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:

Viewstream to Exhibit & Present at SC11

The supercomputing community will converge in Seattle this November for SC11, the annual conference for high performance computing, networking, storage and analysis. Given our expertise in this area of IT, Viewstream is excited to be attending the week-long event, and maintaining an exhibit in the conference hall. Stop by Booth #4712 and say hello and get a free Viewstream shot glass!

For us, SC11 is a must-attend for anyone who needs to be on top of the latest supercomputing, Cloud and Big Data technologies and who wants to connect with the developers, researchers and companies driving innovation forward. We are also looking to spend time with some of our clients and partners—for many of us, this is the one time a year we find everyone together in the same room, which can be very exciting.

Throughout the week, our booth will be manned by an executive A-team that will include John Assalian, Founder and CEO; Joshua Shane, VP of Business Development and Strategy; and Don Sparks, Director of Business Development. We will be there ready to learn from presenters and fellow exhibitors. Also, as a marketing agency at the event, we are eager to engage those working within the supercomputing space to help them meet their business and communications needs.

Stop by our SC11 Booth to claim your own Viewstream Shotglass!

Can you guys do it better?

One of our overpaid consultants emailed us the Amazon Silk Launch Video today and asked us “Could you guys do this video better”?

The answer was, of course! Check out the Silk video:

The video is actually done fairly well. There is a lot of good technical information, and the team has good camera presence and are able to communicate confidence. But it could be a lot better:

1. Subject Matter
Overall, the technical details are presented simply and done very well, but there are a lot of other, bigger ideas that are conveyed between the lines that don’t come up to the surface. I would have liked to hear more about the vision in a separate video, and have the thought leadership positioned a bit stronger. Yes, Amazon silk is trying to appeal to a technical audience, but the audience is wider than that.

2. Length
The video is far too long at over five minutes. The video ought to have been broken into three or four discrete videos to appeal to those that just want the gist, versus those that want the technical details.

3. Animations
The “chalkboard” animations besides the speaker are distracting and compete with what the speakers are saying. You cannot pay attention to what the speaker is saying, and what the animations are trying to convey. Would have been better to use the animations in a separate video with some Voice Over to communicate visually.

4. Type
The Type Write Ons feel like a pending seizure, and are distracting.

If Viewstream had created this video, we would have recommended a series of three videos about one minute each. The first one would have positioned the thought leadership, and the other two would have drilled down on the two big technical takeaways. We would have saved some resources by not doing the animations, or if we did, we would have used them in a separate video. Finally, we would have made the type animations more digestible and more in line with Amazon brand.

Marketing Mobile Solutions with Video

Today, the number of iPad apps in Apple’s iStore is nearing 100,000 unique offerings. As a result of this growing industry, more and more of our 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. In fact, one of our clients recently tasked us with recording a demo of one of their app solutions for iPad.

Shooting an iPad presents a number of issues, including harsh shadows, rough resolution and annoying flickers on the screen. Our in-house production team developed a series of techniques to address these challenges and create a crisp, clean image for the client’s video.

As more and more businesses move their platforms to mobile devices, creating videos to illustrate mobile capabilities will certainly become more prevalent, and mixing the two media will continue to change the way we produce digital marketing material.

VP of Content Production Tom Jagger and Producer William Wroblewski working with our client on set.

Viewstream Helps Showcase Digital Artists from Around the World

Sometimes our work gives us an opportunity to showcase the creativity of others. This project is an example of that.

We recently produced an event video for Autodesk highlighting more than eighty artists from around the world who have created beautiful pieces of art using Autodesk SketchBook Pro software. The event, held at the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco, brought together professional and hobby artists who are driving their creative work using this digital paint and drawing software. In conversations with a variety of people, from Jay Schuster, art director at Pixar Studios to Goro Fujita, visual development artist at  PDI/Dreamworks, we told the story of how SketchBook Pro allows users at all levels to dig into its digital artistic toolbox to create some stunning fine art.

While we work every day to provide the most creative and captivating digital media for our clients, we certainly appreciate the opportunity to shine some light on other artists doing amazing work themselves.

Viewstream at the Internationnal Federation of Translators World Congress

Earlier this week, our localization team stopped by The 19th Annual International Federation of Translators World Congress, held at the Hilton on Union Square in San Francisco. We were lucky to have such a great event happening here in town; there was a good turnout, and we had the opportunity to meet a diverse group of local language experts from a multitude of cultures.

To meet the growing demand for marketing communication localization, the industry is developing a variety of new solutions in translation technologies and multimedia creation. Breakout sessions focusing on these technologies, including, “Effects of Translation Technologies on Texts” and “Translators, Translation Memory Software, and Professional Satisfaction” were particularly engaging.

At Viewstream we are staying on top of these technologies, and developing more efficient and accurate solutions for video and interactive localization. We have a broad reach of resources to match our technical and strategic expertise to meet the most demanding localization challenges.

Click here to learn more about Viewstream’s localization services.

Viewstream Customer Evidence Receives Award of Excellence

We are pleased to announce that we have just received the Award of Excellence in the Web Video category of the 2011 Videographer Awards.  The award is given to agencies for projects that are deemed written, produced, shot and edited in an exceptional manner. Our submission was a Customer Evidence video for Microsoft and NVIDIA that profiled Hanweck Associates, LLC, a Wall Street firm that leverages HPC and GPGPU computing for risk management in the financial industry.

See our complete list of awards here.

To learn more about the project, read the case study (.pdf).

You can also watch the final video here:

Click to watch the video.

CEO Speaking at Business Marketing Associate Event

Viewstream CEO John Assalian will be speaking about “Content Mapping”, as a part of a series of roundtable discussions on “How to Use Content to Drive Sales Leads and Improve the Sales Process.” John will share strategic advice on how a content mapping framework can improve sales pipeline results while reducing the heavy lifting associated with creating good content. Learn more details about the Sales Lead Roundtable here, or check out their Facebook page.

Content Mapping Framework