Discovery HQ – Leaving Silver Spring

The DMV (DC, MD, and VA) Film and Video community was surprised by the recent announcement that Discovery Communications will move their headquarters to New York in 2019. The fate of the One Discovery Place building remains an unknown, as local businesses and developers brace for impact. Discovery transitioned from Bethesda to Silver Spring several years ago, a move which Word Wizards followed shortly thereafter. It always benefited our company to be close in proximity to Discovery HQ, and we can’t help feeling a bit sad to see them leave.

Forward Momentum

Regarding life in downtown Silver Spring, there will be a major impact on the local businesses because of the departure. Word Wizards will be tracking the progress throughout the move, and posting updates and new information on our blog.  As a member of the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce (GSSCC) we have inquired as to what the plans for the space and the area may be going forward.  Here is what the chamber can tell us so far about the move.

Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce

GSSCC – Discovery’s Decision a Loss AND an Opportunity

The GSSCC is currently keeping their discussions with MD Governor Hogan’s office close to the vest.  However he didn’t get to be the second most popular governor in the country by sitting on his hands. (According to businessinsider.com)  Look for developments from the Governor and the Chamber of Commerce that will keep the Silver Spring expansion moving forward.

Industry Fallout

Many people will loose their jobs and or have to relocate because of the Discovery Mexit (a term I just coined). However, the local video and film industry is still strong in the DMV.  There are still major documentary and educational media players in the area. DC production is strong at the Smithsonian Channel (in partnership with Showtime) and National Geographic (in partnership with Fox.)  For a fascinating review of the relationship between the 130 year old National Geo. Society and Fox, see this excellent article from 2015 in “The Guardian”https://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/nov/14/how-fox-ate-national-geographic

Smithsonian Channel

Progress and Opportunity

Despite the loss of this major player, the DMV video and film industry is robust and continues to serve the needs of private and public sector entities large and small. Production opportunities continue to exist at large metro area corporations such as Marriott and Lockheed Martin in MD, as well as CACI and SAIC in VA. Each of these companies employs hundreds of local contractors like ourselves, keeping the economy moving and expanding with the nation’s continued recovery. With a wealth of research, PR, marketing, consulting, and lobbying companies in the region, there is always local demand for media professionals. Competition for jobs won’t be easy though, and media teams are soon to be inundated with resumes from top talent leaving Discovery.

Media Moves The Nation

The DMV production community is and always has been supported by the Federal Government, US Military, and countless intermediaries with government relationships. In our current political climate, the need for video production has never been in higher demand, and the firms supporting these agencies and subsidiaries continue to thrive. It was in a similar climate that our small business was founded over 25 years ago. We hope that many new small businesses will open as top talent leave Discovery and set out to make their own futures. Word Wizards will be here to support them all, and we will continue our coverage of this transitional period for our community. Stay Tuned!

P.S. Amazon listed Silver Spring as one of their top 20 cities for HQ2. With the entire One Discovery Place building now up for grabs, maybe they could call Silver Spring home one day. I have made an offer to show Jeff Bezos around town via twitter, he has since not responded.

 

 




Silverdocs No More

AFI Docs

A New Partner

Silverdocs, the premiere documentary festival in the Washington DC area, as well as a huge boon to the Silver Spring area, is getting some major changes. Its new iteration, which was announced just last week, will be known as AFI Docs Film Festival and will be backed by car manufacturer Audi instead of Discovery Communications. The new festival, running from June 19–23, will have an expanded presence as well as panels with greater focus on politics and other D.C.-centric issues. The festival will no longer take place solely in its home base of Silver Spring but will be presenting films at DC venues such as the Newseum, The National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of American History.

Changing Sponsors

The change is a consequence of the festival’s rising prominence on the national documentary circuit, as well as Discovery Communication’s change in corporate focus that has seen it move away from documentary storytelling, according to festival director Sky Sitney. Sitney sees the change in sponsors as positive and thinks it will help the festival to grow and gain an even more vibrant topical focus as it moves further into the heart of DC. She also said that, rather of thinking of it as scattered, instead think of it as incorporating two compact campuses.

silverdocs

The festival was started in 2003 as a joint venture between Discovery Communications and the American Film Institute. It should be noted that both of these organizations were major catalysts in the rejuvenation of the Silver Spring Area.

The Silver Spring Community Reacts

While it’s being stressed that the festival will still have important events and screenings in Silver Spring with no plans to leave it behind, the reaction locally has been mixed. Many locals as well as those in the production and documentary community feel that something is being lost with the expansion and name change. For years, the fact that the festival took place entirely in this one area has made it an important part of the community. The festival, which has grown to be the pride of Silver Spring, helps shine the spotlight on independent filmmakers and the important stories they have to tell. Smaller companies such as Word Wizards Inc., which thrives on transcription footage and the talking heads footage that are the meat of most documentaries, think it important these festivals go on, even if they’re in new forms.




Silver Spring on Screen

silver_spring_twilight

The local DC production and video community is responsible for some truly terrific programs that come out of this area. The big question that comes across many people’s minds is how will the next generation of professionals learn vital film making skills? Luckily there are quite a few organizations such as Docs in Progress that are trying to educate y0uth about the production and film business. Docs in Progress, a non-profit organization based in Silver Spring, seeks to cultivate this talent by offering a variety of classes, screenings, workshops and discussion groups to help celebrate talent in the realm of documentary film. The organization, directed by Erica Ginsberg, aims to provide resources for all filmmakers in all areas whether that be in conception, pre-production, filming, and vital post production topics such as editing, logging and transcribing.

logo-Docs_in_Progress_477x165

One of the more interesting community engagement projects they have going on is called Silver Spring Stories. The suburb known as Silver Spring, HQ of Docs In Progress, has undergone impressive redevelopment in the past few decades and has become home to a unique assortment of institutions, organizations, artists, merchants and residents. Docs in progress is trying to capture these stories by having emerging documentary filmmakers of all ages capture them in short 3 – 5 minute videos. Some of the subjects taped include the Maryland Youth Ballet, Tastee Diner, the Gandhi Brigade and the brand new civic center.

Gandhi Brigade

 

Filmmakers are given a choice of different places and people to profile and are then given free reign to document them utilizing the skills they have learned from various workshops and training. They embark in this film making journey and go through all the main stages from writing the pitches, interviewing subjects to cutting it in post production. This work provides incredibly valuable hands on training and Docs in Progress thinks it’s important because of its two fold nature. Not only is it a great way to educate new film makers but also allows them to document a storied and historic community like Silver Spring.

For more info and if interested, check out their site at: http://docsinprogress.org/silver-spring-stories/

Also check out some samples of thier work here: http://www.youtube.com/docsinprogress

 

 

 

 




.Silverdocs Spotlight – Surviving The Plague

Word Wizards is proud to support documentary production in the Metropolitan Washington DC area.  DC, is the documentary capitol of America, as well as the Nation’s Capitol.  Between Discovery Communications, (in our own home town of Silver Spring Maryland,) National Geographic and Smithsonian – ShowTime a lot of documentary production gets done around here.  “Docs are King” in DC.  And we all know that to make a great Doc you need a lot of interviews, which means lots of time coded video tape transcription for Word Wizards!

Silverdocs in Silver Spring

SilverDocs Logo

Nothing showcases this fusion of talented production capabilities and talking heads like the fabulous Silverdocs Film Festival which is going on here this week in Silver Spring.  Since documentaries are created by interviewing people, we are here to meet their production deadlines with our own professional, all American workforce, available to them – 24/7.

Sometimes however, between overnight and weekend rush jobs, we actually indulge our creative cravings by attending a few good documentaries at Silver Docs ourselves. One such provocative and award winning film featured this year was How to Survive a Plague by film maker David France.  http://www.howtosurviveaplague.com/

The Silent Struggle

How to Survive a Plague

It is the  riveting story of two coalitions, Act Up (AIDS Advocacy) and TAG (Treatment Action Group) who refused to go off and die quietly without putting the Government in general; and the Food and Drug Administration and National Institute of Health in particular “feet to the fire” to come up with a cure; or at least a livable containment policy.  (By the way these agencies are also in suburban Maryland, so we were inspired by seeing local demonstration footage.)

The struggle against HIV / AIDS took a terribly long time; which was exasperated by society at large who in the early 1980’s started off by blaming people for alternative life styles, which seemed to contribute to the spread of the disease.  However, as the death count climber higher year after year, the scapegoat-ing stopped a bit, as we finally realized that a killer pathogen  was among us that threatened civilization as we know it.  It wasn’t the first time that an unpopular minority was blamed for “the Plague.”

Fight HIV!

These courageous people; the victims of AIDS, their families, friends and supporters; formed the nucleolus of  a movement that continued to demonstrate at the FDA and NIH until the bureaucrats came up with an accelerated drug testing and approval process.  As a result, finally the best medical minds “got lucky,” as one advocated put it in the film. Therefore, as a result of continued civil disobedience coupled with working within the system, a viable containment policy was developed in 1996.

Some of the activists who were around at the beginning of the film’s creation were not around at the end.  Some were, seemingly miraculously cured of their most visible symptoms.  This was as a story of protest and the decency of the human spirit winning out over bigotry and deliberate neglect.  We hear it will be coming soon to an independent theater near you. Please don’t miss it.  And you thought “Talking Heads” were boring!

 




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!

 




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.




Word Wizards Inc: New Website Launch

After over a year of development, Word Wizards Inc. is prepared to launch our brand new website. 100% of this website has been developed in-house by our highly skilled web design team. New design, new content, and new services are just some of the highlights of this important step for our organization’s future. We invite our clients and interested readers to explore our site and let us know what you think.

 


After!

 

Enjoy, and remember, we can do the same for your business too!

 




Word Wizards Moves to Silver Spring

In March of 2011, Word Wizards Inc. finalized the move to a new Headquarters location on 16th street in Silver Spring, Maryland. The new office is bigger, better, and more efficient, utilizing the most advanced technology to maximize the effectiveness of our workspace.

Our new office building in Silver Spring, MD

When the business first opened in Bethesda, Maryland, we were located at 7900 Wisconsin Avenue. Originally, Word Wizards shared office space with another business in the same building. Within a short time, the organization grew to occupy an entire suite of our own.

Our former office building in Bethesda, Maryland

Word Wizards has continued to grow over the years and made the decision to move into a bigger office in the winter of 2010. As anyone who has moved an office knows, it was a big investment in time and energy. Now our staff has settled in, and we have begun a new phase of growth, development, and innovation here in our new home.