Monday, November 27, 2006

Remixed TVCs




Though some companies like Exxon Mobil, Gap & General Mills are perhaps miffed with Hip Hop artists getting creative with their corporate logos & ads – I think this is a great opportunity – especially for youth brands.
Imagine if you invite users to come forward and create their own remixed versions of the corporate ad jingles or better still give an unusual twist to the TVCs!
With technology by their side and the desire to express themselves; an opportunity like this can only make the youth happy.
Imagine the kind of stickiness this act could have. It is a great candidate for a news story in itself.
While the ads try to ‘influence the users’ remixed ads could well be the way, as the original ad remixer Eric White said, “to influence the company right back.” Companies could learn a lot about their user and what they think and feel about the brand, from what they make.
With companies spending so much money to ‘bombard’ the audience with brand messages and still wondering if it did exactly what they wanted the message to do; it is time that they took a break and let the users do their own thing. Creative collaborating is another way to position their brands as unstuffy and open.
Remixing ads could almost be like turning the interesting whispers in an auditorium into something useful for everyone.
And if it is consumer’s, even a whisper can sound convincing!

An algorithm for everything!



Algorithm for Art
Computer programmers in companies like Platinum Blue (US) & Orixa Productions in Madrid are working on what they call “Music Intelligence”.
It entails developing software that would predict which songs would become hits.
The software uses a technique called “Spectral Deconvolution”. It isolates & analyses around 30 parameters that define a piece of music. These companies have compiled database of more than 3 million successful musical arrangements including data on their popularity in different markets.
They claim that they can reveal striking similarities in the underlying parameters of two songs from different eras - for example between U2 & Beethoven!
You are beautiful by James Blunt is one of the many songs that were predicted to be big hits by Platinum Blue.

Algorithm for ideas & creativity
A company called Icosystem has developed the Hunch Engine. The software explores characteristics of products, images or names that appeal to a client. It then applies those characteristics to the automated design of new objects that can be displayed on screen. The Hunch Engine can be customized for corporate clients. Icosystem is now experimenting with a version that will spit out striking original brand and product names.

Algorithm for daily needs

And Google, as some publication recently indicated, could be the World Brain in making.
Why?
It helps us search everything from Paper Clips to PDFs and Power Points. Now we can even create our own word spreadsheets that would be housed on a Google server. In many ways Goolle is leading the emergence of central & networked intelligence simultaneously. First it helped us find anything, anywhere & anytime and now it is prompting us to do everything that we do, at the one place. Google has been the guide map and Google could well become the final destination too.

I am not a scientist thus I can’t say this as an expert but as an observer I feel that what strings the above three together (Algorithm for art, ideas & needs of everyday life) is their reliance on predictive matrices. In other words trying to predict different things in future, basis all the things that have happened in the past.
If history repeats itself and if there is some kind of order in the chaos of business, economy & everyday life; a kind of Order that can be sensed only by a well-trained eye or a bloody-good algorithm, then we cannot be overestimating the enthusiasm of developer-entrepreneurs like Brin & Page (Google) and others behind things like Music Intelligence & Hunch Engine.

What surpasses my imagination is what role would instinct & intuition play in a world of predictive algorithms.
Would the meaning of creativity change?
Would we stop using some of our intellectual faculties (a lot of our thinking anyway has been reduced to typing search strings on search engines!)?
Would there be a counter intelligence that would emerge – intelligence that is less algorithmic and more intuitive?
Would there be a division of roles between Algorithmic Intelligence & Intuitive Intelligence in a way that the former would drive the maintenance of order in this world, and the latter would explore new frontiers of development?

More importantly who would control whom?
And most importantly – what role would human intelligence play in all this?

Friday, November 24, 2006

New Khosla Kunj - Compromise



One of the defining character traits of middle-class (and perhaps larger India too) is compromise. Compromise with the circumstances and situations comes to us naturally. There could not have been a better way of reflecting this in the film than the way it was done.
His friend, and confidante, Mr. Sahni, advises Mr. Khosla that he should not contest his son’s desire to change his name. Compromising with grown up kids was the best way to lead a peaceful retired life with one’s kids. He goes on to say that the “young boys these days have a very MNC kind of mind”, and we should not challenge the way kids want to live their life.
He then goes on to say that this whole country is running on compromise (“Ye pura desh hi pancho compromise pe chal raha hai..”).
Though lightly said but this statement has a lot of meaning in it. Come to think of it – as middle-class Indians we never put up a resistance for what we think is wrong. If roads are bad we compromise, if trains are over crowded we compromise, if the govt is corrupt we compromise, if power supply is erratic we compromise, if there is encroachment on our land we compromise, even if a part of our province is taken by another country we compromise. As a society and nation we do not know anything in the name of resistance. At best we talk and then settle down. Compromise is the mindset that drives the assimilative nature of our culture.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Long live Lehaaz








Look around yourself – don’t you observe a strange sense of urgency & aggression in the way people behave and go about doing their usual things. This is especially true for big metropolitan cities - be it pushing to make way in a queue to fill petrol or honking aggressively to psyche out the driver ahead of you at the traffic signal or grabbing service staff’s attention at a snack counter. All of us are really-really pushy.
We forget to give the elderly their due – ‘so what if he is unable to pull his car out of the parking lot as efficiently as perhaps you can.’
We are impatient with women – ‘why the heck she is taking those 8 seconds extra to draw cash from the ATM machine.’
We just do not think about others. Lehaaz and decency is an endangered if not extinct trait.
As social animals we are turning out to be more like animals than being social. Our restlessness could be a result of the governing variables for the existence of any species viz. Time & Space.
Shrinking public spaces or should we say swelling public in the same age old space
Paucity of time – thanks to our super loaded time schedules, which are in turn a result of having to travel large distances for seemingly small tasks. (It takes 15 minutes to get milk & vegetables from a neighbourhood market in Aligarh (UP) in Delhi it takes 15 minutes to just reach the market!)

At the end of it is Darwin in action - survival before social bonding.

Despite our perceptions about the improving living standards viz. AC, Hi-Fi Audio, Microwave, Washing Machine, Vacuum Cleaner, Electric Chimney etc., the living conditions that exist ‘between’ our office & residential complex are constantly deteriorating. It is in this zone that we behave like the urban animals and we do not even realize it.
While there is a economic imperative for a sound urban (and rural) infrastructure there also exists a big, if not bigger, social imperative to have a sound infrastructure to support evolving India’s emergent social landscape.
It is a little paradoxical that the next 8-lane expressway and a bigger parking space and a beautiful landscaped garden and a larger railway platform, and employment opportunities in hinterland (and some family planning!) have an equally big social impact as they have an economic impact.


Lehaaz after all is linked with landscapes!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Clever or clear




Every great piece of marketing communication rests on this delicate balance between being clever & clear. But it is inaccurate to assume that great creativity would always be clever. In fact creativity works at two levels – the lower of these two levels is about clever creativity that challenges comprehension. In other words great ads that we never understand. And then there is this higher level, which is the address for all the great ideas that we understand and yet are such that they always surprise us. I call these clear & simple because these are the ideas that make a difference to the life of the average consumer and the brand.

Unfortunately the first kind of creative ideas that pop up in any ideation session are those from the lower level of creativity. These ideas are good & very simple from the creative person’s point of view. But are like French to a Persian when it comes to the consumer.
Unfortunately many creative minds stop at this level. They try to get these ideas published because after all they are ‘good’ ideas. These are the ideas that keep the creative people away from all the great ideas that are yet to come.
What matters to us, as people in the ideas business, is to always strive & reach out to a higher level of clarity and yet surprise the audience.

Because good is the enemy of great & clear is far better than clever!

New Khosla Kunj – Sharafat




Izzat and Sharafat – the two defining middle class traits.
In the film, the moment when Mr. Khosla is shown expressing his concern about his elder son’s plans to help him get his land back, he tells Mr. Sahni “Cherry does not know these property agents. They can cause a lot of trouble to simple people himself and his son Cherry.” (Ye in logon ko nahin jaanta, main jaanta hun. Ek baar kissi service class aadmi pe koi daag lag jaae to zindagi bhar ke lene ke dene pad jaate hain.”) Daag, here is like a blot that one gets on one’s character - a blot that does not go away for the rest of one’s life.
All through their lives, middle class families try to minimize their risks and try to lead a simple life, away from any kind of confrontation. Mr Khosla’s statement reflects this fundamental aversion to extreme steps or aggression in any form.
The same simplicity reflects yet again when Bapu (Navin Nischol) walks away from a bag containing Rs. 35 lakhs. It is his middle class conscience that does not allow him to carry the money with him. Back home when all the young boys and girls are pounding on Bapu, it is Mr. Khosla who empathizes with him, offers him a glass of water and then goes on to say how what Bapu did, was what decency (sharafat) is all about. And that like himself, Bapu was also not a shameless, reckless man who could just dupe someone and walk away with his or her money.
It is interesting to note generational divide in mindset & the two diverse attitudes towards goal orientation. While on one hand Mr. Khosla’s children, Meghna, Asif Iqbal & Mani, the secretary, are ruthlessly vengeful and would go to any extent to accomplish their goal, both Mr. Khosla & Bapu represent the old school of adopting all the right means.
These two generations represent the middleclass values in transition.

New Khosla Kunj – Whisky is a bad thing





Mr. Khosla’s discomfort in carrying home the whisky bottles from the Wine Shop (Theka in Delhi), demonstrates Middle class India’s social discomfort with alcohol. Consumption of alcohol is seen to be a symbol of lowering one’s stature in society. And most importantly if one is having alcohol others should not come to know of it. I am sure some of us would recollect how regulars carry bottles from the shop – tucked under the trousers, wrapped in newspapers or veiled under black polythene bags.
Even empty bottles of alcohol speak badly of the person or family having them at home. Thus you would see that they are tucked away in some corner in the house & sold separately to the kabariwala, not with the regular ketchup bottles.

For Mr. Khosla consumption of alcohol is happening for a good cause – breaking ice with his elder son, thus the act is legitimate. But the world around him does not know this and hence he should hide the bottle as he walks home.
There is more to alcohol consumption and middle class households. Girls are always kept away from it. Mr. Khosla tells his daughter “Ja bete tu bhi kuch Coke-shoke khol le apne liye aur apni Mummy ke liye, shabash..”, (Go and have some Coke with your mother) as if handing over a consolation prize to her.

It is this pent up desire to have alcohol (& smoke too!) that drives many of the girls from middle class households to these two habits with a vengeance. This is true for girls living away from their families (for work or studies). These girls are almost making up for all the time that they have been kept away from it!

Working women from middleclass India, who are living away from their small town families, is a huge emerging segment for alcohol – ask any Brand Manager for a leading cocktail mix or a brand of Vodka!

Monday, November 20, 2006

New Khosla Kunj – Fathers are like tender coconut




Although a lot of contemporary advertising and other media messaging portray a very expressive, inclusive, overtly emotional and ‘democratic’ father, the reality of the middle class families is a little different. Fathers are still not as expressive; they are stern, and even now, in many families, kids communicate with father through their mother.
The film captures this Mom-mediated communication between the son and the father rather well, especially when Mr. Khosla is discouraging his son to not risk so much money to pose as fake NRI landowners.
Every time there is a conflict, it is the mother who mediates like a moderator. Be it name change, breaking news about son’s decision to go abroad to work or ordering pizza for dinner!
Fathers, in middle class households, have always put up this façade of lesser emotion, and greater rationality as a grooming technique – in order to discipline the child.
But as the child grows up, and father grows old, the façade does not disappear. It changes form as it becomes hollow. In other words fathers implicitly acknowledge the maturity of their kids, but their ‘I am the head of the family’ mindset persists .
But the power dynamics persists – where fathers expect the children to do things the way they want. (“You see Cherry I am your father koi phone nahi aayega”).
The film reflects this rather well. It shows father’s initial disapproval of son’s decision to go to the US and work, but when the family is faced with a property problem he expects his son to help him sort it out but never expresses his expectations. And yet he does not want his son to get into these matters at the cost of his career. He wants his son to still go ahead with the opportunity overseas and not spoil his career in some property dispute. Father’s discussions with his friend & confidante – Mr. Sahni reflect that the tough exterior that Mr. Khosla puts up at home is hiding a vulnerable and waning old man.

As they grow old fathers continue to boss around in the family, but deep inside they acknowledge the important role that the grown up kids are playing in the house. This is a tacit acknowledgement of having acquired a supporting role in family affairs. But when it comes to formal decision-making they would still like to be left in charge of the situation and made to feel that things do not move without their consent. This is reflected beautifully in the film when after convincing Bapu (Navin Nischol) to play the NRI businessman’s role, Cherry (Praveen Dabas) still has to get his father’s consent before moving ahead with the plan. (“Papa aap permission de do.” “Ek baar jail ja chukka hun main, dobara jaane ki taakat nahi hai mujhme.. aage teri marzi..”)
Finally when Cherry walks up to his father with the money and asks him to go and get the plot the next day his father asks him to come along. (“Tub hi chalna mere saath, ab ye sab akele nahi hota mujhse”) saying this Mr. Khosla hands over the keys to the family safe to Cherry and asks him to keep the money in. This is a big moment. It is symbolic of the transfer of control. Father is implicitly handing over the responsibilities to his son who has proved his worthiness to solve family matters.
This holds true for almost all the middle class homes. What matters is not just how educated the son is or how much money is he making but also how well he can handle family. Together these two help the son qualify as a decision maker in the household or earn adult-like treatment from the elders in the family.

Fathers in middle-class homes are like the tender coconut. They are hard outside and soft inside. It is for kids to know this and give fathers their due and it is for marketers to acknowledge this sfather type and build brand communication that captures the soul of middle-class India’s coconut fathers!

New Khosla Kunj - Native Frugality



Mr Khosla’s moments with his Chinese calculator and his daily practice of noting down household expenses in a diary represent a middle class man’s regular monitoring of his expenses. Almost all the families have this notebook – usually called the “hisab ki kitab” (book of daily expenses). A middle class man is very cost and value conscious. He understands the meaning of financial planning. No wonder Mr. Khosla is shocked when he gets to know that his son Cherry has spent Rs. 12,000/- to book a room in a 5 Star hotel.
Frugality is again in action while Mr. Khosla & Bunty (Ranvir Sheorey) are fixing drinks. Mr. Khosla points out how the whisky would not have splashed out of the glass (and wasted) if he had put the ice before pouring the whisky. Small symbols of middle-class India’s native frugality- try and save whatever you can however you can. Marketers that help the middle class strike this proverbial balance between value and price lead the pack in whichever category that they are in.

New Khosla Kunj – Religious but not spiritual




The film captures another social reality rather beautifully. Khurana as a big real estate agent is shown to be God loving, but not really God fearing. Throughout the film he is shown visiting pilgrimages as Tirupati and Vaishno Devi etc. He is an ardent follower of Mata Vaishno Devi (Jai Mata di, Mata ki marzi, Mata ka Hukum, Mata ka Prasad etc).
Khurana (and even Brijinder from World Famous Properties) represent a new breed of entrepreneurial Hindus who are very religious but not really spiritual. They practice the rituals and demonstrate the symbols of religion but little do they practice the real teachings. So the next time you see a car’s rear windscreen with stickers as Jai Mata di or some heavy-duty shloka – you know you are following one of those who are religious not really spiritual in their leanings.

New Khosla Kunj – Cultural Collision




The Khosla family is culturally challenged when they start interacting with Meghna’s (Tara Sharma) theatre troupe. Their discomfort with many of the things that they observe about the people in the troupe shows us the world that is alien to the middle class households in India.
It starts with Mr. Khosla’s daughter being amazed at discovering that Meghna lives all by herself. Her reaction upon learning this is full of surprise and desire. (You live alone here? All alone, by yourself? Wow!”)
The second surprise is when Mrs. Khosla asks Meghna about her parents. When she learns that they are living separately in Calcutta and Bangalore her first reaction is that Meghna’s father must have been transferred. It is a shock that she cannot handle (and thus changes topic) when she learns that her parents are divorced.
The third surprise is to see a girl smoking – once again it is Mrs. Khosla who is being exposed to the ‘extreme fringe’ when the 20 something young girl at her door walks in with a cigarette in her hand.
The third surprise is felt the most by Mr. Khosla – it is about food. When Cherry orders pizza for everyone at dinner-time. Ordering Pizza as a meal is a concept alien to most of the middle-class men. Thus when Mr. Khosla is offered a Pizza he says would we now stop having proper food in this home(“ab ghar pe khana bhi nahi banega kya”) seeing her husband distress, Mrs. Khosla offers to make sabzi (fresh vegetable) for him.
Though times are changing yet all of the above instances indicate the classic middle class aversions.
Fractured families, liberated young girls who smoke or are living all alone in the city ‘like boys do’ or something as basic as having western food (read as junk food by the middle class adults) as meals are some social concepts that are alien and mostly unacceptable to the adults/elders in the middle-class families in India.

New Khosla Kunj – Ambition & Santosh (Contentment)

The Hindu philosophy that glorifies santosh (contentment) drives the middle class mindset of the generation that is in their 40s to 60s. This is reflected in the exchange between Cherry & his father when Cherry breaks the news about his plans to go to the US. His father’s first reaction is to tell him to stop dreaming so big and keep the feet firmly on the ground else he would fall flat on his face. (“Zyada bade bade sapne mat dekho. Zyada uncha udane ki koshish karoge to itna zor se neechay giroge ki daant toot jaayenge tumhaare.. America mein tumhare liye koi red carpet le ke nahi baita hua hai..”) Father’s reaction is rooted in an aversion to being overly ambitious.

The father-son mindset diverges at a point where father thinks that a good job is good life whereas son’s view is that a good is not good enough. This is reflected yet again when Cherry is talking to his mother at the dining table and the mother is asking if his job in India is not good enough (“yahaan ki job theek nahi hai kya?” To which the son replies by saying that good is not good enough (“Sirf theek se toh nahin hota hai na ma.”)

These two sequences highlight the generational divide in the mindsets. On one side parents look at a good job in a good company as the epitome of success and on the other hand the son looks at success as a continuum where with no stopping or looking back.

Monday, November 13, 2006

New Khosla Kunj - Morning Sounds




Every Indian middle class family wakes up with some typical morning sounds. These could be the ringing of the Pooja Bell by the grandmother and sounds from the morning service of a MW Radio Channel - be it the local AIR Station or the language service of the BBC.
More recently we have also started hearing sounds from Astha, Sanskar or any other a devotional TV channel. Thanks to grand moms who tune in meticulously everyday.

There another set of sounds that are more people created, like loud gargling (as it was in the film Khosla ka ghosla) or clearing of throat at the top of one’s voice.
In many south Indian families one wakes up with the sounds of the mixie grinding the dal or rice in preparation of the breakfast.

These sounds, like the other dominant morning sound of alarm clock, are embedded in our memory and we never stop relating to them at any age.

As promotional content creators there is opportunity for us to use these sounds for communicating with our users better for embedding our message in the user’s mind better.

New Khosla Kunj – Social Fitness!




The strained MNC executive working overtime, who is trying hard to make it big in his/her career, is a very small fraction of the total consumer space. Belly of the middle class India is not as much stressed mentally or physically.

It is not surprising that the meaning of early morning group walks are more of talks, this includes laughter clubs (like we saw in Khosla ka Ghosla) is an excuse and opportunity to meet friends, neighbours or acquaintances.

In the film we see Mr. Khosla catches up with his long-time friend and chartered bus buddy - Mr. Sahni - every morning. During these walks happen long discussions about kids and family and work and many other things in general.

What this indicates is how the real reference group that the head of the family has is not his immediate family but close friends/relatives just outside it. Being the head of the family the male member has to show his commanding best to his family members. No one in family should get to his vulnerabilities. Thus the middle class male avoids discussing many of the things with his wife or even kids even if they have grown up.

This set of friends is the real reference group that plays a dominant role in determining many of the family decisions. Close friends are seem to be a kind of extended family in the middle class urban India.

New Khosla Kunj – Gas




This morning was the second time that I watched Khosla ka Ghosla (one of the recent Hindi films). And this time I could not stop myself from writing about all the things that I feel makes that film great and special to me.
The film is full of insights about the contemporary urban middle class of a certain kind. Starting today I would like to dedicate some posts to the great experience that I had while watching the film. This is the first in the series that I am calling ‘Khosla Kunj’.

The film opens with Mr. Khosla (played by Anupam Kher) waking up with some stomach gas caused by eating ‘heavy food’ the night before. This is so typical of an Indian middle class family where every adult member has a concept of stomach gas and has an undocumented list of food articles that cause this ‘gas’. These food articles (it was Rajma in the film) are to be avoided in certain meals to have trouble free digestion.
As far as my knowledge goes ‘Gas’ as a concept has never been endorsed by the western medicine and yet it exists in people’s mind. Almost all the middle class families have one or more of such body/health related concepts. For example naabhi utarna & the stomachache that you get because of that is another of such health related phenomenon that might not find acceptance in the western medicine but it still exists. A lot of gharelu (home) medication is even guided towards fixing some of these problems.
Health marketers and advertisers can only do better if they learn more about these medico-ethnic health concepts that reside in almost all Indian households.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Reality Radio




This though is from a dear friend & colleague – Prem.
I was amazed when he said how TV reality shows, designed around singing competitions, are actually as well suited for another media – Radio.
Imagine the difference that it would bring to the way the winners are chosen.
On Reality Radio performance would be judged by how one sounds and not how one looks. The focus would be on one’s ability to stretch his voice and not the streaks in his hair or the shimmer on her top!

This is no surprise because singers were originally ‘playback’. What is surprising is how radio stations missed this opportunity. Actually they can still do something with it – imagine a radio reality show that is designed to choose Real Playback singers for the next wave of Hindi Cinema.

The most expected block for this would be an argument – “but radio is not by appointment, so how can we have such shows?” The fact is that media is what you make of it. TV is big today (and much bigger than radio) because starting 1990-91 Cable and Satellite radio exploded TV as a media. Today TV has multiple segments of channels & thus viewers (see my last post on “Expression with a Vengeance”.
There is a similar opportunity existing for Radio too, just that no one is tapping it yet.
But I am sure one station would soon take the ‘risk’ and next you’ll see everyone talking and writing about it.

Radio is here, now let’s get some reality to it!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

50 years of independence and 15 years of freedom




What planning is working better than the five-year plans?
What food is better than mid day meals?
What is transporting better than Indian Railways?
What is helping communicate better than the age-old state owned telecos?

Nothing and no one is perfect. Private sector is first for profit and then a social cause. But I still have a lot of regard for people like Capt. Gopinath of Air Deccan, Late Dhirubhai Ambani for his telecom dream, Kishore Biyani and Mukesh Ambani for their retail plans and plazas, Tatas & Maruti Udyog for their vision of democratizing passenger car travel in this country, Bajaj Auto & Hero Honda Motors for bringing motorbikes to masses & ITC for bringing prosperity & pride to the Indian farmer through their E Chopals.

These are the entrepreneurs and enterprises that have brought about real change for the masses.
They have proven that despite an unfriendly context (read infrastructural bottlenecks) a better nation can be built. They have turned the glacial crawl of India’s economic development into a 100-meter race. They are good examples of the fact that Indians are not just great thinkers and planners but equally able executors.

Proliferation of better products and services for the masses has brought about a decisive shift in the way the masses think and aspire. Today there is more to look forward to, more to work hard for, more to bring home for your kids and dear ones.

Just visualize the magnitude of social change that has been brought about some of these products and services. More people are traveling thanks to cost effective air travel; more people are getting to buy better products in an environment that, till very recently, they could only see in the Bollywood movies shot in Singapore or London. More kids are in touch with their aging parents through cost effective mobile communication services.

Private enterprise is turning to be the real democratizers of the democracy that we are.

Despite many weaknesses – the private enterprise has begun shaping the face of the contemporary India. This social change, which has been brought about by the economic upswing, would transform the face of this society forever and for the better!

Monk outside Maverick inside




Less is more in qualitative consumer research.
Speak less listen more.
Be seen less but capture everything.
Be a maverick but play the monk.
A good qualitative researcher needs to stimulate discussion and yet not be seen as a catalyst.
A good researcher’s presence should not be felt. He has to paint the canvas without using any colours.
A good researcher needs to slow down the respondent rationally and stoke him emotionally!
For a good qualitative researcher being polite, powerless and perceptive is what works best.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Long is short



My thoughts were triggered by Rohan; my 8-year young nephew. Every time we meet he tries to show me his favourite ‘monkey eating banana’ video clip, on his mother’s mobile phone. He likes this clip so much that my sister has started using it to entertain Rohan while he has his milk. Once the monkey is on the screen Rohan forgets the ‘misery’ of having to have milk – so no more crying.
There are many more clips saved on my sister’s phone – most of them are shot at home or at work or during their outings.

Come to think of it, just two years back we could not think of video recording our films as long as we did not have a camcorder – a big, bulky, and an expensive device.
Video recording then was synonymous with Marriages.
Just couple of years later and even an 8 year old can record and play film clips and then play with these clips.
There is a difference though. From video films we have moved on to Video Clips. The operating word here is ‘Clip’.
We record (or should I say click) video clips like we used to click a camera. We are moving from video recording into ‘Video Clicking’. Video clicking is anytime, anywhere, any thing & anyone.
On one hand we are busy and do not have the time to shoot elaborately – how many of us use our camcorders anytime other than annual festivals or an exotic trip. And even on these occasions our shooting is a function of the enthusiasm of the person who is carrying the camera. Who wants to be shooting in place of being in the frame?!
On the other hand we do not have time to view very long content and thus short content is preferred – look at he way kids and teenagers flip channels! Almost as if snacking on entertainment content at different TV frequencies.
The luxury of entertainment ‘meals’ from the ‘lets sit and watch this 30 min serial’ together would only disappear as we move into the future.
The west has already started bridging the audience patience and TV serial duration gap by developing mobisodes and webisodes, the net and mobile versions of the popular serials.
Even games are trying to become episodic – in order to engage a larger audience that is time poor. Like video films are becoming short clips even gaming industry is changing. It is waking up to the perils of long development cycles for video games and high cost of development. They are toying with episodic games that can be finished in one sitting of 15 – 30 mins. The aim is to get more non-gamers in by making games easier to buy (cheaper) and play (shorter thus less time intensive). Game developers are gauging their productivity by comparing no of development man-hours that go into the one-minute of gaming experience!

Technology has also succeeded in liberating good music from the clutches of an average music album. The album is finally unbundled. Today singers have begun releasing singles that are truly great rather than bundling them with 7 other songs that are just filling the MB space on the Compact Disc.

While this kind of content is becoming shorter strangely another kind of content is doing well in an entirely new format. The BMW ‘films’ (and not TVCs!) are a good example of this.
But when you look at them from the film angle they are really short films.

The future, it seems is really short, and we are shortly going to be there!