Category Archives: Travel Channel Academy

Travel Channel Academy Results

Jeff Day had never touched a video camera or an edit system before he walked into the Travel Channel Academy course in DC on Thursday.

We put him through our extremely rigorous 4-day video bootcamp.

We emphasize excellence.

The video above is the first video Jeff Day has ever made.

Pretty impressive.

And Jeff Day is no kid. He’s in his 50s.

But not all that unusual for TCA students.

The technology has made it possible for millions of people who had never touched a video camera or an edit system to learn how to do this quickly and efficiently.  And the quality of the small, digital hand held cameras (we use SONYs), is just astonishing. You can see it for yourself.

The Travel Channel is committed to creating a global corps of 1,000 trained and certified content providers.

We’re partners in this very interesting venture.

Soon Travel Channel will have a vast cohort of content producers all over the world who can begin to create content for the channel to sell not just programs for the channel itself, but also content for Travel Channel Media’s vast demand for online and on phone (!) video content.

So great job Jeff.

Keep at it.

And congrats to all the grads from this week. And we’re looking forward to our New York session next week.

See what YOU can do.


Travel Channel Academy – DC

Travel Channel Academy – DC


Now… more than ever

Yesterday we wrapped up the bootcamp for the staff of The Travel Channel and this morning we are starting another Travel Channel Academy here in DC at Travel Media HQ.

As the economy comes under increasing pressure, ironically, the demand for high quality, low cost video only increases.

If you can create quality product with only a laptop and a small digital video camera, there is a growing demand for that skill.  And certainly here at The Travel Channel, where the growing online video demand can only be met by world travellers with video camera and laptop.

Good as the relationship with Travel Channel is, (and its a great nurturing opportunity for recent grads), more and more of our students are actually people with their own businesses or who work for businesses that are putting more and more video online.

Those companies used to hire conventional crews, but now they want to move that capability in house. Cuts costs and gives a much greater measure of control.

Our doors are open to anyone who wants to learn.

As we like to say here, we have taken the first year of NYU Film School and squashed it down to four days.

It’s pretty intensive, but it’s pretty amazing too.

A New Industrial Revolution


Upsetting… yet productive

Yesterday, Pat Younge, President and GM of The Travel Channel addressed the group here in DC.

The group is made up of 40 of his employees, so they paid attention.

They are going through the ‘bootcamp’. But they’re not doing it so that they can ‘contribute’ to The Travel Channel. They already do that, and they get paid for it.  They are going through the bootcamp so that they understand the massive change that their entire industry is going through.

Younge compared it to the Industrial Revolution. It is a revoution and one that will have similar impacts.

At the moment, it looks bleak.

Entire worlds are being turned upside down.

The ‘established order’ is beginning to fall apart, and there is no real model for the future.

Once strong newspapers are folding, victims of the web.  Television networks will not be far behind, as video begins its inevitable migration to the Internet.  Once certain careers are being eviscerated left and right.

The introduction of steam power in England in 18th Century brought about a similar dislocation.

Steam power suddenly meant that you could build machinery that would harness this new source of seemingly limitless power and begin a process of mass manufacturing.  Giant looms began to spring up in places like Manchester, driven by steam, that could process a thousands times what an individual could do on a home loom.

Much like the Internet, it was a technology that was destined to rewrite the hitherto basic rules of economics and society.

Suddenly, the manufacture of cotton cloth, hitherto a highly localized, precise and time-consuming craft, became an extremely profitable venture.  It worked. But it required a complete restructuring of not just the factory, or the cotton weaving processes, (which it might have seemed at the beginning), but rather an upending of almost every aspect of society before the Revolution had run its course.

Massive new industries arose in the Midlands, towers of an industrial power and wealth that had never even existed before.  (Think Google).  At the same time, an extremely unsettling transfer of wealth and power began.  The burgeoning industrial class began to accumulate land and money, and the old established land-based aristocracy who had ruled England since 1066 suddenly found themselves marginalized or made irrelevant.  It was something they could not believe was happening. But it was.

The long time honored skills of weaving at home was rendered worthless. Also a shocking turn of events. And worse, the crofters and their lives were overturned as population moved, in mass numbers (also somthing never seen before) from the countryside to the cities to work in those factories.  And to live in conditions that were, frankly, unimaginable until then.

In America, the rise of Industrial Britain turned the colonies into suppliers of raw materials and a ready market for their product.  But when the Americans tried to build their own industrial base, the British Parliament quickly outlawed the establishment of industry in the Americas, one of the primary drivers of the American Revolution. Once the technology was unleashed, there was no way to contain its growth.

In the long run, the Industrial Revolution changed forever every aspect of society. By the time it had run its course in the 20th Century, the world was so changed from that which it had been, that there was virtually nothing that was left standing.  A world which had been pretty much stable for more than 500 years, vanished.  Today, if you wish to see what this world was like you must journed to Colonial Williamsburg, where people in period costumes will recreate for you the ‘quaint’ world that was a way of life for most of the planet for a very long and seemingly stable period of time.

Perhaps in the not too distant future, we will create our own kind of  ‘Colonial Williamsburg’, where tourists may gaze at journalists carrying pencils and pads and printing on paper, tv news crews carrying cameras the size of refrigerators, or a world where people  can only see American Idol once a week, at a pre-established time.



My Own TV Show


Off for a year …..

David Besemer was a student at the Travel Channel Academy in Santa Barbara last year.

He produced one of the better videos, a profile of a small marina ferry and its captain.

I had no idea when he took the course that it was a dry run, so to speak, for an around the world cruise on his own boat with this wife and daughter.

They left last week.

They took rations, life jackets, epirb and a  video camera and laptop.

It’s the digital age.

Now they are going to document their extraordinary trip with their own website. Complete with interactive maps and video updates.  A true online at sea family adventure.


I am a great sailor and I have sailed all my life.

The notion of yachting itself is a relatively recent phenomenon.  Sailing across the oceans (or indeed across a bay for ‘fun’) was completely unknown until the very late 19th Century. Even in the early 20th Century, yachting was for the very very rich or the very very brave.

The first ‘yachtsman’ was Joshua Slocum, who started life as a sea captain and in 1895 set off on the world’s first circumnavigation by a yachtsman in his boat Spray.

This is little more than 100 years ago.

How times have changed.  Slocum’s life was always in danger.  It was hard, perilous work, with absolutely no certainty of success.

Three years later, Slocum returned to Newport, Rhode Island and a year after that published his book Sailing Alone Around the World.

Slocum’s achievement was considered so extraordinary that in 1900 he was invited to the Pan-American exhibition to speak alongside Mark Twain.  He became an American hero, along the lines of Charles Lindberg.

Today, technology has made circumnavigation as whole lot safer and more reliable.  It can still be pretty scary to be 1,000 miles offshore in bad weather, but at least you will know where you are, and you can be in constant contact with the rest of the world.

But now, we don’t have to wait years for the book to be written and published. We can follow the adventure in real time. And in video.

TC Academy New York

Today we conclude another session of the Travel Channel Academy in NY.  This afternoon, we will certify another 40 gradautes of the Academy.  We have sessions scheduled for 2009 in NY, DC and Santa Barbara, but places are already filling up.  Take a look.








The Academy – DC

Yesterday, fresh from the flight from London (and what a terrible airport Dulles is), we kicked off the DC training academy.  Forty more asipring Videojournalists started the four-day intensive course in video literacy and prepared to join the digital revolution.