In March of 2007, Justin Kan took a webcam, some fancy technology, and an idea, and made an immediate impact on the concept of live content on the internet. Coining and exemplifying the phrase “lifecasting”, Kan has been broadcasting his every waking move (well…almost every move) to the World Wide Web on Justin.tv (Tilzy.TV page) 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the past 177 days. In the process, he has garnered some massive media attention and changed the way we look at live streaming on the web.
Kathryn Jones is hoping to have a similar effect.
Next Wednesday, September 19, at 9PM EST, the first episode of her “compelling, character rich, plot-driven, scripted” web series, ‘35’, will be streamed LIVE on the internet.
Live video is taking off. Savvy parties have utilized this method to promote upcoming CD releases, host talkshows with instantaneous audience participation, stage slightly sensationalized events with quasi-celebrities, and just mess around. But using the medium as a stage for a live, episodic narrative is something entirely new.
’35’ is the story of an “unwelcome house guest who unearths Christian and Sarah’s deeply-buried skeletons while the two are on the verge of success, paving the way for a razor’s-edge triangle of possession, deceit and retribution.” Shooting live from three cameras running simultaneously through a Tricaster TV studio in a box, a producer will switch between the feeds to decide what will be broadcast to the web, while on-location and in real-time as the action unfolds.
Not surprisingly, the idea came to Jones while watching a live streaming, new media discussion with VOIP guru, Jeff Pulver and community developer and social media specialist, Chris Brogan last Spring. “So I tune in into the show and as soon as it starts I type something into the chat room and as soon as I finish typing, Chris Brogan responded as if I was actually in the room. And it was such a surreal experience and the quality was so amazing that my heart just started to pound,” Jones told me over a landline. “It was like how Donny Deutsch talks about your ‘aha!’ moment…I knew I wanted to use both internet video and this live platform to create a live web series.”
In the months since her new media epiphany, Jones has developed, organized, and staffed Synchronis.TV, a production company and website that will focus on live, internet entertainment and, along with the Digital Film Academy, produce the show, ‘35’.
“One of the things I’m really passionate about is creating opportunity for people I care about,” Jones said, which is clearly evident in the talent she’s surrounded herself with. Her first acquisition was her husband, Guiesseppe Jones, an accomplished regional theater actor who has helped to produce the series. Next she signed close friend, writer, and playwright Sharr White, followed by technical director Andrew Lipson, and a remarkable production team that is putting in “years and years and years of expertise for free because the idea is pretty unique and it’s hitting on the cusp of the future.”
Given Jones’ background, it’s easy to see why she’d be at the intersection of live entertainment and new media. Like her husband, Jones is an actor by trade and has been in a number of regional theater productions, New York City and Edinburgh’s Fringe Festivals, and a sprinkling of short films. She has also produced her fair share of theater.
As a day job, Jones handles new media at the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover, MA, creating podcasts for the institution’s various TV and radio shows, and in her spare time produced, co-hosted, and edited the emotive, altruistically feel-good video podcast If Not Now, When?, but had to stop the project to start Synchronis.
Justin Kan foresees that one day there will be networks of lifecasters on the web interconnected with tales of technological synchronicity. Kathryn Jones sees a similar future for live internet entertainment.
There’s a multitude of untapped talent trained for theater that given the now easy access and proper tools, could create content for this medium en masse. It also combines the best of live TV and theater with the best of the on-demand internet. As Jones says, “It’s the excitement of seeing something as it happens, but if you miss it, it’s always available.”
Synchronis’ ‘35‘ is just the beginning. Catch at piece of internet history live, September 19 through 30, 2007, Wednesday through Sunday, 9 PM EST.