Pitching over Zoom? Try using an external camera to improve the image quality

I first planned to write about using tech to improve your TV/movie pitches over Zoom back in May, but then I asked myself “how useful will this post be in a month?” and I didn’t wind up writing it. Now here we are in July and, well…I should’ve written it then.

So here’s the basic gist — I actually don’t think you should be relying too much on technical gimmickry to gussy up your pitches. You don’t need on-screen graphics or green screen effects in a Zoom pitch any more than you need them in an in-person pitch, and the more tech you incorporate, the more things can go wrong. What you do want: The best possible presentation of you and your voice.

Continue reading “Pitching over Zoom? Try using an external camera to improve the image quality”

L.A. Writing Spot Review #6: Head West! Then stop at the Krispy Kreme.

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If you’re in Santa Monica and want to get some work done in a surprisingly accommodating space, head to the Krispy Kreme.  The ambiance is intentionally designed to evoke a bygone era (think later seasons Mad Men) but not in a particularly classy or thoughtful way.  The tile on the walls and the yellow/greenish color scheme has a very clinical feel to it.

What it lacks in style, though, it more than makes up in other areas for laptop slaves like me — ample seating with access to power outlets, free wifi, and, of course, a wide selection of freshly baked Krispy Kreme doughnuts — an uncommon sight in the L.A. area (and one that is largely unappreciated by the lifelong residents of surrounding Santa Monica).  This location also has a Coffee Bean counter offering most (if not all) of the Coffee Bean drink menu.

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Delicious doughnuts + Good caffeinated beverages + laptop-friendly seating = A decent place to kill some time and get some work done.

Krispy Kreme Santa Monica
1231 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90403

L.A. Writing Spot Review #5: THE BEST WRITING SPOT YOU REFUSE TO GO TO

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A few months ago the Corner Bakery Cafe in the Beverly Connection underwent a drastic renovation — so drastic they actually moved the entire restaurant 150 feet.

The new location is surprisingly well thought out for laptop users.  The whole restaurant is lined with intimate, two-person booths, all equipped with power outlets (and there’s a bar with outlets, too).  It’s spacious enough that even during the lunch rush, seating is easy to be found.  The wi-fi is decent.  And the menu has recently been given a once-over (and much improved in my opinion).  If you’re not in the mood for a meal, the staff doesn’t mind if you just buy a drink and set-up shop either.

If you’re near the border of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, you could do a lot worse than the new Corner Bakery.  It’s one of my go-to spots now.

LA Writing Spot Review #4: Look, another Coffee Bean!

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This is the Coffee Bean across from The Palazzo at Park La Brea (near the Grove).  It’s nothing special.  There’s ample outdoor seating. Very little indoors.  It’s the kind of place the 45,000 people who live at Park La Brea probably frequent, but otherwise there’s no reason why you’d ever need to step foot in this place.

The coffee shop itself had no working wifi, and the free wifi from the neighboring motel was so bad, I couldn’t even post this short review from there.

Now, for a bigger rant about Coffee Bean overall — their smartphone app sucks.  It’ll log you out right when you’re ready to pay (slowing down what should be a quick process). It works by flashing a numerical code on the screen that the barista needs to manually enter into their register.  How quaint.  Oh, and the app took 17 dollars from me.  17 bucks just vanished from my account.  The people at CB corporate were nice enough to look into it and refund the missing money, but the manager on duty when the money actually disappeared — it happened while I was standing at the register, the barista even confirmed that the money was there, before it mysteriously disappeared — was pretty unsympathetic about the whole thing.

If you like CB’s drinks, keep going.  I just can’t recommend using their app.  Oh, and their rewards program is terrible.  Unlike Starbucks, where any 12 drinks equals a free purchase, the CB’s reward system is point based.  Every dollar spent is supposed to equal 1 point. Except it doesn’t, because they round down to the nearest dollar during each transaction.  In other words, if you spend $3.95, you only get three points, and those 95 cents never get counted, ever.  To get those 40 points, you’ll have to spend a lot more than $40.

Next time: I’ll review the absolute best place to get some work done if you’re near Beverly Hills/West Hollywood.

LA WRITING SPOT REVIEW #3: The Larchmont Coffee Bean

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This one will be short, as this location can be summed up quite easily: Small.

Location:  135 N. Larchmont Blvd, between Beverly Blvd and 1st Street.

Parking:  Metered on the street, but if you’re willing to walk a couple blocks, Larchmont Blvd. has free 2 hour parking on the other side of 1st Street.

Ambiance:  Quaint. Feels like a Coffee Bean you might find in a mall or airport.  It’s standing room only on the inside, and not because it’s busy, but because there are no seats of any kind.  If you want to see one of the many famous people who live in the neighborhood (or those working at the nearby Paramount Lot), you’re better off going to the Starbucks or Peet’s across the street. (If you care about such things, which you totally shouldn’t.)

Seating Inside: Zero.

Seating Outside:  Seating for 10 — 5 tables with 2 chairs each.

Amenities: No outlets to speak of.  No bathroom.

Wifi: Even with no one else apparently using it, it’s a rather mediocre 1.83Mbps downstream and 0.41Mbps upstream.  Servicable for reading most websites, but if you need to download/upload a big file, it’s not the best.

Music: Can’t hear what’s currently playing inside.

Ability to do work here:  Not bad if you’ve got plenty of battery power, a healthy bladder, and the weather is decent.  Before coming here, I went by the neighborhood’s Starbucks and Peet’s first, which are larger with more seating (especially inside), but both were packed.  If one of them had inside seating available, I’d be there right now.   In a pinch, though, it’ll do, as it is for me right now.