After 30 years of roaming the country, reporting Scotland for a wide range of programmes on radio and television, David Calder is moving into a new sphere - online training.

A director of the online video production company, BITWeb.tv, he's been asked to advise firms on how best to use video as a marketing tool. So he's created a course that covers everything from the kit you might need to the content of the videos, from creating a digital marketing strategy to optimising and promoting the videos you make.

Working with his wife, Penny Haywood Calder of PHPR, he will also be producing a series of webinars on Public Relations as well. And to complete a trio of services, he'll be developing a series of media and communication skills courses as well.

The “how NOT to sell” sales videos!

Posted by on 19 February 2011

Do you ever get sales videos from people or companies claiming to “share the secret of wealth or health…” or something similar? A few seem to have the right kind of production values. The videos actually look as though they’ve been shot with a reasonable camera and a decent microphone. But all too often, that’s not what you get.

Instead, they seem to think that they’ll attract your attention by reading (droning) over what looks all the world like a Power Point Presentation. And it’s the WORST kind of Power Point Presentation because all they’re doing is reading the words in front of you on the screen. All too often they also believe that showing you screen shots of their bank accounts is going to make you drool and thus buy into their course or whatever on how to do the same.

A number of these are made using software called “Camtasia Studio”. When used properly, it’s a brilliant tool. It is perfect for giving demonstrations about how on online service, a process on your computer or another piece of software works. You can capture what’s on the screen, zoom in and out at key moments to show the menu or button you’re using and talk about what you’re doing and why, possibly even appearing in a video window using your webcam. Teachers use it to help with lessons in class. Companies use it to help (say) new employees learn about the corporate intranet. Both are highly effective uses.

What it should NEVER be used for is “Death by Power Point”. So please stop!

Tweetheart

Posted by on 18 February 2011

There’s a woman in the US who’s managed to crack VERY successfully something that’s been bugging a lot of video producers — how to embed clickable links into a YouTube video! Her name is Stephanie Wonderlin. Here’s an example of her work:

We’d love to find a way of doing the same.

I’m not the only one who’s impressed, Have a look at the post by Jeff Bullas, a regular commentator on the Web.

Napier University Competition

Posted by on 18 February 2011

Miriam WattsThis morning, Napier University launches a competition with the chance of winning a place on its MSC in Advanced Leadership Practice programme, starting in April. The course is aimed at people already in business who want to improve their leadership skills. The University has long insisted that leadership is something that can be taught rather than being an innate talent.

The programme is run under the banner of “The Edinburgh Institute” and, according to its director, Mike Fiszer, it “…leads in Practice-Based Learning and development – we support Business Leaders on the real issues they face at work. From the start of this programme they will learn about the practice of leadership and integrate this into workplace action.”

He points out that Scottish & Southern Energy has a policy of putting their best future leaders on this programme because “they see the difference in their leader capability, confidence and influence. The programme has helped participants lead change by adding to their management and technical skills the evidence-backed behaviours of a leader: authentic, positive, imaginative, adaptable, empathetic, communicating, emotionally intelligent. The programme builds on strengths not on weaknesses”.

The programme works by exposing students to a variety of issues, all of which focus on successful leadership and creative management. A mixture of residential classwork and remote working, it looks at leadership theory and then applies it through what are described as “action learning approaches” to obtain measureable improvements in performance.

One key to its success is that students are not expected to learn in isolation and are encouraged to share their experiences, both of life and work. This is done through a series of workshops and seminars. It concentrates on the real world rather than theoretical, academic examples, with an emphasis on the personal challenges actually faced by the participants in their working lives. Indeed, they’ll be expected to challenge their own behaviours and explore other perspectives.

Graduate Mark Rough, who’s Head of Commercial, Power Systems at S&SE, argues that “the importance of emotional intelligence, and in particular self-awareness and authenticity has provided me with an insight into leadership that is crucial in today’s challenging and dynamic business environments. Not only does this course provide vocational education it also allows participants to benefit from wider access to educational and business networks.”

That view is shared by Miriam Watts, Head of Clinical Services at Spire Hospitals in Edinburgh. She describes the experience as “one of most stimulating times of my life. The opportunity to access the quality of lecturers and the wide range of different teaching styles used throughout the course has meant that the past year has been a voyage of discovery.

“The course was made all the more enjoyable by the fact that I was in a group of like-minded people who I now class as friends for life. Prior to the course I would have labelled myself as a good manager, now I know I am a great leader with the potential to become excellent.”

The course promises to help graduates make more informed judgements. They should be able to deal creatively with complex, challenging and often ill-defined leadership problems. They should also end up with improved communication skills, being able to synthesise and present arguments effectively, both in writing and verbally.

The competition is quite straightforward. All people have to do is write 500 words about how they and their work experienced authentic leadership which made a difference. The winner will receive 18 months of coaching, workshops on communication, negotiation, influence, change and much more in a programme normally worth £11,000. All entries must be submitted by email to Jude McCorry Jude’s email with Leadership Competition in the subject line by midnight on 15 March 2011).

Originally posted on the Caledonian Mercury Website

Citizen Journalism

Posted by on 16 February 2011

The Internet is breaking down the barriers between traditional TV and social networking. Think of what happened recently in the Middle East. People were using their mobile phones and uploading what they shot to YouTube, Facebook and other sites where the world could follow the action from the unique perspective of someone who was actually taking part. This example simply shows what was happening in Tunisia without any commentary, not that one was needed:

It’s part of a trend that’s been growing for some time, especially in the US. Perhaps the doyen of the movement is a man called Steve Garfield. He’s been taking his mobile phone camcorder out into the field for quite some time now. He’s used a system called Qik to stream that video live on the Web. He’s used it during US elections and has even persuaded candidates to talk to him. This is a short piece that was made about him in which he explains the technique. The video quality isn’t brilliant but does that matter when you have a candidate who’s been told he’s been shut out of a debate by a couple of the major networks telling him what happened:

Steve however has moved on. He now has his own weekly TV show, but it’s not on any of the mainstream channels. It’s aired on the Internet on something called The Pulse Network and he calls his hour-long segment “Steve Garfield TV”. He uses the technology (Skype for instance) to interview key figures in the Internet and technology worlds live. His shows sits among some slightly strange bedfellows — a mixture of the sophisticated, such as CIO Insight to lifestyle programmes and even ones for Digital Dads. It’s all very different from the traditional fare offered by the “old media” but it does offer an insight into where “citizen broadcasting” might be going.

Incidentally, Qik has recently been taken over by Skype. Follow the Skype link for more.

Who owns a video?

Posted by on 15 February 2011

An interesting question arose recently over who owned the copyright in a video. It was not a major issue but it’s clear that different people have different perceptions over what rights they have over this intellectual property.

The person raising the question assumed that the copyright must surely lie with the individual or organisation who commissioned the piece in the first place. That’s the case of course where the video is made “in-house”. But what if you’ve employed a production company to make it for you? After all, most organisations want the world to see them at their best and the marketing manager with his/her handy camcorder may not be up to the job.

As with any other form of media such as photographs and articles, the copyright actually belongs to the person creating it, unless they agree to specifically assign or hand over their rights. This should be established right at the start, in the contract between the two parties. Some major publishers impose draconian conditions when they pay for the material. The BBC at one time demanded that it acquire all rights “in the known universe”! That was unusual however.

In many cases but by no means all, producers and the others are willing, in return for a suitable fee, to give the commissioning organisation the rights to use the material as they wish – in other words, they are giving it “royalty free”. So if they want to use it (say) on the Web or as part of a Power Point presentation or something else beyond the original agreement, they can.

Not every producer, writer, photographer is willing to do this however. Some will keep tight control over the rights to whatever they produced and will demand and get extra payment if it is used for any purposes other than those covered by the original commission.

Then there’s the tricky question of what happens when either the producer or anyone else uploads a video to YouTube. It’s a free service—and as we all know, there’s no such thing as a free lunch! (Sorry about the mixed metaphor). What you have to do is look in YouTube’s terms of service which are complex at best.

These say that the people uploading the video/pictures etc retain ownership. But you have to grant YouTube a worldwide, perpetual license to freely sub-license, re-distribute, re-publish your material. Now that’s pretty comprehensive. Put simply, those Terms of Reference give YouTube more or less the same rights as you have over your own material, short of turning your rights over to them!

Categories: Uncategorized |

Short Films

Posted by on 12 February 2011

It can often be harder telling a story in a short film than in a documentary. But Ronnie Goodwin’s film “Shooter” achieves more in under five minutes than many a much longer video. The link is to a review rather than to the actual film — you can see that on IndieFlix. However, its subject is an ex-serviceman who’s found some form of escape from the demons of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the wilderness of Highland Scotland.

The film itself is beautifully shot and, by using a mask to blur/blacken out the edges of the frame, manages to convey some of the mental claustrophobia that such people can feel. It’s blended with occasional shots of war, ghosted in over what the hero is actually doing, just to hint at the flashbacks he’s getting on a daily basis. It’s the kind of unwanted vision that those affected by combat stress say they can still get 20-30 years after their experience of battle.

This film should be more widely seen.

Brightcove

Posted by on 11 February 2011

Until now, I’ve only used YouTube to show videos online. It’s such an easy system to use. It works so well with blogging software like WordPress that it’s been the obvious choice. All I need to do is copy the embed code and paste it into a post like this and that’s all there is to it. But there are limits to what it can do. It’s also quite hard to get decent statistics about who’s watching the videos and for how long. For that you need something more sophisticated.

We’ve been thinking about how best to use TubeMogul. It’s a very useful site that means you don’t just upload the video but can distribute it as well. There are many video platforms out there, all of which serve particular needs. If you want your video to be seen in France for instance, you’re much better to upload it to DailyMotion. But there are others which may suit your purposes better, not least Vimeo, Facebook and Brightcove.

Facebook’s important if you need to have your video seen by those in your social network and in a previous post I mentioned that more people were likely to stay longer and watch for longer if they either saw the video on a social networking site or were referred to the video from it.

Brightcove however is different. For a start, it’s not a free platform but that’s more that made up from the sheer wealth of facilities that should make it worth the cost. Significantly, it’s the only video platform that has all of the TubeMogul facilities built in as part of the basic package. That gives you the opportunity to distribute your work to as many as 25 different sites including YouTube — Brightcove believes that exclusivity is not something one should aspire to. Flexibility is the name of the game. But the link with TubeMogul also means that you get a huge volume of data about who is watching, from where and for how long + lots more. It’s what has persuaded blue-chip clients like M&S and Debenhams to go for their package.

New Video Figures

Posted by on 10 February 2011

People are having the re-think their attitudes to online video and the way they promote them. In the last few months, the numbers using social media including FaceBook and Twitter to find the videos they want has increased dramatically. This is also important because most of the people who find video using this method stay watching for much longer, double the amount of time.

Video’s becoming increasingly important to major corporations like Marks and Spencer and Nikke. But they use the video as much as an information tool as something they use for sales. They also have a presence on several platforms, so they’ll use YouTube and Vimeo and Brightcove and others…as well as embedding those videos on their own web pages.

The techniques are getting a lot smarter and more sophisticated.

Categories: Uncategorized |

Recommendations

Posted by on 2 February 2011

Some people have been kind enough to comment on my work and that of colleagues. Here is a sample of them:

Martin Browne has hired me a number of times as a Media Consultant and film maker
“David helped me achieve fantastic PR coverage in my first company. At first I was sceptical but David showed how a story can be written for the media that is creative, engaging and readable and from that point I never looked back. David’s knowledge of how the media works is exceptional and his approach to his subject makes working with David a pleasure.”

Thomas Haywood, Owner of Thomas Haywood Photography
“David produces some very high quality videos for business and his years of experience shines through in what he does. Additionally he is a delight to do business with and I would not have any hesitation in recommending him.”

Josef Church-Woods of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce hired us as film makers in 2008
“I worked with David extensively in 2008, when him and his colleagues at BitWeb.TV produced several very well-received issues of Chamber TV for the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce. I found David reliable in that he consistently provided me with material of a high standard and delivered a good fininshed product on time, every time.”

Katy Stollery, PR Manager for The Famous Grouse has hired me several times for film-making and communication skills training
“Its a pleasure to work with David. He is highly professional and a very experienced journalist and all round media broadcaster. He knows his profession and is willing to go the extra mile to deliver the best job. I would highly recommend him. Katy Stollery”

Categories: Recommendations |

Problems with using mobile phones

Posted by on 2 February 2011

A colleague wanted to have her talk to a networking group videoed recently. Rather than use the pro-camera, she said “just use the mobile. It can shoot in HD and all I’ll want are a couple of clips.”

Two problems emerged when she started her talk. The venue itself was very dark inside but was facing south west. When the early morning Sun came round, it flooded through the windows and the contrast of this very bright light and the dark room behind meant that it just about bleached out her face. Then there was the usual problem of the sound quality. Most mobile phones (you can devise something for the iPhone but it takes a little ingenuity) don’t have a connection for an external microphone and the internal one is (a) pointing the wrong way and (b) omnidirectional so it picked up every sound in the hotel from the clink of cups to the heating system.

The final problem was much more surprising and didn’t emerge until transferring the video to the edit suite. The phone’s only been used for very short recordings before (mainly of the “tourist” variety). We were shocked to find that sound and vision gradually drifted apart. By ten minutes into her talk, the lip synch was out by over a second. OK, that’s something that can easily be fixed. But we don’t know why that happened unless the memory card needs to be re-formatted. However, it reinforced the point that, if you want quality recording, it’s better not to skimp!

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