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Snapchat joins the
movie revolution

Snapchat, the social app based on video messaging, has joined the original content revolution, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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It began ever so subtly, three years ago. Snapchat, the messaging app that dominates young users’ social media video viewing, launched a service called Shows. It comprised short videos made for mobile phones by news services like NBC and Condé Nast Entertainment. Stay Tuned, a daily news show from NBC, drew an audience of 5 million viewers aged from 13 to 24. Slowly, a new reality dawned at Snap Inc, the company that has built up a $16-billion dollar valuation on the back of its Snapchat property.

As Snapchat expanded its third party content offerings, with anything from National Geographic to sports and gossip, the seeds were sewn for its own original programming. It wasn’t exactly a bandwagon. Netflix launched its Originals back in 2013, and Amazon Prime followed a year later.

Snapchat entered the game six months ago, with a 12-episode reality show called Endless Summer. It follows the life of 19-yearold Summer Mckeen, a YouTube star since the age of 14, and proved a massive hit with Snapchat users.

However, it was just one of a dozen Snapchat Originals launched in October 2018. The slate included a fun supernatural series called Dead Girls Detective Agency, and a college comedy called Co-Ed. More than 40% of users who completed the first episode of The Dead Girls Detective Agency went on to watch the entire first season, and Endless Summer eventually reached more than 28 million unique viewers.

Snap announced last week that loth shows had been renewed for a second season later this year. But that was almost a side story to the bigger news: a massive new slate of Snap Originals, with both scripted shows and “docuseries”. At the same time, Snap announced a range of new augmented reality and camera features, as if to underline the sense of a business that is about to make a quantum leap into the future.

In response, analysts forecast share price increases of as much as 50% in the next 12 months, on top of the 100% growth it has shown this year. Now, the public will also see what the excitement is all about.

From May this year, the new Snap Originals will be available globally on Snapchat’s Discover page, which Snap hopes to turn into one of the industry’s leading made-for-mobile video platforms.

The shows will include serialised scripted dramas and comedies, character-driven docuseries, and unscripted social commentary in an attempt “to continue to define mobile storytelling”, it says.

Snap’s new slate includes:

  • Two Sides – (New Form) – A young couple navigates a breakup in this series told from both characters’ points of view at the same time. Scripted series launches May 2019.
  • Commanders – (Dakota Pictures) – In this comedy, two teenage outcasts discover a mysterious code within a retro computer that can alter real life. When they decide to use this newfound power to disrupt the cliché social structure, their high school will never be the same. Scripted series launches June 2019.
  • Untitled BuzzFeed Daily Show – (BuzzFeed) – BuzzFeed’s daily afternoon show brings viewers celebrity, entertainment, and OMG moments blowing up the internet. Launches shortly.
  • Sneakerheads – (Indigo Development and Entertainment Arts and EMJAG Productions) – A comedy that follows the misadventures of three college freshmen as they navigate the crazy, shady, mercurial world of Los Angeles sneaker culture. Scripted series launches June 2019.
  • While Black – (Indigo Development and Entertainment Arts and Main Event Media) – Author, filmmaker, recording artist, and educator MK Asante explores racially charged social issues through candid conversations. Unscripted social commentary launches mid 2019.
  • Can’t Talk Now – (New Form) – A teen soap that takes place inside the phones of a group of high school freshman BFFs as drama unfolds across group texts, video chats, and social media. Scripted series launches mid 2019.
  • Compton Dreams – (October Films) – The highs and lows of three up-and-coming artists from Compton as they strive to become the next big name in hip-hop. Docuseries launches mid 2019.
  • Denton’s Death Date – (Insurrection Media) – This comedy, set in a world where everyone knows the exact day they are going to die, centres on Denton Little, a high school junior whose death date is only a week away. Denton finally starts living his life to the fullest when a series of strange events unfold that may be the key to avoiding his fate. Based on the novel by Lance Rubin. Scripted series launches September 2019
  • tranded with Sam and Colby – (Bunim/Murray Productions) – A pair of influencers film from a haunted location and what starts as something fun quickly takes a terrifying turn. Docuseries launches in late 2019.
  • Dead of Night – (Bazelevs in association with Hooked) – Armed with only her phone, a teenage girl must escape a quarantined city full of zombies. Shot in ScreenLife, exclusively from the point of view of the smartphone screen. Based on a Hooked story. Produced by Bazelevs in association with Hooked. Scripted series launches October 2019.

There is one fundamental difference in all these movies, compared to Originals from the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Showmax: all are made specifically for viewing on a smartphone, meaning they are shot in vertical format, as opposed to the landscape mode of regular movies. It is no exaggeration, then, to say that movies will never be the same again.

Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee


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Gaming gets rad at Rand Show

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With the opening of the 125th Rand Show at Nasrec, south of Johannesburg, today, gamers and cosplayers have a new destination to strut their stuff.

A new addition to the show, the Gaming Entertainment Pavilion, is offering anything from gaming and cosplay to dance-offs and  science displays.

The organisers provided the following information (although several million exclamation marks and exaggerations have been removed!):

Fortnite Tournament

There was a time when Gaming was a considered a solitary pastime, confined to single player consoles; but that truly is a thing of the past with a fully immersive Fortnite Tournament open to all Fortnite afficionados and even those just starting out. Players can battle it out over both show weekends, including a final on each weekend. Family fan clubs can also get in on the action with live broadcasts of the game as it happens across screens – a full-on Fortnite family affair. Sponsored by PlayStation, gamers are truly going to be spoiled and should get in on the action as fast as they can because R 100 000 in cash prizes is up for grabs.

Smart Technology Centre will deliver a super-fast FibreMAX 500Mbps fibre link, wholly dedicated to the gaming pavilion to ensure that absolutely nothing ruins the thrill of the National Fortnite Tournament. 

“As the exclusive connectivity provider, we have gone all out to ensure an amazing experience for gamers,” says Dillynn Els of Smart Technology Centre (STC), an internet service provider (ISP) and IT technology partner. “When it comes to gaming and the best experience possible, it’s all about ensuring we provide a dedicated, uncapped, unshaped connection that makes every second count.”

Keen players can come along and enter on the day, but don’t delay because space is limited.

Fortnite Inspired Dance Off

Visitors can come along and be entertained by the finalists in the Fortnite inspired dance-off. There will be daily dances to enjoy for the entire duration of the show.

Come and play – Cosplay, to be exact.

The stage is set for a celebration of creativity and imagination that is going to be literally out of this world. Super hero heavy weights and masters of the mysterious will be letting their creative vision loose and take part in various Cosplay Tournaments and a visually stunning Cosplay Masquerade. Come see what all the fuss is about and get lost in this world costumes, colour and creative talent.

Games, Games and Science

For those wanting to get their gaming on, there will be three free play areas sponsored by Xbox with a host of games available to play. Xbox will be giving away 3 Xbox 1’s and an awesome Xbox 1X, but you truly have to be in it to win it, so make sure you don’t miss out.

The Kalahari Scientist will be onstage delighting visitors with his explosive displays that are guaranteed to up the ooh and aah factor with audiences young and old.

But wait, there’s more

Along with the larger-than-life gaming entertainment offering, visitors will also get to be the first gamers on SA soil to get a sneak peak of PlayStation’s brand new Mortal Kombat 11. Don’t miss your chance to experience the continuation of this epic saga through a new cinematic story that is more than 25 years in the making. The iconic showcasing brutal battles like never before, along with a host of customisable fighters with enhanced graphics and animations.

Other activities at the Pavilion include VR Experiences, a full-on NAG Nerf Arena, Gaming vendors with awesome gaming content, retailers selling gaming related products and software, and tutorials and workshops on how to improve your gaming skills, Celebrity Fortnite match off for charity.

With huge sponsors such as PlayStation, Xbox, MMS, NAG, SABC 2 and Smart Technology, the Gaming Entertainment Pavilion is geared up to become a hot zone of entertainment.

Win big

In case the entertainment offering just doesn’t get the heart beats racing fast enough, an all-expenses paid trip to TwitchCon USA, sponsored by PlayStation, in conjunction with 94.7 Highveld Stereo, is waiting for one lucky visitor to grab it. Every ticket purchased into the Entertainment Gaming Pavilion qualifies as an entry, so bring the whole family along for the ride.

Tickets to the Gaming Entertainment Pavilion can be purchased at the show for R 20 which gives the ticket holder access for  two hours.

The pavilion will be open from 14h00 to 19h00 weekdays and 10h00 to 19h00 on weekends from 19 to 28 April 2019.

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Riaad Moosa show debuts on Vodacom Video Play

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Riaad Moosa’s comedy special, Life Begins, will be the first major local title to be released on Vodacom’s video-on-demand service, Video Play.

As an award-winning comedian, actor, writer and presenter, Riaad Moosa is one of South Africa’s most renowned funny men. His one-man show is available for download on the platform from today, 26 April 2019. Life Begins is rated PG-16L

Vodacom’s says its affordable video-on-demand service, Video Play, has had an incredible uptake since its launch in August 2018, with over 2-million subscribers. 

“But with a proliferation of affordable video-on-demand platforms available to the South African market, what is it that gives Video Play the competitive edge?” it asked in a release this week. “Recognising the consumer’s need for flexibility and freedom of choice, Vodacom has ingeniously developed an adaptable subscription model that puts the power in consumers’ hands. Forget being tied down to a monthly subscription. Video Play gives consumers the liberty of choosing a daily, weekend or even monthly package. 

“Blockbuster movies can even be viewed for a once off cost, without subscription. Furthermore, these bundles can be purchased according to niche categories and genres, from Bollywood movies to gospel music.”

Consumers are able to pay for movies and series by using their airtime or adding it to their bill, eliminating the need for a credit card. Subscribers are also able to purchase video-specific data at a fraction of the regular price to consume constant content without overspending. Daily subscriptions start from R5 a day.

Zunaid Mahomed, Group Digital and Fixed Services Officer, says: “Video Play has enabled the company to provide a seamless and enjoyable customer experience. With the addition of Riaad Moosa’s Life Begins, we’re excited to offer consumers even more quality content and a wider variety of entertainment on demand than ever before. We’re putting quality entertainment, into the hands of anyone with a mobile device and an internet connection.”

Riaad Moosa describes his show as “very philosophical and existential”.

“It involves the normal issues of getting older while at the same time experiencing, at a maturity where I’m supposed to be wise, a world that is completely turned on its head.  It’s about how I negotiate all these things happening around me while trying to maintain a positive attitude. Through my comedic lens, I hope to put a different spin on that and hopefully I can enter my next 40 years with renewed vigour and excitement.”

To access Riaad Moosa’s Life Begins comedy special, register for Video via the Video Play website (www.videoplay.co.za).

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