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June 11 2011

13:54

War and peace - Sebastian Junger on Tim Hetherington's death

Los Angeles Times :: Last Oscar season, author Sebastian Junger and photojournalist Tim Hetherington walked the red carpet together. Barely two months after the Oscars, on April 20, Hetherington was killed in a mortar attack in Misurata, Libya, where he was covering the rebel uprising against Moammar Kadafi's regime.

[Sebastian Junger:] War remains one of humanity's master narratives.

In the months since, Junger has resolved to pull back from combat journalism. "I'm not going to do any more front-line reporting, because I don't want to put my wife through what I went through with Tim," he said during a recent stopover in Los Angeles to promote the new paperback edition of his 2010 book "War,"

An interview by Reed Johnson, www.latimes.com

February 25 2011

17:00

How to Experience the Oscars on Mobile, Social Media

The Academy Awards are less than 127 hours away. While most people haven't seen all 10 Best Picture nominees, the Oscar-nominated reels may still be experienced through the revelry of mobile, digital and social initiatives. For moviegoers who still want the big screen experience of dreams and swans before Sunday, AMC Theatres offers the final chance with its Best Picture Spotlight.

If you can't commit to a movie marathon this weekend, the Academy, as well as media and technology companies, have created digital popcorn for snacking on the Oscar experience before Sunday.

The Academy

The Oscars and nominated movies are omnipresent in digital media and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is showing true grit with its promotional campaign. ABC, the official broadcast partner for the Oscars through 2020, created the Oscar Backstage Pass, a companion app for the telecast that offers live camera views from the red carpet, the Kodak Theatre and the Governor's Ball. Available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, the $0.99 app (iTunes link) gives viewers directorial powers previously limited to a select few. Out of the nine camera angles offered in the Kodak Theatre, including Host Cam, Thank You Cam and Audience Cam, the most intriguing may be Control Booth Cam. When a winner's speech exceeds the time limit, this viewpoint could possibly give us the Cue Music Cam.

Oscar Backstage Pass.jpg

For those who prefer the free experience, download "The Oscars" mobile app for access to the latest news and events or try to predict the winners in all 24 categories. Currently, 23 percent of The Oscars app users think "The King's Speech" will win Best Picture, while "The Social Network" is second with 18 percent. The only runaway favorite is Natalie Portman, with 71 percent believing that she'll dance away with Best Actress.

Oscars red-carpet-experience.jpg

Walk down Broadway about 20 blocks from the New York City Ballet and you'll find yourself next to an interactive display called The Oscar Experience. Fans can have their picture taken next to a virtual Oscar statuette. Some hold the statue, while others prefer to smile or cry as if they are giving an acceptance speech. The photo galleries may be viewed on the Academy's Facebook page.

Google

Google is tracking the global search trends for the Oscar nominees in an easy-to-use tool appropriately called Oscar Search Trends. The charts for all categories may be customized for the last 30 days, the last 12 months or all years. Obscure international search results include the following: "Inception" leads all searches among Visual Effects nominees with Singapore driving the volume above India, while "Inside Job" leads Documentary Feature nominees with Portugal edging out Canada in volume. "Black Swan" leads all Best Picture nominees in global search popularity. And if you know Google, they prefer "Black Swan" searches over black hat search engine optimization.

Twitter

The cinematic characters and the actors who potray them will surely be a focal point of the tweets that Oscar watchers will post on Sunday. Follow the #Oscars hashtag on Twitter to see a continuous stream of comments on all things Oscar -- the winners, the fashion, the jokes, the speeches, the surprises, the parties and the totally inappropriate or irrelevant. For a more intimate and insightful Oscar experience, follow the tweets of these Oscar nominees:

  • James Franco (@jamesfranco) - Co-host of the Oscars and nominated for Best Actor ("127 Hours")
  • Mark Ruffalo (@mruff221) - Nominated for Best Supporting Actor ("The Kids Are All Right")
  • Helena Bonham Carter (@_HelenaBCarter_) - Nominated for Best Supporting Actress ("The King's Speech")
  • Trent Reznor (@trent_reznor) - Nominated for Best Music, Original Score ("The Social Network") with Atticus Ross

AOL

You may want to believe that "The Kids Are All Right," but in kid reenactments of the Best Picture nominees, the kids are all ridiculous. Yes, ridiculously cute and cut-throat, as in "The Social Network" clip (below), or cute and cut-arm in "127 Hours."

GetGlue

While you're watching Sunday's telecast on ABC and seeing the accuracy of your picks dwindle with each category, find comfort in something that truly sticks -- such as an official Oscars sticker from GetGlue, a social network that enables entertainment check-ins. It may not be "The Social Network," but it's one of many digitally choreographed programs attempting to get movie fans glued to the Oscars.

the_oscars.png

Have you participated in any digital Oscar engagement programs or plan to watch Sunday night's show? Share your favorite digital enhancements to the show in the comments below.

Nick Mendoza is the director of digital communications at Zeno Group. He advises consumer, entertainment and Web companies on digital and social media engagement. He dreamstreams and is the film correspondent for MediaShift. Follow him on Twitter @NickMendoza.

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March 05 2010

21:54

Can Social Media Chatter Predict Oscar Winners?

The biggest night in movies is two days away, and everyone has an opinion as to who will win an Oscar. While there isn't a proven formula that can tell us which film is going to win, a closer look at social media such as blogs and Twitter can provide some interesting perspective as to which nominees are dominating conversations and spurring emotional reactions.

Here's a look at the favorite contenders, as determined by social media chatter.

What the Blogs Are Saying

Sysomos, a social media analytics firm, today unveiled an updated buzz chart for the 10 Best Picture nominees. The chart outlines which films captured the most attention and generated positive buzz -- two potential indicators of Oscar destiny -- on blogs over the past month. The blogosphere was measured based on share of voice (percentage of overall conversation) and sentiment (percentage of favorability).

According to Sysomos's findings, "Avatar" leads the conversation with 25.6 percent of blogger attention (share of voice), while "The Hurt Locker" was second with 18.1 percent. Based on this assessment, "Avatar" is the favorite to win Best Picture.

I asked Sysomos to apply the same blog research to three other Oscar categories: Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Director. To keep the searches relevant, Sysomos narrowed the queries to include the name of the actor, actress or director and "oscar" or "oscars" and "academy awards."

According to the share of voice analysis, Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart"), Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side") and James Cameron ("Avatar") look like good bets to win in their respective categories. The sentimental favorites are Colin Firth ("A Serious Man"), Carey Mulligan ("An Education") and Lee Daniels ("Precious").

Best Actor

Actor Share of Voice.jpg

Share of Voice Rankings:
1) Jeff Bridges (25%)

2) George Clooney (24.4%)

3) Colin Firth (18.2%)

Best Actor (Sentiment).jpg

Sentiment Rankings:
1) Colin Firth (62%)

2) George Clooney (58%)

3) Morgan Freeman (57%)

Best Actress

Actress (share of voice).jpg

Share of Voice Rankings:
1) Sandra Bullock (28.2%)

2) Carey Mulligan (22.2%)

3) Meryl Streep (20.8%)

Actress (sentiment).jpg

Sentiment Rankings:
1) Carey Mulligan (63%)

2) Meryl Streep (57%)

3) Gabourey Sidibe (57%)

Best Director

Best Director (Share of Voice).jpg

Share of Voice Rankings:
1) James Cameron (33.8%)

2) Kathryn Bigelow (24.9%)

3) Quentin Tarantino (16.3%)

Best Director (sentiment).jpg

Sentiment Rankings:
1) Lee Daniels (68%)

2) Jason Reitman (62%)

3) Quentin Tarantino (56%)

Talk of the Town on Twitter

In Hollywood, it's not always good to be the talk of the town (see the controversial news that broke about "The Hurt Locker"). On Twitter, the talk is real-time and runs the gamut from great to good to bad to downright nasty. So while a high number of Twitter mentions might signal heightened interest in a nominee's performance, it doesn't necessarily mean they're gathering support.

The nominees who have the largest share of voice on blogs over the past month were also talked about the most on Twitter. Sandra Bullock has the most Twitter mentions (8,732), followed by James Cameron (6,176) and Jeff Bridges (5,785). In addition, the sentimental favorites on Twitter reflect the same emotions of the blogosphere, as tweets around Colin Firth (second), Carey Mulligan (second) and Lee Daniels (fourth) are highly positive, yet trail the category leaders in overall quantity.

Twitter Rankings (past 30 days)

Best Actor

Colin Firth tweet.jpg

1) Jeff Bridges (5,785)
2) Colin Firth (1,886) - positive sentiment leader with 61%

3) George Clooney (1,706)

4) Jeremy Renner (1,239)

5) Morgan Freeman (733)



Best Actress

Carey Mulligan Twitter.jpg

1) Sandra Bullock (8,732)
2) Carey Mulligan (3,839) - positive sentiment leader with 63%

3) Meryl Streep (2,494)

4) Helen Mirren (451)

5) Gabourney Sidibe (22)



Best Director

Lee Daniels Twitter.jpg

1) James Cameron (6,176)
2) Kathryn Bigelow (2,982)

3) Quentin Tarantino (1,100)

4) Lee Daniels (971) - positive sentiment leader with 69%

5) Jason Reitman (633)

Will Social Media Predict the Winners?

Now that we know the names and films dominating the discussion on blogs and Twitter, it's simply a matter of sitting back and watching the show on Sunday. Then we'll have a sense of whether our collective sentiment is also interesting science.

Nick Mendoza is the director of digital communications at Zeno Group. He advises consumer, entertainment and web companies on digital strategy, distribution and engagement. He dreamstreams and is the film correspondent for MediaShift. Follow him on Twitter @NickMendoza.

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