Future Media Concepts Presents: Editing Tech 101

Heavily involved in many aspects of post-production, Word Wizards realizes that editing is where the magic begins. And choosing the right editing software for your project—Adobe Premiere, Avid or Final Cut—is essential. A huge thank you goes out to TIVA who recently sponsored an incredibly informative panel discussion at Future Media Concepts, Comparing Editing Platforms, which addressed the issue. Panelist included three talented editors, Virginia Quesada, Sylus Green and Matthew Nagy. Attendees spent half an hour with each editor to learn about their preferred editing software.

Avid Media Composer:

Avid editing platform.

 

Virginia Quesada a well-known trainer and editor at Future Media Concepts demonstrated Avid Media Composer. She explained that the software easily handles transcoding and consolidation. And how the software efficiently cleans movie files and copies them for editing. According to Quesada, Avid Media Composer imports and accommodates footage from the 4K camera without difficulty while the point tracker effects allows you to simply and seamlessly change the frame of an object within an image. The corrective effects like color correction are smooth are easy to use by editors of all levels.

Adobe Premiere

Adobe-Premier

Editor Matt Nagy explained why he is such a big fan of Adobe Premier. The importation of files by the software does not require transcode and works with most formats. Premiere also plays seamlessly with the rest of the Adobe family of products including Photoshop or After Effects. For example, an audio clip you are adjusting in Premiere can be dropped into Adobe Audition for tweaking then returned to Premiere.  And the warp stabilizer that smoothes out your footage gives more of a steady cam look. Important to note: Adobe offers comprehensive support for camera formats and plugins immediately after release.

Final Cut Pro

Final-Cut-Pro

Editor Sylus Green explained that Final Cut Pro Version X is very different from Version 7 and this has frustrated many users since it was missing some features they had become used to. Because of the criticism, Apple returned some of the functionality that editors demanded into the program through updates. This included reinstating features such as multicam editing, XML support, Red camera support with native REDCODE Raw Editing and editing individual audio channels right into the timeline.  And the cost of FCP X at $299 is less expensive when compared to other editing software. Green praised the keyword and smart collection tool in FCP X that aids searches, and is a favorite among documentary makers. The retiming tools of X allow you to manually affect the speed of a clip by simply dragging a bar over it. In FCP X the multi-cam editor easily and quickly syncs your work, a big change from the clunky FCP 7.

The Perfect Fit for You

While each of the different software had their own strengths, there were a few downsides. Instead of simply purchasing the software, with Adobe you must subscribe on a monthly basis to use all the features. However, Adobe, Avid and Apple all allow you try their software for a trial period. Different editors like different features, so try before you buy!

 




48-Hour Film Project 2014 – Reflections from the Pros

The 48 hour film project hosted by Mark Rupert. Video professionals from the DC metro area work to make a complete film in 48 hours.

 

When my friend Tim Flaherty came shopping for a location for his entry in the 2014 48-Hour Film Project,  I was intrigued and wanted to help him. He is a former President of TIVA, and I know him to be a rock solid television and industrial producer.  His co-leader was Ishu Krishna, another former TIVA Board member for whom I have a great deal of respect. They named their team CITRA/CVA Productions after their respective production companies (CITRA and CVA).  Together, they assembled 27 professionals, from talent to producers, writers, editors, and motion graphics.

I was happy to offer the use of my office as a set, for a chance to observe the process unfold.  Unfortunately, our new office was way too small for a set that would eventually include helicopter drone shots and human burials.  Nevertheless, I agreed to buy lunch for the cast and crew, in exchange for the right to blog about the process.

However, my problem was daunting.  As a transcription guy, my knowledge of video production is very limited.  How was I supposed to educate others about what I didn’t understand very well myself?  That turned out to be easily solved.  We decided to tell the story through the words of the participants themselves.

Participants in the 48 hour film project 2014.
John Rowles (Composer) – Tim Flaherty (Producer) – Diane Williams (Writer)

 

Word Wiz Blogger’s Challenge

Here was my challenge to the CITRA/CVA Team.  Everyone who cared to do so would state the role that they played in production.  Why did they participate in the 48-hr FP, for no compensation, on the first nice weekend in spring?  How did they do their thing?  What special equipment, techniques, and acting skills did each bring to bear which would distinguish their work from the 95 other entries submitted at the DC 48-hr FP this year?  How did they function under pressure on a project with other people who were mostly strangers to each other?  What went particularly right, and also what went wrong?

My first request for blog submissions went out before the first screening.  Although our entry, The Ultimate Event, did not make it into the finals (called “Best of DC” in this area), I am sure our readers will find the participants’ comments particularly insightful.

Participants in the 48 hour film project preparing a scene for their shoot.
James Thompson at work on “The Ultimate Event.”

Comments from D.P. James Thompson

First to respond to my request for insight was current TIVA Board member James Thompson, who served on the camera crew of The Ultimate Event.  His comments:

“The first shot after the Peter Roof Drone into the building was a mid-shot of our star.

“This was done on a slider loaned to the production from another TIVA member, we had a mid-shot with the television’s silhouette taking up the left side of frame. As the director – Rich Volin read lines from the script, we inched forward on a 50mm lens with 5 separate focal points for the dedicated 1st AC – Jyothi Sunkari to hit over the 6 foot move. So the random elements included pacing from a script read, the subject sitting up in frame, and the previously mentioned TV needing to exit frame, the 2nd AC – Tara Roberts took care of sliding the unit out as I moved through its space with the slider mount. The TV flicker was produced by the gaffer – Jorge Mera bouncing a 350 watt arri into 1/4 CTB gel and all of this took place after midnight (16 hours since we began).

“The crew was excellent to work with, moves were quick, complaints were absent, and even the on-set (Home owners) dog entering frame to sample a featured cake didn’t slow the project down.

“Many people have told me how much they like the flowers hitting the grave, this was done in 720p to get the Canon 7D to record 60 frames. To give credit, 1st AC – Jyothi Sunkari who is experienced with her own 7D rig did that shot, nice work.

“When Peter Roof’s drone got ready to shoot the end crane out, then entire camera department including myself stopped and just watched in awe as what appears to be a children’s toy (ok these units cost and the practiced skill that make the shots work, are far from child’s play) created a shot which little short of a 30 foot crane, build crew of 3 and duration of 30 minutes could want to achieve, made the end takes swift and could be repeated for best performance.

“Also based on a discussion with Director – Rich Volin, anyone watching the film understands it is a funeral, very easy to convince an audience but no one will ever find the tombstone!”

Reaction from the Wiz

The camera drone shot started the film off with stunning effect.  My first thought was to wonder whether someone actually rented a giant crane or a helicopter.  This establishing shot indicated the level of professionalism which was to follow.  Incidentally, the same camera drone and operator (Peter Roof) was the subject of a live demonstration at a TIVA meeting last summer.  The slider was featured at the same meeting.  Many of the cast and crew were solicited through TIVA.  Word Wizards is sure that other local organizations like WIFV and PGA have 48-hr FP teams out there that they are equally proud of.  Networking with other professionals pays off every time.

Actress in the 48 hour film project 2014.

Comments from Professional Actor Martha Newman

“I can certainly attempt to comment on my experience from this past weekend, and about how cohesively we all worked together.

“I played Martha (my real name), Samantha’s assistant at the event planning company we represented in the film.  It was an insanely fun time.  The script was outrageous, the creative team was brilliant, and the crew were spit-shine professionals.  It’s true that the group worked very well together, many of us for the first time as a team, but there were also team members who HAD acted, or produced, together prior to this weekend.  I knew several crew members and actors from past projects myself, and although I had not met Tim Flaherty, the producer, before, he arranged a pre-production meeting at a watering hole in DC a couple of weeks prior to the big weekend where we all had a chance to get to know each other and bond.  By the time we met at Rich Volin’s house (the director) for the Big Event, we felt like a pretty close-knit family.  And for those of us who already knew each other well, it was an opportunity to lean on one another, while under pressure, to produce the best performance we could in a stressful situation.  For example, Tanya Davis (Samantha) and I have portrayed disaster victims almost every week for more than two years as we help adult students learn new skills under a government training contract, one of several role-playing jobs she and I have worked on together.  It was wonderful having this chance to do something different and challenging with Tanya, and my other fellow actors, during the 48 HFP last weekend.

“Why do we work long hours for no pay just to be a part of this competition?  I think it must be the joy of being a part of something very creative, seeing it come to life, and competing with your peers (the other film teams) in a friendly way that just makes you want to do this again next year.”

On set at "The Ultimate Event" shoot for the 2014 48 hour film project.

Reaction of the Wiz

When I saw the shots of the three actresses in their business suits, I thought they were event planners from Madison Avenue. The use of seasoned professionals really came through for the production.   Some of the participants had worked tougher in the past. However, everyone knew their jobs, no matter if they were part of a team that had worked together before or not.

As to the question “why do you do it?” Martha’s answer could have come from any of the hundreds of thousands of people who have participated in 48-hr FP over the last thirteen years in hundreds of different cities around the world.  She did it for love of her craft, for “the joy of being part of something very creative.”

 

Comments from Steve Renard – Motion Graphic Designer

“I agree this looks like a very successful production.  I myself was only involved for a few hours, as a motion designer for a couple slates and the end credits, and honestly I have not seen the end product yet so I don’t know if they decided to scrap everything I did anyway… ;-)

Steve Renard - Motion Graphics Expert

“From something of an outsider’s perspective, it seemed to me that what made this production work so well was that everyone knew what they were supposed to be doing, and everyone there was really dedicated to the task and the craft of creating the film.  I came in on Saturday evening, shortly after 8:00 pm, and the crew was working on their last few shots.  The media was being handled efficiently, and handed off to the editor, who had a clear sense from the director how the whole thing was being played, and was able to pass that on to me very clearly, so that I could start working on the graphics.  That allowed me to create something that worked, I think, the first time, rather than going through many revisions and slowing down the process.”

Comments from Team Co-Leader Tim Flaherty

Tim Flaherty

“I come from a background in television and industrial production, so “filmmaking” as an exercise for cinema was a little foreign to me before I began doing 48 Hour films. I decided participating in a 48 Hour Film Project movie would be a great way to learn about creating art in this similar but decidedly different discipline.

“I met Ishu Krishna at a TIVA function in 2011 and asked if I could join her team.  She took me on as a producer, and we have now done four of these together.  My interest in coming back is to further skills and knowledge in production for cinema, to earn cinema credits and to meet and work with other professionals as a networking exercise. I find 48 Hour is a terrific venue to come in contact with other people you might wish to work with in the future.

“I try to put together a professional crew and have all important positions filled.  Many team leaders don’t bother with full camera departments, or ignore small but important roles like Continuity Director.  Lack of a proper crew leads to mistakes and oversights that the judges are going to notice.  Rich Volin and Ishu are also excellent screenwriters, and have this good chemistry working together.  Keeping them in charge of the writing team is paramount to a good script. Nick Gay as both an editor and graphics creator is also a core team member.  I enter this to win, so Team Citra/CVA goes all out!

“On top of everything else, the 48 Hour Film Project is just something fun to be part of.  The premise is a little goofy, and there is an “anything can happen” vibe to the whole weekend.  It’s something that you often talk about with your friends for the rest of the year.  You also learn to do something well under a time constraint, so it is a good learning exercise for everything else we do. “

 




2013 Peer Awards – $500 Prize for Best Documentary Film

Docs In Progress logo   TIVA DC Peer Awards logo

The annual DC Peer Awards is always a special event, celebrating the best artists in the DC production community and bringing them together to reward their hard work. Word Wizards Inc. has been a proud sponsor for many years because we believe they honor the absolute best in the field and encourage aspiring professionals to continue their quest for excellence. This year however, the ceremony has a new award thanks to Word Wizards, with the inclusion of a unique Docs In Progress category that focuses on documentary works that have been produced with the assistance of Docs In Progress. The category, proudly sponsored by Word Wizards Inc., gives the winner a $500 cash reward. This new prize is meant to help promote organizations that help filmmakers who want to make their vision a reality but don’t know where to start. For almost a decade, Docs In Progress and it’s founder Erica Ginsberg have been a huge part of the DC film community has and helped dozens of filmmakers, both experienced veterans and fresh novices, tell meaningful stories and reach audiences.

Humble Beginnings

Photograph of founders Erica Ginsberg and Adele Schmidt
Erica Ginsberg and Adele Schmidt
Photo from Docs In Progress Website

The time was way back in 2004 and two DC area filmmakers, Erica Ginsberg and Adele Schmidt, were sharing a dinner and talking about their craft. They talked about their desire to create a space where artists and filmmakers could come together to give each other valuable feedback on their works in progress and thus the seeds of Docs In Progress were planted.  The first DIP screening took place at the Warehouse Theater on 7th Street in May of that year. The first films to be screened were Swing Legends and Up to the Mountain, Down to the Village. It wasn’t long before these screenings started attracting artists from all over the DC film community who came to critique each other’s work. Over the next nine years, the organization has grown to not only include screenings of under construction films but also production workshops to educate others, peer pitch programs which allows artists in the early stages of their films to receive peer feedback, a youth summer camp and even the first Silver Spring Stories Film Festival.

Modern Day

Docs In Progress screening
A typically packed Docs In Progress screening
Photo from Docs In Progress Website

Even though Docs In Progress has grown by leaps and bounds in it’s almost decade long history, the organization still strives every day to remain true to its founding mission and values. This mission includes programs that help nurture a vibrant documentary community as well as discussion groups and screenings to help grow public appreciation for the documentary art form. The DIP values are also important and are composed of cultivating community partnerships, building a supportive artistic environment and connecting the public with documentary filmmakers. It’s these values that made Word Wizards Inc, want to honor Docs In Progress with this special category at the Peer Awards. DIP helps people tell compelling real life stories and works tirelessly to bring these important stories to the forefront of people’s minds. Ever more impressive is their desire to help any filmmaker who is driven enough whether they are brand new to the biz or seasoned film veterans.

A Bright Future

With 2014 almost upon us, Docs In Progress is set to reach a milestone as the organization celebrates 10 years. As Erica puts it “In 2014, we celebrate 10 years of Docs in Progress in the DC-area film community.  In that time hundreds of aspiring, emerging, and established documentary filmmakers from Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia and beyond have found purpose, professional development, and community through our offerings. We look forward to continuing to support films and filmmakers who have opened our eyes, our minds, and our hearts to the world around us.” Erica is an accomplished documentary filmmaker herself who’s work includes Taking Threats about international student reaction to 9/11 as well as the in progress  American’s Park which looks at changes in American society and urban development specifically DC’s Meridian Hill Park and the surrounding neighborhood.

 




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.

 




Importance of the Peers

Peer Awards

Honors in the DC video production community don’t get much bigger than the annual TIVA Peer Awards. These awards, which have been around since 1997, pay tribute to excellence in local media and are one of the most sought-after awards in the area. Every November the TIVA community comes together at the National Press Club to give out this honor in a variety of different categories. Some of the categories include best independent short, best music video, best documentary and best children’s program. This year brings the addition of a few new categories, such as government production, foreign language  and for one year only, a special Docs in Progress category, proudly sponsored by Word Wizards Inc. The winner will receive a $500 cash prize.

The Peer Promise Competition

Since TIVA recognizes that it’s important to help pave the way for the next generation of great film and media makers, it created the Peer Promise Competition. This special category is the high school component of the Peer Awards, where students are invited to enter their individual or class media projects in film and video. These projects are then judged on the basis of their creativity while being compared to other schools in the DC, Virginia and Maryland region. These students may be awarded a certificate of merit for their work, or even be chosen as one of three regional finalists who are invited to the awards with the winner receiving a gold award while the other receive a silver and a bronze. The best thing about the Peer Promise competition is that its absolutely free to enter, so there is absolutely no reason for future filmmakers not to put their best work forward.
Peer Awards2

Backstory and Details

The awards were started by the former Washington Film and Video Council way back in 1997 before merging with the ITVA-DC Video Festival. The three levels of awards for each category are silver, bronze and gold. The gold winner receives a trophy to take home while silver and bronze winners receive a foil-embossed certificate and the option to order a trophy if they wish. While the early-bird deadline for submission just ended, there’s still plenty of time for film and video makers to get their work in by the regular deadline of June 30th. Entries will still be accepted up to July 31, but a late fee will apply. The full list of entrance prices and fees can be found on the awards Q&A page. Video professionals can register on the online portal. There is a two-year eligibility window for entries: this year the window is between June 30, 2011 and June 30, 2013.

 A Community Comes Together

As someone who has volunteered to help at the past two peer award ceremonies, I can honestly say it is a truly memorable evening. It is one of the few times a year that the DC Metro Area production community comes together to really celebrate one another. Everyone is there supporting the impressive body of work on display, and to win of course, in a very sympathetic and celebratory atmosphere. Its a time for people to reconnect with each other and catch up about their lives, as well as past and future projects. Of course the awards themselves are special since its the DC film-and-video community congratulating their best and brightest. The fact that peers and fellow media/production professionals are the ones voting makes these awards incredibly unique and personal.

 

 

 




Comparing Affordable Cameras and Camera Rigs

Sony-PMW-F3-left-LCD

The Fab Five

Since Word Wizards, Inc. often deals with new technology, we definitely know how it changes quickly, especially in the realm of video production. While the video production community in DC is incredibly talented and forms an amazingly supportive community, we are also dependent on the equipment we use. It’s not easy to keep track of the latest cameras and camera technology  with so many different camera models to choose from at a variety of prices. Recently, TIVA held a panel at Henninger Media to give people an inside look at some of the different models on the market, and some advice from five very experienced cameramen and DPs who use them every day. This fab five consisted of Jim Ball, Nate Clapp, Alex Ibrahim, Don Lampasone , and Alex Guckert.

lenses

Lens is Main Priority

They brought a wide variety of models with them for display. These included models like the Canon 7D DSLR, a basic model that retails for $1,500 all the way up to the Sony F3 35mm digital camera, shown at the top of the article, that costs $14,000. While the panelists said you should look at camera models depending on your needs, they all agreed the lens should be the main investment with the actual camera more of an afterthought. If possible you should try to get a lens that will last and is flexible enough to work with a variety of different camera models. While new camera models come out every couple of years because of new tech, lens tend to stay the same. Sanyo and Rokinon are companies that make cheap and mildly reliable lenses. Another option is Zeiss, who sell very nice but more expensive lenses.

DSLR vs. Cinema Cameras

The conversation then moved onto a debate between digital single-lens reflex cameras, a.k.a. DSLRs, and movie cameras. DSLRs are able to take both still photography as well as video with the cinema very comparable to more dedicated video. Many in the video industry like SLRs because they have these dual capabilities and are often able to pay for themselves quickly  because they’re so versatile. One concern about DSLRs is that you often have to shoot and then darken the image yourself because of the exposure. However, if your shooting in low light, then DSLRs excel because of their low light sensors. In fact another reason DSLRs are so well liked is because they tend to have larger, more powerful light sensors that give a narrower depth of field, making it easier to isolate the subject and give it a more “filmatic” look. The bottom line is that you should get a camera that suits your needs and fits your work, whether you’re shooting documentaries and “talking heads” footage, or something more action oriented.

Black magic camera

Standout cameras

There were four cameras that were standouts to the panelists and were especially liked for their capabilities. One was the Canon C100, a cinema camera that at $5,500 is moderately priced and is well liked for its compatibility and powerful super-35mm sensor. As far as DSLRs go, one of the top picks was the Black Magic 2.5K, shown above, that goes for about $3,000—although it should be noted that you need a .5-millimeter lens to really make the camera shine.

The Sony FS-700, is a very well liked and versatile camera that may be a bit on the pricier side at $7,500, but has some great qualities, like beautiful slow-motion capture, does action scenes well, and will record it so the footage is ready to edit immediately after you’re done shooting. The fourth and final pick was the Sony F3, which at $14,000 is not a small investment. But the camera is considered to be very versatile and comes with a PL-mount adaptor that makes it compatible with any PL-mount cinematic lense.

DC Camera

Try Before You Buy

Of course, you really should get the one that can best handle the type of work you do, and its good to keep in mind that accessories will often outlast the camera, so go for quality. A good way to test out a camera before you make that big splurge is to rent one and use it on a production to really get a feel for the model. This not only saves you the frustration of buying a model and finding out you hate it, it allows you to try out several different models in a cost-effective way. Camera Rental places, like DC Camera. are great places from which to rent and ask questions. Most cameras are good for renting and shouldn’t be too complicated to someone with at least a little camera experience. There are some cameras, such as the Red Epic Cameras, which cost upwards of $50,000 and is not the kind of model you should just rent unless you have experience with it. When you finally are ready to pluck down your hard-earned cash for the big buy, a used camera can be a smart way to go, since people may be eager to unload the “three” model if the “five” just came out.




The Little Camera That Could

go pro

Built for Adventure

While cameras are great at capturing a story for film and showcasing someone’s vision, they are not usually known for their durability and tend to be pretty fragile machines. It’s tough to take them under water, on a bike or car, or just any place where you’d be moving a lot and need something light and compact to get extreme footage. That was until the founding of GoPro and the introduction of their line of small, compact and reasonably-priced cameras that allow movie makers to go places they have never gone before. Over the last decade the GoPro has become the number one selling camera in the world, adored by both athletes as well documentary filmmakers for its versatility.

 GoPro Origins

The company’s founder, Nick Woodman, first got the idea when he was enjoying his passion for surfing 10 years ago. He wanted to capture video of himself and his friends on the waves but couldn’t with any current camera. So he built a limited-use wrist-mount camera and the tech became a hit with the surfing crowd. It wasn’t until he was enjoying his other hobby, racing cars, that he strapped on a GoPro to the roll bar of his car and realized the vast consumer appeal. Since then, the company has been turning out models year after year with the latest being the GoPro HD Hero3: Black Edition,  1080P video and still camera that can be controlled via a wi-fi remote.

helmet gopro

The Value of Fan Feedback

Not surprisingly the product has a loyal following, with users often posting videos and multi-media of their latest exploits on the company’s website and Facebook page. They want to show off what they capture with their cameras, and it is that word-of-mouth that makes these exciting and unique video clips popular. The company pays close attention to see how the average customer is using its  product and uses that as a way to anticipate what people would want. While the GoPros may not have the high resolution that many professional cameras do, they more than make up for it in other ways, such as cost.

MFLocust2

Famous For Their Versatility

GoPros are relatively cheap, with the most expensive model costing a very moderate $400. This helps open up the camera to film hobbyists and weekend movie makers who want to dabble in the video realm but can’t really fully invest themselves in it. This is most definitely a good thing, because fresh ideas, and video that may not have been possible before, are popping up. We can, however, say from personal experience that many people in the professional video production community have made GoPros part of their arsenal. Companies have strapped them to the outside of cars, attached them to balloons and flying drones and put them on surf boards. For more information on GoPros, check out this recent article on Mashable http://mashable.com/2013/03/05/gopro-camera/.

 

 




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.

 

 




Need a Little Help With that Documentary?

All Rights Reserved

While to many outsiders i.e. people not in the media or video production biz, making a documentary or any kind of media production may seem like fun, we video professionals know just how much hard grueling work is involved in even the most basic media. Not only are there a seemingly impossible number of steps you have to go through but obviously you want to make sure you’re doing it well. Working in a documentary rich community like the one here in the D.C. Metro area is enormously helpful because of the sheer number of professionals who strive to help each other out. Through each step of the process from conception and story boarding to filming, principle photography and finally editing, transcription and logging there is someone wanting to collaborate with you and make your work that much better. One of these people Adele Schmidt is definitely worth getting to know.

Adele Schimdt brings a decade and a half of valuable experience with her in that time has produced, edited and directed more than 6 long form award winning documentaries. Not only have these documentaries all been shown on National Public Television, they have also participated in over 50 national and international film festivals. So the fact Adele has become a well known documentary coach should surprise no one. She loves helping guide people through the process of making their film and is incredibly passionate about making sure new projects succeed.

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As a coaching consultant, Adele guides filmmakers in all stages of the documentary process. She works with them on research, helping them decide which talking heads and research to utilize. During the production and shooting process she loves to give them pointers and tips on how to create the best possible looking film. Finally during the editing phase, Adele helps filmmakers polish their work so that it absolutely shines. She is a firm believer in transcripts with time code and has referred Docs makers to Word Wizards, Inc. in the past. In addition to personal coaching, she also teaches a number of workshops and seminars during the year around the DC area.

In fact, she has an upcoming seminar on April 20th entitled “Finished My Documentary, What’s Next?” During the seminar Adele will present the first case study using her film Romantic Warriors – A Progressive Music Saga I and II. She will explain how the film has successfully self-financed itself via DVD by targeting social media campaigns and self distribution. Filmmakers will be able to learn the right techniques and methods in reaching the widest possible audience for their projects. To learn more about the seminar, check it out here: http://bit.ly/102sl76

To learn more about Adele and her consulting work, check out out some of these links:

 

 

 




Annapolis Film Festival Wrap Up

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This past weekend the Annapolis Film Festival kicked off to some pretty critical acclaim. The festival, which ran from the 21 – 24, seeks to establish the city of Annapolis as a prime breeding ground for different filmmakers to come and show different perspectives through their work to hungry audiences. A previous incarnation actually existed from 2003 to 2006 and was produced by Ken Arnold, Maria Triandos and Demetrea Triantafillides. The founders of the present version hope that in the long term it will bring both cultural and economic growth to Annapolis and the surrounding area. The festival showcased all types of films from gripping fictional tales to thought provoking documentaries. Word Wizards especially loves documentaries because transcription, captioning and logging are among our core business capabilities.  During the weekend, more than 90 films which covered various topics were shown in addition to educational panels and various film showcases.

After the festival, the winners as voted by audience members were:

Best Feature Narrative: Exquisite Corpse Project

The Exquisite Corpse Project, directed by Ben Popik and directed by Joanna Popik, is the result of a challenge given to five members of a former comedy troupe, all good friends. Their task is to each write fifteen pages of a movie script having only read the previous writer’s last five pages. This one-of-a-kind narrative-doc crossover is hilarious and touching.

Best Feature Documentary: Charles Bradley: Soul of America

Charles Bradley: Soul of America, directed by Poull Brien, chronicles the story of 62 year old aspiring soul singer and James Brown impersonator who becomes a star. After a life of abandonment, homelessness and tragedy, his debut album rockets on to Rolling Stone’s top 50 albums of 2011. Mr. Bradley will giving a concert at Ram’s Head OnStage, West Street, Annapolis on April 12th.

Best Narrative Short: The Silk

The Silk, directed by Nathalie Boltt and Clare Burgess, is from New Zealand. Fifty years before, Herb had brought home from the war a length of beautiful silk. As he approaches death, his wife, Amy, takes out the scissors and undertakes a project which transforms their sorrow.

Best Documentary Short: Good Karma $1

Good Karma $1, directed by Jason Berger and Amy Laslett, tells how Ad guru, Alex Bogusky collects signs from homeless people asking for money, wondering if he can help them get their message across better. It turns into a lesson in generosity and humility.

Some of the highlights of the festival included an environmental showcase where a panel of leaders and filmmakers discussed various environmental issues. The festival also celebrated the young filmmakers of tomorrow with their Student Showcase which shows short films from young filmmakers from all around the world. It’s these young people that will be the face of the video production and media industry and bring us films, documentaries, powerful stories and put the spotlight on important issues. Other noteworthy topics at the festival included a panel on the African-American Experience and Segregation in the American School System as well as a shorts program thematically looking at women’s issues.

With the festival having attracted over 2,000 people, that’s great news for independent cinema as a whole. It shows that there’s a desire for it in Annapolis and a generally strong one in the region itself. More importantly it’s yet another exampe of how our production community comes together to celebrate our hard work and support each other. With such a rich pool of talent in the DC/MD/VA area and the sheer number of productions and documentaries that we produce, it’s vital that festivals such as Annapolis thrive. They are not just a showcase for great work but are serve as an important venue for those not from te area to see the type of outstanding video work our professional  community does.

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For more info on the festival, check out the link here: http://www.annapolisfilmfestival.net/

 




A Festival Orson Welles Would Be Proud Of

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Most people have seen the film Citizen Kane and know of the famous director Orson Welles who was known for both his talent and his sometimes erratic behavior. He is however still regarded as one of the greatest film directors, one who had an absolute vision of what he wanted and was usually not open to suggestions.

Rosebud

I think the Rosebud Film and Video Festival in some ways carries on his spirit in that it has a very specific goal in mind. The festival, which celebrated its 22nd year this past January, only takes submissions from local DC, Virginia and Maryland filmmakers and producers. Their aim is to honor the truly creative, innovative and unusual works made entirely with in the local video production community and seek to promote all aspects of this business from writing, directing, transcribing, audio engineering, producing and everything in between.
Natasha

The festival’s founder Natasha Reatig founded the festival way back in 1991. Natasha, who worked for the dept. of Health and Human Services for much of her career, sought to  create an event that put the focus on local work and talent. Today Arlington Independent Media runs the festival but their goal is till the same.  They are a nonprofit public access membership organization who’s mission is to provide the community with training workshops and professional facilities.

Arlington Indepndent Media

To check out the festival’s website visit: http://www.arlingtonmedia.org/rosebud 

To read up more on Natasha Reatig, go to her site at: http://www.natashareatig.com/about_me.php 

To see some of Arlington Independent Media’s work, visit them here: http://www.arlingtonmedia.org/ 




How Not To Promote Your Work in the Digital and Social Media Realm

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In making any kind of media, there are two main stages. The first is actually making the thing which involves pre-producton, shooting it and then having it transcribed and put into post production. That’s where Word Wizards comes in, we’re happy to work with you on the transcription and conversion side. We want to make sure your work is the best it can be but the part that comes after is one that people just don’t think about as much as they should. That would be marketing and getting your work out there. This process has changed drastically thanks to facebook, youtube, twitter and the fast moving realm of social media. In the old days, you could just send it a few websites, put up a posting or two, send it to a few boards and you would not have to work on maintaining as much of an online persona. Boy howdy, has that gone the way of the dinosaurs, today you need to be constantly staying in touch with your audience and always reaching out or else just get left behind. Follow these steps to ensure that your audience stays small and your work unknown.

 

1. Not utilizing your social links: If you have twitter or facebook accounts, etc.. Do Not Let Them Lie Dormant. If you do this, not only is there no point in having, it also makes you like you just don’t care about communicating with your audience and are just too lazy to give a darn. You should be constantly putting new things on these sites at all times.

2. Never updating your site or blog: One of my biggest pet peeves is going to companies site and seeing that they haven’t updated it in several months or even, gasp, a year. Automatically this makes me think the company just is not paying attention or is very slow. Even if  you don’t have any big projects going on, put something up there almost daily even if it’s something as trivial as some new photo’s related to your work or blogging about news related to your industry.

3. Unwilling to take feedback: Don’t put you video’s or any of your work online if your not willing to take feedback or comments from visitors, even if its criticism. The entire point of a good website and social media in general is that you can actually get instantaneous communication and can interact with people in a way that no other mediums allow. So pay attention to that comment section since people are often giving constructive advice that may just improve the project your working on. In fact you should be asking for feedback when you publish anything online so you can get a good idea of what the industry thinks.

4. Having a negative attitude: While this one may sound silly, it’s quite vital to your site becoming popular and a place people want to visit. While  it’s fine to discuss serious issues people face, don’t dwell or focus on these issues. Yes, people may not agree with what you put on you’re site and can be vocal about it but do not let that drag you down. Not only is engaging them a waste of your time it, also makes you look bad, unprofessional and not some place people would want to visit. Try to maintain a more up beat tone or voice to your site and not get drawn into trivial arguments with trollish followers.

5. Not caring about relationships: Do not abuse or ignore your followers, if you want to get comments and feedback from those who visit your site. You need to respond to the messages or comments you get and try to do it fairly promptly. One of the highlights about social media in general is the fact you get to build these great relationships and can really give your company that human touch. If you can get a regular repertoire going with online visitors, that means repeat traffic to your site and more business as well!!! Do not just let those comments or questions pile you up, it makes people feel like they being ignored and will not want to come back to your site.

 

 

 

 




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.
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TIVA
Further highlights of the event will soon be up on TIVA’s website at http://www.tivadc.org/



Docs In Progress – Documentary Experts Check Out CloudScript

Last night I had the pleasure of joining Docs In Progress for their Alumni Open House. It was an intimate gathering of some graduates of Docs In Progress courses. Docs In Progress teaches aspiring documentary producers and enthusiasts how to make documentaries the right way, offering a wide variety of courses related to documentary and general film production throughout the year.

Word Wizards CEO with the DOcs In Progress Team

Docs Are King

Docs In Progress is located in downtown Silver Spring, right around the corner from Word Wizards HQ. Word Wizards first connected with DIP through our efforts supporting TIVA-DC, and we have since become a proud sponsor of DIP as well. Docs In Progress invited us last night to meet some of their brightest graduates and to present our new service CloudScript to an audience of accomplished and aspiring producers.

Now Presenting: CloudScript – Time Code Media Player

The presentation was very well received, and I was happy to get some great feedback about our new service. CloudScript is really a powerful tool for documentary production. Not only does it provide a simple and functional asset management system, but it is priced in a way that everyone can afford it, which is critical in these days of super tight budgets and economic uncertainty.

Ben Presenting CloudScript at Docs In Progress

Watch the presentation video below to see CloudScript in action at Docs in Progress! * Note change the player settings to HD for a better viewing experience.




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




New Service Launch: CloudScript – Transcript Media Player

Early this month, Word Wizards began introducing our existing clients and friends to our new service, CloudScript. CloudScript is a simple tool that allows a user to sync a transcript with time code to a media player. In seconds you can have a transcript that allows you to click on any time code in the document and jump immediately to that point in time.

CloudScript - Transcript Media Player

Professional Applications:

Here is a scenario, your writing a final script before sending your raw footage to editing. You have found a quote in your transcript that says exactly what you need it to say. Under normal circumstances, you would have to pull up a media player, and use the scrub bar to manually locate the point in time that your transcript says will contain that video clip. Once you find that spot, you need to somehow figure out if that audio and video is consistent with the rest of your production. There is no easy way to do this for a few or  especial hundreds of independent clips, well there WAS no easy way, until CloudScript came along.

Instant Media Referencing

CloudScript enables you to instantly jump to any time stamp in your transcript. No more scrubbing through hours of footage looking and listening for that perfect shot and or sound byte, its all right there and its FAST! Furthermore, say you took a look and listen to that quote you wanted and the audio was no good, or there were clouds in the sky and it wont work with the rest of the clips from that shot. Well using the “find” function, you can simply search for any keyword or phrase your interested in and quickly identify every part of your raw footage that is related to what your looking for. With just one click, you can see and hear everything that may contain what you need, now that is what we call optimized workflow.

Create and Study Rough Edits

Continuing with our example, you have identified a sequence of ten clips that tell your story the way you want it to, but your no sure the audio and video will flow with continuity and consistency because your ten clips are shot over 10 hours of raw interviews. All you have to do is copy the  time stamps you think are the best into a text file, and run it through CloudScript again. You have just created a rough cut that lets you click on each time stamp in the sequence and easily get a feeling for what the edited sequence would look like. Because CloudScript is subscription based, you can use it as many times as you want as long as your membership is still valid.

Additional Features

CloudScript allows you to sync a transcript with video hosted on the internet. Say you put up footage of an important conference on your website for people to see. Using CloudScript you can create jump points to any time in the footage. This allows you to create “chapters” in online video that can be hosted on your website. Say there were 10 speakers over 8 hours. Simply run your transcript through CloudScript and you can generate clickable links to the beginning of each speaker’s presentation.

CloudScript does not require uploads or downloads of the actual media files to work, that’s how it does its job so fast. All you have to do is simply provide your local file path for the media and upload the time coded transcript saved as a simple text file. Within 5 seconds you receive a media synced transcript that opens in your browser, and with your subscription you can use it over and over again!

Sign Up Now For A Free Trial

Want to see for yourself? Head on over to The CloudScript Homepage and check out our Demo video. If your interested you can sign up for a free trial and test it out yourself. So what are you waiting for, join the 21st century already and optimize your workflow!




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!

 




Transcription: A Word With Many Meanings

For our first post of 2012, we bring you a short lesson in the language of transcription:

In the English language we have the wonderful tradition of using the words that carry multiple meanings depending on the context. The word “transcription” or “transcribe” is no stranger to the homonym phenomenon. Context is the key and depending on what industry, field, or time period your in, “transcription services” could mean several different things.

Transcription: In biological context

In layman’s lingo, genetics uses the term transcription to describe the process by which cells replicate themselves using DNA and RNA to express different genes.

Transcription in celluar gene activity illustrated by a graphic rendering
Graphic of Cellular Transcription

Genetic transcription is defined as follows by Wikipedia:

Transcription is the process of creating a complementary RNA copy of a sequence of DNA.[1] Both RNA and DNA are nucleic acids, which use base pairs of nucleotides as a complementary language that can be converted back and forth from DNA to RNA by the action of the correct enzymes. During transcription, a DNA sequence is read by RNA polymerase, which produces a complementary, antiparallel RNA strand. As opposed to DNA replication, transcription results in an RNA complement that includes uracil (U) in all instances where thymine (T) would have occurred in a DNA complement…

… Transcription is the first step leading to gene expression. The stretch of DNA transcribed into an RNA molecule is called a transcription unit and encodes at least one gene. If the gene transcribed encodes a protein, the result of transcription is messenger RNA (mRNA), which will then be used to create that protein via the process of translation. Alternatively, the transcribed gene may encode for either ribosomal RNA (rRNA) or transfer RNA (tRNA), other components of the protein-assembly process, or other ribozymes… “

Transcription: In Historical Context

During the early European Renaissance, prior to the invention of the printing press, the “scriptorium” was a place where monks would transcribe copies of texts, (generally religious in nature). Transcribing in this context refers to the process of copying a book word for word and verifying the accuracy of the duplicated work. The “scribes” or transcriptionists would have an individual workspace where they would carefully duplicate the most important texts of the time. To put this in proper context, without transcription, the Renascence would have never been able to take hold and the great ancient works of The Old and The New Testament may have been lost to history.

The official Word Wizards logo, "Old Scribey"
The official Word Wizards logo, "Old Scribey"

Transcription: In the Modern World

The transcription that you are probably concerned with, and we are in the service of providing, has nothing to do with the age of enlightenment, nor the division of cells. Transcription today is all about converting spoken words into digital or physical form. Transcription in the 21st century can be broken down into three main categories:

  1. Transcription of audio / video for production
  2. Legal Transcription
  3. Medical transcription

Each one of these three types of modern transcription has a completely different professional use and method. For example, Medical Transcription is used for long portions of recorded audio, highly technical in nature, coming from a single speaker, and usually transcribed using speech to text technology such as dragon.

Word Wizards specializes in transcription of audio and video for production purposes. To transcribe media of this nature, it is impossible to effectively use speech to text technology, and the use of “time code” is particularly helpful. We often get asked about the various meanings and forms of transcription, so we hope that this article can help clarify the differences between different uses of the word.

The transcriptionists at word wizards working hard
Modern "transcribers"

Hope all is made clear now, if you would like more information about transcription or our other professional services, please don’t hesitate to contact your friends here at Word Wizards!




Tech Spotlight: Roland VR-5 – Mixer & Recorder for Live Streaming

Looking for something new to drool over? Check out the Roland VR-5, a powerhouse of audio and video technology. Connect your cameras, microphones, and  computer, and you have a single interface for professional quality live A/V streaming.

VR5 AV Mixer and Recorder for Live Streaming
VR-5 AV Mixer and Recorder for Live Streaming (Brochure Cover)

I am personally a fan of Roland Professional Audio and Video Technology and was very impressed to see the VR-5 in action at this years Government Video Expo. As usual, Roland has provided professional quality gear, in a small, durable package. What was once a room full of equipment, operators, and technicians, now is mobile, affordable, and sleek package that can be operated by a single individual with little expertise. A touch screen selects between 3 live video feeds and an additional media screen. I was happy to inquire about the unit with the representative at Roland and get my hands on this cool piece of video / audio gear. At a price tag of just over $5,000, this is quite an amazing piece of hardware.

Steps to conect and broacast audio and video
The VR-5 is Easy as 1234

So as we prepare for the new year, we at Word Wizards would like to put this cool new gadget on your radar. The technician is only as good as the tool, so if you think its time for an upgrade you might want to take a closer look. And don’t forget to send your friends at Word Wizards all of your footage for transcription, captioning, and logging next year!




TIVA-DC at the Government Video Expo

There were some impressive booths this year at the world famous Government Video Expo, held in Washington, D.C. Big industry names like Panasonic, JVC, and Roland put together incredible demonstrations of their latest and greatest products. Innovation was abounding, and at the heart of it all, TIVA-DC, long time supporter and organizer of the GV Expo, hosted a record breaking promotional membership drive and prize giveaway.

A topside view of the Government Video Expo
A look from above at the GV Expo

TIVA-DC and Discovery’s Military Channel, with the help of Word Wizards, Inc. was responsible for organizing two wildly successful panel sessions this year. This years keynote was “Lights, Camera, Military Action.” When you need to get footage of the real U.S. Military in action, you call one of the Hollywood Military Liaison Officers.

Lights Camera Military Action Guest Speaker Panel
Lights Camera Military Action Guest Speaker Panel

Ken Hawes, (Army Wives, Men of Steel), U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Colonel Jason Johnston (Battle Los Angeles, Avatar) U.S. Air Force Lt. Colonel Fransisco “Paco” Hamm (Transformers, Iron Man 2) and U.S. coast guard Commander Sean Carroll (The Adjustment Bureau, Deadliest Catch) offered a discussion and Q & A session talking about their diverse work coordinating the private video industry with The U.S. Armed Forces. TIVA-DC solutes all of our honored men and women who serve this great nation proudly, and we thank these distinguished guest for their contribution to this year’s GV Expo.

The TIVA booth signing up new members
New recruts for TIVA

The TIVA booth was hot like spicy sauce this year, as conference goers leaped at the chance to join our ever growing organization. Volunteers worked constantly to inform potential new members and sign up for TIVA – DC. TIVA sponsors donated several different items (usb flash drives, TIVA hats, and a gift certificate for dinner at The Woodmont Grill, donated by Word Wizards) to be raffled off at the end of the day.

TIVA's GV Expo prize giveaway
Jerry Griffith, Current TIVA-DC President (left) Tun Flaherty, Previous TIVA President (Center) Scott Gordon, Word Wizards CEO and TIVA Sponsor (Right)

Another successful GV Expo! Word Wizards would like to thank all of our TIVA-DC volunteers, guest speakers, and new TIVA-DC members who made this year a smash hit!




TIVA-DC Presents The 2011 Peer Awards

Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at Word Wizards!

Do you like glitz, glam, stars, and swanky awards shows? Sure, they have plenty of that out on the west coast, but did you know that right here in DC we have a thriving video production industry of our own?

Logo for the DC Peer Awards

Last weekend, TIVA – DC (Television, Internet and Video Association of DC) hosted the 2011 Peer Awards, an awards show dedicated to recognizing the best of the Mid Atlantic region’s Video Production Professionals. Word Wizards has been an active sponsor of “The Peers” since its original inception, and this year we pulled out all the stops. Hosted at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C., The Peer Awards offers a unique opportunity to honor the best and brightest actors, producers, writers, and post houses in our region.

TIVA-DC Peer Awards
TIVA-DC Peer Awards Program

The evening began with a fantastic spread of hors d’oeuvres and a hearty dinner buffet. My personal favorite was the peeking duck station, providing freshly cooked Chinese delights, customized to your order, and cooked right there in front of you! After a few hours of dinner, drinks, and casual networking, the attendees were invited into the lavish ballroom to take their seats and enjoy the show.

The official MC for the evening was Wendy Rieger, a distinguished Emmy winning Local news anchor, who grabbed the room with her radiant stage presence and witty charm. Guest presenters included, Actress Joy Haynes, Voice Talent Will Rosser, Actress and Peer Awards organizer Gale Nemec, and Actor Joe Hansard.

Wendy Rieger Host of the 2011 DC Peer Awards
Wendy Rieger Host of the 2011 DC Peer Awards

Awards were given out based on a set of strict judging criteria, submissions received either a bronze, silver, or gold award based on an objective evaluation of the piece. The categories included everything to be expected, scriptwriting, sound design, acting, editing, and overall excellence. For a complete list of the categories and winners see The Peer Awards website.

After the grand ceremony, we enjoyed a unbelievable desert spread (seen below) , coffee, and congratulatory conversations with our peers. It was a night to be remembered and were already thinking about next years event!

Peer Awards 2011 Desert Spread
Peer Awards 2011 Desert Spread

Word Wizards was proud to be a gold sponsor of The DC Peer Wards for another year. In honor for our long term commitment to TIVA-DC and The Peer Awards, we were even given the opportunity to run a video promotion during the awards ceremony! This was the first time that our company has ever produced a piece of video marketing, and we made sure to utilize the chance to send our message to the video production community. Word Wizards thanks TIVA-DC for all of the hard work that has gone into The Peer Awards and we congratulate all of the winners for their continued dedication to excellence.