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.

Reach

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?



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.



When your TV is a docking station, who needs a Tivo (or Boxee)?

Posted by bryanzug - 2009/03/01

At lunch with Brian Dorsey last week, I noted how I was using my TV as more of a docking station these days.

A couple of years ago I made my way over to “Mantasyland“, and bought a 50 foot SVGA cable and some 1/8” stereo jack extensions to set things up.

While I’ve been doing the obvious Boxee/Hulu/Netflix things with it, I found myself doing something even a bit more interesting this week.

MindMeister: To Watch

I’ve been using MindMeister, the online collaborative mind mapping tool, to help me track all of those video links that I really want to watch, but never get time to throughout the day.

With MindMeister, I can just email or tweet things into my main map (which I call “Bryan’s Brain”) — so I get a great list of stuff to watch, without interrupting my flow at all.

So every night, I have this node of great video content that my FOAF filter has been saying I should pay attention to — things from my tweeps and their friends — along with stuff I find interesting as I graze the interwebs.

Subjects range from art to tech to culture to philosophy to biz, etc. When you look at it all, it’s like a free graduate education in a bunch of interesting stuff.

In thinking about it a bit this AM, it seems like this “To Watch” list is much more interesting than anything Boxee or Tivo could ever deliver.

I’m thinking about a routine where, once the kids are in bed, we might just open this node and get our brains on.



Attencion! Camp — Starbuck vs. Samwise in a Fight (and what does that have to do with the Attention Economy?)

Posted by bryanzug - 2009/02/27

As I’m getting around to documenting some of the fun things I’ve gotten to do over the last year, this one was quite the blast. I updated my (Geek Fight * Attention Economy) talk with a new character — this time a woman who kicks serious ass.

At the very first BarCamp Seattle last June, we had a great turnout for “Starbuck vs. Samwise in a Fight (and what does that have to do with the attention economy)”. Here’s the session poster:

BarCampSeattle: Starbuck vs. Samwise in a fight (and what does that have to do with the attention economy?)

I’m not going to give away the thread of the discussion, because that makes it less fun if you ever get to drop in on one of these discussions — but I’ll tell you this, they are lively, fun, and get everyone to think.

I learn a ton every time I facilitate it.

Wanted to take a bit of time to note it because this theme of attention keeps coming up.

While at the Seattle Drupal User Group’s MiniCamp this last Saturday, Gregory Heller, Scott Falconer, Larry Swanson, and I began talking about how we need a camp about content that is tool independent and all about “signaling through the noise”.

Since “content” is such a boring word, I suggested an “Attention Camp“, which seemed to strike a chord.

Looking around for a domain, “attentioncamp.com” is being squatted — so I went with the next best things —

  • attencioncamp.com (we could all use a little revolucion! no?)
  • attncamp.com (140 char headline writing seems to be seeping into my thinking)

So we’ll see — I’m pinging possible partners in crime to see if this thing has legs. If you are interested, tweet me and join the discussion.



Kindle My Faith (Book Pitch 2.0)

Posted by bryanzug - 2009/02/06

I’m not working as of yesterday and I have a Kindle on backorder — which is kinda funny when you think about it.

I’d been debating ordering one for a year or so. Would I really use it?

My friend Randy Stewart said he didn’t like his and got rid of it — recommending I wait until v2.

My pal Lee LeFever kept raving about his.

Then a month ago I was in a training session that really kicked my ass about writing. Not tweets. Not blog posts. But articles and books and presentations.

It was a huge wakeup call.

And when I thought about what it takes for me to write fluidly and well — I came back to a writing hack Scott Berkun and I have talked about a lot — you need to read to write — and not just surface read, but deep read.

Which is a conclusion that kinda sucks for me, big time — because I don’t deep read anymore.

Twitter and TechMeme have ruined me.

They’ve rewired my synapses so that I scan >> scan >> scan for nuggets (and pass them along so that the important news can find its way), but then I never take the time to go deeper than that.

And for all of the fruits of these new patterns of information consumption — I really do feel guilty for not picking up a printed book and reading — it leaves me feeling like I am less of a person — the poser who snuck into an American Lit Class and is hoping that none of the liberal arts majors find him out.

But life’s taught me to really examine any guilt/shame feeling I have — even when it seems to be a very minor thing like this.

Whenever I get the guilts, I know I am supposed to dig deeper and ask — what’s at the root of making me feel this way?

That’s when I realized something that made me order the Kindle — which is going to take a little bit for me to explain, but stick with me, skimmers, ’cause I think it’ll be worth it.

I don’t read print books because they are inefficient, in an “if the news is important, it will find me sort of way“.

If I come across a nugget in a book, anything I want to underline or dogear or tape to my bathroom mirror, I am completely frustrated that I cannot link to it, note it to one of my action lists, or copy it, without interrupting my flow.

I know I could go back and transcribe it, but the truth is, I never do — just like I’m never gonna digitize the hundreds of hours of MiniDV tape of great events and people I’ve captured over the years.

That little barrier to efficiency stops me from starting.

Then I began thinking about that little barrier through the lens of Clay Shirky‘s, Here Comes Everybody, which I bought in print (with the cool button cover!) and haven’t read yet.

But! — I have seen the videos and skimmed the posts ;) — which have me agreeing that I, too, am completely baffled by information that has no mouse.

Which is why I decided to buy a Kindle.

I talked to Lee at Mind Camp 5, to confirm that the Kindle has copy, paste, and notation functions — because that, to me, is the minimal definition of Shirky’s mouse notion.

Now I’ve got a decision to make.

When I ordered the Kindle back on January 8th, it was listed as backordered for 7 weeks. Being the impatient person that I am, I even contact friends at Amazon who used to be on the Kindle team to see if I could get it any faster.

They said no way — Oprah cleaned them out and there were none left.

Which wasn’t a big deal at the time, ’cause I figured, maybe the stars would align and I’d be one of the first people to get a Kindle v2 — which, if you’ve ever had that happen before with a market disrupting gadget, is a total geek high — doesn’t often get better than that for nerd edge cases like me.

So I was hanging in there, but today the plot has thickened, as they say.

I now have no steady paycheck coming in, a limited amount of savings, and no firm work lined up.

Reason tells me I should trim staff and aggressively cut expenses.

But poetry tells me something else.

It tells me that it might not be the right decision to trim this $350 expense — maybe what I’ll learn from the experience will be worth the price, despite the risk — this is a heavy thought when we’ve still got preschool and day camp to pay for.

Poetry tells me that this might be the exact right kind of “illogical anti-bean counter” decision — the tale of which might help explain through story (in lieu of bullet points) what I’ve been trying to articulate to all of my dear friends from the print side of design — that the world is vastly changing — it’s happening much faster than any of us ever imagined — and it’s probably a good idea for us to get ahold of some new wineskins.

When I start to talk like that to friends who have not had their synapsis fucked with like mine have been, they either look at me blankly, like I am Charlie Brown “mwah, mwah, mwahing” it, or — they look at me like I’m intentionally trying to be a dick (instead of intentionally pursuing them with a deep love and doing my damnedest to explain something very urgent).

Poetry tells me this might be the exact right kind of “hang onto your hats kids” moment that we will remember years from now — when the form magically came alive and transformed into the content — showing how I can’t hardly imagine writing anything without a mouse anymore, either.

So, I think I’m gonna keep the Kindle on order.

I’ve got a funny kind of faith that it’s all gonna work itself out.

: : :

I have imagined writing deeper think pieces for many years now, maybe even books — always trying to find the time to stop for a minute.

Right now I’m thinking that this shitty first draft might make a nice chapter in a book called “Google and the Search for Soul” — which would be about the wonder of this age and how its changing, and challenging, our humanity.

That book has been a baby I’ve nurtured for a while — and when I’ve shared my secret with friends like Scott or Don, I always try to infect them with the spirit of the thing by describing what the cover would look like —

It’d be the Google interface with the word soul in the search box — and the mouse hovering over “I’m feeling lucky”.

Then I usually add something about how I’m sure Larry could back me up if Larry had any objections to that design.

Then I tell them how I’d get ahold of Tim in a very Book-Pitch-2.0-ish sort of way and we just do this thing.

Maybe I’m nuts, but I’m kinda infected with a crazy imagination right now — and I hear Tim likes Chesterton.



Seattle Mind Camp 5: Sustainable Work/Life Patterns

Posted by bryanzug - 2008/11/21

Kendall Guillemette and I are gonna get a discussion session together at Seattle Mind Camp tomorrow on sustainable work/life patterns. We’re calling it “Seattle Mind Camp 5: Sustainable Work/Life Patterns (…is Calacanis a Saint? Something Else?)”.

See flier below. Some seeds for the discussion —

  • How do you structure your work?
  • Is banking on a buyout like saying, “I’m gonna play in the NBA?”
  • What’re your successes?
  • Your epic fails?

Also cool — we plan to use an iPhone audio meter to insta-poll the crowd on what we should talk about (if it’s a decent size).

Special shout out to all those who need a refresher on “All Your Base Are Belong to Us”.

Seattle Mind Camp 5: Sustainable Work/Life Patterns



10 Best Intranets of 2008

Posted by bryanzug - 2008/01/10

Had coffee with Drupal aficionado Gregory Heller over at Top Pot in downtown Seattle on Tuesday and he pointed me to Jakob Neilson’s new article on the 10 Best Intranets of 2008.

Design seemed to figure directly into business results. Here’s a short money quote —

The productivity gains from polishing the user experience are well worth the cost of going beyond the first design that comes to mind.



My Chumby Just Arrived

Posted by bryanzug - 2008/01/07

My Chumby just arrived — here it is (except mine is black) — and yes, this is a realtime reflection of what it is showing —



Ignite Seattle video featured on Lifehacker

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/09/12

One of the Ignite Seattle videos I produced was featured on Lifehacker this AM.

Wow.

Rob Gruhl’s preso on “How to Buy a Car without Getting Screwed” is a perfect example of why I spend time capturing these snippets of community gatherings.

It’s such a treat to watch these things take on a life of their own and make their way to where they want to go (instead of disappearing into the ether).

Rest of the videos from this last Ignite are on YouTube. Previous ones are on Blip.tv

Thanks to Rob for the presentation and to Brady, Bre, Jessie, and O’Reilly for the opportunity to craft cool community experiences like this.

Ignite Seattle Video on Lifehacker.com



Barr on Twitter Pitches

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/03/20

Jeff Barr has an interesting post from the other day on Twitter Pitches

Earlier today I coined the phrase TwitterPitching to describe the act of encapsulating an entire business plan within the 140 character limit of a Twitter post.

Nice ‘trim the fat’ communication exercise in an age where attention is the scarce asset.



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