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You can buy the DJI Osmo 4K Action Cam for $299 shipped. Normally selling for $349, today’s price cut is the first time it’s gone on sale. Armed with the ability to record all your adventures in 4K60, DJI Osmo sports a rugged, waterproof design as well. While there’s a 2-inch touchscreen on the back, you’ll also find a front-facing display for lining up shots and ensuring all the action is in the frame. Other standout features here include slow motion and timelapse capture, as well as the ability to customize exposure settings and more. Rated 4.4/5 stars .ok.
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I’ve said it before: the most important component of a high quality video story is the audio. Note the use of the word story: YouTube ramblings, addresses from the marketing director, and explainers don’t count– their audio is the person speaking or explaining and music may be a distraction.
I didn’t come to this conclusion without practical experience. I first started in the business doing “twin dissolve slide shows” for business and arts groups. a twin dissolve slide show is compressed of two Kodak Carousel slide projectors, a “dissolver box” connected to the two projectors, and a tape recorder with the soundtrack and a cable to the dissolve box telling it when to advance slides. Going from one slide to the next involved a special effect: a dissolve or fade from one slide to the next, so there was never a blank screen. The net effect was cohesive, whole sight and sound show, the less expensive version of an industrial film.
The cable between the dissolver box and tape recorder was used to record “pulses” on a separate audio rack which triggered the slide advance and dissolve effect.
Script-> Shooting-> Soundtrack-> Editing.
This was our production path, and any video producer will tell you this is wrong. Editing is a dance between audio and video, and the editor needs to play with both elements to create a well-paced, engaging end result.
But our challenge was the slides part. Slides and audio were necessarily edited separately, usually by two different people. You could lay out the show on light tables as per the script, but you wouldn’t know exactly how to time and pace the show until there was a soundtrack to tell you how long a sequence would be, whether the pace was slow or fast, emotional or humorous, etc. So the soundtrack preceded the final edit, placing the slides in the slide trays, and “pulsing” the show. In other words, it was providing the majority of the editing decisions simply by being first.
Even when we moved into video, we kept this as our editing model.Budget video editing in the early days was cuts only from one 3/4″ deck to another. The soundtrack was created first and then laid onto the audio tracks on the videotape to act as an editing guide. It wasn’t until “non-linear editing” on a computer appeared that a single individual could edit both audio and video with an array of both audio and video transitions and effects. (Large video “post production houses” had this capability somewhat earlier).
Lesson Learned: Audio Drives the Pace and Emotion of the Project
Our books The VideoBiz and How to Create Tribute Videos both have extensive sections on audio production and may be a help to you. They’re available in Kindle and Paperback. Check out this blog’s past entries for more thoughts on audio as well.
A weak soundtrack will bore audiences, causing them to disengage, start coughing, shimmy in their seats, and slow the perceived passage of time. Which means you will have failed your client. Which means you’ve put your job or your company in peril. And you’ve made your direct client look bad.
We’re all getting older, passing milestones on our way. Anniversaries, weddings, birthdays, retirements, awards and more cn all pass in what seems like a moment. And then, it’s too late. Uncle Johnny was an important part of the family. Mary was the backbone of accounting. Grandma knew so much about the family, from Ellis Island to living through war and peace. As Dean Martin sang, “Memories are Made of This”.
Of course, there are boxes full of photos, and cabinets full of videotapes or films, and plenty of newspaper clippings– wouldn’t it be nice to pay tribute to Aunt Winnie while she’s still with us? That company founder that’s retiring– doesn’t he deserve a “Tribute”?
Tribute Videos: The Secrets to Doing Them Right
The art of producing a good tribute video informed my professional video path for forty years. There is simply nothing more satisfying creating a tribute and then seeing and hearing the tears and cheers from the people who know and love the person you’re honoring.
That’s why I wrote this book. You’ve got a camera or camcorder. You’ve got a computer. You’re halfway there to producing your own tribute! This book is chock full of technical tips and creative techniques that will help you develop your talents as a storyteller and place them within the confines of an outstanding tribute video. It gives you all the sources and resources you need, downloadable video and music to recommendation for equipping a small studio to do your work. Skip the silent slideshow that runs in the background at the honoree’s dinner– turn it into a video that everyone will want to have.
As an author on the Amazon platform, I’m given the opportunity to offer my books for free for 5 days a year. It’s a marketing ploy– develop word of mouth and hopefully get some nice reviews. But nonetheless my Kindle version of the book– which sells for $3.49– is free from August 3rd to August 7th. By downloading the book during this period, you’re helping me, and maybe you’ll be helping yourself as well.
And if you love it, say so. Tell your friends. Write review. Let me know what you liked, and what can be improved. Here’s the location for the freebie– click here! On August 3rd through 7th, of course, all though you’re welcome to preview the book on Amazon right now.
If you’ve produced a few tribute, legacy, or memorial videos by now, you know what your clients want: lots of pictures and videos accompanied by their favorite music. Music is the soundtrack of their lives, and they want to hear their soundtrack to match the various periods in their lives, be it the Beatles, Herbie Hancock, or Ella Fitzgerald.
In the privacy of your own home, or that of you’re client, that’s not a big deal. But if you’re making real money for your services, working for a major corporation, showing the Tribute at Carnegie Hall, or– putting it online, there will be the possibility of major problems. This may wake up the copyright “police”, and Dad’s Favorite 50’s tune may have to find it’s way to the cut-out pile.
What I want to deal with here is the online use of copyrighted music, which dominates many tribute videos.
The Dirty Little Secret of the Home Market Producer
It’s easy to find public domain footage to help start off a period section of a tribute or wedding or retirement video, but almost impossible to set the tone for an era with copyright-free period music. Over the years, Congress has extended copyright protections to the point that those protections will outlive the lives of authors and performers. Radio stations pay an agreed on statutory rate for using pop music, even as the very use promotes that same musc. TV uses pop songs, but they sometimes disappear when the DVD or streaming versions are released, simply because home market rates are higher than broadcast rates.
When my brother Dennis and I started our Tribute business in the nineties, we involved a composer to build us a suite a music we could use for the tributes we produced. We knew about copyright, and wanted to set a higher standard with our emotional orchestral music to set scenes, as opposed to “Small Town” by Mellencamp, “Jersey Girl” by Springsteen, or “These are Days” by 10,000 Maniacs (notwithstanding the fact that these are all excellent choices).
Well, that didn’t last long. If a client producing a 50th birthday video for Uncle Don wanted to use Don’s favorite Sinatra tune, well, dammit, that was the client’s choice, and the client is always right– if you want to get paid.
In the short run, it was a risk we had to take– after all the audience for these tribute videos may be only 5, 10, or even just 100 people. But then this online thing came along, and tribute and wedding video producers were eager to put their work online, both for promotional reasons and as a nice add-on for their clients. After all, 90-year-old Aunt Judy in Seattle might not be able to make it to the engagement party in Maine.
Enter YouTube, Exit the Wild West
In the early days of the Internet, on-line video was difficult. It involved proprietary compression schemes to get around the slow bandwidth rates. Chances are the producer would compress the video, post it, and require the viewer to download the right codec (like Flash or Windows Media, RealMedia or Quicktime) to play it backed. Kludgy, but it worked, if you could put up with video no larger than an eighth of a screen.
Then along came YouTube. YouTube did not arrive fully grown. It had its limitations, and was happy if you were uploadingm no matter what the content. But as YouTube grew, things slowly changed, and when it was purchased by Google, well look out. The quality and playback capability slowly improved, and the gold rush was on.
YouTube had competitors, with the two remaining today for consumers being DailyMotion (free) and Vimeo (subscription for the producer). We’ll leave Twitch out of this for the moment).
By the md-2000’s, all of these platforms were aware of copyright and warned uploaders about the legalities of same. But in the last decade, all of them had installed sophisticated algorithms to detect primarily audio copyright infringement, and agreements with various large corporate owners to automatically stake claims to copyright upon upload. Yes, that fast.
These sample videos include copywritten music. In the case of the business videos, all music is paid for because it was carefully selected “Library Music” for which we paid for the right to use in the video. In the case of the tributes, it was a mux of library music and pop tunes. Recently, after seeing how YouTube reacted to this music, I decided to look ito DailyMotion’s and Vimeo’s reaction as well. Here are the results:
YouTube has the most thorough tools to seek out copyright issues, but is also somewhat lenient (at a potential cost to you).
YouTube’s arrangement with copyright holders allows the owner of the copyright to determine the penalty for using their music. In many cases, they will allow it, as long as they can monetize your video instead of you. (Monetization– getting a cut of the ad revenue generated by your video only kicks in when you have 1000 subscribers.) So the penalty is that your video cannot be monetized and is instead monetized by the copyright holder or holders. HOWEVER, some copyright holders with a more stringent view will block your video from being shown in the markets for which it has the copyright (in most cases, the United States). This cuts out your primary viewers so you might as well take the video down. This happened for me in a Tribute Video for a client in which a romantic section used Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight”. It was the couple’s favorite song.
YouTube gives you the option of automatically substituting the offending song with music you choose from their free library. This is good, if generic, music and will allow your video to be shown. It’s a decision you’ll have to make: Does the meaing of the section disappear without the copyrighted material, or will the pictures running over the new music suffice?
Clearly Daily Motion is an “All or Nothing at All” situation. If they find ANYTHING offending, the simply kill the video. They don’t let you know what songs have been flagged, and have no means of automatic substitution. It’s up to you to make the substitutions in your video editor and try again.
Despite clear copyright warnings, Vimeo, which charges $12 / month for its service, did not automatically flag videos which YouTube and DailyMotion bounced. Whether they simply expect you to act in good faith, or whether they do manual reviews or rely on viewers to report infringement is unknown, at least to me. The above video, for which I had to use substitutions in order to make it available on YouTube, is residing on Vimeo in its original form.
I have read (but not tested) that live streams are far more lenient on copyright issues, but once you post those live streams as regular videos, they do get flagged.
Facebook does have a stringent copyright policy but is somewhat lazy in the way it enforces it. When I attempted to upload one of the above videos, it called out a single instance of song rejection, told me to make a substitution manually, and resubmit. I did, and then it found another single instance of an offending song. This went on one-by-one until I realized it was never going to end, and didn’t end up posting the video.
This article does attempt to offer real legal advice. It is only anecdotal in nature and your mileage may vary. It does not condone or recommend copyright infringement in any form.
It joins “The VideoBiz” book in my attempt to share my knowledge gained in 40 plus years of slide, multimedia, meeting, and Interactive production.
Tributes are where I got my start, producing a tribute for my father’s 50th birthday, the College of Journalism Dean’s retirement, a class graduation, and my sister’s engagement party. All were celebrations of people. Despite a life of producing new product intro’s, training tapes, corporate overviews, rah-rah rally-the-troops rousers, and major meetings with actors and flying vacuum cleaners, I always loved tributes the best. And we did them for the corporate world: retirements, award biographies, military ceremonies, memorials, and more.
I learned over the years that I had developed (in my head) a set of rules for producing good tributes. I communicated them over the years to many of my writers and producers. So years ago, I took a first stab at writing a book about tribute video productions.
But things have changed, technologically and generationally. And I now have much more time to build out the book I’d really want to share with people. Except now, it’s freelancers, video enthusiasts, or anyone who suddenly has to produce a tribute and doesn’t know where to start.
This book covers it all:
Theory of the personal story
Equipment, from soup to nuts (with an emphasis on saving money)
Acquiring and inputting assets for your story (photos, movies, clippings, interviews)
The art of building a story
The sequences you can follow to guarantee success
Public Domain photo, video and music resources
Sample of successful tribute productions
Web resources for additional learning, equipment purchases, even software
And that’s just off the top of my head (well, at least there’s something at the top of my head!)
I’m also building a home for tutorials and sample tributes at http://www.tributevideobook.com. There you will find samples of tribute videos, links to resources, and of course, more about the book.