Can I get your help? We’re moving our family to the heart of downtown Seattle

Posted by bryanzug - 2012/07/11

My beautiful bride and I are about to do something crazy and I’d like to ask for your help.

The short of it is this – We’re moving our family to the heart of Seattle.

There is something incredible happening in our tech community right now and we are doing some major reconfiguring of our lives to be even more involved with it.

I will get into the backstory in a later post, but we could really use your help finding the right guys to rent the three remaining rooms in our place in Renton.

Can you join us and spread the word?

Here’s the Facebook post to retweet and link to where Jen details the house and the sort of guys we need to find.

If you know any guys who’d be a good fit, please have them call or email Jen via the contact info in the Facebook post.

Thanks so much for the help.

What we are seeing really is an incredible development of community.


Barcamp 2012 Session: Where does “healthy maleness” end and “asshat brogrammer douchebaggery” begin?

Posted by bryanzug - 2012/04/27

When my friend @moniguzman tweeted this question yesterday, I thought, that’d be a great discussion to have at Barcamp Seattle 2012 this Saturday (2012-04-28)…

So – I’m proposing a session called: “Where does ‘healthy maleness’ end and ‘asshat brogrammer douchebaggery’ begin?”

So let’s get all the smart ladies and gentlemen out to hash on this one with a lively discussion.

Whether we all agree or disagree, I’m pretty sure it will be entertaining.

Why animated web video? Brain science, cost effectiveness, and reach

Posted by bryanzug - 2011/02/12

Why is an animated web video such an effective way for a company to “explain what the hell [they] actually do“?

Three reasons – Brain science, cost effectiveness, and reach.

Brain Science

In his book “Brain Rules” developmental molecular biologist John Medina breaks it down like this:

“Vision trumps all other senses.”

When you tell a story visually people remember it because human beings are creatures driven by sight. As Medina notes, recognition and recall soar when information is communicated visually.

Animation in particular gives us the ability to use kinetic illustrations to to crop out noise and focus the eye of the human mind on a very specific story.

As comic book artist Scott McCloud noted in his phenomenal TED talk, illustrations are very different from photographic images (such as video shot with a camera).

Illustrations tap into a deep iconic universal form of communication that is deeply embedded in the human brain.

Illustrations illuminate things.

And as they shed their light, as they spread their lumens – clarity, recognition, and recall all become increasingly possible.

Cost Effectiveness

Two important points on the cost effectiveness of animation.

Drawings are cheaper than photos

Some folks think animation is more expensive than shooting video with a camera. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A talented team can always draw sets and objects more cheaply than they can build, collect, and light them.

Interesting ideas and transitions that could never exist in the real world can be drawn quickly to illustrate problems and solutions.

A cheap crash course on attention scarcity, with a prize at the end!

Short web videos, in particular, also offer another important function.

They force you to keep things simple and clear.

Because you can’t detail everything about a product, service, or concept in a few minutes, the script writing process forces a focus on only the most important things.

The cold reality is that web sites have siren songed us into the illusion that more is better.

Add another link, another bullet point. Tell them about that other feature. Make sure to put it all on the home page.

While the web may be infinite, the stark reality is that attention is not.

Short web videos force us to wrestle with the fact that attention is the only non-renewable resource of the information age.

Forcing your team through the process of distilling your message down to its essence is one of the most important activities any organization can do.

And when you do it while creating a web video, you have a great artifact at the end of the process.


The beauty of these videos is that they can go places no one in your organization ever will.

Those champions of your message inside that company you want to do business with can show them to the decisions makers you will never meet.

That fan of yours can pass it on to their friend who’s never herd of you but who could use exactly what you’ve got.

These videos allow your champions and fans to pass your story along wherever it needs to go – all in a form that is consistent, kinetic, and compelling.

How cool is that?

Some bandwidth data points on video streaming live events: iOSDevCamp Seattle 2010

Posted by bryanzug - 2010/09/04

Great [question]( from Saul Kaplan came my way this AM via my pal [Josh Mauldin]( Looks like Saul is preparing a live stream for a [Mini Maker Faire]( in Rhode Island on September 16th.

Saul asks:

> Anyone have benchmark data on live streaming events? Estimating peak # for how many might simultaneously watch live stream of

As they say Saul, ask and ye shall receive.

First to note, the upload bandwidth (1) has nothing to do with the (2) download bandwidth people need to watch it on most services like UStream.

As a producer, you upload to UStream via your (1) connection to the web and UStream streams it out to everyone via (2) the connection from their server farm(s) to the individual computers people are watching the stream on.

This is mostly limited by the viewers connection to the internet – so people with lower bandwidth connections just see a lower quality version of the video (e.g. lower frames per second, lower resolution).

On to the data…

Here’s some data from our recent streaming of iOSDevCamp Seattle that we did at PinchZoom‘s meetup space (which we loving call The Watercooler at the Center of the Universe).

Here’s the details of the setup:

  • We used UStream Producer Pro to mix a live multicam stream for the event.
  • For this event we used the Standard HD Quality 16:9 – 960×540 @ 30fps, 650kbps, AAC 44.1k Stereo setting in UStream Producer Pro. I’ve listed all the options Producer Pro offers below, so you can get an idea about alternate bandwidths.
  • Whatever setup you use, a good rule of thumb is to have enough upload bandwith to handle twice the amount of the average data rate.
  • Also, the only way to monitor when the stream is up is to have someone watch and listen to it. So you are gonna need bandwidth for that. Usually this will adjust itself to the bandwidth available and you can use a very low bandwidth viewing stream to make sure everything is working OK.

Here are three session examples. I’ve included a few data points for each that give a good idea of the real world requirements. They are:

  • Flash Video FLV File Size:
    • UStream allows you to download a Flash Video FLV file of anything you session you record to the server when you are logged into your account. This size is what exactly was required to upload this video to UStream.
    • You can view FLV’s like these via VLC player pretty easily if you wanna see the quality outside of the browser of what UStream captured to their server.
  • Length of each session
  • Data rates of bandwidth required to broadcast each video in kbps (kilobits per second), KBps (kilobytes per second), MBps (megabytes per second), mbps (megabits per second) of bandwidth
    • I’m not a network person, so I always get confused by MBps vs. mbps conversions.
    • I “think” I know enough to say they are different and that I’ve calculated these correctly.
    • If anyone sees any errors in these data conversions, please ping me via twitter (@bryanzug) let me know.
    • I used this utility to help with the conversion and terminology here.

So here are the examples:

  • Joe Marini: Windows Mobile Product Manager
    • View on UStream
    • Link to FLV Flash Video File
    • FLV Flash Video File Size: 358 MB
    • Length: 1 hr 5 min (65 min or 3900 seconds)
    • Bandwidth required to broadcast this video:
    • kbps: 728
    • KBps: 91
    • mbps: 0.728
    • MBps: 0.091
  • Brian Fling: Making Money in Mobile
    • View on UStream
    • Link to FLV Flash Video File
    • FLV Flash Video File Size: 400 MB
    • Length: 1 hr 7 min (67 min or 4020 seconds)
    • Bandwidth required to broadcast this video:
    • kbps: 792
    • KBps: 99
    • mbps: 0.792
    • MBps: 0.099
  • Lauren Isaacson: the State of the iOS Market
    • View on UStream
    • Link to FLV Flash Video File
    • FLV Flash Video File Size: 303 MB
    • Length: 0 hr 50 min (50 min or 3000 seconds)
    • Bandwidth required to broadcast this video:
    • kbps: 808
    • KBps: 101
    • mbps: 0.808
    • MBps: 0.101


So it takes roughly a continuous 0.81 mbps connection to broadcast video of this quality via UStream. Doubling that to account for bursts means you should have a connection of roughly 1.5-1.6 mbps for an HD stream.

Doubling back through the UStream producer pro settings below, you should be able to calculate rough rates for whaterver quality of stream you want to produce.

UStream Producer Pro Settings

There are several settings you can select in UStream Producer Pro. They are:

  • Lowest SD Quality 4:3
    • 320×240 @ 20fps, 200kbps, AAC 32k Mono
  • Lowest SD Quality 16:9
    • 352×198 @ 20fps, 200kbps, AAC 32k Mono
  • Basic SD Quality 4:3
    • 320×240 @ 20fps, 350kbps, AAC 32k Mono
  • Basic SD Quality 16:9
    • 352×198 @ 20fps, 350kbps, AAC 32k Mono
  • Standard SD Quality 4:3
    • 320×240 @ 30fps, 350kbps, AAC 44.1k Stereo
  • Standard SD Quality 16:9
    • 352×198 @ 30fps, 350kbps, AAC 44.1k Stereo
  • High SD Quality 4:3
    • 640×480 @ 30fps, 500kbps, AAC 44.1k Stereo
  • High SD Quality 16:9
    • 720×405 @ 30fps, 500kbps, AAC 44.1k Stereo
  • Best SD Quality 4:3
    • 640×480 @ 30fps, 600kbps, AAC 44.1k Stereo
  • Best SD Quality 16:9
    • 720×405 @ 30fps, 600kbps, AAC 44.1k Stereo
  • Standard HD Quality 16:9
    • 960×540 @ 30fps, 650kbps, AAC 44.1k Stereo
  • High HD Quality 16:9
    • 960×540 @ 30fps, 800kbps, AAC 44.1k Stereo

DIY MBA discussion notes from BarCamp Seattle 2010

Posted by bryanzug - 2010/08/16

Here’s my rough mind map notes from the DIY MBA discussion I lead this past weekend at barCamp Seattle (PDF | Mind Manager). Have also embedded an editable mind meister version below if there’s some things other folks would like to add.

Thanks to everyone for a great discussion!


The first short film I ever did, an exercise in skeptic art

Posted by bryanzug - 2009/08/23

Unusual realities
That drove me straight down to my knees
Never thought I’d see things like these
If I had a dream
If I Had a Dream by Undercover
(from the album Branded, 1986)

Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s in Southern California (yes Seattle-ites, I am a Cali refugee, thank you for not closing your borders) – I worked with a non-profit music production agency that fostered the exploration of meaning through the creation of music.

Back then I would not have described it like that – we thought we were just making what we called, in naive retrospect, “Christian Rock”.

But much of who I am today – my love for complex stories and conflicted characters, stems from deep things people in that community taught me about life, art, relationships, and critical thinking.

One of the pivotal bands I got to interact with at that time was Undercover and one of their leaders, Ojo Taylor.

Undercover’s Branded album was, for me, one of the first pieces of spiritual art that wrestled honestly with faith, doubt, and skepticism.

Those of you who know me know that while I land on the Jesus side of things regarding The Question of God, I come to that conclusion after much wrestling of angels.

Like Jacob, my gait is informed by the limp of, and deep respect for, the skeptic’s heart.

(Which is one of the many reasons my son is name Thomas.)

In the spring of 1991, I took footage from a summer 1990 Undercover concert I video-ed in Redlands, California, back to the Media Center at Pepperdine and made my first short film – A video of the song “Time” from their album Balance of Power.

I had abandoned the television and radio production major that I went to Pepperdine to originally study, believing that I could learn things faster than the instructors could teach me by just doing projects and facing real world challneges, while making things I wanted to make.

I spliced in a bunch of public domain footage I took from some cool laserdiscs the university had, in order to draw the themes of the song out.

Last week, Ojo from Undercover found me on facebook. Then, this AM, my friend Jason pointed me to the video I made nearly 20 years ago.

Just looked at it for the first time in a long time and I am really struck by how much it is reminding me of things I had forgotten of my own journey.

It’s funny sometimes how much we don’t remember about ourselves.

Anyway, I thought I’d post it so you could take a look if you have a moment and get a glimpse of how I ended up being, ummm, me ;)

Time by Undercover, 1990

I’m joining Lilipip as Director of Business Development

Posted by bryanzug - 2009/08/03

Most of the web sites I’ve worked on over the last 13 years face a small set of common challenges –

  1. How do you get the attention of an audience already fatigued with information overload?
  2. If you do manage to grab attention, how do you compellingly connect people with your product, service, or concept?
  3. Finally, how do you keep it simple enough to not lose folks along the way – all while avoiding the pitfalls of boring and forgettable?

If you’ve been in a strategic web session with me anytime in the last 24 months, you’re probably sick of what I’m about to say.

But I’m gonna say it anyway.

Short, well-written, visually-memorable web videos are a stunningly smart thing to do on most web sites – they’re an effective way to deal with every one of the strategic communication killers I’ve listed above.

A bit about how I became convinced of this (and where it’s leading me).

Through my work producing Ignite Seattle video and capturing events like BarCamp, MindCamp, Presentation Camp, and Jackson Fish Market’s Small and Special conference, I’ve seen, time and again, how web video is much more than “TV on the internet”.

When done well, it enables people to teach things to other people – to spread knowledge and understanding where it needs to go – in ways that those of us who originate content rarely imagine as we create it.

Seeing friends like Lee and Sachi LeFever at Common Craft demonstrate how thoughtful visual explanations really can help people worlwide has been eye opening.

Beyond being all manner of cool, their “In Plain English” series has inspired me to examine how I can not only become a better “shedder of light” in my daily life – it’s also inspired me to consider how I can help other people do the same.

Which leads me to the title announcement of this post – as of today, I am joining Lilipip Studios as Director of Business Development.

For those of you unfamiliar with Lilipip and its founder, Ksenia Oustiougova, they are a Seattle startup that specializes in creating animated web videos about your product, service, or concept.

The best way to explain what we do is to show you – so I’ve pasted a video Lilipip did for Zappos above. Take a look at it to get an idea of the kinds of things I’ll be helping folks develop.

Also noteworthy is that Lilipip works with independent writers, illustrators, animators, voice-over artists, and musicians worldwide to produce this work.

As Ksenia and I became friends, it was clear that we share the same belief in the power of these sorts of videos. We also share a deep appreciation of small, special, sustainable approaches to business.

When Lilipip began to take off and it was obvious they needed to grow the team, my wife Jen and I began to seriously discuss re-configuring our lives to join a startup.

After much reflection, we decided to take a leap of faith and do it.

So, watch that Zappos video – And ping me if you know of anyone who could use one of these. We’ve got a great team and a proven process – with transparent pricing!

P.S. I’m not saying there’s a direct correlation between Amazon’s recent purchase of Zappos and the Lilipip video, because causal inference is hard – but casual inference, on the other hand, is quite easy.

Video: Scott Berkun on “Why Your Presentation Sucks (and what to do about it)”

Posted by bryanzug - 2009/04/13

The best presentation I saw at Presentation Camp Seattle a couple of weeks ago over at UW was Scott Berkun‘s “Why Your Presentation Sucks (and what to do about it).

Was able to grab some nice video of it — here’s parts 1, 2, & 3. Enjoy!

Why Your Presentation Sucks (and what to do about it) – pt 1
by Scott Berkun
from Bryan Zug on Vimeo.

Why Your Presentation Sucks (and what to do about it) pt 2
by Scott Berkun
from Bryan Zug on Vimeo.

Why Your Presentation Sucks (and what to do about it) – pt 3
by Scott Berkun
from Bryan Zug on Vimeo.

Fostering Cross Tribal Community in Seattle (parts 1 & 2) – Mind Camp 5

Posted by bryanzug - 2009/04/12

Here’s video I produced of a great discussion my pal Brian Dorsey facilitated on “Fostering Cross Tribal Community in Seattle” at Mind Camp 5 on November 22, 2008. We were gathered at Synapse Product Development in downtown Seattle (an incredible location). I’ve embedded parts 1 & 2 below.

Fostering Cross Tribal Community in Seattle (part 1)
From Mind Camp 5
from Bryan Zug on Vimeo.

Fostering Cross Tribal Community in Seattle (part 2)
From Mind Camp 5
from Bryan Zug on Vimeo.

Join me at Presentation Camp on Saturday April 4th, 2009

Posted by bryanzug - 2009/04/03

Will be joining my pals Kathy Gill, Scott Berkun, Brady Forrest, and Buzz Brugeman (among others) for Presentation Camp Seattle on Saturday April 4th 2009 at the University of Washington.

Here’s the schedule and the skinny —

PresentationCamp is an ad-hoc gathering of passionate folks who want to share, interact and spread the love around the topic of presentation design and delivery. It’s for anyone interested in public speaking, pitching and presenting. Come to learn, come to share: everyone walks away knowing a little bit more.

Sign up now over on the Eventbrite page for the event. It’s $15 until the day of, then it’s $20.

It’s an unconference which, if you’ve never been to one, is a blast. The main idea is that the best thing about most conferences are the hallway conversations, so why not make up a conference on the fly that has that feel to it.

So participants gather in the first hours of the conference and propose session ideas, then the popular ones are assigned slots. Looks from the schedule that this camp will have some good pre-planned sessions and some slots for real time session creation.

I’m proposing a session tentatively titled “Telling Ain’t Persuading (or teaching, selling, or training)!!: Case studies in conversational/Socratic presentation methods“.

It will be a discussion of presentation examples / methods that don’t just give an answer, but that invite people into dialogue / experience — and how that often has much more staying power that just passing along information.

Will be touching on:

  • The structure of the attention economy unconference talk I’ve presented a few times — “Starbuck vs. Samwise in a Fight (and what does that have to do with the Attention Economy?)” — and how the form of the talk is an effective design for learning.
  • How the unstructured and question driven nature of the classic video game Myst is arguably more involving (and compelling) that most present day games.
  • How books like Ken Bain’s “What the Best College Teachers Do” and the American Society for Training and Development’s “Telling Ain’t Training” (by Harold Stolovitch) showcase proven ways to present more compellingly.

So, come join us!