Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pumping up page hit stats by forcing viewers to repeatedly sign in hurts everybody in the long run.

One of the biggest problems the internet faces is most users want everything for free.

While this is not a problem for the user, it is a problem for the content providers. The problem is so bad that even questionable ads are allowed to run. One time I had to contact consumer affairs dot com and notify them that they were running an ad that required people to answer a survey and then receive a free product or service, but then at the end of the survey the reader is forced to click on a link before they can get the free advertised product or service.

The survey actually tried to rationalize this click or else instruction by politely explaining that it was only fair to at least visit the link since the link was responsible for the free product or service that was being offered. Unfortunately, the "click on the link or get nothing" disclosure was being made at the end of the survey, not the beginning, and that in my book makes it unethical.

Consumer affairs dot com apparently agreed with me since I the ad disappeared just a day or two after I contacted them. Just another example of a "free consumer watchdog consult" on my part.

Not only are advertisers anxious for a return on their advertising dollars, so are the websites that provide the ad space. There was a recent makeover on a sports site I regularly visit and I think it is causing deceptive and elevated unique viewer totals as a result.

Basically, the site requires me to exit and go to the main page every few hours and re enter my login information! In the course of a 24 hour time span, I might be required to re log in anywhere from 3-5 times!

This begs the question, Just ow is the website counting each of my re-enters?

It is my opinion that the website is either treating each of my visits as a new visit. However, just how valuable is an annoyed viewer? It annoyes me that I am required to re enter my ID info and password in such short time increments. Not only does the constant re-entering and logging in waste time, but then I have to go through at least 3 different internal page links to get back to where I was.

If the site is claiming 1.2 million visitors a month, but the reality is the number is actually 400,000 unique visitors a month who are before forced to log in every few hours, the website is actually devaluing the strength of their site to advertisers by over estimating users. If the site is actually getting 1.2 million visitors a month but several million more page hits because of all the additional pages the viewer must traverse to get back to where they were, then all of those views should not be considered quality views.

One way or another, forcing people to "go back and re enter through the front door" is creating false numbers somewhere in the data. The problem with pumping up hit totals is that it will dilute the number of quality hits or revenue that the ads generate. Statistical hit elevation is like the government printing up all the money they want even though the actual products and services that are available don't increase.

A smart advertiser that keeps track of all their advertising results may quickly notice that the sites that falsely elevate their hit numbers produce less quality leads per hit than other sites that are more accurate in their tallies.

Unfortunately, creatives who made internet ads could be have their reputation damaged by sites that claim more hits than reality because it makes the ad look like it is not getting an acceptable result.

The more pressure there is to deceive, the more we will all pay a greater price in the end.

If you are planning on creating or broadcasting a commercial and want an objective, outsiders point of view about your commercial, contact Alessandro Machi about his consulting services at...

info at alexlogic.com

You can also view more
commercial critiques
by Alessandro Machi at

Saturday, February 27, 2010

How the Internet unnecessarily sucks up bandwidth and wastes energy as a result.

The drive to offer more and more advertising products and services via the internet is incessant. However, the drive to increase bandwidth requirements quicky becomes a burden as page loading times increase for the average computer user.

I find it unfortunate that the basics from the 80's and 90's seem forgotten by so called I.T. experts. Internet ads are causing the world wide web to grind to a halt. This is to some degree avoidable.

One way to reduce internet bandwidth waste is to evaluate a web page's loading time on a computer that is a few years old. This concept has been around for a long time but seems forgotten nowadays. In other words, the very fast computer a web designer uses to create a page or an ad should not then become the computer that evaluates how the computer actually plays the ad on the internet!

Years ago cheap mono audio speakers were a part of many sound studios. The idea was to compare how well a mixed soundtrack could be heard onvery expensive sound studio speakers, and on a cheap cheap mono speaker as well.

If a sound mix could clearly be heard on both sets of speakers, the mix could be considered a technical success. I wonder if this tried and true analog way of trouble shooting is a forgotten art nowadays in the internet world.

I'm not just suggesting that audio be evaluated the old fashioned way, I am also referring to how many different computers does a web designer actually check their work on before they consider the work completed?

While it makes sense to create internet advertisements on the fastest computer available, it is nothing more than a slash and burn mindset if the end product is then not evaluated on an "average" computer that could be anywhere from two to five years in age.
I recently troubleshooted a problem I encountered on a well known website and then contacted the news station who put me in touch with their MT programmers, who agreed with my assessment. I noticed that an autoload feature which was loading photos onto a very small window within the web page itself (represented by the two windows on the right side of the image above), was causing the video I was trying to view on the bottom of that same page to freeze up. (the image of the gentleman, which is possibly off center because of the SD / HD aspect ratio differences.)

I correctly deduced that even though the photos were maybe double the size of a small thumbnail, hi resolution files with a memory killing appetite were being used to fill the thumbnail spaces. The obvious solution would be to create memory efficient JPG's instead of hi resolution files, especially if the image of the photos remains small. I relayed this information to the MT department and the tech department agreed with me. (I guess we can call that a free consultation on my part).

I credit the site with having the class to let me to speak to someone who in turn actually put me in touch with a human being, that in and of itself is a miracle these days and in my opinion is the most important aspect of this story.

I am being detailed in my explaination because if I don't point out my contributions towards solving problems, nobody else will.

Now, the million dollar question becomes, who pays whom to reduce each and every photo to a more efficient jpg size? No matter how streamlined the conversion from a high resolution file to a jpg is, it still takes time and labor to do the conversions. Jpg's are generally the last step in the digital still image editing process otherwise designers would have even more work to do trying to photoshop or color correct an overly compressed jpg file. Plus, anytime labor added value is applied to imagery, it is logical to do it to the biggest file version, then jpg afterwards.

Instead, it may be deemed an extra step in the budget chain to create jpg's because that effort will most likely go unnoticed and unappreciated. Unfortunately, each and every visitor to that website has to consume needless additional ram to view tiny thumbnail pictures, which just ties up internet bandwidth and can even interfere with the playing of video on the same site. All because high rez still image files needed to be converted to more efficient jpg's.

Since my call in middle of January, changes have been made. The boxes on the right no longer have the ram wasting hi rez photos automatically loading, and for the first time, I was able to play the video at the bottom of the image with no problems, which is why you can now see it in the image provided above!

If you are planning on creating or broadcasting a commercial and want an objective, outsiders point of view about your commercial, contact Alessandro Machi about his consulting services at...

info at alexlogic.com

You can also view more
commercial critiques
by Alessandro Machi at

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Happy Feb. 24 Birthday, Abe Vigoda! Betty White might be your ticket to a Saturday Night Live Gig.

I hope Abe Vigoda lives to be at least a hundred, and I hope he gets many more acting gigs. Happy Birthday Abe! Feb. 24th, who cares what year it was. Here is a previous story the Alex Logic Blog wrote about Abe and his snickers super bowl commercial appearance.



If you are planning on creating or broadcasting a commercial and want an objective, outsiders point of view about your commercial, contact Alessandro Machi about his consulting services at...

info at alexlogic.com

You can also view more
commercial critiques
by Alessandro Machi at

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Do it Yourself photo and video production software, learning the basics just got harder.

As I was watching the 2010 Winter Olympics on NBC, I saw a flurry (no pun intended) of commercials for coming soon movie releases. I was shocked to see that every promo had computer generated animated characters mixed in with the real ones.

In the past couple of years I've truly come to appreciate the reruns of the television show Seinfeld. The combination of everyday topics, biting but thematic dialogue with virtually no filler thrown in, and no special effects, has real staying power. The music riffs don't hurt either.

As I compared the power of Seinfeld re runs with new wave filmmaking technology that is ultra heavy on computer digital software "innovations", I began thinking of three classic but not that well known films from the 80's. The 80's seemed to have been a rest stop between the high drama, police pursuit, mafia maneuvering, sci fi 70's, and the buddy movies, action packed, sequel driven films of the 90's.

Three of my favorite 1980'ish films include Breaking Away, The Stuntman, and Diner, which came out in 1979, 1980, and 1982 respectively. While all three films could nowadays be labeled as "white bread" films because the casts were virtually 100% caucasian, the actual characters and plot lines of the movies can cross over and become enjoyable for any ethnicity to experience.

But more to the point, those three movies had NO digital effects of any kind. While the Stuntman had creative, by the book stunt effects mixed in throughout, all three films relied on people being people, having thoughts and ideas and thankfully acting out those thoughts and desires for us to experience.

It seems to me that the more we embrace digital technology in our own lives, the less we embrace the actual ground we stand on. As we become more aware of what our friends or acquaintances are doing via digital means, we seem to becoming less aware of where we actually are. Where we are has become less important than where we wish were digitally, and the films being made now seem to be reflecting that same sentiment.

Yet I wonder, as we learn to escape deeper within a digital existence, how come our movies don't counteract that by being less escapist? Aren't movies supposed to contradict our own existence? As our own existence is invaded by all things digital, why don't the movies become more like they were in 80's?

I feel like we are experiencing digital inbreeding, the more our lives become digital, the more we are force fed digitalized movies inbred with creatures we would probably never actually invite to the dinner table.

While movies are supposed to be "escapist" to a certain extent, I would suggest renting the movies Breaking Away, The Stuntman, and Diner, and reminding yourself how great plain movies can be. All I ask is if you rent these movies, please consider not being interrupted by cell phone calls unless they are related to the health and welfare of the person calling, and don't look at your watch thinking of what you will be doing 90 minutes later.

I hope that avatar type films become a partial part of the filmmaking landscape rather than the norm. I fear that Hollywood has been swept up trying to keep the higher paid digital effects companies employed and in keeping true to that employment paradigm are making movies that require gizmodial creature sweeteners to supplement basic story telling techniques.

How does this relate to "do it yourself photo and video production software?" Don't be fooled by digital technology that claims to make the art of creativity "easier" or all encompassing. At the heart of most worthwhile stories are stories worth telling.

If the do it yourself photo or video production technology you are learning consumes all of your energy just to master, you have been led astray by technology that is indeed to good to be true.

If you are planning on creating or broadcasting a commercial and want an objective, outsiders point of view about your commercial, contact Alessandro Machi about his consulting services at...

info at alexlogic.com

You can also view more
commercial critiques
by Alessandro Machi at

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Can you make a living in the world of film and video production and editing?

Nowadays, there are probably more opportunities than ever before in the world of film and video production and editing. However, there is probably more competition for those same jobs than ever before.

So what can you do if you want a career in film and video production, or editing? First, determine that you really like it and are passionate about it. Secondly, LIMIT YOUR INVESTMENTS in actual equipment.

Find a couple of affordable things to own that interest you, and learn how to use them inside and out. For instance, consider buying a decent quality wireless microphone and learn how to successfully integrate that wireless set up into as many types of media as you can find. This may make you wildly popular whenever some type of low budget shoot pops up. Align yourself with a sound rental house so you can instantly supplement your own audio gear with additional sound gear when necessary. Do all of this only if the world of sound intrigues you.

Once you buy a wireless microphone, you may discover an additional need for a portable audio signal adapter such as a beachtek that will change the impedance of your sound signal, so it records optimally onto the audio recording device being used to record the audio. But be careful you don't fall into the trap of buy buy buy.

In terms of cameras, DON'T purchase a video camera just yet. Look into a nice quality, but AFFORDABLE digital still camera. The prices are all over the map, you can spend as little as 150 dollars and get a decent digital still consumer camera with plenty of menu options, or you can spend into the thousands on a more professional set-up that may also record HD video.

I recommend starting small and mastering the consumer style of camera, as long as the camera has many many menu options for you to understand and master. I used to be a big fan of canon cameras but they really screwed over me and tens of thousands of other canon users when we upgraded our macs from panther and tiger to snow leopard, only to discover I could no longer use my canon software program to upload my photos. Its now been around five months in which I can no longer upload my canon photos onto my mac snow leopard platform via the canon software that I really liked.

I can go into a costco and buy the identical canon camera I already own, and it will state that I can use the camera with my Mac. This is now a lie. Costco, Apple, and Canon all know it, and none of them are doing enough to fix this situation in a timely manner.

And this brings me to why you should not buy too much gear. It's constantly being upgraded, changed, obsoleted, and so on. Find other people who have already bought gear and see if you can work with them. Every dollar you don't owe on a credit card is the equivalent of two dollars you won't owe as the debt multiplies at hideous interest rates in the future.

If you master the world of sound, you will be in demand. If you master how to use a digital still camera, you stand a decent chance of gaining a solid foundation of basic photographic principles.

And finally, if you actually use your low cost tools to create finished product, even if the finished product is only a minute or two long, you will be well on your way to being useful, and that is what will get you hired before others.

Now, can you actually make a living in the world of film and video production. Probably not at first, but over time possibly yes. However, be prepared that the farther up you rise, the more down time you may have to endure to make sure you are available for the right opportunities, and you may find yourself second guessing some career decisions along the way.

If you are planning on creating or broadcasting a commercial and want an objective, outsiders point of view about your commercial, contact Alessandro Machi about his consulting services at...

info at alexlogic.com

You can also view more
commercial critiques
by Alessandro Machi at

Monday, February 8, 2010

Abe Vigoda, the ideal Super bowl commercial spokesperson / actor for a country in search of change and hope.

In 1975, Barney Miller premiered on ABC television as a television sit com cop show. The cop show without action or violence but snappy dialogue had a very successful 8 year run on ABC. All the characters were memorable and perhaps Abe "Fish" Vigoda made the most lasting impression on me.

Abe played an elderly police detective named Fish who acted even older than he looked. Abe was 55 at the time his character named Fish looked like he was 70 going on 90. Barney Miller ended its successful ABC run around 1983. By the early 90's, I recall reading or hearing someone say that Abe was no longer alive. By the late 90's, anyone too lazy to look up on the internet what had become of Abe Vigoda might have assumed Abe Vigoda had most assuredly passed by then.

In the early 2000's, I recall reading a story, possibly in one of the tabloid newspapers that Abe Vigoda was actually still alive, and it surprised me. I think in the article Abe actually mentioned that many people genuinely were surprised that he was still alive as they just assumed he had passed on.
In the 2010 Super Bowl snickers commercial starring Betty White, an unheralded Abe Vigoda delivers a memorable closing line of..."That hurt"! In the local news coverage that I have seen so far, NOBODY has mentioned that it was Abe Vigoda!

The media reported on the "Betty White" super bowl snickers commercial as being one of the funniest from the 2010 Super Bowl but the media seems to have missed the significance of ABE VIGODA ON THE GROUND, IN THE MUD, ALIVE and delivering a very funny ending to a funny commercial.

How can Abe Vigoda not be a rediscovered star 20 years after people thought he was dead is beyond me. Abe could probably star in a series of commercials for all kinds of products, each product would start with the same tag line....
"Hi, I'm Abe Vigoda, people thought I was dead 20 years ago, but they were wrong. What do I owe my longevity to....?
...then insert product name here..., then come back to Abe Vigoda making some rueful comment about his agent encouraging him to play an aging detective on Barney Miller that basically prematurely ended his career after Barney Miller went off the air.


The combination of Abe Vigoda on the ground at the end of the Snickers commercial, and his "That hurts" comment lives up to the kind of consulting advice I would endeavor to bring to anyone who hires me as a commercials consultant.

Whomever came up with that ending can be credited with a master stroke ending that memorable commercials always end with, and I commend whomever it was that made it happen.

It would be worthy of a short youtube video on the making of that ending just to see how it came to be. Was it the editor who threw it in, did Abe Vigoda ad lib it? Was it a forgotten moment suddenly remembered? I would like to know. When a commercial ends on an up note, the entire commercial suddenly gets elevated in popularity, and the Betty White / Abe Vigoda commercial lives up to the challenge of being a memorable commercial specifically because of Abe's final "That hurt" comment.


If you are planning on creating or broadcasting a commercial and want an objective, outsiders point of view about your commercial, contact Alessandro Machi about his consulting services at...

info at alexlogic.com

You can also view more
commercial critiques
by Alessandro Machi at

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Bowl Consulting Services offered by Alex LOGIC.

Isn't it interesting that when we watch super bowl commercials, there will inevitably be some commercials that either just miss the mark, or, if they had just done something a little differently, would have become a classic.

Although the ability to improve a commercial has become intuitive for me, my mindset starts with the idea that any commercial I review is going to be good. I actually prefer to appreciate good work that needs no improving, (hence my appreciation of Seinfeld,) so I don't automatically assume a commercial needs fixing. I tend to watch commercials for what they were intended to be, a short story that if executed properly will be remembered later on in a favorable light.

I also believe for a commercial to be good, it has to be truthful.

If your commercial fell short in the super bowl this year, or you are going to make one for next year, it may be wise to hedge your bet by getting outside of the box feedback. I recognize nowadays that we have millions of people who would love to do this kind of work, or believe they can do this work. What I have going for myself is years of actual client interaction discussing, strategizing, then implementing their vision, reviewing the result as it developed, and then moving forward.

I spent over 15 years problem solving video editing clients projects and it turned out to be an incredibly unique and valuable experience.

You can view samples of commercials in which I share how I would have improved them by clicking here. Once again, improving a commercial does not mean it was bad to begin with, just that it could have been even better.

I also have a technical awareness involving color correction, the pacing of the editing, and soundtrack mix levels that also has come from being solely responsible for the release of video projects by my clients. A project is never really done until it is released for others to view, and I have received valuable feedback over this final step as well.

The thumbnails on the left and right side of this article are just a sampling of the work I have been involved in. I will keep adding on thumbnails and writing articles about each one.

No matter how competent your marketing team is, the team needs to work together, so nagging doubts have to be let go, even if the doubts are valid. However, if someone outside of your sphere notices the same issues, having a consultant view your commercial could become a valuable outside the box evaluation tool.

Companies that can afford to create an ad campaign for the super bowl and beyond already have a competent team in play. There are at least two distinct routes my consulting services can travel. If your marketing team "does not care what I think" at all, they still may be curious to see if I think they took their pre-existing plan and executed that message in the finished commercial. Rather than a consultant trying to reinvent your wheel, helping to determine if you at least executed your plan is critical.

The second reason is..."Did we miss something in our commercial that could suddenly make it memorable?". I have come up with ideas that I would have loved to have bounced off of a commercial's ad agency or marketing company, it is just a natural talent I have. Keep in mind that what I am saying is I am excellent collaborator. Collaboration means I am acknowledging your wealth of talent and vision and that I may be able to offer that one unique idea to enhance your commercial.

Where I supply that input becomes another thing to consider. If my input is applied after the commercial is edited, should that idea cause a reshoot, or not? Or, should a suggestion be implemented during the animatic stage of the commercial? Or what about when the idea is a storyboard only? That is your call to make, I'll be ready no matter at what step you want my consulting services.

If you are planning on creating or broadcasting a commercial and want an objective, outsiders point of view about your commercial, contact Alessandro Machi about his consulting services at...

info at alexlogic.com

You can also view more
commercial critiques
by Alessandro Machi at

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Yes, Alessandro Machi does consulting work.

If you need a regional emmy winner (who is honest enough to not drop the word "regional" when mentioning their award) and ideas person who doubles as a quality assurance person to bounce ideas off of regarding your concept, or help make your already good idea even better, I'm your man.

I have a super bowl consulting site you can check out if you want examples of what I think are good commericals, bad commercials, clever, and on down the line.

You can also check out the commercial solutions page to see some of my solutions to what I think were commercials that could have been more.

You can also check out the What I do for you page to learn more.

If you would like to inquire about my media consulting services, I'm in Sothern California (I don't do plane travel). Besides providing coverage for your commercials script idea or already completed commercial, you can also send me a beta cam sp tape of your raw footage if you want me to create an alternative version of your commercial. I generally won't alter the sound track since usually the soundtrack is solid, or solid enough as is.

Probably my best talent is making that final suggestion that makes your product that much better. If you happen to check out other articles on this site, you will some terrific examples of suggestions I have made for a far ranging series of television shows and commercials.

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The pressure for a production company or editing service to produce a media campaign that will actually play correctly over a huge spectrum of broadcasting choices sometimes can cause the actual content of the message to be compromised. Nowadays, simply getting ones project to play correctly over a broad spectrum of media venues can feel like a victory irrespective of whether or not the actual message delivers.

It was for this reason that I never bought into the latest and greatest editing technologies, I could not see compromising my ability to be creative being bogged down by technology standards that no longer adhere to any one set of technical guidlelines and standards.

I saw how much pressure there was just keeping up with all of these amazing new digital editing platform choices and formats, and I am also seeing technology advance so fast that it is either becoming a distraction to story content, message, and believability of the message, or the technology advancements are actually driving content.

I felt it better to take my 20 years of editing and production experiences and use them towards commercials consulting instead.

Many successful commericals will be about telling some kind of a story. When it is not just about the story, I believe it still needs to be about real humans creating real content. We are witnessing more and more high end, talented digital animators and content creators that must constantly be fed new work. I don't know where it will end. I do however believe that reality, with creativity mixed in, is better than the over reliance on special effects, most of the time.

I think that some special effects can make a good product better, but how does one know when the mix between a solid script and special effects is too far off? I believe I can tell when a media message has gone off target and I can help you get back on track.


If you are planning on creating or broadcasting a commercial and want an objective, outsiders point of view about your commercial, contact Alessandro Machi about his consulting services at...

info at alexlogic.com

You can also view more
commercial critiques
by Alessandro Machi at