STORYTELLING is a CRAFT...you have to have a PASSION for capturing, telling, and sharing stories. This blog is dedicated to that craft. What is your story? We are listening.

Archive for 'Storytelling'

So my friend Dr. V has tackled a question I  think many of us are trying to figure out: What is content?

He shares his thoughts (original blog post):

“Content is retrievable information that can be consumed. It’s stuff that can be heard, seen, shared, curated and commented upon.

Content is a human creation, something translated from the realm of the mind into some tangible form. This could be an idea shaped into a piece of writing or a scene uniquely captured as an image or video. The subjective process of translation is how the view of the mind’s eye becomes content.

Content is important because it positions us in an information world. It’s our real estate on the information landscape. Increasingly, our content defines us.”

So here is what I think is Good Content:

Creates the connected theater – how can we create an interactive experience so audience forgets they are watching and listening…yet feeling.

Creates a connected voice – how can we identify with each other…speak the same language.

Provides texture – we see/hear it, we understand the mission and it is repeatable/shareable message, making the hairs on the back of our necks stand-up.

The shift has happened and a brave new world is opening for the way I capture and tell stories. For years, I have been trying to find a new way that combines my love for digital images and motion into one platform for digital photojournalism.

I have always tried to purchase cameras that match the workflow where I was trained; ENG or electronic news gathering. The equipment I always purchased matched the tools in the television news realm of ENG. Remember, I used to be a television new photojournalist. Television news cameras, audio, and lighting workflows was one of efficiency regardless of the situation.

The cameras had to be versatile, able to deal with all the elements of capturing images including weather, and also effective under expeditious deadlines. The last camera I was using while in television news was a Sony HDCAM camera along with a Sony BetaCam SX camera. Both cameras were rugged, captured great images, and had quick workflows.

As I transitioned into my personal business life, I purchase cameras that matched similar workflows. The last camera I purchased before my newest set-up was a Sony HVR-Z7U. I have always used a Sony camera for video dating back to 1991 using Sony BVV-5 BetaCam SP with a Fujinon Lens. But, I always carried a Canon EOS camera for still photography. Also…the Z7U captured to tape and Compact Flash simultaneously for a back-up.

I AM OFFICIALLY GIVING UP VIDEO TAPE! YAY! 

You may be thinking…you should have done that a few years ago. But all ENG television news photojournalists are trained to ALWAYS have a back-up. The Z7U provided a back-up just incase the Compact Flash had a corrupt file. It has happened to me twice.

But now the technology is so much better along with advanced media from SD cards and Compact Flash cards. An now it is time to get with the program.

The Big Switch
Now…I have combined my passion for great storytelling, great production, great image acquisition, and a great workflow into one set-up. I am now using a two-camera set-up leveraging three interchangeable lenses between both cameras (Canon EOS C100 and 5D mkiii).

Canon EOS C100 – Great video camera with great sensor that provides versatile workflow for documentary style photojournalism. This camera is video first with ENG style technology to support the workflow I am accustomed to leveraging. With two XLR audio inputs with adjustable inputs, ND filter wheel, zebras, and ergonomics that fit the photojournalist on the go.

Canon EOS 5D mkiii – Great HDLSR that puts digital photography first forcing seasoned photojournalists to think about each image, each shot. I now think more about lighting and depth of field inside the context of each image. Now I also think about f-stop, shutter speed, ISO, and composition for each shot. But with the integration of seamless video recording that matches the C100 workflow and has impacted how I use the C100.

Lenses:
- Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
- Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM
- Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

For years I was carrying two cameras for two separate functions. One camera meant for capturing images and the other camera to capture video and sound. Now both cameras have interchangeable purposes and allow me to capture stories as they happen from all angles.

This package allows me to focus not only on the quality of the story but also the quality of the image acquisition. This is lots of fun!

*Here is a great blog post by Dave Wallace, why he sold his Red Scarlet for a Canon EOS C100.  

In 2012 I was struck, hit upside the head, and right in the chest with the news of a friend who had been murdered. I had worked along side her to help create an event called Ecoplosion. She worked for Clemson University in the Master of Real Estate Development Program and was a crucial part of putting together a big economic development event in Greenville, SC. Her name is Marge Putnam.

I was struck in the head and in the chest. It knocked the breathe out of me to learn that this beautiful woman, mother, grandmother, community leader was killed by her husband who then killed himself.

I was struck in the head to learn the statistics. South Carolina ranks as the #1 state in the nation for women killed by men; 1 in 5 female college students are sexually assaulted; 1 in 4 women are the victims of domestic violence; and over 50% of middle and high-school girls experience sexual harassment in school.

WHY? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?

Historically, the movement to end violence against women has been led by women. Why are men not a part of the solution? We are a part of the problem yet not willing to step-up and become an active voice, and active part of this advocacy to tackle the problem of domestic violence.

It starts with men teaching men. We see a beautiful woman walking sidewalk, and we give them the “up and down” look. We hear a sexist remark in the locker room or a joke that is degrading towards women at the water cooler, and we laugh rather than challenging it. We notice a buddy acting controlling towards his wife or girlfriend, and we say nothing. We teach our sons to “man- up” and “be a man” rather than showing their true emotions. We grow up with this “man code” engrained in our ethic, and our sons learn this from their fathers.

Why are we doing this? We are real men with real hearts and we can create a movement to stop this cycle. We are business men, faith leaders, coaches, teachers, real men with the wherewithal to stand up and say no more!

Today, advocates are now working to engage men as allies in the effort to promote a healthy view of masculinity and to work towards ending all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls.

April 24th – A Call To Men
On Thursday, April 24, we are calling all men to attend a community breakfast at ANMED Women’s & Children’s Hospital in the Peggy Dean Room from 8:00am-9:30am entitled, “A Call To Men: Equipping Men to End Violence Against Women and Girls.”

Keynote speaker, Tony Porter, co-director of a national organization called A CALL TO MEN, will discuss how men can be engaged in the movement to end violence against women.

Tony is recognized nationally and internationally for his expertise in organizing and educating men in the effort to create a healthier understanding of masculinity and to equip men as allies in the movement to end violence against women. He is dedicated to strengthening community accountability to end all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls.

Will Merritt of WCCP 104.9 radio will also be there to share his thoughts. Join Us! This is a FREE event for all men of Anderson. Join us, bring a friend and help us fill the Peggy Dean Room room at ANMED Women’s & Children’s Hospital.

Reserve your seat today!  Registration is open now at www.acalltomenanderson.com.

It has surrounded me…from the very beginning, I have always had a camera in my hand. The picture above is the first picture I ever captured…how ironic it is my first selfie.

Yes, it is a picture of me the summer after the 6th grade. I was attending the Summer Classes of SC Governor School for the Arts. One thing we learned…how to build a camera out of a small box of Quaker Oats. Yes, I built the camera that took this picture using a Quaker Oats box…a simple pin-hole camera.

We also learned how to develop the negative, create a positive, then mount the image for display. It all started in the 6th grade and all the thanks goes to my 6th grade art teacher Mrs. Posten. She wrote the recommendation for me to spend my summer at the Governors School for the Arts.

Here I am…still using cameras to tell stories!  Damn I am having a good time!

Everyone wants to be a thought leader…every organization wants own their content verticals…but what are you really owning.

Why are “we” trying to own the content verticals that the populous hopes to conquer. Thought leaders, whether individuals or brands, want to be heard, want to connect, want people to join the conversation. But why try to own that popular conversation?

Why not attack unwanted, uncharted, distressed content verticals that no one has tackled?

I think about Warren Buffett’s business philosophy…he takes “un-wanted” verticals and leverages this opportunity by investing thought leadership and capital.

Why not use enterprise level analytics tools to ask research questions:

1) What content vertices match our initiatives?
2) Where is the conversation?
3) If the popular conversation has aggregated to one content conversation; what other content vertices are left to consider?

Why not tackle content vertical that is uncharted and become the thought leader in this space? Take ownership of the conversation that has yet to emerge, invest resources, and scale that conversation.

Then, as you take ownership of this content vertical *and* as you scale the community engagement, why not leverage that opportunity with marketing initiatives.

Bottom-line –> We have the opportunity to build our own perception, our own conversation, our own communities!

Love this quote from Gary V:

“I am only interested in one thing…the thing that binds us all together…always and forever our job is to tell our story…”

“The way you make real money…the way you make real impact…the way things get changed is by great storytelling…it has always been that way and it will always be that way…because i do not know if you guys heard and we are f&cking human beings and that is what we like.”

I AGREE…AMEN…

In that same thought…love this from the Brains on Fire blog post from 2009

“The fanstastic thing is that there are fundamental principals of being a human that will never change. One of which is that we are social beings. And we crave interaction. More so face-to-face than online. I really believe that is something that will never change. Because the technology might advance, but us being humans won’t.”

ONCE AGAIN…AMEN…

Telling great stories are like pealing back an onion…one layer at a time. A great story is one that connects those layers bringing texture to the experience…raising the hairs on the back of your neck.

How can we help you find great stories? Let us know!

Anyone have any thoughts? Hmm…so I have been thinking about this for a bit! What is the DNA of a “good” storyteller?

Hmm…well my first thought: they create great content. Yeah…so what is great content and how can we equate great content with a great storyteller?

In the world of digital communications…how do we create content that is sticky and feels connected.

I read a great little blog post by Holly Potter and it has me thinking just a bit…here is an excerpt:

“More and more we’re hearing that “content is king,” “content is the new social currency,” and “content is the center of communications.” What is content? To us, it’s a great story, a memorable message or a shared experience. We want to help craft these stories in an authentic and compelling way, and we want to share them with the world. The only difference with telling brand stories today versus five or even two years ago is that these stories can now be multidimensional­ with, images, videos, animation, infographics and editorial. Change in the media medium is inevitable and attention spans may be depleting, but the value of good storytelling stays the same.”

We can write for SEO, we can create beautiful graphics, we can do all the things that make budgets look good…

BUT…inspiring people to write and share passionately is HARD. So here is the question…how do we inspire people to tell their story and what does that look like, feel like, sound like?

Here is my response to Holly:

To tell great stories, create great content, empower a great community, can we then begin leveraging that community in this “marketing” arena? This is what brings “value” to the storytelling initiative in the digital space…the great blend between storytelling and marketing. The fun part is finding/balancing the ethical tension between community building and marketing.

So who are the really good storytellers in this digital arena? Those who know how to create great content, yet market that content to generate a marketable result?

*BTW…I “stole” the image above from Holly’s blog and altered it a bit. :)

Have you thought through this before? When I asked a group of healthcare communication professionals to define content and “good” content…we recorded some interesting feedback.

So here are my thoughts:

Good Content – From 30K Feet
1) Creates the connected theater – How can we create an interactive experience so audience forgets they are watching and listening…yet feeling (movie theater analogy)?
2) Creates a connected voice – We can identify we each other…we speak the same language.
3) Provides texture – We see/hear it, we understand the mission and it is repeatable/shareable message, making the hairs on the back of our necks stand-up.

Good Content – Tactical Level
1) Stories, pictures, video, words, information, and facts
2) It is content that brings texture to the voice of the organization/brand
3) It is an integrated approach to communication across all channels

Good Content – Framework
1) Identify good content
2) Capture then craft each message for the appropriate medium
3) Engage content for interaction & connectivity (bring them back to the campaign mothership)
4) Create a relatable experience to build community
5) Leverage content and community for action
6) Provide a relatable experience so brand advocates share repeatable message

People want to find media that they can identify…content that makes sense in their lives. As I think through this lens…I have been reshaping my opinions when it comes to the value of video production.

I love big cameras, pretty pictures, the HD experience…etc. But, is all this necessary in our world of social content? Is multi-purposing content from that video shoot with the Red Camera necessary?

Have you watched American Idol this season? It is a new face with the addition of Harry Connick, Jr…a new tone and lots more stories. Did you also notice the production value of the video content being used. Lots more user-based content captured using mobile devices. The opening of American Idol has leveraged contestant video content from their mobile devices as a major part of the opening sequences.

Have you also noticed camera angles focusing on faces, isolating shots that make you feel closer to the contestant, visually connecting the audience to the potential storyline?

Production value has so much to do with visual delivery setting tone, visual appeal, ethic, mood…etc.

Think about the last video shoot you have been a part of recently.

  • Did you have beautiful lighting? Did the interview subject look off-camera slightly?
  • Was the lighting focused on the person and less on the background, creating complete visual interest on the subject?
  • Was the person highlighted with lighting or the fact they used professional lighting highlight?
  • Was the background behind the subject visually engaging or created barriers to the conversation?

In the social world…I have began to recognize the value of advising groups to create content specifically for the medium. There is a time and place for each style of production. There is value for that high-end video shoot with great lighting, great sound quality, great camera angles. There is also value in creating an experience that generates an approachable conversation.

Let’s take a video interview with a physician based on a topical item like flu shots or even something cancer related. Do you need high-end lighting, great microphones, an appropriate clinical background. Think about the from the audience’s perspective. When they go talk to a physician in their office, do they carry a light kit and a microphone? Do they have these “tools” & “strategies” when asking this physician about cancer or that flu shot when sitting or standing across them in their office?

The point here…sometimes it is better to reduce the production enhancement and make the situation feel relevant in our day-to-day lives…visually relevant.

Google+ Hangouts (web video calls) are helping us think through these opportunities. Setting up situations visually where the person seems approachable.  Think about a Google+ Hangout. You feel like you are talking directly to a person.

Here is my point. Should the physician look off-camera interview style or right at the camera. This simple visual cue is huge for the audience. Remember…a conversation is not a question by question interview…it is a conversation.

There are specific ways to make a Google+ Hangout a little more approachable than the look of a webcam and a microphone/earpiece hanging from the person on the other side of the camera. Camera and streaming technology has increased where the image looks nice.

Here is my point…creating social content has everything to do with visual cues. Sometimes that $50K video shoot just does not translate into content meant for certain social media contexts.

Love! #happyloveday

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