Skype @ Cannes: Remote Panel Participation via High Quality Video

The American Pavilion at the annual Cannes Film Festival provides a communications and hospitality center for the thousands of Americans in Cannes participating in the Festival. For the duration of the festival, the American Pavilion provides both a supportive business environment and an opportunity to mingle in comfortable surroundings. While in the past Pavilion visitors could use the pavilion’s Internet facilities to make Skype calls, this year Skype has become an official sponsor, responsible for not only providing the voice communications services but also support for using Skype’s High Quality Video to allow Americans who cannot travel to Cannes to participate in panel sessions hosted by the Pavilion.

I had the opportunity to speak with Julie Sisk, Founder and Director of the American Pavilion on a rather busy day setting up just before the Festival’s opening yesterday (May 14). She talked about how Skype will allow participation in panel discussions by directors, such as Titanic’s James Cameron, whose production schedule precludes making the time commitment required to be physically in Cannes as well as writers and journalists whose budgets preclude making the trip. Of course it presents new logistics challenges, given the 9-hour time difference between Cannes and Los Angeles, but schedules for their "In Conversation" and "Industry in Focus" series have been altered to accommodate. Skype is ensuring the relevant phones, webcams and other hardware is available at both ends of the link. I also asked about how they ensured sufficient bandwidth at the Pavilion for all this communications activity, especially with the adoption of video; apparently Intel is responsible for providing the WiFi and associated connectivity infrastructure. Julie stated that the Pavilion is reputed to have, amongst journalists and photographers, one of the best Internet connections at the Festival.

From the press release:

Movie stars, directors and other Hollywood royalty that don’t make it to Cannes can make their video calling connection via Skype to the American Pavilion, the business and hospitality center for the press, filmmakers, stars and others attending the famed festival running from May 14 to May 25.

Titanic director James Cameron and cinematographer Vincent Pace, executive producer of this year’s Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour and other luminaries will be linked via Skype video calls into discussions hosted by the American Pavilion.

The American Pavilion will use Skype video calling in its “In Conversation” and “Industry In Focus” series, in which respected filmmakers and industry insiders offer audiences opinions and insights, in moderated panel discussions. The discussions happen nearly daily during the festival.

Discussion participants who are joining via Skype will be seen and heard live on computer screens and speakers set up on the panel. They will be able to see and hear the activity in the Pavilion—and speak to the audience and other panelists —through computers equipped with Web cams, microphones, speakers and Skype software from their location.

The Skype video call integration is the first such use of video calling technology at Cannes, a seminal movie-industry event that attracts approximately 30,000 industry insiders and media to the French Riviera each May.

Julie Sisk, Founder and Director of The American Pavilion, said, “Skype video calling ensures our discussion audiences benefit from as broad a range of industry expertise as possible, by allowing us to include motion-picture professionals regardless of their locations. The film community is increasingly global, and Skype helps make certain that the Festival is as inclusive as possible of that entire community.”

Certainly another publicity coup for Skype, adding to the awareness being generated by Oprah, who has extended her use of Skype beyond the "New Earth" seminars into remote live interviews during her daily show, and CNN. Having worked several years ago, for 20 months, in the Los Angeles area where the media and entertainment cloud infuses into your bloodstream no matter how remote you are from the actual production activities, this will generate significant opportunities for Skype.

Pictures were taken the first day of this year’s festival and supplied by Skype PR.

Tags: Cannes Film Festival, American Pavilion, Skype, High Qualtiy Video, Julie Sisk, James Cameron, Cannes 2008

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.
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