PHS vs Ebola – The Hope Multipliers

Word Wizards would like to take a moment to acknowledge a truly historic project we helped with recently. Behind the scenes, our team works on many high profile projects. Once in a while, we work on something that has true historical significance. Two weeks ago we helped USHHS produce transcripts for a video called “The Hope Multipliers.” This video documents the experiences of several USPHS workers who volunteered to respond to the Ebola crisis in Monrovia, Liberia.

U.S. Public Health Services Logo

Heroes of the 21st Century

Our client at HHS puts it in perspective, “PHS folks are usually deployed for 2 weeks to help with the aftermath of a hurricane or earthquake, or some other natural disaster. So this 40 plus day deployment overseas was a different and very dangerous mission for them. Each one of the 11 officers said something a little bit different about their experience, which was life-changing, and the end is pretty moving.”

Showing Our Support

Considering the video is a first hand account of this incredible story, we happily obliged when the client requested that we share the final project with our network of media professionals. So please take a moment to check out the story of people who risked their lives and so much more to help people across the world out of the goodness of their hearts.

Watch the video on YouTube here.

Join us in sharing this story so that the unsung heroes of this tale can be appreciated for their bravery and courage in the face of global catastrophe.




TIVA Talk: Pitching To The Networks Workshop

Pitching Workshop

Since we here at Word Wizards Inc. go through hours of transcription each day we know that while making film and video is hard, the toughest part is actually getting someone to green light your pitch so you can actually get the chance to make it. We all know that making that pitch can be difficult, awkward and just plain nerve racking. Recently TIVA and The National Press Club Studios presented a packed workshop to give people valuable pointers on how to go about making a pitch guaranteed to be a winner. The panelist on this panel included Jane Latman, Senior Vice-President for Development at Investigation Discovery, Amy Savitsky, Vice President of Development at TLC, Genevieve Crouteau, Vice President of Development at Story House Productions and Kip Prestholdt the owner and Executive Producer at Lucky Dog Films.

Pitch Building 101

One of the most important tips to consider when you’re putting a pitch together is to make sure you have an interesting character that will hook people into the show. Setting and content don’t matter quite as much as having characters a viewer would want to keep watching. You also need to make sure you have a decent presentation that gives you plenty to discuss with a network person. Like I said characters are important but you do want to have the most complete package to present and it’s a good idea to have a rough estimate of the budget need. While you don’t need to know the exact numbers, you should have a general estimate so the person you’re pitching to gets a good idea of just how costly the work you’re presenting would be. This should go without saying but it never hurts to practice the pitch with a friend so you’ve gone over it and know it forwards and backwards.

Presenting The Pitch

If you’re trying to get in touch with a network and don’t have an agent, then the ideal person to look for would be the development manager at the network or someone with the word “development” in their title. It can also pay off to try and reach a network through their general contact e-mail address since most of the time, pitching e-mails will be forwarded to the appropriate individual. If you’re e-mailing a sizzle reel or presenting one, make sure it’s less than 6 minutes long, has a link to the rest of your work and that it showcases your characters. When you do try to contact networks, it’s often good to lead with the reel so they get a sense of your project. When you do land that coveted appointment to present your ideas to someone, make sure you go in with a few back up pitches in your pocket. If you present your pitch and the executive immediately says no, you need to have another idea on deck or else the meeting can get awkward quickly with nothing to talk about. It also doesn’t hurt to ask why they said no so you can know what to work on for future pitches. Also learning to take no for an answer is important skill to have as well.

You also want to make sure your pitches are tailored to fit which ever network you’re making that pitch to. If you’re presenting to some place like Investigation Discovery, make sure your show seems appropriate on a network that spotlights crime dramas and true stores with twists and turns. Don’t take a gritty criminal show to a place like TLC which caters mainly to women, targets the heartland states and is toned towards fare with heart, authenticity and the OMG factor. You must research the network beforehand so you can get a feel for it and be sure that your idea won’t seem like an odd duck to them. It may sound like common sense, but many producers have taken ideas that they thought were sure fire hits and got shot down because it didn’t fit the network image. If you do make your pitch and then don’t hear anything back for a while don’t get too discouraged, as getting key decision makers together and deciding on someone’s idea can take a while.

After Making Your Pitch

After you make your pitch, the executive you pitched to may take your idea and decide whether it passes for having some promise or potential. The next step is for them to meet with other department heads. They will discuss your pitch and ultimately decide whether it’s good enough to go forward for green light and production. If they do decide to go forward, most likely the network will choose the partner or production company that you will be working with. If you have lots of producing experience then you may be given an executive producer position on the project and if you’re still relatively new to the business, you may be given an associate producers credit with someone more seasoned helping guide you. While some networks such as Investigation Discovery do both commissions and co-productions with producers, many networks tend to do more commissions and pay a one-time amount.

General Insights

During the workshop, the conversation went into the realm of scripted versus reality with the consensus that even though scripted is not the priority at many networks, it’s becoming a big buzz word. Comedy was also agreed to be another big buzz word as its becoming popular too. If you’re just one person, then it can be incredibly difficult to reach anyone so it pays to find someone who has the right connections and can form a partnership with you. Another key point made was that if you have some unique character that you want to base your show around, get them to sign an agreement as soon as possible and try to do the same with locations. All the panelists had great cautionary tales about how much of a rat race it is to get characters and places secured before you lose them for good. It also gives your pitch a nice added bonus if you have exclusive access to characters and places that others don’t.

 




Avoiding Legal Issue With Freelancers And Contractors

Legal Issues

With the economy still in a rough spot many employers are turning to a work force of contractors and freelancers to round out their workforces, with many companies in the media and video-production realm following suit. And while it may seem more financially efficient to have a smaller number of full time workers and more freelancers for whom you don’t have to pay health insurance and benefits, one should still be wary about the legal issues that can arise.  Over the past 3 years, the Internal Revenue Service has set a lofty goal of investigating over 6,000 employers to make sure their workers are classified appropriately. I recently ran across a nice little article on Mashable that gives some great information on the best ways to make sure you’re handling independent contractors and freelancers in the most appropriate fashion.

The Definition Of The Word

The actual definition of contractor and employee can be difficult to pin down since the two positions can sometimes blend together and be rather hard to distinguish from each other. The Small Business Association has two relatively straightforward explanations for each one. Independent contractors are considered individuals who have their own equipment and checking accounts, work under a separate business name, have several different clients, keep business records and issue invoices. Employees, on the other hand, only have one singular employer who provides training and gives them duties to carry out. While most assume that much of the difference between the two lies in the number of hours worked, it actually boils down to their level of independence.

Avoiding Trouble

To make sure I.R.S. auditors don’t come knocking on your door, here are a few simple but important rules to follow when working with contractors. Do not have them work at your office or use any of your equipment unless it’s absolutely necessary. Contractors who have only one client—you—should be seen as a red flag. One of the most important rules is to make sure all your independent contractors are issued a 1099 form, since it’s something all auditors will want to see. Avoid exerting too much control over contractors, for example, by giving them specific hours to work or incredibly tight deadlines that would require a full-time commitment. Do not give contractors an employee handbook or ever refer to them as employees, as even simple language is something to be mindful of. Contractors should also should be issuing invoices for their work on a regular basis, since that’s the basis from which they should be issued payment.




Keeping Your Budget Under Control

Getting That Green

wifv logo

As we all know, budgeting your work, especially documentary film work, is not easy.  You must first secure the money, not an easy feat mind you, and then be extremely careful to utilize it to its fullest extent. The still-shaky economy makes it even more difficult for production professionals to secure budgets, since people are still hesitant to give money to anyone even if they have a fantastic, sure-hit proposal. Once you do get that hard-earned or begged-for cash, what is the best way to go about using it? One way to find out is at an upcoming panel called Demystifying Media Budgets, which is being presented by Women in Film and Video or WIFV on June 5th at Interface Media Group. Some of the experts on the panel include D.C.-based writer/producer/director Claudia Meyers, owner and president of Double R Productions, Rosemary Reed, Freelancer Sharon Sobel, and president of Film Odyssey Inc., Karen Thomas. While this event promises to provide some great tips on managing money for your documentary and video production work, I had a few tips of my own that I wanted to share.

Budget

A Technical Hand

While it makes plenty of sense to go the reliable route of Excel spread sheets, paper receipts and data storage, those methods don’t work for everyone. Some great software alternatives include inDinero, Xpenser and FreshbooksinDinero is a great money tracking and finance site for small business, and ideal for freelancers who want an efficient way to have all their accounts in one place. Xpenser is a nice little tool specifically built to manage expense reports with versions available for all the major smartphones, like Android, Apple, and Windows. FreshBooks is a great program for invoices, with apps for all the major mobile systems, and is a great tool for a media freelancer, since it also helps track un-billed time and tracks different rates for different projects.

Ask Around

This is probably one of the most tried-and-true ways to make sure you’re not over-paying for services. While it might seem unwise to be so transparent about money, it still can pay off to chat with other freelancers and media professionals to see how much they’re budgeting for different aspects of their work. It can be a great way to make sure you’re not getting ripped of by overpaying for something when others are getting it for much a cheaper rate. One of the nice things about the D.C. production and media community is that it’s small enough that everyone is fairly open to helping each other out. Another avenue to use is Quora, a type of online search engine that can be really good for generic questions such as, “How much is too much to pay for ____?” While some of the answers may not be incredibly specific, they can at least point you in the right direction and give you a helpful range to work with.




Returning Marines Find New Careers In Media

Marine Shooter

With Memorial Day soon upon us, our thoughts go to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty to defend our country. I’ve also been thinking about those other brave individuals who fight in combat and are wounded but are able to make it home back to the U.S. What are they supposed to do when they get back after seeing all the chaos of war and how are they supposed to get used to a regular life again? Fortunately, there are some truly great organizations that are more than happy to help train these individuals in new lines of work so they can start to rebuild their lives. One of these groups is the Wounded Careers Marine Foundation whose media boot camp trains returning and wounded marines for new careers in video and media production.

Learning To Shoot Video

Documentary filmmaker Kev Lombard first had the idea to start the program when he was asked to film the stories of wounded veterans at military hospitals in 2006. He wanted to teach them how to tell their stories and decided to partner with his wife Judith Paixao to create the program. The couple uses a mix of corporate and private donations to fund the media course which is composed of two weekly sessions that both last ten weeks. The Wounded Careers Marine Foundation Media Program is headquartered in a camouflage-painted building on a San Diego production lot. While the expectation isn’t to turn out the next great film visionary like Martin Scorsese or Steven Spielberg, the aim is to give these heroic veterans the proper skills to become a camera or boom operator and earn a well-paying job.

Expert Advice

Students learn all about the production and video business from 30 film professionals who are happy to pass on their knowledge. Some of the teachers include Amy Lemisch of the California Film Commission, Barry Green, an Emmy award-winning producer and Levie Issaaks, a Vietnam war veteran who is now an Emmy award-winning director of photography with work that includes Malcom in the Middle. These instructors have the veterans use equipment such as Panasonic HD Camcorders and MacBook Pros to learn skills such as editing, cinematography, lighting and sound design. The students learn nuts-and-bolts coursework that leaves them with solid skills not found in many college film schools, almost like an apprenticeship. Word Wizards Inc. thinks these kinds of programs are great since they really give back to those who have sacrificed a lot to fight for our country.

 




TIVA’s Tapeless Workflow Panel

Web_Tapelss_Sol_TIVA

Recently TIVA, the television, internet and video association, held an incredibly informative panel at Henninger Media Services that was all about tapeless workflow and the pros/cons of going into the tapeless world. Henninger moderated the event and supplied the speakers for panelists Sam Crawford and Sue O’Hora. The areas covered included the three main stages of production and some of the best ways to handle footage and data in a tapeless, and most importantly safe manner.

Pre-Production and Production Stages

As Sue pointed out,  one of the most important decisions to make during pre-production is how you are going to do the transfer after you’re done shooting and what type of environment you’ll be in. It’s always a good idea to equip you or your camera people with two drives and have them download the data to both so there is a safety net in case something happens to one of the drives. Some of the options include a next box which is known for its rugged durability, can handle multiple types of cards, shows previews and verification, and you can data dump after the shoot. Another option is a Mac program called ShotPut Pro that costs $99 and is capable of handling multiple codecs as well as downloading and verifying footage.

Post-Production and Media Formats

Sam Crawford then took over the conversation and discussed how he and Henninger handle things in the post-production area. One of the things he stressed was to make sure all your data is on a solid state system, not some thing like DVDs that need to be spinned up. Saving footage in solid state systems means they’re less likely to get destroyed and you’ll be able to archive in case you need that footage for later use. He also stressed that some of the key things to think about in the post production phase are media formats, editing software options, color correction, audio mix, final finishing and then the very last step, which is delivery.

What Editing System Will You be Using?

Obviously you need to be considerate of what media type you’re using, since the people you’re sending it to need to know in advance so they have something set up to handle it and can be prepared to deal with it. The next best thing is to be mindful of what type of NLE  (Non Linear Editing) system on which the footage will be edited. Since the client usually knows this information in advance, you should be able to prep the footage to best work with whatever editing system will be used in post production. Nothing is more frustrating than getting an angry call or email from a client saying what you sent them is completely incompatible with his or her systems.

Making Sure The Product is Delivered

The final, but most important, step is delivery and how you plan on getting the footage or finished product to your client. One of the most secure is to have a FTP or file transfer point that’s housed in a secure database. Word Wizards Inc. has had one for years and we can happily say it works very well and we’ve had very few issues with it. Since we get so many files for transcription, this is the easiest way to have them all in one central place. While we do sometimes get DVDs via delivery, that can be a little more worrisome since important footage is kind of just floating out there. Some other options include the popular Cloud-based dropbox and a more traditional file conveyance site, weTransfer.




3 Big Standouts from NAB 2013

NAB 2013 Digital Media Industry Event

While the National Association of Broadcasters early event in Las Vegas may not have quite the same buzz as the Consumer Electronics Show, its still a big deal in the production industry and a regular trek for many members of the local community. While Word Wizards, Inc  primarily focuses on transcription work, light post-production, web and print design, we still love to learn all about the latest and greatest film tech. We love to see what enterprising filmmakers and production professionals can create with the latest and greatest gear. Although nothing at the NAB event was mind blowing, there were 3 products that seemed to garner a lot of attention.

Blackmagic’s Pocket Cinema Camera

Blackmagic impressed many people with the unveiling of its Pocket Cinema Camera that retails for $995 and has plenty to offer. Some of the features on it include SD card storage, CinemaDNG RAW recording, Micro HDMI monitoring and a Super-16 cinema 1080 HD recorder. At under a thousand dollars, that’s a whole lot of powerful tech for the price, especially when considering the model’s built-in LCD that can be used to watch some of that great talking heads footage. While calling it a “pocket camera” might be a bit of stretch, the size is still relativity compact compared to other models in this range. The camera should be available towards the end of July.

The Lynx A 3D point and shoot Camera/Tablet

Another very impressive and unique product was a point-and-shoot camera capable of 3D modeling and motion capture. This is a unique device, which was funded via kickstarter, and  is being developed by a group of students from the University of Texas. The Lynx A 3D point-and-shoot camera employs sensor hardware to obtain depth mapping and imaging info from your surroundings and then turns that same data into a 3D scene and object models or motion capture that it displays on its screen. This means that a savvy filmmaker will be able to record those important interviews in perfect detail and sound for easy transcription later. The price tag on this bad boy should be about $1,799 and should start shipping soon.

Sony’s Anycast Touch Studio in a Box

Finally Sony showed off its brand new Anycast Touch studio in a box, which is simply too impressive looking not to mention. The basic premise of the Anycast Touch is the ability to have a mobile production studio in a box that delivers network quality broadcasting anywhere. Some of the bells and whistles include sliding dual touch displays, the ability to split audio and video editing between the panels as well as a video switcher, audio mixer, an encoder and even a special effects generator. Even though pricing hasn’t been discussed yet, the Anycast Touch is apparently going to be shipping in September.

For more in depth coverage

While those are three of the impressive standout from NAB 2013, there were plenty of other noteworthy displays from Sony, Intel and Red Epic. For a much more comprehensive round up, check out engadget’s coverage.

 

 




TIVA’s Contract Panel

 

tiva banner

On Wednesday night TIVA, the Television, Internet and Video Association, held a panel at Video Labs focusing on contracts and specifically how they pertain to the video production business. While contracts are something that most of us in the media and video industry are something most of us don’t like to think about, they are still a vital part of production houses, transcription companies and other media organizations. The  three  panelists at the event were Jim Pennington, Pam Jacebson and Nancy Prager who were incredibly open about sharing their collective knowledge. Some of the main topics covered were line costs, appearance and location releases and confidentiality agreements. Check out the panelists below for some information on them as well as their main points for the panel.

jim pennington headshot

Jim Pennington, Co-Owner and Business Director at DUO Media Productions

 http://www.duomediaproductions.com/team

As business director, he leads all marketing and proposal efforts, and when projects are awarded, he prepares the letters of agreement (LOAs), personal and location releases, crew and talent agreements, and other contractual documents.  As producer, he provides executive oversight for all aspects of a video project and ensures the project is completed on time, on budget, and to the client’s complete satisfaction. As a writer, he works closely with clients, developing the concept for their videos and the subsequent treatment/script.

Line Costs – Clarity is Key!!! When Jim prepares letters of agreement for clients, he always makes sure are absolutely as clear as possible. One prime example of this would be with Line Costs and how he breaks them down for each project. While many companies would simply list one large sum for the entire project, Jim and Duo Media Productions actually break each individual cost line by line for the project. This way, there’s no miscommunication about whats being covered and the other party can feel comfortable knowing the exact cost of everything. As he says, it’s practices like this that ensures that his company always delivers on their work.

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Pam Jacobsen, Freelance production Manager & Line Producer

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/pam-jacobson/11/856/8b7

Pam has been in the business for almost 20 years working for an impressive lists of companies that include Discovery Communications, Sirens Media and National Geographic Television amongst others. Her responsibilities have included managing all aspects of production operations, balancing a wide range of budgets from the hundred thousands to the millions and negotiating contract compliance and production units. Additionally she has experience advising business units on contingency fund requests, negotiating facilities, assesing deal visibility and supervising milestone payments.

Location and Person Releases – Go with your Gut!! If you have a person or people in the background for a few quick seconds and they are not really identifiable, they are most likely not worth trying to get releases from. However say you’re using a wide lens and a group of people are directly in the foreground with visible faces, then it would be in you’re best interests to get them to sign releases. As Pam stressed, the best idea is to really just go with you’re gut on what you think should be done. She gave similar advice on location releases, saying that if a building is directly in a shot or being used as a shoot location than you need to get a location release from some one authorized to sign such a document. Try to get a release from building management and double check to guarantee that the individual singing it does have the proper authorization.

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Nancy Prager, Esq., Entertainment/Arts Attorney

http://www.pragerlaw.us/

I represent a wide range of clients on matters ranging from intellectual property licensing to estate planning.  Though I am now based in Washington, D.C., I have practiced with firms in Memphis and Atlanta.  Additionally, I have served as a business development consultant to technology companies in both the telecommunications and intelligence sectors. I have addressed the convergence of intellectual property, technology and the creative industries to a variety of audiences including at conferences like SXSW and in publications like news.com.

Confidentiality Agreements – Read before you Write!!! As Nancy astutely pointed out Confidentiality Agreements, often reserved for those doing government work, have started cropping up in the private sector of the media business as well. While these agreements are usually a means to insure that the work involved stays private, the information can sometimes be used against the person who signed them. Make sure to carefully scan through any document you’re asked to sign and especially try to “read in between” the lines to see what information you’re agreeing to. Unfortunately, if someone is not familiar with the language it’s very easy for them to get tripped up. Another good point she had was that today, signing you’re name on an e-mail now counts as a legal signature which is something to be very mindful of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Getting Started in your Media Career

 

Ready set go

Last night at American Universities School of Communications,  several media professionals gathered with TIVA to give out

some very valuable information about how to get your foot in the media industry whether your a college student or a seasoned professional

looking to switch careers. The panelists included:

 

Jason Villemez, Production Assistant at PBS Newshour

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/jason-villemez/10/a27/594

Kristen Edgell, Marketing Assistant at National Geographic

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kristen-edgell/31/13b/b88

Laura Mateus, Campus Recruiter at Discovery Communications

http://www.zoominfo.com/#!search/profile/person?personId=1770693696&targetid=profile

Julia Beyer, Career Advisor for SOC Students

http://www.american.edu/profiles/staff/juliab.cfm

 

A variety of issues were discussed which included networking, resumes,

social media and linkedin, age and experience, reaching out and internships.

 

 

  • Networking, As Kristen pointed out networking is very much the name of the game. She very smartly made time to talk to every person she worked with, grabbing a cup of coffee and picking their brains. After these meetings she would inquire about other contacts that person might have that would be a good fit for her to talk to and then sought out those individuals. Another point that all the panelists agreed on was the value of a mentor and really getting to know an individual who will work with you and even advocate on your behalf.  Also, its key to stay in touch with those connections you make and to stay on their radar. They might be looking to fill a spot in an afternoon and if you stay fresh on their radar, you may just be getting that call.

 

  • Internships, the panel unanimously agreed that having at least one internship college is a great way to get some real world work skills outside of the classroom. Make sure that you really assert yourself in the role trying to learn as much as possible about the work your doing and present yourself well. Employers and companies respond well to someone who is eager to learn and want additional responsibilities instead of that person who’s just waiting to go. Many internships are now paying but even those that aren’t are still a valuable way for people to focus on their interests by getting to practice them in an adult setting.

 

  • Social Media, Obviously this is a huge facet of the media and business worlds and will only continue to grow. The best social media to present in terms of professionalism is Linkedin. The panelists all agreed that not only is it the preferred way to present yourself to new business contacts, its a great way to scout out potential employers and new relationships as well. A surprising note came from Laura who pointed that just because someone’s young and of the “plugged in” generation, that’s not a guarantee that they themselves are tech savvy or fluent in the art of social media. Twitter and facebook are also good venues to reach out to contacts, just be weary of  what they may see when they look at your profile. It’s smart to put your website and social media links under the header of your resume to show just how connected and tech able you are.

 

  • Resumes, one of the most important topics discussed was resumes and presentation. As Julia reminded everyone,  the basic look for a resume should be a header with your name, address, contact info and any links to your website or social media. This should be followed by education and most recent or appropriate work depending on the job your applying for. After this should come other work experiences and then your skills.  Unless you have more than ten years experience in the field, resume length should be one page. Grammar, punctation and spelling are also key since many people overlook these and will send resumes carelessly riddled with such mistakes. Also don’t put things that aren’t true, if your not familiar with software or a technical skill don’t put it on your resume. You may be questioned about it during your interview and not knowing anything will immediately make you look unprofessional.

 

  • Age and Media as a second career, Jason pointed out that in his position as a production assistant, one of his duties is to review candidates for internships and job openings. While there are the typical college students and recent graduates in that mix, Jason is also seeing lots of people in their late 20’s, 30’s and some who are doctors or lawyers looking to switch careers and that’s not a bad thing. Jason, who himself started in his job at the age of 27, says age is not an issue and what really matters is the desire to work your way up from the bottom. As long as the drive, willingness to learn, punctuality and professionalism are present, than people will notice your hard work and take you very seriously.

 

 

A huge thank you to the School of Communications for hosting this event and to TIVA for holding it.
SOC
TIVA
Further highlights of the event will soon be up on TIVA’s website at http://www.tivadc.org/



Going Google – Word Wizards Explores Google+ Social Networking

Word Wizards is now in the process of setting up Google+ for our organization. Google+ for companies seems to be a bit different than Google+ for individuals. As our online marketing expert, I am eager to finally expand my efforts to Google’s social networking baby. Getting started, there was only one concern, and it looked like this…

Google plus is not available
Translation – It’s guna be a long time before you get your Google+ going!

Not So Easy To Get In

As usual, it seems that the “easy” sign up process Google advertises is not so simple. I was prepared for that this time, actually, and I have come to expect slowness from Google as of late. Well it looks like I’ll be waiting for a while to try out the new social platform. In the meantime, check out another article about Google new super-high speed internet service.

Google Fiber – Gigabit Internet Goes Live




The Scribe’s Press – Now On Technorati.com

Technorati is one of the worlds most popular social blogging sites. The following verification code will put us on their blog-o-sphere for good!

4X8HCH9PZRC4

Technorati Logo

Its not easy to get on Technorati.com, fortunately I have been a member since before they stopped accepting applications. As they say, Snooze you Loose!

 




News Media – Technology and Election Season News

Last night’s Vice Presidential Debate seemed to leave both parties satisfied. Relax, the purpose of this article is not to argue about who won. I want to take a close look at the technology behind how the big news networks cover these elections. Just think about whats involved when you have 5 HD cameras and 3 microphones streaming live feeds from the debate stage. These extremely high bandwidth data feeds are recorded, encoded, transmitted to space, relayed to TV stations, and streamed for live broadcast over national and local networks ALL IN REAL TIME.

News Floors – Welcome to The Bridge

CNN’s Election Center 2012

CNN's Election Center
The Stage of CNN’s Election Center

It feels like the bridge of The Starship Enterprise, only this show stars Captain Wolf Blitzer and 1st Mate Anderson Cooper. In the photo above, there are countless HD screens, thousands of watts of lighting, a fully functional smart board, or two, and every tool a newscaster could possibly need to convey their message to viewers. Don’t forget, that’s only half of the stage, there is a similar array of technology right out of this camera’s view for a second anchor. Now remember, all of this gear works seamlessly with the feeds coming from the field, and is then broadcast to our TVs.

Fox News Election Center 2012

Fox News Election Center
Fox News Election Center

In an equally brilliant display of news media pizzaz and nationalistic pride, Fox News has set up their own 2012 election nerve center. Plenty of room for visuals, pundits, interviews and anything else that might be shown on Fox News Network. A central stage like this and the one above are critical aspects of the modern news media paradigm. However, its whats going on behind the scenes and off camera that really makes all of this possible.

Mission Control

The Control Room
CNN Media Control Room

Behind every great news-floor, is a broadcast media control room. I think the only thing you could compare it to is NASA mission control or something inside the Pentagon. The engineers in this room control every graphic, video feed, audio signal, and pretty much everything else. They handle countless live feeds from all around the world and are ready to respond to any crisis no matter what no matter when. A highly skilled team of audio / video engineers operate with tactile control over the entire operation, making critical decisions every second, from how fast to scroll the teleprompter, to what camera angle to display.

Simulcast – Your News, Anywhere

CNN on Satellite Radio
CNN on Satellite Radio

National news networks are no longer confined to the cable television medium. Now you can get all your news in real time via satellite radio, website, or even mobile app. I must say its cool to listen to my favorite news show while I am driving down the highway trying to kill the time. Just think about how amazing it is that my phone can receive a signal from space and let me listen in on a live broadcast as if it were there in front of me. Now think about how much pressure those newscasters must be under, one mistake, one slip, or one stupid unintentionally offensive comment and the whole world hates you…

A Geek’s Paradise

Maybe I am just a bit nerdy, but I find it fascinating how all of this comes together so seamlessly. Even more so, it seems that every year these systems get more capable and equally more sophisticated. I have a love for A/V tech in my blood, and if you enjoyed this article you probably do too! Make sure to sign up for our mailing list to receive more articles like this one from us on a regular basis. Be sure to drop us a comment and let us know what you think the coolest media technology is today.




CloudScript – Optimize Your Media Workflow

The Future of Time Code Has Arrived!

CloudScript is an innovative new tool that allows you to sync a transcript or b-roll log with a media player. Simply click on any time code and instantly jump to that point in the file. CloudScript is available in several versions to fit your specific budget and project requirements. Watch the short video below to find out more about CloudScript.

* For a better viewing experience, click on the gear icon in the video controls bar, select 720HD, and then view in fullscreen mode.

CloudScript Lite: Fast, Easy, Inexpensive

This version of CloudScript is designed to fit any budget. Simply upload a transcript or b-roll log and provide a file path and quickly create a media synced CloudScript document. You can use CloudScript Lite 24/7, and it syncs with media files hosted on your local drive or internal network; that means no lengthy uploads or downloads are required. Once your CloudScript is created, just click on any time code to instantly see and or hear that exact point in the media.

CloudScript Pro: Convenient, Simple, Affordable

CloudScript Pro is similar to CloudScript Lite with one major difference, we do all the work for you! With CloudScript Pro we create a media synced CloudScript document for you. All you need to do is provide a file path to the media on your local drive, internal network, or website, and our team will configure the media player.

CloudScript Enterprise: Review, Collaborate, Host on the Cloud

CloudScript Enterprise provides the ultimate cloud based media referencing tool. We optimize your media files for hosting on our secure cloud and compress them for easy distribution online. Then we send you a a CloudScript document that is synced to the media hosted online, allowing you to access your CloudScript from any machine connected to the internet. Share your transcripts and logs with anyone on the team, anywhere in the world!

Get Started With CloudScript

Want to learn more about CloudScript? Visit our website today and get the CloudScript advantage!

http://www.cloudscript.wordwizardsinc.com




CloudScript: The Future of Transcription Workflow

Word Wizards is proud to present our newest service, CloudScript!

Over 30 years of working in the media transcription industry has provided our team with rare and valuable insight into how and why people need our transcription services. We have noticed an important trend in the past few years, the name of the game these days is speed, convenience, and price. Production teams must to be able to work faster, more efficiently, and at lower operating costs than ever before to survive. Well, we have designed CloudScript to answer the call for a new solution.

Stated simply, CloudScript lets you click on any time code in your transcript and jump to that point in the audio or video file. Using a simple online form you can instantly convert any transcript with time code into a “media-synced” transcript. CloudScript is intended to make your workflow easier while writing, editing, producing or otherwise working with transcripts.

Watch our short video below for a quick demonstration!

Visit the CloudScript Home Page and Sign Up for your free trial Today!

 




Graphic Design Tech – Adobe Creative Cloud

In today’s digital world people want easy access to everything. Do you need to look at your bank statement? Load an app on your smartphone. Order a pizza? Log onto Domino’s and order away.

Going with that trend, Adobe has decided to add new capabilities to their entire Creative Suite for collaboration and distribution on the “cloud.” By paying a subscription based fee, one can work on projects in Creative Suite from multiple machines with the CS software installed. The idea that you can access your creative & design work from anywhere and at any time is a very intriguing prospect, especially for our graphic design department.

Graphic design tools go to the cloud!

Instant Collaboration

Creative Cloud for example would allow a graphic designer in Alaska to collaborate with their client across the globe at any time of day and on any computer they wish to access it from as long as the necessary software is installed. Or if you’re on the road traveling and only have access to edit your web design project for 30 or 40 minutes a night then you can easily log-in with your laptop work on it a bit, save it for later, and instantly send it back to the office for review.

Adobe has done it again.

Data Asset Security

Another positive aspect of putting everything on the cloud the risk of losing data is signifigantly minimized. If you have Adobe’s Creative Suite installed locally and it wasn’t backed up properly or if something haywire happened with your systems or hard drives then you could potentially lose a lot of
very important data.

Stay safe and secure in the cloud!
Putting your work on the cloud eliminates the risk of loosing your work in the event of a computer crash. If your computer won’t boot up then you can always use another machine and instantly access the cloud based creative design project you had been working on.

Cloudy Forecast

Clouds on the Horizon

The ease of use and accessibility cloud services gives the end user is amazing but I think what attracts people the most to the cloud phenomenon is the freedom it gives you. The very fact that a video editor or web designer could collaborate on a project anywhere and at any time is enough to attract customers
to cloud based subscription services like Creative Cloud.




The ONLY I.T.A.R. Compliant Transcription Company

When it comes to a project of a sensitive nature, be it legal, militaristic, classified, or otherwise not intended for unauthorized eyes, who are you going to trust? Now, we are not trying to put down firms who have chosen to enter the transcription industry utilizing offshore labor, in fact we capitalists respect and encourage the process of international competition. However, just ask yourself, when push comes to shove, who are you going to trust with your sensitive media? Unknown, untested, and uncertified offshore options, or the only transcription company in the world (Word Wizards) that fits the qualifications for the U.S. State Department’s stamp of approval.

U.S. State Department - DDTC Logo

Compliance with I.T.A.R. (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) does not come easy. This certification, issued by the U.S. State Department, is generally intended for organizations involved with international arms and military applications. When filing for this certification, we laughed as we checked the “other” category to describe our services, other is located somewhere between nuclear warhead production and experimental particle beam weapon research.

Trust But Verify

What transcription compamny do you trust?

Why would a transcription company choose to get I.T.A.R. compliance? In a global economy, our organization now faces extreme pressure from international competition. One of the stipulations of I.T.A.R. compliance is a strict “on shore” policy for work performed due to the often sensitive military nature of the content of these projects. Well, it appears that our modest U.S.A based transcription company is one of the last of its kind. Yes,  our short term profits may have suffered slightly when the economy tanked and clients explored cheaper, lower quality, offshore transcription options. However, our commitment to providing premium quality transcription services and maintaining a workforce of well paying American jobs has paid off once again.

Why are there no other I.T.A.R. compliant transcription companies, simply because nobody else in the world qualifies.




Video Transcription – A Tool for Pros and Joes

Video transcription companies like Word Wizards have been assisting the professional video production industry for a long time, making the lives of editors, producers, and audio mixers much easier. As with any industry, time is money, and wasted time in post can be reduced significantly with the use of a standard or time coded transcript. On the other hand, we are noticing a recent trend of an increasing amount of amateur film producers and regular house hold consumers starting to utilize the power of transcription services to make their lives easier and make their media more accessible.

Save The Predators

A “predator” is someone who acts as producer and editor on the same project, and in some instances they are the writer as well. Typically, “predators” work for those companies who lack big corporate budgets and are operate out of small, typically unsung post hoses and production companies. A transcript with time code can help these individuals manage their media, organize their product, and make their cuts and refinements with a complete written account of their video reels and the gems they seek within. The predator may be unsung, but they are often responsible for seemingly impossible work loads, and are often known to produce broadcast quality media at astonishing prices. Keeping your predators healthy and happy is paramount, with long hours, insane expectations, and impossible deadlines always weighing heavily on their, and only their, shoulders. Transcripts help these heroes of small cap production stay on target, saving time, money, and stress from being otherwise wasted.

Save the Predators (use transcription services)

Media Management for the Consumer

More and more consumers are turning to transcripts with time code for a cost effective solution to manage personal media such as home movies, video clips, and family audio recordings. Let me play out a scene for you; you have all your old home movies sitting in a box (or boxes) somewhere. Slowly they loose quality over time and so you decide to digitize the footage and store it all on a hard drive. Someone wants to watch the part of your high school graduation ceremony when the speaker says her famous quote that inspired you to achieve greatness. You could spend hours looking for that one tape, and even more time searching for the spot where the graduation speaker says her legendary piece. With a time coded transcript you can use the “find” feature in your word processing software to find her quote and exactly where in the tape it was. Time coded transcripts allow you to search for anything in your media and identify exactly where it is and what it says. Home movies 2.0!

Got tapes? need transcription? Were here to digitize and clarify!

Pros, Joes, and Twinkle Toes

Whatever your reason for shooting video or recording audio, transcription services can make your life better and more efficient. Our mission here is to give you the told to make your media project as easy and efficient as possible while protecting your limited budget and resources. If your new to the concept of transcription, we invite you to try it out and see for yourself how powerful this tool really is.




Analog Transcription – Betacam, VHS, Audio Cassette Tape

Word Wizards, Inc. continues to offer transcription, digitization, and archiving services for Betacam, VHS, and Audio Cassette Tapes.  These long forgotten analog formats were once the backbone of the video and audio production industries in ages long ago. Now, vast stores of Betacam, VHS, and audio cassette tapes sit alone in dark dusty boxes stored somewhere in your footage dungeons, just waiting for one last chance to see the light of day. Even in the age of digital enlightenment, Word Wizards still maintains the proper equipment and expertise to handle these ancestral analog clunkers.

Betacam, VHS, and Video Cassette Decks
Analog Decks: Betacam, VHS, and Tape Cassette

Analog Decay:

Over time analog tapes begin to loose their clarity and quality. Before long, once rich media stored on dusty old tapes will decay to the point of complete uselessness. Post decay restoration efforts of distorted analog material typically are beyond a reasonable budget. Before you loose your valuable assets to the sands of time, take action and let Word Wizards transcribe, digitize, and archive your long lost analog gems.

Analog media decays over time.

Digital Archiving:

The advantage of creating a digital audio or video archive is all about capitalizing on business assets. If analog media will decay over time, it effectively looses its value as an asset to your organization. Depreciation thus occurs physically and eventually all of the financial value of stock footage, old cassettes and other analog media will be lost. It makes perfect sense to invest in the digitization of old media assets to preserve their financial value and maintain the integrity of the audio or video permanently. Word Wizards can and will handle any and every format you can throw our way, don’t let your media go the way of “The Lost Ark!”

Don't let your media assets die alone in boxes!
Top Men…

Legacies of Progress:

Long ago when the world was young and it took rooms full of equipment to transcribe with time code, Word Wizards invested in a multitude of high quality decks to handle any format of audio or video. Once in a while a client still needs us to transcribe or digitize old school analog format tapes. We enjoy doing this type of work because it reminds us of where we came from with a sense of nostalgia. In a time when the majority of firms in our industry have gone “all digital,” we take pride in our ability to remain on the cutting edge while still maintaining our original analog capabilities.




Transcription Tech: A Salute To The Foot Pedal

When we first got into the transcription game, the technology of the foot pedal was top secret and complicated. In fact, we had to pay a private engineer to make our transcription foot pedal system to work properly in conjunction with our secret time code technology. Almost every component in the primordial transcription system was analog, and our competition still doesn’t know how we did it. (little do they know, it was magic! Remember, we’re wizards :)

Your a wizard!
Never forget, we're the original Word Wizards!

Snap to the modern day and we find that foot pedal transcription systems are a dime a dozen, and can be bought cheaply off the shelf. Unfortunately, the innovation of controlling audio or video transcription software by foot pedal is vastly under appreciated. So today I just wanted to give a quick salute of appreciation to the the one that always works “under foot” and never seems to complain. We remind all of our fellow transciptionists that when foot pedals hit the scene, productivity increased to the point where this industry became a full time job.

Always under foot of a good transcription and never complained once!
Respect the pedal...

If you don’t agree with me, just try to transcribe your next 5 hour job without one of these little wonders to help you. Manually pressing the play, pause, and rewind button reduces transcription productivity and efficiency by 50% or more! The transcription world will forever be in debt to the one who took this secret time saver and brought it to the masses. Now the only question is which one do you choose?

Beware The Foot Clan!
Just don't team up with the Foot Clan! (please forgive the Ninja Turtles reference)



Red Alert: Stop SOPA From Destroying the Internet

It is not usually our policy to get political here at Word Wizards. However there is a largely under-discussed item of legislation that could change the free internet forever. Our friends at WordPress covered this issue quite well, so we have broken our normal habit of only publishing original articles to bring you their post in its entirety. If SOPA passes, our entire domain could be taken down for something like this without any chance to prove our innocence. Luckily that hasn’t happened yet and we know our friends at WordPress will understand the use of some of their material to spread this message.

The following was graciously extracted from the official WordPress blog:

Help Stop SOPA/PIPA

Posted January 10, 2012 by Jane Wells. Filed under Community.

You are an agent of change. Has anyone ever told you that? Well, I just did, and I meant it.

Normally we stay away from from politics here at the official WordPress project — having users from all over the globe that span the political spectrum is evidence that we are doing our job and democratizing publishing, and we don’t want to alienate any of our users no matter how much some of us may disagree with some of them personally. Today, I’m breaking our no-politics rule, because there’s something going on in U.S. politics right now that we need to make sure you know about and understand, because it affects us all.

Using WordPress to blog, to publish, to communicate things online that once upon a time would have been relegated to an unread private journal (or simply remained unspoken, uncreated, unshared) makes you a part of one of the biggest changes in modern history: the democratization of publishing and the independent web. Every time you click Publish, you are a part of that change, whether you are posting canny political insight or a cat that makes you LOL. How would you feel if the web stopped being so free and independent? I’m concerned freaked right the heck out about the bills that threaten to do this, and as a participant in one of the biggest changes in modern history, you should be, too.

You may have heard people talking/blogging/twittering about SOPA — the Stop Online Piracy Act. The recent SOPA-related boycott of GoDaddy was all over the news, with many people expressing their outrage over the possibilities of SOPA, but when I ask people about SOPA and its sister bill in the Senate, PIPA (Protect IP Act), many don’t really know what the bills propose, or what we stand to lose. If you are not freaked out by SOPA/PIPA, please: for the next four minutes, instead of checking Facebook statuses, seeing who mentioned you on Twitter, or watching the latest episode of Sherlock*, watch this video (by Fight for the Future).

Some thoughts:

  • In the U.S. our legal system maintains that the burden of proof is on the accuser, and that people are innocent until proven guilty. This tenet seems to be on the chopping block when it comes to the web if these bills pass, as companies could shut down sites based on accusation alone.
  • Laws are not like lines of PHP; they are not easily reverted if someone wakes up and realizes there is a better way to do things. We should not be so quick to codify something this far-reaching.
  • The people writing these laws are not the people writing the independent web, and they are not out to protect it. We have to stand up for it ourselves.

Blogging is a form of activism. You can be an agent of change. Some people will tell you that taking action is useless, that online petitions, phone calls to representatives, and other actions won’t change a single mind, especially one that’s been convinced of something by lobbyist dollars. To those people, I repeat the words of Margaret Mead:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

We are not a small group. More than 60 million people use WordPress — it’s said to power about 15% of the web. We can make an impact, and you can be an agent of change. Go to Stop American Censorship for more information and a bunch of ways you can take action quickly, easily, and painlessly. The Senate votes in two weeks, and we need to help at least 41 more senators see reason before then. Please. Make your voice heard.

END OF ARTICLE

Word Wizards is united in our outcry against this unconstitutional limitation on our freedom to express ourselves and operate our small business. Our business would be instantly and negatively impacted by this legislation. So on behalf of our executives, developers, and everyone else that relies on this business for a good American small business job, STOP THIS MADNESS BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.