Media Madness!!

If you’re in a bagpipe band, video and photos are likely something somewhat important to you.

Maybe you’re interested in seeing and hearing how you or your band sounded in a recent competition or event such as a parade. Maybe you did a cool appearance and want to share it with others. Maybe you’re looking to promote your band on Social Media or maybe you’re just wanting to build an online photo album or maintain a historical archive for your pipe band or other organization.

With the ubiquity of high quality capture devices these days, you’d think this would be a problem of the past.

Not so much!

Around 10 years ago I noticed other members of my band or their family members taking photos and videos at band events and I always asked if they could forward any good ones. Sometimes promises were made and not kept and many times I heard things like oh, I post them on Facebook. Well, that’s great if you’re a Facebook user but how about just forwarding them? And, is Facebook really a good archive for things like this? aside from the fact that the original file resolution is not available, probably not.

The problems go far beyond this now though. Many files are too big to e-mail. Of course there are options like Google Drive links, iCloud links, Dropbox links, etc. but many people aren’t very sophisticated about sharing them with the correct settings for others to view. Apple, with their new HEIC format isn’t helping since those files can’t be viewed on Windows without additional software – come on Apple, release something in the Microsoft Store to fix that!

Then, there is just bad photography! People constantly share terribly cropped, blurry, dark, or otherwise useless files that should simply be deleted. I constantly remind people to shoot video horizontally, when’s the last time you saw a vertical TV screen?

Two weekends ago we were doing a charity event and a person in the crowd wanted to take our picture. I asked if she could send it to me and after about 15 minutes of messing around, she figured it out. When I got home and looked at them to post to Facebook, I saw that not only were they too far away and cropped horribly but they were blurry and such low resolution, I just deleted them.

Then, there was the “nice” lady who I saw multiple times taking our photo at all sorts of events. I gave her a business card and asked if she wouldn’t mind forwarding some to us. She declined and explained that she sells these to the local newspapers. OK, great, it’s fair game to take our photo at numerous events without asking but you can’t share? I so wanted to say, well, then don’t take our picture any more. I’m sure I’d have been the bad guy there, but am I?

And then there’s video. Oh my. I get so many clips that begin and end nowhere! People just pull out their phone and point it anywhere and hit record. No thought about where it should start, like when the band is approaching, and just a hard cutoff right in the middle of something. I realize not everyone has the background I do, but do you watch TV and movies? Ever?

OK, a good rant should have a point, right?

If you are taking a photo of anything, think about framing it. Take an extra second or two, you have a nice viewfinder right in front of you, use it. Think about turning the camera sometimes. Think about maybe changing position, moving closer. Look at the sides, look at the top and bottom, is everything even? Hold the camera steady! Then, take a lot of shots, it’s not like you’re wasting film. REVIEW your shots before doing anything with them, delete the junk, maybe crop some. All built in to your phone these days!

If you’re sending someone a Google Drive or Dropbox link, make sure it’s set so anyone can view it. I can’t say how many times someone sends me a link to my personal e-mail address that has no Google or Dropbox account linked to it… then I need to “request permission” and wait.

Most of all, if you say you’re going to share something, do it. So many times I’ve made videos for our YouTube channel or something else and later I say to myself, I wish I’d have had that to include. Does your band or organization have someone who does videos and social media? Make sure they get a copy of good stuff you have! Do you have a Historian or other person responsible for archiving things? Think about sending them a copy! Do you manage a social media account for your organization? Don’t just dump a bunch of crap into your photo stream, clean out the duplicates, delete the dark and blurry ones and fix the poorly cropped ones!

Thanks to the people who do think to take photos and videos and thanks for sending them to me when you do! Thank you to the generations of Highlanders that have come before us and left us with great photos of our predecessors. I wonder though, how many more awesome pieces of history have been lost over the years?

If you are in this band or another bagpipe band, if you were ever a member, family member, student, or spectator, do our future generations a favor and be a good media steward.