Tech Grumps Podcast and Semi Viral Video

Two bits of news today:

Firstly on Monday I was a guest on the Tech Grumps podcast for the 3rd time in the last few months.  This time we talked Apple taking over education, love on the nets and more.  Listen to the episode here.

The podcast is basically an excuse for a bunch of tech enthusiasts (read geeks) to grump and moan about the darker (or just anoying) side of tech world.  The regular hosts include BBC Senior Producer Ian Forrester (@cubicgarden) and David Eastman plus loads of guests more interesting than me.

Find and listen to the latest episode of the Tech Grumps Podcast over here:


The second bit of news is that one of the videos I produced at the Munich EJC last year seems to have been picked up in a number of places over the last month and is now getting about 4,000 views a day on youtube. As I publish this it's up to 127,000 hits.

Even after trawling through Youtube Analitics I have idea of reasons for this one video suddenly taking off (apart from it being one of the best acts at the whole festival) and it just goes to prove yet again that video virality is more luck than science.

Any thoughts?

Brand Improv Inspires

I'm not a massive Russell Brand fan but I found this clip when I was looking around You Tube for some info on public speaking and improvisation.

I found this very funny but also inspiring. He's obviously puts a lot of time and effort into developing his craft and expanding his improv skills to the point where impressing Alfred Molina comes naturally. And even if you don't like Russell, any thing that impresses Alfred Molina is worth taking a closer look at.

Should a Zombie Game Trailer Make You Cry?

One of the main reasons why this blog hasn't been updated in a while is that our family has been going through a difficult time with Social Services and our roles as Foster Carers.

Anyway, with the back drop of all those emotional issues I have just watched the following trailer for Dead Island, a zombie consol game.


After about 30 seconds I totally forgot it was a game trailer, was computer generated and involved mythical creatures.  I was totally caught up in the story telling.  Then with the "found footage" bit at the end I realised some dust had just blown into my eyes making them water a bit.

At this point in the Oscar Award cycle, this is getting my vote for Best Short Animation!

What do you think?  Is it really that sad or do I just need to go for some therapy? 

Get More from iMovie on your iPod and iPhone (Tutorial)

A couple of months back I got a 4th Gen iPod Touch and quickly installed the iMovie app so I could shoot, edit and upload videos all on the same device.  iOS iMovie is also compatible with the iPhone 4.

Very soon I discovered a the following problems: There's no way to add titles to photos, there's no way to flip footage the right way up and there's no way to fade to black or fade from black.

Fortunately I've found a way around these problems (though I'm still working on a couple of other's I'll talk about in a future post).  Anyway, here's the tutorial:


This is the video I was making in the tutorial above.  It's called Solo Shed Flip because I used my Mazda Bongo to pull a metal shed upright after it blew away...


I also made this very cute (but slightly wrong) video on my iPod Touch with music from Josh Woodward -

Snow Man



Monday Morning Mini Movie: Unmasking Google Streetview

Over in Germany politicians and the media are go nuts over Google generally and the Streetview service specifically.  This is partly understandable due to their recent history with the Stazi, etc but it has reached the insane situations of whole buildings, not just faces and licence plates, being blurred out.  So it's not illegal to take pictures of the buildings and post them one the net, but when google does it in an organised way, it has to be stopped?

On the saner end of the discussion there are activists campaigning against this who have produced a very interesting film.  There is no sound on the video and it starts quite slow but stick around (or skip forward) to the 1.20 mark and you'll be happy that you did.

Did you like that?  Thought you would.

I'd love to make an entire music video using simular techniques but I suspect this will be a larger project than I have time for at the moment.  Back to editing the EJC DVD instead....

"Lessons from Reshoots" or "Aaaarrrgh!"

Over the last few weeks I've been busy shooting, editing, reshooting and reediting a couple of projects.

Re shooting you say?  I thought you were a professional?

Well yes.  But we all make mistakes and some of us even try to learn from them.

The first reshoot was a series of video testimonials I made for Mark at Simply Networking

Last December I shot six or seven videos at the Golftorium event but made the mistake of setting up in a area which was empty and quiet, only to find it full and very noisy by the time I started to film.  After missing months of Simply Networking (doing filmmaking classes instead) I returned to reshoot the testimonials at the Concord Conference Venue.

Lesson to learn?  Always scout a location at the time and day of planned filming to see what the real shooting conditions will be.  And if I can't do this, just use some common sense.

Again, the sound isn't  great as the acoustics of the venue are not optimal (it's a canvas covered structure), planes were taking off within spitting distance and the thunder and rain were even louder.  On the other hand, Concord sets a striking scene. 


The second reshoot was for Go Gel Nails

I spent a day with Heather, a nail technician and a model filming an instructional DVD showing how to use the Go Gel range correctly.  Unfortunately the nail technician had a chipped nail all day.  It was very small and underneath the end of the nail, but as the shot was so tight, it stood out like a saw thumb once I was editing.  I should have noticed at the time but I was concentrating on the sound and lighting, etc. and didn't realise how bad it was.  The nail tech should have noticed but she was too nervous about being on camera.  Heather would have noticed but she was dealing with other issues that day.

Lesson to learn?  Always ask the expert on the subject being filmed to check each element of the production to make sure it is in line with the branding of the product.

If you are interested, here's a video showing how to prep a nail ready to apply a extension:

Monday Morning Mini Movie: Transformers Done Right...

So today's Monday Morning Mini Movie is a short sequel to the awful Michael Bay Transformers movies:


The big difference and major improvement between this and the original Transformers is that the fight is between the two human gangsters.  Although I'm not a fan of organised crime, at least I stand a chance of caring about one of the guys, with robots from outer space squabling over a widget, not so much.

The Transformers film I'd love to see is two groups of HUMANS are in conflict and both sides are trying to convince the Transformers to fight for them.  This way we'll care about the conflict, see people expressing their convictions about something important to them.  Then we'd see the cool over the top action sequence an the final third of the movie where the Transformers disarm both sides of all their WMDs.


The short film was made by a couple of guys in Russia for a using equipment costing a couple of thousand dollars which got me thinking…

How much would this sequence have cost to make just 2 years ago before the dSLR video revolution?  

Then what about 5 years ago, then 10 years ago, then 15?

If we graphed this line would it go back as a reverse of Moores Law or much steeper?  I'm not sure.


What would your guess be and how cheap will it be to produce a sequence like this in just 5 years time?


3 Tips for Effective Video Testimonials

Yesterday I spent the day with Ed Rivis (from sorting out his office studio, teaching him green screen techniques and discussing the future of web video in relation to SMEs.

At the end of the day I shot this quick testimonial video with him and today made it much more effective.
Take a look:
The more memorable the customer testimonial video is the more effective it will be.  With this in mind…
Tip 1.  Keep it Interesting!
All videos should be more interesting or entertaining above and beyond what the person is actually saying.  Show someone something new and they'll remember it.  For example, tomorrow I'm going to be filming some testimonials underneath a Concord at a networking event.
Obviously you may not have the skills for video effects or have an iconic plane to hand but think about what is going on in the background.  Can you ask your client to stand in front of your production line?  Or is there a local landmark that you want to associate your business with?  Get creative!
Tip 2.  Keep it Short!
You only need your client to get across one or two points about your product or service.  60 to 90 seconds should be enough time and never go over two minutes.  If the video ends with the viewer feeling bored they'll come to associate that feeling with your product.
Tip 3.  Keep it Real!
Don't give your client a script to read from.  Don't even ask them to write one for themselves.  Viewers will be skeptical about whose words they are saying and you may lose their trust.  
In the video above Ed stumbles for a second or two as he casts around for the right words to say.  I could have asked for a retake but this makes his words more genuine to you.  Then when he gets to the part where he recommends me, you think that is more genuine as well.  (BTW he was being genuine, I'm just looking at the phycology of the process.)
So remember with all web video and testimonials in particular:
"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

I recommend you check out where you'll find loads of advice about web marketing.  The great thing about Ed's advice it that it is all backed up by evidence, not just anecdotes.


Is HDR Video Racist?

So the guy over at Soviet Montage have used two dSLR cameras shooting through a light splitter to produce one of the first true HDR videos I've seen.  The results are defiantly worth a look...

Unfortunately, the results are a bit weird.  The scenery looks great but when the video cuts to the guy talking he seems to drop into the uncanny valley.  The contrast on his skin just looks not quite right.

I'm going to sound racist again here but I'd like to see what effect this has on White, Black, Asian and Chinese people all captured in the same shot.  I from the results above I think that the process would lighten up the black faces and darken down the white faces.  Artistically this may be an interesting experiment but would open a can of politically correct worms.

So Soviet Montage guys, have you thought about the implications of an intrinsically racist video production technique?  No, I thought not.

I'd love to hear peoples opinions about this so get involved in comments below.

Monday Morning Mini Movie: Videostreet

Ok the blog is back after our hectic house move.

I'm looking to buy a new Android based phone at the moment and the Samsung range caught my eye.  Of course I am very interested in the video capabilities of any gadgets I buy so after bit of searching online I came across this:

(Note: this wasn't shoot on the Android Galaxy but an older model.) 

I know I'm not the first to say this but I just love the fact that you can shoot really compelling experimental film using what is in your pocket.  As Chase Jarvis says "The Best Camera Is The One That's With You" though you don't need his iPhone app to prove him right.