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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It Ain't Easy Bein' Green... Or Is It?

Last week we heard about how the production industry is going green through the use of non-tape media and LED lighting systems, and other things.

“That’s great,” I can hear you saying, “but how do I go green? Isn’t it really hard? Won’t I have to eat wheatgrass, ride a bike and basically be a hippie?”

Well... no! You will need to make some changes, but in general there are many things you can do that won’t be all that disruptive to your lifestyle and that will actually have other benefits. Many things that are green also save money, which is something we all want to do in this economy! Many of them also make you healthier, which means you have more energy and feel better.

But how do you know when you are living green, and what things are green?

I stumbled on a website called Practically Green the other day. On the site you can take a quiz on how green you are. Each question has a set of answer buttons: “I have done this,” “Does not apply to me,” and my favorite… “Add to my plan”.

The third is my favorite because it isn’t a “no” answer, it is a “hey, that’s a great idea, I can do that!” answer.

I was surprised when I got a 7 out of 10 ranking (Adventurously Green). I don’t consider myself to be particularly green. However, I do like to save money, and my wife and I do try to be healthy, and apparently that makes us pretty green!

For instance, we line dry some of our clothes. Not because we want to save the environment so much, but it makes the clothes smell fresher, and they don’t shrink. When we bought a car, we didn’t buy a huge gas guzzler; we bought a relatively efficient car. After all, I don’t like paying any more than I have to for gas! It was also a used car, which allowed us to get a better car for the money we spent. Which is also a way to be more green!

As I went through the quiz, I was surprised at how many of the green action items also had other benefits. I was also pleased to see that they weren’t just interested in saving carbon emissions, but in helping you to live a truly healthy and sustainable life.

So, head on over to Practically Green and see how you measure up. And then, keep track of your action list and try to do the next thing. It may not be a lot (simply turning off lights when you leave a room) but you’ll be saving money and energy, and helping the environment!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Chips aren't just for lunch any more...

Chips aren't just for lunch any more! The computer industry has used this play on words for years, (Computer Chips, Micro Chips, Potato Chips...) but now that the production industry is "Going Green", we need to steal some of those adages. The truth is that this is all coming about as the two industries share/merge technologies, storing video in a digital file format similar to the way computers store files on technology like thumb drives.

The TV and Film industry has been advancing in technology for years and these advances coincidentally parallel the push for industry in general to be environmentally friendly. By using a new medium to record video we are able to eliminate Tape Media. Tape has served the industry well, but reuse of tape often leads to degradation of quality with each re-record. In fact, there is a classification used for the "generation" of tape that we use to maintain quality control.

With file based media, we no longer need to classify an "Original", "Master", or "Dub". File based cameras and recording devices allow us to copy those files as many times as we want, with zero quality loss. If we are able to reuse recording devices and media time and again, then we eliminate the need to store and/or discard countless miles of tape and the plastic cartridges that hold them. We also can ingest directly to an edit system, often faster than real time. This reduces the edit time and energy consumption.

In addition, tape-based HD systems still run a premium in the market. If we can produce entire HD shoots and deliver a digital file format to TV stations, we never need to invest tens of thousands of dollars in HD tape decks. This in turn keeps overhead down and allows us to pass-on the savings!

So, current technology allows us to record to P2 Cards, SxS Cards, and SD Cards (to name a few). These are all solid state CHIPS that can be used over and over again. More uses equals less trash, which leads to less in the landfill. This also means less use of plastics (you know, that petroleum-based material we use for everything these days). Perhaps we will be the cause of declining gas prices!!!

O.K., so we use less plastic, and contribute less to landfills, but is that the only impact? Well, actually, no. There have been recent advances in lighting that are also helping the industry to help the environment. Many of us are switching over to the use of LED lights on video shoots. The LED lights use a lot less electricity and do not heat up a room, so the air conditioners stay off, which also helps with the carbon footprint. LED lights become a safer choice as well. Less heat and energy draw means customers don't need to worry so much about the fire hazards that the older studio lights caused.

Many industries are also relying more on alternative energies. Our web host's data center is partially powered by renewable energy. Of course, they have back up generators to ensure the industry standard 99% up-time. This technology allows for less environmental impact from the ever growing Internet.

So, whether powering server racks, lighting your next video or storing media on your next shoot, we are all doing our part to keep the earth's oceans & skies blue and the greens... well, green. Boy, all this talk has made me hungry! CHIPS anyone?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Client testimonial...

Here is a testimonial from Deborah Evans Cox the Economic Director for the Town of Trumbull....

“Byron is a gem. Having seen examples of Byron's and Firelight Media's high caliber of work, and knowing that they’d already won multiple Emmy Awards, I was confident about the quality of the video they would produce for us. In addition, I knew their cost was very reasonable after having done some comparisons. Yet, I never anticipated how great the experience was going to be. They easily grasped and captured our key messages and made them come alive. They were respectful, sensitive and accommodating to each person and organization that we video taped, as well as to me and my objectives. Everyone involved at Firelight Media was creative, efficient, and paid attention to the smallest details to ensure a top quality result. And, Byron was a role model of servant leadership.

The video that Firelight produced for us generates a sense of excitement and pride for the Town of Trumbull. In fact, the many whispers of “WOW!” were clearly heard during the unveiling of the video at a recent large business event.

Byron is such a pleasure to work with, and working with everyone at Firelight Media was an exceptional experience. The end result continues to be an exceptional source of pride for our Town and a very fond memory for me.

--Deborah Cox, Director of Economic Development, Town of Trumbull, CT” May 5, 2011

Top qualities: Great Results, High Integrity, Creative

Monday, May 9, 2011

Money...Where does it go?

My wife and I have been making a concerted effort to stick to a budget that will, hopefully, allow the proverbial ends to meet. As cliched as this sounds, I suspect that there are many of you working through similar issues out of necessity. Keeping my lead foot under control has been a challenge, made somewhat less difficult by $4.17 a gallon (BJ's price). I don't have cable, I turn the lights off when I leave a room, grocery shop as frugally as possible and mow my lawn with a sturdy little Scotts reel mower. It's hard. Fridays are nights in more than out and we usually have to politely decline invitations to social events.

But when I'm quiet long enough to hear something other than my own whining, I remember that it's never gotten so hard that God was unable to carry us through. We are truly blessed. We have jobs. Our needs are met and we have supportive friends and family. That said, my faith and desire to bless others was never screwed to the sticking place more than when I was shown where we as Americans stand in the grand economic scheme of things.

If you're reading this, you're using a computer. That makes you wealthier than 98% of the world. Heck, if you flushed a toilet today, you're in the top 10%. Consider this: calculates that a salary of $40,000 a year makes you the 190,434,783rd richest person in the world. Out of 6.8 billion. Perspective helps a lot.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bin Laden Defined the Past 10 years, how about We Define the Next!

We had different plans for today’s blog, but due to recent developments I decided to change the subject for the week. Anyone who was watching TV late on Sunday May 1st 2011, had an unexpected interruption to their normal broadcast, especially if you were watching a major network.

By now all of you probably know I am referring to Bin Laden and his untimely (but welcome) demise. This report has stirred many emotions throughout the country, and perhaps around the world. Who reading this can’t remember where they were almost 10 years ago as we heard, saw, and perhaps personally experienced the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks?

I remember close to the Sept. 11th anniversary 2010, my son saw me get emotional when there was a tribute on TV. I think it was actually a Ken Burns documentary on baseball. It contained details of the short sabbatical that the sport took right after the terror attacks, and the emotions a week later when it resumed.

My son asked me, “What was wrong?” He was 8 years old at that time and if you did the math you’d figure out that nearly ten years ago from today he rested, alongside his twin sister, safely inside my wife’s pregnant belly. He never saw the skyline of New York transform forever that day. I, on the other hand, had a 7th floor college dorm room in Brooklyn in the early 90’s that, for 3 years, overlooked the towering twins. Just two days prior to Sept 11, 2001, I drove up the Jersey Turnpike and reminisced of those days as I saw the towers anchoring the night sky of southern Manhattan.

The name of my first company, Sunrise Enterprises, LLC., was a tribute to the many early mornings I saw from that dorm room, when the rising sun lit up lower Manhattan like a lantern as the glowing sun reflected off the modern glass skyline. I’ve seen many sunrises (unfortunately) since those days but none nearly as impressive.

Answering my son’s question, I explained how the world had changed that day. How the world stood still that day. How America rose-up on that day. Flags never streamed so boldly as they did in the days that followed.

I explained how airplanes were grounded and how silent and alone it felt. He had no idea what I meant, so I told him that we take so much of our lives for granted that we often don’t know what we have until it’s gone. “I bet there are air planes flying by right now and you don’t even notice”, I told him. “Sometime you need to stop and listen and they are just there”. So we did and, as if on cue, from within my house through the walls and through the closed windows and doors, we could hear the buzzing of at least one air craft flying over our house. What seemed like an eternity of grounded flights and silent skies has all been forgotten as we long ago returned to business as usual going about our busy days.

It has been a long and tumultuous journey over the past 10 years. We are often accused of being complacent. We are also accused of being greedy and self centered. Though we don’t all fit this same mold, there are points in each of our lives that we can reflect upon and improve. Even prior to 9-11, we have been transforming in the area of politics as we have definitely gotten more polarized as a country.

Last night, news of the death of Bin Laden filled special reports and the news casts. Then, as if on cue, people came together to celebrate and to cheer. The one who was responsible for the attacks nearly 10 years earlier was killed in a raid in Pakistan. News many of us wanted to come many years earlier. So much hurt, so much sorrow, so much pain. But as many have reminded us, this doesn’t fill the void that was left in our minds and our hearts. For so many years into the future… it won’t fill the empty chair at the dinner table, the missing encouragement at little league games, the empty hugs at college graduations, or the empty arm of walking brides down the aisle at the weddings.

So I ask you as fellow Americans, don’t let this past tragedy define us. Even more so, don’t let the seeking of closure and revenge define us either. I am glad that Bin Laden is no longer with us, just as I am happy that Sadam Husain is nowhere to be found either. But as we move forward in our newly defined world, I want you to consider one thought. On Sept. 11 there were reports of anti-American protesters cheering in the streets, even from within our own country. As happy as we are, I wonder if we as a self-proclaimed civilized & moral society should stoop to the same levels of cheering in the streets. Wouldn’t it perhaps be more civilized to simply say, “good riddens,” and move on.

I understand the emotion and relief of this long quest to bring to justice this central figure of terror and evil. However, do we need to have events of tragedy or their subsequent revenge define who we are? It was stated back then and I’ll state it again, the greatest revenge is to not let the terrorists’ terrible actions linger in us, but to truly move on and continue to make this country stronger. We should be a proud and unified country every day. Let us not be so short sighted as to join hands today and mince words tomorrow or next week. Moving forward in the days, years and even centuries to come, let none of us forget that United We Stand, and divided we will fall.

God bless America and the many citizens that make it the great country that is it.

Steven Kline
Managing Partner