Honey, Vinegar, and Customer Service

Excavator digs large holes in my yard.

I am very excited that Sparklight is laying the infrastructure to provide an alternative to cable internet in our town. I was happy to see the work crews show up on our street. I noticed that our yard was getting bit of extra attention. And, was getting torn up quite a bit.

One afternoon I came home to mounds of dirt… they were installing these large vaults in the ground. There was a tall cabinet sitting off to the side. A significant portion of my front yard was pilled up in big mounds of dirt. Turns out the 8 foot tall by 3 or 4 foot wide “Node” was going in my front yard.

Not near the wooded area by my property line. This Node was going about 20 feet in. As you drove up to my house you would see a massive industrial storage box in front of my home. And, the placement would make backing out of my driveway on a busy street more dangerous.

It would be dangerous, and it would drastically lessen the curb appeal of my home. Literally making my home worth less money. Any attempts to dress the box up would make visibility even worse.

They had not bothered to talk to me about this. Had I not gone over to see what was happening, I would have just come home one day to find the thing in the yard. So, what to do? I can be angry, I have sufficient reason. There are several other locations the box could go. The engineers didn’t consider how this placement would affect us. The just drove their excavator onto my property and started digging. Their indifference would impact us long after they have moved in to another yard.

Have you ever heard that quip about how it’s easier to catch flies with honey than vinegar?

The thing about Utility Easements and right of way and stuff, the homeowner doesn’t have a lot of options. You can file injunctions and things, get lawyers involved, but that’s expensive and there’s no assurance of winning. And once you go down that road, there’s no going back. I decided to be friendly, understanding and ask for these guys to help me.

I asked a few questions about why the Node was placed there. Asked to talk to the site supervisor. He came over and we talked about the layout, and asked if it was set in stone or could be changed. He called his supervisor. The supervisor said they had to so what the engineers said. But he would talk to them, and see what could be done. The whole time we kept things light. It certainly wasn’t the fault of these men, they were doing their jobs.

A few minutes later the supervisor showed up and then the engineers. I greeted them, explained my concerns. I didn’t yell, or complain. Just asked if there was anything they could do. I told them I would be very grateful for their help. They assured me they would look at moving the Node, if it was possible. But needed to look at easements and see what could be done.

Saturday morning, the crew was back, and moving the Node to the other side of the road, by the brushy area near the trail by our home. I expected them to maybe move the Node back to the property line, still on my lawn but not in the middle of it. They had found a better solution than I hoped for.

The engineers and crew went far above my expectations. And beyond what they had to do. I doubt the outcome would have been the same if I had approached them with anger.

Amazon Video Direct Slams Gates on Indie Documentaries and Shorts

Amazon Video Direct has been changing. It used to be a wide open platform, where anyone who could meet their tech requirements was guaranteed to find a spot on Amazon Video. You content could be seen by their millions of customers. It likely wouldn’t, but the algorithm did a decent job of showing your content to people, and you can directly market your films on the site, yourself.

Over the last couple of years AVD has been tightening the creative reins. They’ve been rejecting poor-er quality films. But, if you had a well produced movie, you could still get on board. Recently they’ve added using their S3 storage for titles. And begun kicking tiles off of Prime (SVOD) based on their murky CER ratings.

And this week, the bell tolled for niche market documentaries and short films. The submission page reads (On Feb. 17, 2021):

All content submitted through Prime Video Direct is made available at the sole discretion of Amazon. At this time, we’re no longer accepting unsolicited licensing submissions via Prime Video Direct for non-fiction and short form content. We’ll notify you if these categories become available for consideration.”

So, if your documentary isn’t solicited by them, you cannot get it on the service. In other words, to get your documentary on Amazon you have to use an aggregator and hope it’s selected or a distributor who will work to get it selected. Just like Netflix and other streaming outlets.

Self distributing a movie just got harder for doc filmmakers. There used to be a few places without gatekeepers to get your film out, and recoup some of the cost of making it. AVD just slammed the gates shut on indie docs and short films.

How to Refute an Argument

You may or may not know that I have been coaching a group of (mostly) new Lincoln Douglas debaters in our newly formed speech & debate club. Side Note– This activity is one of the best you can get your kids involved in. They learn how to research, communicate, recognize good arguments and bad ones, and how to disagree without hating the person they disagree with. Find a club, join it.


One of the things we are working on is refutations. To refute an argument you have to look at its parts and point out the weaknesses. I think this process can be massively helpful in the world.


An argument, if well constructed, will have 3 parts: Claim, warrant and impact.

  1. Claim- It’s a declaration. It frames the rest of the argument, and helps shape the overall discussion. There’s normally an assertion tied to a subject.
  2. Warrant- This is the reason we should accept the claim. It’s evidence, logic, inference. 
  3. Impact- This is why it’s important. 

An argument should have all 3 of these present, though some could be implied.
To refute an argument you must find weaknesses in the parts.


You can attack a claim. Maybe the claim doesn’t apply to the overall discussion. Maybe it’s just a statement by itself, without a warrant. Does the assertion relate to the subject of the claim?


You often find the most meat for refutation when examining the warrant. What is the reasoning, is it sound? If there is evidence- is it solid, is the interpretation sound, is there contradicting evidence? Does the reasoning apply to the claim? 


You can attack the impact. Does the argument outweigh others? How much of a difference does this argument make to the issue? An argument may be true, but outweighed by other factors, which are also true. 


As you are reading things on the internet, listening to media, talking with your friends and neighbors, the more you practice thinking about arguments critically, the more quickly you can discern what’s true and what’s less than true. 

The Supreme Court, Science and the First Amendment

Today the Supreme Court of The United Stated (SCOTUS) issued a splintered opinion on a case that pits California’s government against a church in CA. Here’s the basics of what the case was about:

CA is pretty much in lockdown. Like many places across the country, they shutdown when COVID-19 hit and we didn’t know what was going on with it. We did not know how deadly it was, how easily transmissible it was, etc… So, the country pretty much shut down for a while. These stay at home, close your businesses that are not essential rules were applied across the board.

Fast forward to now. CA is lifting some restriction. They are allowing places of business to open back up, with limited capacity. They have made some glaring exceptions to some rules for entertainment industry activities. But churches were included in the must remain closed, no indoor activity group.

So, South Bay United Pentecostal Church sued Gavin Newsom, the Governor of CA. The church argued that to restrict them when other businesses are open is wrong, and they should not be treated differently. The state said they are treated differently because they do different things- gather inside in groups from multiple families, stay there for a long time, and sing or chant.

SCOTUS released their splintered opinion on this case. The gist is this, churches can open up to the capacity limits of other businesses, but cannot sing or chant- at all. There’s quite a bit of discussion on which justice said what in these opinions. I want to focus on the fundamental ruling, and where I think SCOTUS approached it all wrong.

Justice Kagan wrote the dissent, and her first two sentences sets this up: “Justices of this Court are not scientists. Nor do we know much about public health policy.”

But the court made its decision based on science, not the Constitution.

No one is denying that governments can issue stay at home orders. The issue is whether churches can be treated differently than other secular groups. To me, this is clear: if you single out a church for restriction, but allow other, similar activity to occur, you are in violation of the 1st amendment, which stops government from making rules that prohibit the free exercise of religion.

It’s one thing to say there is a public health hazard and everyone must do the same thing. It’s another to say that movie studios and recording venues can sing with precautions, but churches cannot follow the same precautions and sing in worship.

Now, a couple of the Justices (Barret and Kavanaugh) hinted that they would have allowed (might still allow) singing if they can show, in court, there is a different standard applied. But the applicant for relief did not prove this. If this were proven, they may be open to change, but that’s only 4 justices, with Alito as probably 5th after a 30 day period he favored. The failure to show this disparity falls on the lawyers for the church.

Of course, these opinions are based on what they think science has said. They are not looking at the Constitution first. Instead, they look to see if science can justify the difference in behavior. Keep in mind, CA’s position is that church’s should be closed, indoors. These justices are allowing them to open up some, but not all, because of their understanding of science and virus transmission.

Is it smart for churches to gather and sit close, and sing without masks? No.

Is it the government’s job to protect my health or protect my rights more? CA says health, and 6 or 7 SCOTUS Justices agree, though they may disagree with how CA interprets the science.

Churches and people who attend should be as free to worship, gather, sing, etc… as any other business in the governed area. A church may choose to follow stricter guidelines, as many do across the nation- but it’s their choice. If any business can be opened, the church should be as free as they are. To do otherwise, as the government, is to prohibit the free exercise of religion. That is a violation of the First Amendment.

As Justice Kagan said, they are inserting themselves into places where experts should advise. SCOTUS should simply rule that churches must be afforded the same rules as any other secular place of business. Instead, we have unqualified scientists disagreeing about how to prevent transmission of COVID.

[Photo by Ian Hutchinson on Unsplash]

7 Ways to Make Social Media Better in 2021

Millions use social media on a regular basis. During 2020 and the COVID Pandemic, people have used it even more. And the flaws of social media have been showing. Misinformation, accusations of censorship, comment wars and more have made using social media a worse experience than ever before.

Here are 7 things you can do to help make social media better in 2021:

1. Don’t share posts you don’t know are true (even if you hope they are true).

Understand that confirmation bias is real, and we all have it. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Reality is almost never simple, and a meme that matches your wildest dreams is probably not completely true. A picture of someone else’s social media post is not proof or evidence. Do a little bit of research and make sure what you are posting is true.

2. Follow people with different viewpoints.

One of the ways social media encourages echo chambers is it reinforces what you interact with. If you only interact with one perspective, eventually you see less of other perspectives. If no one challenges your viewpoint, it’s easy to adopt false information as true. Break out of the echo chamber.

3. Don’t use social media for purely political purposes.

Be social. Remember when social media was fun? When you were catching up with old friends? Enjoying pics from family? Social media doesn’t have to be about politics. Use these platforms to enhance your relationships, instead of arguing.

4. Don’t read the comments.

Seriously, make a concerted effort to not get involved. Have you ever known of anyone to change their mind about religion or politics because of a comment war? I know, it’s hard. Especially when people are so wrong. But don’t join every comment thread. Make an effort to reduce the amount of arguments you have online. You will be happier.

5. Develop thicker skin.

Not every post is directed at you. There is no need to comment on every post you disagree with. Just scroll past.

6. Blood is thicker than water and friendship is thicker than ideas.

It’s sad that some ideas can come between friends and family. It’s completely possible to hold opposing ideas, and be friends. Just look at the late SCOTUS Justices Scalia and Ginsburg. They were on completely opposite ends of the spectrum, but were good friends. People are more than the sum of their political ideas. We can, and should, care about more than what political party someone is in, or whether they support the same causes we do.

7. Reduce the amount of time you spend on social media.

Doom Scrolling is real. And if you’ve allowed yourself to be entombed in a Social Media echo chamber, the world can seem bleak. Like the world is against you. But that’s not reality. Social Media, by it’s very nature, simplify’s ideas for easier sharing.

Read a book, read a news paper, watch a documentary, watch a news report. Don’t use Social Media as your main window to the world. In addition, call a friend or family member. Text them. Go on a walk. Interact with people and world outside of social media. You will be happier and healthier this year.

Misinformation on Facebook is Its Own Fault

I originally posted this on my Facebook feed. I understand the irony in posting complaints about FB’s algorithms on a feed that is controlled by that same algorithm.

Facebook has created the misinformation problem it has, but won’t take real steps to fix it.

Facebook helped create the environment that fed into the echo chambers that spread misinformation. Their current attempts to fix this are doomed to failure and could have unintended consequences. And they will not fix the root cause of the issue because it would hurt them financially.

Facebook desperately wants to squash misinformation. Their current method is to flag any post on certain subjects with a warning and link to what Facebook thinks is accurate information. There is no review of the posts which are tagged. Write any post, fact or false, with certain keywords and the warnings come up.

This has the consequence of classifying both true and untrue content together. Every post about these subjects is suspect. But Facebook will make sure to tell us all the truth.

An open platform should not set themselves up as the arbiter of what is true and correct. Aside from the fact they can be wrong, this can end up with two unwanted results.

First, there are those who want FB to be regulated. This move to try to self-regulate content sends a signal that content on these open platforms should be regulated. As objectionable as it is to have FB tell me what is true, imagine some sub committee made of up government employees or, worse, partisans appointed by what ever party happens to be in charge telling you what is true or false.

The second undesired result is that FB becomes a publisher not a platform. The natural next step beyond telling users what is true is to actively stop users from seeing what is false.

FB becomes a publisher, and is liable for what is allowed on its channel. And that goes beyond political speech. All sorts of copyright issues come into play. IP owners may not sue a 20 year old for posting their property without permission, but there’s money to be made in suing the publisher who posts it.

The biggest problem is that these attempts to stop the spread of misinformation and false information attack a symptom of a problem Facebook created and amplified with its own algorithms.

FB created news feeds which “feed” our own confirmation biases and create echo chambers for misinformation. The way to fix that is not for FB to tell me what is fact or fiction, but to change the algorithms to show a wider range of ideas. That addresses a core issue with the platforms in general.

People form common interest ties. They post common interest content. FB sees that you interact with that content and those friends and pages. They show you more of that content. Facebook bragged about this change a few years ago. They are showing us more of what we like and less of what we don’t.

FB would say this makes your experience on the platform better. It also make FB more profitable.

Companies buy exposure on my newsfeed from FB. These companies enjoy a very targeted approach to buying this space on my feed. If Facebook can narrow the types of posts, which represent the sort of interests I have, they can offer a better deal to advertisers. If I see posts and information across 100 interest areas, and interact with a broader range of people and pages, companies have to spend more, across a broader range, to get me to buy their stuff. If FB can lower that range to 75 or 50 areas of interest, their ad placements become more effective. Companies buy more ads and FB makes more money.

They have been doing this for years. Here’s how this practice led to the rapid sharing of what people think is problematic information. The medium inherently causes transmission issues.

Social media’s inherent requirement to distill complex, nuanced content down to simpler ideas comes into play. The “TL: DR” -too long, didn’t read- response was created because reading long and complex information online is hard. (Thanks for read this long and complex content in the internet)FB needs us to keep scrolling, so we can see more ads. So they prioritize images and videos, and downplay text. Any post or comment over a few sentences gets shortened with a “see more” link, so you can quickly scroll past it.

The result is complex issues reduced to memes and emotional entreaties. Now add the FB algorithm.

So person A has their friend group. A political meme gets shared from a page. Several people share it in that group. FB’s computers take note that content from that page was popular in this group of people. Meanwhile, another meme which didn’t fit into the group’s biases was seen and the group did not share it. FB notes that content was not popular.

Now, when that first page posts something, the algorithm doesn’t know whether it’s true or not. It just shows the content to the group. Meanwhile, content showing a contrary opinion from the 2nd source is not shown to them.

This goes on for literally years. Information that the group likes and that affirms their biases is reinforced to FB as what should be in their feed. Contrary information is reduced. Because FB shows us what we like, we eventually end up in an echo chamber. Ideas we welcome get reshared and commented on and liked. Ideas we don’t like, get seen less often.

Now election time comes. FB’s algorithm cannot distinguish fact from fiction. So it shares both true and false information with the group. And since FB has learned that contrary opinions don’t get the attention, they cut them out of the feed.

One day a piece of untrue information is shared. It fits what the group has previously interacted with, so the algorithm shows the group. No contrary information is provided. Person A sees that lots of their friends have shared the info. And since it fits into a preferred bias, and little to no opposing views are shared, person A believes it. And shares it, too.

Cut to today. We’ve got rampant misinformation and questionable sources being shared on Facebook. How do we fix it?

Facebook labels anything in the subject as potentially false and provides links to what FB thinks is true. This is bad policy.

To really fix it, FB has to stop tailoring newsfeeds the way it does. They need to broaden what is shown to users. Any page or person I have shown any interest in, by liking for friending them, should have the same opportunity to show up on my feed as those I regularly like or comment on.

This will impact the advertising dollars FB uses to operate. And that is why we see ham handed bandaids like what is happening now, instead of real change in the root causes of the issue.

Now, this isn’t all FB’s fault. We will still have confirmation bias and a tendency to resist what we don’t agree with. But FB can help by not reinforcing those tendencies. What they are doing now is wrong headed and will end badly.

Streaming for Indie Filmmakers in 2020

It stinks.


On Monday, Regal announced it would be indefinitely closing US and UK theaters.


I also heard from Christian Cinema that one of my titles- arguably my best work- was immediately removed from their catalog because it didn’t meet their small viewership threshold.


And I got an email satisfaction survey from Amazon Prime Video Direct.
All on the same day. This just reminded me how terrible the market is for indie filmmakers right now.


As more major theaters close, and more studios release major movies to streaming first, indie filmmakers watch an already crowded market of independent work get shoved to a second tier. There’s no way a movie with a budget of under $20k can compete with a studio film with name actors and actual advertising money.  The only thing we used to have going for us was that when people wanted to stream things, they could choose older movies and shows or indie content. Now, they can choose new content from major studios.


That brings me to Christian Cinema. A few years ago I put my series on there. It wasn’t the most amazing series ever produced, but it was a niche product and I was a small fish in a small pond. A couple of months later, Christian Cinema added a ton of family friendly, but not specifically Christian content. Suddenly my small pond was pretty big.


When I submitted my documentary to Christian Cinema, I asked about partnering with them on some promotion. My doc film is different than anything else on their platform and still fit their audience very well. They would not even answer the question.


My doc film was available on pages and pages of “documentary” content. The only highlight it got was from my efforts. And frankly, it was easier for people to use Amazon or Vimeo on Demand. So it never saw a lot of sales or rentals on that platform.


Fast forward two years, and amazingly my old series has seen purchases while the documentary did not meet their minimum threshold. So, it’s gone. Like surprise- open an email, last line says it’s gone as of today. Gone. I know that’s in the contract, but I guess I expected some notice, instead of a by-the-way-we-deleted-it email. It’s disheartening to see something you spent 2 years working on get so few views it gets pulled from the “small pond” you put it on.


That leaves Amazon and a couple of places Film Hub is placing the movie. And Amazon pretty much stinks with regard to confusing policies and low royalties. I guess they can because they are Amazon, and their algorithm works, sort of. 


To be honest, no one knows about the movie. I mean, local people know, but no one knows. My meager marketing efforts never reached a tipping point with awareness of the film. I can spend money on social media ads and see views of the film, but with royalties being so low I could never earn more than I was spending. I spent a lot of time trying to find a magical formula for ad spending vs earning, and never figured it out. Maybe I just needed a lot more capital to start with, maybe it’s not scalable? How can no-budget films break through the noise to be seen?


The barrier to entry for indie filmmakers is low. That’s a two edged sword. One the one edge, anyone with a smart phone can make and distribute a film. On the other, no matter how bad it is, anyone with a smartphone can distribute a movie. How can your work get noticed in the sea of content?


I was approached by a marketing firm recently. After the 3rd email, I responded. Their program is this- pay them $800 up front and 30% of revenue and they will market the film. So I did the math on how many revenue shared $1 rentals it would take to recoup $800. When I asked if he could promise I would see that money back… the conversation stopped. I also asked if he had watched the movie… he apparently had not. I might (might) have been tempted to use their company if he had a real passion for the project, instead of just using google to search for indie content and cold emailing them.


There was a time in Indie Christian filmmaking, when just getting a DVD of a movie into brick and mortar stores guaranteed thousand of sales. I heard people say that “You just have to keep the budget under $200k, because that’s about what you will bring in.” Things have changed so much. I definitely missed that window. 


I tried to break the system for Christian TV series, and saw great openness to broadcast the program, but very, very little ability or willingness to pay for the program. I’ve now tried working within the broken indie, self-distribution system. I’ve been smart enough to not spend money I could not afford on production, and fortunate enough to break even or not end up more than a few hundred dollars underwater on a project. But I cannot make a living the way I have approached filmmaking. I describe myself as a part-time filmmaker, but normal part time jobs pay something. 


So, after all that downer talk, why would anyone keep making movies?
Well, it’s not to get rich. The only reason to keep making content is because you are passionate about the content you are making. 


That’s it. The market is terrible, you’re likely not going to even make your money back. So only produce what you are passionate about. From concept to eventually being removed from streaming platforms, it’s your passion for the project that will carry you through and on to the next one.

[By the way, the documentary is available for free with Prime membership on Amazon now. You can watch with your membership and Amazon will give me about one dime. But at least people will be watching it.]

Amazon Prime Video Direct and Short Films

The other day Amazon Video Direct emailed to let all of us providers know they are once again cutting the legs out from under indie filmmakers. They are now taking the Japan, Germany and UK royalties and making them similar to the current US royalties. Basically, if you have a high CER (Customer Engagement Ranking) you can make more money per hour of viewing on your Prime viewing titles. That is to say, you can make jack squat or less than jack squat. Even at the highest CER rank, you won’t make more than 0.07 CBP per hour of streaming. That’s Zero Point Zero 7 Pounds. I took my feature doc off of Prime viewing because I think my work is worth more that a dime per viewing. That’s what I was getting with my CER in the US back then. People would watch an hour and 45 minute film, and I would get about $0.10. Currently my doc is available for rent on Amazon for just $1, of which I receive $0.50. 


But, that’s not the real reason for this post today. Looking at my account I noticed that only one of my videos that are on Prime was getting any views. That’s odd. I had this little comedic short that used to get a lot of views. But there had been no minutes streamed for a few weeks. Investigating further I found these publishing errors on 2 of my 3 short films that were on Amazon for Prime viewing:

So, Amazon had pulled them down. And there’s no recourse, and don’t bother trying to resubmit. These short films had been on Amazon since 2016 for one and 2018 for the other. One had 5/5 stars the other had 4/5 stars. 


The reviews were (mostly) very positive, and the star reviews weren’t a problem. And it’s not about offensive content, or inappropriate content. And it’s not about quality- to be completely honest, my 3rd short film is the worst one of the bunch, and it’s still available. They had good audio, good video quality. I’ve watched a lot of indie films on Prime, and I’ve seen some ugly ones that are still on there. So that leaves you with Customer Viewing Behavior as a cause.


Both the films that were removed were under 3 minutes long. The short film that is still available if just over 5 minutes. I wondered if they had instituted a minimum runtime for titles. So, I dug around and found a contact email. I asked about minimum runtimes for titles and why they hadn’t notified me via email about taking down those titles. And they replied:


“Hello, We do not have a set minimum run-time, however most customer engagement metrics indicate that shorter films (less than 15-20 minutes) typically fail to meet quality expectations. Please note that all title updates are posted to the title entry page in the Your Videos section for each video.”


So there you have it. Short films are out. I survived previous purges, and my 5 minute film survived this one, but the days of Amazon Prime Video Direct being a place to get your short film seen are over. Also, they won’t bother to tell you if they remove a video, they expect you to be checking a page you only look at once a year or so, or when you’re uploading new content.


Now, what does this actually mean for me?


It means those two short films won’t be available on Amazon prime anymore. You can still see them on YouTube:

(A slightly longer -30 seconds more- version of this film was on Amazon, without the Rode Reel graphics)

I won’t really be losing any money. Think about it. If I get a maximum of 10 cents per hour of viewing, it would take 20 views of a 3 minute movie to earn 10 cents. 200 views of that movie to make $1. And the reality is, older films naturally have a lower CER, so I expect those short films were earning 1 cent per hour of viewing, so it would take 2000 views to make $1.


Let’s face it, having a short film on Amazon Prime is like publishing a novel at a Vanity Press. It’s nice, feels good. But you’re not making a living from that. Not with short films. And now, even that option is disappearing. So, off we go to Youtube and Vimeo- where we also make no money for providing content. 

Sony a6600 Picture Profiles and Color Settings

I wanted a quick reference for what the different Picture Profiles and color settings inside the Sony a6600 looked like. So I set up the mono pod and shot a few seconds of each.

Nothing special. Just some fake plants in natural light, but you can get a feel for the way each profile or setting handles color.

I had never messed with SLog2 or Slog3. I had a couple of LUTs I like to use, so I threw those onto some of the profiles I liked best. A Rec 709 LUT and one made for SLog footage. I made no other adjustments. Just right out of the camera with a LUT added.

Anyway, it was interesting to see how each profile handles the same shot, and how these LUTs worked with them.

Which did you like best or least?

One thing that I noticed was really bad noise in the SLog3 footage, in the shadows. Having never messed with SLog3 (or really, SLog) at all, I wondered how to combat that. Is the a6600 just terrible at SLog?

Several Youtubers suggested overexposing your SLog3 footage. Like, a lot. A lot more than you would normally want to. One suggests turning on the Zebra patterns and setting it to show at 100 IRE- That’s where SLog3 clips. So overexpose until you see zebra patterns and then back it down a bit.

I’m gong to have to play with it. Noise aside, with no other adjustment, just adding a LUT, the SLog3 footage was starting to look very nice. Imagine without noise and with a bit of tweaking?

But, was about footage right out of the camera? What about just normal shooting, where you do a minor teak and dump it out of the editor? Which looked best?

I liked Picture Profile 4. I could tweak that and use it fairly easily. I’ve done a lot of shooting in color setting Neutral. Color setting Portrait was a bit oversaturated, but could work if that’s the look you wanted.

My main takeaway after living with the footage a few days is that Slog is intriguing, and I want to see what good Slog footage looks like out of the camera. My second takeaway is tat I may switch to Picture Profile 4 for normal, quick shooting.

I Upgraded My Camera

I know. Telling stories isn’t about gear. You can tell a compelling story on your phone and tell a terrible story and the most expensive camera.
Even, so sometimes a new body comes out that is worth the upgrade. When I upgraded from the Sony a6000 to the a6500, the jump was huge. I was shooting my documentary, I needed the features of a better camera, and splurged a bit to get the a6500 over the a6300.


Enter the a6600. When it came out a few months ago, it was released to mixed reviews. Some people didn’t see it as a major upgrade. The upgraded AF, larger battery, and headphone jack alone were enough to make me want one. Add in a flip up screen and no video record limit, and I’m sold.


But the price was high. I just couldn’t justify spending another $1400, especially in between major projects. Even when the body started going on sale for $1200 regularly, I didn’t purchase it.


Last week, BH Photo put the a6600 on an education discount for $918. At this price point, I could justify the leap. I could sell my a6500 and accessories, and some other filmmaking gear to cover the cost. And I have two college students (dual credit counts) in my home. So, my son bought me a camera. Such a good kid.


I actually looked at the a6400. Numerically, that would be  a downgrade. But the a6400 had the new AF and no limit on recording. I liked those features. but the a6400 does not have the larger battery and headphone jack. Those two features were important to me. (I also like IBIS, but Sony’s isn’t that great, really. I could live without it.)


-As someone who shoots documentary footage, the smaller my footprint can be, the better. With the included headphone jack, I don’t have to use an external recorder to monitor audio recording. 


-I am often “running and gunning” and with the a6500 I routinely had multiple batteries on charge. The new, larger battery will help reduce the number of battery changes.


-In a “run and gun” situation, autofocus can be a critical component. I loved the face tracking in the a6500, but a couple of times it let me down. I had to cover a couple of shots I really wanted to use because at an inopportune moment the face tracking hunted focus for half a second. It doesn’t happen often, but it happened. I’m hoping, with the eye-tracking AF there will be greater accuracy.


I understand that some people may not value these improvements, at least not enough to upgrade. I didn’t think they were worth upgrading until this sale. But at that price, I could not pass it up. Plus I cleaned out my production cases a bit, converting little used gear to a new camera.