Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Viral Antidote?

It was bound to happen sooner or later. The Federal Trade Commission has issued a statement (or "staff opinion") that there should be disclosures on viral or word-of-mouth advertising and marketing. This means, essentially, that if you plan to use viral videos as a form of marketing, you might have to blow your cover - which seems to negate the whole idea of creating a covert campaign in the first place.

We have several clients interested in using web video to generate interest; the couple of ideas we've actually developed aren't disingenuous - it would be pretty clear that they were tied to an organization or event. But in some cases, I can see this being a bit of a buzzkill to the creative process. I've always thought it was an interesting form of promotion, and it goes back much further than people realize. I was totally taken in by OK Soda back in the day, and while I didn't exactly fall for the hype, I thoroughly enjoyed the buzz around The Blair Witch Project.

I'm interested to see how this plays out.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Happy Christmahanukwanzaakah!

When I was making television commercials full-time, this time of year was always brutal. We would crank out ads like crazy trying to keep up with our clients' holiday advertising demands. The advent (no pun intended) of online shopping and e-mail marketing has reduced that to some degree, but in some cases television advertising has been partially replaced, or at least augmented, by new methods of capturing the attention of consumers.

I saw this online and thought it was interesting. It's a list of the top ten retail trends of the holiday season. The author notes that, "Digital media, the in-store marketing technique of the year with an 120 percent increase over last year, is predicted to see continued growth through the season." In the past six months, we've worked on in-store or in-office marketing videos for three separate clients, and have had inquiries from others, so I fully expect this trend to continue growing well beyond the holiday shopping season.

Additionally, there's an interesting piece on the future of online video advertising available here. I agree with most of it, particularly the sentiment that online video advertising currently looks too much like television commercials - and that replicating TV online isn't necessarily the best strategy.

CM

Thursday, November 23, 2006

D.I.Y.

If you check this blog semi-regularly, you may remember my post from just a couple of weeks ago. Sure enough, just during the past week I received notice of this and this.

When I was in college - back in the Dark Ages of the 1980s - I remember the first "homemade" music video, which was a novelty at the time. It was a Make Your Own Video contest for Madonna's "True Blue." The winning entry, if memory serves, was produced by a couple who spent a few thousand dollars on professional resources.

About ten years later, the band Bon Jovi gave dozens of audience members Super 8 movie cameras and told them to just shoot whatever they wanted during a show. The film was turned in at the end of the concert, and the resulting footage was edited into a video ("Bad Medicine", IIRC). Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the professionally-edited Bon Jovi video was all over MTV. I think I might've seen the Madonna one a couple of times after the initial winner reveal, but that's all.

I'm sure there will be more - if you come across any, please send them to me. We're disqualified from a lot of these competitions because we're professionals, but I get a kick out of seeing the submissions.

CM

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

tiny video

I found this article today. I think it's interesting, but I also think that it may be overreacting just a touch. The gist of the piece is that users aren't embracing the iPod's video capabilities the way Apple expected that they would. I have to say that I'm not surprised; I don't own a video iPod - yet - but I do have a Portable PlayStation (PSP), and I have the same trouble as other small-screen-gizmo users: sometimes it's hard to focus on, and it gives me a headache after a while. But I think the reason is that the content, in most cases, hasn't been specifically designed for the tiny screen. That content is still largely being developed, and many producers (us included) are still testing out the best methods for creating content. In the same way that widescreen and HD are changing how we shoot (we have more screen real estate to fill), the ultra-small screens of iPods and other handhelds are changing the way we actually tell the stories. It's beneficial to be brief, simple and easy on the eyes.

There have been many times that we've produced multiple versions of the same product for our clients, to suit different needs. A video developed for DVD distribution may be too long or intensive for the web, so we'll cut it down. Sometimes we'll adjust the graphics, making them bolder and easier to read. And we'll use more close-ups if appropriate.

Overall, I think it's kind of neat to test the limits of new delivery methods. It can be frustrating, but it's also rewarding. And it gives me an excuse to get a video iPod.

CM

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Just For Fun

Thanks to my friend Gary for sharing clips that prove that with the right music, just about anything is funny.


Even... music videos. Which, ordinarily, have the correct music to begin with...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Zune, Schmoon

I'm a Mac Person, always have been. I'm surrounded by PC People, but I've learned to adapt. Today is the launch day for the Zune, Microsoft's attempt at unseating the #1 portable media gadget, Apple's iPod. I doubt that Zune sales will rival those of the iPod, especially since iPods are available in so many configurations, but it could put a crimp in some media availability as the rival companies hammer out exclusivity deals with various entertainment providers. I also believe that Apple has the lead culturally, because they've brought "pod" (as in "-casting") and even the ubiquitous "i" prefix into the common vernacular. Want to make something seem hip and tech-savvy? Slap an "i" onto the front of it!

Even though I doubt I'll ever be a Zune owner (I think their slogan "Welcome to the social" is stupid), I welcome the addition of more portable media devices to the market place. The more common they become, the more likely it is that we'll have new avenues and uses for video on both the personal and professional fronts. And that's a good thing!

One last note: I thought this was very interesting. Apple filed a new patent for an iPod-looking device that seems to have a very, very cool user interface. Check it out.


CM

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Brief Rant... and Web Video 2.0

I'm the first to admit that I'm a fan of YouTube, but this really has me baffled.

If you're too lazy to click the link, Time magazine honored YouTube as "Best Invention of 2006", which I think is a dubious honor at best. After all, amateur video - embarassing or otherwise - has been circulated publicly for years. The web's not new, and the web as a playback device for video isn't exactly new, either. Even the way that YouTube delivers video isn't the best: the connections can be painfully slow. I agree that it's made a huge cultural impact, but I'd like to believe that there are more worthwhile inventions that could garner this type of award.

Okay, now that I have that rant out of my system, here's the other side of the story. Amateur video is also becoming an inexpensive way to provide major entertainment outlets with... entertainment content. It's cheap, it's quick... and the possibility, however slim, that you could be the Next Big Web Video Thing will keep submissions rolling in. Of course, there's the likelihood that the fickle viewing public will eventually grow tired of homegrown entertainment, but for now it's a wave that's yet to crest.


CM

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Most Excellent Ads

Before launching Tube full-time, I worked for nearly 15 years creating local television commercials, as did Rich for nearly a decade. I think that it's because of that career that I came to appreciate the art of advertising (and it can be an artform), and I absolutely love clever and well-conceived advertising.

I also think that, hands down, some of the world's best televison advertising comes from the U.K. For me, humor is absolutely key, and if an ad can't be especially unique or different in technology or technique, in order to grab me it must be funny.

I thought at first that this was a U.S. spot, because it has a very "American" look and feel, until I noticed that the car was right-hand drive.


This one is a little harsh, but it still makes me laugh. For anyone wondering, yes, I do have a rather sick sense of humor. Sometimes.


This spot isn't so much funny as... awe inspiring. When you hear anyone talk about "viral video" (fast becoming an over-used buzzword), this promotional piece gets it absolutely right. It's the sort of video that makes you wonder, "How did they do that?" From what I understand, this was done in real time and is totally mechanical, with no digital special effects. Cool.


Finally, this one is not British, nor is it a car commercial, but it's still pretty funny. I can't help thinking, though, that it somehow would've been funnier if it had been British... they just do this sort of thing better than the Yanks.



CM

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

GooTube

It's more or less a done deal. Now the speculation turns to whether or not this changes the web video landscape for other video sites... and yes, they do exist. Some financial experts are predicting that this will hurt, or even dry up, the market for internet Goliaths acquiring smaller, independent sites, but I'm guessing it's more likely that the small sites could be hurt by larger concerns simply launching their own, slicker, better-funded clones. We'll see.

I'm curious as to what subjects you would like to hear about. I'm not sure how many folks are reading our posts, but we're open to sharing information on pretty much any visual-communication topic... and can always use suggestions. Feel free to post a comment and we'll do our best to accommodate.

We have some cool web video projects on the horizon, some that have the potential to be really fun and interesting. Plus, we've been meeting with a terrific new partner organization, and we're excited about the potential to take video-based messaging to a new level. Good things are brewing!


CM

Friday, October 06, 2006

That's "Billion" with a "B"

I've been pondering the content for this post for the past few days, and I thought I had it figured out. Then I saw this headline today, and it changed the whole nature of my post.

Originally, I was going to write about recent online articles foreshadowing the demise of YouTube. The speculation was based on a couple of points. First, YouTube has run afoul of copyright holders in recent weeks, specifically related to music-video content. Ordinarily, YouTube's video police remove material that they believe may infringe on a copyright, but with thousands of clips uploaded daily, they can't always catch them all. Second, YouTube has had problems with download speed and efficiency, because they host all the videos on the site themselves, and the demand can be immense. That frustrates users.

Personally, I didn't think YouTube would necessarily go down the drain, but I did think that they needed to re-work their model a bit. One of my favorite web sites is also (I think) the smartest in terms of its model. That's Fark.com. Fark is an online community that generates revenue from ad sales, as well as a small ($5/month) fee from premium users. Regular membership is free. Fark offer links to articles, video, audio, and other materials - but they don't host any of it. All of the media is hosted by external sources. In fact, all of the content is generated by the community itself - Fark doesn't create any new content on its own. The very best part is that even when user-submitted links are broken (or "farked"), a visit to the comments forum will usually bring a new link or a workaround submitted by another contributor. It's like a self-healing web ring. And if you doubt there's any money in it, Fark currently generates about $60,000 per month in revenue.

The moral? Well, I don't have a moral. I'm just astonished that the demand for user-generated, generally crappy home video is worth over a billion and a half dollars. I'm going to go home and sulk, then get to work on the Next Big Thing.


CM

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Big (Show) Business

I ran across this article today. While I think the price point on this is a bit high, it's definitely a step in the right direction regarding the use of video in the workplace. Rich and I have long said that video is a key ingredient for corporate communications. This is a perfect example of a technology provider stepping up to bridge the gap between creating the message and disseminating it. (Cisco is currently known mostly for their networking hardware and software: routers, security products, switches, bridges, etc.)

Someone asked me a couple of weeks ago if the explosion of D.I.Y. video hurts our business at all. In fact, products like the one Cisco is developing are actually good for businesses like Tube, because the more prevalent and necessary video becomes, the more opportunities it will create for us. Investing a quarter of a million dollars in the new Cisco technology is probably not practical for most of us (I'm factoring $133K for the equipment and another $100,000+ to hire people to do the actual production work), but the concept is one-size-fits-all.


CM

Monday, September 25, 2006

Short Is The New Long

In our blog entry on September 5th, we mentioned that, in most cases, "shorter is better" when creating your video message. To underscore that point, I'd like to share this site. Brilliant. Funny. And short. I marvel at how much they could jam into thirty seconds or less.

Caution: this is a time-waster! You'll end up watching all the clips on this site; most are safe for work.

Thanks to my friend Dan for sharing this with me. Not to imply, of course, that Dan is watching cartoons instead of working...



CM

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Got Clips?

In the upper corner of my web browser, I have a drop-down menu for RSS feeds. It's mostly news from different sources: CNN, the New York Times, CNet, and others. In the past few weeks alone, I've seen many stories relating to video. Among them:

MySpace plans to use their video service to rival YouTube

Microsoft plans to launch a video service to rival YouTube

NewsCorp plans to launch a video service to rival YouTube (are you picking up on a theme here?)

• Taking the more direct route, CBS has announced they are looking to purchase "the next YouTube"

Apple launched their new iPods and a new movie download service

If I can offer you any practical business advice from all of this it's:

a) don't build a business plan around launching a video service to rival YouTube and b) if you're not already doing it, work some video into your marketing and communications efforts.

Video is no longer a luxury or a high-end-only component. Even if the stuff posted on YouTube or MySpace is goofy, it's made video as a form of expression ubiquitous. Now it's expected, and if you're not including it in your plans, you're missing out on a vital element of communication with your customers, your employees, your colleagues and your vendors.



CM

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A Post with Somewhat More Value

While not strictly "video" (it's Flash), Breathing Earth illustrates a simple, effective use of visuals to convey information.

It's also one of the coolest sites I've ever seen.



CM

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Post of No Particular Value

I can't really tie these clips together in any meaningful way, except to say that if you are planning to produce or appear in a video:

1) Keep it simple. Simple can still be interesting.

2) If you're not comfortable on-camera, consider hiring an actor, although there are no guarantees.

3) Always maintain your professionalism, no matter what.




CM

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Short is Sweet

When meeting with a new client, one of the first questions we'll usually ask during the fact-finding process is "Have you thought about duration?" Or, conversely, the client will open the conversation with, "I'm looking for a 30-minute video." It's funny, for some reason "30 minutes" seems to be standard lingo for "longer than a commercial."

Truth is, 30 minutes can be a very long time. Lots of folks don't realize that - even an average half-hour sitcom is only 22 minutes long. Shorter is better. Most viewers have an attention span of approximately eight minutes. Anything longer, and unless your content is truly compelling, chances are you'll lose them. With the increased presence of web-based, online video, the need to keep things brief is more crucial than ever

You may or may not be a member of your own target audience, but when you're planning your next video project, it can't hurt to think about what you'd be willing to watch in order to gain information or look at a new product.

Here's a trick: when you think you've given up all the information you have to give, pull back and start cutting. Always keep your viewers wanting more, and you'll almost guarantee yourself an audience.



CM

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

You Know You Want To

I know you secretly want to post a video onto a website to get some of that cool viral vibe going, but you lack that great footage of your buddy taking a face plant after flipping his bike. Or maybe you are hoping you can finally get some eyeballs with your lip-synched version of Night Ranger's "Sister Christian". Yup, sites like YouTube have made cult heroes of some rather dubiously talented individuals, but it is also one of the fastest growing sites on the net; without exaggeration, it has become the most popular online video-sharing company, period. Knowing when to keep a good thing going, YouTube is now offering online video advertising. Now you don't need to worry about your friends and family finding out that you are an overly excited Star Wars fan... instead, post your commercials, make content that triggers YouTube viewers to watch and share your video. Think about your advertising message getting traction with a huge web audience and then being passed around to an endless potential customer list.

Be smart about what you upload... Speedos don't look good on anybody. But great offers, great messages and great video... that looks good!

Tube (no relation) is the first place to start. Let's talk your message and your goals and we'll get you there.



REH

Monday, August 21, 2006

A Series of Tubes, Remixed

Get your Ted on!

(If you're baffled, visit our blog entry from July 14th.)


CM

Monday, August 07, 2006

Nifty!

This may not be serious or life-changing (except, possibly, for Rich), but it's a great example of an effective video tutorial. It's simple and concise, using one shot and one angle, and it's easy to follow.

Courtesy of YouTube, check out "How to Open a Beer Bottle Using a Piece of Paper."

Clever and useful. Cheers.


CM

Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Vehicle for Video

I recently bought a new car. The car I was driving was fairly new, only eighteen months old. But over the past year or so it had developed a distinct... lemon-y essence. The repeated repairs cost me nothing, because the car was under warranty. But continual trips to the dealership were a pain, so I started to live with the squeaky brakes and blown light bulbs. And, because it was a "prestigious" brand, the car was expensive to operate. And, I'll admit it - I felt a little pretentious in that car. I don't think it suited me.

So I decided to get out while I could still manage a decent trade, and now I'm driving a car that's much more affordable, if less luxurious. When it came time to select a new car, I tried to do thorough research. I looked at virtually every car available in my price range. I considered options, mileage, emissions, warranties and operating costs. To do all of this, I looked online first. And I watched videos. Which leads me to the point of this entry: image matters.

Everyone wants to feel good about the car that they drive. I do think that cars reflect their owners to a certain degree. If you replace the words "car" and "drive" with any other product and its use, you'll probably find the same is true: the clothes you wear, the beer you drink, the music you listen to - they all say something about you. Consumers want to feel good about what they purchase. Image matters.

During my search, I watched videos of new cars. One video was good enough to get me to a dealership, only to discover that the base model had a polka-dot interior. Forget it. No polka dots for me. Image matters.

(Side point: substance matters, too. A high-quality video will help generate interest, but you have to deliver the goods.)

In the end, the car that I bought has everything I wanted: it's economical to own, with very low emissions and an excellent warranty. And the brochure came with a DVD. It's the perfect vehicle for video - and I mean that in both senses of the phrase. The vehicle itself is, I think, kind of cool. It's fun and photogenic, and it's a great subject for video. And the brochure was the perfect way to distribute the DVD: once the production is complete, distribution costs are very low, and the automaker knows that the video is going into the hands of people who are serious potential buyers. If they like it, they might even pass it along. "Look at this cool car I'm getting! Don't you want one, too? Validate me!"

Seriously, the power of the visual (moving) image is stronger than you might think. You can convey a lot of information about your product or service, with very few words, and create an image that's whatever you want it to be. You can make potential customers feel good about their choice, before they've even completed the transaction. They'll be proud they chose you, because that choice - based on your image - says something about them. And image matters.


CM

Friday, July 14, 2006

A Series of Tubes

In light of the recent post regarding our name, we think it might be appropriate to clarify a couple of points:

1) Despite the recent explanation of Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), we are not the internet.

2) While we are in the video production industry, and would love to become involved in a television series, we are not - ourselves - a series.

3) We prefer the term "busy" to the less appealing, though certainly more colorful, "clogged."

That said, if you'd like to receive an occasional internet from us, sign up for our newsletter by sending an e-mail to newsletter@tube-media.com. It's issued quarterly, and we promise there will be no spam.

No spam = less clogging. It's all good.

CM


Read the Story

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

What's In A Name?

Since the popular explosion of You Tube, we've had a few people ask us if we have any connection. The short answer is "no", though we think it's an awesome site and encourage you to visit and post there. Grab a camera - adding some video to your life is a great thing; sharing your creativity with others is better. Unless, of course, you're Tommy Lee or Marion Barry. And come to think of it, it didn't hurt either of them all that much, anyway. Please remember to call in the professionals for the heavy lifting, though. ;-)

With the advent of devices like the video iPod and the vast improvement in streaming video technology, "viral videos" are a phenomenon that will stick around for a long time. I've found some amazing, entertaining and enlightening stuff on You Tube; my current favorite clip is a four minute video of an explosion in a fireworks factory.

Regarding our own name, the second most frequent inquiry (down from #1 last month) is "Why did you name yourselves Tube?", often followed by "What does yea!tube mean?" Rich came up with the name "Tube", and he based it partly on our back-to-basics approach. Before the digital age, television pictures were displayed via a tube inside your set. Color TVs used combinations of red, green and blue to make up the picture - hence, those are also our Tube colors. That's also why television is (or was) referred to as "the tube." I also like the idea that a tube has one entrance and one exit, and no matter how many twists you make in the middle, you'll always come out the other side.

"Yea!tube", quite simply, was the available phone number when I went to register our toll-free line. The aspiring graphic designer in me saw it as a good opportunity for branding... and there you go.

CM

Monday, July 10, 2006

Welcome to the Official Blog of Tube Media Production, Inc.

On an irregular basis, we'll share information on our projects, provide video production tips and advice, and hopefully give you some food for thought, creative or otherwise.

Check back often - and visit our home on the web at www.tube-media.com