Monthly Archives April 2014

Producing A Creative Stop Motion Video When You’re Short on Time

Working on a project that has creative breathing room but lack of time and resources may initially put you in a tough position, as your concepts have to be grounded in the reality of execution.  However, it’s not an artistic death sentence.

For a recent Easter video campaign for our client, Fonseca Bin 27, I was tasked with producing a 10-second stop motion video, from concept to creation, in less than 3 hours.

Here’s are some tips I learned along the way—helpful for anyone creating stop motion video in a time crunch:

1. Create A Compelling Narrative 

A narrative doesn’t always require a tremendous amount of time to develop but to be effective it should be flexible enough to carry a headline and elevate the brand.

Tip: I always like to extend the story a little further and if the client doesn’t want it, it’s easy to chop off the ending.  For Bin 27, the narrative was originally supposed to end once the foil was wrapped back up but I made the bunny slip back behind the bottle while leaving a trail of chocolate crumbs (and the scene made it into the final video).

2. If Nothing Else, Get A Tripod

Before you shoot any stop motion videos, the one item (besides a camera) that you absolutely need is a tripod. There’s no way humanly possible to hold a camera in an even relatively similar position while moving the subject an 1/8 of an inch after every frame. The result wouldn’t just be a jumpy video; it would look like a random collection of photos.  So grab a tripod and make sure its in a locked off position before filming.

3. Leverage Natural Lighting As Much As Possible

When you don’t have the resources of a professional studio or lighting equipment, the best thing to do is find a space with exceptional natural light that you can shape with reflectors. It’s typically better to go with available light and use longer exposures with a smaller aperture for sharper images rather than using other tungsten continuous light sources like a desk lamp. This ensures that the images are between 2900-3200˚K, which is a warmer color known as tungsten. Normal daylight is around 5600˚K and is whiter or cooler.

Tip: You can always set the cameras color balance. For the Bin 27 video, I set the color balance at 5800˚K. If you leave the color balance on auto the camera will adjust each picture individually and you will most likely end up with a range of cooler and warmer pictures. Not good.

4. Use After Effects For Automatic Sequencing

To save time in post-production, I render out the selected images (after color correcting) into JPEGS and import them into After Effects as a JPEG sequence. This can save you considerable time when making a stop motion piece because After Effects automatically places the images in a sequence so you don’t have to individually place each image in a timeline in the correct order.

5. Invest In a Remote Camera Shutter Release

Every time you physically press the button to fire the camera, you move the camera ever so slightly. The end result is a very jumpy sequence of images. Remote shutter releases are an inexpensive solution to not having to press the shutter button and risk camera shake. An average remote release usually costs under $20 and gives you around 16 feet of leeway from your camera.

Tip: Because I did not have a remote camera release for this stop motion video, there were numerous frames that weren’t properly aligned.  To fix this, you can apply an effect called image stabilizer that analyzes the background and lines up all the images, effectively smoothing out the bumpy frames. 

6. Think Outside the Box 

The biggest take-away from this project was that even when working on the fly, you can do more for your clients than you may think with just a little bit of creativity. The more and more you surprise your clients with something new and creative, the more they appreciate your willingness to take the initiative to push and elevate their brand. And the more they trust your creative authority in guiding their brand. It’s just one more way to build a better atmosphere for client engagement and their trust in the agency.

The Shocking Amount of Data The Internet Creates Every Minute

A minute might feel like an insignificant amount of time in our lives but when it comes to big data 60 seconds is enough time to leave a massive digital trail.  The people at DOMO created this infographic that breaks down the mammoth amount of data all 2.4 billion Internet users produce every minute.

(Source: DOMO)

Hard to believe that in just one minute we email over 204 million messages, share 2.4 million pieces of Facebook content and upload over 72 hours of video to YouTube.  How are you or your business contributing to this endless stream of data?  Don’t take too long to ponder that question…a lot can happen in just a minute!

5 Reasons You Should Consider Umbraco For Your Next CMS

With so many options available, deciding on a CMS platform can be a daunting and frustrating task—think wedding planning or car buying.  While there are certainly reasons people go with big players like WordPress or Joomla, we think CMS upstart Umbraco is worthy of your consideration if your website wishlist includes hassle-free customization, a user-friendly interface and great customer support.

Umbraco logo

Flightpath recently attended uWestFest 2014, North America’s first Umbraco festival, to learn about their latest software, Umbraco 7, and gain some insight on the benefits of this CMS platform.

1. Easy-to-use interface

The platform prides itself on being extremely intuitive and fast, which makes it an appealing platform for non-developer, non-designer users.  Translation: Less time learning the technology equals more time focusing on your business.

Alex Lindgren at uWestFest

 2. Great search and indexing service

Flightpath’s very own Senior Director of Technology, Alex Lindgren, spoke at uWestFest 2014 about the reasons to love Umbraco’s search capabilities.

“Umbraco provides a powerful API for building custom search because let’s face it, site visitors want to find relevant content quickly,” said Lindgren.

3. Passionate developer community 

While the cult-like community of Umbraco developers is rapidly growing, they remain a tight-knit group eager to answer questions and get involved in forum discussion.

4.  Highly customizable for content managers

Umbraco allows designers to build websites that are equal parts beautiful and customizable.

Screen-Shot-2014-04-16-at-6.04.53-PM

Flightpath recently created an Umbraco site for WageWorks that centers around interactive tiles that can be easily updated by the content manager and provide flexibility for page layout.

5.     Extensive support system

Getting things fixed on your website is a lot easier thanks to Umbraco’s support tools.  Users have access to a library of over 100 video tutorials as well as an umbraco wiki filled with step-by-step tutorials.  (If you’re willing to dish out some cash, Umbraco also offers a premium support service for around $4000)

If this seems like a perfect match for your website needs, Umbraco has a helpful list of developer recommendations on their site—including Flightpath who is now an official Umbraco Certified Partner.

5 Things We Learned at SXSW Interactive

Hard to imagine it’s been 30 days since the Flightpath team set our sights on SWSW 2014. While the SXSW glow slowly fades, what remains is the energy and excitement about the work we do, the clients we serve and the enduring lessons we learned:
1.    If we’re too focused on the technology, we lose sight of the psychology
In this evolving digital world, nearly every IPO heralds a new tool that promises increased engagement (ooh!), better functionality (ahh!) and less ads (ohh!). But when we get so excited about the medium, do we lose sight of what we’re trying to share with consumers? That’s when campaigns fall flat.

During Jonah Berger’s session, What Drives Word of Mouth, he highlighted a need for marketers to gain understanding on why people talk and share. True understanding of human psychology will help us create the right message to reach our brand advocates and get them talking. We were so jazzed after the session. We grabbed a copy of the book at the SXSW bookstore and have plans to reinstate our Flightpath book club with Berger’s Contagious as our first selection.
2.    Never underestimate the importance of strategery*
We’ll admit, we first went to this session based on its title: Go Home Marketing, You’re Drunk. And we weren’t disappointed. Kristina Halvorson broke down the importance of a clearly defined strategy in the content marketing space. If our goal is to create and distribute valuable, useful content to our audience, we need know what we’re saying and why we’re saying it. Without a smart strategy? We don’t have focus and will find ourselves working hard but not smart. Smart strategy provides us with the guardrails to know where we’re headed. If we do it right, we end up doing great work with both substance and integrity.
3.    We’ve seen the future, and it’s the debate over wearable technology
Walking around SXSW, we saw our fair share of Glassholes. But as these “explorers” lead us toward a new frontier of wearables, society is asking more questions than the experts are providing answers to at this stage.

During Glassholes: The Cultural Dissonance of Technology, panelists debated wearables as ushering in the next phase of human augmentation (or how we expand our own capabilities with technology). The biggest concern levied by the panelists and the audience was how wearables separate us from the physical world. The Google Glass enthusiasts argued (persuasively) that Glass allowed them to be connected without interference. Those on the other side of the issue felt that the very nature of the wearer using them was interference since unsuspecting bystanders would be drawn into the digital world without their consent. While nothing was solved by the end of the session, it made us think about the digital personas we spend so much time cultivating versus how to live an authentic life where we benefit from technology but aren’t ruled by it.
4.    Use social media for social good
What is a conference without free swag? The notorious stuff we all get was abundant in the exhibit hall. Hordes of people clustered around booths in hopes of securing a shirt, a tote or other tchotchke. But thanks to Twitter and the #SXSW hashtag, we discovered that all those random goodies that we didn’t really need (but couldn’t say no to) could go to a good cause. It made the exhibit hall experience a grab-bag game — how many tees (that you would never wear) could you snag for Austin’s Foundation for the Homeless? Finding the volunteers outside the Convention Center and dropping the goodies into their outstretched arms just felt right.
5.    The true lessons are revealed when you return
Sure, waiting in line for a chocolate chip cookie shot can be a fun way to spend an hour or two, but the real fun? Spending time with colleagues and learning from thought leaders and experts who are pushing the envelope and bringing new technologies forward, left us looking for connections on how we can harness the latest digital trends on behalf of our clients — to help them reach and engage with consumers in a meaningful way.
Until 2015…

 

*Kristina Halvorson even gave a shout out to Will Ferrell’s hilarious George Dubya character from Saturday Night Live.

 

 

Happiness is in the Marketing Air!

Spring is finally in the process of springing, Baseball and Budweiser are trying to get the national past time’s Opening Day to be a national holiday Budweiser Opening Day and even Pharrell William’s “Happy ” shows no pull back or wear out. Oscars or not, it just fills your head with happy.

It’s an amazing time to be alive and happy.  Marketers, can’t you just smell it?  I think people are more likely to part with their hard earned money when they’re happy. There’s tons of data regarding “sadness spending”, but volumes of emerging research in the role of happiness and positivity’s role in work and play.Gallop recently asked 350,000 people about happiness. December is the happiest month (and 12/25 is the happiest day!) The food, giving, gifting, spending spirit is hard to compete with.

Holidays aside,  April is a great opening act to all the warm weather, longer days and six months of airy lightness for much of the country. Why is this important?  Glad you asked! The exceptional work within the positive psychology movement validates for marketers that leading with emotionally compelling and meaningful “happy” messaging causes people to act and be more positively disposed.  Which translates to things like greater engagement, richer connection/stickyness and transactional conversion.  In other words, marketers acting happy may very well lead to more action.

Positive psychologist, author and TED extraordinaire Shawn Achor lays out a framework regarding flipping the “work to be happy” (i.e. finding the job of our dreams will lead to a happier life) to the idea of front loading happiness in inspiring productivity and many other positive outcomes in the job we’re already in.

So, the message to my fellow marketers on this sunny day as we start the beginning of April, is raise your happiness game. Could be in simplifying the message, more intuitive navigation or maybe just adding a wink or whimsy to a brand/category not known for it.  Just remember what the Joker said ”Why so serious?”