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Tips & Tricks, trakax for Business, Video Stock Footage

3 Great Sites for Free Video Stock Footage

November 3, 2014
stock

With the growing popularity in content and social marketing, the last year has seen a big increase in the number of Stock Photo sites popping up and offering quality free high-res images for use in blogs and social media posts. Despite this, it has always been very difficult to find good quality free HD video stock footage. Most royalty-free photos or video sites can be very expensive and out of the price range of most small businesses and home users. However, times are changing. The video above was created using our video editing software “trakaxPC” and free video stock footage from a number of different sites outlined below. Like with music, some videos sites require you to credit the author using a (Creative Commons License) but by doing so, you can generally use and edit the video anyway you want to. That’s not to much to ask for really and is a pretty good trade-off for free usage.

Mazwai

This is one of the best sites for high-quality HD videos and is perfect for any project you maybe working on. The site is also really easy to use. On the homepage, you can browse and preview any video by scrolling over it and if you want to use one, simply click on the video and you will be brought in to media player. Here you view the entire video and download it using the download button in the bottom right of the media player. Simply “Save” the video to your hard-drive. To reduce the size, it will download in zip format. When it has downloaded, simply unzip the folder and you will have an .MP4 ready to use at your disposal. Mazwai requires you to credit the author in some way using Creative Commons 3.0.

Mazwai Homepage

Videvo

This is another great site with tons of great HD videos. Everything on Videvo is free to use for commercial or non-commercial usage. They have even developed a “Videvo Standard License” for this very purpose, and for any clips licensed under there is no need to credit the original author, which can sometimes be a hassle in a production. But be aware, some have a second licensing option implemented which is the Creative Commons 3.0 license. I think though as a general rule, if you are given something for free and you use it, it is always nice to credit the person either in the credits or in the video description on a video hosting platform like Youtube or Vimeo. This way you will always cover yourself with most Creative Commons licenses.

Vimeo

Vimeo, the video hosting site, also offers a collection of free videos for download. Even though it’s not quite as extensive as the ones mentioned above, they still provide over 200 free videos for download. As the saying goes “Never look a gift horse in the mouth”.

Honorable mentions.

Dissolve

Although this site provides royalty-free stock videos which are quite expensive, they offer 3 free videos every month. That said, their paid videos are excellent quality and they have also an extensive collection to choose from. For those projects that may need a specific type of video, this could be the perfect resource for those willing to spend a little extra to get that exact look and feel for their video.

VideoBlocks

Again this is a paid stock site, however, they offer a free 7 day trial where you can download up to 20 videos a day (140 videos over the length of the trial). There is a catch though. As a part of the trial you have to give your credit card details and if you do not cancel your trial within the 7 days, you will be charged for the following month at $70. This site also has a sister site called – StockFootageForFree – which has some free downloads, however, most link back to VideoBlocks where you must sign up to continue to download videos.

Video Credits in order of appearance (Click on link to visit page):

Car timelaspe
Airplane Take-off
Train Timelapse
Sunrise Over Bjorkasjo – Video by Leif Eliasson (CC 3.0)
NYC Timelapse
City Timelapse
Grand Central Station NYC
Times Square NYC
George M Cohan Statue, NYC
FDRand7thSkateboarding – Video by Tom Harmon (CC 3.0)
Outdoor Crowd Festival
Girl On Shoulders
Playing Guitar
Record Player
Woman Mediating
Fly Fishing
Fishing Santa Monica
From The Earth – Video by Adam Burns (CC 3.0)
Facebook Logo
Google Logo
Twitter Click
Social Icons

Why not try out trakAxPC today. It can be used for all your video editing needs. Take advantage of our special price – buy trakAxPC today.

Analysis of the CarCosmestix Video, Showcase, Tips & Tricks, trakax for Business

Analysis of the ‘Car Cosmestix’ Video

July 10, 2014
Videos for Car Mechanics

Creating a business video like the Car Cosmestix may seem like a complicated process but it really isn’t. We believe the key to creating a great professional looking video is to plan, plan and plan some more. With proper preparation you will find the creation and editing process will become super easy. Here we provide some in-depth tips on how Johnny Quinn, from Car Cosmestix, and I created this video.

CarCosmetix from trakax on Vimeo.

The first thing one should think about is what message you want the video to convey.

  • Are you a new or existing business looking to promote your company and services?
  • Are you releasing a new product or highlighting a new promotion?
  • What story is your brand trying to tell and what language and tone will you use – funny, relaxed or serious and up-tight?

Once you understand the message you would like to convey to potential clients, you can begin writing and developing a script and topics to be covered. In our Car Cosmestix case study, Johnny wanted to promote his business as well as letting clients know exactly what type of services he provides.

So how did we convey this message?

About a week before the shoot, I sent Johnny an email with some topics and questions we wanted to cover for the video. We recorded the interview at the start of the day before any work had taken place. We simply had four topics to cover and Johnny could discuss these at his leisure. I simply pressed the record button, asked him about each topic, and then reviewed it (was the tone right, was he relaxed and smiling, etc.) and took a break before the next one. The questions/topics we wanted to cover were:

  1. Introduction – i.e. Your name, and name of company?
  2. Services - What type of services / repairs do you provide? (Repair scratches, leather repairs, bumps & dents, paint repair, etc.)
  3. What’s involved & Cost – How does it work? (You call out to the car? / take a car into a Garage?) People can send images of the damage and receive an instant quote. What would be a ballpark/average (€) figure for a service? (Repairing scratches / Leather seat repair / Knocking out bumps / Paint job, etc.)
  4. Finally, what equipment do you use and how can people get in touch with you? The work experience in the workshop and any customer feedback?

Johnny had pre-prepared some his responses and I think he expressed himself clearly, confidently and covered all the essential information. All told this recording process took about 20-30 mins (take as long as you need to get this part right as it is the most important. Also make sure you test your microphone and sound controls at the start). These questions and topics could be used as a template for any person with a trade and is a great way to introduce yourself and let people visually see the skills and expertise you can provide.

What footage did we take and how much?

Again this is an area which you can pre-plan. We had arranged to record Johnny working in the garage repairing a variety of cars so we knew we could take lots of footage of different jobs. We also had to record Johnny’s interview which was the first process we did.

(A great tip before you shoot can be to practise a few different type of shots a couple of days beforehand. This is just to get comfortable and get a feel for things and see how certain pans would work).

I believe one of the most important part in the recording process is what we call “Fill Shots”. “Fill Shots” are shots which can lead from one scene into another or can be faded in over a narration. I have found you can never really have enough “fill shots”. In our Car Cosmestix example, some of these “Filler Shots” can be seen at the very start of the video .i.e. the opening scenes with Johnny working on the car. Another “fill Shot” example is highlighting some of the equipment, paint room, tyres, etc.

A few extra tips that work well are to try and add some depth to the picture, as well as shoot footage from different heights and angles. Depending on the type of camera you have, using the zoom feature as well as placing an object close in the foreground helps to add depth to the whole picture. Also shooting footage from different angles or a low, medium and high position helps to keep the video shot interesting to the viewer. We have done a blog post on the different types of shots and camera techniques you can implement which will instantly improve any video – check it out here.

Editing and Production

Before we started editing, we knew we wanted to keep the video relatively short, between 1 – 3 minutes. We knew we would have to keep it compact with quick edits, as statistics prove short videos under 2 minutes have a much higher percentage of being watched all the way through.

Tip Before you start editing, try and choose a royalty-free song that you believe will work well with your video. As this was going to be a short video with quick edits and involved him in physical labour, we thought we would keep it fast paced with an edgy rock song. If you were for example a garden designer, you could perhaps use a more ambient / laid back type of track to give your video a specific mood. You should also set the target frame size to YouTube HD or 1920×1080.

There is no great secret to how we edited this video. If you watch the video from the start, you will see the first few clips are our “Fill Shots”, followed by a J Cut which introduces Johnny. Half way through this segment, we simply split the video segment and introduced some new fill shots.

Colour adjustment

In this video we used some of the new features in trakaxPC such as Ken Burns and the colour adjustment tool. The Ken Burns effect (pan and zoom) is brilliant for adding movement to the video and can really give it that professional look. The colour adjustment tool is excellent for rectifying any lighting issues you may have had when shooting the original footage or for cleaning up any shots you may not be happy with. With this tool, you can sharpen images, add brightness, staturation, hue, implement gamma correction and much more.

ken_burns

Finally, we exported the video to .MP4 (H.264 Level 5) and included metadata and uploaded the video to YouTube and Vimeo.

We hope you found this analysis useful and informative and if you have any further questions, please do not hesitate in contacting us.

Remember trakAxPC can be used for all your video editing needs. Start promoting your Business online today – buy trakAxPC for just $39.95.

Crafts, Inspiration, Tips & Tricks, trakax for Business

Using Video to Promote a New Product Line – A near flawless example

May 28, 2014
Super Short Business Videos

Introducing a new product line is one of the most exciting times for any company. You’ve put lots of thought, energy and probably tears into getting this product ready and now it’s time to launch. We’re presuming video marketing will be part of your launch strategy (if not, read our blog post “10 Statistics that prove you should take Video Marketing seriously”), but maybe you need some inspiration on what form this video should take.

Late last week I got an email from Fab.com introducing their new sofa range with a link to a video. Intrigued, I clicked for more. They’ve created 4 videos to promote their new furniture range and I think these videos come as close to perfection for a product launch that you can get. Below are two videos from the campaign:

Now if you’re a small business with a limited budget, you may be thinking “there’s no way I could recreate something of this standard”. Fair enough – these are professionally produced videos with multiple cameras, professional lighting and sound. However, there are a few key takeaways that will make any business video better.

1. The videos are super short

Both videos I have shown here are 32 seconds. It’s amazing how much detail and info they got into these videos without feeling rushed. You get a great feel from the designers without overloading on info. We have a great article on “What is the Optimal Length for a Business Video?” and research does show that for online promotional videos, your optimal length is somewhere between 30 seconds to a minute.

Interesting Camera Angles

By using interesting camera angles, Fab have made sofas look very interesting. By focusing on smaller details, they can convey the quality of the materials and the richness of the colours and textures.

Interesting Camera Angles

We can have a tendency to use a tripod at eye level, but think about getting low shots and showing your products from various angles to keep the visuals interesting. They have also used interesting camera angles when filming the designers speaking, which keeps the narrative interesting and somewhat unexpected.

Interesting Camera Angles

This Guide from Den Lennie is a great introduction to filming objects from various angles and helps to make inanimate objects more interesting – definitely worth a view.

Soundtrack

This soundtrack works well as you almost don’t notice it – you really have to concentrate to make it out, but it gives a good momentum to the videos while not taking away from the narrative in anyway. It ends on a lovely upbeat note and sets a good tone for the whole video without being overly generic.

Combination of Photos and Videos

Obviously you need your products to appeal to a large market and your main set up for your video may not be to the taste of all your visitors. Fab incorporated photos of various decors and styles which were probably taken form their catalogs and website. By adding a subtle pan and zoom, the photos are attractive and show the products in various situations to appeal to the broadest possible audience.

Hashtag

I don’t have any figures to back up the effectiveness of the hashtag used at the end of the video “#happymodern” but it is effective and memorable. From what I could see on Twitter, it has gotten good traction and seems a really interesting way for viewers to interact with Fab on social media.

If I had one negative about the launch campaign is that you could not share the videos directly from their website, which seems a pity as I would have shared them via twitter or Facebook.

Overall I think they have nailed most of the elements you would like to achieve with a launch video – the products look great, the videos are engaging and there has been user interaction via the use of the hashtag. All in all, they are great videos with some key features you can implement into your next video.

Optimal length for Video, Tips & Tricks, trakax for Business, Video School

What is the Optimal Length for a Business Video?

May 21, 2014
Camera_Lens_small

If you are thinking about creating a video for your business, it is important to think about the overall length of the video. There has been a lot of research and debate around this topic with the general consensus being the shorter the better. This does not mean every video you create has to have a time limit, nonetheless, research has shown that the shorter the video you create the more likely the viewer will continue watching until the end. Understanding some of this crucial data will help us make better decisions when creating our videos and in turn improve engagement

shorter videos are better for getting people to watch the whole thing…and are more engaging than longer videos”.

Source: Wista

There may be a couple of reasons why shorter videos are now more prominent and engaging. The rise of mobile technology is a good place to start. More and more people are consuming online videos through their mobile devices. How often do you get on a bus, train, plane, etc, and everyone is either on their phones or tablets shut off from the world. Even from my own personal experience, most evenings I will be on the couch watching TV and surfing my phone at the same time. I believe our appetite for information has grown exponentially. On the other hand, I also believe our attention span and tolerance levels have dropped significantly. How many times have you clicked on a video to start playing and almost immediately look down at the time and see 6 or 7 minutes and think ‘too long’, and quickly move on to the next video? If you’re like me, you may do this quite often. This obviously doesn’t make us bad people but as videographers or first time video creators, it does tell us some important information.

One must also look at the growth of short-form video apps like Instagram, Vine, as well as video editing apps like trakax. People are getting use to creating and watching quick fire videos and are expecting a lot from them in under 1 minute, 30 secs or even less. Major brands are now embracing this mobile technology and building their marketing strategies around them.

our appetite for information has grown exponentially. On the other hand…our attention span and tolerance levels have dropped…”

What may seem to contradict this point is that recently YouTube has changed its algorithm to rank videos on the amount of time-watched. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to create longer videos, what it does mean is that the videos need to be of a higher quality which captures the viewer’s attention and keeps them engaged. This is by no means an easy feat.

Wistia

Wista, a video marketing platform built for businesses, conducted some excellent research in this area and put together some very interesting graphics on this subject. From the graph above, you can see that after viewing a video for over one minute there is a steady and rapid decline in engagement. The two most important points to come out of the data provided was that people engage more with shorter videos and the drop-off from longer videos near the start is significant. However, they state:

If your message is more complex, feel free to give it the time it deserves, but understand that a major chunk of your audience won’t make it to the end of the video and consider front-loading your video with the most important information at the beginning.

Source: Wista

So what can we take away from this information? One key factor is to know your audience and know the type of video you want to create. For example, some essential videos, like product tutorials, are going to be more in-depth and time-consuming than a basic promotional video. If you are creating a promotional video, you should be thinking about putting the key message and most important points near the start of the video. A tip to help with time management is to plan your script and be as critical and concise as possible. Record and time yourself speaking in to a microphone on a phone or using a webcam.

Jim Foxx, at onemarketmedia, put together this great list which displays the average lengths for different types of business videos. This list gives a great insight into the type of videos you can create and optimal length for them:

  • Corporate Overview Videos – 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Online Promotional Ads – 15 and 30 seconds
  • Broadcast Promotional Ads – 15, 30 and 60 seconds
  • Product or Service Promotions – 60 to 90 seconds.
  • Customer testimonials – 1 to 2 minutes
  • Recruiting Videos – 1 to 3 minutes
  • Content Marketing – 1 to 5 minutes (or longer)
  • Very Short Form Video – 6, 15 or 16 seconds
  • Viral Videos – 60 to 90 seconds.
  • Video Case Studies – 2 to 4 minutes.
  • Crowd-Funding Videos – 90 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Training Videos – 2 to 30 minutes.
  • Product or Service Demos (not Promos… Demo’s) – 90 seconds to 3 minutes
  • Product Reviews – 1 to 3 minutes
  • Event Videos – 2 to 60 minutes.
  • Vlogs – 1 to 10 minutes


  • The data is in and it has shown that overall shorter videos work best and will have the most engagement. Be that as it may, if you create a quality video that captures people’s imagination and attention, it doesn’t really matter how long your video is, they will watch it.

    Visit our video school and see how you can improve your video production today.

    10 Video Marketing Stats, Tips & Tricks, trakax for Business

    10 Statistics that prove you should take Video Marketing seriously

    May 15, 2014
    Camera_small

    If a picture is worth a thousand words, a product video could very well be worth a thousand sales.”

    [Tweet This]

    If, by chance, you were stuck on a desert island with a volleyball as a friend for the last year or so, you may have missed how online video has exploded on the Internet and mobile phones. Recently, video marketing has become the major the buzzword in content marketing. Kissmetrics has stated that:

    “Considering that video now appears in 70% of the top 100 search results listings, and that viewers are anywhere from 64-85% more likely to buy after watching a product video – this is one marketing force you can’t afford to ignore.”

    Below I present 10 statistics that will hopefully convince you to pick up a camera and start creating videos for your very own video marketing campaign.

    YouTube is the number one platform people go to consume their daily intake of video content, be it for entertainment, help tutorials, How-to videos, gaming videos, outright wacky videos, etc. It is also the second largest search engine on the planet behind Google (which also owns it). Furthermore, Google search and social media sites like Facebook have placed greater emphasis on high quality video content being produced and uploaded and makes it easier for it to be found if you have relevant video content.

    Instagram, Vine and trakax, are mobile video editing apps that are creating huge volumes of content for social media networks and are being used as marketing tools by most of the major brands. Even if these little golden nuggets of information do not make you sit-up and take notice of how important video content is to your company, then here’s some important stats to try and convince you.

    82% of marketers confirmed that video marketing had a positive impact on their business.

    [Tweet this]

    Recently, the Content Marketing Institute released an in-depth report based on survey results from over 600 marketing professionals which confirms that not only are 93% of them using video content, a staggering 82% confirmed that online video marketing has had a positive impact on their company. 82% – that’s huge. It demonstrates how important this medium is and how customers will react when presented with video content against traditional forms of marketing.

    Some of the more important statistics that were established from the report are as follows:

    • 82% of marketers confirmed that video marketing had a positive impact on their business
    • 93% of marketers surveyed are using video in their campaigns
    • 60% are using video for email marketing
    • 84% are using video for website marketing
    • 70% are optimizing video for search engines
    • 70% of marketers will increase spend on video

    (Source: 2013 Online Video Marketing Survey & Business Video Trends Report

    Video Engagement and Google Ranking

    To add a little more concrete to the foundations, the good people at weblyguys.com state “Businesses think videos are nice and flashy and that the main purpose of using them is to add “aesthetic value” to a site or add a bit of sophistication to a marketing campaign”. This is certainly a valid point but as the statistics provided above and below prove, video marketing is way more important than this. According to the statistics:

    • The probability of a video content ranking on the first page of Google is 50% higher than that of textual content
    • Videos are 4X more engaging than static content
    • 65% of business managers said they visited a B2B merchant’s site after watching a video about its products and services
    • 75% of C-Suite Executives (CEO, CFO, CIO, CMO, etc.) said they watch industry videos online at least once per week”



    The first two statistics above are incredibly important. It doesn’t matter if you’re a B2C or B2B company, if you have video on your site and/or blog you are dramatically increasing your chances of being found by a customer and engaging with them, increasing your conversion rate, building brand awareness and growing your business – it’s that simple.

    However, the perceived cost of video production is still a major factor for most business. 27% believed they couldn’t produce high enough quality and 1% blamed lack of available video assets. Despite this, for small businesses with extremely tight marketing budgets, we believe with the right education and access to basic and affordable equipment, anybody at any skill level can begin to create quality video content for their site with a small bit of investment in time.

    So what can we do?

    By using the trakaxBusiness website, anybody can access the Video School which provides in-depth tutorials on camera, lighting and production techniques, as well as the Inspiration section which provides a range of inspirational videos within certain industries. Using the videos and information provided, you too can begin to create relevant and suitable video content for your site, blog and social media, as well as lay the foundations to drive traffic, increase conversions and mostly importantly, increase your bottom line.

    So really, what’s stopping you??????

    Inspiration, Tips & Tricks, trakax for Business

    5 Practical Tips to Creating a Successful Kickstarter Campaign Video

    May 8, 2014
    Create a Kickstarter Video

    If you’re thinking about launching a Kickstarter campaign, your video is going to be a vital component of the process – according to Kickstarter, projects with a video succeed at a much higher rate (50% vs. 30%), and they also raise more money. So it’s important. However, the likelihood is that you don’t have the budget to hire a professional to make you your killer video. The 5 tips below give you practical advice on how to go about making a video that will resonate with the Kickstarter audience.

    1. Look at what works

    Spend some time on Kickstarter looking at campaigns that reached or exceeded their funding requirements. You’ll start to notice some common themes quickly. The vast majority of the successful campaigns feature the founder or co-founders in the video. The founders come across as authentic, personable, passionate, and also grateful to their potential backers.

    Though some of the videos may have professional touches that are outside your budget or know-how, you will pick up tips on how to best compose your video, what content is truly compelling, what camera shots look well and how the businesses are selling their ideas and vision. What tone of voice are they using? How did they demonstrate their ideas – screenshots, footage, photos etc.? Take notes and integrate these ideas into your plan.

    2. Plan your video

    There is some research to suggest that the best length for a Kickstarter (or any crowdfunding video) is 2.5 mins. This means you have to be disciplined to tell your story concisely. A basic plan for your video could be:

    • Introduce yourself and your product
    • What’s the problem you’re solving
    • How are you going to fulfil your vision
    • How you’ll spend the money
    • Thank your backers

    Once you have decided the plan, start mapping out the story of the video and what shots you’ll need. Plan your script and time how long each segment will take. As you are going to be speaking directly to the camera, try and get someone else on board to help with your video, as it will feel more natural talking to someone real, and they can also help with the recording process.

    An important aspect to consider before and during the filming is what the experts call “fill shots.” Fill shots are shots that can lead from one scene into another or can be faded in over a narration. We have found that you can never really have enough fill shots, as this is the footage that plays while your narration continues in the background. So this could be your product in action, you at work, users interacting with your product etc.

    3. Invest in the Basics

    You can make a great video on a tiny budget, but you will require some basic equipment. First invest in a tripod. Nothing screams amateur more than shaky footage. Luckily you can pick up tripods on Amazon and other retailers for less than $20. If possible, try and use a microphone. Sound recordings without a mic from regular camcorders/video phones probably won’t cut it, and muffled sound is a real turn off (see this great parody of Kickstarter videos from Vooza). Again, these can cost less than $15. If you are using your iPhone or other smartphone for the recording, you will need an adaptor to plug in an external mic (just Google this and you will see tons of options).

    The real difference between a video that looks amateur and one that looks professional is the lighting. Don’t worry, you don’t have to invest in pro-standard lights, but do think about the lighting of each shot. If you are using natural light outdoors, be aware of the location of the sun (and clouds!). When recording indoors, try to use as many lamps, lights and other sources of light already available to you as you can — even consider bringing in some lamps from home if your video is looking quite dark. There are tons of tutorials on the basics of lighting, so take a few minutes to get some ideas on how you can improve your lighting without investing in more equipment.

    4. Learn some simple techniques.

    There are some basic techniques you can implement when making a video that will immeasurably improve the overall look of your video.

    Invest some time learning your camera settings like zoom and focus (simply put your camera model into YouTube and you’ll get lots of tutorials) and even learn some basic camera shots (here’s a great video on basic camera shots to get you started)

    Another great tip is the rule of thirds: By using the rule of thirds, you will make the shot more interesting by placing your subject either in the first or last third of the screen (look at any good videos and you’ll see this technique used over and over again). Remember, this is just a rough grid, and you don’t have to be exact. Some camcorders and phones now allow you to bring up these guidelines automatically. Often beginners place themselves slap bang in the middle of the screen and either too close or too far away in the frame. By simply mapping out the grid in your mind and placing yourself in the right-hand or left-hand section of the grid, you are already on your way to making a better video.

    Once you’ve recorded all your footage, it’s time to start editing. There are lots of interesting tools you can use. If you are using a Mac then iMovie would be perfect. If you’re on a PC then you can try a product like ours, trakaxPC (€35), which will allow you to create professional looking videos without blowing your budget.

    Going through the footage requires patience, there may be just a few seconds from a long piece that you’d want, so set aside time to review the footage and really be able to look at it in detail. I find renaming the video clips can help to identify what footage to use and what can be discarded.

    The soundtrack is one of the most important elements of video. Pick a track that sums up the vibe and style of your company. The best practice is to use a royalty-free track and there are tons of sites offering professional soundtracks at relatively low cost. I always pick the soundtrack first and then start creating the video – it sets the pace for the video and gives you the discipline to keep the video short.

    When editing your video, you can try and implement techniques called J cuts and L cuts. Although you may not be aware of the technical terms, you see these transitions every day. For example, the video may begin with you introducing your brand and products. The screen will then cut to you working on a product while your voiceover continues to explain the process. This gives your video a flow, rather than abruptly cutting from one scene to the next.

    Finally keep transitions and text simple – either a straight cut or a subtle fade is enough. When using text, keep it classic with a plain font in either white or black (Fontsquirrel.com has tons of very nice free fonts.)

    4. Be Yourself

    The amazing thing about Kickstarter is that almost every idea is driven by someone who is passionate about the project – it’s this passion that will see a good idea over the line, so the founders need to convey this to potential backers. Motion graphics often can’t create this relationship – actually seeing the real people behind the projects can. The campaigns that get funded, in the main, have videos that show that the founders really care about their project and this is the first step in creating a relationship with your user base. Your delivery should be simple, genuine and honest. Most importantly smile and have fun!

    This article first appeared in WeWork Magazine.

    Tips & Tricks, trakax for Business

    5 Backdrop Ideas for your Video – Perfect if your Office Space is Boring!

    April 1, 2014
    Biz Stone - Video Still

    An interview style video is the back bone of every SMB video strategy – it gives you the chance to show your passion and explain the vision for your company in your own words. When recording an interview, it is vital you feel comfortable and are in an environment where you don’t feel self-conscious (obviously everyone feels a little self-conscious in front of a camera, but you want to minimise this awkward feeling). The ideal place to record your video is your work premises or home office – you can control the light, hook in your microphone, ensure you won’t be disturbed etc. However, if your work premises are less than inspiring, you may feel that your backdrop is giving off the wrong vibes about your business. In our case, we have a relatively nice office in a nice location, but it would be fair to say, the office space is slightly nondescript and we have been behind in personalising them. So today I thought it would be useful to put together some ideas on how to create an interesting backdrop for your interview videos and ensure your company looks as vibrant and exciting as the products and services you are selling.

    Idea 1 – Chalkboard Backdrop

    I love this video for Jelly, which is a new service to allow you to search with pictures and people from your social networks. In the interview section of this video, Biz Stone, the CEO, is filmed with a chalkboard backdrop. On the chalkboard there are various sketches, diagrams and notes. It is an extremely simple idea, but you instantly feel this is a vibrant company with innovate ideas.

    The bonus is that it is also remarkable cheap and is actually a nice addition to any office space. I found these cool decal blackboard backgrounds for only $5 on eBay, you can pick up A1 size boards for around $25 or you could give paint a wall with chalkboard paint if you were feeling very ambitious.

    Idea 2 – Inspiration Wall / MoodBoards

    Video MoodBoard

    (still taken from The Bridal Lounge)

    An inspiration wall or moodboard as a backdrop is another great way to add an interesting backdrop to your videos and again gives the impression that you are open to new ideas and are always looking for fresh concepts. Again, this couldn’t be cheaper, simply print out some interesting images that are in your field, cut out articles from newspapers and magazines and simply stick them up. Pretty easy!

    Idea 3 – Keeping it Simple. A Bookshelf

    Video Backdrops

    (Still Taken from Font Men – Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones’ type design studio)

    Bookshelves are always a good backdrop and one you’ll see often in news interviews. It has the instant effect of making you look clever (look at all the books I’ve read!) and is a fail-safe background. This works particularly well in a home office where you may already have bookshelves in place.

    Idea 4 – Blur the Background

    Blur Video Backdrop

    (Still taken from 3FE Coffee Shop)

    Blurring the background with the subject in focus is a great idea and gives a lovely film look. You’ll need to learn how to use your camera’s manual focus settings and it can take a few tries to get it right. If you don’t know how to use your camera’s settings, I find YouTube much more helpful than the actual camera manual. Simply input your camera model and “manual focus” and you should find tons of tutorials on how to achieve this look. (This is is the search I ran for my Nikon Coolpix P7700 – “nikon coolpix p7700 manual focus” and there were lots of helpful resources).

    Idea 5 – Stay Away from Greenscreen

    Green Screen

    (Still taken from YouTube)

    Although not actually an idea, I felt it was important to include this. While a fan of chromakey done right (the latest release of trakaxpc is coming with chromakey!), it is not the route you want to take with your SMB video. I know I am always going on about “being authentic”, but this is the most important element to every successful business video. The days of the corporate video with the splashy background graphics are over. We’ve seen them thousands of times. After viewing your video, you want your customers to feel a connection with you, trust you and take the next step to do business with you. Trying to impress them with graphics that look like they belong in Powerpoint 2000 won’t achieve this.

    I hope some of these tips come in handy. For our next video, we’re using Idea 2 – Inspiration Wall, so I’ll post it as soon as it’s completed. If you ready to take the plunge and start creating your own SMB video, be sure to check out trakaxPC for all your video editing needs.

    Tips & Tricks, trakax for Business

    5 Tips to Create Great Videos for your Small Business

    January 29, 2014
    5 Tips to Create Great Videos for your Small Business

     Below is a post that I wrote for DesignSponge – one of my favourite blogs. The advice is mainly tailored for those working in creative industries, but is actually applicable to any small business. Hope you enjoy!

    Today’s Biz Ladies post comes from Catriona Barry, one of the founders of trakax.com, a software development company based in Dublin, Ireland. Their video editing application, trakAxPC, aims to make it easy for beginners to start creating great multimedia content. They have recently launched a dedicated small business website, trakaxbusiness.com, to provide small businesses with all the help and resources they need to start creating their own videos, regardless of their experience or budget. Today, Catriona offers some personal insights into how to best incorporate videos into your business model. Thanks, Catriona, for such an inspiring post! — Stephanie

    1. Get inspiration.

    If you are thinking about making a video for your business (and you should be!), the first step is to get inspiration from watching videos that work. A couple great places to find inspiration are the Etsy Channel (see Handmade Portraits), Made by HandThose Who Make and trakAxBusiness.

    Though some of the videos may have professional touches that are outside your budget or know-how, you will pick up tips on how to best compose your video, what content is truly compelling, what camera shots look well and how businesses are selling their products through online videos. Are they doing straightforward product demos, are they telling a story about the person/brand or are they focusing on building customer trust through tutorials and helpful advice videos? What tone of voice are they using? Are they speaking directly to camera or using an interview-style video? Take notes where possible and integrate these ideas into your plan.

    2. What’s your angle? Plan your video.

    As a design professional, you’re lucky. What you do is normally pretty interesting, which gives your video a great advantage. Remember, you don’t have to fit everything you do into one video (that’s what a channel is for). Pick one angle to cover and aim to keep your video under 4 minutes. Any longer than this and you’ll simply lose your viewer’s interest. Your video could concentrate on the story behind the product/brand (see the Kid Icarus Video Below), the craft or expertise required to produce an item (the Sweet Peas with Kim Westad video below is a nice example), the impact on the local economy/environment of your business (click for example) or an advice-type video where you explain how to achieve a technique/give craft tips through a tutorial.

    Once you have decided the angle, start mapping out the story of the video and what shots you’ll need. Many design and craft videos rely on an interview style, so start noting what questions you need to answer in your video and what your responses will be. If you are going to do an interview-style video, try and get someone else on board to help with your video, as it will feel more natural talking to someone real, and they can also help with the recording process.

    An important aspect to consider before and during the filming is what the experts call “fill shots.” Fill shots are shots that can lead from one scene into another or can be faded in over a narration. We have found that you can never really have enough fill shots, as this is the footage that plays while your narration continues in the background. So this could be your product in action, you at work, an example of your service, etc.

    3. Invest in the basics and light your video.

    You can make a great video on a tiny budget, but you will require some basic equipment. First invest in a tripod. Nothing screams amateur more than shaky footage. Luckily you can pick up tripods on Amazon and other retailers for less than $20. If possible, try and use a microphone. Sound recordings without a mic from regular camcorders/video phones probably won’t cut it, and muffled sound can be a real turn off. Again, these can cost less than $15. If you are using your iPhone or other smartphone for the recording, you will need an adaptor to plug in an external mic (just Google this and you will see tons of options). You’re also going to need some software to edit your video. If you are on a PC, there are lots of software packages at various price points available, and if you are on a Mac, iMovie will most likely get the job done.

    The real difference between a video that looks amateur and one that looks professional is the lighting. Don’t worry, you don’t have to invest in pro-standard lights, but do think about the lighting of each shot. If you are using natural lighting, be aware of the location of the sun (and clouds!). When recording indoors, try to use as many lamps, lights and other sources of light already available to you as you can — even consider bringing in some lamps from home if your video is looking quite dark. There are tons of tutorials on the basics of lighting, so take a few minutes to get some ideas on how you can improve your lighting without investing in more equipment.

    4. Learn some simple techniques.

    There are some basic techniques you can implement when making a video that will immeasurably improve the overall look of your video. One of these is the rule of thirds: By using the rule of thirds, you will make the shot more interesting by placing your subject either in the first or last third of the screen (look at any of the example videos above, and you’ll see this technique used over and over again). Remember, this is just a rough grid, and you don’t have to be exact. Some camcorders and phones now allow you to bring up these guidelines automatically. Often beginners place themselves slap bang in the middle of the screen and either too close or too far away in the frame. By simply mapping out the grid in your mind and placing yourself in the right-hand or left-hand section of the grid, you are already on your way to making a better video.

    When editing your video, you can try and implement techniques called J cuts and L cuts. Although you may not be aware of the technical terms, you see these transitions every day. For example, the video may begin with you introducing your brand and products. The screen will then cut to you working on a product while your voiceover continues to explain the process. This gives your video a flow, rather than abruptly cutting from one scene to the next.

    5. Promote your video.

    Upload your video to both YouTube and Vimeo. YouTube is now the world’s second largest search engine, so taking the time to get your listing right is vital. Carefully choose the title, description, tags, category and keywords that properly describe your business. Consider what your customers may type if they were looking for a product or service like yours and tailor your content to this. A link to your website should be the very first thing listed in your description. I cannot stress enough how important this is. Choose a thumbnail that best represents your video and will also encourage visitors to click. On YouTube, be sure to fill out the location of your business/video on the map. This can help users locate your business quickly and easily.

    You should also embed your video on your own website and store, if you have one. It may seem a staggering stat, but according to Internet Retailer, customers who view a video are 85% more likely to purchase than those who do not. If you are using WordPress, embedding is a really easy process, but even on regular HTML websites, it is relatively straightforward. Link your video to all your social media profiles — Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. — and you may even want to include a link to your video on your email signature. Lastly, link your video to your profile on Google Places for Business. When your video appears with your listing in a Google search, this can give your business a real advantage.

    The main advice I can give is, first, don’t be intimidated by creating a video, and second, online video does work. The investment to start is minimal, but the rewards can be great. Start small and get a feel for what works, and every video you create will be an easier process than the last.

    Create a Photo Light Box, Tips & Tricks, trakax for Business

    Creating a Photo Light box for your Product Shots

    January 24, 2013
    Watch in Photo Light Box

    In this short video, I show you how quick and easy it can be to create a simply, yet effective photo light box for your product shots. This photo light box will help present your products in their best light and is perfect for anybody wishing to take simply shots that will be displayed on your website, in your shop or on promotional material such as brochures, newsletters, flyers, etc. The video demonstrates step by step how to create this light box and displays some example product shots at the end. All in all, the light box itself took about 20-30 minutes to create and is super simply to put together (as I was making a video of creating it at the same time, it took a bit longer). I simply asked a local shop if they had a spare box and I spent about $10-$13 on the rest of the supplies. The most expensive item was the boxcutter at $7.

    Make sure you use a tripod when recording your footage and capturing your shots. If, perhaps, you are not overly happy with your photos or your lighting, you can always retouch them using a free photo editing application such as Google’s Picasa and administer any edits that maybe required.

    For the video itself, I simply used our Nikon CoolPix P7700 camera and a tripod. I kept moving the tripod around to try and keep the video interesting with different angles and shots. For the text, I simply downloaded this free “YummyCakes” font from dafont.com to give the text that handwritten feel. Finally, I used our transparent PNG title bar which is available to download free here.

    So why not give it a go and see how this simply contraption can really improve your product shots!

    Here is a list of what you will need for creating your own light box –

  • Cardboard box
  • 2-4 sheets of white tissue paper
  • 1 piece of matte white poster board
  • 1 piece of matte black poster board
  • Scotch tape
  • Packing tape
  • 12″ (30cm) ruler
  • Pencil or pen
  • Scissors & Box cutter
  • 2 Lamps
  • Tips & Tricks, trakax for Business, Understanding Fill Shots

    Understanding “Fill Shots”

    December 5, 2012
    Fill_shot

    An important part of the video production process is what we call recording “Fill Shots”. “Fill Shots” are the shots which lead from one scene into another or can be faded in over a narration. Basically, every piece of footage you shoot (other than a direct interview) is a fill shot. You can never really have enough “fill shots” and probably most of the footage you record will end up on the editing floor. However as a rule, it is always best to take more footage than you think you need. For example, you may have recorded some of footage which you think was fine on the day but during the editing process, you noticed that the camera or tripod wobbled or the light suddenly changed ruining your shot. This is why it is important to have extra back-up footage which can help when editing the final video. Below, I’ve attached a video which gives an example how fill shots can be used to connect an interview and link the video together as a whole.

    If you watch the video from the start, you will see the first four video clips are our “Fill Shots”. These are shots recorded from different angles, cut together with no fades and followed by a J Cut (this where you hear the narrators voice before the corresponding video enters the frame). We then see Dan talking and been interviewed while working at his desk. For this shot, the camera has stayed in the same position throughout the entire interview process. The video is centralised on this main shot and interview, with all fill shots being edited around it. After this segment, we have an L Cut (where a new video clip enters yet we still hear Dan talking over the videos).

    The video continues to be edited in this way, with fill shots being implemented between shots of Dan working and talking at his desk (basic J and L Cuts). This is a simple process which all aspiring videographers can implement and will instantly improve your video production and give it that professional look. To learn more about J and L Cuts and other tips and tricks, please Click Here.

    Rule of Thirds, Tips & Tricks, trakax for Business

    Understanding the ‘Rule of Thirds’.

    July 25, 2012
    rule-of-thirds

    One of the camera techniques that we cover in the longer Camera Techniques tutorial (view it here) is the Rule of Thirds. Personally, I think this is one of the simplest ways to make your videos look more professional – and it doesn’t cost anything!

    By using the rule of thirds, you will make the shot more interesting by either placing your subject in the first or last third of the screen – take a look at the photos below and above and hopefully you will get the idea. Remember, this is just a rough grid and you don’t have to be exact. Often beginners often place themselves slap bang in the middle of the screen and often either too close or two far away in the frame. By simply mapping out the grid and placing yourself in the right or left hand section of the grid – you are already on your way to making a better video.

    Watch some examples of the rule of third in action (and some really great small business videos below);

    There’s No Place Like Here: Brazenhead Books

    There’s No Place Like Here: Brazenhead Books from Etsy on Vimeo.

    Handmade Portraits: Brooklyn Watches

    Handmade Portraits: Brooklyn Watches from Etsy on Vimeo.

    Watch the Videomaker Quick Tutorial

    ;

    J & L Cuts, Tips & Tricks, trakax for Business

    Video Basics – J and L Cuts

    June 28, 2012
    J-and-L-Cuts (1)

    With trakAxPC, we want users to be able to create sophisticated and professional looking videos without getting bogged down in complicated software or convoluted technical terms. However, learning some very basic editing tricks can immensely improve your final cuts. In this short post, we want to show how powerful, yet subtle transitions called J and L cuts can be used.

    Continue Reading…

    Embed a Video into Wordpress / Dreamweaver, Tips & Tricks, trakax for Business, Website Tips

    Embedding your YouTube Video into WordPress / Dreamweaver

    June 8, 2012
    Embedding your video into Wordpress / Dreamweaver

    To take full advantage of Video for marketing and web promotions, users must be able to add their video to their business site or accompanying blog. In this post, we give a detailed example of embedding a video into your Blog or Website. This is an extremely simple process and once your video is on YouTube (you can directly upload from trakAxPC), embedding your video takes less than 1 minute.

    Continue Reading…