After 30 years of roaming the country, reporting Scotland for a wide range of radio and television programmes, David Calder has retired from day-to-day broadcasting.

However, he has not hung up his microphone. He has created a local podcast for Portobello - the Porty Podcast - and is working on another - Spirit of Scotland - about Whisky, Gin and Craft Beer!

He's also invested in new technology to help firms use video as a marketing tool. The technology means that clients can provide the stills or video and David turns it into professional content!

Working with his wife, Penny, he provides workshops on media and communication skills, face-to-face in small groups or in webinars.

Making video from stills

Posted by on 18 June 2014

Did you know that many video editing systems let you edit your pictures into a video – with the soundtrack of your choice?

Here’s one created in just five minutes using Pinnacle Studio 17. 

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Smartphones and video

Posted by on 3 June 2014
Today’s smartphones are incredible devices. They have more computing power on board than the majority of PCs had just a few years ago. And the great thing is that they all have high-definition cameras as standard – back and front. 

Galaxy S5It means that it’s never been easier to produce online video – in fact, there’s no longer any excuse NOT to make them so long as you follow a few simple rules.
The first rule is NEVER HAND HOLD the phone when shooting video for business. It’s fine when you’re making a movie about your holiday but not when you want to deliver a message. You need to look more professional and a video ‘selfie’ is not a professional look. It’s also tempting to hold the camera the wrong way – upright, the way you use your phone. But we don’t watch video, TV or films like that. We watch them widescreen. So remember to turn the phone on its side when filming.
It’s easy to find an affordable tripod from Amazon or eBay. This one is currently on sale for £20 ($30 or €22). Desktop ones are fine – but you need to position them so that the phone is at eye level. A tripod by itself however is not much use. Unlike a dedicated camera, a smartphone doesn’t come with any way of attaching it. But there are several specially designed clamps which will do the job perfectly. Some have been designed specifically for iPhones. That means that if you’ve a Samsung Galaxy S4 or S5 for instance then it will be too big for the clamp. But this one from Jobi has a powerful spring inside which means it can hold anything up to a Galaxy Note. The two simply screw together and you have at least the start of a mini-studio.
The second rule is DON’T USE THE PHONE’S MICROPHONE. That microphone is designed to be used while holding it very close to your face. You’re certain to be sitting or standing a few feet away from the camera so it will pick up all the ambient noise in the room as well. I know there are all sorts of Bluetooth, hands-free devices but they’re not that great either. And once again, having that ear-piece doesn’t really look that great. So invest in a tie-clip (or Lavalier to give it the correct name) microphone. You have to make sure it’s designed for use with a smartphone because they have a different jack from a standard audio plug. This one is made by Rode and costs £35 ($50 or €40). The microphone needs to be attached about a hand-span below your chin.
The final things to think about in this section are light and location.
Light is particularly important when using a smartphone because the lens is so small. The best solution is to use natural light wherever possible. However, it’s best not to have sunlight come streaming in the window straight on to you. That’s too harsh. It’s a much better idea to sit near a north-facing window. Even then, it can actually be rather a good idea to sit not quite side on to the window and use a piece of card (or a reflector if you have one) to light up the other side of your face. It’s quite a flattering effect.
Location is also important. The last thing you want is to have people concentrating on the plant that appears to be growing out of your ear. You also want a location that’s reasonably quiet – or, if there is any noise in the background, it’s something that can be easily explained by the context. So if you’re recording in an office and there’s a certain amount of chat, ringing phones, etc, then making the recording with that in the background. You finally need a space where there isn’t to much of an echo. Radio studios are draped with cloth to dampen that kind of effect. You don’t need to go to that trouble but just pick a room with books or curtains or a lot of space!
The next choice you have to make is whether to shoot with the front or the back camera – assuming the phone has two (as most do). The back camera usually records in higher quality. But it also means that someone else has to set up the shot for you and then hit the record button. That leaves the front camera if you want the complete DIY solution.
When framing the shot, go through the various menus in the camera and make sure that the frame guide is turn on. That brings a grid on to the screen which splits it into thirds. The bottom third is where you put any captions. Your head and shoulders should just about fill the screen with the eyebrow on the line of the upper third. It also helps to be slightly off-set rather than straight on – it’s a personal choice but it looks a little better that way.
All you have left to do for the time being is decide on content – well, you should really have thought about that before you set up the equipment. There’s another post which looks at that whole issue.
KineMaster Home Screen

KineMaster Home Screen

When you’ve recorded your masterpieces (one video producer who helps clients gets them to record 25 1-2 minute videos in a three hour session!), what do you do with it? You can’t simply upload the raw footage to YouTube or any other channel without editing it. In fact, you CAN upload to YouTube where there is a simple editor – but everyone who’s tried it agrees that, for the moment at least, it’s dreadfully slow. One producer claimed that it took several DAYS before her video finally was ready in its completed state.

It is possible to edit video on the phone itself – though it is a little fiddly! Because we don’t use iPhones, we’ve looked at what’s available on Google Play (its app store). There, you will find dozens of video editors waiting for you to download. The majority of them are not worth considering – several crashed the moment we tried loading a video file. The editor supplied by Samsung wasn’t that great either. It’s definitely worth checking the star rating and reading some of the comments. The one that seems to be best is a paid app called KineMaster Pro which you can download for £1.73 (€2 or $2.50). It’s an astonishingly versatile piece of software with features that some desktop applications don’t have. And for the simple kind of videos which most business people might want, it’s so simple and straightforward, even to the point of adding titles and credits. There’s also a really good training video on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPMs4cy10Hc made by someone who calls himself the HiTech Nomad!
Since this feature is all about making video on a smartphone, that’s evidence that you CAN do it all!
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The New Sales Funnel

Posted by on 23 July 2013

There’s a considerable reluctance to embrace video as a sales and marketing tool in the UK. In Scotland in particular, the whole idea of using videos a marketing tool appears still to be viewed with some suspicion. However, the basic principles of using YouTube for example are no different from the traditional sales techniques used for generations. You just need to understand that there is a slightly different language and a slightly different technique for achieving exactly the same result.

Like it or not, the customer is likely to be looking for YOU on YouTube – it is after all the second most popular search engine in the world. You have to make sure that what you’re doing is providing them with the same kind of information as you would when using the traditional “sales funnel”.

In the traditional sales funnel, you knew you had to make contact with your customer several times – these are known as multiple touch points. So what do these actually involve – at what is the video equivalent?

In the traditional model, you start off by “creating awareness”. You do this to a range of means: brochures, sales material, personal contact through networking and so forth. In video, you produce a series of short films – either commercials or, for professionals, demonstrations of your expertise – which achieve the same result.

Again in the traditional model, you seek to generate interest in your company or product. With video, you could achieve this by using endorsements of one country another – if you can manage to sign up a celebrity, so much the better!

You then need to think about building credibility. This is actually easier within the video model than the traditional one. What you need to do here is to create a series of tutorials and product details which are potential customers understand exactly what you’re offering.

By this point in the sales funnel, prospective customers are getting quite warm. But all too often they raise objections – or appear to do so. However, business gurus argue that when somebody is raising an objection, or they are actually doing is making sure that the decision to buy (probably already taken) is really justified. With video, the best way of achieving this is true the use of user testimonials.

Finally, to keep your customer happy, you need to ensure that a constant stream of information which provides additional service – see you continue to produce short videos offering hints and tips about the best methods of using your product or service.

What you really have to AVOID is following the traditional model adopted by advertising agencies have been used to traditional media such as television. All they are managing to do is to solve the first part of this five-part program – creating awareness! When you think of this as funnel, their videos are stuck at the top and do nothing to tempt the customer to explore further.

Those who are most successful don’t just dabble with video. They produce enough material to fill that funnel overflowing – they don’t just produce videos, they produce lots of them!! And they learned the key to success – make sure you focus on the story. Good stories sell product – that’s been true for generations! And the important thing here is to keep it simple and as appropriate as possible.

There’s no point in trying to produce the equivalent of a Hollywood blockbuster complete with green screen and other technologies when all you really want to do is get a simple message across! Spend your budget wisely – and that also means thinking about how you promote your videos using social media and other networking. Putting a single video up onto YouTube without thinking about how you’re going to promote it is just a waste of time and money!

The consumer is increasingly sophisticated. Today we have the YouTube generation who probably don’t watch traditional television that much – they may not even have a TV! This is the audience are trying to target and YouTube is a highly effective way of reaching them. In this game, what matters are views, especially when they lead to actions. The whole aim of video marketing is firstly to get customers into that funnel and then to suck them through it. But it only works if you video content is compelling enough to make them want to believe in you and to buy from you.

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The new Editor of the Caledonian Mercury

Posted by on 7 September 2012

I’ve just taken over the editorship of the Caledonian Mercury, Scotland’s award-winning online newspaper after founder, Stewart Kirkpatrick recently took up a post as Head of Digital at the Yes Campaign. This video outlines the challenges ahead.

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Why lawyers and other professionals need to use video

Posted by on 18 June 2012

The law, accountancy and other professional services aren’t just sold on skill alone. Clients want to know something about the person they’re buying the service from. They need to like their personality and trust them as well. They can get a real feel for those qualities from a series of videos where the professionals demonstrate their knowledge and expertise. For this to work, they can’t talk about how wonderful they are — they have to prove it, as some American lawyers are doing very successfully. At BITWeb.tv, we’ve been in touch with those US firms and have learned what makes video work for them. We’ll discuss how THEY make it work shortly.

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Why companies need to use video

Posted by on 7 June 2012

Within the next 12 months, video will account for about 95% of all traffic on the Internet. Businesses that don’t use video to promote themselves will be left behind. But video marketing is a skill that has to be learned. Our aim at BITWeb.tv is to offer help and advice to firms that want to adopt it. We have years of broadcasting experience behind us so we know how to make you look and sound good on screen. For more, look at http://www.bitweb.tv

Mobile Phone Frustration

Posted by on 30 March 2012

The time has come for me to upgrade my mobile phone. There are some seemingly interesting new handsets on the market. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus, for instance, or the Sony Xperia S. There will undoubtedly be some (possibly many) people for whom these products are perfect. But there are aspects about them which mean they’re not right for me — and probably a whole lot of other people who need to synchronise their contacts and diary with Outlook. These phones are not designed to do that — at least not easily.

The point is that both are true Google phones, using the latest Android operating systems. These have been designed in such a way that you HAVE to use Google Contacts, Google Calendar and other services in Google’s Cloud. But if you use MS Outlook 2010 on a PC using Windows 7 64bit, then it seems to be impossible to do so.

As far as Google Calendar is concerned, Google Sync doesn’t work; nor will the other applications which claim to be able to achieve this result. I did try to use a Nexus but had to send it back after less than a week as unfit for purpose.

The critical point came where I was trying to import my contacts. Some way through the process, the error message “unforunately contacts has stopped” appeared. The phone was displaying the contacts list at the time. The result was that I was no longer able even to make phone calls; the handset would not let me display the keyboard. The only way to recover this basic function was to reset the phone to its factory settings, losing all data in the process.

Having thought about the Xperia S, I decided to talk to Sony about it. The helpful adviser told me that there was no way of directly connecting the phone to Outlook on my PC which meant that, once again, I had to go through the Google Cloud. I decided not even to try.

I’ve seen been on a number of forums where similarly disgruntled people have expressed the same frustrations. Google, presumably in its efforts to diss Microsoft, now seems determined to alienate the vast number of people who depend on Outlook for their diary, contacts and even CRM. It’s not earning them any brownie points and losing sales of what would otherwise be highly desirable products.

Copyright and Music in Video

Posted by on 22 March 2012

I overheard a discussion today involving another video producer and a web designer (no names here). The designer was angry that a video on a client’s website (one made by the producer) had to be taken down in a hurry because of copyright issues. The problem had to do with the music the producer had used. It seemed that he’d used a track from the client’s own collection without proper attribution or payment to PRS for Music. The client was a company which was in the process of being sold and was going through due diligence. The producer’s excuse was that the client had insisted and he wouldn’t do that again!

The important lesson here is that video producers really need to understand copyright. They need to be able to say to a client “yes you can use that music but do you know how much extra it will cost?” The PRS for Music rate can be quite steep and they are very vociferous when it comes to protecting their members interests.

Whenever we have made videos for clients that need music, we make sure that we acquired the rights to Royalty Free Music. There are many organisations that provide this. Each track seems relatively expensive but, once paid for, you then have the right to use it as many times as you wish. One of the best we’ve found is SmartSound. The music only works when you’ve bought their proprietary software, SonicFire Pro 5, which becomes part of your editing package; but the range of music is extensive and they offer excellent deals which allow you to buy blocks of albums at a considerable discount. It may initially seem to be quite a costly exercise but it’s a whole lot cheaper and easier than having PRS for Music on your back for getting it wrong!

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Video Marketing for Castlefoot, our holiday let apartment in Edinburgh’s Old Town

Posted by on 19 March 2012

It’s been quite a hectic few months. At the end of October, we bought a flat in one of the oldest buildings in King’s Stables Road — it’s well over 200 years old and predates the Victorian buildings on either side. It’s a two-storey building with six apartments which we’ve decided to let out to holiday-makers, to visitors to Edinburgh’s large number of festivals and business people needing short-term accommodation.

The flat itself was reasonably-well appointed but looked tired. The main rooms just needed decoration but the bathroom needed to be replaced. We had thought that it would take a few weeks for all the work to be completed because that’s what the trades people told us. However, a mixture of flu affecting several of the workmen, along with delays to starting the work in the first place meant that we missed Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, one of the high-season points of the year. In fact, it has taken until the middle of March for everything to be finally finished, so it will be ready for the Science Festival.

We’ve chosen a specialist firm to handle the marketing and bookings. Dickins has an excellent reputation for managing large numbers of good quality properties around the City. They even managed to get a viewing from a potential client who’s needing accommodation during the International Festival while the work was still on-going. But we felt we needed to use out own expertise to get as many pointers to the site as possible. So Penny took and uploaded about a cardful of pictures, each one optimised.

I’ve also made two videos. The first looks around the interior of the apartment, which we’re calling “Castlefoot“.

The other shows the surrounding area, that part of Old Town Edinburgh from the Grassmarket to Castle Terrace. That’s where the weekly Farmers’ Market is held which could prove an attraction to visitors.

What I hadn’t expected was the number of views the first video got within the first 24 hours. It wasn’t viral or anything like that, but quite a surprisingly large number given that we had only just started promoting it.

Our next task is to find and buy another flat of similar quality and central location. Quite a challenge!

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Sony NX-70

Posted by on 19 February 2012

We’ve just acquired a new camera. The Sony HXR NX-70e is so much better than the A1E we’ve been using until now, even though it’s claimed as the next generation of this light-weight camcorder. This one records not just in full 1920×1080 HD which is impressive enough; but it also records broadcast-quality video (ie: 50p) which means I can happily talk to (say) STV about making documentaries for them.

The unique feature of this camera is that it’s claimed to be dust and shower proof. Certainly, Creative Video (from whom I bought it) put it to the test by running a shower on it for several hours without causing the slightest problem. As a result, I felt confident enough to take up high above the snow line at Aonach Mor to film the skiers and snowboarders. Here’s the result.

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