Friday, 30 October 2015

The Easiest Color Correcting Tool for Adobe Premiere Editors

There are a number of softwares you could use to color correct your video, but when you’re on a budget, it’s usually best to choose a tool within your editing software. Now, even that can be tricky. In Adobe Premiere Pro, there are 17 different color correction tools, and that’s assuming you don’t have any additional plugins. Each of these tools works a little differently; some are designed to add effects or adjust certain colors in a shot, while others are meant to change the overall look.  When I need to color correct a shot, I always choose the RGB Curves tool. It’s quick, effective, and easy to use. I’m going to show you how to use it effectively so you can balance your color in no time.

Step 1: Apply the effect to your clip.
I usually stick with the default settings that Premiere determines. If you’re dealing with a really tricky shot, you may have to adjust those further, but for your basic color correction, you won’t need to touch them.

Step 2: Adjust your Master first.
The master will adjust the exposure and brightness of your shot, which is almost always necessary in color correction.

Step 3: Adjust your RGB.
You want to take it slow with these curves, a little can go a long way. You may find that you don’t even need to create actual curves to get the look you’re going for.

Step 4: Apply to the rest of your scene.

When I’m dealing with multiple camera angles, I set the color correction for one clip from each angle, then apply and adjust on all other shots. Premiere is great this way because it lets you copy and paste effects from one clip to another. I’ll watch my lineup again and add minor adjustments here and there, but the major problems have been remedied.  

Here's a before and after shot: 

When you have the time, I recommend exploring the many different tools your software has to offer. You may find that your secondary software is unnecessary and soon you'll be a color correcting pro! 

Is your business in need of videos? Let SWAGGER Media help your business grow. 

Monday, 26 October 2015

Our Work: What Makes Texas Furniture Hut Unique

Client Overview:

The Texas Furniture Hut specializes in providing customers across Texas with a huge variety of luxury furniture and mattresses. They carry the top mattress brands and designer home decor for living rooms, bedrooms, media rooms and home offices.

Project Challenge:

The Texas Furniture Hut wanted a commercial that would showcase what makes them different from other furniture stores. The goal was to promote the uniqueness of Texas Furniture Hut, and the fact that every day is a sale at Texas Furniture Hut.

Action Taken:

In association with Spry Creative Group, we created a commercial for Texas Furniture Hut that displayed their showroom, featured various voice-overs, and was accompanied by simple lower third graphics. We showcased the uniqueness of the store by including interviews from the employees, customer testimonials, images of their huge furniture selection, and their house-style showroom layout. We picked a mellow background track to accompany the voice-overs. We finished it off with a simple animated graphic that included the company's logo and location information.


Tuesday, 20 October 2015

What Makes a Great Documentary?

I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work on a couple of documentaries during and after school, and I have truly enjoyed it. Thankfully, in my experience with Swagger I’ve had the chance to work on both the pre-production and post-production processes of a few more documentaries, and I’ve completely fallen in love with them. Here's the link one of my favorite documentaries that I've worked on, in case you haven't checked it out yet.

I’ve always been a big fan of this genre because it allows us, as filmmakers, to convey reality in an engaging and organic way. And don’t get me wrong, I love fiction, but there’s something about the documentary recipe that never ceases to amaze me. When well-made, a documentary can be exciting, raw, emotional, thrilling, motivating and even a little scary. It’s all about how it makes us feel while watching and after watching it. Plus, it’s REAL.

And even though there’s no strict audiovisual guideline for every genre, I believe the success or the impact behind a great documentary falls in the following aspects:

1. The Story

It’s all about the STORY. The ideas behind a documentary or the situations covered in it have to be real, of course (unless you’re interested in a mockumentary, which is pretty cool as well), but it also has to be something of interest. Something with a purpose. Something that can move people. And this doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be something super intense or complex. Sometimes the greatest documentaries come from stories about ordinary people, from ordinary towns, but they're stories that people can relate to, and stories that touch others. Additionally, documentaries can cover controversial topics to communicate one or more points of view or perspectives. No matter what, the pre-production process involves a great amount of research and preparation.

So the question is, what makes the story special? What is its purpose? Where’s the emotional factor? What facts support the big idea? As filmmakers, we should keep in mind that we’re documenting reality, not manipulating it. So it’s all about what facts you want to present and how you plan to present them in order to affect and move your audience. 

2. The Hero

Who’s the hero/heroine? Who’s leading the narrative? And I don’t mean who is the narrator, but who is the key piece in the puzzle? It could be a man or a woman, a family, a country, a town, a species, or an object. You should identify who carries your story, or who is conducting the main journey, and prep your piece around it. 

3. The Script

Once you have your story straight and your hero is all set, you go out, shoot and get everything you need according to your pre-production efforts. Then the real deal begins: scripting. Most of the time, documentary scripts are built in the editing room, after gathering all the interviews and footage.

This is when you take time to watch everything carefully, transcribe it (highly recommended), and prepare a structure. Some people write the script before piecing the clips together and some others script while cutting and dragging. I personally like both; it truly depends on the project. But this is when the magic happens; this is when decisions need to be made based on THE STORY, THE PURPOSE and THE HERO of the documentary itself.

Scripting means writing and re-writing, which results in cutting and revising the cut as many times as needed until the structure serves the story. Interviews need to be balanced with the proper kind, and the right amount of b-roll, a pace needs to be established, as well as the aesthetics and the style that you want to embark on.

4. The Music

As we all know, music plays a very important role in every film. However, I find it interesting how documentaries particularly depend on it. If a documentary’s impact relies on how it makes us FEEL as viewers, then of course music plays a huge part in that. Music can affect shots in so many ways, it can give us joy, hope, motivation, but it can also set a nostalgic mood, or give the scene a bit of mystery or suspense. It compliments the picture. It sets the tone.

When scripting/cutting you should have a pretty good idea of what music can better drive the documentary’s point home -that’s if composers are not already prepping it on the side. Then it’s just a matter of finding the best spots for everything. For example, music climaxes are always good for story high-points (revelations, emotional peaks or breaks). Music is there to help us communicate, not as just serve as another extra element we need to shove into the mix.

5. The Emotional Aspect

Like I mentioned before, all the elements of a documentary should serve its purpose. And I think it’s hard to find a documentary whose purpose doesn’t involve an emotional aspect or doesn't include an emotional route.

So when prepping, shooting and editing a documentary, I believe it’s key to keep in mind how to get to the viewers, how to move them in the direction you want your story to move them, how to impact them, or how to attack their sensibilities. Is it through music? Is it through very raw and organic b-roll? Is it through guerrilla filmmaking? Or perhaps through a more personal narration? You need to find the perfect mix to complete your master recipe.

So tell us, what do you think is the key ingredient in a great documentary? Are there any other aspects that you believe should be considered in the mix? Do you have any documentary recommendations? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below or tweet @Swagger_Media! And if you’re interested in making a documentary and need some help, our team is here to assist you. Give us a call at 832-831-7592! 

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Our Work: The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas on Trigger Finger

Client Overview:

The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas is a group composed of highly trained hand specialists who are focused on performing minimally invasive procedures to relieve a series of hand and wrist problems.

Project Challenge:

The client wanted a video about Trigger Finger that would educate potential patients about the condition and enlighten them as to how the Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas could treat their problem with a modern and simplistic approach.

Action Taken: 

SWAGGER Media visited the Houston location and interviewed Dr. Khorsandi and Dr. Maximos about what Trigger Finger is, the steps the doctors take to diagnose a patient, and the different treatment options offered by the Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas. Once in post production, we cut and color corrected the footage into a short video, added an underlying soundtrack and began 3D animation. We used 3D animation to demonstrate what Trigger Finger looks like inside the hand. Finally, we added some simple text graphics to visually reiterate what the doctors were speaking about and ended with a full screen, informational graphic.

Friday, 2 October 2015

8 Ways To Increase Your Ad’s Click Through Rate

Online advertising can be a very powerful tool with which to increase your website traffic, create leads, increase brand awareness, and even grow your bottom line. However, in order for any of that to happen, your audience must first be enticed to click on your ads. How do you achieve that? You can start by following the simple tips below when writing your ad copy.

1. Tailor the ad language to your target audience

Keep the target audience's tone in mind when you develop ad copy for online ads. You'll need to determine which tone your audience responds to. Are you a B2B company trying to reach other professionals? Your target audience might respond better to a more formal tone. Are you a company who sells party supplies? Then you might have a better response rate if you use a colloquial tone.

The ad above is an example of good use of colloquial, even funny language in a Google ad.

2. Use high-impact words

High-impact words are words or phrases that instinctively grab people’s attention and get their interest. A few examples are: “free”, “best”, “sale”, “top-rated”, “free quote”, “free shipping”, “free trial”, etc. It is important that you only use these words on your ads when they truthfully pertain to your products or services. 

3. Include pricing information

Unless your products or services have high price points that would discourage your target audience from clicking on your ad, or you don’t have set-in-stone pricing, you should try to include pricing information in at least a few of your ads. Including pricing information will help you find out if your audience responds well to being given that information up front. 

4. Always include a call to action

Do you want people to call your business to find out more information? Do you want them to purchase your product online? Do you want them to fill out a form to get a quote? Then, tell them! By suggesting the next step your audience should take, you can increase both your click through rate and your conversion rate

5. Mention promotions

If you are running any promotions on your products or services, don’t forget to create ads that specifically mention that promotion. People love saving money!

6. Let users know exactly what to expect from the ad’s landing page

When people go online to find information, they don’t want to have to dig through multiple pages to find what they are looking for. Make sure that your ad copy accurately represents the landing page associated with it and the kind of information found there. 

7. Use proper punctuation

Improper grammar, spelling, or punctuation can turn people off from clicking your ads. Don’t compromise punctuation for the sake of fitting more characters into the headline or the body of your ad. 

8. Mention product specs and other practical info

If you are selling a product, mentioning the specs or other practical information on your ad is a good idea. It gives users a quick overview of what your product has to offer and it incites them to want to learn more if your product is, indeed, what they are looking for. 

At SWAGGER Media we understand that it can be overwhelming to manage one or more digital advertising campaigns and continuously ensure that all aspects of it, including the ad copy, are optimized. That is why our team of experts is here to assist you with all of your digital advertising needs should you ever need a helping hand. Just contact us through our online contact form or give us a call at 832-831-7592!