4 Suggestions to Improve Paid Parking Video

Imagine my surprise when I read the Daily News and learned about a PortMedia-aired educational video starring city officials explaining the operation of parking meters.

The back story from the newspaper is people don’t understand how to insert money and affix the receipt to the driver’s side window, sparking NRA Commissioner James Shanley to entrepreneurially create a video about the payment process.

Here is the video:

Can’t see it? View it here on blip.tv.

My suggestions for improvement:

First: The article said the video was on the city’s website — but how many people visit the city’s website when wanting to know how a meter works?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to have a 30-second video at the parking kiosks themselves? Can the meters be outfitted with a video screen?

The video is also not linked on the home page but you have to click where it mentions paid parking and then scroll to the bottom of the page. This is an ineffective user design.

Second: The video is not hosted on YouTube to enable social sharing and comments, but is hosted on blip.tv. There is nothing wrong per se with blip.tv but it’s not YouTube. Why not put the video where more people are searching for keywords and where people can leave comments?

Third: Am I alone thinking the narration, provided by planning department project manager Geordie Vining, is too monotonic? It’s clear he’s reading from a script but there is no emotion to the voice.

“It is boring,” replied a few people when I sent them the video link. Is this the intended response?

Fourth: I applaud reading a script but it doesn’t need to be read behind the scenes. Why can’t the show and tell occur in the same frame? Rather than have one person narrate and someone else act, can’t the same person do both in real-time?

By way of analogy, take a look at two parking meter educational videos. The first is from Asbury Park, New Jersey; and the second from Philadelphia.

Video Analogy 1: Video by Asbury Park Mark, a local realtor:

This is how I envisioned the video when I read the Daily News article. I expected someone to be located outside, beside a meter, explaining how it works. I expected the same person to show and tell.

Video Analogy 2: Video by Philadelphia’s tourism bureau:

This is very cheesy but the narration is more captivating. It’s fun!

But these are my thoughts, Newburyport. What are yours?

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  1. Peter Fitzsimmons says

    I’ve been trained over many years to just drop the ticket on my dashboard, driver side. Is there a reason for gluing it to the window and do you get a ticket if you skip the glue and just place it on the dash board as shown in the Philadelphia video?
    Peter Fitzsimmons

    • Ari Herzog says

      Doubtful you’ll be penalized for placing it on your dash and not the window, but the enforcement officers are trained to look at the windows so they can drive/walk by and see everything in the same fashion rather than navigate around the cars to see where/if they are located.

  2. says

    Local access television, PortMedia, is there so that people in Newburyport can express themselves – whatever the producer feels is important to share, they may share. We have had positive feedback about ALL of our programming because someone in the community, even if it is ONE person, will find the information interesting, educational, inspiring, humorous, enlightening etc. So Ari, you didn’t – oh well…it wasn’t meant for you then. Why be negative about someone who took their own time to create something THEY thought would be of value to someone.

    • Ari Herzog says

      Sparking my quadruple suggestions, Sarah, was the “It’s boring” comment I received from a few residents when I shared with them the DN article and a link to the video. After receiving one too many responses, I shared my views here.

      If my suggestions are merely negative, then we can agree to disagree. Do you prefer I stay silent?

  3. says

    This video was not created by PortMedia staff. It was created by volunteers from the community. In fact, it is quite rare for PortMedia staff to create videos other than City Council / School Committee meetings and live events like NHS sports or the upcoming Yankee Homecoming Parade. Our mission is to train members of the Newburyport community to create their own videos using our facilities.

    While I don’t necessarily agree with your suggestions, I will take this opportunity to invite you, along with everyone else that lives, works or goes to school in Newburyport, to come down to PortMedia and start making your own videos about parking or whatever else is on your mind. Besides being a lot of fun, it can help our community in a lot of ways.

    PortMedia chooses to use blip.tv for several reasons. First off, blip does not have run-time constraints. This is very important when putting 3+ hour City Council and School Committee meetings on the web. Blip also allows us to make highly customizable playlists and players like the ones you see on the City Council and School Committee pages at their respective websites. Most importantly, we can deliver these videos advertising free, which is very nice when embedding on gov’t and school websites. When it comes to leaving comments… did I mention that anyone that lives, works or goes to school in Newburyport may produce their own videos at PortMedia? Not only would those videos be shown on cable channel 10, but you’d be free to upload them to any video sharing site you choose.

    • Ari Herzog says

      I understand your rationale to use blip.tv for videos with longer run-times. This video was not one of those; and hence my suggestion.

      Thanks for your feedback, Chris, and I edited the appropriate parts above that PortMedia merely aired the video but did not produce it.

  4. Joe DiBiase says

    Ari – Thanks for your unsolicited critique of the parking video. As one of the people, who on our own time, put this video together, I thought I might address some of your suggestions. Before I do, however, I’ll admit that the video could be better. But as an instructional piece to address the issues you identified (i.e., difficulty of some in figuring out how to pay, and how to display the sticker), I think we certainly did a passable job, even despite our amateur status as videographers.

    Although the posts on your blog are sometimes informed, insightful, and accurate, this unfortunately, isn’t one of them.

    First, as to the video being displayed on the kiosks themselves … this is certainly beyond what anyone involved in making the video have any control over. As a city council member, was this a possibility for you to suggest when the kiosks were being sourced and bought? And as to where it is posted on the City website, again, this is beyond the control of anyone involved in the making of the video. It has, however, now been shown hundreds of times on PortMedia’s Channel 10.

    Second, I think another comment above addressed why the video is hosted on blip.tv. Also, a quick Google search for “newburyport parking video” leads to many links from where a viewer can easily see the video.

    Third, as to your criticism of the voice-over. Yes, it may be a bit on the monotone side, but it is clearly enunciated and easy to hear and understand. As to the comment that the video is “boring,” first, thanks for candor [/s], but you’ve got to remember, it is a video about how to use a parking kiosk. Sure, we could have been more entertaining, but I think doing so would have been at the risk of losing some of the instructional aspects and of increasing the length of the video.

    Fourth, we chose to do a voice-over from a script as opposed to having the audio and video occur in real-time for a few reasons, none of which you seemed to consider in your critique. Namely, after a number of rainy days that delayed the shooting of the video, the first day on which the video could be shot was very windy, which, given the equipment available, would have made for unacceptable audio quality. Since we imposed on people who participated on their own time, recording a separate voice-over from a script, was less of an imposition on those involved as they didn’t need to memorize a script. Also, the time needed to shoot the video was less, since we weren’t recording live audio, there were fewer chances for mistakes, therefore the need for fewer takes.

    As to the videos you point to, the Asbury Park video production qualities are poorer (they could have used a tripod), and I suggest, less instructive. The Philadelphia video is much more entertaining, but also much more labor intensive, even using some techniques not available to us. Both are certainly more entertaining, but that wasn’t our goal.

    Finally, as other comments indicate, PortMedia did not produce this video, but was produced by volunteers, on our own time, and even at our own expense. So, here are my two suggestions for improving this blog post:

    – First, apologize to PortMedia for your inaccurate aspersions.
    – Second, understand the subject-matter, goal, abilities, and availability of resources for a project before you criticize well-meaning volunteers and discourage future such community involvement that in this instance, in my opinion, resulted in a successful project.

    • Ari Herzog says

      Thanks for your comment.

      My understanding was PortMedia resources were used to produce this video, e.g. their cameras, computer software, and/or time to upload it to blip. If I am incorrect in this, I apologize. I’ve already edited the top of my piece to reflect the TV studio’s involvement.

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