Taking a Giant Step Into Content Aggregation
As an independent content owner or filmmaker, planning out your distribution strategy and accessing the channels which audiences frequent can be a difficult process to navigate. While some films do the festival circuit and get picked up for distribution deals by well-known names in the indie world, others don’t take this path perhaps due to their nature — more intimate, more niche, more specialized or more genre-specific. These films need a different way to find and access their audience.
Fortunately, there are a number of VOD platforms where content owners can list their content for rental or sale. While some, such as Vimeo, allow content owners to list directly, others such as iTunes, Amazon and Google Play require a direct deal or listing through an aggregation partner, such as Giant Interactive.
Aggregation is a relatively new area for Giant Interactive, though now, eighteen months in, it’s hardly a new business any longer. In late 2014, we were encouraged by our contacts in the VOD business to build on our years of experience and expertise in the digital services area, take on a greater role in listing content, and make the listing process more efficient for both platforms and content owners. At the time, many of the key VOD platforms were consolidating their content provider lists, encouraging (even requiring) smaller distributors or filmmakers to work through an experienced digital services partner. From the VOD platform’s point of view, this consolidation allowed their vendor management demands to be simplified. From the content owners’ point of view, there was now a need for a trusted partner which is well versed with the high qualitative requirements and platform protocols to serve as a liaison.
In the eighteen months since Giant Interactive opened our aggregation service, we’ve had many inquiries from international film distributors, documentarians, educational entities, fitness companies, indie sci-fi producers, foreign production companies, and many other independent entities, all of which are seeking away to access the digital entertainment marketplace. I’m pleased to say that we’ve been able to help many of them get listedon digital marketplaces ranging from iTunes to Amazon, Googleplay to Flixfling. Our list of aggregation partners continues to grow as our list of aggregation client expands concurrently.
The process of listing with Giant is relatively simple. After an initial communication exchange in which we gather information about the content itself (i.e.: runtime, genre, requested platforms), and the content owner learns the structure of the aggregation deal (i.e.: deal term, reporting frequency, ingest and uploading costs, and technical specifications), a project manager is assigned and source assets are delivered to the Giant digital services team. We’ve developed a standard delivery specification for video, audio, closed captions, subtitles, poster art, metadata, chapter breaks, pricing, and more, all of which provide our team with the details needed for a complete package upload. For example, our HD delivery specifications include the following criteria:
- Apple ProRes 422 (HQ)
- ITU-R BT.709 color space, file tagged correctly as 709
- VBR expected at ~220 Mbps
- 1920×1080 square pixel aspect ratio material (NO UPCONVERTS)
- Native frame rate of original source- 23.976/24/25/29.976
- Telecine material or 29.97 progressive content is very difficult to convert to other frame rates and is NOT preferred, will incure additional processing cost
- One second of black at head and tail of program is required
- Timecode track should be included and start at 00:59:59:00 with program starting at 01:00:00:00
- Proxys for captions/subtitles should be made from final video (with the 1 second of black at head and tail)
Similar specifications have been developed for SD and the other required assets. At each step, the project manager is available to guide content owners through the process and expedite the process. Once all assets are in, the title moves through our multi-step production production process and, ultimately, is delivered to the requested platform and a ‘go live’ date is established. Each platform has their own internal processes which the content undergoes, but our attention to detail and thorough studio processes make errors or rejections very rare. In short order, the title is live and available for purchase/rental.
- The Steamroom — Perhaps our longest-running indie aggregation client, director Donald Flaherty partnered with Giant to deliver his film to iTunes where it’s been doing steady business. Starring Muse Watson, David Mattey, Brian Patrick Collins, and Colin Follenweider, with a special appearance by the one and only Morgan Fairchild, four men discover the importance of friendship when one is faced with a life-altering decision. Fun and funny.
- Black & Cuba — The feature film directorial debut of international human rights advocate and scholar Dr. Robin J. Hayes, PhD., this artful documentary Ivy League students as they band together and adventure to Cuba to see if revolution is truly possible. “…edgy and artful”. Available on iTunes; other VOD platforms coming soon.
- Aina: That Which Feeds Us — A beautifully-shot short film which “…highlights a way to address some of the most pressing environmental and health crises facing the island of Kauai – and of island Earth.”
These are just a few of the partners with whom were working.
If you’re a content owner or filmmaker and you’re looking to monetize your film and get it in front of fans, please contact us for additional information. We’ll be happy to explain the process in greater detail and get you started.