On Monday April 1st members of the community, business leaders, and city officials met to celebrate the launch of the Illinois Immigration Coalition (IBIC). Speakers at the event included Rahm Emanuel, the Mayor of Chicago, and Doug Oberhelman, the chairman and CEO of Caterpillar Inc. The event was held at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and provided an amazing view of one of the cities IBIC is fighting to preserve. In their own words,
" The Illinois Business Immigration Coalition (IBIC) represents a growing and diverse set of businesses and business associations promoting sensible, comprehensive federal immigration reform to benefit the people and economy of our state. We believe that we have a unique opportunity to unite across diverse sectors — high-skilled and low-skilled, large corporations and small businesses — in a successful push for sensible immigration reform alongside elected officials and immigrant advocates. Our goal is to provide a strong and effective voice for Illinois businesses in the national immigration conversation and to urge our elected officials to vote for our economy and our communities by supporting comprehensive, sensible immigration reform. "
Whether you are member of the community or a small business owner wanting to learn more about how immigration reform effects your customers, let’s dabble has made a video to get you up to speed.
First things first, 90% of what you will be doing is controlled by a simple web camcorder. They are surprisingly high in quality, and very easy to operate. The majority of your use will entail the power button, starting to record, and stopping. I don’t mean to be condescending, it is just the truth. The magic is in deciding what to record and in editing. The filming itself is very straightforward.
So to begin, go play with your camcorder. I’m serious. Film something, so long as you are recording you are on the right track. The point is to go use the camcorder then sit-back and reflect on what you can do to record better next time. Why? Because you will not be an expert until you practice. No shortcuts here. So to help get you started right, we will walk you through the first practice recordings with this video tutorial.
After you have recorded a little test footage, you can go ahead and transfer it to your computer to take a peek at your first video dabblings. Beware, they will be shaky and nowhere near pro quality, but that is normal, and that is why we are here to help. So to learn how to get those video clips onto your computer for the first time, you can watch the following.
I mentioned that you will only use the most basic functions of your camcorder and you may want to raise your hand and ask about some of the other features. But resist the temptation, especially when it comes to zooming.
Zooming may seem like the perfect solution to get a little closer to your subject, but don’t do it. Although it achieves what you’d like (getting closer) the cost is far greater than you’d expect. Simple camcorders lose quality when zooming. So if you’d like a closer shot… get closer. Scientific, I know, but little tricks like this will greatly improve your end product. For additional clarity on this topic we made the following tutorial.
Whether zooming or moving closer there is a limit to how close you can get. This varies camera to camera but the rule of thumb is about a foot. So when looking to include the finer details of the inside of a toy robot, the painting you just finished, or those ants marching toward their hill keep the camera the minimum distance away to keep everything in focus and looking fantastic. To see examples of what we are describing, the following video is available for you to enjoy.
Next on the list is the most common culprit for footage being ruined. Light. It seems obvious, yet when you are filming it can be easy to overlook. Bright light, low light, and contrasting light are the three lighting situations you will encounter in real-world filming. Understanding what causes them and how to avoid them will save you time and frustration. So learn the basics and get ahead of the curve.
Last but not least, where is your audio coming from, what background noises are there, and how can you avoid them? This is so important because audio disruptions are a nightmare while editing. The built-in microphone on an inexpensive camcorder is amazing, but it can be overwhelmed by audio you do not want to record. These are evident in noisy rooms, on windy days, and when the person speaking is too far from the camera. So know your cameras limitations and record the best possible audio.
Video editing is not as scary as it may seem, but in order to get started you have to have your computer ready to go. What are the essentials? Your camcorders software, Windows Movie Maker, Real Player, and Any Video Converter. These programs will help you get the videos onto your computer and into Windows Movie Maker where you can easily edit them into your finished product.
Your camcorders software (if using one of our recommended shoot n share camcorders) is installed the first time you plug your camcorder into your computer. However, keep in mind this software usually never needs to be used again. Why? Because when you plug in your camcorder from then on, a dialogue box appears and you can select “Open folder to view files” and navigate to your files. The navigation is not the same for every camera but will be something along the lines of:
Open folder to view files > DCIM > 100MEDIA > (here are your files)
So to get started right, watch the following video to get the specifics and install your camcorders software.
After your camcorders software is installed the next ingredient is Windows Movie Maker. This program has evolved over the years from it’s beginnings in XP, to a touchy version for Vista, and finally Windows Movie Maker Live for Windows Seven. Of all the versions our favorite is the tried and true version for Windows XP. Luckily, it has kept up with the times and is available for Vista as well as Seven. So download the previous version of Windows Movie Maker and watch the following video for all the details of installing this free, powerful video editing program on Windows Seven.
Next, we have a video player, this is not necessary for every computer. However, if you are having problems viewing your video files, it may be a life saver. This is because video players like iTunes, RealPlayer, or Windows Media Player bring codecs into your computer when they are installed. Codecs are magical instruction booklets that your computer uses to understand video files. So if you are having problems viewing your cherished videos, download Real Player and watch the following video for all the details of its installation.
Last but certainly not least is Any Video Converter. This program has saved me time and time again. The problem is that Windows Movie Maker does not understand every type of video file. Think of file types as languages. If your computer speaks italian, french, and russian, but you import a video file in spanish, your computer can not understand it. Same goes for file types, Windows Movie Maker’s favorite type of file is .wmv because it is a Windows file type. So to be safe, I always convert my file types from whatever they might be (.avi, .mov, .mp4) to .wmv and Any Video Converter lets me easily do this for free. So download Any Video Converter and watch this video for all the specifics on getting it installed correctly.
And there we are, everything we need to import, view, convert, and edit our video files is installed and ready to go. Next step? Well, if you have footage that is ready to edit, but are not sure where to begin then let’s dabble is your new best friend. We have free video tutorials that will teach you all you need to know, just jump down to "Editing a Real World Example in Windows Movie Maker" to learn how to use this free, powerful editing program.
The Nonprofit Resource Center is a comprehensive service and support center for nonprofits based in Sacramento since 1989. Offering a professionally staffed library, grant funder database, fundraising workshops, and management networking, the Center is a resource in the purest sense.
And just recently, it’s Tools area got an infusion from let’s dabble and our video tutorials teaching the fundamentals of video production. Some of the tools offered by the Center include information on funding your organization, running your organization, starting a nonprofit, models, templates, and philanthropy.
For organizations up and running the “Running Your Organization” area covers even more detail with advocacy, lobbying, boards, financial management, HR, Legal, and Marketing and Communications.
So whether you are just starting, established, or could use a little direction, The Nonprofit Resource Center is there to help.
Video has changed the way we remember, share, and view the world. What I am referring to is video storytelling and it is a new genre of video… or web video to be precise.
Video in the sense of hollywood, big budgets, and years of training will never die… nor would I ever want it to (I love going to the movies!). But it is important to realize and take advantage of professional video’s little brother; video storytelling. It is far less than full-feature films, far less than short films, and less still than brief documentaries. It lives online and is the marriage of advancing technology and a person’s natural creativity.
Smart phones have allowed better and better photos (so much so that many of us have laid to rest our beloved point-and-shoot cameras). Similarly, smart phones and inexpensive camcorders enable us all to create high quality short videos for sharing online. These videos are each a story: a story of a vacation, a birthday, a nonprofit fundraiser, or a weekly update. Thanks to advancements in the way we record, edit, and share video we are able to tell previously untold stories and share them in new and engaging ways.
This perfect storm of a persons raw creative talent and new technologies is what let’s dabble is all about. We empower you to create video stories and share them online. The skills needed are commonly unknown and unpracticed, but they are easy to learn and easy to master. With a little know-how you can write a script, shoot the video, edit the video, and share it online in a few hours.
If you would like to learn more or are interested in learning the skills I spoke of, then you are in luck; we can teach you, for free. Using…. drumroll please… short web videos. Learning video through video, it’s a brave new world.
The following video outlines the new advancing technologies. It discusses why the ability to shoot, edit, and publish video is now easier and more inexpensive than ever.
The means to make a video is the tip of the iceberg, the impact comes from looking at how we can use it. Moreover, since the cost of producing video has dropped dramatically, we can use it in ways previously never considered: training videos, video grant proposals, custom thank-you videos to generous donors, or program updates. This video outlines what web video means for nonprofits, how it can change the way they share their mission, their successes, and their future.
Finally, researching new equipment to buy can be mind-numbing with so many options and endless reviews; it can be over-whelming. Therefore, when you are asking yourself: what equipment do I need, what are the options, and how much does it all cost? Have no fear, we did the homework, this video answers those questions and more.
Having a website made and hosted can be costly: from one thousand dollars to tens of thousands. Since that rarely is a drop in the bucket, it good to know that you can make and host your very own website.
If you are looking to do-it-yourself, then video tutorials are always a blessing. While let’s dabble walks you through the process of making a web video. This resource guides you through the waters of hosting a website.
To view all their website tutorials you can visit their youtube page.
Vertical video typically happens when recording with phones, which is becoming more and more common with the high quality of the lenses in smart phones.
In technical terms it is recording in an aspect ratio of 9×16 rather than 16×9, this makes playback on a 16×9 screen less than great. So when filming your video dabblings be sure to keep your camcorder properly positioned for the best possible footage.
This playful video discusses the problem, while at the same time making you smile. Enjoy.
I was recently reading an article written by Tom Foremski at zdnet in which he discusses the misstep of corporations jumping into the world of social media with the intentions of social sales and nothing more.
His comparison comes from an individuals desire to use the social qualities of social media versus the corporate vantage point of commercial purposes. I particularly like the following quote,
"At parties, people will avoid that person that is selling something. Friends that invite their friends to tupperware parties, or multi-level marketing, are tolerated for a while, but not for long. Similarly, companies that use social media as sales media must understand there is a time and place for it, or they risk harming their brand."
His point is valid but is there more to take away other than “corporations use social media for social sales and that’s bad”? I believe there is.
In the realm of nonprofits there is a grey area to be found. A nonprofit exists because of a community that supports it. Therefore, it stands to reason that nonprofits should embrace social media and become a part of the community. We now stumble upon the fine line.
Be a part of the community, don’t take advantage of it. When a corporation finds a target demographic that has come together using social media their gut reaction is, “like shooting fish in a barrel.” But this backfires. Why? The answer is in the question. Why is a target demographic coming together? Have they come together to discuss how much they love fly fishing, for example? If so, this group would naturally attract companies selling camping equipment, but they don’t want to talk about camping, they are there to discuss fly fishing, any talk otherwise will only annoy them.
So if you want to reach out to new groups make sure they want to talk about what you are bringing to the conversation. Just because a group exists in the community where you have a volunteer garden, does not mean that reaching out to them will result in finding gardeners.
The point: Although social media offers hundreds of groups, communities, and avenues for sharing information, deny the temptation to interact with them all. Successful social media is having a strong community and this comes from similar interests, trust, and good content. Focus on what you are “putting out there” rather than how many times you are putting it out there.
Moral of the story: As a nonprofit use social media to share your story, show the world how you are making a difference. And in doing so, attract new donors and volunteers, just make sure they are joining the conversation; don’t try to sell camping equipment to fly fishers.
The Social Media Club defines their mission as connecting the worlds media makers to advance media literacy, promote industry standards, and encourage ethical behavior while sharing their lessons learned. Local chapters are located throughout the country but I am here to discuss the Chicago chapter which hosted a meeting with The British Council during their visit for the TN2020.
The British Council was present for the Annual Transatlantic Network 2020 Summit, otherwise known as TN2020. The theme of this years summit was “Using Technology to Create Social Change.” Speakers addressed the crowd on topics of online video, using twitter for fundraising, the future of social media, and “how to stop the Mexican Congress from doing just about anything by using twitter, in twelve easy steps.” (yes, that was an actual title haha)
The talks are a great collection of how social media is being used in a variety of ways around the world. Luckily for you, I was there with the camera in my pocket just in case; gotta love small, inexpensive camcorders.