Friday, July 19, 2013

Tout for videos: Rated B-

So everyone's really into Tout. At first, I thought it was the same exact thing as Instagram, minus the reputation and followers, but the more I play with it, the more it grows on me.

I'm still not fully sold. Hence, I rate it a B-. Here's why. Plus some tips on making it work for you.

WHAT IT DOES: 


Captures short video clips on your iPhone and uploads them to Tout.com. Easy to learn. Offers stop coverage: shoot, pause, shoot, pause, up to 45 seconds for upgraded version; 15 seconds for regular. (I rarely recommend shooting the full 45 seconds, for attention-span reasons).

USE IT FOR: 


I think you can find a Tout opportunity for almost every story, whether it's the subject (or reporter) giving a short teaser for an upcoming story, a daily weather story, a peek into a scene you're writing about or just a video equivalent of a stand-alone glimpse at the community.

Examples:
Stand-alone: What Boulder does on a hot summer day
Addition to story: Chain-link fence "fabric-bombing" project at historical house



WHAT MAKES IT UNIQUE: 

* You can make channels on Tout.com.
* You can leave video replies to videos, which can be cool if you want to do a reader contest (like show us what you do on a hot summer day in Boulder). It's also a fun way to engage with other journonerds.
* You can repost Touts, which could, in theory, help a video become viral.
* You don't need to log in to an account to view Touts.
* Less mindless junk than Youtube and Instagram (no offense to my friends).
* You can set it up so it films and automatically does not save the videos in your camera roll, so it doesn't clog up your space.
* Quick and efficient for breaking news.
* It forces discipline; you cannot make long, drawn-out vids.
* The widget option. (I plan on testing this out soon, so stay tuned.)
* Videos play automatically in a row on your page. This may be a plus or minus.

MY PROBLEMS WITH TOUT: 

In other words: My suggestions for improving Tout

* The "embed" button does not show up on my Dell desktop, but it does show up on my Mac laptop. Why? Magic? Cats? I don't know. I am using Chrome in both. So I cannot embed a video from my desktop. Same goes for my editor's desktop. Anyone know why?

* It has a problem with crashing, and when it goes down, it does not save your video-in-progress. I went on an hour-long yoga hike (yeah, that's a thing) and Tout crashed as I was trying to publish it, meaning an hour of my work was deleted.

Here a the second yoga hike video I made, which has no hiking and only yoga, so we didn't end up using it with the story. Also note how it's called Yoga Hike Part 2. When I realized the first part did not upload, I wanted to change the name, but I can't find an option to edit.


* Not many readers are here. This brings up the question: Should journalists meet readers where they are, or try to bring readers somewhere new? In other words, follow or lead? Of course, it's not that simple. If it were, G+ would have replaced Facebook by now. And when the question is how to reach the most readers, you have to pick and choose your applications and projects wisely. Are we making videos for our readers -- or for other journalists?

* We all have limited time and resources. And honestly, I get a better response from Instagram 15-sec videos than Tout videos.

* No option to save drafts. This does encourage quick reporting, but not thoughtful reporting. What happens if you post a video and then a better option pops up after? Do you post the second one, too, and risk overkill? I'd rather delay my uploads by a few minutes to allow the chance to prioritize, so only the best footage gets out there.

* No built-in editing or back button. Let's say you're 45 minutes into a yoga hike and someone accidentally curses. You either keep the slip-up in, or you lose all your work. (Unlike CP Pro, which also has stop coverage, but you can save drafts and go back and delete unwanted clips.)


TIPS FOR MAKING GOOD VIDEOS:

* Don't make your videos on Tout. Make them on iMovie and upload them to Tout. Yes, this adds an extra step. No, I'm not a fan of adding extra steps to anything, ever. And I'm not sure this really counts as using Tout, if you can only get what you want by using another app.

Here's a video I made yesterday that I edited in iMovie, then uploaded to Tout. It has some audio problems, but this street performer wasn't really jiving with the "modern technology" so I had to just go with it:


* To try to combat the crash problem, you can get to settings and turn on the "Save to Camera" option. This saves your clips to your camera roll. Not sure if it would save a tout-in-progress, though.
* Share your Touts with your already-established Twitter and Facebook communities, since that's where the readers are (at least today). Yes, you could just directly upload your iMovie to Twitter and Facebook instead.
* Mark Loundy recommends: Slow down with camera movement. Edit to a series of fixed-camera shots and allow the motion to happen within the frame.
* Steve Buttry says: Hold your phone horizontally! Step closer. Android camera zooms.
* Julio Ojeda-Zapata says: Aim for stability at all costs. Use a device with internal stabilization, or tote around Gorillapod

WANT TO LEARN MORE? 
Read a recent DFM chat about Tout here.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Do tell. Do prove me wrong.

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