by | tonybrown

From humble beginnings

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If you’ve followed my blog at all, you’ll have seen my updates on the project I’m working on for the final course in my journalism sequence. We’re working on creating a parody news show for our small city of Columbia; an experiment in whether the Daily Show could ever translate to small-town news.

We gathered a team of comedy writers in the form of young local comedians and set out to present our own humorous take on things happening in Mid-Missouri. Like any experimental prototype, ours was not without stumbles and sputters with malfunctioning equipment, busy schedules, and uncooperative interviews. However, the episode we’re going to show our class today is something I’m proud of.

This post features the first episode we presented to the class. It has plenty of faults: bad camera work, talent unaccustomed to appearing in front of a camera, and “janky” editing. But where this episode shines is its writing. Our writers are taking this project head-on, with no real reason to help us than out of the goodness of their hearts. Sure, they’ll take home a clip or two that they can add to their comedic epitome, but for the most part they’re doing this to help us out. In my opinion, they hit the first episode on the head with where I’d like the jokes to land.

Infinity Project ep1

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Written by Tony

October 6, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

So you’ve got an iPhone App, now what?

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Congratulations! You’ve entered the world of mobile media and (hopefully) rolled out an amazing new way for consumers to interact with your company. You’ve got an app on one of the world’s most popular smartphones, and certainly one that’s driven vast mobile media innovation in the past two years. However, at best, you’re reaching slightly less than 50% of the smartphone traffic market.

Sure, BlackBerrys abound, and they’re even given away seemingly every other week during different promotional sales. However, it’s not the numbers of sales that are important. You’ve got to look at mobile traffic; that indicator that phone users are paying for an always-connected smartphone with internet browsing capabilities. Luckily, AdMob, the iPhone’s premiere service for in-app advertising, offers helpful metrics for measuring and determining just how people use their smartphones.

US Smartphone UsageNot surprisingly, the iPhone dominates the market with half of all mobile internet traffic. But you knew that—that’s why you developed an app in the first place!

BlackBerry vs. Android vs. WebOS

If you’re not of a budget that will allow you to pay a developer to create applications across each of the major operating systems at the same time, you’ll have to choose a priority. My suggestion: go Android. Over the past three months, Admob has shown a steady increase in traffic share for Android-based phones in the US. Currently, Google has announced that it anticipates another dozen (in addition to the current three) phones running on Android in coming months.

Next to BlackBerry, that’s huge. Right now, there are only two BlackBerry devices that can be considered fair competition to Android and iPhone: the Curve and the Storm. Both debuted more than 6 months ago, and neither has revolutionized the way we use mobile internet. There are also no announcements about new phones—who’s to know when the next iterations will come.

The Palm Pre debuted to major critical acclaim, but sales numbers never really left the ground. While the phone ranks in the top five handsets for traffic, it’s still the only device running Palm’s WebOS. While surveys of consumers have shown that people hold the Pre in higher regard than existing Android and BlackBerry devices, it still probably won’t pay off to invest in development of a WebOS app—at this point at least.

UPDATE: Flash on mobile devices

Then again, recent announcements may change the way all mobile development unfolds across platforms. Adobe announces Flash will be coming to smartphones, including immediate rollouts to Windows Media, WebOS, public beta early next year for Android, and an undisclosed debut date for BlackBerry.

Whether or not this changes your strategy depends on what you’re trying to deliver. For a client of mine who delivers video content, it makes sense for them to continue to develop apps that are specifically designed for mobile devices. They run better and faster on a mobile device than a flash site ever will. But, like all things, you’ll still pay a price for a customized experience.

Written by Tony

October 3, 2009 at 4:11 pm

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Shooting

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First day of studio work for the Infinity Project.

Written by Tony

September 29, 2009 at 2:33 pm

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Turning photos into a video – the super easy way

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Turning photos into video is really, actually, incredibly simple thanks to a site called Animoto.com. As a test (making anything longer than a 30-second clip requires a $30/year subscription) I made a video from photos of my recent road trip to Las Vegas. Pretty neat.

Vegas 09

I mentioned before that creating this thing was simple. As in like 10 clicks simple. Choose the photos to upload, choose a song, and the site software automatically analyzes the audio to make the final product appear cohesive and intentional. I’ll let you know if I pony up the $30.

Written by Tony

September 21, 2009 at 4:20 pm

The Infinity Project – Update

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After meeting with Stacey Woelfel, the news director of KOMU this past week, we’ve discovered our prototype doesn’t have a specific home. The effects of our discussion (which came on the heels of an e-mail from an unhappy Kim Dude about our interview) were two-fold: we’re able to design our own product, and we’re not helped by having a slot/audience predefined.

While we’re suddenly able to do just about anything we’d like to do (given full creative freedom with no restrictions like language), we’re also stuck with the challenge of defining an audience, preparing our own format, and determining how to best market the final product.

We had assumed from the beginning that Woelfel would like to have a hand in the development of the prototype. Rather, he’s giving us a very long leash to accomplish what we want. Suddenly we’re on our own, and perhaps in the future (once we show a success or unsuccess) it will be picked up by KOMU in some capacity.

We also found when we tried uploading the footage from our interviews that the record heads on the camera were dirty and we lost bits of audio and video throughout. It’s a technical difficulty that is a rare but unfortunate setback. We’ll have to edit around it, but at least it’s only for our pilot. Our plan is to debut our pilot for our research presentation on the 28th. We’ll be conducting surveys afterward to better determine what worked well and what didn’t go over well.

Written by Tony

September 21, 2009 at 4:12 pm

Capstone Update #2

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After stressing and worrying for nearly a week about our first interview with a bona-fide source, today we interviewed Kim Dude, director of MU’s Wellness Resource Center about tailgating and the controversial “fan cans” sold by Budweiser. I went in with the expectation that we wouldn’t really make a new friend out of Dude. We were, in fact, sitting her down with a local comedian hell-bent on exposing the ridiculousness of her own recent remarks in the local papers. And I’d say we accomplished just that.

What’s interesting about our project is the inherent amount of editorial content we’re creating. And we also have to walk the very thin line of showing ideas to be absurd and allowing our audience to discover it themselves. That’s one thing I think the Colbert Report does very well: expose absurdity through a roundabout discussion of what’s realistic and extravagant.

We’ve got a little ways to go before we reach that point, but today was a good practice. We were able to interview several drunk/drinking tailgaters and collected some very good soundbites. It’s going to be a great clip when we get it finished! Next step: taping in-studio segments and tying it all together. I know we’re going to have some inconsistencies, but for a work in progress (with zero guidance thus far) I think we’re doing great.

We held a conversation with Jim Spencer of Newsy.com earlier in the week to discuss online viewing habits to gain some knowledge of how our product might work best. He’s in tune with us and seems eager to help in the future.

Written by Tony

September 13, 2009 at 2:55 am

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Capstone Update 1

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This semester, we in the capstone Journalism 4992 class at the University of Missouri are required to keep a regular blog with updates on our project.

You’ll find these posts in the midst of my normal updates.

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I’m wildly excited about the project I’ll be working on this semester. My job is to produce a local television news parody, á la The Daily Show or The Colbert Report. I knew from the moment I read the description this was going to be a very challenging project. While many of the skills we’ve learned through the course of the convergence sequence will help us produce this show, there isn’t a very direct correlation that enables us to enter the realm of comedy writing.

Thus, we’ve brought in a team of friends and contacts, namely comedy writers and stand up comedians from Columbia (Kyle Ayers, Dan Friesen, Ryan Beck, and …). While we haven’t yet talked to the point man on the project, Stacey Woelfel of KOMU about his expectations, we’re drawing up initial plans and working on scripts for a pilot. Our second writer’s meeting is tonight, and we’ll be brainstorming more story ideas and segments.

We’ve identified a number of challenges in producing this mini-show. First to figure out is the format; length, the number of episodes, the audience, the platform, etc. We’re guessing the ideal length for the online show is between 6-10 minutes, most likely around 8. We’re also not naive to the fact that comedy writing—especially for broadcast—is a challenging endeavor. We’re going to have to find ways to make the show relevant not just to student life but also to the greater Columbia audience.

Written by Tony

September 7, 2009 at 11:07 pm

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