Why Storytelling is More Influential Than Selling

storytell_image_webIn part one of our Infomercial vs. Commercial debate, we talked about how the main idea associated with infomercials is ‘annoying.’ Let’s be honest, there’s no quicker way to get us to switch channels than hearing the familiar Oxyclean advertisement, or one similar to it. Infomercials are highly identifiable by their traditional approach to selling items.  But one thing that you can’t ignore is that they work! Otherwise people wouldn’t spend the amount of money producing the videos or airing them if they didn’t.

We start with a demonstration of the product: what it does, why it’s amazing, why other brands don’t live up to this one. All of that is well and good; obviously it’s the type of information you’d want to include in any kind of marketing technique. But then they start in on the irritation…

“You get all of this for only $19.99! That’s right, everything you see here for just $19.99! Similar products are going for more than double that! But you get it all for – wait for it – $19.99!”

Come on, is anyone really fooled into thinking that this is some killer bargain? But then, of course, they try to sweeten the deal…

“But wait! Call now and you’ll also recieve this (fill in random useless item here) for no extra cost to you! That’s (product and useless item) for JUST $19.99!!!

And then they repeat their phone number about 500 times, so if you’re still tuned in by this point you’re spending a lot more time praying for the infomercial to be over than thinking about the product.

Now, think about that technique and ask yourself – wouldn’t an engaging and entertaining commercial go so much farther in persuading the consumer to buy the product than annoying them into submission? You might think the benefit of an infomercial is that it highlights the benefits of the product, but a well-made commercial can do all that and more. For example, we like to create a narrative around the product. We enrapture and enlighten through visual storytelling. This is a great option to think about if you want to appeal to customers through entertainment. People often remember more information when it’s embedded in an interesting story. This video explains why.

As an example of the storytelling advertising technique, you can look at the Evolvemint fundraising video we produced.

At Blueforest Studios, we love to tell stories – we’d love to tell YOUR story. Give us a call or check out our portfolio for more inspriation.

 

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!

 

Differentiation

When I meet people in a networking environment I am often asked what sets Blueforest Studios apart from the other companies in town.  First we share our stories and talk about the company’s that we work for or own.  Then as we delve deeper the question comes up: Why should people choose Blueforest Studios rather than one of the hundred other production firms in the area?  I usually talk about our gifted staff – award-winning, creative, dedicated, and innovative.  If they let me I will tell them about the award that we won for this touching American Heart Association video.  Or I will tell them how that video touched someone so much they remembered it over a year after the ball.  I will tell them that our video producer created the music for that video because he just couldn’t find the right piece.  And that he did that on his own time because the client didn’t have the budget for custom music.  If they care, I will tell them that we have the best combination of creative folks in the Triangle and that they can’t go wrong with our company.  But some of those characteristics are prerequisites to be in this field.  After your first year – you better have an award or two to show for your efforts, and you have to be creative if you’re in video production and we all like to think that our staff is dedicated – at least most of us say that.  So what’s the difference?  Since I have never worked for another video production company I can only say that anecdotedly not all companies are as focused on client success and long-term gain as we are.  When we realized that some of our customers were using their very expensive videos once and then posting them in a hidden place on the internet we went back and asked ‘Why?’.  Could they repurpose the video to get a larger return on it?  Did they just need to optimize the video to get more views online?  Then we started working with clients up front to determine how they could get the most out of their investment in the video.

So in summary – we are not just into a transactional relationship.  Our team loves making videos but they really enjoy videos that are creative and effective!  Month-after-month we have repeat business from customers who could go anywhere in town and if we win new business we rarely lose them to a competitor later.  Now we’ve added another differentiator with animation and our own in-house illustrator who helps explain even the most complex issues – like Tax Reform!

Jingles All the Way

Imagine: you’re lounging on the couch watching the Panthers dominate in last Sunday’s football game. At the halftime commercial break, you hear the distinctive voice of your worker on television. Suddenly you realize…it’s YOUR commercial! That’s the experience our CEO, Russ Reynolds, had last weekend when the spot for the Leith Toyota came on. Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 12.40.26 PMLeith came to us with the request to include a jingle in their commercial that was catchy and would get viewers’ attention. So like a dutiful production company, we started brainstorming how to produce a commercial incorporating a memorable tune that would run through viewers’ heads and entice them to head over to Leith. We took our inspiration from other popular commercial jingles and eventually came up with an idea that we thought would appeal to consumers. Not only did we do the instrumental work and recording, but we even gathered up half our team and got them in the audio booth to start chanting. The vocals you hear belong to none other than a group of diversely talented Blueforest Studios staff. We even coerced our account manager, Meredith Duncan, into sipping pepsi and milk on-camera (it was supposed to look like an iced latte). This is one way in which we’re demonstrating how dedicated we are to producing the best possible product for our clients. We’ll go the extra mile to ensure that what you receive is the pinnacle of our creative abilities. Check out the Leith commercial below and let us know what you think! If you’re interested in having a video that features a catchy jingle, give us a call – we’d love to help you in any way we can.

Basic Lighting for your Video Production

Lighting is one of the key elements in video production and it makes all the difference when it comes to the quality of your video. Here are some lessons we’ve learned in lighting over the years:

  1. The quality of your video sends a message about the quality of your product.
  2. Using good lighting can make a huge impact.
  3. If you can, get a simple, 3 piece lighting kit – like this one for $800.
  4. Key light – Main light for your subject(s).
  5. Fill light – Secondary light that is not as bright and provides some contrast to the features of the subject(s).
  6. Hair/Back light – Helps the subject(s) stand out from the background.
  7. Windows – Don’t get a bright window in the back of your shot. Draw the blinds or move the shot.
  8. Adjustment Suggestions: Harsh Light – use a diffuser, move the light further away. Noisy Image – you need more light in general. Move lights closer, find another lamp or light source to add to the overall light in your shot
  9. Guerrilla Tactics: Use a window as your key light, lamp as your hair light and buy a $20 flood light on a stand from Lowe’s

Please share your thoughts on this video and questions for future video
blog posts. For a more detailed explanation and to see what these tips look like on camera, check out the video below which features a lighting demonstration.

Leveraging Your Video on Vimeo

There are so many video sharing sites out there but one has reigned supreme for the past few years.  YouTube is great for sharing funny cat videos and even marketing videos that you’d like to have found in search.  But what about videos that are for a more targeted audience or for an interface that can be customized and maintain professionalism?  That’s where vimeo comes in.

They offer an interface free of distraction and have been a favorite for award-winning shorts from filmmakers.

And, now they are looking for more ways to differentiate themselves.  They started with tip-jar, giving viewers a method to show their appreciation to the video producers and now they are offering Vimeo On Demand.  They’re new On Demand option gives anyone the option to sell their video work online however they want.  So you can make it a limited engagement for say 1 hour or let the user have almost permanent access to the content.  We are thinking about how some of our clients would have liked this sort of option for training videos and documentaries.  What other uses do you envision of Vimeo on Demand?  We’d love to hear your ideas.

Kathy Hughes Langfield

The Top 4 Reasons You Should Care About 4k

If you are reading this article, I assume you’ve heard of 4k at this point.  If you’re still not sure what it is, here’s a brief overview. You’ve heard of 1080p which is a video with a resolution of 1920×1080. That’s a lot of pixels and produces some great images on your home TV if you have HD content like Blu Ray, HD cable or Satellite, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 etc.

Now imagine multiolying that resolution by 4! Now you have 4k or Ultra High Definition (UHD.) The term 4k comes from the hollywood film industry because they have been scanning and projecting film prints at 4k resolution for many years now.

So, why should you care?

  1. It might be the next big thing.  There’s always a “next big thing” in technology. Eight years ago (in 2004) 1080p HD was introduced. Seven years before that was when DVDs became the next big thing. If you follow that pattern in technology, we are due for a “next big thing.” The industry tried to push 3d on us (mainly because it’s harder to pirate,) but that has proven to be more of a niche thing.

If you’ve followed CES 2013, you may have learned that almost every major TV manufacturer has just announced a 4k TV set. Sony in particular seems to be going all in on it announching 4k TVs, 4k broadcast and disk formats, 4k camcorders, and there’s a strong rumor that the PS4 will be the first 4k gaming platform. Many signs indicate that 4k UHD will be the next big thing in media.

        2.  For some of us, it already is the next big thing.  We’ve been filming TV commercials, web videos, and documentaries in 4k for about a year now. There are at least 2 other video production companies in town doing so as well. I’ve had many people ask me why we are filming in 4k. Here are the top 4 reasons I give them:

  • Acquiring footage in 4k gives us sharper 1080p images.
  • Future proofing our library. In 5 years, when 4k is mainstream, our clients will have a 4k library of footage to draw from.
  • Flexibility. I can film a wide shot and later change it to a close up and still be well over 1080p resolution. I’ve done it before and it’s gotten me out of a couple of pinches.
  • Bragging rights. It’s a character flaw. I’m an early adopter. I like being out on the bleeding edge. It costs me time and money sometimes, but it also means I can write this article so you can learn from my mistakes.

         3. Movie Theaters. You may or may not know that movie theaters have been projecting 4k movies for several years now. So how does that affect you? Well, if you are producing a TV commercial or documentary that you ever want to play in theaters, you will be able to take advantage of the power of 4k UHD. There is a company called RED (who happens to manufactuare the 4k cameras we use) and they have jumped in the 4k theater distribution game. What this means is that in a couple of years, there may be a way for you to very easily screen a low budget film in a local theater at 4k UHD.

         4.  It’s Beautiful!  A funny thing is that even though I have been filming in 4k for over a year, up until last month I have never SEEN any of my images in 4k. That all changed when we discovered a high end home theater company in town who has a 4k projector installed in a $200,000 home theatre demo at their office. They too had never seen 4k footage on their beautiful set-up. That’s because there are still no devices that are capable of playing back 4k footage.

We spent several weeks building a custom computer rig that was up to the task of 4k. Last month when we sat down to finally see true 4k projected I was blown away. I saw details in the footage I had shot that I have never seen before and I have looked at the footage for hours upon hours. This was good and bad, because I realized that I am going to have to raise the bar in some of the ways I am shooting because 4k shows off every mistake you make.

 So, the bottom line on 4k for consumers is that it’s coming. I imagine the TV sets will be starting at $5,000-$7,000 and will drop in price from there in much the same way 1080p did. TVs are getting larger, so an 84″ screen will soon cost the same as a 60″ 1080p screen did a few years ago. Content is also on it’s way as several companies have introduced formats that can pack 4k into a bandwidth similar to bluray discs or even less.

For companies that are producing videos, commercials, etc, you can hire a local company like ours and have us produce your video in 4k for not that much more than producing it in HD. (There’s about a 10-20% increase in cost due to equipment and data storage costs.)  Here’s a commercial we recently finished that was shot in 4k and was broadcast in HD last month on local TV.

If you have any questions about 4k, email me Ammon Ehrisman at ammonATblueforesstudios.com because I love talking about it!

(Ammon is the Creative Director at Atlantic Creative located in Raleigh, NC.)

 

Infomercial vs. Commercial

When you say infomercial, the first word that may come to your mind might be “annoying.”  We’ve all seen them, and some of us may have even succumbed to the power of the infomercial and purchased something. Whether it was by calling in right then to get the extra incentive or visiting the website or even buying it in a store. But, how effective is it compared to a regular tv commercial or web video?

An infomercial goes way more in-depth by demonstrating the product usually in a pretty low quality looking way. In fact, did you know that some infomercials are actually high budget productions that are made to look low budget?

We at Blueforest Studios stay away from infomercial style ads and instead come up with a creative story that really captivates an audience. We find that these types of ads, whether used on tv or online tend to lend more credibility to a company and show them in a positive light. An infomercial on the other hand, could be a great selling tool after you’ve got a great short video that captures your viewers and leaves them wanting more, but an amazing video as a first impression can produce lasting results.

Check out this video we made for All-Weather Firestarters.

The owner came to us with an infomercial style video that he’d produced with a different company, but wasn’t happy with the results he got from it. Ours is the furthest thing away from an infomercial.

What do you think? What makes you click or decide to buy an item?

Red Epic vs. Canon DSLR

As you know our team is always pushing the envelope on the tools and techniques that they use to create awesome video productions.  They are always learning, trying out new things and deciding which tools and techniques improve our video productions and which are just neat little tricks.  Well, they have been researching the Red Epic for some time and we’re thrilled to get a chance to use it to shoot some TV Spots for some of our clients.

So we came up with our first test footage using the Red Epic for Carolina Ale House – Doesn’t this burger look great?  And how about that beer?

Can you tell the difference from the burger and beer above and this very nice and most popular TV commercial that we created for Carolina Ale House last Spring?  We shot this with our Canon DSLR and are very happy with the results – especially all the views online and the response from those who have seen this TV spot while watching basketball and hockey! We’d love your thoughts, comments and questions so let us know what you think!

Blueforest Studios is a leading video production company located in Raleigh, NC

Basic Tips for Shooting Video with a DSLR

Since DSLRs are gaining popularity in the video production world, I thought we would share some basic tips for shooting video on a DSLR.

First, you want to adjust your shutter speed. Depending on how you want your video to look, this will vary. Shutter speed is how long the sensor of your camera is exposed to light. First you need to know what frame rate you will be shooting in. For most DSLRs this will be either 24p/25p, 30p, or 50p/60p. If you are shooting at 24p/25p, you want the shutter at 1/48th and 1/50th (of a second). If you are shooting at 30p, you want the shutter to be 1/60th. And if you are shooting at 50p/60p you want 1/100th and 1/120th, respectively. Shooting at 24 frames per second will give you a film look to your footage, if that is the style you want.

Second, you need to adjust your ISO. The ISO changes how sensitive the camera’s sensor is to light. The higher the ISO, the more sensitve the sensor is. If you are shooting in low-light condistions, you will need to raise your ISO, which will help brighten the image. A rule of thumb for ISO is to keep it as low as possible because when you raise the ISO, you begin to see a digital noise in the footage. Often times certain ISOs create more noise than others. These ISO settings are good to avoid: 125, 250, 500, and 1000.

Third, you need to set your white balance. White balance is the process of capturing the correct colors for the available light you have. If you don’t set the white balance, your footage just won’t look right because the colors will be off. Most DSLRs will have white balance presets, but if your camera has a manual Kelvin white balance, you will want to use that. Presets will do a pretty good job, but adjusting the white balance yourself will be more accurate. When shooting outside, start at a white balance of 5200K. This is usually the temperature of sunlight, and you can tweak it, if needed. If shooting indoors under tungsten light, start at 3200K. This is the normal temperature of tungsten bulbs. Most bulbs are not completely color accurate though, so you will want to adjust it based on the light that is around you.

As with all video tips, these are just starting points. Tweaking the rules is how you can develop the exact look you want for your video project, but these are good places to start.

 Have you found any of these tips helpful in your video production? Let us know in the comments section!

Derek DeStefano 
Assistant Video Producer