Tag Archives: Media Trends

Don’t Be a Dick: American Vandal, a New Mocumentary

Scandal, conspiracy, lies and dicks. These are just a few of the themes from the new Netflix original, American Vandal.  This eight-episode mocumentary will have you biting your nails and sitting on the edge of your seat.  With a cliffhanger at the end of every 35-minute episode, there is no way that you won’t binge-watch American Vandal.

American VandalIt was an in-service day for teachers and the students all had the day off.  27 cars got tagged with 27 dicks in red spray paint.  Senior Dylan Maxwell is immediately pegged for doing it, being the class clown and known “dick drawer”, it just made sense to the school board and one specific teacher who has it out for him, Mrs. Shapiro.

Sophomores Peter Maldonado and Sam Ecklund think otherwise.

Peter and Sam are the two students that make a documentary, that may not prove Dylan innocent, but will reveal the truth as to what happened on that day.  With a supporting cast of students to interview, Peter and Sam seem to have their work cut out for them.  Through clever and somewhat crude means, the boys point to Dylan’s innocence, with silly things like the lack of ball hairs, and the different shape of the head than Dylan’s usual drawings.

The idea for American Vandal came to creators Tony Yacenda and Dan Perrault in 2016 after seeing the success of the Netflix original documentary How to Make a Murderer.  They set out to emulate such documentaries as How to Make a Murderer, Serial and The Jinx.  In many ways, American Vandal makes light-hearted fun of the way documentaries like these are set up.  An article from Vanity Fair does a great job discussing this.

When they went to Netflix with the idea, they had to assure the creative executives that their series would be “more than just a dick joke sketch”.   American Vandal premiered on Netflix on September 15, 2017.  Ever since its release, critics and audiences alike have been raving about American Vandal.  It has a critic review consensus of 96% and an audience rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.  It also received 8.3/10 on IMdb.

One of the greatest things about American Vandal is how relatable it is to actual high school students.  Through social media and obvious, but classic, stereotypes you really feel immersed in their world.  Yacenda was quoted in an article on The Verge saying:

“The common threads were that high school kids don’t use Facebook much. Certainly not with their own friends. They use a lot of Snapchat. Instagram is the main one. But I guess you learn that kids have their public Instagram, and then they’ll have a private Instragram for just their close friends, so they  can post memes or whatever.”

Yacenda and Perrault do a great job of showing all types of high school students.  Alex Trimboli is the brown-nosing honor student who is referred to as “a little bitch”, Christa Carlyle is the student body president and is always doing crazy stunts for charity, Sara Pearson is the popular, hottest girl in school and Dylan and his friends are the burn out stoners.

American VandalSo what do you think?  Does this sound like a show that you’d be interested in?  Is the idea of minors at parties and hooking up something that should be on television?  If you have seen the show, try not to spoil it for others.  I hope you are convinced enough to watch this mystery of the spray-painted dicks.

-Mitch Diamond

A La Carte Comeback: Can Live Stream TV Take Over the OTT Audience?

Are you tired of being forced to pay for gratuitously bundled cable TV packages with hundreds of channels you aren’t going to use? I have some good news! You can now supplement your cable television experience through paid, monthly subscription services such as Netflix and Hulu!

TVAre you overwhelmed trying to keep track of all those services you’re currently subscribed to, and looking for a balanced, all-a-round package where you can pick and choose what kind of content you want? I have more good news! Cable TV is back in the form of live-streaming and has traded gratuitous channel bundles for much more economically, a-la-carte-based packaging system.

Just in my lifetime computers and the Internet have gone from rare commodities to necessities, and cell phones today would be considered supercomputers, going far beyond what was previously thought possible 20 years ago. I believe no other field compares to how incredibly visible the Digital Media field is when it comes to evolution. Technology is always improving, and companies are scrambling to keep up.

For the last decade, the cable industry has been threatened by cord cutting and that threat is still growing every year with over 22 million adults canceling their cable subscription by the end of 2017. Consumers were looking for alternatives to cable television and the ability to stream high definition video reliably was the answer.

Streaming services have developed a lot since their original conception. Most services operate by licensing the content they stream from companies such as ABC and Warner Brothers. As companies like Netflix expand internationally, licensing costs go up significantly. Since 2012, Netflix is paying more than double in licensing fees, but has dropped over 40% of their content. Much of their spending, like other services have shifted more towards original content.

TVThe picture above shows each services’ estimated budgets for original content in 2017. Each year  spending has been increasing significantly between every service with Netflix being the forerunner in spending.

While streaming services are constantly evolving, so is cable television. Over the last few years, services such as Sling and Playstation Vue have entered the playing field as the best alternative to cable television. While streaming services such as Netflix intend on completely replacing television I believe that Sling and Playstation Vue can take a different approach and focus on co-existing with streaming services while still offering content that services like Netflix will never be able to fulfill. This would be the smartest strategy since Netflix and Amazon cover the video-on-demand market.

Television companies don’t need to waste money licensing properties that a service like Netflix already carries – it would simply add unnecessary operation costs which would inevitably lead to rises in subscription costs – and value is something these services need to capitalize on the most.

TVThe demand for live television is never going to go away, and I believe that services such as Sling and Playstation Vue that offer a-la-carte style subscription packages are the perfect response to the ever-rising number of cord cutters. In fact, many of the cord cutters that I know that own homes have opted to subscribe to Sling specifically as a cost-saving method where they still get to fulfill their news and sports hunger without the costs of, say, getting their cable through Mediacom.

Do you think that live stream TV will become a casual consumer service such as Netflix where almost everyone will have it? How do you think live streaming TV affect subscription service numbers, if at all? Be sure to comment below!

-Kevin Thorn

The Future of Sports Media: How Barstool Sports Is Changing the Game

What comes to mind when you think of a sports media company? You most likely think of ESPN or Fox Sports 1, but I’m not going to talk about either one of those. Can you guess what it is? The company that I am talking about is Barstool Sports. Maybe you have heard of them or maybe you have not, but I promise you one thing, you will eventually know the name.

Sports media Barstool Sports first got its start as a free newspaper that founder, Dave Portnoy, handed around in Boston. From there, Portnoy has taken Barstool to Manhattan, where they have 70 plus employees with 20 interns and are worth an estimate of $15 million. What Barstool does is take trending news stories, specifically with sports, and make articles that are funny and satire. That is their style. Portnoy is quoted saying “We mean this to be a comedy brand”. This style definitely does justice, with their website getting 6 million visits a month.

So how did Barstool go from a free newspaper to making millions of dollars? Well their big rise started when the Chernin Group, an entertainment media company, bought 51% of Barstool Sports, but Dave Portnoy still has 100% oversite. With this big deal, Barstool moved its headquarters to Manhattan. The reason for this deal was to take Barstool to the next level, and to make it more popular. After the deal was done, Portnoy said: “This was our best shot to literally take this thing to the moon. To swing for the fences. Hopefully this deal makes us bigger, faster, stronger, better at everything we do.” Here is a link to a press conference that Barstool had following this deal. (Video)

After this deal, Barstool gained many more followers. Everything they did spiked in popularity. Barstool does not just have a website, they have podcasts, shows, and an xm radio show. Their social media sites have also gained gotten huge. Their Twitter has 915.7K followers, and their Instagram has 2.8 million followers. Barstool is also known for pioneering the slogan “Saturdays are for the boys” which has made its way to even having professional athletes saying it.

Sports media

Barstool has many podcasts with some having a lot of popularity. According to an iTunes chart, Barstool has eight podcSports mediaasts in the top forty sports podcasts. Pardon My Take is sitting at number one. Pardon My Take is a podcast that does a variety of segments and does an interview with a well-known person in the sports world. They make their episodes as funny and trendy as they can by using profane humor. With more than 500,000 listeners per episodes they definitely bring a different side to sports news, making every episode interesting and enjoyable to listen to.

Barstool also does shows that are very popular also. Their newest one is made for college football, and it is called “The Barstool Tailgate Show.” For this show, Dave Portnoy and other Barstool workers go to a college before a football game and do their own show. They made this show for the purpose to compete against the ESPN tailgate show, College Gameday. For this show Barstool went to an Iowa game and it was very popular. One of the Barstool workers actually put an ear of corn in front of a fan’s face to see if he would eat it and he actually did. They did this because of the Iowa stereotype that all Iowans love corn.

Barstool Sports has definitely made their way up the sports media ladder. So, if you are a sports fan or just like funny media, go listen to a podcasts, go on their website, or even watch one of their shows. I promise you that you will not be disappointed, and always remember, Saturdays are for the boys!

-Quentin Mendlik

iPhone X: Revolutionary for the world or Revolutionary for Apple?

No doubt the iPhone X is one of the most talked about phones coming to the market in early November, but is it honestly as revolutionary as they make it? I’m going to get this out of the way right now, I AM AN APPLE FANBOY. I love Apple. I watched the launch event and at first I was blown away by how amazing and revolutionary this new iPhone seemed to be. But when I really thought about it, about the new facial recognition, the augmented reality feature, and wireless charging. And I realized the new iPhone is not really as revolutionary as Apple claims.

iPhoneLet’s get down to some of the main features that they emphasized in the ‘Revolutionary’ iPhone. The new iPhone X is now offering wireless charging with the new glass back they incorporated into the new set of phones. Do not let it fool you though. I mean how many times do you put your phone on the charger and not needed to use it? Wireless charging sounds better than it actually is, because you cannot charge your phone and use it at the same time. Wireless charging has also been around since 2009, and Samsung, Apple’s largest competition, had wireless charging in 2013.

iPhone

Next onto one of the biggest additions into the new iPhone, Facial recognition. First off facial recognition was first used on the Google Nexus in 2011. Apple claims that this new system is better than the Touch ID. They claim that mask, clay molds of your face, and pictures will not fool the iPhone X and will only open to your face but if you have a twin they might be able to get in. This technology is so smart that it can recognize you when you grow a beard, wear a hat, cut your hair, wear sunglasses etc. I mean at the Apple event the demonstration went so well, watch one of Apple’s biggest live event fails here.

iPhone

As an iPhone owner, I have been waiting for Apple to incorporate an OLED display for the longest time. Apple has been using a Retina Display while Samsung has been using a beautiful OLED display since 2013. Apple is a little late to the party, also Apple is a little late with the edge to edge display, Samsung beat them to the case there too. I am not the only Apple user not really impressed with this new ‘Revolutionary’ phone, neither is popular YouTuber SSSniperwolf.

Is this phone revolutionary for consumers or is it revolutionary for an iPhone? Because through my research, most of the key specs that make this new iPhone ‘revolutionary’ have already been incorporated into phones in the past. Will you be buying the iPhone X? Why or why not? How do you think that it compares to other phones, like the Samsung Note 8 and Galaxy S8?

-Aaron Graham

Is La La Land Singing for Musical Movies?: The Return of the Modern Movie Musical

Hollywood has a long-standing history with the movie musical, the golden age of musical theatre movies gave us stars such as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Yet, for the last several decades, the large-budget, over-the-top musical movies had fallen out of Hollywood’s good graces. Rewire did a great in-depth look of the historical context of Hollywood’s musical love affair.

La la landLa La Land’s success definitely brought the old-fashioned Hollywood musical back into the spotlight, but with the huge popularity of Broadway shows like Hamilton it will be far from the last musical movie adapted from the stage or otherwise to come to the big screen in the next few years. In fact, Aladdin, American Idiot and more are in some stage of production according to an article in Playbill.

Hollywood is also tapping into some of Broadway’s hottest talent to act direct and more for these new movie musicals. To name a few, Ben Pasek and Justin Paul were tapped to compose for the ode to the Hollywood musical La La Land, who currently have a Tony award winning musical Dear Evan Hansen currently running on Broadway. The pair also composed for the upcoming release The Greatest Showman based on the life of PT Barnum, as well as collaborating on some new songs for the live action version of Aladdin.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is another perfect example of this, getting in with Disney via Moana, has now composed for the upcoming Mary Poppins returns which he also starred in beside Emily Blunt, as well as additional forthcoming projects from Disney animation. Needless to say, he’s kept plenty busy since leaving Hamilton in July of 2016.

Damien Chazelle also has everything coming up roses for him since the success of La La Land, since he landed a deal to direct several episodes of Netflix’s new musical series The Eddy. The series will center around a nightclub, the house band, and its owner. On top of directing Chazelle will also be executive producing according to Variety.

The series marks a first for Netflix being its first venture into musical theatre of any sort for its original programming. This could mark a new era into musical theatre being made by streaming services instead of exclusively broadcast networks and large studios.

Musical theatre within television has seen much less of a downturn, seemingly being much more steady over the years. Shows like Glee definitely brought it back into the limelight, but the phenomenon of the musical episode was definitely popular long before. With shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer tackling it as early as the late 90s to 2000s. Many shows since have gone on to do one off musical episodes, including Grey’s Anatomy, Once Upon a Time, and The Flash being a few in more recent years.

La la landShows like Crazy-Ex Girlfriend have gone so far as to build their entire premise around it, and have numerous awards including Emmys and Golden Globes to show for it. While not always the most highly rated, it’s critic’s darling status kept it around for a third season. Which will premiere on the CW on October 13th on the CW network.

Overall, the fate of the Hollywood movie musical seems sealed, with musical theatre reaching younger audiences and Broadway being out of fairly reach for most teenagers. Hollywood movie musicals may land in a sweet spot for many of the newest generation of musical theatre fans, provided Hollywood can cater to the hip crowd.

-Taylor Lien

DIY Punk in Eastern Iowa

Independence, self-expression, and just plain not giving f*ck. These virtues help drive the spirit of DIY Punk as it thrives in eastern Iowa. But what is DIY Punk? Where did it come from? Why would anyone want to pile into a sweaty basement with strangers? Glad you asked because that’s exactly what I did on the night of September 23rd!

PunkThe event was Sister Wife at The Black Hole. Scheduled for seven “so obviously, that meant it really started at eight.” In fact, I arrived to the event so early that Sister Wife actually thought I was the house owner since there were so few people at seven.

The Black Hole is a home music venue set up in a basement using two large speakers, string lights, and a small wooden stage in the corner of the room. There was also plenty of graffiti on the walls and charming, to say the least, decorations with an overall bohemian atmosphere.

PunkThe event was put on by a group known as Cedar Valley DIY, a network of people that host underground shows as well as other events.

There were five bands that performed that night, Canids, In the Attic, The Hex Girls, Sister Wife, and Shutup. I was invited by my friend Nick Fisher who plays bass/vocal for The Hex Girls. “Cedar Valley DIY is a very loyal audience. Same with places like the Octopus.”

The Octopus is another local venue with a solid music community as well as a place where a number of starting bands get their first tastes of stage time. Every month they host an open mic night and once every year they host a new band night; which is how The Hex Girls first got involved with them.

Bands like The Hex Girls first found their inspiration from other huge punk band, Green Day. Green Day started out in the East Bay of San Francisco playing shows at a local venue that didn’t allow signed bands and worked with a small studio that helped them produce their first few records. Green Day recently released an entire video series on their early years on Spotify that I would highly recommend.

Cedar Valley DIY themselves have also helped to launch a number of local performers on tour nationally. One such band is Avoid, a five-person group from Cedar Falls. You can check out their bandcamp here.

DIY Punk and DIY music in general has been seeing a great rise thanks to the Internet and home recording equipment being cheaper than ever. For only a few hundred dollars a person with a laptop could record an album and put it online. They can also perform as well thanks to communities and venues like Cedar Valley DIY, The Octopus, and all the bands that perform in and around Iowa.

If you want to support Cedar Valley bands like The Hex Girls, the best way to do it is go to a show but if you can’t do that you can stream them here on Spotify. I highly recommend making the effort to get out to a show because when the music is blaring and the crowd is dancing the night can be an experience you’ll never forget! Just don’t forget ear protection!

-Jonathan Carpenter

Do Androids Dream of Wired Headphones?

Close your eyes and think about what the world might look like in fifty years. You might imagine a city with a Neo-Shanghai aesthetic, decorated with neon, and dominated by the omnipresent skyline of 2067. Our grandchildren carry the natural evolution of our comparatively primitive smartphones…ones that appear to be nothing more than a slab of translucent glass, penetrated only by the sights and sounds that pass through.

headphonesThis image reminds me of a conversation I had with my dad years ago while driving through the oldest district of my hometown. He commented on how all the buildings had been around for almost 150 years, and have never changed, and how science fiction always depicts the world, our world, as being so drastically different just fifty years into the future. What he said rings true. The world doesn’t change overnight into the neo-noir, rain drenched streets of Blade Runner, these things take time. Many of the buildings that towered over men riding on horseback will be standing long after the last autonomous cars have rusted into dust.

One might not think a headphone jack is worth all the strained metaphors and recollections of patriarchal wonderings that have been splayed out in the paragraphs above, but I would argue to the contrary. To get to that brilliant future of wireless convenience, we have to progress through the awkward adolescence of headphone dongles, shoddy bluetooth connections, and the unnecessary duality of charging versus listening to music.

In the following paragraphs, I’ll present four major points to support the eventual adoption of a wireless standard, and hopefully convince you that Apple leaving the headphone jack out of the iPhone 7 will come to be known as a move just as bold and visionary as anything they’ve ever done.

A History of Defining The Future: Apple has a strong history of ditching existing hardware standards, and moving on to technologies that they perceive to be in their springs. Examples include but are not limited to: optical disk drives, the 8-inch floppy, the 3.5-inch floppy, serial ports, wired gigabit ethernet, low DPI displays on mobile devices, Adobe Flash as a basic internet standard, and now wired headphones.

headphones airpodsThese decisions aren’t made to leave invested users in the dust, they are made so that future products can be relevant and useful for as long as possible before the next standard is created. Apple has been around for 40 innovative years so they might have something insightful to say about where things are headed.

The eventual endpoint of all this is that everything can connect wirelessly. Apple is helping everyone get there by eliminating all these standards and just forcing everyone to go wireless.

Size Matters: The headphones jack as we know it is in a static analog connector. It actually can’t get any smaller because the male end of the connector going into the device has to be a certain size. In an age of impossibly thin and light smart devices, the space inside the phone is at a premium, and everything in there is fighting for space. we all want things like larger batteries, better processors, better cameras, vibration motors, haptic feedback engines and stereo speaker systems in our phones, but it’s all fighting for space and at some point something has got to give.

It doesn’t make any sense to leave in a connector that only serves one purpose, and it can’t be changed to something smaller. It also impedes the ability to design water-resistant phones, what more and more users are clamoring for.

headphones airpodsCuration: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for faster horses”, said Henry Ford, the great innovator and world changer of the 20th century.

Part of Apple’s success stems from their product philosophy leaning toward all-in-one designs with few moving parts, elegant form factors, and every faucet of the user experience thought out from beginning to end. The hardware, software, and services you find on these devices are all controlled by a singular vision of the future.

Part of what you are paying a premium price for is the expertise of Apple’s designers, and for their curation in knowing what makes a great product and what doesn’t. They have decided that in their vision of the future, the headphone jack is not a part of that. Some will have faith that Apple will be correct, as they have been for forty years, and some nonbelievers will leap off the bandwagon.

headphonesThe Future: How can you look at the picture above, and not immediately think, “Wow, okay that’s clearly how headphones are going to work in the future”. It’s the most minimal expression of that singular idea. Just a piece of technology dangling from your ear that automatically connects to the device you want to be using it on. It’s effortless, well thought out and insanely cool.

How many times have you had to untangle a long headphone cord, or gotten it caught on something and had the earbuds ripped from your ears. There’s a better way…and Apple is making that happen one small step at a time.

It will begin with us kicking and screaming into the future, but we will get there sooner than any of us realize. One day soon, an Android fanboy is going to wake up, put in his wireless headphones of choice, and walk out the door while reading an article called, “7 Reasons Apple didn’t really invent wireless earbuds.” He will smile smugly, as he makes his way to his job at a GameStop.

Sam Strajack

 

Is That a Video, or am I Tripping?: Cinemagraphs are the Next Big Thing

No you are not tripping. Well maybe you are. But what you are actually seeing is not a video, nor is it a picture. It is a cinemagraph. A cinemagraph is a little of both. It is basically a video that is partially frozen so, while parts of it are in motion, the rest is still. While I can go into great detail about the technicalities of this new art form I will be focusing on the marketing and advertising aspect of this new, engaging medium.

Cinemagraphs are perfect for capturing a quick moment of action that can be looped over and over. Though cinemagraphs have been around for a few years, they are just making a big hit in forms of advertising and branding. They are very popular on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram where users are often times overloaded with content. A cinemagraph is a way to stick out in a sea of content. Because of their automatic play and short loop they are easy to consume and hard to ignore.

cinemagraphs

Cinemagraphs can be used to create suspense

We are used to seeing photos or videos and often times our minds subconsciously skip over content we know already and by playing a trick on the mind consumers are easily attracted to this new concept. In my digital advertising class we learned about how eye tracking is giving us more knowledge on how people are consuming media. We learned that banner ads are no longer effective because eye tracking research shows that people’s gaze are going directly from the url and AROUND the banner ad to continue reading an article. While I am not able to provide data for eye tracking research on cinemagraphs, it is something that would be interesting to see.

Because of their low production costs, they are great for campaigns and marketing strategies. These are not to be mistaken for a GIF. A GIF is a low quality file and is created for entertainment and humour. There is also no aesthetics to a GIF while cinemagraphs focus more on creativity and art. A cinemagraph also creates an illusion and gets people to stop and stare. That extra five seconds of looking may not sound like a lot but in today’s world marketers and advertisers five seconds is a big deal. Like I said, they are the next big thing.

cinemagraphs house of cards
House of Cards Cinemagraph Campaign

Brands are starting to take note of this new medium to create a new form of storytelling. TV shows like House of Cards are also paying attention. Recently they just promoted a new campaign consisting of cinemagraphs to create hype for their upcoming season. More from their campaign can be found here on their tumblr site. For other examples of brands incorporating cinemagraphs into their social media campaigns check out this article from ADWEEK.

Let’s look at the benefits of cinemagraphs.

  • A new form of engaging advertising
  • Form of media that gets people’s attention
  • Cheap production costs
  • A new trend that is just beginning to take off
  • Creates higher click rate on social media sites
  • THEY’RE  F****** AWESOME!

Ad Age also recently posted a blog talking about the impacts cinemagraphs are making as well as giving some social media statistics. So now that you know a little more about this new art form you are probably going to start googling cinemagraphs, am I right? To make things simpler I am including a hyperlink to Flixel which is a program used by professionals to create visually stunning cinemagraphs. If you know After Effects or Photoshop you can even make your own. These are great for startups and bloggers to get more traffic to their site and make a little more noise in the loud advertising environment we live in.

Josh Berendes