Finding the right recording device for your business social videos

English: American entrepreneur, author and pub...

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You should note that it is predicted that video will increase 40% in 2012. The smart phones and tablets are pushing the growth in video. After all, nothing beats a demonstration than a demonstration! Nothing facilitates the demonstration online than a video.

I predict many people will try to do it themselves. After all, it is easier now than ever before. You can use your smart phone, your tablet (just look at what Apple announced with the iPad 3 … aka new iPad … last week).

With that in mind, should you go out a buy a separate recording device for you business social video needs? If so…what?

Well, Seth Godin had a great post last Saturday. He talked providing the right product for the customer:

Consider two options:

When talking to an amateur, to a stranger, to a newbie, to someone who isn’t committed, the best path is clarity, which means simplicity. Few choices, no guessing, no hunting around.

When talking to a fellow professional, to a peer, to someone in the same groove as you, the goal is to maximize useful density of choice. Put as much power in the hands of the user as possible.

Let me apply this thinking to choosing a video recording device:

  1. If you are going to make less than 3 videos this year, use what you have. You are someone who isn’t committed to using business social videos.
  2. If you want to make more than 3 videos to promote you, your business, your brand, your product/service … buy a separate recording device. You may still be uncommitted, someone in the grove or somewhere in between. You’ll want a separate device to be set up to take multiple videos per month. You will not want to use up your smart phone or tablets memory with the videos you take…waiting for time for editing.
    1. If you are a newbie, go with simple. The cheaper all-in-one devices have very few manual features. Find one in which you can understand and use the device within 15 minutes with no problems.
    2. If you want more manual control, go with a more expensive prosumer or professional recording device(s) to help you get the optimum look you want. Devices include:

Everyone knows their own tolerance level and needs (including budget). Start smaller and easier to use until you know which category (non-committed vs heavy user) you will be over the next two years.

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Kodak getting out of the video business

English: Kodak Ektra

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Just in case you haven’t heard…Kodak is in bankruptcy. They are working hard to reorganize and save the company.

My previous life was working with large corporations on business strategy, business models, and information technology. For this reason, I found it fascinating on their latest direction to get out of the camera business and stick with printers/printing. You can read the entire press release here. The part I found most surprising was this:

…as a result of its ongoing strategic review process and commitment to drive sustainable profitability through its most valuable business lines, it plans to phase out its dedicated capture devices business – comprising digital cameras, pocket video cameras and digital picture frames – in the first half of 2012.

Really!?!?! With the growth in need for business social videos, Kodak is getting out of the digitcam business?!?! First the Flip dies out. Now Kodak (watch video below of an original)?

Yes, the mobile devices of cell phones and tablets as well as webcams have improved tremendously. However, these devices are not the best for small businesses to create business social videos for their websites. Cell phones and tablets just do not have the storage to take multiple takes of a 5 minute video. Webcams are just not portable enough.

The growth of social videos for education, branding, selling, and so many more ideas is growing so fast! The platforms accepting video is growing daily. Google Plus and Facebook along with other social platforms are placing emphasis on the use of video!

The Kodak’s Zi8 had wonderful color, good audio, and the ability to add an external microphone (my main reason for purchasing a Kodak over the Flip). Now we are left with the Sony Bloggie. Of course many still point and shoot camera‘s take video. I just will miss my Kodak!

I am sure Kodak has a vision that I just do not understand. Only time will tell if this major decision is a wise one.

As a salute to the end of Kodak camcorders … here is a video of what I found searching through my father’s old camera supplies last week.

 What do you think of Kodak’s new direction?

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Test Four of the Canon VIXMA HF G10 Instant Auto Focus

Front shot of the Canon VIXIA HF10.

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Still playing around with the new camcorder. This time I wanted to see how quick the Instant Auto Focus worked as I zoomed for a close up. Of course, Scarlet was the model.

She took her favorite “watch whats going on in the kitchen” spot on top of our refrigerator. With the camcorder setting at automatic, the auto focus set at I.AF (instant auto focus), I started recording.

This is what I really like about the Canon VIXMA HF G10. The close-ups are amazingly crisp and clear.  Just see for yourself in this video.


Yes, the color is off (the overpower green on the image changes Scarlet’s beautiful colors). What do you think of the close up? You can actually see her individual feathers!

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Customer support and the irony of it

Customer Service center at 23d Street downtown...

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From the last few posts, you know I’m testing a new camcorder. I am not satisfied with the results of the indoor recording. The color seems too yellow.

I sent an email to Canon admitting it may be me that is at fault. His suggestion was to try the different white balance settings to find the best. Obviously, automatic doesn’t do it.

I did just that. As you saw in yesterday’s post, I create a video illustrating the different white balance settings. I’m not happy with any of them.

I admit it. I’m picky. If I can use a Kodak zi8 in any setting and get really good color (except for low lighted areas), I expect good color from a camcorder that is 500x the price! Am I asking for too much?

So, I sent a link to the video (without the trailer and music) along with a still image of what I expected.

Unfortunately, we are restricted from viewing videos at our desktops, so I’m unable to view the video that you’ve produced.

The still image you included seems heavily saturated, especially reds (as you mentioned in your first message).

If the video you produced has similarly weighted colors over other colors then, unfortunately, I would recommend service for your camcorder.  I deeply regret the difficulty this causes.

The Pro’s of my correspondence with Canon:

  1. They were quick … overnight response.
  2. They were very polite.
  3. They did provide a means to talk to someone further by phone.

The Con’s of my correspondence with Canon:

  1. They are a camcorder company…they can’t look at a customers video who has a problem?
  2. They misunderstood that the picture WAS the actual color (yes, Scarlet is that red and blue).
  3. They couldn’t check to see that the camcorder was over a year old.
  4. They jumped too quickly to return the camcorder.

I know I’m being critical. After growing up in the technology world with technology, I noticed how customer service has changed.

It’s not just Canon. It’s many electronics companies…except Apple!

  1. In most cases, they are quick … overnight response…probably from a non-US country. Which is fine…if they are trained fully.
  2. They are very polite. They use a cut and paste script (you can tell by the different fonts in the email)…so are they really polite.
  3. They view the customer as something to dismiss as soon as possible. No more level 2 support. If you can’t figure out the problem on the first response, ask for the product back. I would prefer if customer service CARED to solve a problem.

In today’s competitive environment, customer service (and the level provided) is a major differenciator! For customer service to be above satisfactory (which is a failing grade), your service must be:

  1. Polite AND care about solving the problem.
  2. Be trained or willing to move the customer up the chain to higher level of support.
  3. Recognize your customer service will be the difference between a customer and a loyal customer…take advantage of this golden opportunity placed in your queue!

So…do I send the camcorder back? If the customer service person looked at my record, he would have seen that I had the camcorder for only 7 days! Maybe I’ll return the product and change manufacturers. Afterall, I’m not a loyal customer yet.


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Testing the Canon VIXIA HF G10 White Balance

Front shot of the Canon VIXIA HF10.

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I purchased the Canon VIXIA HF G10.

The best way for me to test the color (and white balance) was to use my favorite model…Scarlet. The colors of the Solomon Island Eclectus Hen is vibrant.

Here is a good picture of her coloring in the setting I used for this test. This is a raw image … nothing was done to alter her colors or sharpness.

When I looked at the results from the Canon, you will understand my disappointment.

Under the Automatic Setting, Scarlet’s colors came off too “yellow”, her red looked orange and her blue looked purple. Reaching out to Canon, they suggested I try the different white balance settings.

Below is a video to test Canon’s recommendation.

Constant was: Manual Setting, FXP, PF24. Kitchen has beige walls under florescent lights.

Let me know what you think. Please comment below with your suggestions.

Again, any recommendations? Please leave a comment below.

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Stupeflix … a quick very useful tool

Steve Garfield , the author of Get Seen, pointed Stupeflix out to me a few months ago. I finally had an opportunity to try it. This is great tool to use to create a video from pictures. They provide themes and music.

Create a 1 minute video for free from old pictures, your pet, a big event, a house for sale … and so forth. Yes, you can embed a video too. I see this more for photographs.

Here is my first attempt using Scarlet (Viditude’s mascot) illustrating her love of food! Scarlet loves to here from you and see your pet…leave a comment below with your stupeflix first trial.

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6 Lessons learned using two cheap camcorders for a shoot

ZI8 v. Playtouch

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It’s interesting. Our phones and point-n-shoot camcorders are getting better and better quality. The problem occurs when you are using a two camera shoot with different manufactured camcorders.

A colleague of mine, Kevin Thompson and I decided to create a quick video that would support both our businesses. Kevin helps many people uncover their strengths and passion to formulate a new career. Well, I was a perfect case study. I wanted to try a 2-camera shoot using different camcorders as an example for a post just like this one. Kevin had a original Flip & I had my Kodak zi8. We had a 1/2 hour window in a conference room where he was to present that evening.

We both came with a tripod and our point-n-shoot camcorder. That was all that was in common and thus…these six lessons learned:

  1. Make sure your tripods and camcorders are set at the same level. You may not be able to edit to have the same angle. Make sure one isn’t pointed up your nose and the other down. Try to have both camcorders pointing at the same eye level (even if one person is taller than the other). This actually has nothing to do with the quality of the camcorder. This is all about setting the stage.
  2. Remember the 180-degree rule. Both camcorders need to be on the same side…one pointed more at one person and the other one pointed at the other person. Make sure both camcorders have both of you within shot. Again, this applies to any type of camcorder. Even the best camcorder can cut off someone’s head or shoulder. Take a 3 second test before the full take.
  3. Every manufacturer has a different color recording method.  The Flip cast a bluer hue than the Kodak. During the editing phase, it was complicated trying to get the background (in this case the white wall) to look the same. It’s bad enough when the lighting changes. Playing with color balances requires a more sophisticated video editing software.
  4. Record both camcorders at the same definition. Kevin recorded his at standard definition, I at high definition. When creating the video, you need to render at the highest quality and the right aspect ratio to avoid the black lines on the sides. If at all possible, record at high-definition…720p at least. Unfortunately, the Flip was older and didn’t have high-definition.
  5. Use a separate audio recorder. They have better sound quality than the point-n-shoot camcorders. Having a separate audio file will save you time by using ONE audio file and two video files. Remember to clap a second or two before you start the interview. It’s a great “marker” when you are aligning (syncing) all three files.
  6. Know what you want to say and the objectives for both your needs. Kevin and I discussed our hopes for the video and how we hope to use them before starting the camera. Kevin knew what questions to ask to promote my “purple cow” skills. I knew to give Kevin the credit he deserves.

OK, here is the video Kevin & I created with one take. It’s a great social video … using two cheap camcorders:

What do you think? What has been your experience using a two camcorder shoot with point-n-shoot camcorders? We want to know. Leave a comment below.

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