On Tuesday, I finally was able to launch Talking With Tom -- my new video blog project/experiment.
If you missed the announcment post, you can learn more about the background of this 100% mobile based content marketing experiment.
After launching it, a number of folks asked me how I was doing it. They wanted the nitty gritty of programs, hacks, etc. So today, I thought I'd share that with you so you could do your own experiment or just maybe understand and appreciate mine.
I'm using the iPhone4 for this project because it has both a great camera, but also you can download the iMovie app from iTunes. It's the iMovie app that makes the filming and editing possible.
I'm using the iMovie app for all of my editing. Overall I'd say that it works reasonably well. You don't want to do any really heavy lifting or editing, but for simple clip trims and splices, it works pretty well. Primarily the difficulty is in editing long pieces of video. Because you're working on such a small area you have to zoom the video timeline in order to make accurate cuts. Hence, if you're working with a longer piece of video, it becomes really difficult to keep zooming in/out.
The other tricky thing is the titles. If you go watch the video of Greg Cangialosi talking with me, you'll notice I added a black bar at the bottom with his Twitter handle. It's really easy to add BUT iMovie adds the title to the video SEGMENT. So if you want it to be up for the entire movie and that movie has multiple segments, you have to do a little hack. I'll get to that in a minute.
It says you can add in a title card to the movie too. To do this you'd need to have that title card saved on your phone as a JPEG. I haven't gotten that ambitious yet, and as I don't have any sponsors for the project yet, so I've put this on the phase II tests.
To publish the blog, I'm using Posterous. I've been goofing with Posterous for a few years now but have never really seriously taken the platform for a test run. Talking With Tom changed that. I have to say, I'm VERY impressed. First, the iPhone app is easy to use -- even letting me tag posts and then when the post goes live, the tags I generated become categories on the site. Very nice. I even learned how to embedd live hyperlinks in the post body copy -- more on that under the Hacks section.
I can also use the iPhone app to manage comments, see how many views I've had on the post, etc. The one thing I do wish it did though, was give me the ability to do some level of formatting, link creation, etc. on the body of a post without having to code it manually. So Posterous, if you're listening... please add that to the Next Update list... thx!
The Posterous site made it really easy to use a custom domain but host it on Posterous' servers. I just had to register my name, go into my Domain Management section of my GoDaddy account and update two fields. Then within a few minutes, presto, I had TalkingWithTom.com up and running on a basic Posterous theme. I then went shopping for a new theme and selected one by Cory Watilo and BAM I was in business. For those of you who can sling a bit of code, you can go in an customize stuff and if you know CSS you can get really fancy pancy. Me, I'm not smart enough for all of that so I relied on Cory's theme to get the job done. And like all good blog hosting sites, Posterous makes adding Twitter/FB Like buttons easy as clicking a button.
Lastly, I like that Posterous hosts the videos on my site vs using a YouTube or Vimeo embed. Maybe the Columbus Dispatch ought to consider using Posterous in the future.... kidding. It forces anyone who is clicking a link shared in social media to come to my home base to view the video, whether they find the site via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or another blogger's blog -- they have to come here to view the content (video). Again, as I think through how this approach can be sponsored, I've got to think that makes the site more appealing to a sponsor than if I was using YouTube vids that could be picked up, embedded anywhere and next to anything (content wise). Any brand managers readinging this? Would love to hear your 02 on the subject.
Half the reason I like my little experiments is that I'm given a reason to go buy new toys to play with. Talking with Tom will be no different. Already I've added a Brando Directional Mic, wide-angle lens and my personal favorite -- a Glif. I'm really loving the Glif because I was part of the group that crowdfunded its development using Kickstarter. And if you're loking for a simple mount that will let you use your iPhone on a tripod, this is the right tool. I've been loving it.
The first few videos that will post were shot before I got the wide angle lens, so watch for the difference in February. It's pretty interesting in that it allows me to get really close to my subject but maintain a view (on the video) that doesn't feel like I'm standing right on top of them. I'm also going to pony up for a wireles lav mic. Hee hee hee... I love buying toys. This one got decent reviews... so we'll see. Again, you probably won't see videos using this until February or March. If anyone out there is a big audio buff and know of a better solution, please let me know.
Ok, with any new endeavor you have to figure it out as you go along. For me, these are hacks and frankly, their half the fun. So far I've needed to do two hacks.
The first is putting HTML links in the body copy of posts. In my fisrt post, a number of folks said they wished I had done that as it would have made it easier to learn more about Greg, his company Blue Sky Factory, etc. Now as I said, the Posterous iPhone app doesn't give you a way to do that...BUT what I've figured out is that if I just code the HTML mark-up into my post and upload, the Posterous site translates my code into links. Presto, now I can create links and make them open in new windows. It's kind of a pain because I don't know HMTL and typing that much on the iPhone can be difficult, but I've got a few ideas for another hack to make my work a bit easier. What about you -- got any thoughts on hacks I might use to make this easier? Trust me, I'm all ears!
The second hack is getting a constant title bar on the entire video instead of getting it fading in and out with each cut of the video. To do this with the iMovie app you simply make all of your edits and get the video finished. Then render it and it will save as a new movie in your Camera Roll. Then, go back into iMovie, import that new movie to edit. Once you've imported it (if you've used iMovie on a Mac, you know what I mean by importing the movie -- it works the same way on the iPhone) then create your title bar and copy. Now, because you've only got a single video it applies it to the entire segment so that you get that desktop professional look. You'll see I figured this out on the second video.
So that's it for now. If you've got an iPhone -- what I hope you're seeing is that you've got more than a phone. Thanks to apps like iMovie and Posterous, you've got a social media content production studio in your hands.
So the only questions left are... what are YOU going to do with it? And of course, does anyone know of any other mics, lenses, mounts, etc., that you think I should try out during this project? Maybe a steadicam or different lens/mic set ups that will give better quality video? If you do, let me know. No promise that I'll run out and buy it (remember, I still don't have a sponsor underwriting the costs to buy equipment, travel to film these folks, etc.) but I'll do my best!
And hey, if you enjoyed this post or just want to keep updated on the project, please consider subscribing so you can have posts from this blog sent directly to your eMail in box. And don't worry, I'll never share your email with anyone and I don't send anything but blog posts... because that's not what your here for right?