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Made it to the Big (Mammoth) Screen

Yesterday at the 2014 GeekWire Awards Ceremony, we got to experience one of our videos on, what EMP calls a mammoth screen. 60 feet wide by 33 feet tall. One of the largest LED screens in the world.

It was amazing seeing something Maurice, Adam and I made that HUGE!

Thanks GeekWire for inviting us out.

You can watch it on your screen, it won’t be as big, but if you hold your screen really close to your face, it might feel similar.

A Little Note From Our Own @CoachGallimore

Thanks Coach Gallimore. We really enjoy working with you, too.

Stupefying news from the grizzled sherpas of Bootstrapper Studios (& thanks for feeding our kids with videos!)

TL;DR | We’re excited to announce I’m joining UP Global (which many k

now of through their Startup Weekend program) as Technical Project Manager.

I leave you in the steady, weathered hands of the current Bootstrapper Sherpas. I’ll remain an advisor to Bootstrapper Studios and What Now? Exactly!, and want to thank everyone who’s helped us along the way – We’re excited for the next chapter of this already stupefying story.

In this post…

  1. Starting a creative services company in the middle of a global economic meltdown isn’t normally a recipe for success.
  2. Have you heard of this thing called YouTube? I think it might be important.
  3. Oh the places you’ll Sundance.
  4. It takes a Wygle.
  5. From $3.1 million in Kickstarter campaigns to reinventing sports broadcasting in less than three years.
  6. So what’s next? Wygle is helming Bootstrapper and I’m joining UP Global.

2013-07-25 19.06.25

Starting a creative services company in the middle of a global economic meltdown isn’t normally a recipe for success

It’s been a few crazy years working with the grizzled sherpas of Bootstrapper Studios.

Like I tell my friends, starting a creative services company in the middle of a global economic meltdown isn’t normally a recipe for success.

In July 2011 I had just been laid off from pinch/zoom – a product management job with a team and projects I loved (Go BBC iPad App!) – and it was scary.

My wife Jen and I had been making ends meet with me working full time and her working part time writing scripts / leading the animated explainer company we’d just started.

I was waiting for the bus in front of the now defunct Peet’s Coffee in Fremont when I called Jen, severance check in hand, to tell her the news.

After the initial shock, she said, “Well, I guess it’s time to get your video shit out of the basement, hang out a shingle and start telling everyone you make videos for a living.”

How many wives do you know who tell their husbands they are not allowed to go get a W-2 job?

Have you heard of this thing called YouTube? I think it might be important

Many have heard me tell the story of how I got into making a living creating videos, but this is the first time I’ve written it down.

As a flash developer in the early 2000’s, when I saw Macromedia’s announcement that video playback was going to be added to the flash player, it became instantly clear that the web would devour all video broadcast and distribution.

So, with a hunch toward its inevitability, I kept my eyes peeled for the launch of something like YouTube.

2005 and 2006 turned out to be magical years.

While I’d begun to gel with the maturing Seattle tech community through events like Seattle Mind Camp 1, I also landed a 50% remote / 50% commute to Stanford gig designing and building online learning systems for the MDs / RNs of Stanford Children’s Hospital.

There’s nothing like a 1.5 year hard stop consulting gig in a remote city to kick your local networking plan in the ass.

So I bought a bunch more video gear, started showing up to as many local tech events I could, and relentlessly repeated, “That’s really cool, can I help you put video of that on the web? Have you heard of this thing called YouTube, I think it might be important.”

As they say, some advice never gets old – eventually I met Brady Forrest in late 2006 and began producing all the videos for Ignite Seattle that helped spread the event worldwide.

This pattern repeated itself until I found myself being the guy who knows about 10% more about web video than other folks.

I’d grab coffee at least once a week to share how I was hacking together interesting things with little to no budget – what started with miniDV SD cams, eventually led to HD editing (and file management!), recording straight to disk, streaming, and editing multiple camera streams on the fly.

Oh, the places you’ll Sundance!

In the summer of 2009, my friend Jason Preston and I started talking about streaming a Twitter conference he was producing in Los Angeles.

I’d just begun hearing about ways to live mix multiple cameras via Mac laptops with some affordable software packages that were emerging.

This was interesting to me for two reasons:

  1. I was spending way too much of my weekends editing the volunteer project video than playing with my kids. If I could do the editing in realtime, it meant I could reduce the workload by nearly 50%.
  1. It was also the first time I clearly saw how those ESPN multi-million dollar broadcast semi-trucks would eventually fit in the back of a Prius and cost a helluva lot less.

As one thing led to another, Jen and I eventually found ourselves streaming that conference in LA along with the next one at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010.

At Sundance we did nutty stuff – like hack a wireless mic into an iPhone, mount it all on a monopod, then stream wireless video interviews from the street.

The one with Bob Saget was particularly funny as much larger more expensive camera crews began filming Jen filming Bob because they couldn’t believe we were live broadcasting with that rig.

Here’s a clip of that where Saget notes his initials are BS, which also happen to be the initials of this studio – coincidence? Oh, and then Geordi from Star Trek beamed in. You can’t make it up folks.

It takes a Wygle

Like I was saying, through all these fun side projects, Jen and I had a hunch that I might be able to make a living doing video production full time if I had to – but it was more of a hunch than a business plan.

Luckily, in January 2011, I’d invited my recently laid off pal Adam Wygle to hang out at pinch/zoom to learn the multi-cam production workflow as we prototyped a mobile design / development show called The Context.

Wygle started doing my side video projects with me and we discovered he had a real knack for it – so much so that when I got laid off in July that year, and he was still laid off, we decided to combine laid off forces – with him leading production and me leading biz dev.

Right after I talked to Jen while at the bus stop in Fremont, I called my friend Andy Sack who invited Wygle and I into some space at Founder’s Co-op in South Lake Union where we could figure out what the hell we were doing.

That is the day Bootstrapper Studios was born, and it’s been amazing to see Wygle grow from a green entrepreneur into a business leader who now sherpas multiple projects, clients, and crews safely up and down mountains.

From $3.1 million in Kickstarter campaigns to reinventing sports broadcasting in less than three years

The month we hung out our shingle, we had enough projects to not only buy our kids shoes, but to also use video in ways we never imagined – ways that reinvented how people reshape the world around them.

To date we’ve:

  1. Produced 5 Kickstarter Videos for campaigns that have grossed over $3.1 million combined. At the time the Shadowrun Returns campaign closed, it was the third highest grossing Kickstarter Campaign of all time.
  2. Reinvented sports broadcasting with our coverage of the Seattle Reign FC women’s soccer team’s inaugural 2013 season. We built such a rapport with Reign FC and National Women’s Soccer League fans, that they actively promoted our production team, even when we were not broadcasting.

 

  1. Raised over $36k with a completely different tack to community storytelling / branding / PR with our successfully funded We Make Seattle Kickstarter project (currently under production).
  1. Helped propel #HowSeattleRiots into a city defining meme. Wygle’s “you riot, no you riot…” tweet has been one of the most visible in the thread, with 265 retweets and 195 favorites as of this posting:

 

  1. And created hundreds of other event videos and product demos for companies around the world.

It’s humbling to have had the community support us to the point of closing out 2013 with a total annual gross revenue of $409,594, a full time team of 3.5 people, and having helped dozens of talented production contractors also pay their bills while practicing their gifts in the city they love.

Going from $0 in July 2011 to over $400k in the middle of a global economic meltdown has been a stupefying crazy journey – and we’re pretty sure it’s only the beginning.

So what’s next? Wygle is helming Bootstrapper and I’m joining UP Global.

With the awesome job Wygle and our core team of project manager Adam Baggett and producer Maurice Morales have been doing, Bootstrapper Studios has needed my hands on attention less and less over the last six months.

With Wygle at the helm and the Bootstrapper team flying fine without me, I’ve been exploring a lot of interesting next things, and today I’m pleased to announce what’s next for me.

As of this week, I’m joining UP Global (which many know of through their Startup Weekend program) as Technical Project Manager.

Since meeting UP CEO Marc Nager at Gnomedex 2009, I’ve been super impressed with what he and the team have done to infect people around the world with the actionable possibilities of becoming entrepreneurs (Startup Weekend Tehran anyone?).

I’m excited to begin working with Dave Parker, UP vp of Product, Technical Director David Pierce, and Brand Director Mike Mates to build out products / tools that accelerate and scale the amazing work UP is up to.

I’ll remain an advisor to Bootstrapper Studios and What Now? Exactly!, and want to thank everyone who’s helped us along the way – I’m excited for the next chapter of this already amazing story.

I leave you in the steady, weathered hands of the current Sherpas at Bootstrapper Studios.

Shalom. May the deep peace that reconciles all things be upon us all.

What Do Macklemore, the Seahawks and #HowSeattleRiots do to Seattle’s Brand?

Between the Grammy win by Macklemore and Seahawks winning the Super Bowl — Seattle got a megawatt spotlight in 7 days. Join branding experts Jen Zug of What Now? Exactly!, Bryan Zug and Adam Wygle of Bootstrapper Studios, journalists Monica Guzman and Taylor Soper, and blogger Sally James to ask: What difference might these last few weeks make to this city?

Also, what does the trending Twitter topic #HowSeattleRiots say about how we view ourselves and how the rest of the world views us?

 

Jujitsu-ing the Pain of Disappointing Yourself to Become a Kick-ass Creative (a remix of Ira Glass by Daniel Sax)

The video starts with just simple text, “For Everyone in doubt.”

A few seconds later, “Including myself” slowly fades in.

Take a couple minutes and watch, then we’ll discuss.

THE GAP by Ira Glass from frohlocke on Vimeo.

Like Ira says, every creative needs to be told that they have good taste, but, when we first start, what we’re making is probably not that good. And that’s just fine. You’re doing this because you like beauty and you want to see more beauty in the world.

But, that pain, the pain of disappointing yourself, is what helps you to grow your skill. Keep putting shit out there. Keep making videos, keep writing, keep drawing. Whatever it is, keep going.

There are many ways you can improve. One of the big ways is following our very own Zug’s Laws to Creative Feedback. (Yeah, that was a cheap plug for our own content, what’re ya gonna do?)

Sometimes in the necessary rush of making and shipping things, it’s easy to take “it’s not there yet” feedback the wrong way – which is a very effective way to poison a project or a team.

Thanks Daniel for making this. As one video guy to another, I truly hope this keeps you going (I know it’s helped our team) and gets you more work. Good job.

You can watch the whole Ira Glass talk in four parts over at this handy-dandy playlist we put together.

Also, take a look at Kirby Ferguson’s Everything is a Remix series. Daniel’s use of Ira’s talk was a great example of how to remix and repurpose in a compelling format.

Video Hacks in the Ferocious Age of Publish, Publish, Publish

I gave this talk at Pipleline Deals event: Growth Hacking 2014.

After an impromptu demonstration of how to put a mic on I launched into my talk:

Before getting to the video hacks, let’s get the stats behind video out the way up front.

Video is reported to triple site traffic, double visitor’s time on your site, and increase the organic traffic you see by more than 150% (sources: SoMedia and Impact Branding & Design).

Video also increases conversions on site; some studies suggest a video increases a client’s likelihood of buying by 85% (source: SoMedia).

It is estimated that by 2017 66% of mobile data traffic will be video (source: Cisco).

In Dec 2013, Google (YouTube) had 159.1 M unique visitors and 13.4 B videos viewed by them for an average of 6 hours. For that same time period Facebook had 79 M unique visitors and 3.7 B videos for an average engagement of 50 minutes (source: comScore).

Wonderful … but how does that relate to my business?

Your customers are consuming more and more video every day. And they are looking for it. They expect video content.

So, how can you respond to their video expectations?

  1. Ignore – Focus on your business and don’t worry about video.

  2. Delay – Put video off until you have time and money to do video really well.

  3. Engage – Feed the content beast with video. Create video with the resources you have at your disposal.

We all have phones or computers that can capture high quality video footage. Use these tools you already have to start prototyping video content without sinking additional capital into video resources.

Start by identifying the areas of your business that could use video. Do you have something that you or someone in your organization constantly repeats? Or is there someone who has a ton of valuable knowledge who will never take the time to write it down? These are the perfect things to record and deploy internally or externally depending on the content.

Do the same thing with client testimonials. Select your top clients and show their testimonial rather than write about it on your website. These don’t have to be long and shouldn’t be. Aim for 5-15 seconds. The client doesn’t even need to come to you. Just have them record with their phone or computer and send it to you.

Product updates are also prime candidates for video. Use your webcam to record someone explaining the changes that you’ve made. Then put that resource in a place your clients can easily access.

Adopting video for your business requires you to make it part of your workflow. To do this you need to set aside a couple hours a week to devote to it. Have someone in charge of video. They determine who or what is being recorded, why they’re being recorded, and schedule the session with them. Then record with your phone or webcam and publish it. Someone who has done this well is Rand Fishkin with his Whiteboard Fridays at Moz.

Something you might not have, but should seriously consider adding to your arsenal to make the transition to video easier is good, reliable screencasting software. A couple good options are:

  1. Screenflow – It has a free version to play with, but it puts a watermark on any video you export with it. The paid version is only $100 and doesn’t have the watermark on export. For that reason alone,  I would go with the paid version. Screenflow is great because of the cost and because it is easy to use. Its also PC and Mac friendly.

  2. Camtasia - Provides a free 30 day trial with video tutorials to help you learn their product. It retails for $299. It is also a good solution, but it is more for the expert.

Reflector is a cool, new $13 app that allows you to mirror your iOS device to your computer. So you can use it in conjunction with Screenflow to create an app demo. Run your app on your phone or iPad and use Reflector to send to your computer with Screenflow and use Screenflow to capture that demo. Then just export and upload.

Another neat thing you can do is use your iPad like a whiteboard with a drawing app like Paper. Just record with Reflector and Screenflow and publish.

Transcribing your videos is also a great practice you can adopt. It gives clients a second method of ingesting the information and helps people find your content. NPR does this really well. A couple resources for this are Speech Pad and Mechanical Turk.

After you’ve created videos and published them you can start A/B testing. Our sister company, What Now? Exactly!, is an animation studio and currently has a project in the A/B testing phase to determine if the anthropomorphic or non-anthropomorphic stills get more interaction on their client’s website. I personally prefer the anthropomorphic one.

A simple way to employ A/B testing with video is to use Wistia. Wistia is similar to YouTube, but it is a paid service. You upload your videos and then let the data show you which one generates a higher playrate.

I want to leave you with a few tips to get going:

  1. Avoid standing in front of lights or windows. This will eliminate silhouettes in your video.

  2. Don’t worry about audio just yet. If you’re using your iPhone, it’ll get you where you need to be while prototyping.

  3. Use your team. There is no need to go out and hire an actor or a full film crew (just yet, at some point you’ll want to, but again, this is just to get you going to find out what has traction).

  4. Have a diverse video offering. Meaning don’t just have explanations of your product also show the development of new products or office shenanigans or creative ways to use your product.

  5. Prototype rapidly to figure out what works for you and your clients.

  6. Connect with your clients and build community around your brand

  7. Set realistic expectations. You’re not going to have a viral video out of the gate.

  8. Be original!

You can find dozens of other tips and tricks out there to help you as you explore video creation.

 

$1,000,000 For 57 Hours of Work

Being a computer programmer, you’re not like a star football player, you’re not a star basketball player, you’re not a super model — it’s work that often goes under appreciated. I think it’s really cool that Salesforce put a $1,000,000 prize up, because that proves to people that it’s not just something nerdy people do, you can have fun and hopefully [it] helps push computer programming as more mainstream and less on the fringe.

– Tom Ortega (at 11:40)

One week before Dreamforce 2013 started, Tom Ortega called us to help  make a demo video of the app they were building at the 57 hour long hackathon.

While we were talking, we decided that it’d be better to have us go with Omega Ortega and document the entire process.

What you see here is the final outcome. It was a great week full of great food, laughter and coding.

zug’s laws of creative feedback

I’ve been doing creative work as my core livelihood since 1994, which is like 198 internet years (1 temporal year = 11 internet years, because everyone knows the internet turns things up to 11).

In doing creative work, I give and receive a ton of feedback.

Sometimes in the necessary rush of making and shipping things, it’s easy to take “it’s not there yet” feedback the wrong way – which is a very effective way to poison a project or a team.

This morning I started writing down some important touchpoints to keep in mind when having these sorts of conversations.

Without further ado, I give you a shitty first draft of…

Zug’s laws of creative feedback

1) Making things people love is hard.

2) When we work to make things together, you will hear a lot of “it’s not there yet” from me.

3) “It’s not there yet” is NOT code for “you suck + should be fired + never allowed to procreate”

4) It is not possible for me to say “it’s not there yet” out of anything other than deep gratitude – that you’ve chosen the ass kicking work of birthing “awesome” into the universe is humbling.

Embedding videos without default YouTube branding and chrome

There are a few different ways to embed YouTube videos without the default Youtube branding on a video. These examples are taken from these articles over at ReelSEO

Example 1:

  • No Title Bar
  • YouTube branding shows in the player, on hover only, after video has started.
  • No related videos at end

<iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/4qoam6DqVG4?hd=1&rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0" frameborder="0" width="500" height="280"></iframe>

Example 2:

  • Title Bar visible
  • YouTube branding shows in the player, on hover only, after video has started.
  • No related videos at end

<iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/4qoam6DqVG4?hd=1&rel=0&autohide=1&title=" frameborder="0" width="500" height="280"></iframe>

Example 3:

  • Title Bar visible, with YouTube text in title bar, on hover only, before playing
  • No branding in the player, on hover, after video has started
  • No related videos at end

<iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/4qoam6DqVG4?modestbranding=1&rel=0&title=&autohide=1&wmode=transparent&hd=1" frameborder="0" width="500" height="280"></iframe>

Jaremy Rich (Seattle Curator, Startup Digest) at Startup BBQ 2011

We had a great time chatting with Jaremy Rich, Seattle Curator for Startup Digest, in this interview at the 2nd Annual Startup BBQ at Gasworks park in Seattle last Monday night.

We talk about being refugees in Seattle and the fun geek events Startup Digest is tracking.