The Power of the Play Button

I find myself scrolling through pictures on my iPhone often. I like to reminisce. Mixed in with the pictures are some videos I’ve taken — mostly of my kids. Both my toddler son and daughter love to grab my phone any chance they get. And I find it fascinating to watch what they do once they get it. Sometimes they immediately go straight to one of the apps I’ve downloaded for them. But, other times they head to the photo section. Their little fingers scroll through quickly from picture to picture. Occasionally stopping to giggle for a second or to turn the phone towards me to show me something they want me to see. “Gook” my daughter says instead of “look” smiling. But, any time they see a play button it’s game over. No matter how quickly they’ve been scrolling, if they catch a glimpse of that triangle they stop mid scroll or scroll backwards to find it again.

The power of the play button.

It’s like a magnet. You have to know what’s behind the thumbnail. On YouTube it’s even red. It’s almost like it’s telling you not to click it. But you have to. And that’s why video is so powerful. If you have a well written story then you’ve got something powerful. Add an image and voila even more powerful. But, add a video and you’ve just increased your audience engagement by a lot.

Video by itself isn’t enough. The video needs to be good. It needs to speak to your audience in a way that represents you, your brand, your company. And once you put one out that people like they’ll want more.

So think about what you stand for and how you are delivering your messages in 2015. If a toddler with a very short attention span is willing to stop for a moment to click the play button then think about what your potential audience may be willing to do.

Laura Faughtenberry
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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!

GivesBack

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! Learn more HERE.

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.

Introducing: Bailey’s – Experience Elegance

We were thrilled when we received a call from Bailey’s and they said they were considering using us for their upcoming holiday campaign.  Who in this market hasn’t heard of the Bailey Box?  They are great marketers and we were honored to have a chance to develop a holiday TV spot for their company.  And, the fact that they let our team stretch their creative muscles made it that much more enjoyable. It’s an elegant and unique video that combines animation and live action, view below!

 

 

The purpose of this video was not only to unveil their completely redesigned store but to convey the feeling of shopping at Bailey’s in a memorable and unique way.

 

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We shot all footage using the Red Epic 4K camera riding on a Ronin 3-Axis stabilizer to get that floating feeling to the footage.  We decided on shots that were bright and sunny for the outdoor shots.

 

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We designed a animated female character and used several techniques to make it feel as though she was really part of the scene but at the same time feel as though she were part of the viewers imagination.  The character is designed to convey a stylish, carefree spirit.

The result is a commercial that stands out from other jewelry commercials in a memorable way.

Introducing: Durham Tech Lifestyle video

Our Durham Tech Lifestyle video is one of many great projects we worked on this year. Blueforest Studios had great fun creating this video at Durham Tech and downtown Durham. We want to show you the video and a little behind the scenes involved.

This video is a collaboration between Engine Brandmakers, Durham Tech, and Blueforest Studios.

The purpose of this video was to interview real Durham Tech Students and highlight the connection between what Durham Tech is doing and all the vibrant, exciting things going on in Downtown Durham.  We wanted to connect the two things to convey how the lifestyle of downtown Durham goes hand in hand with the lifestyle of attending Durham Tech.


 

bts durhambts durham2

In order to capture this, we shot on 2 Canon DSLR cameras (one handheld) and one on a tripod using all natural light.  The footage is a mix of regular student activities and regular lifestyle activities. Once we had the footage and began editing, we decided to use plain white, modern text to punctuate some of the things the interviewees were saying.


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One of the brilliant touches came from the creative folks at Engine suggesting that we shoot one of our interviewees walking in front of a large fish mural on a huge brick wall in Durham, giving them a huge amount of headroom.  We all loved the shot so much we decided to duplicate it for each interview. 

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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:

Adorable Dog 16x9 with thirds(1)

 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

Choose Blueboost

What is Blueboost?

You may have heard us refer to ourselves as an integrated video production company and wondered to yourself, “what exactly does that mean?” Well, it has a lot to do with a service we offer called Blueboost. Blueboost is a 27-point proven process for optimizing the amazing video we’ve Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 3.39.12 PMproduced in order for you to achieve maximum return on your investment.

Why is this necessary?

We’ve learned from experience that there’s a disconnect between video production companies and marketing teams. Sure, you put a lot of money into making a great promotional video or commercial, but what does that matter when nobody sees it? Or worse – no one acts on it? Blueboost is a part of our process to make sure that doesn’t happen. Not only will we ensure that you get the highest quality of video, we’ll make absolutely sure that people actually see it.

How can I learn more?

Watch the video below! You can also give us a call or shoot us an email! We would love to discuss how we can help you get the most out of your video production experience in greater detail.

(919) 832-2220                                                                               sales@blueforeststudios.com

Video Tips for Beginners

3This Wednesday, October 15th, we will hold our next monthly seminar on learning the basics of creating internal videos. We know that many professionals are tasked with the burden of making in-house videos even though they might lack the necessary skills for doing so. An important fact to note is that the quality of your video says a lot about the quality of your product or service. Just because you don’t use a professional video service to produce your video doesn’t mean it can’t look professional, as long as you put the time and effort into following some basic beginner shooting rules.

 

Lighting

It’s likely that you won’t have the necessary equipment to properly light a shot, so it’s important to know what kind of natural light is the best for shooting in. In general, direct sunlight is going to create intense shadows and is not a flattering option. The exception is early morning or late evening, often referred to as “Golden Hour. ” Typically, overcast days provide complimentary lighting. You can also buy a cheap reflector (such as a piece of white poster-board) to fill in shadows. If, on the other hand, you do have access to lighting equipment, check out this blog on basic lighting tips.

Support

Don’t skimp on the tripod. This is one of the most important purchases you will make, so choose wisely. Tripods come in two parts that you’ll typically have to buy separately: the legs, also called “sticks,” and the head. Buy legs that will support twice the maximum weight of your camera and a fluid head that will allow you to pan and tilt smoothly. It’s a common beginner mistake to buy a cheap tripod, and it shows. Don’t be that person.

Plan your Shots

Whether this is in the form of a storyboard or just a shot list, it’s good to have a clear idea of what shots you want to include and the best way to capture them. The more you practice, the better sense you’ll have of seeing shots as the camera sees them.

Composition

Picture an imaginary grid with two vertical lines and two horizontal lines dividing your shot into nine equal sections. The Rule-of-Thirds states that for the most interesting shot, subjects should be placed at the points of intersection on the grid. This is a good basic rule to follow when planning how things should be placed in a shot.

Movement

If you’re going to do matched-action shots, (someone starts an action and the camera cuts to a shot of the action continuing from a different angle), make sure that you shoot the complete action from both angles. A common mistake is shooting from one angle only up to where you think you’re going to cut, then starting the action in the middle from the next angle. The problem with this is that it’s really difficult to get the exact positioning correct. It’s often obvious when the action isn’t matched perfectly, resulting in a jump cut. It’s possible to use jump cuts purposefully to convey meaning, but oftentimes this isn’t what the director is going for and it just creates confusion and pulls your viewer out of the story.

 

These are just a few concepts to keep in mind when shooting. For a more extensive, hands-on learning experience, register for our Video Production for Beginners seminar. We hope to see you there!

(blue)Boost Your Resume

Update January 5, 2017: Thanks for your interest, folks! All our positions are currently full, please check back in a few months to see if there are any new availabilities.

Does working in the video production or marketing industry interest you? Are you wondering what sort of jobs exist in these fields or what local companies have to offer? We’re often approached with inquiries about what kind of jobs exist at Blueforest Studios, and while we aren’t hiring any full-time employees at the moment, we wanted to take a moment to let anyone who’s interested know about what kind of opportunities exist in this market.

Types of Careerstop_internships

Creative Director – This is a vital role in the product development process. Creative directors must have a creative vision and the ability to lead their team of artists. They must also have a head for business and be able to direct activities of the company to maintain a standard of creative excellency, timeliness, and profitability while meeting the clients’ needs.

Video Producer – This person coordinates all the different aspects of a video’s production. A video producer works with both clients and the production staff. He or she plans and executes video shoots as well as post-production tasks and sometimes makes key editorial decisions.

Audio Producer – An audio producer must be familiar with the technology and equipment needed to record, mix, and produce sound on videos. This may include adding sound effects, voiceovers, or background music. They may also be responsible for operating audio equipment on shoots.

Illustrator / Animator – This person uses their creative visual skills to communicate a story, message or idea. This could include producing drawings, diagrams, or other images that help make a client’s message more attractive or easier to understand.

Account Executive – An account executive serves as the direct link between a company and its clients. This person builds sales by prospecting for new clients and generates future profits by nurturing existing customer relationships.

Interning at Blueforest Studios

helpWe are not currently accepting additional interns, check back in summer 2017.  These individuals would have the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of working in the respected positions for a video production company.

Sales and Marketing interns would assist in the creation and distribution of marketing materials, perform analysis of marketing and sales data, and provide support to social media efforts. This person should have excellent written and verbal communication skills and knowledge of the Web and social media. We are looking for applicants who are willing to commit to a minimum of 3 months.

A video intern would assist with the daily operations of video production and work alongside our experienced video producers. Ideally, this person would have some familiarity with basic video practices such as editing. Additionally, they should be able to take direction well and learn new tools quickly.

 

Better Safe Than Sorry

Have you ever seen a commercial where an important piece of information, such as a website or phone number, wasn’t fully displayed on the screen? This is a big problem that not nearly enough production companies pay attention to. The issue here is that footage isn’t being edited with respect to Center Cut Protection.

What’s Center Cut Protection?

Great question! This applies to Standard Definition footage that was filmed in High Definition. HD is meant to be viewed in 16:9 aspect ratio, however SD is only 4:3. So since many SD channels still exist, footage edited in HD need to be down converted in order to be aired on these channels. Specifically, Center Cut Protection refers to graphics or text that’s edited into commercial spots. In the photo on the left, you can see how HD footage is supposed to be viewed, with the website clearly within the safe areas. The photo on the left, however, shows how that same footage would be viewed on an SD channel. In this medium, the website gets cut off.

safe_title_chart_16x9_01      safe_title_chart_16x9_02

How do I fix CCP errors?

It’s important to be cognizant of title safe and action safe areas. These are lines that indicate that what’s within the boundaries will be completely viewable by audiences. Anything outside is at risk of being cut off depending on the viewers’ TV. These areas differ for HD and SD.

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In this photo, the outer line is the Action Safe area and the inner is the Title Safe area. The tiny vertical dashes on each line represent the Center Cut Protection.

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I’m sure that at some point you’ve been watching TV and the screen appeared like the one above, with black bars on the top and bottom. This is to keep HD in 16:9 aspect, even though it’s being displayed in a 4:3 frame. Some channels want to get rid of these bars and adjust the picture to 4:3, like the photo below.

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In this photo, the blue lines coincide with the small dashes in the first photo. This is why it’s important to stick to Center Cut Protection when editing for SD. Because while your normal safe boundaries may be ok for HD, when that same footage is viewed in SD you may lose important information. This makes the commercial less credible, and thus, your company in the eyes of your client.

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!