Interview: Ciarán Doran, Content Production & Distribution Summit chair

Interview: Ciarán Doran, Content Production & Distribution Summit chair

The Content Production & Distribution Summit will explore how brands and corporates are creating and distributing incredible content direct to viewers. Summit chair Ciarán Doran previews the event.

Ciaran DoranMuch has been written about the convergence of AV and broadcast in recent years, but as Ciarán Doran, chair of the Content Production & Distribution Summit at ISE 2024, is quick to point out: “The days of saying there’s a bit of convergence going on, there’s some overlap, are gone. It’s happening, it’s real, it’s here and that’s the essence of this conference.”

Taking place on Wednesday 31 January, this year’s event has the “deliberately provocative” tagline ‘Brands: The New Broadcasters’ and will explore how brands and corporates are creating and distributing incredible content direct to viewers, some working with high-end tech and professional broadcast facilities companies to reach audience numbers traditional TV broadcasts simply couldn’t attract.

He cites the example of a major fashion brand that recently streamed a fashion show to hundreds of millions of viewers, and WeTransfer which won a 2022 Academy Award for a short film commissioned by its WePresent digital arts platform. Productions such as these demonstrate that brands are changing how they create and deliver content to their end consumers, and they’re not afraid to invest in doing so.

'Convergence is happening, it’s real, it’s here and that’s the essence of this conference'

“What's interesting is that it's not just television broadcasters that are cutting new ground, like Netflix as a disrupter or Channel 4, or Sky, who are carving new ground. These are corporates that are actually ploughing a new furrow,” says Doran.

In addition to delving into some of this groundbreaking content, the conference will also look at how broadcaster manufacturers and broadcast facilities are addressing the pro-AV market. “It’s no longer ‘let's dumb something down so that it'll fit into that market’,” he continues. “They don't need to do that anymore because AV broadcast is now reaching up to acquire the content quality, both technical and creatively, of that service provider.”

And it’s not just those at the top end doing innovative work. “At the mid end, brands are doing some really good work to get good training videos out there, good commercial videos for their customers, for their channel to be excited about their products. There's a lot going on in that field. And the access to the technology is within price and within your skill set. It doesn't take much to step up,” he adds.

Futurist Amelia Kallman will reprise her role as co-host of the event, while speakers at the second edition of the conference will include major vendors, industry analysts and service providers, along with a tier one broadcast organisation. “They’re interested in this market vertical, and while it's not going to replace television broadcasting, there is a battle for our eyeballs, and the money moves where the eyeballs move, not the other way around,” he explains.

Sessions will also talk to brands that are already active in the content creation and distribution space. Michael McKenna, CEO and director of VP at Final Pixel, will discuss his work with Oracle Red Bull Racing on Formula 1’s first ever virtual production shoot. Filmed in a virtual production studio in Wakefield, UK, the film, which was used to launch Red Bull’s newest car, takes viewers on a breathtaking road trip across the US.

Indeed, virtual production will be explored in detail during the full-day conference. “The hype is gone, the hype is over,” says Doran. “Now you've got the people who are doing it, making it happen. And that starts to take us down the road of democratisation of content creation. You can be anywhere, your talent can be anywhere, your location can be anywhere, but the content looks like it's everywhere. And from that, we evolve into the art of storytelling. Because regardless of what your technology is like, you need really gripping stories to engage you.”

This is the case with Macallan whisky, which released a short film starring Emily Mortimer and directed by Mike Newell. It tells the story of Janet Harbinson assuming control of Macallan’s distillery after her husband’s death, at a time when women weren’t seen as able to run a business, never mind a whisky business.

“It's only eight and a half minutes, but I'll tell you what, when I watched that eight and a half minutes, I thought wow, I want to see the feature film now. I want to see the whole big story of this,” says Doran.

The role of AI on storytelling is also on the agenda. Whether entertaining, educating, or informing, the human aspect or storytelling has always been key to engaging viewers. AI’s potential to disrupt or enhance art of storytelling and the possibilities of an AI-driven world that could propel creativity will be explored in detail.

While the future will undoubtedly be in focus, the summit will also very much be demonstrating what’s happening now and why it’s important not to be left behind. “The underlying energy of the conference is that ‘guys stop thinking this is a pie in the sky’. Stop thinking this is a convergence which is happening somewhere but not for us. It's for you,” concludes Doran.

The Content Production & Distribution Summit runs from 10:30-17:00 on Wednesday 31 January. Book your place.

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