Seeing a Future in Tablets

It’s amazing to think the iPad is only two years old–and across the spectrum usage is skyrocketing (along with the stock). Avid readers in particular have been downloading magazines on their tablets, and engagement remains high. Seeing a future in Tablets for business communication and marketing, we unveiled Viewstream Mags recently. Viewstream Mags brings magazines to businesses for marketing, communication and data analytics. The Mags are beautifully designed and feature engaging content written by actual journalists. Plus, we can do something that other digital document formats cannot do: we can track everything! From page clicks and swipes to engagement patterns and view duration of motion content, our analytic datasets offer a rich source of data for better decision making. To find out more, watch the short video on Viewstream Mags here: http://viewstre.am/1m

Viewstream Wins Two Telly Awards in Global Competition

Viewstream is excited to announce winning two Telly Awards. Viewstream won for its Windows Azure video for Microsoft, and its “Autodesk Smoke” video featuring Oakley.

The Telly Awards honor outstanding work for local, regional and cable television commercials and programs, video and film productions, and work created for the web. With more than 11,000 entries from all 50 states and numerous countries, this is recognition for Viewstream marketing and our cutting edge and creative storytelling.

A panel of more than 500 accomplished advertising industry professionals, each a past winner of a Silver Telly and a member of The Silver Telly Council, judged the competition, upholding the historical standard of excellence that Telly represents. Less than 10 percent of entries are chosen as winners.

The first award was for a video created as part of the Windows Azure awareness campaign. Viewstream featured Baker labs and their work using Microsoft Azure to created Proteins computer-designed to block flu invasions.

The second award was for a video created as part of the Autodesk Media and Entertainment “Don’t Just Edit. Finish” campaign. Viewstream featured Oakley and how Autodesk Smoke overcomes complexity to solve key post-production challenges.

If you are interested in finding out more about Viewstream work, and how we can help your company, contact us.

Top Ideas of Peter Thiel CS183 Class

Peter Thiel Image

Wouldn’t it be great to sit in on CS183 at Stanford taught by Peter Thiel? One student in the class has taken it upon himself to document this class, and has done a remarkable job. Having heard Peter speak many times, the notes capture his thought process very well. Recommended reading for a powerful framework to think about business and technology. Amazing insights into marketing, market intelligence, product choice and product marketing.

Check out the link to the latest by clicking here.

Thanks to Blake Masters, a student in the class, for documenting this.

Viewstream and Education Nation Broadcast

Viewstream worked with Cherry Productions to create a live capture of the New Schools-Aspen Institute Summit. The Viewstream team digital recorded the five panels in real-time to facilitate rapid integration for digital OnDemand broadcasting.

You can view the event here: http://viewstre.am/1g

AnswerLab work with Education Nation

Viewstream and Dabble Launch Video

Viewstream recently began work on a video for the Dabble launch with the goal of making an engaging video. After a few sleepless nights, Viewstream is proud to announce the release of the Dabble video.  The video features some cool music and voice, and some interesting iPad and iPhone product captures brought to life. See for yourself here:

And congrats to #Dabble!

33rd Annual Telly Awards

Viewstream won an award for the 33rd Annual Telly Awards. The Telly Awards are like the Oscars for marketing agencies.  Viewstream is proud to be awarded for the customer evidence video we created for Microsoft, which shows scientists leveraging Azure for cutting edge research. The scientists already found a potential way to block the flu virus — see how by watching the video below:

Two Technology Trends that Change Everything

There are two things trending right now that you should care about. Big changes involving mobile and desktop convergence are changing the way we are communicating digitally, and we are finally seeing the beginning of what can be called true multimedia.

Mobile and Desktop Converge

In today’s interconnected world, people consume content and socially connect on a range of “screens” – desktop, mobile, tablet, and readers. Imagine if you could write one set of code that allows content to be displayed on all devices – that would make things significantly easier to create. We don’t need to imagine thanks to extensible CSS, HTML5, and JavaScript. The use case for developing APP with native code (like C#) is slowly becoming obsolete. Only very discrete functional applications will need to be created specifically for mobile; for example, applications that rely on a mobile location. As a component of this, look to see more convergence over the next two three years in operating systems, so that OSX and iOS merge into one, similar to Windows 8.

True Multimedia

As of right now, two thirds of all browsers support HTML5. The remaining are considered legacy browsers – IE7 and IE8, to name a few. For now, Flash is still needed for some website functionality to support these legacy browsers, video being the best example. However within the next year, we can expect a complete transition to HTML5. This advancement will increase efficiency, and open new possibilities for technology. It will usher in a new era of Visual Communication where video communication and interactive content/copy will become closely intertwined. From a creative perspective, there is no doubt that the new visual language will be led by video. Ultimately, this might be the original promise to a true “multimedia”. At the very least, we will see another example of how technological change creates new mediums.

Now that you’ve gotten wind of the changes to come — are you ready?

Success Through Customer Evidence

Viewstream is a strong proponent of using Customer Evidence assets to effectively communicate a products offering. Remember, people believe people, so what better way to build credibility but through the testimony of your customers? Prospects are compelled by true-to-life success stories above the constant chest-beating cranked out of old-school marketing strategies. Kill the marketing voice, and begin telling true customer success stories.

Viewstream created a video to illustrate how Kelly Racing uses Autodesk software to improve racecar performance. Viewstream employed a new technique that allows the subjects themselves to create their own content, adding a powerful amount of honesty to the video.

There are many ways to incorporate Customer Evidence to your marketing mix. But whichever way you choose, these personal stories help create a relationship between your audience and your brand, bringing real-world storytelling to your marketing campaigns.

Watch the Kelly Racing/Autodesk Video below:

How to Record an iPad Screen

A couple months ago, we posted an article about marketing mobile solutions with video. A growing number of our video clients want to show off their mobile chops—to illustrate their new app, to give tutorials on software use on the go, or to display their work on mobile devices. As we mentioned in the article, one of our clients recently tasked us with recording a demo from an iPad, which presented a number of challenges, including harsh shadows, rough resolution, and flickers on the screen. Fortunately, we devised a system that worked.

We thought that we would answer the question, “How do you record an iPad screen?” We’ll even take this a stop further and explain how to create a final video with a composited, animated background using a green screen.

60 is the Magic Number

Most videographers know that shooting television and computer screens has historically been an issue, as the refresh rate of the screens never seem to match the standard video camera frame rates. This issue has been negated by LCD screens, which do not create the annoying CRT-like flicker. Mobile devices, however, have brought back the challenges of screen refresh rates.

The iPad 2, for instance, refreshes at 60Hz, or 60 times per second. If your camera’s frame rate is not matching this, you will experience shuttering and flickering throughout your video as you record the screen. In addition, filming screens in interlaced (vs. progressive) mode can lead to blurry motion and jagged images. We overcame these challenges by recording at 720p/60p. For our needs, 720p created an image large enough for our final output. With a native frame rate of 60 progressive frames per second and a shutter speed of 1/60.00, we knew we could match the refresh in the iPad. To dial into the refresh, we used the Syncro Scan feature on the camera set at 1/60.00 to ensure the camera and the screen were hitting at the right times. Shuttering and flickering were gone instantly!

Positioning and Lighting

Another challenge with recording an iPad is the need to have it steady and flat on a table for easy access by the hand that is navigating the screen. If you shoot straight down, you will get the camera’s reflection on the screen. Plus, with improper lighting, you will have harsh shadows on the iPad screen, as well as on your tabletop, which is challenging if you plan to key out the background.

That the angle of the iPad screen and that of the camera lens must be parallel. If they are at different angles, with this close of a focal length you will definitely notice a distortion on shape of the iPad in post, with one side longer than the other. We slipped a notebook under our cloth to prop up the iPad, and matched that angle to the angle of the camera lens to ensure we were hitting it straight on. Your iPad also has an option to turn off the automatic orientation feature, so the slight angle you keep the device at will not flip the image on the iPad screen.

QUICK TIP: Shoot the iPad upside down so the hand enters the camera viewfinder from the top. This way, your tripod will not get in the way of the actions of the hand. Just rotate the image 180 degrees in your editing software.

With the right camera settings and sotting techniques, you can capture clean, flicker-free shots of your tablet or smartphone in action.

Also, you want to create a consistent soft light across the entire area with as big of a spread as possible. You can achieve this by using two softlights off to each side of and above the iPad, and/or reflecting bright lights off a large white surface, such as a wall or bounce card, to achieve the same effect. It took some tweaking between light placement to make sure we were not getting light reflection on the iPad screen, and that we had effectively removed any unwanted shadows. Make sure to move the hand around above the iPad, and bend the fingers to check for dark shadows on the skin.

QUICK TIP: In setting the iris on the camera, you need to find a balance between the brightness of the iPad screen and the hand working the device. You can adjust both the camera’s iris and the brightness of the iPad screen to find a bright, consistent image for the camera’s sensor.

Once the camera’s settings are in place, and the lighting is where you want it, you are ready to record!

While Shooting

During the recording, make sure your hand model removes their hand from the screen area anytime it is not being used to manipulate the screen. This way the viewer can have a full view of the screen, and edits between screens remain seamless.

QUICK TIP: Keep the shot clean by wiping the iPad screen with cleaner between takes. In this lighting, smudges can obstruct what you are trying to show on the screen.

Adjustments in Post

In the case of our project, we wanted to create an animated backdrop for the iPad. We placed the iPad on piece of green screen cloth, and made sure our lighting did not create the harsh shadows that would make keying difficult. With a shadow-free surface, adding the key channel to iPad video is relatively painless. But remember that you will likely lose quality on the actual screen itself due to the key. To get around this loss, simply create a duplicate layer in your edit, with a matte around the screen for complete image clarity.

As more and more businesses move their offerings and platforms to mobile devices, creating videos to illustrate mobile capabilities will certainly become more prevalent. With the process outlined above, you can ensure clear and clean demonstrations of your mobile solution in action.

Viewstream at SC11: A Recap

SuperComputing 2011 was in Seattle this year, and the exhibition was open from November 14th – November 17th. This was a huge show, with an estimated 11,000 exhibitors, hardware vendors, HPC middleware vendors, system integrators, SuperComputing Center reps, HPC ISVs, and others bustling around the convention floor. Viewstream was excited to be at the nexus of the industry ecosystem, engaging with our clients and other industry leaders. Throughout the week, we talked with community members about HPC directions and how their marketing is being affected by the broadening of HPC and its cross-fertilization with Cloud and Big Data.

Lots of big industry announcements are made at the annual SC Conference, and this year’s was no exception. With Intel’s announcement of the MIC architecture and the Sandy Bridge e and x79 chipset, the release of NVIDIA’s Maximus technology that combines Tesla and Quadro, and Cray’s picking up of BlueWaters from IBM, there was no shortage of surprises.

One of the more exciting projects featured at the conference involved the work Microsoft has been doing testing the limits of its Windows Azure platform in the real world. As HPC continues integrating with more and more Cloud offerings, solutions like Windows Azure can help free researchers and other HPC end users from slow data return times and other compute limitations to allow them to produce some very exciting results. An example of this game-changing technology is the relationship between Microsoft and Baker Labs, a research lab at the University of Washington that leverages HPC in the Cloud with Windows Azure to help solve some of the smallest mysteries is modern medicine.

To learn more about this project, watch the video Viewstream produced that was featured at Microsoft’s SC11 booth: