Tag Archives: joesummerhays

Highlights from Our Animation Festival

Here’s a re-post of the clips from our Animation Festival in New York last night. As per many of you requested, her’s the 16 world premieres and standing room only fest in NY! We could have run the city for days on their energy. You had to be there, but this is the next best thing. I am very proud. Another 200 kids are now film makers, stars, and distributors!

French Powerpointers Vs. American Powerpointers

I’m going to post on a visual topic without using visuals. Not good. But this is an anecdote from a dinner conversation I thought would be worth noting.

A friend who teaches entrepreneurship for a major university in New York City relayed the curious incident which follows. When he found out my passion is visual literacy for young people,  he was quick to point out his gladness that someone was teaching American kids to communicate visually, then gave his reasons why.

He teaches his entrepreneurship class to mostly French speaking students. Why this is I’m not sure. He notes the stark contrast in visual styles between the French powerpoint presentations, and the US student presentations.

When US students in the class fire up powerpoint, he says, it is the usual bullet-driven, too-small-font-laiden, no-design-beyond-templates visual drivel.

The French students, by contrast, rarely use powerpoint for their presentations. They use interactive-flash, quicktime wired, animation suffused, movie clip peppered, flip video staccato cut “experiences”. (his words)

This is how they (French students) come in from the start. This is the way they’ve been taught to communicate persuasively. I indicated they have been taught visual communication skills as part of their primary and secondary schools in Western Europe. By some estimates, they are 10 years ahead of the US in this respect. Additionally, they are having fun communicating. They feel the need to entertain as they inform.

The US students are trying to catch up.

Ever try to play catch up to someone in college when they have been perfecting their skills since 4th grade?

Seems the US is still not churning out the globally competitive communicators from our high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools. A/V is still a nice extra, but not a core literacy competency.

Too bad. We need more global competitiveness these days, not less.

Attention Spans for Online Video Decrease as Minutes Tick By

This interesting chart from one of our favorite sites, tubemogul.com, shows how we tend to hang in there when watching internet video. Tubemogul measured 23 million streams on six top online video sites over two weeks.

To see something through to the end, at least online, most of us peel our peepers for only about one minute. Remember, though, this doesn’t hold for everybody. If your viewers hang in there for a  full five minutes, they may be your loyal followers. These are the ones you pay attention to most, because they honor you with the most priceless resource a viewer can give you, attention.

Though some of you think this chart is a tragic reflection of a global attention-span deficit, know that I don’t choose to share your dismay. Remember last year, Wagner’s opera THE RING sold out in every venue which performs the 17 hour production. Much of the audience was under 30. So attention was paid by viewers for eons and eras in Youtube time, by the same crowd who’d only give you a minute online.

If you make something for your online channel, this chart sings volumes.


Ding! Killing Tasks with an Egg-Timer Hat.

Here’s my addition to getting things done. Tedious, odious, omnivorous tasks which require extra gobs of stick-to-it-ive-ness. If you are facing a day of digital drudgery (organizing files before a back-up, proofing long copy, tax receipt entry, etc.) try my “egg timer hat” solution.

What you’ll need…

Materials: Duct tape, a sixty second egg timer, and a cap of some sort.

A Prediction

Some kind of reward/treat/incentive

What to do…

Duct tape the timer to the top of your hat. Ideally you shouldn’t be able to see the timer at all. Ball caps work best. They are sturdy and have a blinder above your eyes in the form of the bill. You may want to curl the outer edges of the bill to the side, thus creating side blinder-like visual barriers. This helps focus.

See below

Then, take a good look at your task. Whether it is vacuuming, email sorting, roto-rootering, or tedious SEOing you need to make a time-based prediction as to how long this task will take. It can not be over an hour. I rarely do anything over 55 minutes. Make the best estimate. Stretch your will. Guess the fastest possible time you can imaging getting this task accomplished. Hint: Have some fun with the predictions; guess 47 minutes instead of 50 or 33 instead of 30. Really challenge your precision. No peeking at mirrors, you’ll spoil the fun.

(if the task is way over an hour, break it up into small pieces)

Finally, dangle a carrot. What small reward will you give yourself? What fishy-flavor does the seal get today? What kibble does Fido fight for most? I know this is dangerous, but have some fun. Use food, spa pedicures, an hour of favored TV programming, a bath, a round of TIger Woods Golf on the Wii. Whatever. But it too, cannot take more than an hour.

Don the hat, wind the timer, and GO!

Let the tick-tick-ticking of the timer, and the suspense of not knowing if you are going to finish your task before the buzzer goes off, drive you through to your external reward

When external entities, i.e. girlfriends, boyfriends, spouse, UPS delivery person, mother-in-law, etc. appear, they are to be treated as non-existent. You are in the egg-hat zone. You are invisible. You are on another plane of reality. Looking up, or acknowledging another non-related task/person, is the equivalent to Christipher Reeves looking at the 1979 penny in Somewhere In Time. All chances of completion will spin down the swirling vortex of doom.

Try it. But don’t do it any more than four times per day. Diminishing returns set in.

Case Study #24 – Plowing through the money, one calendar at a time.

Plowing through life in the country…one calf nut at a time. Hilarious!
That is the banner text from Confessions of a Pioneer Woman. You’ll have to read it to get the inside story. Channeling her life through a blog about life in the country, Ree tells about being a city girl making her way through ranching life in Montana. Her voice is authentic. Her writing is crisp and wry. Her fans are devoted. This includes my wife.

She sells a calendar of her favorite photos of the year to her raving audience. This year she donated one dollar of each calendar to the Special Olympics. Her dontation was about 4,300.00. Her calendar sold for 15.00. Do the math. You’ve never heard of Ree? Enough people have to keep her family in fine cow-pie kickin’ boots for some time.

No fancy website, no marketing outside her blog. No gift conventions. No sales reps. Just authentic storytelling to an audience who’s following blog. Her visual voice is singular, straightforward, and satisfying.

7 Billion Channels Case Study #21

Here is a young woman who gets it. The reporter in the video does not dig into what it took to get 250,000 viewers to her MySpace page, but focuses instead on the outcome, her millions…which is fine. In fact, many internet marketers would do fine to work with 1 percent of her audience. If you can generate a web fan base of 2,500 dedicatedly loyal viewers, Google will still pay the bills. If it is a podcast, advertisers will pay you handsomely if you have highly qualified visitors. One Irish Podcaster recently noted his podcast attracted advertisers even though he only had 200 subscribers. Why? Because he could demonstrate that marketing executives made up the bulk of his listenership. If haven’t been able to find the transcript but the link is here.

7 Billion Channels Case Study #18 – Internet Natives are Born Entrepreneurs

Here is a fine example of a youngster with their own channel. Great part about this is that the reporter refers to the successful youngster as a digital native. Some time ago the NYTimes did a feature on a young woman bringing in six figures from her webstore while in college. The interviewer asked how she was going to keep up with her college studies with all the time her internet exploits consumed.


Here’s a better question. What profession will a college degree offer you which will give you more satisfaction than doing what you love online and making more money than most attorneys?

Or how about.. Are you going to pay for your degree with Paypal?

This is a classic digital native vs. digital immigrant assumption. While entrepreneurs are getting younger and younger, the oldsters who grew up in the go-to-college-get-a-degree-work80hourweeks-retire age, still ask questions based on their world view when confronted with the unimaginable fact that a person decades their junior is making more than their salary doing business online. I know it makes me question my success assumptions everyday.