Digital Production Buzz
October 15, 2015
[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]
(Click here to listen to this show.)
Philip Nelson, Senior Vice President of Strategic Development, NewTek
Kevin Bourke, Principal, Founder, Bourke PR
Kristen Nedopak, Creator, CEO, The Geekie Awards
Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz, NewTek generated a lot of news with the release of TalkShow, which connects Skype conversations with live video production. Tonight, Philip Nelson, the Senior VP of Strategic Development for NewTek, explains what we need to know to make our Skype interviews look as good as possible.
Larry Jordan: Next, Kevin Bourke is the founder of Bourke PR. He’s been marketing technology clients for more than 20 years, but what does marketing mean versus PR or advertising? And how should we work with a professional marketer? Tonight, Kevin will help us optimize our marketing efforts.
Larry Jordan: Next, the Geekie Awards are tonight. Kristen Nedopak, the founder of the Geekie Awards, explains what they’re all about. Then we go live to the awards and join Madison Mills at the show to meet the presenters and nominees. This will be a fun night.
Larry Jordan: All this plus a Buzz Flashback and a tribute to Bruce Nazarian. The Buzz starts now.
Announcer #1: Tonight’s Digital Production Buzz is brought to you by Other World Computing at macsales.com; and by Xen Data, at xendata.com.
Announcer #2: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking… Authoritative…one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals… Current…uniting industry experts… Production…filmmakers… Post production…and content creators around the planet. Distribution. From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, The Digital Production Buzz goes live now. From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, The Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: And welcome to The Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for creative content producers covering media production, post production and marketing around the world. Mike, it’s good to have you back, by the way.
Mike Horton: It is good to be back. I had a good excuse last week though, but I won’t tell you all about it now.
Larry Jordan: No, I think some things are better left kept private. By the way, tonight is the Geekie Awards over at Club Nokia in downtown LA. Have you been paying attention to these?
Mike Horton: We actually had Kristen on, what, about three months ago talking about the Geekies. That was the first time I’d ever heard about them, so I looked into it and I looked into it again today. It’s a big deal.
Larry Jordan: It is a big deal.
Mike Horton: I mean, it is a BIG deal, so I congratulate her on doing this. They’ve got a lot of good people – Kevin Smith is going to be there, a lot of really good people, a lot of people that I listen to – and how come you’re not up for an award? Are we not part of that whole scene?
Larry Jordan: Well, I didn’t realize until yesterday, when I chatted with Kristen, that you have to enter yourself.
Mike Horton: Oh, yes, just like the Emmy Awards, just like the Academy Awards.
Larry Jordan: We are so humble and we are so shy and retiring, we didn’t nominate ourselves, so therefore…
Mike Horton: Well, if you did, you would win.
Larry Jordan: I think I would take second fiddle to the co-host. I think you would be the key…
Mike Horton: No, Larry, you would just be down there. Actually, you probably should be down there interviewing the people on the red carpet, but…
Larry Jordan: We are interviewing people.
Mike Horton: Yes, ok.
Larry Jordan: Madison Mills, who does a lot of the videos for USA Today, is our host at the Geekie Awards.
Mike Horton: Wow!
Larry Jordan: We’ve got a team of six people down there.
Mike Horton: Seriously?
Larry Jordan: Seriously.
Mike Horton: That’s really cool.
Larry Jordan: It is really neat, so we’re going to be feeding stuff back from there for our third segment today.
Mike Horton: How’s this working? Do we have time to even talk about that? Are they furiously editing the segments right now and they’re going to play them?
Larry Jordan: They are recording and editing and we are sending them back via DropBox.
Mike Horton: That’s so fun.
Larry Jordan: We’re trying to reach up to the internet and pull it down as fast as possible.
Mike Horton: Well, I hope this works out. It’s fun.
Larry Jordan: Well, at the end of the show we are going to know, that’s for sure. It’s a little close. Actually, I just got the sign from the control room, we do have something to talk about, so let me say this.
Mike Horton: Oh, cool.
Larry Jordan: Thinking about staying in touch, by the way, before we switch over to the Geekie Awards, I want to remind you to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at digitalproduction.com. This gives you an inside look at both The Buzz and the industry plus quick links to all the different segments of the show.
Larry Jordan: The thing I’m so excited about is that Mike and I will be back with Philip Nelson after we go live to the Geekie Awards and Madison Mills. Madison.
Madison Mills: Thanks, Larry. The Digital Production Buzz is live tonight at Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles for the third annual Geekie Awards. We’re here to celebrate the best and brightest minds from creative artists and web, games and entertainment. I’m Madison Mills and I’ll be on the red carpet all night and I’ll give you some highlights from the show.
Larry Jordan: Still to come on The Buzz – Philip Nelson, Kevin Bourke, Kristen Nedopak and the Geekie Awards, the Buzz Flashback and a tribute to Bruce Nazarian.
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Larry Jordan: Video interviews via Skype are becoming more and more frequent on television and on the web. Philip Nelson, the Senior Vice President of Strategic Development at NewTek, joins us tonight to showcase their new TalkShow hardware and explain what we need to know to make Skype interviews look as good as possible. Hello, Philip, welcome.
Kevin Bourke: Hey, how’s it going, man?
Larry Jordan: We are really looking forward to chatting with you about this because making Skype look good is one of the things that we’re all interested. But before we talk about Skype, let’s position you. How would you describe your position at NewTek?
Kevin Bourke: I’m the chief relationship officer. The easiest way to describe that is I handle a lot of our celebrity and VIP accounts.
Larry Jordan: Well, that sounds like it’s truly boring and completely uninteresting.
Mike Horton: I like that. The celebrity accounts. It’s Larry Jordan. Larry Jordan is now a celebrity.
Larry Jordan: Well, Mike has been a celebrity for a long time.
Mike Horton: I think that’s pretty cool.
Larry Jordan: Philip, I want to talk principally with you about the TalkShow hardware that NewTek just released which connects Skype video to live productions. In fact, we’re using TalkShow tonight for your interview. But first, Skype is owned by Microsoft. Why is NewTek even interested in Skype?
Kevin Bourke: Everybody needs a way to get guests into their show. We live in a world now where remote guests are very important, just like we’re doing right now, and so Skype is the leader. There are over 300 million Skype users worldwide and now, with the TalkShow, you can have any of those 300 million guests as a guest on your show.
Larry Jordan: Ok, so now that you’ve shifted gears into the TalkShow, tell us what the TalkShow is.
Kevin Bourke: The TalkShow is a single rack unit broadcast interface for Skype, a very simple product, relatively easy to set up. The only challenges you do face from time to time are IT issues, but if you can accept a Skype call, you can bring in a guest live through TalkShow.
Larry Jordan: Well, I will admit that we are bringing you in live through TalkShow because apparently we have serial number two; serial number one went to Microsoft and serial number two went to us, so we’re very excited about being one of the first two people to use the TalkShow. What do you like best about it? I have things that I don’t particularly like that I want to chat with you about, but I’m going to give you a chance to set all the good stuff up first.
Kevin Bourke: The good stuff is it’s a low latency remote guest solution. If you have a satellite uplink, you’ll see on Fox News or CNN all the time where they’ll toss to someone in the field and, through satellite uplink even using hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment, there is a very long delay and you see that a lot where they pause and they wait and then it’s, “Hey, this is blah, blah, blah and here is so and so.”
Kevin Bourke: With Skype, it’s very easy to get latency that is less than 200 milliseconds, so you can truly have a conversation instead of toss to someone out in the field, wait for things to catch up and then they start talking. That’s my favorite thing. Also, you can do a high def live feed through Skype and it looks fantastic if your system’s set up correctly.
Larry Jordan: We will talk about that in just a minute. Mike, you had a question.
Kevin Bourke: I’m ready, I’m ready for those questions!
Larry Jordan: I know, I’m going to get there, I promise.
Mike Horton: No, we’ll stay positive here before we get negative. I have a couple of questions for a little bit later on, so go ahead.
Larry Jordan: Number one, I don’t want to pick on you and I definitely don’t want to turn this into a tech support call, because that bores everybody except the people doing the tech support call, but about two weeks ago I wrote a review of the NewTek TalkShow that we’ve been using for the last six months and there were four key areas that I had concerns about.
Larry Jordan: One was the price point, because it’s priced at $39,99; two, it only supports one Skype call at a time, we can’t have multiple calls going at once, even if we have the bandwidth; the installation, sir, needs help; and number four, there’s poor image quality and poor image scaling, which means that we’re not taking advantage of the high def picture that you talked about with Skype. Those are my four knocks against it. Which one do you want to talk about first?
Kevin Bourke: You know what I love about knocks? If you can solve them, then you’re now our biggest champion on the planet.
Larry Jordan: Absolutely correct and we spent the money because we absolutely believe in NewTek, we absolutely believe in Skype and what we have been disappointed in is the execution so far. But that doesn’t mean that I’m against the box. I’m looking forward to it.
Kevin Bourke: I’m going to save point one for the end. Talking about who’s using these systems, we’ve sold thousands of these TalkShows and they’re all over the world now. One of our biggest projects we’re doing right now is a live television show on NBC with Neil Patrick Harris called Best Time Ever. There’s a segment where they take three or four TalkShows and hide them in people’s houses and they do a hidden camera karaoke segment. It’s 720p live out of their house with SDI cameras and it really is an amazing segment. It’s been one of the most popular segments on the show and it’s really awesome.
Kevin Bourke: We have these in CNN, we have them in CBS affiliates and ABC affiliates and tech shows, so they are truly all over the place now. As long as you can get a good internet connection, you can get HD. I checked something on my TalkShow. One of the benefits of the TalkShow is I can see what’s on your system, so when I’m connected to you I can see if you’re using too much CPU on the computer.
Kevin Bourke: Now, you’re using a TalkShow, so you’re not, but let’s say you have a guest coming in from a laptop and you look at it and it says you’re using 90 percent of the CPU, so you can say “Hey, quit playing Minecraft or shut down whatever’s in the background because it’s taking too much CPU, which drops your quality.” You can see what type of connection you have. Now, Skype is really cool because it’s designed to get a video through almost no matter how bad your internet connection is.
Kevin Bourke: There are two types of connections in Skype and this is one of the problems you’re having, I could see it from my system. UDP is what you want. If your firewall is set up incorrectly and it’s blocking traffic on the ports that Skype needs, the way Skype works is when you call me, it goes through the general internet to connect us and once we’re connected it tries to bypass the general connection of the internet and go straight to a UDP connection.
Kevin Bourke: That’s what allows you to get the 720p and the high def but sometimes if people have firewalls or their network is set up a certain way, it will not allow that UDP connection and then it stays at a lower quality because that’s all your router or whatever will allow to pass through, as it’s not giving us that one to one link and Skype actually does link you directly if it can.
Kevin Bourke: I checked on our system right before I ran over – I don’t know if you saw me running over to my chair – we’re connected on a relay and that is one of the reasons I think you’re getting the lower quality, because it’s not allowing us to get that UDP connection. It’s a cool scalable thing. If it didn’t allow that and you didn’t have the bandwidth or your router wasn’t configured correctly, you would just get no picture. But because Skype is scalable and flexible, even if somebody does have a bad internet connection, it tries to still give you a picture, which also brings me to one of the features of TalkShow.
Kevin Bourke: If somebody’s bandwidth drops below a certain threshold, it automatically goes to a still image and keeps the audio quality high, so if a reporter’s out in the field and something’s happening, they can still be talking to the studio. We can help you get this set up; it usually involves the ports on your router or something like that and we’ve actually created a ten page document. If you go to the TalkShow portion of our website, we have a document that explains how to set up your network. On something like the fifth page as you scroll down our TalkShow website, there’s a document you can download that explains UDP and CPU.
Kevin Bourke: An example on the Neil Patrick Harris show – one of the things that makes live TV great is the unknown, what’s going to happen, that random craziness that could make it more interesting instead of just an edited segment. I was in the control room at NBC as we were getting ready for the Neil Patrick Harris show and we had a perfect 720p connection, it was looking great and all of a sudden, eight minutes before we’re about to go live on national primetime television, their quality drops to nothing.
Kevin Bourke: We’re texting the engineer and it turns out that a little kid in the house apparently was watching Netflix in another room and if the bandwidth goes away, what do you do? So they were texting, and it’s a hidden camera thing so they can’t just go, “Hey, everybody, turn off your phones,” but they were able to kill that Netflix feed so that our 720 came back a couple of minutes before we went live to air and they were at 720p again.
Kevin Bourke: I know you guys have had some quality issues and I would bet money that it has to do with your network configuration and the tips in that document could probably walk you through it and, if they can’t, then our tech support can definitely help you.
Larry Jordan: Well, we will talk about that later, because so far tech support hasn’t been able to help, but we will look at the document and see.
Kevin Bourke: We’ll get you sorted out.
Larry Jordan: But I want to switch this over, because in order to Skype to look good, we have to have the users look good. The user has to have enough bandwidth and camera and mic. What’s the minimum bandwidth that a guest needs to have and what cameras and mics do you recommend?
Kevin Bourke: The most important thing when doing a quality Skype call is lighting. I’m sitting here in the NewTek studio, I’ve got a backlight here and a key and a fill, so the lighting looks good. I’ve got a Lavaliere microphone which I just hit, so hopefully you didn’t hear too much of a pop. I’ve got an earpiece. This is one of the most important things. I noticed in your studio, at first I heard an echo which tells me you probably have speakers in your studio so you can hear the guests, right?
Larry Jordan: Correct.
Kevin Bourke: I do a lot of interviews and I’m used to hearing a loopback, so I can even talk through a loopback, but a lot of times you have guests that have never done an interview or they don’t do interviews all the time and that echo will make them start talking really slowly. I don’t know if you’ve noticed that. We suggest that, if you are going to do Skype calls, one thing you could do is have your guest be on headphones with a mic, which doesn’t look good.
Kevin Bourke: What I have – and I’ll just take it out – I’ve got this little earpiece and they’re cheap, you can buy them on Amazon or at any video dealer. The way I have our TalkShow set up is I have our TalkShow feeding into a Tricaster, which is doing this virtual set behind me so it looks all nice; I’m just sitting in front of a green screen in the NewTek studio. But I have the audio coming in to my Tricaster through a network input, so it’s coming in through ethernet into my Tricaster. I have your audio going into an auxiliary output out of the Tricaster, which feeds my headpiece, so what it does is it separates the audio, so I’m not hearing myself in my headpiece, and then I have this audio coming out by itself into the TalkShow through the network input and so I don’t hear myself in my ear and you hear me without hearing my echo.
Kevin Bourke: The only thing on your end, if you both had earpieces on, you wouldn’t have to have the speaker in the room. Now, one of the things that I tell people if they are going to have a speaker in the room, make sure it’s far away from the mic and not very loud, but that’s kind of a headache. The best way around that is some sort of headset or earpiece for both guests. In broadcast television most of the time, they all have these little earpieces, but on a lot of technology shows where you have really nice gear in your studio but your guests may not, a lot of times they’ll have ear buds in. If they just had ear buds in or one ear bud, it would be fine.
Larry Jordan: Is it more important to have a good quality camera or better lighting?
Kevin Bourke: I would say better lighting. You see the demos for $500 cameras and everything looks perfect – it’s because all of it’s shot out in daylight. If I have good lighting and a halfway decent camera, even my webcam on my Notebook can look a million times better with a couple of lights. That doesn’t mean you have to go out and spend thousands of dollars on lighting. You can actually position some lamps in your room correctly and really increase the quality of your lights.
Larry Jordan: Philip, I love talking about all this stuff, but we’re going to have to let you go. Where can people go on the web to learn more about the TalkShow unit itself?
Kevin Bourke: Before I tell you that, I’m going to tell you one thing. We read your interview and we’ve done something that you’re going to love.
Larry Jordan: And that is?
Kevin Bourke: Starting this week, we have announced a new promo for TalkShow for $2995, so we knocked $1,000 off the retail price and that is a special Production Buzz influenced promo and it’s available until the end of the year at that price. We’ve noticed that a lot of people want more than one and we wanted to make that price more aggressive for those people. But if they would like more information on the TalkShow or how to properly configure their network or settings, they can go to www.newtek.com.
Larry Jordan: And Philip Nelson is the VP of Strategic Development for NewTek. Philip, this has been a wonderful chat, thank you so much for your time.
Mike Horton: Thanks, Philip.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
Kevin Bourke: Thanks, guys. Good hanging with you.
Madison Mills: I’m here at the Geekie Awards in Los Angeles at Club Nokia. This is the third annual Geekie Awards. We’re going to have some highlights from the red carpet for you later and a great interview with Kevin Bourke, so stay tuned.
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Larry Jordan: Kevin Bourke, the founder and principal of Bourke PR, has nearly 30 years’ experience in technology public relations. He’s a marketing consultant to some of the most innovative tech companies in the visual effects, post production and production technology markets. Hello, Kevin, it’s good to have you back.
Kevin Bourke: Larry, it’s good to see you.
Mike Horton: Hi, Kevin. Kevin’s in the corner. He looks like he’s in the corner. He’s been put in the corner. Kevin, you should not be in the corner
Kevin Bourke: Nobody puts me in the corner.
Larry Jordan: You know, only Michael would notice that Kevin is in the corner.
Mike Horton: He is in the corner.
Larry Jordan: I was admiring the fact that he was wearing a clean shirt. I thought this was a good start too.
Mike Horton: Well, that’s true.
Kevin Bourke: Well, it’s for you, Larry.
Larry Jordan: Kevin, I want to spend time talking about marketing and PR and advertising, but to start how would you describe what you do?
Kevin Bourke: I’m a public relations consultant primarily and nearly 30 years of my career has been focused on the public relations piece of the business.
Larry Jordan: Your work falls into the broad area of marketing, but it seems that you see a difference between marketing and PR and advertising. How do you differentiate between the three terms?
Kevin Bourke: Sure. I’d like to use a very simple analogy. Advertising and marketing is similar to you telling the world how great your company is. That’s marketing and advertising. Public relations is you convincing the influencers of the industry, the influencers who your customers listen to and trust, to tell the audiences how great your company is, so it’s that third party credibility, that voice that your customers are listening to, they’re the ones talking about how great you are and it’s not just yourself.
Mike Horton: How do you get those influencers to do that, though, if the product is something that they might not want to influence? Sometimes you are dealing with a particular product that has just started out, there are some problems with it and you are trying to get those influencers to say nice things about it.
Kevin Bourke: Sure, and I think that’s the value in having a good consultant at the outset. A valuable PR or marketing consultant is going to sit down with you at the outset and take a hard look and understand your business, your product and the upsides and the downsides of your product so that you can then figure out the best way to position that product, to whom you should be positioning that product and how you position that product so that you’re not just out there blindly trying to convince somebody to buy something they don’t want. But if you can determine up front and understand up front what is valuable about those products, then you can find the right influencers to help you tell that story.
Larry Jordan: I’ve always thought of advertising as trying to generate immediate response and marketing trying to generate long term response. Is that still a true statement?
Kevin Bourke: Yes and no. Advertising is expensive to do long term, ads cost money to create, they cost money to place and, for them to be truly effective, you need to do that over a long period of time in order for them to generate the kind of awareness and visibility that you need. It’s actually similar to public relations, but the difference is with public relations you’re not paying for every placement, you’re not paying for every article that hits. Really, it’s your investment in time to ensure that there is a constant and consistent communications flow through these different channels, through publications, through blogs, through social media. It’s a very different approach and, from a budgeting standpoint, it’s a very different spend.
Larry Jordan: We’ve worked together in various ways over the years and one of the things I’ve enjoyed is sitting and chatting with you when I’m not on camera and we have time to visit for more than just a couple of minutes, and you’ve told me that good marketing takes time, that it can’t just be done overnight. Well, how does a client tell the difference between good marketing and bad marketing if you don’t know the results for six months?
Kevin Bourke: At the outset, again, and as part of the planning process, you need to put some sort of measurement and stopping points in place so you can say, “Let’s set some short term objectives for public relations.” For example, we’ve agreed that there is this group of influencers. Today, they don’t know about us at all. In three months, we need to make sure that that do know us to start, and that’s easily measured.
Kevin Bourke: Then three months after that, we want them not only to know us, but we want them to be talking about us and talking about us in a very positive light. That’s measurable and you can set those goals at the outset instead of just throwing it out into the wind and saying, “Come back in six months when you think you have something for us.” You need to set those metrics along the way and make sure that they are reasonable, that they’re achievable and that they map back to not only your communications objectives, but your business objectives as well.
Larry Jordan: You’ve got a vested interested in this answer, but when should marketing be done in-house and when should you hire a consultant?
Kevin Bourke: It really depends. There are very specific skill sets, especially with public relations. There are skill sets, there are existing relationships. With me, for example, I have a relationship with you. You and I have known each other for 15 years. I carry with me these relationships that I have fostered over many, many years and I can leverage those on behalf of my clients.
Kevin Bourke: Now, if you’re in-house, you don’t have that and it’s very difficult to start from scratch and say, “Ok, now who do I meet? Who do I talk to?” and start to build those relationships. Sometimes people do have that and, if you do, fantastic. Then, yes, you can strike out on your own. But if you don’t, it’s helpful to find that resource that understands your business, understands technology, has the relationships and the connections that they can leverage on your behalf. That’s when you can really benefit from hiring a consultant.
Mike Horton: Kevin, have you ever turned down a client and say, “This just isn’t working,” or “This just isn’t something that I believe in, I’m not the right guy for you”?
Kevin Bourke: Absolutely. There are obvious times to turn down business, when there’s a conflict of interest – I have a client that competes with you, I’m sorry, I can’t help you. That’s an obvious one. But there certainly have been times where I would look at the organization, I would look at the products, I would look at the state of the business and honestly tell them, “In your current situation, either you can’t afford to,” or “What you need to do today is not this, you need to focus on something else for the health of your business,” so it’s a case by case basis but I do take an honest look at each and every company that approaches me and, if I can believe I can help them, then I bring them on.
Larry Jordan: Let’s wear a filmmaker’s hat and let’s say a filmmaker comes to you and says, “I’d like your help in putting a campaign together for my next project.” Clearly short term. How long does it take to build a marketing campaign for a film? And we’re talking indie, we’re not talking a $200 million studio picture.
Kevin Bourke: I’ve done this, I’ve done this recently, so I would say anywhere from three to six months. Three months is a tight window because you need to ramp up, you need to do some basic housekeeping, prepare the language – how do you talk about this film? What are the words that you use to get people excited? – so you need to build up that plan and then start building the excitement in advance of the release. You can’t start talking about it the day of the release, you need to build up excitement in advance of that release, so you want to build in enough time to do it. I’ve done it successfully in three months, but three to six months is probably a smart timeframe.
Larry Jordan: Where does social media fit in to a marketing plan? Is social media everything or 50 percent or you just sort of stick your toe in the water?
Kevin Bourke: Social media is never the silver bullet. I do believe it’s very powerful; I also believe it’s very powerful in our market segment, in production and post production; we have a very active Twitter community, for example. I think it’s one of the things that you need to do, but I also believe that you need to be smart about it, you need to be genuine and you need to understand how to interact with the community in social media.
Kevin Bourke: It’s not just a broadcast mechanism where you spout your messages and don’t engage with your audience. You need to really understand who you’re talking to and who you’re engaging with, but it’s definitely a very powerful way to connect with your potential customers and audiences.
Larry Jordan: Kevin, for people who want more information about you and the work that you do, where can they go on the web?
Kevin Bourke: They can find me at bourkepr.com or follow me on Twitter.
Larry Jordan: That’s bourkepr.com and the founder and principal for Bourke is Kevin Bourke himself. Kevin, thanks so much for joining us. We’re looking forward to seeing you again and we’re getting ready for all the trade shows next year. You take care.
Mike Horton: Thanks, Kevin.
Kevin Bourke: I’m looking forward to it. Thank you so much.
Mike Horton: Me too.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Kevin Bourke: Take care.
Larry Jordan: Still to come on The Buzz – Kristen Nedopak, the Geekie Awards live and a tribute to Bruce Nazarian.
Larry Jordan: My focus for this class is not to teach you how to design with Photoshop – design is beyond my skills – but I can show you how we can take existing images and edit them. I’m talking about digital photography and still images, and manipulating them in Photoshop is what today’s session is all about.
Larry Jordan: It’s time for a Buzz Flashback. Five years ago today…
David Light (archive): First thing in terms of marketing, you have to have a really professional product that is the best that you can possibly make it. Second, you need to choose a track that you feel is going to, in this particular case, garner you the recognition that’s going to allow you to go to a broader audience and for the people that can say yes to you to be able to find out about you.
Larry Jordan: This was a Buzz Flashback.
Larry Jordan: Kristen Nedopak is the host of her own YouTube channel and has recently won Best Host at the IWA TV awards. But what makes her most special is that she is the creator and the Executive Producer of the Geekie Awards that honors gaming, comics and indie film content, occurring today at Club Nokia in LA. Hello, Kristen. Welcome.
Kristen Nedopak: Hi, how are you?
Larry Jordan: We are delighted to be talking to you. We’re covering the Geekie Awards tonight on The Buzz. Our reporter, Madison Mills, is at the scene on the red carpet, but before we hear from Madison I want to have you set the scene. How would you describe the Geekie Awards?
Kristen Nedopak: Oh wow. Well, the Geekie Awards first and foremost are for independent creators, but it’s also an award show for geeks and so we sort of have this combination of people that have never been at an award show, this is their first time hitting the red carpet, this might be their first win, so it’s this excitement of something big and watching them really take off; and then at the same time we’ve got Kevin Smith, we are literally just announcing that we have Ernie Hudson also presenting an award, so we’ve got this slew of geek talent that’s coming to present these awards to these creators, and then we’ve got the fans. It’s just one big geek festival, if you will. It feels like a big family reunion of geeks.
Larry Jordan: How does someone get considered for an award?
Kristen Nedopak: Earlier in the year, in the spring, we open for submissions for about three months and everyone submits themselves. That way, it’s not based on popular votes, it’s not based on us going out and only looking at people we know about. This is how we get unseen talent. Then, of course, I’m out there scouting people, I’m going to conventions; if I see somebody who’s amazing, note, if I talk to you, you should definitely enter the show. I have a habit of choosing people who definitely go on to become nominees and, of course, I’m not part of the judging process, but I think I have pretty good taste. So if I talk to you, you should definitely enter.
Larry Jordan: What’s happening on the red carpet?
Kristen Nedopak: Oh my gosh, it’s usually a madhouse. This year, we have opened it up. We usually have presenters and nominees and this year we’ve actually opened it up to a lot more talent, so we’ve got our player piano nominee is actually bringing in a Nintendo built custom designed piano that’s for photo ops and it’s just really manic. When Kevin Smith or Ernie Hudson show up, or Stan Lee if he decides to come, which he usually does, there are fans, there are people screaming, it’s such fun. That’s the point in time in the day when I’m done with setup and we’re done with rehearsals and I walk outside and I go, “It’s begun.” It’s pretty crazy.
Larry Jordan: Thanks, Kristen. When we first heard of the Geekie Awards, we realized this was a perfect event for The Buzz to cover, so today we sent Madison Mills and the rest of The Buzz team down to Club Nokia to see what’s going on. Hello, Madison.
Madison Mills: Thank you, Larry. I’m here at Club Nokia in Los Angeles, where we’re celebrating the third annual Geekie Awards. We’re here to celebrate creative artists from web, games and entertainment and I’m here with some of those artists right now. Rayna and John Merritt, you guys must be so excited to be here. Tell me what category are you nominated for tonight?
John Merritt: We’re in the Toys and Crafts for Tentacle Kitty.
Madison Mills: What is Tentacle Kitty?
John Merritt: Tentacle Kitty is a kitty from another dimension. She just happens to have tentacles. We have a web comic online, at tentaclekitty.com, and we’re also in pre-production of the movie.
Madison Mills: Wow!
John Merritt: Yes.
Madison Mills: Can you give us a preview of the movie, or is it a secret?
John Merritt: It’s definitely a secret.
Madison Mills: What’s it going to feel like if you guys get up on that stage and win tonight?
Rayna Merritt: I will be really lucky if I don’t pass out, because I’m kind of shy. I really hope we win and I’m very excited.
Madison Mills: Can you tell us a little bit of what you’ll say on stage if you win tonight?
Rayna Merritt: No. You’ll just have to wait.
Madison Mills: Well, thank you, guys, so much.
Rayna Merritt: Yes, thank you.
Madison Mills: All right, I’m here with Dante Basco. Dante, tell me a little bit about your obviously incredible career – you were in Avatar. What was that experience like?
Dante Basco: It’s great to be at the Geekie Awards, I have some geeky roles that are appreciated by the so-called geeks, myself being on, so of course Avatar: The Last Airbender, where I play the misunderstood Prince of the Far Nation, Prince Zuko, which I love, it’s been a really phenomenal hit for Nickelodeon and it’s kind of like the new Star Wars for a new generation in a way, how the world has been created, this new world; and then, of course, all my throwback fans that are big fans of Rufio from the movie Hook, so a shout out to all the lost boys and lost girls out there.
Madison Mills: Tell me a little bit about what you’re doing now.
Dante Basco: Right now, continuing to work as an actor. I have a film coming out called Head Thieves, which I’m really proud of, and I also have a production company called Kinetic Films, we do Asian/American/Pacific Islander films and you can see our first three releases online right now, Man Up with KevJumba and Justin Chon; Hang Loose with myself and KevJumba; and then also our dramatic film which is called Paradise Broken. I’m continuing to work on both sides of the camera, in front of and as a writer/producer.
Madison Mills: That’s so great. Obviously, you’ve made it, you’re at the top, you’ve done the thing. What would you say to the haters out there who maybe didn’t let you embrace your geekiness from a young age?
Dante Basco: A lot of times when I tour around the country and I speak at cons or I speak at colleges, what I like to tell the, quote unquote, geeks or nerds out there is you’ve got to understand that Comic-Con a few years ago in San Diego was a place that most Hollywoodites thought was some kind of place to be shunned. But what you realize now, the nerds and the geeks are actually the arbiters of taste of Hollywood.
Dante Basco: Hollywood goes down to San Diego every year, goes to cons to see what the nerds like because the nerds’ taste is really what is next on the horizon. Everyone wants to know what the next Game of Thrones is, what the next Firefly is – what are you guys into? What are the really good things? The nerds and the geeks are the ones that are the arbiters of taste of pop culture right now. Represent your geekiness, represent your nerdiness. We are the taste of pop culture, so it’s all good. Celebrate that.
Madison Mills: Right. Thank you so much. This has been an incredible night. I can’t tell you how many amazing people I’ve met, how many great costumes I’ve seen tonight and we’re so excited we got to be here. From downtown Los Angeles at the annual Geekie Awards for The Digital Production Buzz, I’m Madison Mills.
Larry Jordan: Bruce Nazarian was a long time contributor to The Buzz who passed away last Friday. Bruce was a good friend to Mike and myself and many in The Buzz audience. This is our tribute to Bruce Nazarian.
Larry Jordan (archive): Bruce Nazarian is the President of the DVD Association, as well as being a guru on all things DVD.
Mike Horton (archive): And I love Bruce.
Larry Jordan (archive): And he’s a great guy and Cirina herself said he has a killer smile in his photograph, so what more could we ask? Bruce, good to have you with us.
Bruce Nazarian (archive): Hello, you guys.
Bruce Nazarian (archive): We believe that Blu-Ray is a very powerful, potentially very wonderful format to use for publishing, but we’re very concerned at the way licensing and complexity has worked out. It’s virtually impossible for second tier producers, who are the vast majority of our audience here today, to really afford to publish on Blu-Ray instead of publishing on DVD, and there are a lot of people that I’ve talked to and a lot of people out there in general who want to use Blu-Ray but can’t either deal with the complexity of licensing or the cost of the licensing. Simple as that.
Bruce Nazarian (archive): The biggest continuing change that we’ve had, of course, is the migration away from analogue to digital and that means digital recording, digital mixing, digital synchronization, everything under the sun, although interestingly we’re kind of coming a little full circle in that the pendulum’s swung very much to emphasize… for a while and now people are beginning to re-appreciate the fine art of a well played musical instrument done by… musical ensemble, great players, great instruments.
Bruce Nazarian (archive): The bulk of what I had done in the DVD optical media industry was to be of service to non-Hollywood authors and encoding engineers etcetera who were working in that field and wanted to gain insight and technical knowledge about how it all worked, and I did that quite happily for about ten years.
Bruce Nazarian (archive): Well, music and blood are part of my DNA, so no matter how technical I get from one side of the brain, I always keep getting yanked to the creative side, the other side of the brain, and reminded that first, last and always I was put on the Earth to be a musician, so I’m going to do it again.
Larry Jordan: Bruce Nazarian will be missed. He’s a good guy.
Mike Horton: Yes. Yes, we did talk a lot about having that lunch and we never did have that lunch. I knew, as you did, Bruce as the DVD guy, I didn’t know him as a musician.
Larry Jordan: Studio musician in Detroit, did most of the bass guitar work on many of the Motown hits.
Mike Horton: Once I found that out, I went crazy and we had to talk; and every time we did talk, we would talk more about music than we did about DVDs and authoring and stuff like that because, as you know, I’m a music freak. But we never did have that lunch. We never had that long talk and I miss him terribly because he was a Renaissance man. He knew something about everything and, boy, could he be articulate about it. You would never, ever have a debate with Bruce Nazarian because he would always win, even if what he was saying was wrong. He would articulate it so well. He was one of a kind.
Larry Jordan: Yes he was.
Mike Horton: He was the best.
Larry Jordan: Yes. We’ll have that tribute posted to the web so you’ll be able to look at that coming up a little later tonight. I want to thank our guests for this evening: Philip Nelson, the Senior VP at NewTek; Kevin Bourke, the CEO at Bourke PR; and Kristen Nedopak, the CEO of the Geekie Awards.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find thousands of interviews all online and all available to you today; plus our free weekly show newsletter.
Larry Jordan: Our theme music is composed by Nathan Dugie Turner, with additional music provided by smartsound.com. Text transcripts are provided by Take 1 Transcription – visit take1.tv to learn how they can help you.
Larry Jordan: That tribute to Bruce Nazarian was edited brilliant by Brianna Murphy. Our Geekie Award coverage was produced by James Castle Stevens, hosted by Madison Mills, with technical help from Alex Hackworth, Joseph Kim, Ty Moss, Kate [YISH] and Alex Corrie-Wright. Our Supervising Producer is Cirina Catania; production team led by Megan Paulos and includes Ed Golya, Keegan Guy, Lindsay Luebbert and Brianna Murphy. On behalf of Mike Horton, my name is Larry Jordan and thanks for watching.
Mike Horton: Goodbye, everybody. Goodbye, Bruce.
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