Stolen Artwork & Being a Cat Thief

The Concert by Jan Vermeer

"The Concert" by Jan Vermeer

On St. Patrick’s Day 1990, The Gardner Museum in Boston was robbed. Jan Vermeer’s most famous piece (which isn’t saying much since he has only 35 oil paintings in existence–pfft) titled “The Concert” was lifted in the middle of the night. To date, this piece has not been found and there is a $5,000,000 bounty for the rescue of this famous piece of artwork.

Very few pieces of artwork of this caliber have been taken. Or have they?

For every great piece of work, there are imitators. Seeing opportunities for profit makes it easy for advertisers and broadcasters to hand-wring. For every “Care Bear” there’s a “Gummi Bear”. For every “E.T.”, there’s a “Mac & Me”. For every “Jaws”, there’s an “Orca”. Even “Six Million Dollar Man” had an episode based on A Christmas Carol.

We’re all creators of media, therefore are responsible for what we produce. As an editor, I always ask the same question for pieces of artwork: 1. Is this original work? 2. If it’s bought, then how is it licensed? The responsibility lies with all of us to insure that we are doing due diligence in terms of paying royalties and filling out paperwork to retain the rights.

Inversely, we should be protecting our original material. Logos, visual branding, sonic branding, specific colors, etc. all tie into who you are and how you should be protected. If you would like to safeguard certain pieces from infringement, it’s important to register and maintain trademarks and copyrights.

My personal amiga Mindi Giftos is an intellectual property attorney and she has many insights into this very topic. She advocates taking care of all intellectual property issues at teh outset of a project or branding endeavor. While it may seem like a hassle at the time, it is always easier (and cheaper) than trying to sort through ownership or infringement issues after potential problems arise. It is also valuable to get a handle on what is protectible intellectual property and what is not. Personally, I get a little geeked out about IP Law and how it applies to me and my clients. Since I’m probably the last technical clearing house, I should have a good education on some of the fundamental practicalities of IP. Some of her pieces are insightful and enlightening about this very topic.

That being said, what do I like to take away from great art? How do I steal great art? Creating a message that’s creative and speaks to us as consumers–it’s something that is built upon the shoulders of past work. Salvador Dali (back to art) once said, “Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.”

I’m guessing that if you’re reading this, you have done work with us or have worked for us. Therefore, you are part of the process to create the stories that help our clients. If you see something that inspires you, don’t be afraid to imitate it or become inspired by it. Share it with us. Make us take part in re-creating that feeling or look that could help us grow as artists. Is there a commercial or movie that you would like to share?

It may be simple or it may be complex. Sandy showed us a few days ago how “The Closer” (TNT) uses their opening graphics. It gives me a true visual how Sandy would like to use graphics in an upcoming piece. Having that evidence helps move the project along quicker. With the advent of online video, it has become easier to make this type of producing easier. Maybe too easy!

Finally, I just want to tell you that I understand that there are deep, legal issues embedded in the limits of Intellectual Property but let us grow creatively from the achievements of past work. It’s easy to do and this creates a very real representation of your vision to a project or campaign!

All Great Cat Thieves Wear Tight Black Outfits and Carry Goggles Just In Case.

All Great Cat Thieves Wear Tight Black Outfits and Carry Goggles Just In Case.

inspiration with a little perspiration

do i live under a rock?

the national women music festival was in madison a few weeks back.  i had no idea our sleepy mid-western town was such a hub for music… and unfortunately i didn’t hear about the festival until a couple of days beforehand, i already had plans so i couldn’t attend any of the workshops or daytime performances, but…  patrice pike was headlining the saturday nite show.  i heard of her a few years back &  i really wanted to see her live, but tickets were no longer available online – if any were left they’d be available at the door.  so that saturday nite we packed up our high hopes & headed over to catch the show.

there was so much “talent” to showcase they pushed patrice’s show back to 1130pm! good golly – it was late. the crowd of over 300 was thinning before she even came on (unlike me, many of the audience there had been there ALL day attending workshops – apparently they were tired).  the good news was – i could sit right up front and see the show up close.  the bad news – it’s after 1130pm, the crowd is thin now – and she’s headlining…. ugh. how will she have the energy to do a BIG show with 30 people left in the  audience?  i figured she’d just go thru the motions and call it a nite.

patrice and the boys came out – rocked

sandy kowal - rocking the video world.

sandy kowal - rocking the video world.

the house! the best part –  it felt like a private concert just for me.  they had great energy, played spot on – it was awesome.  she was so great – was nice enough to hang out afterwords and chat.  it was a really late nite, but totally worth it to see her play at that level live – and she was gracious enough to hang out and talk after the show…

i asked her how she had the energy to put a show at that high level with such a SMALL audience. she confessed at first she was dissappointed to see the small audience, but after talking back stage to one of the interpretors, decided it just didn’t matter… we were there to see her and she was going to give us everything she had. wow. very professional. very personal. very inspiring.

i went home and began reflecting on my conversation with patrice .  it reminded me of  my attitude when i “perform“.  we all have clients with less than glamorous projects – small budgets, small audience or something else that could be discouraging to a perfect video production performance.  it dawned on me;  its all in how we approach those challenges… always giving it our all to make something to be proud of – fun to work on, deliver the message and tell a story.

so that intimate concert experience on that saturday nite in july helped to remind me that we all have the option to either phone it in or bring it.

i choose to bring it…. everytime, every project.

How do people discover video online?

Blogs are actually one of the most popular ways to discover video on the web.  In fact, a recent study by TubeMogul found that 44% of all online video is viewed after initially being discovered through a blog.  The study also found that 45% of video views are the result of a direct navigation to a video site (i.e. going to YouTube and running a search or clicking around the featured or related videos).  So really, unless someone is specifically looking for your particular video, or a specific video category, then one of the best ways to get exposure for your video is to get coverage in the blogosphere.

A video interview with David Burch from TubeMogul further explains the results of the study (Hey I just provided a link to online video in my own blog.  How ’bout that!!!).

But basically, the study shows that blogs are the biggest referrer of on-line video views.  So if I include a link in this blog to our recent video of the baby falcons nesting in the Madison Gas & Electric generating station then more people are likely to see that video.

Or if I blog about the video we produced for the innovative FlameDisk product as an alternative to traditional charcoal then that video should also get more exposure.

Come to think of it, if I blog about the video we created for Thrive that promotes the incredible regional advantages making the Greater Madison area a great location for business and pleasure, then the video should be seen by more people.

Then again, maybe I should blog about the public service announcement we created to help educate the public about the new simplified method of compression-only CPR so more people can learn about this new procedure.

Hmmm… Maybe there’s something too this blog thing.  Hopefully, it will catch on someday.

Please Help Me, I’m Falling…

“Hello, my name is Dan and it’s been 34 days since I last posted on Facebook.” A monotone chorus replies, “Hi, Dan. Welcome to Face-Anon…”

A couple months ago, when I first started using Facebook, I had visions of the above scene playing out in my future. I blogged about how I was joining the Social Media generation. I was evolving. Social Media was intoxicating, somewhat addictive, and even fun. I had visions of myself sitting at my desk with bags under my eyes and the blue glow of my Facebook Wall warming my cheeks. It lasted about 98 hours.

Sadly, I have fallen off the Facebook wagon. I know I should enjoy it. It’s a great tool for communication. But, so is the telephone. Remember that? My point is, like any form of communication, Facebook, Twitter. LinkedIn, and the likes take time. In those 98 hours that I was addicted, it felt like I was spending more time than I should doing social media. So, here at Tweedee, we’ve become a user of Shoutlet to help maximize our social media time. Think of it as a conference call. No making 15 calls with the same information over and over again. Shoutlet allows us to hit all the social media sites we want  “in one fell swoop.” (Bet you haven’t heard that phrase in a while.) It works for the written word, video and audio. One time suck solved. Plus, a new tool to offer our clients.

Now, do you know of a 10 Step Program for coming up with good things to talk about on Facebook?

Dan ponders social media

Dan ponders social media