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Simple Or Versatile? Flip Demise Indicates Answer Is Now Both

April 27th, 2011 by Seth Kenvin

A Blog Post Too Late To Pioneer Our Own Clever Pun

Since we work in video technologies and publish a blog, it is obligatory that we post on Cisco’s closure this month of the Flip video camera line obtained through its 2009 Pure Digital acquisition, that was followed immediately by an ubiquitous celebrity-driven ad campaign. And now, the product is gone. And we’ve got some thoughts. But since it’s taken us a couple weeks to express those thoughts we can’t pioneer such clever blog puns as “Flipping switch on acquisition”, ”Cisco flipflops” nor  ”R.I.P. F.L.I.P.” — others have beaten us to all of those.

Around the time of the Pure Digital acquisition a lot of credit was directed towards the company for achieving the Flip’s popularity by taking quality equipment, an HD video camera, and refining to an enormously simple experience driven primarily by pushing a dominant centralized red button, on a compact & rugged device, that connects to computer with a buildt-in, flip-out USB dongle.

In video production there’s an oft-cited axiom: “good, fast or cheap — pick two”.  Pure Digital made a similar determination in its positioning by putting together good quality HD with easy use, at expense of providing a versatile device. And that initially worked as people frequently reserved a pocket for constant availability of capturing HD content, offsetting everything else (email, web, music, personal information management, games & more, even photography) being on smart phone on opposite pocket. But all those other things coming together elegantly seem to present Cisco the conundrum for Flip’s future. With increasingly good video capture & management on phones (better resolution, longer footage, immediate ability to sync & upload content wirelessly), just a couple years later consumers now seem to be able to “pick three” among quality, ease and versatility when recording video on smart phones.

The last few years have been breathtaking in the pace of technology impacting life, with Flip / Pure Digital a great case study. A “revolutionary” (per Wired magazine) leader in distilling multi-button handheld cameras to just a few prominent aspects on an even smaller device, seems to get truped within just a few quarters by what may have initially seemed an entirely different category of product.

We can relate to such challenges in building our own business. Market7 brings together applications for the content collaboration involved in pre-production, the content collaboration of post-production, and the project management throughout, believing that media production professionals don’t just want easy and good solutions for each of these in isolation — today’s technology user demands ease and quality for all of their needs integrated together in singular options, whether such considerations relate to handheld devices or collaborative workflows.

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Market7 CEO Champions Better Video Production On Spidvid Podcast

October 22nd, 2009 by Brian Baumley

Seth Spills Some Video Collaboration Knowledge On The Spidcast

Spidvid founder Jeremy Campbell recently asked Market7 founder Seth Kenvin to participate in brand new podcast series Spidcast. Hop over to the Spidcast site to check out the pretty in depth interview covering the genesis of Market7, Seth’s philosophies on the collaborative video space and what challenges/opportunities are coming down the road. Warning: Seth’s vocal chops get seriously upstaged by those of great interviewer Michael London.

Hear a portion of the interview: [Spidcast interview snippet], or listen to the entire interview here.

Lastly, Spidvid themselves have some pretty cool thoughts around collaborative video efforts and you should definitely take a look at what they’re up to as well.

PS – Hey, nice to meet you all. I’m M7’s faithful PR guy and you’ll hear from me every now and then with updates like these moving forward!

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Building Software To Be Both Easy And Sophisticated

October 9th, 2009 by Seth Kenvin

Convenience or Quality: A False Choice

The Good Enough Revolution” in Wired Magazine‘s September issue has sparked a meme. I have recently noticed people increasingly touting the merits of cheap prices, minimalist functionality, and straightforward usage as key attributes to get into users’ hands. We contend that just as important as feeling intuitive upon immediate usage, great products should also not feel limiting with more usage.

Above is an image of the Annotative Player module of video.Market7.com. This is our environment for collecting, presenting and assessing feedback about video footage during editing and post production. Most people find its usage easy to comprehend even though from first glance it’s clearly more than simply a video player or a messaging system. Largely that is because it fundamentally and clearly incorporates elements of both with attributes like conventional play control, timeline and volume settings in the expected places of a video player; and familiar messaging presentation like temporal stacking of comments along with the commenters’ avatars, names and relevant metadata such as when comment occurred. With dominance of these familiar motifs, more sophisticated data can be secondarily incorporated, like the fact that the top comment of the stack shown here has attachments indicated by a recognizable file folder icon, or that the comment currently highlighted, through which the playhead is passing, emphasizes a portion of the screen with a rectangle much like seen in photos on Facebook or Flickr.

When first timers use our Annotative Player they generally don’t pay mind to those more advanced features but naturally identify how to play video and watch the comments scroll. And when the thought of leaving one’s own comment enters the mind, we’ve tried to make that immediately accessible through the generous and bold “Add a comment” area, with “type comment here” shadow font in the player’s lower-right. Clicking that pauses the video and expands the lower right area to what’s magnified below. The user gets a blinking cursor in a teal-highlighted space and the most clear thing is to start typing a comment. The eyeball naturally proceeds down to OK or cancel the comment. If curious, or perhaps upon a subsequent use of the module, a user may notice some buttons above, which avail the more sophisticated additions comments can get such as the highlight rectangle, free-hand drawing and file attachment. Availability of these becomes even more clear if one mouses above the area of typing the comment and gets those buttons’ tooltip instructions.

Back when he was a consultant to us and before becoming a full-time employee, Shannon famously (at least in Market7′s corporate lore) advocated that we should endeavor to provide users with a small pond of infinite depth. The perspective of a swimmer surveying such a pond’s surface is that it’s a manageably sized area in which to wade. But once in the water and ready to check out something new, this swimmer realizes that there’s as much water to cover as desired for exploration. Similarly at Market7 we try to provide the most basic features in ways that they’re easily accessed first and have more sophisticated tools put into positions where a little more exploration reveals them, with all leveraging established motifs for quick learning curves.

During the past week I demonstrated the annotative player to a new customer after which I was asked if it wasn’t too much functionality to provide out of the box to users. After explaining our approach to how our software presents itself I received some tentative head nods, but a few days later can gladly report that this particular customer is confirming that all new users are able to be productive with video.Market7 immediately, while the most constant users are getting even more mileage by familiarizing themselves with more sophisticated features. The right presentation of functionality can reveal the apparent dilemma between ease and sophistication to be a false choice. Pick both and do better than “good enough”.

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M7 on Digital Production Buz @ NAB

May 3rd, 2009 by Shannon Newton

For those of you who missed Seth’s interview on Digital Production Buzz, there is the full interview below. Dig Prod Buzz had a great setup this year interviewing thousands of people about cool stuff happening at NAB (I don’t know if it was actually thousands but it sounds so much better). In the interview Seth talks about our newest features released for NAB, the ability to export comments directly into Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere. Seth talks about other exciting things, most of it is true…ENJOY!

Market7 on DigProdBuzz @ NAB

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Why is Video so Expensive?

October 14th, 2008 by Shannon Newton

Pretend you want to build a nice, 2nd story deck for your home. If this deck was your video and you spent $10,000 on it, where would your money go?…

$1500 to hire an architect (Writer) and a contractor (Producer)

The script is like the plans for the deck. Writing this blueprint is one of the smallest costs so it is especially important to get this right.

How to keep costs under control in this area (pre production) -

  1. Take your time hiring the right producer/director for the job
  2. Hire a writer who is also a producer. (Architect + Contractor in one)
  3. More time scripting = less confusion during production (accurate plans)
  4. Get everyone in planning meetings so you have fewer of them. (fewer cross-town trips)
  5. If you need a studio, hire a company that has one
  6. If you need to shoot in a specific format (like HD) hire someone who has the equipment

$3500 for the contractor and his/her team to build the basic structure (production day)

There are a lot of resources needed at a place and time for the production to go well. Most crews and talent are booked for the day so there is no discount for finishing early.

How to keep costs under control in this area (production) -

  1. Make sure you have all client stakeholders sign off on the plan for the video. (Homeowner AND Spouse)
  2. Make sure everyone agrees on the details. (don’t assume they won’t care about the stain)
  3. Schedule a rehearsal, show the client. (A “tester” sample of the work)
  4. Record excellent audio. (Like wiring your deck for lighting as it is built)

$4000 for the contractor to complete and finish the deck (editing and sound)

Cost here is sheer time it takes for a good editor to do his/her work. Many hours are spent sifting through footage and cutting together the best video for your review. Included in this cost is the sound design (music and sound effects) and output rendering.

How to keep costs under control in this area (post production) -

  1. Don’t shoot extra during production, just capture what you need
  2. Collect the entire list of feedback before the editor makes any changes
  3. Descriptive and specific feedback (“can you make the deck more intense?” doesn’t say much)
  4. Deliver assets to editor on time (logos, stock footage, etc.)
  5. Deliver music to editor beforehand (if applicable)

$1000 or more on the finishing touches

Costs can vary significantly for finishing visual and audio effects. It is also not only the hardest to estimate, but costs can quickly spiral out of control.

How to keep costs under control in this area (post production effects) -

  1. Completely script graphic sequences like open and close beforehand
  2. Take precautions during greenscreen shoot so that you can pull a nice key later
  3. Hire someone that knows what they are doing for complex visual effects
  4. Eliminate any other special effects that don’t contribute to the story

For our $10,000 project, here are some sample additional costs
- Greenscreen on location $1000 per day
- Greenscreen studio $2000 per day
- Matchmoving $1000
- 3D modeling $1500
- Music track $750
- Voiceover track $750
- Sound Effects $500
- Compositing $1500
- Motion Graphics $1500
- Cleaning up poorly recorded sound $750

Now, you have built your video and it is sturdy and stunning. Now you are ready for the party!

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We Are Ready For You To Use Our Stuff

February 12th, 2008 by Seth Kenvin

I am amazed by how fast things are happening for Market7. My prior company makes routers for cable and telecom operators which required years of engineering and qualification and mind-numbing progression through various other obstacles encountered before we had our customers using our work. This go-round, it seems our time is now.

Two video.market7.com modules are pretty much ready to be used. One focuses on preparation of materials for a video shoot, including some of the scripting concepts Shannon’s included in blog posts. The other relates to the review of footage and management of the editorial / post-production processes. It’s the source of the screen shot on our home page. We are ready for professional producers to try these modules in cooperation with actual clients to execute real-world projects.

We’re fortunate in the influence we’ve received getting where we are. This now extends through direct interaction with our own users. Will you have a project over the next couple of months which could use a better approach to working together on writing a script and planning how to shoot it? or to reaching consensus on what’s the best footage and how it should transform to final deliverable? Do you promise to talk to us about your experience during and afterwards? Please let us know – you can reach us via the contact info on the right of this page (scroll down a little), or indicate your interest in the comments & questions part at the bottom of our feedback form. We look forward to it.

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