HI! So you are interested in participating in an interview with me? I am very excited about that. Since this is a video show, I am looking to do a Skype video interview. Very likely you already have the basics to do this. I will list what you need below:
- Skype – This is a piece of software that allows a telephone-like or video connection over the internet. You may have heard of VoIP like Vonage. Well this is basically the same thing. The cool thing about Skype is that you can also do video. And it’s free. The software works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. If you have other services for video chat, that’s cool. However I only have the ability to record Skype.
- A webcam – If you have a laptop that’s been sold in the past couple of years, you very likely have a built-in webcam. If you have an iMac from the past few years, you also have one. Other desktop computers may have webcams built into a monitor that came with the system. If not, then you can buy a reasonably good webcam for $50 that will plug into a USB port. If you want to get fancy and have the resources, you can use a video camera that will plug into your computer.
- A mic – For the best results, a USB headset microphone is the best option. One suggestion is the Plantronics Audio 470 USB for around $30. For my use in the first few Skype tastings, I purchased the Plantronics .Audio 655 for around $30. Currently I use a more advanced setup with a lavaliere mic fed directly into my computer for my audio and I use my computer’s speakers to hear you. If you have a pair of iPhone headphones, you can use those since they have a built in mic. I highly discourage a bluetooth headset. I used it once and had multiple audio issues with the recording software I use. The company said it was very likely the headset. If nothing else, you can use the built in mic in your computer or a handheld USB mic (if you have Rock Band or Guitar Hero – these will work) and your computer speakers, but that can create unwanted feedback. The pros have special broadcast mics (see twitlive.tv). If you have that, sweet! If you have an extra one, can you send it to me? 😉
- Broadband connection – The most important part of the connection is YOUR upload speed. I sit on a connection with 15Mbps download and 1.5Mbps upload. So I have plenty of bandwidth for incoming video. My upload speed won’t come into play as far as the video recording. And neither does your download speed. However, the better connection you have both ways, the better experience we will both have. When we set up, make sure that you do not have any other computer in your house or business accessing the internet. This will dramatically kill the video quality. This includes a video game system like an XBox, PS3, or Wii. It also includes someone else on another computer watching videos on YouTube or downloading or uploading large files.
- Port Forwarding – OK, this is the really geeky part of all of this. While it’s not a requirement, it will improve the quality of the video stream. I’ve done a few of these now and I’ve been learning how to improve the quality. As an example of how good this can look, again go to twitlive.tv. Of course the host, Leo Laporte, looks good as he is using professional equipment and it’s direct video to his system. However, look at his guests and see that they look pretty good (there are also some other fancy things going on on Leo’s end to help their quality too).One piece of advice though to look good on your end is to make sure you’ve gone into your Skype settings and selected the best quality video and audio possible that your computer can handle. Also make sure you limit how much back lighting you have. Besides Port Forwarding, the web cam quality comes into play too. My network is already set up for this, and that alone should be sufficient for decent quality, but for the best quality have it set up on your end. So how to Port Forward? This is kinda tricky depending on your setup. I first suggest to go to this site to work on it – portforward.com – If all this looks like a Greek wine label to you, then contact me and I can try to walk you through it. I might even be able to set it up for you if you have or download yuuguu.
That’s the skinny on what is needed for doing an interview on the show. If any of this needs more clarification definitely go to the About 1337 Wine link at the top and click “Contact Me.” What I want is the best video and audio experience possible so that we can showcase your wine or you for my viewers.
Other things. For a virtual tasting, I am requesting that you send 1 bottle. Since this is a show that focuses on $20 or less bottles, that is what is preferred. However, I have no problem if you have a premium wine that you want to send. Also, I will give an honest opinion of your wine. If you feel that it won’t show well, then I suggest you don’t send it. This is an opportunity for you to shine and I want to help with that. If I don’t like the wine I have no problem saying it and why. Also, I will not give a score to the wine if we do a virtual tasting. I will say whether I like it or not, but I won’t give it a specific score.
For those guests who are not wineries (or a Vendor or Distributor), a virtual tasting is not required. If you are a Sommelier, Wine Director, etc., while a virtual tasting might be nice to do, the nature of the interview may not really lend itself to a tasting. We can focus on other aspects of what you do and how it relates to wine.
Finally, by no means is it a requirement that you agree to a Skype interview for me to review your wine. If you are a winery that either doesn’t want to do an interview, or doesn’t have the time/equipment for one, you can still send a sample for review. Again, $20 or less per bottle is preferred, but you can send any. In this case I will give the wine a specific score.
I hope this post is helpful. Again, if you need more info or help, feel free to click the “email me” link to the right.
Mark V. Fusco