Apr 15

I’ve just invented the teaser-teaser

Millions of views for the teaser trailer — which was an event itself today, because modern society is a quirky place. Millions of views. And most people were probably pleased:

And why not? That’s pretty intriguing.

There’s a subset of Star Wars fans who, for years and years, have been re-cutting even the original films and making their own stories. Some of them are supposedly big departures and markedly better than Lucas’ 1970s vision — where Greedo shot second. I am not one of those people. I don’t even own any version of the movies. But, like you, I probably know them all too well in general. So while I don’t cut video, I did see one thing above that I would do differently. But then I had this sudden realization.

Sure, that’s getting millions of views. It is a 1:45 tour de promotion. Culture phenomenon behind it, Disney’s marketing monster behind that. No record is safe. And YouTube is very pleased with the commercials they’ll have floating around that commercial — because modern society is a quirky place and, if you are smart, you can make money advertising off of someone else’s commercial. The Star Wars people are happy, too, particularly if they have entered into any promotional-financial deal with YouTube.

But, in our modern media world, shouldn’t we think beyond the traditional big screen presentation? Shouldn’t we think beyond the video hosting format? That link is getting passed around like a water bucket at a town hall fire today, but that’s just the link. Why wouldn’t you want to promote your product in other ways in other places?

This requires a few obvious changes. First, since your audience is here, there and everywhere, you need to be everywhere. The problem is every platform supports different sizes, run times, loops, etc. So, for a case like a movie promo, you’ll have to change your editorial stride. You have to get the pertinent information out there and, of course, making viewers want to show up to see your finished product.

(What follows is intended purely as a Fair Use educational exercise.)

Let me give it a try. Twitter these days supports a 30-second video embedded right in the tweet. So here you have the luxury of a lot of time in our hyper-mediated world:

After the obvious and necessary trimming required for this marketing/storytelling/promotional exercise, I made one obvious change to the cut. (Personal preference.) I’ll only do it one more time, in a smaller way oriented more toward production than editorializing.

Now, Twitter is generous and gives you 30 seconds, but Instagram only gives you 15. Also, the square format would require some changes on the production end. That, right away, makes Instagram’s video feature outdated in my book. Anyway, here’s the necessarily shorter demonstration promo:

A video posted by Kenny Smith (@kennydsmith) on

Finally, we come to Vine. The famous six-second video and the urgency of now, now. And don’t forget, it loops. Now I got lucky. Just watching that teaser with the idea of looking for a quick glimpse-clip you realize you’ve got a ton of iconic choices. A Vine ad might work better for this film rather than next month’s Aloha, a romantic comedy or June’s Big Game, an action film starring Samuel L. Jackson. But for this project, for this movie, this clip works well.

Yes, I know there’s a music mixing issue here. I’m only working with the produced material, of course. (And with hasty editing.)

The one thing missing is the MPAA announcement. But otherwise, this is an idea with legs; an idea whose time has come.

You have some audience overlap, sure, but you have different people on these different platforms throughout the day. And they consume products differently in each format. We must prepare our products accordingly, which is to say differently in each. Do it well then you can use social media’s true muscle, passing along information at the speed of light. Keep dropping in those links to the home-base trailer. Drive the audience to YouTube or Hulu. Watch people come in from Twitter and Instagram and Vine or wherever they were. It doesn’t matter where they were before. Now they’re watching a ship speed across the desert, an X-wing fighter skimming the water, that one guy who we don’t know yet, explosions, light sabers … and I’ve just invented the teaser-teaser.

Apr 15

Wednesdays move swiftly

Another Wednesday, another full day. Class stuff in the morning, lunch, and then a class, which is immediately followed by another class. And then advertising phone calls and emails and faxes. (That’s how we upload.)

Then comes a few minutes to catch up on news and then student meetings. That’s followed closely by the newspaper critique, pictured below:



They are a swell group. Sharp, engaging, witheringly funny. They’re doing good journalism, too. If you need some promising young reporters, it turns out I know a few.

I saw this late last night and wanted to share it here today. If you’re an Auburn person, or a sports fan, you likely knew that Philip Lutzenkirchen died last year. I met him three or four times. (I don’t hang out with those guys or chase them down, but small town, BMOC and all that.) He was smart, handsome, talented, a nice fellow, well liked, respected by his peers and his fans. I wrote one of the first things about him, along those lines, after he died.

His profs liked him too, as a person and a student. (One of The Yankee’s colleagues wrote a nice piece about him, too.) Lutzie was coaching at a high school and looking forward to his next chapter when he died. A stupid, dumb tragedy that killed two boys, one a promising young man in college at Georgia and his friend, a guy just out of Auburn and a kid himself.

From that, though, comes this, which is one of the more courageous things I can imagine. His father spoke at that first hometown memorial. And he’s taken this on as a mission. Within just a few weeks of losing his oldest kid he was in locker rooms talking to high schoolers and college students. I saw him pick a kid out of the crowd, talk to him for a few moments and then send him out of the room. “And just like that, he can be gone.” Mike Lutzenkirchen sharing a raw, real, candid kind of message because, he figures, he’s filling the hole.

So here he’s talking to a room of high school athletes this week. It’s beautiful and hard and real. And kids should hear it, bad as it is for anyone to have to speak it from their own terrible personal experience.

And far be for it me to tell Mr. Lutzenkirchen how to tell his family’s story, he mentions the prom example in that speech, but he undersold it. From the Department of The Kids are Alright, comes perhaps the sweetest story you’ll find today.

And since we are at the anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, check out this cool slideshow from CNN.

Apr 15

Notes from the third floor

The work on the campus cafeteria continues. The short version is they are renovating. And part of that renovation has involved gutting the center of the large room. So they had to erect an interior room, keeping the dust in and the food out. They built a dirty room, basically. They put in plexiglass windows so you can peer in and check out their work. I’m not sure if I’ve seen a lot of students doing that, but it is interesting to see what is happening inside on a weekly basis or so. On the outside, murals and other sanctioned graffiti are going up. Here’s some Seuss:


I didn’t know there was such a thing as a drywall truck, but it makes sense if you think about it. Problem is, I never have. Nevertheless, here you go:


Work, work, work. But it never seems enough, or finished. Hopefully it is good, at least.

I got in a fast 2,000 yards at the pool. Fast for me, that is. I was very pleased with myself because it took much less time in the aggregate. Let’s call that progress.

Pizza for dinner, a nice story involving a police officer around midday:

“I immediately started ripping apart the sink and the pipes. If you can only imagine losing your wedding ring – you can do anything with the adrenalin going through your body.”

The next thing she knew, other restaurant patrons joined her in the restroom. At one point, at least six people were in the bathroom trying to find the ring – in addition to those who just had to answer nature’s call.

They not only drew a crowd, they caught the attention of Hendrix who works an extra job at Al’s. Someone asked the kitchen staff for a long utensil, and Hendrix got curious. “The cop was like, ‘What the heck is going on?” Shannon said.


Hendrix may have sent Shannon on her way, but he certainly didn’t give up. He, along with the restaurant manager, called someone they thought could help. It was a small miracle, Hendrix said, when the trio heard the ring jingling somewhere deep down in the pipes.

But the officer’s work had only just begun. He didn’t know Shannon’s name, or the names of her friends. That’s when the detective work started.

One last thing, the man was an Alabama-native and a legend, and I thought he might live forever (mostly because, in my mind, he’s been about 70 for 25 years). But Percy Sledge’s passing should prompt you to check out at least a few of his live performances. The man was an incredible performer:

I saw him at a festival years ago, mostly because I remember a high school teacher of mine told me about the time she saw him in a blues bar in Mobile. He was singing that signature song, she said, and he did the chorus, “When a man loves a woman” 56 times. Always wanted to see something like that.

Apr 15

Things to read

Copeland Cookie Day in my Storytelling class:


There’s a great vintage photo at the bottom of the post. First, here are a bunch of great links for you to check out, some of them neatly arranged by category.

Social media platform pieces:

Snapchat is building a research team to do deep learning on images, videos
How college students use Snapchat
Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015
What USA Today learned covering the Final Four on Periscope and Snapchat
The most concerning element of Facebook’s potential new power

Next is the section for those here for journalism matters. But first, this, from our editor-in-chief:

I had her in a freshman class and you could tell, even then, how sharp and squared away she was. In the years since, she’s just begun to realize her great potential. It has been great fun to watch. (And, to her mother, I offer my joking apology and sincere congratulations.)

Some great pieces of a journalism nature:

Tips to make you a better storyteller
Washington Post Exec. Editor on journalism’s transition from print to digital
USA Today’s David Callaway on gaming the news
How smartphone video changes coverage of police abuse
Editor column: A reminder of journalism’s power to do the right thing
News media’s sloppy week: Column
Free Tools To Exploit Free Data
2014 IRE Award winners

And a few sign-of-the-time links:

LinkedIn, Lynda.com and the Skills You’ll Need for Your Next Job
In-Store Mobile Shopping: 61% Compare Prices, 52% Use Shopping Lists, 49% Take Product Photos

You might have seen her on ESPN, or if you’ve been in any of my classes or just like a great story, but the women’s college basketball player that captured our imagination last year has died. The local CBS affiliate produced a beautiful obit, which, really, was about how she lived: Lauren Hill (1995-2015). A beautiful young woman, a young life, well-lived, but far too briefly.

If you’re looking for something charming, Moxie is a therapy dog with a GoPro.

I’m just going to leave this headline right here and let it do the rest: Reduced sentence for 3-year-old girl’s rapist sparks outrage.

Changes coming to state policies on industrial recruitment … Old incentives brought big wins, but also big losses to Alabama.

We’d like to thank the state of New York for creating an environment that prompted Remington to move south … Huntsville led state in 2014 job creation

A strange twist to the tale of that $800,000 painting ‘Antiques Roadshow’ discovered in Birmingham:

The story behind a Mountain Brook businessman’s prized Frederic Remington painting that has been appraised for $600,000 to $800,000 just got even more intriguing.

The director of the Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg, N.Y, said Tuesday that she has discovered the nearly 120-year-old painting of Mountain Brook real-estate executive Ty Dodge’s great-grandfather was obtained by Dodge’s family in a 1938 exchange that left the museum with two forged Remington pieces in return.

You have to pay close attention to that story to follow it — or I did, at least — but it is a great story for those that like museums, family heirlooms, art or misidentified forgeries.

And finally, go Dogs:


Apr 15

Catching up

We traveled. Uber to the airport. Delta from Tampa to Atlanta. A shuttle from the airport to the car. And then the car down the freeway home. All of that so I could take off my suit and then mow the lawn just ahead of the rain. And now this, catching up, with extra photos from the trip.

This is the first of the electronic waiter pagers I’ve seen. It was in the hotel lobby, a place with big palm trees, no apparent ceiling and a pretty decent music selection. I wanted to press one of the buttons to test the response time, but then I would have to order something …

And that would have been silly considering how much of our dining was done during the trip at the Colombia Cafe. It is located in one of the city’s museums, sort of a welcome center location. And above us there was great neon, like this guy:

I wanted to bring the baseball player sign home. The airline said no. Maybe I should have taken the train:

And now some of the great ceramic work adorning the outside of the Colombia, in Ybor City. Fine detail, terrific food. I’d go back again — oh wait! We did!