Monday, November 05, 2007

Do U Hulu?

The site is in beta form right now, and you have to provide your e-mail address and be assigned a password to gain access, but I think it's actually very promising. I like it because it takes video programming seriously, and the content is high-quality and professional, unlike much of what is on YouTube.

You can read all the commentary online simply by Googling "Hulu" and searching some other blogs, but here is some of the information I've seen recently:

CNet
New York Times
More CNet
BusinessWeek
TechCrunch (this one is just plain funny)



CM

Monday, October 22, 2007

Video Ventures

Great article from the blog Genuine VC about which current digital trends are the best bets for startup opportunities. Seven were chosen, here's what the author, David Beisel, had to say about number six:

6. Wide proliferation of video.
While in the age of YouTube it may seem trivial to mention, but I believe it can’t be overstated. We’re moving to a world where every web page, every device, every screen will be have some type of video content. The long-tail of video content will be wagging.

You can read the entire post here. Thanks to Elaine for the link!

I feel validated, since we've talked about this subject often on this blog. Of course, if you're looking to invest in a rapidly-growing small video production company, I can refer you to one!



CM

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Right Brain vs. Left Brain

This is a lot of fun. Which way do you see the dancer turning?

Try it out. Evidently, most people will see her move counter-clockwise, some people can see her both ways.

I see her turning clockwise, and I can't make her go the other way, for what that's worth.

Try it, and post your result. I'm curious.




CM

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Rich and Chris' "Math dha-rìribh" Adventure

Edinburgh, Scotland

Not the most inspired title, but we did want to post an update and a short recap of the trip for the folks who have been asking. We had a great time, met a lot of really interesting people and saw some amazing places. It also kicked our collective behind, but we're really happy with the footage and it will make a terrific presentation in all its forms: web, trade show and DVD.

The Queen, Prince Philip, Rich and Chris with The Lord Mayor of Belfast,
the Right Honourable Councillor Jim Rodgers, OBE


When you travel for about a week, you'll find yourself just starting to get acclimated to your new environment when it's suddenly time to go home. Two weeks away, and you can really immerse yourself in a different routine. Creeping up on three weeks, I'd nearly forgotten my home address and which way to look before crossing the street. We found ourselves getting caught up in the drama of Chelsea FC, the Rugby World Cup (which did not end well for Ireland), and the hybrid sport that is Gaelic Football.

County Galway, Ireland

Part of being a video professional means making your subject matter look better and more interesting than it is in "real life." It was a wonderful change of pace to turn our cameras toward such magnificent scenery and historic sites. On this shoot, everything looked good. Even the sometimes-gloomy weather didn't detract.

Blarney Castle, Ireland. We did not kiss the stone, on the advice of a kindly barkeep,
who told us
what the locals do to that stone when the tourists are not around.

For the record:
  • Favorite City: Edinburgh, Scotland and Belfast, Northern Ireland (tie)
  • Favorite Brew: Guinness
  • Favorite Bartender: John Young, Brogan's, Dublin, Ireland
  • Most Beautiful: The Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland
  • Least Beautiful: Limerick, Ireland
  • Coolest Creepy Place: Mary King's Close, Edinburgh
  • Creepiest Creepy Place: Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh
  • Best Weather: Antrim Coast, Northern Ireland
  • Worst Weather: Isle Of Skye, Scotland's Inner Hebrides
  • Best TV Commercial: Cadbury's Gorilla
  • Best Music Video: Jack Peñate, "Second Minute or Hour"
  • Personal Highlight (Rich): Buying a proper kilt from the maker, in Inverness, Scotland (What will he wear under his kilt? "My shoes!")
  • Personal Highlight (Chris): Locating Ardnamona House, my great-grandparents estate in Donegal, Ireland

Ardnamona, Lough Eske, County Donegal

We have enough stories, pictures and video to fill ten blog entries... it was a superb time. If you're interested in taking an escorted tour of Scotland, Ireland or Northern Ireland, you can check out our client: Brian Moore International Tours. Soon you'll see some of our video on their web site.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Update

We promised to update the blog during our three-week Scotland/Ireland shoot, but unfortunately our schedule has been hectic and our internet access minimal... but the trip is going very well, we've gotten some great video, and we've met some terrific people.

We expect to have better online access and a slightly less busy schedule during the final week, so hopefully we can get some video and photos up sometime soon...

Slainte!


CM

Friday, April 20, 2007

Interesting Follow Up

I saw this story online today and thought it was an interesting follow-up to Rich's post about the news media and the Virginia Tech shootings.

+1 for a news agency addressing the issue.



CM

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Google Adwords Misused

Google Adwords is an excellent program to help your company show up on a relevent search. You can control your daily expenditure, you can track the links provided and you can update instantaneously. However media outlets like Inside Edition used the search terms "Virginia Shooting" in their Google Adwords buy to ensure they would have a prominent spot on the search results page. Now, I am all for competition and harnessing the power of the medium, but purchasing the keywords "Virginia Shooting" seems a little heartless. It just hits me wrong. (Click this post's heading to see the search page results.)

This news story will get plenty of coverage and people will turn to the news outlets they prefer online or on TV, so trying to secure your spot in one's news search by buying such keywords, is well, I guess either really sad or a frightening sign of the times. Or maybe it's just that I think shows like Inside Edition (no link on purpose) should stick to the latest updates on Britney's rehab or whether or not Lindsey Lohan is wearing her Fruit of the Looms and leave the real news to the professionals who don't need to buy Adwords to get viewers.


REH

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Exceptional Use of Video

We use a variety of sources for music. Some are royalty-free selections from a library that we own (i.e. we have physical possession of the CDs), some is custom, and some are from online companies, where we can audition and download music from the interweb. Today I tried a new online library, and while the music quality and price were about average - at least comparable to what I expect - the marketing and communication were just extraordinary.

One drawback to using online vendors is the immense amount of e-mail one purchase can generate. That's the part I hate: getting dozens of follow-up messages, daily sales pitches, and other spam. And most days I might even complain about being bombarded by a vendor such as this, except that it was so well done, I actually found myself a little bit in awe.

I found the site via Google. I auditioned music selections for free (which is the norm) and after I found one I could use, I paid via credit card and downloaded my .aiff file. Fast and simple - so far, so good. Then the e-mails arrived:
  1. Acknowledging my order and including a receipt.
  2. Thanking me for my business, and offering a limited 2-for-1 deal as a token of gratitude. This was was pretty good, because the message was actually a :19 video clip - well done - and not lots of text that I had to decipher. (I realize that every time someone makes a first order it's probably "2-for-1 Day", but that's okay. It is marketing, after all.)
  3. Thanking me for actually clicking the link on e-mail #2 and watching the video.
  4. A personalized video thanking me for my business. That one blew me away - it's an awesome use for video online: brief, personal, and well-produced, with perfectly timed delivery to my in-box. I have no idea how many of these they had to produce - probably hundreds with all different names - but I think it's a great idea.
We had two or three separate conversations this week about innovative uses for online or portable video, and this one is a terrific example. I'm not sure how long the links will be active, but hopefully you'll get a chance to see them before they expire.


CM

Friday, February 16, 2007

Jacques Coust-who?

I know, I promised I'd update more frequently, but it's been nuts here (in a good way), and I just haven't had a chance. Today, though, I saw the neatest video ever. I think it's neat, anyway, and I wanted to post a link. It has nothing to do with anything except that I think it's great.

My father was an ocean junkie - he loved the sea, boats, fishing, undersea life, all that kind of stuff - and I inherited some of those sea genes. One of my favorite undersea creatures is Architeuthis: the Giant Squid. It was practically mythical until just a few years ago, but more recently a team of Japanese researchers have uncovered more physical evidence of its habits and primary locale, and they've even secured some video. The video snippets they get are typically released in small bits and pieces, and today's is just remarkable. They've discovered that before attacking its prey, the Giant Squid blinds you with a flash of light. It's like a superpower!

I told Rich, "Giant Squid are so cool, they make you wear the shades." It's awesome. The video can be seen at various sources, I've selected one from the BBC.


CM

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Emergency Video

I haven't been posting as often as I'd like, despite the large numbers of interesting stories that have popped up in recent weeks. It's just been crazy around our place, and I simply haven't had the time. I'm making a resolution to be better about it, but in the meantime I'm just going to share some good news links - and an anecdote.

One Sunday evening a couple of weeks ago, the Patriots lost the AFC Championship to the Colts. My spouse, a huge football fan, was utterly cranky as a result. But not as cranky, it turns out, as the two women who got into a drunken fistfight in the middle of the street in my ordinarily tame neighborhood. It was quite a sight, and got so vicious that we ended up having to call the police. The dispatcher had lots of questions for me, and while I'm normally pretty observant, I realized that certain small details do escape me. It wasn't long after that incident that I saw this story carried by various news outlets. Makes a lot of sense to me.

What else is going on?

CM

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What is Funny?

I recently produced some TV commercials for a long time (and favorite) client, and for some reason they just aren't clicking. The concept, which we came up with together, is funny. At least, I think it's funny. But for some reason, it just isn't gelling the way I'd hoped it would, and I'm not sure why. It's frustrating, but it does happen sometimes. Without getting too specific, the idea involves using the client's product/service in a ridiculous way, and then providing resolution by showcasing the proper use and all the benefits. On paper, and in theory, the ridiculous humor was really funny. In execution, it's just not as crisp. I'm wondering whether we are just not taking the right approach, so I did some homework.

I was looking for examples of well-executed ridiculous humor, and I found this clip. It's childish, but it cracks me up - and it's exactly the type of comedy I was aiming for, because the concept ("Waiters Who Are Nauseated By Food") is so... ridiculous.

So ultimately, I'm not posting this for any other reason than it's funny, and I thought you'd enjoy it. I'm still working through my own comedy-related issue. If the ads work out, maybe I'll post them, too.

One of the rules of comedy is that a person finds humor in situations where he or she feels superior. That is perfectly exemplified by this prank from Australian TV. It completely cracked me up, although if I were one of the passengers waiting to board that particular flight I might not have seen the humor. It's all in your perspective, I guess.


CM

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Information Overload

I've been bombarded with so much new information in the last couple of days, I don't even know where to begin. Each time I read something new, I think, "That'd be good for the blog." I have no idea how to string them all together, though - so here's a laundry list:
  • Remember this post about D.I.Y. music videos? I've found a new one! This time it's a homemade music video recorded on (gah!) cell phones. The article also mentions a previous effort in this area by the Beastie Boys (caution, may be NSFW).
  • I often post about the emerging new venues for video - and the market is indeed exploding - but interestingly there has been a lot in the news lately about the role of conventional TV (by "conventional", I mean "TV as decor", which can include not just regular TVs but also new, HDTVs, too.) There was this article, which turns the tables in a sense by discussing how to get web videos into your living room.
  • In related news, Apple introduced (apple)tv today. While it's been a little overshadowed in the press by the simultaneous introduction of the long-awaited iPhone, I think (apple)tv is a neat idea. What I find intriguing is that it's not really a new concept. Microsoft has offered Media Center for a while now. My friend Peter has demo'd a Media Center PC for me, and they're really neat. But for some reason, it just seems that Apple can integrate its products into people's everyday lives in a way that other manufacturers just don't. Think different, indeed.
  • Finally, Net Neutrality is back in the news, somewhat sooner than expected. (I'm not sure if this has anything to do with the Democrats' self-imposed 100 hours of legislative progress, but I'm not going to discuss politics.) If you're not familiar with the issue of Net Neutrality, I recommend that you click on the link. It's an interesting topic, and as consumers it does affect all of us. As a video producer, I feel just the tiniest bit torn on the issue (ensuring that my work has the optimum venue, placement and bandwidth, even if it comes at a price, has an appeal for me), but overall I support it and the freedom(s) it protects.

CM

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Jumping On The New Media Bandwagon...

...is nearly impossible when the bandwagon moves like a NASCAR contender. I came across this article tonight, which talks about new technology and delivery methods for media that will be showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. (And yes, for those of you who might feel the need to point this out - and you know who you are - I'm aware that the CES usually coincides with the annual porn industry convention. I'm pretty sure that's not really a coincidence. I've never attended either event, but if you're looking for porn stories you can ask me about the time I saw Ron Jeremy at Disneyworld.)

Anyway, the gist of the article is that the market for audio/visual content just continues to grow. Consumers want, and expect, media-on-demand delivered to their handheld devices, PCs and phones. As I've mentioned before - and I reallly can't stress it enough - video in particular is becoming an essential tool in business communications and marketing. I finally received my coveted video iPod for Christmas (thanks, Tom!), and I'm glued to it, even more than I thought I'd be. The picture quality is exceptional (better than my PSP), and finding content for it has been loads of fun. I'm actively searching for music videos, clever advertising, and other bits and pieces to add to my playlist - it's becoming my own personal YouTube, a source for videos to share with my friends and clients. And, of course, I can put my own projects on it. I have always been a firm believer in the power of video communication, but these new advances make sharing it so easy and so accessible that its transition from a novelty to an essential is really inevitable.


CM

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Truth In Advertising

Happy New Year! I've been light on posting during the holidaze, but Tube's back in full swing.

While I'm generally an optimist, I do harbor a strong inner cynic. Most of the time, that cynicism is focused on advertising. After working on commercials for so many years, I've found that while there is a great deal of truth in advertising, it's usually present because there'd be some type of legal consequences if it wasn't. That said, these commercials for Volkswagen had lots of people talking earlier this year. They definitely make a statement about auto safety, and more effectively (in my opinion) than this for Mercedes or these classics from the US Department of Transportation. I mentioned in a previous post that I bought a new car this year - a Volkswagen - and I was partially sold on the crash test rating for the car.

A couple of days before Christmas, I found out firsthand that there is truth in advertising, when my Volkswagen Beetle was nearly flattened by a dump truck on the highway. The car took the impact remarkably well, and even though it had to be taken away on a flatbed, both me and my passenger escaped without serious injury. The scenario was scarily like those depicted in the commercials: everything is fine, and then you're blindsided. Believe it or not, I really did think of those ads as I surveyed the damage from the side of the road.

So I'm counting my blessings at the start of 2007, and I'm looking forward to casting a (somewhat) less cynical eye on this year's media offerings.


CM