If A Picture Is ...


My last post lamented the lack of quality video earmarked for a B2B audience.

Which isn’t to say business videos are a complete wasteland.

There’s an eclectic blog called Valley Zen – promotes itself as the intersection of Zen and technology; I thought that was Nolan Bushnell’s dream with Chuck E. Cheese’s – that showcases a video interview with VC Tim Draper from Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

It’s good.

No, make that darn good.


It certainly doesn’t hurt to be comfortable in front of the camera. But there’s more going on here than a relaxed demeanor.

For starters, this isn’t your garden variety story from another VC headliner on why I’m rich and you’re not. Instead, you’ve got Draper kicking off the interview with his eyes closed and arms extended uttering the mantra: “I’m now at peace with my Zen.”

Very Californian.

From there you get to know a little more about Draper, his philosophies and how he defeated a cape buffalo in Africa.

Just as important as the storyline, no one is taking themselves too seriously. When was the last time you watched a dour guest on Oprah?

On the production side, it doesn’t hurt to have the professionals from Localfilms as your crew. Yet, there are lessons for the novice videographer such as breaking up the video in sections with stills and varying the camera angles.

Of course, if you’ve got dull people pontificating on a dull topic you’re going to end up with a dull video.

As my daughter would say, “Duh.”


  • Patrick O'Rourke

    Glad to see you blogging, Lou. It’s an interesting transition for print journalists going to image/video reporting. A few things I’ve seen since January:
    1) Digital storytelling is becoming a de rigueur part of the tech publishers’ online experience and rich media efforts will play a huge role in the success of their online properties moving forward.
    2) Many tech publishers are making investments in their internet video platform which will allow more flexible and interactive video programming on their sites.
    3) Spokespersons must be prepared for radio/TV style interviews as reporters record v-casts and audio-casts.

  • Lou Hoffman

    Patrick, appreciate your input. I agree that the tech publishers have jumped head first into the rich media pool. While they allocate dollars to make the stuff work on the site many (at least in the tech sector)conveniently forget that putting a camcorder in the hands of a print journalist doesn’t automatically put him/her on a career trajectory that points to CNN.

  • Drue Kataoka

    Hi Lou,

    Thanks for highlighting ValleyZen, a blog that I run with Bill Fenwick (Fenwick & West). Bill and I launched at the very end of January of this year.

    We try to give an inside glimpse into the world of the Valley VCs entrepreneurs and thinkers that is real and not typically shown.

    We have interviewed former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki, VCs Tim Draper and his father William Draper III, Hiroshi Ishii, Founder of MIT’s Tangible Media Group. Upcoming are video interviews with Nobel Laureate Martin Perl, Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark, and Jeremy Bailenson, Director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab.

    Bill and I do all of the planning for a shoot and editing and post production afterwards ourselves. But spontaneity is the key. For example the Guy Kawasaki interview was shot with nothing else but Guy and I sitting in front of my laptop in one take. ValleyZen was the first to break the story of the launch of Kawasaki’s Alltop. Similarly my interview with Hiroshi Ishii was shot on my Flip video camera in my studio after his talk and before he caught a plane. Although the Ishii video is not HD, Ishii who is at ease, reveals some real gems of insights. And the interview with Doron Swade was shot on my Nikon Coolpix by a volunteer at the Computer History Museum. We were the only “press” to interview Swade, (the world’s leading expert on Charles Babbage) directly after his talk. His brilliance sparkles.

    What we do have is access to great people, immediacy, and genuine creative sparks since we have no rules or restrictions imposed upon us by a studio or a network.

    For me, spontaneity is very important in video interviews. I always approach them with an open mind. For example, I had no idea that Tim Draper would flip me into the air, but that’s what makes that interview not only fun to watch I hope, but quintessentially Zen.

    In preparing for a video interview/encounter I think about the person who will be featured and their work beforehand. However, I am always ready and happy to let a beautiful moment unfold unscripted. In this way what we do has the feeling of live TV because it is essentially live to tape, and edited primarily for length constraints on the web. But, Bill and I are not at all interested in creating shock value or sensational moments. Rather, unexpected moments of satori!

    Much of my approach to video is aligned with my artistic philosphy as a Sumi-e artist. The serene and nuanced art form demands authenticity and no hesitation. The ink once laid on silk is indelible!

    We hope you’ll visit ValleyZen again soon and welcome you there.

  • Lou Hoffman

    Drue, it’s not good when the comment is better than the post (a derivative of Johnny Carson’s maxim that the guest can’t be funnier than the host). In all seriousness, thanks for the insights on what goes into creating the Zen videos. I had no idea of the involvement from you and Bill on the pre- and post-production side. Your point on spontaneity hits home.

  • Drue Kataoka

    Dear Lou,

    Thanks so much for your response. With your years of expertise in the PR business, it’s exciting to see you share your insights and perspectives by starting your own personal blog. The art of storytelling through a business prism is a great angle. We look forward to following it.


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