Is a $1,000 Video Camera Worth It?

These bright tropical birds would probably look like ghetto pigeons on your camera.

I almost always argue on the side of budget, and frequently write about how to get professional looks on amateur equipment. In the pursuit of “balance” (and to make another futile attempt at affiliate links), here are some reasons to spend more on a video camera. You don’t always get what you pay (very often you pay too much, or can get a deal on last year’s falling star). But here are some features that you don’t always see in the $300-$500 range.

  1. Image sensor (provides quality of image under various lighting conditions)
  2. Manual controls (customize lense ring to do white balance instead of focus)
  3. Rich touch-screen display and menu options
  4. Optical image stabilization
  5. Color peaking
  6. External audio/mic input
  7. HD video onto hard drive (internal memory) or memory cards
So for most people, these things aren’t worth the x2 and x3 premium. But if you’re more than a hobbiest, these cameras can offer quality that surpasses the average amateur vid. Here’s B&H photos picks on three higher-end video cameras, and the Sony ($1298) appears to lead the pack based on higher photo file size and internal memory. But the Canon Vixia is $1099 (and I’ve been using Canon for most of my YouTube stint). The Panasonic is under $1000, and the company seems to have recaptured its place in video equipment. B&H usually beats other retailers on price, and my “invisible hand” suggests these are competitive if not the lowest prices. But check.
Read the features below, and watch the video if you want to feel worse about your camera. Then click my damned affiliate links. Ghees. Or use comments to “rationalize” and convince us (and yourself) that your camera is good enough. Whatev.

1) Sony HDR-CX700V Camcorder

Features:

  • 96 GB of internal memory (plus cards)
  • 12 MP still frame photography
  • Surround sound audio built in
  • Geotag of photos
  • Built in USB cable for charging and file sharing

2) Canon VIXIA HF S30 Flash Memory Camcorder

  • 32 GB internal memory and dual SD card slots
  • Color bars for reference
  • Zebra patterns
  • Remote controllers
  • 8 MP photos
  • Built in flash and LED light

3) Panasonic HDC-TM900 High Definition Camcorder

  • 32 GB internal memory and card slots
  • 3 3.05 MP sensors (3 chips, one for each primary color)
  • 5.1 surround sound
  • 14 MP photos
  • 3D videos (snore)

Rethinking Social Video

Meet Grant Crowell, a writer for ReelSEO and one of the more social guys of the medium. He’s far better at interacting with his audience than I am, and he’s got some interesting perspectives on redefining “social video.” Check out his article from a few weeks ago (which I meant to share earlier).

Here’s Grant’s definition of “social video” (which isn’t the same as viral): Social video is the blending of video with human relationships for the co-creation of value.

I like it because it’s about “Value” not viral (most viral videos offer some value, but not all value videos go viral… and that’s okay). Here’s my two cents… consider four relationships:

1) The video creator with his/her current audience.
2) The video creator’s relationship with other creators/aggregators.
3) The OTHER creator/aggregator (like a blog owner or popular YouTuber) relationship with his/her audience.
4) The potential NEW relationship between creator (1) and the audience of creator/aggregator #2.
  • The first relationship requires interacting with the audience, and nourishing it. They may well share your video for you.
  • The second relationship is probably a more direct/frequent one. Sometimes they’ll share your stuff because they find it, but nurturing a relationship with them can help. For instance, I shared Grant’s presentation here because Grant keeps in touch… and gives me little crap when I’m not responsive (and still doesn’t give up on me).
  • Finally, the original creator should ensure his/her video invites the NEW audience to join. That’s often missing in viral videos, where incremental views do little to provide the viral creator with a new sustainable audience.
So consider how you, creator, relate not just to your existing audience, but other influencers who have audiences (one-to-one). Do you spam them, or send them select content that may interest their audience. Do you beg for a “shout out” or do you offer them content & ideas that they’ll want to share? Do you stay in touch?
Second, be sure your content invites “noobs” to join you… tell them why rather than plead for a sub.
My two cents.

Turn Your HDTV Into a Computer: Online Video Without Restraints

(See 4/13 update below and learn the secret to connecting your Wireless keyboard to an Acer, which you won’t find after an hour on Windows help).

You loyal WVFF readers will know that I’ve been predicting the “killer web-to-television online video viewing” device for several years (here’s me wishing back in January 2007 and here’s my verbatim from 2010 predictions):

“I see a $199 device that allows us to access the Internet right from our televisions. It’s a small PC, a remote-controlled keyboard and mouse, and it plugs into any television via HDMI or even less progressive connections.”

We’re pretty dang close finally — here’s a device that would have eluded me due to minimal marketing. Thank goodness for Billy at Best Buy (his employer didn’t stock it, so I bought one at NewEgg.com). It’s an Acer AspireRevo AR3610-U9022 Desktop PC (Dark Blue), and here’s an Amazon affiliate link for it for $330 (I’ve yet to make a dime yet on the stupid affiliate program).

For about $300 you can watch Internet video on your high-definition television and control it with wireless keyboard

First the “reality check”: It’s not $199, but there is a cheaper version (called Revo) for that price. Note that the Revo is a bit dumbed down, lacks wireless remote and uses Windows XP. I chose the AspireRevo because it has a remote included, offers Windows 7, and has more horse power. You’ll also need an HDMI cable to connect it to your high-definition television, a TV with HDMI input, electricity, and (duh) a wireless router with high speed Internet. Essentially this is a decent computer without a monitor.

You can now enjoy online-video viewing (and other PC activities) right from your high-definition television. You heard me right. Your overpriced television is now a monitor, so you don’t have to chose between “lean forward” control or “lean back” comfort. “Oh, Kevin,” you say, “I’ve already been doing this for years with my PC.” Well shut up because you represent .005% of the population.

Yes, peeps… it’s convenient online-video viewing on YouTube and Hulu without the “walled garden” associated with most “convenience” devices like Roku, AppleTV, Netflix and Ethernet/wireless enabled BlueRay DVD players (yes I own those too, and they have some advantages like easy install, customized content, and easier navigation). But none of these allow Hulu (to my knowledge), or give you the full YouTube functionality. And some are slowwwww.

Here’s how you get this Revo thingy going (in case you’re even more techno-phobic than me):

  1. You plug in the device to a source of electricity. Don’t get shocked.
  2. You put said device next to your computer, and connect it to your TV with an HDMI cable (you can handle that, right?). The cable isn’t included. So if you don’t have one laying around, get a cheapo at BestBuy or online (or do better by by surfing CNet’s Cheapskate. Those cables can get wicked expensive, and I’m not convinced the primo ones are worth it.
  3. You find a wireless signal (you do have a router that has high-speed Internet, right?). Hey, swipe your neighbors unless you live near me.
  4. Now you sit your ass on your couch or bed and use the wireless keyboard and mouse to surf the web. Go full screen and suffer some commercials and you’re free at last. Free at last! You can enjoy Hulu like it’s television (albeit more grainy than you’d like, but free).

You can do basically the same thing with an old PC or laptop, but Billy tells me that video streams poorly on older processors. That explains why we haven’t seen my dream machine for $199 yet. But on the positive side, this puppy is more fueled than $350 Netbooks, and if you’re after web-video on the television it’s a better approach (some Netbooks have an HDMI output, but you’d need a long wire and I hate Netbook keyboards. Here are the specifications for this baby (note I haven’t test driven it yet):

  • 1.6GHz Intel Atom 330 Processor
  • 2GB DDR2 Memory
  • 160GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive; Multi-in-1 Digital Media Card Reader
  • Integrated NVIDIA ION Graphics; High-Definition Audio Support
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); Includes Wireless Keyboard and Mouse

This is more computer than I need, but a fast machine that runs Windows will come in handy since we’re all Mac, and the MacMini version of this would be twice as expensive (wireless keyboard sold separately, and Mac is cruel with accessory pricing… I just bought a damned backup power chord for my MacBook Pro for f’ing $80 from Billy).

*** Update 4/7: After hours of struggling with Windows 7 to connect the remote keyboard and mouse, I found the simple answer… by finding a brochure I missed in the packaging, seperate from the other materials. Seems there’s a dongle hiding in the mouse interiror that must be plugged into the Acer. Otherwise you’ll spend HOURS on Windows help and online, to no avail. All the other parts of the setup were less than 30 minutes, but finding the HDMI cable (hiding plugged into my television pretending to be connected to something) and the cursed wireless keyboard/remote HIDDEN DONGLE was very frustrating, however. I also would give Egghead a poor score on customer service. Ordered it for FedEx on Friday hoping for Saturday arrival, and paid $37 for that. Immediately after that, I read the fine print: several days to process. So “next day” doesn’t mean “next day,” and even worst the customer service rep (who took 10 minutes to acknowledge me and another 15 to reply) told me he’d try to cancel the FedEx charge… and he didn’t. No more Egghead purchases. Stick with Amazon.com.

That said, I’m blogging from the television set. You’d be surprised how well this keyboard is working even from 20 feet… but it’s hard to read this text, which from here is about equivalent to 4-point type). Off to try YouTube!

Don’t Call it a Viral Video Unless It Goes Viral. Till Then, It’s Just a Promotional Online-Video.

Semantics be important… especially for a relatively novel “space” like online video. For starters, I never much cared for the term “viral” marketing, because it had sick connotation. Like my marketing might make someone sick enough to cough on another hapless patsy. Then comes the term “viral” videos to celebrate the wonderfully horrible videos one couldn’t resist sharing. I created “Viral Video Genius” as a satire, people, and still use the phrase as an inside joke to piss off those too naive to recognize otherwise.

video virus

But still today we see “viral” referring to any video hoping to go virus. That’s just ridiculous, friends. Do you agree? By definition, a video isn’t “viral” unless it gets a lot of views. I used to say 500 to 1 million, but now you pretty much need 5 or 10 million to rise above the noise.

This post was inspired by a Tweet by Chris Brogan. He can’t be our new ZeFrank now because he acknowledged my existence. But Scoble’s up for grabs.

You see this guy, Mose, asked:

mose tweets

Fair question. If someone “seeds it” or pays to have it a preroll on some crappy video-sharing site that serves porn in India, does that count? ChrisBrogan, in a surprise move, punts the question my way:

chris broganNow this was surprising since I never figured Brogan for the type that would know the word “Nalts” (even if I’m kinda famous because I was on today’s eGuider reel with Daisy Whitney, Ben Relles, and that dude who MC’s the DiggNation show I stormed in my underwear. Can you imagine if all the people in “Welcome to eGuider” got together in a room? Would anyone get anything done?

But I digress from my digression. So to Mose and ChrisBrogan, in my infinite 140-character wisdom, I says, “Seeding counts as “viral”; not paid views. Lets call ’em prom online vids (pov) unless they actually go viral (rare).

Then Mose, who clearly has good taste, comes back with:

mose tweets naltsMose is suggesting we use the hashtag #pov to track any activity about “Promotional Online Videos,” a term that’s perhaps more accurate than “viral” when talking about the majority of videos. But having searched POV I’ve decided it must be a porn term, and that is just as well. Maybe this blog post will pick up some accidental traffic, giving me the same satisfaction of creating a “viral” video that had an average view-duration of .04 seconds. Whoops? Another digression. This will be the only post since 2008 that Nutcheese finishes.

Seriously, though. Seriously? Calling a video “viral” before it goes viral is like calling karaoke singers Grammy Winners. One in a million may well be, but let’s call them karaoke singers in the meanwhile.

In a year you won't remember anything I wrote in this post. But you'll still be offended that I used a Japanese woman to illustrate karaoke.
In a year you won't remember anything I wrote in this post. But you'll still be offended that I used a Japanese woman to illustrate karaoke.

What’s Engagement Anyway? Forrester’s Four I’s

Engagement is the new “portal.” It’s tossed around so much, we have varying definitions. I use it broadly to refer to any action on the part of the media “consumer.” If they watch my video, that’s kinda engagement, but if they comment, respond, follow a link, purchase a product… that’s far more interesting.

Here’s Forrester’s Brian Haven with his shiny head and retro glasses, espousing the four I’s: involvement, interaction, intimacy and influence (source: Content to Commerce blog). What’s worth noting is that you’re not likely to be influential without interacting and connecting (intimacy), yet most brands try to jump right to influence. Kinda like popping an engagement ring on a blind date. Ewww.

“We need to provide content and tools within the context of use… this is where engagement’s going to happen.”

Notice my embed box matches his glasses.

Murketing is a New Word. Let’s Use it Correctly.

NewTeeVee refers to Rampenfest as murketing and Newsweek recently used the term to refer to the BWM GINA campaign.

I may be wrong, but I believe murketing is starting to be used to refer to the “advertorial-like” corruption of marketing and entertainment. That’s not its origin. The fairly new term was coined by Rob Walker in his book, Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are).  Murketing refers to being vague — not deceptive or lacking transparency.

Whether NewTeeVee or Newsweek meant to tweak murketing’s definition isn’t important. We still need a term for advertising that pretends to be something else. Let’s agree to a word — and Wickipedia better damned well credit me for this because I’m making them up right now on Thursday, June 26 at 12:05. Frankly I’m disappointed that a marketer has to create this instead of some PETA-like anti advertising group.

The word should point to the futile attempts that brands have made to promote through social media and video, but not be transparent or honest. It’s branding, but pretending to be entertainment. It almost invariably results in backlash, and it’s quite worse than advertorial (the unhealthy blend of editorial content that is funded by advertisers). It’s the topic of my “CashtoBuzz” parody last year. It was brought to mainstream when a PR firm was exposed for being a silent creator to an anti-Gore penguin parody.

So here are a few shots: 

  1. Masqueradvertising
  2. Trojan horse marketing
  3. Amway Friend
  4. Benedict Arnold entertainment
  5. Rose by Another Name
  6. Advertainment
  7. Enteradvertising
  8. Grim Reaper with a Propeller Hat
  9. Snowmotion

I need some more caffeine to improve these. Feel free to develop it yourself. I won’t steal your word without feeling guilty. After all, I’m a murketer.

What is Social Media?

nalts social media 60 second marketerI met the Marketing Diva (Toby Bloomberg) at a Cox Communications event. She pulled out her Flip cam and asked me to define social media. So I gave her a quick answer. Then along comes “The 60 Second Marketer” and packages this spontaneous clip into the following video called “What is Social Media.” Suddenly, my “pull it out the bum” verbal exposition looks rather comprehensive and definitive.

Let’s explore what makes this clip so trustworthy:

  • Logo at the beginning
  • Cool voice over
  • Simple delivery
  • Sponsored content
  • Nice look/feel

I think the next time I decide to represent my random opinion as fact, I’m going to proceed and follow it with Slater doing a deep, rich voiceover that summarizes it.

Experimenting With Large Uploads on YouTube: Bubble Gum Tree Show

Here’s today’s Bubble Gum Treee Show (featuring Charles Trippy) as it appears after I uploaded an 800 MB exported version from iMovie using all of the fancy specifications he recommends. And here’s another version that was about 20 MB. Sorry I just can’t seem to see a radical difference. Can you?

Now let’s try adding the “secret” code:

  1. Big version with the HD code.
  2. Little version with the HD code.

Anyone? Here are jpegs of the same video when I toggle between high resolution and low.

Low resolution high rez

YouTube Goes High Definition: The “Secret” Hack Know As &fmt=18

The thing that put YouTube on the map was easy file sharing — quick uploads and fast Flash-based streaming. Lately YouTube is experimenting with high definition, which is a slight improvement from the typical squished Flash format.

Here are the key things you need to know:

  1. It’s in testing, and it’s not perfect. The audio sometimes fails to synch, and not all videos work in high definition.
  2. This isn’t HDTV. It’s just a higher resolution version of Flash.
  3. You can add the code: &fmt=18 to the end of a video’s URL to see if it makes it better.
  4. You’ll see some text below videos that allow you to toggle between high and low resolution.
  5. You can update your account preferences so you have the ability to default to high definition if you don’t mind the potential loss of speed.
  6. I’m not aware of any discrimination on this feature between “Partners” and everyone else.

Charles Trippy posted a video on this yesterday and SMPFilms in (“YouTube Hack”) announced the news as well. This perhaps prompted YouTube’s Blog to post” YouTube Videos in High Definition.”

Mike Abundo (Inside Online Video), of course, identified the hack on March 4, and provided this recent update. I saw the post, but found the improvement to be of nominal visual distinction.

Charles Trippy provided this nice post for Mac users to help them export their videos to take advantage of this higher definition.

I’m working on a video that explains this, and demos some of the before/after. It will also show people how to turn on high definition as a default via their account preferences. I’ll show the step-by-step for exporting better quality (the limit is now 1 gig for all).

Another source: Wired Wiki explains formatting in great detail