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Oscar Sunday Gets Social on Facebook

As most of you may know, this Sunday is the 82nd Academy Awards.  While I’m not happy with some of the retro changes (let’s be honest and say that the ten Best Pic nominees could’ve been whittled down to four films, including one that was completely overlooked, The Informant) we’ll see in this weekend’s ceremony, I thought it was worth pointing out some new social media promotion tactics the Academy is trying out this year.

For the first time, the Oscars will broadcast red carpet coverage online, thanks to their partnership with Facebook, and will give users like you a chance to ask your favorite actor a question.  According to their page:

“We know you’re used to seeing stars at the Academy Awards®, but now for the very first time you can get involved! Oscar.com has partnered with Facebook to bring you Oscar.com Live from the Red Carpet, a very special online pre-show that allows you to watch the stars walk the Red Carpet and answer questions from fans like you. Yes, you read that right!

Join hosts Lisa Guerrero and Brett Chukerman as they cover all the action unfolding outside the Kodak Theater. Using your Facebook account, you can send a message to them on the Red Carpet, and they’ll pass along the best questions and comments in real time to the stars that sashay by. But that’s not all! Rico Rodriguez (Manny from the ABC hit comedy Modern Family) will also be on hand to meet and interview fans in attendance, as they experience all the glitz and glamour right from the Red Carpet.”

For viewers who like options and have either Facebook or Twitter log-ins, they can go to APLive and see streaming coverage there as well.   APLive is also making this available on their Facebook page, but users will have to become a fan in order to see the coverage, so it’ll be interesting to see if the 1,373 fans of the page jumps to a significantly higher number over the weekend** (See update).   This streaming event is the first of many for the year-long partnership between APLive and Livestream.

If you really feel like you need more connection to this year’s awards, there are a few iPhone Apps available for download for this (again, let’s be honest) very crowded awards year.   One thing I probably will be checking out this weekend is Adam Shankman’s Twitter feed, one of the two being promoted on Oscar.com.

I don’t want to sound pessimistic or snobby.  There were some great films this year and I’ll take a moment to throw out my top picks for Best Picture:

  1. Up (Pixar just knows how to pull at the heartstrings)
  2. Inglorious Basterds
  3. The Informant (what movie? Netflix it when it comes out later this month)
  4. An Education (probably my pick of the year)
  5. Honorable Mention: Drag Me to Hell (I’m not being cute here. It really is a great film.)

Update:  We all know the winner’s from last night’s ceremony.  Another Update**: AP Live’s Facebook page now has 7,672 fans.

The New York Times Maps Metropolitan Culture via Netflix

Through a very elegant blend of rental data from Netflix and Google Maps, the New York Times continues to improve on the infographic with a very interesting interactive feature called "A Peek Into Netflix Queues", which it published on January 10.

NYT's Netflix Map of the popularity of "Rachel Getting Married" in Washington, DC The Netflix maps drew me in for about 30 minutes, as I clicked from film to film, watching as the density of rentals for each was represented in shades of red within each zipcode in the Metro DC region.  For rental distributions that may confirm some common assumptions, look no further than "Frost/Nixon" and "Paul Blart: Mall Cop".

One commenter on Metafilter went so far as to say that the feature could be used by people (snobs?) as a tool for selecting neighborhoods in which to consider living.  ("Hm, the schools are good and the neighborhood is safe.  But do we really want to stand in line at the grocery store with a bunch of people who sat through ‘Bride Wars’?")

The Times has mapped 12 major metro regions.  Take a look at it here.

It's Hard to Sell Something That's Free

A post on ValleyWag recently announced that file-sharing uber-giant BitTorrent would be laying off 12 of its 55 employees.  This accounts for the entire sales and marketing department.  This decision has been made in light of the recent failure of BitTorrent's staff to sell Best Buy its Torrent Entertainment Network for a rumored $15 million.

Since it's only been a year since CEO Doug Walker replaced founder Bram Cohen, it's likely that the entire company may soon be considering a revamp.  After all, Walker commented on making some changes to the store idea last March.

There is speculation that the deal fell through mostly due to the FCC and MPAA's recent crackdown on file sharing.  Outspoken Chairman of HDNet Mark Cuban freshly criticized the MPAA for combating the ‘problem' with prevention instead of promotion (we've all seen those commercials with the hip teens extolling the virtues of not stealing songs).

He claims that movie theaters need to invest in a positive message about the fun of going to the actual theater to watch movies, especially with the ever-growing price of admission.  Author of The Pirates Dilemma Matt Mason agrees with Cuban, saying that theaters should offer a movie-going experience and quality that will never be surpassed by file sharing.

Can you really ever defeat file sharing programs though?  No matter how great the quality and ‘experience', the fact remains that file sharing is free.  And "free" almost always wins.  Unfortunately for them, BitTorrent also recently learned that it's hard to sell something that's free.

High Quality YouTube is a Thing of the Present

If you've got a computer, you know what YouTube is.  In fact, most people, including myself, have uploaded videos to YouTube at one point or another until our accounts have inevitably been suspended.  It's the circle of life on the Internet, and I am very pleased with it.  Without YouTube after all, I would be unable to watch my guilty pleasure, America's Next Top Model.

What's the bad news about YouTube?  Well, the videos that are uploaded are typically of lesser quality.  In fact, the most common complaint that you will see on the video comment sections is about the quality.  In reply, most users will explain that "something" happened to their video during the upload process.  There is a hack to be able to view high quality version of videos, but soon, that hack will hopefully be rendered useless.

YouTube has finally announced all users have the option of watching some videos in higher quality. A blog post on their site claims they're slowly integrating this new feature, and videos uploaded in the proper format will be the first to be available in high quality. The rest of the library will soon follow, with any luck.

Simply go into your user account and select the option: "always show me higher quality when available." High speed Internet is going to work best, because otherwise the videos may suffer from lag time.  Nobody likes lag time.

I have been waiting for this feature for a long time.  Finally, my prayers have been answered, and I will soon be able to watch YouTubeHD.  There are enough capital letters in that word to make anyone excited.

Facebook Launches Thousands of Movie Clips Through New App

Social networking giant Facebook is teaming up with Paramount Pictures to let users download thousand of clips from the filmmaker’s archives.

The VooZoo application, which launched Monday, was developed by FanRocket. The idea is to let individuals re-live some of their favorite scenes and moments from any Paramount film. Clips last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes.

Viacom, Paramount Pictures’ parent company, plans to market DVDs through the new tool.

Though FanRocket aims to garner a few hundred thousand users within the first few months, Paramount hasn’t set any revenue goals to its end.

The application features a double-pane window on top – the left side shows the clips you’ve added yourself. On the right, you’ll find a display of your history, with ‘Featured VooHoos,’ or featured clips, just underneath.