Family History/Genealogy/ Videos An Emerging Niche Market

Genealogical research is a popular hobby all over the world and the Web has made the research easier, faster and more accessible.  It’s a rewarding process, but hobbyists and professionals can find themselves overwhelmed by the bulk of information gathered, and how best to condense it into a palpable and transferable package.  I’ve been involved in the research of my own family history for nearly 20 years.  I’ve traveled to distant locations to explore the places my ancestors lived, worked and died. On these trips I always take photographs and video, and through the years I’ve compiled a good deal of material.  Of course, the problem becomes, what do you do with this material once you have it?  And how do you share it with family members?

Many people are turning to video professionals such as myself to compile their research into long or short form videos.  The video may take on a documentary look, as if Ken Burns has finally set his sights on your family history with interviews of living family members recounting family lore; or, simply pictures set to music with graphics.  Most valuable are the words and memories of elderly relatives who can recount the early days of their lives.  If these stories aren’t recorded in some fashion, they may be lost with the passage of time.  I know this all too well.  Back in 2000 I scheduled a visit with my 92-year old grandfather in Wheeling, West Virginia to talk to him about his memories of his early life in Ohio and West Virginia.  Sadly, he fell and broke his hip several days before my visit and died a day after the surgery to repair the break.  The memories and stories were lost.

Video is a great way to share and preserve the information that you’ve spent years gathering for this generation and those to come.  If you would like to pursue a video project of this sort, please give me a call.  I would love to help you.  You don’t have to live in the DC area to use my services.  It makes a great gift, too!


Don’t Get Oversold when it comes to Video Production

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What few people looking for video production services know is that it’s easy to get oversold, and pay for crews and equipment that are beyond what is needed for the average online video content project.  There once was a clear distinction between consumer grade cameras and those used by professionals.  The advent of the DSLR video camera really hammered home the blur between equipment deemed professional and amateur.  In the online video world, what’s best isn’t always visible to the naked eye, and streaming video is different that television broadcasting. In the last ten years a near cataclysmic shift in the professional video production world occurred–not just in Washington DC but everywhere.  The average business consumer probably didn’t realize the impact of the change because they were too busy enjoying YouTube video content on their smart phones. YouTube, editing software changes and other technological advances have made high quality video not only attainable but easily distributable on a mass scale for the mainstream.  Whether you are a video production wannabe or a business looking for video content for marketing, a new world opened up.  Long time video professionals who spent tens of thousands of dollars on camera gear were suddenly getting real competition from smaller businesses with the newer, cheaper equipment with a faster digital workflow. As with any business, lower overhead usually leads to lower rates, and that was and is certainly the case with video production.  As you can imagine, long time video professionals, deeply invested in the more expensive gear, weren’t so thrilled by this shift In the end, there’s no gain in paying for that better equipment and more expensive crew if the difference isn’t seen in the end product.  The newer DSLR gear is more than adequate for online use.  If you don’t intend for a video to be broadcast on television, there’s no need to pay for broadcast level equipment and the crew that goes with it.

Let us know what you’ve experienced by completing the poll below.  I’ll share the results in an upcoming entry.

Pawpro Media’s Take on DIY Video for Business

The latest video produced by Pawpro Media is a good example of a business’ use of video, as well as a good example of why there’s a separate time and place for professionally produced video in contrast with do-it-yourself (DIY) content.  The video link below for a top-tier commercial real estate firm, Griffith Properties, LLC, would be hard pressed to produce a video of this quality, which includes animated graphics,  as well as professionally mastered music and voice-over.  The attention to the quality of the video sends as big a message to viewers, as well.   Businesses should care about maintaining a standard.

A self-produced video runs the risk of diminishing the reputation of a professional entity because of poor production quality.  Viewers fail hear the intended message and only notice that the company wasn’t willing spend the time or money to produce a professional looking piece.

As a myriad of industries slowly warm to the idea of providing video content on their websites and social media outlets, some get cold feet when presented with the price tag for a professionally produced segment.  To make matters worse, they fail to contemplate or recognize the cost of repairing their reputation from cheaper, poorly produced and planned media efforts.

So, who can use DIY video, and why?  The successful applications of homespun video have generally come from small entities, non-profits or individuals where the expectations and criteria for judgement is far different from the professional world’s.  And even then, there are plenty of examples of non-profits turning to video professionals and graphic artists to produce videos that look good, sound good, or if nothing else, leave you with a good feeling or call to action with homemade color and composition.  In some cases a video professional might be willing to produce at a lower cost for a good cause.

I have over twenty years of experience in video.  I’ve seen the industry adapt and change with technology.  When I started in the business one inch tape was still the preferred master format and professional editing could only be accomplished in a large editing suite that cost tens of thousands of dollars, which was way beyond the means of small business.  Today,  most online media projects don’t require top-level production, but they do benefit from professional eyes and ears and knowledge of the technology.

If you have a video project and need advice about where to turn to get it started, give me a call.  You tell me what you want to do and I’ll tell you how to get it done–with Pawpro Media, another video professional, or on your own.

Pawpro Takes in DC Cherry Blossoms and Crop of New Video Projects

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A beautiful day in DC today, and the Cherry Blossoms are in peak blossom. The crowds were out early to take in the beautiful scene. There’s always a little jockeying for position involved–especially in the hotspots.  The scene isn’t as majestic as some of the photos might make it seem.

Likewise, Pawpro is enjoying a full bloom of projects. In the hopper I have projects with Griffith Properties, LLC, a Boston-based commercial real estate company, Langley High School’s Girl’s Lacrosse, and RDB Running. April also has Pawpro preparing a stroke prevention and awareness video featuring Dr. Eric Eskioglu of Physicians Regional of Naples, FL. This is a topic near and dear to me since my mother has suffered two strokes.

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Sure pal, that framing works for me!

There is a lot of information and advice online about choosing a media company and whether to go large or small.  My take on it is there’s plenty of room for several levels of video production quality.  There is an entire industry of do-it-yourself (DIY) video production material which is truly effective.  Some video veterans are critical of new media because new technology has made it possible for novices to create high quality material,  perceived as a threat to longtime media experts.   What’s humorous to me is that bad video is now an actual genre.  A, make it bad, so it get’s noticed, approach which is the ultimate contradiction by mainstream media.

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Photographers looking for new angles on Cherry Blossoms

The truth of the matter is that a video professional should always provide good quality audio and video.  If you’re DIY then that’s not necessarily possible because of budget restraints.  The most important thing is the goal.  Marketing is about perceptions, impressions, and sometimes education.  I can show many examples of effective videos that have horrible audio or camera work.  For most business video content, striving for viral success really shouldn’t be the goal, nor the barometer for success.  A video should compliment and coordinate with other marketing efforts, and it should strive for the best video and audio possible.  The best videos are usually well-thought out and planned, not haphazard.  I’ve certainly watched videos and thought, “Shoddy video, shoddy company.”  Might not be true, but that’s the impression communicated.  Conversely, I’ve seen $20,000 videos that could have achieved the same for less.  Similar to house painting, most of the work is in the prep.  The goal of the video should never be compromised by “the plan”.  If it is, then think again.

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Pre-Inaugural DC and POTUS Sighting

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Nearly every Sunday I go for an early morning run in DC.  We start under the Whitehurst Freeway in Georgetown and work our way along the Potomac River up to the Lincoln Memorial, and then down around the reflecting pool which sits between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.  Sometimes, we go all the way down to the Capitol when we are training and need a longer run.

This past Sunday, the day before the Inaugural Parade, we made the trek down the Mall to the Capitol to catch a glance at the preparations for the next day’s events.  It is a special time in DC.  I brought along my camera because I knew if I didn’t I Pawproweb2-3773would regret it.  Sure enough, on my way back home I happened upon the Presidential motorcade with both President Obama and Vice President Biden heading to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, an Inaugural custom.

My first Inaugural experience was in 1977 for Jimmy Carter.  As a ten-year old at the time, it was a miserable experience because it was the second coldest Inaugural.  We waited for hours, literally standing on a block of ice.  I don’t even remember if we saw him, or not.  All I remember is continually looking down at my feet on the ice as I slowly lost all feeling.  I think that was probably the coldest I have ever been.

This day before Obama’s second Inaugural was beautiful, cool and clear.Pawproweb2-3812-2

Anything Is Possible 5K Video Released

Just released!  The 2012 video for Anything Is Possible 5K.  It’s a short, fun run, and lively video.  Tons of PJ fun in this 5K!  Lot’s of smiles and familiar faces putting this together.

Have a great holiday and happy New Year!  If you have any video needs please keep Pawpro Media in mind.

Fall into Pawpro

As the leaves begin to fall here in Washington, D.C., Pawpro is working on several projects.

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Three weeks left in the campaign and I’m putting the final touches on a Presidential Election video.  This pro-Obama video is to be released on YouTube within the next 5 days.

In November, I will resume night owl duty and a video presence for the second running of the Anything Is Possible 5K race, which is a national running event.  It’s held in cities all over the U.S. on the night the clocks turn back.

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This year that night is November 4 at 1:50 AM.  New to this year’s race, participants will receive a pair of PJ pants from Old Navy–while supplies last.  Each participating city provides its own unique after party.

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Pawpro Unveils RAAM stills of Len Forkas/Hopecam Effort

Today I am opening a gallery of photos taken while I followed Len Forkas in the 2012 Race Across America–a 3,000 mile, 12 day bike race.  The social media coverage provided by Pawpro was a substantial part of why Forkas and his non-profit, Hopecam.org was able to raise more than $300,000.

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Pawpro Media footage of Len Forkas compeating in Race Across America (RAAM) in 2012.

These are purely photos which is a distinction from the miles of video I compiled. In almost two weeks on the road, I only dedicated myself to shooting stills for a few hours total because of the priority to get video coverage and the limits on awake time, available wireless signals, editing time, and time being in proximity to Forkas to shoot footage. The collection will grow as I begin to review the video footage and create stills from certain moments of it.

When solo shooting a live event such as this the photographer/videographer must commit to one medium or the other for fear of capturing nothing if caught transitioning. The photographic moments either occur at a painstakingly slow or frustratingly unexpected pace. In sports gab, that means you must be on your toes at all times. If I had it to do again there would be things done differently, and other things that would be impossible to do differently under the same conditions. As an example, as much as I wanted to stay awake for 48 straight hours, sleep a few hours, rinse and repeat, no amount of Red Bull was going to keep me awake beyond a certain point. It was an experience that I will never forget. It took several weeks for my hand to recuperate from constantly holding the camera.

I was going to start this post by drawing the parallels between what was accomplished by Len Forkas and his Race Across America for Hopecam and Diana Nyad’s latest attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida. I was rooting for her, and remember how captured I was by her initial attempt back in the late ’70’s. It was that spirit for adventure that inspired me to join in the excitement of Race Across America. Then word came she had been pulled from the water–beaten by jellyfish, weather and sharks. My initial thought was, “I’m so relieved that there were no jellyfish or sharks to worry about in RAAM!” I don’t think the Hopecam crew would have survived as long as Nyad in such elements. As it happened, we didn’t have a drop of rain in our 11 day crossing of the U.S.

Thankfully, Len Forkas met with success in his endeavor. However, falling short at any extreme adventure comes with a fair amount of pride in having planned and made the attempt, at all. I am of the belief that so few can even claim to have conceived and committed to such outrageous challenges, that to have tried and stopped is no failure in the world of extreme sports. Although, I know that the individuals who commit to these challenges are rarely satisfied just by the attempt.

Untill the next adventure!