Tag Archives: Casey-McKinnon

The vlogolution will not be televised

As promised, my first opinion/analysis piece appears in today’s business section as part of the new Business Observer weekly page, which includes other pieces from academics and a small glossary of bizl33t from Roberto Rocha.

The crux of the argument is this: YouTube wonders and other amateur producers are being exploited by big media companies who want to reduce costs. Instead of being offered a freelance fee for their work, they’re offered give-us-all-your-rights contracts and no monetary compensation in exchange for the opportunity to have one’s video put on TV.

Some of you might remember a column from Casey McKinnon in the Guardian last year that was along similar lines, and my article is a blatant rip-off an homage and expansion of that idea. I talked to her and to Dominic Arpin, who hosted TVA’s Vlog show during its brief run in the fall. Vlog, as a news show, relied on fair dealing provisions to side-step copyright. They didn’t ask permission before screening 30-second clips of popular videos online.

Though the article focuses on video, the situation is analogous for audio and text. Media organizations seek “user-generated content” because it’s free. That’s fine for letters to the editor and small comments attached to articles, but what about photos and stories? The line between freelancers and free content is blurring.

Casey’s advice is useful for all independent content producers:

Start thinking like businesspeople and stand up for their rights. Demand fair contracts and proper compensation, and ignore fast-talking TV executives when they say “you don’t need a lawyer.”

If you have any comments about this issue, you can of course add them here (I won’t pay you either, suckers). The Gazette is also soliciting responses to the idea: send them to businessobserver (at) thegazette.canwest.com

(I’ll refrain from pointing out the irony of big media soliciting free content on an article denouncing big media’s exploitation of free content. But at least here you’re doing so willingly.)

UPDATE: Digg it?

Newspapers’ online video ventures are still lacking

The Globe has a video by Anastasia Tubanos about couples who do video podcasting. Of course, no such list would be complete without Rudy and Casey of Galacticast, who are interviewed in it.

The video is somewhat typical of the state of newspaper-produced video. Since they have no clue what they’re doing, and don’t want to spend any money building a web media infrastructure, they leave everything to the individual producer, from the credits to the music selection. Videos range in quality from atrocious cellphone-quality badly-framed talking heads to semi-professional packages with unnecessarily-long credits.

The quality of content, of course, is always more important than presentation. So I can forgive the tinny audio or inconsistent lighting, especially when producers don’t have sound or lighting technicians. But I can’t shake the feeling that this is all just a gimmick to them, that the newspapers are feeling around in the dark and hoping they can get by without knowing what they’re doing. And independent producers, without formal training or direction from editors and managers, are doing the same.

Cheap content

Montreal web-media darling Casey McKinnon has an opinion in the Guardian (yeah, that Guardian) about mainstream media trying to screw over independent web producers. With all sorts of TV shows popping up that are basically just collections of popular YouTube videos, it’s rather a propos.

Of course, it’s not just web video producers that are being screwed over. Newspapers are screwing freelancers and bloggers, new media is screwing over other new media, and all media are hopping on this “crowdsourcing” bandwagon, trying to save money by getting other people to work for them for free. Then they slap their own copyright notice on it as a crystal clear “fuck you” to the community that helps build them.

That won’t change until everyone starts seriously demanding more than just seeing their creation on television.

West Island isn’t immune from British tabloidery

With news that West Islander Autumn Kelly is going to marry a member of the British Royal Family, the tabloids are all trying to get information about her roots here. Even local blogger Kristian Gravenor is on the case, offering money for photos (and handing out flyers all over Pointe-Claire — an act I tried to explain to him might get him on some enemies lists).

Casey McKinnon, who went to school with Kelly at St. Thomas High, isn’t game. She’s steadfastly refusing to cooperate with the many requests she’s gotten for information.

If your morals aren’t so fortitudonfortitifortati… strong, and you went to St. John Fisher in the 80s, St. Thomas in the early 90s and McGill before 2002, you might be able to score some nice moolah invading some girl’s privacy.

I stand by my choice

Montreal bloggers have some odd choices for fantasy vacations. (Marge Simpson? Really?)

Gimme some of this and some of that. Or maybe merge them somehow?

Speaking of YULblog, it seems Happy hates me. Why? Everyone loves me, especially dogs. Now you might argue (as Christelle did) that Happy has never met me before, and that it was in a bar packed with people and loud noises late at night. But I think it’s because Happy is a stupid, mean dog. She doesn’t even read this blog!

Scoble has (some) scruples (UPDATED: Is Scoble noble?)

Casey McKinnon, my future wife the co-host of Galacticast (which promises to have a new show some time in the next eon) is speaking out about being burned by PodTech.

It’s a good lesson for techy startup companies who think that because they’re cool they don’t have to treat people with the same professionalism that other companies do.

Ripping off a photographer is a prime example. I’ve heard countless stories of small magazines asking for people to provide high-quality content free in exchange for only the “publicity” they would get from having their name beside it, and perhaps one day getting a few dollars.

Not having enough money to properly get your startup off the ground is one thing. But PodTech isn’t poor, it’s just lazy.

UPDATE: Credit where it’s due. Scoble has responded both here and on Casey’s post. It doesn’t negate the criticisms, but it mitigates them somewhat. Hopefully PodTech’s act will improve as a result.

Those kids and their video cameras

Casey McKinnon and Rudy Jahchan, the couple behind the geek-comedy web show Galacticast, have started up a new venture with their company 8-bit Brownies called A Comicbook Orange (sigh). As you might guess, it is a weekly comic-book review series. Its first episode gives you an idea of what it’s going to be like: a mix of B-roll and voice-over that unfortunately looks and sounds like just about every other TV review show out there, mixed in with the fun cheesy-FX sci-fi comedy that have made them the most famous Montreal-based sci-fi sketch comedy web video show in the world.

I met Rudy and Casey for Galacticast’s 1-year anniversary a couple of weeks ago, where they promised a “big announcement” coming soon. I thought NBC picked them up for a short summer run, but I guess this’ll have to do.

While I was at their exclusive VIP party (oh yeah baby, I’ve got it made!), I had a chat with Mommy McKinnon, and after some small-talk about the weather (Casey, why did you leave me in your living room with your mother?), I asked her the only question that came to mind: What does she think of her daughter going all crazy with the Internet stuff instead of, you know, making money?

“She’ll always be my baby,” Mom said. (Awwww…) Though Mom, as a non-sci-fi fan, doesn’t get 90% of Galacticast’s jokes, she watches it every week and fully supports Casey’s endeavour. Which is good, because if I threw away a good job to do this for a living, my mother would think I’m nuts.

Speaking of Galacticast, they’ve upgraded their equipment. A new wireless clip-on microphone will hopefully solve the dreadful echo that has been distracting from the quality of the show a bit, and they’ve hooked themselves up with an HD camera (like the one that filmed this episode).

The show itself has come a long way since I interviewed them back in December, and even longer since the show began. The scripts are tighter, the special effects are less cheesy and the production is more professional (though, without any crew whatsoever, it’s pretty impressive that they manage to do anything on a weekly basis). And when you’re taking on things like LOST, the Muppets, Star Trek’s mirror universe and Super Mario Bros., how could it be the coolest thing in the world?


Xolo.tv (yeah, I never heard of them either — I guess I’m not cool — Martin Lessard is though) recently came to Montreal and have a video podcast up. It features video of the Biodome (it goes on for a while, so you’ll find yourself skipping ahead a bit) and an interview with Casey and Rudy from Galacticast, who are fast becominng the go-to people for vlogging in Montreal (all because of me, I think). The Galacticast interview might have been better with less noise in their apartment/studio, but at least there’s footage of Casey McKinnon’s infectuous laugh.

If a babe does air guitar and there’s no sound…

It’s voting time for the Vlog Deathmatch air guitaress challenge, a hilarious competition between some female video-bloggers, including Montreal’s Casey McKinnon of Galacticast (her entry). According to the official rules, the contestants have to perform 30-60 seconds of silent air guitar with no edits or cuts. That makes for some strange-looking videos, reminding us that air guitar without music just looks weird.

Speaking of Galacticast, who can now count Kevin Smith as a fan, there’s video online of them being interviewed on Global’s This Morning Live by resident interviewerbabe Gelareh Darabi. I still think my interview with them was better.

Meanwhile, their latest episode is a funny mashup of Super Mario Bros. and the Sopranos. Watch it.