New Year, New You

Did you know Blockbuster Video passed up an opportunity to buy Netflix for $50 million because they thought online streaming was, “simply a niche business”?

Netflix now has over 80 million subscribers.

It’s easy to do things the way we’ve “always done them”. But if businesses do this, the consequences can be devastating. 

Today the trend is videos. Five billion are watched on YouTube and 8 billion are watched on Facebook… everyday! And they have become the communication language of our generation. 

Let’s get YOU into the game!

Check out how companies are using ANIMATED CHARACTERS to explain their process, product, or service.

Use a character to explain a problem that you provide the solution for.
Use your character in funny scenarios to make it easy to remember.
Use your character as a personified nemesis to your audience.

Are you Ready to get turned into a character?

Super Bowl Affect

Your advertisements need something besides information about you or your service or products. They need the “Super bowl Affect”.

During the Super Bowl almost every single commercial (which are always rated the best) have a character, a story, or something hilarious or bizarre that has nothing to do with the service or products. Why? Because in a competitive market, the bizarre thing will be what people remember… NOT your company’s name.

People are bombarded with company names. An average a driver sees over 1,000 company names on their commute to work on billboards, signs; even on our phones. You probably didn’t know that you see that many company names on your way to work. Because you are probably like the rest off us and tune them out. So, they become white noise.

When you create a character like JPaul Roofing and Construction’s Mother Nature (TM), you’ve got something that people will never forget.

The result: a community of people showing your commercial to friends at parties and having lunch… not because they’re excited about roofs and construction, but because it’s funny and maybe reminds them of the person they share it with. And when that person leaves the restaurant or party and wants to find the video but can’t remember the name of the Roofing and Construction company, guess what she’ll search for? Mother Nature destroys a house.

A challenge you to do two things:

1. Try to forget this ad. 2. Come up with one of your own!

All I did was post a video… Then this happened

I created this video a year ago (2017) and stuck it on YouTube and never gave it another thought. The video is about one of the most boring things you could ever make a video about. It’s about how a pool valve works.

I wanted to show potential customers that an animated video could make something that was complicated and boring as a bowl of soup easy to learn, fun to watch, and short (30 seconds). I had no intention of increasing my YouTube views or attracting swimming pool customers or driving traffic to my website, I just wanted to showcase my work. Then this happened…

One year later, the video has over 15,000 views, 23 likes, and has been shared over 50 times! How? It’s the biggest kept secret in marketing.

STOP ADVERTISING!

People are tired of being blatantly advertised to. They want to learn about your product but they don’t want to do it with a whacky-waving-arm-flailing-tube-man in their face while they do it. They want to learn by watching a quick video! A video without sales gimmicks or requiring an email. AND without having to watch 10 minutes of a fat guy holding a valve saying, “sorry I haven’t posted any videos in a while, I’ve been a little sick and my mom kicked me out of her house last week…” Get to the point!

I looked for other videos explaining the exact same valve and found this one…

It is over 4 minutes long, it has rolling credits at the end like its a feature film, and it averages about 5,000 like per year for the past nine years. This video was put out by a pool equipment retailer which would lead someone to believe that they would have the lion’s share of the market as the authority. But the numbers speak for themselves.

My unofficial experiment proved something that we ALL already know. Nobody likes to be “sold” to. And especially in this content driven, fast-paced world we live in. They want to sit on their couch with their phone in their hand and find the shortest video with the best visuals, and do it without being bothered with your sales pitch. We all skip that part anyway.

So stop trying to sell. Your video will do it for you.

“Art Bully” My Review of iPad Pro & Apple Pencil

There’s always a bully. Someone bigger & stronger, who punches you in the face and takes your lunch money.

In art, the bully is the “standard” or the “tradition” or “the way we’ve always done it”, and the evolution of art has always been the young whipper snapper who has the gumption to stand toe-to-toe with the bully and take a swing.

In 300-400BC Plato said, “Look up and paint what you perceive. Mary is to be painted in glory with golden paint!” Aristotle later said, “No. Look down and paint exactly what you see. Not simply the perception of who Mary was, but the truth… a teenage girl giving birth in a barn.” How dare you! Aristotle took a swing at the bully, and connected… the outcome was the Renaissance where we got Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.

In 1874, Louise Leroy (a bully of the worst kind – an art critic), saw a painting titled Sunrise at a major art exhibition and accused the group of simply painting, “impressions!” Insolence! Claude Monet had took a swing at the bully… and the outcome was the impressionist period (thanks for the name, Louise J) where we got paintings like Van Gogh’s The Starry Night.

I want to rave about a new young whipper snapper in the digital world of graphic art today.

Whether intentional or not, the new bully in the digital art world is money. This is what I mean…

To be competitive and create digital art that keeps up, it’s not as simple as buying a couple paints and painting your ideas on canvas… it MUST be created in up-to-date programs and apps to be used in the professional, fast-paced, competitive world we live in. And the ONLY way to do that is to spend $3,000 on a computer with minimum of 8GB of RAM, get Adobe creative cloud for $50/mo, and buy a $2,500 Wacom Cintiq Pro 24 Creative Pen Display – Graphics Tablet to get the feel of hand drawing on paper but capturing the strokes digitally… which you don’t necessarily “have to have” but the other option is capturing this fluid feel with a mouse… good luck. So, starting at $6,100 (in the first year), you can play ball… or at least show up to batting practice. You still gotta prove you know how to play.

Until now.

I say all you need is an Apple iPad Pro (starting at $649) and Apple Pencil ($100) to create incredibly beautiful and powerful artwork that is digitally professional and current. I spent countless hours researching the difference between the Wacom Cintiq- (whatever it is called… good luck finding three people who all call those stupid names the same thing) and the iPad Pro and I was biting my fingernails all the way to the Apple Store. You know what I found out?

The iPad Pro is unbelievable!

Drawing (feel):

I’ve been drawing before I could walk and I have never found a tablet that could keep up with how fast I draw. I’m not some sort of fast-drawing-prodigy, I’m saying it just couldn’t keep up with a fast scribble! For years I have covertly sat down to draw on a friend’s tablet or a tablet on display at a store testing the always brand-new tech… only to have my suspicions confirmed; there was always a lag from the stylus to the screen to the processor to the stroke. And for an artist, that is not just frustrating, it’s not workable. The iPad is flawless! Plus, the iPad’s screen sensitivity to the pencil makes the ability to draw lightly or boldly a dream, and VERY realistic.

One of the greatest features of the Pencil, which is the thing that actually sold me, is how it can be turned sideways and can be used like a REAL pencil! I have yet to find a SINGLE stylus that can be used like this which puts Apple’s Pencil so far out in front, it is simply unfair. I don’t care how many buttons you put on your stylus, Wacom, the problem I have with drawing has never been, “man, I just don’t have enough buttons on this stylus,” it’s always been, “this stylus sucks because it doesn’t feel like a real pencil.”

Finally, since the glass screen of the iPad isn’t the “paper feel” that’s ideal for drawing, I bought a matte screen protector that had a little texture that gave me a much more realistic drawing surface that I has solved that issue.

 

Compatibility with Art Software

No matter how awesome a tablet and stylus combination, if it isn’t combatable with programs that are used by industry professionals then you’ve got yourself a hobby pad.For example, if it couldn’t create vector art then it wouldn’t be compatible with Adobe Illustrator or if you couldn’t save your artwork as a .PSD file then you couldn’t quickly open it up in Adobe Photoshop to edit or remove the background to make a .PNG. Or if it couldn’t create in layers to easily export into Animation programs like After Effects then you couldn’t expect to use it professionally.

The iPad can do all of these things!

If you have a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, you automatically get an app for your iPad called “Adobe Draw” which is allows you to create freehand vector art that can be shared directly to Illustrator on your laptop or computer with one tap! (When I say one tap, I mean, you tap “share” and it opens up Illustrator on your computer and it’s immediately on your screen ready to work on… yeah).  There are also different apps that allow you to create in layers, save files as .PSD, .PNG, .PDF, and allow endless layer combinations, transparent backgrounds, and file transferring with no limitations. And it goes both ways, not simply editing things created in the iPad on your computer but vice versa also. You can drop pictures directly into most apps and manipulate instantly opening options that haven’t ever been available!

 

Turning iPad into Drawing Tablet Connected to Computer

Lastly, if you’re not already sold, there is a company called “Kickstarter” that creates an app called Astropad that turns your iPad into a drawing tablet. So, through a wireless connection or plugged directly in, you can connect your tablet into a mirrored screen of your computer so whatever program you’re creating in, no matter what it is, will show up on your iPad, creating the ability to freehand instead of clicking and clunking with your mouse.

AND in May of 2018 Kickstarter will be releasing another app called Luna Display which will turn your iPad into a 2nd monitor. Pretty cool!

 

 

Apps

My favorite app is Procreate, which  is $9.99 on the app store, and I have yet to find a thing that it cannot do as far as creating art digitally. The tools are amazing, feel real, and customizable, the workflow is simple and easy to use, and the depth that you can go to creating exactly what’s in your mind is absolutely incredible. For animating frame-by-frame, an app called “Animator HD” is my favorite so far. It’s easy to edit the frame lineup, copy and paste or move objects quickly, and it can create animations with no background so you can export into other projects.

 

My Preference

In conclusion, the three P’s that I have found to be the most powerful, versatile, and real-feeling are the iPad, the Pencil, and an app called Procreate. With these three P’s and some talent you will be well on your way to punching the bully in the face and showcasing your skills for a fraction of the price!

 

 

 

 

Scripts

One of the most important steps to creating something memorable and mind-blowing is the script. This is possibly the single most underrated and overlooked step in amateur film/video making, but is the most crucial for anyone who is serious about creating something unique and superb! Even if you’re Johnny Knoxville and you’re about to enter the ring with a bull while you’re blindfolded, you’ve got to put some thought into what you’re going to shoot before you shoot it. And if your ideas cannot be translated in the most uncreative and boring formats known to man (a word document) then you can expect corresponding results… a video lost in translation. Why? Because making videos isn’t about edgy film angles, a $10,000 camera, and color correction… it’s about telling a story with convincing characters to suck the viewer through their video device and make them believe it’s REAL! If you’re going for something comical and people don’t laugh when they read your script… it’s not funny. If it’s supposed to be sad, someone should read it and hand it back to you saying, “Wow! I got a little choked up.” If not, dig deeper.

It seems obvious and there are undoubtedly people saying, “So, if it’s supposed to be funny… it should be funny? Right. Thanks! That’s the dumbest and most obvious thing I’ve ever read.”

But “creatives” are the WORST at understanding this. Because they have probably been creative their whole life which means they have probably been drawing things and creating things and playing music that other people can’t their whole lives. So, after a lifetime of, “ooh’s” and, “ahh’s”  they think that they have the “Midas Touch” and anything they create is a “Spielberg”. Isaac Bashevis Singer, a writer who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978 said, “the wastebasket is the writer’s best friend.”

The solution? Write, write, and write some more. When you’re finished with your third draft, cut the words in half. Then let someone else read it. And be prepared to hear the feedback. And if you’re smart… you’ll listen.

It’s Not Just Me…

Hmmm… click no further. Look at #1 top of this list:

“Whiteboard animation has its own justification for its lack of complexity and novelty, though. It’s structured and straight to-the-point. It serves the informative purpose more than featuring pretty colors and gradation. Additionally, it gives viewers the feeling of actual learning in a class, psychologically speaking.”

Are you marketing your product, service, or cause? This is a good read! Click Here to Read Article

 Which Animation Style is Best for Your Explainer Video?

 

The Creative Process – Cold Tomato Paste

Cold tomato paste. That’s how creative ideas feel sometimes. Just… blah. You wanted something GREAT but you got… “great” (high school teenager sarcasm voice). Others make it look so easy. “How did they think of that?”, you wonder. I have wondered. And after 35 years of wondering, I’m going to let you in on some trade secrets.

 

Step. 1

Write Every Idea Down!

Either use the notepad on your phone or carry a real notepad in your back pocket. Whatever you do, NEVER skip the few seconds it takes to hold your finger up to your friend’s face mid-sentence and say, “wait a second, I just thought of something! I gotta write this down.” Brilliant ideas do not come from bigger brains, they come from a bigger selection of ideas. One hundred mediocre ideas are better than five good ones. And several mediocre ideas can be combined to make one GREAT one. But not if you can’t remember them. And you won’t. Scribble on a napkin. Steal your kids crayons and construction paper. Faintest ink is better than greatest memory! – Benjamin Franklin… or maybe Confucius…? I can’t remember which. I didn’t write it down!!

Step. 2

Marry Your Craft.

Are you a photographer? Logo designer? Animation your thing? Take pictures. Doodle. Scribble! This is very similar to Step. 1. Not a bigger brain, just vigorous, tireless, driving effort. Most of my final ideas or designs have been an accident after trying several things I thought would be great, but weren’t. Just grab part of the logo shape and start moving it around without rhyme or reason. Scribble without a cause and ask people what they think. Take pictures when everyone else sets their cameras down. Why does the person who carries a camera around EVERYWHERE they go capture such awesome pictures? You know why? You probably won’t like the answer. Because they carry a camera around EVERYWHERE they go. And I guarantee you that when the time comes to capture an epic moment, they won’t be wondering how to work their camera. They will be like a U.S. Marine with their gun. They will change the ISO, shutter speed, and f-stop in three seconds without looking and BAM!

You either love what you do or you don’t. If you love what you do, then why don’t you have a camera around your neck everywhere you go?! Well?! Start!!

 

Step. 3

Soak It All In.

You must complete steps 1 & 2 to move on to this step. The reason is because it takes writing ideas down and living with your craft to start observing and noticing a much larger spectrum of creativeness around you. The world is full of it. When TiVo and Netflix came around, we could start skipping commercials. Commercials are the bite size snippets of entire creative teams’ collaborative work. They involve writers, graphic designers, actors, directors, costumes, lighting, sound, animation, basically everything. Don’t simply visit art galleries. Observe the design, thoughtfulness, and strategic creativity in playground equipment, billboards, cereal boxes, hotel lobbies! The world is full of it. But it takes beginning your journey in creating to observe the world of creativity.

 

Step. 4

FAIL!!

This is probably the most important step because it determines who will continue coming up with great ideas and who will die wondering, “how did they think of that?” This is crucial to the creative process because it hurts, it stings, it’s personal, and it leaves you staring at your ceiling in the middle of the night obsessing over what you could have done to make that idea better. This period is where heroes are made. Failure sticks in your gut like a bad breakup. Wrong answers are for math; but when you are creating, being wrong pushes you onward to risk more the next time. Failure breeds success. “I have not failed. I’ve found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas A. Edison

 

Step. 5

Know When To Stop.

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never achieve it.” Salvador Dali. It’s been said that creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes, but art is knowing which ones to keep. By the time you’ve gone through steps 1-4 you will arrive here, the place where others start to ask you, “how did you come up with that?” Was it because of your bigger brain? No. It was because of your hard work! Hundreds of notes, living with your craft, soaking in creativity around you, and repeated failures all take time. Are you willing to give it? Those who are willing to give it develop a skill to recognize how to turn cold tomato paste into Ratatouille.

Coming Up With A Video Idea

Making a creative video is easier than you think. Here’s a tip: don’t think of the finished product. Think of something very simple. “Something is bad, something else (like your product) is good.” Start there. Very simple. Then go through life with this thought in the back of your mind. All of the sudden things will start to pop out at you! You’ll be watching the news and you’ll see video of a street intersection in India where cars whiz past each other nearly wrecking and you’ll think, “wow, that’s bad!” Or you’ll be at a football game and someone in the stands will accidentally stand up and cheer for the wrong team and you’ll think, “that’s bad.” And before you know it you’ll have a couple ideas to choose from and you simply plug them in. “Cheering for the wrong football team is bad, using my company is good.”

Powerful FREE Marketing Tool

Business owners are always asking me how they can get more exposure online? And the want it for cheap! Of course video ads, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Google Analytics, email campaigns, creative branding are all powerful ways to get exposure but aren’t necessarily cheap. While Facebook and other social media posts/ads are cheap but don’t necessarily generate tremendous exposure…especially if you don’t know how to read the data, reporting, and analytics that Facebook provides.

There is a way that cost next-to-nothing and when it is utilized correctly is just as powerful (if not MORE powerful) than any of the others methods listed above. I am talking about blogging.

Rather than telling you how powerful it is, I want to show you how powerful it is by telling you a story…a true story about a man named, Matt.

Matt owns a swimming pool company called Gohlke Pools. Matt has diligently and persistently written a blog for his business for over 15 years. Without fail, Matt would answer the various pool-related questions through his weekly blog by posting articles, using real-life examples on jobs he had worked on, and sharing his wealth of knowledge without a sales pitch at the end of each post, “buy a pool from me.”

As Matt posted in his blog each week, and more importantly, didn’t use the blog as a platform to tell people about his pool company but filled it with helpful information, his relativity to the pool industry started to increase. As this happened his ranking on Google slowly climbed higher and higher.

How does this work?

Google indexes websites. Meaning, Google comes to websites, searches them and checks to see if they have relative, fresh, and original content. This content cannot be all about your company, but information that would be good for followers. Articles, tips & tricks, “how to” explainers, top five things you must know, all relative to your industry.

As Google comes back each time to find more and more of this information, the algorithms automatically assign a higher ranking to your site. The moment you stop, your rank will fall.

This method isn’t an overnight sensation. It is slow and low. It requires persistency and dedication and above all, an ability to write well as your content won’t rank well when it looks like it was written by a third-grader. But over time, it can be one of the most valuable marketing tools in your bag.

Years later, Matt’s blog propelled him so far up the list of Google searches related to pool builders that one night, when Matt was staying in a hotel in California, he did a search for pool builders on a lobby computer as a joke. Matt was surprised to find that his company in Texas came up higher than other pool companies in California. Now that’s power!

“Four Reasons Why Your Next Marketing Move Should be a Whiteboard Animation Video” – Forbes Magazine

Kate Harrison hits the nail on the head! “Whiteboard animation videos are an essential tool for marketers trying to convey complex ideas in a compelling way — without ‘talking heads’ or expensive video production.” She goes on to say, “Furthermore, the cartoon-style animation holds viewers’ attention substantially longer than other types of videos, which leads to better viewer interest and retention.” This is a really good, short, and compelling read from Forbes magazine!

Click Here to read the full article.