Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Robbed in College; What Didn't They Tell You About Video Assembly?

Have you ever felt that you were robbed in college? I was certainly robbed.

Click for larger picture
There are a lot of important things that my media rendering prof. failed to tell me. And one of the most important is that even though Photoshop and Premiere seem to have unlimited numbers of layers that are available, you shouldn’t make it your goal in life to try to use as many as you can.

“Why is this?” you might ask. Well, thanks for asking and here’s the answer. Because the more layers you use, the longer it takes your machine to render and the larger the footprint on your hard drive and storage media the file takes up.

Even though it might mean much faster assembling of a video on the Premiere time line if you simply keep stacking scenes all the way to the moon with a fast and dirty transition dissolve between each one, your 35 clips will add up to over a hundred layers (channels) if most of them average over two clips per scene. When rendering that video, the Adobe Media Encoder that automatically opens adjacent to Premiere when you click the short cut CTL+M has to look at and handle each channel (layer) even though there’s mostly nothing in them. You’ll find yourself spending hours slicing and moving things out of those upper 75 layers in order to dump the unnecessary MBs of useless, empty channels.

The better way is to try to keep the stack as low as possible. I have been working on a 3 minute video for
Dell M6600 Mobile Video Production Work Station. Main editing suite
used by Specialized Media, Kelso, Washington.
one of my clients and even though there are many scenes and their corresponding fade-to-white transitions, the 18 scenes with 75 separate clips only stacked 16 layers high with 3 audio trax.

This allowed my machine* to render the video at 3MB/Sec in less than the 3 minute finished production.
If your computer keeps hanging up every time you try to render, be sure to look at your timeline assembly work flow for one of the problems to fix.

There’s a good handful of other functions that can also hang up your machine in playback, pre-rendering and rendering, so feel free to contact me with any questions and comments.
Thanks for reading.

* My machine is a late model Dell M6600 Vid Prod Mobile Work Station. It’s very fast.
§  Professional AMD discrete graphics with 4GB of dedicated memory

§  DDR3 memory; 16GB of 1600MHz 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Loyalty is Missing in American Employment

Enhancing one's resume is only one part of enhancing one's career. Without genuine gratitude for one's employer, the resume' is virtually pointless.

Company offices of EZWebPlayer near Chicago
I am self employed. I pay my own taxes and provide my own benefits. But, I am gainfully employed largely because of my largest client; EZWebPlayer, Inc. Without that regular paycheck, I would have long ago become another Employee, punching a clock somewhere and rolling across the pavement twice a day like most Americans.

I completely appreciate the regular paycheck I get from my “employer” (aka largest client). I have worked with EZWebPlayer for about 9 years. All of the tasks I handle could be done by virtually anybody with my education and background. All though I do carry a unique set of skills and my history of work experience makes me a perfect fit for this situation, guys like me are almost a dime a dozen. Many years in broadcasting, lots of writing experience in advertising, and some sales background. I greased the tracks of the digital switchover by going back to school and getting a BFA in Multi-Media and Web Design from a prestigious school in the Midwest. So really, how unique am I? Not so much.
EZWP could have replaced this 55-year-old carcass long ago for someone with virtually the same skill sets and education, and paid them far less. Companies all over the country often operate that way, and they do it without apology; citing The Bottom Line as the all mighty God of decision.

But, I was loyal to EZWebPlayer very early on, probably because I learned by then the importance of loyalty. I met the CEO of the company when I was in my 40s; not in my 20’s like most college grads. So I understood to fully appreciate what goes into an agreement that culminates in me getting paid.
Loyalty to one’s employer goes beyond simply not “…biting the hand that feeds you.” It should be closer to, “The Employer is always right”. Though I am often criticized for this old fashioned and currently not favored opinion of The Employer, I am convinced that America needs a good old fashioned dose of renewed ethics on the part of the employee, not just the employer.
And here’s why I think that:
  • It is the employer’s cash that operates the business that stays operating whether you show up or not.
  • It is the employer’s wagering and gambling on his product’s viability in the marketplace that created this company in the first place.
  • If you lose your job, you can always go get another one; in this economy, hundreds of thousands of individuals do this regularly. But, if your employer loses his business, he can’t simply start a new one just like the one he lost. It takes years and sometimes decades to create viable, lasting businesses.
  • Your job provides for your family. Your employer’s business provides for dozens and sometimes hundreds or thousands of families.
  • It is your employer’s responsibility to keep the doors open and profitable. Without the business showing a profit on a regular basis, there is no business. Which, of course, means no job for you.

Labor unions served a great purpose in reforming the employer/employee relationship in this country by the leverage of collective bargaining. But, labor unions are also the source of the poor attitudes that often prevail on the manufacturing line. This working man is constantly reminded by the labor unions how important he is. But, how often does the labor union remind its members that without the business owner, there would be no labor, no union, no job.

I salute the collective bargaining that leveraged past robber baron employers into a better wage. But I condemn any system, policy or individual that works towards undermining the business owner’s ability to keep their establishment profitable.

The greatest thing that any employee can do towards his/her own income longevity is to work as hard as possible towards making his/her boss more profit. The second is to pass on this attitude of loyalty to those around him or her.

Several years ago, I managed an RV retail store for one of the largest RV dealerships in the Midwest. At one time I was approached by the lion’s share of the employees there to support their effort in a strike to get higher wages. After I stopped laughing, I explained that I did not operate that way. I thought that the best way to make more money was to bring more money into our boss’s economy.

This entire scenario occurred without any union. As far as I am aware, there is no RV Worker’s Brotherhood. So, it wasn’t the RVW Brotherhood that generated this mindset of dissatisfaction. The workers did that all on their own by observing union-generated strikes from past history in other industries.

Within several months of that un-attempted strike (there never was one), the owner fired me one day when he was in snit over something. After three years of loyal and hard work, he got mad and fired the manager of his very profitable store that I had made that way. He ended up hiring younger people and it took two to replace me. But, I still appreciate the over three years of a regular pay check that he had provided to my family; to this day. One of my best friends still works for him and makes a great paycheck doing so.

Staff and management
Pontiac RV Retail Store, in 2010
Literally thousands of RV customers from Canada to Florida and everywhere in between count on this
RV dealership on Interstate 55 in central Illinois to provide them with great service and value. And dozens of employees’ families have made a living working for this dealership from shortly after it was started in the founder’s garage to today when it takes up several acres along the freeway and possesses multiple locations in Central Illinois.

Business owners have a right to do what they want with their assets. And, the sooner that us assets learn this, the sooner we raise ourselves from mere assets to important components in a viable business.


Friday, June 28, 2013

Cloud Video 101. Why use video links instead of downloading?

If you see this and say; “Well, duh!” Then you do not need Cloud Video 101 information, do you? The bulk of business operators wonder why we techies do what we do. They need to know the basics so that when we explain that we just saved them $500/month, they LIKE us instead of tolerate us. Don’t cha’ think?

A thirty second video of high resolution can be several MBs. But, a link is only a few KBs; a difference of from 90% to 1,000% and more. Your viewers watch a streaming cloud version of your crisp, clean video via that link, instead of having to first get the giant video file emailed to them which takes up gigantic bandwidth and time (if it makes it at all), then they have to dedicate all of that video space taking up their hard drive, when they really don’t need to.

Video links can go virtually anywhere that text can.

  • Email
  • Text Messages
  • Live Chats

How does it work?

The video is rendered and immediately uploaded to a network of servers that are positioned globally. When you want to share the video, you send your viewers a link to that video; basically you are simply pointing to the video, instead of handing them the whole thing. They watch the video from the closest server located geographically nearest them.

In this way, someone in Australia enjoys the same speed of service as the guy in Seattle. Singapore to London, Miami to Anchorage.

It just makes more sense to use a giant, affordable network instead of trying to make your single computer act like a network server.

  1. Stop mailing discs
  2. Stop emailing video files
  3. Start using Video Links

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Your Church on the Web: Clear Message, or Private Joke?

There's more to getting your church on The Web than just techies and a little extra loose change.

We have all experienced the story of the 1950s broadcast clown at the end of the live show, who thought his microphone was shut off, making the offhand comment to the stage hands, “That ought to hold the little %@#&-ards  for a while.” See note*

Of course, after the phone calls started coming in, and the TV station manager got wind of what had just happened, it wasn’t long before Uncle Don or Bozo probably had a solid grasp on the concept of the difference between what can be said in front of a narrow audience of co-workers, and a broader audience of thousands of consumers.

The same lesson needs to be grasped by those organizations testing the waters of the Internet for the first time; for example, making their church services public by publishing them to the web via MP3 Audio, Archived Video, or Live Streaming.

A church can be like a small club; folks become comfortable with the handful of those founding the group. You’re close friends who share few secrets. In a few years the club is larger and things are done a little differently because with larger crowds comes more responsibility to propriety and information handling. The difference between private jokes and public information is vast, thus more decorum is needed.

After a while, the numbers can grow even more, therefore the responsibility grows to the level of a civic responsibility among neighbors and community leaders.

When the progression is in steps and gradual, these graduations are more natural. Learning different ways to handle information, imagery and punctuality comes as needed and at a measured pace as the crowd of the audience advances from single digits to dozens and then to hundreds and beyond.
But what happens when you release your church services to the world at large in one giant step; all at once? There are no graduating steps. There are no months of learning new procedures and finding the right individuals to write just the right words in the weekly bulletin, the newspaper ad and general announcements.

Going from ten to a thousand can happen overnight if the church is plugging into the local cable access channel or being invited to take over a large radio station’s prime Sunday time slot that was recently vacated. When this happens, those responsible for the church’s reputation will be very happy later on if The Message is crafted carefully and dressed in decorum and appropriateness.

When you click the start button on the software that turns on the live streaming camera and microphone, you are actually opening a magic window that lets into the very auditorium, people that you have been trying to invite for months and years. But you are also letting in everybody else as well. You are allowing in folks who may not understand everything that you and your group are about, and in this litigious society, it is not difficult to be caught unawares by forces bent on destroying your efforts at disseminating the gospel, as well as those who are simply disgruntled individuals with nothing better to do than make a point by “reporting” your words as they inferred them, regardless of your harmless implication.

So, remember not to be shocked by the first phone call or letter that comes from an unlooked for corner of your community with less than glowing candor. Better yet, prepare to avoid problems by narrowing down your public message to one that sticks closer to the authority that leads your decisions. For Bible preachers, this is a little simpler when they stick close to the message of The Gospel as it is presented in The good old fashioned Bible.

It is much simpler to explain a statement one makes publically when it comes directly from the pages of God’s Word.

And, the main content is not the only thing about which we should be concerned. Those young boyos back there running the sound booth are now in charge of the public’s perception of all that this church stands for. And without years of training and education, they have just graduated from the Assistant Pastor’s teenage nephew to the church’s in-reality video producer/director.

If you are now hosting a live streaming web service that runs simultaneously as your regular services, what words are they putting up over the screen while you’re talking? Even if the information is harmless, is it accurate?

Another thing; if your church web site is publishing a list of links from which the general public can download your recorded sermons, what exactly did you say about the President of These United states three Sundays ago?

Let me set some of my regular readers at ease at this point. I did not write this article from a personal need to make some point about any particular preacher I know; least of whom would be MY pastor in Longview, Washington. Pastor House is extremely circumspect in his public and private language and speaks clearly to everyone, but sharply to those he certainly intends to. (What exactly does that mean? Email me and I will elucidate for you.)
Bozo and Cookie. WBBM TV, Chicago

And, in our church, I am one of the sound guys that operates the live stream. I am 55 years of age and have a degree in Media from a recognized school back east. So, you see, I was NOT talking from personal need, but from career experience. So, take heed. Yes, especially you, Bunky.

From radio to TV, and from Live Stream to Archived, your message lives forever so make sure that you control those auxiliary outlets with the same care you prepare your sermon.

And, that clown on Chicago or New York TV and Radio would have been much better off sticking to
the format handed to him by the station manager.

Stu Marks works as a media consultant at large and is based in the Portland Oregon market.

*note: Snopes

 See about getting your church on The Web. Visit www.EZWebPlayer.com.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The 3 Big Secrets to Successfully Tweaking Your Social Media Marketing

From one of my LinkedIn friends I read a short article today that really could be presented as a multiple seminar series from coast to coast or even globally on advertising to social media and the delicate aspects of outbound frequency marketing. I suggest that all who market something (that means everyone reading this) should read the short article. Link at bottom*.

Added Advertising Opportunity

The basic rules of successfully marketing never changed one iota with the arrival and maturity of The Internet and its symbiont social media. But, it certainly did get more complexed. With the added opportunities of social media, email and now web video, the increased out reach marketing power has enriched mostly the small to medium sized businesses and enterprises as we can now all compete with "The Big Boys" who used to have a corner on the market in reaching the masses through syndicated national and global TV, radio and printed advertising initiatives. Yes, the Internet is that powerful. Like the small town hero bringing a gun to a New York street fight, the Internet has been the great equalizer.

But, what one does with this great power and how one does it that is the great decider of fate in the small business's future. It's because the Internet is not a single marketplace, it is the avenue upon which the various market places thrive and operate, that prohibits a simple approach that reaches for one saturation level, which used to be The Rule. Now, one needs to be savvy to the instant and short term results of one's Internet outbound initiatives; sometimes making weekly and daily changes instead of quarterly and monthly.

It is for this reason alone that social media gurus who have been hired to place their golden hands on the controls of Business's social marketing modules are demanding and getting the the big bucks. A position that used to be an afterthought filled by the secretarial pool/lobby receptionist/graphic artist hobbyist is now at least a $60k position to start in the big city; with dental.

The Golden Secret; Media Segmenting

So, here's the main rub, each social avenue: Face Book, Twitter, the company blog-- maybe a Word Press site-- has its own saturation level decided by how well one's outbound messaging is being opened and the calls-to-action are executed. If you noticed all of the qualifying layers in the preceding sentence, then you are getting an idea of the complexity of the social media marketing task at hand.

It takes a few weeks for a new operator to get a handle on what the next step might be in any given industry, market and business. After that the tweaking begins. Usually the successful operator will cut back in many areas but step up in others; carefully watching tracked responses from readers/viewers.

  1. Articles are written with relevant keywords that are chosen by searching for what buyers of the product are using in Google searches. These articles are published in the company's blog with just enough frequency: weekly, daily, etc, to elicit a high percentage of favorable responses without over saturating which tends to drop favorable responses over a short time.
  2. Email blasts are broadcasted to the harvested database of emails in possession of the company through Internet harvesting, forms and physical harvesting through offline marketing events like trade shows and  snail mail-outs. These are handled with their own eye to reaching that perfect saturation level. Too many email blasts in a month and the responses drop off. But, not enough and missed revenue becomes a factor.
  3. Web videos (videos created specifically for web viewing) are produced; often with alternative modules ready in the wings in case there is room for more frequency with changing content. Web video might be where the largest payoff is for those who have figured out the resources necessary and can recognize what works, and maybe more importantly, what doesn't.

Web Videos are the Real Gold Mine

Web videos are so powerful when done right because Western culture is so geared towards instant gratification, and video pays off in a big way, instantly. Good visuals with a powerful supporting audio track (or vice versa) are where the big payoffs are. And, fortunately for those funding these video gold mines, more is not better. Actually, the opposite is true; shorter is almost always better, to a point. And, the good news is that web video does not have to be prohibitively expensive. The old days of exclusively Hollywood type investments are over. The all important message for the week can be encapsulated into a 30 second to two minute web video for a fraction of what TV commercials go for. No more $10,000 production price tag for that 30 second TV spot that hasn't even reached anyone yet because you still have to buy the ad time for another $30k.

I operate a small media production unit in SW Washington. I am also on the executive staff of a web media hosting company based in Chicago that serves the globe through cloud hosting. Thus, I have a corner on the market for those small businesses to which closely I live and work.

It is much simpler for me to create a short display video for a local business and get that video in front of thousands of potential customers, than it is for that business to create a video and advertise locally on TV. And, I can do it for pennies on the dollar and still maintain a reasonable profit margin.

Just my existence in the marketplace proves that there are many more marketing options out there than there were just five or ten years ago. And, in a failing economy driven by factors that are much more Washington DC factored than locally based, this is a good thing from which all can profit.

Feel free to contact me for questions on marketing in this digital world.
email me at StuMarksez@gmail.com

*The mentioned article

Other resources

Monday, June 17, 2013

Another Bad Example of Local Advertising

Advertiser's name, phone and web address blurred to rob them
of free advertising at my expense.
Here's a great guideline for advertising at large. Look at the mailed card to the left, and don't ever mail out stuff like this for your business.

This is a scan of a real card that I got in the mail today.

When it comes time to look for a top shelf, professional and above reproach medical services provider, this company will be the last on everybody's mind.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Web Sites are NOT Dead

By Stu Marks

White Paper

Limelight Networks recently released a white paper on digital presence that announced that Custom Web Sites for your business are now dead. They are so sure that Facebook type templates are doing such a great job handling your branding and customer interaction that you no longer need to maintain your custom web site.

Limelight Networks Dead Wrong

Even though they are correct in instructing business owners that they need to engage their customers through their content, instead of just laying it out there in the electronic brochure which is what the custom web site really is, I feel that Limelight Networks is dead wrong in discouraging companies from using their custom web site as the information hub from which all of their digital assets are reached.

Here’s some reasons why;
A custom web site is under complete control of the owner. Facebook type social media (which is what Limelight is suggesting replaces the custom web site) changes often. Many of the changes create severe animosity towards Facebook. This animosity can easily transfer to the company that majors in social media instead of their own digital brochure.

In the world of marketing, Branding can be everything. It is on the same par with the age old, “location, location, location”. If you want to support free branding to Facebook, Twitter, Droid, LinkedIn, You Tube,  Vimeo and Google, that’s certainly your privilege. But the truth is, the largess and momentum that exists with the large number of users on You Tube’s juggernaut does more than simply provide you with that enormous pool of potential customers, it is also an enormous pool of competitors to which your videos are attached either by association, or Internet hyperlink.

You Tube, for example, is not a neutral vehicle upon which your branded videos can safely reside; The Internet, however, is a neutral vehicle and was designed precisely for that neutral purpose of being the everywhere-reaching, unbranded vehicle that we can all use for safely advertising our message.
These companies that are posing themselves as safe advertising vehicles have great value in most cases and should NOT be ignored. But the flaw in the Social Media Only plan is that, you are giving up complete control over your branding and the secure firewall that SHOULD separate your message from your competitors’. That truth is not going to go away anytime soon.

Here’s a detail about just You Tube that will make the light go on for you.
The public is used to taking a thought, and going to You Tube’s search field online and typing it in. Therefore, if you can be found on You Tube this scenario is what will happen possibly hundreds of times a week;

Potential customer here’s or see’s your company name or product model and goes to You Tube’s search engine to type it in. They get a number of choices in a long list from which to choose and they either choose yours, or one of your competitors’. Even if they choose yours, You Tube can easily display your competitor’s videos right next to yours that can be easily watched either by the PLAY AUTOMATICALLY tool that You Tube has turned on by default, or can be accessed by simply clicking on it at any time.

Face Book. Anyone can buy advertising space on Face Book. The same for LinkedIn as well as most others.

One of the safer ad buys is Twitter, for now. Check out your Twitter home page. No advertising cells there, right? Well, that can change at any time. But Twitter is also home to millions of users every week, and your customers and potential customers can be reached through that medium. I just wouldn't invest my entire marketing department in a medium that limits The Message to 140 characters. Using Twitter requires following some simple rules, but is certainly worth using if your goal is to point customers to your electronic brochure.

Yes, Twitter does have a measure of the same competitive drawback as Face Book and You Tube. The topic a customer is looking at, at any given moment, is sensed by Twitter and it looks for competing posts to list in your customers’ Discover window. No way around that, either.

The Answer

Use social media in a limited way to point customers to your company site. At your site, you can impart information, white papers, research, order pages, pictures and even your own videos without danger of them being led away by competitive messaging.

Host all of the content that is text or photos on your own server. But videos, since they are much larger in file size and require much more bandwidth and therefore cost and expertise to manage, can be hosted on a server owned by your Video management host, like EZWebPlayer.com.

Using someone like EZWebPlayer, instead of hard coding a player yourself, offers you the ability to virtually host your own videos, without the cost of having a programmer on staff.

Check out EZWebPlayer here.