Ammon and Vann intro

Budget Cinema – A New Series

Ammon and Vann introduce the new Budget Cinema series from Blueforest Studios.

What is Budget Cinema?

In order to first talk about Budget Cinema, it’s important to have an understanding of what cinematic footage is. It doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. You can spend a million bucks on equipment and never get a single frame of cinematic footage. And likewise, you can take your iPhone and create a beautiful film (like Steven Soderbergh did in High Flying Bird).


What Will We Cover?

So in this video series, we will cover different ways to create cinematic footage on a budget. We’ll talk about cinematic shots in films and how they achieved the look. We’ll talk about some of our favorite pieces of equipment. Some of the tools we use to get the shots we love.


Tutorials and Reviews

We will also do tutorials and reviews of equipment we have used. We’ve bought lots of budget equipment. Some of it has been great, and some of it has been pretty awful. We’ll help you sort some of that out, and we’d love to hear from you about more equipment you’d like to hear more about.


Who is this for?

These videos are for anyone who is interested in making cinematic looking footage on a budget. Independent filmmakers, marketers, or just video lovers. At Blueforest Studios, we create lots of videos in different areas, medical, technology, non-profit (and we always focus on the brand story), but these tips will apply to more than just that.

Stick around for the rest of the series, and let us know what you’d like us to talk about in future episodes!

Blueforest Studios is a Raleigh, North Carolina Video Production company.

Blueforest Holiday Party! Featuring Blueforest Gives Back 2016 Video!

It’s holiday season and Blueforest Studios is celebrating with a holiday party on December 1st, where we will reveal the Blueforest Gives Back 2016 video! And, you are invited!

The 2016 Blueforest Gives Back winner is The Center for Volunteer Caregiving, whose vision is to keep growing a community where people of all ages are connected, valued and cared for. And we are really excited about the video we made for them.

What better way is there to start of the holiday season?

We’ll have activities like cornhole, pool, and foosball. And yes, there will be awesome food for you awesome people.

Plus, there’s gonna be a card crafting station where we’ll be making some holiday cards for the people who receive care from The Center of Volunteer Caregiving. Awesome, right? So prepare to get your craft on!

RSVP right now!

Dec. 1st, 2016

4pm to 7pm.

See you there!

S.A.V.E – Students working to make a difference

School is officially back in session!
With the beginning of a new school year also comes a wave of emotions. Excitement, nervousness, anticipation, anxiety – you name it. Not only is it difficult to navigate through the halls to your new classrooms, but trying to navigate around conflicting hopes and fears is beyond intimidating for students. Let’s face it, school is unpredictable. But there are tools that students can obtain to help face whatever situation they find themselves in.

Students can learn these tools from organizations like S.A.V.E. (Students Against Violence Everywhere). Our very own Kimberly Corrigan got to sit and chat with Annelise and Maggie from S.A.V.E. and ask them questions about who they are and what this organization means for students.

Maggie explained that S.A.V.E. is an organization all around the US, in which the main purpose is to educate and empower students with the tools they need to prevent violence – both physical and emotional. So even though school can be unpredictable, students can feel confident and properly equipped to deal with any challenge school may bring.

S.A.V.E. focuses on many sources of violence. One important lesson they teach is about driving safety. Annelise talked about one of their mock car crashes they held before prom. The goal is to bring awareness to high schoolers about the dangers surrounding reckless driving, which are especially heightened during the prom season. With the mock car crash and graphic visuals, they want to warn and prevent students driving while impaired, and showcase the deadly results of such actions.

Check out the video:

Brendan in the Big Blueforest

My name is Brendan Bello, but if you saw the video below you may already know that. (If you haven’t, I suggest you check it out! *wink*) It isn’t your typical “sit down and let’s talk about yourself” kind of video; we took a more dynamic approach to it.

We wanted to shoot the interview in one take, tour-de-studio style, packing as much information as we could into a 60 second video. To do that in a minimal amount of production time, we decided to have me voice over a walk-through of the office. With that in mind, I wrote the script, planned the route, and chose some music to accompany the video. After some revision and review, Dustin helped me record my lines.

Stepping into the sound booth, I was ready to speak my lines, and we would be ready to roll. But right when I started, a bit of pressure and anxiety took me by surprise. Then, I knew why voice artists make the big bucks. Even if you are the most confident and relaxed person in the world, you need practice in order to gain complete control over your voice. Luckily, I had Dustin and Bryan there to help me ease into the lines. Two of the most relaxed people I know just outside the booth helps a ton.

Finally, came the day of the shoot. Bryan and I did a couple dry runs and wrapped up after four takes. It was real fun having many of my co-workers be extras in the video and a blast working out the camera angles to get them where they needed to be. It was also a great experience working with Bryan on the edit, adding the music, syncing the voice-over, overlaying some titles, and simply making the video look good. I won’t spoil the whole thing though, because I want you to see for yourself!

Bryan and Vann – Recreating Calvin and Hobbes in the workplace

Summer is in full swing, and maybe that has caused us to revert to our childhoods a little bit here at Blueforest Studios. Recently, Vann and I were discussing some of our favorite Calvin and Hobbes strips. After a little while, we decided to recreate some of our favorite Calvin and Hobbes strips, taking place at Blueforest Studios. We had some challenges in figuring out how to transform the comic strip medium into a concept that works for video, but we ended up with something we like quite a bit.

We have started with just three videos, so far. If people like them, we might end up doing some more. Let us know what you think! Should we make more?

Corresponding comic strip for episode 1:

Corresponding comic strip for episode 2:

Stay tuned for another one next week!

Before and After BlueVision

When creating new videos, sometimes it’s fun to try things that you have never tried before. I love trying a new filming technique, playing with a new camera, pushing my limits in the editing suite, or anything that feels new and exciting. But, sometimes, it’s best to just do the simple things really well and leave it at that.

That is the approach we took when we were creating a video for a company called Phone Lasso. Phone Lasso is a simple device: it’s a strap that connects to your phone to help keep you from breaking or losing it. So, we wanted to make a simple video that explained how to use it. Simple, but high quality. Phone Lasso already had a video of someone showing how to install the Phone Lasso, but it was not high quality. The lighting was bad, the music set a bizarre, mysterious tone, and it wasn’t even extremely clear what to do. So, we wanted to do a similar video but improve the quality.

First, we lit the scene well. We added lots of soft light from all angles to help achieve a flat, simple look (think about all of those delicious cooking videos you see on Facebook. That is the aesthetic we were going for, visually).

Next, we added a voice over. We wanted there to be clear, succinct directions for how to install the Phone lasso. The first step in this process is writing clear, succinct copy.

After that, we wanted to punch it up and make it a little more exciting. We added some fun, informative graphics, an upbeat, happy music track (note: stock music doesn’t have to mean terrible music), and we grabbed a couple of outdoor shots of people using the device in the real world.

Taking a little extra time and polishing all of the details really helped the video pop. Take a look at this comparison video and see the difference between the video that Phone Lasso already had and the one that Blueforest Studios produced:

Phone Lasso – Blue Vision Comparison from Blueforest Studios on Vimeo.

Rainy day rappelling – Over the Edge 2015

Over the Edge is a fundraising event where people raise money for the Special Olympics of NC and then rappel down the Wells Fargo building. The beginning of October had unpleasant weather conditions in the Triangle: grey skies with rain and wind. October 3 wasn’t any different, making for difficult rappelling conditions.

Because of this, the Over the Edge event was almost cancelled. However, instead of canceling the whole event, the Over the Edge staff realized that a modified version of the event could be done safely. So, instead of rappelling down 30 floors, which would have been unsafe due to the strong winds that were blowing, we rappelled down 4 floors from a separate ledge on the Wells Fargo building. Although it was disappointing to go from 30 stories to 4 stories, I was happy to do anything at all instead of it being rained or winded out. And, while not as high up, it was still fun and a bit of an adrenaline rush.

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I want to sincerely thank my supporters for giving me the opportunity to participate. Mostly, thank you all for supporting the Special Olympics. All of the athletes that I encountered while gearing up for the rappelling were excited and full of positive energy. You are helping them fulfill their dreams with your donations. It was very rewarding to be met at the bottom of the building with a medallion and several of the special olympics athletes greeting me with a loud “Congratulations!”

Learn more about Special Olympics NC here.

CGI: Know Your Limitations

Recently, I watched a wonderful video put together by RocketJump Film School. The video is called, “Why CG Sucks (Except It Doesn’t).” The video takes an in-depth look at popular movies and how they use CGI, Computer Generated Images. It is a fascinating look at why people are oversimplifying things when they say something like, “CGI is ruining movies.” Or, “CGI just looks fake.” In reality, CGI is like most tools that filmmakers use. If you do it well, no one notices. But if you do it poorly, everyone notices.

Crocosaurus from Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus

Crocosaurus from Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus

I occasionally like to watch terrible Syfy channel original movies. They usually have simple, descriptive titles like Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus. Basically, the movie will feature a large shark and a crocodile/dinosaur. And, if you have watched any of these movies, you know that the shark and croc will look incredibly fake because they are CG.


Scene from Mad Max: Fury Road

I also enjoy watching big blockbuster movies like this summer’s Mad Max: Fury Road. You may have heard people praise George Miller’s use of practical effects (real things not CG). And George deserves that praise. There are incredible practical effects in that movie. But, they are mixed with lots of CGI, too. His ability to mix practical effects with CGI makes for incredible results.

George Miller knew that relying solely on CGI would lead to poor results, but he also knew that CGI can be a great tool. He knew his limitations.

Watch the video from RocketJump Film School to learn a lot more and see some great examples of CG that you probably thought were practical effects.

– Bryan Reklis

How to Conduct an Interview for Your Nonprofit Video

Conducting an interview is a skill that takes years to master. I consider it one of the most important skills I’ve developed over 12 years in this business.

Here are a 7 tips that will help you get the best results when you are interviewing someone for your nonprofit video.

#1 Be what you want.

Probably the most important thing you can do when you are interviewing is to lead by example. If you want your interviewee to be relaxed and comfortable, make sure you speak in a relaxed and comfortable way.

#2 Give them some coaching.

Once the lights are on and you are both sitting down, give them a little coaching on how to answer the questions. This will give you a chance to demonstrate how you want them to speak, will give them a chance to get used to the lights and cameras, and will give them a bit of valuable information.

#3 Only ask one question at a time.

If you ask multiple questions at a time it will confuse them and encourage them to give you long winded answers that will be harder for you to use in the video.

#4 Have a list of questions, but don’t use it.

You should always be prepared with a paper that has their name and the questions you want to ask. But once you start talking, you should be flexible enough to make follow-up questions that relate to what they just said and go with the flow.

I usually ask the first question and don’t look back at the paper until the very end to make sure I didn’t miss anything I was planning on.

#5 Go for the story.

Most nonprofits are built around great stories. You are changing peoples lives! When you write your interview questions, you should ask questions that reveal their story. Instead of asking who, what, or how, ask “why?”

#6 Don’t be afraid of silence.

Sometime they will give you a short answer that didn’t address what you were asking. Or you may sense they are holding back to hide their emotions. This would be a great time for an awkward silence. Just keep looking at them and count to 5 in your head. I’ve gotten some of my best answers by just not speaking and waiting for them to really open up. (And yes, I learned that from Barbara Walters!)

#7 Keep it loose.

Occasionally you will get someone who is so nervous about the lights and cameras they freeze. If your interviewee gets stuck on a question, don’t let them hang frozen for too long. If you just sit there they will begin to get more and more embarrassed and the interview will fail. After a few moments of freezing, I like to move on to the next question and come back to the one they froze on if we need to at the end.

So there you are. Good luck with your interview!


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. 

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 11.49.28 AM