May 15

Travel day


I watched Unbroken today:

And I watched The Wedding Ringer:

That’s the one where the guy, fresh off meeting Hitch and hiring Adam Sandler to sing at the big event, hires Kevin Hart to be his best man. Brilliant!

Also, watched The Judge, which really doesn’t have anything to do with any of these others, but is a nice film when you’re in the mood for a good story that doesn’t need explosions:

Oh, also, we’re in London. Two weeks here and then on to another adventure. So there’s going to be a lot of pictures here over the next several days, probably.

And now, to deal with the jet lag.

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.

Oct 14


Sometimes you spend all day in your office, doing office things. Sometimes you do office things and it doesn’t even seem like you’ve done office things. But, then, sometimes, you spend all day doing office things, questioning your progress on doing those things and then walk outside at just the right time.


And that, as they say, is its own reward.

My other reward was veggies.


Things to read … because reading makes us big and strong.

(That’s what you’ve been told your entire life, anyway.)

Help for victims of sex trafficking: priest Becca Stevens wants Birmingham to do more

This will stick with you, How to Spot a Trafficking Victim at an Airport

Here’s the trailer for American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper, detailing the nation’s best sniper. As movie trailers go, that’s incredibly intense.

This story never gets old, Sportsmanship allows middle school boy to live football dream:

Dalton, diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth, had just realized a long-time dream — playing football for his beloved Bears. Dalton had been hoping to dress with the team all season. Finally approved to participate, assistant Bears coach J.T. Lawrence and the other coaches had an idea.

“We thought it would be a great experience for Dalton and for the rest of our kids if he could get into a game and score,” Lawrence said. There was one problem. Dalton did not need to have any physical contact.

Lawrence talked to Prattville Christian athletic director Sam Peak and asked if his school would allow Dalton to go into the game and score a 2-point conversion if Billingsley scored a touchdown.

“That was an easy answer,” Peak said. “We coach our kids to be thankful for each opportunity to touch someone else’s life. This was an opportunity for us to do something good.”

A friend found the video:

UAB gets $47M grant for low-income education initiative

The Cult of Neil deGrasse Tyson

One System, Two Media: How China, Hong Kong Are Covering The Protests

The second half of this is great, Young Protesters in Hong Kong Have Found an Ingenious Way Around Cyber Censors

Occupy Hong Kong: Macro scale, micro-adaptations

Speaking of adaptations:

Could have told them that at the beginning … Facebook is more important to news distribution than you think, and journalists are freaked out:

At ONA, anxiety about Facebook’s increasing control over our traffic revealed itself in lots of questions: If I have 250,000 fans of my page, why don’t they all see everything I post? Why does my journalism seem to reach fewer people than it used to? Is Facebook trying to pressure my news organization to spend money to boost my posts or take out ads?

But there are more existential fears behind this conversation, too: If Facebook isn’t interested in exposing users to content that might be important but won’t result in high engagement like softer news and quizzes do, what will happen to news literacy? What will happen to civic engagement? What happens to The News That Matters, if only Facebook gets to decide what matters?

From the department of obvious things that could be understood but for interest, Editors who don’t use Twitter undercut their pleas to innovate.

If you’re from anywhere near where I’m from, this sounds a bit like home:

The sounds are the same, but those North Carolinians have their own unique vocabulary. You get the sense that even that language is falling away. Some of those words were things a parent said, some of them took some recollection. Good that it has been recorded in documentary form — and I want to see the full thing. How else would we have seemingly random blog post titles?

Aug 14

There is Star Trek at the end of this post

We went for a run in the middle of the day, because running takes less time, and we haven’t done it in a while. Here’s the more-sunny-than-you-realize path.


I discovered today that I’m big on the mind deals — slightly different than Ray Romano’s mind bets. Today’s was fairly straight forward: if you stop running, you’re going to run another mile.

I did not have to run the fourth mile. I had a fairly decent time on the 5K. But not fast enough.

I do not know what is happening.

As I finished the run, I was looking for some shade, stepped under a promising pine tree and found this guy:


That’s the Actias luna caterpillar. You might be more familiar with the luna moth version. I didn’t see one of those, but I did watch that caterpillar climb and climb:


There’s probably a metaphor in there, or we could just be impressed by the closeup quality of my phone’s camera. Probably a metaphor in that, too.

Brian came down for a weekend visit. He and I went to Niffer’s for dinner. Turkey burgers and corn nuggets are for dinner.

Afterward we spent the evening in the pool. Colleagues and neighbors were there. It was a fine time with friends and more friends. We stayed so long the bottom of my feet are raw. And we’ll probably go back tomorrow.

Things to read … to prepare for tomorrow.

Alabama’s unemployment rate at 7 percent

The Re-Return of Chuckie Keeton

Inside the College Football Hall of Fame playground in Atlanta:

First and foremost, know this: This isn’t your father’s Hall of Fame.

Often ignored for nearly two decades in South Bend, Ind., the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta represents today’s game and media world while respectfully giving a nod to the past. The National Football Foundation’s decision in 2009 to move the Hall of Fame into the deep South symbolizes how the sport has changed demographically and through television.

Located within a five-minute walk from the Georgia Dome and the future Atlanta Falcons stadium, the Hall of Fame craves connectivity and a personal experience above all else. There are interactive videos and games, selfies with digital face paint, countless screens, and a field for activities and events.

It sounds like a nice experience.

Now the fanfic looks better than the source material …

Interestingly, everyone you see in that prelude has played multiple characters across the sprawling Star Trek franchise, except for … Richard Hatch. This is his first time in Rodenberry’s universe. They’re making a movie out of it. They’ve received more than four times their Kickstarter goal and their making a feature film, of the independent variety. It’ll be low-budget but, if you watch the entire prelude, you can see there’s some really great quality there. And Garth of Izar.

“Donors will receive either a digital HD copy, or a DVD or Blu-ray copy, depending on their donation level. It will also be released for streaming on YouTube for all to enjoy sometime later!”

The movie is in pre-production now, according to IMDB. I find it a bit more exciting than it probably should be.

Jun 14

Why didn’t anyone ever recognize Forrest Gump, anyway?

I ran five miles in 75 degrees with 79 percent humidity tonight. Think I just exercise for Shot Bloks, which is fuel that tastes like candy to me. But you’re not here about that. Right. Back to our regularly scheduled observations.

One of the joys of having a cat around is watching a cat sleep in the sun:


A lot of things have to happen to make that work out. Someone, years ago, had to decide to orient this neighborhood along an east-west axis. Development behind us had to thin out the western tree line to allow the sun through at that time of day. My brilliant wife had to be motivated to purchase that cat condo at some point in time. We had to put it in front of that window and I had to be sitting in an adjacent chair, which we also put in place almost four years ago, to capture the moment. To say nothing of the phone and camera and Internet technology.

All of that so I can say “One of the joys of having a cat around is watching a cat sleep in the sun,” and you know it to be one of the singular truths of pets.

Just file that away under things that the subdivision developer, Steve Jobs and Tim Berners-Lee didn’t think about when they did their heavy lifting. I bet the cat condo people knew what they were doing, though.

Turns out it was made in Tennessee. I’m not sure what bearing that has on this conversation.

Things to read … because reading always gives us answers.

Maybe Vox — which is trying to brand itself as the explainer of things, can tell us. You’ve been using paper towels wrong your whole life. Here’s how to completely dry your hands using only one.

Jeff Bezos is looking more brilliant by the moment, no?

The New York Times’ Lively Morgue featured a photo of speed boat queen Loretta Turnbull. For some reason I did a little more Googling and reading about her, and was rewarded with this quote: “The odds of a shark biting a 67-year-old are remote; I’m going in.”

Sounds like an awesome lady.

This one is worth bookmarking. Multimedia reporting with mobile devices

Normally you’d watch out for the word “complete” but this is a pretty thorough discussion on the topic. The Complete Guide to Getting Started With Podcasts

Another soccer video:

This video is titled “How video from drones can be useful during news events,” but it misses a big a point.

We, the audience, still need the context of a reporter’s collected efforts to tell us the story. Where was that subdivision damage? Was it from a storm? Why were all of those people gathered at night? What were they protesting? How many structures or lives had been lost in that fire?

It also demonstrates that not all drone videos are created equally.

Forrest Gump was released 20 years ago next month. Finally, there is an Honest Trailer about the film, and it makes a great point about the recognizability of the character:

“And Lieutenant Dan kept his word. The end.”

When I saw Apollo 13 — which was released 19 years ago next week, by the way — there was a woman behind us who was getting caught up and emotional in the drama. Her kid, her child, said “Don’t worry Mama, Forrest Gump is driving.”

The end.