Monthly Archives: May 2012

I Only Wanted to Get Laid

I know the title of this article is a little crude.  Maybe I should have said it in a slightly lighter way as in “I was only looking for someone to love.”  But I find people want the unvarnished truth these days.  They’re impatient.  I prefer a little varnish now and then, but anyway you’re aboard and I appreciate you reading my drivel.  Now for more slightly off-color but hopefully amusing observations about our species, the internet, baseball, Robert Frost and TV commercials.

(Oh, by the way, I am not going to talk about long tail keyword research, although now that I  think about it I could have made a stupide comment like “researching tail” is a major occupation of the males of most species.

It’s also not about Direct Response Advertising although one could say that in the movie, “The Tall Guy”, there’s a fine example of Direct Response Advertising. In this hilarious movie, starring Emma Thompson and Jeff Goldblum, which is filled with tons of off-color humor and sexy scenes about finding someone to love, a spicy, British hooker asks Jeff Goldblum “Fancy a (f-word), big boy?” Jeff responds, “No, thanks. I just had one.” This is what direct respons advertising does. It states an offer very directly and asks for a direct response.  “Don’t put up with those unsightly zits one minute longer” or “Have Abs like this in 60 days. Order you abBlaster today”.  Direct Response Advertising goes right for the throat, or the pocketbook, or the psyche.

But back to finding someone to romance. This urge to entwine oneself with another has driven much of history’s famous and the rest of us as well.

Paris’ pursuit of Helen of Troy and King Henry VIII’s wife of the day are two famous examples.  At this royal/ political level, exposing this basic urge out of control is the media’s favorite pastime. Witness the smearing of President Clinton’s non-sexual relations relationship.  And the British seem to cherish the revelations that those “better than us” truly do have feet of clay.

Should only eunuchs run our government? I don’t think so.  I’d prefer one slimy, but eloquent, fast-on-his (or her)-feet, effective politician than ten eunuchs.  I hear eunuchs are filled with resentment. Gee. Wonder why. Maybe it’s because they’ve been deprived of their biological “agendas”.

This bio genetic urge which is imbued in most all of us guarantees the continuance of the species. Certainly it can’t be disputed that every single one of us is here because two people found a moment to do something other than work 24/7. And the animals who share our planet are at it too.  I’ve been watching two excellent BBC documentary series “Planet Earth” and “Life” (which has incredibly stunning video production utilizing the Cineflex helicopter mount and man other video production techniques) and it reaffirms that among most species on earth their lives are segmented as follows.

First, birth, followed quickly by eating or being eaten, followed eating some other animal or plant, then, looking for another to love (often with psychotic single-mindedness that can lead to, you guessed it, being eaten), and lastly, being eaten and or dying.

What’s not to like?

And so I think that many of the species, if they could talk, would admit just before they shed this mortal coil that as they look back on their life, one thing was a continually driving force.  “I only wanted to get laid.”

Oh, I may have left out a very brief part of that life arc. The part just after the realization by the male black widow spider, “Oops, I’ve had it” and the short moment he has to rapidly jot down some “notes to self” for his next lifetime, i.e. maybe getting laid any time, any where, with any black widow female should be postponed until I’ve at least had a little time to learn baseball, or learn to water ski or just hang out with my buds.

There was a quote from the famous poet Robert “the Iceman” Frost, who, by the way, was quite an athlete and played softball and tennis well into his eighties. We always see pictures of him when he was 218 years old but he was young and full of oats, too.  I call him the Iceman because a lot of people like the super-hero thing.

(above – Robert Frost, pic taken somewhere between 36 – 46 years old.)

He loved the Boston Red Sox and Ted Williams was his favorite hitter.

Anyway Mr. Frost loved competition, adventure and I love this quote:

Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

(from The Road Not Taken, Frost was 42 years old)

And so, as Spring approaches, we see all of nature moving toward that primal theme to renew life. And I urge one and all to consider for a moment (between twittering and texting) bringing a little love into the world they live in….not just the “taking” kind of love but the “giving” kind as well.

And I’ll close with one more quote from Robert “the iceman” Frost:

Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
(from Birches, Frost was 46 years old)

In my next blog I promise to talk about things that really matter like Optimized Market Research, TV Commercials, getting training in the Canon 5D, and having an effective marketing (non-marketing) plan for the internet. Funny enough, I think most of all this has to do with our desire to have somebody love/appreciate/admire us.  Think about it. We perform optimized market research so that our clients will sigh when they see the results we got them.  And if our  TV commercials drive leads in like salmon heading upstream, we fell pretty good. Helping someone get their web presence really working for them after they’ve spent years trying and failing….that really makes one feel good, too. Of course we charge for our services but the real payback is that smile on our customer’s face.

And that’s why The Association’s here… in the end. Well that and to amuse you with half-baked humor.

Zero-Defect Voice Files the Next Standard of Excellence?

The new NHTSA Driver Distraction Guidelines make zero defect voice files more important than ever.  What are zero defect voice files?  At a minimum the voice file must be correctly recorded and labeled.  For example, if a misnamed voice file prompts the driver to “exit left” off the freeway when it should say “exit right” the company could easily become liable in million dollar lawsuits and expensive and embarrassing recalls.
NHTSA is expanding its initiative to reduce distractions from the driver.  This means they want the driver’s eyes on the road and his hands on the wheel. And that means the computer’s voice in the car must speak to the driver clearly and correctly in the split second world of freeway travel to get the driver safely to the destination.
The Association has produced more zero defect voice files than anyone else in the world. The zero defect standard was put in place and perfected when The Association first began recording voice files for Alpine.
Alpine stands for excellence.  So, we established a production line to approach Six Sigma levels of quality. Basically, we isolated everything that could produce errors in sound files and eliminated them. It meant twelve additional steps that most sound studios don’t take. That was twelve years and tens of thousands of voice files ago.  The Association’s performance achieved “most reliable vendor” status with Alpine.
Six Sigma Symbol
The Association has also recorded voice files  for Clarion, deCarta, Honda, Raytheon, JCI, IBM, General Motors, and Chrysler in multiple languages since the beginning of automotive GPS systems.
We take our responsibility seriously.  For example, we apply twelve additional Quality Control steps in the pre-recording, recording and editing/naming of our voice files. Our vendors have come to rely on us for perfect performance.  Many times in a corporate environment one workgroup turns over work to the next group that is not QC’d and errors begin to propagate.  There isn’t a central control point monitoring the process from beginning to end.  That’s where we come in.  We QC the process throughout.  One clients navigation voice tree has involved twenty-two people over the years.  We remain constant as the safeguard of the purity of the fileset.  Though each employee is trying hard to do their best but let’s face it, we are humans and not 100% accurate 100% of the time.  So we serve as a an independent QC control point for our clients’ project managers and their workgroups.
The cost of the zero defect production line seems more expensive than a sound studio that just records voice files.  But when you factor in the cost of a recall, the immense negative PR, or worse a lawsuit resulting from errorless voice files that compromised a person’s safety, we are actually a wise investment for the company.  We have not yet produced a million voice files but we have achieved six sigma quality levels in our production line and we’re proud to help keep the driving public safe.  We take measures no one else does to produce the best voice files for telematics applications. I think that’s why we have the clients we do.


Pay Per Click Advertising Definitions

One of the difficulties you can run into when trying to set up or manage a pay per click advertising account on Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing or MSN Ad Center, is the definitions of words. If you don’t understand the words it will be hard making sense of what the report is telling you.

Here are some definitions for terms you will run into when trying to set up or manage a pay per click advertising campaign with Google.

a. Search: On a Google AdWords report, this refers to the search network. This is basically the main Google page where people enter search terms, plus some other search engine sites that Google has partnered with. See also “Content” below.

b. Content: On a Google AdWords report, this refers to the content network. This is where Google will put your pay per click text ads up on other sites. You see this sometimes on web sites where it says “Sponsored ads from Google” and there is a small strip of these ads. They put your ad up on a site that has elected to have Google ads displayed, and they put it up only on sites where the subject matter of your ad matches the subject matter of the site. The Content Network greatly increases the reach of your ads, but fewer people will click on your ads than with the search network. And generally the Content Network gets a lower percentage of conversions than the search network.

c. Clicks: This is the number of people who clicked on one of your ads. Also called clickthroughs.

d. Impressions: This is the number of times that your ad appeared, either when someone typed in one of your keywords on the search network, or on the content network when your ad matched the subject matter of another site.

e. CTR: Stands for Click Through Rate. This is the percentage of time that someone clicked on one of your ads (Clicks) compared to the number of times the ad appeared (Impressions). A higher clickthrough rate means your ad is more effective, so you want this to be as high as possible.

f. CPC: Cost Per Click. This is the average cost you incur each time someone clicks on one of your text ads. This is affected by how much you are bidding for the various keywords.

g. Cost: In this column we see the total amount of money spent.

h. Avg Pos: Stands for Average Position. This means how high up your ad is appearing. As there are almost always multiple advertisers, they are shown in an order, and being nearer to the top or at the top is desirable. So if you see an average position of 1.5, that shows that your ads were appearing some of the time in the #1 position and some of the time in the #2 position.

i. Conversion: In a lead generation campaign, a conversion is someone who filled out a form and became a lead. In an online sales campaign, a conversion is someone who bought the product. There is special code which you put on one of your web pages, that will then communicate back to the Google interface and tell it when a conversion has occurred. This is vital to do, and not everybody knows about this feature.

j. Conversion Rate: This is the percentage of people who clicked on your ad and came to the site, that then filled out the form and either became a lead or bought something.

k. Cost/Conv: This is the cost per conversion. For example, if you got 10 conversions (leads) in one week, and spent $1,000 on your clickthroughs, then your cost per lead would be $100.00 each. You want the cost per conversion to be as low as possible.


Day One of the Canon Boot Camp: What You’ll Learn

So, you’re considering biting the bullet and learning from the pros how to use Canon DSLR Technology? Well, that’s why The Association created our Canon camera classes.  Our Pro Level I and Pro Level II classes are designed to train still photographers and filmmakers alike how to use the video functions of Canon’s DSLR cameras in just 2 days.
So I thought I’d publish on the blog some of the questions we’ll answer on Saturday, the first day of our 2 day boot camp.

1. What are the basic 20 steps for setting up your camera?

2. What is the transcoding process?

3. What are the limitations of the 4:2:0 color space?

4. What are my options for support & handheld rigging?

5. Should I shoot FAITHFUL or…?

6. How can I avoid the CMOS sensor overheating?

7. How do I import my shots into Final Cut Pro? 

8. What are my audio options?

9. What kind of memory cards do I use?

10. What do I use to offload the cards in the field?

11. How do I avoid moiré and rolling shutter issues?

12. What do I do if my camera overheats and shuts off?

13. Can I shoot Auto Iris?

14. Can I shoot Auto Focus?

15. Is the sensor bigger than the RED?


Not so say that these are the ONLY questions we’ll answer. This Boot Camp is for YOU, the independent filmmaker. Or the still photographer. Or even the newbie struggling with settings. So if there is a question not represented here, ask by submitting a comment below. We are very interested in what you want to learn.

New to our Canon Boot Camp? Scan the QR code below with your phone to sign up for our newsletter, or click the sign-up icon below.

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Canon Boot Camp Participant Feedback

Canon Boot Camp Promo Shot

When we created our Canon camera classes, it was with the intention to help our fellow storytellers increase their digital filmmaking skills so they could get more work. A tremendous amount of time, sweat, blood and mind-numbing review has gone into our materials and approach to teaching Canon HDSLR technology. And now, in our 3rd year of providing the training, we are really starting to hit our stride.I know this because of the feedback we are receiving back from participants. Here’s a comment from a student who just attended our recent April Canon Boot Camp in Burbank:

“What a great weekend, Fletch.  It was a pleasure to meet you, your wife, Celine and the gang.  I learned a lot and really enjoyed you and your quality of teaching.  I do believe I will take you up on the offer to come back, though.  It was my first go around and I’d like to solidify the weekend.  So, hopefully in June. Thanks again, so much, Fletch.  You are a kind, knowledgeable, patient, funny, warm and giving person.  Much appreciated.”  T.C.

Braden Barty of Shadow Storm ProductionsFate allowed us to add an extra segment on Pro Level I geared around Adobe Premiere. With Adobe Premiere now offered via monthly subscription, it seemed like a good time to ask our friend Braden Barty of Shadow Storm Productions to give us 1 hour of his time. The added segment was a hit, so we are planning a separate workshop just on Adobe Premiere. Stay tuned for announcements on the date (possibly in May).Of course, if anyone has specific requests on other Boot Camp classes related to filmmaking that we should offer, please comment below! We could cover topics such as DSLR Filmmaking, lighting, editing and scriptwriting, among others. Which class would you prefer? What would you want to learn from the class?