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Greetings, denizens of the Dolby Tumblr! Thom here, live from SXSW in Austin, Texas. It’s my first time at the show, and for that matter in Austin, and after a few days down here I can only imagine what I missed out on in years prior.
First, this place never stops going. SXSW strikes me as the sort of a place where you could stay up for three days and only realize you’d done it when you looked in the mirror.
I began my first day with a walk to the Austin Convention Center. Being my first time in Austin I didn’t know what to expect, so I wanted to keep walking for a while to get the lay of the land. By now, it’s paying off.
I got my badge, missing what I’d heard was a particularly long registration line on Friday afternoon, and headed upstairs to hear what Joss Whedon had to say. Joss has written some of the most cultishly followed, and most puzzlingly canceled, series and films of the past couple decades. Most recently, he’s been working on Marvel’s The Avengers and his horror passion project The Cabin in the Woods, the latter of which premiered Friday night. Whedon shed some light on his process (he wrote The Cabin in the Woods in no time flat, setting a “personal best” of 26 pages in a single day and never bothered cutting things because they didn’t seem practical).
He shared his attitude toward getting canceled and reviving shows like Firefly that went off the air (he understands the business of television well, but hasn’t gotten used to getting canceled and is always game to revisit his old characters), and how to overcome stress-induced writer’s block (delegate and find the time to do the things that still excite you about your project).
The night was full of music, with stops along 6th Street for a handful of early industry parties with some of the SF Embassy interactive-oriented bunch. Late nights and early mornings seem the norm here at SXSW, and this social media addict is likely to earn the festival-specific “No Sleep ‘Til Bergstrom” badge on foursquare.
Speaking of early starts, Sunday began with a start and a half, with a panel on social TV and second screen experiences that left me thinking about how best to balance primary screen content and the rich user experiences social media and show-specific apps can offer. Some of my favorite shows encourage use of social media, and given my interest in social in the first place, I often participate. What do you think? Does it distract from the content on the primary screen?
Then on to a hilarious session with Jeffrey Tambor, best known to me as Hank Kingsley from the Larry Sanders Show and George Bluth, Sr., from Arrested Development. Tambor shared some tips on how directors can get the most out of their actors, and, in turn, how actors could develop a positive relationship with their directors and get outside of themselves and into character.
One more panel on designing user experiences to encourage active attention, and on to dinner before the single most violent movie I have ever seen, The Raid: Redemption. Not for the faint of heart, there was a certain beauty to the remarkably choreographed martial arts battles and gunfights, and the bonus of and appearance from Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, who worked on the music for this film as well as Transformers: Dark of the Moon (are you a fan? We have tons of great interviews from people working on the film), made this a great first SXSW Film experience.
Monday was more exploring (sensing a theme?) including making it out to a couple delicious food trucks and out again at night, hearing Jay-Z’s performance at the AmEx Sync party from a PA on the street, and listening to Kool Keith’s performance at Mohawk, among others.
Even so, SXSW is an easy place to feel like you’re missing out; while I saw some great things, I had to live with the knowledge that I was missing others. Tragically, physicists have not figured out any way to allow for one person to be in three or four places at the same time, and that even applies to Austin.
Now, on Tuesday, I’ve been taking in some panels on social music led by the leaders in the field from Spotify and Turntable.fm, as well as musician David Dreiman of Disturbed, who offered a well-reasoned artist’s perspective on subscription based music services, YouTube, and piracy.
Tonight, I’m wading through my options, trying to figure out what to see next. Got a tip for me? Send it my way via @dolby on Twitter. Check back later this week and next for more as I do my best to soak up all of SXSW and as much of Austin as I can in ten short days!