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Vodacom soaps up

Johannesburg, 24 Jun 2008
Read time 2min 20sec

Vodacom customers can download a soap opera filmed specifically for mobile.

The mobi-soap, titled SoLikeLife, is available free to all Vodacom subscribers from Vodafone Live, as of yesterday.

Mobile consumers who do not subscribe to Vodacom can also access the content free of charge. However, they must pay a service charge to their own provider.

"There are more cellphones in the world than all televisions and PCs combined, and mobile is emerging as the seventh mass medium for marketers," says Vodacom SA MD Shameel Joosub.

He adds that mobile rivals print, recordings, cinema, radio, TV and Internet mediums because of its wider reach - especially in SA, where mobile penetration is so high.

Voyeuristic

SoLikeLife is the story of two South Africans who meet, fall in love and are drawn into a relationship.

The first series of the mobi-soap consists of 40 episodes. It will run for two months, with one new episode added daily from Monday to Friday. Each previous mobisode will remain available for viewing.

It is produced by Ochre Moving Pictures, which delivers shows such as Takalani Sesame and Scandal.

Stephen de Kock, a producer on the mobi-soap, says the narrative is represented in video blogs or messaging.

"The viewer has a voyeuristic look into the lives of the friends by having an almost first person look at their communications," he says.

The technology

De Kock says most of the technology used to produce a soapie for mobile is the same as producing for broadcast.

"SoLikeLife was shot at high-quality and was compressed by a wireless access service provider and sent through for Vodafone to publish," he says.

There are, however, some conventions that are used. "For example, most of the video is shot in close-up. Laurence of Arabia-style wide angle shots are not really appropriate," he adds.

The entire production process is done the same way as a normal broadcast, especially since there is a possibility that a spin-off could be created for another broadcaster, he says. However, there are no plans for a normal broadcast as yet.

Ochre is moving into, what it calls, TV 2.0, where it is filming for a broader number of media, including the Internet and cellphone. "Film and TV in SA is definitely going that way."

The company also produces the e-tv show, Scandal, for which it provides mobile preview clips and text previews written by one of the show's characters. It has also started producing children's TV show Takalani Sesame in high-definition.

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