Face-off: looking good on different screens

Face-off: looking good on different screens

It used to be a screen test propelled an actress from the casting couch to the big screen. Now we need a different kind of screen test: one that features her to advantage on all types of screens. Or, even better, a test that proves once and for all what type of content looks good on what type of screen.

Until then, here are FanTrust’s picks and pans for screens large and small. The rationale not so much to answer: “can we cross-purpose our content?” (yes we can) or “does anyone really want to watch long shows on small screens?” (yes they do). But rather to respond to the question: “can we create ideal content for a specific viewing experience?”

On an iTouch there is nothing more compelling than a close-up of a human face. The tone and texture of the skin seems real and the eyes appear to connect with our own. The screen’s lush colors and soaring resolution bring the device to life in our hands. Couple that with a direct gaze and an intimate conversational delivery and you have tiny screen magic. As an example, take Aubrey’s Make-up Tips.  Downloaded from the Poptiq mobile app onto your smartphone, they are strangely addictive. By comparison, the same Aubrey videos on Youtube seem lost, floating in a sea of background pink and streaming choppily from frame to frame. Anecdotally, you can even mesmerize a 6 year old boy with Aubrey’s show on the iTouch, getting him to shriek for “more make-up tips” – although why you’d do this is another matter.

On the other hand, Hot for Words would be outré for my hand held (and obviously for my little boy) but rocks on Youtube, pulling in 10.5M channel views and counting. Content this in-your-face needs a little distance. So viewing this combination of titillating-accented philology, bustiers, and body bling is best done at arms length, making the laptop screen perfect for the experience.

Moving up the food chain, from Web to TV, Barely Political’s Obama Girl would be an excellent crossover candidate. First launched on Youtube in 2007 when Obama himself was polling 11 percent, the skits have achieved 75M views on computers around the world. Featuring the alluring Amber Lee Ettinger, snappy music and sardonic wit, it makes sense that this type of sketch comedy jumped to living room screens on a Saturday Night Live sketch.  (Check out FanTrust’s live interview with Obama Girl!)

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For major motion pictures, nothing beats sweeping landscapes and epic themes. That’s why it’s always sad when movies like Kung Fu Panda inevitably get downsized to DVD and Blu-ray. Animation this good begs for the silver screen and goes down best with a tub of popcorn in a crowded theater. Physicists have a great term for it: “action at a distance,” which is just what I love from a breathtaking cinematic experience.

Long or short, there are some things I’d watch on any size screen. I’ve been rapt over The Tudors on television, laptop and iPod. And I’ve loved HBO’s John Adams on all of my home multiplatforms. Great content is still great content. And large or small, we’ll be hitting that forever.