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How eBay Turned Around a Dying Business (Secret Word: Mobile)

first_imgA Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… As Yahoo plots a new course under CEO Marissa Mayer, it may want to study what’s happened with eBay in recent years. After a long and dicey effort, the online retailer has pulled off a rarity in the Internet industry: It turned around a business that many critics has written off as dying. Here’s how a combination of bold product redesign and mobile innovation did the trick.eBay used to be among the Internet’s walking wounded. The company’s stock, having soared to $59 a share in 2004, fell to $26 in early 2008, when CEO John Donahoe replaced Meg Whitman. Since then, Donahoe has pursued a turnaround of eBay’s marketplace business that involved shifting from auctions to fixed-price sales and focusing on top sellers, even at the cost of marginalizing many smaller sellers.At first, the turnaround seemed not to be working. One year into Donahoe’s tenure, the stock price had slipped below $10 and Donahoe was on the defensive with disenchanted investors. But he stuck to his guns. After all, turning around a business can take years, even on the Web. And four years of effort to revive eBay’s marketplace, signs of success began to emerge.Now it’s like the company has awakened from a bad dream. As of Friday, eBay’s stock is up 55% this year, three times the Nasdaq’s 18% rise and better than Amazon’s 39% gain. The stock at its highest since January 2006, pushing its market cap above $60 billion. By contrast, Facebook’s market cap is $46 billion (or $52 billion, using a more generous calculation).That comparison is significant. In a little more than three years, eBay has managed to grow from a company worth $16 billion to one worth $60 billion – and it did so in the Web 2.0 era, one that was dominated by younger companies like Facebook and Zynga. While those companies face their challenges, eBay has overcome its own. And it’s doing so in the same arena where Facebook is stumbling: the mobile Web.eBay is forecasting that $10 billion worth of transactions will happen through mobile phones this year, double the figure last year. That’s equal to one sixth of the $60 billion in gross merchandise value eBay reported in 2011. In a recent call with analysts, Donahoe, noting that mobile shoppers spend three to four times as much as people who shop only on the Web, called that growth “a stunning surge in purchases and payments on devices that did not even exist just a few short years ago.”PayPal, which has seen a similar surge in mobile payments, is also expected to handle $10 billion in mobile transactions this year. But the recovery in eBay’s core marketplace business is all the more impressive given that its growth rates had stalled in recent years.eBay’s marketplace generated 15% growth in the most recent quarter, excluding the impact of foreign-exchange rates, the fastest growth since 2006. The bulk of that growth is coming from the fixed-price items that Donahoe redesigned eBay’s site around several years ago. After sluggish growth in 2009 and 2010, eBay drew criticism for abandoning the auction model that made the company a success to begin with, and for adopting too late a model that closely resembled one long used, with great success, by Amazon.But in the second quarter, fixed-price sales accounted for two thirds of the company’s transactions, up from 53% in 2009. Fixed-price sales grew 20% in the quarter, compared with a 4% growth rate for auctions.eBay also saw early on an opportunity in mobile and designed an app that appealed to mobile shoppers with features like one-click shopping, offering it an early lead that it still holds. The company bought Critical Path Software, whose developers helped design a simple yet intuitive eBay app.Of the 45 million people who used a shopping app on a smartphone in June, 13.2 million used eBay’s, placing it ahead of Amazon (12.1 million) and Groupon (12 million). And people spent much more time on eBay’s app, 64 minutes on average, compared with 19 minutes for Amazon and 21 minutes for Groupon.eBay continues to improve its marketplace, tweaking the design and search to improve the user experience and building online storefronts for big retailers like Toys “R” Us, Aeropostale and Nieman Marcus. And the company announced a plan to offer same-day delivery in San Francisco, working again with top retailers like Macy’s and Target.The years of rapid growth are behind it, but eBay is showing that its future is more than a one-time auction giant that is morphing into an e-payments outfit. The company is proving that, in the age of the mobile Web, it can find a new role for itself in e-commerce. Turnarounds like that are as rare as gold in the Internet industry. 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Related Posts Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostingcenter_img Tags:#biz#e-commerce Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… kevin kelleherlast_img read more

Gadget Season Is Over, Thank God

first_imgTags:#iPad mini#media coverage#nexus series#opinion#Pause#Reviews Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Related Posts Well, that was fun, huh? We got some new phones, new iPods, new tablets from everybody, new Macs, probably some new ultrabooks or whatever, all in time for the holidays. We got a fresh new excuse to argue with each other about which ones are the messiah and which ones suck. Now it’s all over.Can we go back to work now?I won’t pretend it’s not fun to be a tech reporter during gadget season. I love a new computer. I love to imagine how much more I could accomplish with a next-generation device. This year’s crop did not disappoint, either. I’m thrilled with the iPhone 5, I’m intrigued about why Dan Frommmer calls the iPad mini “the real iPad,” I could see myself switching from an Air to a 13-inch MacBook Pro with retina display in the next generation, and I really enjoyed exploring the Nexus 10 tablet.I enjoyed these device announcements because I could see how each of them might enhance my life as a reader and a writer. I like how gadget season makes me contemplate my daily workflows and consider ways I might change them, speed them up or slow them down.Even more than that, I love imagining what young geniuses and first-time computer users can accomplish with them as prices and barriers to entry plummet. That’s the revolution of personal agency that makes tech so critical right now.Remember The Real WorldBut all the drooling is gross. When people use words like “sexy” to describe a chunk of metal, my skin crawls. And the breathless comparison of specs and stats and prices gets us nowhere.Why is it so easy for people who love technology to lose sight of what we do with it? It’s not specs or features or form factors that matter. It’s applications. It doesn’t matter which tablet looks better on paper. Which one is better for reading? I don’t care what the company says the battery life is; which phone will last me through a real day of work?Not only do these practical questions make for more interesting reviews, they open perhaps the most important point that all techies have to consider. Everyone uses devices differently. We all have different habits, different jobs to be done, different interests, and different goals. No gadget is the best choice for everyone.Your favorite phone may not be my favorite phone. Having the same phone as someone else shouldn’t make you part of some tribe whose enemies use that other phone. As we go about the Internet reading about phones, can we all please try to keep that in mind?Photo credit: Eliot Weisbergcenter_img jon mitchell Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

CISPA: Who’s For It And Who’s Against It

first_imgTags:#CISPA#privacy#security CISPA OpponentsAmerican Civil Liberties Union: “The bill would create a loophole in all existing privacy laws, allowing companies to share Internet users’ data with the National Security Agency, part of the Department of Defense, and the biggest spy agency in the world—without any legal oversight,” the ACLU warned in 2012. With the new version still failing to addressing these concerns, the organization is asking supporters to sign its petition calling for the President to veto the bill.Electronic Frontier Foundation: When CISPA was reintroduced in February 2013, the EFF joined the ACLU and Fight for the Future in combat. The Internet advocacy group is vehemently against the bill for a slew of reasons, including that it gives companies the right to monitor users and share that data with the government without a warrant. Transparency and accountability are also undefined by the bill, which creates a “broad immunity from legal liability for monitoring, acquiring, or sharing” communication and overriding “privacy laws like the Wiretap Act and the Stored Communications Act.Center For Democracy And Technology: The Center’s serious concerns include an “unlimited definition of the information that can be shared with government agencies notwithstanding privacy and other laws,” which the CDT says will likely “shift control of government cybersecurity efforts from civilian agencies to the military.”Cato Institute: The public policy institute raises issues of hype and misinformation related to cybercrime causing a skewed perception of the problem. “Among dozens of surveys, from security vendors, industry analysts and government agencies, we have not found one that appears free of this upward bias.”Fight For The Future: The non-profit has setup a site to inform and protest the bill, calling CISPA “the end of meaningful privacy for anyone with personal data on U.S. based services.”Free Press: The media reform group acknowledges the need for protection, but warns> “CISPA could lead all too easily to governmental and corporate violations of our privacy and attacks on our right to speak freely via the Internet.”Mozilla: In a 2012 interview with Forbes, Mozilla’s privacy and public policy office called the language of the bill broad and alarming and said it “infringes against our privacy.”Cheezburger Inc.: Chief Executive Ben Huh told ProPublica in 2012 that CISPA is “SOPA’s cousin who works for the CIA.”Reddit: Although previously undecided, on Friday at SXSW, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian called his local congressman to protest CISPA. He says he won’t invest in Facebook because of the company’s support.The White House:Last year, the President voiced his strong opposition to the bill, saying it failed to bridge the gap between privacy concerns and limiting sharing of personal information. “Citizens have a right to know that corporations will be held legally accountable for failing to safeguard personal information adequately. The government, rather than establishing a new antitrust exemption under this bill, should ensure that information is not shared for anti-competitive purposes.” However, with Obama’s new cybersecurity mandate and renewed talks and pressure from the House Intelligence Committee, that position could change.Other individuals and organizations opposed to CISPA include Tim Berners-Lee, Bruce Schneier, Ron Paul,  Demand Progress, Entertainment Consumers Association, Free Market Coalition, Reporters Without Borders, Access Now, Sunlight Foundation and the American Library Association.   One major online player missing-in-action stance wise is Twitter. While the microblogging platform is a hotbed of activism and campaigns for both sides, the company itself has not taken a public stand.Tell us in comments: Where do you stand?Photos courtesy of DonkeyHotey and Paul Swansen. Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Related Posts 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market What if all of your online communication could be monitored and shared without a warrant? That’s what’s at stake if the latest version of CISPA, the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, is approved by Congress.After CISPA was shot down in 2012, a revised bill has been introduced that would let private companies and the government monitor Americans under the auspices of sharing intelligence about cyber threats. The intentions behind the bill may be noble, but the bill’s language is packed with privacy problems and vague notions that give the government big loopholes through which to watch what people say and do online.(See also Obama, Cybersecurity And The Return Of CISPA)In the wake of a spate of hacking attacks and talks between House Intelligence Committee Chairman (and CISPA co-author) Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and the White House, the bill is seeing forward movement. Talks are centering on whether or not companies will be allowed to share peoples’ identities with the government. Those results, plus an upcoming special cybersecurity hearing by the House Committee on Homeland Security, will likely influence the bill, which is expected to make its way back to the House in April.For or against, the lines in the sand are being drawn. Supporters include a slew of technology companies and interest groups. Dissenters comprise an equally deep set of advocacy organizations and Web heavyweights.Here’s a quick breakdown of who is on which side:.CISPA SupportersAT&T:Interprets the bill as promoting “private sector innovation, and protects fundamental American values.”Facebook: Supports enhancing “the ability of companies like Facebook to address cyber threats” and feels the bill would not make the company share any more of its own data than is currently required.Comcast: “Preventing, detecting, deterring, and responding to cybersecurity threats are therefore fundamental requirements for our continued business success,” David L. Cohen, the company’s executive vice president wrote on February 13.IBM: CISPA “would greatly improve the government and private sector’s ability to mitigate cyber threats by enabling better information sharing,” Christopher Padilla, vice president, IBM Governmental Programs, wrote on February 13.Intel: Combating online threats requires “cooperative efforts of government and NGO stakeholders working together to improve cybersecurity in a way that promotes innovation and protects citizens’ privacy and civil liberties,” said Peter M. Cleveland, the company’s director of global policy.Time Warner Cable: The telecom giant supports the bill because it wants to protect its 15 million plus customers and feels CISPA enables a “shared responsibility born in partnership by the public and private sectors.”Verizon: Echoing other support sentiments, the company is pushing for the bill to bridge the private-public sectors and be able to share data to “secure private networks” and protect customers.Oracle: Supported last year’s version of the bill, stating that CISPA would remove the legal obstacles inherent in sharing data with the government.Symantec: Defending information sharing, the company wrote in 2012 that this tactic is “not an end goal, but rather a situational tool to provide awareness.”Microsoft: Previously vocal in its support that the bill would “eliminate barriers and disincentives that currently prevent effective information sharing to guard against cyber attacks.” Since then, Microsoft has clarified its position to say that it would move to “ensure the final legislation helps to tackle the real threat of cybercrime while protecting consumer privacy.”Google: The Mountain View company tried to steer away from taking a public stand, but last year, lawmakers in Washington alluded to having Google’s support.Other notable supporters include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, USTelecom, the Broadband Association, Edison Electric Institute, Financial Joint Trades, Financial Services Roundtable, Internet Security Alliance, Juniper Networks, National Cable & Telecommunications Association and TechAmerica. adam popescu A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostinglast_img read more

Apple Profits Fall And Growth Slows. Welcome To The New Normal

first_imgCognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of… taylor hatmaker 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… Related Posts center_img IT + Project Management: A Love Affair Apple reported its first profit decline in over a decade and bluntly admitted that its growth is slowing. It was, indeed, a strange but not wholly unexpected change of pace for the wildly successful Cupertino company.Despite that bad news, the stock market barely hiccupped. As of writing, Apple shares were virtually unchanged in after-hours trading from their close of $406.13 — a level roughly 42% below their peak just seven months ago. Which means that these diminished expectations are, for now, Apple’s new normal.The Humbling Of AppleIn the January-March quarter, Apple generated $43.6 billion in revenue with a profit of $9.5 billion, compared to $39.2 billion and $11.6 billion a year ago. Profits might be down by a not-insignificant 18%, but the numbers still beat out quarterly estimates of between $41 and $43 billion in revenue. For next quarter, Apple set the bar low, with an expected $33.5 to $35.5 billion in revenue.Apple also set new records for March quarter sales of the iPhone and iPad, for what it’s worth.While Apple quarterly calls — like Apple launch events, Apple ads and the Apple ethos — tend to err on the side of smug, today’s tone was muted. As Apple’s boomtown empire of the last decade begins to look like a gilded age, CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer maintained a cautious optimism. Cook expressed frustration over Apple’s ongoing stock swoon and noted that 2012’s “exceptional success” makes year-to-year comparisons “difficult.” Other notable numbers from this quarter:37.4 million iPhones sold, up from 35.1 million during Q2 201219.5 million iPads sold, up from 11.8 million a year agoiPad sales more than doubled in China and JapanMac sales contracted, with just under 4 million sold – a slight dip from a year ago5.6 million iPods sold (down from 2012’s numbers), but Apple commands 70% of the MP3 player marketApple made $5.2 billion from retail stores and expects to open 30 new stores this yearThe company holds $144.7 billion in cash (up from $137 billion in December 2012)Still, Apple Is AppleOf course, even at its humblest, Apple couldn’t resist an opportunity to tout iOS as a more secure ecosystem than Android, which has fallen victim to some high profile malware incidents in the last year.As for what’s next — and how the company will continue to grow — Cook cited the strength of Apple’s ecosystem and “exciting new product categories” for the company’s bright outlook. Cook also turned an eye to untapped overseas markets, which could play a major role if the company plans for another growth spurt: “China has an unusual number of potential firsttime smartphone owners,” Cook said. “That’s not lost on us.”Similarly, Cook touted the possibility of “an exciting new product category,” although of course without even hinting at details or a timeframe. So feel free to believe that he meant the iWatch, or an iTV, or, well, iAnything.Apple also boosted its dividend by 15% and announced a new stock buyback program that aims to return $100 billion to shareholders by 2015, in part by taking some existing Apple shares out of circulation to boost stockholders’ holdings.Image courtesy of Apple Tags:#Apple#earnings last_img read more

Apple CEO Tim Cook Joins Twitter

first_imgselena larson Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… Tags:#Apple#Tim Cook#twitter Related Posts The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videoscenter_img A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification Apple CEO Tim Cook has joined Twitter. His account describes him as “CEO Apple, Fan of Auburn football and Duke basketball.” The account’s first followers included Apple exec support engineer @axelj, marketing chief @pschiller and Twitter employee @miguelrios.He joins the Twittersphere just in time to enjoy the maelstrom of Apple-related tweets surrounding the iPhone launch. The timing is probably no coincidence, with the iPhone 5s and 5c reaching stores today.The Twitter account still lacks the blue check mark that designates a verified account, but Apple told CNBC that @tim_cook is, in fact, Apple’s fearless leader.UPDATE: Tim Cook’s Twitter account is verified. He now has over 34,000 followers and that number is rapidly growing. last_img read more

Market for “hearable” devices could reach $16B by 2020

first_imgRelated Posts Small Business Cybersecurity Threats and How to… Follow the Puck Donal Power Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfacescenter_img Wearable technology is about to expand into a whole new sub-market via your ear-holes with the advent of “hearables.” And this new category of connected devices for your ears is beginning to make its mark on global markets.Experts predict that the hearables market could surpass $16 billion by 2020. A key component to the rosy prospects for hearables is their potential to steal market share from headphones, medical hearing aids and other wearables that aren’t situated in the ear.Several of the large electronics firms are gearing up to begin production of their own hearables, which could see a flood of the new technology on global markets.Of particular interest is Apple’s expansion into greater ear-based technology is its introduction of wireless Airpods. These new headphones were launched in tandem with the new iPhone 7 which was designed without a headphone jack, causing much controversy among audiophiles.But behind Apple’s push for its cordless headphones is its strategy to drive customers towards its proprietary technology for its huge customer base.And as is often the case, Apple’s revolutionary innovations often open the door for whole new categories of technology.Combined with wireless technology like Bluetooth, wireless hearables could prove quite disruptive to the consumer electronics market.One shift will be hearables ability to shift much of the capabilities currently provided by wearables from the wrist to the ear.Each hearable means one less screenThis shift will eliminate the screens that wearables currently rely on, to be replaced with voice input capabilities. This will enable users to receive messages from devices directly into the ears.These hearables will be able to take over voice assistant functionality and integrate with augmented reality systems.As well, ear-based devices have the potential to provide superior medical monitoring and fitness tracking capabilities.Body movement can adversely affect the accuracy of traditional wearables when measuring heart rate and blood pressure, but not so with hearables. This is because the ears provide a stable way to measure vital signs as they have a consistent blood flow level.Hearables also will be able to combine high-end audio capabilities and noise cancellation, which will eat into the market of traditional headphones and hearing aids. Tags:#Apple#Bluetooth#Hearables#Internet of Things#IoT#wearables Internet of Things Makes it Easier to Steal You…last_img read more

Why major American corporations have struggled in China: eBay

first_imgElectronic Design is Utilizing AI-Enabled Solu… Clayton Jacobs Related Posts The Ultimate Checklist on Ways to Prevent IoT D… Tags:#China#ebay#Internet of Things#IoT center_img 5 Industries Destined for Technological Disruption How IoT Will Transform Cold Chain Logistics For… This article is part of a series about the importance of cross-cultural design, the first two installments of which were published on February 16-17, 2017.eBay has been involved with China for a while, starting in 2004, so one can see an example of what the longer-term timeline looks like for a very successful American company trying to gain a foothold into China without guanxi. eBay absolutely lost its battle against the most similar Chinese company, Alibaba. In an immediate response to eBay entering China, Alibaba created Taobao to be a direct competitor. As of January 5th 2017, Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) had a market cap of $235.93 billion US dollars whereas eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) had a market cap of $33.55 billion US dollars.There has been a consensus that lack of guanxi was eBay’s fundamental problem in China.  In this kind of direct consumer-to-consumer business, guanxi refers to the relationship which forms between a buyer and a seller that goes beyond a mere transactional relationship. Guanxi then translates into a trust which facilitates the transaction and is considered necessary by the average Chinese consumer. But eBay’s site did not allow for direct communication between buyer and seller, meaning that Chinese consumers often do not feel good about using eBay to engage in transactions.See Also: Alibaba joins the connected car frenzy along with SAICAnother issue for eBay was that the primary form of payment was the online use of credit cards. Compared with Americans, the Chinese are much more averse to using their credit card online due to security concerns. So, Chinese consumers are more comfortable having online wallets. In addition, there is a much larger percentage of the Chinese population that simply does not have a credit card.A mistake that is often overlooked in other analyses of eBay’s entry into China is its marketing strategy. In an aggressive attempt to gain public exposure, eBay purchased exclusive marketing rights from Sina, Soho, and Netease, all of which are major advertising portals in China. To an objective outsider, this may seem like an expensive yet effective marketing strategy, but Alibaba CEO Jack Ma knew better. Ma spent millions on television ads as he knew that his and eBay’s target audience was much more likely to be watching TV than browsing the Internet. As said by Forbes contributor Helen H. Wang, “I heard the ads for Taobao popping up on TV almost every half hour.” Now is the 3rd most visited website in all of China while eBay is 36th according to Alexa website popularity rankings.See Also: Self-Proclaimed eBay Hackers Put Alleged Personal Data Up For SaleThe obvious mistake made by eBay here was a critical lack of understanding of the habits of its target audience in addition to ignoring the importance of guanxi. This lesson is not necessarily unique to attempts by American companies to market in China, but it seems to occur frequently there as American businesses see China more than most other nations as a “black box” in regard to the population’s habits and everyday life.In terms of what could have been done, obviously eBay could have better understood its target customers’ habits, created more effective advertising, and accommodated their preferred means of payment. However, doing all of these things likely would not have been enough. It could and should have allowed for person-to-person guanxi by adding direct communication between purchaser and seller. Finally, eBay should have tried to develop corporate guanxi and strike deals with well-known retailers in China to allow eBay to have free postings and sales on its site as a means to naturally increase viewership, usefulness, and brand recognition in China.The author is Clayton “CJ” Jacobs, who is currently an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with, and the Head of Cross-Cultural Design at, ReadWrite. An area of focus for him is helping American companies understand and enter the Chinese market through taking a modern user-centric product design approach. You can contact him directly at clayton.michael.jacobs(at) or find him on Twitter & LinkedIn.last_img read more

Hypertension: Is Sodium all there is?

first_imgby Robin Allen, MSPH, RDN, LDNCreative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (Flikr Army BP, May 26, 2011)When I ask the question, “Hypertension: is sodium all there is?”  I, first, refer you to the USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines for American  which recommends:Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg).Further reduce intake to 1,500 mg among persons who are 51 and older.Reduce intake to 1,500 and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.The 1,500 mg recommendation applies to about half of the U.S. population, including children, and the majority of adults.” It is estimated that Americans consume about 3400mg per day of sodium.Second, I remind you that one in three adults has high blood pressure according to the American Society of Hypertension.Risk factors include:Older age > 35 yearsFamily historyRace- African Americans and Hispanic Americans are at higher riskOverweight/obesityDiet high in sodium, too little fruits and vegetablesLack of exercise- recommend at least 30 minutes per dayDrinking too much alcohol regularly-more than 2 servings per daySince the Dietary Guidelines were released, Public Health efforts have focused on reducing the consumption of sodium in the population while many in the food industry have committed to a gradual reduction of sodium in the food supply.  However do consumers care about sodium in their diet?The 2011 Consumer Sodium Research Report by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) reported that sodium is not a priority for Americans.    Most Americans do not know how much their sodium intake should be or how much sodium they consume. There is also no clear understanding of what constitutes high and low sodium foods.  As I get older I am astonished at the number of my friends who have high blood pressure or are taking blood pressure lowering medication.  The first thing they tell me is “I never eat salt”.   I want to say that is great but what does the rest of your lifestyle look like? Is salting your food your biggest source of sodium?  Are you exercising routinely?  What about your fruits and vegetables. What is your alcohol intake?  And have you weighed recently?How do Dietitians/health care providers help their clients/patients manage their blood pressure?Experts in the field of chronic disease agree that limiting blood pressure education to sodium restriction does not help the consumer sufficiently to manage their blood pressure. Life style strategies must go beyond limiting sodium intake.  Even the most knowledgeable consumer would have difficulty meeting the 1500 mg/d sodium recommendation without changes in the food supply.  Other strategies for managing high blood pressure include eating more fruits and vegetables, weight management, increasing physical activity and moderating alcohol intake.  While certainly sodium restriction is important; a more holistic approach is needed to help consumers manage their blood pressure. What struggles do you face with your patients when trying to apply the scientific recommendations to the real life situations?References:[1] Kolasa, Kathryn, M., Sollid, Kris, Edge, Marianne Smith, Bouchoux, Ann,.Blood Pressure Management: Communicating Comprehensive Lifestyle Strategies Beyond Sodium. Nutrition Today. 47(4):183-190, July/August 2012.[2] US Department of Agriculture, US Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 6th ed. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office; 2010.[3][4] International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC),  Consumer Sodium Research Concern, Perception, and Action 2011 Food and Health Survey.This post was written by Robin Allen, member of the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) Nutrition and Wellness team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families.  Find out more about the MFLN Nutrition and Wellness concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter and on LinkedIn.last_img read more

Happy New Year: Learning Opportunities for Nutrition and Wellness

first_imgCreative Commons Licensing [Flikr]-by-Finn-Frode-Happy-New-Year-to-you-all-Explored-31.12.2015-88-Taken-Jan-1-2016By Robin Allen MSPH, RDN, LDNThe MFLN Nutrition and Wellness concentration got off to a good start in 2015 presenting a variety of informative webinars for military care providers, specifically military Dietitians, Veterans Administration and Extension specialists. A new year, 2016 is here, and we have  another very exciting lineup of webinars and CEPU opportunities for Registered Dietitians.January 26, 2016, 11:00 am ET   Cooking Up Nutrition Education    Cooking up Nutrition Education presented by Veteran’s Administration Dietitian Lori Carlson, MS, RDN, LDN, and Chef. Everyone loves cooking shows, and you will learn how to present your own cooking class while providing evidence-based nutrition education.February 25, 2016, 11:30 am ET:  Trans Fat Update   The Skinny on Trans Fats presented by Presented by Kristie Crowe-White, Ph.D., RD. What is the big deal about trans fats, what is the status of legislation, and what are the differences between naturally occurring and man-made trans fats.March 29, 2016 11:00 ET:  Work Life Integration: What Does Success Look Like?       March is National Nutrition Month! Balancing Work/Life for Military Dietitians presented by Lisa Kinderman, Clinical Counselor. In honor of Registered Dietitians we are presenting a webinar on work/life stress management. We know how stressful your jobs can be, and you need to be well balanced and nourished to be your best.April 26, 2016 11:00 ET: Breastfeeding – Nature’s Best presented by Rose Marie Straeter, MA, RLC, IBCLC. One conversation with Rose and you will find out how much you did not know about breastfeeding practices, challenges and how to best help your clients.May 24, 2016, at 11:00 ET:   Nutritional Trends and Implications for Weight Loss Surgery presented by Ashley McCartney, MS, RD, LDN, Bariatric Dietitian for Carle Hospital in Champaign, IL. Bariatric surgery is becoming a more viable option for the morbidly obese, learn the special nutritional needs of this population.June/July – no webinars, but stay tuned on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for continuing nutrition and wellness education.Future webinars in the fall include topics of Nutrition Apps and the Snap program.You can still earn CPEUs for the 2015 webinars by visiting the links below, watching the video and taking the evaluation.Eating Well While Eating Out: How Calories on the Menu Can Help Guide Healthy Choices5-2-1-0 Healthy Messaging CampaignNew Medications for Type 2 DiabetesHypertension Update: Nutritional Guidelines and StrategiesNutrition and Wellness is always looking for suggestions on what topics are of interest to you? Please contact us with your suggestions or if you have a webinar you want to present.So mark your calendars and cheers to 2016.This post was written by Robin Allen, a member of the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) Nutrition and Wellness team that aims to support the development of professionals working with military families.  Find out more about the MFLN Nutrition and Wellness concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, and LinkedIn.last_img read more

More than Words: The Role Communication Plays in a Relationship

first_imgBy Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFTFlickr [Talk by Karsten Bitter, September 11, 2011, CC BY-ND 2.0]I love you. Certainly a common phrase used in relationships. But, does it mean the same thing to everyone who delivers and receives it? In the 1970’s, it was Gregory Bateson who taught us about meta-communication, the idea that communication is so much more than just the words we speak [1]. We all communicate with each other all the time, even if we don’t ever utter a single word.Now, let’s go back to I love you. Here are a couple of scenarios to consider:Joe and Tina have been married for 10 years. Tina often tells Joe that she loves him. She tells him before they go to bed and when they are both leaving for work. She tells him when they hang up the phone from each other and via emails and texts. But when Tina and Joe are together, Tina rarely has any interaction with Joe. She spends most of her time on her phone texting or making calls and often spends time alone in her favorite room in their house. When Joe tries to hug or kiss Tina, she often acts as though she is inconvenienced by this interaction and will effortlessly hug or kiss him back so that she can quickly go back to what she was previously doing.Now, think about Elizabeth and Ben. They have also been married for 10 years.  Ben tells Elizabeth that he loves her often. Just like Tina and Joe, before bed, when they’re leaving for work, before hanging up the phone, and via emails and text messages. But when they are home together, Elizabeth and Ben hold hands often and talk to each other about work and personal things. They often laugh together and enjoy working on projects in their home as a team.Although both couples use the same phrase at the same frequency and in the same situations, do you think it means the same for both couples? What is the meta-communication that is happening during these interactions? Obviously, with Tina and Joe, the message and meta-message are not the same. What Tina is saying to Joe with her words does not match what Tina is saying to him with her actions. But, Elizabeth is receiving the physical messages the same way that she is receiving the verbal messages Ben is sending.  So, what does all of this mean? This means that while we understand the importance of communicating with one another, we really need to understand that the ways in which we communicate are much better received when all of the modes we use are aligned. If we experience more relationships with communication similar to Tina and Joe’s, we find ourselves confused and frustrated. Imagine where that can take a relationship.It’s easy to see how relationships can be greatly impacted by the contradicting messages being conveyed within. It’s also easy to see why some couples will say in therapy that they are not communicating well with each other, when it may appear on the outside that they are communicating just fine. But, when a therapist watches the body language and pairs it with the words spoken, the disconnect may become more apparent.Now what do we do with this information? While it is much easier said than done, I think it’s important that we slow down and spend more time thinking about how and what we are trying to communicate with others. While there is still possibility for some conflictual communication, being more cognizant of both messages and meta-messages may help relationships to be a little less confusing. And, couldn’t we all use a little less confusion in our lives?ReferencesBateson, G. (1972). Steps to an ecology of mind: Collected essays in anthropology, psychiatry, evolution, and epistemology. Chicago: University of Chicago PressThis post was written by Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT, the social media and webinar coordination specialist for the MFLN Family Development Team. The Family Development team aims to support the development of professionals working with military families.  Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network Family Development concentration on our website, Facebook, and Twitter.last_img read more

How to Clean up Audio in Premiere Pro in 30 Seconds

first_imgNeed to get good audio fast? Just follow these quick steps in Premiere Pro and Audition.A video is only as strong as the audio supporting it. But if you’re in a pinch, you may not have the time to perfectly finesse your audio. Let’s take a look at how to quickly fix your audio in Premiere Pro — with a little help from Adobe Audition. 1. Send to AuditionNo matter your individual circumstances, if you have unneeded background noise in your audio, the best tool to clean it up is the Noise Print feature in Adobe Audition.Luckily for you, if you’re editing with Premiere Pro, you should have Audition already installed on your computer. To send an audio clip to Audition, simply right click on the track and select Edit Clip in Adobe Audition.2. Capture Noise PrintThe first thing you need to do before you apply the Noise Print effect is capture your background noise without the vocal parts. You can do this by selecting a voiceless area in your track with the Time Selection Tool. Play your track to make sure you’ve selected only background noise and no voice.Now it’s time to capture the background noise. To do so, simply navigate to Effects>Noise Reduction>Capture Noise Print or hit Shift+P. Your background noise is now saved into Audition.3. Apply Noise PrintAfter you’ve captured the Noise Print, it’s time to take the noise print out of your original audio clip. First you will need to deselect your noise print area. To do this, click anywhere in your timeline with the Time Selection Tool selected. Now navigate to Effects>Noise Reduction>Noise Reduction. A window will pop up that looks like this:You’ll see two important effects:Noise Reduction — the amount of noise that will be reduced.Reduce By — the number of decibels that the noise will be reduced.The best way to ensure that your audio will sound the best is to adjust each parameter by hand. But if you’re in a hurry, just set Noise Reduction to 50% and Reduce By to 15db. After you’ve set your noise print levels select Apply.4. Send to PremiereNow it’s time to go back to Premiere, but first you will need to save your audio out of Audition. Simply hit Command+S and your audio will be automatically saved and replaced in your Premiere Pro timeline.5. Vocal EnhancerNow that you’ve taken out most of your background noise, it’s time to enhance the vocals. Grab the Vocal Enhancer effect in your effects panel and drag it onto your audio clip. You will need to adjust the vocal enhancer for your subject.Navigate to the Effects Control panel and select the dropdown arrow under Vocal Enhancer until you see the custom setup option. Click the Edit button. You will see a box that pops up. Select Male or Female, depending on your subject.6. Set All PeaksNow that your audio is sounding great, it’s time to level it for your individual production. To do this, simply right click on the audio and select Audio Gain. Select Normalize All Peaks and set the level to -6db. You should now have decent audio that’s perfect for corporate videos, quick commercials, or news packages.Have any tips for quickly adjusting audio? Share in the comments below.last_img read more

Get Immersed with Epic Music for Timelapse Videos

first_imgHarness the power of nature with this collection of epic and evocative royalty free tracks.  Your camera pans across a dry savanna. Eventually you reveal a majestic mountain range in the distance. Now pair that image with a soaring score and you’ve got some cinematic magic happening.Music can work wonders on any landscape or timelapse scene. Used right, it can inject your shot with an instant sense of scope, awe, or tranquility. But most importantly, it can make your audience feel like they’re right there in a lonely fog-bound forest or in the middle of a scorching desert.These tracks are bound to make your landscape shots truly unforgettable. Drawing on diverse moods and styles, this playlist offers a mix of epic, intimate, and ethereal tracks that’ll help you to showcase Mother Nature in all her glory.Each track here is royalty-free and has been curated from the PremiumBeat music library. A Standard License covers most usage, including on all online video sites like YouTube and Vimeo. So choose your perfect-match track and bring your landscape and timelapse videos to life in vivid detail.last_img read more

6 Tips for Filming a Thrilling Car Chase Scene

first_imgFloor it! Here are six pieces of practical advice and some behind-the-scenes tutorials on how to safely and efficiently film a pedal-to-the-metal car chase scene.Cover image via Bullitt (Solar Productions)In way, cinema was built for the car chase, at least in the U.S.A. It’s everything we want to see. It’s loud, it’s dangerous, it’s action and conflict and decades of industry innovation all rolled into one explosive sequence of roaring engines and sweaty palms.If you’re attempting a car chase scene for the first time (or even just starting production on your first film, no matter the subject), carry this truth with you in every moment: Safety is your top priority. Always, always, always work to ensure the safety of your actors, your crew, your cars, your equipment, and the safety of the surrounding area.It takes a tightly controlled, well-rehearsed and creative mind to orchestrate a proper car scene that gives audiences reasons to sweat. Let’s dive into some tips, tricks, and practical behind-the-scenes advice from some of the best in the business.1. Tightly Script EverythingImage via ShutterstockIn hindsight, every polarizing problem I’ve ever encountered on a shoot, whether the over-all experience was positive or negative, can be traced back to pre-production. With that in mind, the following can’t be overstated: If you want your car chase shoot to be safe, professional, and fun, you simply must put in the time to tightly script out every single part of it. Period.And it’s more than just traditional scripting. A good pre-production plan should include a binder (sometimes several) of meticulous plans for every tiny part of the shoot. You can start broad and write out what you want for the final product, but be prepared to expand on, in practical terms, how every screech, side-glance, and burnout will sound, look, and feel, along with exactly how you will film it.2. Control Your EnvironmentImage via ct.govGiving due diligence to scripting will give you the most control over your production, which, when filming something as dangerous and traditionally out of control as a car chase, will help you get the best footage.This doesn’t only apply to car interiors and the space immediately around your camera. To truly control your full set, you’ll need to clearly define and lay out the entire environment. This includes all the areas your camera will see as it moves around, in addition to “buffer” spaces around the action designed to safely protect the cast and crew from any unexpected automotive mishaps.3. Use ProfessionalsImage via Bold FilmsWhich brings us to the next important tip: Use professional drivers! Unless you plan on shooting in a stationary car against a green screen, you’ll really be putting yourself and your crew in harm’s way if you enlist non-professional friends to perform complex car maneuvers.Stunt driving isn’t just a noble profession — it’s an art form dependent on strict adherence to safety protocols for the benefit of everyone involved. Hiring trained professionals is your best bet if you’re concerned with staying on schedule and staying safe.4. Move the Camera AroundImage via YonkersArguably, the best car chases are the ones that get creative and make the most use of diverse camera shots from many different places and angles. The possibilities really are endless. Even inside the car, you have a huge array of shots to consider. Study the classics and see what decisions your favorite directors have made, and take note of which scenes you like and why.Once you have your base, make your plan to include shots you are certain will work and add a few that you might not be so sure about, as you haven’t actually seen them pulled off before. As long as your main coverage is solid and controlled, you can free yourself to experiment.5. Don’t Focus on the Cars. Focus on the Action.Image via YouTubeAction filmmaking is built on this principle. When Chuck Norris executes a perfect roundhouse kick, we aren’t focused on his alligator boot. We’re focused on the action the boot takes in the air before it connects hard enough to send a perp flying out of frame.A car being driven down the road is mildly entertaining at best. A car gunning its engine as it swerves, slides, and hops a curb to barrel through an unfortunately placed newsstand, well, that’s another story completely.The trick is to give your audience enough auxiliary information that they can create something far greater in their imaginations than you’ve actually produced. You get this in everything from reaction shots and off-camera shrieks to close-ups of small items in the car flying around.6. Cheat as Much as You CanImage via ColliderThe golden line where safety and creativity meet is found when a director’s production decisions make the most of both. When faced with the litany of problems associated with shooting a challenging sequence, success depends on utilizing every production trick and camera cheat you have at your disposal.If you’re doing it right, the behind-the-scenes video of your shoot will look as safe and boring as your final product looks exciting and out of control. Things like trailer rigs, car mounts, and camera cars are vital tools for safely capturing and presenting action that looks awesomely wheels off and dangerous.Still feeling the need for speed? These in-depth features will definitely scratch that itch. Here are three videos from the guys at Film Riot (with some help from DJI Film School) which take you behind the scenes to demonstrate how they filmed a car chase of their own.Original Scene by Film RiotFeaturette on Production and CamerasBehind-the-Scenes Tutorial Got any experience filming car chases, car crashes, or any other instances of intense automotive action? Share your tips, tricks, and techniques in the comments below!last_img read more

Will Gear Companion Apps Change the Game for Lone Wolf Filmmakers?

first_imgYes, There Are Even Apps for SlidersWe talk a lot about sliders around here — the best traveling sliders, motion controlled sliders, heavy duty sliders, and so on. But a new addition to the slider category are those sliders that you can operate via an app. I’m still using a slider that I acquired in 2010, and if you would have told me then that in just a decade, I would be able to control a slider from my phone, I would have laughed. But, it’s 2019, and you can do precisely that with Edelkrone’s App for the Slider Plus.You can read about the slider here, but, when it comes to the app, it allows you to fully customize the slider’s tracking movement — from distance to speed. And when you pair it with the Edelkrone HeadOne or HeadPlus, you can also control the tilt and pan movement. Not only does this enable low-budget filmmakers to create complicated VFX that require precise robotic camera movement, but it (very simply) allows one to self-present to a moving camera.Are the gear companion apps on the market currently capable of solving all of a lone wolf filmmaker’s needs? Somewhat. While the apps are smart and dependable, you need to use them in conjunction with the gear itself. You can use Blackmagic’s Camera Control app to start recording, but you still need to watch the monitor. You can use Sound Device’s Wingman to monitor the audio levels, but you still need to be near the MixPre-6 to adjust the gain. Gear apps have certainly been growing in popularity over the last few years, and I don’t think it will be too long until you can control all aspects of a shoot — visual, sound, movement — from your iPad.Cover image via EdelkroneLooking for more on film and video production gear? Check out these articles.4 Older Cinema Cameras That Hold Up to Today’s StandardsProduction Tip: How to Calculate Power for Your CameraIs the GoPro 7 Black the Best Action Camera on the Market?Review: DaVinci Resolve 16’s Cut Page — Is It Any Good?Stabilizing Your Camera Movement: Gimbals vs. Steadicams Gear companion apps have come a long way, and they’re only getting better. So can they stand in for crew when you’re shooting solo?If you were to scroll through the archives of my lone-wolf and no-budget filmmaking guides here on PremiumBeat, you would see a consistent theme: gear recommendations for the ultimate “shreditor.” The gear needs to be compact, lightweight, and operable by one person. Despite all these recommendations, there’s just always a moment when you could do with an extra pair of hands. Perhaps to pan the camera as you move through the frame (if self-presenting), or to change the gels of the Fresnel fixture. Well, gear companion apps are slowly becoming the extra pair of hands a solo filmmaker needs.What are companion apps? They’re smartphone or tablet applications that improve the accessibility of your equipment. I’ve previously covered Panasonic’s Image App, which pairs with Panasonic’s GH camera series. It’s arguably one of the best companion apps I’ve used — from sourcing a live feed to refocusing and changing the aperture. For those who self-present, it’s like having an assistant.I should say that not every piece of equipment has accompanying apps, and not every app works quite as well as the Image App. In fact, in my initial write-up of Panasonic’s image app, I prefaced my thoughts with Companion apps are often pointless additions to make it feel like you’re getting more for your equipment-purchasing money. They rarely offer any new features, other than a visual representation of the user information, found inside the hardware. And this is still partly true.Nonetheless, we’re seeing an increase in gear shipping with compatible apps — as well as gear in development that will require a companion app to unlock all features.So, will apps ever replace missing crew members?What Do We Need from Sound Apps?I have a Sound Devices MixPre-6 for recording audio. It’s a $900, semi-professional, six-channel field mixer and recorder. It’s a fantastic device that allows me to set up multiple microphones that I can monitor — and individually mix — while on location. It’s perfect for when I want to head into the wilderness and capture the remote sounds of an isolated forest. (Try explaining that as a hobby.) However, when it comes to short films, passion projects, or just about anything that needs consistent monitoring, I have to sweet-talk my friend, who is a professional sound recordist, into operating my gear. If I’m in front of the camera, the person creating the sound effects, or just operating the camera in general, I’m going to be unable to mix the audio.Thankfully, Sound Devices has an app called Wingman, available for iOS and Android devices. This app allows you to monitor the audio (in real time) with visual levels relating to your number of channels. You can edit the metadata of the file and send a report to an email address. And, most importantly, you can hit record and stop from the app itself. So what does this do for you?Well, often, when self-presenting content online, you’re more than likely going to be using a microphone fed into the camera. However, if you’re recording sound on a separate device, you’re going to have to hit record long before stepping into the frame. While not a world-ending prospect, it’s going to eat up memory, and after each take, you need to move away from your position to end the take. Unless you’re willing to sift through the hours of audio in one long file, these are all great elements in an app. However, we’re missing a significant element — the ability to adjust the audio gain.I believe the reason why this isn’t included is that the MixPre-6 gain knobs have a limited range. You can’t continuously rotate them. The knob starts at 7 o’clock and ends at 4 o’clock. As a result, if you were to adjust the gain levels on the app, the knob position on the MixPre-6 wouldn’t correlate. While this is a downside to the Wingman App, Tascam’s DR app does allow for gain changes, along with the other features included in Wingman.We have an app that can edit metadata, start and stop recording, and (if you’re using the Tascam app) even adjust the audio gain. All these factors allow a filmmaker to move away from the audio device and concentrate on something else.What Do We Need for Camera Apps? The GH5 has a handy app that allows you to adjust all variables of the camera’s settings. But, as I covered in the write-up, that app was primarily a photography app. Blackmagic, however, does have a designated app for their cameras that have integrated Bluetooth.The app is aptly called Camera Control, and as you might have guessed, it controls the camera. You can adjust 99 percent of the recording properties from the app — from the aperture and frame rate to the white balance and ISO. The app even includes a metadata page where you can quickly add shot information (more easily than on the URSA Pro or BMPCC4K small LCD screen). I find myself using this app to quickly tag a good take.As I said in the introduction, this app is essentially a glorified version of the camera’s menu interface. It’s useful when the menu is inaccessible due to the camera’s position or setup, but it doesn’t offer much for the solo filmmaker. This primarily goes for all apps that band with professional cinema cameras. Perhaps it’s because the data information, and the technology to stream a live feed via Bluetooth (whether that includes low quality and dropped frame rates) just doesn’t exist, at this point. When you do use remote live viewing, whether from Canon’s app or Panasonic’s, it’s never truly live. There’s always a slight delay.last_img read more

How to Animate via Audio Frequencies in Adobe After Effects

first_img“Without music, life would be a mistake” ―Friedrich Nietzsche. Without music, animation and motion graphics would also be a mistake.This is why Davey.Studio created the FreqReact script for Adobe After Effects. This helpful little tool allows you to harness specific sound frequencies and use them to animate properties of a graphic element.This might remind you of a tutorial I created several months ago that was all about how to use audio to drive animations via keyframes, pickwhips, and the graph editor. While this method is certainly useful, it’s not as streamlined and intuitive as using the FreqReact script. Let’s take a step-by-step look at how to use this tool in a real-world animation scenario.In this particular tutorial, I’m going to animate a rocket flying through space. I’ll use the bass of a PremiumBeat track to control the flames of the rocket, as well as the star-field in the background.Step 1 — Create a New ProfileFirst, I’ll need to create a new profile. With the music track selected in the timeline, I’ll click on the New Profile button in the FreqReact panel, and I’ll name it Bass. I can choose to apply the profile to the entire comp or a specific work area.Step 2 — Select the FrequencyNow for the fancy part. FreqReact will generate a new comp, allowing me to view the spectral frequency of my music track. I’ll use the preset views in the FreqReact panel to isolate the desired range of the frequency, or I can manually type in a range. Now, I’ll use the bounding box in the comp panel to highlight the bass area I’d like to use to drive my animations. Once selected, I’ll press the Bake button.Step 3 — BakeBaking adds all of the necessary keyframes to my audio track. The beauty here is that I can add multiple profiles to one single music track, as each one will show up as a separate effect. Now, I’m ready to apply these as animations.Step 4 — ReactTo animate, I’ll need to select a property. First, I want the flame of my rocket to shoot out during the bass hits. To apply, I’ll select the Scale attribute of the Flame layer. Next, I’ll grab the Bass profile in the FreqReact panel, then grab the Pulse controller. Now, I can apply the effect via the React button. For the stars in the background, I’ll grab the necessary attribute and follow the same steps as above.Step 5 — CustomizeAfter pressing the React button, a new Pulse effect applies to the layers, allowing me to customize the intensity of the pulse via the Effect Controls panel. For the star-field, I’ll open up the Mods section of the effect and select Additive. This’ll make the stars move across the screen instead of simply moving back and forth.Voilà! A quick and easy animation with just a few simple clicks. To pick up a copy of FreqReact, head over to Davey.Studio’s website.Looking for more on Adobe After Effects? Check out these articles.15 FREE Camera Shake Presets for After Effects and Premiere ProLearn to Create Your Own 8-Bit Art in Adobe After Effects7 Useful Ctrl and Cmd Key Shortcuts in Adobe After EffectsAdobe Releases New Content Aware Fill Tool for After Effects5 Ways to Animate with Trim Paths in Adobe After Effectslast_img read more

Key Concepts for Incorporating Game Theory into Filmmaking

first_imgIn this roundup, check out some useful strategies from the world of game theory that apply to the decisions many filmmakers face.Game Theory has been around since the 1940s, when John von Neumann and others created a mathematical model for rational decision-making in competitive circumstances. Over the last century, game theory has produced many interesting ideas that apply to all aspects of life — including filmmaking.MiniMaxImage via guruXOX.MiniMax is the game theory idea that you should MINimize the MAXimum thing that could go wrong. When you face the dilemma of capturing a great shot that might kill your schedule (or camera), or capturing a decent shot that’ll keep you on track, chose the decent shot. No one shot saves a film; however, many films die from running out of time and money. You can go with the safer, less spectacular shot, knowing the math backs you up.Principle-Agent ProblemImage via gerasimov_foto_174.This is a game theory idea that even though someone is ostensibly representing another party, they’re really negotiating for their own interests, rather than the person they represent. If you’re trying to contact an actor through their agent or manager, and you hear that they’re not interested, this might be true, or it might be that your low-budget film offers little interest to the agent and their ten-percent-of-nothing commission.This has long been a problem for getting name actors in indie films, even though they may love to hear about the project. If you can find another way to get them the script, or get their attention through other channels, you may have a better chance of sparking their interest.It’s also good to know that if you make an official offer, the law says that the agent has to present it to their client. Again, this doesn’t always happen, but in the end, money talks.Free-Rider ProblemImage via kenary820.Most industries have to deal with free-riders. If there isn’t a strong incentive for people to pay, a certain percentage of customers will try and get the service for free. The more pervasive this becomes, the easier it is for other free-riders. This leads to a downward spiral of deteriorating quality because of lower revenues — and even more free-riders who feel like the degraded service isn’t worth paying for.The entertainment industry has a huge issue with piracy, and not just at the Hollywood level. Even YouTube creators and short film producers have seen their work reuploaded to platforms like Facebook that don’t share revenue.A key solution to the free-rider problem is to de-commodify your content — don’t make people feel you’re a faceless corporation producing films by committee. Musicians have escaped the diminishing revenues from album sales by selling merchandise (and other things) directly to their fans. Filmmakers are using social media, and platforms like Patreon, to do the same.Zero-Sum vs. Non-Zero-Sum EquationsImage via ShutterOK.People often treat negotiations as win or lose — filmmaking is no acceptation. Zero-sum means that you’re trying to divide a finite amount of money — for every dollar I get, someone else loses one. Yet, the reality is rarely this cut and dry. If an actor’s agent gets them a lion’s share of the budget, there may be less left over to pay other good actors, or shoot a film that’s worth the actor’s time and talent. The same is true for a DP who gets everything in his camera package but ends up reducing the art budget — to the point where the sets look cheap on camera.It’s helpful to approach negotiations from a perspective of everyone trying to reach the same conclusion — creating a great film, where everyone gets fairly compensated and does their best work. That way, everyone is less worried about their piece of the pie, and free to come up with how to make a better pie.Cover image via Thanakitt Kayangarnnavy.Looking for more insight into the film and video industry? Check out these articles.How to Develop and Shoot Memorable Character Introductions5 Steps to Finding (and Closing) Video Production JobsIndustry Insights with Cinematographer Michael FranksThe Video Camera Trends Currently Re-Shaping the IndustryWill Buying Your Own Camera Get you Work as a DP?last_img read more

Free Script Writing Software Options for the Low-Budget Filmmaker

first_imgNeed to write a script on a no-to-low-budget? Here are some great, free alternatives to the high priced Hollywood standards.You want to write a movie! You Google the best screenwriting software and come upon Final Draft, an industry standard. With such words of praise from Guillermo del Toro like: “If one could marry a program — or even elope with one — I would choose Final Draft.” J.J. Abrams even recommends getting Final Draft, even if you don’t own a computer! Then you get to the price: $250.Now, I’m not saying it isn’t worth it. Final Draft has many wonderful features that help get you from concept to, well, a final draft of your script. The program aids in fast character and scene reports so your First AD and Line Producers can start building budgets and schedules. But when you’re starting out as a starving screenwriter, you might not be able to afford this with all its bells and whistles. You need something cheap. You need something free!For the past few years, I’ve been using an old desktop version of Celtx. Celtx still has a free version. However, it’s browser-based and only allows you to write up to three projects (including ones you trash). The browser version is still good, featuring a decent character catalog system and other features. However, I wanted to see if there were any fully free script writing software on the web that don’t limit you. Here’s what I found.FountainFountain isn’t even a program. It’s a very basic set of rules you can incorporate into any standard word processor, whether it be Notepad, Microsoft Word, Google Docs, etc. It’ll take a bit to learn, but it’s free. Once you’re done writing, you just pass your document through a growing list of Fountain-supported apps that will then do all the industry standard formatting for you. And yes, several of those apps are free to use.Images via fountain.ioThis is great because you could write a whole screenplay on your phone’s text app, as long as you follow the Fountain syntax rules. And, through some of the supported Fountain apps, you can even convert it to a Final Draft file. But Final Draft will not directly import Fountain, so you’ll need to pass it through a conversion app. However, the programs listed below do import Fountain and can even export to it for switching between programs.TrelbyIn a way, Trelby is a step up from Fountain. It’s a full fledged program you can download for free. It’s open source so if you’re a developer, you can get into the code and modify it as you please.Trelby is only available for Windows and Linux, so it’s a no-go for iOS (any Mac users can just skip ahead to the next program overview). Keep in mind, Trelby is extremely basic. Want to write a script? Here you go. It’s got some features and allows for decent customization of margins and what the Tab and Enter keys do, and the colors of the interface.Image via trelby.orgA negative of the program is that whenever you add (V.O.), it counts it as a whole new character in the reports. But a positive is that the PDF export contains bookmarks for each scene heading. Plus, along with exporting to Fountain, you can export to Final Draft XML.Image via trelby.orgAll in all, it’s pretty straightforward. Open the app, write your script, export. There are no bells and whistles with Trelby. No complaints, but it leaves the user wanting.Kit ScenaristThis program is pretty awesome. For being completely free, it’s very versatile. It’s made by a Russian developer who is continuously perfecting the software. You can even download the most current Beta Test version, or simply opt for the last, most stable update.You can export for Final Draft, which is a plus if you’re going to be working with a crew who uses it. It also exports to Word DOCX and PDF, of course. The program offers several different script formats depending on your region. It includes Hebrew, Chinese, and Russian script formats, along with the default Hollywood standard.A nice feature is that up in the right hand corner, there’s a clock that gives you an estimation of how long your screenplay is in minutes and seconds. Depending on where your cursor is, it also shows how many minutes into the film you are. Of course, this clock is an approximation based on sixty seconds a page (which can be adjusted in the settings), but it gives a nice sense of accomplishment as you write more and more.Additionally, this feature extends to the scene Table of Contents on the left. There, you can see estimations of how long each scene will be. I love this feature because it really helps me with figuring out pacing in my scripts, so I can decide if a scene should be longer or shorter.While it’s free, you can pay for dedicated cloud storage and buy a mobile version for your phone (available on both Android and iOS). Through the cloud storage, you can sync your script between desktop and your mobile device. However, no money or email signup is required to download the free version.A negative is that the program is still in the works, so you may run into some issues here and there as the developer refines the coding. Be sure to save your work often and download the updates when prompted.Overall, I really like this program because of how intuitive it feels. If you’ve ever written a film script before, you’ll easily pick up this program in just a few minutes. There’s a lot of great features to explore — too many to list here — especially considering it’s free. Definitely check it out!These are just a few options for free screenwriting software. If you decide to purchase a full-fledged, script writing software, you don’t have to limit yourself to Final Draft. But, I hope these options help you as you’re starting out. At the end of the day, what matters most is the screenplay itself. No program can make up for poor writing. Be sure to keep practicing, refining your art, and reading other scripts to sharpen your skills. The program is just a tool to make the job a little more convenient.Top image via gerasimov_foto_174.Looking for more tips on script writing? Check these out.How to Overcome the 5 Biggest Obstacles to Writing Your ScreenplayPre-Production Tips: How and Why to Break Down a ScriptIndustry Insights: The Ins and Outs of Working as a Script SupervisorAustin Film Festival Interview: Insights for Turning Your Script into a 90-Second PitchInterview: Christina Kallas on Writing and Directing Multi-Protagonist Screenplayslast_img read more

Transparency Creates Trust

first_imgThere are a lot of people who believe that selling well requires that you paint a picture of a desired better future without sharing the challenges that it is going to take to make that future a reality. They believe that sharing anything that might even hint at being challenging or difficult will chase their prospective client right into the arms of their competitor. So, they sell only the journey down the primrose path, leaving out all the obstacles that are part of a real change initiative.The truth of the matter is that being transparent about the challenges creates trust, makes your advice informed and realistic, and create a preference to work with you.After I had sold for a decade, I started to tell my clients that “We tend to get things right after the third or fourth try, after we’ve made a few mistakes, learned a few things, and had a chance to make adjustments.” Clients would respond, “Three or four tries? Really? . . . it takes us eight or ten tries to get things right.” As it turns out, mature business people trust the fact that you know it isn’t going to be easy, that you know you are going to have to work at things, and that you are going to have to make adjustments as proof that you can be trusted. What they struggle with is the story that you are going to make everything better by taking over the challenges that the client and your competitor have struggled with for a long time, possibly years.When results are difficult to produce, disclosing the fact that there will be challenges means your perspective is informed by experience, realistic, and that you have figured out how to figure things out. It’s proof positive that you are not afraid of dealing with problems and challenges and that you are not going to run and hide at the first sign of trouble.If you want to create a preference, you start by being the kind of person that other people want to do business with, and that starts with being trusted. If you are always transparent, you will gain that trust because your client knows that you aren’t afraid of the truth. If your prospective client runs away because you have told them how much work it is going to take to give them the result they need, then you are better off allowing your competitor to serve them while they get the education that comes from experiencing the better, faster, cheaper lie first hand (in my experience, it takes three changes of partners before they seek the truth).Painting a pretty and unrealistic picture is how you stay small. A consultative salesperson and trusted advisor is not afraid to tell the truth—or speak truth to power. That’s why they are trusted. Essential Reading! Get my 2nd book: The Lost Art of Closing “In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall.” Buy Nowlast_img read more

Litter-free Goa: art installation’s aim

first_imgPANAJI: The North Goa-based Museum of Goa (MOG) will inaugurate Carpet of Joy, an installation by Goan sculptor Dr. Subodh Kerkar that has flowers made out of 1,50,000 discarded plastic bottles, on Monday at Saligao Circle. The installation aims to raise awareness against littering, and promote the idea of a litter-free Goa.Speaking to The Hindu on Sunday, Mr. Kekar said his work was inspired by Israeli artist Uri De Beer’s Plastiflora. “There is plastic litter everywhere. Even the educated and the rich litter shamelessly. This situation can only change with the education of our children; the anti-litter idea has to be inculcated from an early age,” he said.The sculptor said a viewing platform will be created at the venue, in addition to a podium for taking an ‘anti-litter’ oath.last_img read more