The Sundance Film Festival attracts more than 40,000 people every year to showcase some of the most prized independent movies. But space is limited and getting to Park City, Utah, in the dead of winter can be a hassle.
So when Silicon Valley start-up Blue Jeans Network came calling with a cloud-based video offering that could potentially help the festival reach many more virtual attendees, Sundance Institute Chief Technology Officer Dave Ginsberg was all ears.
"We reach a lot of people though our programs, but we want to get to the point where you're not limited by geography to be able to enjoy what we provide," Ginsberg said in an interview ahead of the festival, which started Thursday and runs to Feb. 1.
Sundance is piloting a Blue Jeans product called Primetime, which was unveiled in December. For this year's festival, the Blue Jeans technology will be used to stream a very limited slice of the event, but Ginsberg hopes it becomes more integral next year and a bigger part of the Sundance Institute's other events and projects.
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Primetime was designed to make it simple for any event to widely broadcast its live activities over the Internet. While webcasting has been around for two decades, it's lacked the social and interactivity piece to engage with dozens, hundreds or thousands of people in remote locations.
At Primetime's core is the ability for a remote attendee to raise his or her hand virtually and be called upon by a moderator. A person at home on a laptop, tablet or smartphone can be brought to the big screen to ask a question.
"We're marrying videoconferencing and broadcasting and then getting the audience involved in an interactive fashion," said Blue Jeans Chief Executive Officer Krish Ramakrishnan, who worked at Cisco before starting the Mountain View, California-based company. "We're changing how events are actually marketed."