This is a personal blog, please observe Think Hour for ad hoc quasi-diary writings and Big Ideas for my ratified longform items. I will see you there.


2020-10-22


you might hold a phone in multiple ways

Quibituary: Big-Money Phonovision // Quibi

I saw some news about the death of a streaming service today, backed well from the start but didn’t manage to catch on. They are chopping out and selling their content to make money to give back to investors. It must not have been very popular at all because I have never seen the name before in a way that had me remember it. I thought it would be perfect to take a quick look before it is sent down the nile packed up in a box.

some hag

The app/service seems to try to leverage an imagined opening for content produced specifically for phones, with considerations for shorter duration and the preference of mobile users to use device standard portrait aspect ratio, to the point of actively disabling their users from viewing the content on a traditional big screen. It’s quite interesting to be honest, but it seems like they weren’t creative enough in their approach. For instance, take mobile video games for example: relatively few want a diminished and distorted version of a “real-thing”, they prefer, or at least the philosophy that results in the preferred product is, something tailored properly from conception to the device/scenario.

I’m not a professional analyst so maybe my take on this after absorbing 10 minutes of information is wrong, but I believe I am correct. Anyway, I mainly want to take a look at the app and see what content they have for posterity’s sake, there will probably be more than a few documentary creations tackling the more interesting and depthy facets of this debacle better than I could for myself.

content content content

Well I launched the app and signed in, but I’m stuck with an infinite loading screen. Either they aren’t receptive to new accounts, are already shutting the thing down or the news of its downfall has lead to a level of attention they cannot deal with. No, it was just my VPN. I’m in. The big-money a-listers they hired to try and force success and the catalogue of content is well documented, so rather than look into any of it I’m going to watch the first thing that catches my eye: Wireless.

This is kind of cool, in a way that seems to be unique to this particular offering, there is story unfolding as if from a captured phone screen. Instead of seeing the protagonist stare longingly at photos of loved ones, you can imagine it while you yourself look at the photos on footage of a faux-instagram. It seems they have stuck with a traditional cinematic low frame-rate for these shots so they aren’t as effective as they could be.

booty clappers

I’d grab some images if I could but the app seems to black itself out when I try to take screenshots. Very cool. Actually this is really interesting, you can, at least for this “show”, rotate the phone to get different views of whats going on, a wide cinematic view, or a “phone camera” view from an in-scene phone. Also, by nature of the representation of a realistic fast-moving phone interface for some shots, I imagine (but don’t care) there is lots of contextual extra information to glean on repeat viewings or by pausing. I always liked the idea of supplemental stuff like that, and in a more video-game way than cinema or TV, this platform allows it to be delivered right in the video content itself as opposed to in books, websites or manuals. While interesting, it isn’t exactly effective. That isn’t unusual for an initial or lone exploration into a new format however and it’s a shame there is now one less big vector for this kind of thing. I’m sure there’s similar ones though, just with less money attached.

hello, quibi helpdesk? are you there?

Apparently this was produced by a production company called “pickpocket”, who specialize in this kind of phone centric thing. They don’t have much of a history however, so I wonder if this is simply an offshoot of some kind related to Quibi. Either way I would be interested to see what happens with them in the future. There’s a lot more to be said and I’ve personally thought about the idea of phone-centric film stuff a lot, but I guess I will leave it there for now, I just wanted to check out this app. I’m actually interested to take a couple more looks in the free trial period, if only for curiosity’s sake.