Preview: IM Talk Shows and Social TiVo

Want to create your own talk show? How about receive localized supplements about what’s playing on your TiVo? These projects and more were demoed at the Digital Content Lab of the American Film Institute‘s semi-annual production wrap event in Los Angeles yesterday, showcasing new experiments in digital media.

The Lab regularly connects creative folks from different companies to collaborate on projects under the guidance of experienced industry mentors. The results of these six-month collaborations are usually not finished products, but concepts and prototypes — which is probably why not everything showcased yesterday made sense to me. But two projects definitely stood out of the crowd:

AOL presented a prototype for a talk show production tool based on its AIM instant messaging platform. The tool would basically enable users to produce and distribute their own video chat-based talk show by mixing several video streams in real time, adding images and music in post production and finally uploading the result to YouTube or MySpace.

Make this easy enough to use, and it could be really useful to thousands of YouTube amateurs and aspiring video podcasters alike. Of course there are still a lot of open questions when it comes to the technology side of such a tool – but the team seemed open to different approaches and willing to promote this concept within AOL. Definitely something to watch out for.

Kontentreal and Schematic showed off a prototype to complement Kontentreal’s design: e2 documentary series with a multi-platform community for TiVos, broadband PCs, cell phones and Blu-ray players. Design: e2 features green living and sustainable architecture, and the online community would give environmentally conscious viewers the ability to get localized information as well as participate and interact.

Kontentreal‘s reasoning for cooperating with with TiVo was especially interesting: The show airs on PBS, which has different schedules in different markets – so why not just say goodbye to scheduling altogether and embrace time-shifting? And embrace they did: The demo showed users accessing localized contextual information for a specific show segment by simply pressing thumbs up on their remote control – after all, TiVo knows your zip code. Very impressive.

The implementations for the other platforms were equally exciting, featuring geo-tagging, event scheduling and cross-platform integration, all tied together with a really sweet interface. But the team clearly thought about the social implications of building a community as well. Kontentreal producer Midori Willoughby explained that the idea was to initially seed the platform with professionally produced texts and video clips, but eventually achieve a ratio of about 80 percent user generated content. This strategy includes embracing external platforms by linking out as well as uploading content to sites like YouTube.

Many prototypes developed at the Digital Content Lab never reach the market, but Kontentreal seems to be very determined to go through with this platform. Midori Willoughby told me that her company is talking to potential sponsors and that the Internet-based component could be launched within eight to ten months. Personally, I can’t wait to see this happen.

Janko Roettgers is a Los Angeles-based journalist and book author. He is also the editor of P2P Blog.