Stop using social channels to push, start pulling.

It feels incredibly weird that I still have to say this near the end of 2012, but stop using your social channels to solely push content.

Yes, you have a captive audience. Yes, they want to hear what you say. Yes, they will retweet and like and re-pin every trivial thing you push out there.

But why aren’t you listening to them?

If you follow me on twitter, and actually manage to catch me tweeting, you might know that I’ve been disappointed with GoPro and their lack of responsiveness.

Now, I’m a huge fan of GoPro. I have loved their products since the very start, and finally bought one with the announcement of the HERO3, simply because it could shoot 720p video at 120fps. Seriously, that’s all I wanted.

Well, I received my GoPro HERO3 Black Edition on Wednesday, November 14, 2012, and I spent the better part of that night playing with it. Learning the ins-and-outs, I quickly became accustomed to it and so I started to connect it to my accessories – no problems with the wi-fi remote that came with my HERO3, but any and all instructions on connecting to the GoPro iPhone app, which was pimped out on my packaging and all over their website, were for the HERO2 + Wi-Fi BacPac, and even a manual firmware update didn’t do a thing.


So I tweeted GoPro, thinking I’d get a quick response (they were tweeting at least once an hour at that point) but it never came. I tweeted again the next morning, thinking business hours would catch them, but… nothing.

It turns out, GoPro doesn’t respond to anyone. At all. Not on Twitter, not on Facebook, nothing. Hell, right now, I’ve been intercepting messages to their Facebook page and answering the questions that pop up about the HERO3 Black Edition and connecting to the GoPro app.

NOTE: The solution, if you were wondering, is that there is none. The HERO3 Black Edition won’t be getting a firmware update until December 14, 2012. That bit was buried in their features page for the HERO3, so I can’t complain about not being told. However, it still sucks that the packaging lead me to believe otherwise, but I can’t be mad about it.

I sent them an email to plead with them to engage with their audience. They may ignore it, and that’s most likely going to happen.

However, if you run any sort of consumer-facing company and you still don’t get it: PLEASE engage with people on your social channels.

I’m not asking you to respond to trolls and haters (though it’s an opportunity to swing them into your favour with your great responses) but I am simply asking you to fully utilize these channels that people come to have their questions answered and even just tell you how awesome you are. Plenty of companies are doing this correctly, and even if you’re the market leader in the industry (looking at you, GoPro) you should do everything in your power to build walls against any eventual competitors that come your way.

Stop just pushing, start pulling.

Belle + Kevin

On October 15, 2011, I helped film Belle and Kevin’s wedding. It was a big deal, not only because it was my first ever wedding shoot, but I also wanted to give them a damn good video to remember the most special of days.

Shot entirely on a Canon T2i, swapping between a Canon 28mm f/1.8 and a Canon 55-250mm f/4-5.6 and using a Rodes VideoMic and a Zoom H4N to record the audio.

Song selection was easy: Belle’s father played this during the reception, and it was a no-brainer to use it here.

Congratulations Belle and Kevin! Thanks for making me a part of your special day. :)

The Comedians That Canada Deserves

This is “A Very Office Christmas”, made by Katie Uhlmann and Claire Stollery, also known as Real Professional. Take a look, let me know what you think.

Personally, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the video. It’s a great little story, and it’s clever, but I guess I expected to laugh a lot more than I actually did. That is fine, not everything tickles everyone the same way, and I hope Katie (who sent me this video!) wasn’t offended by the fact that I wasn’t the biggest fan of it.

However, I would like to point out one thing: they are a breath of fresh air for comedy in Canada.

Since the (good) days of Royal Canadian Air Farce or This Hour Has 22 Minutes, I have seen plenty of Canadian comedy shows show up on The Comedy Network, and they have all been disappointing. They would take the awesome sketch comedy formula that made the aforementioned shows so successful and tried to replicate it, except they wouldn’t be as smart, they wouldn’t be as intelligent, and they absolutely blew when it came to comedic timing.

It was like watching a really bad, half-hour commercial for a shoddy product. Without Billy Mays.

What I really like about Real Professional is that they’ve made a really great comedy short: it’s beautifully produced, it’s got just the right amount of cheesiness in it, and the actors and actresses don’t make me want to immediately claw my eyes and ears out. That said, the acting does fall short in a few places and the overall idea for this short just doesn’t do it for me, but there is definitely plenty of potential and I appreciate that.

I’m really looking forward to more videos from Katie and Claire over at Real Professional. I am hoping that this is a direction that many more comedians take when creating their content, it is an absolute breath of fresh air.

Cheers, ladies!

Lessons from Filming a Wedding

Yesterday, I attended Belle and Kevin’s wedding at Hazelton Manor, and they also asked me to help them capture their day with video. I was a nervous train wreck for the entire week leading up to the event because of two reasons: I have never shot a video before, and I love Belle and Kevin to bits and didn’t want to screw up.

Photo: Tim Chong Photography

Well, I survived and I think I did alright. Here’s a list of things I learned about shooting weddings:

  • You will have to fight for position. Chances are that there will be a photographer there, in addition to everyone else who is holding a camera.
  • Get a vest and stabilizer. Weddings are very long, your arms are going to get tired very quickly.
  • Be familiar with your equipment. I have never used a Steadicam Merlin before, and I didn’t have enough time to get it balanced properly, so I couldn’t use it, which sucks!
  • Bring all the wires you could possibly need. I brought a Zoom H4N to record audio, and I got lucky that the DJ had a spare set of XLR wires. I have perfect audio of the reception thanks to him.
  • Scout the venues ahead of time. I didn’t get a chance to take a look at the venue beforehand, and I had to make some really quick choices at the very last minute on how I was going to shoot everything.

Lessons for next time. Working on getting the videos together, but thankfully I can start showing people the video I helped them make to kick off their reception!

Beauty of a Bride

On July 24th, my friend Belle asked me to help her film her bridal shower, and of course I couldn’t say no to my former LIVE Conference Co-Chair! It was a really fun, cute, and sweet event, makes me really happy to see Belle surrounded by such amazing and dedicated friends and family.

Still learning to shoot with a DSLR, but we’re getting there. Slowly.

Lessons From Shooting With the SLR

Shooting with a Canon T2iIt has been just about 3 months since I have bought my Canon T2i, and I have done my best to really get to know it better. I have done quite a bit of video in the past, and I have done some video with SLRs as well, but there are just tiny little tips and tricks you figure out along the way.

Here are a few for the beginner videographers to help you along your journey to shooting better video!

Tip #1: Autofocus in video sucks with the T2i.

Seems rather silly, but autofocus on the T2i in video mode is… well, it’s shoddy. It is slow, it is loud, and it opens up your aperture as wide as it can while it does it, and will whitewash your entire video. Instead, get comfortable using manual focus and zooming in to check on the focus. At least that’s how I do it.

Tip #2: Invest in a good microphone.

This is especially important if you have people speaking on camera. I recently filmed an interview with Wes and Darcy of Dealpage, and we were on the roof of my office building on a rather windy day. If I didn’t have a mic, I am pretty sure my audio would consist of bits and pieces of their answers, but mostly the wind blowing right into the mic. And nobody wants to interview the wind.

The mic I use is a Rhodes VideoMic. I’d love to buy a wireless lavalier mic in the future, but for now it isn’t viable for me.

Tip #3: Don’t cheap out on the SD card.

When I took the camera to Austin for SXSW, I had JUST purchased the camera along with this cheapo 32GB SD card from Canada Computers. Worked great for photography, but when you used video mode and you moved in the slightest, you would memory buffer right out. Why? The SD card just wasn’t fast enough. Instead, invest in a card that gets at least 30mb/s and memory buffer issues should be a thing of the past.

I bought the SanDisk Extreme 16GB card, best purchase ever.

Tip #4: Auto settings are versatile enough for most situations, but get comfortable with manual settings.

This is something I have only recently started fiddling with, because for the most part, auto exposure settings were just good enough for anything I was doing. However, setting it to manual is the best way to control image quality and the look and feel of your video. Get some practice down by shooting a still scene and changing the settings until it looks right to you. Soon enough, you’ll get comfortable enough to change the settings on the fly and while on the move.

This has been the largest effect on my work, simply because being able to change the settings at will has given me the control I need to make it look just the way I want it to look.

So there you have it, a few nifty tips I have picked up along the way, and I hope they help you out too!

Awesome Link: OliviaTech

I love discovering useful and/or educational content that is well made. That’s why I was quite happy to discover about OliviaTech, a blog of Olivia Speranza, sharing her tips and tricks about audio, lighting, photography, and videography. This is my favourite kind of site to stumble upon, because you immediately learn a million things.

There’s an even better part: her video tutorials and reviews!

She has a collection of very professionally made videos on YouTube and Vimeo that educate us amateurs about different equipment and techniques. They’re short and they pack a lot of good, educational content.

Thanks Olivia, you’re doing great work!

Jamie Oliver’s Branded Video Content

Jamie Oliver has always been one of those guys I have a tremendous amount of respect for – he’s an accomplished chef, and he is on a mission to make people around the world healthier by giving them the knowledge to cook good food, fast.

Well, I just noticed that he has a YouTube presence which he’s using to promote his book, 30-Minute Meals (Aff Link), which is exactly what he’s all about: good food, fast. In the channel, he goes through a lot of basics of cooking, such as knife skills, herbs to use, and a plethora of other useful hints and tips. This is exactly the type of videos that I have been pushing for the past year – they are interesting, they educate you on Jamie’s area of expertise, and it promotes Jamie Oliver and all of his initiatives.

Cheers Jamie, keep up the awesome work!

My Mic Broke, And They Fixed It!

It’s been a while since I have blogged here, but I have been busy traveling, building the business, and creating a list of things to consistently blog about (Hopefully!) So here’s the very first: my RODE VideoMic broke, and they fixed it for free – and fast too!

The Story

While filming something with my good friend Darius Bashar, I accidentally left my camera standing on a tripod in his car while we started driving. All it took was one hard turn for the camera to fall down and for one of my fears to come true: my microphone was broken. In reality, the functionality of the microphone was still intact, it was just now impossible to mount it onto the camera even after countless attempts to superglue the cold shoe pieces back together.

Tape all over.
I went on for months sort of sulking about my loss – the RODE VideoMic is $230 + tax on the regular, and it seemed stupid to buy another just because of the cold shoe. I did the stupidest thing I could think of and resorted to taping the microphone on whenever I was filming something – making me look rather unprofessional and making my tiny camera look even worse than it already was.

Finally, last week while filming with Andrea Liew, she asked me “Why didn’t you just buy another one of those parts you broke? I’m sure you could buy it for a couple bucks, it’s plastic!” After hearing that, I immediately cringed due to my extended stupidity and shot out an email to the Canadian service agent for RODE products: Audio Distributors International.

Within a couple hours, I received back an email from Eric Lasnier telling me they would not only replace the part, but they would do it for free! Well, the package came yesterday with two, count them, TWO cold shoe replacements!

I am quite impressed and appreciative of the prompt response and service that I was given by ADI, and they’ve probably just made a customer for life. Thanks guys, you’ve saved my life (and career!)

The new cold shoe on my mic