ePubs and Seminars – Why Some Inspire and Some Don’t

I’ve been working on an ePub about the “Business of Video”. I have one ePub selling now and

ePub #2

another one at the formatter, and I finally had  time over the weekend to fill in, the middle chapters of the “business” pub.  I had already made the decision to approach this ePub, the same way I would, if I was editing a video, by starting with the beginning and the ending and then filling in the middle.

As I was working on this book, it occurred to me that I should add a prologue – something that would explain the “why” I was writing the book in the first place. I had decided to write this ePub after receiving countless phone calls and emails from still photographers who had questions about incorporating motion into their own businesses.  The emails and calls started slowly at first, when I began writing this blog, which is geared toward still photographers who were moving into motion. It was after I started giving seminars and speaking at various venues, that I quickly became overwhelmed with the correspondence that I was getting. I realized something had to give, when I was spending more time talking to photographers and associates about their projects, than I was on things that I wanted to do.  I was also keenly aware there was a hunger for this type of information, so I began the process of writing an ePub about the business of motion.

It wasn’t until I received this email from someone who had taken my seminar, that it became clear to me of how I should approach the direction and content of this book.

They wrote:

“ I just wanted to tell you that your seminar was extremely inspirational, even though I can’t really say I learned anything new. Thank you.”

Ten or fifteen years ago, I may have taken that remark in a negative way, but I actually took it as a huge compliment.  It was also a very telling statement.  These days, we are overloaded with information. There is a wealth of content online (much of it is free), and there are days I simply get lost in this sea of information, spending way too many hours sifting through it all. On top of that, there are books, ePubs, podcasts, webinars, seminars, and workshops galore.  It’s become so easy to disseminate knowledge; that we end up receiving a lot of the same information, just regurgitated and repackaged.

I started thinking about the “why” in terms of what people hoped to take away from a book or a seminar.  I believe that most people are hoping to get information that they can use and apply it in their own businesses. Statistically, only 2% of workshop participants will actually act on what they have learned.  Many times people end up feeling so overwhelmed, that instead of applying the information learned, they end up giving themselves excuses why they can’t.  So, when I read this comment from someone telling me that I had inspired them, I realized that should always be the end goal for both the giver and for the receiver  – to inspire and get inspired.  I knew that if I wanted to inspire people to take action as my end goal, that I needed to do more than simply deliver the same basic knowledge that already existed in other books and seminars.  I knew that I needed to deliver the information in a way that was unique to me, through my own voice and my own experiences.

If I can do that, and inspire people through my own passion, I will succeed in moving them to take action.  Stay tuned.


The Difference Between TV and New Media

It’s been a tough 3 weeks teaching video to journalists in China – perhaps the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do.  It’s not the teaching part that’s hard – it’s knowing if what I am saying is being correctly translated to my students, it’s being away from friends and family and just being away for so long that makes it tough. I have one more week to go and will take a good long rest when I return to the US.

Last week was especially difficult but yet my amazing students got me through it.  They simply amazed me in how quickly they learned.  They learned in 4 days what it takes most photographers to learn in 4 weeks or months.

Every week I have a new group of students and each week there are always one or two students that I know really “get it”.  There was one student who I coined a nickname for “Mr. Question” because he asked more questions than most.  His questions weren’t just about what settings to use on his camera or how to do something in Adobe Premiere, but more about the “big picture”.  His questions always showed me he was thinking.

One question, this particular student asked me this week, really caught my attention.  He asked me “How are we (new media producers) different than TV?

Stephen-Lee-TV-News-Presenter SMALL
Stephen-Lee-TV-News-Presenter SMALL (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had just read an article online that addressed this very question and it talked about how newspaper video journalists are now winning more Emmys than TV news journalists.

I responded to my student by telling him:

  • TV news makes the reporter part of the story – sometimes even the “star”
  • New media tells the story through the voice of the subjects – making them the “stars”
  • TV news is delivered to us on the network channels – 3 times a day.
  • Online news is 24/7 and on demand.  We get the news online when we want it and wherever we want it – on our desktop computers, on our iPhones or on our iPads. We also can share the news and interact with others.  We become part of the delivery chain.
  • TV news journalists rush back to the studio to get the story on air by 5 o’clock. The stories are generally very short – limited to their broadcast slot.
  • As new media producers we have the luxury of working longer on feature stories and delivering them online to a global audience.  While print newspapers and magazines are folding – there has been a rebirth of the long documentary story that can now be delivered online.  We are communicating to a wider audience around the world, no longer being restricted by time and space.

In the 1960’s newspaper executives were lamenting about the good old days and predicting that TV would kill them.  I find it ironic that the shoe seems to be on the other foot now.  I teach “motion” and “video journalism” to a lot of still photographers.  There are some who buy their DSLR’s and aspire to make broadcast spots for TV.  There are some who aspire to make feature length films for Hollywood.  And then there are some who tell me that there is nothing new about video and that field is already glutted with videographers and cinematographers. Those are the old business models for video and motion.

The ones who “get it” are the hybrid creatures that recognize that there is a shift in the way we communicate.  They understand that video is really just another medium in which to tell their stories – not a business model, nor a niche market.

My student in China who asked me this question- he “gets it”.  He understands that he is part of the future of how Chinese journalists and others around the world, will deliver the news. That’s why they call it – new media.

Resources, Sharing and Good Karma

I love the time we are living in.  If there is anything I want to find out about – and I do mean anything – and I can get “connected” online – I have access to a universe of information. For someone like me who always has a hundred questions running through my mind – it’s like the “time of Aquarius” – only better.

This morning I was poking around ASMP’s CameraCake, a cool new social bookmarking site.  It’s kind of like getting references to all sorts of interesting people, ideas and services from your colleagues. I posted a link to a great new online magazine that I had heard about from friend, David Sanger on Facebook.

So, now that information and link to Once Magazine will be shared with a lot more photographers and motion shooters than if it just appeared on my blog.  Why all this sharing?  I don’t know, but I do know that when you give, you get more in return and on many levels.

I spent two years, giving seminars for ASMP about transitioning to video.  In those two years, I got a lot of emails with questions from photographers as they added motion to their businesses and I  hope I answered each and everyone.  I’ve also shared a lot of info about video on this blog . That’s why I started it and titled it “Journeys of a Hybrid”, almost 3 years ago – it was a journey for all of us. I’ve recently started offering seminars in The Business of Video, because I see there is a hole to fill. There’s plenty of  “HDSLR” workshops out there, but rarely do any provide practical business models and/or guidance that speaks to the new media opportunities that are opening up in the hybrid area.

Giving seminars doesn’t provide me a living but it does help me in a business sense because by providing knowledge to my competition and people just starting out, I am helping all of us to sustain a decent living, working in a creative trade.

I also like to share because it makes me feel good.  I’ll be speaking at the PACA conference on Oct. 22nd, in New York.  ASPP asked me to talk about my film, Opening Our Eyes in a seminar entitled “Passion to Profitable Distribution”.  I’m delighted to do that because there’s nothing I like doing more than talking about what we as creatives are capable of doing and the global reach we have as individuals.  It’s an empowering time.

I’ll close with one small request and that is to share this link to our recently launched
campaign for Opening Our Eyes on IndieGoGo. The film is finished and is already making a difference, but we need to give it a push in order to “get it out there” and to be seen.

As Marian Kramer, one of our subjects said “We just have to shine each other up.”

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New Stuff

I haven’t done a lot of tech talking lately, but a couple of new items have me thinking that way. Here’s some interesting news about products, firmware upgrades and video delivery.

To start with, for all of you who own a Samson H4N Zoom digital recorder, and have been frustrated that you aren’t able to independently change recording levels on inputs 1 and 2 – you now can. Here is a link to the firmware download and instructions.

For all you “big chip” aficionados, Sony just announced the PMW-F3

Sony PMW F3

camera with a 35mm CMOS imager. However, with a price tag around $16,000 for the body and an extra $7000 for a set of three Sony prime lenses, it seems more like a competitor in the RED market, rather than in the DSLR niche.

Read more about it on engadget

PhotoCinenews.com had a great blog post by August Bradley, a couple of weeks ago that I almost missed, Thoughts On Motion Portfolios.

August writes:

“We recently went through the process of re-designing our website with one of the primary new objectives being adding motion content. So I did extensive research on the websites of directors, cinematographers, and leading production companies to see how they presented videos. I was surprised at how little effort most are making in this area.

I suspect the thinking of the directors and cinematographers is that nobody hires them for a serious commercial gig by discovering their website. It’s very much a matter of relationships and playing the inside game.

But I also think the world is changing fast with the barriers to entry lowering in the motion world, and with talented people increasingly able to compete on creativity rather than on access to expensive cameras and lights. The importance of a strong web presence is rising and becoming fundamental for directors and cinematographers.

So I set out to find the best-in-class practices and leading suppliers of related tools. I found some methods of integrating and presenting video to be more engaging than others.”

Read more

PhotoCinenews has also announced that the DVD set of their 2010 PhotoCine Expo is hot off the presses. It’s an 8 disc set of presentations from 14 filmmakers. I am honored to be one of them and as one who attended many of the other presentations, I can tell you it’s worth every penny. Check it out.

Here’s a big piece of news released yesterday. ” Steve Jobs to launch iPad Newspaper with Rupert Murdock” by Chris Matyszczyk.

Chris writes:

“Women’s Wear Daily offers a report that this iPad-o-newsthingy, which has been in covert development for several months, will be called “The Daily.” It will, apparently, have as its pulsating spirit “a tabloid sensibility with a broadsheet intelligence.”

Oh, and there is a price for this melange of the tabloid heart with a broadsheet mind. A ticklingly enticing 99 cents a week.

The Daily will, apparently not enjoy such dated concepts as a print edition or even a Web edition. Instead it will be beamed straight to the iPad (or Galaxy, if you can afford one) from News Corp.’s high pod somewhere in Manhanttan.”

And here’s another milestone news item about YouTube. “YouTube: 35 hours of video uploaded every minute” by Don Reisinger

“YouTube attributes the growth to several factors. First, the company’s decision to increase time limits from 10 minutes to 15 minutes per video has helped. It also pointed to the site’s file size limit of 2GB. With the help of mobile phones, YouTube said that consumers are finding it relatively simple to quickly add videos to the site. It also doesn’t hurt that “more companies [are] integrating our APIs to support upload from outside of YouTube.com.”

Lastly, a thank you to everyone who has contributed to my film Opening Our Eyes, on Kickstarter.  We have gone past our half way point, meaning we are more than halfway toward our goal.  And to anyone who may be thinking of making a contribution – it’s a win/win because you get a DVD of the film if you make a $25 contribution.  The money will all go toward the hire of a professional editor who will give the film the polish it needs to have a chance at wider distribution – and with that, the possibility of inspiring more change makers in the world.  Here’s the link – please pass it along to people you know who may like to be a backer.

There you have it – a mixed bag of some interesting “new stuff”.

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The “Dancing Inca” and Video

When I was a young woman, newly married, my mother decided to have a psychic come to her house one evening and hold individual sessions with all of her family members. My mother was searching for something at the time, which I didn’t know then but I do know now – but that’s a story for another time.

There were two things that I remember from that “psychic reading”. One was that he told me that in a past life I had been an Inca and that I had fallen off a cliff and had broken my hip. The second thing he told me was that I was going to be shooting video.

As for the Inca past life comment – I recently had to consult a chiropractor after a night of dancing at a fundraiser had left my right hip inflamed, sending shooting pains down my sciatic nerve. When the chiropractor asked me what I did to cause this, I told him about the dancing, but not the Inca part – that was probably best left unsaid.

As far as the video prediction, he had a crystal ball into my future, but at the time I thought – video? Are you kidding? I equated video with soap operas and really bad late night commercials. I was a young still photographer just getting a name in the magazine world and starting to make some money in the corporate sector. I couldn’t have been less interested in video at that time.

Fast forward to now. I’ve been shooting video with traditional video tools for over ten years. I give seminars to still photographers who may be thinking of getting into video and I have just made a big investment in both money and mental power and have embraced the HD DSLR tools for an upcoming project I am working on Opening Our Eyes.

I’m not the only still photographer thinking of video these days – it seems like everybody is. As print platforms give way to electronic ones like the iPad that debuted this past weekend, the way we communicate is rapidly changing and along with that there is a huge demand for video. On the April 12th cover of Time Magazine is a portrait of Steve Jobs and inside a review of the iPad entitled “Do We Need the iPad?” The writer Lev Grossman wraps up the article nicely:

“If I have a beef with the iPad, it’s that while it’s a lovely device for consuming content, it doesn’t do much to facilitate its creation. The computer is the greatest all-purpose creativity tool since the pen. It put a music studio, a movie studio, a darkroom and a publishing house on everybody’s desk. The iPad shifts the emphasis from creating content to merely absorbing and manipulating it. It mutes you, turns you back into a passive consumer of other people’s masterpieces. In that sense, it’s a step backward. Not much of a fairy-tale ending. Except for the people who are selling content. Read more: http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1976932-2,00.html#ixzz0k3oIUDqY

In Time’s editor’s column “Ushering In a New Era”, Managing Editor Richard Stengel talks about making the magazine available on electronic devices like the iPad and Time will soon be delivering it’s entire contents to paying customers as a self contained application that can be downloaded to the iPad. Sports Illustrated is ready to go electronic as well.

If this doesn’t send a signal to still photographers the need to diversify and embrace video – what will?  With print moving to electronic delivery – the demand for video will increase. I sit on the National Board of ASMP and we recognize this changing paradigm. In fact that is exactly how I came to be involved with the Board of ASMP. I was asked to run for the Board because of my video experience. It’s been a year since I’ve been on the board and in that time I have set up a motion/video committee with the intention of gathering and sharing information about video production.  So far, through the efforts of the committee  an online resource for video was developed and has been uploaded to the ASMP website.

I continue to learn as technology drives us forward and I continue to network and collaborate with people. One person that I’ve learned a lot from is Richard Harrington of Rhed Pixel. Richard is one of those guys that never seem to sleep. He runs a successful business, teaches, writes and shares a lot of information on various forums like Creative Cow and on his own blog. I’ve also worked with Richard’s team of motion graphics animators on an industrial that I produced last year. I continue to learn from Richard who has just written a book called “From Still to Motion” that I can’t wait to get my hands on. It’s all about working with the hybrid DSLR cameras.

Looks like that psychic was right – at least about the video. Not sure about the past life Inca thing but it makes you wonder doesn’t it? Was it destiny? Or was it just that I was a restless soul at the time wanting to learn more about how I could tell a story and with what tools.  Not really sure – I’m just glad that I followed those instincts.

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