BlueStream, a new technology being deployed by Web sites, is allowing talent related to a site to step front and center on a user's personal computer. Created by Rovion, the application is the Internet equivalent of blue-screen technology and enables talent to walk out of the corner of the screen.
"We started to take BlueStream seriously as a technology once we noticed people had really strong reactions to it," says Rick Baker, Rovion interim CEO. "It's like a keying effect for the Web. Once we got into using it and saw the reaction, we realized it was something special."
A number of companies have already been impressed. DreamWorks is working with the technology, and some station customers of WorldNow, a service provider for TV-station Web sites, are also using it. Other types of sites, including record-company and radio-station sites, use it as well. For example, Mariah Carey uses the technology on her fan Web site to pop up on the screen and talk to fans.
According to WorldNow President Mark Zagorski, the company spent a lot of time evaluating the application before giving it the green light. "We ran the application through a series of internal tests and demos and found that it worked well with our site-management toolset and was a true complement to the other promotional applications that we bundle in with our system."
There are four different pricing models for BlueStream. Stations in top 25 markets pay $10,000 per year, in markets 26-50 $7,500, markets 51-100 $5,000 and markets below 100 $2,500.
The application doesn't require a lot of heavy lifting or deep software. Users of the system capture video using traditional methods and convert it into an AVI or MOV file. That file is then exported to Flash, and an encrypted license marries the file to the URL. A small application installed on the user's computer accesses the content.
There are 26 different parameters for the content, Baker says, but only three are required. The content needs to tell the computer whether to key out blue or green and where on the screen the file is to appear, and then it needs to point to the license so that permission can be given to play back the content.
Clips should be limited to 15-40 seconds, Baker says. The content can also be exported in three sizes to accommodate dial-up modems and broadband users who require different speeds.
Adds Zagorski, "It could be used for headline/news delivery but most likely for only very short blurbs. There is no limitation to how long it can go, but the longer the clip, the larger the file size. A file too large will be harder for the user to view and put more stress on the servers."
The application was launched in January and has already found success, with more than 6 million downloads to date. If pending deals with station groups and other customers come through, expectations are for about 30 million downloads by the end of the year.