Saturday, 26 November 2016

Great Videos from Ordinary Businesses - Purple Feather

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. So how many words is a video worth? According to Dr James McQuivey of Forrester Research, one minute of video is approximately equal to 1.8 million words. I will examine that claim in a future post but for today I want to share a video with you that makes it clear that the words you use can make a huge difference to the outcome you can expect.

The Power of Words: Purple Feather

In the 6th in the series we look at a video by Andrea Gardner's Purple Feather, based in Glasgow, Scotland.

As Purple Feather say on their website, they created 'The Power of Words' video to showcase their respect for language. It is a direct homage to ‘Historia de un Letrero (The Story of a Sign)’ by Alonso Alvarez Barreda, which won an online contest organised by the National Film Board of Canada at the Cannes Film Festival 2008. In turn, ‘The Power of Words’, Purple Feather’s English version made in 2010, also won an award and actually went on to be viewed over 25 million times on YouTube.
Although this post is about ‘The Power of Words’ I would encourage you to watch the original Mexican/USA film. The fact that it is in Spanish does not matter, you will follow its story that “with a stroke of the pen, a stranger transforms the afternoon for another man”. You can view Barreda’s ‘Historia de un Letrero (The Story of a Sign)’ below.

Now back to Purple Feather’s video. First of all, if you don’t have an emotional response to “The Power of Words” check that you still have a heart. The manipulation of your emotions is important in this story and allows the film makers to magnify the impact of their message.
The video illustrates that by changing the words you use you can turbocharge your message. However, it is a little ironic that Purple Feather use the power of visual story-telling, coupled with emotion loaded music, to make that point.
The makers demonstrate a good understanding of visual communication, for instance contrasting the life experience of the man with those around him, always in a way that builds the viewer’s empathy with him. Even his physical placement on the pavement at the bottom of the set of steps, literally placing him below everyone else, helps to build our sympathy for his situation.
Another thing worth noting is that Barreda’s short film was around five and a half minutes whereas ‘The Power of Words’ is less than half that length. The brevity seems to intensify the emotional impact of the video, as does the music by Giles Lamb and the colour grading (the video has been given a golden tone, almost matching that in the Barreda’s film).
The video tugs at your heart strings and just as you are reaching for the Kleenex, in comes the clever twist at the end. As a copywriter and producer I’ll admit it’s one of those occasions when I think to myself, “now why didn’t I think of that!”

Key takeaway from this video

You might think the key take away from “The Power of Words” would be to use emotion to influence your viewer. Although manipulating your viewer’s emotions can be beneficial it is not what I think is important here. The key thing is that Purple Feather demonstrated in this video the thing they do for their clients. They are skilled wordsmiths and they showed how phrasing your call to action can completely alter the outcome. Purple Feather did not talk about the power of words, they showed you. When you demonstrate the efficacy of your claim it makes that claim all the more powerful.

The same strategy is used by Blendtec in their famous “Will it Blend” series of YouTube videos. They show how powerful their kitchen blenders are by blending numerous household items until they are dust. Perhaps the best known is the blending of an iPhone. It is fascinating and shocking at the same time, partly because they are destroying an expensive and cool piece of tech and partly because it is the last thing you would expect in a kitchen blender. In an updated version they put an iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 head-to-head. What's the result? Five and a half million pairs of eye-balls who now know how powerful a Blendtec really is!

That is clever and a strategy you can apply to your own marketing videos. Show rather than tell your prospects what you can do for them. It is less salesy and your viewers will be all the more convinced and impressed. After all, ‘seeing is believing’, as they say.

Next week’s video

Next week we take a look at a video made by Shopify, the well-known eCommerce platform. We see how a young go-ahead company exploits video to make viewers think it is a cool place to work, and how that allows them to recruit talented staff who perfectly match and reflect the ethos of the company.

Learn how to make your own business videos

You want to record your own professional looking content marketing videos that look and sound professional. Well anyone can shoot video, but you also need to know how to make videos that will impress your contacts and prospects.

My online course Make Great Videos On A Budget, co-authored with online PR and Marketing guru Ken McGaffin, is a non-techy guide getting started with video. You can follow the video course at your own pace on your PC, tablet or mobile.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Great Videos from Ordinary Businesses - Dollar Shave Club Videos

How do you watch internet videos? YouTube say that mobile makes up 40% of global watch-time, and that figure is growing. What is even more interesting is that 92% of mobile viewers share videos with others. Those two figures are important because it means your potential customers do not have to be tied to their home computer to see what you have to offer. They could quite as easily be in the high street and ready to buy.

Also, if you have a video and it excites the viewer there is a good chance they will share it with their friends, and you can’t get better free advertising. This week’s video shows how phenomenal the effect of video sharing can be, both in views and in revenue.

Dollar Shave Club – Our Blades are… Great

In the fifth video in our series we look at a well-made promotional video featuring the co-founder of the company, Mike Dubin.

The Dollar Shave Club video targets the male viewer who is fed up with expensive razors and the need to go out and buy them. The video is very funny; you just love it and the idea of the club.

Mike, the CEO, presents the video himself with dead pan delivery and marvellous slapstick humour. The video has obviously been scripted and directed extremely well, with a professional hand behind it. Mike Dubin does not hesitate to take the p**s out of himself and poke fun at his rivals. It’s entertaining and connects with the company’s target market.

The video also doesn’t waste time and gets to the point very quickly. In the opening few lines Mike tells you what the company does for the consumer and why they should buy it. He says, “Hi, I’m Mike, founder of What is Well, for a dollar a month we send high quality razors right to your door. Yeah, a dollar. Are the blades any good? No... They’re f***ing great”. Yes, the video connected with men, and within six hours their website had sold out. More amazingly, the video helped 

When this video went live on YouTube in March 2014 (8 months after the company launched) it immediately went viral and by the end of the year 50,000 users were referring a friend every month. The video helped the company to make an emotional connection with its male audience and build their trust. Customers have become unpaid evangelists for the company’s products. They are Loyalists and Champions, as Mike Dubin calls them, and they do go out of their way to promote the product they have emotionally bought into.   

Four years after the video’s launch it has had over 23 million views, generated tens of thousands of comments on social media and helped in delivery the best news ever for the four-and-a-half-year-old company.

In July 2016 Unilever bought the business for, wait for it, $1 Billion!

Key takeaway from this video

Although your comic timing and delivery might not be as good as Mike’s, this video does show that often the best person to appear in the video is the founder, owner, CEO, or whatever you want to call them. The company was their idea, they planted the seed and they are passionate about it. That passion will show through when you engage with your viewer. Don’t be stuffy, be natural and avoid sterile business speak. I recently filmed a CEO and asked him to try and connect with the viewer by looking a little friendlier by smiling, he responded by saying, “I don’t do smiles”. You can image how the video turned out.

A word of warning though. Although using humour is a great way to engage with your viewer be careful. What you think is funny may not be what your viewer considers funny. Good comedy can be hard to do really well. If your script or your ability to carry it off aren’t up to scratch, forget it. Alternatively consider leaving the comedy to an out-takes section at the end of your video. Those bloopers will appear natural and funny.

Next week’s video

Next week we look at a video to promote a Glasgow company. The writing is clever but the videography would not be beyond most people with a few videos under their belt. The video makers tug at your heart strings and I defy anyone not to be moved, just before a clever twist at the end.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Great Videos from Ordinary Businesses - ChrisFix Checklist

Should you really invest in video marketing? Well Forbes says 65% of execs have visited a vendor’s site after watching video and 39% of them have called a vendor after watching a video. The figures sound fantastic but does that mean your business videos need to have high production values (that's video speak for “expensive”)?

Not at all, in fact you can attract viewers using nothing more than your home camcorder or smartphone. That’s exactly what one American YouTuber has done, creating a YouTube channel with How-To videos that attracts millions of views.

How to Inspect a Used Car for Purchase

In the fourth in the series we look at a simple How-To video by ChrisFix, a solo film maker.

This is an unpretentious no fills video but ChrisFix has understood what his audience wants, namely content, and proceeds to give it to them. He wastes no time with a fancy logo reveal at the start, that’s for narcissists and a mark of vanity! Instead Chris tells us straightaway what he is going to cover in the video and goes straight ahead and delivers on the promise. That is important to note because not getting into the “meat” of the subject matter is the main reason why videos lose viewers. Chris leaves his logo reveal until the end, where he uses it intelligently as a branding device and a means to transition to his end slate.

In creating the video ChrisFix uses a hand held camera while he walks round the used car showing the features any buyer should look for. With his free hand he points out issues on the car’s bodywork, helping to visually underline his vocal commentary. At no point do we actually see ChrisFix but that is a common feature of many How-To videos. The detail or process is what matters to the viewer, the presenter is secondary and only there to provide an explanatory commentary.

Chris has understood that YouTube is a social platform and encourages the viewer to watch his related videos, including the “test drive” part of his used car buyers guide. In addition, he encourages the viewer to click the thumbs up button, leave their own tips in the comments, which can be a great source of ideas for further videos, and subscribe to his channel (almost 1.2 million have). But Chris has another trick up his sleeve to engage with the viewer, he has produced the useful ChrisFix Checklist for used car buyers, and made it available as a download. Unfortunately, he misses a trick here, he could have used it as a lead magnet in building an email list. If only half of those 1.2 million subscribers had jointed his list he would have had a truly awesome list for marketing purposes.

Key takeaway from this video

Forget what the experts tell you, length does NOT matter. Concentrate on your content. Many marketing gurus will tell you that your video has to be 60sec or under, in my opinion that is complete BS.

That 60sec figure has been arrived at by averaging the way people have watched millions of business videos to give the ideal length for an average video. But hold on, it does not take account of the quantity and quality of the content in the video. In terms of content we are not trying to make an average video, we are going to make a fantastic video! And anyway, long-form film/video seems to be working pretty well for Hollywood and the TV networks and has done for many decades. The important thing is to provide the content your viewers want, if you do they will continue watching!

The really meaningful thing that the number crunching tells us is that if people will only tolerate business videos of 60sec or less then there must be a lot of boring and badly made business videos out there. If other businesses are doing video badly that is an opportunity for you. Use their failing to your advantage and keep your videos content rich.   

The ChrisFix video is about 10 minutes long, a sin in the eyes of many video-gurus, but here 10 minutes is the right length. The correct length for your video is, however long it needs to be. If you need 10 minutes to explain the subject properly then 10 minutes is the correct length, but if you can do it in 30sec then that is the correct length. Strip out anything that is unnecessary but conversely don’t leave out what your viewers wants or needs.  

The important thing demonstrated by ChrisFix is that the viewer wants useful content more than brilliantly executed videography. If you doubt me, let the figures do the talking. The ChrisFix used car buying video got more than 800,000 views in 7 months and 17,500 thumbs up. His “How to Restore Headlights” video has had over 7.5 million views in under two years and in total the ChrisFix channel has attracted over 160 million views since 2008. There are broadcasters who would kill for figures like that, but you only get them when you build your videos on a firm foundation of content.   

Next week’s video

Next week we look at a video that helped a business go from start-up to a billion-dollar company in just four years. Although the video was professionally made the star was the CEO.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Great Videos from Ordinary Businesses - BrewDog

You want your website landing page to convert prospects into customers in bucket loads, but is your bucket a kid’s seaside holiday bucket or a one-gallon milk pail?

You want your landing page to be as effective as possible and according to Unbounce, a leader in landing page marketing, “using video on landing pages can increase conversion by 80%”. So why is video an under used tool, especially by small businesses and solo-entrepreneurs. In my experience business people think it’s too expensive, too difficult and most often of all, they don’t want to get in front of the camera.  

To be honest, I hate networking and social events because I am quite shy but I know I have to do it to grow my business. It is the same when it comes to using a marketing tool like video, get over your embarrassment, forget what you think you look or sound like and just do it. With that in mind, we examine what happens when a couple of brewers get out from behind their kegs and step in front of the camera.

Live Beer by BrewDog

In the third in the series we look at Live Beer by Drewdog, a company from the northeast of Scotland whose marketing and company ethos is as refreshing as their beer.

I am these guys! Actually I’m not but I wish I was. They’re not professional presenters but they are the guys from the brewery who live and breathe their business and product.
They hate the big mega corporations and they love making something special to share with others. They’ve even “open-sourced” their beer recipes; go to their website and you can download their recipe archive and make their beer in your own kitchen.
These guys experimented with their beer recipes for 2 years before going commercial in Fraserburgh (Scotland). Their business quickly grew and they moved the BrewDog headquarters to nearby Ellon, an Aberdeenshire town very familiar to me since I lived nearby for about ten years.

Their primary goal isn’t to become multi-billionaires, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they achieve it, but to share their passion. As their T-shirts say, “We bleed Craft Beer”. They are a couple of good guys with shovel loads of passion and a love of making good beer – that’s something their customers can identify with. You do not care that they are not top-notch when it comes to video presentation, they are as authentic and honest and the product they make and sell. That’s a lesson many business owners can learn. You don’t have to be perfect in front of the camera, you just need to show that you believe in and love your business, product or service. After all, if you do not, why should a potential customer?

Most of the video is in black and white, that, without having say it out aloud, articulates a feeling that they are reaching back to when small brewers made great real beer that is neither sterilised, homogenised nor any other kind of “-ised”. BrewDog Live Beer is real ale for modernists and their video conveys that message very well.

As their YouTube channel says, “Love hops and live the dream”, so pass over a BrewDog Live Beer and cheers!

Key takeaway from this video

This video uses the video technique of “piece-to-camera”, a technique used daily on news, magazine and talk shows.

Despite being called “piece-to-camera” the BrewDogs are not talking to the camera but instead talking through it to communicate directly with the viewer. Note that I say “viewer” and not “audience”, that is an important distinction. Video allows you to communicate one-on-one with the viewer, even though there may be hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands in total.

As a business you communicate and sell to individuals and you should recognise that when making your own videos. It will help you build a relationship with your viewer, for them to like you and ultimately to become a customer.

When I started in broadcasting I was taught to try and have a conversation with the listener on the other side of the microphone or viewer behind the camera. If necessary, I was to imagine I was talking to my Mum or best friend. That advice is just as appropriate for anyone making their own business video. Do not sound as if you are reading a script, instead make it sound like you are having a conversation. Essentially you need to sound sincere, and as American actor George Burns once joked, “sincerity - if you can fake that, you've got it made.”

Next week’s video

Next week we look at a simple how-to video guide to buying used cars created by a solo video maker. Not only has his video been viewed 800,000 times but it has also played its part in helping to build a YouTube channel with over 1.1 million subscribers. The video style is one YOU could easily replicate and apply to your own area of expertise.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Great Videos from Ordinary Businesses - Modcloth Presents: NYC street life

Would you like your website users to spend more time on your pages? According to Forbes average internet users spends 88% more time on websites that include video. So obviously you are using video on your site! Now let’s see how other businesses are using video.

Last week we started a ten-week series about how ordinary businesses are using video. One important feature adopted by firms who have successfully embraced online video is to reject the temptation to sell in their videos for the simple reason that viewers will click away. Instead they have to be more creative in their use of video. That’s not to say you have to come up with the most creative executions when it comes to making your own videos, you just need to give your viewers what they want or make your content relevant.

Modcloth presents: NYC street style

In the second of the series we look Modcloth, a fashion retailer in New York City.

The sound isn’t always perfect in the video and I’ve seen better interviewers but that doesn’t matter, this is street life where the people and what they say and do is important. The technical ability of the interviewer to correctly position the microphone is secondary; we can hear enough of what’s necessary.

Now this is not a world I inhabit, a fashionista I am not, and yet I had to watch to the end of the video. I’m a 55-year-old bloke with, as my wife frequently points out, no dress sense, yet I found myself wanting to watch Modcloth’s editor, Rebecca Brown, talk to young women about style, makeup and pizza! In fact, I went on to watch their next video as well! Perhaps it was a voyeuristic desire to see in to a world that is alien to me. In fact, you could say the Modcloth video is a mini reality TV show, and we all know how popular that genre is right now. We all like looking behind the scenes and into other people's lives, especially if they appear to be larger than life.

Actually, the secret to this being a fabulous video is their ability to get the right people to interview and throw in an unexpected question. Notice that Rebecca initially asked Anayo from about her thrifted jacket but then comes back with the out-of-left-field question, “if your jacket were a dance move, what would it be called?” That’s so weird even I want to hear the answer!

All of the interviewees are engaging, fun and spontaneous, making them very watchable but the editing also helps. We do not see the whole recording from each interviewee before moving on to the next person. The editor has cut out the boring bits and then chopped up the answers from each person and inter-cut them with the answers from the other interviewees, creating a patchwork of answers. The effect makes the content appear shorter, more interesting and accelerating the pace of the video. In a sense keeping the shots a little shorter and inter-cutting with the other interviewees is similar to the fast cutting of an action sequence in a movie, it drives the story forward and makes it more exciting.

Also notice the editor has included handheld footage of New York street scenes, taxi interiors, and superimposed light leaks to help give a trendy contemporary feel, which reflects what Modcloth is about. But those street scenes also give the video and Modcloth a geographic location - undeniably New York City.

Key takeaway from this video

The Vox Pop Video is definitely one of the easiest styles of video to make, yet it can be very effective. Even if your shots are a bit wobbly and your exposure a little off, the grungy look might be ideal if you want to present your business as being modern and a little edgy.

Grab a mic, get a buddy to point the camera, grab lots of people and keep asking questions, even strange and bizarre ones. If you don't have anyone handy to hold the camera, put your smartphone on a selfie stick. When you get to editing the footage, keep the most interesting and funniest comments and ditch the turgid moments. Plus, if you do something stupid of daft keep it in, your viewers will love it. They will switch off if presented with the mundane, it’s the unusual or unexpected that keeps them watching.

The key to getting some really great material in a Vox Pop is not to warn your subject about your questions in advance. Even better, introduce an unrelated question that will catch your interviewee off-guard. Without time to think they will seem spontaneous, revealing and entertaining. If the questions and answers are quite contentious you may even spark a strong reaction in your viewers and stimulate a good amount of comments and debate.

Next week’s video

Next week we take a look at a video made by a craft brewer based in Aberdeenshire, and how appearing in your own videos can be a smart move.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Great Videos from Ordinary Businesses - Seriously strong cheddar

Do you promote your business with video? If you do, you will have probably heard that 7 out of 10 marketing professionals say video converts better that any other medium*. But how are businesses using video in their marketing?

Each week, for the next ten weeks, I want to share a business video with you and look at how those businesses use the medium. How, perhaps, they could have done better and the key takeaway that you could use in your own videos.

What makes all of the videos really good is that they don’t try to overtly sell to the viewer. The businesses have understood that most people are not in buying mode when they are using social media (yes, YouTube is a social media platform, just like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and the others). Viewers are there to be entertained or to research a topic or seek information on a future purchase. Remember, you don’t like being sold to so why do you think your potential customers are any different. Effective videos don’t take the hard sell approach because viewers aren’t going to watch, let alone share those videos with their online friends and colleagues.

In almost all of the videos we are going to look at, the businesses have decided to market their brand through story-telling, building an emotional response in the viewer, or providing information the viewer really wants.

Although some are obviously created by professionals with big budgets, some were, or at least could be, done in-house. What’s nice about them is that the businesses present their human side, not a corporate image.

Ever since the financial crash the anti-globalization movement has been growing and many of these videos actually reflect that attitude in one way or another. Many people today have fallen out of love with the multinational mantra of “bigger is better”, on the contrary, their experience is that small is beautiful. That’s why business people appearing in and doing their own videos is wise and appreciated by customers. They want to make a connection with the human side of a business, not the edifice. People buy from people!

* Source: MarketingProfs

Seriously Strong Cheddar - Made By Scottish Cows

In the first of the series we look at the cheese that comes from the McLelland creamery in Stranraer, Dumfries & Galloway.


This video is beautiful in its simplicity. In just 26 seconds they tell a story about the natural origin of the cheese, which, by the way, is one of my favourites. The authenticity of the farmer talking about his experience and feelings in a field with his “girls” has a kind of romance about it that is reminiscent of the fabulous Scottish film, Local Hero.

What’s beautiful about this video is that while using emotion to work its magic on you, it avoids cliché words like “traditional”, “natural” and similar advertising BS. The makers of the video also get you involved, rather than leaving you to be a passive viewer. Rory Christie, the dairy farmer, says his cows are, “munching grass, and if you listen carefully you can hear it”, and so you can, you listen and become an active viewer. You are now involved and a better prospect. By the time the farmer has finished speaking you want to be there with him, listen to his girls munching Scottish grass, and try the cheese.

Key takeaway from this video

Although Seriously Strong undoubtedly had the video made by professionals, the important thing you should realise is that you could easily make a similar video yourself. The technical challenge is relatively low; there is no camera movement, you have plenty of light outdoors (watch for shadows if too bright), record as if you are doing an interview with a supplier at their premises, and take plenty of B-roll footage (in the Seriously Strong video the b-roll shots are those of the cows). Your main challenge will probably be capturing good quality sound so consider spending a little cash on an external microphone. As a minimum your kit would be a smartphone, smartphone tripod adapter and tripod. If you are using a camcorder or DSLR you will not need the tripod adapter.

Next week’s video

Next week we take a look at New York City clothes retailer Modcloth and the simple video style they use that you can instantly adapt to your own business videos.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Great Features For Video Creators On iPhone 7

My first reaction to the launch of the iPhone 7 was anger that Apple had removed the 3.5mm headphone jack. Two days on I’m still not convinced it’s the right move for users but I’ll admit the phone seems to offer the vlogger or video maker some great features.

A lot of the initial reports have been about the dual lens system on the iPhone 7, in fact that only applies to the iPhone 7 Plus. The smaller iPhone 7 is only equipped with the wide angle f1.8 lens. Both versions being able to shoot 1080p footage at 30 and 60 fps.

If you missed the iPhone 7's launch in San Francisco here's the BBC report of the event.


Both versions of the phone seem to offer plenty to today’s video creator, although we will have to wait until 16th September 2016 before we can get hands-on with the phone. Until then here’s what Apple say we are going to get.

Better low light performance

Both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have a new 12-megapixel wide angle 28mm f/1.8 six element lens. According to Apple this will transmit about 50% more light to the sensor, compared to the iPhone 6s. We will need to wait to see what that will mean in practice but I think it is safe to assume that shooting indoors without video lights will be easier.

High resolution video

The iPhone 7’s 12-megapixel rear facing camera will give video creators the capability to shoot 4k footage at 30fps. Personally I haven’t bought-into the 4k hype. Most people just aren’t watching on 4k devices nor is 4k critical to your storytelling. However, once you transfer your footage you your computer 4k does allow you to reframe your shots by selective cropping without losing clarity in an HD timeline.

Slow Mo

The combination of that new camera and the A10 quad core processor will enable video creators to shoot at upto 120 fps at HD1080p or upto 240 fps at 720p. If you are into creating slow motion movies, you will obviously like this feature.

Better front-facing camera

The front facing camera has been upgraded to 7 megapixels. For the vlogger that’s great news. Until now, if you wanted to shoot yourself in full HD1080p you had to use the reaer camera and get a friend to frame the shot for you, monitor the phone’s screen in a mirror or do it by trial and error. With a full HD front facing camera it’s eezy-peasy to make sure you have framed yourself correctly.

Steady on – It’s got optical image stabilization

To get good blur free results I have always had to put my iPhone on a tripod. Now things should literally be clearer in hand held shots since the iPhone 7 is shipping with what Apple call cinematic video stabilization, available at both 1080p and 720p. Combined with the f/1.8 lens we should see crisper footage at lower light levels.

Optical zoom

If you go large and opt for the iPhone 7 Plus then you get not one 12-megapixel cameras but two. Alongside the first with a wide angle 28mm f1.8 lens you get an additional one with a 56mm f2.8 lens.

No doubt the new dual lens system is the result of Apple buying LinX Imaging in 2014. LinX Imaging specialised in multi aperture imaging and managed to solve the problem of successfully combining multiple images taken simultaneously. This technology has enabled Apple to give the iPhone 7 a so called optical zoom. The combination of a wide angle lens plus a telephoto lens means you now can zoom up to 2x without losing image clarity. Upto 6x digital zoom is also available. Other companies have been working on the same thing, such as the Corephotonic dual-camera, which you can see in this video from cnet. In fact the technology look very much like the iPhone 7 Plus.

That’s a great improvement for the iPhone video maker. For a start, it will make framing much easier. Until now you either had to physically move your camera back and fore to frame the shot or use the digital zoom and accept a loss in resolution. Now the video maker has much more flexibility. Set up your camera so your framing is approximately correct and then get it spot on with the optical zoom. Brilliant!

LinX Imaging used to claim their technology could deliver "stunning color images and high accuracy depth maps" producing images of SLR quality but without the bulk of an SLR.

By the way. The work LinX Imaging was doing, before Apple bought the company, allowed them to increase sensitivity for better image detail and reduce exposure times to reduce motion blurring. All of which sounds familiar from earlier on in this post.

What next

Apple make no mention of this but the LinX technology does more than provide optical zoom and improve low light performance. Because the LinX technology can produce depth maps from a single photo (using multiple apertures, like the iPhone 7 Plus), the information can be used to produce 3D point clouds of objects. There’s a tantalizing possibility that the iPhone 7 Plus (or a future iPhone) could create 3D scans of objects, to refocus an image with a synthetic depth of field effect and possibly eliminate or add objects to the image. If the phone can do that I might even forget about that missing 3.5mm headphone socket.

Friday, 9 September 2016

The Best iPhone 7 Video Microphone Blog Post

Apple Scrap 3.5mm headphone socket on iPhone 7

So Apple have abandoned the 3.5mm headphone socket on the iPhone 7. Well who wants that pesky little socket when all it’s doing is taking up valuable space! Well, I do actually! Yes, the 3.5mm jack maybe 50-year-old technology but it is darn useful technology that allows me to plug in a set of headphones or microphone into my iPhone.

iPhone headphones
If you’re interest, the 3.5mm jack was a development of it’s even older big brother, the 100-year-old ¼ inch PO jack. It dates back to the days when you couldn’t dial a number from your phone. In those early days you lifted the receiver and asked the telephone operator to connect you to, say, “Hollywood 639”.

Anyway, back to why I think ditching the 3.5mm jack is a bad move.

For a start, the Lightning connector is proprietary technology that Apple will only share with other manufactures provided they pay a licensing fee. The technology will make accessories more expensive than if they continued to use the industry standard 3.5mm jack. That’s why very few headphone manufacturers have not gone down the Lightning connector route. One exception being JBL who offer their Reflect Aware Headphoneswhich admittedly provide excellent audio clarity, for $200 (£169.99 in the UK). They are not cheap and you can only use them with an iPhone or iPad.

Secondly, think of the unnecessary waste. There must be hundreds of millions of headphones and other accessories that might not work with the iPhone, or at least will need an adaptor. Why should consumers have to ditch the kit when it works perfectly well.

According to the Apple website the iPhone 7 ships with a Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter, so at least we should be able to connect our heritage accessories. But who wants a clunky adapter poking out of the top of their stylish and expensive phone! More-over, you just know the adaptor is going to get lost. Kaching, more money for Apple! But at least vloggers and videographers should still be able to connect their existing external microphones.

At this point I better clarify what I mean by “external microphone”. For videography I’m saying it is a mic that can be placed on the presenter, several metres away from the iPhone, and NOT on the phone itself. In other words, a lavalier or lapel mic connected to the phone by a long cable.

Apple has provided a terrific camera and awesome processing power on the iPhone 7, allowing us to shoot fantastic video. It’s only reasonable that we should want to record good quality sound with an external mic. For the time it would seem we can still use our 3.5mm equipped microphones but if Apple get their way the Lightning connector will replace the 3.5mm jack as the industry standard.

But say you do want to go down the digital mic route, what are your options right now? Searching through Amazon there are actually very few, and all of them a bit pricey. Here are the three I was able to find, remember we do not want microphones that sit on the phone, instead they should be placed on the presenter. By that criteria I was only able to find two mics and one mic interface, the latter for use with professional microphones.

Sennheiser ClipMic digital Microphone

There are two versions of Sennheiser’s digital lavalier mics (or lapel mics). Sennheiser is a respected name in pro audio but they are NOT a prosumer or even consumer level manufacturer. I actually own a rifle mic and radio mic by Sennheiser for use in my video business because their products are top-notch. However, that quality comes at a price, in this case between $200 and $500. If you have deep pockets and can afford either of these lavalier microphones I have no hesitation in recommending them but even I am going to wince at paying almost as much for a mic as the phone.

Sennheiser ClipMic with Sennheiser’s ME 2 omni-directional microphone capsule, for use with iOS devices.

Cost on Amazon: $199

Sennheiser ClipMic Digital Microphone with Sennheiser’s MKE 2 Omnidirectional Microphone capsule.

Cost on Amazon: $499

IK Multimedia iRig Pro microphone interface
Yes, I know this isn’t a microphone but if you have access to professional mics, the sort with chunky three pin XLR connectors, then the iRig Pro provide a good solution to connecting to your iPhone. What’s more, if you are a musician it also allows you to connect your midi instruments to your iOS device and Mac.

iRig Pro instrument/microphone interface with MIDI for iOS and Mac.

Cost on Amazon: $129.80

The Future
If Apple succeed in ousting the 3.5mm jack as the industry standard, then we will see many better quality digital mics appearing but they will be more expensive than the 3.5mm jack version. At present you can buy a Movo LV1 Lavalier microphone for under $20 but that price point is unlikely to be kept when you need to add a digital audio converter (DAC) and Lightning connector. On the plus side you potentially will have excellent audio quality, but at a price.

Note that some of the links in this post maybe affiliate links.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Why Smartphone Video Is Best For Promoting Your Business

Why Smartphone video is a ‘must have’ for promoting your business

A modern smartphone is like having a film studio in your pocket - yet few businesses take advantage of the amazing technology they already own and use it to promote their products. Now a new online course intends to change all that and get entrepreneurs creating great video.
In just a few days, Ayrshire-based Tosh Lubek and Ken McGaffin have signed up over 360 students from around the world for their course, ‘Make Great Videos on a Budget’ which sells for just £20.
“Video is the most popular form of content online - from how-to videos, product demos, customer testimonials and more,” says Lubek, “With video, people see you and hear you, they follow your advice and they get to trust you - and then of course, they’re ready to buy from you”.
And video can outperform the written word. “Small businesses hate writing about themselves - just ask any designer who’s waiting for copy to get the latest brochure done!” says McGaffin, “but video is immediate and people can have real fun making video. It’s something everyone can join in with - the founders, the staff and even the customers.”
“The technology in a smartphone is extraordinary and will make great video just as it is. But spend around £50 on apps, simple lights and a mic - and you can make professional quality video. Already, you’re seeing full length movies and television ads made using only an iphone,” continued Lubek.
Both Lubek and McGaffin have made hundreds of videos for businesses and organisations and are sharing their experience in a course that costs just £20. “We are convinced that anyone can make good videos with a little bit of help,” says McGaffin, “And even if the business owner themselves don’t have time to make video, there’s sure to be some budding filmmaker on their staff who would jump at the chance!”

You can get instant access to the course here: Make Great Videos On A Budget.