Friday, September 06, 2013

A Rare Note From Your Producer

Hello all!

Thanks to Google buying EVERYTHING, it's been interesting trying to cross-post between YouTube and Blogger while maintaining a connection with Apple iTunes.  I know some of you view "Dulcimerica" via iTunes almost exclusively while others prefer to watch the higher-quality videos on YouTube.  Some do come here to this page as an introduction to the series and then make choices based on where you are at the time.

So, I'm experimenting with posting the YouTube videos here.  I'm not sure how that will read in iTunes, but if it turns out to be a huge mess, then I won't.  That would explain the triple posting of YouTube videos earlier today; just a test.

In any case, thanks for watching and for your patience during the long hiatus this summer.  There are a number of reasons for that, most notably that I was on tour for nine weeks.  The other reason is that my equipment is falling apart and, except for iPhone videos and videos shot graciously by other folks at festivals and events, there have been no instructional episodes, song demos, two camera shoots or the kind of mini-movie productions that I used to do.  Videography is no longer my career, so I haven't upgraded my gear and software since going into music full-time.  The result is, much of my equipment is outdated, non-compatible with current trends and pretty broken down due to heavy use.

The production of an old-school "Dulcimerica" episode is highly time-intensive.  Besides the actual shooting itself from multiple angles with multiple takes, there's:

• computer graphics design for titles

• editing

• sound mixing

• rendering

• uploading to both YouTube and Blogger

• maintenance of podcast feeds and web pages for the two streams

Of course, this doesn't include the actual creation of the content for each episode, whether it be a lesson on blues mountain dulcimer or a tour through the Great Smoky Mountains; all told, there's about eight hours of work into each ten minute "Dulcimerica" video.   Modern technology would help trim that down a bit, but like I said, my gear is anything but.

Starting some time ago, I began posting PayPal donation links in the video descriptions, on blogger posts and in the end title graphics, hoping that many of the millions of "Dulcimerica" viewers and subscribers would annually donate between $5 and $10 to help with production of the show.  Believe it or not, I can count on both hands, in the entire seven year (going on eight) run of the podcast, how many times I've received a PayPal donation.  Frustrating, to say the least, but I've never wanted to put the show behind a pay firewall because that would take away the option of watching it for many people. For those who have donated, thank you so much because every little bit counts!

I'm considering a couple of different things at this point.  One thought is to really make a big push for donations.  Perhaps many people don't watch the end credits or read the descriptions or see the links in each blog post about donations, so I've taken to adding a donation graphic at the beginning of each episode along with annotations on YouTube that point out the PayPal link in the video description (YouTube won't allow a direct link in annotations, unfortunately, or within the comments section.  But the link works fine in the video description.)

My other thought is to launch a full-blown Kickstarter campaign to raise production funds for new equipment, software and support, not to mention server space for all the episodes past and future plus bandwidth costs.  My main camera, a SONY HDV, has no external viewfinder due to moisture damage on a shoot long ago.  My secondary unit is a standard definition HI8 camera that is obsolete and uses a completely different type of recording media.  Logging the footage from both of these cameras for one episode takes an excruciating amount of time and then, once they're in the editing bay, the quality of image from each camera is way different from the other.

I'd like to get back to producing high-quality episodes of "Dulcimerica" featuring the stuff that you like most; the song demos and workshops, interviews with other players, travelogs through parts of the country and festival excursions.  Though I know you enjoy watching the concert footage, it's not the same as the content that I used to produce.  In order to get there again - I need to catch up with the times.

More than anything, what I really need is to hear from YOU, the viewer and subscriber to "Dulcimerica."  What do you think I should do?  Is the donation route enough or do you think a Kickstarter campaign would be more effective?  I'm not in a hurry to make any quick decisions, so if you'd like to weigh in, there are a number of ways to do so.  First - you can e-mail me at  Second - this blog post will end up on Facebook and you can post your input in the response section there.  Third - you can add your comments right here on this blog, attached to this post.  Fourth - you can respond via Twitter, where this blog post will be linked.

I'm interested in what you have to say, share and add.  The analytics on "Dulcimerica" are out of this world on YouTube and you have consistently made it one of the most-watched dulcimer-themed podcasts on the service.  Many of you have inquired about more lessons and I figured it was about time to lay out the deal for all to see.  My current software is actually quite capable of continuing the work - it's mainly the two cameras, the server space and bandwidth that has slowed things down; unfortunately - they cost money.  So let me know what you think.  It seems to me that most consumer or prosumer cameras in 2013 are going to flash drives, which means no moving parts on the cameras, less wear and tear and quicker download times for video.  That would surely speed things up on the production side.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and I look forward to not only hearing from you, but also continuing forward with "Dulcimerica", one way or another, into 2014 as we celebrate 8 years of existence.  Thank you for making it happen and thank you for watching!


Bing Futch

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