Blog Moderation & Damage Control

A year ago, on January 06, 2008, I wrote and posted “Do NOT Tamper With Your Comments!”. At the time, I offered “Turn On Moderation” as an alternative:

Bill: “Turn On Moderation – Make it so that NOBODY’S comments make it to personalblog or widgetblog unless YOU approve them. That way, when everything ends up positive, you just look like you spun the situation by only letting the comments through that you liked. This is DIFFERENT from changing people’s posts because there’s never anything negative for people to see in the first place, AND dissenting comments don’t become agreeing comments with the same person’s name on the top, posted at the exact same time.”

I wrote that line at a time when I wasn’t doing a lot of commenting on other people’s blogs. I hadn’t achieved a perception of the potential effects of “You *just* look like you spun the situation by only letting the comments through that you liked” on people who visit your blog and make comments that never get approved. Let me tell you about it.

Initial Perception

Mike, Kfir & BillInitially, when I check out a blog for the first time, I’m thinking that the person who wrote the posts is looking for A DISCUSSION. I’m thinking that if they didn’t want A DISCUSSION, they would have turned off comments.

Actually, one of the very first times I ever posted on someone else’s blog, it was a dating blog and the woman had written flawed advice. With my naive way of thinking about blogs as sort of “personally-hosted forums”, I wrote a nice long comment about what was incorrect about her ideas. To her credit, she emailed me my words, when she could have just deleted them. Hats Off to her for that. πŸ™‚ My ideas could have been lost in space, because I had written them directly to her blog entry form. Last time I ever did *THAT*.

She emailed me my words and explained to me that she wasn’t going to host my ideas about her post on HER site, and if I wanted to, I should place them on MY site. At the time, I wasn’t hip to trackbacks and pingbacks. I had a short email discussion with her expressing my opinion that I thought she was lame for having a blog and ONLY approving comments that made her look good. Pretty soon after that, I found out that this is pretty much status quo. She represents the mainstream and I’m “odd man out” on this issue. Continue reading “Blog Moderation & Damage Control”

Do NOT Tamper With Your Comments!

I told my ex-girlfriend not to lie to me… I mean, she was still my girlfriend at the time, and now she isn’t. The reason I told her that was that I was catching her in small, seemingly insignificant lies. VERY VERY small lies… Not even worth telling, to be sure. I explained to her that the most important thing you have in a relationship is trust. Without TRUST, you have nothing at all, because any communication you have with anyone will be tainted… untrustworthy… disbelieved. Lying to me about small things is WORSE than lying to me about important things, because it’s not necessary. If your character can’t stand up to the smallest criticism and you feel the pressure and need to LIE, then you CERTAINLY don’t have the stomach to tell me the truth when it REALLY counts.

WHAT does this have to do with “Technology”, you ask?… Because the same holds true in many situations, *including* posting on the internet. The way a lot of blogs are set up, including this one that I’m posting to right now, after the main entry, there’s a section for comments. This is the place for viewers/readers to weigh in and let you know if they agree OR disagree with what you said, and why.

The benefit of having comments is taking a post from being a soliloquy to being the beginning of a conversation. It’s like having a lecture and then at the end, opening up the floor to any questions your audience might have. *YOU* are just as responsible for and will be held accountable for what happens in your comment section as you will be held accountable for what you post in the main entry. Just like I told my ex… (paraphrasing, hahaha) the way you carry yourself in dealing with comments can make or break your credibility in EVERYTHING ELSE that’s MORE IMPORTANT than your comments section…..

Let’s take a very simple example that everyone should be able to follow:

Let’s say you have a company that sells widgets. Let’s say your business blog is “widgetblog”, and is a blog about widgets. Let’s say you also author “personalblog”, and what you post there has NOTHING to do with widgets, and only to do with your personal life. Unfortunately for you, you can not separate these three things if people know that you’re connected to all of them. Similar to a chain, your credibility is only as strong as the *WEAKEST* link.

Now, let’s say you post that “the sky is blue”. Let’s say that several people post “I agree, the sky IS blue!” and those comments are not tampered with. What do you do when someone posts “the sky is actually grey”? This person has now added their personal opinion to the discussion that you started. Do you leave this dissenting opinion on your site so that people can see the HONEST, TRANSPARENT format of how the discussion actually unfolded?…. OR…. Do you log in as “admin” and CHANGE THAT POST so it now reads “the sky is blue”?

Let’s say you get five more “blues” and two more “greys” and even a “red”… What now? Do you log in AGAIN, and tamper with your comments AGAIN? When someone comes to your post the next day, will EVERYONE be in agreement with your position? Is that fair? Is that HONEST? Is that *transparent*?

Now, in most cases, you can get away with this underhanded behavior. There’s only one thing you have to do to maintain your credibility and look like people agree with you….. Be. Faster. Than. Everyone. Else. That. Reads. Your. Blog!

If you come to your blog, and the dissenting posts have been sitting there for an hour, consider the possibility that SEVERAL PEOPLE may have ALREADY READ THEM and will see you for who you really are and what you’re really doing if you tamper with your comments. :/

What’s the problem if you get caught tampering with your comments?…. “Trickle Up”! πŸ˜€

If you get caught tampering with comments on PERSONAL posts, your credibility is *SHOT*. You can NOT be trusted. If you can’t be trusted with the comments on your personal post, you can’t be trusted in what you POSTED either. Why tell the truth, when you could make up a convenient lie to make yourself look good? Now, your entire personalblog is tainted. Meanwhile, you’re the same person that writes and moderates widgetblog. Why should we believe that you’re willing to risk your business by allowing people to have opinions contrary to YOUR best interests? Now, the posts AND comments on widgetblog are tainted.

Meanwhile, you’re the owner of the widget company. Why should your character in doing business with someone face to face, shaking their hand and looking them in the eye be any stronger than when you’re posting a business or personal blog? So, unfortunately “this person is a liar” trickles UP to where you don’t want it because you didn’t have the stomach to leave your comments alone and perhaps POST A REBUTTAL? Stand up for your own statements? Explain to the dissenting commenter why you think you’re right and they’re wrong? Seriously. :/

Assuming you feel you’re prone to resort to underhanded tactics to make yourself look good in the future by tampering with people’s comments today… Here are some things you can do that will still make you look like you have something to hide, but there’s no PROOF, like when a statement that was “X” for 45 minutes, suddenly becomes “Y” merely by clicking ‘refresh’ in your browser. :/

Turn Off Comments – Your word is law and that’s it. Anybody who comes to personalblog or widgetblog will get what YOU have to say about things, and that’s it. Nobody else has any say.

Turn On Moderation – Make it so that NOBODY’S comments make it to personalblog or widgetblog unless YOU approve them. That way, when everything ends up positive, you just look like you spun the situation by only letting the comments through that you liked. This is DIFFERENT from changing people’s posts because there’s never anything negative for people to see in the first place, AND dissenting comments don’t become agreeing comments with the same person’s name on the top, posted at the exact same time.

Delete Dissenting Comments – MUCH, MUCH better than changing what people had to say from “X” to “Y” is deleting their comments altogether. That way, you look like someone who can’t handle the truth instead of someone actively cheating to make it look like everyone’s on your side in this situation.

Don’t Blog At All – Really, I don’t understand why some people post things on the net in the form of a blog with comments, when they don’t REALLY want to hear what people honestly think about what they’re saying or doing.

Maybe two years ago, I read something I thought was interesting on someone’s blog. I thought it was very interesting….. as well as COMPLETELY WRONG! πŸ˜€ I explained to her very professinally and clinically WHY she was wrong by posting a comment on her blog. Eventually, I got an email from her saying that she was going to erase my comment, and suggested (to her credit, because I hadn’t saved my post anywhere) that I copy it and post it on my own blog and link to hers.

I wrote back to her, thanked her for not deleting my post FIRST, and explained to her (in not so flowery terms) that I thought she was lame for having a web site where all she wanted on it was her opinions and people that agreed with her position. She was doing a disservice to her readers, because with all of them commiserating and rallying around the flag, it was the blind leading the blind, and they were never going to get to the solution to their problem, because they had the question wrong in the first place.

Since then, I’ve come to realize that many people post NOT to START a conversation, but to appear as if they’re an authority in something. They think that as long as they post something and nobody disagrees, they look intelligent or wise. I now realize that a lot of people use the internet to make themselves feel better or to doctor the results so as to convince themselves that they’re in the right and someone else was in the wrong.

That’s all well and good, however, if that’s the type of person you are, don’t think that people aren’t figuring you out. Don’t think that you’re getting away with tampering with comments or juking stats scot-free. Your credibility’s taking a hit, and you may find out down the line when nobody wants to buy your widgets that it’s because more people than you know saw you tampering with comments on some seemingly insignificant post and decided that your credibility as a businessperson has been seriously undermined by your personal character.

Bill Cammack Ò€’ Cammack Media Group, LLC

Context / Locker-Room Conversation

So, DatingGenius ran into Bookstore-Chick last night… The one that inspired “Take her to the Book Store!” or book-store-technique. She reports that she’s still happily dating Bookstore-Guy, so that’s a good testimonial for the technique! DatingGenius is happy for them. πŸ˜€

As usual, which is why I gave Sorcha her propers for speaking her mind and sharing her opinion… It turns out that Bookstore-Chick *READ* the post, knowing DAMNED WELL that it was entirely about HER… DID *NOT* reply to the thread, positively or negatively, DID *NOT* make any other attempts to contact DatingGenius, probably WOULD NOT HAVE mentioned anything at all, if I had not brought it up, AND asked her if she had read it AND what she thought of it….. πŸ˜€

Not only did she read it, she had Bookstore-Guy read it as well. Same deal. Zero communication. I guess this is why they’re called BOOKSTORE guy and girl and not INTERNET guy and girl! πŸ˜€ Anyway… They’re not the point here…

So Bookstore-Chick shows up all late to the hangout. She also brought her ok-looking female friend with her.

NOTE: From the dim lighting in the spot, and being pretty well alcoholized by the time they showed up, her friend actually qualified as “cute”. However, DO NOT mention this to chicks off the bat. Make sure they know that you think they’re “ok”, or my personal favorite, “alright”.

Yo! You saw that chick? πŸ˜€
Yeah… She’s aiiite. :/

Do NOT let chicks get souped up on themselves off the bat. It’s a HORRIBLE bargaining position, and you’ll be working your way out from under that one for-EV*A*R.

This presented DatingGenius with a problem…. The problem of CONTEXT. Under normal circumstances, by that time of the night, DatingGenius is verbally fighting against 5 or 6 people, siting around a table trying to bash either him as an evil, despicable, dastardly, underhanded individual or bash his theories! >:D This is a progression, however. I don’t walk in the door kicking game. We meet and greet, have some boring fun, then it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty! πŸ˜€ Bookstore-Chick had already been through this process… Actually, it was HER mentioning all HAPPILY that she was taken on a date to a BOOKSTORE that got the festivities jumping off that evening. With her friend (the “ok” one), I received the double-whammy.

First, when I asked Bookstore-Chick if she had read the post, she turns to her friend and says like three words, and her friend is like “OH… THIS IS THE GUY THAT WROTE THAT?” So I’m like “awwww here we GO!” hahahaha. Second, instead of making it there for meet & greet happy-time social hour, they show up during a heated debate about something like the irrelevance of a chick claiming lesbian status in the grand scheme of whether you’re going to get on or not, so The Kid was in full effect, all gears spinning, battle-mode. So, of course, with this new chick having ZERO IRL context of meeting DatingGenius BEFORE battle-mode, I get into an argument with this chick about bookstore technique.

Usually (and this was no exception), when someone arrives without context to one of my conversations, they make two fundamental errors. 1) They assume that the way I’m talking with the group is how I would tangibly represent myself in a situation of “kickin’ it” with a chick. 2) They assume that what I’m ADVISING for other people is what *I* use, myself. πŸ˜€

I try to let chicks understand that what they’ve been invited to is the proverbial “locker room”, as in “locker room conversation”, meaning the stuff that guys talk about and KEEP CHICKS FROM KNOWING ABOUT. They are receiving the *BENEFIT* of being treated like a guy and welcomed into the inner circle where we discuss IMPORTANT ish! πŸ˜€ Because they now have dual-citizenship of ACTUALLY being females, but being talked to AS IF they were males, in “the locker room”, they misunderstand my locker-room behavior as my kicking-it-to-a-viable-chick behavior. This is where you start hearing stuff like “I can’t believe you said that!” and “I’d NEVER date *YOU*! :(” blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah…..

Think about it like an actual football game. What happens in the locker room? The guys declare that they’re going to go out there and RIP the other team’s HEADS OFF!!! πŸ˜€ ….. Then… What happens when those same two teams EXIT the locker room and get on the field? … That’s right. They SHAKE HANDS! Have you ever seen a boxing-style staredown during the coin toss? Nope! Complete gentlemen. Then, what happens when you try to catch that pass high and away over the middle? CRAAAAAAAAAACK, the middle linebacker smashes you in the ribs! πŸ˜€

“The Game” is exactly the same way. You don’t bring your locker-room style out onto the field. In the locker room, we’re kickin’ INFRASTRUCTURE. It’s the “WHY?” behind what you ACTUALLY do when it’s Game ON! It’s the real deal. It’s not some bullshit Dr. Phil advice like “buy her some flowers” or “be nice to her”. It’s tactics, techniques and the underlying psychology behind WHY those tactics and techniques actually work. Are chick supposed to like it or be happy about it? No. πŸ˜€ They’re SUPPOSED to be mad about it because they don’t want to believe how easily they’re manipulated. It’s like how this stewardess-looking chick was on “The View” as the girlfriend of this so-called “greatest pickup artist” who looks and sounds like he doesn’t even LIKE WOMEN, and she’s talking about “none of his tactics worked on me… that’s what he liked about me! :D” ….. idiot. Look at YOU and Look at HIM. You.Got.Gamed. He schemed on getting you in the locker room, shook your hand and smiled in your face when you met him and then proceeded to SMASH YOU IN YOUR RIBS when you came floating across the middle after that high-and-away pass.

The second contextual issue with people jumping into these conversations all late is that the assumption is made that what I’m ADVISING for other people to do is what I HAVE TO DO, myself.

I don’t have to do *ANYTHING*. It’s a numbers game. There’s a percentage chance that any given chick will be into me off the bat. Even if that percentage is low, when you apply that percentage in a city that LITERALLY has over 1,000,000 (one million) chicks in it, all you have to do is SHOW UP to get on. You don’t even have to SAY anything! πŸ˜€ I’ve had chicks approach me that don’t.even.speak.English, and I’ve had to get people to translate what they were saying to me.

My advice is for people who are having PROBLEMS with getting chicks to do what they want them to do. I’d like to have more advice for the ladies as well, haha but as you can see, they’d rather LURK on internet boards than chime in and ask a brotha a question or three! πŸ˜€ Anyway, there’s no better tactic than “be the best person you can be, looks-wise and personality-wise”. Just by being better than other people, you automatically go to the head of the class and become a target. It’s the same thing that works for chicks. When that stunning girl walks in the room and everybody’s like :O she doesn’t have to SAY or DO anything. It’s a wrap as soon as she shows up. SOMEBODY in that room wants to give her what she wants…..

Bill Cammack

Navigating “The Kid Thing”

If you go out with the same chick for more than one week, the odds begin to increase exponentially that she’ll want to have a kid with you.

Biologically, that’s how women are built. If you consistently hang around them, they start to see you as a viable protector/provider for your pending family.

Meanwhile, the guy’s just happy to have a cute chick to look at and to ‘get on’ whenever he feels like it.

Sooner or later, she’s going to start testing you with questions about the future. SOONER is the time to act, rather than later, once you realize what’s going on. If that whole “family thing” wasn’t in your playbook, and you don’t want to break up with her ASAP and start over with a different chick that doesn’t like you as much (meaning you have more time until “the kid thing” rolls around again), there’s only ONE thing to do…..

Buy her a dog. πŸ˜€ Continue reading “Navigating “The Kid Thing””

Citizen Journalism

PBS’ “Frontline” is doing a series called “News War: What’s Happening to the News”. Part 3 aired last night @ 9pm, but you can watch it online.

Segment 19 in part 3 is of particular interest to those of us involved in videoblogging, which is, on the simplest level, putting videos on a blog. These videos could be personal. They could be something created or acted out. They could be just about anything…. Except they could also be a documentation of something that happened. For some reason, there’s a debate surrounding the importance of this. It seems completely obvious to me that if you document something and post it for people to see….. right now…… ALL around the world…….. that makes your work just as valid, if not MORE SO than someone who has a job called “journalist” and took some courses explaining HOW they’re supposed to report things and WHAT they’re supposed to report. :/

The first part of Segment 19 features an interview with Andrew Baron, creator of Rocketboom, as well as clips featuring Joanne Colan, current Rocketboom anchor and Amanda Congdon, former Rocketboom anchor, subsequently of Amanda Across America, and now ABC News. There’s also a clip of Amanda interviewing Josh Wolf, who’s currently in jail because of “citizen journalism”.

In another segment of the show, they mention that Amanda ‘made the jump’ to ABC News. I think that’s an interesting piece to the puzzle of “us vs them”, with independents on one side and MSM on the other. I suppose that those who are interested in attempting to invalidate “citizen journalism” could argue that ABC simply hired “on-air talent”. They chose HER and not necessarily “her journalism”. Continue reading “Citizen Journalism”

re: Justin Kownacki’s STBD SOTU 2007

re: Justin KownackiÒ€ℒs STBD SOTU 2007

Brilliant assessment & planning, Justin. πŸ™‚

I’ve been watching STBD since about the middle of last season, and I’ve seen some of the archived episodes. My impression of it was “the life in general of several people that happen to know each other because of professional and personal affiliations”. Since I started watching after the show became more spread out, the radio station didnt actually have anything to do with anything for me. I saw a couple of episodes where they were saying they were selling the station or shutting down, and I saw it as more of a removal of a location than something really important to the show’s storyline.

I suppose the speed of the storylines is as dependent upon how much time the producers & editors are willing to spend crafting them as it is upon how often the actors in a particular scene (and the crew to shoot it) are available at the same time. It’s much easier and faster to cut a more slowly-paced episode than a fast-paced one that requires more cutting and therefore more continuity between the scenes. OTOH, the faster the scenes are paced, the more storylines you can fit into the same amount of time, or you can cut your show lengths down. Another consideration is the effect of changing pacing on the “feel” of the show. Regardless of the choice of pacing inside one scene or one episode, looking at the pacing over time, such as “how many episodes will it take to get this character from finding out about an issue to resolving or becoming consumed by that issue” is very important. Soap operas drop something and the resolution doesn’t happen for the next two weeks (10 episodes). Sit-coms achieve resolution within 30 minutes to an hour. I think that having the IRL timelines of plots in the script locked down is going to be crucial for STBD moving into your new production / business / community plan.

Regarding the lack of unification because of so many characters, STBD definitely needs to have a searchable way to track specific characters. One of your additions in your web site plan needs to be a text-based, searchable episode list with links and tags based on the characters in each episode. If someone watches an episode and wants to learn more about Caroline, there needs to be a way for them to quickly pull up the sequence of episodes with Caroline and/or her storyline in them. She might not be in the actual show, but something that happens in that show is relevant to the development of her character or someone involved with her. Of course, that’s easier said than done, and it’s easier to start off with a text-based cast/crew listing like IMDB has, so that at least fans can create a list of the episodes that the character they’re following is in and possibly create RSS feeds so they can follow along when that character’s next episode comes out. Overall, I think that spinning off shows based on popular storylines is a great idea. πŸ™‚

The “heightened conflicts” issue is very important and IMO drives the IRL timelines of an episodic production like STBD. The show has to move quickly enough to keep people interested in the conflict. Unfortunately, this is a lot easier to deal with in a situation where the resolution is definitely going to occur “soon” like in a show that is completely done after every episode or a mini-series that’s going to be over after the sixth episode. In the HBO series “Rome”, you knew that by the end of the season, Caesar was going to be dead…. I mean, assuming you knew about these things to begin with. That leads to situations of heightened conflicts, but also “lack of conflict” as you know that Caesar’s going to be stabbed to death by people including Brutus, so there’s a complete lack of suspense in his character’s part when he’s on a campaign or in a war or something. OTOH, you never know if the other characters are going to live or die in the situations they get involved in. The heightened conflict is that even though they’re the stars of the show, they’re expendable in the grand scheme of things.

I think “The Sopranos” is more relevant to STBD. In the first season, guys were dropping like flies, because the focus was to show the struggle for posession, survival and success in organized crime. As time went on, there were fewer characters that they were able to develop to the point of being so important either to the characters in the show or to the viewer that they needed to be “rubbed out”. “The Sopranos” settled into being more “Tony’s home life” oriented and stable, which was a turn-off to many of the viewers that were originally so interested in the show because of action, violence and not knowing who was going to “go” next. It’s kind of like “Now that Tony’s made it to the top, what’s there to do? What stories are left to tell?”. STBD (at this point at least) seems to be about the ongoing lives of people that don’t really have any conflicts other than where they’re going to work or whom they’re dating. Similar to Tony Soprano’s settled life in the later seasons, it’s tough to create & heighten conflict in an environment like that. I see it more as being the “fly on the wall” as these people live their lives than watching something that’s potentially volatile.

Overall, I enjoy STBD and I’m looking forward to seeing where this new vision takes you. Much of what you mentioned requires planning, and planning takes time and time is money, so hopefully your monetization plans work out so that the people involved will be able to devote more time and energy to the show.

Good Luck! πŸ˜€

oh… either way… make sure you remember that…

“women wanna SEE it & men wanna BE it!” πŸ˜€

ReelSolidTV International

So we got to Uptown Lounge, and decided on Calamari as the fun-food while we “got our martini on”. We tried out the camera in low-light, but it didn’t work out at all, which was to be expected since I hadn’t read the manual. I had no idea of what I might have been able to change to produce the best setting.

Anyway… X hours later, we headed for a pizza shop, where I shot an extremely mellow (for ME) video with my new, fresh-out-of-the-box Samsung NV3. πŸ˜€

When I got home, I plugged the camera in via USB and uploaded the videos really quickly. They open up in AVI format, 640×480, as advertised:

Format: XVID Decoder, 640 x 480, Millions
Audio: Microsoft ADPCM, Mono, 22.050 kHz
FPS: 30
Data Rate: 1615.81 kbits/sec

Here’s where things got tricky. πŸ˜€ Originally, I loaded the clips to my iMac. As soon as they uploaded, I double-clicked one of them and it appeared in Quicktime Player. I played it immediately, and it had these black clipping blotches where the camera was aimed directly at bright lights, like the menu signs in the pizza shop. I figured this had to do with the camera and that I didn’t read the manual before just pointing and shooting. So then, I went to transfer the videos to my MacBook, and they didn’t run at all. Quicktime Player would open the first frame of the cips, but it would “quit unexpectedly” when I pressed play. I tried restarting and rebooting. No difference. I looked in the manual on the disk, which is way more extensive than the hardcopy they give you, and it said to install the XviD codec.

To install the XviD codec, you have to install DivX. I installed both and rebooted. I opened the clip in Mpeg Streamclip, and the “blowout blotches” were gone, except there was a large section that glitched at the bottom of the pizza shop counter, where there were no lights at all. I figured the problem had something to do with interlacing. I could be wrong, but the programs were looking for interlaced video, and the NV3 shoots 30 frames per second. That’s different from 29.97 frames per second, and that’s certainly different from 60 interlaced fields per second like NTSC television has. I decided to render the video that had this one large glitch in it out to DV codec, using Mpeg Streamclip. I could have exported to Mpeg-4, but I wanted to see if it would look good in DV, since most of the time, I’ll want to bring the clips into FCP for editing.

I rendered to DV and resampled the 22 kHz audio to 48 kHz for the same FCP compatibility reasons. The DV file opened up in quicktime player, looked good and ran flawlessly. I imported that file into Compressor and used my iPod settings to make the m4v to send to blip and iTunes. I cropped the end of the video in Compressor.

After that test, I changed the flow. I made it so that all AVI files open in Mpeg Streamclip. I selected in and out points by pressing “I” and “O” where I wanted my in and out to be for the clip. I selected “export to mpeg-4” with the settings of 50% quality, 1100 kbps data rate, sound AAC 44.1 kHz stereo (even though the NV3 records in 22 kHz mono) @ 96 kbps, 640×480, upper field and everything else deselected. I got the same results, except the file was named mp4 instead of m4v.

I was very happy with the results. The colors are a little oversaturated, but like I said, I never read the manual, and the video’s straight out of the box. Insert battery, insert 2gig memory card, spin the dial, point & shoot. I barely knew how to play the videos back on the camera at the time. πŸ˜€

Anyway… A good time was had by all… as you can probably tell from the video! πŸ˜€ I’m definitely looking forward to ReelSolid.TV expanding past the borders of the U.S.A.! We’ll get to find out what’s going on in Japan from Masami, and what’s going on in France from Laetitia. Cheers to both of the ladies for helping me to NOT waste my day! πŸ˜€

Best Laid Plans

One of the perils of doing a “daily” blog is that…. you have to do it. πŸ˜€

Already, on day 2, technically day 3, since I started on the last day of last year, I missed a day of my “daily” blog. That’s because A) I didn’t have anything I wanted to post in the morning, and B) I walked out of the house, supposedly for a couple of hours and never came back! πŸ˜€ The next time I was around a computer was about 2am, and I wasn’t in any condition to write anything decent (or stay awake :)) AND 2am is already the next day anyway.

So… YESTERDAY, my friend Dave was off work and wanted to hang out around lunchtime. Since we were going to be downtown, I decided that this day would be a good day to get a different camera. I’ve been shooting ReelSolid.TV and E.M.S. with a Canon miniDV camera, and it’s a real drag to set up and make sure everything’s proper… That’s fine for something like ReelSolid, because those are mostly “finished” pieces, so being able to set up and do all my zooming and manual focus etc comes way in handy so I can express myself properly. However, once I switched to the format of E.M.S. (Eight Million Stories), which is really “slice of life” snippets, what’s really important is to catch that moment that’s happening right now. That’s where a miniDV camera becomes reeeeeeally inconvenient…

a) get it from wherever I’m carrying it, like a backpack for instance
b) press and click the button to turn the camera on in camera mode
c) while I wait, take the lens cap off and try to attach it to the handle, so it doesn’t clunk around and make noise
d) keep waiting for the opening graphics, blah blah blah
e) camera is online… except I found out that it doesn’t adjust itself to the light of the situation for another 10 seconds or so. I found this out on the Harlem Race shoot where I would suddenly want to tape something, then when I looked at it on the computer, it would become lighter a few seconds after I started shooting, making the original shooting worthless to me.
f) hopefully, I already checked to make sure the focus was where I need it to be to start shooting what’s going on right now. Also, the auto-exposure needs to be proper for me to get the shot. I might possibly need to be in low-light mode if it’s dark. If the focus doesn’t work for me “out of the box”, I have to auto focus at the subject, then hit manual focus unless the subject’s constantly moving (or I am), in which case I leave it auto, but I might have been shooting an interview just before, so the focus might be manual and I have to take the time to click it to auto before starting that process.
g) somewhere in that process, I might have needed to click the release and swivel out the viewer. If I were planning to be in my own shot (without a tripod), I might need to flip the viewer also, so I can see where I am in the shot.

By the time all this happens, and probably some stuff I didn’t think of as I’m writing this “off the top”, it’s not likely that the moment is still THE SAME MOMENT that it was when I got the idea to shoot it in the first place. πŸ˜• Again, this is fine for something where you planned a pretty high ratio between how much you shoot and how long the final piece is going to be. If you don’t have the shot, you just use something else and make it work. In “slice of life” snippets, it is what it is, so you need to be recording WHILE it “is what it is”.

This is what happened to me on the very first E.M.S. video, “Beef in Chinatown”. Joey and I were on the way to the club where DJ Blazer One was spinning, and while we were rolling in slow traffic, there was a commotion going on in the street. A bunch of people were literally rolling on the ground, on the sidewalk, and every once in a while, someone would scream “He’s Got A Knife!” πŸ˜€ The funny thing was that I was still talking to Joey about what the plan was for shooting in the club, and I totally hadn’t planned for E.M.S. to start “right now”. I started going through my process I described, and by the time everything came online, people were getting back up off the floor, so it doesn’t look even 1/3rd as funny on tape as it did in person. Had I had a camera that was faster on the draw, I would have had a better representation of the situation.

So… I started researching digital still cameras that take 640×480 video @ 30fps. I googled a little bit, then I decided to search the Yahoo Videoblogging Group to see what they had to say. I saw an article by kitykity (from talking about a Sony S600. She also made a video with it and posted it and I was very satisfied with her results. I knew I wanted a camera that would shoot 640×480 and 30fps. I looked for another article I had seen where Randolfe Wicker mentioned the make & model of the camera he showed us and talked about @ a recent videoblogging get-together @ Art Bar. He was very impressed with his new camera, so I thought I’d check that one out as well, the Samsung NV3.

After much googling and checking on Cnet, B&H Photo and the local electronics chain stores we have around here, I couldn’t decide between the Sony Cybershot W70 and the Samsung NV3. I could even have gone with the Sony W50, since it’s a newer model than kitykity’s S600, so that was a third consideration. I decided I’d have to take it to the street and check out the display models.

I started getting ready to go and called Dave, who was already downtown, but his phone rang through to voicemail. I finished getting ready and called Dave and his phone did the same thing. A little later, I got a call from Dave. He was in his house now, and his cell phone had run out of batteries. So much for THAT plan. πŸ˜•

So… I hit the streets solo……..

Chaos @ Reinventing TV!!! :O

hahahaha ok… Jonny’s going to have to change something over @! Last night’s show was OUTLANDISH! πŸ˜€

The first half was Steve Woolf & Zadi Diaz from / Jetsetshow. That would have been a funny and entertaining hour on its own…..

… but then Dan McVicar ( jumped up in the mix, and everything went berserk! πŸ˜€

Somebody says something funny, and then I’m laughing, but then I need to read the text chat then I look back up and Laurel & Hardy have bogarted Dan’s screen, so I’m laughing again and trying to type… Next thing I know, Jonny has an afro-wig, and he’s playing some instrument it looks like he created himself… Meanhile, Zadi & Steve are talking about Dan while the text chat peanut gallery’s talking about Zadi & Steve… πŸ˜€

It was CRAYZEE!!! πŸ˜€ It was like the video-intenet-webcam-text_chat version of when they get into fights in the cartoons and all you see is a cloud of dust spinning around with fists flying in and out of the cloud. Hilarious. I’m going to have to watch the show MYSELF, just to see/hear what was happening while I was laughing or trying to get my own jokes in on the text chat or watching one brady bunch box when there was action going on in another box.

Hilarious. THAT show should definitely have been two hours instead of one, because the crowd was getting more amped the whole time! The show was just getting better and better, hahaha.

Anyway, this week’s Reinventing Television was a blast! Kudos to the hosts, guests and the “live studio audience” for keeping the party rollin’ hahaha πŸ˜€