Media Accessibility – 508 Compliant Transcript

Word Wizards is continuing our coverage of The United States Access Board’s 508 refresh. These rules and standards set the accessibility compliance requirements for electronic publications procured by the federal government, including web sites, video assets, and mixed media productions. For video assets, the current 508 compliant standard for accessibility requires closed captioning, and audible description for persons with visual disabilities. During the 508 refresh we hope to add a third option to enable more video assets to meet 508 standards without adding undue burden to agencies and applicable vendors. Before we address our alternative we have provided a brief overview of CC and AD requirements for 508.

Accesibility for all!

Closed Captioning

The guidelines for Closed Captioning to achieve 508 compliance are clear and straightforward. All information conveyed in audio format must be provided in the captions. When speakers are off screen or multiple parties are present, clear distinction must be made in the text. The captions must not obscure faces or cover on-screen text. Each caption must appear in sync with the audio of the video, so that persons with auditory disabilities can get the full experience of the media. Closed captions are required for all video material subject to section 508 regulations. Closed Caption Logo

Audible Description

When required, audible descriptive material must be added to video content to convey visual information to non-sighted users. The process involves taking the original media and recording additional audio content to provide access to information for person’s with visual disabilities. For entertainment purposes, the audible description track must be mixed in between pauses in the relevant audio of the video. For more flexible video content, the video can be paused to include longer explanations of visual material. Audible description is not currently required for all video content, but the 508 refresh plans to increase the amount of AD required by law.

Audio Description

508 Accessible Transcript – An Alternative

Word Wizards has developed an alternative to provide media accessibility for both deaf and blind users. We can produce a transcript in accessible PDF format that conveys audible and visual material. All spoken material and relevant sounds are captured in a standard transcript. We then add specific verbal descriptions of the visual content within the text. We then remediate the document for 508 compliance, allowing it to be fully functional with standard screen reading technology. In this final form, a deaf user can read the auditory information, and a blind user can use a screen reader. Thus we satisfy both aspects of compliance for videos, in one self-contained asset.

The New Game in Town

The 508 accessible transcript is a relatively unknown deliverable, but is included in the WCAG 2.0 regulations being used as the framework for the 508 refresh. Word Wizards has submitted public comments that review the merits of “Media Alternative (Prerecorded)”, as it is known in WCAG 2.0. 508 transcripts can be produced for a fraction of the cost of captioning and audio description. Instead of weeks, it can be done in days, cutting production timelines in half, while saving substantial financial resources. While it may never replace closed captions and audible descriptions as the gold standard, it enables agencies and content providers a faster and more affordable way of providing access for media assets.




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. “

 




Avoiding Legal Issue With Freelancers And Contractors

Legal Issues

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

The Definition Of The Word

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

Avoiding Trouble

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




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.

 

 

 




Returning Marines Find New Careers In Media

Marine Shooter

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

Learning To Shoot Video

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

Expert Advice

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

 




TIVA Talk: Monetizing Online Video And Creating a Video Network

Harrington

We here at Word Wizards, Inc. love social media because it provides us with a great way to reach out to our customers besides the traditional e-mails and phone—which is so 20th century.  One of its strengths is the ability to reach out to so many by giving professionals of all types, and especially video professionals, multiple outlets to show their work and even make some money. The question then becomes, how do we effectively monetize our work and videos and build a successful video network? These exact questions were the focus of a recent TIVA meeting, where Richard Harrington guided us through the many layers of the web, and laid out the best steps to follow when building a prominent presence in the world of Facebook, Youtube and Twitter (among others).

SocialMediaLandscape

Hypersyndication

Richard calls his method “hypersyndication.” It is his way of getting videos to the most people on the web, using a varied number of social media outlets to reach different audiences. The main steps he follows to hypersyndicate his work are listen, follow, curate, become known, and create original content. You start by listening and seeing what’s out there and seeing what kind of programming or content is being offered on the web. The next step is to follow other people who are doing the type of videos or programming that you’re doing, so you can see what he or she is contributing. As Richard pointed out, don’t necessarily think of these people as competition, since you may end up actually working with them in some way in the future. The next step is to curate where one goes through his or her range of work and really narrows down what he or she would like to share. For example, Richard collected several stories that he wanted to share on his blog. An important step is to become known and gain a reputation as an expert on a subject because if no one knows you, why would they care if you put out a bunch of videos? You then create the original content and start to put it out on the web.

Getting You Work Out There

So now you may be thinking, great so I just have to put it out on a bunch of channels like Youtube, Facebook and Twitter at once and I’m set. Not so fast, there’s a very important strategy that you’ll want to follow when getting your work out there. Its important not to oversaturate or send your work out to all the same places at the same time. If you do this, you really are limiting the amount of people you’ll hit since people are on social media at different times. The best way to reach these different audiences is to send out messages or posts about your work at different times. This is where Hootsuite, a fantastic social media manager, comes into play. Not only does it help you manage all your social media feeds in one place, it also allows you to schedule when your posts go out.

Hootsuite

Metrics, Analytics and RSS Feeds

Twitterfeed is another useful site that lets you send posts and your work to a variety of different channels like hootsuite. Another incredibly useful feature that both of these sites share, is the ability to use metrics and actually track how many people are seeing your feeds. Using analytics and a variety of graphs you can see such things such as what devices people are using to view your content, where they are viewing from, how many times he is clicking on your work and what key word she is typing that lead them to your work. Another important thing most people should know about is RSS Feeds which are a type of web syndication used to publish frequently updated works such as blogs and websites. Readers can subscribe to these feeds and keep getting updated on new stories and content through software known as an RSS reader which is usually offered on most rss pages. Some well know web sites that use RSS include Apple and The New York Times.

Power of Mobile and Good Places For Your Work

As Richard pointed out the majority of online video content is now viewed on smart phones, tablets or e-readers so its good to make sure your work can be viewed on all platforms especially mobile ones. Richard’s follows these simple steps to delivering mobile video: plan, produce, distribute, promote and then try to monetize which is an optional step. As far as producing original content and getting it out there, you don’t need high production values but you do need good, engaging content that people will want to keep coming back to. The optimal schedule to follow is to get a video out at least once a week. Some people put videos out as much as three times a week, which can be a lot for a viewers to keep up with. Two sites that are particularly good for video include Blip.tv and Vimeo Pro. Blip.tv is an especially great site for web series as it really makes an effort to work with you and push your series to help it get attention. Vimeo Pro is also very good because they make sure your videos can be viewed in a variety of formats and devices, especially mobile ones that so many people use today.

podcasting

Podcasting and More Info.

Podcasting, where you create digital media than you can then send out to be viewed on mobile video players, is another useful way to get yourself out there. Listeners and viewers can subscribe to your podcasts via an RSS feed and watch them whenever and where they’d like. Two sites that are great for launching podcasts are Podhoster and  Libsyn. Podcasting is great way to easily get your content out to an audience that probably wouldn’t see it and is very much on the cutting edge. I’ve only scratched about half of all the great advice from Richard, so please to feel free to check out his blog at richardharringtonblog.com and his hypersyndication video, which goes into even greater detail about the topics that are covered here.




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.




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?

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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/

 




TIVA’s Contract Panel

 

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

jim pennington headshot

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

 http://www.duomediaproductions.com/team

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

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

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Pam Jacobsen, Freelance production Manager & Line Producer

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

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

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

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Nancy Prager, Esq., Entertainment/Arts Attorney

http://www.pragerlaw.us/

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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/ 




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/



Video Tech in Business – Foxconn Buys Big Into GoPro

Over the last few years, GoPro has become a standard term in the extreme sports lexicon. If you don’t know GoPro yet it is defiantly something to investigate. GoPro cameras offer a rugged, mountable video camera solution to help capture life on the go. Waterproof, shockproof, idiot-proof… Put one on your surfboard and watch yourself shoot that sweet tube, or put one on your mountain bike and catch a glimpse of yourself huckin’ that 10 footer!

Surfer Byron Bartlett goes deep in the tube of a beatufifull wave, captured using a GoPro sports video camera.
Byron Bartlett surfing with GoPro

Buying Into The Extreme

Talk about going big, Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxconn just plunked down a cool $200 million dollars for 9% ownership of the developing camera company. Foxconn is one of Apple’s main manufacturing outlets in The Orient, and has been the focus of some human rights and labor rights controversy over the past few years. Nobody is quite sure what inspired this big semi-accusation, but GoPro enthusiasts are looking forward to seeing what impact the injection of capital will have on the consumer.

GoPro sports camera systems, Be a hero

Maximize Shareholder Adrenaline

Hopefully, now that the controversial Foxconn is sitting on the board, there won’t be any slips in product quality for the sake of additional profits. All too often in recent years, we see a great product ruined by the shareholder’s lust for profit at the expense of product quality and consistency. I am hopeful that the main stakeholders of GoPro will prevent this from happening, but I guess we must wait and see what happens.

In the meantime, check out Kelly Slater rip it up!

GoPro: Kelly Slater Surfs Lower Trestles from GoPro on Vimeo.

Shot 100% on the HD HERO2® camera from ‪http://GoPro.com.

Kelly Slater having fun on some practice waves before the 2012 Hurley Pro at Trestles in San Clemente, California.




Trade Show – GV Expo 2012 / GovComm12 Exhibition Recap

As expected, The 2012 Government Video Expo was an all out success. The exhibition floor was teeming with top of the line tech and the biggest names pulled out all the stops to showcase the latest and greatest. I took a little time to document some of the stuff that caught my eye, so lets take a look!

This way to The Government Video Expo!

Video Technology Recap – All Systems Go

The main focus of any GV Expo is the video gear. This year it seemed that the big boys were in a battle for showroom floor supremacy.

Digital Video Group at The 2012 GV Expo
Digital Video Group, Inc.

Digital Video Group had one of the most extensive and impressive displays at the expo. Top of the line camera systems, screens, and control surfaces were shown off in style. Conference attendees really got a good show at DVG’s booth this year, with hands on displays and a team of friendly trade show experts to demonstrate the goods.

Next lets check out the battle of the touchscreens!

Aurora vs. AMX, battle for touch sreen dominance!
Aurora (Left Front) – AMX (Back Right)

Makers of high end touchscreen systems Aurora and AMX went head to head this year at GV Expo 2012. Squaring off with opposing booths right at the entrance to the expo, the two tech titans seemed to be competing for the biggest display at The 2012 GV Expo. I think both exhibits were equal in size, but each company took a unique approach. Aurora went with an in-your-face but clean and clear 4 sided display, while AMX decided to create a spacy enclosure to show off their tech. These booths defiantly saw a lot of action this year, and you can see why!

Now lets look at another cool display, this time from Crestron.

Crestron display showed off their top of the line switchers, converters and netowrking solutions.
Crestron

Crestron decided to show off their high end collaboration systems this year at GV Expo 2012. After reviewing their company online, I am amazed at how many high tech solution this company has a hand in. From HDMI switchers, to video converters, Crestron is delivering some surreal tech these days. This particular display caught my eye for its clean combination of friendly service and easy to read documentation. Maybe I am a nerd but networking systems for real time video collaboration is just plain cool!

Now that we have covered the big show, I want to highlight a very cool vendor, BWC Visual Technology, that grabbed my attention this year.

BWC Visual Technology demonstratic their new spherical displays!
Spherical display screens!

Nerd alert, I find this vendor very cool just because they are doing something different. BWC Visual Technology was showcasing their impressive spherical display system. Basically you can integrate a 3D esque spherical display into any regular display system. Their demo in the background showed a flat image of the expo, with a super-imposed 3D sphere showing a data driven display of water temperatures of planet Earth’s Oceans in real time. Sweet…

*Note* I would have privided a link to BWC’s website but I could not find it! All I can offer is this link to their GovComm12 Registration page.

Audio Tech: New Gear From Info Comm

The partnership with InfoComm and GovComm brought much more sound gear to this year’s GV Expo. That means sound tech’s like myself were thrilled to go explore some of the premium gear that we all dream of playing with but can’t afford. Of course there was lots of focus on microphone systems for field use, as well as wireless systems, streaming devices and much more.

I was glad to see a both with plenty of reps from Audio Technica, a new addition to The GV Expo this year.

Audio technica Shows off their gear at the 2012 GV Expo.
Mic Check!

TIVA-DC: Another Great Membership Drive

One of the ways Word Wizards contributes to TIVA-DC as a sponsor is by helping out every year at The GV Expo. This year TIVA-DC signed up 220 new and returning members at the booth! The GV Expo is one of TIVA-DC’s best opportunities to showcase ourselves to the DC video and media services community. Each year at the expo, TIVA-DC offers a half price membership drive for people who come and sign up in person.

TIVA-DC in full swing at this year's GV expo.
TIVA-DC gets the boogey on! (Can you spot Word Wizards CEO Scott Gordon in this photo?)

TIVA also hold a raffle every day at the Expo and gives away a bunch of cool prizes. One of our contributions was two $50 gift cards to Olazzo, a delicious Italian Restaurant located in Bethesda and Silver Spring Maryland. Other prizes included hats, TIVA swag, and USB thumb drives.

Entrance to the 2012 GV Expo

I think that’s about enough for this article, stay tuned for a recap of the best speakers and presentations of the GV Expo. Make sure to leave us a comment if you enjoyed this post. Also, sign up for our newsletter to receive our best blog posts every month. Have a great weekend everyone!




Government Video Expo 2012 – Behind The Scenes First Look

GV Expo 2012 Banner with this year's sponsors

The time has come to take a first look at this year’s Government Video Expo (G.V. Expo) hosted at The Washington Convention Center from November 27th – 29th. It looks like this year is going to be bigger and better than ever before, thanks to a co-location deal between The GV Expo and GovComm 12. The G.V. Expo 2012 will be the largest professional video and AV/IT event of the year on the East Cost, lets take a look at what to expect.

The Big Show – Working Together

What happens when the two largest government video trade shows decide to host their events in the same place at the same time? Well, you get something that looks like The G.V. Expo 2012. This year G.V. Expo and GovComm are teaming up to deliver one spectacular showcase of technology. Exhibitors from all over the globe will soon be descending on The Washington D.C. convention center to demonstrate the latest technology and techniques of their industry.For years there was a slight rivalry between the two conferences. Now, the former competitors have teamed up for the sake of delivering a better experience for everyone.

Dog helps cat raid the refrigerator, now thats teamwork!. Speaking of teamwork, did you know that GV Expo and GovComm have team up this year! Check out the article for more details.

G.V. Expo 2012 – Events and Breakdown

Logo for the 2012 GV Expo

The “traditional” G.V. expo has a lot going on this year as usual. There will be many workshops, break out sessions, panels, and presentations to educate people about all aspects of the video production industry. There is so much good stuff to see, I can’t possibly cover it all in this post. If you want a full schedule of special events check out this webpage. TIVA-DC will be sponsoring the event and is hosting another Meet The Government Producers panel where people can learn what goes into the buying process for government video producers. TIVA-DC will also be hosting our annual membership drive where conference attendees can sign up for TIVA-DC at 50% off.

In addition to the usual suspects, the “traditional” G.V. Expo is hosting 2 special sub-conferences this year, in addition to its normal exhibitions and special presenters. The first I want to highlight is the Pro Media Conference. Here is the description from The G.V. Expo website:

The Pro Media Conference takes place within Government Video Expo and is designed to educate, motivate and engage professionals working in media and entertainment, video and audio production, internet and mobile video, AV, government, corporate video environments, and IT. Through a series of papers, presentations and case studies, PMC gives media professionals access to the information and technology that will allow them to create, manage, monetize, and deliver compelling content… for all video applications, across all platforms and for all customers.

If you want to check out all of the events of The PMC visit this webpage.

The next sub-conference to take a look at is The Digital Media DC Conference. Here is how the G.V. Expo website describes it:

“The Digital Media DC conference is DC’s leading training event for professionals in the TV, video, film, motion graphics and New Media industries. Now in its eighth year, DMDC offers 3 days of sessions in 4 parallel tracks focusing on the latest techniques and practices for editors, motion graphics designers, new media professionals and video producers. DMDC is produced by Future Media Concepts, the nation’s leading training organization and features the world’s best Certified Instructors, award-winning editors, authors and power users. With a full pass, attendees may move freely between all the tracks and attend sessions of their choice.”

Take a look at the events scheduled for The DMDC by clicking here.

GovComm 12

The Entrance to GovComm 11

GovComm is owned and produced by InfoComm the leading non-profit association serving the professional AV communications industry worldwide. GovComm has teamed up with G.V. Expo this year and will be hosting their own schedule of events throughout the week. GovComm will be hosting additional exhibitors from all over the AV industry spectrum. Take a look at this short YouTube Video about GovComm 12.

For more about GovComm 12 visit their website by clicking here.

Following The Multi-Media Frenzy

As always, our team will be helping out at the TIVA-DC booth getting people signed up and giving out prizes at the raffle. Come by and say hello if you are going to be there. There is still time to register if you have not yet got your tickets so don’t feel like your time is up. If you want to get the full scoop on the G.V. Expo 2012, but can’t attend, check back here next week for a full recap of the event with technology spotlights, speaker summaries, and an overall showcase of this audio / video industry extravaganza.

If you want to check out our coverage of The G.V Expo 2011 click here!

See you on the Exhibition floor!




Keynote Pro Tip – Export Animations to Video in Full HD

Have you ever tried to export an animated Keynote presentation to video? If so, you have probably been a bit disappointed with the quality of the final video. As the integrated marketing manager here at Word Wizards, part of my job is to deliver professional quality media presentations. My software of choice for multimedia slide show presentations is Apple’s Keynote.

Keynote Logo: A podium with a microphonne and notes.

Keynote has great animations, solid graphics, and a set of professional looking master templates to start from. Once I put my slides together and set up the animations and transitions, I usually export the complete slideshow to a video file. The final step is to drag the video of the slideshow into a video editing software and add the final touches; i.e soundtrack, video transitions, and other media not included in the slideshow.

Garbage In, Garbage Out

So whats the problem with the previously mentioned workflow? One needs to export the slideshow video in full HD quality or the final product will just look worse and worse as editing and encoding goes on. I really can’t explain the technical reasons behind why that happens in this article, but it has to do with the nature of video compression and encoding. What I will say is a golden rule in any type of media production. The final product can only be the same or less quality than the input media. Translated that means bad video in usually means worse video out.

Video that has been digitaly distorted
Pixelated Video

Trial and Error

When you try to export Keynote presentations to video, you might find that the pristine quality of your beautiful presentation has been replaced with video junk. I first came across this issue a few months ago preparing a presentation for a new service we are launching called CloudScript. I noticed that no matter what I did, the video was looking pixelated and jerky. I tried to find information online about how to fix the problem but it seemed that a lot of people have been experiencing this issue and there is no real consensus on what to do. Well, after many failed attempts, and even more experiments, I think I have discovered the formula for the highest quality video export from keynote.

Keynote Video Export Method

Here is a step by step guide to make this clear and simple.

  1. Make sure your slides are the same aspect ratio as your movie will be. If you do not match your slide aspect ratio to that of your final movie project, the video will look squeezed or stretched when you try and compress it. Also, it turns out that having conflicting aspect ratios can lead to crashes in the software at the end of your export. This is very important to maintain video quality, and I would recommend doing this before the presentation is developed so you don’t have to go back and fix the slides.
  2. Check to see if you have enough space on your hard drive. We are talking uncompressed raw HD video here people. Last time I did this, a 5 minute slideshow exported a 20 GB file. Of course that will compress down to much smaller later, but if you do not have enough space on your hard drive, the export will proceed even slower than normal and will eventually crash when your workstation runs out of memory.
  3. Click File -> Export and select QuickTime. In the QuickTime Settings window you have options for “Playback Uses”. Personally, I always record the timing for my presentations before exporting so I select “Recorded Timing” from the drop down menu. I also usually leave the audio out of the export because I do the audio in a video software for more precise control, but that is also up to you.
  4. Under “Formats” select “Custom” from the drop down menu.
  5. Make sure you have the right aspect ratio in the next screen. If you did step one correctly you will be able to use “Full Size” in the video drop down menu I always use 1280 X 720 in the standard HD 16:9 aspect ratio. Once again the audio doesn’t make much difference here, but remember, garbage in garbage out. If you use audio, go lossless and go high bit / sample rate. When your options are just the way you want click “Settings” next to video.
  6. Follow the Bullets below for settings on this page: These are the magic settings for the best possible quality video export!
    • Compression Type: Animation
    • Frame Rate: 24
    • Key Frames: All
    • Depth: Millions of Colors +
    • Quality: Best
  7. Click O.K. Then click next on the following screen. Finally choose a location and enter a name for the video file and click Export. 
  8. WAIT! Grab a cup of coffee, or three, because its going to take a long, long time. This is one thing other articles out there fail to explain. The progress bar for keynote video exports is not accurate. Sure, it looks like its half finished, but its NOT. DO NOT CLOSE KEYNOTE until the program has become responsive again, I promise it will, just give it plenty of time and don’t run programs that are CPU intensive at the same time as the export.

The Final Step

Now that you have a huge, beautiful, full quality HD video, drag it into your video editing software and make any final adjustments and finishing touches. Once your ready, export to a compressed media format, (mov, mp4, flv, ext…) sorry, I will not be covering these steps in this article. If you need help with the final conversion give us a call we are here to help.

Its a Wrap

That’s all she wrote about this my friends. Remember, Word Wizards Inc. can help with this type of media rich animated presentations as part of our Graphic Design Solutions. Check out our website to learn more about our many services and capabilities. Please leave a comment if this post helps you out or if you have questions. Send us your glorious HD presentations made using this method and we will put them up on our blog!

Check out a presentation that I did using this method.

**Make sure to change the YouTube Quality setting to HD 720**




News Media – Technology and Election Season News

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

News Floors – Welcome to The Bridge

CNN’s Election Center 2012

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

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

Fox News Election Center 2012

Fox News Election Center
Fox News Election Center

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

Mission Control

The Control Room
CNN Media Control Room

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

Simulcast – Your News, Anywhere

CNN on Satellite Radio
CNN on Satellite Radio

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

A Geek’s Paradise

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




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.




No More DVD Rentals: Does Hollywood Encourage Piracy?

When was the last time you heard, or said, “Hey, lets go to the store an rent a movie?”

We all know that DVD rental stores seem to be heading the way of the dinosaur. A once vast international empire of video rental stores, like Blockbuster or the now bankrupt Hollywood Video, are now a rarity among communities in The United States. It seems that the convenience of online video streaming has changed the landscape of the film entertainment industry forever.

Another blockbuster store closing!

Convenience vs Content

Unfortunately, there are some serious drawbacks to online video rentals that have yet to be addressed. With traditional the rental system, you typically had 3 to 5 days to watch your movie. Now, if you choose to rent a movie for streaming online, you only get 24 hours to watch it and have to pay again if you don’t finish it in a day.

I remember when part of the experience of watching a DVD included special features, bonus tracks, secret menus with outtakes, and many other interactive features. Sadly, none of the DVD special features are available via any online video store. Don’t forget, if you have a slow internet connection, or if internet service is disrupted for some reason, your not going to be able to watch your video at all!

You can't watch the specil feautures online!

Possibly the biggest limitation of all is the content that’s available, or more importantly, not available, on these online streaming platforms as stated in this quote from an article by Scientific American, How Hollywood Is Encouraging Online Piracy.

“Yet, perhaps most important, there’s the availability problem. New movies aren’t available online until months after they are finished in the theaters, thanks to the “windowing” system—a long-established obligation that makes each movie available, say, first to hotels, then to pay-per-view systems, then to HBO and, only after that, to you for online rental.”

Online Piracy, Yo Ho!

There’s only one solution if you missed that new summer smash in the theater but its not available for online rental yet… Illegal video piracy! Yes, the despicable practice of watching movies for free on the internet illegally seems to be supported by the red tape imposed by Hollywood studio lawyers. The trend of online piracy has been rising ever since it became possible to “rip” DVD’s and put them on a website for everyone to enjoy as unpaid entertainment. The sad thing is that most people would choose to pay for these movies if they were given the opportunity, but because of all of the Hollywood legal so-and-so, people are forced into the seedy criminal activity of pirated media streaming.

Want it, Love it, Own it!

Either way, nothing will ever beat actually buying a DVD that you love. Remember, when you own a DVD you can watch the media and all the features as many times as you want, anytime you want. Online streaming, whether legal or illegal, means that if the website is down, your not watching, if your internet is out, fat chance, and if you want Blu-Ray quality, good luck getting your stream to play without interruption.




Video Tech Review – Voila Screen Capture Software

Word Wizards is currently launching a new service called CloudScript. As we prepared to roll out this new offering, we needed to make a demo video that would show our potential users what it does, what it looks like, and how it works. There was only one solution, create a video using screen capture software that will show the world what CloudScript can do. Once we reached this conclusion it was up to me to decide which screen capture software we would use for this kind of a project.

A Sea of Choices

Software to capture video from a computer screen has been around for a long time. There are many different options out there to choose from. Some are geared toward bare bones recording, with no fancy features and moderate quality recording. On the other end of the spectrum there are software solutions for screen capture that offer incredible additional features, full editing capabilities, and tons of professional quality functions. Well, my mission was to find the best quality option for the most reasonable price.

Voila by Global Delight

When I started digging around for reviews and comparisons of the multitude of screen cap software out there I cam accross many positve accounts of Voila by Global Delight. Its packed with features and fits our price point perfectly. There are definalty more sophisticated options out there, but the interface and usability of Voila made it perfect for our application. With the ability to capture high res images, HD video, and internal computer sound, we felt that Voila was the right choice for us as we began to start grabing content and images to promote our new service.

Voila Home Page and Features

The Price is Right!

At a mere $29.99 this is defiantly the best quality option in the price category. Not only will this be a valuable tool for our current marketing project, but it will give us all sorts of new capabilities to offer our clients in the media industry. After only a few minutes of playing with Voila, I was already recording and starting to gather good material.

The Verdict?

Voila provides everything you need for this sort of project and more. We fully recommend that anyone who might be interested try it out for themselves and get a taste. Check out their website if you want to know more, they seem to perfectly articulate why you would want to use Voila over other software on this page.

http://www.globaldelight.com/voila/whyVoila.html




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!




10 Things To Consider Before Sending Media For Transcription

Hello out there, Ben here bringing you a quick list of 10 things you should be aware of before sending your audio or video for transcription. Taking time to consider these factors can streamline your workflow, save you time, and conserve your budget . So lets get on with it shall we!

  1. File Format – Understanding what format your media files are encoded in is critical to the transcription process. Not all transcriptionists and transcription software systems are created equal, valuable time, energy, and stress can be saved if you provide a clear picture of what type of files will be coming in. Digital or Analog? Audio or Video? AIFF, WAV, Mp3 or MOV, MXF, WMV. Letting the transcription company know beforehand will help keep everything running smoothly and prevent any surprises.  Common Movie Codecs MOV FLV WMV AVI MPG
  2. File Quality –  Remember to start with the highest quality media possible, transcribers rely on the quality and strength of audio signals to do their job. Bad audio quality = bad transcript and usually a more expensive one. Video quality needs to be good enough so if there is visual material or speaker identification required, it can be interpreted without too much effort. Considering those two points, we recommend the media be compressed small enough that it can be easily transferred over the internet, but with enough quality to preserve the audio and or video’s original continuity. For audio, never go below 44100 16 bit. For video, compress as much as you want as long as the important visual ques can still be easily distinguished, i.e. time code windows or speakers faces needing identification in the transcript.
  3. Audio Levels – Transcription, at least our flavor, generally involves a speed typist, a foot-pedal, and headphones. Nothing is more painful to our dedicated typists than throwing on their headphones, listening to a quiet audio signal for the first 10 seconds, turning their audio output way up, only to be blasted once the person starts talking. Try to keep your gain structure hot enough that they can be heard legibly, but not so hot that they clip. The biggest problem is with consistency, keep your levels around the same volume to prevent killing a transcribers most valuable tool, their ears!Audio Waveform
  4. Time Code Details – Time code comes in many flavors in the audio and video world. Knowing your time code specifications beforehand is critical to the transcription company. If you need digital time code added, knowing and providing accurate starting time code numbers will ensure everything stays in sync with your source media. Let the transcriber know if it is burned into the video window or does it need to be added? Analog time code can be a little more tricky. Usually, it is recorded on to one of the stereo audio channels and requires a special reader to transcribe from. If so make sure you record the time code signal at a high gain and encoded in a “lossless” audio format (AIFF, WAV, ext…).
  5. Total Length of Audio / Video – Letting the transcribers know how much audio / video time they will be transcribing ensures that they can plan effectively around other projects they may currently have. This step can prevent failing to meet deadlines because there was simply to much material and not enough time to complete it.
  6. Audio and Vocal Quality – Some companies like ourselves can transcribe, even repair poorly recorded audio files. However, it is critical to let the transcription company know of any problems in the audio source such as; hiss, pops, clicks, background noise, hum, artifacts, clipping ext… If we know problems are there beforehand we can prevent wasting time trying to identify the problems and get right to fixing them. Audio board with lights.    Furthermore, if there are foreign accents, speech impediments, or any technical language of the speaker(s) letting the transcription company know beforehand can save a bunch of time and effort on everyone’s part.
  7. Expected Turnaround – Knowing when you want your transcripts returned lets people plan for the priority of the work. If you need faster or longer than normal turnaround, consider this beforehand and come up with a decision that fits your needs and budget limitations. Word Wizards can provide same day or 24 hour transcription turnaround, but at a higher cost. Consult with your transcription provider for rates beforehand to make sure there are no financial surprises at the end of the project.
  8. Omissions and Exceptions – Any special requests to omit or leave out material need to be established before transcription begins. Sometimes people like to leave out the questions because it  saves page space and thus saves money. Sometimes off camera chatter should be left out, sometimes it needs to be included. Discussing this with your team before sending it out for transcription will make sure you only pay for what you want and you want what your paying for.
  9. Headers and Labels – If you would like a particular header in your transcript have that ready when the job is sent out. Also if you want labels or identification for individuals make sure to include that in your project details before the work had begun.
  10. Location and Security Preferences –Some jobs require a special level security. What are you comfortable with? Onsite – transcription done either in your facility or the transcription company headquarters. Onshore – transcription never leaves the country (often this is a requirement for sensitive government work.) Offshore – If your o.k. with sending the job overseas just make sure your team understands that it may fall into the wrong hands the farther it makes its way away from protected USA cyberspace. Its Impossible!

Taking stock of all these factors before you start the transcription process will ensure a faster and easier transcription experience for you and the provider. That’s all for now folks, stay tuned for more from your friends here at Word Wizards!




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!

 




Mining For Gold – The 2012 WIFV Job Fair.

Each year Word Wizards is privileged to recruit talent at a media related Job Fair sponsored by Women In Film and Video of DC (WIFV.)  On March 24th, at the Luke C. More Academy, in SE DC, prospective employers from across the spectrum of film and video production came to collect resumes from energetic job seekers.

Logo for Women in Film and Video

Recruiters for media production professionals in education and public sector broadcasting were represented by American University, WHTU Howard television, Media Concepts, PBS, C-Span and AFI Silver Docs. Major production houses such as Henninger Media, Interface Media Group, and Maslow Media Group were looking to hire employees related to production and post-production. Boutique production houses such as EFX Media, Sapling Pictures, Team People, Will Interactive, and “Yoh” were snapping up resumes from video editors, producers, camera people and production assistants. One of the finest audio post houses in the DC area, Ott House Audio, was looking for a few good sound techs. Hundreds of recruits braved the rainy weather to present their skills and talents before the recruiters.

The main floor of the WIFV Job Fair

Word Wizards sought employees and contractors for our own special niche in the media production world.  We are always looking for fast, accurate typists for our core service, audio and video transcription.  Many production professionals start their careers as interns transcribing sound bites; thus they are a natural fit to work for us.  Some candidates were extremely proficient, exceeding 100 words per minute for their tested typing speed.

The Word Wizards Inc table at the WIFV job fair seen from the front

Many others have produced logs, closed captions, and subtitles during their time within the media production industry. Several of these individuals found that they can earn some cash from us typing and logging, while awaiting the production job of there dreams.  Along with four fast typists, we’re considering hiring a Spanish and Arabic translator to add to our translation capabilities.

In addition, Word Wizards also does a lot of graphic design work for print and digital media. Some very impressive resumes were collected form people, who work with InDesign, After-Effects, Quark, and PageMaker.  These highly trained graphic design specialists are vital. When a client requests something special, we have many different outlets to find the right designer for the project.

Word Wizards Inc talking to a potential new employee at the WIFV job fair

Word Wizards would like to thank Women In Film and Video for gathering such an impressive group of talented people for the recruiters to review.  Qualified producers, video editors, camera people, audio and graphics professionals also owe their gratitude to WIFV for making the event happen. It is our fondest hope that the Job Fair will remain a feature of the media production landscape far into the future.




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!




Time Code: Old Dog New Tricks

Time Code, the stuff that editors once dreamed of. A continuous stream of data (usually audio) that allows video footage to be edited digitally in a non-linear format. Providing transcripts synced to time code was once a very technical and labor intensive process. In fact, when Word Wizards first explored Time Code transcription, the equipment used to generate it took up an entire room! As time went on, the technical barriers involved with time code manipulation for transcription purposes have disappeared, as has the appreciation for this once highly regarded tool.

Timecode displayed on a scene marker.
SMPTE Timecode displayed on a scene marker.

Most production software workstations, professional video editors, and transcription companies use SMPTE Time Code. The following is an excerpt from the Wikipedia article on SMPTE Time Code:

“In video production and filmmaking, SMPTE time code is used extensively for synchronization, and for logging and identifying material in recorded media. During filmmaking or video production shoot, the camera assistant will typically log the start and end time codes of shots, and the data generated will be sent on to the editorial department for use in referencing those shots. This shot-logging process was traditionally done by hand using pen and paper, but is now typically done using shot-logging software running on a laptop computer that is connected to the time code generator or the camera itself.”

Interesting stuff huh? At least it used to be, but time code doesn’t seem to command the respect it once did, even though it is the key to all digital editing in the industry today. However, this old dog has recently learned some new tricks, and time code is now being used for live entertainment like never before.

Presenting: Serato Scratch Live DJ Software and Video Scratch Live VJ software

Photo of the Serato SL3 package contense
A new spin on time code

Serato SL and other products like it now use time code to control audio signals for live DJ performances and studio production. Using a vinyl record pressed with continuous time code, a DJ can control their entire music library with turntables thanks to the magic of time code. This new application of time code is now the standard for live DJ performance, and it doesn’t end there. With Serato’s Video SL, you can control video footage with the turntable as well,  (now available for pro tools for you pro users). Allowing music videos with synced audio to be “VJed” using turntables as well.

You have to see it to believe it, so check out the video below demonstrating Video Scratch Live.




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!




Understanding Professional Transcription Services

When the Word Wizards go out into the world, we often get asked the question, “what does a transcription company do and why would someone need that?” As always, simple questions require not so simple answers. As defined by Wikipedia, “A transcription service is a business which converts speech (either live or recorded) into a written or electronic text document.” In truth, the function and value a transcription service provides depends on the clients’ specific needs.

For example, a video producer with 12 hours of raw documentary footage will look to us for a much needed time code transcript. Our expert transcriptionists provide a time stamp every 30 seconds that corresponds directly to the footage, as it would appear in the video editing software. This enables a producer or editor to quickly search through their footage and identify and isolate specific portions of their media.

Example of a transcript with Time Code for use by a video producer.
An example of a transcript in MS Word with Time Code for use by a video production company.

Another example, consider a legal expert that has recorded the audio from a 5 hour deposition. In this situation, our clients require transcription services for the production of an accurate text document containing a verbatim account of everything spoken in the session. Thus quality, accuracy, and timeliness is essential to ensure the legal integrity of the transcript.

A cartoon demonstrating the stress of not using a good transcription company.

The world of professional transcription services is always changing and evolving to meet the demands of the current marketplace. Some professionals no longer use a service to provide transcripts preferring instead to implement less than accurate speech to text software like Dragon Naturally Speaking. In the past medical transcription was a highly specialized and highly valued service, now with speech to text, the same service comes off the shelf in a shiny new box.

When Word Wizards began providing transcripts for professional use, we were literally the only game in town. Now we must fight to compete in the global economy, where budget concerns are causing our clients to look overseas for cheaper options, ignoring the lack of quality, accountability, and confidentiality.

A Graphic depicting the global economy in the form of a sphere with flags of each country in 3 D
Welcome to the global economy!

To our great delight, the old saying holds true; you get what you pay for. Furthermore, we wouldn’t be called Wizards if we didn’t have some innovative new ways of adding extra value to our transcription process such as captioning and I.V.L (Interactive Video Logging). Even now we are working on a secret new project that will change the game in the industry, just like we did when we first started adding time code to our transcripts in the early 90s.

A manilla folder with the words top secret in red inside a red box
Shhh!!!

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion with release of our new transcription service, but for now, “The Mogul Project” will remain top secret.




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!