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Blueforest GivesBack Finalist: Pinecone

Over the course of the last month, as we reviewed applications for the BlueForest GivesBack contest, our staff has had an opportunity to learn more about over 20 Triangle area organizations working to make a positive impact in our community. So many worthwhile causes and so many people working to help others! We’ve have the opportunity to talk to staff and volunteers of the finalists, learning about their history and mission. We’ve been really inspired by the hard work and dedication of these folks and the work they do. Thank you to the 25 organizations who participated in the process.

Over the course of the week we’d like to share with you a little about the organizations who made it to the final round in this year’s contest. Introducing…Pinecone!

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PineCone, the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, Inc., is dedicated to preserving, presenting, and promoting all forms of traditional music, dance and other folk performing arts. PineCone offers a wide variety of programs for anyone who loves music, particularly roots music (Americana, folk, bluegrass, etc).

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PineCone does this by presenting more than 150 events each year, including more than 30 concerts in Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest, and Durham. They also have participatory jam sessions for bluegrass, Irish, and Shape Note music. Many tune in to their weekly radio show on 94.7 WQDR. PineCone is also the producer of the Wide Open Bluegrass festival, coordinated in partnership with IBMA, the City of Raleigh, and a local organizing committee.

We love that PineCone preserves and promotes traditional music in our community. They know that root music is important and transcendent, as shown in their Bluegrass Camps for Youth. Roots music expresses where people come from and where they live. Supporting PineCone allows for tradition and roots music to continue to thrive.

Check them out and learn more at https://pinecone.org/

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Blueforest GivesBack Finalist: Triangle Literacy Council

Over the course of the last month, as we reviewed applications for the BlueForest GivesBack contest, our staff has had an opportunity to learn more about over 20 Triangle area organizations working to make a positive impact in our community. So many worthwhile causes and so many people working to help others! We’ve have the opportunity to talk to staff and volunteers of the finalists, learning about their history and mission. We’ve been really inspired by the hard work and dedication of these folks and the work they do. Thank you to the 25 organizations who participated in the process.

Over the course of the week we’d like to share with you a little about the organizations who made it to the final round in this year’s contest. We’ll start this week with The Triangle Literacy Council! 

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The Triangle Literacy Council (formally, Wake County Literacy Council) is celebrating its 45th year of helping adults learn to read. Through various programs such as the adult one-on-one tutoring to ESL and GED prep, adults have the opportunity to advance their reading, speaking, and comprehension skills in English. Their goal is to help those who struggle to perform important daily tasks because they do not have these skills. They have many programs including Project LIFT, a family literacy program for family caregivers with children under the age of 5 whose first language isn’t English to foster English language and life skills learning.

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The Triangle Literacy Council also has programs for at-risk youth, incarcerated adults, and families all designed to promote comprehension of literacy and help end the cycle of crime and poverty that strikes uneducated individuals. Their Juvenile Literacy Center focuses on assisting at-risk youth to help them come to know success with improvements with their reading, writing, and math skills.

What we love about the Triangle Literacy Council is that they understand literacy is fundamental to survive in today’s society and they strive to give everyone the access they need to learn how. With their work they help improve many aspects of our community. They focus on reforming and teaching individuals to improve lives with lasting impact through their many different programs.

Check them out and learn more at http://www.triangleliteracy.org/ 

 

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Blueforest GivesBack finalist: The Justice Theater Project

Over the course of the last month, as we reviewed applications for the Blueforest GivesBack contest, our staff has had an opportunity to learn more about over 20 Triangle area organizations working to make a positive impact in our community. So many worthwhile causes and so many people working to help others! We’ve have the opportunity to talk to staff and volunteers of the finalists, learning about their history and mission. We’ve been really inspired by the hard work and dedication of these folks and the work they do. Thank you to the 25 organizations who participated in the process.

Over the course of the next week we’d like to share with you a little about the organizations who made it to the final round in this year’s contest. We’ll start this week with The Justice Theater Project!

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The Justice Theater Project (JTP) is a professional theater company with an ambitious mission – to build public awareness of the needs of the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed through the intimate and impactful medium of the performing arts. Since 2004, JTP has learned how to connect the public to important issues and vital resources through main stage productions, outreach and collaborations with many local and statewide organizations.

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Along with their regular productions such as Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity, they hold summer camps for youth in Southeast Raleigh, Downtown Durham and in North Raleigh. What is most important to the Justice Theater Project is to bring people in to join these discussions to create community awareness.

What we love about Justice Theater Project is that they start an important conversation about current issues in our society and our community. They never turn anyone down who can’t afford a ticket. They have many different focuses, presenting a diverse number of social issues through the performing arts to allow audiences to understand realities and discuss social change.

Check them out and learn more at http://www.thejusticetheaterproject.org/

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The Blueforest Judges Meeting!

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The judges (learn more about us here) have finally gotten together and discussed all the applicants for Blueforest Givesback. After meeting together for the first time, it was time to get down to business. It was a challenging process as we looked individually at each applicant. We were very excited to see nonprofits we know and love and also organizations new to us. There was great analysis of every applicant’s strengths and weaknesses.

We looked at all 25 applicants individually, fully analyzing all the information we could. Many factors went into our criteria such as community presence, social engagement, and impact of the organization’s message. Some organizations are doing well on their own while others could use a helping hand. We gathered useful information about each nonprofit and their influence locally.

Despite a long conversation and tough decisions, we were all luckily on the same page about which applicants are the finalists Blueforest Studios will be working with. Check back with us soon for an update!

 

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Creatives Thriving in Raleigh

You don’t have to go to common creative capitals in the US such as NYC or Atlanta for great creative inspiration and work. Right here in Raleigh there are many opportunities for the creative worker. Based on the US Census Bureau 2012-2013, Raleigh is #3 in the country for fastest growing cities. With increasing population and economic growth, Raleigh is a perfect place for the creative economy to flourish.

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Raleigh attracts creativity because our lively city allows creative thinkers to express themselves through various outlets and opportunities. This city is ranked as the Best Place for Business and Careers (Forbes 2014). Small businesses face low regulatory hurdles compared to other cities and projected annual job growth for the Raleigh area, which ranks seventh best among the 200 biggest metro areas, is 3.7% through 2016.

 

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The Creative Vitality Index (CVI) is an annual measure of the health of the creative economy in a specific area. According to the 2013 CVI, Wake County reflects a creative economy 10% above the national average! Raleigh’s CVI score is a 95% average. Wake County gained 685 more creative jobs in one year (2012-2013), bringing the total to 25,424 creative jobs in 2013! 36 creative occupations are represented in the index and the highest number of jobs are postsecondary teachers, photographers, graphic designers, public relations specialists, and musicians/singers.

Creative thinkers and the arts have revitalized Raleigh’s community through new and unique expressions. In North Carolina creative workers, creative enterprises and creative communities bring the entrepreneurial strengths of the private sector to economic development (NCArts). Full of opportunity and creative life, Raleigh’s thriving creative community is a force to be reckoned with and should not be overlooked.

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TriFilm Panel Discussion UPDATE: March 19th!

Here at Blueforest Studios we are very excited to be hosting the TriFilm Society Panel Discussion: Logistics of A Project. It will focus on how to get started with your subjects and ideas all the way to the finishing the end film product!

The panelists will share their insights and expertise in regards to filmmaking.

Tripp Green is a cinematographer and photographer who specializes in RED and DSLR acquisition for commercial, narrative, and industrial projects. His wide spectrum of work ranges from documentaries, TV spots, feature films, and many more.

Sean Riddle is our very own project manager, overseeing our productions and providing guidance. His extensive experience as project and production coordinator makes him the go to guy. He has been production coordinator on many Warner Bros Television productions such as The West Wing.

June Sadler is a filmmaker with many specialized skills with a unique style in photography, short films, documentaries, music production, performance and writing. She’s worked on many documentaries and is currently working on The Future People, bringing together children of diverse backgrounds to empower them to become peacemakers.

Camden Watts, filmmaker and founder of the TriFilm Society, will be moderating the panel. She is a producer, director, and writer. She is currently working on Brewconomy, a documentary about North Carolina craft beer.

UPDATE: This event takes place at Blueforest Studios in Raleigh, NC on March 19th at 4pm to 5:30 pm. There will be time for networking and questions afterwords.

Get your ticket here! We look forward to seeing you there!

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Super Bowl 2015 Ads – Why did they do that?

Let’s be honest, the Super Bowl is not only about football but all about the advertisements. They’re everywhere whether we are aware of them or not: months before Super Bowl, during the playtime, and after the game. What makes the Super Bowl so grand is how it connects Americans through this one social event. Even though it’s suppose to be about football, it is really about being a part of this cultural event – the advertisements, the products, the pre-game and game-day rituals. Everybody is talking about the game, and the best and worst commercials of the night.

The commercials are what make many people tune in as they are known to be amazing, well thought-out ads with familiar faces like celebrities and fan commercial favorites from certain companies. Many of last night’s commercials have people talking about the good and the bad ads – which is the sole purpose of these ads, to get everyone remembering and talking about their advertisement and company. Everyone has their own opinion about which ads were a hit and which were a miss. Many big companies have multiple commercials to target different audiences and portray different messages.

 

A favorite of the night was the Budweiser Lost Puppy commercial. This ad was so heartwarming, a short story of a puppy lost then brought home. The purpose of this commercial was to evoke a happy and inspiring emotional response in the audience tied to their traditional Budweiser Clydesdales horses and their puppy. They did an excellent job to telling a story that people want to relate to.

 

Another commercial Budweiser had was a different style. The “Brewed the Hard Way” took an interesting attack on craft beer. In contrast with the Lost Dog commercial, this ad focused on distinguishing Budweiser beer from craft beer. There advertisement didn’t work as well as they hoped and their has been some backlash. As craft beer continues to become increasingly popular, they are trying to play up their traditional tasting beer by mocking craft beer. They admit that their beer is not to be “fussed over” or “dissected”, but this says their beer  that they mass produce has no differentiating taste because it’s sending the message that it’s “just beer” so just drink it. Not a smart advertising strategy to admit that Budweiser beer is a one note, uninteresting beer.

 

Another well done ad was “Invisible Mindy” by Nationwide. It featured celebrity Mind Kahling and Matt Damon and uses comedy and relatability to connect to the audience. The concept is that Mindy is “invisible” so she does whatever she wants, but in reality she’s not invisible, people just ignore her and the message is that Nationwide doesn’t do that to customers. It’s a light and fun ad that people enjoy as it uses familiarity with well known celebrities and funny ideas which is a great advertising tool that makes the commercial memorable.

 

Nationwide had another advertisement that has been very controversial called “Make Safe Happen”. It features a young boy not having any experiences because he died in an household accident. They tried to evoke an emotional response to make the audience connected to the commercial but the commercial was poorly done as many people have experienced this lost. Many are angry that they chose to do that ad to sell their product, especially as it was shown during the Super Bowl which portrays insensitivity and just wanting business. They were trying to convey the message that accidents happen and can be prevented but it looks like they are using the death of children to sell insurance. This shows how using ads for an emotional response doesn’t always work and can bring controversy. Sure people are talking about their company but it’s not the good kind and it will hurt their business.

 

Advertisement is important for companies to show their products and have their name out there. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do so. The main point to remember is that your advertisements should clearly portray your company’s goals and products. The Super Bowl commercials are entertaining and great to watch, but companies need to make sure the audience knows what they are trying to say and sell.

That being said, over here at BlueForest Studios we LOVE craft beer!

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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