Flip Video Camera vs. Kodak Video Camera

In many of my presentations this year I have used the video embedded immediately below to illustrate the quality available through consumer-grade video cameras, such as the Flip video camera. With my daughter Rachel’s permission, here’s an example of what you get from the Flip UltraHD, from my granddaughter Evelyn’s first birthday party in August:

Here is an example of a video I shot earlier in April with the standard definition version of the Flip video camera (before we got HD), with Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth, in a room behind the dugout at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia:

You will note that in this video there is background noise from the indoor pitching machine and batting cage, but I think in both cases the quality of the video is perfectly acceptable for use on the Web. And since the HD only costs $50 more, I think it’s well worth the extra cost. (Of course, I’m kind of partial to the subject of that HD video .)

Kodak has some similar consumer-grade video cameras, such as the Kodak Zi8 HD, and their key advantage is that they have an external microphone jack, which could improve the audio quality in some cases. If I had used that camera for the interview with Jayson Werth, for instance, the batting cage noise probably would have been less pronounced. The good news: you can put in a huge memory card to get really long recording times without having to download the files to your computer. The bad news: extra cost.

Here’s an example of a video we shot with the external microphone, and uploaded to YouTube:

One additional advantage of the Kodak is it can record in 1080p, but can also downshift to 720p or even standard definition. Here’s a brief sound bite to that effect from my colleague Joel Streed, shot and edited as 1080p.

The downside of 1080p is that for a video of any length, the processing power required is pretty immense, without much of a perceptible difference in image quality, at least for Web video.

If you don’t see yourself complicating the recording process by attaching a remote microphone to the interview subject, the Flip video camera is fine.

So, to sum up, here are the advantages I see for each of these cameras (as compared with each other):

Flip UltraHD Camcorder, 120 Minutes (Black)(Amazon Affiliate link – currently $149.99)

  1. Simplicity and cost. One-button operation and a ready-to-go camera. With the Kodak, by contrast, you really can’t shoot video unless you have purchased an SD memory card. And if you’re going to take advantage of the external microphone, that means you need to buy an external microphone. So the Flip video camera price is pretty much “all inclusive” while you will have some additional costs for the Kodak. Given the $70 difference on Amazon you see here currently between the Flip and the Kodak, you’ll likely spend at least $100 more for the Kodak.
  2. Solid, durable design (the Kodak’s USB connector seems a bit more flimsy)
  3. Can use AA batteries. (With the Kodak, you could possibly be stuck with a temporarily unusable camera if the built-in rechargeable batteries run down. On the Flip Ultra HD, if you’re in that situation you can swap out the rechargeable pack and replace it temporarily with AAs.)

Kodak Zi8 HD Pocket Video Camera (Amazon affiliate link – Currently $219.99)

  1. External microphone jack. If you’re shooting in a noisy environment, this gives you the possibility of using a remote microphone to get better sound. With the Flip you need to choose where you shoot if the sound quality is important.
  2. Flexibility in storage. The Flip UltraHD holds two hours of video in its 8 GB memory. With the Kodak you can use a bigger card and record longer, although a larger card adds to the camera’s cost.
  3. Multiple resolution choices. You can record 1080p, 720p or standard definition. The Flip UltraHD is just straight 720p.

The really good news to take away from this is that there are at least a couple of good options for capturing video using consumer grade cameras for use in your professional efforts in social media, whether it’s posting videos to YouTube, Facebook or some other sharing site. Both of these cameras are light, small and therefore easy to carry in a coat pocket or purse, so you’ll never need to worry about missing an opportunity to capture video.

The first rule of video is that you can’t edit what you don’t shoot, so these cameras both make it more likely you’ll get some good material for editing.

RAQ: Would you do a video about why PR and marketing pros need an iPhone?

At the #mayoragan09 conference earlier this week I participated in a “30 ideas in 30 minutes” panel, which was intended to provide rapid-fire, practical applications and next steps to take for people interested in incorporating social media into their health care work.

My first tip (after the obligatory “Get a Flip”), was:

Get an iPhone.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been, but I was somewhat surprised at the murmur that comment created. And in the Q&A session, I got this request:

“Could you upload a Flip video about why I should get an iPhone, so I can use it to make the case with my boss?”

My other tips, two of which require some expenditure and others that are free:

  • Get a Flip video camera (or something similar.) Cost is $150-$230 MSRP, but you can get them cheaper.
  • Join Audible.com, which is an audio “book of the month” club. Listen to any books you can find from Clayton Christensen, Malcolm Gladwell, or Patrick Lencioni. And of course get Chris Anderson’s book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price, for free. Cost is about $15/month.
  • Get the “Bump” application for iPhone, which lets you exchange contact info with other iPhone users with a fist bump. Free.
  • Create a blog as a “dark site” for crisis communications. Use wordpress.com to create a private blog, which you can make public should a crisis arise. That could save you 15 minutes or so in setting up a way to communicate broadly via the Web, which in a crisis could be precious time savings. Free on WordPress.com.

If you do anything at all in continuing education for your professional growth, you may spend $1,000 or more for conference registrations, plus travel expenses.

How sad would it be to pay for a conference registration to learn about social media tools, and then to not spend the relatively smaller amount it takes to get hands-on experience?

And of course, do take advantage of the free tools as well, including enrolling in SMUG (join the Facebook group, follow the Chancellor on Twitter, and subscribe to the RSS feed).

See Aaron Hughling’s take-aways from the conference, as well as Holly Potter’s.

I hope this helps you make the case for your smartphone, whether that’s with your employer, your spouse or to help you convince yourself.

The Value of Twitter, Part II: Listening and Connecting

In Part I of this series in honor of @shelisrael and his new book “Twitterville,” I said Twitter is valuable as a “recommendation engine” for interesting Web content. Many people see Twitter as a good way to broadcast messages from your organization, and we’ll get to some of those uses in later posts. But even before you’re ready to take the official plunge into active organizational use of Twitter, you can gather lots of information on what people are saying about your organization.

To paraphrase Yogi Berra, “You can hear a lot just by listening.”

I use Tweetdeck as my desktop productivity enhancer for Twitter for several reasons, as I describe in Twitter 106. (I like CoTweet and Hootsuite as Web-based power applications, particularly for advance scheduling of tweets.) Tweetdeck is great for listening and immediate interactions, and by setting up a fairly sensitive, highly specific search term in one of the panes (as described in Twitter 131) and putting that next to my “Mentions” pane I can see at a glance whether someone is tweeting about me, Mayo Clinic or @mayoclinic.

Picture 4

That’s how I met Tom Vanderwell (@tvanderwell) in March, as I described in this post at the time. He had mentioned Mayo Clinic in a tweet on a Sunday night, and because it came up in my Tweetdeck, and because I engaged with him in conversation, it led to us having a real-life meeting in Grand Rapids, Mich. just three days later.

What are the odds of something like that happening? I don’t know, but I can tell you for sure that they’re as close to zero as you can imagine if you’re not listening and engaging via Twitter.

But that’s not the end of the story.

Tom and I connected a couple more times in subsequent months…the first of which was when he joined us by phone for Tweetcamp II. A month or so later, when I was looking for examples of small businesses using social media, we interacted again by Twitter, phone and email, which led to this post.

We connected again earlier this month, when I traveled to Tom’s hometown of Grand Rapids to celebrate my granddaughter Evelyn’s first birthday. I tweeted Tom in advance, asking if he would be willing to get together so I could interview him for a couple of stories, and he quickly agreed.

So on Evelyn’s birthday, two weeks ago today, I stopped over at Tom’s home and interviewed him with his own Flip video camera (he had taken my advice from our March meeting and got one!) about his experience as a Mayo Clinic patient, and how he has used blogging and Twitter for his business.

Tom’s Mayo Clinic interview is here on our Sharing Mayo Clinic blog. The next post in this series will feature Tom’s perspectives on Twitter, and later I will have another post on Tom’s use of blogging.

But let’s quickly review the benefits I’ve seen personally, just in this case, by listening and connecting through Twitter:

  • I’ve made a personal friend. Tom and I have a lot in common, as we’ve discovered in our two face-to-face meetings and via our electronic interactions.
  • I’ve learned from someone who is using social media in another industry, and how he is finding social media practical and profitable. And I’m getting to share those insights with you.
  • I’ve met a Mayo Clinic patient who was enthusiastic about sharing his experiences on our Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.

That’s a lot of value for my investment in Twitter…and it’s only one case study.

A Present for Evelyn

Our family is in Grand Rapids, Michigan this weekend visiting my daughter Rachel, her husband Kyle and my granddaughter Evelyn, who turns one today.

Evelyn got to open one of her presents Saturday night when we arrived, as she sat in the lap of her Aunt Rebekah. This is one of those priceless moments that’s a great reason to have a Flip video camera (or something like it):

Because we won’t know the baby’s gender for at least several months, we’re thinking we will refer to him/her as “Thermie” for short.

If I would have know what the news was going to be, I would have been focusing more on Bekah than on Evelyn.

This is another example of how you can embed video from Facebook in a self-hosted WordPress blog, whereas you can’t in a WordPress.com blog.

Meanwhile, here’s the video we shot a year ago right now, when we welcomed Evelyn to the world. She’s changed quite a bit:

Lisa and I have been truly blessed, and are looking forward to Evelyn having a sibling and to becoming serial grandparents.

8 Steps to Sustainable Blogging

Many people are intimidated by the thought of starting a blog. Some of this angst results from misunderstandings: they think a blog is some mysterious creation, when in reality it is an easy-to-publish Web site that allows comments. But some of the trepidation results from a true understanding: starting a blog means you need to regularly update it to keep the content fresh.

The purpose of this article is to provide tips for developing a sustainable blog, not in the ecological sense (though the so-called “carbon footprint” of a blog is toddler-sized), but from the “How can I start small and give the blog a strong path to growth?” perspective:

  1. Start with a hosted blogging platform. I used WordPress.com and highly recommend it. You can get started for free, and for less than $80 a year you can have a blog with the same look as your main Web site that can host a podcast and that is mapped to a subdomain of your main site. But that’s the next step.
  2. Choose your URL and map to it. I mapped my personal blog to http://social-media-university-global.org/ and with my work we have blogs at http://sharing.mayoclinic.org/ and http://newsblog.mayoclinic.org/ and http://podcasts.mayoclinic.org/, for instance. By doing this, instead of the default yourname.wordpress.com URL, you preserve your blog’s ability to grow and move later to a self-hosted WordPress installation (as I did with SMUG) without having your incoming links break. That preserves your precious Google juice.
  3. Use Video. I use and like the Flip video camera, which costs about $150 for standard definition and $230 or so for HD. Other cameras are available at similar prices. Particularly if you have busy subject experts you want to include in the blog, you’ll have much more success if you can embed video instead of asking them to write. And if they ask you to write for them, that will make your blog inauthentic. Being able to upload video quickly via built-in USB connector makes it easier for everyone.
  4. Use lots of “tags.” Tags are labels you apply to your posts, which are your way of telling search engines what the post is about. This makes it easier for people looking for your information to find it.
  5. Use descriptive titles or headlines. In WordPress, your headline becomes part of the URL, which has search engine implications. So a cute, human-oriented headline may be less helpful from an SEO perspective. A way around this is to edit the URL for search, but still have the clever play on words in the title.
  6. Schedule posts in advance. You can take a vacation from blogging by using this feature in WordPress, which enables you to set a day and time when you want the post to be published. So you can work ahead and then take off on vacation, knowing that the content will stay fresh even while you personally refresh.
  7. Decide whether comment moderation is necessary. Akismet does a great job in WordPress of weeding out spam comments, and if you don’t require comment moderation your readers will have more immediate gratification for sharing their thoughts, and it will be less work for you.
  8. Use multiple contributors. WordPress and some other blog publishing platforms offer hierarchies and workflows, so you can share the publishing load among many users. Contributors can write, but posts must be edited and approved by, well…an Editor. Authors can write and publish on their own. Administrators can add other users. Multiple contributors also helps with that vacation we talked about in #6.

For more detail on each of these top tips, check out the entire Blogging curriculum.