Sunday, October 31, 2010

Google Demo Slam - Competitive Demo Videos?

Google's Demo Slam is simple to understand. If you make a cool, creative and clearly informative tech demonstration video you can submit it to Demo Slam. It will be placed along side a similar type of video and the teaming masses will decide which one is boss on the sauce.

It must be something innate in the human system to want to compete and declare the best. I'm not sure that having a demo slam is the way to go but this wouldn't be the first time I was out of the loop.

Demo Slam at Google
There are some stinkers demo videos that make you want to cringe. It is not a bad idea to view demo videos in order to pick up examples of what to do or not to do. I watch a lot of tech demo videos. I have stories I could show and tell of hideous sound or grainy videos.

Mercy, the number of teenagers creating demo videos is amazing. They are using the format to teach each other skills. True, some of the stuff they are teaching isn't "acceptable" but they are learning how to do it and that has to be encouraged.

On the dark side, the number of people that use the word "whatever" when they make a mistake or render an opinion is equally amazing, but not in a good way.

Dudes and Dudetts, it is ok to zoom in on the thing that you are demonstrating. You don't have to record everything in one shot. Edit, just a little bit.

Yes tech videos could be better.

I think the competitive aspect of it really irks me. I am pre-shuddering at the type of YouTube comments that could be generated. A minor correction turns into a verbal beat down.

Maybe that is what bothers me the most. I don't want someone trying out to get hurt by crusted up trolls. I'll be watching but I hope somebody will be monitoring the comments to keep the flaming down to a brush fire.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Being Inspired by Two Teachers

I've been messing around trying to get a grip on a few ideas. As is my habit, I mouse around known places of quality but also dip into the other; things that have a kinda sorta relationship to what I'm trying to do. In a roundabout way.

I was watching a TED video of a musician/teacher Benjamin Zander. I'm not sure how I got started watching the video but once I shut up the critical voice I was taken on a journey. I learned about musical impressions, reminded about the joy of learning, and a new perspective about a piece of music I had heard for years. I was also in the presence of a master teacher.

You know you are in the presence of a master teacher when you wake up the next day and you remember and can apply what you learned.

So I'm grazing on this bit of info, that web site and then I check in at the Yahoo Videoblogging Group and Marguerita mentions a link to Before and After magazine.

I'm not a graphic designer. But I do need to learn some of their techniques about visually presenting information. I don't think video has to fill up the whole screen all the time. What if there is a video graphic design language that hasn't really been discussed among those of us outside of the traditional video education sphere?

This is kind of hard to explain. We know and don't know. We have ingested thousands of hours of media consumption. We know when we like a movie or video but appreciate the design aspects as well.

Design should never overtake the message or story. Take a look a media products designed for teenage boys for current examples. A good video design can help support your message.

It doesn't have to be fancy or special effect heavy. My take away on John's video is that we have choices on how we position subjects in our videos. The use of white space or space in general can help to focus views on the subject.

The second thing I learned is that I was hooked. I watched the rest of the videos and was impressed by the clean presentation and the fact that as a non-designer I got what he was demonstrating.

This lead me back to the web site and seriously considering purchasing a pdf copy of the magazine. I read letters from current and past readers and they are passionate about the magazine.
  • You’re back! You’re back! It’s like getting a letter from a old lover. I have missed you.
  • Thank you for allowing me to learn and expand my knowledge through you.
  • My deepest thanks for helping me to constantly analyze design and put communication before decoration. Each new article contains another relevant idea, an "aha" moment.
I'm not trying to sell the publication. They don't need the help. They don't even advertise that they have a magazine.

The readers do that for them. Unless they are trying to keep it on the down low that they have been cribbing the inspiration.

So yeah, there is something about this social media thingy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bill Gentile - Backpack Journalist and Instructor

Those that know, really know often share what they have worked so hard to learn. I learned about Bill Gentile via researching another story and discovered that this person has a talent not only for news gathering but teaching other people how to do it.

Bill Gentile defines Backpack Journalism in one of his post as:

Backpack journalism is the craft of one properly trained professional using a hand-held digital video camera to tell stories in a more immediate, more intimate fashion than is achievable using a team that includes camera person, sound person, correspondent and producer. Backpack journalists do it all and, most importantly, we make the pictures, which are the driving force of visual communication.
On his blog there is information on his approach to video documentation, his workshops in the Washington, DC area and tips on how to do it better.

Things to check out:
  • Essential Quick Tips
  • What It Takes
  • A leap over to the American University School of Communication page I found a video by Maria R.M. Howell that explains the process and philosophy about the merger of traditional documentary photojournalism with video storytelling.
  • Bill Gentile's Backpack Journalist videos on Vimeo

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Discovering the Nokia N8 Camera School Blog

Hat tip to Rupert Howe's tweet about mobile phone's digital storytelling. The Nokia N8 Camera School blog has usual information about recording video using mobile phones.

Nokia would very much like you to use Nokia phones but much of the information transcends devices. In this video, Haje Jan Kamps does a really good job of explaining how to think about making your recordings more interesting.

This is a variation of a technique known as in-camera editing. It is thinking about the shots that could give a visual accent to your story.

Anyway, the blog has other items that are quite tasty:

It is a corporate blog and the purpose is to get the most out of the Nokia mobile phone technology. That said, the ideas presented are universal.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Soundation - Making Music for Your Video

Soundation is a online music mixer. You can mash your own music or you can use the music loops provided.

Soundation Online Music Mixer
Check out the Learn section of the site to find out how this web application works. I'm not a musician or have experience with music software so it did look a little overwhelming.

Soundation Mix Board

I can see what to do but I think an additional video tutorial demonstration would be helpful.

To get you started you can use the 400 musical loops for free to build your mixing skills. Later, you can purchase professional loops that will give you more options.

Here is the good part. After you create your music you can use it however you like, in the video, commercially or whatever. My understanding is that the service will create an mp3 file and provide you with a link to download the file for your production.

This might be a good option for those of use that want personalized music for videos.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Matt Rodgers Kinetic Typography Video

You have words. You have sound. Why not animate the words to the sound of someone speaking?

That is exactly what Matt Rodgers did with a bit of narration from actor and author Stephen Fry.

I have see other folks do similar things with text, most recently CeLo Green's original text video of that song that starts with F and ends in U. I like the use of text animation. Not to thrilled with the words of CeLo's song. (NSFW)

There are so many ways to do this and you don't have to go high tech:

  • Paper animation
  • Animation feature in PowerPoint then converted to video
  • Flash Animation with or without Adobe Flash. There are a number of similar animation programs like Swish Max or Swish Lite which is free and much easier to use
  • Draw/Paint programs with video export or screen capture.
I'm hoping that the text poets and word sculptures will catch on to this and amp it up even more.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Slate Article on Hulu Used As A Weapon Against Comcast Customers

One of the reason Internet types get freaky about Net Neutrality is that we know if given a chance phone, cable and media corporation would cave it up and set up toll charges. Other groups with moral or religious objections would block all kinds of content.

What Is Net Neutrality?

A variation of that happened the other day when News Corp, a content provider/broadcaster order the blocking of to Cablevision customers. News Corps owner, Rupert Murdock, has been very vocal about creating walled in, fee for content access via the Wall Street Journal and other products he owns.

That's fine. There is a choice of paying or not paying for access to that content. This is different. In a contract dispute with Comcast there was a block on those specific Comcast customers not to access to see the missing programs.

Even if you paid with Hulu Plus? You were skunked. has a good news article about what this means when major content providers want to fight back or withhold content from a specific group of users.

For more information on Net Neutrality visit

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Community News Networking Social - Washington D.C.

If you provide news or documentary support for your local community and you happen to be in the D.C. area on October 28, 2010 you might want to stop by the Community News Caucus.

I don't think this is blogger/vlogger specific but it reads like all are welcomed.

The meet-up is free
Here are the details:

Community News Caucus
635 Massachusetts Ave. NW - NPR Headquarters
Washington, D.C.
Time: from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

For more information check out the invitational wiki.

Other Posts of Interest

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sam O'Hare's Stop Frame Video of Coachella 2010

Each frame tells a story but what if you shot 50,000 photos and strung them together for a video. From way up high in a cherry picker?

Sam O'Hare's and a bunch of other people did just that for the Coachella 2010 Music Festival. If you want to read how he did it and check out the interview at Aero Films.

Friday, October 15, 2010

4 Resources to Help You Record Better Video

It can be a challenge to make video look good. I've got a bunch of reliable resources to help improve video recordings. These resources take the short and sweet approach to recording video.

CNet has an oldie but goodie list of 10 tips to beat bad home video. I know it is spot on because it repeats my on-going mantra of don't use digital zoom.

This was a gem of a fine. In two minutes Martin Kay explains key lighting and why it is important.

Swinging over to CNN's iReport Tool Kit page is their list of tips on how to record video. I definitely agree on bringing extra batteries.

And to wrap this up SportsShooter has tips for recording with DSLR cameras. I am not sure I'd want to tote the rig the guy in the photo is using but that is the nature of choice.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sintel - Open Source Animated Movie

Not just open source using Blender software but crowd-funded as well. This is yet another shift but not unprecedented. It starts with a girl and a ...

From the YouTube Channel:

"Sintel" is an independently produced short film, initiated by the Blender Foundation as a means to further improve and validate the free/open source 3D creation suite Blender. With initial funding provided by 1000s of donations via the internet community, it has again proven to be a viable development model for both open 3D technology as for independent animation film.

In the past there have been videoblogging/documentary community support video financing. The is the next level up. This animated movie cost $500,000 to produce using Blendar software.

That's not all. You can legally download a copy of the movie from the website. It is available in DivX, MP4 or OGV for the Linux community.

If you really want to support independent creativity you can purchase the DVD with the movie, tutorial files and the usual stuff on a DVD.

Now this will do nothing to stop expensive and bloated movies from being made. There would hardly be a made rush to create a film within a reasonable budget. I mean, why would you let a story take priority over start power and spin?

Yet if this is a form of collaborative, independent media making I think I like it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

News As You Cruise - CNN iReport App for iPhone

The CNN iReport application allows you to stay in constant contact with CNN. You can view stories, videos, track the Twitter feed and follow those stories that you need to stay alert about.

CNN iReport App

The citizen journalism aspect that might interest you is that you can use the application to upload a photo or video directly to CNN via your iPhone. If you are a participant in the CNN iReport community this could be a cool thing to have.

Please remember that you will pay for any data charges involved in uploading content. Those of you on the ka-ching side of your limited data plans need to be especially careful.

You might want to examine the terms of service and what rights and financial compensation you potentially will give up should you use the application.

Other Posts of Interests

  • The Levalator for Balancing Audio for Interview Videos 
  • Audio Sound Effects – What Is Royalty Free 
  • The FreeSound Project Audio Sounds for Your Videos
  • More Posts on Mobile Video Concerns
  • Monday, October 11, 2010

    BlogWorld 2010 Videoblogger Meet-up at Eyecandy

    If you happen to be in Las Vegas and you get kinda thirsty you might amble over to the Eyecandy Sound Lounge & Bar between 3 to 5 p.m. on Friday, October 15, 2010.

    There is an informal gathering of videobloggers, web video practitioners and those who don't mind downing a cold smooth beverage with like minded people. If you are going to the convention the lounge is attached to the Mandalay Bay complex.

    Have fun and slug a Smoothie in memory of me. I can't make it but will be looking for videos of this and other BlogWorld events.

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    5 Resources for Citzen Journalism Reporting Skills

    I get tired of the mainstream media chomping down on bloggers and citizen journalists. It is the same of song; we destroyed traditional media. Anybody can post anything so nothing has any value. Yada, yada and ya-da.

    Yet traditional and broadcast media has no problem swooping in and flat out stealing posts, videos and photos from social media sites by bloggers and citizen journalists. Without attribution. Without payment.

    They hate us with a passion but have you noticed the number of newspaper, magazine and broadcast columnists that are now referred to as "bloggers?"

    Have you noticed that they make no distinction between a person blogging and gathering news to keep their community informed vs. a person writing about their personal life and the life in their community?

    Both are extremely valid, by the way. Neither one may called themselves as citizen journalists but at some point they are documenting information and their immediate environment.

    Yeah, buddy. I got issues with hypocrisy. This is not to say that we in alternative media can skate and just toss any old thing up in the 'tubes. There are ways to do it better. Here are a few places to check out.

    I'm sure I've mentioned NewsU before - there are free and paid resources to learn how to structure a news story, web video report or how to work with audio.

    The Knight Center News Network has a freebie page of resources to learn about news gathering, social media and uncovering information. The multimedia sections is slim pickings but there is a nugget or two for the harvesting.
    CitizenTube is a gateway for user generated news and political videos. Be aware that some of the videos are supported and sponsored by political organizations or activists groups. Check it out but apply critical thinking skills.

    News rEvolution
    seems to have been a master's project blog from Elon University in Georgia. There are a number of video and journalism tips in the blogs such as:
    Not to say there isn't hooey in some of the posts. There are references that citizen journalism isn't legitimate. Yes, they drank the kool-aid. Ignore those posts. The blog seems to be at a stagnation point. Not sure if they will continue but it is worth a look around for useful stuff.

    The PBS IdeaLab is another resource to check out - this is a working resource to figure out what tools and ideas will mess well with good writing and digital media. The goal is to reshape community news.

    PBS MediaShift Facebook page chronicles the on-going changes that are happening in traditional and digital media. The MediaShift web site has in-depth information, and for me, an easier way to locate the content I am interested in seeing.

    There use to be more resources but the funding dried up or folks moved on to other projects. I'm not going to link to them because, well, some of the resources they mention have old technology references or the information is no longer valid. It will require a sifting process to find the good stuff in the dried hay.

    In any case, use what you got and tell the story your local paper or broadcast outlet refuses to acknowledge as being valid. You know you are doing fine when they come to buy you out or pinch your work.

    Other Posts of Interest

    Saturday, October 9, 2010

    National Geographic Photo and Video Tips

    This is a unexpected find. I was looking at an article about National Geographic tips on high dynamic range photography. I notice on the page that there was a whole section of the site devoted to photography tips, some of them in video format.

    This is a video by John Burcham on how to find support when shooting with a DSLR camera.

    This is another video on using your camera/camcorder on capturing movement:

    The videos are short but there is good tips packed in the videos. You may or may not see advertisements.

    There is a lot of content on this portion of the National Geographic site. You can view videos on the story behind an image, special types of photography and even music videos.

    Yeah, I know. National Geographic music videos? They are a heck of a lot more inclusive than MTV or VH1. Music from Africa, the Americas, Bollywood, Arabic Pop and more.

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    Karen Walrond 's Interview with Brené Brown

    There are all kinds of ways to interview a person. Who said you had to use just audio or audio and video?

    Karen Walrond is a fantastic photographer who really did a great job of interviewing Brené Brown with audio and photographs. The photos give us an opportunity to really see the environment of Ms. Brown and you are still getting the information in the audio track.

    Karen is the lead blogger on the BlogHer Own Your Beauty project.

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    Q3HD - Handy Video Recorder - HD Plus Great Audio

    I have the sniffles. I have a headache. I got caught in a downpour. I have chicken soup with hot peppers to annoy the biological invaders. I need emotional reinforcement. No chocolate in the house.

    The next best thing is virtual camcorder window shopping.

    Q3HD Camcorder
    A while back I wrote about the SD version of this camcorder. I was interested but could not justify springing to buy it.

    Time marched on.

    Recording the poets in a open room has proven to be a challenge. Some don't speak up.

    Some poets mumble. (Not anyone that I've currently posted, honest.) Or they just don't project their voices. I was thinking about getting the audio Zoom H4N cuz I have heard folks rave about the sound quality.

    I just don't record enough solo audio. I'd have to think about becoming an audio podcaster. A thought for another time.

    Did I mention I think I have the chills?

    Focus Gena, focus!

    This is some of the specs from the website:

    • Built-in stereo condenser microphones with 120° X/Y configuration for true stereo imaging
    • Video resolution of 720p at 30 or 60 fps or 1080p at 30 fps
    • WVGA (standard definition) at 30 or 60 fps is also available for smaller file sizes
    • Get up to 45 minutes of 720p at 30fps video with 2GB SD card
    • Accepts up to a 32GB SDHC cards for 7 hours of 720p at 30fps (Audio at AAC192 kbps)
    • Video format: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (MOV)
    • Audio formats: 44.1/48/96kHz 16/24-bit WAV (PCM) or AAC up to 320kbps
    • Uses two standard AA batteries or NiMH rechargeable batteries
    Well now. This looks sorta tasty. Yes, it does have a line out jack. Yes, it does have an A/C jack cuz there is no consumer AA/NiMH batteries that can go seven hours.

    I'll wait until I see some videos recorded by the device. Short of carrying a boom mic or taping a digital recorder to my tripod I don't know what else I can do to boost up the sound.

    This may or may not be a solution. I have to think about it. It is $300 so I really have to think about it.

    In the meantime, I think my non-name brand cold & flu tea juice is just about ready. I've blessed my keyboard enough for one day.

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    12 Heading for the Sunset

    Just found out from a post in the the Yahoo Videoblogging Group that is closing the doors and turning in the keys. This was the place where you had just 12 seconds to do what you needed to say or show.

    If you have a video on you need to keep an eye on your e-mail to find out how to download your work. The site will hit the vapors on October 23, 2010.

    Not much to say. Folks can rail against paying for stuff all they want but unless you have very deep pockets it is hard to do for long. I suspect there is a new idea in the works, I hope so. There was a lot of work put into the site and who knows what the next new thing is gonna be.

    I wish the creators well in their new projects. As for folks that micro-videoblog? There is still is Qik for mobile phone and device users.

    Not quiet the same thing though.

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    Reuse and Re-Mix with Rob Parrish

    I first got hooked on Rob Parrish's work when he was remixing old commercials with new voice overs for his Next to Heaven series. This is Number #6.

    Rob would dive into the Internet Archives and find that special iconic commercial or government film that needed a re-do. It was transformed into a new work.

    Rob is still working the remix vibe. His current blog is Hopper Video and this time he is mixing the new with the something else.

    This is Happy Song:

    Sometimes our trash can be reused for a higher purpose. And that is a good thing.

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    Self-Critique on Recording LA Pillow Fight Day

    I'm going through my old videos. My video hosting company, changed the embed codes a few years back. I'm trying to update to the current code as I have time.

    This isn't a good video form 2008 but it is an example of making do with the equipment and situation.

    At the time I had a very cheap and crappy camcorder. I also had a two megapixel still camera to take photos.

    If I recall correctly, by the time I got to the event the first wave of pillow fighters was just about finished whacking each other and the second wave had not commenced. There were more photographers than pillow fighters at the time.

    When a spontaneous pounding occurred it was hard to get a good shot without getting hit or being trampled by shooters. In the meantime, I took photos of what I could. There were about three good waves before the event was shut down by the LAPD.

    When I got home I discovered that I didn't have much to work with because a lot of the video was unusable. I used the photos to help to orientate folks to the scene and hopefully provide a context to the video.

    How Would I Do It Differently?
    1. Get there a half-hour earlier, before the start of the event.
    2. Bring a light tripod or monopod so that I could compensate for being short. Hey, tall people had an advantage at the pillow fight. They could lift their cameras up and then point down. I could only point up or stand on something.
    3. Chance an interview or two.
    4. From a distance record more of the Sheriff department and LAPD presence, they were not happy about the pillow fight.
    5. More of the results of the pillow fight such as the feathers on the ground, in people's hair and video of feathers being suspended in air. There was a lot of stuff coming out of the pillows.
    The music? It kinda sorta matches. It was in a public domain archive. I do like raunchy blues songs. I thought it was kinda funny having a licentious song while people are hitting each other with pillows.

    I don't think I would use music with vocals in a similar situation.

    You live and you learn.

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    The It Gets Better Project - Video Advocacy

    On this day I wanted to do something to help. To not just shake my head and cuss at the spitefulness of human beings. I was so angry I couldn't really touch the keyboard for days.

    I'm a straight woman but I so remember the bullying and long, hard days at school. No child should have to experience that kind of harassment.

    I had unfocused anger about the suicides of young people, bi, gay, straight, queer, transgenders, asexual due to bullying and cultural misinformation. A lot of it is fear. Fear can't stand the light of day or of truth.

    I want to encourage straight people to watch some of the videos at the It Gets Better project.

    Don't comment, or pontificate in the YouTube comments. Just watch the videos, listen to their stories. Be at peace with yourself and seek the common ground.

    What does this have to do with web video?

    It is the reason this blog exist. A young woman was killed by an on-line stalker for speaking out, having fun and being herself. There was a man who objected to her light, her truth to power and her happiness.

    She was located and he killed her.

    And idea began to bubble. I tried not to set up another blog. I really thought is was not needed; it is easier now to upload video. Still, there is a need to have a space to document all that is happening. It isn't the technology, it is the people and what they can do with the technology.

    Yeah, I geek out a bit. A girl has to tech-up every now and then. But at the heart of the blog is the desire to help others tell their stories. I need to do all I can to make sure that no person's voice was suppressed or prevented from expressing themselves using video.

    Advocacy is one of the gems of web video. We can do what mainstream media cannot. They can have a one-shot special and repeat it once. These video will not go away unless the creators yank them off YouTube.

    I understand that web video isn't just about making money or silly stuff. It is also for communities to join together and support each other.

    What is impressive is that many people are uploading videos and telling their stories. So many people are doing it that the project is overwhelmed by video submissions. Blessings.

    One of those stories is going to save a life. "Stop the love you save may be your own baby." Save plus one, and another and another.

    This isn't the end times. It is the beginning.