive Media Agreement negotiating committee and staff will be in attendance.

Please inform your fellow union members who work under this agreement about this important meeting. Participation is limited only by fire department regulations.

When: 7-8:30 p.m., Tuesday October 13, 2009

Screen Actors Guild Headquarters
James Cagney Board Room, ground floor
5757 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Parking will be validated

All paid-up SAG members who work under the Interactive Agreement should attend. Unfortunately, no guests allowed. Parents/guardians of young performers under 18 years-old are welcome. PLEASE BRING YOUR SAG MEMBERSHIP CARD FOR ADMITTANCE (paid thru October 31, 2009).

June 3, 2009

Only 6 days left

Filed under: Entertainment — showbizreporting @ 7:27 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

From MediaPost:

Study Finds Online Video Usage Dramatically Overstated

by Joe Mandese

The amount of time Americans spend watching online video is vastly overstated, according to the findings of some highly regarded research made public Tuesday. The disclosure, which is likely one of the more controversial findings being mined from an ambitious piece of academic research that actually observed how people spend their time consuming media, was made during one of a series of so-called “collaborative alliance” meetings hosted by Havas media shop MPG for the advertising and media industry in New York.
“This may be the first study to document the dramatic overstatement of online video and mobile video,” said Jim Spaeth, one of the founders of Sequent Partners, which collaborated with Ball State University’s Center for Media Design on the Video Consumer Mapping Study [http://www.researchexcellence.com/VCMFINALREPORT_4_28_09.pdf] on behalf of the Nielsen-funded Council for Research Excellence. The project, which cost $3.5 million to field, directly observed how people spent their day using media, found that while growing rapidly, online video and mobile video still account for a small fraction of the amount of time Americans spend watching all forms of video content, including live TV programming, time-shifted television, DVDs, video games, etc.

The researchers previously disclosed findings showing that traditional “live” television still accounts for more than two-thirds of the time Americans spend watching video content each day, and that online video represents less than 1%. The new findings unveiled Tuesday indicate that even the relatively small amount of time Americans spend watching online video has been, on average, grossly overstated by conventional forms of media research and audience measurement.

Conversely, Sequent’s Spaeth said traditional TV viewing has been “pretty drastically under-reported” by research that asks people how they consume video. The reason why, he said, is that research based on how people perceive what media they consume isn’t nearly as accurate as research that actually observes how they use it.

The ad industry historically has known about such “halo effects” and the fact that it is considered socially unpopular for people to report that they watch as much TV as they actually do. On the other hand, Spaeth said people tend to over-report their online and mobile video consumption, because “it is new and cool.”

Spaeth, and Mike Bloxham, director of insight at Ball State’s Center for Media Design, are scheduled to reveal more previously unreleased details about online video from the study during a presentation and panel discussion at the upcoming OMMA Video <http://www.mediapost.com/events/?/showID/OMMAVideo.06-15-09/type/Agenda/itemID/414/OMMAVideo-Agenda.html> conference June 16th in New York.

During MPG’s meeting on Tuesday, Spaeth revealed other new insights from the study that he claimed actually “measure the future” of how people will consume video content. That aspect of the study relied on a method called “media acceleration,” in which consumers were given substantial discounts – upwards of 50% – off the price of purchasing new consumer electronics equipment for their homes, and their media consumption patterns were observed before and after the new technologies were in place.

Spaeth said the No. 1 finding from that part of the study was that almost everyone who participated purchased a high-definition TV set – either their first, or a second one for their home – and that the adoption of HDTV generally led to greater usage of television initially, but that over time, that increased usage began to subside.

“There is an early indication that this may be a temporary effect,” Spaeth said of HDTV’s stimulus effect. But at least in the short run, he said, “Live TV viewing accelerated by more than twice as much among those people who acquired an HDTV.”

 

Barbar A. Ringer, Author of 1976 Copyright Act, 1925-2009 (MAY 5, 2009)

 

Digital Media Law

 

Barbara A. Ringer, author of 1976 Copyright Act, 1925-2009

Posted: 05 May 2009 01:04 AM PDT

Sometimes an obituary answers a question one never thought to ask. In this case, the question is, who wrote the 1976 Copyright Act? The answer turns out to be Barbara Ringer, who died April 9 at age 83, according to a detailed obituary in the LA Times. And it turns out it took her 21 years (!) of drafting and lobbying to get the law passed.

The significance of Ringer’s accomplishment is this: The 1976 Act was the first comprehensive revision since the 1909 version, which was written in an era that predated audiotape, movies, radio, television, cable TV, and computers. Thus, the changes to the law were momentous. Among many other things, the 1976 Act lengthened the term of copyright, but it also codified the concept of fair use for the first time—a legal doctrine essential to permitting the linking and copying that are essential to the Internet, VCRs, DVRs, and various other technologies.

Also a part of Ringer’s life were the challenges of being a woman in what was at the time almost exclusively a man’s world. When she graduated Columbia Law School and joined the Copyright Office in 1949, most lawyers were not only men, they were heterosexual (or closeted) white men, and the profession was segregated by religion as well (there were “Protestant” law firms and “Jewish” law firms, for instance). Even 22 years later, in 1971, Ringer was passed over for the job of Register of Copyrights—the head of the Copyright Office—and was forced to sue for sex discrimination in order to be awarded the job she would otherwise have gotten.

As for what Ringer did when she retired, well, I could continue to recount the details from the obit. After all, facts aren’t subject to copyright. But I’d rather give the LA Times the traffic. Like most content businesses, newspapers are in a bad way these days, as I discuss in a legal article I’ll soon be posting. So click the link and do your part to help out the local daily.

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