The Quality Ramp

rampHave you ever watched something you did several years ago and cringed at how bad it was?

I had this experience recently. When the pilot episode of my show became available on Amazon Prime, I watched it with my family. Ug. That was hard to do.

It wasn’t the worst video I’d ever seen. I mean, the story was basically solid. The core structure worked OK. But the lines, it’s obvious this was one of my first scripts. I kept having the actors tell the plot instead of show the plot. (Really, this is a problem in many of the episodes of the series…)

We didn’t know what we were doing. Production quality was subpar. I mean, I knew how to run a camera, but I’d never shot a dramatic scene. I’d read a book, so I knew to get coverage with a master, some over the shoulders and close ups. We had some decent (for the time) equipment, but not nearly enough lighting tools. I think we had about 3 lights, with varying color temps. We had a Sennheiser 816 shotgun, a really long microphone, and a couple of lav mics. Many times the shotgun was just too far away from the source, capturing quiet dialogue and loud room noise. I spent way too much time in post trying to fix it. And of course, it didn’t get fixed. And many of our actors were first timers. Or they had stage experience with no film experience. In post, I was in love with every line. I don’t think I cut any of them.

There were so many ways it could have been better. But the end result was still a decent story that set up a 10 episode series. A series that won awards, not because it was amazing, but because there weren’t many people even trying to do anything like it back then. A series that dealt with real issues facing Christians today. Something, that even now-3 years later- is still being seen.

I knew even back then that the quality wasn’t very good. I almost didn’t release it. I actually went and watched the first attempts of other filmmakers, and compared my work to theirs. I realized two things:

1, Everyone has room for improvement, and some successful filmmakers started out as bad as I was.

2, If you wait until you’re an expert to do anything, you’ll never do anything. You have to start where you are, and work to improve.

It’s the 2nd point that’s the most important.

How did a volunteer cast and crew spend under $9000 to produce an award winning 10 episode series that was shown on 4 different networks (JCTV, NRB, Parables, The Walk), tons of different local channels, satellite around the world, translated into another language in Romania, is still available on the internet and now a VOD streaming platform? We didn’t know we couldn’t.

I know people who are smart, talented and have an amazing idea just waiting to be produced. And that idea just keeps waiting. But part of the point of independent film is the freedom to try to make your idea. You don’t have to wait for a big studio to come by. And if you are a filmmaker who has never made a film, then you’re caught in a Catch 22- You won’t make your film because you want it to be good, but no studio will help you make your film because you’ve never made a good one.

For Christian TV producers, there is no hope (at this point) of ever getting the funding to make your episodic, dramatic show from one of the religious networks. Thats not how the model works. They exist because content creators (namely preaching/teaching/talk shows) buy time from them. They do not pay to have programs produced, and they normally do not pay for existing programs. There are exceptions, but generally this is the rule. So the chance of getting your grand episodic idea funded through a big Christians network is just about zero. You can get your show on the air for free, but even if they give you any money, it won’t be enough to cover the cost of production.
If you want to see your idea become reality, you are going to have to do it. You’re at the bottom, and you have to start moving forward to move up in quality.

That means starting with your script idea and writing it, even if it is horrible. And then keep writing and writing, and creating and creating. Read, learn, study. Get better. improve. Shoot short films. Do projects. Create, and try and keep trying. and keep improving. One day you’ll look back and go, wow, those first things I did were awful. But if you never did your terrible projects, you wouldn’t be able to do your better ones now.

Everyone starts at the bottom of the quality ramp, and if you want to get better you have to keep moving forward.

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Releasing Your Episodic Content on Amazon Video/ Amazon Prime

IMG_7243My low budget Christian sitcom Peculiar is now available on Amazon Video! (also my short film BRKN, if you’re interested.)

Since the first episodes started broadcasting in late 2012, I have wanted to see the show available on a major streaming service. Until recently the best (only?) route was to hire an aggregator to try to place your content in iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and anywhere else with a VOD distribution pipeline. Most of those were several hundred dollars up front, no promises. A few would try to place your content for a percentage of what you might make off views/sales.

I’ve never tried to cash in on Peculiar. It wasn’t a huge financial success. Not only did I not have several hundred dollars to spend on this, I didn’t expect to make back any investment that large.  But I do want this series to be available to as many people as possible. After my amicable split with my traditional distributor, I contacted one of the percentage based aggregators. He replied honestly, and not surprisingly, that he felt he could place my show on Amazon, but nowhere else. But I would need to rework the closed caption files. At that time, costs of captioning was a huge hurdle.  I did find a way to get the content onto Amazon Video myself. But, the files would be Standard Definition, not HD. and I could not submit episodic content. I actually questioned an Amazon Create Space representative pretty hard about why this was the case. I never received a satisfactory answer. Any episode I uploaded to Amazon would be low resolution and would stand alone. The only way to get Amazon to group all of the episodes from your series together was to use an aggregator. So I tabled the idea.

Enter Amazon Video Direct. (AVD)

In May of 2016 Amazon announced it’s new service.  Open “to any video creator, the e-commerce giant will compete head-to-head with Google’s YouTube for video-ad dollars and views as well as other big Internet video distributors like Facebook and Vimeo.”  What that boils down to is a way for independent content creators to upload their video creations to Amazon and make them available through the streaming site. You can upload any short, feature, series, documentary… anything, and make it available to Amazon’s streaming audience. The company shares revenue for purchases and pays similar to Youtube for free Prime streaming. You could even set up a subscription service through AVD, but I don’t know much about that.

So, how do you use it?

  1. Got Content? First, of course you need content that you have permission to, or own the rights to distribute in this manner. I don’t yet know how content ID is going to work, but you can bet that like Youtube, computers will be scanning this library to find copyright violations.

  2. Set up your account. You will need to add your bank and tax information before you can publish your content.

  3. Prep your content. AVD supports Pro Res 422, MPEG-2, and h.264 (in certain wrappers. h.264 in a QT .mov wrapper is not supported.). I uploaded my files in a Quicktime Pro Res 422 file. These files are huge. But they are also pretty much lossless, when compared to the MPEG2 or h.264 formats. Plus I had my series stored in this format. But upload speed is critical. Try to find a commercial connection you can use. It would take me days to upload just one file if I tried to do this at home. If you have 5.1 surround audio, then you will need to use either the MPEG 2 or h.264 file format.

  4. Prep Your captions. You must have closed captioning. Period. The end. Luckily, there are quite a few ways to get captions for your content. You can pay, but if you use Adobe Premiere CC, you can create them inside the editor. I already had .scc files from when my show was broadcast. But they were 608, roll up captions, and timed for a 28:30 show with 2:00 breaks. Adobe CC imported them like a champ, and allowed me to make edits as needed. I exported the 608 captions to a “sidecar” .scc file and we were good to go. AVD can take 608 or the much nicer 708 captions. Both can be created in Adobe CC. This is the single biggest hurdle for publishing videos on AVD. I gave up on a 708 caption file I created myself for a standalone short film, and I am still having issues with their process. I have only been able to get an .scc 608 caption file to work for content with a 29.97 fps, so far. Even 608 captions for 24p content with an .xml caption file have been rejected. [Update: In the end a 608.srt file worked with 24p content. In my experience 2 file types that Premiere can create that work with AVD: 30fps can use .scc 608, 24fps can use .srt 608.]

  5. Prep Your Graphics. Before you can publish your videos, you need a graphics package. This is what Amazon shows people when they look for your content. There are key graphics and a background graphic. Follow the image size requirements, and choose something that will catch the eye of your audience. I had a set of promotional images I’ve used for the show for years, so I adjusted them to fit these sizes. Episodic content requires both a 16×9 key image and a 4:3 Key image. (Standalone content requires 16×9 and a 3:4 image.)

  6. Upload. If you have a series, you don’t have to upload every file at the same time. You will need to have all the metadata filled in, cast and crew, graphics, etc… and then select the video files and captions, select the availability of the content. If you want to sell a season pass, you need at least 3 episodes uploaded. You can select when you want the content to be available, but I just chose as soon as possible.

  7. Publish. Once you think you have everything ready, hit Publish. If you forgot anything, you will have the chance to correct it. Then be prepared to wait. It takes Amazon a few days to look at your content and publish it. You will see small green circles for the areas the content will eventually be available. They should be half full and green. Once everything is approved and live, they will be all green. I published episodes over a period of time. My “circles” would still be half full, but episodes would already be available for viewing. Once every video file has been approved, then it will show completed. What if you want to change something? Then just go back into the dashboard of AVD, re upload the file, change the txt, etc… and hit save. Then wait several days again for the changes to take effect.

  8. Promote. Amazon has instructions on how to link to the streaming page for your content, and some “Watch on Amazon” graphics. And of course, you will want to let your existing audience know about this new outlet.

So far over 350 minutes of content have been watched. That will pay me… less than $1.00. But that’s OK, I’m not trying to get rich on Amazon, I want people to see the projects I’ve been a part of. If you can navigate the tricky caption requirement, making your content available on Amazon Video open it up to a whole new, pretty large, audience.

[Update: 8 months later, I consistently make 4-5 times more for views of the 12 videos I have on AVD vs the 60+ videos I have on Youtube. I’ve done nothing but make it available, no advertising, very little promotion.]

“No Excuses” Sermon Series: Quick Comedy

In late 2015 our creative team met with pastoral leadership to discuss upcoming sermon series for 2016. One of the ones that got me most excited was called “No Excuses.” In our creative time we planned to shoot 6 comedic videos that show cased excuses that Christians give when talking about why they don’t share their faith. They had to be short, and they had to be funny.

2016 turned into a very busy year for video production at the church. Including the weekly video announcements, 2 video creators were tasked with completing 36 video projects in just under 3 months. A difficult task no matter what sort of videos are required. A short film project is a whole extra level of complication. after meeting about the workload, and planning an aggressive production schedule, we decided to go ahead with the series as planned.

Here’s the series broken down by the numbers:

-6 two-minute short films used as sermon bumpers.

-2 couples with limited acting experience playing the characters.

-4 days of shooting on a very small budget: We bought a few props.

-2 weeks after the first day of shooting the first film was shown.

-9 weeks total for production and post for all six short films.

-12 other video projects completed during the same 9 weeks.

Obviously,  that’s an insane schedule, but I wanted very much to keep it. I felt that sing humor to broach the subject of reasons why people don’t share their faith was the right approach. And I just like filmmaking. It’s incredible that I can sometimes do it as a part of my job. The fact that we were able to complete these projects is largely due to a lot of pre production and planning. Nothing ever goes according to plan, but that work paid off, as it always does.

Watch the entire series below:

Excuses #1: The only people I know are Christians.

Excuses #2: I’m not qualified.

Excuse #3: I don’t want to push my faith on other people.

Excuse #4: People might make fun of me.

Excuses #5: I’m too busy.

Excuse #6: I’ve tried it before and it didn’t work.

Producing Videos in Another Language

I speak English. I know a few words in other languages, but not enough to say I speak them.

Recently we were in a series that highlighted several testimonies from people in our congregation that were living out the Gospel. One of those testimonies was from a Spanish language speaker.

Obviously, since I don’t speak fluent Spanish, this was a challenge. Here’s how we did it:

During the interview I had someone there to translate. He gave me a synopsis of the answers during the live interview, so I could follow up.

Later I sent a video cut of just the answers to him. He typed out a complete manuscript for each answer. I made paper edits to that manuscript. This saved time, and helped create content that I used for subtitles later.

Then he came into the edit bay and helped me make the actual cuts to the video. A few times he suggested slight changes which sounded better to his ears.

Then I took the manuscript and broke down the text into titles for the English viewers. And he reviewed these for timing.

It took a bit of extra work, but we were able to share a compelling testimony with our entire congregation, instead of just Spanish speakers.

Live Directing is a Team Sport

front1mepanelMany weekends I am I the director chair,  calling cameras during the weekend services at my church. Other times I’m in the TD spot, punching buttons as another director calls the shots.

I have to confess, I’m not sure what my direction always looks like. I know what I see in my mind. And I know if the members of the team executed the calls correctly. But I don’t always know what it looks like as it goes down. I hope it looks like what I imagined.

As you call cameras, you have 3 things in mind all the time: the shot you were just on, the shot you’re on now, and the shot you’re going to next. And sometimes you even have a fallback shot in mind. As soon as a camera comes free, you are calling the next direction to that operator, while you are waiting for the timing to go to the next shot after the camera you are currently on. It’s a continuous flow of past, present, and future imagery. If you have a good crew, they can help you out by getting shots you like without much direction. But even the best operators can’t read your mind. Much of directing is communicating complex instructions quickly, clearly, and succinctly.

Then there are the times that you get into the zone, and you know the song, and what your camera folks can do. And you can truly be immersed in the worship moment, as you are calling cameras. That’s when it’s fun! You have to find this place where you’re focused on executing the technical and artistic parts of the service and able to worship. That’s only possible if we are all doing our part.

So, there’s about a million things going on. I’m not always conscious of what the shots actually look like, I’m always conscious of what I want them to look like. You cannot direct and micromanage at the same time. You have to turn loose and trust that the team will execute the orders you give. Sometimes you might see a camera op get into focus trouble, or go shaky, and you have to clear off that shot faster than you plan. So you know when things don’t go as planned. But it’s not until I watch the program back that I know exactly what it looks like.

You must trust the team. It’s a creative process, and everyone involved has a part. if it looks good, it’s just as much the result of talented team members as it is competent direction.

Churches Should Produce Non Traditional Religious Programming

MY showI used to work for a church that has been on the air with a traditional TV program for over 5 decades. In the Orlando metroplex, they reach about 100,000 viewers per week with their Christian program. It consists of a song or two from the service, and the message from the pastor. It is a fairly traditional church television program. When I was on staff a few years ago and had access to the data, I saw that we were reaching a predominately older crowd (75% of viewers were over age 55.) It was, and still is, a good work and it ministers to a lot of people in central Florida.

And because of the nature of non profit educational license religious channels and networks, there will always be a need for preaching/teaching shows in Christian TV. But those shows will continue to reach older, religious audiences. And will continue to not reach younger ones.

What if you took the money used to produce the program and buy airtime, and used it to produce programming that appeals to younger audiences? The churches I’ve worked for with TV programs spent between $30,000 and $250,000 on airtime purchases every year. Plus they had one or more staff people who were primarily focused on producing the content for the program every week. Conservatively estimating salary, taxes, insurance, etc… let’s say $50,000 annually.  That’s quite a bit of money in the indie production world.

What if you invested that money into creating video content that reflected a biblical world view, but wasn’t a traditional worship service/preaching program? What if it was something that told a story and, like a parable, taught truth at the same time?

Who would it be for?

People who don’t watch traditional religious programming. More specifically, find a target demographic in a group pf potential audiences members that don’t already consume traditional religious programming.

According to Pew Research, Older Americans watch more religious TV. Younger Americans are engaging in religious content online.

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 9.07.55 AM 1

Young audiences watch a lot of video content. 18-24 year olds still watch over 16 hours of TV per week, but that number is declining. The TV that they do watch is not traditional Christian TV programming. And they are increasingly watching video online. The older the demographic is, the more broadcast TV they watch.

We don’t need shows that target the 65 year old Christian, we already have those. We need churches to develop programs targeted at younger audiences that do not already watch religious programming.

How much would it cost?

The cost depends on what sort of show you are making. I’m most familiar with narrative programming. But you could do other sorts of shows that are not preaching/teaching/worship based.

If you do narrative, obviously, your church probably won’t be paying scale for actors and crew. Most of the people involved will be doing it as a ministry project. But unless you have no money at all, you should try to pay people something. I’ve done a show for no money before. It can be done, but it’s not sustainable long-term.

What if you could come up with $100 per day for the main cast and crew? That’s not scale, and there would be taxes taken out, etc… but $100. I have generally been able to shoot an episode in 4 days or less. If you have 4 main actors, and a crew with director, camera, audio and PA, you are looking at $800 per day. $3200 per episode. Plus any gear, additional actors, insurance, food, etc… $5000-5500 per episode. That may seem like a lot, but it is nothing compared to what network programming costs per episode.

At $5500, a 6 episode run would cost $33,000. 13 episodes would cost $71,500. This is assuming someone on your church’s staff is writing and producing the program, filling in the show running duties. And someone on staff would be doing the post work as well. One person cannot do it all, so you will need some help. Filmmaking and TV production is a team sport. Bare bones, on a shoe-string, you could make 6-13 episodes of a show for less than the cost of air time and a staff position in many markets. Other kinds of show may cost more or less depending on what all is involved in creating them.

How would people see it?

You just spent your airtime budget on production. How is anyone going to see it?

-Christian TV is begging for narrative content.

Literally begging because they can’t/won’t pay for it, but also begging because they want it badly.

It’s tempting to ignore broadcast television altogether. But even though the number is dropping, according to Accenture Digital Consumer survey, over half of TV shows and movies are still watched on TV. So it’s not a horrible place to be. And given the state of the religious TV market, you could have your show broadcast around the world for free. You might even get a little bit of money back to go toward the production of the program. One network my show was on was able to cover the cost of closed captioning. Traditional Christian programs have to purchase air time, but non traditional ones have a lot of effective, free options for broadcast.

Putting a Christian TV show on a Christian network is not way to reach the masses. The vast majority of viewers are Christians. I know that isn’t surprising, but I want to be clear that a program on Christian TV will be mostly seen by Christians. That’s OK, discipleship is something the church should be doing, and this is an avenue to disciple believers beyond the walls of your building.

You can produce programming that might appeal to non Christians, and broadcast it through non religious outlets, but it will cost more. Be sure to count the cost before you head down this road. There might be ways to mitigate those costs, but there will be costs.

-The internet is free.

It’s also very big. You cannot just throw a video on Youtube and expect it to reach thousands of people. If you have a video that has been seen by over 100 people, then you are in the top 30% of all Youtube videos. 300 hours of content is uploaded every minute! Youtube is massive. It’s the 2nd largest search engine, behind Google. So, most content is not seen by a lot of people. In order to be effective online you must have a marketing strategy. You need to develop an audience.

As a church you have a great foundation in your own congregation. Not only should you be mobilizing them to watch, but mobilize them to be encouraging their sphere of influence to watch as well. Last year my church did a campaign to get people to share their testimony through social media. It was not as successful as we had hoped. Still, I was able to locate over 80 videos that had been uploaded in the project, and I know that was just part of the ones uploaded over all. Those 80 videos had been seen over 200,000 times. Even if only a small portion of your congregation engages, you can still reach a lot of viewers.

Does your church have a ministry to help parents teach their kids about the Bible at home? How about developing a program that targets young mothers, and touches on subjects that they will have to face as they teach their own kids? Do a lot of mission trips? Send a video crew out with your teams, and produce a program that highlights the importance and impact of being in involved in missions.

Find something you are passionate about, that fits into the strategic vision of your church. Develop a program that targets younger audiences who would be interested in programming about that theme. Build a team, and make the show.

 

 

How To produce a Quick-Turn Highlight Video

You’ve got 24 hours to shoot and edit a video to show people what happened at an event. What do you do?

It could happen in any business, but this tight deadline, quick-turn video project pops up in church media quite a bit. There’s an event during the weekend, and you need to show the congregation what happened on Sunday. Or maybe you’re at a conference, and you want to show the highlights from the last few days in the last session? How can you do it, and do it well?

Pre production is the key to success. Just like any video you produce, taking the time to work the pre production process will make your video better. In this case, it’s crucial to your success. You won’t have a lot of time during the event, so you need to do as much as you can before the event starts. Pick music, decide on a style and look for the video. Gather the gear you need, double check your camera settings. Scout the location, find out if you can set up anything early, if needed. Pick an interview location. Gather/build your graphics. Check the schedule, is there anything you have to capture? Try to schedule interviews early in the event. Plan your time. Know what you want the final video to be, and get ready to create that video. This is the time to be creative.

Shoot what you need. Don’t shoot twelve hours of footage. You know what you need to finish the video, shoot those pieces. Make sure you have enough, but don’t shoot 5 minutes of the same repetitive action. Capture the basic wide angles to show the viewer what’s happening, maybe a couple of interesting angles, and then focus on faces. People want to see people. There is a reason people call these “happy face” videos.

Edit during the event. Once you’ve captured the start of the event, and hopefully any main interviews you need for the video, break away and lay down the base for the final project. Take half an hour or more to cut down the basic foundation for the video. If you have footage of someone thanking those who participated, lay that down on the timeline over the music you’ve already selected. Leave space for any special shots. That should give you a rough idea of the length of the video, and what you need to shoot next. You’ve seen the footage you already have, now go back out and shoot the rest of what you need. Depending on how long the event is, you may want to dump footage and sort it a few times.

You do not have time to catalog every clip. Place the clips logically on your timeline, and when you are assembling the final edit, pull from those blocks of clips. I recently shot a quick-turn project that had an interview, a special event, and two locations. I wanted to show the entire process of the event, and let people see the work being done. My time line had chunks of clips from each location, and each event. Plus I had set up a time-lapse to show the start of the event. I didn’t log every clip, I just scanned them to see what I had and dropped them onto the timeline.

Finalize the edit. By the time the event is over you should have a basic outline of the final video. Drop in the rest of the clips. Focus on tight action and faces. Keep things moving quickly. Once the basic edit is down, drop in the graphics and do any color correction. Hopefully, since you double checked your camera settings, you won’t need to adjust much. Do a quick audio mix, and get ready to render and export. Do not try to reinvent the project at this point. Work the original plan.

This will not be your finest work. But the audience will love it. If you need to, later you can go back in and do a more thorough edit, correction and mix.

What if you need to turn something in under an hour? Don’t panic. It can be done, within limitations.

One year for a Christmas production I shot video interviews of attendees waiting for the presentation to start, then edited and showed those clips to the same crowd before the event began. Crazy, but do able. First, you have to build a template. (It’s also a good idea to have a completed video from a previous presentation on stand by, just in case of catastrophe. I captured one of cast members for the first night, and then kept the one from each previous presentation loaded, just in case.) I shot for 30 minutes and then imported footage and cut for 15 minutes. I edited and rendered on the same computer we were using to play the video back. You need to really watch your levels when recording because there’s no time for fixing anything. Drop the clip into the template, render and be ready for playback. I sometimes cheated and kept the funnier or sweeter moments from previous nights in the current video, but I always used some clips of people from that same presentation.

Crazy quick-turns can be done, but you must plan ahead. these will never match the quality of projects you have lots of time on, but occasionally, it’s worth it to show something quickly.

The Cart That Got Away: Latest Mobberly Short Film Project is a Choose Your Own Path Mystery

Every year Mobberly has a banquet for the volunteers who serve on Sunday mornings. For the past few years the media team has done a video project as a part of the program. This year we kind of went a little big… It’s a choose-your-own-adventure-mystery. At the end of each video segment the folks in attendance vote to see which people to investigate.

We posted the videos so you can see who took… “The Cart That Got Away”.

It’s also my acting debut in a film. I’ve only ever been on the other side of the camera, never had an actual role in a project. There are a few inside jokes, but hopefully you can still enjoy it.

Help! Some Company Called AdRev has a Copyright Claim on My YouTube Video! – How to Remove AdRev Claims

First, don’t panic. It’s not that big of a deal. It’s annoying, but your video is still viewable. But now there are ads on it, and that money goes to whoever owns the copyright (through AdRev) instead of you.

Now, I know you already have a license to use this music track in your video. Because you wouldn’t, ever use a song you don’t have permission for, right? If you are not sure about what I’m saying, do a search on how to legally use music in videos. This music is someone intellectual property. You should not use it without permission.

Since you have the license to use this music in your video, let’s get about the business of removing this copyright claim. And make no mistake, it is a business. It might feel personal, and you might want to rip off someone’s head and scream down their throat, but that won’t get the claim removed any quicker.

How did they pick your video?

They didn’t click through your Youtube channel and listen to every song. Companies like this use computers to scan the audio in the millions and millions of Youtube videos. if the computer hears part of a song in it’s catalog, it automatically places a claim on your video.

They do not send an email asking if you have a license to use it. this company uses Youtube’s own policies and that of the Digital millennium Copyright Act to pad their pockets. What that basically means is that when they identify a music track that they manage, they place a claim automatically. And you, and the person accused of infringing on the copyright of the music must prove that you have a license to use it. It’s guilty until proven innocent. Youtube is afraid of being known as a place where pirated music lives freely, so they, in my opinion, go too far with regard to copyright claims.

Youtube always sides with the person or company making the copyright claim. If you use the Youtube dispute option, it can take 30 days for things to be resolved. For a month AdRev will collect any money made from people viewing the video. Money that should be going to you. Money that they will pass on to the copyright owner, after they take their cut. For most of us, that’s a few pennies we lose. For a company that manages millions of songs, that adds up to real money. It’s not right, but that’s how AdRev stays in business.

How to dispute the claim quickly.

Luckily, AdRev is a company that does this all the time, so they already have a mechanism in place to resolve their mistake.

First, log into your youtube channel and copy the URL for the video. Copy the long one from your browser, not the short one from the “share” tab.

Then go to AdRev’s website. Scroll down to the bottom, and click on the “Claimed Video?” link at the bottom.

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That takes you to a form.Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 8.41.00 AM

Here is where you enter your information, and paste that URL to the video with the claim on it.

In your message, tell them that you have a license to use the video. You will need to explain where you got the music and license, and then ask them to release the claim.

The level of detail you need to use may vary. The first time I got a claim I gave them date and time of when and where I purchased the music library which had the track in it, and included a link to the license agreement for using the track. In other claim disputes I simply said where and when I bought the music.

Once I simply said I had a license without giving details and they asked for more information. So you need to give them something that shows you have the right to use the music. At the very least you need to identify where the music comes from. For instance, I have had tracks from Killer Tracks libraries claimed, and when I identified the source as Killer Tracks and said when we had the license to use the music, the claim was released. Each interaction may vary, since a real person is doing the review.

In the past 4 months I’ve had at least 11 claims from AdRev on music that I have licenses to use. It’s bordering on harassment. But each time I have gone to their website, disputed the claim and had it removed.

The most troubling part of this whole thing is that sometimes people use AdRev to make copyright claims for music they do not actually own. For instance, 5 of my claims have been for tracks from Digital Juice libraries. A man in Slovenia hired AdRev and listed some music tracks that Digital juice created as his own content. Digital Juice does not employ AdRev in anyway. I used one song as the bed for a promo for my show Peculiar. That one song has been tagged 3 times. Every time I have to go to AdRev and tell them that this is not owned by that guy, but is in fact owned by Digital Juice, and I have a license.

So, AdRev knows that there is a disagreement about who owns what with regard to these tracks, because I, at least, have told them every time. But they still have that song in their tracking catalog and still claim it for the guy. And they still get their own cut from each view of the claimed video.

Bad business, all around. It’s annoying. But normally it’s easily settled. Often the claim is released the same day you dispute it with AdRev.

What about songs I made in Garage Band?

I know this happens sometimes. It has happened to me. Garage Band is a fun program that comes with loops that you can use in your own musical projects. Sometimes people use those loops to create a song, and then want to protect their work. Sometimes Youtube or a company like AdRev will scan your video, hear the same loop that is part of their own client’s song, and make a claim. These can be harder to dispute. if this happens, explain that the music in question contains loops from Garage Band, and that the Content ID system has erroneously identified a part of your own work as belonging to the other person. The hope you get a reasonable person to review the dispute. When it happened to me, the dispute was released within a couple of days.

What issues have you had with copyright on Youtube?

Media Bias in the News: Planned Parenthood, Center for Medical Progress, and Awards

Over the weekend we saw several stories about how Planned Parenthood had hired a firm to do a “forensic” study of a few of the Center for Medical Progress undercover videos. The national media, who had been mostly mute about the subject, suddenly found it newsworthy. I wrote about that on my political blog. Many national news organizations couldn’t wait to trumpet misleading headlines like, “Sting videos of Planned Parenthood were totally manipulated, forensic analysis finds.”

If anyone bothered to read the 10 page report, they could plainly see that headline (just one of many) was a serious overstatement, and implied a level of deceitfulness that was not proven in the report.

Center for Medical Progress released a detailed response. In it they highlighted the fact that even a partisan firm like Fusion GPS (who did the analysis) admitted:

This analysis did not reveal widespread evidence of substantive video manipulation” and that it “shows no evidence of audio manipulation.

And CMP went on to explain every issue the firm found in every video. You can read both sides of the story and form your own opinion.

But you will really have to search for this response by CMP.  Because it’s not on any major news sites.

Even though the news media reported on the Planned Parenthood analysis, they haven’t mention this response. Just like they didn’t report on the largest coordinated protest of Planned Parenthood facilities a few weekends ago. Hundreds of cities, thousands of people, barely made local news reports.If you’re keeping score at home: For most major news organizations, the videos from CMP are not newsworthy. An analysis done by the organization being investigated is newsworthy, a response from the group doing the investigating is not newsworthy.

I’m not the first to point out the blatant bias in the news for Planned Parenthood and against any who criticize them. Sean Davis at the federalist.com wrote a piece about it. Did you know that Planned Parenthood gives out awards for media excellence? Did you know that Journalists not only accept awards from an organization they report on (or should report on) but say they are honored to get them? In all 16 journalists received Maggie Awards for Media Excellence. These awards were started in the late 1970’s to “recognize exceptional contributions by the media and arts and entertainment industries that enhance the public’s understanding of reproductive rights and health care issues, including contraception, sex education, teen pregnancy, abortion, and international family planning.”

Does that strike you as odd?

Imagine a political party giving out awards for Media Excellence. Awards that recognize exceptional contributions by the media and arts and entertainment industries that enhance the public’s understanding of this political parties stance on issues and work in the community.  Would any self respecting journalist accept one?

It’s not a journalists job to help any organization enhance the public’s understanding on anything. They don’t report news in order to help an organization, they report news so that the public is aware of what it should be aware of. News media should report what is in the public interest, not an organization’s interest. What objective journalist would want any organization to even imply that they might have been trying to help an organization instead of fairly reporting things that are newsworthy?

But, then I forget that objective journalism in the USA is dead.