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Everyone’s Favorite Day for Commercials: The Big Game

My favorite commercial in the last several years comes from the “Big Game” of 2011. I’ve been a humongous Star Wars fan since my parents took me to see the films in the 90’s when they were being digitally remastered and shown in theaters again. If you’re reading this you probably know which commercial I’m already talking about.

 

Volkswagen truly captured the same childhood imagination (and desire for learning how to control The Force) I felt at that age. I’d like to think I’m going to buy a car that can turn on with the press of the button in hopes to do this to my future children.

 

Of course, who could forget the sweet story of friendship told in a minute time frame by Budweiser last year? I’m a sucker for anything with dogs in it but this is a legitimately beautiful piece of work.

 

Sure I’m bringing this up because Sunday will bring commercials filled with humor and sincerity. But does this only have to be during one day of the entire year? Absolutely not!

 

We take pride here at Blueforest Studios in creating content that is both engaging and informative. The most engaging way to capture the attention of your audience is to tell a story.

 

We certainly think adding a pinch of humor also works too.

 

So as the new year continues to roll on consider us for your marketing needs. We are storytellers that want to tell your story!

 

And if you are part of a non-profit in the Triangle area reading this consider applying for our free video giveaway! The window for submissions is closing on the 31st of this month. To check out more information visit our blog post from December here: http://blueforeststudios.com/blog/blueforest-gives-back-triangle-nonprofit-video-giveaway/

-Dustin

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Tips for Looking Your Best On Camera

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Are you appearing on camera soon? Whether it’s for an impromptu shoot, a professional corporate web video, or tv there are a few things you can do to make yourself look your best!

  • Take a deep breath. – If your heart is beating a thousand beats a minute it’s okay. :)
  • Lower your chin down a bit. – When people are on camera, they tend to ever so slightly raise their chin up.
  • Talk normally. – I’m guessing you are mic’d up. Avoid the urge to speak louder than you normally would.
  • Smile if appropriate. – It radiates through your eyes that you love what you do. It also keeps the viewer more engaged.
  • If you have a teleprompter use it but then lose it. – If you want to seem like you aren’t reading then don’t read. Unless highly trained, most people don’t feel or look genuine when they are reading.
  • Don’t be afraid to watch part of the video and then do it again. – It’s usually a lot easier to do more re-takes while everything is already set-up instead of tearing everything down and then deciding you weren’t happy with the way you looked or sounded.
  • Try to avoid really patterned clothing items that might create moire.
  • A little powder/foundation can really help with shine (guys you too).

 

Want to learn more? Comment below!

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Audio Restoration: A Powerful Tool In An Evolving Field

Most days of the week, while working on sound design or composing music, I will have a moment when I reflect on how much the world of audio and music production has changed so quickly in the relatively short amount of time I have been in this profession. I remember upgrading from my old Gateway PC to a 2008 Mac Pro tower the summer before my junior year at Western Carolina. The prior year I had become friends with Jonathan Churchill, Co-Founder at Embertone virtual instruments here in Raleigh. When Jon first showed me his compositional works for video games the semester before I felt a switch going off in my head changing my desired course of future employment from band director to composer. My mind was boggled by the fact you could make such great sounding music from one computer! Growing up I always imagined everything had to come from a professional studio with millions of dollars of gear in it. Seeing Jon produce music from a Mac I told myself “I have to get one of those.” Seven years ago I also recall hearing the audio samples he was using and thinking “Wow, that sounds like a real orchestra!” Of course in that short seven years the quality of virtual instruments, analog modeled plug-ins, digital audio workstations, and everything in between has increased exponentially. And it’s only going to do so even more in the years to come.

One of my favorite types of audio software to really come to light the last few years has been software geared towards audio restoration and repair. Now, there have been methods of reducing noise and crackle and various little messes here and there for a long time. Those are certainly all helpful and vital in achieving great audio for any medium of media. Within the last few years software such as iZotope’s RX line have given us ways to dive into audio from a spectral standpoint and remove just about anything you don’t want in your audio recordings.

Anyone who has recorded audio on set for a film of any form will tell you there is quite a process to capturing the purest audio from the shoot. Being outside of a controlled environment there is a good chance that your microphones will pick up anything from car noises, to AC units, to wind, to chatter in the corner, and the list could go on and on. Luckily for us if those sounds creep into our recordings we can remove them and deliver the audio your video deserves!

This tutorial video of iZotope’s RX software is a great demonstration of the difference even the slightest cleaning up of audio can do. Watch as the audio engineer is able to remove the noisy clicks from a wedding photographer’s camera during the vows of the ceremony.

 

But what about the restoration of audio? Some clips may be too loud and distort during the recording process. While it is still in best practice to record at appropriate levels there also could be sounds a client would want to use that they have on hand that need to be repaired.  Those types of recordings or sound effects can be worked with and polished too!

 

Finally, in case you are saying “Dustin, that’s great but have you used anything like this before?”, here is a clip from a project I worked on earlier last year. This comes from a series of recordings done in the New York City metro system. Singer Pavlina Horakova and pianist Drew Spradlin came up with the idea to take a piano to the subway system in New York City and record different movements from operatic works of the past. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you a subway system, let alone the one in NYC, is filled with noise stacked upon noise with a little more noise on top of that. With a lot of determination, and several cups of coffee, I was able to not only clean up this recording of several extraneous sounds but was also able to repair several instances of distortion and clipping to hopefully bring you into the beautiful music these two performed.

 

I hope all of you reading this have found it informative! Feel free to comment and let’s talk about the great things happening in audio and video production.

 

-Dustin

 

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Blueforest Gives Back – Triangle Nonprofit Video Giveaway

We love a great story! And, we know that many nonprofit agencies have great stories about why they were founded, the people that they serve, and the impact that they are making in the community.

That’s just one of the reasons we love working with nonprofit organizations. In the past, we’ve received many requests from nonprofits for our services. Sometimes we can offer a discount or even do a video for free but the process has been based on timing and luck more than anything else. Now we’re creating a process by which we can award a video to one local nonprofit agency annually. Our criteria won’t just be who can get the most likes, although social media will play a small part. It will be a holistic view of the agency – who has the story that will get the most traction – who can benefit most from a great video.

This is our way of giving back to the community with what we do best, making an awesome video!

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We are holding our First Annual Blueforest Gives Back Video Giveaway! We will produce a free video ($5,000 – $10,000 value) in 2015 for one amazing local nonprofit organization. All other nonprofits are eligible for a 10% discount and all applicants will get free basic YouTube Optimization on a project purchased from Blueforest Studios by the end of 2015! We are an Integrated Video Production company after all and we want to make sure that your target audience can find your video online!

This giveaway is open to all 501(c)(3) nonprofits who serve and are located in the Triangle.

Wondering what kind of video you can win? Here’s a video that we produced for the AHA a few years ago – it’s a powerful story with a strong message.

Look for more samples at the end of the post.

Criteria:
A GREAT Cause! – We’re looking for a unique 501 (c) (3) organization.
Located in the Triangle!- This allows us to work together locally for meetings and filming, together helping our community.
Financially Sound – Looking for an agency with a solid track record.
Active Online! – The non-profit we work with needs a social media presence to kickstart the sharing of the video.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:

If this sounds like you, then please apply here (by January 31, 2015)!

Once you’ve sent in your application, it’s time to show us exactly what you’re made of.
The next step is to tell us why you think your organization should win. Tell us your STORY.

Tweet with the hashtag #BlueforestGivesBack why you want a video from Blueforest Studios!  Share any of your promotions (blog, pics, projects) on your organization’s Twitter or Google+ with everything you want us to see and tag us @BlueForestVideo and #BlueforestGivesBack

Timeline:
DEADLINE for application – January 31
Top 10 selected – February 28th
Top 3 announced – March 15th
WINNER announced – March 30th
Final Video Delivered- August 1st

Here are a few more samples of video styles that we’d love to provide to the winner. This video featuring graphics, animation and kinetic type for the NC Craft Brewers Guild could definitely fit within the allotted budget.

Here’s another that we created for the Lung Cancer Initiative.

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5 Tips for Fundraising Videos

You’ve been asked to raise money at an upcoming event. Sounds simple enough, right? But, then you start to think about all of the little things you need to do to make the event a success. Things start to get a bit overwhelming. How do you thank your current donors and also make them inspired to continue to give in the future?

As an integrated video production company we’ve had great success helping nonprofits produce videos in order to raise awareness, funds, and achieve their marketing goals. The upfront investment costs are just that, an investment. When you see stats over and over again that say the human mind processes images and stories so much more effectively than text, it’s easy to understand why a video works. So here are some tips for when it’s time to prepare that video:

1. Include a relatable character – This could be a real person, an animated character, or the narrator but, it needs to be a person whom your audience can relate to. Most people will likely feel empathy for whomever you choose.

2. Emotional pull – If you are involved in a nonprofit you probably know some great stories about how your organization has helped others. These stories can really make an impact when told in an engaging way. Likely your cause does awesome things. But everybody might not know what those things are. Here’s your chance to tell them.

3. Include something positive at the end – You could be telling a story that contains a sad situation or a situation that’s uncomfortable, but there needs to be something hopeful at the end. Something that shows passion. Something that shows a difference can be made. Something to show a conflict was resolved or can/will be with help.

4. It’s not always about making $ – Even though you are hosting a fundraising event you may not want to blatantly slap the call to action everywhere. People understand you are trying to raise money. They’ve either given money or time in the past or are interested in giving in the future. This is one time the call to action can be a little bit disguised.

5. Be truthful – This should be a given, but I think it deserves to be said. Sometimes people are skeptical about where their money is going. If it’s not going directly to the cause, then you might want to mention that. Most people understand that there are administrative costs involved with any non-profit but they want as much of their funds as possible to go to the cause so just be clear about what the percentage is if that’s appropriate.

These are just a few things that will help you achieve success for your fundraising event. Have more questions? Feel free to reach out! We’re happy to assist in any way we can.

If you are curious about some of our experience with fundraising videos click here to see some we’ve produced.

Here’s one of our favorites, for the American Heart Association, that follows the 5 tips above.

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What goes where? – Composition Basics

Maybe you watched our documentary on NCRLA, and wondered about setting up a video interview, maybe not. Regardless, I wanted to share a few basic tips when composing your shot for a video interview. First off, you need to pick a place for the interview. Often times, people will want to do an interview in a certain room because they think the room is their most impressive or comfortable or just “looks the best.” However, it is important to remember that with a video interview, you will only see a very small portion of the room. So, you only need to have a small section of the room “look the best.”

When choosing a location, keep in mind that you want to have at least a few feet between the camera and the interviewee and at least a few feet between the interviewee and the background. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but it will give you a better depth of field and keep your subject from blending it with the background. (Note: in a tiny nutshell, depth of field refers to how much of the image is in focus.)

So after you pick a location, you want to choose where to put the subject in the frame. There is a pretty simple guideline for this called the Rule of Thirds. If you divide the frame in to thirds both horizontally and vertically with lines, you want to have your subject in one of the intersection points of the lines. You can look at this picture of a puppy for an adorable example of the Rule of Thirds:

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 Next, you want to light the scene properly, for more information on that, watch this video we made on lighting basics.

After you have your subject lit beautifully and properly placed in the frame, you will want to eliminated anything distracting from the frame. Sometimes, what is not in the shot is just as important as what is in the shot. If you are interviewing someone at a messy desk, you might want to have a tighter (closer) shot that doesn’t show much of the desk. Or, you might want to clean the desk. Also, if there is a window or other really bright object like a lamp in the shot, you might want to move the shot the those objects are out of the frame. Simply put, you want to make sure the viewer is NOT going to be paying attention to something in the frame that isn’t your subject.

These are just a few basic ideas that can help improve a video interview on the visual side of things, but don’t forget about audio. For more on audio in video read this.

If you have any questions of this topic or other video ideas, let me know in the comments section. Thanks!

Bryan Reklis
Video Producer

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Press Release: Raleigh Production Company Adopts Humanitarian Role in Community

View the official press release here.

Blueforest Studios is a company that realizes there’s more to business than making money. The Raleigh-based video production company places an emphasis on maintaining a benevolent reputation, both in and out of the workplace. Their efforts to stay involved and active in the community include volunteer work for charity, donations to non-profits, and a general practice of selfless, healthy office activities.

Blueforest’s most significant local contribution is monthly participation in Meals on 6386194_origWheels, an organization that delivers food to elderly and disabled citizens with limited mobility. Each month, two or more staff members take their turn delivering meals to residents of Wake County that are in need of this form of assistance. Employees at the company are happy to take a couple hours out of their day to give back to the community and meet fresh new faces in the process. Video Producer Vann Dwiggins expresses his high regard for Blueforest’s altruistic labors:

“It’s encouraging to be a part of a company that not only cares about it’s employees, but about the general public. I enjoy coming to work even more knowing that my role here can occasionally help others that are in need.” 

In addition to their participation in Meals on Wheels, Blueforest Studios donates half the proceeds from their monthly training seminars to select nonprofits in the area. For example, August’s event sponsored Passage Home, a nonprofit dedicated to aiding the poverty-stricken residents of Wake County. This is just one of several nonprofits Blueforest Studios engages with, including the NC Lighthouse Foundation and Cause for Paws. 

unnamedThe team is dedicated to maintaining an office environment that’s conducive to a healthy and inspired work-life. They do so in a variety of ways, such as watching motivational TED Talks at quarterly staff meetings. One such video provided five methods for living a happy life: random acts of kindness, journaling, exercise, meditation, and counting gratitudes. These five actions have been illustrated on posters that grace the walls of Blueforest’s office as encouraging reminders for the staff and visitors. Through their efforts, Blueforest Studios hopes to make even the smallest of difference in their community, as well as influence others to give back. 

About Blueforest Studios

Blueforest Studios is an integrated video production firm located in Raleigh, NC that serves the mid-atlantic region and beyond. Their work features the RED camera that will deliver 4K and UltraHD footage. They place an emphasis on storytelling to connect with their audiences through high-end animation and live-action videos. 

About Meals on Wheels

Since 1974 Meals on Wheels has been giving our community’s most vulnerable citizens their independence by serving 1,300 healthy meals a day. Their outreach to the elderly and persons with disabilities in Wake County improves nutrition, reduces isolation, and helps our friends and neighbors stay in their homes.

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TAB/Smart State Use Video to Grow Their Business

Keith Weaver is an established business coach for conjoined business advisor companies, The Alternative Board and Smart State. He came to us for assistance in creating a tool that would help him get meetings and close deals. Though he’s very good at his job, he was looking for something that would address prospects’ fears and issues – ones that they might not even want to speak about – such as the business problems that keeps them up at night.

Here’s the video that our team created.

After implementing the video into his sales process Keith has been very pleased. Here is what he had to say:

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 9.53.35 AMWhen I needed a boost to my revenue growth, I turned to Blueforest Studios. They developed and produced the perfect video as part of my marketing strategy to attract more clients. In the two years since I began using the video my business is up over 43%. Anyone can make a video these days but very few know how to tell your story or deliver your message in a compelling fashion that gets viewed and truly impacts the bottom line.

Keith Weaver, CEO
Smart State, LLC

http://www.smart-state.com/

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Nonprofit Storytelling Seminar

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 1.31.11 PMWe were so happy to host our first seminar in a series of monthly events that we’re offering here at Blueforest Studios. The seminar focused on how nonprofits can convey their personal stories in an compelling manner in order to inspire interest and make a lasting impression on anyone they may encounter. It also raised money for the nonprofit organization Passage Home. We want to give a special thanks to our guests who were able to attend. For those of you that are intrigued but were unfortunately unable to make it to the session, here are some of the highlights!

What Makes a Great Story?

To start with, check out why we believe storytelling is so influential!

Storytelling is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States. On average, Americans spend:

  • $10 Billion /year on Movie Tickets
  • $18 Billion/year on Home Video & Rentals
  • $130 Billion/year on the Television Industry

Why are people so interested in stories that they’re willing to plunk down major cash for the opportunity to hear a good one, but are 100% uninterested in the average nonprofit pitch?

unnamedWe asked our guests to write down what the single most important element of storytelling was. Answers were varied and we had a lot of great responses, however the MOST significant aspect of storytelling is “What’s at stake?”

To exemplify this, we looked at a popular scene from No Country for Old Men. Take a look at the following clip and try to figure out what makes it so captivating.

In this scene, the viewer is brought into a state of uneasy anticipation. I admit, I was on the edge of my seat waiting for what came next. Everything about this scene, from the pacing to the camera work to the set design, comes together to create anxiety about what’s at stake – this old man’s life. It’s a remarkable example of storytelling that not only creates a lasting impression on viewers, but also compels them to want to see more.

How Can I Find My Nonprofit’s Story?

We looked at two examples of Nonprofit pitches and discussed how they dealt with the question, “What’s at Stake?”

Each time you give a pitch for your nonprofit, you have an opportunity to either bore your audiences or leave a lasting impression. The way you can achieve the latter every time is by raising and then answering the question “What’s at stake?”

Here are a series of questions you can ask yourself to begin adding more richness and interest to your nonprofit’s story:

  • Why did I personally get involved with this nonprofit?
  • Has this nonprofit directly impacted my personal life?
  • Was there a particular moment when I realized how the nonprofit affected something I value dearly?

If this seminar sounds like something you could have benefited from, be sure to look into our next event – a LinkedIn seminar on September 10th. Half the proceeds from this event will go towards the NC Lighthouse Foundation. You can register here. Be sure to come prepared with your laptops or tablets for a hands-on learning experience!

 

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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).