The videos we did for the Coble campaign

Here are the three videos ADCO created for the Daniel Coble runoff campaign. I like the way they came out.

I think you’ll find they’re a little different from what you usually see from a political campaign.

There are no “gotchas” here. We haven’t edited the truth to try to embarrass the opponent or make him look bad. Our purpose was more journalistic, to provide the voter with information they weren’t getting from news media, to help them make up their minds. Yes, we thought Daniel looked a little better than Moe in these clips. But the clips weren’t just chosen on that basis — in fact, we thought Daniel came across better throughout the debate, although Moe handled himself well, too. They were chosen because they struck a nice balance between complete answers, more than you’d get on TV news, without being so lengthy that the viewer wouldn’t lose interest and go away. (For instance, there were some really pertinent passages when the candidates discussed an important issue at some length — such as when Coble explained his position on water and sewer funds being used in the general fund, and did a good job with it — but we felt they were too long for this purpose.)

At the end of this forum, before the Melrose Neighborhood Association on Monday night, Moe Baddourah thanked the group and praised the format. He liked it because he wasn’t limited to 30-second answers as in some such gatherings. I think he was right, and you should be able to see some of what he liked about the format in these clips, even though we didn’t use some of the longer answers.

Each of the answers you see is mostly complete and unedited. I say “mostly” because in several cases, we trimmed the beginning of an answer and started the clip at the point when the candidate settled down to really answering the question — to the extent that he actually did answer it, which didn’t always happen.

You might watch these and decide you prefer Moe to Daniel, although I think most people will not. In any case, you can get a pretty good sense from watching them which of them approaches issues, and public service, in the way that you would prefer an elected representative to do.

I could elaborate here on the three clips and why we chose them, but I’d rather that those of you who are interested (particularly those who live in Columbia’s third district) would look at them with a fresh eye first, and after I see your reaction, I’ll elaborate.


23 thoughts on “The videos we did for the Coble campaign

  1. Brad

    A word about the questions, which you see as text at the beginning of each clip.

    They came from people in the audience. For instance, the question about whether groups receiving Hospitality Tax money should be required to follow the state Freedom of Information Act came from Jay Bender, who was The State’s attorney when I worked there and who has long represented the state press association. (You can hear Jay interrupting Moe’s answer to remind him what the question was.)

    We would have included the sound of the questions being asked, except for two things: The sound wasn’t as good, and in some cases Brett was changing out memory cards as those questions were being asked.

    Oh, and the questions aren’t verbatim. They are edited for brevity and clarity.

  2. susanincola

    They didn’t seem to draw much of a distinction between the candidates. Do they mostly take the same stands on the issues?

  3. Doug Ross

    What is it about the videos that you “liked the way they came out”? The camera was just pointed at the two speakers. And on the third one, we get a quick/rough pan from Moe to Daniel’s and his head is chopped off the top of the screen for the first 5 seconds. Then we have the distraction of Moe on the side of the frame shifting around for most of the video. Is that really an example of ADCO’s professional capabilities as videographers? Looked more like “Blair Witch – Columbia”.

  4. Brad

    Well, to answer your question, what I liked was that the videos nicely showed the differing approaches and attitudes between the candidates.

    For instance, on the one about “Preparation for Office,” there’s a significant difference in the way the candidates explain their qualifications. Daniel talks about how much he’s learned from engaging with the voters at neighborhood meetings, and pledges to continue to attend those meetings, so that his understanding of the very different issues in the respective neighborhoods remains fresh and up-to-date. He’s promising constant engagement. Whereas Moe essentially says he’s qualified because of all this stuff he’s already done, and he seems satisfied with that.

    As for the video quality — I was surprised at what a good job Brett did, and envious of his equipment. I tried shooting some pictures with my iPhone — which normally works beautifully — and it was hopeless. The main lighting on the candidates was above and behind them, and there was nothing I could do about it.

    This isn’t a movie you’re watching. Nor is it a studio interview. It’s just a camera being used in real life, in real time, with no retakes, with the videographer reacting to what happens AS it happens. It’s making the best of something far less than optimal conditions.

  5. Brad

    Doug, you made your negative and insulting point regarding the work of people with whom I have a professional relationship. I’m not allowing my blog to be used to stick the point in deeper. So I disapproved your more recent comment.

  6. `Kathryn Fenner

    Daniel is more realistic about what budget constraints there are–you can’t just cut off the water subsidies—you need to wean the budget off them. Daniel also stresses the importance of neighborhoods, and understands that “red tape” that businesses face is just reasonable regulations.

    Moe is for a free pass for businesses, as long as they aren’t Taboo and located near his business. Kind of like the anti-zoning people who protest the hog lagoon that locates next door.

  7. Silence

    Kathryn – I know you and I probably disagree with the tax policies and the fiscal decisions made by the city of Columbia. That being the case, how long can we continue to transfer money out of the water system and jack the rate up every year by 15% or more?

    You of all people should be concerned that it is a hugely regressive and really just a very opaque tax.

    Couple that with the increased franchise fee, also a hugely regressive, opaque and backdoor tax increase.

    Continuing to fund the city’s overspending by increasing the G.O. bonded indebtedness and and Water/Sewer bond debts every year is a receipe for disaster.

    Eventually, we will hit our statutory debt limit (probably very soon, maybe less than 3 years at the current rate), our water and sewer system will require extensive recapitalization (already happening) and the city’s growth will slow (last 4 years).

    What will we do then?
    It’s better to stand up and take our lumps now, while we can still recover from them, rather than really get whalloped down the road.

    We need to stop robbing the water/sewer fund and living beyond our means immediately.

  8. `Kathryn Fenner

    Look, I’m quite familiar with several city departments–there’s not a lot of waste. The legislature hamstrung the city’s ability to raise taxes, and we are stuck with many of the region’s social problems. Council has been profligate in the past, but I trust Steve Gantt implicitly. I believe Daniel is right when he says you cant just yank millions of dollars out of the budget right away.

    The water fees are a way to get the folks who don’t live in the city but benefit from its proximity (they don’t live in a small town in Bamberg County, say), to kick in for the city’s costs.

  9. Brett Flashnick

    Brad, first of all thank you for the kind words. It was great to work with you. You are a true professional.

    Second, I would like to take a minute to address what was said by Doug above, and what Brad wrote about in the post regarding some of the technical aspects of filming the videos for Daniel’s campaign. For those of you who aren’t interested in the technical aspects of photography and videography, it might be best to quit while you are ahead and read the next comment, unless you are suffering from insomnia.

    When Brad first approached me about shooting these videos, I was ready to roll out 2200 watts of lighting, wireless microphones, multiple cameras, etc… You get the picture, the typical setup you would see for filming a spot that would represent any brand or commercial entity.

    However, once I learned that this would be a simple candidate forum at a neighborhood association meeting, Brad and I both agreed that we needed to tread lightly, and treat this as if I were in my role as a freelance photojournalist. I didn’t want my presence at the meeting on behalf of the Coble campaign to be a distraction for the members of the Melrose Heights neighborhood who came for the opportunity to hear what the candidates had to say, nor did I want take anything away from Mr. Baddourah. All of this meant one thing, being as light and unobtrusive as possible.

    I setup the camera, on a tripod as far off to the side of the small room as I could (thats me in the far left of the photo on Brad’s post from Tuesday). For those interested, I was using a Canon 5D MKII, with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, and an Audio Technica “shotgun” directional microphone. As Brad mentioned above, from a lighting perspective, the room was very dim, not to mention that there was a window behind the candidates and an open door to the side that when combined with the overhead fluorescents provided an odd mix of light color. I got very close to pushing the camera to its limits when I had to set the ISO/ASA to 1250.

    Now that I’ve laid out the scenario with the lighting conditions, the equipment I was using, and the restrictions I put on myself I’ll explain a few things.

    1. Brad mentioned that we paraphrased the question in text at the beginning of the video due to not being able to clearly understand them as they were read aloud. This comes from the fact that I wanted the viewer to be able to clearly hear what the candidates were saying without being distracted by background noises. For this I chose to use a directional microphone that was mounted on the camera, that would highlight was was directly in front of the camera while muffling what was going on around it. Yes a wireless lapel mic on the candidates and a microphone passed around to those reading the question would have been better, but it would have been more intrusive, and my goal was to be as unobtrusive as possible. Thus you have the questions in text form at the beginning of the video.

    2. As Doug mentioned above there is a point in one of the videos where Daniel’s head is cropped off and he is out of focus for 5 seconds. I’ll admit admit to dropping the ball on that a little bit. I’m not a robot, I’m human and I make small mistakes from time to time. There is also a technical side to this issue. I use the Canon 5D MKII SLR cameras for both my photo and video work. As video cameras the 5D MKII is designed for cinema style video shooting, not what is referred to as ENG (Electronic News Gathering). Unlike ENG cameras there is no autofocus and no automated zoom function. Both of those must be operated the old fashioned way, by twisting rings. Unfortunately as a human and not a robot, I only have one hand that is free to turn those rings individually while the camera is operating. Thus you see a delay in when Daniel comes into focus, and then when the frame is zoomed out to a waist-up point. However if you are still un-happy with the results after the explanations above, then I whole heartedly apologize. I will say though that the technical challenges presented when shooting this pushed me and my equipment to their limits, and I loved every minute of it.

    3. Unfortunately there was nothing I could do to stop Mr. Baddourah from shifting around in the background. I was not there on behalf of Mr. Baddourah’s campaign, so I was not in a position to ask or gesture to him to move off to the side. As mentioned before, I was already there with a decent amount of fairly obtrusive camera equipment, and was attempting to be as unobtrusive as possible, so moving in the middle of someone asking a question or one of the candidates speaking wasn’t an option either. So I made the best of what I had to work with.

    With all of that being said, was this the absolute best work Brad, the staff at ADCO and myself are capable of? Considering all of the limitations, I would say its pretty darn good. To produce the absolute best work possible we would have to be in control of this situation 100%, and we were in control of about 5%. I got to choose from 2 locations of where I could setup, we could not control the location, lighting, sound, or how and where the candidates stood. Does that make this “bad” work? Absolutely Not! In my opinion, when the intended purpose of these videos are considered I think they do a very good job of standing on their own merit. Not to mention the fact that I have worked with several different campaigns before and I have never know a candidate who was willing to spend their funds on a video that gave their opponent and equal opportunity to make their points, and that says a lot.

    If you have made it this far, thank you for bearing with me. Thanks again to Brad and the staff at ADCO for their continued support. They are truly great people who produce amazing work, and I’m very fortunate that I have the opportunity to create along side them.

  10. Steven Davis II

    “The water fees are a way to get the folks who don’t live in the city but benefit from its proximity (they don’t live in a small town in Bamberg County, say), to kick in for the city’s costs.”

    I need to let my neighbors know that they need to start kicking in a few bucks each month for having the benefit of living next to me.

  11. Silence

    @’Kathryn – I’ve got no problem with Gantt, but I don’t think he likes me too much. He’s at least honest, which I can’t say for Chief Austin.

    I think the legislature rightly hamstrung the cities, regarding their ability to levy taxes. Unfortunately, for most folks, voting with their feet is simply not an option. The costs of moving outside of the city or relocating to another city are realistically, too high for a lot of people. The lower and mid-middle class would be hamstrung the worst. The upper and upper middle class could better absorb a loss from moving.

    The water fees catch a lot of folks outside the city, sure. They also catch everyone in the city. The franchise fee also catches everyone in the city. These are both taxes, only council doesn’t have the guts to admit it.

    The water system wouldn’t need so much more money if they hadn’t deferred maintenance on it for years and siphoned the money into failed economic development projects.

    CCI, 5 Points high rise/garage? The convention center hotel – did that ever get settled, and for how much? Innovista, North Main Plaza, the list goes on.

    There may not be waste in the departments, but you can’t tell me that there’s not departments that are wasteful.

  12. Doug Ross

    Nothing that I wrote was insulting. The video work was poorly done in my opinion. Badly framed and too much camera movement. How can you even suggest that a video that crops off the top of soneone’s head is a professional work product? And besides pointing the camera at the speaker I don’t see any example of any added value in the production.

  13. Brad

    Doug, I know I’m not ever going to get this point across to you, which is why there is no point in this completely extraneous digression of a discussion, but I’ll say it once more.

    It is NOT a production, in any way, shape or form. It is not INTENDED to be a “production.” It doesn’t exist in the same universe as “productions.”

    What it is, what it is intended to be, is a peephole for you into something that happened that you did not get to experience, so we are showing it to you. There is no other way that you can make a comparison of these guys, in person. No one else is offering you content like that. Nowhere else can you see how each of the candidates answers a question or relates to voters.

    THAT’S what I’m giving you here. THAT is what you’re getting. You can’t get this anywhere else. It was tricky to bring to you, under far less than optimal conditions.

    Could you, for once in your blogging life, appreciate what you are getting (that you wouldn’t have otherwise) and stop looking for completely extraneous things to complain about?

    Never mind. I’m pretty sure the answer is “no.” We will now move on.

    Anyone have anything to say about what this post is about — which is what the candidates had to say?

  14. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ Silence– The Five Points garage didn’t get built, although the study ultimately commissioned by its foes determined that it was the best idea.

    CCI was before my time, but the idea that the city should step in for such a crucial piece of real estate when the market fails is not unprecedented.

    The hotel was stupid government. North Main Plaza was paid for, in part by federal funds– I chaired the citizens advisory committee that oversaw it–what do you propose be done for that area–just write it off and fence it in? Innovista would have been a great success if Intel hadn’t pulled out….some of these bold ideas don’t pan out, but then look at the Vista–that’s a bold plan that did work out, Riverfront Park, Finley Park, the list goes on…

  15. SusanG

    Thanks, Brett, that was really interesting — how much thought and planning goes into something that looks so simple.

    As for the content — not having gone to the meeting itself, just watching the videos (only once, I admit), they come out looking very similar to me, and most of my impressions of difference were really just irrelevant things (like how young Daniel is, for instance). I don’t think I read into their comments some of the things you said, Brad — their answers seemed almost the same to me.

    But I did enjoy getting the chance to see them.

  16. Mark Stewart

    I’m not a voter in Columbia, so it seems irrelevant what I think.

    But I did make a comment about your photo of the neighborhood meeting in a prior post. I thought everything about the scene was dreadful from a presentation perspective. I also thought the actual video made the best of the scene and of the two candidates. Given the physical constraints, that’s a huge public service – even when made in the employ of one of the candidates.

    Good luck to both at the polls!

  17. Bob Amundson

    I do; I was there. I meant to introduce myself, but didn’t have the chance.

    It shows a young man who actually listens to the questions and then answers from a broad range of policy knowledge. It shows an older man who listens, to a point, but then “regurgitates” answers he has used over and over. Yes, Daniel is young, a Coble, a Democrat. But he is a very smart young man who cares for this City as much as his Dad.

    I asked Daniel once how he would be different than his Dad. He thought for a bit, then smiled and said, “I probably won’t say yes quite so much.”

    Daniel and I have debated the water-sewer transfers. He now makes it clear the City must “wean” itself from these transfers. We also don’t agree on TIFS. But he will listen to my opinion, and others, and then make decisions he feels are best for the City.

    I have spoken with Mr. Baddourah and just don’t feel comfortable with him. Much of it is this idea that “Since I am a businessman, I can come in and fix things.” Mr. Baddourah is no Kirkman Findlay, and I am not confident he will be able to understand the complexities of a huge City budget. The budget of his restaurant is simple compared to the City’s budget. Bottom line, I don’t like Mr. Baddourah’s know it all attitude. I do like Daniel’s freshness, intelligence and willingness to learn.

  18. tavis micklash

    Yea I know im jumping in on this late but I finally got a chance to watch these videos today.

    On the candidates, Daniel Coble is a better orator. He is able to convey his message in a more clear and concise manner. He just looks more polished.

    I also think these videos illustrate an image problem that Moe has had to deal with for a while. When he speaks he comes across as angry. Ive noticed it with both my prior dealing with him and on these videos. Notice on the video he has his arms crossed. Thats a classic confrontational posture.

    The video of the candidates discussing how they prepared for the office is a good example of the difference between the 2. Coble in his preparation discusses primarily what Dr Gergel has done to connect with the district. While they are good ideas they are not his own.

    Moe though shows that he has shown a long term desire to serve. He has showed he has experience at the committee level.

    Moe has a hard time conveying that experience. I believe he would get much better mileage comparing and contrasting his experience to Cobles.

    Moe wants to run a clean campaign. I get it. His advantages are his experience with small business and his working with the council in the past. He shouldn’t be afraid to point this out and call out Coble on his lack of experience.

    Coble message comes across better as well. He is great at conveying the bright eyed, positive dreamer. He addresses what he wants to do in the future. Not what he has done.

    Moes message should be that he has been working with city politics in the past and he is ready to go now. It also should be one of priorities. Instead I believe Mr Baddourah tries to “out dream” Coble though.

    A great example of this was the video about the bike lanes. Coble does a great job of selling his vision for a green columbia. He talks about how we should be able to bike all over the city. He also works in a discussion of the 3 Rivers greenway.

    Moe could have contrasted this with a more conservative message. He could have asked the cost of these things and circled back to the priorities argument. Fix roads first add bike lanes later. Similar to Bolchoz’s pick this not that campaign.

    Instead Moe just said he loved the idea of bike lanes. It made him look like he was just building off Cobles idea. It looked like he was just agreeing with Cobles issue.

    As a final note I think both candidates should actually show up the the council meetings. If you want to show you are preparing yourself show up and do it. The vast majority of council meetings are public. Show up and hear the presentations. At a recent work session they presented the water rate study that will be used by council to figure water rates. None of the district 3 candidates were in attendance. At the district 3 council meeting in March only Mike Miller was in attendance.

  19. Silence

    @ Kathryn – Was there a settlement for the 5 points garage? How much was the hotel settlement? How much of a bailout did the North Main Plaza require from taxpayers? How much money did the city lose on CCI? Was INTC ever really coming to Innovista?
    Sure, the Vista was a success, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. How much money was loaned for “economic development” that wasn’t repayed? What about the small business revolving loan fund? How many houses did we buy from city staffers at inflated prices?


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