** ADVANCE FOR MONDAY, OCT. 22 ** John Cardenas of the Portland Development Commission poses with his video camera Oct. 12, 2007, in Portland, Ore. Video, created and disseminated on YouTube by the Portland Development Commission, is exactly one minute long. But that's all the time the video needs to visually showcase the city, its people and its growing development and housing markets.(AP Photo/Daily Journal, Stephanie Basalyga) - AP

Portland developers experiment with YouTube

PORTLAND — The camera sweeps past a canopy of thick foliage, and in the distance Portland's skyline rises toward a brilliant, azure blue. An aerial tram makes its descent as the patter of commuter feet enter and exit the platform.

Short cuts show Portlanders working, playing and hanging out, ending with another aerial pan of Portland's skyscape. The on-screen text reads: "Investing in Portland's Future."

The video, created and disseminated on YouTube by the Portland Development Commission, is one minute long. That's all the time the video needs to visually showcase the city, its people and its growing development and housing markets.

For about two months, the Portland Development Commission has been making short videos, between 30 seconds and three minutes long, and posting them on YouTube. Currently, there are seven videos available, some of them with hundreds of views. Other are planned for the future.

"We think this has tremendous potential," Shawn Uhlman, a PDC spokesman, said. "Today, there are fewer people utilizing traditional media."

He is not alone in his thinking.

Once the home of wacky videos of random lip-synching, governments around the globe have recently embraced YouTube as a means of staying in touch with their citizens or sharing important public service announcements.

London was one of the first cities to use the video-sharing site and maintains a YouTube channel on the government's Web page. Even the U.S. federal government has caught digital fever.

A year ago, the White House began distributing anti-drug YouTube-based public service announcements. It was a way of cutting costs and reaching a younger, more Web-savvy audience.

And that's the Portland Development Commission's idea, too.

The brainchild of Shawn Uhlman, John Jackley and John Cardenas, the YouTube videos represent the organization's attempt to "bridge the digital divide," Cardenas said, and reach a younger audience, like first-time homeowners.

And they're cheap: there are no uploading fees, the video equipment is relatively inexpensive, and the development commission doesn't have to pay for extra bandwidth.

Cardenas is the man directly behind the camera. He said the digital world allows for greater interconnectivity, feedback and public interest. And the audiovisual medium works better than a standard news release for the average Portlander.

"I want someone to watch a video (about a building) and say, 'Hey, I live two blocks from there; I wonder what's going on,' " Cardenas said.

But Cardenas, who has worked at the development commission for four years as a spokesman, said the videos are intended to augment news releases, not completely replace them. A graduate of the Northwest Film Center, he is currently finishing an interdisciplinary master's degree from Portland State University in urban regional development, business marketing and film.

He is also bilingual and produces some of the videos in both English and Spanish.

Increasing homeownership among Portland's growing Latino population is a goal, Cardenas said.

Future videos will feature stories about the Burnside Bridgehead project, the Lents Neighborhood project and the PDC's twice-monthly "How to Buy a Fixer-Upper" seminar.

Making a video is an involved process. For a couple minutes of footage, Cardenas generally shoots between one and a half to two hours' worth of video — weather permitting. It's important to keep the sky that brilliant, azure blue, after all. Then, the footage is edited down to a manageable running time to keep viewers' interest.

Cardenas plans more projects in the future, including testimonial-driven pieces about home and business owners.

Other departments inside of the Portland Development Commission are also showing interest in making videos about their projects, he said.

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