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Stage6 Shutting Down on February 28

Usually when you move out of your apartment or quit your job you give a months notice. The idea being that you give the people you are affecting, time to make the necessary adjustments to your absence. The people who run Stage6, a popular site for indie film/machinima, don't seem to share this idea of being considerate.

Here's the email I received from "Tom" at Stage6 informing me that the site will shut down permanently on February 28. The email is dated February 25; that's 3 days advance notice. I suppose 3 days is better than just shutting down the site without telling anyone.

I'm Tom (aka Spinner), a Stage6 user and an employee of DivX, Inc., the company behind the service. I'm writing this message today to inform you that we plan to shut down Stage6 on February 28, 2008. Upload functionality has already been turned off, and you'll be able to view and download videos until Thursday.

I know this news will come as a shock and disappointment to many Stage6 users, and I'd like to take a few moments to explain the reasons behind our decision.

We created Stage6 with the mission of empowering content creators and viewers to discover a new kind of video experience. Stage6 began as an experiment, and we always knew there was a chance that it might not succeed.

In many ways, though, the service did succeed, beyond even our own initial expectations. Stage6 became very popular very quickly. We helped gain exposure for some talented filmmakers who brought great videos to the attention of an engaged community. We helped prove that it's possible to distribute true high definition video on the Internet. And we helped broaden the Internet video experience by offering content that is compatible with DVD players, mobile devices and other products beyond the PC.

So why are we shutting the service down? Well, the short answer is that the continued operation of Stage6 is a very expensive enterprise that requires an enormous amount of attention and resources that we are not in a position to continue to provide. There are a lot of other details involved, but at the end of the day it's really as simple as that.

Now, why didn't we think of that before we decided to create Stage6 in the first place, you may ask? That's a good question. When we first created Stage6, there was a clear need for a service that would offer a true high-quality video experience online because other video destinations on the Internet simply weren't providing that to users. A gap existed, and Stage6 arrived to fill it.

As Stage6 grew quickly and dramatically (accompanied by an explosion of other sites delivering high-quality video), it became clear that operating the service as a part of the larger DivX business no longer made sense. We couldn't continue to run Stage6 and focus on our broader strategy to make it possible for anyone to enjoy high-quality video on any device. So, in July of last year we announced that we were kicking off an effort to explore strategic alternatives for Stage6, which is a fancy way of saying we decided we would either have to sell it, spin it out into a private company or shut it down.

I won't (and can't, really) go into too much detail on those first two options other than to say that we tried really hard to find a way to keep Stage6 alive, either as its own private entity or by selling it to another company. Ultimately neither of those two scenarios was possible, and we made the hard decision to turn the lights off and cease operation of the service.

So that's where we are today. After February 28, Stage6 will cease to exist as an online destination. But the larger DivX universe will continue to thrive. Every day new DivX Certified devices arrive on the market making it easy to move video beyond the PC. Products powered by DivX Connected, our new initiative that lets users stream video, photos, music and Internet services from the PC to the TV, are hitting retail outlets. We remain committed to empowering content creators to deliver high-quality video to a wide audience, and we'll continue to offer services that will make it easy to find videos online in the DivX format.

It's been a wild ride, and none of it would have been possible without the support of our users. Thank you for making Stage6 everything that it was.


Ok, the site is closing because they couldn't afford it anymore. They tried to sell it, but didn't find a buyer so they are closing. Immediately. Forever. In three days. So get your stuff and get out.

Why is it that I don't really believe that "Tom" is telling the whole story? Could copyright issues have been a factor? And why the immediate closure? Would the stampede of people pulling out of the site have adversely affected their "bottom line" in some fashion? Like all the add money they would lose if traffic at the site were to bottom out? Unless we have someone from the inside who decides to spill the beans, we'll probably never know why Stage6 decided to leave such a bad impression by closing so quickly.

Stage6 was, in my opinion, the real quality site for machinima and indie animation. Youtube has a larger audience, but the quality of the actual film is low. Stage6 was created to show off the DivX codec and it certainly did that. Some of the most high quality video on the net could be seen there. And the way Stage6 was integrated into the DivX encoder/player itself was very well done.

It's a shame that such a great outlet for machinima films is closing so suddenly. I think the community of filmmakers who have used and supported the site regularly deserve better than a 3 day closing notice written in the jargon of a community relations officer.

I guess it's on to Vimeo.


Machinima Meeting in Second Life

I've been attending the monthly machinima meetings hosted by Phil Rice (Overman) and every one has been informative and enjoyable. Since I don't spend any time at forums anymore, this is an excellent way to hook up with folks in the community and chat about machinima, games and just about anything in-between. This last Friday, Frank (Fleef) hosted the get together. This time instead of using Skype voice chat, we all got together in Second Life and tried out the fairly new voice chat system. It worked very well, even with around ten of us talking. Much, much better in quality than Skype.

Nice little beach house in SL designed by Frank

Frank was the MC for the event and he did a nice job of keeping us on track. As in previous machinima meetings, the topics were free-wheeling and fun (all centered around machinima, of course). Michelle, CJ, MooMoney, Hathead, myself, Matt, and about nine other people sat on the balcony overlooking a wide expanse of second life ocean. Naturally, the subject of Second Life came up often and Matt (who is on staff at the Electric Sheep Company) had a lot to say about the tech behind SL machinima and at one point even offered us rides on his cool camera (you had to be there).

All we needed was an urn with fire in the center.

There was also talk of the Witcher (a new role playing PC game). CJ and I mulled over the advantages of using Antics for machinima. Half Life 2 and Gary's Mod were topics of discussion, along with a good deal of tech talk.

Hathead, Michelle and CJ listen attentively.

The award for "coolest avatar" went to Orfeo Miles, a musician turned machinimator, who was
a delightful conversationalist. I hope he'll attend more of the machinima meetings.

Orfeo of the cool tie. Looks like Keith Richards to me.

Oh, by the way, Matt appeared at one point in an avatar used for the CSI: New York TV bit that he helped design in Second Life. He reminded us that the complete episode will show this Wed night (Feb 27) on CBS.

Matt in his CSI avatar. Something about a gladiator...

The machinima meetings are usually held once a month and are managed by Phil Rice and Peter Rasmussen. I think they are a lot of fun in addition to being informative. I hope that the meetings will continue to be held in Second Life as the voice communication is much better and it's just more fun.