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Cinemagraphs

Happy August! In between work and taking time writing papers for my group projects, I am looking through friends’ photo albums. I have often taken pleasure in the simplicity and complexity of photographs. I have dabbled a little in front of and behind the lens and really do enjoy the understanding of both sides. Photographs are beautiful and often tell amazing stories from a single frame. More importantly, they are extremely effective when it is associated with marketing, advertising, or public relations. I, myself, am a visual learner and respond better to colors, designs and pictures or video rather than words. Now, that’s not to say that words are not expressive on their own! If we remember (long ago) probably around the time AOL Instant Messenger first came out as a free program, we were first introduced to the animated gif or emoticon. Smileys on Yahoo! Messenger were probably my favorite. I remember playing around with Graphic Converter to make my own simple gifs. Remember the glitter gifs people used to post all over MySpace? Or what about the Peanut Butter Jelly Time dancing banana? I could stare at it for an hour!

Same thing applies here. Broken down, it is more or less a video of frames of images, almost like a flipbook. The animated gif is widely used in media today, even in sports; whether it is showing a great double play from a great baseball game or Glenn “Big Baby” Davis making a goofy face after he hit a floater to bring the Celtics within one during Game 3 of the NBA Finals. (don’t ask me why or how I even remember that!)

I have recently stumbled upon this new version of an animated gif, using the same process (perhaps just a tad more complicated …) called the cinemagraph. It is exactly what you think, not quite a video, not quite a photograph. It is completely unique to what type gif I was used to seeing though the same idea.

Created by Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg, they have taken the animated gif to a new level. I would love to have something like this on the blog. It is almost creepy how realistic it is. Literally making the photograph capture an exact moment in time. A simple “Wow” factor like this can boost any Website or page. Even though this idea was formally developed within the last year or so, I’m looking forward to the future of cinemagraphs, specifically with sports, athletes and big businesses. It is also a much smaller file and loads quicker outside of having Flash or HTML5 loading on a Website. Definitely something to think about with graphic design!

You can find tutorials online if you search for them, and it is only a matter of time until an actual app or simple generated website is created specifically for cinemagraphs, much like gifsoup. I always enjoy little DIY ideas and doing it yourself or with a good friend.

Simple and elegant

Not to mention the satisfaction of a finished product you’ve worked hard on is always a good feeling! I’m definitely going to attempt to make one of these at some point. Here’s a few of my favorites from Jamie (http://fromme-toyou.tumblr.com) & Kevin’s (http://kevin.tumblr.com/) collaborative gifs where subtle motion images like wind are used:

A nice summer breeze

She's looking right at you

Overlooking the city

You can almost smell them. Delicious!

Caught up in the moment

A new type of visual is always exciting to learn about. Being fresh and creative in any industry is what sells any particular product or service. Be unique and inspire others! Have an idea for my next blog post? Shoot me an email!

Language Connects Us

I have finally recovered! Good news, though, I got an A in my Marketing Management and Innovations class and summer is here! What an experience the 111th U.S. Open was. Strip away the greatness of Rory McIlroy and the U.S. Open overall, you have: long hours, random storms and driving more rental cars in one week than I ever have in my life. Being in the company of the ESPN Elite, the USGA, NBC and the greats of professional golf all around the world was pretty incredible. I was lucky enough, as a member of the media, to be able to have both my phone and my camera and got to take several pictures with the few minutes of downtime I had. Just a couple:

inside the press conference room

SportsCenter set

Andy being...Andy

me behind the desk

Building relationships during a tournament like that are so important. First of all, you need to make them fairly quickly … and by quickly I mean within the first half hour of the meet, especially if you’re going to be with working with someone closely on a project for the next several days. Expanding your networking foundation further helps you along within the sports industry (or any industry, really). It was great to find out that some of the people I met had mutual friends that I knew well. Sometimes I feel like the world is too small, then again, as much as I feel like I network, and talk to, it is not all that surprising.

People constantly ask, “Why do you talk to random people or say hello to random strangers while walking down the street?” Same answer I always give: Why not? I often find a cheery disposition is always pleasant to be around, regardless of how you actually feel. It is too often that I interact with those who are standoffish or come off as depressed and cynical and not optimistic about walking one foot in front of the other. I like to surround myself around good, hard working, strong people who are similar to my personality. When I would be working at the Verizon Center during basketball season, I would always see the staff and ushers on a regular basis and ALWAYS say hello and cordial. Think of the fans and people THEY have to deal with.  I have been this way ever since I can remember and with the advances of social media I can talk to people all over the world on just about any topic I want. Pretty cool, huh? The advancement in networking through social media and learning through technology has been mind-blowing. “Socialenomics” as the term is coined, (founded by Eric Qualman: @equalman) was founded “with the intent of providing short social stories, statistics, studies and surprises” (Check out the book, a pretty good read: http://amzn.to/kaObSW ).

Today’s standard vocabulary jargon over the past few years as been changed significantly. Phrases and words like: Tweet Me, Follow Me, StumbleUpon Me, Digg Me, Like Me, Text Me, Poke, Unlike, Tag Me and Don’t Defriend Me,  have become common terms within the social media language and expected to understand universally throughout the world. It started to show an increase when instant messaging and texting became more popular. Practicing to speak in 140 characters or less has become common. I have gone so far as to leave to go grab a drink from my friend’s kitchen and said, (face to face in person, by the way) I’ll “brb.” I had to stop myself and let it all soak in. It’s taken over the world, a true pandemic. It is hard to explain how much in just a few short words or statistics, but this video I found (via Qualman is absolutely fantastic and some of it may surprise you)

Bottom line is: Social Media is here and has its hand in everything; specifically in my industry of Sports and Entertainment. Learn the language and become a part of the conversation!

I leave you with a pretty cool idea that I hope will catch on in the near future. Recently done at a Manchester City game, (The Pittsburgh Steelers have also done this) was a new fan experience using Google Streetview and social media outlets that I hope catches on. The 360 degree camera followed the stadium during the pitch pre-game. This not only gets fans to drive traffic to a website but encourages fun “finding yourself”.

For those that don’t want to be found… to each their own, but for those like myself that do, don’t be afraid to say, “hello” in any language.

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Remote Controlling Your Life

The infamous remote control – the wireless universal device that connects us to television, providing us with news, information, perhaps an escape from reality, or maybe all three. Some say that cable/satellite television has taken over a good percentage of our lives and usually the source of water cooler chatter the next day, causing more people to watch certain events on TV that they normally don’t have an interest in.

Why not cuddle up with a good book, or read the newspaper, or go outside and get some much needed fresh air? Any one of us could chime in and say, well, that’s what “‘iPad’s, and Kindle’s, and vacations are for!” On average, the percentage of people who watch major network television skyrocketed this year. With high-profile productions like the Superbowl and the Oscars, many people feel the need to watch these programs, even if they aren’t huge sports fans or movie buff’s.

Why? They are a large part of our culture, a “staple in the entertainment world,” as my friend Erin states. But despite these productions, which only happen a few times a year, whats the draw to having cable television? Do we really need it? There are so many options and channels available to address anyone’s needs. Outside of reality television, (I know, I often go back to this topic as an example) on cable channels like E! Entertainment News, Bravo, VH1, and MTV, there are plenty of shows available that offer quality programming. I think there are far too many to list, many of which I have written down as “shows to catch up on”. I can almost guarantee that everyone who reads this has started to watch a television show based on others suggestions, rather than watching it from the pilot on their own free will. I admit that has happened to me on more than one occasion. One of the first things I prefer cable for is the sports package, (obviously) but even more incredible is one of the best inventions on the planet: DVR. Digital Video Recording, I salute you. Sometimes, life gets in the way.  To be able to come home after a long day of work, or school, and watch something you enjoy (fast forwarding through annoying commercials) is truly one of life’s little pleasures.

Here’s today’s debate:

With the spring season almost upon us, the moving season has begun. I remember when I was moving in to my apartment, outside of water and electricity, one of the first items I took care of was the cable/internet bill. Recently, two of my friends moved into an apartment together. They are deciding not to have cable at their place. Faithful readers, I ask, is this a smart decision? While yes, I realize not everyone is like me, getting up just a little bit earlier in the morning to watch reruns of Saved By the Bell on TBS, even though I own every single season on DVD. I also realize that everyone is not a diehard sports fan like me, switching back and forth between games on television and either game-casting or watching them live on ESPN3. I’ll even admit I have given up television on vacations that usually last roughly 7-10 days, but that is about all I can stand without feeling disconnected and current with whats going on in the world.

But really, no cable? In  their defense, my friends DO have a high-speed internet connection as well as a Netflix account. What’s the point of having cable/satellite TV and paying ridiculous fees when you can just instantly download them? Well – that’s a good question.

Over the past couple of years, approximately 800,000 people in the US gave up TV for the web according to the Convergence Consulting Group. With new features like HD channels and other bells and whistles, people are getting tired of the additions to the cable bill every month. It seems the web will always be a cheaper alternative, but is it more about the convenience of price or is it something else? 800, 000 people does not seem like a lot but if it continues to grow, which it very well might, it could put a damper on the $84 billion dollar cable/satellite television market (Source: Techcrunch.com). Remember the annoyance of the “switch to digital television” ordeal? This turned a lot of people off to explore the web-based television experience.

My MacBook Pro – and my connection to well, everything.

According to a study done by Logitech, ZDnet.com, talks about the power of the remote control, and how television controls our lives more than we might think – or expect.  According to the study, 36% of Americans would rather give up sex for a month then give up their remote control to watch television. THIRTY-SIX PERCENT, really?! According to an article from the technology section of MSNBC, “Twenty-seven percent of respondents would prefer to stop using their toothbrushes for a month than lose access to the remote control. ” Okay, I love new episodes of Glee and a basketball double-header as much as the next person, but, getting rid of toothbrushes? Ew. Just…ew. That’s a bigger number than I would like to see. I am not sure whether the correlation between the remote control versus actually watching television is there, or the increase of laziness in Americans, but you get my point.

Since the Comcast Corporation recently acquired the rights to take over NBC Universal, the company has been exploring ways to target the online video community head on. They have control of most online sites including  Telemundo, CNBC, Universal Pictures studio, and even a little percentage of Hulu.com. Comcast offering the rights to these shows online is still in negotiation stages. The market is still very new, but it offers alternatives for those who only want to watch specific shows and not waste their money on programs they could care less about. Seems pretty reasonable to me, but it also seems to come down to having a personal choice about what they ultimately want to watch, and a solid internet connection.

Don’t forget – that will result in the scrutiny of internet service providers and its performance. I personally, love being able to flip through channels and “surf” to find something I’d enjoy, if I have free time on my hands. However, I would prefer specific cable packages, others would potentially disagree with. (i.e. sports over movie channels, etc.) Since Apple, Amazon.com and Netflix are amongst the top online competitors to network and cable television, will they emerge victoriously? We can only watch and find out. Share your thoughts below:

Product Placement, Care For An Apple?

There has been a lot of buzz lately surrounding the release of the ever popular, ever sleeker Macbook Pro laptop computers, as well as the release of the iPad 2 coming up March 2. And we can’t forget earlier in the month when the Apple iPhone4 finally became available for Verizon Wireless cell phone users. Apple, Inc. a world-wide company that designs electronics, software and computers have a lot of pressure riding on them this week. AppleTV is actually pretty awesome – But who ever thought the iPad would catch on like it has?  Maybe because it has the brand behind it – I still don’t particularly care for the name and although I’ve played around with some before, I still prefer my computer and Android phone over the cool little tablet gadget thing that you can read the Huffington Post on… riding the metro home from work.

Let me ask you, faithful readers, have you ever been so mad at your computer you want to throw it up against the wall? Come on, we’ve all been there – and at some point in our lives, whether you’re an “Apple” or a “PC”, have witnessed the sad mac/blue screen of death. Does it make you give up and switch to the other side? If you compare the amount of times that has happened whether it was user error or manufacturing error, I bet it turns out to be about a 50-50 split.  My first home computer was an Apple IIGS, and have stuck with Macintosh computers ever since. I just don’t like PC’s as much as I do the Mac. My friend Trevor (@MrTrevC) prefers Windows-based computers. He has never wanted a Mac, nor does he even own an iPod. “Last on my list,” he says. But hey, preference is everything in the consumer world, and brand loyalties don’t fall far from the tree (pun intended for an apple?, sure, why not).

So what makes Apple so great? Some can argue the operating systems, some argue the quality of the applications, the layout, and more. Different strokes for different folks. But aside from personal opinion, How does Apple do SO well outside of picking sides? Its simple: product placement. For grad school, my assignment this week is to write a research paper on the marketing behind Apple, Inc. I have to wonder if my professor knew that there was a lot of press about the new products coming out this week when she made the syllabus at the beginning of the semester. I thought a post about Apple products tied it in nicely.

Adding to the mix, the Oscars are this weekend. There are some hefty contenders this year, and still so many movies I have yet to see. What do the Oscars have to do with Apple? Aside from wearing a dress out of apple slices or something with the famous logo on it, more than you think. Product placement in movies and television subliminally mind trick you into a desire to purchase products. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Although experts are calling it a downfall compared to the past several years, Apple products take the cake in product placement in the top 33 movies that hit the number one spot this past year. The press about this, is getting people talking, just a few days before the 83rd annual Academy Awards are set to air. Brandchannel found a total of 591 different brands and products which factor out to a 17.9 average of products per film. For Apple, products showed up in 10 of the top movies. They aren’t the only ones on the bandwagon this year, though. Nike, Chevrolet, and Ford products shared a total of 8 films each. To find out more about the winners in product placement this year, check out Brandchannel’s recent post.

This has been going on for years, and whether we actually look closely enough at the movies we’ve seen over and over again or not, you’ll remember it, too. This was the first movie clip that came to mind:

I look forward to movies like Scream 4 coming out this summer with the latest technologies to work with. Does it share the same appeal? We have started to notice Mac computers and people using iPhone’s in television and movies more and more, but lets think if these story lines will actually work in the next couple years. With Scream 4,  why would you answer an “unknown” caller from your cell phone, wait, how did the killer get your phone number in the first place? Wait, knowing half the people died from answering the phone in the first place, why would you even bother using it? Why didn’t the psycho killer just tag you in a post on Facebook or broadcast personal videos on Justin.tv? I wonder if it will have the same effect the fourth time around. We can only wait and see, and that’s why movies are one of the greatest forms of entertainment.

All in all, I love the effort that is made with the marketing and promotional aspect of sports and entertainment. Even the satire of marketing with recent products…remember this?

Also, check this video out, on the longer side, but a great little history compilation of product placement in movies:

Tell me you aren’t hungry right now, or thinking about getting a new car, or a new pair of sneakers, or hey, even a new laptop? Even though you might not actually purchase these products, you’ve at least thought about it and toyed with the idea of looking into buying something after reading this. The marketing department has done its job, and as a consumer, its your job to do yours. Maybe the next time you watch a movie, you’ll be able to recognize those products you love or hate or be introduced to something you never knew about… A thought to leave you with: What brands are you loyal to?

Happy Birthday, Michael Jordan

Talented, legendary, and most importantly, inspiring to someone like me in the sports business who wants to explore the marketing and branding side of the industry. To pay tribute – some of my favorite MJ commercials, in no particular order. What are yours?

1. “The Clock Tower: There are no Cinderella’s” and no I don’t automatically love this just because it has the Hoyas in it, but it does help…

2. “Maybe.” Many have said that this was a “response” to Lebron’s Nike ad after leaving the Cavs…but really, this came out a few years back. Still makes a valid point, and one I happen to agree with.

3. “The Showdown.” I don’t care how fattening it is, or how much the movie Supersize Me tried to change my mind, I will always be a fan of the BigMac™ sandwich after this. Oh, and trying my hardest to beat people at a game of Horse.

Art taking a twist to the cheeseburger…in Jordan form. One of my favorite pictures. Designer Olle Hemmendorff’s Nike’s Air Max 90.  (via OKGreat.com)

4. “Space Jam” Nothing more can be said about this awesome movie…my friend Christine (@cesswein) and I used to watch this movie on repeat in college. I became an even bigger fan of Bill Murray, his iced knees after 5 minutes of play and convinced me that I really really really want to play golf with Larry Bird. Props to David Falk for this.

5. “23 vs. 39” I wish I could sweat yellow Gatorade. Great commercial.

6. “Nike Air Jordan Evolution” This video is a little longer than the rest but well worth the watch and includes some cool behind the scenes/outtakes. For those of you that are not familiar, this is a must see. I had to include Mars Blackmon clips somewhere. Spike Lee is epic.

May we all be our own trendsetters, complete with really cool shoes.