Is animation right for my business?

The video production Raleigh (and marketing as a whole) uses is shifting towards more animation. Your business is going to be on the cutting edge by embracing this growing trend. However, you’ve got to do it with intention or you’ll get just as much payoff by literally burning your marketing budget. Don’t torch your revenue! Our team at Blueforest Studios makes some of the best-animated videos in Raleigh, and we’re here to help you dominate.

A heavy boost in the conversion of your audience may just be right around the corner. At the very least, you might see a nice jump in engagement. We’ll start with the benefits business may gain from this film style.

The complex becomes simple

An animated film is particularly useful for painting big ideas in a simple picture. If your brand needs to boil elaborate messages down to their basics, you’ll find much more freedom with animation over live action footage. After all, artificial characters can do things and be things that are impossible in real life. A smiling cloud can be the main hero of your water conservation brand. A scrappy computer chip can take front and center for your computer hardware store ads. Try illustrating data transfer or the water cycle in 60 seconds with live film. Good luck!

Isolated audiences become united

You may find your brand has services or products that are useful to many, but your audiences don’t identify with you. Maybe your brand is a financial education service, but the primary perspective is from a man. You want to give women the full value of your service. However, there are differences in experience that make it difficult to connect with them. Open up your brand’s message by animating it. Diverse characters, and even personified objects can be useful for breaking down barriers of age, gender, race, and more.

Make your message highly shareable

If you’re wanting to make your videos more likely to be shared, an animation is worth a shot. To piggyback on the last point, animated footage helps you find more audiences by taking advantage of universal humor and lightheartedness. You don’t have to make your films funny, but it is much easier when your characters and settings are a bit removed from reality. Think about it like this: few adult cartoons would work as primetime sitcoms (see: The Simpsons). By making your audience laugh, you’re tapping into the top element of shareable content. Make people smile, and they just might make your brand go viral.

Take a chance to give your brand new life (beyond reality).

Animate your brand to open new doors for audience engagement and conversion. You’ve learned plenty about the potential of this medium just by reading this post. You now know this production method can simplify your ideas, united segmented audiences, and boost your audience engagement. You’ll find strong benefits all over this video style, but it’s up to you to implement them well. If you ever have questions– or want outsource for professional video production– we at Blueforest Studios are here to chat!

How to create an awesome company video to drive SALES

In this edition of Blueforest video production tips and tricks, let’s cut the filler. You need people to buy from your company. If you want to up your profits, video is the dominating format for converting content views into real sales. For starters, the rate of video consumption is going through the roof as it rises to a staggering 78% over the next few years. As that number rises, you’ll find that this 80% conversion increase stated by Unbounce clearly shows this media type should be a critical piece of your marketing. Let’s get the money flowing with tips on creating a phenomenal company video.

Call to action

You need your audience to take action if you want to make sales. First, you should decide which action you want them to take. Are they subscribing to your mailing list in exchange for a free ebook guide? Are they clicking through to your landing page? You’ll need to set up your message with a compelling reason to get them moving towards action.

Craft a great script

When is the last time you gave someone your money after they bored you? Have you paid for a product that wasn’t believable? Why would your weak video do any different? Be really smart about how you sell your message. You want your audience captivated by the plot because they will quickly tune out otherwise. That said, simple is the key to giving an easy-to-understand message. You’ll see the results in the bank account.

Focus on great storytelling

In the process of a great script, you should be putting your brand storytelling at the forefront. Your film will be a strong piece of your marketing campaign, but it will only be one small piece. The takeaway image in your audience’s minds should be consistent with your brand’s values and mission. This brings a deeper believability to your promotion, increasing your chances of making the all-mighty sale.

Chose the right video length

Still with us? Good! We’re not going to have you read an article all day. In the same mindset, you shouldn’t have your audience watching your video all day. Most locations for posting your video are going to be most effective with a 30-second format (give or take). Specifically for footage that’s going to boost your sales, a short video will make perfect use of your simple script.

Choose the right visual style

If the script, message, and length were the meat of your video, the visuals are the seasoning. You could have slightly bland visuals, but few people will want a taste. That’s no good for increasing your conversions. One major trend that’s been on the rise recently is animated video. Interestingly enough, it’s becoming a wonderful way to get people interested in your marketing. It’s not always the perfect style, as sometimes live-action footage may show deeper details your audience needs to make a purchase.

Keep your sales strong with a team that’s dedicated to video

Creating an awesome company video is a bit of a steep task to take on alone. You’ll find that it becomes much easier if you can share your vision with a team trained to execute it. If you’re ready to work on building your arsenal for increasing your profits, let’s chat. Here at Blueforest, you’ll find that our team really digs in deep to share the true message of your brand. Contact us today and we’ll get you on track to the success you deserve.

The Benefits of Custom Music

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Composers at Work

Composers are some of the hardest working people I have ever met. I’m not just saying that because I am one, I’m saying it because it’s true. They frequently work hours beyond a typical 9 to 5 job in pursuit of perfection in every aspect of their music. This goes not only for the actual notes of the music but everything involved with its creation: mixing, parameter automation, and MIDI editing. If I continued to list things you’d likely stop reading this due to boredom.

I say this because there is value in the work of composers who create tracks for licensing and purchase to be used with different forms of media. While they might not be working to a specific film clip they are still creating an aural experience that can define a piece of work. It could even affect the media creator because they heard something specific in that track that made them want it in the first place!

But just like any field of work with options, custom music has some advantages to pre-composed/licensable music. This is especially applicable to those of us who get to work in-house with a video team to bring their vision to life.

Our team was recently working on a video that introduced a new award for the Triangle AdFed Addy Awards. The crew worked hard on the video to create something visually intriguing. While working on the music (using licensed tracks) something seemed missing. Luckily, I was asked to step in and compose something original to match the visuals!

One of the things that wasn’t working for video producer Bryan Reklis was the lack of edge to the track. It was too clean and crisp for what we were trying to accomplish with the overall product. The lack of variety didn’t help either as the track had one tone throughout. While it worked nicely with the timing of the edits, it simply didn’t add anything else into the mix.

This is where the advantages of working with a composer to make a custom soundtrack came in handy. The human interaction between two people working towards the same goal can have some surprising results. Having the ability to talk about what it is you want musically makes it easier for team members to integrate music into the project. The music is made specifically for their tastes and the needs of the project. This collaboration can lead to an even better version of what the video team and composer originally had in mind.

Many licensable tracks also are created to have the same tempo and same time signature (number of beats in a measure of music) throughout the track. While this is very useful for editing, it can sometimes lead to redundancy. It’s not uncommon for video teams to purchase several pre-composed tracks and edit them together to form a Frankenstein music track with no consistency.

With this in mind, I was able to create a track that had changes in time signature, tempo, dynamics, varying sections, and modulations to move the music forward in a 44-second window. Below I have attached a sort of “walkthrough” video where you can check out the Pro Tools session with the different instrument tracks and some of the parameters that were adjusted to keep the music moving forward while also serving the purpose of the advertisement.

 

 

If you have music creators in your team, use them! We love the challenges that come with creating the track that fits just right. I hope you’ve enjoyed this walkthrough. We will have some new projects coming out soon that I’ve enjoyed composing for and I look forward to sharing them with you all.

 
The Voice of the Composer

Fonts for Dummies

You may be thinking “I don’t know anything about design, how do I deal with type in my project?” “Should I make the text on my video neon pink?” “Why is my bellybutton on backwards?” We can help you with two out of three of those questions. Let’s get started.

The font of a text controls how we see the letters on our screen. It can be a powerful feature of good design. But like any power, it can be dangerous if it falls into the wrong hands. Good type can make the difference between confusion and communication. Here are some basic tips to avoid a font fail:

1. Choosing a font

Remember when there were only a handful of fonts to choose from? Nowadays there are almost too many options. Want your text to look like it was written by a 4th grader? There’s a font for that. Want your text to look like it was eaten and spat out by a grizzly bear? There’s a font for that, too. All those possibilities can distract you from your purpose: getting your audience to read and understand your message.

Take road signs as a good example. Did you know most official highways signs are written in the official “Highway Gothic” font? It was designed to be read quickly and accurately. Imagine the chaos and confusion if road signs were written in Papyrus. Let us all take a moment of silence to give thanks for Highway Gothic.

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Now let’s look the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript from the early Middle Ages. Its text is aligned closely with its spiritual purpose. Its pages are ornate, intricate, and visually arresting. It is meant to be studied closely and slowly.

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Figure out where your project falls within that range. Are you I-40W or a medieval monk? Let your purpose guide your font choice.

2. Styling: Keep it simple

The following example should hurt:

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Blueforest Studios is not responsible for any injuries that may occur as a result of looking at this image.

Just because you can apply five different strokes, a gradient fill, drop shadows, and ten different fonts doesn’t mean you should. If your text is meant to be read, legibility should be your number one focus. Styles should be applied with the greatest reserve and good reason.

3. Bring it together

Now that you know how your individual letters will look, you can begin deciding how they will sit on the page or screen. Make a hierarchy and apply it consistently. Decide how your headers will look compared to your paragraph text. What about links and sub-headers?

A great example of this comes from Pelican Books’ clean, crisply designed website.

pelicanbooksWithout thinking, we know exactly where our eye should go. Scrolling through their site is easy and intuitive.

4. Observe fonts in their natural habitat

Type is everywhere. Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t.

Take Budweiser’s 2015 Super Bowl commercial. It features a bold sans serif centered in the frame. There’s no voice over, so they need the words to do the talking.

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5. Go forth and font

Here are some resources to get you started:

Font Squirrel – Great collection of free, professional fonts.
Dafont – A glut of everything from basic to illegible.
Art of the Title – Online collection of movie title typography. A good starting point for references and ideas.
The Design Blog – The best way to develop your design intuition is to absorb good design. The Design Blog is a perfect way to marinate in the latest and best.

 

Do Great Things! Durham Tech Video Project

What’s Your Great Thing? Durham Tech can help you discover that.

Blueforest Studios worked alongside Engine Brandmakers and Durham Tech to create this great video project. Blueforest Studios focused on capturing the energy of the students as they found their “great thing” at Durham Tech among downtown Durham. These videos capture how students gain diverse experiences through their peers and the different opportunities available to them at Durham Tech.

 


This message of finding your “great thing” is the important central message in Durham Tech’s mission. They help students find their passion and career goals through their many classes and programs. Blueforest Studios focused on embodying that message in these videos through the vibrant background of downtown Durham and strong student interviewees who are eager to learn.

 


The purpose of these videos is to promote Durham Tech and encourage new students to enroll. These videos show the connection between Durham Tech and downtown Durham, how they go hand in hand in the students lifestyle when attending Durham Tech. The message conveyed in the videos is how students gain real world experience in the diverse and energetic environment as a student at Durham Tech and as a resident in downtown Durham.

Like this video or want something to embody your company message? Let us know what you think!

MOTIVATION for you and your customers!

motivation 

[moh-tuhvey-shuh n]
noun

1.  the act or an instance of motivating, or providing with a reason to act in a certain way

2. the state or condition of being motivated or having a strong reason to act or accomplish something

3. something that motivates; inducement; incentive

(dictionary.com)

motivation-steps

Think about how important motivation is. It is the main mechanism in everyone’s brain that says, “Hey! Do that! Don’t do that!” It guides our basic human needs and all our actions.

Along with personal motivation, it can also be applied to marketing and the business world. What motivates customers to act? What motivates you in your business? Motivation is often overlooked as it’s a subconscious decision that is rarely discussed.

This TIME article discusses 3 important steps to motivate yourself and I thought how these important tools can be applied to marketing and business. Let’s go through main drives and emotions that can help you individually and in your work:

1. Positivity! 

positivity

 

You: Emotions are often overlooked in productive systems. People procrastinate most when they are in a bad mood. To stay optimistic, you can monitor your progress and celebrate success.

Your business: Consumers need to feel positively about your business. It’s important to convey in your message and marketing how your work is important to the consumer. Even if your work isn’t all about happiness, you can still portray how your business will positively impact customers, which will motivate them to look into your business.

 

2. Get Rewarded! 

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You: Studies show that reward motivates almost everything you do. You eat because you need food. Eating is the “reward” when you’re hungry. Your stomach hurting when you don’t eat is the punishment. So in order to motivate yourself, reward yourself for being productive and completing important tasks.

Your business: When presenting your business to the world, you need to make clear how your business will ultimately “reward” the customer. How will your service make their lives better or satisfy a need or want? The reward drive is a basic instinct in humans that motivates people to act.

 

3. Get Peer Pressure! 

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You: By surrounding yourself with individuals with similar goals you’re striving for, you will be more motivated to be productive and do your best. When your peers are hardworking, you will be hardworking. The right amount of positive peer pressure can push you to be your best.

Your business: “Peer pressure” can be applied to the consumer being exposed to what’s popular. Consumers that receive more stimulation will keep those businesses in mind. That’s why big name companies such as McDonalds still advertise constantly even though they are an instantly recognizable brand name. They advertise to dominate the playing field.  When consumers are constantly seeing a brand’s name on social media and on TV, they will remember that brand and will think of them when they need that service/product.

Remember, motivation is key. Use these three tips to increase motivation for yourself and your business!

Public Relations Graphic

What is Public Relations?

Public Relations Graphic

The PR Puzzle

“A developing company is looking to hire a PR/advertising person,” I read yesterday in a Facebook status of Katya, my former colleague in Russia. “PR slash advertising, right,” I thought to myself. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine a PR guru like James Grunig, for example, putting an equals sign between public relations and advertising… In many companies around the world, however, such association is pretty common. In Russia, the words PR, advertising, and marketing are often used interchangeably and essentially refer to one thing and one thing only: promotion of goods or services. Is that in any way different from the American culture? Let’s get brainy and try to figure it out.

Curiously, the abbreviation ‘PR’ for Russians would typically evoke a set of negative emotions. The deal here is that excessive political PR blackened the reputation of the whole PR process in the 1990s – right when it came into existence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Take PRopaganda for instance, which is the name of a large local public relations firm: Can you really expect good things from the company where PR and propaganda merge?!

PR in Russian language is also often used as a verb describing a public figure or an organization trying to boost their popularity through dubious activities. See a politician in a news report bragging about equipping local schools with newest computers? Don’t doubt for a second that the guy is ‘PRing’ himself. Such skewed understanding of PR is not unique to just Russia and is observed in other countries of the former USSR as well – in Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine.

So what would the ‘correct’ interpretation of PR be? Most likely it would sound something like ‘communication between an organization and groups of people affected by this organization, where all parties should benefit.’ PR would imply listening for feedback and allowing for dialog between the organization and the society. Unfortunately, most organizations are far from working in line with this ‘true’ purpose of PR. Public relations practitioners usually act as marketers, trying to urge people to buy the product instead of putting efforts into upholding the company’s reputation in the society.

Blueforest Studios recently held a contest for local nonprofits in the Triangle area called Blueforest GivesBack. Factors determining proper PR, such as community presence and social engagement, served as important criteria for our judges in selecting finalists. Blueforest is going to announce who the finalists are really soon!

What do you think public relations stand for? Press releases? Corporate social responsibility? Two-way communication? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

About the author: Vlad is an intern at Blueforest Studios and a 2nd year grad student at NC State. Today he’s sharing thoughts on his field of study – PR – and how the purpose and functions of PR in his home country – Russia – differ from the U.S.

Super Bowl 2015 Ads – Why did they do that?

Let’s be honest, the Super Bowl is not only about football but all about the advertisements. They’re everywhere whether we are aware of them or not: months before Super Bowl, during the playtime, and after the game. What makes the Super Bowl so grand is how it connects Americans through this one social event. Even though it’s suppose to be about football, it is really about being a part of this cultural event – the advertisements, the products, the pre-game and game-day rituals. Everybody is talking about the game, and the best and worst commercials of the night.

The commercials are what make many people tune in as they are known to be amazing, well thought-out ads with familiar faces like celebrities and fan commercial favorites from certain companies. Many of last night’s commercials have people talking about the good and the bad ads – which is the sole purpose of these ads, to get everyone remembering and talking about their advertisement and company. Everyone has their own opinion about which ads were a hit and which were a miss. Many big companies have multiple commercials to target different audiences and portray different messages.

A favorite of the night was the Budweiser Lost Puppy commercial. This ad was so heartwarming, a short story of a puppy lost then brought home. The purpose of this commercial was to evoke a happy and inspiring emotional response in the audience tied to their traditional Budweiser Clydesdales horses and their puppy. They did an excellent job to telling a story that people want to relate to.

 

Another commercial Budweiser had was a different style. The “Brewed the Hard Way” took an interesting attack on craft beer. In contrast with the Lost Dog commercial, this ad focused on distinguishing Budweiser beer from craft beer. There advertisement didn’t work as well as they hoped and their has been some backlash. As craft beer continues to become increasingly popular, they are trying to play up their traditional tasting beer by mocking craft beer. They admit that their beer is not to be “fussed over” or “dissected”, but this says their beer  that they mass produce has no differentiating taste because it’s sending the message that it’s “just beer” so just drink it. Not a smart advertising strategy to admit that Budweiser beer is a one note, uninteresting beer.

 

Another well done ad was “Invisible Mindy” by Nationwide. It featured celebrity Mind Kahling and Matt Damon and uses comedy and relatability to connect to the audience. The concept is that Mindy is “invisible” so she does whatever she wants, but in reality she’s not invisible, people just ignore her and the message is that Nationwide doesn’t do that to customers. It’s a light and fun ad that people enjoy as it uses familiarity with well known celebrities and funny ideas which is a great advertising tool that makes the commercial memorable.

 

Nationwide had another advertisement that has been very controversial called “Make Safe Happen”. It features a young boy not having any experiences because he died in an household accident. They tried to evoke an emotional response to make the audience connected to the commercial but the commercial was poorly done as many people have experienced this lost. Many are angry that they chose to do that ad to sell their product, especially as it was shown during the Super Bowl which portrays insensitivity and just wanting business. They were trying to convey the message that accidents happen and can be prevented but it looks like they are using the death of children to sell insurance. This shows how using ads for an emotional response doesn’t always work and can bring controversy. Sure people are talking about their company but it’s not the good kind and it will hurt their business.

 

Advertisement is important for companies to show their products and have their name out there. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do so. The main point to remember is that your advertisements should clearly portray your company’s goals and products. The Super Bowl commercials are entertaining and great to watch, but companies need to make sure the audience knows what they are trying to say and sell.

That being said, over here at BlueForest Studios we LOVE craft beer!

Everyone’s Favorite Day for Commercials: The Big Game

My favorite commercial in the last several years comes from the “Big Game” of 2011. I’ve been a humongous Star Wars fan since my parents took me to see the films in the 90’s when they were being digitally remastered and shown in theaters again. If you’re reading this you probably know which commercial I’m already talking about.

 

Volkswagen truly captured the same childhood imagination (and desire for learning how to control The Force) I felt at that age. I’d like to think I’m going to buy a car that can turn on with the press of the button in hopes to do this to my future children.

 

Of course, who could forget the sweet story of friendship told in a minute time frame by Budweiser last year? I’m a sucker for anything with dogs in it but this is a legitimately beautiful piece of work.

 

Sure I’m bringing this up because Sunday will bring commercials filled with humor and sincerity. But does this only have to be during one day of the entire year? Absolutely not!

 

We take pride here at Blueforest Studios in creating content that is both engaging and informative. The most engaging way to capture the attention of your audience is to tell a story.

 

We certainly think adding a pinch of humor also works too.

 

So as the new year continues to roll on consider us for your marketing needs. We are storytellers that want to tell your story!

 

And if you are part of a non-profit in the Triangle area reading this consider applying for our free video giveaway! The window for submissions is closing on the 31st of this month. To check out more information visit our blog post from December here:

-Dustin

The Power of the Play Button

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

The power of the play button.

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

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

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

Laura Faughtenberry
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