The rise of the Zoom studio

Zoom has become the new TV studio. Like so many companies and individuals around the world, we have been using Zoom to develop content for our clients. A few weeks back, we helped TV presenter Vanessa O’Hanlon take her first steps into the live Zoom studio as a guest on Journey’s to Come’s Live with Catriona.. Today she shares her experiences and looks at the rise of the Zoom studio.

I recently made the enormous leap into the virtual world of everybody’s new favourite online trend, Zoom. Okay, I admit I am not a complete novice after all I have been part of the odd virtual happy hour and a birthday celebration or 2 but this was the real deal, live streaming straight to Facebook.

It didn’t take long to understand why this technology is quickly finding its own space in what may already seem like a crowded online arena. Although YouTube has been a leader in the digital video world for a long time, Zoom allows us to create conversational content in a relaxed environment with anybody, at anytime, anywhere around the world. A useful tool as the prospect of international travel still remains up in the air.

Perhaps the greatest asset of this kind of digital technology is it allows us to not only hold a meeting or conversation, but it has the capability to record, download and post. As I learned from a candid chat with TV Presenter and author Catriona Rowntree, it is a new organic way of conducting and hosting a video from two different states. Perhaps the biggest lesson I took from this journey is how it allows a conversation to flow in an engaging and organic way, cutting through an environment that is usually hyped with entertainment and noise.

Brands are now using it as a way to connect and engage with clients through creatively styled virtual launch parties. A leading example is Marc Jacobs Fragrances, by reimaging the space, the company gave its well-dressed clientele the chance to watch a musical performance, get their portrait done and have their photo taken by a fashion photographer – all from the comfort of their lounge rooms.

Sara James an Emmy award winning journalist and author from the United States now residing in Australia, has virtually set up her on chat show, interviewing and hosting conversations relevant to her field of expertise, U.S Politics. Allowing her to freely engage overseas talent and keeping her connected to what is happening back in her homeland.

In a time when the arts have really struggled to find a platform, it’s allowed creatives to come together, reunite and perform for a much wider audience. For Australian Band Powderfinger, a Zoom catch-up was the starting point for a live streamed concert, “The One Night Lonely” via YouTube, attracting more than half a million views and raising almost $500,000 for charities supporting the music and arts industries affected by covid.

Theatre companies have also turned to Zoom to create virtual performances like the virtual plays coming out of Auckland.

While the word Zoom has become synonymous with the business world of meetings, it’s the meteoric rise in the creative space that will see this technology escalate into 2021 and beyond.

Half century of clocks, craft and children’s entertainment

BenitaAndDonLong before Dora went exploring and a pig called Peppa ruled our screens, there was Play School. Good old trustworthy Play School.

It’s Play School’s 50th anniversary on July 18th and time to celebrate 50 years of clocks, circular windows, craft-time and cuddles.

Each day thousands of parents around the country rely on Big Ted, Little Ted, Humpty, Jemima and all their friends to entertain thousands of Aussie children … and who can forget the Rocket Clock – who is going to tell the story today? And will we look through the Round, Square or Arched window? Communicating messages to a young audience can be difficult at times, but Play School has managed to reach children over and over again for 50 years and counting.

It’s such an iconic part of the Australian Culture that the Australian Mint has designed Play School currency for the show’s anniversary.

The ABC had a dedicated program to reflect back on 5o years – it showed the wide array of Australian actors who have graced the colourful set. And it gave Sally from Summer Bay a chance to test her Play School presenting skills.

Many of us grew up watching Playschool. Watching the people teach us how to craft and create magical objects out of everyday household items – cue the toilet rolls.

Among those teachers is Benita Collings, one of Play School’s longest-serving presenters who appeared on the show for 30 years. Some actors say it’s one of the best gigs you can get. We all have our favourite. Here’s a look at some of the names over the years 

A lot of people think that screen time is bad for kids. But there is a brand-new study showing that with a lot of thought the “right shows” can even “ease aggression in young children”.


What is it that makes Play School so good and helped the show along on its half century journey? Well there are people with games….

  • It’s got the perfect cocktail for preschoolers. The show has just the right amount of talking, singing and dancing.
  • It mixes up the sorts of subjects: science, history, literature, art and emotional skills (it’s ok to be sad) and also helps teach kids the difference between right and wrong.
  • It educates children with all the good things disguised behind catchy lyrics and movements. Children are watching and being educated without even knowing it.
  • Play School is engaging and consistent – if you’ve ever had to entertain a 5-year-old you’ll understand this can be difficult. It’s a show that encourages little and big to play.
  • Different actors, talking straight to the camera –making it seem like it’s just you, the TV and the characters. Children love this.

The faces changed over time, but the Play School tune has stayed the same. And the rocket clock is still there. It may be digital now but it’s still a clock that connects Australians.

50 years on television is not a just a great achievement it’s a rarity. Play School is an Australian television icon and that’s why we’re c = celebrating.

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

Cinema, couture and classic casting: contagious combination

We had the pleasure of watching The Dressmaker this week – and at the risk of sounding like Margaret and David I’d have to rate it 5 stars. It’s one of those movies that everyone can take something away from. Kate Winslet plays a character who is striking, real, and a bad girl come heroine with a little bit of mystery. Her performance along with a cast of Aussie greats makes for an incredibly moving film which keeps you stuck to your seat.

Movies like this have a cast of helpers behind them. Hours of direction, writing and costume production go into making them fabulous. On the other hand, short videos that flood the internet are often just moments captured on film. Some only ever seen by a few, others go viral.

Check out this video from The Ellen Show featuring eight-year-old Britton Walker who knows everything there is to know about James Bond, and helps Ellen out by educating her. And then by interviewing Daniel Craig on the red carpet. C = cute.

There is no secret recipe for the perfect viral video, and yet there are videos that receive millions of views every year. What’s the common thread? Generally if you throw a cat, a kid and a piano in you’ve got a good c = combo.

Remember that night watching Susan Boyle’s first performance on X-Factor. No, nor do we. Because we all watched it courtesy of YouTube. So why was her video contagious… ?

Just this week, following the #parisattacks social media erupted in support of Waleed Aly’s condemnation of the Islamic State as ‘weak’. Responding to the deadly attacks in Paris, The Project co-host and GQ ‘Media Personality of the Year’ urged viewers to pull together, and not to play into the hands of the terrorists.

Elon University conducted a study into what makes a video go viral. Here is a quick summary of what their extensive research revealed:

8 Common Characteristics of Viral Videos

A few factors were determined to be the most prevalent (and therefore most important for creating a viral video):

  • Title length: 75% of the videos had short titles (3 words or less), with the average title length being 2.76 words.
  • Run-time:60% of the videos had short run-times (3 minutes or less), with an average run-time of 2 minutes and 47 seconds.
  • Element of laughter: 30% of the videos featured the element of laughter (defined as seeing or hearing someone laughing within the first 30 seconds of the video).
  • Element of surprise:50% of the videos exhibited the element of surprise (defined as seeing or hearing an expression of surprise, such as a scream or gasp).
  • Element of irony: 90% of the videos featured an element of irony (defined as an element contrary to what was expected). The majority of ironic elements in the videos displayed the breaking of social norms.
  • Musical quality: 60% of the videos displayed a musical element (defined as singing, background music, or popular song references).
  • Youth: 35% of the videos featured children seemingly under the age of 18. 20% of them displayed children seemingly under the age of 10.
  • Talent: 30% of the videos were composed of songs, dances, or performances that required practice and talent.

Click to access 08West.pdf

Perhaps we’ll share some old home movies and see if they go viral?

Cheers, Jack and the c word crew

Cabin crews: cross check, closeup time for corporate content

The Qantas Barbie collection – image sourced from Qantas media centre

If you enjoy being a fly on the wall, and get a thrill out of jumbo jets and drink trolleys, then you’ll love Channel Nine’s new observational-documentary about Qantas, Ready for Takeoff.

We caught the first episode this week with the Wallabies heading to the UK, a man with a broken back finding it difficult to catch a flight to Melbourne from Perth, a pilot returning from six months leave, and all the excitement of life at the airports in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.

Following in the footsteps of a similar documentary about British Airways, this new program produced in partnership with Qantas takes viewers behind the scenes of the national carrier. It gives the audience unprecedented access from departure to arrival, first class to travel for pooches, and introduces us to all the characters who get us from airport to airport and back again.

The series will follow a range of passengers and crew including one of Qantas’s most valued frequent flyers – 84–year-old John Martin – as he embarks on his 1000th Qantas flight (he has been to New York 153 times, London 148 times and, in a hot tip about taming jet lag, John recommends you sleep and time meals for the time zone you’re travelling to).

In recent years we’ve seen a growing number of organisations embrace the observational-documentary to take us behind the scenes with Vogue going cover to cover with The September Issue and Oprah’s production company giving us an insight into building a television network. And of course, we’ve had years of going behind the scenes of hospitals, customs and RBTs.

Let us know what you think of Channel Nine’s new doco? And also what do you think of companies giving viewers an all access pass?

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

Closing comment – cringe comedy

This week, The Project’s Rove McManus created a cringeworthy TV moment during an interview with former PM Julia Gillard.

Rove asked Ms Gillard what her partner Tim had given her for her birthday and then continued the questioning down a rather juvenile path. Thankfully the former PM was able to brush it under the carpet and move on.

This cringe comedy made us think about other cringeworthy TV moments and here are a few we stumbled across:

Have a great weekend everyone and avoid the cringe comedy.

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

Closing comment – Who’s got the remote control?

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks (make that months) in the land of radio and television news, both in front of and behind the microphones and cameras.

The morning slot has continued to see its share of changes following the arrival of Channel 10’s new Wake Up with its beach views and post-surf interviews with the PM. Most recently, Adam Boland has been allowed out of his contract and farewelled television for good to focus on his health. He’s been replaced by Steve Wood, a former executive producer of Nine’s Today Show.

Over at the ABC, days after announcing that Virginia Trioli would swap Melbourne for Sydney and TV for radio and take over as the host of their flagship morning program AM, it was announced that Trioli was staying in Melbourne and continuing as co-host of ABC News Breakfast. While she’s breaking in a new set at ABC News Breakfast, Chris Uhlmann will become the new host of AM.

Over at Channel Nine, the Today Show ended the year with a few changes to its production team, and this week former Olympian Libby Trickett joined the show as a health and lifestyle reporter.

For Sunrise, things were getting back on track following last year’s departure of Mel Doyle. That was until this week’s ‘Strippergate’ which saw Sunrise clash with website mammamia.

At the other end of the day, the evening block of news and current affair programs have been given a shakeup around the country.

Seven has been making news with the resignation of Today Tonight’s Helen Kapalos and her move to Channel Seven’s Sunday Night (the program, not the night of the week!).

Around the same time, Nine has rolled out a one hour edition around the country and so far it’s proving quite popular. Although the poor folks up in Brisbane didn’t get their full report this week due to some technical hitches.

With the new year only just blooming, I’m sure there are plenty of changes just around the corner.


Jack & the c word crew


Closing comment – Friday 18 January – Caffeinated classrooms & cycling confessions


While we’ve been preparing for our first Caffeinated Classroom of 2013, Oprah and her team have been busy editing, promoting and uploading her exclusive confessional with cyclist Lance Armstrong.

Before we talking cycling and confessions, let’s talk Caffeinated Classrooms. We ran our first one this morning for eight of our clients and colleagues focused on the incredible communication of 2012 – both from around the table and around the world.

They were an excellent class (very well behaved!) and provided many wonderful examples of communication they had been churning out including creative video campaigns, company mergers, member engagement and fundraising. There was also plenty of discussion about our favourite examples of communications from around the world, including:

Then it was onto what’s ahead for 2013 and everyone agreed there was a need to focus on developing creative campaigns and building support for them internally. Relationships, partnerships and content will also be a key focus.

Now onto the confessions of a cyclist.

Today saw Oprah’s interview with Lance Armstrong go to air in America and on the world wide web. It was a coup for the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) and a much needed boost for the once-ubiquitous Oprah.

In the week leading up to the interview, Oprah has been busy promoting the “Worldwide Exclusive” with interviews and teasers galore.

There has been some great commentary about the PR value for Oprah as well as what it will mean for Lance, here are a few highlights:

If nothing it reminds us all to watch or re-watch Frost/Nixon and gives us some interesting reading for the weekend papers!


Jack and the c word crew

If ‘video killed the radio star’ will social video kill TV?

Photo by @KimberleyL

Even the chilly Melbourne weather couldn’t keep us away from Melbourne’s modern day speakeasy, 24 Moons in ACDC Lane, for Social Media Club’s stellar panel:

  • Simon Goodrich – MD of Portable and National President of AIMIA
  • Nick Bolton – GM of Viocorp
  • Suzie O’Carroll – Industry Manager of YouTube

Everyone was dying to know (ok maybe not dying but you get my drift) about the current state of social video in Australia? Are we fast forwarding, rewinding, playing, pausing or stopping?

According to the panelists, we still have a long way to go with social video use in Australia. While there is plenty of interest with campaigns such as Old Spice, there are also plenty of questions still to be answered.

Why do we still have a long way to go you ask? Well unlike blogging, video production takes more time and money. Poor infrastructure, bad viewing quality and a lack of understanding were also reasons for the slow uptake of social video.

Portable’s Goodrich said many people still underestimate the need for quality content in order for a campaign to go viral. And the panelists agreed content is still king!

Speaking of content, YouTube is not only the home of online video, with approximately 24-hours of content being upload each minute, it is also the second largest search engine in the world.

YouTube’s Suzie O’Carrol spoke about the Toyota Sienna’s YouTube campaign as an example of companies who “get” social video. She also highlighted the fact YouTube is being used by a wide variety of Australians, not just young kids.

The panelists also chatted about the 1500 Australians who participated in Ridley Scott’s ‘Life in a Day’ film experiment, which will be shown at Sundance next year.

And no conversation about video and social media would be complete without talking about #QandA. The integration of Twitter on shows like QandA and MasterChef creates trending topics, which in turn builds viewers. While it may be exciting, moderation becomes difficult with the increase of numbers.

We were also interested to hear about the movement in retail and online video, where stores such as JayJays are linking products in videos straight to the shopping basket . Which as one tweep put is is “killer interaction for retailers!”

Here are some tips from the panelists:

– integrating your online and offline strategies is essential

– content needs to be engaging and offer a unique experience

– a good length for a video depends on the audience but 2-4 minutes is a safe bet

– You can’t force engagement when people want to be passive

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to vote.

Cheerio, the c word

PS – thanks to all who happily tweeted away on the night. My phone battery didn’t make it to the end of the day so no notes or tweeting. Great to have such rich content available on #smcmelb to refer back to 🙂

Can I have an A for Adriana?

Like many people who grew up with Adriana Xenides on our television screens, I was sad to hear of her passing at the young age of 54.

Wheel of Fortune was regular viewing back-in-the-day with “Baby” John Burgess and the ever glamorous Adriana. She is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest running game show host, having appeared as assistant host on Wheel of Fortune for 18 years. Nowadays game shows don’t form part of my regular viewing but I’ve always held a soft spot for Adriana.

In the hey days of the 1980s, Adriana Xenides was the epitome of fashion, style and grace. I know this is a game show we’re talking about!! However she could’ve easily wandered into a scene from Dynasty and looked at home, apart from the hair-pulling cat fights between Crystal Carrington and Alexis. Adriana was too classy for that.

So was this her appeal? Why was she universally loved? In an era renowned for its excesses, crassness and “greed-is-good” attitude, did the beautiful and nice girl from Buenos Aires win us all over with her warm and generous smile?

Australian television lacks the glamour and grace that Adriana brought to our screens daily. Does anyone even come close? I can’t think of anyone.

R.I.P Adriana.

Cooking, dancing and live tweeting

Last night, like a million other Australians, I tucked into Masterchef (1.611 million viewers) and washed it down with the finale of So You Think You Can Dance (1.041 million).

These TV shows would have traditionally flown under my radar had it not been for the crazy amount of live tweeting surrounding them.

Live tweeting provides an instant community for you to engage with during your favourite TV show. And it certainly provides a reprieve from the repetitive advertisements for Coles during Masterchef. While advertisers may not be over the moon about this latest distraction, it’s important they pay attention. And it’s not all bad news, while I may not be watching the advertisements, I’m certainly hearing about them … the compliments and the complaints!

I am a huge fan of live tweeting about TV shows and events. Take the Oscars for example. How does one make it through a long awards show without nodding off?? The answer is simple – watch what the Twitterverse has to say about who should win, what they’re wearing, the quality of the speeches and who was ‘robbed’! Now I wonder if we’ll see the same live tweeting from Australians during this year’s TV Week Logie Awards? But without Susan Boyle what will we tweet about?

Back to live tweeting, I love seeing the comments of my fellow tweeting TV watchers. The proclamations of love, the rants, the jokes, the predictions, the sarcasm, and the highs and lows when a favourite contestant gets booted off. All of this compliments the TV viewing experience so well, especially as the single person household becomes more common.

Live tweeting is also becoming a larger part of social networking strategies. It’s the perfect way to build awareness of major events and also raise the profile of major sponsors. If you’re a tweeter, who hasn’t followed the tweets from a major event such as a launch or conference?

But sticking with television, how do television shows, advertisers and networks capitalise on this activity?

Firstly, I’d love to see live tweets incorporated into my TV screen, than I wouldn’t have to constantly look away. Perhaps one day soon we’ll be able to opt-in to see tweets for live sports, reality shows and even panel shows like ABC’s Q & A.

Not only do they extend engagement with the show, the Twitter updates provide instant access to a pool of research. Networks get an instant reaction to what works, what doesn’t, and who viewers love or hate.

It’s like having a hundred thousand people in a test screening. Gone are the one-way mirrors and facilitators, replaced with 140 characters and a smart phone.

What do you think? What else can television networks do to capitalise on this popular trend of live tweeting?

Have a lovely long weekend,

the c word