Archive for July, 2006

Online Video Editors: What’s the deal?

July 26, 2006

Online video editing has really been the talk of the town lately.,, and are among a slew of new video hosting sites featuring online editing tools. They strive to make video editing accessible to the masses. At the moment, it appears these sites are mostly playgrounds for creating video ‘mashups’ or ‘remixes’. Video mashups are not unlike those Madonna mix tapes I used to churn out in the 80s.

In discussing the buzz these sites are generating, people have asked us if we’ve considered developing an online editor for Tropist. We have considered it, but we’re not going to and here’s why: asking a filmmaker to edit their work using an online editor is like asking a carpenter to build a house using a Fisher Price toolbox.

Online editing is a great idea and I think it will allows for some very interesting types of creative collaboration, but Tropist is a community of talented filmmakers who either already own the right tools or have access to them. We’re not focused on pushing the limits of web technology, but rather on providing a sensible framework to maximize exposure for talented individuals and allow people to connect in meaningful ways.



Getting in the groove. A little Ze goes a long way.

July 21, 2006

We’re hacking the site out and starting to make some progress, it’s not going to be fully functional for a while, but it’s nice to see that things are heading in the right direction. I am in the process of putting together documentation, a promotional timeline and getting ready to contact filmmakers.

We also have to keep on top of what’s ‘hot’ in the Internet video world, so it only makes sense to share some of the best and most innovative works I’ve come across. That brings me to Ze Frank, a genius maniac who has been putting together a daily video blog, called the show with zefrank. I’ve been watching it for 2 months or so. He shoots a show every weekday and puts it up on his website for all to enjoy. Personally, I can’t get through the day without Ze (I don’t know how I do it on weekends!). His ‘little’ show now has tens of thousand’s of viewers daily and he has begun to translate it into a living. Along the way he has also come up with some impressive projects harnessing the power of his viewers, such as, the Earth Sandwich, which speaks for itself, or Fabuloso Friday, a show written entirely by his viewers.

I highly suggest adding a little Ze to your day; you can see by the comments from his loyal viewers that it’s about all they live for. Actually, do yourself a favor and start at Day 1 in the archives, it’ll kill a few hours but it’ll be worth it.

This is Chris. Thinking so you don’t have to,


– I totally ripped that one from Ze!

Nod Your Head Advertising

July 18, 2006

We’ve made a few adjustments to the splash page to make it more clear as to what we’re all about here at Tropist. Let us know what you think. Input is always appreciated!

I’ve been reading The Tipping Point and now know how to start a social epidemic, the answer lies with a study that Mr. Gladwell explores describing viewers’ reactions to video while nodding their heads up-and-down. He says that when we’re nodding we think that things rock really hard, even when, in actuality, they might not rock as hard as we think they do. So advertisers love to have images of things moving up and down, like a bouncy ball, as it makes you happy.

The most watched commercial on youtube.

Don’t you feel good? I do. So in turn, we are going to load up on vigorously flashing images that move up and down so that you can feel just as happy as we did watching that Bravia commercial.

keep on nodding,


The Chicken or the Egg?

July 17, 2006

After some hard work and a lot of coffee, we have published our glorious splash page on the Internet. Assuming that net neutrality doesn’t suddenly disappear, we should have the same chance of success that everyone else does! It’s all so fair and balanced.

Courtesy of the Hype-Machine, we bring you the egg (we have decided that it came first).

Egg(Phase I)

Chris and Brendan

p.s. Don’t forget to check us out on myspace!

Just kidding we don’t have one and we don’t feel like being a part of Rupert Murdoch’s tyrannical empire.

Long Distance Swimming, Advertising

July 15, 2006

So Brendan finally made it out to the Vineyard. I went to pick him up at the boat, but as it turns out he swam instead. I realized this when there was no boat and because his suitcase was wrapped in plastic and attached to floaties. He said it wasn’t that cold, but I don’t believe him. The swim was 7 miles long … impressive.

As you can see, development is amping (see below).

Amping Up

Image blurred for security purposes.

This video made by Ok Go (in their backyard to practice their dancing!) is a great example of an amazing idea on a low-budget — so amazing that it has propelled them to Internet stardom. Granted, Ok Go was already popular (their single Get Over It received a ton of airplay), but this video has widened their audience enormously. Effective advertising on a budget; I love it.


The Next Distribution

July 14, 2006

Unflinching Triumph Poster

As we all know the major movie studios are struggling to keep people going to the theaters. These days most people are either willing to wait the 2 or 3 months it takes for a movie to come out on DVD, already happily downloading movies from P2P networks, or just too focused on American Idol to care about this summer’s blockbuster — probably the latter since voting on the next American Idol is evidently more important than voting for the president.

The way I see it, it’s only a matter of time before most people are downloading movies (legally), burning them onto DVDs, and watching them when and how they want. Movies that would never achieve wide-release by traditional means will still be able to show to an audience of millions.

Surprisingly, this has already started happening! I just came across this amazing movie (Unflinching Triumph: The Philip Rockhammer Story) that is only being distributed for online — and for free. You can download the whole movie and burn it onto a DVD or watch it with their online player.

Power to the people,


Building Hype – The Right Kind of Advertisment

July 14, 2006

Looks like we’ll have the splash page up in the next couple of days, I see it as Phase I of our hype-machine. I’m sure the response will be extraordinary. For those of you that haven’t experienced a hype-machine, Phase I is the beginning. Then as we progress the phases increase in Roman Numerals (i.e. Phase IV and eventually Phase DCLXIV (you get the idea)) soon the Hype-Machine is complete and then we have perpetual motion.

Hype-Machine Diagram

In other news, I continue to search for some of our first filmmakers and I have to report that things are picking up. I hope that we’ll be able to showcase some of their current work in the next few weeks or so. I should also admit that its been incredibly frustrating sifting through videos as most of the video hosting sites (youtube, triggerstreet, etc.) are both horribly designed and impossible to navigate. I guess that means we know what not to do!
A little more inspiration (which helps to prove my theory about the future of advertising see below):

Yes, youtube and I have a love-hate relationship.


Hunting for Skill, Found Inspiration

July 10, 2006

Things at Tropist are moving along at full force! I have been watching hundreds of videos and I’ve come across some talented artists. During my quest I’ve re-encountered some of the work that has driven and fueled my own hunger to make movies, work that has an impact in only a few minutes or even 30 seconds.

This brings me of course to one of my favorite directors, Michel Gondry. You may know him as the director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind but he honed his skills and made a name for himself as a director of commercials and music videos.

Here is one of my favorites from his short-form work:

Check out some more of my favorites here!

This is the direction in which advertising should be headed. Make work this good and people will watch it. Even if it happens to be an ad.


Hi Grandma

July 6, 2006

For whatever reason (probably because I’ve yet to tell my grandmother that I’ve quit my job) I was reminded of the conventional startup wisdom: your idea should be simple – something your grandmother can understand. And if grandma can understand the business idea, and it’s a good idea, shouldn’t she be able to recognize that and give me a high-five?

But really, this whole thing got me thinking about different people’s reactions to my “I’m starting a business” news. The first response is almost always positive: “Wow, that’s great! Good for you!” Sometimes the conversation ends there. My guess is these people were expecting a “Nothing much.” response to their casual “What’er you up to these days?” question and are just too lazy to pursue further discussion. At this point the conversation has become pretty uncomfortable and we both just wait silently until the elevator door opens or the burgers come off the grill.


But if the conversation gets past the congratulatory hey-you’re-not-in-a-cubicle-anymore, there’s the obvious question. “So what are you doing?”

“Well, let me tell you! We’re building an online community for aspiring filmmakers.” Here’s where things get interesting:

  • “Wait, what line is this community on?”
  • “Oh…”
  • “So you’re making a website? Is it on myspace?!”
  • “That’s really cool. [A relevant question regarding the business.]”

Thankfully, I’ve received an overwhelming number of responses similar to the last item in that list. But whenever I get the other responses it makes me think. I usually go on to explain the idea in more detail, but to no avail. Why aren’t these people excited about the idea? There could be a million reasons, but I can’t help myself from trying to figure out exactly what it is that’s stopping them from kissing me on the lips and proclaiming that I am indeed a golden god – or at least saying, “Hey, that’s not a bad idea.”

It’s easy enough to rationalize. Yeah, this person doesn’t understand the markets involved. This person isn’t in touch with what’s happening online. This person isn’t even close to our target audience. But given the facts, shouldn’t grandma be able to think for a moment and then exclaim, “What a brilliant idea! Sounds like a great fit for the market and good timing too. Now you boys just need to make sure you do this, this, and this and you’ll be all set.”

Well, we’ll see, I’m going to call her later this week and break the news.


Where’s the beef?

July 5, 2006

What makes a talented director? Is she the most viewed? The best rated by her peers?

What is the best way to sift through all of the content on the web to find those new producers who are truly talented?

Let’s put all the talent in the same place (!). Then the question becomes who is the best of the best, not who is the best among tom, dick and charlie (sic).

But first I have to look through the hooey for our first round of talented users, our “best of the best”. After a few grueling days on youtube, ifilm and all the rest I’ve nearly lost it. There is only so much ‘webjunk’ I can handle. The most viewed sections are filled with lip-syncing, people falling down and rants of one sort or another. They all have their place, but what I strive to find, are those truly original videos, where it’s clear that it was a filmmaker behind the lens and not an overly emotional tween.

But, I am not giving up! I have found some gems and I’m sure I’ll find many more. With some more time (and much more coffee) I hope to find a selection of the best to join the Tropist community.

If you know anyone who’s trying to ‘make it’ in the film industry, give them a leg up and let them know about our project. We should have the splash page up in a week or so with more info at and as always, feel free to send us an email at

Cow Herd