Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Media Report for First Baptist Church - October 6, 2013

Media Update of the new items released from the Media Team of First Baptist Church.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Let's Start Blogging


Recently spent some time with some students at Carson Newman University discussing blogging and setting up blogs to be search engine friendly.  To create a blog on Blogger or WordPress is a fairly easy task. Below are some of the items we focused on.

A few notes about blogs:
  • Try to use images with your posts
  • Be frequent about posting – no less than once a week
  • Encourage others to link to your blog
  • Encourage others to reply to your posts (always try to create activity)
  • Hi-light important parts of the post
  • Keep length of posts to no more than two or three paragraphs
  • Keep the fonts simple and easy to read
  • Blogs with less color structure have historically been ranked higher in search engines
  • Drive each post of your blog from outside sources such as facebook, twitter, etc.
  • Keep titles short enough that they are not truncated in url by WordPress or Blogger
This list is just a small sample of developing a blog with high SEO. Do you want to know more? reply or contact me.

Doug

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Template Websites

"I do not know how to develop a website but I really need a web presence, what do I do?" I hear this question quite frequently. The answer to this question can be very simple but also very complex. First of all, if a business does not have a quality web development company in their area then it may be difficult to find someone to do quality work for a unique business. There are hundreds if not thousands of individuals who claim to do web development but cannot offer the tool-set to give a unique company the product it needs. Therefore, don't settle for the "average" if you need more. There are resources available online that do quality work. For example averagestreetprice.com offers a service where they build a website that is unique to your company or organization. From the homepage, click on Build a Website in the menu and then click on Web Design Services. Once you own your domain name (and possible an SSL certificate) then that service is the only other product you need to buy to have your site online because it includes hosting as well.

Most web design services offer website monitoring, monthly update packages, and tools to promote your site and business. Pricing is not too bad considering all of the attention you get with the product. However, after looking at a full service product you may decide that you want a little more control at a cheaper cost. If that is your desire, then you may want to consider what is called a template site. A template site offers you a large selection of available templates giving you the ability to choose one that matches your business or service. Once deciding on a template, then you have the ability to upload logos, images, and content for each page you want to build.

To see more information and examples of template sites, go to www.averagestreetprice.com and click on Build a Website from the menu and then click on Website Builder. Packages start below $5.00 per month and include hosting. Determine your needs and then take your time finding the right products and services that fit your business. Website templates may be the solution for you.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Hosting your Domain

The last post discussed buying the perfect domain name. Once the name has been secured then you need to think about designing a website and hosting it. Today we will discuss the hosting part of the process.

Every website must have a place to reside on the Internet. This place is called the host. A host is a server somewhere on the Internet that has the capacity of hosting one or many websites. Servers can come in many different flavors with plenty of options. For example some hosting servers are Microsoft Windows based while others are Linux based. Some servers only offer the directory structure to host the site while others offer software modules to give the web developers more options on their site. Some hosts provide pre-built templates while others do not. Therefore you must research the type of site host you need for your site.

One of the most frequent questions I get on the subject of hosting is should I use the Microsoft Windows hosting option. My reply is always the same. Never use Windows as a host unless your development requires it. For example, if you develop in ASP then you have no other option. If your site requires a Microsoft SQL platform then you will have to use a Microsoft based host. Other than using a technology that requires Microsoft hosting, my recommendation is to avoid it. It is more resource intensive and can be less secure. Linux will offer a more streamlined and better experience.

To find a host simply go to the pace you purchased your domain name (such as www.averagestreetprice.com) and look for the hosting options. You usually encounter three different levels of hosting. Most people on small sites can usually get by with the economy version of the hosting. There are not too many extras that you need to purchase unless you require something like a dedicated IP address or a secure certificate.

Spend some time looking through the various options of hosting and then use the new acquired information to make a great decision on your new host. Keep in mind it is an easier process to purchase the hosting at the same place you bought the domain name.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Buying a Domain Name

We have discussed various subjects concerning Advertising, Internet, and Social Media. A lot of people want an Internet presence of some sort, however have no knowledge of how to make it happen. People become frustrated when they call website development companies only to find out they do not have the money to pay for a complete product. Therefore over the next series of posts we will cover the process of creating a website starting with buying your first domain name all the way to designing and hosting your website.

The first thing you have to do is buy your perfect domain name. This is not as easy as it used to be. The process is not difficult, but finding the right domain name is. When the Internet was in its infancy, the right domain name was easy to find. Today, the right domain name is more difficult to acquire because someone else has already acquired your perfect idea. For example, I own the domain name dougjohnson.net. I wanted the domain name dougjohnson.com, however someone else had already acquired it.

Buying a domain name is very easy if you can find an available name that suits you or your organization. Keep in mind that the domain name you choose needs to include something about your business. Most organizations try to use their business name. IBM (www.ibm.com), Dell (www.dell.com), HP (www.hp.com) are great examples of that concept. These technology innovators secured their names early in the Internet age and therefore was able to secure exactly what they wanted. Today finding a business name is more difficult.

Lets say I owned a company called Great Cars. Logically an ideal domain name would be greatcars.com. If we go to a domain registrar and search for that particular domain name we will discover that it has already been registered and therefore we cannot use it. Therefore, a person's first step to acquiring the perfect domain name is spend some time writing down domain names that would compliment you or your business. Once you have acquired a list then may your way to a domain name registrar and start your search. There are plenty of domain name registrars but if you need a hint on where to start I use www.averagestreetprice.com.

If you go to www.averagestreetprice.com you will notice a domain name search tool pasted in the center of the homepage. All you have to do is put in your number one choice (without the extension) and click on search. You will immediately find our if your domain name is available. If so, you will have the option to buy it and add on all of the possible tools you need to complete your project. If your favorite domain name is not available then you will be presented with plenty of options that are both similar to your search AND available. This is a great tool because you may find a name that fits perfectly and you never thought of it.

A quick note on domain name extensions is warranted in this post. The most common domain name extension is .com. This was the original commercial domain name. It is the most desired however other extensions can fit your organization as well. .org was originally designed for organizations and .net was originally dedicated to Internet businesses or functions. Most of the original rules do not apply for extension usage but a few are still in place such as .gov (government) and .mil (military).  So spend some time and get the right domain name and in our next post we will talk about how to host it.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Social Media vs Traditional Websites

The question "has social media taken the place of traditional websites" has come across my desk a few times in the past few months. This is a great question considering the energy and resources spent in designing ads and developing social media campaigns. The answer to the question is "it depends". It depends on a lot of things.

First of all, you have to answer the following quesions:
  • What does your organization do?
  • Do you sell products or services?
These questions are very important in the fact that it drives what type of Internet presence you have. For example, if your organization is an online store that sells products then having a website is a MUST. Without it, you would have some difficulty selling the actual product. However, if your web presence is a one-time event then a website may not be necessary. For example, your organization is sponsoring a marriage enrichment retreat. This event will only be held one time. In this scenario you could develop a Facebook page or group and advertise through various forms of social media. Once the event has ended you may want to post a few pictures and allow others to comment on their experiences. A website would be somewhat overkill for this purpose.

As you think about the question to spend the money or resources on a website, understand that any long-term goal should not be connected only to social media. Historically, social media sites lose popularity in around 5-6 years. A good website can weather the storm. So anything beyond a one-time event you may want to consider buying a domain name and hosting and start putting together an incredible web presence for your organization. Average Street Price is a great place to start! 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

3:16TV now on ROKU!

We just released 3:16TV on ROKU. This summer was our public launch date and in just three weeks we gained over 2800 subscribers without any advertisement! This is amazing to see the venue of Internet television expand without the use of ads. We can't wait to see how God is going to connect to people around the world through this new venue especially when we start promoting 3:16TV on ROKU.

First Baptist Church of Morristown's entire Sunday schedule not only appears on tow cable networks (Charter and MUS Fibernet), but now also appears on ROKU TV. We feel this is a great bonus for our current 3:16TV ministry partners. Our goal is to extend active (streamed) content 24/7. This means there are plenty of opportunities for ministries to gain prime time slots through our Internet TV presence. As we continue to grow we feel that the 3:16TV network will be a 24/7 presence on many platforms.

If your ministry desires to have a weekday slot on 3:16TV through ROKU, please don't hesitate to let us know. We are finalizing our content plans and would love for you to be a part of the exciting growth of 3:16TV. Just call the church office at (423) 586-0522 and ask for Doug or Terri. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

When Day Meets Night

Transition is sometimes beautiful. The following picture is taken from an iPhone 4S. Always be willing to use whatever you have to take the shot even if you don't have your prime gear. Anything is better than nothing.


My gear was in the room. Imagine what that could have looked like! 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Has Traditional TV Seen Better Days?

Just saw an article on USA Today ( http://m.usatoday.com/article/news/2061127 ) that raises the red flag on the future of traditional television. It seems as if the number of new cable TV subscribers is at an all time low suggesting that people are looking at other sources for video entertainment. Instead of paying high dollar for 300+ channels, more people are subscribing to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon TV. Even though the programming on these services is not real-time, people don't seem to care.

What does this information tell us? It tells is a couple of things. First, people are tired of paying the high fees for television service of which most of the channels or programming is of no interest. Think about it, how many channels are you paying for? Of those channels, how many are of interest to you? For example, I have over 300 channels available with my subscription. Of those channels I have about 3 television shows that I routinely watch outside of sports programming. Other than that, I could care less about the rest of what is on TV. What is interesting is that the three different shows I enjoy is spread across different tiers of service requiring me to purchase a larger package. Is this a random accident that I enjoy programming that makes me have more channels than I need? No, this is by design. Cable companies split popular networks across different pricing tiers so you will buy more.

I believe people are tired of paying high fees for lack of quality. Therefore, many are turning to Netflix and other services to watch programming on demand. This eliminates paying a lot for a little and allows flexibility in an individual's schedule. Sounds like a good idea? I am starting to think so.

Second, the quality of programming is horrible. Sitcoms are poorly written and stand as being family unfriendly. You will notice most sitcoms have a short life as compared to their ancestors. With a lack of quality coming at a high price it is no wonder that people are turning to on-demand programming from the Internet. It seems as if those who make programming decisions would remove the regulation that denies the consumer the ability to only order the networks they are interested in. I guess money talks. Looking at where the public is starting to look, things may change in the future.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Doug Johnson: FCC Considering Rule Change that may allow for mor...

It is not too often I will cross post between blogs however this one should be on my media site as well.  If you get an opportunity take a peek at the following article. It may prompt you to contact the FCC.

Doug Johnson: FCC Considering Rule Change that may allow for mor...: On April 1st the FCC issued a public notice seeking comment on "adopting egregious cases policy". What this means is that instead ...

Blessings!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

What is the First Thing to do in a Video Project

Hurry, grab the camera! I have something I want to film! It is going to be GREAT on YouTube! I hear this often, but the results are somewhat disappointing. There is something to say about candid shooting, but that requires always being ready. Desiring to do a video project requires more than just picking up a camera, shooting, and then uploading it to YouTube or Vimeo.

In the production process for filming there are three stages. Planning, Shooting, and Editing. If you hang around any filming crew you will notice quick that one of the three is vastly dominant over the other two. Can you guess which one it is? Many people say it is the editing. This is a common misconception because most people spend the greatest amount of time in this area. The correct answer is planning. Actually planning accommodates for 90% of the work in a production. Planning consists of all of the preliminaries. It includes the preparation, the rehearsals, the organization, and the storyboarding. The type of production will determine what is included in the planning stage.

The other two elements, filming and editing, will happen naturally and without much discussion during the process if the planning stage was done correctly. For example, the filming crew will know that they need to include shots of a water glass if it plays an important part in the evidence of a crime. The audience can see there may be evidence on a glass while none of the actors noticed the story-changing element. Remember we can tell a story with video and not use actor scripts to convey all of the message. A single look between two people can have far greater impact on how two people feel about each other than if they vocalized their feelings.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This is true. So remember that one second of video has approximately 30 pictures contained within it. Use it to your advantage. Plan your productions.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Thoughts on NRB13

Just got back from the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville. As always this was an incredible event and it is my recommendation for anyone in religious media. This year was somewhat different than the last with an increased emphasis on social media. It seemed as if one entire day was dominated with meetings hosted by Facebook, Google, or Twitter employees. There was even a break-out session devoted on making your YouTube video go viral. With the number of people utilizing social media on the increase, this was a welcome source of information on connecting others to your organization. Tuesday presented a good selection of information on the problems facing the religious community in the areas of religious freedom and its future. Anyone taking advantage of those sessions were given real facts about the troubled times we live in.



The expo is always a great place to learn about new technology and make connections to other ministries. This year was a little different than before. There seemed to be less technology for church media than the past. For example, last year there was an area devoted to staging, lighting, and sound. This year that did not exist. There was, however, more broadcast media technology than before. You can't hold NRB at fault for that because floor space is purchased by the vendor rather than the conference.

If you have never been to the NRB, plan on making the trek to Nashville next year. It is full of valuable information that can help your organization grow.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Never Forgetting Your Audience

One of the most difficult jobs of producing a video is keeping your audience in mind. The production can involve filming, editing, sound, lighting, and sometimes staging. A large number of tasks can involve many people making it a very fast paced and stressful process. When performing any of these jobs it's easy to find ourselves devoted to the process while forgetting the purpose or audience. When this happens we may as well hang it up.

The audience is the reason we spend the effort. When we forget they even exist as part of the project, then we sacrifice the largest element effecting the result. We can have the greatest sound, lighting, cameras, editors, and expertise, but if we fail to put ourselves in the seat of the viewer then it is a wasted effort.

Film doesn't shoot the same for different age demographics or content. We would not have the same lighting or effects elements between a HGTV project and a MTV project. Understanding that a teenager's attention span is much shorter than that of someone in their 50's would change cut sequences in editing or live switching. There are many different audience factors that can effect your video. Therefore, start with the audience and never forget them in the entire process.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Effects in Video Production

In dealing with new and aspiring young video producers I find there is a desire to be competent in the hardware and software needed to produce the project. They want to know everything about the hardware used in the video production. They become fascinated with the editing software and all of the features found within. They go to great lengths to use as much effects in their videos because it looks "cool". It is here they experience their failure.

Software like Adobe's Premiere Pro and Apple's Final Cut Pro offer a rich tool-set of features. Among these features are loads of special effects such as transitions, movements, A/V effects, etc. The desire is to try each of the effects out and see what they can do. It is not bad to understand the tools you have in your arsenal, however it does not mean that you need to use all or any of them. There are times that you need to do something to add "interest" to the video, but that is all. I once had a video professor tell me to make sure I found every effects the software had to offer. Once I had memorized every effect available, then I was to forget they existed. I believe this was the best advice I had received in editing video.

We have to remember the most important objective is how to best communicate to our audience. We can understand every feature in the hardware and software we own, but that does not mean that we have to use it in our projects. The goal is to communicate. Our objective is to place the viewer in the center of the action. Most of the post-editing effects in your toolbox will distract from the message you are trying to send. A simple spin transition or page peel can frustrate your audience and should be used only in situations that demand it.

My advice to people getting into video production is to understand your equipment and use it to place your audience at the center of the action. Like my professor said, memorize every effect available and forget they exist.

Go and tell the story!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Shooting the Action

Most video producers (professional or amateur) watch what others do. They get ideas and see how new techniques look on film. Sometimes they even try to incorporate these ideas into their own work. As I look at both professional and amateur video I see a lot of differences. One of the largest differences I see in the amateur world is the "live-to-tape" shooting method. "Live-to-tape" is continuous shooting of everything that happens. The majority of YouTube videos seem to be shot in this method with very little post-editing taking place. Is there anything wrong with this method? Absolutely not! However, it has its time and place. If you are shooting a "LIVE" event and only have one camera, there are no other options. You have to record directly to film/disk with little or no opportunity to divide the action into sequences.

Is there a better way to shoot the action if you are shooting a controlled content piece? Absolutely! You can take your film to the next level by planning your shoot. Spend some time mapping out the event and make a script if possible. Once you have a good idea of the objective, the subject(s), and the flow, then you need to divide the entire action into smaller sequences. These sequences sometimes are termed as "acts" or "scenes". In a sequence you can record separate shots utilizing different viewpoints and supporting material. Producing more film with better angles and additional supporting subject matter makes a better overall production. This means that anyone involved may have to follow a production schedule and script.

Moving your video production into a series of sequences means that more post-editing will be involved. It will take more time and energy, however the results will be worth it. So the next time you want to pickup a camera and make a YouTube video, do everything you can make it the best video possible!

Keep Shooting!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

People; The Difference Between a Good Video Shoot and Bad Video Shoot

Sometimes people ask "how can I make my videos better?" My immediate answer is "you are on the right track". No, I am not the solution, however the question poses the solution. Multiple people make video shoots better. When a person realizes that his video production is in need of some help and is willing to reach out to others then the project will increase in quality.

One person can do a lot in making a video, however a team can do a lot more. No one person is the expert in everything. You will find technical people who know cameras. These individuals can make recommendations on purchases, on camera setup, and advise when you are asking more than the camera can do.

You can find technical people who know sound. These individuals can be experts in their field and drastically improve a critical element to your video production. Likewise, there are people who know video editing and can help out in that area. There are lighting experts, field production experts, directors, producers, and the list goes on. You do not have to have an expert in every field available when you do a video production. If you do, you may as well be working in a movie production house in Hollywood.

The key, however, is having others identify problems in your work. This will begin the process of improving your final product. Having people look at your projects can reveal things that you may not see when putting it all together. So it is advisable to bring others into the mix. 

I know I mentioned earlier when you realize you need help you need to reach out. However, let me add one more piece of advice. Even if you don't think you need help, reach out. Always get others to review your projects. Everyone could use improvement!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Streaming; Solution for Quality Across Multiple Bandwidths

We have had the discussion of optimizing your video streaming by trying to determine the optimal video quality for the bandwidth of the majority of your viewers. You can read about that discussion here. You don't have to settle for a reduced video quality stream because you have a few viewers that can only watch your streams over cellular data. There is a solution.

Utilizing the Adobe Flash Live Media Encoder you can assign multiple output streams to be sent to the multicasting service or server. Look at the following image.


On the lower left hand corner you will see three different Bit Rates all selected. These Bit Rates each produce a video stream sent to the multicaster. In this case you will have three streams being sent from your computer. Depending on your audio settings the audio content will be added to each stream. As you can see in the picture Adobe calculates the stream sizes and tells you to total upload bandwidth needed for your setup. Just make sure you have enough "upload" bandwidth to handle your configuration. You can test your upload/download bandwidth by running a speed test here. Choose the closest server and run the test.  

This is the easy part of the configuration. The other half of the setup depends on the multicaster and the software you are using for the player in your browser. First, the multicaster may charge you for each stream you send to them. If this is the case your setup could incur some higher fees. Second, if you have a multicasting service that allows multiple feeds, then you need to configure the player in your browser to test the bandwidth of the client and provide the appropriate stream with the greatest quality.

Many players are very different in design and setup. You need to refer to the documentation or product forums of the player you use. If you have not decided on a player and the multicaster does not provide there are plenty to choose from. Just do some research to see the capabilities of each of the products on the market before making a decision.

As always, start with one stream and work your way up. Taking one step at a time will be easier in the long run.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Streaming; Optimize Stream Settings

The number one complaint I get from people viewing my streams is their video is buffering or the video drops out. Every complaint I hear I take seriously because it could be a sign I have problems on my setup. 99% of the time the problem is on the viewer's end. I always ask them to give me a speed test result as the first step and then I will try to work out the problem. Actually the last complaint had a download speed of 22kbps. I am sorry, but you are not going to watch video at that speed no matter what I do.

Streaming quality is based on a compromise. To the end user quality is usually referred to as the ability to view the stream without any interruption. Some users are concerned about the resolution of the video because they want to view the stream full-screen on a computer, or send it to their TV screen. Therefore, when designing your setup, you must set your quality goal and design your output to achieve that goal.

The compromise as mentioned is better quality requires more bandwidth.  If you want to run your videos in high definition at a resolution that would be suitable for full-screen or television, then you limit your audience to higher quality broadband service. If your goal is to reach every user no matter if they are on cellular data service then you have to cut the quality of your stream. There are options to output multiple quality streams but we will not get to that level in this discussion. We will hold that for another day.

If you are using Adobe's Flash Live Media Encoder then you have a screen that looks like the following:


Notice on the lower left section of the screen. You have input size and Bit Rate. The input size needs to be the input size of the video you are trying to stream. Make sure you select the maintain aspect ratio box so your video does not look distorted when it is on your website or video player. The Bit Rate section is very important. It is here that you can maintain or reduce quality. Notice that I have three listed in my setup. I am letting the player decide on the bandwidth quality to determine which stream to send to the client. In today's discussion we will only look at one of the settings.

My first line has the lowest video quality I am sending. My recommendation is that you start testing with only one stream and get it functioning at your highest quality and then work from there.


The drop-down list under the Bit Rate section will show you all of the options available for your to stream.  Choose your desired Bit Rate and allow the output size to be automatically selected. If it is not automatically determined when you choose your Bit Rate then you may not have the "Maintain Aspect Ratio" box selected. If you want a decent quality feed my recommendation would be to start with a 500Kbps feed in the Bit Rate selection and begin your testing.

Video Bit Rate alone does not determine total output bandwidth. There is one other factor that adds to the equation and that is the Bit Rate of your audio feed. This section looks like the following:


My recommendation is to choose Mp3 as your format and Bit Rate of 128 Kbps. The application will display your upload bandwidth (which in most cases is the same as the client streaming download bandwidth needed) requirement. The addition of the two Bit Rate amounts (audio and video) gives you the total.

On the right hand side of the screen you will find the address and file name needed by the multicasting service. They will provide you the information needed for these sections. One additional feature found in Adobe's Flash Live Media Encoder is the option to save your stream to a file. This is useful in case you want to use a service like YouTube or Vimeo to host archives of your streams.

Get started streaming and enjoy your new avenue of sharing your ideas!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Streaming; Software to Multicaster

Streaming requires utilizing a multicasting server or a multicasting service. Most people opt to use the service because of the expense and knowledge of the technology involved in setting up your own server. Setting up your own server requires a fairly beefy machine, however most of the expense can be found in the bandwidth necessary to provide feeds for everyone who wants to see your live content. For every outbound feed to a viewer you need upload bandwidth comparable to your stream settings. For example, if you stream your content at 512 Kbps and 100 people simultaneously view your feed, then your upload bandwidth requirement is 512,000 Kbps.

512 Kbps X 100 = 51.2 Mbps (upload bandwidth needed)

Finding an Internet Service Provider to offer you a 52 Mbps upload speed is almost impossible unless you are using asynchronus data connection in fiber optics which can be extremely expensive. Therefore, the best bet is to use an outside multicasting service that has the needed bandwidth to provide streams to your viewers.

Once you have decided on a multicasting service and you have your video and audio feeds coming into your computer then you need to send your programming out. To do this you need a piece of software that connects your feed to the multicaster. There are plenty to choose from, but if you are on a budget I would recommend Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder.

Adobe Information can be found HERE.

This software is very configurable taking your media stream and connecting it to a multicasting server. It gives you flexibility to configure the parameters of your stream quality and bandwidth. It also has the ability to save your stream to a file for editing or uploading to your favorite video archive and playback service like Vimeo.

The Flash Media Encoder is a fairly simple software to configure and use. Spend some time testing your settings to assure you have the best streams for your viewers. Too much bandwidth restricts your viewers to broadband and too small bandwidth reduces video quality. There are compromises so you have to test to see what works best for you.

The best thing about Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder is that the software is a free download from Adobe. Have fun streaming!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Streaming; From the Camera to the Computer

There are a lot of people doing streaming these days. We stream ballgames, church services, local political events, and the list goes on and on. There are all kinds of tools to do the job of getting your video the the website. Many people, however, have difficulties getting audio and video from a camera and an audio source to the computer. Some have tried, with unfavorable results, connecting to a sound card for audio and video to a different video capture component. This can sometimes result in frequent pauses in either the audio or video stream.

The correct way of connecting audio and video, whether from the same or different sources, is through a capture card or a video converter. A capture card is a card that mounts inside of a computer that accepts both audio and video and processes it directly into the bus of the mother board. Most software applications that look for the audio/video streams will recognize the output of a capture card.

Another type of capture/converter device is an audio/video converter. I have used various types of these devices and most I have not been very happy with. One, however, has served me very well in various applications. It is a Canopus branded product within the Grass Valley product lineup. You can find their products at the following location.

Grass Valley Converters

Depending on your setup one of these converters will take your component, composite, s-video, audio source, or HDMI feed and convert it to an input acceptable by your computer. Look to see the type of conversion by product model and find the one that matches your camera outputs and your computer inputs.  I have used these for years and have never experienced a failure. Grass Valley is a maker of professional and consumer equipment for your audio and video needs. Hope this helps in your search for a converter for your video projects.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Techniques of Directing a Video Shoot

When it comes to directing a television production, there are various techniques people use to achieve their goal. These techniques, although different, are aimed at the same goal of reproducing the desired content of their production. The different techniques, however, produce drastically different results. For example, many directors get into a shot habit. They start with a wide shot and then move into a close-up of the speaking, followed by a crowd reaction. This routine is repeated constantly throughout the entire program resulting in a dull and boring product.

Other directors spend their time instructing camera operators to get "artistic" shots. These shots are unique and unusual and in many cases very pleasing to the eye. The result, however, is a distraction to the viewer. Don't get me wrong on this issue, there needs to be some elements of the artistic shots but it certainly does not need to dominate the screen.

The director who has the experience and wisdom produces the best looking products. This director is very smooth in his transitions and balances camera shots to help the viewer experience the action he or she is watching. His goal is to place the viewer within the action on the screen. The viewer does not need to feel as if they are evaluating the type of camera shot and does not need to be able to predict the next camera angle.

Directing is not just pointing the cameras at the subject and then switching between them. It is developing a way of creating the story before the user. It involves camera angles, lighting techniques, understanding of the action he is shooting, and understanding who is the intended audience.

If you are directing program take a copy of the video home with you and watch it a week later. Make notes of what is interesting about the program and make notes what is distracting about it. Ask yourself the following questions. Am I drawn into the program I am watching? Am I distracted by camera angles or camera activity? Can I predict what is getting ready to happen next with the shot angle or zoom? Do I feel as if I am sitting in the audience of the event?

Always work to become a better director! Your audience will thank you.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Changing Game of Television and Radio

I have invested in a lot of time in the broadcast industry and over the past 5 years I have seen more change happen in Television and Radio than has occurred over the past 20 years. In the 1980's and 1990's radio stations were manned by a disk-jockey or air-personality on every shift, no matter the size of the station. Today only the larger market stations employ a full crew. Most of the smaller stations utilize a simulcast service for most, if not all, of their daily schedule.

Radio today is being challenged by Internet radio services such as iHeartRadio and Pandora. These services can be accessed over cellular data plans and offer a more tailored radio experience. Small station start-ups or music services can obtain a world wide audience without the significant costs of a regional or local radio station. This is presenting competition at levels never seen before.

Television has also experienced change. In the past, television stations or networks determined what programs or shows to air basically at the last minute. Today traditional television is being challenged by cable networks specializing in niche programming. Even more of a problem for traditional television are services such as Hulu and Netflix. With the introduction of On Demand TV (Roku and Apple TV) traditional television doesn't stand much of a chance. This is not to mention what online services such as YouTube has done to the industry.

YouTube has changed the rules to the entire game. One individual can film an event, documentary, or whatever is on his mind, with a single camera and poor audio equipment and have a world wide following in minutes. This person can advertise their video by email and social media with practically no cost. He or she can allow advertisers the ability to show ads on their videos which in turn makes the film producer a few dollars to support his or her Internet video making addiction.

The Internet and home based video producers are changing the game of television. With immediate access to both excellent and poor video content, YouTube viewers enjoy sifting through millions of online videos and share their favorites with their friends. What is the next step for television and radio? Are you the next Internet Video Producer?

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Most Common Question about Video in Media

Being in media I receive a lot of questions every day from other organizations seeking to do the same thing we are. One of the most frequent questions I hear is "what camera(s) do I need to get for my organization"? Essentially one would think this would be an easy question but in all actuality it is very difficult. The type of camera depends on numerous factors. These factors can range from the purpose of needing the camera, the storage and output requirements, and the amount of money allocated to purchase the equipment. Not knowing any of this information makes that question very difficult.

The primary question any organization should ask is how do we need to convey our message to our intended audience. Once a person begins to work that question out, then the answers will start to become more obvious.

Utilizing cameras to reproduce a setting onto someone's television set is not as simple as pointing and shooting a camera. Much planning and understanding of the film process must be completed well in advance of warming up the camera. Successful videography is all about storytelling. It is not just conveying a picture from one location to another but rather painting a picture of what is happening. The goal is to make the viewer feel as if he or she is actually sitting where your intended environment. This not only includes visual but also audio.

One rule of thumb is to remember that cameras lie. Every time you power one up it will start deceiving you until it is powered down. Most cameras are two dimensional. They see things flat without depth or much contrast. Therefore, a successful director, reporter, or videographer must look for the proper equipment and know how to set it up to fool the viewer into thinking he or she is actually on location.

Second, even though most cameras are equipped with microphones their quality is so poor that it becomes a distraction to the viewer. Audio quality is critical to good video. Keep in mind that radio was around long before television and storytelling was being performed on radio with great success. Therefore, great attention must be paid to audio for a project to be successful.

Think about how you want to covey your story. Are you going to need more than one camera to make it happen? Is this camera going to be stationary or portable? Are you going to need special lenses to create interest and convey your story in a more realistic manner? How are you going to collect the sound? Are you going to post-edit your project, or is this going to be a LIVE event? As you begin to answer these questions I will help you with information on the products that are on the market as well as the techniques to shoot better video.

Friday, January 11, 2013

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest calls itself a virtual pinboard. The following is a quote from their website:
Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.
Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.
I signed up for Pinterest the other day and spent some time playing around with it. Before I knew it I found myself engulfed in areas that interested me. I began to follow others who had interests that were like mine and re-pinned many of their items. At first I did not think I was interested in finding recipes or new shoe styles, however after spending some time browsing through the magnitude of pictures and information I found what I consider to be an advertiser's dream. There are incredible opportunities for an organization's products to be connected to people who like items like they provide.

Upon this realization, I had to find out how many people are using this service. Utilizing the Nielsen 2012 Social Media Report I found the following quote.
Pinterest had the largest year-over-year increase in audience and time spent of any social network across PC, mobile, and web apps.
In the U.S. Market alone Pinterest surpassed over 46 million unique visitors. This is something that any producer of a product should be intently aware of. So if you have not checked out Pinterest, you may want to spend some time fining your interests.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Top Social Media of 2012

There are so many different ways a person can share their insights with the world that one often wonders which one to use. The yearly Social Media Report from the Nielsens is usually a great avenue to determine where the most activity and users are. Advertisers must also watch this information to make sure they are spending their money in front of the greatest audience. 

The 2012 Social Media Report gives us some insight on the trending of the top Social Media Networks of the year. Facebook has been a hard hitter in the social media realm but this year seems to be a year of change. Still reporting in with over 152 million unique visitors in the PC access demographic, but they are down 4%. However, the way people access Facebook is drastically changing to the mobile device market. There has been an increase of over 85% of visitors in the mobile web and mobile app department accommodating for slightly more unique visitors than those accessing by PC.

Twitter was accessed on cellphones and other mobile devices through the web and Twitter apps by almost 67 million unique users which illustrated around 140% increase over the previous year. The PC market for Twitter topped slightly over 37 million unique visitors and reported an increase of 13%. Other statistics can be found on the Nielson website.

Some people have mentioned that Facebook is on its way out and that may be true from the PC market, however as an advertiser I would not recommend bailing on that service yet. Twitter is still running strong and is something organizations need to pay attention to. Social media networks change very frequently and how we use them to promote our products and services should change along with them.

Keep up the work and reap the benefits!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Looking Back to 2012 with Social Media

I don't know if you are looking for any good reading material, but I found myself scanning through the Nielsen's Social Media Report for 2012 over Christmas and New Year's. Sounds like good reading doesn't it? I would not recommend it to you for the latest top 10 novels on the bookshelf but it is very interesting to see what people are doing with social media.  Lets take a look at a few of the stats found in the report.

First of all, mobile web access (access to Internet sites) is up 82% in 2012. This is an incredible statistic! What does this mean to me? Well, if you are a website owner you need to make sure that your site is mobile friendly. In July 2012 over 95 million people were accessing websites by their cellphones or mobile devices. On top of that, the number of mobile apps increased by 85% to over 101 million apps on the market.

Some people may argue that Internet usage is up overall but that is not the case for the type of devices that people are using. For instance, PC access to the Internet has begun to drop (4%). It is true that people are spending more time on the Internet overall, however they are using their cell phones and mobile devices to do so.

If you think about the time you spend on the Internet, ask yourself how and when do you access your favorite pages. I know in my life, outside of work I access the Internet by mobile device almost 10 to 1 over using a PC. These statistics should make the advertiser realize he or she needs to be aware of how people are accessing their ads. Are they mobile friendly? I hope so, because your organization needs to make sure your products and services are accessible by the largest market.