NBC NextMedia

This is the Tumblog for NBC NextMedia Productions, a new media video production studio at NBC. You can check out our full web page here: http://www.nbcnextmedia.com

Customer Service for Sale

We just got back from Branford, Connecticut, where we shot our latest episode of Cool Running’s.  This time we road into Zane’s World Famous Cycles, a bicycle retail store that puts superior customer service on the map.   Founder Chris Zane started his business at the age of 16 and explains the ups and downs of 32 years of business that led him to his customer service policies that made him so successful today.  Policies that include:  never requiring a receipt for a return, even if the customer returns an item that wasn’t bought at his store, price protection that allows customers to return merchandise within 90 days if they find it cheaper elsewhere, with an additional 10 percent refund, and lifetime service on all bicycles he sells.  It’s no secret that the value of his merchandise pales in comparison to the value of his customers.

But there is a method to his customer service madness.  Chris calculated that each customer is approximately $12,500 of revenue over the course of his or her lifetime.  He found that each customer will have go through various stages of their life, and the types of bicycles they use will evolve with them.  From aggressive mountain bikes, to the seasoned road racing bikes, to the retirement beach cruiser, his loyalties to the people he serves will keep them coming back decade after decade.  Throw in a few training wheels for their kids, and you have a business that will thrive into the future.

Our team spent two days with Chris and is his employees and they provided us with the best cooperation and flexibility that any production crew could ask for.  Cynthia Salinas was well prepared and well organized during every aspect the production.  She had an outstanding vision for what exactly she wanted from her team and it reflected perfectly during the execution of every aspect of the shoot.  Ozren Milharcic, or as I dubbed him “the man with no shoes,” assumed the role of DP took command of technical intricacies, and Antonio Neves was as congenial as ever.  We would like to extend another big THANKS to Chris Zane and his outstanding team for all their help and cooperation for another successful episode.   Look for it in the coming months.

Digital Riot Police: Seeing Through the London Fog

The power of social networking sites has been clearly demonstrated over the past several months as the wave of revolution continues to sweep through the Middle East. A new kind of rage is consuming the streets of London, and once again, social media is on the forefront of the happenings. But this time it’s different. The technology that so many ordinary citizens used to amass themselves is being used against them by the UK police and citizens in a way that we’ve never seen before.

Just like we’ve seen before, Facebook group pages are being made to keep the world up to date on the latest crimes and riots in the area. “Supporting the Met Police against the London Rioters” is a page where people have posted pictures, information, and just words of support as the authorities try to quell the violence. The UK police have established a Flickr page called “London Disorder – Operation Withern” where they post pictures of suspects in hopes the public will recognize and report information leading to their arrest. This is all pretty standard stuff when it comes to media policing techniques, but some savvy citizens have taken it a step further.

A group called, “London Riots Facial Recognition” has surfaced recently with the goal of developing facial recognition programs that take the photo’s posted on the Flickr and Facebook group pages and identify by matching it with other photo’s of the suspects that may be posted on the web. These were developed from a site called Face.com, one that hosts platforms for facial recognition software. Faces that appear in surveillance camera’s can be scanned by this software and matched to images posted on other sites that can positively identify the suspects. The digital age has significantly reduced anonymity on the Internet, and this is the most recent and significant step in that process. Citizen journalism has now given way to citizen policing, but how safer do you feel?

It not only Looks Delicious, it IS Delicious!

Our team just wrapped up another outstanding shoot with Unilever; this time we featured their Knorr product line. World-class chef, Marco Pierre White, flew in from England to demonstrate some cooking tips and recipes using the Knorr Homestyle concentrated stock. Chef White prepared two dishes for us: Risotto and “Super Easy Sweet Potato Mash.” Chef was masterful in the kitchen as he chopped asparagus with lightening speed and cut onions so fine they melted in the pan. The convenience of the Knorr stock concentrate not only saved ample cooking time, but added a great chicken stock flavor that really added to the dish (believe me I had a generous helping).

Although working with a celebrity chef and sampling the delicious fruits of his labor makes for spectacular afternoon; it was our newest member of the team that was the highlight of our day. The Sony NEX-FS100U made its NextMedia debut and it came to impress! The size of the Super 35mm image sensor is so large; you can shoot perfectly in candle light. During set-up, we cranked up the gain to +12 and there was not even the slightest evidence of noise – and that’s viewing it on field monitor. Although we haven’t yet push the limits, rumor has it that it can be brought up to +36 before getting any grain. At 24p, 30p, 60p, or 60i, (or go all out with 1920x1080 HD at 60 fps) the image quality looks like it was handcrafted by Jesus himself. The best part of the whole package is the price: Under $6000 for the camera body. Interchangeable lenses can be added to give you desired focal lengths.

Keep in mind that although this camera is considerably small and lightweight, it is clearly not your run and gun “backpack journalist” camera. It just isn’t designed for it. The advanced capabilities are meant for style, not speed. Also, the box-like shell (and whatever size lens is attached) makes for clumsy handholding. Keep it mounted and you and the 100U will live a long happy life. From NextMedia, we look forward to pushing the limits of the dynamic platform and will, of course, report back with the latest happenings.

One Small Upload for NextMedia, One Giant Upload for NBC News

This week NextMedia will begin to upload the department’s archived projects to our “Cloud” storage hosted by Amazon’s S3 servers. I just counted 27 hard drives sitting on our shelves (and I’m sure more will surface) that all have countless gigabytes of footage, music, and interviews from projects past. Slowly but surely, I will be combing through these hard drives and outputting a Quicktime master version and clean version of each show for archival reference using the Avid DNxHD compression codec.

This is nothing new nor extravagant, rather long overdue. When you walk around each floor of NBC’s News Division in 30 Rock, more than likely you will do so dodging and weaving through carts filled with every tape format imaginable. I probably wasn’t born yet when producers adopted this method of conducting business, but needless to say it’s antiquated in a digital age. Imagine replacing the tape cart(s) with a cloud server that can be accessed anywhere there is an Internet connection. Find your project, tape number, and import it directly into Avid without having to drag the cart to an ingest room, fill out the paperwork, wait for the tapes to ingest real time, wonder why you still can’t find the footage, call ingest only to find out that they took a lunch break, go back and pick up the tapes days later. It’s not rocket science. The media industry is moving at the speed of life, and life is now digital.

Google+, Add it to Your Circle

NBC Social Media Manager, Anthony Quintano, gave us an overview of the budding new social media platform, Google +. Google is still in its experimental stage of the new forum and it’s only available through member invite; but it’s quickly catching wild fire to a very exclusive audience. “This is not your Facebook audience,” Anthony shared as he found out the hard way when he received some harsh replies in response to his post referencing Facebook. It seems there is a strong demographic of Facebook haters looking to branch out beyond the social media giant. So what are the differences between the two? Here’s a snap shot comparison:

Friends vs. Circles

Facebook lumps all of you’re contacts (friends, colleagues, family, middle school ex-girlfriend you haven’t spoken to in 25 years) into one category of “Friends.” Google + allows you to personalize your own categories (called Circles) in which the people of your Internet life fit into. This feature allows you to easily tailor who can view your posts. If you want to tell your close friends about your wild weekend wreaking havoc through the streets of New York while still maintaining the image of a patron saint to your grandmother, you can send updates just to that “Circle” and your grandmother would not be the wiser (at least on Google +).

Followers vs. Friends

Unlike Facebook, you do not need to be accepted by any user in order to follow their posts. Much like a Twitter feed, you can subscribe to anyone’s profile and others can subscribe to yours. There are no “walls” that other users can post to; however, any one of your followers can comment on posts that you have made. This makes Google + much less intimate than that of Facebook and subscribing to many users whom you don’t know is not uncommon.

Video Chat

Google+ has a video chat feature in which you can enter a video chat room of up to ten users. Take note that there are both private and public settings to this feature. The private setting allows only selected users to enter your video chat, while the public setting allows anyone of your followers to jump in. If you’re a person who has thousands of “acquaintances,” a public setting may subject you to the horrors of chat roulette.

One final note to make is that Google + is currently aiming this experimental phase towards people, not businesses. You won’t see any profiles from companies or organizations - and if you try to add one it won’t last long. This is not permanent. It is expected within the next few months for Google to open up to branding when they feel the time is right.

Country Crock - A Healthy Option with Veggies

Remember when mom use to always make us eat our vegetables? Well the good old days are back with new recipes. We just finished our shoot with Unilever as Chef Normajean Longfield guided us through healthy vegetable recipes using their product, Country Crock. Lucy Jimenez, a suburban mother of five, invited us into her beautiful kitchen where she learned how to make Mixed Vegetables Sauté and Broccoli Rice Pilaf. These quick and easy recipes are not only ideal for a busy mother, but it is also a perfect way to involve the entire family in the kitchen.

Mairead McGurrin produced and directed a smooth production. The spacious kitchen was incredible conducive to creating lighting and camera placement options. Lucy and her children were very easy to work with, not to mention, incredibly photogenic! Big thanks to the Jimenez family for their cooperation and flexibility. Look for this great recipe and many others at www.Today.com.

20/20 Vision of Warby Parker

We just wrapped up our two-day shoot for our next installment of Cool Runnings at Warby Parker; an eyewear company that has revolutionized the industry.  CEO’s Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa have enticed new business growth with the mission of giving the consumer the upper hand and maintaining a philanthropic cause.  The recipe for success was easy:  Create honesty in product information, cut out the middleman, and give back to the global community.  Most prescription glasses can cost hundreds of dollars. Warby Parker creates a line of prescription eyewear for under $100 without sacrificing quality and donates a portion of each purchase to a non-profit organization designed to provide glasses to people in need. 

Greg Kaplan was flawless in his producer/director role at the showroom location in Union Square.  Mirrors scattered throughout the room gave the multi-camera shoot an added challenge.  Floor to ceiling windows, fluorescent lights, and the halogen light from our softbox kits gave us a mixed cocktail of light temperatures.  But fortunately, the forgiving Sony V1U white balance presets gave us the warmth we needed.  All-in-all, our two days with Warby Parker was a huge success!  Look for it at businessonmain.msn.com in the coming weeks.

All the World’s a Stage

It’s been a few weeks since my last post but with good reason. I just returned from Lebanon where I spent two weeks participating in open dialogue with prominent figures within the Lebanese government, religious leaders, and United Nations officials. During my two weeks, I explored a wide range of issues that plague the pivotal country in the region. Among them is the “Arab Spring” that is sweeping the area and shocking the world. Of course so many political ties have invested interest in what will happen to the regimes that fall or are in jeopardy of falling. But no matter what surfaces when the dust clears, one thing is for certain - the region will never be the same.

From a media perspective, this is a very exciting time. When we get down to the basic components of these uprisings, the seeds of spring if you will, we find that there is a whole new audience emerging that craves outward criticism of the government regimes that ruled for decades. The youth has poured into the streets in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria just to name a few. Facebook and Twitter are the 21st century tools used to organize demonstrations. Postings of criticism and outrage flood the public domain like it never has before. For the first time in history entire populations of people bare a non-kinetic weapon that no regime can defend against – information and distribution. The taste of freedom of expression and protest will only escalate, and once you taste it, you can’t have just one. New media markets are bound to emerge as people continually seek transparency within their governments and the youth will be on the forefront of this transition, driving it into the next century. The question now becomes who will provide the vehicle.

Hit the Ground Running

Hello NextMedia enthusiasts! My name is Richard Dinardo, I’m a senior at New School and the newest intern to embrace the world of cutting edge media.  I’ve cycled through four departments under NBC’s News Division thus far and can confidently say that this experience will both challenge the way I’ve come to know media practices and stimulate my creative sense of innovation as this department will prove to perennially drive the industry into the next generation of media dissemination and consumption. 

I’m no stranger to digital journalism.  I’ve recently separated from the Air Force where I spent four years as a video journalist.  I’ve embedded within countless facets of the Department of Defense and have been charged to keep pace with an ever-changing digital environment.  Whether covering medical humanitarian efforts in Central America or jumping into convoys and rushing through the village streets of Iraq and Afghanistan, I know the importance of maintaining the highest mobility equipment without sacrificing quality and quantity. 

The field of Digital Journalism requires an adaptation to the way we do business as media technology becomes smaller, sharper, and more advanced.  The advent of social media forums has given everyone a voice.  As Digital Journalists, we have a responsibility to stay at the forefront of social media trends and provide the most reliable, accurate, and credible information in the world.  And that is what this team is all about!

I look forward to bringing my talents to NextMedia and becoming a valuable asset to a historically world-class NBC News division.  I have always thrived in environments that promote creative freedom and cultivate a team mentality.  There is no doubt in my mind that together we will continue to prove that complete success is a standard – not a goal.  So what’s next?  NextMedia!