AN INTERVIEW WITH OPEN VIDEO CONFERENCE’S BEN MOSKOWITZ
Thanks to the Workbook Project for allowing us to cross-post this interview with Ben Moskowitz of the Open Video Conference. Filmmaker readers can receive a special discount to attend this year’s conference by clicking here and entering the discount code FILM20.
The Open Video Conference returns to NYC with a stop at FIT for two days of conference Oct 1st and 2nd and a special hack day on Oct 3rd. We caught up with Ben Moskowitz who’s pulling the event together to get a better sense of what to expect.
WorkBook Project: What is OVC and what’s new this year?
Ben Moskowitz: OVC is a two-day gathering for anyone who’s interested in the future of web video. The event draws a big and diverse crowd of businesspeople, technologists, lawyers, academics, artists and others. At one level it’s a showcase for creative and technical innovation in online video, especially some of the exciting things happening with HTML5 and open video. But we also grapple with some larger questions—with so much free content out there, how will artists get paid? Who decides what you watch? Who knows what you watch? We are very much about the top-level concerns of this emerging web video medium, the web, and the mass media system generally.
OVC is presented by the Open Video Alliance, which is a coalition of organizations and individuals building open tools, policies, and practices for web video. This is the second time we’ve produced OVC. This year’s event is bigger, featuring a small film festival and hack day. But on a deeper level, what’s new this year is that HTML5 video and open video generally are really picking up industry support, and lightbulbs are beginning to go off in people’s heads. So some of the really advanced stuff that we’ve been forecasting and building toward is becoming tangible. OVC is a great place to get a peek at some of that stuff.
WBP: What’s the most pressing issue facing Open Video and why?
Moskowitz: At OVC we’re interested in all facets of web video. To have an “open” video ecosystem, we’re going to need to ensure that creativity is compensated; that the software and hardware tools for making and watching video are accessible and widely distributed; that the network for delivering video is open to all producers, big and small; and that public policy supports the ability of mass numbers of people to participate in the video conversation.
We’re discussing all of this at OVC, and it’s all important.
WBP: HTML5 what’s it mean to storytellers and what are some of the exciting things you’ve seen done with it? Any examples you can share?
Moskowitz: Mozilla is opening an HTML5 video workshop to show what’s possible when video is woven into web pages. It’s much different than simply “embedding” a video—it’s experimenting with the possibilities of connecting video to the rest of the web, and really embracing new ideas about interactivity and iterability.
There’s the popcorn.js demo floating around, which pulls live-updating data from across the web and displays it along with the video. But that’s early stage stuff. There are lots of cool concepts which show users interacting and manipulating video in real time. It’s not just about augmenting the viewing experience—it’s about creating new experiences which weren’t possible until now. Check out the Arcade Fire HTML5 music video, “The Wilderness Inside.” In fact, do a Google search for “HTML5 video demo” and you’ll see all sorts of possibilities; when you realize that creators will be able to tinker with and build upon these examples in mass experimentation, your head will spin.
Of course, all the tech demos and gadgetry are nothing unless they’re in service of a great story. One of the coolest things to see at OVC is open source developers and creatives putting their heads together to imagine how the web can advance the craft of storytelling. We will have some cool stuff to show, for sure. But I don’t want to spoil the surprise.
But beyond that, the energy at OVC is infectious. It’s a meeting of the minds and people will be pitching new ideas all weekend. We’re delighted to be working with over 15 organizations, including the visionaries at the Workbook Project.
WBP: You’re adding a hack day this year can you explain the reason and what will be taking place?
Moskowitz: The hack day is free and open to the public. We’re organizing the hack day so everyone will have a space to start executing on their ideas immediately after the conference.
It’s taking place at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program at 721 Broadway. Though it’s an open space gathering, we have some confirmed activities: a Mozilla WebMadeMovies working group; Kaltura hackathon; a working group with WITNESS on building solutions for human rights video; and a lot more. For the folks working on the fundamental mechanics of web video, we have the highly technical Foundations of Open Media Software Workshop.
But anyone with a project is welcome to come and collaborate—it’s going to be fun.
WBP: What tech do you think is exciting right now?
Moskowitz: Beyond the possibilities of HTML5 video, I’m really interested in how video on open knowledge projects like Wikipedia can improve learning, And generally speaking, the expanding universe of tools for making and sharing video—from the capture end all the way up to cloud computing resources—is really amazing to consider.