The mobile video rig, 2014 edition

Electronics continue to get smaller and more portable every year. Recently, a few folks have asked what the video gear of choice is these days, especially for road warriors. Here’s my current gearing strategy – and bear in mind, this is subject to change, too!

First, this is what all of the gear looks like, arranged on a desk – you can see how easily it will fit in a backpack or bag.

IMG_1540

This is what it looks like, set up:

IMG_1542

Gear

Camera

Most smartphones these days take good enough video. Your iPhone 5s/6/6+ or Galaxy/HTC/Nexus will do the trick in normal or good lighting. What makes or breaks video with a smartphone is stability. You don’t get stability from holding the phone in your hand.

Stability

Pedco UltraPod II Lightweight Camera Tripod

For conferences, nothing beats a small table-top tripod. I use the Ultrapod; I’ve broken way too many Gorillapod tripods in my time to ever recommend one again. The Ultrapod is good enough, and has a velcro strap so you can always bind it to a pole or chair or something.

Norazza Monopod-lightweight TD140

For moving around, the Norazza TD140 monopod is my choice. Folded up, it’s a 14-inch monopod, which means it fits inside a roller bag with ease, and even in some backpacks. Most other monopods fold to 22 inches or 24 inches, which is a problem.

Professional Mini Ball Head Camera Mount

Almost every monopod will need a ball head if you don’t want to risk damaging the top eventually. A good ball head will also let you walk around with the monopod dangling loosely below it, which in turn allows the weight of the monopod to act as a stabilizer.

Square Jellyfish Smartphone Spring Tripod Mount for Smart Phones 2-1/4 - 3-5/8' Wide (Stand not Included)

For mounting your phone on these units, use a spring clamp. I like the Square Jellyfish, but nearly any will do as long as it doesn’t damage the case of your phone.

Audio

Ampridge MightyMic S iPhone Shotgun Video Microphone MMS

Because we’re using the smartphone as the recorder, you can use any mic accessories that are phone-compatible. I like this little shotgun mic from Ampridge that delivers decent sound, especially for interviews, and plugs right into the phone’s audio jack. Bonus: it’s super lightweight, so you can get decent audio without 20 pounds of mice and cables.

Power

AP® 15600mAh Power Bank Charger Universal External Powered Backup Porable Battery Pack Backup Travel Cell Phone Charger for Mobile Phone, iPhone, iPad, Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, Nokia, LG, BlackBerry, iPod,MP3,MP4,PSP,PDA

This right here is the bane of smartphone video: running out of battery power. Video consumes an inordinate amount of battery, so having an external battery pack is essential – and ideally more than one. A big power bank will let you record all day and only need to sync with a laptop when you have to offload data, not because you run out of juice.

Software

I’m on a Mac, so I use iMovie.

Adobe Creative Cloud

If you’re looking for something a little more robust, you can rent Adobe Creative Cloud for $50/month and get Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Audition to bring some heavier horsepower to your video work.

Process

Great video requires great audio. Use the gear above along with the leveling process I described in this post on how to get iMovie and Levitator to work together. If you’re using Adobe’s suite, you can do the same by roundtripping the audio from Premiere Pro to Audition and back.

Output

Here’s a video I shot with this exact setup at the MarketingProfs B2B forum:

This is the Tufts Beelzebubs at the conference opener, shot from tabletop.

I hope this helps aspiring videographer road warriors streamline some of the gear you’re carrying while not sacrificing a great deal in the quality department! Unsurprisingly, all of the products mentioned here are Amazon affiliate links.


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Entering a new international market

Transfluent asked on Twitter:

This is an interesting question, especially from a digital marketing perspective. The first and most logical choice is: go wherever the business is. To do this, you’d want to invest some time in audience research, to find out where the business actually is. One of the better tools for the job is Facebook, believe it or not.

Using Facebook’s Audience Insights, look at the broad category of your industry, or look at a major competitor that already has an international presence. Let’s use an example of people who are interested in translation or people who are interested in the Rosetta Stone language software:

Audience_Insights

In this case, the first pass at audience research indicates that countries like Brazil, Italy, and Pakistan might be interested in a competing product category.

This seemingly obvious strategy has one significant potential trap: cultures vary!

By cultures vary, I mean to say that just because a market is large, doesn’t mean you have the ability to operate effectively in it. In the example above, Brazil may be the largest potential market, but doing business in Brazil requires significant investment in people, because the Brazilian culture requires that you work with someone who can help you navigate the environment, language, and people.

This is largely true even of countries that share your language. For example, just because the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia all share a generally understandable version of the same language as the United States does not mean that United States companies can copy and paste their marketing to those other nations.

So how do you make the determination for where you should go next? Think about which of these nations I could effectively operate in as a business. For example, despite the traffic, the United Kingdom might not be my first choice solely because of the time and significant cultural difference. I might instead look to my neighbor to the North, Canada. I can drive there, parts of it are in the same time zone as I am, and there’s enough cultural overlap that my marketing might work out of the box in the short term while I look to bring on local talent in the long term.

To wrap up, do your audience research, and then make the determination about where you can operate most effectively. Remember that these percentage numbers mask the true scale of the nations they represent. “Only” 6% of Facebook users may be interested in translation software that live in Italy, but 6% of 60 million people is still 3.6 million human beings. That’s a healthy potential market to start making inroads into.


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How much should you give away in content marketing? Part 2 of 2

In the last post, we discussed a basic tactic for determining what you should and shouldn’t give away in your content marketing strategy. Let’s look at a more advanced strategy that’s derived from the old ninja clans of ancient Japan.

In the lore of the ninja, one of the most prized items held by the headmaster of the clan was the densho, or scrolls of martial techniques. These densho held descriptions of the clan’s secret fighting techniques, along with illustrations of how to perform the techniques, construct the tools, etc.

Winchendon Martial Arts Center

Their value was priceless and could mean the difference between literal life and death for the practitioners of that clan’s martial arts. As such, the techniques were closely guarded secrets, and were encoded in a very special way. Each technique was encoded in such a way that an uninitiated practitioner would read the technique and if they attempted it, as written, they’d end up getting themselves killed. The way the techniques were written was wrong.

Only those initiated by the clan’s master teachers were told exactly how the techniques were written down wrong, so that they knew what to adapt, ignore, or adjust to make them work. Sometimes it was enough to simply know that a technique should be on the reverse side; other times, the name of the technique gave a hint as to what it should feel like, rather than the written description.

We can take this technique and adapt it to our content marketing in a less harmful way. What can you safely give away? Give away the basic techniques, tactics, and methods, but make your content incomplete. Anyone who doesn’t work for your company or brand gets value, but doesn’t get the whole picture. For example, take a look at this simple recipe for cake. Ignore that there are no proportions; they’re unimportant for this example.

Eggs
Milk
Sugar
Flour
Cocoa
Yeast

If you were to bake up a cake with this basic recipe, you’d get a decent chocolate cake. However, there are two ingredients missing that could turn this average cake into a great cake – vanilla extract and salt. A pinch of salt drastically alters how our taste buds perceive flavor, and the vanilla adds a lot of depth to the flavors.

If I were working for a company that made cakes, I’d publish the basic recipe, while holding onto the “secret ingredients” for my company’s cakes that made them superior. The cake you baked with our recipe would still be good enough for when you just wanted some cake, but if you had a special occasion, you’d know that there was always something a little extra from a cake bought from our store.

No matter what your product, service, or company, there are likely basic and advanced recipes. Take a look at what recipes you have, determine what you can omit and still deliver a passable result, and use that as the basis for your content marketing. You can even tier your content marketing; a while back, I wrote a blog post about benchmarking in Google Analytics, but only premium subscribers to my newsletter got the advanced recipe.

Try this method of content marketing strategy to deliver value to your audiences without giving away everything!

…Of course, that does make you wonder what I left out of this post, doesn’t it?


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