Design, Art, Film, Ideas

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!

Behind the Scenes

Here’s a behind the scenes look at the kind of stuff I do all day, well when I’m not drawing spaceships or doing a podcasts.

I shot most of this video in-between set up and during the photo shoot. You never know what you’ll get when you’re doing this sort of thing you just have to have the camera with you and ready to get moments when you’re not helping with lights or moving props around.

This was the last video I shot with our Sony VX-2000 before we moved to HD. Still love that VX-2000 that was a sweet camera! Ellen Morris the editor that went through all my tapes and did a great job editing this project told me she didn’t even know I was shooting this stuff. I think that’s a compliment because I don’t really want people smiling and making faces at the camera, you want real action shots. Not only that it can get in the way if people notice you too much. Then they can’t focus on what they need to do to get the job done.

My First Longtail


As a teen I spent so much at Radio Shack they offered me a job. I learned a lot about customer interaction and building a reputation. One of the most important lessons I learn back in 1986 was my first “Long Tail”.   I wish I would have understood the importance of that day back then.

I think back to what the 80’s brought us, that miracle technology that now fits into our pockets. That’s right the cell phone.  Some of you might not remember back then they were as big as cinder blocks and weighed as much.  It would have been hard at first to have envisioned what they would become.

So what does “The Long Tail” have to do with Radio Shack?  While my Manager spent the entire day working on a big sale. Know this, one cell phone back then that was a big sale. About $1500 worth. Not to mention the cell service, installation and all the add ons! Well, while my Boss was working on that sale he kept taunting me with the idea he was going to break the sales record that day. While I toiled away on the writing sales tickets for capacitors, solder and blank tapes and the occasional free battery, he was full of pride at what this sale was going to bring him.

Here’s where the “The Long Tail” comes in. While we sat there counting the days sales I had a very large number of tickets way more than usual. The whole time the boss was entering the data the taunts became less and less as those tickets started adding up…  Well…

Clicking away he soon realized that I beat him by about 20 dollars. I know that’s not a lot but by the end of the day I had made more connections with people and moved more items. While he spent the entire day with that one costumer. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. You have to nurture those good customers and hold their hands sometimes. That’s what keeps them coming back for the big ticket items.

But while I thought it was cool that I sold more, it didn’t really make an impression on me till about a 2 years ago when I read Chris Anderson’s book “The Long Tail” and I started using iTunes extensively to start consuming media that really focused on my interests.

As an artist and sometimes filmmaker I very much see the importance of this lesson. Back then in 1986 it was much harder for me to try to make an impression. I had to work the entire room to make things happen. That was very time intensive and a lot of hard work. But today it’s not that hard to work the room or the world for that matter. What’s hard is making a good or dare I say great product. But it’s not hard to get it out there at least not anymore. The more you can get out the more you will learn about making a great product.  This can be anything, photography, e-books, cartoons, films, webseries, insert name of your product here _____________.

To get my films out there back then I had to go through the system of gate keepers.  Now the system is wide open for content creators of all kinds any kinds.

One of my missions with this blog will be to convince other people like me, artists, filmmakers and the like to forget about the system. Sure it would be great if they see your talents and some how bring you into the fold. But I say forget it those day are fading away.

I had recently picked up an issue of IndeSlate. Which is a great magazine about the Independent Filmmaker.  I enjoy reading it. What I don’t like reading is story after story of filmmakers holding on to their films for years. I’m not talking 1 or 2 but 5 or 6 waiting for that right studio deal.  I got news for you it might not ever come but it’s well within your power to make it on your own with blogs, re-cutting your film to be a webshow, digital distribution through Amazon, Jaman or Hulu.  Soon it will be TIVO, Boxxy, your wifi enabled BluRay player. It doesn’t mean you will automatically or instantly make an impression with an audience.  But it’s got to be beater than setting in a box somewhere waiting for that right deal and run the risk of no one ever seeing it.

The time you took looking for investors, distributors and the right deal you could be looking for an audience. Today those are your investors.  They are the ones that will keep coming back to buy your product.  Just like the relationships I built when I worked at The Shack. Those people came back.  Back then customer services meant something if you know how to treat people.  It’s the same with audiences.

What are you waiting for now?

If you want some FREE advice and ideas I suggest you go here and download the audio book you’ll find in the right hand margin entitled what else?  FREE

Midwest Media Now!

January 1st I helped launch Midwest Media Now! This is a project I’ve been talking with my friends for a while now.   I’d drive them nuts talking about this stuff and to get me off their back, they’d tell me I should start my own show…

So I did!

It’s taken me about 2 years to get a handle on it myself.  The good news is a lot of people are trying to make something of this.  The even better news is everyone well most everyone is still trying to figure this out.  So there is still time to get in and make something happen.

Is this a race? YES! But I think it’s one everyone (content creators) of all types might win out on.

What’s the show about?

You can hear me and others talk about the state of new media in the Midwest, ideas behind new media and Internet distribution. But that’s not the only thing we’ll be talking about.

The show will also be full of tips and tricks things we’ve learned and things our guests have learned while making content for the Internet. We’ll find out what kind gear they use, the computers, software and how they put it together on a shoe string budget.

Are people making money with this yet and where do we see it going.  Even though the theme of the show is the Midwest, there are projects being created around the world that are great examples of what can be done with an idea and some hard work.

We are just starting this up so things are a little rough right now and I’m not sure how good of a host I’ll be.  I do know I’m deeply interested in the ideas and opportunities the Internet has grown into over the past few years and I just want to talk about it with other like minded people.

So listen to the show and if you want to be a part of the conversation and share your thoughts or the project you’re working on then click here.  Let others know about all the creative hard work that is being done right here in the Midwest.

“Behavioral Ad Targeting”

“Veoh wants to move beyond the PC to mobile devices, and is putting a lot of resources behind developing its behavioral ad targeting platform for video.”

You can read the full story from TechCrunch here,

Yeah I want “behavioral ad targeting” and so should you.   Here’s why… 

As a consumer I tired, TIRED of seeing ads that have nothing to do with me.  I never want to see Comcast, female hygiene products, hair-loss pills, or male enhancement drugs.  Why should I?  It’s a waste of time for me it’s a big waste of money for the advertisers.  I do want to see ads that know what I want.  I might not always buy it but I’ve got a greater chance of doing just that.

As a content creator, it would be great to have ads that is relevant to my content or might be relevant to my viewers.  That way it enhances the content and they are less annoyed by commercials breaks.

A few notes:

1. It really does have to be relevant ads.

2. You can’t share my profile with my friends or make it public, (no one cares what I just bought online)

3. The ads have to be different than repurposed commercial breaks.  I just watch something that was 2 minutes long.  The commercials shouldn’t be longer than what I just watched.

This will be a whole new world if they really do it right.  I know people will resist this and think it’s weird or creepy.  But I want to know where to sign up so hey get my commercial feed just right.  I think once people see how much better things will be more people will adopted it. 

There is a future for Content Creators

Here’s a must read for any content creator out there. Rebel Alliance by David Kushner at Fast Company. I have to admit I missed this the first time I got my issue of Fast Company. I got caught up in the “Ning” article because I was working on making a few Ning groups. Plus I was reading a few books that centered around “LOST” the very stuff they are talking about in the story! Oh yeah ands some stuff in Heroes, and Battlestar… whatever those shows rock!

A friend of mine mentioned this to me and was surprised I missed it since I pretty much talk his head of about this stuff and he tends to get a glaze over his eyes every time I talk about “transmedia”. I didn’t have a name for it so maybe that’s why he got a glaze… But, that’s what they call it’s just as good as any. Thanks Fast Company!

I think you could do this with just about any show. There’s no need for shows to really go off when the season is over. It’s just more opportunity to dig your fans in deeper. They could have done with Gilmore Girls. Yeah I watched that too. They could have had a website that looked like Stars Hallow Village website and you could go to town meetings and vote on things thing in the town, or tried to vote certain Councilmen off the Village Board, you know who I’m talking about. Anyway I’m getting off track.

This is a tremendous opportunity for show to reach out and find new audiences not to mention bringing up talent that is just chomping at the bit to get the chance to create this kind of stuff. I don’t want to just say “new” talent. Because there are a lot of people in places that don’t fit into the age range of “new”. They are just talent and should still be looked at as a resource.

I suggest though when shows want to make this leap they should reach out to fans of the show that have the production skills to pull this off. Not only would they treat the show with respect but they already know more about the show than most of the writers I bet. And these days it won’t take nearly as many people as you think.

But I’m just going to toss this out there. This works with anything like theme parks and nature preserves as well. I’m picking them because it drive me nuts that they are missing such a great opportunity. But I’ll just stick with a Zoo for example. Last weekend the wife and I were at the St. Louis Zoo. I know they like to sell you over priced food and plush toys for the kids but every time I look around I see plants and trees I think are fantastic. Why don’t they sell those too? I’m sure some of them are grown there or near by. How else do they keep the park beautiful? Just grow a few more and sell them see what happens.

Since I’m not buying the food or the toys, why not the plants? It’s just another great way to spread the Zoo’s message and give me something unique to talk about and share.

If you don’t think you can do it with your show drop me a line. Chances are I’ve seen your show. I’m kind of silly that way. I bet I would have some ideas.