All posts by Chris Blair

The importance of audio in videos

By Chris Blair

Bad audio can ruin an otherwise well produced video. Whether it’s poorly recorded voice tracks, mismatched ambient sound in scenes with dialogue, or poorly timed cuts in a testimonial interview, bad audio can disrupt the flow of individual scenes and sometimes the entire video.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest changes in video production over the last 20 years is that many people don’t budget for audio on projects. Whether it’s having a sound engineer on a shoot, producing custom music, or even spending time sweetening an audio mix, audio is often the first thing that gets cut when planning a shoot or edit. In fact, on most of our shoots, the camera crew ends up being responsible for audio. And while our shooters are adept at setting microphones and monitoring levels, it certainly isn’t the best way to guarantee quality audio on a shoot, especially when it calls for actor dialogue or extensive interviews.

Audio is just too important to be treated as an afterthought. It’s arguably half your product. It can drive the pacing of a project and can create the appropriate mood, add emphasis, and subliminally influence how images are perceived. People have gotten so used to the impact of sound that studies have shown that when test subjects are shown silent video of events or machines that make loud or distinct sounds, a huge percentage report hearing the sound while watching the video. Continue reading

How Important is Creativity in Advertising?

By Chris Blair

Creativity is one of those things that’s hard to define, especially in advertising. Many ad agencies consider it the measuring stick for their work. So much so that they call the work leading up to production, “the creative.” But just how important is creativity in advertising and what exactly constitutes a creative ad?

This is a tough question and there are probably dozens of viable answers. But advertising history makes it clear you cannot judge an advertisement based solely on creativity. The reasons? Creativity is highly subjective and award-winning ads are not automatically effective ads.

A famous (or is it infamous) case in point is the 1996 Nissan ad campaign called “Enjoy the Ride. The ad that launched the campaign was an epic commercial titled “Dream Garage,” which first aired during the closing ceremonies of the 1996 Olympics and later during the 1997 Super Bowl. It opened on a group of kids playing baseball, one of whom was magically transported to a “dream garage” filled with vintage Nissans. The garage was helmed by a wise old Japanese character dubbed “Mr. K,” who along with his Jack Russell Terrier, became the face of the entire campaign. You can see the ad below: Continue reading

What’s Your Story?

By Chris Blair

Almost all human interaction involves the use of stories. It’s been that way for centuries. Prehistoric cave dwellers used drawings to tell stories. The world’s best-selling book, The Bible, is a book of stories.

Without stories, most of us would have no reason to communicate; no reason to interact. How difficult would it be for us to learn about ourselves, document history, or entertain without them? Watch a major television network for a couple of hours and count how many programs or commercials use stories.

Why are they so effective? Because people identify with events that are in tune with their experiences. And stories provide structure. They introduce characters and settings, grab our attention by introducing conflict, then satisfy our curiosity by providing a resolution.

Without stories, videos and commercials usually become a jumble of facts and claims that attempt to tell the viewer what to think. Other videos are nothing more than moving, talking wall hangings. Great to look at, but pointless. Stories offer an account of events that let readers or viewers interpret the meaning.

Using stories is really pretty easy. If you’re producing a video about OSHA rules and regulations, at first blush it may seem difficult to make the subject matter compelling. But what if employees don’t comply with OSHA rules? Bingo! You’ve got a storyline. The set-up: a manager ignores OSHA rules. The conflict: employees are torn between obeying their supervisor or obeying OSHA rules. Then an accident occurs. The resolution: the accident makes employees understand it’s everyone’s responsibility to follow OSHA rules.

The best lawyers use stories to convince juries. The best ministers use stories to inspire. The best educators use stories to motivate and teach. The best producers use stories to educate, entertain and sell. Use them in your video projects. People respond to stories.

What’s our Vector Victor?

By Chris Blair

Ok…so I stole the headline from the classic comedy film, Airplane, but I couldn’t resist. It’s the only quote I know that uses the word vector….as in vector graphics. I know, I know…they meant the aeronautic usage, but cut me some slack here.

There are basically two broad categories of graphic files used in design, vector graphics and bitmap graphics. Simple enough it seems. Yet I think many graphic artists were absent the day this was taught in college. Or worse, maybe they DON’T teach this in college. We repeatedly receive graphic files from other folks that are created or saved in the wrong format for their intended use.

So let’s clear the confusion up right now with a quick definition of the two primary types of graphic file formats. Continue reading