I bought something on ETSY

A friends birthday was coming up, and I had the option of taking the bus and subway into town to find something worthy of being a gift, the option of going to the mall to find something that everyone else will have, or the option to go online. I chose online and here’s why.

1. Bus fair would have cost the same as shipping.

2. It would take too long to get down town and I hate the mall.

3. Even if I go shopping downtown or the mall, there’s no guarantee I’ll find what I want. 

I was nervous buying something online. I know, the internet has been around for ages and all the kinks are mostly worked out by now. That is true. What I was worried about was not being home for a delivery and having to go chase it down at the post office. But that was resolved by shipping the stuff to my place of employment instead. I was also nervous about not fully knowing what I’m getting, how big it is, the true colour and dimensions. But in the end, I was happy! 

I will use etsy again. Even though in my previous blog post I complained about online shopping killing the real shopping experience. THe reason being that for some things, it just makes sense. 

 

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Video Killed the Radio Star and Internet Killed the Shopping Experience

mango juice

Growing up in rural asia, the markets were an important part of life.

A market in Thailand wasn’t anything like the ones  on Bay street and you didn’t need a suit to go buy and sell.

Instead, the markets were on the streets, in parking lots, or an open space with a roof over top. You bought your fresh vegetables there, meat from who knows where, the fish were flopping in a bucket waiting for you to pick them for dinner. On the weekends there would be weekend markets that sold just about anything under the sun. Want a suit? Want your name written on a grain of rice? Want an endangered pet animal? All this and more was available at the weekend markets of Thailand.

Being in these markets created a sense of awe, wonder, fun, and amazement. It was part of the shopping experience. When you bought your food, you would bustle your way to a stall table and ask try to pick the best produce all while talking to your vendor. The experience of buying groceries was lively, interactive, communal and fun.

I now live in Toronto where I buy my food and groceries at a big store where the food is bottled or wrapped in plastic. It comes from no where magical. I don’t know who grew it. I can’t ask what’s really good today. There are people at grocery stores in Toronto behind deli counters and at cash registers or filling up shelves. But the experience of shopping isn’t an invigorating one. In fact, I always find myself zapped after leaving one and walking into a near by liquor store. But that had me thinking about other markets that are sterile, formal, and that leave you feeling zapped.

Have online markets taken to a street style or store style?

When I buy something on Amazon or Itunes, what is my experience? These two market places have done a good job of recreating some of the hustle and bustle of real street markets, open air markets or farmers markets. Prior to the internet, if you wanted to buy a book, you’d have to go to a book store and the magic of book stores is not the book you may be looking for, but the book you stumble upon accidentally. The reason stores like Virgin records were so big and popular was because it exposed you to all new artists and more so, they had listening stations. Those communal headphones probably lead to widespread ear infections, but it also gave people a chance to listen to new music. That was the fun of walking into a music store. Have we lost this?

With Amazon I feel like we have to some extent. The recommendations they give you are based on sales. The magic of a bookstore is finding something you love that was completely unrelated to what you went there for. In terms of iTunes, the magic of a music store isn’t fully there. The convenience of buying music without feeling a sense of guilt is the reason I would shop at iTunes. That is, until I discovered BandCamp.

When I’m on BandCamp there are two experiences that I get. The first is the sense of being able to discover new music for hours without feeling any pressure to buy. I’m able to find and discover new artists and try them before I buy them. BandCamp would have been like a music store that has every album (or at least a few songs from every album) available on those communal headsets. The second experience I get is that of being part of the worlds biggest music busker festival. Every artist is putting their music out for free listening so long as you are in front of them, I mean so long as you are on their page. If you want, you can give money and the music on your computer. But buying isn’t about the product you are receiving. It’s about supporting the artist and hoping that more will come. Image

How the Internet has Made Busking is More Lucrative Than Ever

The Internet has made music artists into a group of buskers. As an artist you can no longer require others to pay for your product before they consume it. You can steal music online easier than you can take candy from a baby, (mom’s know better than to give candy to babies these days). The music is up and whether or not someone choses to pay for it is completely up to them. The power is in their hands. The golden years of a few entitled artists with an entire industry backing them is over. It’s long been over, but it doesn’t mean that musicians are no longer able to be profitable. Rather, there needs to be a shift in attitude which is happening on a massive scale.

I know the next music I’m going to pay for will be from BandCamp, not Itunes.

Why are we so in love with Animation?

Animation: Bringing the World to Life

Right from childhood, we start our lives animating the world we experience.

Right from childhood, we start our lives animating the world we experience.

As kids we watched cartoons every saturday for as long as our parents would let us. Our favourite childhood movies were animated. The books we wanted to read had pictures, then as we grew older we became obsessed with comic books whether they were Archie and gang, or the X-Men.

The truth is animation is much more than cartoons, picture books, and Disney movies. Animation is all around us, it’s everywhere.

For example, this wintery morning as I was walking to my bus stop, I could see the wind come to life right  in front of me. The night before it had snowed and the wind was made visible by the hundreds of thousands of unique little snow flakes floating on the winds cold back. I could see the wind and it was alive. It was being animated.

The Works of Souther Salazar

The Works of Souther Salazar

We are in love with animation because it shows us what is normally not visible. It allows us to see a concept or create something that was birthed in the imagination. It brings emotions to life or preserves it for the future.

Why do we like to look at old family pictures? Because it brings memories of that time to life. Why do we like to watch a music video? Because we not only hear the music, but the performance is brought to life. Why do we watch Disney movies? Because the characters that we know from books and fables are brought to life. They dance on screen, love, get lost, cry, and sometimes turn into real boys.

Animat

The works of Souther Salazar

The works of Souther Salazar

The word “animate” comes from the latin root word “animat” which means, “instilled with life.” We bring new life by creating art, we bring new life to concepts, and we bring new life to characters and so much more. We as people are constantly bringing life into this world.

Is your work bringing something to life? Does your cooking at home evoke a response? Does your writing create detailed characters that readers fall in love with? Does your music illustrate heartbreak or falling in love?

Some of my favourite animation:

Chipotle Scarecrow

Chipotle Scarecrow from Wendy Lau on Vimeo.

Foo Fighters

Nostalgia

[Looney Tunes] Duck Amuck (1953) from Arnaud TISSEYRE on Vimeo.

What’s More Important? Quality Audio or Quality Visual?

I made the statement that audio is the most important part of a video.

Now I’m not sure.

After giving it more thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is both true and false. Read more and agree or disagree with me. Let me know your thoughts by voting in the poll below.

3 Reasons Why Audio is More Important:

Earbuds

1. A video with bad audio is distracting and annoying. It’s frustrating to hear the buzz of a fan in the background when there shouldn’t be.

Background noise that finds its way into your video is a clear sign of amateurism or bad budget spending. Even worse than background noise is bad volume control.

We’ve all experienced that point in the movie where the main characters are having an important and intense conversation, but instead of enjoying the story you’re looking for ways to up the volume and the remote is always in the last place you look!

2. Bad audio is much worse than bad visual.

If you watch an old video and the picture is a bit fuzzy or grainy, that adds to a sense of nostalgia. If you watch an old video and all you hear is wind ripping through the mic as you’re trying to enjoy a scene of your vacationing around Chicago, then you’ll find yourself once again, looking for a remote to fast forward the part.

Bad video you can get by with. Not every shot has to be perfectly lit and framed, not every pan has to be perfectly steady, but if you have terrible audio, then that’s much harder to get over than bad video.

3. Good audio doesn’t need video. If you were born early enough, you’ll remember an audio drama or adventure coming through the radio or tape deck.

The visual was created in your mind and the audio was the trigger. Sounds and dialogue can take you a long way.

I’ve never seen a fully silent movie that had at least no music. Yes, I know Charlie Chaplin was “silent”, but even in his films there was a soundtrack.

Truth is that silence is much more uncomfortable than having nothing to look at.

After more careful consideration, I came up with 1 really good reason why video was more important than audio.

1 Really Good Reason the Visual is More Important:

Now matter how good the audio is, if the video is bad, you’ll stop watching. I cant say the same is true about good audio.

Camera

What is bad video? There can be quality issues with the film, leaving you a grainy, or off color effect, but that’s not bad video. That’s effect.

You can even have a bit of flickering, but that’s not the worse thing about video. Bad video is when someone doesn’t capture the action they were following. Bad video is so shaky you start to feel sick if you watch too long.

Bad video is zooms that are too fast and pans that make you think you’re in the middle of a tornado. If I’m watching this, I don’t care how good the audio is, I’m turning that off. However an incredible video who terrible audio can be muted so you can enjoy the rest of the visual beauty of what you’re watching.

So vote now!

Here’s an example of both bad and good Audio. After watching, let me know which has a bigger impact on your viewing experience.

Audio Example from Complete Weddings – Videography on Vimeo.

Review: 2013 Super Bowl Ads

With the Super Bowl just a few days away, lets take a look back at what was good and bad last year

Worst = Beck’s Sapphire: Fish

Super Bowl 2013’s worst ad was probably Beck’s Sapphire: Fish Commercial

The Fish

The black gold fish that swirls around the bottle singing is weird. It has no connection to the product and it’s face is cartoonish. Furthermore, is the fish flying or floating? But at the end of the commercial I still want to know why a fish?

The Music

I’m not familiar with the song in the commercial. I don’t think anyone is. Nor do I like it.

Voice Over

The voice over says that the beer is named after German Sapphire Hops, when it’s really German Saphir Hops. A more insect and disease repellant hops. But just because the hops has a catchy sounding name to it, doesn’t mean it means anything to the viewers, and that’s the biggest problem with the commercial: Nothing about this commercial means anything to anyone.

Close seconds were the Lincoln commercials and the subway commercials

Best = Coca Cola: Security Camera

Saying a commercial is the best is impossible. So I picked my favorite of the good ones.

Oh, the Humanity

As per usual, Coke’s iconic commercials aren’t about how refreshing the drink is. It’s about magic, love, sharing, and in this commercial, all of the above.

In 30 seconds, Coke has convinced us that even though there are enough nuclear bombs to destroy the world many times over, that even though children are being kidnapped and forced into slavery in the DR Congo, even though we as people continue to rob each other, cheat, steal, kill, we are redeemed by the good that we do. People are good. And today that message is needed and wanted. Thank you, Coke, for saying it.

Synopsis

Beck’s Sapphire = Meaningless and Coke’s Security Camera = Optimism

Content – We aren’t ADHD, We Just Have Taste

Let Your Interest Be Your Guide

Let your interest be your guide.

Let your interest be your guide.

There’s a popular conception permeating the web that almost everyone who browses the internet has an attention deficit disorder.

However! This is really nothing more than an excuse to justify bad content.

Why do people stop watching most videos within a few seconds? Because a good video should capture your attention by then.

By now, the internet has made most of us, if not all of us, an expert on what a good video is. Not everyone may be able to communicate the key elements, but we can all recognize quality when we see it. More importantly, we know crap when we see it. The reason people are so quick to quit watching a video is because they recognize it’s not one worth watching.

Q: Is there a video length that works best?

A: No. So long as your video is good, captivates an audience early, and uses narrative in your story telling, then people will keep watching. For example, who expected to fully watch Kony 2012? Yet we all did.

Here’s a quality video, watch it as long as it keeps your interest:

Mast Brothers Chocolate from Brennan Stasiewicz on Vimeo

If you’re like me, you watched all 8 minutes and 47 seconds of it. Why? Because good content compels us to keep watching.

3 Benefits of Good Content

It’s worth the extra effort to create good content because:

  1. Good content deserves to be watched/read:Good content, no matter how long it is, will be enjoyed. Some good content is good because it’s length is appropriate, don’t forget that. But whatever the case may be, if your content is good, then your viewer/reader will want to finish reading/watching it.What this means is that your readership/viewership/customers/donors will be grateful for what you put together for them. Your content provides an added bonus and more value to your product.
  2. Good content deserves to be shared:The cream rises to the top. People will share and like your content if it is something they feel ok endorsing. You have to think of everyone who shares/likes as an endorsement. And when someone personally endorses something, they don’t take that lightly. Only good and great stuff gets endorsed. And with personal endorsements comes exposure.
  3. Good content connects you:Good content starts discussion. Today discussion can take many shapes. It may be people commenting on your video, or posting your picture to a Pinterest board. It’s all a part of the conversation that happens online. Anything that allows you to respond to and connect with people is part of that conversation.

Watch the video again. This time watch it fully through. Ask yourself, what are the elements of story telling in this video? Do they work? Who are the characters? Do I like them? Why/why not? What do I know about the characters and what do I think I know about them?

For more on building good content, check out the UnPodcast or the Accidental Creative.

Would love your thoughts and feedback, please leave me a comment, ask a question, or share your opinion!

Standard 1st Post

Hello my first readers.

This blog is about communication.

What you can expect from here is a discussion and examples of effective communications, advertisements, and more.

You can expect to find occasional inspiration from videos, stories, and art.

Crossover is very important and this blog will also explore how culture is impacting or can be impacting communications.

My favorite medium is video, so expect lots of videos.