Want a Creepy 3D Animated Avatar? There's MyIdol for That

As of April 2015, app-developer Huanshi Ltd. is offering a FREE Chinese language version of MyIdol - an app that converts a selfie into an animated 3D avatar. (Thanks to Max Knoblauch of Mashable for the link to the app in Apple store.)

Don't worry: "Dear users, stay tuned. English version is coming soon." 

Honoring the Half-Fan

As the strategies for online marketing evolve, some filmmakers (especially those who are working on adaptations or sequels) have found success by over-serving their most passionate core fans.

For example, some film franchises have reached out to the most passionate online fans - providing one-of-a-kind immersive experiences that are recorded and then spread via social media.

The video at the top of this posts illustrates one such campaign - an outreach to core audience members - that was part of the Game of Thrones launch on HBO. As the video illustrates, the immersive marketing firm Campfire (working on behalf of HBO) provided some very avid fans of the Game of Thrones books an unexpected gift of physical objects from their favorite fictional world - items that could be unboxed and then shared via video on social media. The Campfire Game of Thrones campaign was timed to make an impact online just before the storyworld of the books was introduced to a wider audience as television episodes on HBO.

But what about the people who already really like your work - and might already be on the path to becoming ardent advocates - but, so far, aren't numbered amongst your core audience?

What about your half-fans?

What about the followers and friends who might become deeply committed social media evangelists for your work - but aren't quite there yet? 

What about the half-fans - "who love the show but live in distant orbit around it?"

Don't half-fans deserve love too?

As Grant McCracken explains in an April 21st, 2015 post to CultureBy, fans who "know the characters and the major plot points, but... don’t know or care about the very fine details" need to be catered to too.

After all, aren't half-fans the most likely candidates to evolve into full-on fans?

As Geoffrey Long of USC (who's Facebook post inspired this post) has observed: "I keep coming back to the elegance of shows like X-FILES or BUFFY or STARGATE for how they balanced accessible monster of the week episodes with overarching super-stories. A well-crafted episode has both, so a casual viewer doesn't feel lost if they only catch a single mid-season episode but are drawn into the larger mythos by a few scenes or lines of dialogue. Which, BTW, Marvel's DAREDEVIL is doing a fascinating job of, with its subtle linkages to THE AVENGERS and the war in New York."

The Truth is a Casualty in One Teacher's Battle For Our Digital Future

The lecture above elaborates on ideas that (first?) appeared in a Feb. 19th, 2015 blogpost by Prof. Jon Taplin of USC.

While I agree with several of Prof. Taplin's goals (e.g., copyright laws and revenue models must be adapted to the new reality of internet sharing and there are huge challenges to privacy and fundamental notions of liberty in centralized control of the web...), I am troubled by the way Prof. Taplin arrives at his conclusions.

For example, in his Feb. 19th, 2015 blogpost, Prof. Taplin relied on a spurious quotation - suggesting that President Abraham Lincoln authored the phrase "The Constitution Is Note a Suicide Pact."

And this isn't the first time in recent months that Prof. Taplin has relied on a suspicious alleged quotation from an historical figure to support his arguments.


If his ideas are sound (and, in large part, I think they are) why would an esteemed professor rely on concocted quotations from Abraham Lincoln and Cicero

Apparently, Prof. Taplin feels that dead heroes make influential allies.

Here's an example from the Feb. 19th, 2015 blogpost:

"When I was in Paris a month ago, it was clear that the Charlie Hebdo assassins entrance point to the Anwar Al Awlaki network was through his You Tube channel of more than 7000 videos. If the First Amendment fundamentalists feel we must give ISIS complete access to You Tube and Twitter, then we are living out Lincoln’s prophecy [emphasis added]. I find it fairly ironic that Anonymous can easily take down Al Awlaki’s websites, but the U.S. Government wants to bring a knife to a gunfight."

As I've already explained, I don't disagree with many of Prof. Taplin's larger points. Fighting terrorists is a good idea. And, in many cases, censoring terrorist videos makes sense. But I worry that Prof. Taplin's willingness to contrive and re-formulate what historical figures actually said is unnecessary and unseemly.

Here's how I responded (in part) in my comment to the Prof.'s blog on February 21, 2015:

"In his confusion about whether the U.S. Constitution is shackling our government’s response to ISIS, Prof. Taplin suggests that Abraham Lincoln would have sided with him – suggesting that President Lincoln might have actually said the words “the Constitution is not a suicide pact.” In fact, there is no evidence that Lincoln said that. On October 1st, 1863 here is what President Lincoln wrote to one of his Generals who had arrested the editor of a Missouri newspaper: “I regret to learn of the arrest of the Democratic editor… You will only arrest individuals and suppress assemblies or newspapers when they may be working palpable injury to the military in your charge, and in no other case will you interfere with the expression of opinion in any form or allow it to be interfered with violently by others.” In other words, at the height of the Civil War, President Lincoln was OK with arresting those working to harm the military. But the historical evidence shows that Prof. Taplin is just wrong when he claims that President Lincoln prophesied a time when American citizens must give up access to their Constitutionally guaranteed rights concerning freedom of expression."

Randy Finch's Film Blog:

Thoughts from a film producer about making and distributing films.