The Joy of TEDx

TEDx-7Every day I find myself in the midst of a juggle between running a business and trying to be the best father/husband I can be. It is safe to assume many of you have a similar juggling act.

I am not complaining. Simply stating facts. There is simply not enough time in a day.

So that’s what makes life funny. When something comes up that hits a nerve, suddenly you find time.

Months ago, a very interesting man named Richie Etwaru asked me a question: “Would you like to be the Chief Storyteller for a TEDx event I am organizing in Bedminster, NJ?”

Despite the life juggle I mentioned above, I did not hesitate. “Yes, it would be an honor” was my answer.  No money. Though a feather in my cap there was no clear business upside. I did not initially even know what he meant by “Chief Storyteller.

So why was “yes” the gut reaction?

Mental candy. That is what immediately occurred to me. This event represented something to stimulate a part of my mind I have not stimulated enough recently. The part that explores the question “what if” without the need to answer that question. It is a mental exercise I used to enjoy so much back in my college days. When the ethereal trumped the practical. You get the picture.

I had not realized until that very moment how much I craved it.  There is true value in pushing your mind past the practical. It is more than an exercise. It is where truly great ideas can be born. So “yes” was the only answer.

Months have passed since that conversation with Richie and the event is upon us. It is happening today.

I have put hours of work into helping the speakers shape their storylines into effective 15 minutes of thought-provoking wonder and awe. And I am better for it.

Mad Bear Productions, my company is now producing the videos for the event so there is new fun exercise involved in the process but none of this has to do directly with profit or business.

Richie has called it a labor of love. While that is true, I am more overcome by the mirror image. It has been a gift of indulgence. The permission to indulge in a larger picture mental exercise that is about to really happen. I’ll let you know how it goes and what comes of this extraordinary experience.


About Glenn Zimmerman:
glenn@madbearproductions.com

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Glenn has what is best described as “Superhero Syndrome.”

His affliction began as a child and has progressed with age.

He got into extreme skiing and extreme sports before they were a thing because every
superhero should try flying at least once.

While at Boston University, it was his desire to save the day that brought him to Post-
Soviet Russia where he explored the emerging homeless population.

His Syndrome brought him to journalism school at Syracuse University to get his MS in
Mass Communications. He later became an award winning reporter with the number
one station in Detroit (WXYZ-TV) and with NBC’s flagship station in New York (WNBC-
TV).

And, it was the reason he formed the video agency Mad Bear Productions.
With Mad Bear, he harnesses the power of story to help business, non-profits and
events engage with their target audience.  Video is his tool and he wields it mightily.

Glenn is a sought after speaker on video engagement and mass media.

It is all part of his quest to help save the day, one story at a time.

User Generated Video Can Enhance a Project (if used right)

Yes — we are actually encouraging people to produce professional video using their smartphones.

No — we are not crazy because this is a strategy that works.

The word strategy is crucial here. Without strategy, you just have a bunch of poorly shot video without purpose.

This is a way of significantly increasing the scope of your project while keeping the cost of production down.

Here is a scenario — there is only enough budget for a few days of professional shooting yet you are trying to capture locations in more than one state.

Unless you have some magical ability to be in multiple places at once  — you’re stuck, right?

Nope!

Here is where you can leverage the fact that most people have easy access to some type of device that shoots reasonable quality HD video.

Take a project we recently completed for WilsonHCG. They wanted a video that captured the essence of their corporate culture but their people work/live all over the country. So, we asked some of their employees to answer a few questions by speaking into their own cameras. Then we wove some of their footage into the storyline.

The result is an interesting blend of high resolution imagery and user generated footage.

Not only does the user generated footage add scope to the storyline but the fact that employees are helping to produce the piece adds a subtle amount of intimacy — it creates the right feeling.

One final note: When you ask people to use their phones to shoot their own video, remind them to make sure the phone is positioned on its side rather than vertically.

For those who don’t understand what I mean — you may be one of those unfortunate souls who has VVS (Vertical Video Syndrone) — if you get nothing from this post other than how to avoid VVS — then I would call this post a success. Enjoy!

Mad Bear Wins 4 Telly Awards

Mad Bear Productions, a strategic video marketing and production agency, is proud to announce it has won four Telly Awards.

tellysilverlargeThe Telly Awards, now in their 35th year, are the premier awards honoring outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs, web commercials, videos and films. The winners represent the best work of the most respected advertising agencies, production companies, and corporate video departments in the world – this year alone saw 12,000 entries from all 50 states and 5 continents.

 

“These awards provide us with a great opportunity to showcase howtellybronzelarge amazing our clients are, after all, these are their stories, we just have the privilege of helping to tell them.” says Glenn Zimmerman, President and CEO of Mad Bear Productions.

Click Here to see the award winning videos for the following categories:

-Automotive — DCH Auto Group

-Charitable/Not-for-profit — Hillside, Inc

“Everyday we see children’s eyes transform from hopeless to hopeful and families become whole again. Hillside is where the lost can be found. Through our video, you can hear a firsthand account of one family’s journey to healing.”

******** – Evan Pearson, Director of Development, Hillside, Inc.

-Infomercial — Haneke Design

“Our vision was to depict who we are and how we work in a way that would resonate with the kind of talent we want to attract to our team. In these videos, Mad Bear Productions perfectly captured our culture and atmosphere. They highlight all the things that make Haneke Design such a special place to work.”

******** – Jody Haneke, President, Haneke Design

-Cause Marketing — DCH Charitable Foundation

These varied categories are testament to the versatility of the Mad Bear team; a team made up of seasoned storytellers and broadcast journalists. They use the latest technologies and equipment, but their most valuable skills are their interpersonal ones. They understand how to emotionally connect a brand with its audience – producing superior videos that are documentary-style brand stories designed to make your business, product, service or event come vividly alive. See more of our videos on the Mad Bear Website.

The team would like to thank everyone who voted for them – they’ll be sure to keep up the hard work!

Follow Mad Bear on Facebook and Twitter!

Mad Bear to Sponsor Smart Travel Analytics Conference

Mad Bear Productions is excited to announce the sponsorship of EyeforTravel’s Smart Travel Analytics North America 2014.

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The Smart Travel Analytics Show brings together thought leaders and practitioners of data and analytics in the travel and hospitality spaces. Expect to network with leading hotels, airlines, OTAs, GDS, Cruises, Destinations and travel technology companies from across North America and beyond. Spend 2 days filled with best-practice strategies, cutting-edge trends and vigorous debate – as well as powerful networking opportunities with the analytics and data travel industry elite.

The conference will take place on February 11th & 12th at the New Yorker Hotel in New York City.

Mad Bear will focus on helping the tourism, travel and hospitality industries understand how to better leverage the power and flexibility of cross-platform video analytics.

For more information on the show and/or to learn more about the other sponsors for this event, please click here.

Mandela and Mad Bear: Lessons Learned in South Africa

In addition to being one of the founders of Mad Bear, I am lucky enough to be asked to cover events for various news agencies. Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to South Africa to cover the death and funeral of Nelson Mandela.

This provided me with a unique opportunity to speak to crews from all around the world, to listen to their coverage and watch their stories. I was struck by two things: At least half the broadcasters were reporting similar information from a similar perspective, hitting the same bullet points, emphasizing the headlines, their coverage by en large covering the ‘event’ as one would a pop- culture event, which, in many ways it was, given the celebrity of Nelson Mandela, his status as an icon and a cult of personality. This was generally the tack of the US networks and their western counterparts.

The other half covered the event in a more personal fashion, a perspective guided by their relationship with South Africa and Mandela based on economic, geographical, and ideological factors.

The ability to look at an historical event from various perspectives simultaneously was unique.  It was a lesson learned, a reminder not to settle for the obvious. This is a great example of how our backgrounds in news influence how we approach our client’s stories, and in the way we tell their stories. Examining a story from varied perspectives allows us to to more effectively tell stories based on our clients and their audience. It is uniquely fulfilling and fun to be able to apply lessons from one world and bring them to bear in the Mad Bear world (yes… the Bear pun was intended).

About Julian Williams:

Julian Williams

As Director of Photography and co-founder of Mad Bear Productions, all things visual pass before Julian’s creative and experienced eyes. He has been capturing the story as it happens from behind the lens for more than fifteen years.

Julian’s ability to find the extraordinary in the seemingly mundane is his gift. As both a cameraman and editor, Julian understands the importance of shooting the right material the first time. With a developed love for telling stories and a deep appreciation for being allowed inside the worlds of thousands of people, Julian loves shooting every kind of story.

From Shuttle launches at Cape Canaveral, natural disasters, historic elections, Super Bowls, The Olympics, a World Cup to the recent royal wedding;  Julian brings his global experience and understanding for the latest technologies and trends to Mad Bear’s clientele.

 

The Future of Online Video is Now

I boarded a flight from the East Coast to head to California and 3 nights later I returned home.

Great trip… Huntington Beach is pretty place!

SMPLive 2013_1

While away, my goal was to learn about some things I didn’t know about and also drop a little knowledge at the same time. Call it an online video mindshare.

It was my first time to Streaming Media West — I had been to Streaming Media East several times before but never to the West Coast event.

Beyond the difference in location, the big difference this time … I was a speaker at Streaming Media Producer Live.

So, yes… I had a little more clout and because of that perhaps a little more access.

If you are interested here are the two topics I spoke about:

1) An interactive discussion about how to take a seemingly boring subject and make it interesting. Feel free to watch it click here

2) A presentation about how and why to think multiple platforms for a video project. Feel free to watch it here

It is all good stuff and I had fun — but that really is not the purpose of this post.

The purpose of the post is to reflect upon what the trip taught me.

So here goes…

The reach and impact of online video goes beyond the simple statistic you often see.

How video does everything from increase click-thru-rates to time spent on a site to conversion, etc…

Yes … all true but honestly –  that is really old information and well documented for years.

What I see as interesting and new, is how the buzz over online video is generating so much attention.

The result- there are people all of the world right now scrambling and dare I say racing to leverage and harness the power of online video.

Some are exploring the latest production technologies with the goal of empowering producers with the knowledge of what is even out there (e.g. Shawn Lam)

While others are exploring new delivery, tracking and analytics tools (e.g. Wowza or Ramp). Perhaps, mix in developing more sophisticated and seamless methods of placing video ads (e.g. Anvato)

And this is happening while the definition of the perfect video platform continues to evolve. Maybe you want to blend live streaming with a platform that is both collaborative and shareable (e.g. Watchitoo).

Is the goal live streaming? Great… let’s see if we can make the wireless streaming device as small as possible with the highest quality (e.g. Teradek) and supported by enough bandwidth to reach a mass audience without crashing any servers (e.g VideoRx).

And of course there is always the never ending challenge to transcode the video files to right size for the right device, platform or browser (e.g. Telestream)

I could go on but you get the point.

Generally speaking, there is a rush to discover the next technology or combination of old practices to open up a new Blue Ocean in the online video world.

Hmmmmm …. Maybe I should figure out a way to broadcast a video signal from the sneaker of a running shoe while moving. Look out GoPro –  think of the applications?

Easy my high-tech friends — I know it is possible now but I am just making a point — ahem — so here it goes:

I love my job!

Fear Not the Metaphor

Most goods and services are not photogenic.  They are not sexy.

Software.  Insurance.  Ball bearings.  The cardboard box.

homepage_bottom_left_sept02_US

Not every shoe is designed by Jimmy Choo.

home_sub_shoe_recommender_314x218_v2Which doesn’t detract a bit from what they do over at New Balance.  So, as varied as brands are even within specific industries, the methods to market those brands ought to be just as varied.

For example, you may sell something that is difficult to grasp through a visual medium, like medical software such as billing software for medical practices. The best way to express the indispensable nature of your product in a video would not be to have a programmer explain the software for two minutes.

That might put everyone to sleep who doesn’t have an engineering degree.

A more conventional approach would be to have the clients, medical practices, talk about how much more efficient they are with said software in use. Certainly a solid option!

However, a third approach would be to select a unique doctor or practice, perhaps a cornerstone of the community, maybe a doctor who takes time off to serve people in underdeveloped countries, and profile that individual or practice. Maybe a doctor or nurse in the practice was a field medic in the armed services.  What stories might they offer?

Attach the brand to a great story.  The story is the emotional connection between the potential client or customer and the brand.

This approach can be applied to virtually any product or service or brand.  Red Bull is an energy drink.  Yet the public associates the brand with extreme sports.

They focused on the sports and attached their brand, essentially using a different sporting culture as a middleman between their brand and their clients and customers.

Great stories make create emotional connections that can be attached to anything that needs clients and customers.

Take a video we did for Adknowledge. It was about a party they threw after ad:tech San Francisco 2013.

The video says very little directly about the client and talks a lot about Alcatraz — that’s where the party took place. The video is really simply an experience that was provided by the client.

So, I ask you this: would you like to work for, work with and around a company willing to throw this party?

Let us know your thoughts… thanks!

About Julian Williams:

Julian Williams

As Director of Photography and co-founder of Mad Bear Productions, all things visual pass before Julian’s creative and experienced eyes. He has been capturing the story as it happens from behind the lens for more than fifteen years.

Julian’s ability to find the extraordinary in the seemingly mundane is his gift. As both a cameraman and editor, Julian understands the importance of shooting the right material the first time. With a developed love for telling stories and a deep appreciation for being allowed inside the worlds of thousands of people, Julian loves shooting every kind of story.

From Shuttle launches at Cape Canaveral, natural disasters, historic elections, Super Bowls, The Olympics, a World Cup to the recent royal wedding;  Julian brings his global experience and understanding for the latest technologies and trends to Mad Bear’s clientele.

New Video Camera Technology = Quality & Value (Part 2)

A bass line throbs and light ephemeral strings tickle your eardrums. On screen, spectacular imagery sears your retinas burrowing into your brain.  Something, part astronaut, part trapeze artist, part condor leaps off a cliff and screams through a dazzling alpine landscape, as guitars scream and a beat throbs providing the cadence to an all out three pronged attack on your senses, audio, visual and emotional.

Just watch for yourself…

The message is clear.  “You can do this.  Its easy.   Its small, its affordable, you can be a hero. You can be a pro”  Its right there on the name of the camera.  GoPro Hero.

So you go out and buy a GoPro ready to bring videography to new heights when your attempts at heroic imagery are dogged by issues.

Take this example we found on YouTube.

Cool jumping fish but why does the video look so bland?

Where is the sound and the fury? Why does your family vacation look like a video of your family vacation and not the epic visual journey you were expecting? The answer is of course time and expertise.  The adrenaline packed imagery you see is the result of many hours of labor, choreographed shoots, carefully selected music and a lengthy editing process.

Despite the democratization of video discussed in part 1 (click here to see part 1), the availability of tools does not guarantee the desired result.  Tiger Woods’ golf clubs are available to you (well kind of), but you are not competing at the US Open. Its terribly unfair.  You can record great video, but for the final product to look truly professional, you need the skills, and the equipment of a professional.

You need music.  You need color correction.  You need editing.  You need a story.

So here is an example of a personal shoot I did on a recent hike in the Smokey Mountains.

It shows how color correction alone can make a world of subtle difference.

Full disclosure:  This footage was shot with a Canon 5D which has a bigger sensor and a richer image than the GoPro.  But the principles remain the same.  The images on the right are straight from the camera and the ones one on the left are color corrected.  In the color correction, notice how the greens are a bit greener, there is greater contrast and saturation to mimic the image our eys see, as opposed to the slightly washed out image of the camera produces. The difference while subtle, makes a big difference in the fit and finish of a video.

So, the the next time you pick up your camcorder, DSLR or GoPro and wonder why the output is not what you were hoping for, remember the video is not completed simply because you are done shooting.

Julian WilliamsAbout Julian Williams:

As Director of Photography and co-founder of Mad Bear Productions, all things visual pass before Julian’s creative and experienced eyes. He has been capturing the story as it happens from behind the lens for more than fifteen years.

Julian’s ability to find the extraordinary in the seemingly mundane is his gift. As both a cameraman and editor, Julian understands the importance of shooting the right material the first time. With a developed love for telling stories and a deep appreciation for being allowed inside the worlds of thousands of people, Julian loves shooting every kind of story.

From Shuttle launches at Cape Canaveral, natural disasters, historic elections, Super Bowls, The Olympics, a World Cup to the recent royal wedding;  Julian brings his global experience and understanding for the latest technologies and trends to Mad Bear’s clientele.

New Video Camera Technology = Quality & Value (Part 1)

What once cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and labor to manipulate, has been reduced to a team of 2-5 individuals who can produce stunningly visual videos  for a fraction of the cost.

That is the simple result of all the emerging video camera technology.

Allow me to get my geek on.

The digital Super 35mm chip based video cameras produce amazing HD images whose full potential is actually limited by televisions and other devices that display the images.

Thanks to cameras like the Canon DSLR line, the Super 35 Sony and Panasonic products, the innovative interlopers into the market like Black Magic and the ubiquitous GoPro, one camera shoots have spawned into three and four camera extravaganzas.

Sony-NEXFS100UK GoPro-Hero3 5d_marklll_586x186 Panasonic AGAF100A

blackmagic-pocket-cinema-camera-3And the cameras are slight enough to all be carried in one case or a bag as opposed to a box truck. Lap top editing systems allow us to put stories together anywhere, a process that used to require a room full of equipment manned by multiple technicians.

What all this means for me the “film maker” is I can bring more fancy stuff to the table for our clients and their audience at a reduced cost, but more importantly, it gives me the tools to tell better, more compelling and dynamic stories.  Those stories stand out in the vast river of moving images, and hopefully they stimulate the cerebral cortex instead of merely passing through.

(Part 2: Summary)

So, you bought a a GoPro Hero 3 but your video does not quite look like it does in the the official GoPro commercial. In Part 2 of this series, we will examine how to make these new technologies work or in some cases why they are not working as you might expect.

Julian WilliamsAbout Julian Williams:

As Director of Photography and co-founder of Mad Bear Productions, all things visual pass before Julian’s creative and experienced eyes. He has been capturing the story as it happens from behind the lens for more than fifteen years.

Julian’s ability to find the extraordinary in the seemingly mundane is his gift. As both a cameraman and editor, Julian understands the importance of shooting the right material the first time. With a developed love for telling stories and a deep appreciation for being allowed inside the worlds of thousands of people, Julian loves shooting every kind of story.

From Shuttle launches at Cape Canaveral, natural disasters, historic elections, Super Bowls, The Olympics, a World Cup to the recent royal wedding;  Julian brings his global experience and understanding for the latest technologies and trends to Mad Bear’s clientele.

Mad Bear Productions Wins Another Telly

The Mad Bear team is extremely proud to announce another trophy for our collective mantlepiece.

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We won a 2013 Telly Award for a video entitled “Chess and Insurance.”

We produced the video for our client First Fidelity Brokerage, an insurance brokerage firm specializing in business needs.

After hearing about the award, First Fidelity CEO Eugene B. Podokshik said,

“The Mad Bear team googled me and saw that I was once a chess champion.  This was unique so they built a whole theme around it and successfully portrayed me and my firm as strategic and forward thinking.”

Mad Bear President Glenn Zimmerman said,

“Themes are an important part of any story. So, given First Fidelity’s approach to insurance from a strategic standpoint, chess just made sense as a way to visualize insurance.”

Podokshik added,

“Don’t let the growl fool you. The Mad Bear is very thoughtful, creative and actually pretty nice, I must admit. “

This is Mad Bear’s 2nd Telly Award in as many years.

Last year we won the award for The Story of PeriClean: A Brushless Toothbrush.

Please check out our Telly Award winning videos and feel free to leave your reactions to what you see.

Looking forward to hearing from you…