Jun 19

On the road

We’re heading down to the ancestral haunts for a weekend of nothing much to do. It’s a seven-hour haul, and tonight it involved a welcome break to visit with academic and journalist friends over dinner in Nashville. The choice, as ever, was barbecue:

It was the right choice. You knew it just from the way the sunlight splashes down on the place:

We got in just in time to say hello to my mother and goodnight.

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.

Mar 15

You’re here for the music, I don’t blame you

This evening I did a 1,800 yard swim, toweled off and then had a 5K run. Finished at 75 percent target heart rate. The swim was about at my normal slow and sloppy pace and style. The run was probably at the lower end of my pace. But that’s a brick to start the season of exercise, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m feeling pretty good after, too.

You know, there’s a time when you don’t think about doing those sorts of things. And it doesn’t take all that long to look at those numbers and think to yourself, “That’s all you did?”

The mind is a weird place, is what I’m saying. I do not know what is happening.

So I swam in the indoor pool, naturally. I had the far left lane all to myself, hitting neither the wall or the room any at all. I did these in 50 yard increments, because I’m still trying to find some form of breathing that works. And having completed the mile I staggered out of the pool, into my flip flops, up the stairs, into the locker room, into some dry clothes and my running shoes and then out and over to one of the old gyms on campus. The gym was closed for a boy’s lacrosse practice, but the track above it was open, and I jogged and sprinted along on that, listening to the sounds of my footfalls and wondering just how long that track has been in place. This is what it looks like from underneath it.


And so to the parents that were there, sitting on the bench, watching their sons play lacrosse and listening to me trample 15 feet above you and wondering “Is this going to be the lap? Will this be the time? Are all of my affairs really in order?” I apologize. But you should have seen me in the pool.

I have this mental image that my swim looks really good for about 1,000 yards. Really it probably only looks really good for 15 yards, which is most of the push off the wall and that first stroke. But I can really make a nice streamline shape, boy, and I’m proud of that.

I got through some portion of the run by wondering what I would have for dinner. I can just look at a body of water and my appetite gets out of control, so, to have actually burned some calories, this could be a real meal. But I didn’t want this, and that would never seem filling and … for some reason there were two big burritos wrapped up and sitting on the floor of the track. So I somehow talked myself into Moe’s, because I guess I was getting hungry by then. Moe’s, I said aloud tonight, making it real, seems like a better idea in theory than in execution.

Please remind me of that as necessary. But, at Moe’s, there was this:

So now it is back to the newsroom, where the award-winning staff of The Samford Crimson is working on what will surely be another fine edition of their august publication. They’re celebrating their 100th anniversary this spring, ya know. We should have a party.

Things to read … because reading is always a party.

This one doesn’t surprise anyone, but it is nice to see: Huntsville ranked among top cities for STEM jobs

Turns out there is going to be a lot of stuff going in this summer: Redevelopment of Toomer’s Corner set to start after A-Day.

This is written in a sports talk context, but you get the sense that the anecdote might carry over to other programming: Is Sports Radio Ready For Its Future?:

Two discussions in particular stuck with me and have had my mind racing for the past few days. First, I was in Dallas for the Radio Ink Sports Conference and during my time there I had the chance to moderate a panel which focused on the mind of millennial listeners. I was on stage with three college students. Two were 21-years old and the other was 26.

Over the course of 45 minutes, I hit all three students with a barrage of questions on their perceptions and interest in sports radio and I along with the rest of the room learned that they live in a different world where content is only king if it can be consumed quickly. If it requires sifting through your podcast to find it, waiting through a commercial break or needing to wait for a host to finish rambling off-topic, they’re gone. Even the big name guest means little if it doesn’t include a hook worth sticking around for.

And that whole essay is a pretty nice read.

They got that right. Rickwood Field ranked among best baseball destinations


Really, I just mention that to dust off this Rickwood piece I did some years back. The oldest continually operational baseball park in America, in 20 minutes:

The place is 105 this year. This is a painstakingly recreated manual scoreboard you’ll see in the outfield:


And, over on Facebook, I’ve started The Best Single of the Last 45 Years game. So far there are eight great choices, including mine, which I heard tonight, and whose intro inspired the entire thing:

If you can’t get in a good mood with those horns the very reverend Al Green is right behind them, ready to work everything out.

He’s still doing it, too.

Yep, that’s all you want.

Jan 15

Three quick observations

Anyone know what this is?

La Ronde

Two hints. First, the seal, which is awesome, says “La Ronde.” Second, it doesn’t have anything to do with bicycles.

Saw this sign today:

La Ronde

It could be that they are saying they don’t think you’ll stick with your resolutions. Or they could be saying that maybe your troubles aren’t so bad, after all. Why, they’re positively just like those resolutions, which you probably won’t keep. Or maybe they have just resolved to state their resolutions in a concise manner. Then, you see, they are short, and wouldn’t it be nice if your troubles were equally short?

Or it could be that they are saying that resolutions are issues of choice. And how you handle them is a choice. So shouldn’t your troubles be those things, too?

But then again, “resolutions” is longer than “troubles.”

There’s a lot to consider in that sign. Two of my resolutions have expired just thinking about it.

Auburn gymnastics tonight, 6,200-plus were there:

Tigers upset the visiting 12th-ranked Arkansas squad. Looked good doing it, too. They host Air Force next week.

The La Ronde? It is a holder for an old bathroom air freshener, long since out of use. But, still, it hangs on a wall. Just waiting.

Dec 14

Things I produced today

I posted my first videos to Vine today. Yes, I am behind.

I try to experiment with about every third MUST HAVE web craze. Skipping a few here and there tends to keep the pressure off. Some of those things will be gone before we know it anyway.

But Vine is proving it has staying power, and people are now talking about “How we can do more with it than just six second jokes.” That suggests an audience maturation, too. When it has more than one accepted use, I figure, might have think of some useful way to use it.

My first idea, was to use Vine as teasers for the video I shot yesterday. If you saw that, you already met the $120 Russian tortoise.

And you also saw the rabbit guinea pigs:

They’ll all catch up eventually, I’m sure.

We purchased neither. We did, however, get cat litter, in such amounts as to be valued at the equivalent of the per capita gross domestic product of Burundi. By the time you pick up pounds 85-126 your hands can sting in the cold winter air. But then that dog walked by and I thought “Establishing shot!”

And the puppy had no camera sense. Don’t look at the camera, dog.

Anyway, that was yesterday. Vines today. I have contributed, then, 12 seconds to the insatiable appetite of the Internet.

OK, fine, I contributed this too, on Twitter. As you know I collect Gloms, the Auburn yearbook. I was scanning a few more for the continuation of the covers project and was putting them away. I opened the back cover of the 2011 book to this picture.

Glom11 Lutzie

A student took this photo, as did a lot of other nearby photographers, I’m sure. The versions you usually see make you wonder what he’s looking at as he turns. Maybe it was her. Here’s the play:

The line they put with that photo now has, I think, several extra meanings.

So I have put all of that on the web today. Also, family events and holiday events began today. Steak, chocolate cake, listening to people talk about cars and so on.

That turtle is rather captivating, right?