Which-Format

The Why, Where, What, and When of the Animated GIF

WHY

Cute kittens and klutzy kids have been using animated GIFs for years to showcase their particular brand of cute. But the animated GIF isn’t all fun and games. Okay, it’s mostly fun and games. But who says marketing can’t be fun every once in awhile?

Because we’re a video company, motion is kind of our thing. So you can bet we love animated GIFs. After all, they handily bridge the gap between a still image and a video.

GIFs are hardly a new frontier. They’re been around since 1987! Marketers have been slow to catch up, but animated GIFs’ popularity as an alternative advertising device has been slowly growing. Used correctly, they can be a great way to get attention, showcase a product, or express your brand’s individuality.

Here are some great examples of GIF usage for inspiration:

This slick GIF by Jakub Antalík showcases the smooth animations and clean interface of the app design.

 

Subway has started using illustrated GIFs to show off their fun side.

Diesel put together a moving fashion shoot for one of their recent marketing campaigns.

Here at Blueforest Studios, we just can’t resist GIFs. We’ve been using them in some of our recent online spot ads to help explain what we do.

WHERE

Some popular sites, like Twitter and Facebook, still don’t allow animated GIFs. Even a few email clients have been slow on the update. So make sure your animated images can also work as a static image and do plenty of testing beforehand.

Some sites, however, go with animated GIFs like jelly on toast. Tumblr in particular is the unofficial kingdom of the GIF, and its platform encourages users to like and reblog posts. Brands that have embraced the motion movement include Coca-Cola, American Apparel, Adidas, Sesame Street, and Disney.

WHAT

Consider your audience and let that guide your content.. Does your GIF have entertainment value? Make people laugh? Show customers how to interact with your product? Illustrate some life truth that resonates with folks? People normally don’t share ads. But people do share good content. And if your ad just so happens to be good content… win win!

WHEN

If you know anything about animated GIFs, you know that they’re best used sparingly (unlike this blog post).

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A Vision of the Future

The need for video is growing.

Youtube just passed Facebook as the largest social media site (according to Reel SEO). People are spending more time watching video on smart phones, tablets, and computers than ever before. Marketers know that video is key to improved engagement, brand awareness, and increased conversions.

Check out some of these stats.

“Show Me Something” An Infographic Exploration of Video Engagement, April 2014 from Shutterstock on Vimeo.

What’s also growing? The Triangle are in North Carolina.

Cities in the Triangle continue to make the top 10 places to live, find jobs, fall in love, and raise kids. It’s one of America’s 20 fastest growing areas according to Forbes. Everywhere we look, new buildings are going up to accommodate the growth.

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The film community is growing rapidly here, too.

I’ve heard from plenty of people moving here from colder, more crowded parts of the world. They like the warmer climate, cost of living, and collaborative atmosphere. They feel like it’s a great place to make their film dreams come true. (Who can blame them? That’s why I stayed here.)

Do you see what I see?

A group of people who need video? And a group of people who can make videos? You know what that means for our area…plenty of opportunity. Right here at home.

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Michael Garske and Aaron Bittikofer on the set of Brewconomy in Pittsboro, N.C., on Saturday, June 7, 2014.

We have a lot of talent in this area and I feel really grateful for it.

We have a need for video and people willing to pay for it. Plus a growing community of people with the right talents, skills, and expertise to help create videos. It’s a win-win.

There are awesome groups of film (and TV) professionals doing incredible work. There are online forums, monthly meetups, and TriFilm socials (as often as I can organize them). There’s a thriving community of filmmakers creating corporate videos, web series, fiction films, documentaries, and more. There are also huge productions coming to town.

I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of it. I have to pinch myself sometimes when I start to think of all the great things happening here, the awesome people I’ve worked with, and the talent here. We’re incredibly lucky.

Y’all are doing such awesome stuff!

There’s just one small problem.

Our film community – although strong – can be tough to find.

But there’s not ONE, easily-identifiable spot online to find us. And that can be troubling. It misrepresents the incredible stuff that’s happening here.

The people who need videos made want to find the video makers easily. The filmmakers moving here want to find fellow industry pros easily. The legislators in charge of incentives that bring big budget productions here can’t reach us easily. People who want to bring workshops and conferences for filmmakers to this area can’t find us easily.

TriFilm at Trailblazer Studios social by Camden Watts

There’s a thriving film industry here but it can be tough to find easily. Here’s a photo from the TriFilm at Trailblazer Studios social on 3.21.2013, one of the ways I try to help unite our film community.

So, what to do?

I believe there’s a clear answer: create a film society for the Triangle.

What if we had:

  • A consistent way to screen our work locally on a regular basis?
  • A way to connect with people willing to pay for our talents?
  • A unified voice to keep the film industry in NC thriving?
  • A way to find resources (like grants) to do our best work?
  • A means to collaborate easily with industry professionals?
  • A way to continue learning and improving our craft?
  • A unified group of filmmakers, easily found online?

Wouldn’t it be great to have a film society? A place where we can gather regularly to talk shop? A way to get leads on new business easily? Something that will help us all thrive?

A film society would serve you, the filmmaker, so that you can thrive. It would be built around your needs, feedback, and requests. It would help you stay connected and informed.

It would be a professional organization, led by a community of people invested in helping it run well. It would be for the people and by the people, in other words.

Guest Blogger Camden Watts

 

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Production is Only Half the Battle

There’s a problem with the video production industry today. It’s that there are so many great videos that don’t get viewed. Why is this? Because there’s a disconnect between video producers and marketing teams. A company may have spent the time and money on making a compelling and informative video, but if they haven’t spent the time to properly optimize the video and make sure they’re driving traffic to it, it disappears into a Youtube black hole. At Blueforest Studios, we’ve developed a system to bridge this gap. It’s called BlueBoost – a 27-point proven process that’s guaranteed to get the phenomenal video we’ve made for you viewed online.

maxresdefaultTake our client Edmund Villarreal for example. Edmund came to us for help marketing his product, the All-Weather Firestarter.  When we first started working with Edmund, he had his own Youtube channel and a video produced by a different Raleigh studio. Though informative, his video only garnered slightly over two thousand views and nine likes. Here you can see the video we made for him. We created a new Youtube channel and optimized the video, gaining nearly thirteen thousand views and forty-eight likes. We also added his original video to the new channel and optimized to achieve over quadruple the amount of views and likes he first received.

Edmund is just one example out of numerous clients we’ve helped get the results their marketing videos deserve. It’s important to us that we make the most out of your investment, which means preventing your video from getting lost in the vast internet wilderness.

 

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Video SEO Done Right

I love learning!  There I said it – it’s no secret.  I have attended 7 institutions of higher learning and looking to attend another as soon as I can!  But while I love the institutions of higher learning not every single class provides knowledge that you can apply right away.  To gain practical knowledge – especially in a somewhat new field I rely on workshops, articles and meetups.  Thanks to my friend Phil Buckley who organizes the local SEO Meetup I have been able to learn from experts in the field of Video SEO – people who have had great successes for themselves, like Gregory Ng or for their clients, like Bob Walton.  So I’ve been using all the tips that they’ve provided – some of which are included on our 27-point checklist that we use for every client who requests video SEO help.

So as you might have gathered, I’m a bit of a geek.  I don’t get to see immediate results for the operations work that I do so when I get positive results for my efforts I’m thrilled to share them.

The screenshot above is a sample of excellent Video SEO.  All but one of the recommended videos are produced by Blueforest Studios so if the viewer has time and wants to check out more videos, I am not sending them to my competition – I am sending them to see more videos by our team.

This is not the most important part of Video SEO but controlling the message – including what comes up after your message or video can be very important.  Depending on your viewers YouTube knowledge they may assume that the ‘recommended’ videos are related to you anyway so don’t you want those videos – or at least the thumbnails to reflect positively on your company?

Stay posted to learn more about Video SEO or reach out to our team to see how we can help you!

Kathy Langfield

 

Brevity

In Video Marketing, Brevity is Key

Feeling good about your new video masterpiece? Think you’ve done well describing the ins and outs of your business and why prospects should choose your company? Most viewers will tune out of online videos after only fifteen seconds. That might make you rethink your 45-second musical intro.

It’s not breaking news that our society’s ever-shortening attention spans prefer visuals and sound to text. Neither is the idea that there’s a lot of bright and shiny “noise” tempting your viewer down a different path. So how do you hook the viewer despite these challenges?

1. Be Concise

To engage the viewer it’s important to get to the point. We know how hard it is to condense everything your business has to offer into 90 seconds. If you’re knee-deep in it every day, it’s hard to weed out what’s pertinent to the client. Try to avoid the temptation to cram everything in. Talking heads delivering wordy explanations turns viewers off big time. If this is a training video your employee will be forced to watch, then you can get away with a lengthy re-enactment of the company’s 100-year history. Otherwise just hit the main points.

2. Use Terms that are Easy to Understand

In short, don’t confuse your prospect. They are considering your product or service because they don’t know how to do whatever you do themselves. Our clients trust us to conceptualize, produce and optimize their videos. I don’t expect them to know an f-stop from a frame rate. Using complex terms to describe your process will make the process itself appear complicated, and therefore worry your future client. Unless this video is targeting other experts, kick the tricky terminology and keep it simple.

3. Don’t Just Say it With Words

Here’s the how and why of video’s effectiveness, whether it’s an award winning feature-length drama or a Vine video about your automotive shop. (It also happens to be why I personally fell so in love with the art of film.) It’s not just the voice over doing the talking. There’s the lighting, how the shot is set up, what’s going on within the frame, what may be happening outside of the frame, music, sound effects, the pace of the editing, the movement of the camera… I could go on forever. All of these factors can be arranged to convey a strong message in a short period of time.

Brevity is the key to a successful video no matter the chosen platform. Before embarking on your next video, take time to really consider your audience and why they’ll be watching. Keep the dialogue concise and simple, and make the most of all video has to offer. If one is picture is worth a thousand words, then one minute of video is worth 1.8 million.

 

- Meredith Duncan, Account Manager

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Using Case Study Videos to Shape Brand Perception

Guest Blogger Dane Frederiksen

You’re on your way to interview for your dream job, so obviously you’ve donned your favorite sweatpants and ripped tee shirt. You’ve got the skills to do the job, so the way you present yourself shouldn’t matter at all, right?

Mmm. Maybe. Or maybe you should suit up in something a little less Saturday morning. Stand out for the right reasons. Perception matters. And the same applies to your branding efforts.

Let’s get back to the job interview scenario. Suppose you could walk into the hiring manager’s office and show him this. Not only do you look great, but you’re telling a compelling narrative with real-life characters, dramatic images, music—the works.

In their “interview video” above (call it a case study if you must), architecture firm Quinn Evans doesn’t just show off a series of standard portfolio images. Sure, they absolutely have a portfolio worth showing off, but their video marketing strategy goes deeper. They’re showing their value, not just their capabilities. They’re bringing more than diplomas and blueprints to the table; they’re bringing real-life impact, community involvement, and a narrative of who they are. I think it’s fair to say that, with this piece in their video marketing arsenal, they’ll ace the interview and get the job. Or, to break from the metaphor, they’ll be generating lots of online leads with this video.

There are a number of things to know before rushing into any project; video marketing is no different. Before you get started, here are a few tips and thoughts to take into consideration.

Find your focus. Decide what you’ll be using this video for and produce it accordingly. We’ve been talking case studies, but there lots of video marketing options: promoting a new service or product, recruiting, recording and sharing a live event. Whatever your topic, stick with it. Our rule: one video = one goal.

It’s not all about shooting. You can supplement video with cutaways to graphics or slideshows of images set to music or with voiceover. Not only can this lessen the expense and length of shoot times, but it offers some variation to the viewer. A single static shot of an interviewee, however sincere, rarely holds your audience’s attention.

Budget. This one’s tricky. Until you’ve found your focus and come up with a strategy, it’s impossible to determine your budget. And of course the production value comes into play here as well. A short, quirky video done by a start up could likely get away with a self-shot video—maybe even done on a phone. But a larger company or one with more gravitas will likely need the works: a high quality camera, lighting equipment, and professional editing tools. The best way to determine your budget is to find a partner with experience in the realm of video marketing or film production. Let them help you flesh out your focus and your concept, the length of your project, and the various logistics. Once this is done, your budget will be clearer.

Appeal to the heart and the head. There’s no one single way to succeed with case study video marketing. In the end, though, making something that both conveys information and tugs a little at the heartstrings will go a long way to convincing your potential clients to work with you. Video, with it’s ability to convey lots of info quickly is a great way to convince audiences of your qualifications; add the emotional elements: heartfelt testimonials, non-verbal cues, dramatic imagery, music… and your viewer goes from convinced to compelled.

About the Author: Dane Frederiksen owns Digital Accomplice, a Bay Area digital media company focused on creating video content for the gaming, tech and marketing industries, as well as partnering with developers to help produce and market their apps. Dane has been creating content for over 20 years and has worked with clients across the world, including Google, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Adobe, Verizon, Nokia, Microsoft, Sony and many more. Over the past decade, he has produced hundreds of video-game-related features for game developers around the globe. His work has won several national awards. A big idea entrepreneur with connections across the games/tech/geek media and marketing communities, Dane specializes in helping creative and technology businesses tell their stories and grow.

 

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30 Seconds or Less

One significant element to consider when shooting a commercial is how long the spot is going to be. Longer productions require more filming and a greater amount of editing, so it would stand to reason that they would be trickier to produce, right? Not necessarily. We have found that it can be quite difficult to communicate an idea in 15-30 seconds. When you think about taking a complex message and stripping it down to the bare bones in order to fit time constraints, you can understand how greater thought and effort might be required to create a comprehensible and entertaining message.

If that’s still not making sense, let me use an analogy to elucidate. Think about a sonnet, which is generally fourteen lines, and condensing it’s message to a haiku, which is just three lines.

This is an example of an Italian Sonnet:
Within the warmth of home, I sit amazed
at the gentle fall of snow through window pane.
Cup of tea in hand, my layered thoughts unchain,
and tumble from the tip of tongue unfazed
to land upon a pristine page appraised,
aided by the silent fall through snowy pane.
Oh, the soft white wintry glow ‘pon the lane
leaves a graceful drape, Lord be praised.
Within the warmth of home, I muse on themes
of days to come and those gone bye and so,
I thank the Lord for all of nature’s schemes,
for the gift of time, for peace, and for the snow.
Oh, make the blanket deep, I wish to dream,
may all my days and ‘morrows have this glow.

I took it upon myself to convert this sonnet to a Haiku. Be mindful that I am not a poet, so my rendition is passable at best. Yet it took me near ten minutes to come up with these three simple lines – seventeen words – to sum up the essence of the sonnet:

Snow falls against window pane
In the warmth I muse nature’s wonders
Thanking God for ‘morrow’s glow

Now just imagine trying to turn an ESSAY into a haiku. That’s what it’s like when you have an extremely dense topic that needs to be simplified for production. To put it in different terms, think about how movie trailer producers have to capture the major themes of a feature length film in a very short amount of time. Usually, there’s one or more versions of the  trailer that are anywhere from one to three minutes that play in theaters, but there’s also an even more abridged version of that made for television. For example, take the various trailers for Wes Anderson’s 2014 film The Grand Budapest Hotel. The first is the official trailer which runs 2:26 minutes. The second is the television spot which is only 31 seconds.

Think about the creative decisions that had to be made in order to convey essentially the same message in a quarter of the amount of time. What did they include from the original trailer and what did they leave out? Were these wise cuts or could they have been better? If you’ve seen the film, how was the trailer as a whole? Did it adequately sum up the film? Did it entice you to go see it if you hadn’t already?

These are just a few of the many questions a producer has to consider when making creative choices about what to include and what to leave out in a short TV spot.

Alyssa Rudisill

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Tackling Analogies Through The Art of Animation

In some of our past blogs, we’ve tried to highlight the benefits of using animation to deliver complex messages. You may think that what you’re advertising is too mature to be presented in an animated format, but you’d be surprised at just how potent a well-created animation can be. Matthew Johstone, writer and illustrator, recently joined forces with the World Health Organization to create a powerful video about depression, proving that animation is influential at any age, whether you’re five or fifty.

The video ‘I Had a Black Dog, His Name Was Depression,” explores the debilitating nature of depression and ways of overcoming the condition that plagues millions of people globally. The story is delivered in a metaphorical context, personifying depression by representing the condition as a black dog, rather than alluding to a theoretical concept. The video really succeeds in bringing their message to life by using the dog figure to communicate the effects of depression. Trust me when I say this is no Clifford they’re presenting; it’s an ominous, dominant, pervasive figure that the subject can’t escape. He ‘chews up’ the man’s memory and prevents his concentration, ‘sniffs out’ his confidence and ‘chases it away.’

It’s difficult for a person who isn’t afflicted by depression to imagine what living with the disorder must be like. It’s not something you can feel for yourself or come to grasp fully unless it’s happening to you. In creating this anthropomorphic figure of depression, the black dog, the creators are able to illustrate visibly the essence of depression, rather than presenting a vague idea for viewers to grapple with. Animation is the perfect way to bring figurative messages to life. Imagine telling the story of the black dog in live action – viewers would see a forlorn dog and recall Sarah McLauchlan’s haunting SPCA commercials, rather than interpreting the analogy as it’s meant to be understood. Instead, Johnstone and WHO created a video that allows viewers to deepen their understading of a complicated issue by giving them something to visualize.

Blueforest Studios is experienced in creating animated videos to explain complex issues in a simple way. We’ve made videos for Tar Heel Tax ReformEvolvemint and Men’s Ministry. With each we have strived to use animation to tell a story and engage the target audience. Do you have a subject matter that might not be easily tackled using live action? Contact us today to learn more about our animation process!

 

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Animation is More Than Cartoons

We’ve spent a lot of time over the last few months trying to elucidate on the advantages of using animation to promote your company. If you’re a conservative business, you may have turned your nose up at our previous blogs thinking that animation isn’t a suitable form of marketing for your brand. What I want to expand upon now is the fact that animation is not simply cartoons. Animation can be, and often is, a powerful tool for advertising across all types of businesses. You don’t have to be Disney to reap the benefits of a well-produced animated video.

There are many national businesses that have demonstrated creativity and entertainment while maintaining their earnest image and intellectual message through the use of animation. Ford Trucks advertised their 2013 F-150 model using animation, which enlightened viewers about the fuel economy and torque. IBM used whiteboard animation to describe how asset planning can increase productivity and efficiency.

Aside from being engaging and attention-grabbing, animation can add a lot of other useful features to your advertising message. Often, animation can show viewers concepts that can’t be filmed or photographed. There are no limits to what can be shown with animation. In addition, it often helps explain complex processes or ideas in a way that’s easily understandable for viewers.

A lot of production companies can offer animation services, but if you want an example of how we here at Blueforest Studios has used our animation skills to deliver messages that aren’t simply playful, but educational and informative, you can check out the web video we created for Tar Heel Tax Reform.

When you realize that animation may be just the avenue to spicy up your marketing campaign, we’re here for you!

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Raving About Ravetree

If you’re part of a business, group, or club, you may have heard of Ravetree. If you haven’t, you’re missing out on a service that may potentially be very beneficial to you. We recently produced a graphic video for Ravetree and were immediately impressed with this company and their ministrations. They specialize in organizational tools and social networking. Within the last few months, it’s become a successful social app platform that’s been receiving a good deal of press lately.

The News & Observer recently gave a review of Ravetree by comparing and contrasting it with the social networking giant, Facebook. Like Facebook, Ravetree allows users to stay connected with others through an online platform. However, as founder Davidson Wicker states, Ravetree allows users to alternate between public and private feeds, is free from ads, and has many other functions for daily uses that Facebook lacks.

You can start an account for free, which gives you access to calendar and event management, secure file storage and sharing, social network portals, and various other useful features. Ravetree enhances community in the workplace by allowing co-workers to share information and discuss ideas. Everything about Ravetree is completely private; they don’t track browser history, sell personal information, and users can remain anonymous. For more information about how Ravetree can help your company thrive, check out their website or watch our graphic video below. You can also see the video in our portfolio. Our next Ravetree video is currenty in the works. If graphic videos like these catch your eye, we’d be happy to help you promote your business or brand with one as well!