« December 2006 | Main | February 2007 »

Fine Vlog-Dining

Chuck and Lorika are back on the restaurant review trail, starting with Chambers Kitchen. This is, hands-down, one of the best meals we've ever had. (Auriga, sadly closing this week, holds second place.)

Please note, this was done with my old camera which was sucky in low light conditions. From now on, these things will look pretty decent. My new camera rocks. Check out my latest MSP video featuring Queer Eye for the Straight Guy's Carson Kressley.

January 26, 2007 at 10:03 AM in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (5)

Pimpin' for H&R Block

Check it out! It's my "seed video" for H&R Block's Me and My Super Sweet Refund Video Contest. I rather like it, and I did the music with Ableton Live. It was snowing so I used my old Sony 1-chip camera and made it black&white, Chasing Windmills-style. Speaking of -- thanks to Juan Antonio for hooking me up with this.

Lorika came up with the "Pay it forward" concept. Then I thought it would be cool to tape $100 bills in public places. I think we both envisioned a more touchy-feely video about giving the money away, but naturally it ended up being silly.

Watch more of these videos from your favorite vlog artists here. Josh Leo is featured right on the YouTube home page — wowoweewa — viewed 361,365 times so far. Go Josh.

January 22, 2007 at 03:33 PM in Videoblogging | Permalink | Comments (4)

LA Times on Rocketboom

Rocketboom in progress
Rocketboom production snapshot, Jan. 2005. See also, Rocketboom behind-the-scenes video circa Jan. 2006

The long-awaited LA Times article on Rocketboom's divorce of mid-2006:

Andrew says the article isn't what he'd hoped, but for the first time in quite awhile, wishes Amanda well. I'm mentioned in the article, but my name is "intermediary." Please, blog units, refer to me as "intermediary" henceforth.

Rocketboom has changed my life in so many ways. All for the better, except the very dark July 4 weekend where I tried to mediate between Andrew and Amanda. I think all parties are happier now, and I've continued to have a great relationship with both Andrew and Amanda - something I didn't think possible. Here's hoping for a great 2007. Vlog love, over and out.

January 21, 2007 at 09:39 PM in Videoblogging | Permalink | Comments (3)

Four-Eyed Honeys

Hello friends, and welcome wanderers from the Typepad home page. I'm all excited because I recently sold my little Sony high-def camera (it served me well, but not enough) and got a fancypants new camera. What's so amazing and addictive about this fine machine is it can record in film-like 24P. Normal video gives you about 30 interlaced images per second, which looks like... video. Film is slower, only giving you 24 images per second, and each frame is a full photographic image. That's what this camera does. It's a little dreamier. Mmm, dreamy.

Here's a silly little video I made with Lorika right after getting the camera. Now, to the common layperson, this will surely look like a sneak peak from the latest Steven Spielberg or Terrence Malick masterpiece. Not just for the masterful lighting, but the subtle-yet-complex camera movements that subconsciously tug at your soul. This clip will haunt you for days, maybe weeks to come. (Actually it kinda sucks, but I shot some really killer stuff tonight. Showing up on a web site near you very soon!)

January 21, 2007 at 12:00 AM in Videoblogging | Permalink | Comments (13)

Fearless, Viral, Spiral

Here in the Twin Cities we have a regular event called Fearless Filmmakers. The next event's theme: "The Viral Market".

The invited filmmakers have an interesting variety of backgrounds. Some of them are from agencies or productions companies, the others are indie filmmakers. Ryan Wood surely has the most bona-fide viral hit in the group, with his multi-million-viewed short film Fear of Girls. Fear of Girls 2 is going to premiere at the screening - sweet!

I dearly love my friend Melody Gilbert, but her MySpace page for Urban Exporers has a very small (but I'm sure devoted) audience. Likewise, her Best Buy "webisodes" on YouTube have been viewed around 400-500 times each. The virus has not proved contagious there. I think the most baffling inclusion may be Julie Rappaport, whose Smokin' Yogi Films (or "platform") has produced a project called Abnormally Normal. Regardless of the content or merits of the project, I just don't understand how or why this is "viral."

Putting a video on a web site, creating a MySpace page, or calling something a "webisode" does not make it viral. Not in my book, anyway. What does? I think of viral as simply word-of-mouth at Internet speed. You see something, and think "I've gotta forward this to my friends." Immediate gratification. I don't think it requires any certain type of content, but it tends to be the Q-word: Quirky.

Napoleon Dynamite could be called viral, in a way. Subservient Chicken is probably one of my favorite viral experience.

But hey - I ain't gonna hate on these fine folks. I'm glad this showcase has come together and I plan to be there if I can. I thought this was an entirely curated selection, but apparently anyone could apply for some open slots. So, more power to anyone dipping their feet in these waters. My feet are all soggy and wrinkley, and that makes me cranky and spitty.

January 17, 2007 at 04:56 PM in Film, Local | Permalink | Comments (9)

ABC News: "YouTube election"

Getting Beyond "Gotcha!"
Online Political Video Ramps Up for 2008

It's a fine, lengthy article by Northfield, MN-native Steve Grove. I've got two paragraphs in this article... twice as many as the Washington Post article! There are two little errors though, see if you can spot them:

Chuck Olson, a Minneapolis-based video blogger for Rocketboom.com, was one of those whom Edwards paid to come along on the tour. Olson got to hang out on the campaign plane, chat with Edwards, and even drink wine with the campaign staff after a town hall meeting in Iowa. He kept his camera rolling, and posted a dispatch on his Web site, MinnesotaStories.com

"I know I'm being used," says Olson, who openly questions whether he could have provided an unbiased perspective of the campaign. But he realizes the power of online video to hold candidates like Edwards accountable. "Candidates have to always be 'on,'" Olson says. "If they screw up, suddenly a lot of people will see it."

I know it's petty. (1) My last name is spelled Olsen, but people almost always insist on spelling it Olson. (2) Minnesota Stories is at mnstories.com, not MinnesotaStories.com (which apparently is/was a downloadable short book.)

I should also clarify my lack of original thoughts. "I know I'm being used" is something I said quoting Robert Scoble. It's an accurate quote because I said I agreed with that assessment, but those words are really his. I'm just borrowing them.

The idea is: Of course we know they're tapping certain people (especially Scoble) to bring Internet cred to the campaign, and to show they're transparent. "Being used" is a crass way of putting it. Really, I think it means the campaign is smart and has hired the best Net-savvy people around to help Edwards engage with online audiences.

Thank you, and good night. See you in the ice shanties.



January 13, 2007 at 01:23 AM in Current Affairs, Videoblogging | Permalink | Comments (0)

I'm registered!


Every year I hem and haw. Should I go to South By Southwest? Last year I was a panelist, so the decision was made for me. I started off on the wrong foot (strep throat!) but had a blast once I got better. I also went to Apple Computer with Rocketboom, and was caught up in the utter insanity of RB's first video ad. Oh man, what a ride.

I didn't propose a panel on time this year, so I'm just a free agent. But I can't pass up the chance to hang with Steve Garfield and Zadi and Casey and the usual lovely suspects. Oh! Here's something odd: None other than Odin Soli is on the list of speakers. You know, Plain Layne, the most notorious fictional blogger of all time (I'd say). Here's a few pics of my interview with Odin for Blogumentary.

If you're going to SXSW, see you there!

January 12, 2007 at 07:23 PM in SXSW 2007 | Permalink | Comments (15)



I simply can't believe it. This is the biggest Apple "Holy Shit!" day in recent memory. AppleTV and iPhone, I need you bad. Also, I need a big new TV. Somebody better pay me a lot of money for some video, quick! I'm ready to sellout now, is anybody listening?

BUT... As revolutionary and exciting as the iPhone is – Mac OS on a phone! – I may holdout for the Nokia N95. It has a 5 megapixel camera, takes quality video, and has GPS.

January 9, 2007 at 02:22 PM in Apple-tastic, Sexy Stuff, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (7)

My current obsession


The Canon A1. Mmmm. Lots of great footage posted here.

Lori makes fun of me for how I can't seem to keep a camera for longer than 6 months. My Sony HC1 has served me well, and is the high-end vloggercam of choice for Rocketboom and lots of people. However, a lot of work I'm doing would be better served by a more professional, heavy-duty camera with lots of manual control. And, I think I've found it in the A1. *swoon*

January 9, 2007 at 06:06 AM in Videoblogging | Permalink | Comments (8)

Howard Kurtz on Edwards

Washington Post: A Candidate's Not-So-Candid Camera?

Howard Kurtz has a good article on the role of bloggers and new media in the Edwards campaign:

Chuck Olsen, a Minnesota freelancer paid for his work by Rocketboom and the campaign, writes on his blog: "For what it's worth I'm convinced Edwards is a passionate, smart, authentic person who would make a great president."Picture_6_1

That's true. But at least one person has called me a "paid shill," which made me giggle. Better a paid shill than just a shill, I suppose. That critic has a good point: Can you believe what I say if I'm getting paid? Can you trust bloggers who get free rides on a private jet? I think you can, if you already trusted the blogger, and take their work in the proper context. That context is not "objective journalism." It's simply access + perspective.

In my film Blogumentary, I show how I was the first blogger granted a press pass at the Minnesota Democratic convention. I gained access to a small press conference with none other than Sen. John Edwards. Great! However, I was intimidated and couldn't think of any good questions in those few fast minutes. I gained access, but didn't make the most of it.

In spite of all the hype around us so-called citizen journalists, the truth is it's easy for us to get swept up in our own access without necessarily providing real substance or critique. Real journalists do ask hard-hitting questions. We can too, of course, but we're still getting our feet wet. Once we have access, I think the best thing we offer is our own perspective. When John Edwards is making a speech in front of every major news company, what good are we duplicating that experience? None. So we talk to the staff, talk to each other, talk to people in the crowd. We document the spectacle of media coverage, the gears and cogs in a vast media machine. We wander down the block and find a church group stripping a moldy house down to the studs. "Don't forget about us when the cameras are gone," they say.

We tape ourselves drinking whiskey, eating Chinese food and watching Clerks II.

Is that valuable? Is that interesting? Yes! At least to a few of you. Nevertheless, I think we need to get beyond that, and find a role that makes the most of our newfound access without duplicating mainstream media.

USA Today's Chuck Raasch criticizes lack of financial disclosure
More disclosure discussion including Andrew Baron's take

January 8, 2007 at 05:12 PM in Current Affairs, Media, Videoblogging | Permalink | Comments (2)