Hire an Executive Producer (EP)

2007 International Emmy Award JudgingIf you’re going to make television shows, or at this point, shows for the web… SOMEBODY on your team needs to KNOW. HOW. TO. MAKE. TELEVISION. SHOWS!!! :/

If you cut this corner, your productions will look like trash, and deservedly so. Now you can’t say no one ever told you.

I was minding my business one day and got a call from some so-called television production company to come in and interview with them to create a pilot for this show they were trying to sell. They had received my name from someone I had worked with before, so I decided (against my better judgement, haha) to go see what they wanted.

This was back in the day, so I show up to this so-called television production company with tapes. Beta tapes & 3/4″, just in case they were so primitive as to still be using 3/4″. Of course, it turns out that they had NEITHER. No Beta Decks in-house and No 3/4″ decks. So, that was that for my demo materials. Of course, at this point in time, my demo reel is right here on my site ===> (see sidebar), and companies are encouraged to check it out before wasting my time. Continue reading “Hire an Executive Producer (EP)”

Content / Production Value / Popularity

In the internet video game, there are lots of ways to call attention to yourself, your product or your website. Kfir Pravda writes:

“And we didn’t talk about audio and video productions. Yes, you can sit in-front of your webcam and talk. But unless you are extremely attractive, or funny, or interesting, no one will watch your stuff besides your mom and friends. Not necessarily a bad thing, but let’s set the expectations. And hey, being interesting, attractive, funny, interesting – doesn’t it sounds just like creating content in every other medium? Yes it is! The fact that your content is online doesn’t mean it can be crappy. People will notice if it is crappy. Really. Most people don’t care if they get their content from their laptop or TV – they just want good content. So all this Web 2.0 myth that everyone can just put his or hers content online and immediately people would watch it is far from being true.”

This is absolutely true. Even having good content doesn’t make you exempt from creating a pleasant, immersive environment for your viewers. Unfortunately, a lot of internet video isn’t made with the viewer in mind at all. It’s made with MONEY in mind, specifically, being CHEAP with money and not actually caring about the QUALITY of the video they produce AT.ALL.

Here’s the problem with internet video…. When someone puts a video on youtube, for instance, you can trace the IP, but you have no information about the person AT THAT IP that clicked on the video. This means you can’t prove demographics. If you can’t prove demographics, you can’t sell advertisements to companies, because there’s no guarantee that men between the ages of X and Y that own lawns and might buy lawn mowers are watching this particular video or show. This means the only way you can sell ads is by impressions, basically using a shotgun tactic and saying “This show gets 300,000 downloads a day… SOMEBODY in there has to be of value to you”. Of course, there are banner ads and sponsorships, but I’m talking about specifically advertising on individual videos. You can do pre-roll, mid-roll or post-roll… Either way, you can’t get the big money from potential advertisers because you can’t prove WHO’S watching your show.

This means that video shows have to rely on revenue sharing or generalized, group advertisement plans that you can opt in or out of. There are lots of studies that show that neither of these generate much $$$ unless you do something that goes viral and gets millions of hits. The odds of doing that consistently are slim and none… and slim left town.

This means that in general, people aren’t getting much ROI from posting video to the internet. This is why the focus changes from creation and “production value” to ‘The Bottom Line’. The Bottom Line is to spend less than you get back from revenue sharing and other opportunities to have your videos made. This is how we end up with situations of people creating video that’s total and absolute *GARBAGE* that somehow makes it to the internet attached to a company’s brand. The company is more interested in NOT PAYING for the video they get than outputting good videos and receiving respect and accolades for their accomplishments. THEN, when they get dragged through the mud by someone who chooses to point out the obvious fact that the Emperor has no clothes on, they wonder how this happened to them. :/

Actually, there’s another term that comes into play here. It’s called UGC, which stands for User-Generated Content. Essentially what this means is that people not associated with your company upload video that they’re hoping will become part of your show. Rob Czar & Corinne Leigh make fantastic use of UGC in their show “Thread Heads” (ThreadBanger.com). Their fans are inspired by watching Rob & Corinne’s episodes and send their own footage in to the show. Sometimes, this is just them showing what they made, and sometimes, they create their own how-to videos. This is the way UGC is supposed to work and is a demonstration of what happens when viewers join an interactive internet community and become not only fans but passionate subscribers.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know the difference between UGC and *GARBAGE*. The reason UGC looks the way it does is because THERE.IS.NO.BUDGET. None. Whomever did that did not get paid a dime to make the video and then uploaded it to youtube or wherever for free. Also, the UGC creators do NOT come with the stamp of approval of the company’s brand. The indication is clearly that “These are fans of ours that potentially know NOTHING about video at all that wanted to participate in our show. We appreciate what they’ve done and will post their videos in this episode”. This is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from stamping someone with your brand’s seal of approval and then letting them release garbage.

The first problem is that your brand appears to have ZERO taste in video creation. None. No guidelines were set. Nobody had to approve the videos before they went on your site. There’s no minimum quality requirement to post videos under your brand’s name. Clearly, this is a horrible opinion for people to have of you and your company. This also comes back to budget, because clearly, you didn’t pay anyone to EP (Executive Produce) your show. If you don’t have any EPs and you don’t have any producers that know what they’re doing when it comes to video and ESPECIALLY if you don’t have any EDITORS that might be able to salvage something out of the UGC-esque garbage you’ve selected people to produce, doing video might not have been a good idea. Stick to audio next time.

Second, your company looks CHEAP. It’s obvious that in your efforts to create video for the internet, you’re not willing to put one red cent into the production, because it looks exactly that same as all the other made-for-free video that’s on the net, whether it was shot by an elementary school student or a soccer mom watching her kids from the sidelines. The problem with this is that nobody else is going to want to put videos on your site alongside who KNOWS what other garbage productions are coming down the line? Also, this is known as half-stepping… Getting involved with something, but not wholeheartedly. Another poor look for your brand.

Third, you’re insulting your audience. Outputting garbage video is the equivalent of having a store with desirable merchandise in it and letting the letters fall off of your store front… or the letters don’t all don’t light up… It’s like “No… We’re not going to respect YOU, the viewer by offering you an entertaining or immersive experience….. But come in and buy, ANYWAY!”

The argument against production value in online video is that “Content is King”. They want you to focus on what’s being said… Not that the framing is off… Not that the sound is horrible… Not that the people drone on and on and on and on and on incessantly… Not that the graphics abruptly smash on and off the screen… Not that the company was too cheap to buy a tripod so the video shakes around like Saving Private Ryan. Again, that’s what AUDIO’s for. Make a nice .mp3 file, upload it and call it a day. Video is supposed to ADD to the experience, not SUBTRACT from it. Worst-case scenario, do it like when the news has a correspondent on the phone from another country. Put a decent-looking still frame on the screen of the subject of the video and let the audio run under that.

The reason companies continue to output garbage is because their hits are coming neither from content nor from production value….. Their hits are coming from *popularity*. There’s no reason to do ANYTHING decent when it comes to video because the people tuning in are already fans of the people making the videos. You can tell this by looking at the comments, which are invariably positive and don’t mention ANYTHING about the quality of the video itself. There are only two reasons this would happen. Either comments are being edited/removed or, as Kfir stated above, the only people showing up to the broadcast are your friends and family. That’s all well and good as long as you have THOUSANDS of friends. :/

So, that seems to be the key to internet video these days. Play to the bottom line by neglecting quality and treating video like it doesn’t need to be entertaining OR even *watchable*. Draw people to the show through popularity, and if your product’s garbage? Who cares? You already increased your page view and video play statistics to sell to the advertiser….

A job well done. :/

~Bill Cammack

Twitter: BillCammack
Social Media Category: billcammack.com/category/social-media
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Are You A Tech Elitist?

Are *you* a Tech Elitist? If so, how’s that workin’ for ya?

As it’s now Christmas, and we think of The Grinch sitting high on the hill, looking down on all the little people of the village with contempt… Let’s consider our own positions in our respective fields and how we’ve chosen social media sites & groups as well as whom we’ve chosen to affiliate ourselves with.

There was much change during 2007. More ways to communicate. More social sites to join. More video hosts with their own little gimmicks that made them slightly different from the rest. New video editing software. New storage solutions. New live streaming options….

As new opportunities arose, there was a lot of bandwagon-jumping. Sometimes it stuck, sometimes it didn’t. When Twitter was initially unreliable, OFTEN, eventually, Jaiku came along, and there was a mass exodus. The backup plan for when Twitter would go down was for people to immediately start posting on Jaiku until the problem was resolved. Eventually, Twitter became stable, and I didn’t hear a peep about Jaiku for months until they got bought by Google. All of a sudden, here come the Jaiku friend requests.

Even within Twitter, there was bandwagon-jumping. Apps were created so you didn’t have to use the twitter web page with your browser. Some people stuck with them. Some people bailed back to the web site when they realized how many twitter posts the apps weren’t picking up. Eventually, people found found satisfaction in how they received twitter posts. At some point during ’07, Pownce became a player as well.

There was much debate about which status update application was better between the three of them. I ended up sticking with Twitter, and once every so often, I copy/paste redundant posts to Pownce & Jaiku for people that primarily (if not exclusively) use those sites. I’m also biased towards Twitter because I have 341 contacts there vs. 117 on Pownce and 50 on Jaiku, many of which are redundant for the reason I stated earlier. So, for the sake of this post, I’ll say I made the ‘elitist’ decision that Twitter was better for my purposes and essentially neglect the other two services.

On the social site front, I used to have a regular MySpace presence. I had somewhere around 500 “friends” that were rather randomly acquired. What I mean by that is that I had probably 100 contacts that I knew from some other site or forum or that I actually knew IRL and then another 400 or so people/companies that sent me a friends request and then essentially never talked to me “again”. 😀 … “Again” has to be in quotes, because they never TALKED to me the first time. All they did was click a button that sent me a friends request, and I accepted it. I enjoyed interacting with my actual friends on MySpace, but the vast majority of it I found to be utterly worthless. MySpace is fantastic if you’re a musician or an artist, but I didn’t make many new relationships on MySpace that were worth anything.

Eventually, Facebook stepped its game up, and I migrated to “the better site”. Similar to my Twitter bias for status updates, my MySpace dealings dwindled to ZERO. In fact, if someone didn’t have a facebook account, I wouldn’t even bother to look them up on MySpace. 🙂 “Everybody who was anybody” was on Facebook, so there wasn’t any need to ‘waste’ time on other mass social sites. Recently, someone mentioned MySpace to me, and I inadvertently laughed and said something like “You *still* use your MySpace account?” She replied that she interacts with the people that she knows because of business on Facebook, but her IRL friends are all still on MySpace. I hadn’t thought about it before, but as I sit here on my Facebook hill with contempt… I’m now wondering how many of my ACTUAL friends are still down in the MySpace village, having never made the jump to “the better site”.

The reason Facebook is better for me is that I deal with social media every day of the week. Now that I’m thinking about it, for the average joe, MySpace is more than enough, and there’s no reason for them to look for better connectivity to more REAL people. So now I have to consider whether it’s more beneficial to me to move some of my Facebook-time back to MySpace instead of concentrating solely on the site that’s clearly superior for my purposes.

Next, you have video hosts. I use blip.tv because the options and functionalities serve my purposes as I maintain my own video blogs using WordPress, Show-In-A-Box and vPiP. Meanwhile, other people talk into their webcams and post videos to YouTube. I’ve posted a few videos to YouTube for test purposes, but I wasn’t impressed with the video compression quality at the time, I wasn’t impressed with the Terms of Service and I *CERTAINLY* wasn’t impressed with the dimwitted remarks people love to leave in the comments sections.

For those reasons and others, I’ve left YouTube just about completely alone… However, you can’t argue with the numbers of views that people get, assuming they get “featured”. YouTube has become the go-to for people looking for any kind of video under the sun, so just by having your video there, you have more of a chance of it going viral than if you oh-so-elitely plan, film, edit, compress, upload, post, tag and advertise your own videos like I do. 🙂

The question, again, is “How’s that workin’ for ya?”. Fortunately, another 2007 development is TubeMogul which enables you to upload a video once and have it distributed to multiple video sharing sites. TubeMogul also tracks statistics for you across several sites. So now, there’s less incentive to keep “all your eggs in one basket”.

I’m sure we can look forward to lots more fantastic developments in 2008. 🙂 Personally, I’ll be paying more attention than I was this year as far as whether I’d like to consolidate or expand in the areas of status updates, social sites and video hosting sites. I didn’t even get to talk about live streaming options, like how I think Operator11 is infinitely better than BlogTV….. except Operator11 went completely offline for more than a week, so people like Jonny Goldstein had to retreat to other live streaming sites to keep their shows going. Of course, there’s no way to add a BlogTV archive to your Operator11 show archive, so c’est la vie. :/

Anyway… I think it’s in all of our best interests to pay attention not only to which new app or site has cool features or the elite people flocking to it, but also to whether we’re trading away communications with our core viewers, friends, contacts and followers. Just like The Grinch found out… it’s lonely at the top.

Bill Cammack • Cammack Media Group, LLC

Viral on Veoh: Guru – Creating Quality Productions


Online Videos by Veoh.com

This is a cool video from Veoh’s channel/series “Viral”. Sunny Gault hosts. Featured Guru = Bry Sanders, Director of Photography on the set of Hayden Black’s “Good Night Burbank“.

EMS Episode 97: dorkbot-nyc April 04 2007

Click here for Quicktime Version & Embed Codes

Clips from the Wednesday, April 4th, 2007 dorkbot-nyc meeting at Location One in SoHo.

Gabe McNatt: “Wind-Composition” is a software program created in MAX-MSP that allows the user to adjust the volume and pan of nine different sound-layers.

Caitlin Berrigan: Viral Confections
“Viral Confections” are edible chocolates shaped into the molecular structure of the hepatitis C virus.

Zach Smith: RepRap
RepRap is an open source 3D printing technology that a Maker can truly appreciate. It uses a thermoplastic extruder to melt and lay down a fine stream of plastic.

videobloggingweek2007