When you ask someone to appear in front of a camera, especially if they’re to speak directly to the lens, then they’ll often shy away. People who haven’t appeared on TV are usually terrified by the idea of speaking to the camera. But it’s important to remember that they’re actually more afraid of the “idea” than the reality. However, there’s an easy way to help them overcome that fear. At BITWeb.tv, we offer business people the chance to use our teleprompter or autocue. It works in exactly the same way as the systems in TV studios, with the equipment attached in front of the lens and your words scrolling up the screen of a smart phone or tablet.
In 1603, an English courtier called Sir Robert Carey rode from London to Edinburgh in just three days to tell James VI of Scotland that Queen Elizabeth had died. Even in its day, it was quite a remarkable achievement. Now, a telecoms specialist from Innerleithan has set himself the challenge of matching that time, this time travelling from Edinburgh to London on a bike.
With the full support of his family and colleagues at Veecom Systems, Stuart Potter will set off from a business networking breakfast in Leith, heading first for Darlington and then Loughborough before aiming for a final networking group at Tower Bridge in London. He may be doing it for the challenge — but he’d also doing it to raise money for the mental health charity, MIND:
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
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.
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!
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!
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.
This is a video I made about this substantial boost for Scottish Hockey’s finances. It’s an investment of about £100,000 a year over the next three years, money that will be used to improving the coaching of hockey at the higher levels. We should remember that hockey is a popular sport in Scotland – thousands of people play every week. But it doesn’t attract the media attention or indeed the crowds enjoyed by football or rugby. However, its governing body, Scottish Hockey, has just signed its largest ever sponsorship deal. Over the next three years, Aberdeen Asset Management will pump hundreds of thousands of pounds into the sport to help its growth and development. Much of the money will be used to pay for a number of professional, high performance coaches to work with selected domestic clubs. This should improve the quality and standard of players, leading to stronger National League competitions in Scotland.
The world is changing for professionals. They can no longer rest on their reputation any longer. Lawyers, accountants, architects and designers have to go out into the world and sell their wares, just like anyone else. But they need to find more subtle ways of marketing. My guess is that the adverts for “Injury Lawyers 4 U” alienate as many people as they attract. This “in your face” approach just doesn’t seem to say “professional” to me!
But some lawyers in the US are using a much more subtle technique. They’re using video much more effectively, explaining their skills and experience, offering some free advice and helping people to understand how they can help. That applies as much to injury lawyers in America as to any other. The result is that they look much more professional. They insist that the number of people coming through their doors saying “we watched your video and liked what we saw” has increased dramatically. To borrow an expression from 4Networking, they felt able to meet, like, know and trust the attorney long before they walked through the door to the firm.
It’s a new approach — and it’s working. One New York firm says that its turnover has increased by over 500% since adopting video as their ONLY marketing tool. Watch this space to find out more about how we’re working on a new service for lawyers and other professionals in the UK with the aim of helping them achieve the same results.
We’ve just acquired a GoPro Hero, one of the tiniest high-definition cameras we’ve ever seen. But it has some fascinating features which make it a really useful tool for taking action videos.
For a start, it comes with a wide variety of attachments that let you fix it to almost any sports equipment you can think of — a bike or cycle helmet, a hang-glider, boat or even a surf board or scuba-tank! You can safely fit the little camera to the latter items because it’s water-proof down to 60m (180 ft). It also has some handy features in its menu. When attaching it (say) to the front post of a bike, you may need to mount it upside down so that it clears brake and other cables. You can set the camera to recognise this and it delivers video the right way up — clever!
The only downside is that is had a very wide angle lens. That means that some of the footage can look as though shot through a fish-eye but for most applications, that’s not important.