prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Archive for the ‘video’ Category

The Magic of the Moment

Posted by prof e on November 19, 2015

A precious moment was captured with a video camera and microphone, and then shared for the world to see. There are many ways to document reality—to capture a moment in time and preserve it for others to experience. A painting, a photograph, a quote, a poem, a story; they all have their own way of capturing reality so that others can experience something similar to the experience of actually having been there. This is one of those moments that, had it not been captured, would still have been precious and significant. But the fact that it was captured at a time when the power of digital technology and social media have been fully unleashed on this global village we call home makes it precious and significant for millions.

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Posted in global media, journalism, social media, video | 1 Comment »

This Ain’t Your Father’s Television

Posted by prof e on September 26, 2015

rabbitearsIt used to be easy to explain what television was. The TV was the thing that sat in your living room, den or family room. It was standard definition, 4:3 aspect ratio, and had a 27-inch (or so) diagonal screen. When you turned it on and tuned in a channel, (you could choose from ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and maybe an independent station or two), you could watch a TV program that was either a game show, sitcom, drama, news or variety show.

That was then. Modern TV has morphed into something that defies easy description. TV “programs” can be watched on any one of many devices with screens from a few inches wide to, well…humongous. You can access TV programming using an antenna (surprised?, you’re not alone), cable or satellite subscription service, internet streaming from various service providers such as Netflix and Hulu, or for free on various internet websites.

TV programming used to always be 30 or 60 minutes in length. Of that, about 22 minutes or 46 minutes was actual program…the rest was commercial spots for products and services and promos for other TV shows.

The technology involved in getting a standard definition television signal to your home used to rely on a TV station transmitting a signal from an antenna to your receiving antenna, which was mounted either on your roof or on top of the TV set (aka, rabbit ears). That is actually still an option and more and more TV viewers are rediscovering free, Over-The-Air (OTA) TV and the benefits of an HD signal without a monthly bill. Switch from a pay service such as cable or satellite TV to free OTA is often referred to as cutting the cord. I’ve already posted to this blog about “cord cutters” (here and here) so I won’t revisit that in this post.

Instead, I want to discuss streaming video, and more precisely, the sharing of subscription passwords. If you watched the Emmy awards last week you may have heard the host, Andy Samberg of SNL fame, give out his HBO username and password to a viewing audience of just under 12 million people. What was intended as a joke by Samberg is actually a real problem for the streaming TV business. According to a recently published report, streaming media sites like Netflix and Hulu stand to lose $500 million this year because of unauthorized sharing. A survey of 1,000 US adults conducted in early September of this year found that 36% say that they share premium TV app credentials with others. An HBO Now account ($14.99 per month) permits three simultaneous users, and additional attempts to connect will result in an error message….something that lots of Emmy viewers experienced when they tried to login with Samberg’s account info.

 

Posted in tv, video | 1 Comment »

Couch Potato Dumplings

Posted by prof e on March 25, 2015

Question: What do you call someone who binge watches TV shows about binge eating? Answer: Someone who needs to get a life. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but seriously! Apparently the new hit YouTube TV genre in South Korea involves watching people eat.

Mukbang performance artists eat in front of their webcams for live audiences who apparently get a voyeuristic thrill out of the experience. “Rachel Ahn, who goes by ‘Aebong-ee’ on her broadcasts, is kind of a big deal in the mukbang world.” For three hours a night she eats for an audience, and the audience rewards her with virtual prizes that combined amount to a salary greater than her day job.

You can read/listen here on the NPR website.

Sadly, the fact that their neighbor to the north has perennial problems with mass starvation may be lost on these seekers of fame, and their followers.

Posted in interactive media, new media, social media, tv, video | Leave a Comment »

Social Media & Breaking News

Posted by prof e on February 24, 2014

If you’ve been paying attention to international news you’ve probably noticed that while the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia were winding down, a geo-political revolution was heating up in the neighboring state of Ukraine. Demonstrators battled riot police and security forces in the capital city of Kiev and, as the saying goes, the whole world was watching.

Over the weekend the tide appears to have shifted in favor of the demonstrators. Charged with mass murder, former president Yanukovych fled leaving behind a palatial estate complete with zoo and  golf course. Corruption has been a problem for this democratic state for many years, and it is still too soon to tell if this latest revolution will put them on the road to political stability.

But this is a blog primarily about media, not politics. Conveniently social media was an important component in the Kiev uprising of 2014, and one viral video in particular helped to focus attention on the plight of the Ukrainians. In case you didn’t see it…

Social media is being used increasingly as a source of news for teens and young adults. A recent survey of >5,000 adults by the Pew Research Journalism Project found that Reddit, Twitter and Facebook lead other social media for users reporting that they get news online. Of those who report using social media sites for news, most use only one site for news, while 26% get news from two sites, and 9% get news from 3 or more sites. It is also worth noting that the study found that social media news consumers also seek out news from traditional legacy media outlets such as cable TV and radio.

But social media as a source of news has some interesting strengths and weaknesses. One obvious strength is the speed of social news. A twitter feed from the front lines can literally provide a play-by-play account in near-real-time. Another strength is the democratization of sources. Citizen journalists and eyewitnesses can now transmit to a global audience. The barrier to entry has never been lower. As Mathew Ingram asserted in GigaOm, “social media is the only media that matters” in these contexts.

Of course these strengths are also weaknesses. Speed is frequently the enemy of accuracy. And the lack of gate-keepers and editors to vet content means that a lot of half-truths and out-right lies also make it into the mix. As Mark Twain once said, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” And these criticisms don’t even begin to raise questions about overt and covert propaganda. Who is behind the I am a Ukrainian video on YouTube and what should we believe about their efforts to elicit support? Remember, if you get your news from social media, you need to be prepared to be your own filter and fact-checker.

Posted in global media, interactive media, journalism, new media, politics, PR, social media, video | 16 Comments »

What is Herman Cain’s Communications Director Smoking?

Posted by prof e on October 31, 2011

We’re quickly approaching an election year, and you know what that means…political ads 24/7. More and more we’re seeing ads launched and tested online where ROI can be extremely high if an ad goes viral. Even better is an online ad that attracts the attention of traditional media. The result is free exposure when broadcast and cable news outlets spend precious airtime talking about or even screening the online ad.

That may be the strategy behind an online ad for Herman Cain, who is running for the Republican nomination to challenge Barak Obama in the 2012 Presidential race. The ad, with more than 1.2 million views and counting, features Cain’s chief of staff Mark Block who, at the end of the spot, takes a drag on a cigarette. You can watch the ad on [Youtube]. This is an unconventional approach, to say the least. As Block says in the spot, “we’ve run a campaign like nobody’s ever seen.”And while Block says the ad is not intended to promote smoking or to send a subliminal message, that’s not stopping media critics and journalists for looking for the subtext beneath the subtext. Some are suggesting that it is defiant gesture towards the nanny-ism of Big Government that wants to tell people what they can or cannot do.

Another bazaar web ad is the long-form, He Carried Yellow Flowers. Conner Friedersdorf at the Atlantic calls it a “Dadaist Meta-Western.” I don’t know where to begin with this one, so I encourage you to watch it on [YouTube] and leave your comments below. What do you think is the message? And does it make you think of Herman Cain as a viable contender for the office of President of the United States of America?

 

Posted in advertising, media effects, new media, politics, PR, video | 24 Comments »

The power of moving images

Posted by prof e on September 14, 2011

Did you happen to see the video of bystanders lifting a burning BMW off of an injured motorcyclist? If you didn’t, watch it on Youtube here. I love seeing how, in just a matter of seconds, people jump in to do the right thing despite potential danger to themselves. A joint effort by construction workers and university students (including a young woman) resulted in a life saved from what would most certainly have been a tragic death. Watch the young woman get down on her belly to look at the victim pinned under the car. It was her announcement that he was alive that spurred the second effort. Before that they just thought they were trying to free a dead body.

There another angle to this story. If someone hadn’t pointed his cell phone camera at the accident from a nearby office building, we probably wouldn’t be celebrating this wonderful act of heroism that restores our faith in humanity. Sure, it would have been written up in local papers, including eyewitness testimony about the unfolding events…but it wouldn’t have been seen and appreciated by the millions of people worldwide who have now seen the video. An ordinary citizen, in the right place at the right time with a cell phone video camera, captured a few seconds of footage that we’re all talking about today. This is citizen journalism and eyewitness reporting at its best.

Years ago a person pointed his video  camcorder at a police action on the side of a California highway. The beating of Rodney King was videotaped and shared across the nation and around the world. After LAPD officers on trial for police brutality were acquitted, riots broke out in LA resulting in “53 deaths, 2,383 injuries, more than 7,000 fires, damages to 3,100 businesses, and nearly $1 billion in financial losses” (Wikipedia).

Both are examples of the power of documentary evidence of an event that might otherwise have passed with little or no attention. One highlights positive actions and the other destructive actions…and both make important contributions to a just and free society.

Posted in journalism, new media, tv, video | 46 Comments »

Streaming movies to your computer, and to your TV

Posted by prof e on May 24, 2008

For years the movie industry has been trying to figure out how to distribute their products to consumers. Movies that have a theatrical release have film “prints” made, which are then shipped to theaters (BTW, printing and shipping can cost tens of millions of dollars), loaded onto projects, and presented to audiences sitting in the dark listening to cell phones and small talk while their shoes adhere to the floor. Although I’m exaggerating the down-side of the theater experience (and ignoring the positive aspects such as image and sound quality, the group dynamic that allows us to laugh, scream and cringe at exactly the same moment, etc.), the economic reality is that printing and projecting 35mm film prints is destined for the same fate as the broadsheet newspaper. But until digital distribution and projection technology (and security) improves, it is still the best alternative for the group viewing experience.

Roku's interface box for NetflixViewing motion pictures in the comfort of your own home on your Blu-Ray high definition, 5.1 surround sound home theater system is another matter. With gas at $4/gal and climbing, there’s got to be a better way than driving to your local video rental store to pickup and return a movie on DVD. Cable would like you to subscribe to their VOD (Video On Demand) service to watch something in their library. But that’s part of the problem…their library is limited. Netflix, on the other hand, has a huge database of movies available. While currently only a fraction (about 10% of their 100,000 title library) are available for streaming to your computer, the good news is that more and more movies are being added, and you can purchase a piece of hardware for $100 that makes your Netflix moves available for viewing on your big-screen TV. Think AppleTV but cheaper. The Roku costs less (Apple TV is $250), and there is no additional cost per movie if you’re on one of Netflix’s unlimited plans that starts at $8.99/month.

When broadband internet connections and large-screen HD displays reach saturation, all movies will be distributed online rather than on disc. And if you want that group-viewing experience, you’ll just have to invite your friends over to the house!

Posted in film, new media, tv, video | 7 Comments »

Seeing Red @ NAB/BEA in LV, NV

Posted by prof e on April 19, 2008

For the acronym impaired, the second part of the title refers to the National Association of Broadcasters/Broadcast Education Association convention in Las Vega, Nevada. I attended the conference this past week along with a couple of colleagues and several students from CSU-Pueblo. As always the NAB exhibit hall was daunting…too much to see and take in in the short amount of time that I had. And the BEA conference that followed the NAB presented its own challenges. I found myself wanting to attend two or three concurrent sessions and having to make some difficult choices on which one to attend.

So, what did I see in Vegas…besides the sad evidence of thousands of people trying to get lucky? Perhaps the most impressive new tools on the NAB showroom floor were the cameras by Red. The promise of electronic cinematography has been around for a long time…Francis Ford Coppola was a leading proponent back in the 80s…but this camera heralds a new age of electronic image acquisition. With over 4K pixels horizontal, the high resolution image is suitable for delivery on everything from HDTV to film projection. And with a camera body price below $18K, some are calling the Red, “the tipping point of the democratization of filmmaking.” This year Red intro’d the Scarlet…a 3K camera below $3K. Truly amazing! Check out the YouTube interview with Ted “Leader of the Rebellion” Schilowitz.

BEA also provided an excellent opportunity to find out what’s on the cutting edge of media production, research, and instruction. I had the opportunity to attend excellent sessions sponsored by the documentary division as well as several research presentations by colleagues and graduate students. All in all, a very interesting and informative visit to this dull, dusty town in the Nevada desert.

Posted in media industry, new media, video | 3 Comments »

Toshiba throws in the towel

Posted by prof e on February 18, 2008

blu-ray_250.gifAcknowledging the inevitable, Toshiba has withdrawn from the next-generation DVD race. Avoiding a protracted fight is probably a good thing…no sense in waging a war that they are almost certain to loose. The parallels drawn between the DVD format war and the VHS Betamax war of the late 70s are striking. This time Sony is coming out on top and their Blu-ray format appears destined to be the defacto standard for high-definition DVD recordings. While the VHS Betamax battle was largely won/lost over recording time and cost, this battle appears to be more about film studio and retail buy-in. Blu-ray was able to secure commitments from many of the leading Hollywood studios. In addition, retail and distribution outlets like Walmart and Netflix jumped on board the Blu-ray train. If you’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop before buying a DVD recorder/player…it looks like you now have one more consumer electronic gadget on which to spend your “economic stimulus” check!

Posted in media industry, new media, video | 12 Comments »

Online prompter…very cool!

Posted by prof e on January 25, 2008

If you’ve ever used a prompter so that you can appear as smart and articulate on camera as your local TV anchor, you know that they are great…but not always readily available. Well, here’s the next best thing. You can turn your desktop or laptop into a makeshift prompter at this website. CuePrompter.com is a free, online app that allows you to input text and then display the scrolling text full-screen. With control over speed, direction and font size this free app is very cool. It even has a mirror image mode for those who may have the means to project the image off of angled one-way glass. But for most of us, setting up our video camera lens just to the side or above our screen–with some distance between us and the screen/lens–will provide decent results. If you’re using your video conferencing camera, e.g. iSight, you’re all set. Check it out at CuePrompter.com!

Posted in applications, video, websites | 7 Comments »