Follow by Email

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pros and Cons of Hard Copies (DVD's) vs. Downloads or Streaming Media or "Why DVD's will be here for awhile" (but not as long as some people think.)

Pros and Cons of Hard Copies (DVD's) vs. Downloads or Streaming Media or "Why DVD's will be here for awhile" (but not as long as some people think.)

Our generation likes to have the media in our hands but the download generation doesn't seem to mind having it as a file. But here a few reasons why DVD"s will be around for awhile.

1-For downloads you absolutely need hi speed Internet. Dial-up users need not apply. As fibre optic networks develop this will be less of an issue. One point each. 
Score DVD 1 - Download 1

2-With downloads you only get the movie. No director's cuts, special features, commentaries, sub titles or languages. So if you are a real student of film you will miss out on some neat stuff. Liner notes and printed content will only be with the DVD hard copy. One point for DVD's.
Score DVD 2 - Download 1

3-While both downloads and DVD's are compressed downloaded or streamed movies are more compressed. This means the quality is not as good as DVD, particularly BluRay. 
Another point for DVD's.
Score DVD 3 - Download 1

4-Download rentals are only for 24 hours. But you don't have to get into your car to return them and there are no late fees. One point for each. 
Score DVD 4 - Download 2

5-Availability - In most cases, Downloads are only available on average 30 days after the DVD release. So if you really want to be the first in your neighbourhood to see the latest Blockbuster you will have to rent or buy the DVD. One point DVD.
Score DVD 5 - Download 2

6-Can you imagine movie night with the family sitting around your computer? I can't, but the next generation of screens will be Smart TV's and stream ready. So services like Netflix will prosper. (God help us all if the internet goes down.) Another point for DVD's.
Score DVD 5 - Download 3

7-Selection - currently you will only find about 20 to 30% of what's available ready for download or streaming. This number will only go up but for now selection is limited. 
Point DVD.

Final Score DVD 6 - Download 3

So, aside from the download convenience factor, DVD's still have a considerable edge..

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to send me feedback and comments.

You can receive notice of new blog instalments automatically. Please subscribe to the Blog by "Joining this site" and becoming a member.

Mike Reid can be heard approximately once a month on the Dave Fisher Show, weekends on CJAD 800 in Montreal. Mike and Dave talk about technology and new directions during these ten minute spots.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tips for Performing with Teleprompters

I am fond of saying that the Teleprompter I bought for my studio years ago was one of the best investments I ever made. A prompter can take your average Joe who has never been in front of a camera and make him look like a news anchor. It cuts down production time and editing, delivers a more professional look and depending on the production, can save more money than it costs.

So your boss wants you to be on camera for a corporate video. Here are some tips on how you can deliver an amazing performance.

Although you will have a teleprompter to help you, it is REALLY important that you know the rhythm and cadence of your script extremely well before the camera rolls. A good delivery on camera has a natural rhythm and feel to it. It will take some practice to ensure that things will look and sound great. 

Rehearsal, rehearsal, rehearsal....
Prompters negate the need to memorize, but you have to be comfortable with the content.
When you get your final script, read it through. In your head it has to sound like a conversation rather than like the reading of a text book. Some subtle changes to sentence structure or maybe the odd word change may help your  "verbal" delivery a lot. I suggest you read the script out loud a dozen times or so.This will give you a good feel for the content. Reading aloud may also help remove any stiffness in your delivery. Then, when you are more relaxed, it will allow for some subtle reactions in your face and eyes that will help sell the spontaneity of the content. With practice you will feel much more confident. If the piece is a dialogue between or amongst other on camera people then make sure you rehearse out loud with your fellow actors.

A little animation will go a long way. You have to believe your part. Any changes in verbiage that make you more comfortable are fine as long as the meaning of your point is not changed. Remember, any script changes need to be given to the Prompter Operator the day before the shoot so they can be formatted in the prompter computer. Don't fret if there are last minute changes. If the need arises, changes can be made on the fly while shooting. 
As you rehearse, engage your body language and your hands. Well timed movement, smiles, or nods to the camera can pay huge dividends on impact and professionalism. If you are uncomfortable with this then just concentrate on the rhythm and elocution of your read. After all, the message is the important thing.

On the day of the shoot I generally coach teleprompter readers with these next tips. Try to use them when you rehearse. They may be useful to you if the director doesn't have the time to help.

1 - BREATHE..... People tend to get a little nervous when they get in front of a camera and try to squeeze as much out as they can with a single breath. You need to be cognizant of your breathing and breathing points that should occur in your script 

2 - Relax! I run a very relaxed set. We laugh a lot. Nerves need not be an issue. You have to realize that you are not professional actors, mistakes will be made and really, this is NOT a problem. The way the shoot is normally done allows for editing and in most cases, you need only worry about one paragraph at a time. Believe me, professional actors need many takes. Don't worry about it and don't take everything too seriously. A teleprompter will make you look and sound fantastic. You'll see.

3 - PAUSE - Use the natural sentence structure; phrases, commas and periods as an opportunity to pause for effect. These also make great breathing points. While formatting for the Prompter we can insert spaces or special notes to signal a pause for you. These can be a great aid to your delivery.

4 - SLOW DOWN - Our everyday speaking tends to be very fast and words get slurred together so that a sentence sounds like one word. Slowing down will seem foreign to you at first, especially as you read aloud, but believe me it will look and sound GREAT on camera. Diction, enunciation, breathing at the right time, pausing for effect and modest hand movement and body language will have you selling your part extremely well. With some rehearsal time and everybody's friend, the teleprompter, you will breeze through the shoot.

Usually there will be a minimum of people on set for the shoot. A cameraman, prompter person, maybe a script assistant and yourselves. There will be some lighting and production equipment and personnel. You may be asked to wear a wireless microphone or sound may be captured with a boom microphone. Your wardrobe will probably be discussed in advance and should consist of neutral colours. Although red ties or scarves can be allowed stay away from red jackets if possible. Also avoid busy patterns and fine lines as they can drive a camera crazy. In the HD world these are less of an issue than they were but you should still keep them in mind. I usually recommend you bring a second outfit, just in case. Of course if the shoot is taking place in front of a green screen then you cannot wear any shades of green at all.

So that is it. These tips are simple, easy to practice and worth following. While they don't guarantee an Oscar performance they will certainly help you look and feel great on camera.

Relax and have some fun.

See you in the movies.


You can receive notice of new blog instalments automatically. Please subscribe to the Blog by "Joining this site" and becoming a member.

Mike Reid can be heard approximately once a month on the Dave Fisher Show, weekends on CJAD 800 in Montreal. Mike and Dave talk about technology and new directions during these ten minute spots.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cable or Satellite, what's the scoop?

In this convergent world we live in there is still debate as to whether Cable TV or Satellite TV is the best way to go. Both have their advantages and drawbacks. Let's take a look at some background.

Cable was a godsend for TV viewers when it came out. For the first time TV was available in a crystal clear form. Gone were the vagaries of the rabbit ears or the rooftop antennae with or without a rotor. Your TV signal was delivered to you through a wire and in most cases you had more variety in channel selection and were not dependant on good weather for clear reception. The big drawback was the monthly fee. Over the antenna everything was free. Cable became fee for service. You essentially had to pay for better quality and selection. Today with fibre optics, cable offers full HD and Surround Sound with fantastic signal reliability. In many cases, users can now have their internet connection and telephone service through their cable company as well. This allows for substantial monthly savings because of bundled services.

As television grew, everyone wanted bigger, more, better. Satellite came about and offered the bandwidth to enable hundreds of channels in exceptional clarity plus the ability to watch feeds from other time zones. So, if you missed your favourite show for any reason, you could pick it up on another feed in a later time zone. Problem solved. Huge choice with access to network shows, specialty channels and Pay TV drove market share in satellite services to large numbers. Drawbacks include high monthly fees and rain fade, that is, compromised signal when the dish can't "see" the satellite because of environmental conditions.
An additional drawback is that internet connection is not generally a satellite offered service.

So what do you choose?
In my case we have a hybrid system. Satellite for mainstream TV and specialty channels and cable as a local channel back up with our high speed internet bundled in. Having both is definitely much more expensive but in our house both TV and internet are valued highly so we pay the price.

For retired people or others who are on a budget, cable would seem to be the answer. It offers great signal integrity, internet, telephone ability and a wide variety of television channels.

If you can put up with the occasional signal outage due to heavy weather, then satellite offers the optimum choice for your viewing. It will all depend on your consumer habits and the frequency and time allotted in your lifestyle for viewing TV.

At the risk of adding more mud to the situation let me say a word or two about PVR's or Personal Video Recorders which are available on both cable and satellite networks. These are devices which are akin to your old VHS recorders but without tape. They are essentially Hard Drive recorders that let you tap in to your cable or satellite feed and record and time shift record the shows you would like to see for later viewing. There are even ones that will let you program weeks in advance and tape two programs at the same time you are watching another one.

It all boils down to how much of a TVaholic you are.

Newer to the media picture are the TV and Film services like Net Flix. These are monthly fee view on demand services that allow you to watch a substantial selection of recent movies and whole seasons of TV Shows anytime you want. While very affordable you need a fast internet connection and a device to stream through like a Sony Playstation, a computer or a smart TV. In addition you must realize that not every show or movie is offered. These services are great for people who like movies and some television programs but who are also on a severe budget.

For years I have been urging my customers and radio show listeners to think about convergence. That is to say that, sooner rather than later your whole media world and your household will be centred on your computer and/or your internet connection. You will be able to turn on your lights, change your thermostat, program your TV, start the oven etc. all remotely using WiFi or cellular connections and the internet.

With that in mind, my money is on cable to end up on top. Reliability as your internet provider is the key here. In this Wi-Fi on demand world that is increasingly converging towards the internet as the conduit for all things, cables inherent speed and reliability will ensure its primacy. Couple that with the bundling of all services and I think it will offer you the best bang for your buck, as long as you are not looking for that show you missed on a west coast feed. But then again you can always wait a day and watch it online.

As always your comments are welcome. Drop me an email or comment here.

You can receive notice of new instalments automatically. Please subscribe to the Blog by "Joining this site" and becoming a member.

Mike Reid can be heard approximately once a month on the Dave Fisher Show, weekends on CJAD 800 in Montreal. Mike and Dave talk about technology and new directions during these ten minute spots.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dealing with electronics salesmen

Hi folks. Welcome to another KEMEdia Moment. 

I’ve been at video and audio production for a long time and I’ve purchased a lot of electronics and computers over the years. I learned a few lessons along the way in dealing with sales staff. I have to admit though, I was one of them in another lifetime. So I have some inside information on what makes them tick and how big box stores operate, so stick around.

Buying electronics or computers can be a daunting task. There are dozens of brand names with even more models, a great variety of pricing and options.
Plus, everybody says they have the best price and that they will match or better a price on any competitors price.

It can be a crock! Dealer A has a set you like for $499.00.
Dealer B has one that is equipped with the same specs but there are slight cosmetic differences. He’s selling it for $ 50  less. You kind of like the colour of the frame on Dealer A’s set so you go to a salesman there and say “Dealer B has the same model for 50 bucks less will you match the price?”
He asks you the model number. Let’s say it’s a Widget 5000 LCD3. Imagine your surprise when he tells you it is not the same model. His model number is 5000LCD3X. It’s a game the manufactures play with their retailers so that they don’t have to cut profits and match prices.

Here is another scenario. The retailer advertises a blow out sale on a DVD player. There are limited quantities so you rush right over. There is only one left and it is practically bolted to the display shelf. He’s not able to sell you the demo model because chances are they will get more stock but while you are here I have an even better model with more features and it only costs 50 bucks more. It's the famous “Bait and Switch” routine. Almost all retailers do it and you don’t have to fall for it. In the final analysis, if you really want the demo model they have to sell it to you.

Finding a good salesman who you can trust can be frustrating. Generally, I find the big box stores staffed with young students who have had a smattering of training and are keen but are not the best at finding what is really best for you. It’s not their fault really. They probably have bosses that are giving them quotas on product and pressuring them all of the time to sell the extended warranties. Why? Because these companies make a lot of money on warranties and salesmen and managers often have bonuses tied to warranty sale performance. Whether or not you buy an extended warranty is really up to you. We’ll cover them in an upcoming blog.

Most towns have a boutique type audio/video/computer store. I find that the staff in these stores are generally older, more experienced and have many years in electronic  sales. Don’t get me wrong. They still are out to make money. Profit is not a 4 letter word. But by virtue of their experience they are better advisors. They generally listen to your needs more and try to fit you with the correct purchase. The big drawback is less selection. I find large selections add to the mud in your brain anyways.

These purchases are generally hefty price tickets. You should take your time. Find a store and a salesman you like and support them. Your continued support will be appreciated and it will pay dividends if you ever need after sales service or something extra in the way of accessories.

We’ll deal with buying specific items in future webisodes. So stay tuned for more KEMEdia Moments.
Thanks for reading. 

Don’t forget, if you have something to say or a question to ask you can e-mail me at and check out our website at

You can receive notice of new blog instalments automatically. Please subscribe to the Blog by "Joining this site" and becoming a member.

Mike Reid can be heard approximately once a month on the Dave Fisher Show, weekends on CJAD 800 in Montreal. Mike and Dave talk about technology and new directions during these ten minute spots.