Steamboat Springs Late last summer, just a week before the last violin was scheduled to be put away in its case, the principles in Strings in the Mountains were looking for a new way to promote their product.
The summer-long music festival attracts music lovers and musicians to Steamboat Springs in July and August for an intensive session of chamber music. Strings also produces a calendar of diverse musical offerings ranging from a cappella singing groups like the Persuasions to the Texas swing of Asleep at the Wheel.
Strings executives knew the cost of the new Strings promotion had to be relatively moderate. They also wanted it to be easy to ship and even easier for recipients to file away. It had to have pretty pictures, but even more important it had to have pretty music.
"We just really wanted to show people the multiple facets of Strings in a very short piece," Sheri Steiner said. She is the director of development, marketing and advertising for the festival.
Steiner and Strings President Kay Clagett were seriously considering producing a traditional videotape. But they went in another direction.
Strings already had a carefully redesigned Web site created by Kathryn Antyr of Studio9 Design in Steamboat. Studio9 referred Strings to Kurt and Kim Malueg of Tripstream Productions LLC.
The result is a 7-minute video burned to a CD that can be popped into the drive of any modern computer with startling results.
Tripstream is a multimedia company based in Steamboat Springs with offices in Bogue Hall on the campus of Colorado Mountain College.
Kurt Malueg created a lively video for Strings that included digital quality sound. It also includes a professional narrative by veteran television sportscaster Verne Lundquist, who is a special friend of the music festival.
What makes the 7-minute video even more effective, is the fact it is contained on a CD that costs pennies to reproduce, even less to mail and can be easily played on almost any computer. The CD comes with both PC and Mac versions of the popular media player QuickTime.
Steiner said she had priced a traditional video production that would have been produced on VHS tape at about $33,000. Malueg gave Strings a nonprofit rate and produced the video for $7,000. That included shooting tape at eight concerts on short notice.
Strings has already mailed out about 600 copies of the video. Recipients can pop it into the CD-ROM drives of their computers and in less than a minute, they're transported to Steamboat in July.
"This is the quickest, fastest way for us to get our message out," Steiner said. "People don't even have to read."
Antyr said she refers her own clients to Tripstream because of the effectiveness of video on the Web.
"A lot of people like to do virtual tours," Antyr said. "but that's really limited in the amount of information you can include. My recommendation to clients is to create a video because of its storytelling capabilities."
Living in Steamboat Springs, where most people depend on dial-up access to the Internet, it's easy to underestimate the growing importance of video content on the Web, he said. In cities where people have access to broadband connections, they are coming to expect video as they research and plan vacations.
Malueg said it was a treat to work with a veteran broadcaster like Lundquist on the narration, and his professionalism added much to the video.
"Verne really is good," Malueg said. "He by far tops the list in terms of the quality of his voice and how he carries himself. He nails the emphasis without any coaching."
Malueg didn't even have to take Lundquist into a sound studio to capture the voice-over narrative for the video. He simply set up his digital video camera in Lundquist's home and taped him. Later the voice portion of the tape was edited into the finished viewer on a Macintosh computer. The sound quality Malueg achieved without using additional recording equipment is remarkable.
"That's really born out of the digital medium," he said. "There's really no loss in quality in the transfer."
Malueg is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Journalism School in Madison. He began his career as a broadcast journalist, first in Wausau, Wis., where he was a one-man band, serving as reporter and videographer on his assignments. Later, he specialized in working behind the camera for WISC-TV, a network affiliate in Madison.
"Little did I know that those jobs would really prepare me for what I do now," Malueg said.
He decided to make a career shift and moved to Colorado where he became a writer for a Front Range training and consulting company.
At Ernst and Young, Malueg developed Web-based training productions for large clients like Southwestern Bell and 3M. Eventually he grew weary of that work, too.
"I felt like I was pigeonholed in that sector," he explained.
Jumping into the dot-com boom, Malueg went to work for a Boulder company called Xor. As a producer, he managed a team of software developers that created the Web fulfillment for a company called vitamins.com
"That was back in the days of fake money," Malueg said sardonically.
Eager to run his own company and make his own decisions, Malueg wrote a business plan for a digital multimedia company that wouldn't be tied down by geographic location a company that could produce video content to be delivered either over the Internet, or on CD-ROM.
Tripstream, only a year old, relocated to Steamboat in the spring of 2001. Kurt is the executive producer, writing scripts and producing and editing video footage for clients.
Kim Malueg is the company's Web developer, and builds the interfaces that make the videos work on the Internet.
During the past year, the company has focused on pursuing business in the Colorado travel and tourism industry. Among its current clients is Winter Park Resort, which retained Tripstream to provide its video services throughout the winter.
"They're very forward thinking in terms of their Web site," Kurt said of Winter Park.
The Strings video is a strong example of what can be accomplished.
Steiner said the video is a key piece in the festival's press kit, and can be used at fund-raising presentations and to attract artists the festival would like to book in coming seasons.
The Strings video is also being used to promote Steamboat in the broader sense.
"I get a lot of request for copies (of the CD) from Realtors and property management companies like Steamboat Resorts," Steiner said.
"We're partnering with those organizations."