video production raleigh

Scrambling to create a virtual event due to COVID-19?

The quickly spreading Corona virus has caused mass cancellations of events and conferences. If you find that you suddenly have to create a virtual event to get your marketing message out- don’t panic! We can help. Breathe- really great video production is on the way.

You have options. We can set up high-quality, multi-camera live streaming with graphics and titles, or video record your messages so they can be viewed on-demand by your customers via email or online. We can simulate the experience of an in-person conference with live question and interaction tools.

Feel free to reach out and we’ll brainstorm solutions with you. Click here to book a meeting with our creative team, or contact us and tell us more about your event.

Stay safe and healthy.

hero title

Budget Cinema – Using Gray Paper as a Backdrop

Ammon and the Blueforest crew show how they use gray paper as a backdrop for their video production set ups.

Versatility is everything

In this installment of Budget Cinema, Ammon is discussing the benefits of using a gray paper as a backdrop when filming. There are a couple of reasons why we use it we would like to share these tips with you. We will be going through the type and color of gray backdrop paper along with a few tips when setting it up. We will discuss why we enjoy using this for our backdrops as well. We will give our reasons why this gray backdrop is versatile. We will also touch on a lighting tip that looks great with the backdrop as well. It is a pretty simple setup and can really boost your production value.

Let’s get right into this!



The gray seamless backdrop paper we use is from the company Savage. We went with the ultra wide which is 107 inches in length. You can pick up this roll at any local photography store or order online at B&H Photo. The price is around $60 and if you do order online you might spend up to $20 more because of shipping. We recommend picking up at your local photography store if you can to make the total cost cheaper in the end. (If you are in Raleigh, North Carolina like us, you could try out Southeastern Camera).

Why gray?

The color of gray we have at the studio is labeled ‘Fashion gray’. The shade of gray is a mid-gray more on the brighter side of the tones of gray. The reason why we use a mid-gray is that we have the ability to control how dark or light the gray appears based on lights. Lights can make all the difference with this gray backdrop or any backdrop. If you have less light pointed at the gray backdrop you can make the mid-gray look darker. If you have more light pointed at the gray backdrop you can turn the light gray into an almost white. This is why Blueforest Studios uses the mid-gray for our backdrops. In the end, you don’t just have one color backdrop which is why we love the versatility with this setup. You have a wide range with only one backdrop which can save you time and money.


Laying out the backdrop

When we use the gray backdrop we do not mount it horizontally (top to bottom) because that does not allow us to use a full head-to-toe shot. This way we can also have more than one person in the frame and allows for more room when filming. What we did was set up a truss system which is something you could pick up at a DJ store. Then we will roll the backdrop vertically left to right instead of top to the floor. We made sure to unroll the backdrop slowly to prevent major wrinkles in the paper. When setting up the gray backdrop we tapped the backdrop to the wall and to the truss with gaffers tape so that it did not leave a sticky residue to the wall, truss, or backdrop.


Here’s where the fun begins

We used sandbags at the bottom to hold the backdrop down and we positioned lights to act as a hair light for our subject. The hair light gives more separation between the subject and the backdrop. The excess light spills onto the backdrop making the gray brighter. The finishing touch on this gray backdrop is the little fresnel style light we have directly behind the subject. We went from two hair lights that had some spill onto the backdrop to one direct hair light with no spill. The little light behind the subject is an Apurture Light Storm Mini. This little guy is extremely versatile and doesn’t take up much space and paired with the gray backdrop you can do a lot with it.


Light the Subject

The hero light is a circular light framing the subject with a hero look to it. With having less light spill onto the backdrop, the gray is now darker than before. We added a little hero light to accent the subject. The great thing about the hero light with the Light Storm Mini is that the light can be brightened and dimmed along with the circle being more direct/spot or more wide/flooded. The more flooded the light makes the effect of the hero light softer and less noticeable. This light is very small and versatile and was easy to hide for filming.



Be a hero

Use these tips to make your next interview stand out. Be a hero and show your versatility and knowledge of lighting a gray backdrop. I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Let us know what you learned and how you used these tips to improve your skills. If you want to learn other ways to be a hero, check out our blog about brand storytelling.

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

bmdpcc4k SSD clip

Budget Cinema – Using an SSD with BMPCC4K

Ammon and Bryan show how to set up an SSD on the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K.

We love using the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, and we found a simple way to mount a Solid State drive to the top of the camera. It stays out of the way and works when mounted to the Zhiyun Crane 2 (check out how to attach the follow focus to the Crane 2). In this installment of our Budget Cinema Series, we’ll show you what we use to set up the SSD and how easy it is to use it.


Houston We Have A Problem!

Have you ever been stuck in a situation where you need more storage on a card? Ammon and Bryan from Blueforest Studios discuss how to set up a Solid State Drive (SSD) to the new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. We found this tip to be extremely helpful when filming with a larger hard drive, and we had to make a video about it!


What you will need is an SSD (we used a Samsung), Angelbird Cable (SATA to USB-C), Joby Cell Phone Holder, Camvate Superclamp, and of course the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. You can set this up in under 5 minutes and here is how we did just that.


We found that the ¼” – 20 thread fit with the bottom of the Canvey Superclamp. We then mounted the Joby Cell Phone Holder to the tightening ring and mounted that to the top of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K.


Next, we slid the Samsung SSD into the phone holder with the SATA side pointing out to the left of the camera (lens away).


Plug in the Angelbird Cable from SSD to Pocket Cinema camera and there you go!

Ready to roll

We found that this method was the most inexpensive and reliable method for us. The SSD does not take up too much viewing area above the camera. When you turn on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K the SSD will show up just like it would if you had an SD card in the spot instead. Let us know if you have a different setup. Let us know how you connect larger drives to your Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. And check out some of the stuff we film on the BMPCC4K and other fun toys!

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

beach cart loading

Budget Cinema – Ammon’s Favorite Piece of Gear

Ammon talks about his favorite piece of gear, and it only costs about 60 bucks!

Gimme Gear!

Ammon is the creative director here at Blueforest Studios, and over his career he’s bought lots of gear. We love our toys here, but we also are always trying to stay in our budget. We work with all kinds of companies, and they all are trying to stay in budget (especially non-profits). So, we are always looking for the best tools for the lowest price. And that brings us to Ammon’s favorite piece of gear, the beach cart!


Wait, What?
You might be thinking, that can’t be his favorite piece of equipment. Blueforest Studios uses drones and sliders and cool cameras! And, you might be right. That stuff is really cool and fun. But, one thing that’s not fun is throwing your back out because you’ve been lugging equipment miles at a time on a 10 hours shoot. We do lots of medical videos, which includes walking all over large hospital campuses (like WakeMed right here in Raleigh, NC). And, we have to lug around all of our cool equipment. So, these carts are super handy.

Easy In, Easy Out

These carts are also super easy to setup and to pack up. Time is of the essence on busy shoot days, and being able to open the cart super quickly and load a bunch of stuff into it right away is a huge time saver. But, it also packs up really quickly. We usually just toss it on top of the equipment right before we leave. Last thing in and first thing out of the van.


Use What’s Around You

So, the lesson is that sometimes the best piece of equipment isn’t actually designed for video production. Sometimes it’s made for going out to the beach and getting away.


Let us know what pieces of equipment you use that are super cheap and useful!

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

Why How What Graph

Blueforest Studios Creative Philosophy

Donec non posuit scaenam

We don’t put mess up on the stage!

Get to the brand story

Face it, when businesses and organizations talk about themselves (boring) they spend way too much time talking about what they do (dull) and how they do is (who cares?!) They almost always stop short of the most interesting thing:  Why do you exist?

While there are undoubtedly lots of interesting facts, figures, techniques and tidbits about your company,  there are people in your organization who are passionate about what they do. The do it because they love it and they have a reason why they love it.  Tell me why they get up in the morning and pour their heart and passion into working for your organization.

Get deeper into the story

Now that we are focused on the story, we are on the right track but we have further to go.  You will often find that once you start asking people at your organization their story, they will give you the most shallow answer possible.

That’s because all good stories are personal.  The more personal the better. So when you ask your people that question you will catch them off guard and they will give you a guarded answer.  

That why we don’t just ask why. We ask why 3 times in order to get to the personal story.

Here’s a generic example.  Carol is an insurance saleswoman.  Let’s find out her story:

Why #1

Q: Carol, you are one of our best salespeople. Why did you decide to become an insurance salesperson?

A: I don’t know, I guess I just really like helping people.  People who make insurance claims are going through a hard time and I can help them.

Why #2

Q: Why do you think you enjoy helping people so much?

A: There are a lot of people who have helped me in the past and I always

looked up to them and wanted to be more like them. (Now we are getting

somewhere.  Let’s go one level deeper.)

Why #3

Q: You could have chosen a lot of jobs where you could help people. Is there an example from your past that demonstrates why you chose insurance specifically?

A: Well when I was 6 years old my house burned down.  It was a very scary experience. I remember.. and this is one of my earliest memories… there was an insurance agent who was there very quickly after the event and he came in and reassured us that he would take care of everything we needed to get us back in a home and replace all the things we had lost in the fire.

He was like a superhero in my eyes and I remember over the years thinking of him and wanting to be like him and help others the way he helped my family.

This is actually not just a story I made up but is based on a real story.

Understand story

Storytelling is an ancient artform.  It’s also the subject of modern scientific study.  What we know is that everyone loves stories and that our brains are actually hardwired to create and listen closely to stories.

Most people believe they know what a story is but when it comes down to actually describing that, we fall short.

For brand marketers, our job is even harder.  We aren’t writing 900 page novels. We are not making 2 hour movies. We are not creating 23 minute tv shows. We are sometimes creating 15 second commercials or 1 inch by 2 inch business cards.  

In order to fit our brand story into those formats we not only have to understand completely what storytelling is, we need to understand it right down to the core.  Don’t nobody have time for character development, 3 act story structure, or intricate plots in a 15 second commercial. We have to be able to strip away all the unnecessary parts and yet still have a compelling story left.

So as I have studied this topic I have come up with the top 4 elements that you absolutely must have:

To learn more about why each of these is essential to your story, check out our other blogs and videos about this topic.

Sharpen the message

Once you know your brand story, you can finally start writing scripts, drafting artwork, creating storyboards and mood boards that support the story. As you do this, it’s important to remember that brand storytelling alone won’t cut it. We still need to sharpen and balance our message. We still have to do the nuts and bolts work of telling people what we do, knowing our audience, and having a call to action.

One tool we use to help with this is our video personality profile. This questionnaire will ask you a series of questions about the mood and personality of your video or brand. It will force you to make some difficult but important creative decisions.

Another tool we use are these three questions.  Before asking yourself these questions, imagine you are the perfect target customer for your brand and you have never heard of this brand.  You have just finished watching this amazing brand video.

                  1. Think
                    1. a. What is the #1 thing you want your audience to think about your brand?
                  2. Feel
                    1. b. What is the #1 thing you want your audience to feel about your brand? 
                  3.  Do
                    1. c. What is the #1 thing you want your audience to do the moment they finish watching the video?

Remember you only get one answer for each question.  If you can do that your message will be very sharp at this point.

Promote the message

This may seem obvious but just because you made a great video or brand marketing piece, your job is not done. I can’t tell you how many videos we have produced only to find a year later that the client did not properly promote it. It’s pretty sad when a $10,000 video gets only 100 views on Youtube because the marketers did not properly optimize and promote it.

Sometimes a marketer simply does not know how to optimize the video and run a few ads. They may not know how to post it on other social media sites and purchase ads there as well.

That’s why we offer Blueboost marketing packages designed to get a finished brand video that maximum possible views.

Not just because we love our clients, but we want them to succeed, make lots of money and come back to hire us again for their next video!



crane 2 follow focus

Budget Cinema – Setting up the Follow Focus on the Zhiyun Crane 2

Blake and Bryan show you how to set up the follow focus on the Zhiyun Crane 2

Blake and Bryan back again with another installment of the Budget Cinema Series from Blueforest Studios. In this video, they are walking through the installation process of the follow focus for the Zhiyun Crane 2. We’ve had the Crane 2 for a while now, but we recently added the follow focus. And it opens up a lot more options for great shots. We love it! (Despite Blake’s feeling of hatred to Bryan…)


Right out of the box!

When you open up the box for the Zhiyun Crane Follow Focus you will see the motor, a power cable to power the motor from the Zhiyun crane, two follow focus gear rings that will go onto the focus ring of the lens, components for the rod which mounts the motor to the gimbal, and a small Allen wrench.

Step 1

Mounting the rod to the gimbal. There is a threaded hole where the mount for the rod will be placed on the left facing side of the camera will be mounted. This then allowed the rod to be tightened into the gimbal. You will need to use the small Allen wrench to tighten the mount onto the gimbal.

Step 2

Next, you can thread the rod into the mount. Make sure to tighten down the mount and rod as tight as you can so that when tightening the motor onto the rod nothing becomes lose or slips. We used the Allen wrench to tighten the rod as much as we could onto the mount.

Step 3

Add the follow focus cable onto the focus ring of the lens you will be using with the gimbal. Make sure it is nice and snug and grips the focus ring well. There are little teeth on the cable that will fit into the clamp on the one end of the cable. It helps if the camera is already mounted onto the gimbal.


Step 4

Time to mount the motor onto the rod. Loosen the clamp of the motor to enable it to slide easily onto the motor. Heads up if you loosen the clamp too much the whole clamp could come off and you don’t want to lose or break that. Slide the motor on and line the teeth of the motor with the teeth of the follow focus cable. You can test if the teeth are gripping by putting the lens in manual focus mode and twisting the lens by hand and watching the interlocking teeth move simultaneously.


Step 5

Last step. Giving the motor power. You will see a small hole where you will connect the power cable from the Zhiyun Crane 2 to the base of the motor. There is another connection where you can connect the motor to the camera. We find this way the easiest method. Make sure to rebalance the gimbal so that the added weight of the motor does not throw off the calibration of the Zhiyun Crane 2. The follow focus should start working immediately.


Diggity Done!

Congratulations you have successfully installed the follow focus to the Zhiyun Crane 2. You can now pull focus from below the camera on the dial of the Zhiyun Crane 2. If you enjoyed this video give us alike. If you have a Zhiyun Crane comment below what you like to film and if you found this blog post helpful. Check out more of the Budget Cinema Series and see some of the work we film on our fun toys!

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

animation boat in ocean

A Helpful Guide to Choosing an Animation Style

The Right Animation

Here at Blueforest Studios, we’ve been doing video production in Raleigh, North Carolina for a long time. And, we’ve realized that animation is here to stay and it seems like it is getting even more popular. So, if you have asked yourself, “Is animation right for my business?” and answered “yes,” you are in the right place. We have compiled some of our favorite animation projects over the last year. There is a huge variety of animation styles out there but what is most important is to pick the style that best speaks to your audience and your brand story. It can also be hard to know how to describe a particular style, so we will show you. We’ve found the best way to know the right animation style is to find examples that you like. Then we will use those animation styles as a reference. Take the time to find what you like. Just like Pablo Picasso said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”

The Secret Formula

There are many ways to create 2D and 3D animations, and this is how we make ours. Most of the animation work done at Blueforest Studios is through Adobe After Effects with some help from plugins. We also use Photoshop and Illustrator to create the assets that are animated in After Effects. In the end, you shouldn’t worry about having the correct method in mind of how to make it happen, leave that to us. Finding the style that fits best is key.


Pick Your Style

There are so many different animation styles out there ranging from a vector based clean-cut look to a more hand-drawn pencil style and everything in between. Some of our animations are vector style animations with a grain layer added to the top to bring all of the elements together. Here is a clip from a project with CPESN to promote community pharmacies. Notice how the texture of the blue background. The sleek design is very symmetric and pleasing to watch.


You may also find this vector style of animation used for ScottMadden to be bright clean and modern. This was for a project about Shared Services with ScottMadden. We used a visual metaphor of going on an ocean journey to depict the topic of the video. The shipping containers on the ship float around in a playful manner organizing themselves like so. Both the animations above and below are a vector style of animation, but give a different feel and mood for the video.


This next animation was a vector style animation for a company called Pre-Switch. They make power converters that are used in electric cars and other high voltage applications. During this section, we were talking about the history of electricity and how it spread across the world. That’s a map of NYC. The blue lines flow out into the city similar to the flowing of electricity.


Hand-Drawn Style

This is another ScottMadden animation completely different from the one above. This animation story is about data security. We used a visual metaphor of a security guard protecting a priceless artifact in a museum and data thieves trying to break in an steal it. Most of the elements were hand drawn in Photoshop. The sketch marks and shading add a level of roughness to the scene. There are so many different styles of animation out there and the team at  Blueforest Studios are ready for any idea our clients have. That’s the fun part about animation, you can create your own world.

Here we have another form of hand-drawn animation called Whiteboard animation. Whiteboard is simple and easy to digest as the viewer. There is less going on which allows the viewer to stay focused on the topic of the video. This is 2D animation and is one of the most popular ways to show explainer videos. This would be a great style of animation for educational videos.


Let’s do this together!

If you have an animation project in mind but you just don’t know where to start. Reach out to Blueforest Studios and we can bring your idea to life. We will help you get from start to finish and help tell your brand story (we really like brand storytelling). Check out our full animation reel.


If you are interested in talking about an animation video for your company, fill out our video personality quiz, or email our creative director, Ammon.

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

battery door bmdpcc4k

Budget Cinema – Replacing the Battery Door on BMPCC4K

Blake and Bryan show you how to replace a broken battery door on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. 

Tiny Problem

In this installment of Budget Cinema, Blake and Bryan from Blueforest Studios demonstrate how to fix a broken battery door on the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (BMPCC4K). When Blueforest Studios first received the camera, the first thing we noticed was that the battery door was open as soon as we pulled it out of the box. Upon further investigation, we found out the latch was broken and would not stay closed. We reached out to Blackmagic Design, and the support was really helpful. They sent us a replacement battery door, and we wanted to make a little video showing you how to properly install the new battery door.


Take Off the Broken Door

To remove the broken battery door, there is a small black lever near the hinge of the battery door that needs to slide to release itself from the camera. You will need to slide the tiny lever away from the lens, so sliding the lever towards the LCD screen on the back of the BMPCC4K.


Put on the New Door

Putting the door on is just the reverse of taking the broken one off. You pull the tab out of the way, and place the new door into place. It should click into place when it is successfully installed. Then you are all set!


Ready to Film!

It is an easy fix, but we wanted to make sure that the instructions are as helpful and user-friendly as possible  If you find yourself in a similar situation, contact Blackmagic Design support. They were helpful, and they will get you a new battery door. Get back out there and continue filming great content.
Check out more of the Budget Cinema Series and see some of the work we film on our fun toys!

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

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.

Ammon secret intro

5 Secrets to Effective Brand Storytelling

SHHHHHH! Turn your volume down. We’re about to let you in on the five top secrets for awesome brand storytelling.

The day has come. This is the last piece to our storytelling puzzle. Before we part ways and roll the credits on our series, we want to let all of you in on the five secrets to set your brand story apart from the rest. If you haven’t seen the rest of the series, check out our previous, some might say magical, installments.

Secret 1: Understand the Core of Storytelling


To tell a great story, first you have to understand what makes a great story. Do your research, know your stuff. Watch films or read books, find what captures your attention and why. Learn how to properly create a structure for your story. Luckily, Blueforest studios already has set you up with a few resources to get the ball rolling.

Secret 2: Find Your Own Story First

If you’re going to tell your brand story, you have to find your own story first. What do you value? What led you to this point? What are you trying to say? Write the answers to these question down and start to create a roadmap. We discussed this process a little further in our 5 Simple Storytelling Steps blog post. Making your brand story personal to you, is the best way to ensure it’s unique.

Secret 3: Get to the “Why”

Let’s be real, people don’t really remember or care about what you do, or how you do it until they learn the why. If you cut through the what and how and jump straight to the why you will engage people a lot faster. The “What” is something every company in the world knows about themselves, some dig a little deeper and know “How” they do what they do. But very few people take the time to connect with the “Why”. Simon Sinek explains this in greater depth with his Ted Talk called “Start with Why”. 

Secret 4: Keep Asking Why

That’s right, “Why” is so important it takes up two whole secrets. You’ll find most of the time when you first ask yourself “why” you’ll get a pretty shallow answer. For example we may ask ourselves:

“Why do we make videos”?

“Because it’s fun.”

“Why is it fun?”

“Because we get to be creative while helping others tell their stories.”

Now which one of those answers was more interesting and memorable to you as a viewer? The more we ask ourselves why, the juicer answer we get.

Secret 5: Use Advanced Techniques


So now that you’ve mastered the basics of storytelling and you have a good grip on what good storytelling is, it’s time to start implementing some advanced storytelling techniques. These will include things such as: How do you use suspense to tell your brandstory? How do you use the human body to the your brandstory? And finally how do you use multiple points of entry to get people hooked? You can explore storytelling from unlimited angles as you explore more advanced techniques.

The End


There you have it folks 5 secrets on how to tell your brand’s story. With these golden nuggets of knowledge, we draw our series to a close. We hope you learned something, whether it be how important your values, what it takes to be remembered, the value of “why?”, or maybe even just how to make a proper sandwich. Stories have been told and passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years. There’s a reason: they’re powerful. They have the capability to make us feel far beyond and deeper than we think we are capable of. Stories make us believe, make us act, and ultimately bring us joy. So go, tell your story, share your passion, and inspire someone.

If you still have questions about how to kick your story up a notch we’d love to help, give us a holler here.

Blueforest Studios is a Raleigh Video Production company dedicated to telling powerful brand stories.