The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

Answers to Sound Problems with the Flip Cam May 14, 2010

I love my Flip Cam. It’s no secret. I should have a t-shirt or a tattoo that says “I heart Flip Cam.” But my main beef with the camera is, and always has been, the sound. When I do one-on-one interviews, I can manage, I bump up the sound in IMovie, and usually it’s okay, but last weekend, I was trying to shoot video in an environment where there was a lot of ambient background noise, and the result made my videos basically unusable.

I put out a help tweet. and the answer came from Nikolas Allen. I asked him if I could share it with you, and he said yes, so here it is:

Regarding your recent tweet about minimizing ambient noise when shooting video, YES, Poor sound can kill an otherwise excellent video.

1) The main key is to shoot in a controlled environment.

Of course, the beauty of the new pocket video cams is that you can shoot anywhere, on the go. But, while these cams allow you to thumb your nose at controlled environments, ambient noise WILL be an issue.

A minor fix for that is to get close to the camera. Ditch the Wide shots and go for Med and C/U shots. Then, even if there is ambient noise – she who’s closest to the mic wins!

2) Your next best bet is to have a camera with an external mic jack (unfortunately Flips don’t have this feature, which is the main reason I’ve decided against this otherwise great choice).

An external mic such as a shotgun (uni-directional) mic with a windscreen, or better yet, a wireless lavalier,  will reduce ambient noise considerably.

In addition to an external mic jack, a headphones jack is also a great feature to look for in a camera. The tiny playback speakers on cameras don’t always indicate how much ambient noise you’ve picked up. A good pair of headphones (think DJ-style, not earbuds) will let you know if you’ve got the quality of sound that you need before moving on to the next shot or setup.

3) A third option is to purchase a small, digital audio recorder. Place that close to you when speaking and record audio with that while simultaneously shooting with your Flip cam. When editing, sync up the separate audio track and either ditch or minimize the audio track from the Flip.

TIP for Option 3: While filming and recording, do a handclap before you start talking on each take. This will make it easier, when editing, to align the audio and video tracks (essentially you’re mimicking the clapboard that Hollywood shooters use before each take).

I’m considering the Kodak Zi8 HD pocket cam. It’s under $200, plus it’s got ext. mic jack. Here’s an Amazon link if you wanna check it out.

So, the lesson here, is, if you know you are going to be using your camera to shoot in environments where there will be lots of ambient background noise, the Flip may not be for you. If you already have one (like me) and want to make the best of it, shoot as close as you can to your subject, or try the trick with the digital recorder (which a lot of folks have anyway, these days, for podcasting).

Happy shooting!

Nikolas Allen is a contemporary pop artist currently based in Mt. Shasta, California. His background is in advertising, music and video production. He is passionate about both art and business and is creating an educational program that teaches Branding and Marketing to Ambitious Creatives.
You can find him on Twitter: @nikolas_allen

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Building a Mystery May 12, 2010

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Blogging,Business of Arts,social media — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:15 am

I’m writing this post on Sunday morning. This past weekend, I attended Northern Voice, a blogging and social media conference out at UBC. There is much to process from the experience, so there will no doubt be posts to come, but one thing that kept coming up all weekend was the theme of “mystery.” Bryan Alexander talked about it in his Friday morning Keynote, and it came up again in the panel discussion I sat on about Art and Social Media. (thanks to everyone who came out, by the way!)

Darren Barefoot, me, Rachel Chatoor, Sara Genn and Deb Pickman. Photo by Landon Kleis, @landovan

What’s powerful right now about social media, and blogging (or vlogging or podcasting) in particular, is, that it allows you to go behind the scenes. It allows the reader or client to see what’s really going on behind the scenes in your business (be it an art business or otherwise). But here’s the thing: we as artists, are in the creativity business. And we can’t trademark or patent our creativity. This often causes concern amongst artists I talk to: if we blog/podcast/vlog about the process of our work, are we giving away too much? Or, as they referred to it at Northern Voice: lifting the kimono.

Creating a sense of mystery, or teasing our audience, is a powerful way to draw them in. Movies and books do it all the time with foreshadowing. They suck us in with a compelling storyline, and hint of better things to come.

I would argue that “lifting the kimono” is not going too far, and that, in fact, it can help to build a sense of mystery. There is no substitute for a live performance. Watching the ballet live can’t hold a candle to watching it on TV. Being in a tiny, intimate black-box theatre space and seeing a play where I can see the actor’s sweat will never be replaced by that same experience on film, because it can’t. The sense of awe I felt at seeing the Parthenon for real, something I had seen a million photos of, was immense. Seeing art live, for real, is special because it only takes place at that time and space. That exact experience can never be duplicated.

So, teasing our audience a little by blogging about what’s going on backstage, or doing video or audio interviews with the cast or the artist I believe will only help to bring more audience in. The process is fascinating, and people’s passion for their work is contagious.

It’s powerful. Try it for yourself, and see what the results bring.

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How to manage the noise May 10, 2010

I did a workshop on April 17 in Richmond called Art at Work. One of the themes that kept coming up about social media, and Twitter specifically, was how “noisy” it is.

For the beginning user, Twitter can be overwhelming. You have 100s of tweets coming at you every minute, and how do you distinguish between what’s important and what’s not? While I’m a big advocate of not tweeting every thought that passes through your brain, not everyone who’s on Twitter has that attitude, so there can be a lot of dreck to wade through until you get to the good stuff.

Here’s a great graphic from Wikipedia about what’s going on on Twitter:
The top two categories: Pointless babble and Conversations, make up fully 78% of whats going on on Twitter at any given time.

Here are some tips for managing the noise:

  1. Let go of the notion that you need to read every single tweet. If something is really important, the information will find its way to you.
  2. Learn to skim tweets and look for the things you are really interested in.
  3. Use a Twitter platform to manage your Twitter stream. Once you start following more than 200 people, you need a better way of managing your stream than the Twitter website interface (or even interfaces with add-ons, like Power Twitter). The three main platforms that most people use are TweetDeck, HootSuite and Seesmic Desktop.
    What these platforms allow you to do are to group the people you are following into categories that allow you to priortize those folks that are the most important. For example, in mine, I have a group for “Friends,” “Theatre,” “Media,” and “Business.” It allows me to, at a glance, see the latest tweets from those folks that I deem to be the movers and shakers. I can then retweet things that catch my eye, respond to tweets, etc.

I use a Twitter platform called Seesmic Desktop. What I like about this, in addition to being able to categorize my followers, is that it has built-in link shortening, photo and video attachments, and I can manage several Twitter accounts without having to sign out and sign back in again.

But I’d encourage you to ask around, see what recommendations people have for you, and then try out some of the more popular ones yourself to see which one suits you best.

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Relay for Life May 7, 2010

Filed under: Life — Rebecca Coleman @ 5:27 am
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This is a business blog, not a personal one. I hope, though, that you will forgive me one personal post. I wouldn’t be using my blog as a platform unless it was incredibly important, and something I feel deeply about.

Mom and I at one of my University graduations

A little more than two years ago, I lost my mom to Cancer. My mother was a very stubborn lady, a trait that served her well in the three years that she fought the cancer. They were tough times. We spent a lot of time in the hospital, because no matter what kind of chemo they tried on her, they all made her very sick. There were operations, a colostomy, a permanent needle in her arm. She pushed through it all. But in the end, while her mind was still willing to fight, her body couldn’t do it any more, and, early in the morning of April 14, 2008, she passed away, with my dad and my brother by her side.

Cancer has touched my life far too much. Both of my mother’s parents died of it, within 6 months of each other, and my dad’s parents had brushes with it as well. My dad’s sister has breast cancer. My dear friend Babz Chula is fighting three types of cancer.

It felt like it was time to do something about it. Earlier this year, my brother, Don and my sister-in-law, Simi, decided to enter the Relay for Life, and I have joined on as a team member. Simi has also lost her mother to cancer, leaving my nephew, Dylan, who’s 8, without a grandma.

On June 5, we will be participating in the Relay for Life in Coquitlam. Our team, Lil Dude’s Crew (Lil’ Dude is Dylan) has committed to raising $5000 for cancer research.

Here’s the official blurb:

Canadian Cancer Society Relay For Life is a life changing fundraising event that gives you and your community the opportunity to Celebrate cancer survivors, Remember and honour loved ones lost to cancer, and Fight Back for a future without cancer.

Funds raised help the Canadian Cancer Society save lives by funding leading cancer research, offering support services to those in need and leading prevention initiatives. Relay participants commit to raising a minimum of $100 for the Canadian Cancer Society. The average participant in Canada raises $350. Challenge yourself and your team, the more money raised, the bigger the difference.

During this non-competitive fun-filled event, teams of people gather at schools, fairgrounds, or parks and take turns walking or running laps around the track. Each team is asked to at least have one member of your team on the track at all times throughout the event.

Mom and Dylan

On May 15, we’ll be holding a Fundraiser at The Press Box, 2889 East Hastings St (by the PNE). There will be live music (a rare appearance by the Artie Devlin Trio), door prizes and raffles, and the $20 cover includes a burger and a bevvie. Click here for the Facebook event.

Click here to see my personal page, and to donate.

Thank you for helping us to create a world without cancer.

UPDATE, MAY 7:  This morning, Babz Chula passed away. She was a shining light in our community, and I feel honoured to have known her and worked with her these last few months. Babz was one of those people that you instantly fell in love with the moment you met her. She was one in a million, and I will miss her deeply. But her suffering is over, and she is at peace.


How to post a calendar of events on your WP blog May 6, 2010

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Blogging,Business of Arts,Marketing Ideas — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:06 am
Tags: , ,

Simon and I did a workshop last week at the Alliance, and Amy, who attended, asked me how to post a calendar of events on her WordPress-hosted blog.

Amy, (and the rest of you!) here you go:

1. Go to Google and get an account if you don’t already have one (and if you don’t, I mean, come on, now!).  When you’re signed in, click on “Calendar.” You should create a new calendar for this that will ONLY be dedicated to your events.

2. Make the calendar public. You do this by clicking on the calendar’s “Settings” button (the triangle beside the calendar has this link). Click on the “Share this Calendar” tab at the top, then check the box marked “Make this Calendar public”

3. Now you need to get your Calendar’s RSS feed. Go back to “Calendar Details,” the first tab at the top. Under “Calendar Address,” click on the orange button marked XML, and copy the code that it generates.

4. Log in to your WordPress Blog, and go to Appearance–>Widgets. Drag and drop an RSS widget into your sidebar. Paste the code into that widget. You can give it a title if you like. Save and close.

5. Your calendar of events is now in your sidebar. It will look like this:

If you have a self-hosted WordPress blog, simply do a search for calendar widgets, and I’m sure you’ll find something that works for you.

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Northern Voice May 5, 2010

I’ll bet you didn’t know that Vancouver has its very own blogging conference? Okay, well, maybe you did, but I only found out about Northern Voice in the last couple of years.

Here’s the official blurb:

Northern Voice is a two-day, non-profit personal blogging and social media conference held at the UBC main campus, Vancouver, Canada on May 7-8, 2010. This is the 6th annual incarnation of this event.

I had just bought my ticket for Friday, when I was asked to be on a panel on Saturday. So, I look forward to hanging out with a bunch of like-minded nerds all day Friday, and then coming back on Saturday to lead a panel discussion on Art and Social Media.

The Internet, and social media, specifically, is turning the arts world upside-down. Traditional methods of “making it” are being abandoned as artists create their own galleries, record companies, and movies, with the fan base to go with them. Welcome to the world of Justin Beiber. In this panel, a theatre artist, a musician and a visual artist will discuss what social media tips and tricks they are using to garner success in the art world.

The panel will consist of me, Deb Pickman, theatre creator, professional actor, producer and arts marketing specialist, (you should come to see her shoes at the very least–she always wears excellent shoes), Rachel Chatoor, a singer, and Sara Genn, a Vancouver-born painter who now makes her home NYC.

Seriously, you should check this out. Click here for more information, or to register.

UPDATE: since I wrote this post, I saw a tweet saying that Northern Voice is now sold out.


How to add a “Review” Tab to your FB Page May 4, 2010

If you are an artist with a fan page, you may wish to add a “Review” tab to your page. This allows the people who buy your CD, come to your show, or attend your exhibition to write their own reviews of your work.

1. In order for this to work, you need to have a page, not a group.

2. Go to this link for the Review application.

3. Like the application, and then click “Add to My Page” which is directly beneath the applications’ profile pic.

4. A window will pop up with a list of all of the pages you administrate, choose the page you want to add the review tab to.

5. Go back to your page.

6. The Review tab should now be in your tabs. However, if you have a lot of tabs, it might be quite far down, where no one can see it. You should be able to drag and drop it into a more prominent position.

7. Invite people to visit your page and review your work!

In our world, where sites that allow every day people to write reviews are getting more and more popular (think Yelp!), this can be a really powerful tool. And for us in the arts, in the face of cutbacks at newspapers that in the past have reviewed our work, I think it has really great potentinal to help us connect with our audience.

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