Archive for October, 2009

Blip.tv is video hosting service targeting web shows

Blip.tv is one video hosting service targeting web shows

I’ve been fascinated with the evolution of Internet TV and the distribution capabilities of video hosting services like blip.tv, YouTube.com, and Brightcove.com which enable them to distribute video producers’ content across the Web, mobile devices and, now, onto television sets, bypassing cable television altogether.

So, I contacted blip.tv to dig a little deeper. blip.tv’s Director of Content Development Eric Mortensen had some interesting things to share in the interview, including the revelation that blip.tv someday hopes to bundle and provide access to local video content on multiple platforms such as web enabled televisions. For example, he said he’d love to have a Minnesota channel featuring content exclusive to Minnesota such as the Uptake, Minnesota Stories and my very own Thisweeklive the Show. The implications for this alone are mind-blowing (or maybe that’s just me being a video geek?).

Anyway, he said blip.tv has been keenly aware of the implications for journalists, though monetizing that segment of video content continues to be tough. Here’s the full interview:

Q: I’m seeing this evolution, and this revolution, of distribution online for video and how a small newspaper like us that is not a broadcaster can really get our show out to so many people, get it out through iTunes so people can download it on their iPods, get it embedded on blogs, and of course linking and stuff like that. I wonder if blip.tv sees a role, or if you’ve thought consciously, or had conversations in your office about blip.tv and journalism?

A: We have. I have to admit that it’s been more … the conversations we had, had more to do with completely, independently produced stuff or more like individuals.

Q: Like a news blogger?

A: Yeah, for example, some of the earliest stuff we had success with was a show called “Alive in Baghdad.” This guy Brian Conley, right when the Iraq War started basically smuggled himself into the country and set up a network of videographers there. The purpose of the show was not to take a position on the war, but just to show what it’s like to live your daily life in a war zone. He did that for a couple of years and that was one of the first shows we ever worked with that got attention. His project influenced a lot of the things we did and the way we thought about how to serve a journalist and also how to help get publicity for what he’s doing and how very, very hard it is to get some sort of advertising for a show about a hot topic in Iraq. (more…)

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Okay, so I’ve had much more time to play around on my Nikon D300s and I’ve got more to share on how to operate this thing as a video camera for amazing HD news videos. Besides, I think the Canon 5D Mark II is stealing way too much attention. It was recently rated the Camera of the Year by Wired Magazine, and though I think it was well deserved, it’s time us Nikon D300s users stepped up to show our camera is no slouch either.

Exposure

One of the most annoying problems I was initially having with the D300s was the auto exposure in movie mode. I kept seeing flickers throughout my footage as the auto exposure shifted every few seconds. No thanks to the user manual, I figured out that I could control exposure, even setting it to over expose or under expose with a few simple adjustments in my users menu.

Using AE-L and Exposure Compensation:

Click through the Internet from the comfort of your couch.

If you can access video hosting web sites on your TV, what's to stop non-broadcast news organizations from getting their content on today's TVs. Photo by Jeff Achen.

Web enabled flat screen TVs are here. The technology to bring web videos to those TVs is accelerating and it won’t be long before web show producers will be able to make their programs as accessible from the living room couch as any NBC, ABC or CBS program.

You’ve probably already heard of Internet TV. But, have you considered how technologies are converging in ways that will revolutionize multimedia journalism?

There are some key changes in several critical areas that are leading to this revolution. One is in the affordability and accessability of professional level production equipment and software. Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro video editing programs are becoming standard in many non-broadcast newsrooms. Video cameras capable of producing the highest quality video are more affordable than ever. Journalists, thanks to industry trends, are acquiring multimedia/video skills in droves.

Where video is more generally concerned, dramatic changes have been taking place in terms of the distribution landscape and consumer trends.

RemoteContent creators (i.e. journalists) have three distribution networks for video:

  1. television
  2. mobile devices
  3. and the Internet.

Web video hosting service providers such as YouTube, Brightcove.tv, and Blip.tv (to name just a few of the more prominent ones) are mobilizing to help web video producers bring their content to larger audiences. I spoke with the folks at Blip.tv and they’ve already made upgrades to their dashboards that enable anyone who has a free account to upload their video and distribute it automatically to YouTube, TiVo, Twitter,Vimeo, iTunes, Facebook, Yahoo! Video, AOL Video, and in the not too distant future to networks like NBC. Whereas Blip.tv is focusing on show producers, Brightcove.tv has begun to focus on business owners. They are encouraging businesses to develop video strategies that embrace this new video distribution landscape.

It’s about this concept of Total Potential Audience, TPA as Blip.tv calls it. It’s the idea their audience doesn’t all watch video in one place or through one medium. Some people watch at home in front of their television sets, others on Facebook and still others who get their videos on iTunes to download and watch on their portable media players.

Individual news organizations must develop a strategy to reach their TPA. At my newspaper, we started by posting videos and our weekly public affairs show online. We also partner with a local public television station to get the show on public access at no cost to us. We are still working on our mobile delivery, but our show is accessible on iTunes, thus making it available to MP3 users and iPhone owners.

All of this squares with what’s happening with our audience. Viewership for online video viewership continue to rise as surprising rates. Technology that brings video to smart phones, hand held devices and portable media players like the iPod is driving a sea change in how people watch their favorite programs and movies. As consumers acclimatize to the new and varied video distribution networks, and develop new viewing habits, the line between broadcast and Internet video will blur and eventually disappear.

As I’m so fond of saying, the implications for journalism are profound.

Individual bloggers are proof that even the smallest operation can tap into the Internet to disseminate content to huge audiences worldwide. News organizations can and should position themselves to create rich, local video content and use the emerging distribution landscape to get those videos out to the potential audience that they just aren’t capturing through their current distribution (i.e. print subscriptions and a static web site).

We have to go TO our audience instead of waiting for them to come to us. Sure, we can tout the merits and traditions of the printed word. We can even pimp out our web sites and obsess over the page views. But, we’ll miss out on so much more if we don’t embrace the changes in technology, integrate video into our media organizational structure and distribute through new and exciting channels.

Multimedia Journal by Richard Koci Hernandez

Multimedia Journal by Richard Koci Hernandez

I’ve been following Richard Koci Hernandez’s Multimedia Shooter blog for a couple of years now and recently ran across his book “Multimedia Journal” self-published on Blurb.com.

Richard is a national Emmy award winning multimedia producer who worked as a
photographer at the San Jose Mercury News for 15 years. He’s now teaching multimedia at the University of California, Berkeley. I asked if could review his book for the blog as I’m always eager to consume any text or tutorials on my craft.

But, Multimedia Journal turned out to be different from most of what I’d read out there before. Instead of step-by-step instructions or recommendations for gear or technique, Richard’s book is a work in multimedia inspiration. I’ve watched a few of the interviews conducted by The Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) and it’s no surprise based on Richard’s perspective on mulitmedia that he excels in inspiring multimedia experimentation. This book is a guide to that experimentation.

He infuses the book with his philosophy: be a student, not the professional. His first section contains exersices such as starting a journal, a vlog, or becoming a mini-documentarian. The text is saturated with tips on releasing your creative storytelling potential as well as artsy photos and lists of digital (online sources) and analog (printed sources) resources & examples.

The book’s organization is a bit unorthodox, but what do you expect from a mulitmedia creativity manifesto? Sections include:

  • Start a journal
  • Start a vlog
  • Make mini-movies
  • Don’t Forget the Audio
  • Go viral
  • Conclusion

This 60-pager is a great addition any collection of multimedia guidebooks. Rarely do multimedia texts have so much fun and take so much liberty to inspire. Definitely check it out. Heck, be sure to take it out with you where ever you find yourself and when the creativity isn’t flowing, open it up.

Also, follow Richard on his blog and twitter (koci) to soak up all the other great tips, links, advice and news.

McKenna Ewen

McKenna Ewen

McKenna’s work has been outstanding and he’s earned many accolades (check out www.ewenmedia.com), but I’m particularly impressed with how he’s managed to market himself and grow his journalistic career so expertly in a job market and career field that’s shedding jobs, not creating them.

So, when I saw via Twitter that he was featured on www.10000words.net, I contacted him for a one-on-one. Here’s a few scribbles from our phone conversation:

Q: Hey man, what are you up to?

A: I’m a freelancer for the Star Tribune.

Q: Is that a paid gig?

A: Yes. It’s cool. They only send me on cool stuff. Vikings games, Gophers Stadium, stuff like that … big things that they want to spend the money on freelancers. I do two to three stories per week. Right now it’s a lot of Vikings stuff. The thing that’s fun about freelancing is a lot of it is taylored to the kind of work that you want to do. Rather than doing the traditional news way, … you can really just do whatever you want.

Q: How’s that different from the “traditional news way”?

A: Like at the Vikings game, I shot stills, recorded audio on the sidelines and built a multimedia slideshow and shoot videos of the press conference after. I think it’s kind of gotten to the point that they kind of trust that what I’m gonna bring back works.

Q: Did you ever work for free for them?

A: I did work free, spring of 2008 I did freelance through a course for the Strib. Then I stayed on in the summer and those internships were paid.

Q: Do you tell aspiring journalists to take unpaid jobs?

A: I wouldn’t have any of these paid gigs if I didn’t take free ones before them.

Q: How did you manage to get so much experience in multimedia and video?

A: I’ve always kind of know what I wanted to do next or I was always planning. When I started college I basically started the work I wanted to do. Freshman year I worked at the Minnesota Daily as a staff reporter. Then I worked for Radio K (KUOM 770) on campus hosting Newsday, a 15-minute news show, and I did some news reporting. We had Al Franken on once, which was big. After that I just did TV. I went to Twin Cities Public Television. That was at the same time I started at the Star Tribune. That probably wasn’t a smart thing to do. It’s the one season I’m trying to get off my transcript.

Q: How do you get where you’re at?

A: I had a great head start at Eastview. (Eastview High School in Apple Valley has a great television journalism program) I knew what I wanted to do and I just kept doing it. I just basically emmersed myself in that. Over time you just look back and say, wow, I guess I’ve come a long ways.

Q: You’re a bit of an entrepreneur. Tell me about Ewenmedia.com?

A: I wanted to aggregate my freelance work. It’s local multimedia journalism that’s designed to, from a jouranlistic standpoint, be a news site. It’s not big enough to anywhere near what a local news site is, but I wanted to extend it beyond a portfolio site. There’s no reason to check a portfolio site more than once or every couple of months.

Q: You’ve really built your professional reputation online. Is that something you advocate for journalists?

Five to ten years from now most journalism will be independent from a news organization, the way that the audience is going to be independent from that news organization, they’ll get their news on Facebook, twitter, links from friends and …it’s going to be individual journalists, freelancers with that audience. Jason DeRusha is really good at that. If I were working at a TV station, I’d be doing the same thing. That’s job security.

Q: Do you recommend building your personal brand online as an up-and-coming journalists and veterans alike?

A: Yes, If people know who you are before you apply for a job, that’s huge.

We talked for a while and that’s just some of what McKenna had to say, but I hope you found it enlightening. He’s leading by example and workin’ his butt off, but I have no doubt he’s going to have a job 5 years from now and somewhere big. You gotta admire that.

By way of Advancing the Story, Deb Wenger shared that CNN is hiring “all-platform journalists” to expand their coverage in ten U.S. cities. They’ve already found someone to fill the job here in Minneapolis. (Otherwise I’d apply!)

I met CNN’s Victor Hernandez, director of coverage, at the Society of Professional Journalists National Convention in Atlanta in 2008 and he was bragging up these postions back then. It’s surprising to hear that they haven’t filled them all due to a lack of candidates with the right combination of skills.

But, that brings me to my point. CNN is looking for the same qualities that will be required of all of us in the news business, big and small newspaper alike. I’d say “strong editorially, technically superior, on-air presence, exceptional mindset” isn’t really going to be asking too much of our journalists in the coming years. Restricting oneself to a single medium seems short sighted and old-fashioned.

I hope you’re busy honing your multimedia skills!

Image by Kodak

Image by Kodak

Kodak has a new pocket digital video camera that I recommend to journalists over the popular Flip video cameras. Several features set it apart, and at $179 the price is competative with the Flip.

Welcome the Kodak Zi8.

  • First, it has an external mic jack so you can hook up a wireless or other external microphone in order to improve audio for interviews and other special audio conditions.
  • It also offers a wider range of frame rate and HD options. It shoots full 1080p HD video at 30 fps, as well as 720p at 60 fps (great for shooting something your know you’re going to change into a slow motion effect later…). You can record up to 10 hours of HD video with the expandable SD/SDHC card slot that can hold up to 32 GB card.
  • It also shoot 5.3 mega-pixel stills.

All of this makes it an ideal camera for news organizations that want quality, flexibility and affordability when outfitting their street reporters.

Thanks to chris.pirillo.com for this helpful video review: