Posts Tagged 'Vlogging'

Online Video and The Presedintial Elections – Political Lunch

This post is the first in a series called Meet The Creators, where we interview the people behind some of the Internet’s most interesting video shows.

Political Lunch is one of my favorite video shows. Though I am not an American voter, I find US politics are very interesting, and always looking for unbiased source of bite size information about what’s going on in the presidential elections. Also, Obama’s brilliant use of social media and online video make this elections even more interesting for me.

That’s why I was so happy to meet Robert Mills and start watching Political Lunch – a daily political video show that caters my needs exactly.

Robert Millis (right) and Will Coghlan, the creators of Political Lunch

Here is a short interview that I’ve done with Robert, with some insights about his show and its affect on American politics:

KP: What is Political Lunch

RB: Political Lunch is the only independent daily news program covering the U.S. presidential election online. We focus on cutting through the spin and drama to deliver short, engaging and informative reports. Our lunchtime episodes are typically 3-5 minutes long, allowing people to get caught up on the news that matters in just a few minutes and go on with their day. We don’t play favorites, and we never lose our sense of humor.

KP: What is the motivation behind this show?

RB:We do this to meet a need. When my partner, Will Coghlan, and I came up with Political Lunch, no online program was committed to covering the campaigns. And most existing coverage of political news online was driven by opinion and ideology, or was simply uninformed. Meanwhile, television coverage in the U.S. has become so dominated by bloviating pundits that it can take an hour to sift through all the spin and get the top campaign stories.

KP: How did you start the whole thing?

RM: I was producing an interview series on current affairs called American Microphone [] and at the time nobody had produced a high quality political news program online yet. My friend WIll Coghlan had worked in politics and journalism, and when we founded Hudson Street Media we decided to create the sort of program we would like to see: high quality, informative and engaging.

KP: What equipment are you using?

RM: We shoot in HDV on a Sony Z1U and edit on Final Cut Pro. We have a small studio (3×4 meters) with a simple ceiling grid to mount microphones and lights.

KP: What are your views on independent political sites?

RM: Truly independent sites? I would like to see more of them done well. Considering the possibilities, there are few sites which do more than simply advance a particular cause or ideology. Many sites serve just one perspective, often building yet another echo chamber of opinion, and don’t have anything to offer people who disagree. In other cases, some of the most useful political sites are so narrow in their focus that you don’t visit them unless you are seeking something very particular. Because nobody has gotten this quite right, we see an opportunity and we are now in the process of building an integrated network of political sites ourselves. More on that another time though.

KP: What are your views on the affect of online video on the presidential elections?

RM: Most importantly, every word a candidate speaks may be recorded. And when something troubling comes up, word spreads quickly. Candidates sometimes believe that online video has less of an impact because the audience is smaller. But when something goes viral, it’s very powerful. Also important is the kind of audience a candidate reaches. The online audience is usually small compared to television, but programs like Political Lunch have viewers who influence others. People who are getting their news from programs like ours are more likely to be early adopters of technology, more likely to be well informed, and more likely to tell their friends and family about something they learn while watching the report. I think this niche audience will have a much larger impact on the elections than many expect.

KP: what did you learn from working on your show?

RM: The simplest ideas are often the best.

KP: What is the end game for your show? TV? An online Brand?

RM: Political Lunch is definitely a strong online brand and I think it will stay there, though it could add value to the right television network.

KP: What were your biggest challenge while producing the show?

One of the biggest challenges for us has been being misunderstood by the campaigns and the mainstream media. The lines are blurred between roles, so definitions of “blogger” and “citizen journalist” and “reporter” are all very subjective. People sometimes don’t know what to do with us because we are not really bloggers, but neither are we a television crew.

KP: What will happen with your show after the elections?

RM: We have talked with people about a variety of options for Political Lunch, but have not committed to any particular plan yet. We are building other online properties, so it is likely that Political Lunch will be integrated with one of those and offer somewhat broader news content. But if you know somebody who is looking to buy a program, we’re always ready to listen.

KP: and, what is your message for candidates and vloggers?

RM: For candidates: Embrace the medium. This is one of the most effective ways to connect with the people you want to reach.

For vloggers: Don’t hesitate. Turn on the camera and start. Right now.

If you’ve never seen it before, here is an episode from their show:

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Om Malik Opens NTV Station – The Best of Web Video, Facing Challenges

Om Malik anounced a new venture today called NewTeeVee Station, an editorial driven guide to online videos:

...NewTeeVee Station is your guide to online video, pointing you to hot new memes, following the emerging stars of the web, and just generally indexing this new entertainment medium. Whereas in the past we covered online video shows like Ask a Ninja, Obama Girl andWallstrip from a business perspective, now we’re also reviewing content for content’s sake…

….NTV Station features editorial reviews of online videos written by a team led by Liz Shannon Miller, who comes to us from Variety and the Daily Reel. We eliminate the static and bring to you videos that are actually good — but also the stuff that’s so bad it has everyone talking… When you visit the front page of NTV Station, you’ll see in one glance what’s hot at that very moment. Our editors monitor the online video universe and refresh the site with new videos throughout the day. A special widget developed using the VodPod API allows you to scroll through all of our past video picks….

I am a big fan of sites trying to make some sense of all the videos out there. In a past, I wrote a hotly debated post where I asked when would someone create an online HBO equivalent, and gang all the best video shows to one site. This is a form of content discovery in my opinion – a way to bring the best videos to my computer screen. Would Om answer my prayers?

Challenges ahead


There were several initiative in this area, one of them was Jeff Pulver’s While N2 was aiming at being a definitive guide to all episodic video on the web, it seems that Om’s effort is a mix of being IMDB and an editorial driven site, that does some filtering for the audience. What I am missing here is a clear value proposition, or, in other words, what exactly should I expect – the best videos? The hottest videos? All the “good” videos?

Definition of Quality

One of the trickiest issues in the world of online video is the definition of quality. How can the editor in NTV know what’s good for me? Though philosophical in nature, it is a major challenge, that I’d love to hear Om’s opinion about.

User Interface

Last but not least, user interface is one of the biggest challenges in online video today. Looking at the current interface of most video recommendation sites, one would see the same scroll down page with x amount of videos. This interface works for YouTube, but in my opinion should be improved. NewTeeVee is built as a blog, and as such it is well designed. As a video interface – not so good IMHO:

1. Almost one-third of the screen is dedicated to promotion, ad space, and other money making machines.

2. Viewers need to scroll down in order to see recommended shows.

3. Video player is covering a small amount of the screen – while it is supposed to be the dominant experience

4. Users need to click at least twice to start playing a video

My belief is that online video interfaces should be, well, video interfaces. I’d like to see a site with a dominant video player, where users could navigate and find the best videos for them. This way, the video experience is the dominant one, and not the textual interface.

I hope that Om will be successful in this project – the web certainly needs one!

Watch Out Rupert!!!

Shel, Feldman – In The Internet, Low Budget Doesn’t Mean Bad Production

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Shel Israel and Loren Feldman are fighting. Yep, a good old, ego driven, social media fight.

This clip started it all:

and Shel responded by saying

Now Matt, let’s talk about, which you deemed “unwatchable” because of my ineptitude as a videographer and because you think my interviews are unfocused and boring.I think you are being a bit harsh on the interview skills. I have lots of experience over a good number of years interviewing all sorts of people and my work has been historically well received. But what is true is that I suck as a videographer and my worries about that have so far hurt some of the five video clips we have posted.

The fact is that FastCompany.TV is being treated as start up, which is exactly what it is. That means low budget. While FastCompany is talking with several companies, there is no sponsor yet. The top priority for what we will do with a sponsor is to get an AV professional to work with me on a format for the show and to be with me for all my interviews. This will allow me to focus on the interviews themselves, and area where I am pretty confident.

Shel – I am all with you. It is hard to do good videos. But, in the Internet, you can make great looking videos with simple equipment. That’s the whole thing with videobloggers. Kathryn did a low cost production which looked great. Galacticast guys are shooting in their living room, and their show looks great as well.

There are some basic things that can help – editing, editing, audio and editing. It can be done with your own Mac. Nothing fancy. So let’s not blame lack of budget for all the things that are wrong with Internet video. I think there are couple of other things there too…

How can videbloggers leverage live video platforms?

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In a previous post I compared the feature set of some of the key live video platforms such as BlogTV. In this post I’d like to explore together with you, how can videobloggers leverage live platforms. By saying videobloggers, I am referring to creators who are making episodic content, that is produced professionally or semi professionally.

What is so special about live shows? I believe there are 4 main characteristics that make live vlogging unique:

1. Real time interaction – unlike blogging, where readers and bloggers interact a-synchronously, in live video platforms, one can chat with the broadcaster and others directly. this option opens a wide range of creative abilities.

2. Coverage of time critical events – sport and political events are great examples of media that losses it value as time goes by. If you don’t watch a football game live, knowing the score at the end of the game reduces your emotional reaction to the game itself. So, live coverage adds value to the media,

3. Expansion of the experience to those who couldn’t attend it

4. Capturing the energy of a live event.

So how could vloggers utilize this technology in order to augment their regular shows?

Here are some of my thoughts:

1. If you are vlogging about music, it’s a no brainer – shot a live gig, or interview the artist for a live Q&A session. This subject matter is the one that can benefit the most from this technology.

2. The same goes for politics. Q&A with a candidate, and streaming of a live debate with viewers comments are two simple ways to leverage this technology and enrich an already existing vlog

3. Live broadcasting can reduce production costs, especially of talk shows. I was looking into this topic in the past, and found that you can reuse live materials to create an edited version of your show. This way you can benefit in two levels: first, you are having a live talk show, that interacts with the viewers. Second, you reduce shooting time, as now you have the material for the edited version. Jonny is doing a great job in this field.

4. In a dramatic show, creators can do a special event of a live episode. Kathryn did a whole show like that, and I am certain that Andrew Lipson have a lot to contribute to this. However, even if one episode is done live and the rest is pre-recorded, producers can create an event around it, generating buzz from the fact that the episode is unfolded live and viewers can interact with the actors.

What are your thoughts? How can vloggers leverage this medium to enhance viewership of their shows?

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