They are Syrian immigrants and Bhutanese refugees. Spouses of visiting professors from Pakistan and au pairs from Ecuador. Studious mothers of 12 from Somalia whose turn it is, finally, to attend class.
Some, highly educated in their home country, arrive with advanced degrees. Others have never set foot inside a school and struggle to read and write in their native language.
Step into an English as a Second Language classroom at Madison College’s downtown campus, and you’ll find learners from 10 or 15 countries, and as many stations in life, practicing together.
“The clock is on the wall.” “Epiphane is Akugbe’s brother.” Or in higher levels, “Had I known you like reggae, I would have invited you.”
For most of us, smartphones make life more convenient and fun. We route trips, game, buy things and share ideas on the go. But for blind users, smartphones can be survival tools. An app or web page that’s not accessible is more than an annoyance — it disconnects and disorients.
Kevin Jones is one such user. Blind since birth and a lifelong Madison-area resident, Jones is a technology evangelist and an emerging force in the local web and app development community. He’s on a mission to help developers understand how to make their content accessible to the blind.
If you’re having trouble imagining how a blind user navigates a smartphone, head to your phone’s accessibility settings, turn on the screen reader (VoiceOver on Apple iOS, TalkBack on Google’s Android platform), shut your eyes and try catching up on today’s news or tweeting.
My first piece for Madison Magazine, the April 2014 cover story:
“We’re excited to have you on our team! It’s not often we hand out cover stories to folks we’ve never worked with before, but our hunch that you were the best fit for our Best Places to Work project was a good one.” — Brennan Nardi, Editor
The Humanities Hackathon leads the UW’s entry into digital humanities.
If a paperback on your summer reading list was published anonymously, you’d probably notice. But if this article lacked a byline, or tonight’s episode of Wilfred didn’t credit a writer, you might not bat an eyelash.
Mark Vareschi, assistant professor of English at UW-Madison, wants to know why, and also how anonymous publication affects the way we interpret published or performed works. To help him get closer to the answers, he turned to computers….
Together we refined Service Thread’s brand look, sound, and feel. We helped them transcend their existing brand identity to reflect a genuinely accessible yet cutting-edge persona.
From here we applied these new tools to launch a completely new website.
Last May, the girls next door found a baby bunny hopping near their tomato garden, scooped her up and placed her in a box in their garage. “What should we do with her?” they asked me, the neighborhood’s token animal rescuer.
She was the size of my fist, her eyes and ears open, in good health. I had recently learned that at this age, belying their helpless appearance, bunnies are out of the nest and on their own. So we planted her beneath some tangled boscage in their backyard and watched her scamper away.
Bunnies like her often find their way (via well-meaning “rescuers”) to the Dane County Humane Society’s Four Lakes Wildlife Center (FLWC) every day in spring and summer….
With a new company name, direction, design, mission, and voice, Healthgram now sounds and looks like the revolutionary software technology development company it is. Post-rebrand, our creative team (Evans, Prince & Merfeld) created an entirely new website and software portal environment.
Personal chef Sami Fgaier was looking for more traction from his website. We added several pages to the website, rewrote it, reorganized it, and implemented several SEO strategies to help potential customers find him on Google.
If you’re an inventor or crafter, perhaps you’ve used a 3D printer to bring your ideas or artwork to life. For the rest of us, the concept might sound kind of far out. But a world where 3D printing is as commonplace as laser printing is close enough to touch.
Hannah Bernard-Donals is a Certified Professional Midwife and runs All Four Trimesters Midwifery, a private home birth midwifery practice in Madison.
She needed her existing website to attract more local moms-to-be looking for midwifery, duola, and lactation services and support.
We optimized her on-page content and her behind-the-scenes website elements and worked with her to build up her Google Plus page to help Madison families find her fast.
If someone blindfolded you, spun you around and plopped you down on the third floor of the historic Madison train depot on West Washington Avenue, you might think you’ve landed in Seattle, Portland or San Francisco.
But you’d still be in Madison, in the office of Ronin Studios & Consulting, a startup that designs and develops mobile and web-based learning games, simulations and applications for adult learners.
FluGen, founded in 2007 by Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka, Dr. Gabriele Neumann and Paul V. Radspinner, aims to prevent and treat both seasonal and pandemic influenza, and market its intradermal (within the skin) delivery device. In his University Research Park office, Radspinner, the CEO, gives the upshot on their progress on both fronts. Read Liz Merfeld’s full article.
‘Web Sessions’ with Austin’s All-Analog Transistor Six
Austin’s Transistor Six recreates the authentic, intimate feel of the BBC’s Peel Sessions by capturing almost-famous bands live on still and Super 8 film and delivering performance and interview clips in online “web sessions.” Here’s a behind-the-music look at Transistor Six, its founders, its business model, its gear, and its analog ambitions. Read the full article.
The Information Technology Academy helps kids get a leg up in the tech world. By Liz Merfeld.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s words greet visitors to Erica Laughlin’s office on the third floor of UW-Madison’s Computer Sciences Building. Laughlin runs the Information Technology Academy (ITA), a four-year pre-college technology access and training program for “talented students of color and economically disadvantaged students” attending Madison public schools.
It’s Wednesday morning at ITA’s two-week summer camp. The program’s back-to-school kickoff is under way. Thirty incoming high school freshmen, recruited last year in middle school, congregate in the computer lab. Some face their iMac monitors with a focus that belies their young age; others nestle in groups, trading ideas. This is where they will gather every other Saturday for the next four years. Read the entire article.
Ah, the joys of flying. You’re a hundred dollars in baggage fees poorer, and you’ve watched your valuables totter away on the conveyor while a TSA agent eyes your three-ounce duty-free bottle of honey liqueur for possible “confiscation.” When at last you fall into your seat, it’s at the farthest point between the two bathrooms. If only there were a way to bribe someone in, say, aisle row 5 to switch seat assignments. Wouldn’t it be nice to grab back just a speck of control over your flying experience?
Enter SeatSwapr, a work-in-progress mobile app that would let passengers browse their flight for seats up for trade.
And enter my new technology column in the Isthmus. My first piece was printed today.
What people are saying about the 2012 Team Aquafix catalog: “I received the AQUAFIX catalog, read it cover to cover, and thought I would let you know that I loved it! Funny, smart, informative. Gotta give it up to those involved in the design, layout and copy. Really good stuff.”
(Props to insightstudio’s Mic Funk for the design and layout.)
St. Louis-area studio Gebbs.TV has created a renewable revenue stream and a powerful body of work producing promo videos for area schools that live on the schools’ websites and serve as recruiting films and video mission statements. Read the article here.
In as few as 30 seconds, a singular corporate identity video can convince a website visitor of a company’s expertise, poise, and uniqueness. But it’s easier said than done, of course, so we talked to four leading producers about how they approach these types of projects. In this first installment of a 3-part series, they’ll share their secrets on telling and selling corporate stories. Read the Streaming Media Producer article, part I.
Just in time for Halloween, Dustin Blake of Atlanta-based indy Productions, a 2010 EventDV 25 honoree, has resurrected the Trash the Dress (TTD) movement with a degree of sexiness hitherto unseen—and this time, he’s added an element of the macabre.
Waite runs Higher Definition Media (HDM) out of Bakersfield, and just this June launched its wedding-focused spin-off, Lovestruck Films. In addition, he is an indie filmmaker, with 3 self-produced features under his belt, and was one of the first presenters announced for IN[FOCUS] 2012.
The Aussies have scrunched their event video industry’s evolution into the blink of an eye, leaving videographers stateside blushing. Sure, event videos in the U.S. have advanced by leaps and bounds, going from totally cheap to totally chic, and morphing into films along the way. And there’s no better evidence of the rise of event filmmaking in Australia than the Aussies’ innovative educational event, Exposed Down Under. EDU 2011 kicks off on 4 July in Melbourne. Read the article here.
Greg Mulvey is the Lead Editor and Motion Graphics Designer for Second City Communications, the business solutions division of Chicago’s world-famous improv comedy theater, The Second City. (Alumni include Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, John Belushi, and Bill Murray to name a few.) Editing comedy is an art form, one that Greg admits he’s still learning.
One of Chicago’s more successful event video studios—FurlaVision has won more WEVA Creative Excellence Awards than any studio in the Midwest—Chris Chibucos attributes much of his company’s success to they way they have always combined a fairly large volume of work (as many as 150-175 events per year) with a high price point.
Hyatt Connects with Ignite
The global hospitality chain uses video to communicate with more than 80,000 employees at 340 locations across the globe
By Liz Merfeld
For Hyatt Corp., a hospitality chain with 340 hotels worldwide, communicating with 80,000 employees is no small feat. How to bridge communication among offices thousands of miles apart, from San Francisco to Saudi Arabia, and to bring bandwidth-challenged hotels into the fold was an issue the company attempted to solve by launching a new intranet site in October 2008.
With the new portal, dubbed Hyatt Connect, came the ability to share audio and video content and, as Hyatt executives were pleased to discover, a potentially uber-efficient way to get employee face time—even with staff in remote locales such as Azerbaijan.
There’s a wave of unproduced, demolike, one-take music videos sweeping the web. It started way back in April 2006, when Vincent Moon (real name: Mathieu Saura), a young filmmaker from Paris, conspiring with Chyrde, creator of popular French music website La Blogothèque, filmed songs guerrilla-style “to go” (as opposed to shooting in a standard concert setting) and then uploaded them to the website for mass consumption.
If you want your MTV, then move along; this article isn’t for you. But stick around if you’re intrigued by the prospect of watching or producing genuine homespun, documentary-style short films of roots/Americana musicians performing their songs.
by Liz Merfeld
With an infectious smile and a joie de vivre you can catch purely by proximity, Meg Simone looks as though she hiked right out of a Trek Travel catalog and into the wedding film industry’s inner circle. By expertly combining her love of the northeastern outdoors with her work, she has (perhaps inadvertently) cornered the market on destination weddings in the heart of Mount Washington Valley (N.H.), a resort community filled with restaurants, shops, ski resorts, quaint inns, and historic grand hotels. What’s more, in a “why didn’t I think of that” move, Simone has become the first videographer to build a brand around elopements, private ceremonies taking place in and around her hometown, picturesque North Conway, N.H.
Case study written for Ignite Technologies, Inc., appearing in E-visions Summer 2010, by yours truly: “Using Technology for Global Communication”
Need to move large volumes of water or oil around the world? That’s not a problem for the Flowserve Corporation, global supplier of pumps, valves, seals, and automation to industries such as oil, gas, power, and water. It’s the flow of rich company communications to its small-city-size workforce spread out across more than 56 countries that had them scratching their heads.
Headquartered near Dallas, Texas, Flowserve struggled with relaying corporate messages in an engaging and efficient way to its 15,000 employees.
Executives, especially fresh faces like Flowserve’s newest CEO Mark Blinn, wanted to establish credibility and build rapport with workers, for starters. But it wasn’t as if they could just call an all-hands meeting down at the local Bennigan’s…. Read entire article.
After introducing themselves to the crowd at Re:Frame Austin, Society Hill Studios’ Cristina Valdivieso and Jon Connor, along with partner Amy Reese now seem to pop up everywhere with the industry’s inner circle. But how did these Young Turks manage to crash this party, seemingly overnight, and set themselves on the road to becoming one of the go-to studios in Philadelphia for couples wanting a high-end, artistic wedding film?
Adventures in Fusion, Part 1 by Elizabeth Avery Merfeld
Last fall, Canon shook our world when it released the transformative EOS 5D Mark II, a DSLR featuring full-frame HD video and dynamic depth-of-field control. Along with others of its ilk, the 5D is revving up videographers’ creativity, smearing the line between the photography and videography industries, and ushering in (some say) a new era of photo-video fusion. With several months of use under their belts, we asked a handful of early adopters for their take on how the 5D has impacted their businesses and where (if anywhere) their first forays into fusion have taken them.
The good people at Planet Propaganda gave me the opportunity to bid on an SEO and writing job for Madison-based mystery shopping company Beyond Hello. I’m happy to say I got the project. That was at the beginning of the year, and our work is now complete.
I had so much fun writing the copy for their website, in large part because the people I got to work with were some of the friendliest and most genuine people I’ll ever have the good fortune to collaborate with. Planet did a phenomenal job on their website. Take a look!
Some artists seek inspiration in long walks, majestic sunsets, or awe-inspiring works of art. Others, like the crew at wedding and event cinematography studio Starcross’d Creative (formerly Starcross’d Films), “get together over some beer and Rock Band.”
The Experts’ Guide to 100 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do, compiled by Samantha Ettus, is based on the premise that often “the simplest things are the hardest to master.” The simplicity of no-brainers such as washing your hair, telling someone a story, or even breathing makes it so these primitive tasks come naturally–but at what price? We are doing them–and ourselves–an injustice, she reasons, by not taking the time to become maestros of mundane activities.
To guide readers in perfecting their handshaking or lipstick-applying skills, she has compiled 100 chapters of golden rules, techniques, and instructions from 100 experts. It was this book–no offense intended-that came to mind when we approached the subject of creating a demo.
The mid-1960s saw the advent of revolutionary film format Super 8–nowadays a medium used to conjure up memories of the “old days” our parents keep cocooned in cobwebbed basements and cold attics. In the ’70s, boys racing their bikes on dirt tracks kick-started a phenomenon that became known as bicycle motocross, or BMX. And in the ’90s, Joe Simon apparently developed a thing for old-school hobbies involving damage, scratches, dirt, and dust.
Neulion, Inc. and BandCon came together to bring the NHL to IPTV. Now fans can access live games, on-demand highlights, behind-the-scenes footage, clips from morning skate, and pregame and postgame interviews and commentary.
by Elizabeth Avery Merfeld (née Welsh)
Lee Bakogiannakis, 2dg: Sound and Vision
When the time comes to put his legacy in order, Lee Bakogiannakis wants to be remembered for his contributions to the Greek wedding video industry. But for now he’ll settle for being known as the guy who “made Bon Jovi cool again.”
by Elizabeth Welsh
Meeting the Enterprise Distribution Video Challenge
With a 15,000-strong employee base and offices scattered around the world, commercial real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield needed a reliable way for senior management to communicate with staff. They chose a content delivery solution from Ignite Technologies, Inc.
by Elizabeth Welsh
October 15, 2008
“There it was! We were on the cover of the upcoming issue of EventDV!!! And the article by Liz Welsh was even cooler! I was going out of my mind… like a rock band member hearing their song on the radio for the first time.”
“Liz, Just finished reading the article. It’s awesome! You did such a wonderful job. We’re so grateful. In the words of Russell Hammond to Rolling Stone reporter William Miller in Almost Famous, thanks for making us ‘look cool.’ ” – Loyd & Hazel Calomay, Red 5 Studios
It’s not every day my name or anything I’m associated with is used in the same sentence as the word hot, which is why I’m using this rare event to link to an article I wrote for the March issue of EventDV titled, “Meet the New Doc,” which one Video University blog poster described as “HOT” (in all caps no less) and another poster said “should be read and reread several times.” I wouldn’t recommend that if you’re not in the industry or if you’re not shopping for a wedding videographer, but if digital videography appeals to you at all as an art, you might give it a once-over. The artists interviewed are clearly what make the article hot–check out the links to their work at the bottom of the article and you’ll see what I mean.
I’m on Cloud Nine. Or rather, Cloud Nine Creative’s website, gathering some last-minute facts for an article I’m writing about the multimedia company for an upcoming magazine article. For the past couple of hours I’ve been reading two issues of WedLuxe, their luxury wedding magazine sold throughout Canada. I went to bed day-dreaming of fairy tales, Prince Charming, and honeymoons. Visions of Vera Wang gowns, pint-size ring-bearers clad in Perry Ellis, Swarovski crystals, and Thailand retreats spun in my head. But I didn’t fall asleep. I couldn’t fall asleep.
I lay there with words ringing in my ears: decadent, artisan, haute couture. I lay there remembering my wedding. Not so luxe. Not so long ago. And no so lasting.
No Carmela Sutera gown for me. I wore one from JCPenny’s — a pretty white prom dress, in fact, that I returned with the receipt for a refund afterwards. The ceremony? I left the planning to my then husband-to-be, who arranged for us to walk down the aisle to a Smashing Pumpkins song at his home church in Kokomo, Indiana. (His uncle forgot to press play.) Our reception was held in the church basement with folding chairs and paper tablecloths. We dined on cheese chunks and grapes and opened K-Mart presents from selfless relatives who could barely afford to pay their trailer park rent. The cake we froze to eat on our first anniversary got thrown out.
In the premiere issue of WedLuxe, editor-in-chief Angela Desveaux waxes poetic on what a luxury is, exactly. She says, “Depending on who you ask, luxury can be defined in many ways. Some will describe objects of opulence while others speak of intangible qualities like time, passion and excellence.”
Since my wedding eight years ago, I’ve come to appreciate the fine details involved in wedding celebrations, in large part thanks to EventDV magazine, a publication I became involved with as a result of my background in film/video and writing. I was thrust into the world of weddings — a world I didn’t belong in but now feel, in some small way, a part of. I’ve come to know many of the North American players in the wedding world — filmmakers, in particular, who make art films that would blow you away. I’ve begun to see what all the fuss is about.
But as for opulence, it’s something I write about, not experience. Unless of course you subscribe to Desveaux’s second interpretation of luxury. After a $10K custody battle and half a decade of heartache, I am surrounded by those intangible luxuries she speaks of. Not just my darling daughter, but also my ex-husband, whose closeness to us is remarkable. Unconventional family unit, yes. But we vacation together, cook together, laugh together, and love our daughter together. Today he watched the Packer game with Granny as I worked. He made her dinner, and dessert.
Our Edy’s ice cream with Hershey’s syrup may not hold a candle to a monogrammed cake created by a world-renowned pastry chef, but the warmth in this broken family is felt. It is nearly tangible, and as I prepare to try yet again to fall asleep tonight, dabbing the liquid one of my dogs just vomited on the carpet with Brawny, I feel blessed. I feel like I am on cloud nine.
"Our website had not done anything in 9 years. We started working with Liz and she generated more in 6 months than we did the previous 9 years. She understands how Google works and is well read on the latest web developments. I highly recommend her talents."
Examples of previous work
Book Copyediting and Proofreading:
Writing for the Web: