SEANFX

Design, Art, Film, Ideas

If you want my data, you need to give me something.

I think if you’re going to mine my data you need to give me something in return.  No, I don’t mean 20% off, some special access code or even points.  I mean something that makes my life better or easier.  Give me my time back to do the thing I really want to do.

Make My Life Better!

Marketers, if you can make my life better you’ll get better data that will make my life even better and make me a more loyal customer.  After all isn’t that what you really want my loyalty, my brand loyalty?  Here’s 2 examples of how you could expand your data mining to produce products and services that will make me spend more money and feel better about me handing over the information you deem so valuable to advertisers.

My 2 ideas center around food, and caring about your family and friends.

cart

Your Grocery Store

Let me start with a simple trip to a grocery store.  Yes many stores offer loyalty cards that track my every purchase and might, I mean MIGHT give me relevant coupons for my next visit.  I have news for you I rarely look at those and to me they are a waste of paper.  I’m sure to some people they are not.  I get too many receipts throughout the day, just get rid of them.  But a better use of the receipt would be to make it digital.  Then it could talk to other apps like “My Fitness Pro” that helps you keep track of your food intake.

Okay we’ve really been dealing with deep data mining for more than a few years now. Now it’s time to put it to good use.  Here’s how my grocery store can make my life better.

Here’s what you know .

  1. You know who I am.
  2. You know what I buy.
  3. You know when I buy it.
  4. And about what time I might be coming into the store.

Look this is just a small example of what you really know about be me but is never put to good use.

Offer These Services

  1. Cart Service
  2. Meal Options
  3. Upgrades
  4. Health Tracking

Cart service?  Have a cart ready for me when I come into the store with most of the things I buy based on my history.  It can have anywhere from 30 to 90% of the products I normally buy every week.  You might even send me a text alert that says want all these?  Then I check off all the things I don’t.  When I walk in that Saturday afternoon.  I grab the cart that my phone directs me too.  Most of my shopping is done!

Guess what I have time for?  More shopping.  More shopping for things I wouldn’t normally have time for because I really, really just want to get my stuff and get out of there.  Because yes I have better things that I’d rather be doing than spending my day at the store.  I like eating but I’m not a foodie.  I might linger at that soda or chip display.  Pick an more expensive meat or look at that thing I’ve never tried.  I might even partake in the sampler displays because I have more time or more interest in trying something new.  Maybe now they should show my how to cook something new?

Meal Options. What can I make with all the stuff I have and regularly buy?  Believe me I don’t know.  I’m lucky if I happen to run across something that looks good on Pinterest that mentions a food I know I have.  This makes my life better how?  I hate spending time figuring out what I should eat this week.  I spend a lot of my time being creative and food is not one of those things I want to be creative with. But if my local store could offer me suggestions based on what I buy that would be helpful. There might be 5 different meals I could make with what I have that I don’t even know about.  You could even dial in your dietary requirements to pick better foods and recipes.  That doesn’t mean I won’t buy the junk food.

Upgrades or Upsell.  Now here’s the perfect upsell. “Did you know if you bought these [Insert Item Here] you could make up to 10 more different meals?  This is all database information that could be instantly paired up with my purchases that could make my life easier.

Drill deeper

Now now that you can start predicting those details.  What other things you could predict?  How much salt I go through and when I’ll need more.  I could plug in my diet restrictions and you could really build menus for me.  And yes put that in the cart.

To me this seems like a real opportunity for companies like food, health and lifestyle to really work together and create services to make our lives better.

You can read part 2 here, it’s about Hallmark

Artist in Residence

East Entrance Yellowstone

Artist in Residence

Artist in Residence. This is something that never even occurred to me , until I started visiting National Park a few years ago. My family was always a bit of a home buddy kind of people so the furthest we ever made it out was Lake of the Ozarks and while it was beautiful there I never noticed the art or art of the area. When we visited Yellowstone National Park a few years ago I was hooked and now realize I need to spend more time in our national parks. I don’t care what your politics are but whatever part of my taxes that goes into our National Parks is worth every penny.

Buffalo Bill Historical Center

But really what made me start thinking about being an Artist in Residence was my experience at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. They have one of the best collections of American landscape art I’ve ever seen. And most of them on a scale that’s will engulf your imagination. Many of these artists were commissioned by Congress to illustrate the beauty of the West to help encourage national support for turning these areas into reserves.

buffalo roam

Standing in front of these paintings you can almost imagine being one of the first or very few people who had seen it. It’s inspiring and it makes you want to pick up a brush, pencil or pen whatever your tool of choice might be.

You can see some samples here. But please go see them for yourself. You really must stand in front of these paintings and let them in.

Artist in Residence Short List

So I read a story in the Chicago Tribune about Artist In Residence program that the National Parks put on. I thought I make a little list of the available programs since they didn’t do it. As I find more I’ll add to this list.

The Federal Art Project
National Parks Travelers Artist in Residence List
Arches National Park Utah
Weir Farm National Historic Site Connecticut
Denali National Park and Preserve, Artist in Residence Program
Alaska Geographic Artist in Residence Program

Meteor Crater

Here’s a little video I made about our trip there.

This is a glimpse of our trip to Yellowstone National Park. The video was shot with a Kodak Zi6 the Zi8 hadn’t come out yet. But the 6 still does some nice stuff. Well I like it.

Edited with Adobe Premiere

The music is by The Penguin Cafe Orchestra-Telephone and Rubber Band The music makes it feel old fashion and super 8ish…

Artists on Vacation

I want to do an artist vacation where get artists together much like Urban Sketchers, that want to hang out in nature and spend a week once a year sketching, painting, writing, making videos or taking pictures. We don’t need to follow each other around but we can get together and talk about our projects and inspirations for the day. I’d even be happy to donate any work that came out of to the National Parks if they thought they were worthy. Okay I don’t have it all figured out. Might even start closer to home or try to get a Urban Sketchers group started in Lombard. If you know any locals that want get artsy drop me a line. All I know is I want to get back there and be inspired.

I plan on going back with my Canon 7D and a sketch book!

Anyone want to go with me?

Plug Ins

I’m not talking about software I’m talking about real things you can plug in. I’m lucky, I have a wife that must love me a whole lot because she gave me an iPad for Christmas. I’ve been putting off getting any kind of tablet because I wanted an SD card slot and USB connection in whatever device I was going to get. Android devices certainly have those features that I’m looking for but they lack the artistic and video editing apps I really want. Not sure what the hold up is but snap to Google because you just lost a sale to Apple.

I’m sure what I’m about to say isn’t news to any iPad user but it might be news to anyone wanting to buy a tablet that’s thinking about an Android device. If you’re on the fence about getting something that will let you import your creative material from outside sources you might want to take another look at the iPad. The speculations of what the features of the iPad 3 will be might influence you but after toying around with the iPad 2 I’m confident that this was a great buy.

$29 and worth every penny!

I put off buying an iPad for those exact reasons of not having a SD Card slot or USB port. But it’s funny all my iPad friends never told me that these little adapters ever existed! I’m guessing they didn’t know either. The Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit lets you connect a USB camera or use an SD card slot. The kit sells for $29 and is worth every penny!

I was able to import video from the SD card from my Zi8. Any camera recording in an h.264 format should work just fine. Even video recorded at 1080 can be edited in iMovie on the iPad. I connected my Canon 7D to the USB connection on my camera. It also seemed to import the RAW images as well. Well I’m not completely sure how to check the RAW but I’m sure I just don’t have the right app yet. The iPad also imported the 24p movie footage from my Canon 7D, which played GREAT!

I was also impressed when I imported the video files into the iPad how quickly I could bring the footage into iMovie and cut some clips together. Okay just so you know I’m NOT going to stop using my Adobe Creative Suite anytime soon. But as I’ve mentioned before in other post any tools that lets you get the job done faster is a good tool to have. This won’t replace Adobe Premiere sorry I’m not a Final Cut user.

iPad + Pocket Camera + iMovie

Okay you can pick whatever camera you want to use and yes you could even use the camera that’s in the iPad. I like it so far it’s nice. I just think you’ll look a little dorky shooting any thing serious with it. Unless you are using it as a controller for your 7D or a monitor of some sort or even a TelePrompter . Plus I really like the creative freedom a pocket camera or or even a DSLR can give you when you are running around gathering footage.

This would be ideal for on the spot news gathering or coverage of a convention of some sort. Like I mentioned in my Big Band Boom post. Just to add to the citizen reporter idea iMovie has an upload feature to CNN iReport. Yes I just signed up for some reason. So with this set up you’re set! After you shoot your ground breaking story head to your nearest Mickey D’s and edit and upload.

While I was showing my new media crew my new toy I spent a few minutes shooting some video, dumping into the iPad and editing it on iMovie. From shooting to upload 10 minutes tops. Well I might have stopped to snack on my doughnut. iMovie interfaced with my Vimeo account easily and made uploading simple. So now I can’t imaging my portable editing studio getting any smaller. Sure I could do this on an iPhone but I’d rather have the option of using another video camera and the much larger screen of the iPad makes less guess work out of trimming those video edits.

Now I think I might just pick up a Bluemic for my voice overs!

Lighting Pucks

I found these lights at The Home Depot the other day. Hampton Bay White Under-Cabinet Linkable Fluorescent Lights (3-Pack) We actually used them in a shoot inside a van to add a little warmth to the shot. It also helped boost the glow from the dashboard.

Yes these fluorescent lights are a little on the warm color side but they came in pretty handy, their small and we use 12Volt DC convert to plug them in. Their 110 volt but because they are so small and fluorescent they didn’t use much power and they stayed pretty cool. But as you can see from the video they could be a used as a fill light in a pinch. This was shot with a pocket camera and we didn’t color correct.

You’ll have to come up with a clever way to mount them depending on your use but where we were using them, in a van. They easily stuck to doors and other surfaces with gaffers tape.

I’ll have another post where I’ll talk about their use when we post the final video.

Thanks Tony for being my subject!

Big Band BOOM

The band is Big Band Boom! Yeah I’m friends with a sound guy that has a big band. He had been begging me to come down and see his show. So I brought some cameras with me.

The live mix was done by Jeff Powell.

I had 7 cameras there that night with one other camera guy Tony Gasbarro.

You can watch all 5 videos on the channel I made on VIMEO Check it out!

This video was shot with 5 Kodak Zi8s, a Canon HV40 and a Canon 7D. Even though you can see a difference between these cameras (well people on Vimeo will be able too) the average person maybe not but even if you do I think it doesn’t hurt the content of the video. I think they actually mix together very well. One of the things that helps them mix together so well is the audio mix. This is a great example that 50% of the picture is SOUND.

All I had to worry about was the picture that night and as I mentioned above Jeff worried about sound. I didn’t do anything fancy to make sure the cameras were all in sync. Just tried to start them all around the same time. I used this remote from Kodak which is about 12 bucks and should work on any Kodak pocket video camera. The great thing about that is if you have all Kodak cameras you can start the cameras rolling from far away. I had to point to several different spots but at least they all started.

TIP: Use the power supply that comes with the camera that way you can record all night. Also the camera will shut off after about 5 minutes so keep that in mind when stopping the recording. Because if your camera is an awkward location it might be hard to turn it back on. The remote doesn’t not have a wake up or power button, wish it did but that’s an easy thing to work around if you know about it.

During the edit the video files were fairly easy to sync up mainly because the pocket camera handled the audio of the loud band very well. No distortion, which made it easy to find the wave peaks on the time line. Once you find a good spot it’s easy to find the pattern. Depending on what editing software you use you might have to expand the track a little to get a better look at the waveform.

I also set all the cameras to recorded in 720p 60. The only camera that couldn’t do that was the Canon HV40 but it never slipped a note. If I learned anything that night I realized I NEVER want to shoot on tape again. Digital is the way to go. So if anyone wants to buy my HV40 just let me know. Seriously I’m selling contact me here I’ve got some nice extras I’ll include with it.

Before you say anything about my head room or lead room. I should explain most of the cameras were set up before hand and I was making a guess to the shots. The bar was like a sardine can and the 16 piece band took up nearly half the place. So even if I wanted to adjust the camera I would have to stand on someone to do it. Also the the camera were up against the wall. So even if would have taken a snapshot there would be no way to know if I would have put it back in the same place. I wish I could plug the Zi8s into an external monitor just to line up the shot but that functionality just isn’t in that camera. But hey they are $100 cameras shouldn’t expect the world but you can do some cool things with them.

On one of the cameras I was trying out a wide angle lens that Kodak sells for about $20. It worked out pretty nice an I’m buying more for the rest of the cameras. Whenever you see trombones that’s the wide angle at work.

They also have a Fish Eye and a Telephoto too! I’d like to try out the Fish Eye for sure!

As far as shooting goes we had 4 Kodak Zi8 camera locked down on various stands, tripods, mic stands and Joby grips, if you ask me JOBY makes the best of these flexible grips and if you buy anything else you’ll regret it I promise. We used one extra Zi8 as a free camera. The two other free cameras were the Canon HV40 and the Canon 7D. After shooting this I’m convinced now that I could have just shot all this with 10 Zi8’s. My Dream set up would be 8 or 10 pocket cameras and 4 hand held cameras. But even with a minimal crew we managed to pull off a lot.

Because I have an older Adobe Suite I really couldn’t bring in the footage right into my timeline. But I use TMPGEnc Encoder to convert my h.264 footage to MPG2 which works great in my CS3 Premiere Pro. As you can see I had no trouble syncing the video. TMPGEnc Encoder has been a life saver mainly because if you’re like me and haven’t upgraded your Creative Suite to 5.5 you will need something like this to enable editing your h.264 footage. The great thing is you can keep the original footage because the files size are so small. TMPGEnc Encoder gives you many settings to really dial up the quality of the video. Once converted to high bitrate MPG2 file CS3 has no trouble at all scrubbing through an HD timeline.

Matt the band director had the idea to make use an old record as the title video, I thought I better make it move and so I did. I recreated the old record label in Photoshop and brought it into After Effects. After doing this I had the bright idea that I sell it on Pond5. I’m sure there are only about 3 people out there that might need it so I hope they find it… If you’d like to purchase that graphics project you can find it at Pond5.

Let me know what you think when you get a chance to watch the videos.

Speed Sketching at Starbucks

Don’t know about you but as an artist I always wonder who draws the pictures on blackboards and signage at your favorite hang outs. Today at Starbucks it was Amanda and she was kind enough to let me set up my Kodak Zi8 and video her while she worked. So here’s a quick look at how some of that art gets made. Nice job! It’s always fun to see someone working their craft.

Pardon the bumpy camera. It’s so small people didn’t see it sitting there.

Thanks Amanda and the DM of Starbucks for letting me shoot it. Just another reason I enjoy doing some of my creative thinking at Starbucks!

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