Looking back over 2011 and beyond…thinking forward to 2012.

Have you sat back and thought about what has truly defined you both personally and professionally? Can you think about one point in time that has truly changed who you are and how you approach life and your career? There is not a better time to do so than at the end of calendar year…a time of reflection. I have numerous moments in time that have defined me, and a few have pop-up in my mind.

1) Defining moment in 2011 as a person.
It was January 1, 2011 and we were driving back from the Christmas cabin in Georgia. We had just finished enjoying a week of vacation in the Georgia mountains and it was time to make the treck back to civilization. As we were coming through Atlanta, Sarah asked me if we could stop to get a drink. I was sitting in the car waiting for her and she opened the door and hopped back in with tears rolling down her face.

I began to think of the many reasons why a female would come back from a restaurant crying. She looked at me and said…”I am pregnant and I am scared!” The past three years we experienced three miscarriages, not making it past 10 weeks. She was happy that once again she was pregnant, but upset and scared she would loose another pregnancy to miscarriage.

What I did not realize is that Sarah had been carrying pregnancy tests around with her for the last six months…testing on a regular basis. For those of you that do not realize…those pregnancy tests are expensive and she was carrying around a bunch. I would be willing to bet she had a half dozen in her pocketbook…we invested in a lot of those little things.

We immediately called our reproductive endocrinologist (RE)…we had made an appointment to talk about what were the next steps in getting pregnant again. We left a message that we were pregnant and we were wondering if we could reschedule the appointment. They immediately called back and wanted us in the office to run tests ASAP. January 1, 2011 was the day that we began thinking about Rose Frances…that little miracle was born on September 6, 2011. What a way to start 2011.

2) Defining moment in 2011 as a professional.
Have you ever had that one project that defined you as a person and professional. That one project that made you think harder and deeper…pushed you to work harder and see life through a different lens. Well, that happened to me in 2011. I received a phone call in January about a project The Duke Endowment was pulling together, one that was still on the drawing board.

They had the vision of telling stories surrounding individuals who are making a tremendous impact in their communities. These individuals are special people who lead organizations/initiatives that are supported by grants from The Duke Endowment. This project is called Profiles of Service…one that would allow me to practice all my journalistic skills of documentary storytelling. Over the next 8 months, I was able to work alongside The Duke Endowment, capturing stories of four individuals in both North and South Carolina. People that were and still are making a tremendous impact in their communities, leading initiatives that bring change.

Each story was located in a different part of North and South Carolina, allowing me to travel from the mountains of Western North Carolina to the low-country of South Carolina.  Four individuals, four stories of dedication and service, and hours of interviews captured and shaped into a final product for people to enjoy.

3) What I am looking forward to in 2012.
I am really excited about 2012…two projects that I am working on for this upcoming year. The first is a project with Greenville Hospital System, telling stories from inside the walls of this healthcare organization. There will be more to come over the next year…but I am really excite about this project!

I am also excited to be partnering with Safe Harbor in Greenville, SC. Six months ago, they came to me in the hopes to produce one video as a multi-purpose tool from fundraising to sharing their story online. After spending a few days with them, I realized that one video is just not enough to really share their story. Over the course of 2012, we will be sharing some amazing stories, from those who been impacted by domestic violence to those who are trying to create change in the community. We have already been working together for the last 6 months and we are looking forward to sharing some amazing perspectives.

It is my belief to look back and reflect and to look forward to something amazing! I am excited to be embarking in my third year of business!


3DTV and Why??? Or Why Not???

Ok, ok…I have had more people ask me about what I think about 3DTV and the production of 3DTV. Mainly, people have asked me about two separate topics, first being whether I will be producing 3DTV projects and what do I think about 3DTV as a consumer based viewing option. OK, strap in and let’s go! This is a long post, so get a drink and a snack and maybe some Ibuprofen?

3DTV Production and Workflow?
First, let’s tackle my thoughts on creating 3DTV based productions. First of all, it is a whole new workflow to invest when the creation of content that has yet to find a true market. My customers have yet to show interest in this offering, mainly because the type of groups I work with do not necessarily have the target audience that consumes this type of offering.

Yes, we can go purchase a camera and the editing software and hardware upgrades to manage this workflow…but it would mainly have a purpose of forcing a market into this offering.

When we converted from SD video production to HD production, lots of the production skills changed and how we deliver this product. From the cameras, software, hardware, and the end consumer.  Then there was the creative element, what do we do with roughly 26% more screen real estate. A lot of people think this is not a big deal…but this is a huge workflow decision and how to creatively produce content to fit 16X9 screen resolutions in a still evolving 4×3 screen world (the old television screen size). Yes, more and more people have HDTV’s but it still is not the industry standard, yet!

Given this context…there is a lot to consider when producing 3D content. Do you want to make everything look 3D just to do it or do we want to produce content that leverages the style of 3D, exposing the audience to new visual cues. Also…do we want to produce content that requires people to take one extra step…put on some strange “looking” glasses. Yes…imagine the boardroom setting showing a video, hey…pull out your glasses to watch this video. Oh, I forgot mine…that is ok, just watch the weird colors overlap.

So on the production side…I will sit back and see how the market evolves *AND* when and if clients join the 3D TV conversation. Then I will decide if that will become a client offering.

Now…let’s attack the consumer side. Specifically…will I purchase a 3DTV for the home and what do I think about watching 3D content at home and in the theater.

First…let’s talk about how it effects the eyes.
I come from a long family history of bad eyes and those who have a “lazy eye.” I am the abnormal person in the family with 20-15 vision…I was at one time recruited to join the Navy since I had great vision, I am 5’9″ and my undergrad was in Mathematics. I couldn’t enlist because of my Asthma. But…everytime I watch a 3D production in the theater, I get a headache. Yes…I take the glasses off and my head hurts and it takes a while for my eyes to re-adjust.

In December 2009, Avatar was released in theaters in 3D…many people took to the “airwaves” to react to 3D production. The British Telegraph wrote this article in January 2010: “Do 3D films make you sick?“:

“But no matter how advanced the technology, a significant minority of the population cannot sit through a 3D film without experiencing discomfort. More than three million people in the UK have eye conditions that impair ‘stereoscopic vision’ – normal, two-eyed depth perception – making it difficult, or even impossible, for them to experience 3D.

When watching something in 3D, our eyeballs rotate inwards, with accommodation as the goal. But if that happened, the viewer would be left focusing on a spot in front of the screen, rather than focusing on the screen itself. But this confuses the brain because the eyes have converged without accommodation. Instead, the eyes oscillate between their natural inclination and the artificial state demanded by the film. This can cause extreme eye strain, migraines and nausea.”

During the summer of 2010, TechSpot.com wrote that Sony updated their Playstation 3 Terms of Service Agreement statement:

“Sony, no doubt preferring to play it safe, has issued a warning saying these problems are not to be taken lightly. The latest Playstation 3 Terms of Service statement advises that anyone who experiences ‘eye strain, eye fatigue or nausea’ should turn off 3D immediately. Players can begin using the technology again when discomfort subsides, however.”

But in January 2011, NYTimes wrote an article saying that many eye-specialist fired back by questioning Nintendo’s new warning.

“Nintendo said several days ago that children under 6 should not look at the 3-D screen on its new 3DS hand-held device because it could harm eye development. The admonition raised skepticism and eyebrows among a group that knows a lot about eye development: eye doctors.

Some of the world’s elite pediatric ophthalmologists said the Nintendo announcements surprised them because it seemed to have little basis in science. ‘The fact you’d watch 3-D in a theater or a video game should have zero deleterious impact whatsoever,’ said Dr. Lawrence Tychsen, a professor of pediatrics and ophthalmology at Washington University in St. Louis.”

Based on this research, it made me start thinking whether my little nieces should be going to watch movies like “Alice in Wonderland” which was released in 3D at the theaters, especially since they are showing signs of “lazy eye” and they are under the age of 6. Now this has nothing to do with Nintendo, but it does draw health concerns for me as an uncle and parent.

Now let’s talk about those gamers!
I have many friends that are gamers…I am sure you have friends that sit hours and hours in front of the television playing their Playstation, Wii, XBox, etc. With the advent of Playstation and Nintendo with 3D games, how can one sit with the glasses on and play games for hours. I would have a migraine and want to sleep for hours. As I was surfing around, doing some research on this topic, I found this blog post by Jason Weissman titled “3D Gaming is Doomed to Fail.” Hmm…that is a big statement, which perked my interest.

“The biggest barrier for this technology is that using it for more than an hour (or in some cases even less time) causes tremendous eye strain and headaches. If you are like me, you likely have lengthy game sessions. I tried several games in different 3D modes on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and while the games generally looked great, the experience was not one I’d often seek to repeat.”

So if people in theaters are feeling this way, and the gamers are sharing the same concerns…I am starting to wonder if this makes sense for the house. Once again, here is is Jason Weissman:

“Many people have asserted that 3D will never take off in the home because gamers would need to wear 3D glasses. That is why the 3DS is not typically denigrated in the same manner and why many people say they will wait for glasses-free 3D televisions.”

Now let’s talk about the glasses!
Yes…those pesky things that we have to wear to watch 3D content whether in front of a television or in a theater. I have many thoughts about the glasses. Why do I want to wear glasses in my house to enjoy content? Now I understand there is not a lot of content out there, and I would have to subscribe to 3D programming…but I am not sure I would want to put on those glasses to watch ESPN’s College Football in 3D for a 3.5 hour game.

I like to drink beer and eat food that usually is not healthy during these games…so imagine wearing the glasses, getting a headache during the 4th quarter when the game is getting good. Then proceed to the bathroom because the 3D effect has set-in and it is time to puke. I understand this is a bit extreme, or is it? Especially if you are like me on Saturday’s and like to watch HOURS of college football.

Good3DTV.com reported that in ESPN’s initial study/research with 3DTV, eye strain can be reduced with frequent breaks. Hmmm…interesting.

“The network has stated that a wide range of 3D TVs were used, including passive and active 3D TVs to conduct the study. Most of the complaints about headache came from the viewers watching active 3D television. Most people watching passive 3D TVs were almost not affected. Duane Varan, executive director of the Disney Media and Advertising Lab, further stated that the passive 3D TV viewing was much more pleasant owing to the viewers being able to interact with other people watching in the room due to the lighter set of 3D glasses they were wearing.”

Those glasses can be costly ranging from $25 to over $150 dollars. Ok, let’s buy a television for close to $1200 and then purchase glasses to watch the content. And then make sure you hit the Walgreens or CVS for migraine medication…oh do not forget the Tums.

Let’s wrap it up!
Another interesting note from the ESPN research study…“According to Varan, advertising for products in 3D is much more effective. The desire to buy a product that has been advertised in 3D format has increased from 49 to 83 percent compared to an advertisement in 2D.” 

Oh yeah, those ad dollars…we will get back to that in a second. Or, let’s tackle it right now. Television networks are in dire straight…need to find another way to generate ad dollars. Yes, just like when HDTV was originally created in Japan in the late 80’s. They needed a new revenue stream, so they gave the consumer a reason to buy a new television… because all content was going to be released in HD.

Bottom line, you have to buy the right television and wear glasses to enjoy the experience, and only for a short amount of time.  Maybe if this technology pushes into wide acceptance, more people will spend less time watching television, because headaches will detract from prolonged couch potato syndrom.

So, what will I do with 3D content? I will not produce 3D content quite yet…I will wait to see how the market reacts this year (2012). I do not think that 3D TV has a place in my living room, it does not make sense to watch content with glasses in the comfort of my home. The theater experience will remain the 3D experience for me. I do not mind paying to go watch certain movies in 3D, because I believe that the movie theater still has a place in our American fabric. The movie theater is a time to take the family to watch something special, and 3D content is still considered special to me, not everyday.

BTW, here is a GREAT article by TVPredictions.com called “10 Reasons Why People Won’t Watch 3DTV” and here are the list of reasons. Note, this article was written this past summer…so some of the reasons might be evolving. But, I found it interesting.

  1. 3D TV Interrupts Your Viewing Experience
  2. It Makes You Sick
  3. Millions of People Just Bought New TVs
  4. There’s Not Much 3D to Watch On My Cable or Satellite
  5. There’s Not Much 3D to Watch On Blu-ray
  6. People Hate the 3D Glasses
  7. The Glasses Are Too Expensive For a Family
  8. 3D TV Is Not HDTV
  9. 3D TV Is Not Easy to Use
  10. 3D TV Has Lost the Culture War

I would recommend reading the explanations for each point, I think you will find it interesting. CLICK HERE to read the whole article!

***Image at the top from Think Like Maxwell blog…CLICK HERE to read!


GoPro makes Wide Angle and Fisheye Cool

***Video is from GoPro’s YouTube account.

For years I have been shooting with wide angle and fisheye lens. Whether it is with my still image cameras or video cameras, I have always purchased wide angle and fisheye adapters. If you have ever worked with me, you will notice me constantly using this look whether for interviews or cool, interesting shots. I have purchased many different wide angle lens adapters for my broadcast cameras, prosumer cameras, and even my Canon EOS digital cameras. I am willing to spend more on the glass than the camera itself…whether it is Century Optics, Canon, or Sigma lenses.

From the earliest days of my career in broadcast television as a photojournalist, I have always used this perspective…to me this makes the picture warm, visually interesting, and intriguing. Most people react to the style with strong opinions…you either like it or you don’t. Trust me…I have many mixed reviews, regardless I love this style and look. These perspectives sometimes bring a sense of curvature to the image.

So I just purchased my first GoPro camera, which is a small compact camera with the ability to capture HD 1080p images using a standard wide angle lens. This perspective gives an 170 degree perspective. These cameras have taken on the extreme sport scene, providing a rich perspective as they are mounted in places like the front of a surf board or the wing of a plane. But…what you will notice are the wide angle perspectives in the videos captured, giving a complete viewpoint of the whole “subjects'” surroundings.

If you watch the video above, you can see all the different ways people are using these cameras…making the wide angle look and interesting, appealing, and widely accepted practice of capturing images.  I love this look and love the warmth it brings to the screen.

I also like what GoPro is doing on the digital/social media front. Their website is rich with lots of product descriptions, images, and YouTube videos showing how customers/professionals are using these cameras. They also have a place for people to submit videos they have shot with their GoPro cameras for use in future promotions. Even better, they have the Daily Giveaway where people sign-up to win their products daily.

If you go to their Facebook Page, it is nothing extravagent…just fans submitting videos and pictures shot with their GoPro cameras. “Simple” must work for them in the social media world…they have over 1.3 million “Likes” on their Facebook Page.

Bottom line…GoPro is making the wide angle and fisheye look cool, innovative, and mainstream. I am a fan of the look and the camera!

Do you notice these types of shots in videos? Do you like the fisheye look? Love to hear your thoughts!

Christmas Gadgets: GoPro, Olloclip, and Kindle Fire

This holiday season was filled with another round of cool gadgets. If most people know me…I love gadgets and love playing with new toys. So this year, the three presents that come to mind are the GoPro Hero2 camera, Olloclip lens adapter for the iPhone4(s), and the Kindle Fire. Sarah gave me the GoPro Hero2 and the Olloclip for my iPhone4s and I gave her the Kindle Fire. So here are some first thoughts after having this gadgets for a short period of time after the Christmas gift exchanges.

GoPro Hero2
This is a great little video camera for those of you video enthusiast. You can purchase this item anywhere from BestBuy, B&H Photo Video online, GoPro.com, or numerous other places online or brick and mortar stores. This will be the one gadget in my “Go Bag” for video shoots this year providing new perspectives as a second camera during interviews and/or when trying to grab interesting shots. GoPro is most famous for being used in extreme sports like surfing, sky diving, snow boarding, and even on planes for interesting shots.

What I Like:

  1. LOVE THE WIDE ANGLE – 170 degree view!
  2. This is a compact camera about the size of a D Battery and can capture video and still images.
  3. Records video at 1080p 30 frames per second and numerous other smaller resolutions.
  4. Captures still images with at 11 megapixels.
  5. I love the waterproof case (up to 197 feet), perfect for recording white water rafting.
  6. The mount with sucution cup…already used it on the front of my car.(CLICK HERE to watch)
  7. Comes with built in microphone.
  8. Has an audio input.
  9. Has a built in HDMI out.
  10. The digital still camera can take pictures in intervals over a period of time for time lapse.
  11. Makes for great second camera in video shoots for wide angle perspective.

Wish list for improvements:

  1. Wish the LED Screen was not an ad-on but a standard part of the camera.
  2. Wish the actual camera had a mountable connection, instead of having to put camera in case to be mounted.
  3. Low light is always going to be an issue with these small image processors. But it still does a decent job.
  4. The waterproof case does not allow you to plug in a a microphone into the audio input.

If you would like to look at the complete description of the camera, CLICK HERE.

Olloclip for iPhone
For you camera/video enthusiasts, the Olloclip is a great addition to your iPhone4 or 4s. This attachment allows you to take the iPhone camera to the next level. It is a wide angle and fisheye adapter that allows you to take images and capture video from a wider perspective. I have been searching for something like this, then I found it in my stocking this year.

What I Like:

  1. Easy slide on and off of the attachment.
  2. Two lens in one attachment. You can flip the attachment around from wide angle to fisheye.
  3. Clear images with this simple slide on attachment as a lens.
  4. Makes the iPhone4(s) a great second camera in video shoots since it acquires the image at 1080p.
  5. The wide angle lens can be removed to make provide a macro lens.

Wish list for improvements:

  1. You have to remove your case of choice to use this attachment. Love to see this company make a case where this attachment integrates as a part of a bigger offering.
  2. Easy to accidentally grab the iPhone in a way where you can get finger prints on the lens.
  3. The adapter slides around sometimes which can distort the image and/or create some artifacts.

You can check out the FAQ’s about the Olloclip by CLICKING HERE.

Kindle Fire
I bought this e-reader for Sarah this Christmas, she loves my iPad but wanted something smaller to read books. Bottom line, this is and e-reader built around reading books from Amazon. If purchase as a tablet like an iPad, you will be annoyed. The tech community might “root” this device and install the complete Android platform, but for the non-tech users…this is not built to be a tablet. I would say this is similar in size to the Samsung Galaxy Tab. So here are some of Sarah’s first impressions. By the way, many of her comparisons stem from my “original” iPad3G.

What she likes:

  1. Size – she likes the ability to hold it in one hand.
  2. Convenience of being able to buy/purchase book and read immediately.
  3. The rewards program – Her Amazon Prime membership allows her to “borrow” one book a month which they term as the “The Lending Library”.
  4. It is backlit to read book at night with no bed side lamp.
  5. It comes with install apps like Facebook, Amazon, and Pulse news reader.
  6. When you go to the “store,” it provides recommended books across the top…similar to the Amazon.com experience.

What she dislikes:

  1. Battery life seems to dwindle fast.
  2. The power cord is not that long (4 feet long). Need to be close to an outlet if the battery dwindles down fast.
  3. The power button is on the bottom, so unwanted bumps cause it to shut off.
  4. The power cord plugs in the bottom and can get in the way when holding.
  5. Not as responsive as the iPad when touching hyperlinks.
  6. Web browsing is not as responsive as the original iPad.

So there ya go…love to here your thoughts!

Social Media as a barometer for success in higher education

In an article by the Orange & White, Clemson University’s President James Barker looks at Social Media from a different position. He is looking at the strong tie between academics and athletics by using the main university Facebook fan page growth during the football season.

Question from reporter: “Are athletics and academics at odds?

“We are not going to choose between one or the other. We are going to be strong in both, and, in fact, where one is strong, it helps make the other strong. The number of applications this year are up and hopefully attributed to our success academically, but I’m fairly sure some factor in that is a result of the football team. Applications are up five percent. They were up last year, too, but not that much … Our Facebook fans number at 84,000 and increased 1,000 per week during football season. That gives us some idea of the exposure football gives to us … I think success between the two is linked together.”

Interesting comparison especially when you are looking for ways to show success in numbers. Facebook here is the barometer of measurement for some indicator of success.

CLICK HERE to read  the complete article by the Orange & White.

CLICK HERE for Clemson University’s Main Facebook Page.