Ranks of the creative grow as technology tools make it easier to be an artist

Consensus of panelists at Friday's Digital Media Symposium

| Feb 13, 2010

Who’s a creative? Just about everyone, a panel of exceptionally creative people agreed Friday, Feb. 12, at Boulder’s DiMe Digital Media Convergence Symposium — the inaugural year for the event that helped kick off the Boulder International Film Festival weekend.

But the emergence of a plethora of easier-to-use and often mobile technologies and media is widening how many people, including many children, are starting to put themselves into the rather loosely defined category of “creatives.”

The huge acceptance of blogging and social media now makes millions of people across the globe into published writers. “I think self-publishing has widened the world” of creatives, said David Rolfe, a producer with Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Boulder.

The symposium, organized by the Colorado Governor’s new office of Film Television & Media and the Boulder Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, packed the St. Julien Hotel room with about 200 people to hear a panel of eight experts talk about what’s hot in the fast-changing world of new media. Robert Reich, founder of Boulder’s OneRiot, who also has grown the Boulder Denver Tech Meetup, from about 50 to 5,000 registered users, moderated the panel.

With the success of the 3-D movie Avatar, the topic of how quickly 3-D will be adopted was high on the list. Calling the hit movie a “significant event,” Rolfe said the movie has changed viewers’ attitudes from whether they thought it was a good movie plot or not to “Wow, that was quite an experience.”

Theaters are now in a catch-up mode, said Don Hahn, a producer with Disney, to jump on the profitable 3-D movie experience. “It’s a real game changer,” he said, adding that there are about 80 new 3-D theaters being installed each week. The 3-D theaters, he said, generate about 50 percent more profit than standard movies.

The panel also debated whether the new Apple iPad would be another “game changer.” Boulder-based venture capitalist Jason Mendelson, a partner in the Foundry Group, had his doubts, saying he wasn’t that sold on it yet, although he certainly was going to buy one.

But other panelists, including Aidan Chopra, with Google’s Sketchup office in Boulder, and Krista Marks, one of the founders of Kerpoof, which was bought by Disney Interactive Media Group in 2008, quickly disagreed, saying the iPad ‘s tablet functionality will start to change the way people can access both entertainment and games as well as their work.

The more ways kids can start to use creative platforms like Kerpoof on the Internet, the more they will continue to expand their skills to become the future technologists and engineers, Marks said.

Life is not all roses with so many emerging technologies, the panel agreed, citing how different platforms — everything from the Apple iPhone to Google’s Android and the new Palm Pre — fracture the playing field for software developers.

Brian Robbins, a game developer who started his own company, Riptide Games, says his goal is to attract attention quickly in the very crowded world of mobile game apps, but adds that getting each game to work on the different platforms makes his business much tougher.

Competing against some 30,000 to 40,000 game apps right now for mobile phones, Robbins said, “If you’re not looked at in the first 30 seconds to a minute, they’re (the user) are gone.”

Other conclusions by the panel included:

  • Internet users may have to realize that not everything is going to be free on the Internet. “We need to teach people to pay for stuff again,” Sketchup’s Chopra said. Sketchup has grown rapidly since its acquisition by Google because a “free” version is offered. But the company also sells a “pro” version with more features.
  • No matter the media, the story and content is still critical. “Storytelling is in our caveman genes,” Hahn said.
  • The DVD format could soon be in trouble, as more people begin to download their media. Younger people are downloading more movies, and “they are totally satisfied,” said Michael Brown, founder of Serac Adventure Films and Film School.

The panel forecast that it won’t be long before the movie industry will offer new releases in DVD format and download formats on the same day as the movie is released. Piracy is one of the factors creating change. “If you don’t give consumers exactly what they want, they will just take it,” Mendelson said.

After the symposium, Mary Ann Mahoney, director of the Boulder Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, said there’s a good chance that DiMe might be expanded next year, perhaps to include some interactive workshops and more presentations.

This article also appeared on Jerry Lewis’s blog, Boulder Report.