Story by Robert McKee is a great book geared towards Hollywood screenwriting, but the principles of good storytelling can be applied anywhere. The lessons in this book have helped the Blueforest Studios team transform our techniques, and we want to help you perform the same magic.
What’s At Stake?
Abracadabra! Those are the three magic words. ‘What’s at stake?’ Congratulations, we have levitated your story, from mediocre to brilliant.
An inexperienced writer will feel the need to tell you the viewer in great detail about their character. They will describe in great detail the color of their hair and the car they drive. But, there is no suspense, there is no interest, and there is really nothing for the audience to connect with. The audience isn’t going to root for the character throughout the movie because of the color of their hair or how much cream they put in their coffee. Try not to exhaust the audience.
How Do We Overcome this Dilemma?
As storytellers, we have to ask ourselves ‘What’s at stake?’ Why are the two characters arguing, what happened, how will they resolve this issue? What do they have to lose and why do we care? These are all great questions to answer as storytellers because this is what the viewer needs to learn. That’s why they’re watching in the first place. Displaying a conflict and overcoming the conflict is what will lead to an intriguing story.
When You Do Not Answer These Questions
The act of not answering the question ‘What’s at stake?’ leaves the viewer with this empty unsatisfied feeling. The viewer is not being told the whole story and needs more information. The most common examples of videos that do not answer this question are actually most TV commercials and bad marketing. They talk a lot about their product and services but lack to mention you the audience and ‘What’s at stake?’ for them. How is your product going to help the viewer? How is the companies’ product going to be the hero to help the customer solve their problem? If you lack the answer to this question in your marketing you will end up with a pretty boring piece of content.
How to Up Your Brand Storytelling?
So there you have it, the three magic words that can transform your writing instantly. The only thing standing between you and great storytelling is the answer to one question ‘What’s at stake’?
Next up we will delve a little deeper into marketing by discussing the importance of remembering.
Here’s Ammon delving deeper into this delicious concept of brand storytelling.
How to Make a Story Sandwich
Ahhh the sandwich, one of the most versatile and universally adored culinary inventions. Why? Because it’s everything you need in one convenient package. Although it may sound like a strange concept, a good story is a lot like a good sandwich, and much like a good sandwich, a good story should leave you feeling satisfied.
Think about a sandwich, it’s made up of two pieces of bread and some sort of meat or various fillings in between. Remove any one element and you no longer have a sandwich. Take out the filling and you’re left with two pieces of toast. No bread and you have a pretty unusual salad…
A story, like a sandwich, is comprised of three key elements: character, value, and threat. These elements are all dependent on one another and are crucial to the structure of the story. If you take away any one piece, you are left with something completely different.
A character acts as the bottom piece of bread, the thing that keeps the whole sandwich from falling apart. If you look at any good story there is a character. The character creates a perspective for the audience to follow. You simply can’t have a story without them (just like you can’t have a sandwich without bread). The character is the foundation which all other elements of the story are built upon.
What does the character value most in life? This gives your character depth, and a reason for the audience to root for them. If your character isn’t likable then the audience has no reason to stick around. Value is your filling. It’s what gives the sandwich substance. Without it, it would be pretty bland like eating a dry piece of pumpernickel bread.
The threat is the second piece of bread. It’s the hook, line, and sinker. Now that the audience is invested, we must threaten what the characters value. This is the catalyst that makes the viewer want to see the story through. They want their happily ever after. When we threaten this, it creates suspense.
This is a bonus. It’s the extra little kick. Like banana peppers or mustard, it adds spice. An unexpected change can take an already engaged audience by surprise and keep them on their toes. This creates a level of depth and intrigue to your story. Having a “change” or “shift” occur could be just what you need if your story feels predictable. Think of all the timeless films that have been remembered solely for their twist endings.
Have you built the right sandwich?
Now that you have a deeper knowledge of the key ingredients of a great story sandwich, put yourself in the viewers’ shoes. Take a taste. Is something missing? Identify every layer of your story sandwich. Has it left you satisfied? Or wanting more?
Tell us what you put in your sandwich here, we’d love to take a bite! Stay tuned for our next segment on The Three Magic Words for brand storytelling.
In “5 Simple Storytelling Steps,” Ammon Ehrisman breaks down brand storytelling in five simple steps.
5 Simple Steps
So you want to tell your brand’s story? Then you’ve come to the right place. It seems like a daunting process. Some of you have probably already spent many an hour staring down at a blank page, or with your fingers hovering over the keyboard while being mocked by a blinking cursor on your empty Google Doc.
No need to fret. We’ve all been there. You have something you want to say but you don’t know how. Luckily, you have Blueforest Studios to help (that’s us) and like with anything in life it’s best to start simple.
For those of you who are new, journey on over to The Tell All to Storytelling post to catch up on the many glorious benefits of utilizing good storytelling to enhance your brand. (You can also learn about why using video to tell your brand story is one the most powerful mediums here)
So let’s break this down to five steps to get you started on your masterful storytelling adventure.
Step 1: Start With Your Values
What’s important to you? What do you care about? What gets you out of bed every morning? Why did you start and what pushes you to keep going? Ask yourself this, and write it down. It’s the absolute best place to start. When you’re passionate about something, it shows. And ultimately, that’s what’s going to stick with people. It’s also going to be what makes you unique. It’s a huge part of what you’re going to be bringing to the table. Need help figuring out what you value? We’ve created a handy dandy cheat sheet to help get the juices flowing.
Step 2: Know Your Audience
Who are you talking to? You need to know who your target audience is. What do they value? What are their priorities? Different groups will react and resonate with different content based on what matters to them.
Step 3: Find the Common Value
What’s the common denominator, folks? Take those two lists (what you value and what your audience values) and find the common ground. This should be your platform, your driving force, your message. If you are able to connect with it, AND your audience can connect with it, you’re on the path to something unstoppable.
Step 4: Build your Brand around those Values
This is the ticket. If you connect with what you’re saying it will cause people to not only hear what you have to say but feel it too. People might not remember exactly what you say but they will forever remember how you made them feel. By crafting your brand around a common value between you, and your audience you create something authentic that resonates with others. Being relatable gives life to your brand. You become more than just a company but an entity that someone can connect with.
Step 5: Use Stories Everywhere
Use. Stories. Everywhere. Look for every opportunity to get your story out there. Whether it be videos, on a business card,taglines, events you sponsor as a company, or even by word of mouth. Think of creative ways to showcase it individual to you. Own your story and give it all the air time it deserves. This is what will separate you from the hundreds of other companies in your field, your story is uniquely yours.
Stay tuned for our next post on how to prepare your very own story sandwich. Can’t wait? Contact us now. We’d love to help tell your story!
This video could very well change the course of your entire non-profit organization. No seriously……we’re not kidding.
What is Blueforest Gives Back?
Blueforest Studios offers the chance to win a $10,000 video. Every year we like to give back to the community and share the love. Being a video production company from Raleigh, we know how to tell your story best. Video Production in Raleigh, North Carolina can get expensive, but we would like to give back and help promote a story of a nonprofit in the local area.
What do I have to do?
To apply, you need to tell Blueforest Studios your story. Storytelling is crucial to marketing – we have a whole video series on it. The more people people understand your brand message the better. Submit a story to Blueforest Studios so we can help you tell others about your amazing story! We know that there are a lot of nonprofits out there that are deserving of this free video but all we ask is to come prepared with the story that best shines the light of what your nonprofit is doing in North Carolina. Make sure to receive permission from the main subject of your story in order to proceed with the story application.
Who is this for?
This $10,000 video is for any nonprofit in the Raleigh area. We are looking for a well-built story from a nonprofit who could benefit from a free promotional video. Your job is to do a little research and find out who best fits as an example to promote your nonprofit. Think about who your organization has impacted and who is your star story that best shows your mission. Make this a key part to your submission to put your nonprofit submission right at the top of the list. If you need help coming up with a story take a look at some of our winners from years past.
Why is Blueforest Studios doing this?
Besides the obvious reason (we’re just awesome like that), there are a lot of nonprofits in the Triangle area that could benefit from this video and there are a lot of good people doing a lot of great things! This is our way of helping distribute and promote that in a beautiful format. We want to help these organizations tell some beautiful stories. Our goal is to provide this video and help nonprofits make a big impact in the Triangle area. We love the work we do for technical companies, medical organizations, and lifestyle brands, but we especially love working with nonprofits, even with animation!
Have a non-profit organization in mind? Share your story and be entered to win a free $10,000 video for your nonprofit! Submit your full story and we will choose one nonprofit as the winner.
At Blueforest Studios we have produced hundreds of medical videos in several different categories. We love that medical videos often have very compelling stories about real people. What can be better than saving a life or making a life better by helping someone to heal?
Check out this short video showing a bit of our medical video production experience:
Here are a few of the different categories of medical videos we have produced:
Hospital Video Production
We have worked closely with WakeMed (based in Raleigh, North Carolina) over the past few years to produce literally hundreds of videos for them. We have produced fundraising videos for their annual gala. We made dozens of 60 second educational videos that give tips on improving health, which air on local broadcast TV. We’ve produced tons of doctor bios, doctor recruiting videos and more. We films videos all over Raleigh, Apex, and Cary for WakeMed and our FitBits love it because we often walk miles around the large campuses. And as with everything we do, we always focus on keeping story at the heart of it.
As a patient, it’s important to select the right doctor for yourself. You need to feel comfortable with them and for many people, seeing a video of the doctor is very helpful. They can see how they talk, become familiar with them and decide if they are the right doctor for them.
In addition, having a doctor bio can be a big boost to your online presence. Consider creating a Google Maps listing for each doctor in your practice. By adding a physician bio video, not only does it give patients a chance to view it, it helps your SEO performance.
Telling patient stories is a great way convey what your organization values and the impact it has on real people. We love this stuff. Patient stories can be emotional, authentic, and powerful if done right. You might have noticed we like stories a lot. Check out this example that we did for WakeMed’s charitable foundation to help raise funds:
Yes, we’ve all seen some very boring medical education videos. But it doesn’t have to be that way! With the right combination of good scripting, engaging graphics, good on screen talent, music, and b-roll, you can make videos that truly capture attention and educate your viewers.
We have worked with NASCEND to create a series of compelling educational videos training NICU staff on how to deal with moms and infants who have been impacted by substance use disorder and trauma.
We combined real life stories, clean animations, graphics and b-roll with the on screen talent to create these videos:
Like education videos, videos about technology have a tendency to be boring. But again, they don’t have to be. We really think that no matter the subject you can find a way to add some story to it. So even if you just need an explainer video about what your high-tech thingamajig does, we’d love to add some story and make an impactful video for you!
Medical Procedures are often complex and hard to explain. But, we love to make them understandable for patients. We can take complex procedures and boil them down to the necessary information and also tell the story of a patient’s experience with the procedure. We find that patients who are researching a procedure often want to hear from someone who has had the procedure themselves. Put your clients at ease and give them a friendly face to hear from!
If you are in the medical field and you think that a video (or a few dozen videos!) might be the right next step for you, reach out to us. Set up a creative meeting right now! We can meet at our office in Raleigh, North Carolina, meet you anywhere in the Triangle, or talk on the phone if you are further away!
Once upon a time in a Raleigh Video Production Studio lived Ammon, the creative director of Blueforest Studios. He stood before the internet and proclaimed his love for storytelling and shared what he knew with the curious people of the world.
People Love Stories
Whether it’s a book you just can’t put down, a classic film, or something you heard sitting around a campfire as a kid, you’ve experienced good story telling, and you’ve felt the impact it’s had on you.
We as human beings crave “drama” and “resolve.” It excites us. It drives us. It entertains us, and it can actually prompt us to take action. Which is why it’s one of the most effective ways to promote your brand and have people remember you.
Grabbing Their Attention
But wait, slow down, it’s not that easy…
Let’s be frank, our attention spans are dwindling. Knowing how to engage someone for even two minutes in a world where something is constantly vying for our attention is not easy…but it’s also not impossible, especially when you have the right tools and know how.
Having the Know-How
We, here at Blueforest Studios, happen to be experts at just that. Harnessing this art-form as a tool to enhance your brand is pretty powerful, and we want to help you do it in the most efficient way possible to get the results you’re looking for.
So we’re informally inviting you on a journey to learn the where, when, why, and how we do what we do: tell stories. Stories that inform, evoke emotion, and drive action. Stories that make you laugh, cry, and think. Most importantly stories that engage you and leave you wanting more.
Stay tuned for the continuation of our storytelling series. Can’t wait? Contact us now. We’d love to help tell your story!
At Blueforest Studios, we are constantly looking for ways to improve what we do and expand our skill set. Sometimes that means finding a new animation effect to apply, imagining new camera movements to implement in one of our client videos or just learning how others pull off a well-executed production. Over lunch one day, our team watched a MasterClass lesson from a well-renowned filmmaker and he suggested something interesting: watching a particular scene from a classic movie…..with the sound off.
It made sense at the time because we were technically evaluating the shots that were being used, the pacing of the editing, etc. That being said, there is NO WAY I could ever watch an entire movie that way! Sure, you can pick up on some components of a narrative by watching an actor’s body language or facial expressions, lighting and movement of a scene. But audio is critical to telling a complete story. In fact, George Lucas (some of you may have heard of him….he’s accomplished a few things) once said that “Sound is half the experience.” and I believe him.
Take a second and watch this:
Awesome, right? Lots of good memories. Now, imagine if R2-D2 sounded like a typewriter, or Darth Vader’s labored breathing being completely silent, or a lightsaber sounding like a puny electric fence. Would you have enjoyed the movie as much? Okay fine, maybe. But all of the audio used in Star Wars was there for one purpose….it helped tell the story. And it can help tell your story as well.
Make an impact
We can pour hours of effort into a perfectly polished script or planned shot list for one of our clients but if dialogue is recorded poorly, the music track selected doesn’t match the feel of a scene or the sound effects distract from the actual story, the end result will be underwhelming (ie, not at all what our team is aiming for). Likewise, if we record everything properly, find the perfect music track and sound effects but don’t take the necessary time in post-production to mix and sweeten the audio, we’ve missed an opportunity to help the story become memorable and help the viewer feel something. And that is the point, right?
A Perfect Match
It’s a creative challenge to produce something great when timelines are tight. When a deliverable is due, the temptation to just drop in audio as-is because “no one will notice” may rear its ugly head every once in a while. But the additional time and effort devoted to maximizing the sound in a video always pays off.
A great video needs great audio. A great story needs a great story-teller. It’s like peanut butter and jelly. Like Simon and Garfunkel. Like Stockton and Malone. Or like…. something….and something else that goes really well with it.
George was right: One without the other is just “half the experience.”
If you want help telling your story through video or animation, please contact us today. We’d love to learn more about your project.
Blueforest Studios, video production company based in Raleigh NC, partnered with WakeMed to deliver a unique and engaging video for Halloween. WakeMed was looking for a low-cost quick turnaround video for social media that highlighted the activities in the NICU during Halloween. The Blueforest Studios team was up for the challenge and this is what happened:
Video Made in a JIF-fy
This project was unlike previous video projects. The video was filmed and delivered within 48 hours. The price of the video was lower because there were only one videographer and one day of editing. The turnaround time was extremely fast for this particular project. Another reason this video was low cost was the scripting. WakeMed was in charge of the script for the Halloween video.
The goal of this video was to create a fun and engaging video for social media. Blueforest Studios did just that along with receiving a high number of traction from followers and those who are not following WakeMed on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube). View the data below comparing the average views of 6 videos in the given social media platform compared to the views on the Halloween Video:
Video Views on Social Media
WakeMed has 850 Subscribers on their YouTube Channel and received over 251 views.
WakeMed has 11,392 people following their Facebook Page. WakeMed’s Halloween video received over 21,000 views. Which is 7 times more views than average!
WakeMed has 2,430 followers on their Instagram Page and received 1,988 plays on Instagram.
Loved by Local News
The video gained so much traction that it was featured on ABC11 Local Raleigh News for Halloween. Nothing can brighten up your day like little babies in tiny Halloween costumes!
Watch the video in the link below to the news report of the Halloween costumes at WakeMed.
The social media video was a huge success. The team looks forward to making more videos like this in the future. I mean come on, what’s cuter than babies?… puppies and babies!
This style of social media video is becoming more and more popular in forms of views. To the consumer, it breaks out of the mold. No longer feeling like an ad, but a video they enjoy watching. With this example of a quick turnaround, low-cost video to have extremely high video views is amazing. Blueforest Studios will keep chasing the newest and most valuable form of video.
For a full story behind the tiny costumes read WakeMed’s article linked below.
Filming a documentary can be fruitless if you choose the wrong Raleigh video production team. Documentaries require a team to capture every moment of a story with precision. Seasoned videographers must use appropriate techniques and tools with little room for error. As a result, your footage will either unveil a powerful narrative or become more stale than a year-old potato chip.
To create a great documentary, we will reveal a few simple fixes you can use.
In the process, we’ll cover some of your most pressing filming questions.
Some of these are:
How do you plan for a documentary?
How do you film a documentary?
What are the best ways to improve my documentary?
Like usual, our Raleigh video production team at Blueforest Studios wants to get you started with the essential tips.
How should I plan my documentary?
Planning is the first step to making a great documentary. The main components of your plan should include story direction, and the tools you’ll use to capture it. By thinking ahead, you’ll avoid many mistakes that plague inexperienced documentary filmmakers.
You’ll want to take time to identify the key features that will drive your viewer’s experience.
To get you started, we’ll explore a few of the basics with you.
Plan your story – You should always be filming with your end goal in mind. You can do this by using the “Rule of One,” meaning “what’s the one thing I want the audience to take away from this?”
Spend and work smart– You’ll want to suit up with the right tools for the job (within your financial means, of course). Focus on using gear suitable for your filming situations. Equip yourself with enough storage space and battery life to last your entire shoot. Finally, make sure you’re getting great sound with quality mics.
How should I film my documentary?
Filming a documentary should focus on visually telling your subject’s story. By carefully using film techniques, you can isolate your audience’s attention towards your narrative. Furthermore, you should be protecting and organizing your footage, in-field and out, to avoid film loss.
For a successful documentary shoot, you should always apply basic practical methods for creating and storing film.
To keep you from making silly mistakes, here are a few of our biggest tips.
“Rule of Thirds” – This is the film process of separating your frame into thirds to place objects of interest at the intersections. It’s used to draw attention to the important focal points, like eyes or key objects.
Using “leading lines” – You can use this film technique by positioning natural lines in a frame to guide the audience’s focus towards your subject. These “lines” can be environmental features like sidewalks, railings, or the edges of a table.
Stay organized – If you can’t find your files, you can’t use them. Set up a file naming system that keeps your files in order and ready to use. In addition, you should label and organize your physical data drives so you can find those as needed.
What’s the most important way to improve my documentary?
Your documentary is only as strong as its focus on the main subject’s journey. Always keep this story in mind as you guide your audience’s attention. Anticipate any peaks and valleys in this narrative. Finally, remain aware of what tools you’ll need to best capture the tone of your story.
In summary, your film will be better if you put visual story at the forefront of your production.
Ultimately, the plot can only be as compelling as the ways you capture it. We at Blueforest Studios specialize in storytelling, so contact our raleigh video production team today–we would be glad to have a chat about taking your documentary beyond expectations.
In this animated video explainer, we will work to make your options simple for you. Meanwhile, we’ll discuss a handful of common animation questions.
What is an animated video?
What are the differences between animation styles?
Which animation style should I use?
Let’s start with the basics.
What is an animated video?
Animated video is a form of videography that plays individual images together to simulate motion. Animation is the reverse of traditional film, which breaks movement down into separate images to record it for playback. There are a number of animation studios in North Carolina.
To properly pick the type of animation for you, you’ll need to learn your options.
What are the different types of animation?
The five main forms of animation include: traditional, vector, computer generated, stop motion, and motion graphics. Some of these artforms mingle to emulate older styles through computer production. Modern animated footage is mostly created and played back in digital formats.
Each type of animation has its own history which differs from how we use it today. The earliest forms were drawn on paper in a time-consuming tracing process.
On the flip side, modern animation relies on computers for a timely, sharper product. Additionally, some methods can combine to create hybrid techniques.
To keep things simple, let’s focus on how to use it in your current video.
Nowadays, traditional animation or “hand animation” use computers, rather than paper. Each frame would be drawn out in the past, but new technology has made this style obsolete. The change is due to the increase in time and cost efficiency. Disney’s “Steamboat Willie” cartoon versus the “Princess and The Frog” film is an example.
Computers create digital animation (2D) to effectively mimic the old way of making frame-by-frame hand drawings. However, “computer interpolation” can calculate and fill in the movement frames between key positions. This is known as “vector animation,” an option that eliminates the need for drawing all individual motion frames.
Computer generated (3D) uses three-dimensional digital figures that move like puppets. Since this method requires no hand-drawn models, artists save even more time. The increase in realism on these models allow for use within live action footage. Modern cinema uses this very frequently.
Stop motion uses individually-framed movements of static objects to show motion. A physical figure (versus hand-drawn or computer generated) is manipulated in small movements. Each change in position is captured on film for rapid playback.
Motion graphics are based around animated texts, images or video snippets. The visuals are edited with transitions and frame scenes for a naturally-moving result. Advertisements and various promotional materials widely use this type of animation.
How do I choose the best animation for me?
Base your video animation choices on your needs and message. Firstly, your budget decides if you can use time-consuming styles like hand animation. Finally, animated film is most effective when taking the “less is more” approach.
Vector animation and motion graphics provide adequately for your brand without breaking the bank. They require less time (relatively) and are less likely to overwhelm the core message of your video.
Ultimately, you’ll want to talk with a team that’s experienced with using the right tools for stories like yours, so do some research on the different animation studios in North Carolina. We at Blueforest Studios love to have visitors–set up a chat to see if we’re a match today!