Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Where was I when all this happened? vlogs?

There I was, quietly doing my job, when in comes this email from a co-worker. Always the bearer of some informational tidbit, I will put down whatever I am doing to read the links he sends.

As is normal, there were several article links on blogging and such. However, one in particular caught my eye. It had to do with a thing called a vlog. Reading into the article, I learned that a vlog is a Video bLOG. There was also a link over to where this bald guy (AKA Karl Miller) is talking on just about everything from armpits to the next band that will make him wealthy beyond his… oh never mind about that.

The bald guy is from a company called Serious Magic. They make the software that makes it easy for anyone (maybe even me) to create vlogs. Not just any webcam’ed, fuzzy image and crappy sound vlog. Oh no! We are talking about near broadcast quality stuff here. Granted his is a solution looking for a problem to solve with the vlog approach, but wait there’s more. Serious Magic makes incredible (if his pitch is to be believed) software for creating vlog, training videos, news items, video journals and the like. And it does it with extreme ease and professional look. This does not come cheap (at least not for my wallet). But I just can’t say enough about the capabilities that are available for the basic “home” producer.

The products are Visual Communicator, Ultra, DV Rack and Vlog-it. I don’t usually go off the deep end on software, but you must see this to believe it.

BTW, in my job I was recently tasked to put together a self-serve video production station. Given a pre-purchased set of parts and scrounging of other stuff, we ended up with a pretty good video station. But still lacked the ease of use for the customer to come in, sit down and just do a video. We have talked about scripts and the like to get this going. Well, Serious Magic has bypassed all that and provided an easy to use production environment including a teleprompter. Did I already say this… it could not be easier or look more professional (unless you went to a professional studio).

Okay, enough said about that. The real reason for this early morning babble is the following vlog I found by Jeff Jarvis. He talks about the power that anyone can have to do video “journalism”. He is using the Serious Magic setup, but doesn’t really go into detail or promote it. Good thing, right? Rather he talks about the evolution of journalism and what news agencies, etc. can do to take advantage of this new found source of information and “reporting”. Not everyone cares for Jeff Jarvis, but if on nothing else, he is right on target with this “journalism to the people” concept.

I know this will sound corny. It did long ago in high school, when I told someone that one of my goals was to help get information to everyone whenever they wanted it. The response was “right, and cure world hunger while you are at it”. Currently, I have not made much progress on the world hunger front, but I am making small steps in the information delivery. {Not counting my blog of course. That’s not information, just babble}. I feel that this video log capability is the next big step towards the information to (and perhaps by) everyone.

I don’t know if I will produce a vlog. In reality, I believe I am a bit camera shy. Although in the recent past I have had a live cam for broadcasting my fuzzy image to thousands of unsuspecting co-workers and produced just as fuzzy videos that were presentations converted to a talking head and presentation sourced in web form. All-in-all, I really don’t like doing that, but I do love a challenge and what more of a challenge then to try something that you aren't comfortable with and probably do it pretty darn lame and then expose that to hundreds, possibly dozens of others. Sounds like I didn't get enough punishment as a child or something.

Well now, off to do some online cruising for cheap prices on this software. I will let you know what, how much and where I find anything worth blabbing about...



Rich said...

Normally I don't comment on my own posts. However, in this case I promised to let all know what I found on purchasing the software.

Well it appears that various version of the software are around at a variety of prices. Some are older versions and the upgrade cost to get to the current version are well above the initial cost at

My suggestion is to just bite the bullet and buy directly from, well at least for the Visual Communicator Pro version 2. The advantage is that you get both the pro mic and the green screen. Both of these do not come with all the older version.

Vlog-It will be $99 bucks, but they could not tell me when it will be released. I went ahead and purchased the VC Pro 2 for the Web. Has everything I need at present. Hopefully their update policies will be revised so that moving from this version to the upper levels will not be so cost skewed.

In addition, if you are purchasing their software, be sure to check out the compatibility section. I am a big Pinnnacle Studio fan, but unfortunately VC, etc. is indicated as not compatible with my Pinnacle setup. No worries, since I porbably won't need to go through that hardware. Rather will use straight Firewire or USB 2 connection. Later, after deciding on which 3CCD camera to buy, I will refine the PC config to max out the performance.

That's all for now. Hopefully this has been helpful to someone.

Rich said...

Okay, I received my copy of the Visual Communicator 2 Web. Surprise! It is everything they said it was. Including the green screen that is included. It is not the fancy "sunshade" spring loaded oval, but rather a large green sheet of vinyl. It is wrinkled but that did not matter for the effects (important was the lighting of the green screen).

Made several test videos which were work based so I can not share them. However soon, I will have my very own camcorder to make my own personal videos. I was absolutely amazing at the quality, even when using a very cheap webcam. is just that.

"film at eleven!"

Rich said...

Right, now I think my setup is complete. I purchased a Panasonic PV-GS150 3-CCD Mini-DV Camcorder. It had the right spec's and prce for my needs.

Only thing that it did not have was a 4 pin DV to 4 pin DV cable. It did come with the USB version of that but this does not provide the same control. So, another short shopping trip is in store. Oh darn.

Overall I like the camera. Most of the reviews were accurate. The one unexpected great feature that I had no clue I would use is the "wired" remte control. The instruction imply it is for left handers that are not comfy with the normal camera setup. But for me it provides a close-up mic and complete control of the camera from my left hand, so my right hand needs only point the camera. This means no motion added from moving your fingers to zoom or pause or whatever. Did n't know I needed it, but now I can't live without it.

Anonymous said...

You don't need that software to vlog. You can use iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. I personally vlog and never have touched that software.


Rich said...

Very true. But I also use this sofware for work and BTW I will use it for vlogging.

The other software I might use for vlogging coul be Windows Media Encoder or producer for PowerPoint.

Apparently, there are lots of choices. Thanks for your insight.