Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Forget the cinema; it’s time to make your own Popcorn movie!

Introducing Popcorn Maker, a new and free cloud based program that makes it easy to enhance, remix and share web videos. Created within your web browser, Popcorn combines video and audio files with content and applications from the rest of the web including text, images, web links, maps and twitter feeds.
When we saw this, the first idea that sprang to mind was how this could be used if you were going to a conference. Say you took some video while you were there and wanted to share it with your colleagues or other attendees at the event. In the past you’d distribute it internally or go to a video service, such as YouTube or Vimeo, upload it there and be done with it, maybe with a lengthy email with your thoughts and key timings for people to scroll to. But with Popcorn Maker you get a lot more options to enhance the video with what they call ‘events’. Events are text pop ups, maps, feeds from social media, web links or images.
So, you’ve got your video let’s start by adding a title event to the video – just drag the text tool onto the video and type. Simple! Annotation popups could be added with titles for certain sections, speakers or to add additional information from slides to enhance the content. A twitter feed might be added next, displaying tweets from the event or speaker. You could also put on the location of the conference or exhibition – just find the venue on Google maps and add it in as another event. Photos of the conference or still images of the presentation slides can be added throughout the video too. To finish, you may want to add a Wiki link about the speaker or company, or a hyperlink to their homepage. It’s all really simple and intuitive!

Popcorn isn’t just limited to your own video or sound clips. Any video or audio clip can be imported in from YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud or HTML5 format and edited. Your ‘events’ are customisable too. There are a variety of fonts to choose from and you can edit the size, colour, position and when you want the text to start or end allowing company branding. The same can be said for any of the content you add – you can customise how and when you want it to appear and its duration.
Once your video is completed you can share a link to it or embed it on your website or blog. One of the most interesting features in Popcorn maker is the ‘remix’ button that appears on the finalised videos. This allows people to re-import your video and re-edit it adding their own ‘events’ to create a brand new composition whilst your original video remains completely unchanged. We love the ‘remix’ feature – allowing videos to grow and evolve over time as more and more people add their input and content is what social media based apps should be about.

Having explored Popcorn Maker and its features, we’re impressed. Our only concern is with the program being completely web based – if your connection drops out or your browser crashes you’re starting from scratch. We can’t believe something like this hasn’t emerged before. By mixing video with content from the all over the web the creative possibilities are potentially endless. We have been staring at static boxes for years. It’s about time they became interactive and connected like the rest of the web!

Monday, 10 December 2012

New app on the block The Haiku Deck, but why it’s not all as simple as it seems

We spoke recently about the new look and updates to Prezi, and why using software like Prezi doesn’t negate the need to storyboard and structure your presentation correctly.
PowerPoint is still the most widely used software for creating presentations; it was once the only mainstream tool for presenting, but that time is long gone. There are now ever increasing platforms you can use to create your next presentation. As specialist presentation designers we are always looking for the newest ways to create stunning presentations for our clients, but no matter what platform I’m using, the basic rules for creating effective and memorable presentations still apply.
One piece of software that caught my eye recently is The Haiku Deck app. The philosophy behind this ‘ever so simple’ app is that 2 lines of text can be placed on top of any full screen image and that’s it. You start of by choosing a theme from a range of 6 (more can be purchased); each theme comes with a font and a layout style for the text. The options are limited so there’s no choosing a different font, that’s set from the theme and the sizing adjusts to the amount of type you write.
Once you have chosen your text, you can then apply your background images which can be sourced from the web using the creative commons licensing1 or from your own library. You could use solid colour backgrounds if you prefer too. Then select from several text layouts depending on your images.

As with most apps you can publish the finished results sharing them across Facebook, email or twitter.
It’s a really nice, simple to use app for creating presentations. The method of placing text on top of beautiful images to design presentations is great and will always achieve nice results.
Unfortunately this doesn’t guarantee an effective and impactful presentation. Using images to convey messages is not a new idea; the skill lies in making the connection between the messages of your presentation and finding the perfect emotive image to tap into your audience.  At bearfoot graphics we work with you, really analysing your presentation content and working to create visuals that enhance and support your dialogue to achieve a presentation that will engage your audience and capture their attention.
Using an app like The Haiku Deck definitely works in creating nice looking presentations, but you’ll need a bit more to achieve stunningly effective and impactful presentations.
  1. The Creative Commons copyright licenses and tools forge a balance inside the traditional “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law creates. Our tools give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work. The combination of our tools and our users is a vast and growing digital commons, a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Prezi’s new facelift, but why you still need to think before you type!

Many of you will be familiar with Prezi. Since its launch in 2009 there has been a lot of talk about Prezi in the presentation community, many users like the dynamic non-linear style, however it’s also come in for its fair share of criticism.

Recently Prezi’s had a bit of a re-design; being presentation designers we are always eager to evaluate every piece of presentation software. We like Prezi, it has some nice features and we like the free flow style of animation. However we do find the lack of design flexibility and the default settings a little frustrating at times.
So what’s new?  The menus have become simpler and are no longer in the bubble; they have become a more standard linear format and have a lot more drop down options. It looks a lot more business-like and a lot less quirky. I think the rise in its popularity probably has something to do with this, along with the continuous new features including 3D Backgrounds, Presenter View, Screen Blackout and PowerPoint Import making it much more live event and conference focussed.

The theory behind Prezi is that our ideas are not linear and I think the main idea is to get people to think about storyboarding their presentations properly; to make them think about the structure and flow of their presentation. To really analyse the messages there are talking about.  It’s a great idea but in reality rarely put into practice. Instead, I feel, people tend to add everything and zoom around to the point of motion sickness. They get carried away with the software features and don’t concentrate on the messages and content.
Presentation theory is the key, whatever programme you use to create your presentation, if you don’t think about your presentation in terms of message, story, content and flow, the results will be poor. You can create a good presentation with a chalk board if your theory is correct.

The basic rules for good presenting should be applied no matter what you’re using to create your visuals in.  Don’t use the screen graphics as speaker notes but as a visual representation of your story to cement your thoughts and messages to make sure the audience understand your points and leave with a full appreciation and purpose. Overloading with text and unnecessary graphics or animation will only leave your audience confused and you will have lost the core messages you’re trying to deliver.

The main benefit we find of using Prezi is the ability to drill down into a message whilst keeping the bigger picture context visible.  Illustrating the links between ideas or explaining the relationships that can be found within a business. 

We’ve been working on some Prezi presentations recently; we will be adding them to our portfolio soon.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

World Storytelling Day – March 20

We tell stories every day, to everyone. So why wouldn’t you tell your presentation as a story? We share knowledge through stories, we build relationships through stories and we are entertained by stories. Forging a connection with your audience on an emotional level is crucial to guaranteeing a lasting influence.
People remember stories, for example we all have a favourite childhood story, personally mine is ‘Where the wild things are’, but these stories stick with us because they capture our imagination and evoke emotions.  Good storytelling can allow a difficult subject to be easily understood; easily remembered stories will be shared with others, spreading your messages. Powerful stories have the ability to change our behaviour and challenge us to think differently.

You can do exactly the same with your presentations; every presentation will have a story to it. So how do you make your presentation into a good story? Take the context of your story and shift it to somewhere else, for example if you’re the finance guy set your story not in the accounts department but in a football dressing room. Make things happen, describe the events that changed the playing field or instigated a new direction. Data can be woven in to the story to give it context and detail. The information can be reshapes into meaning when put into a story. Make sure you add a human part to your story, give the audience someone to care about and cheer on. Lastly make sure your story has a strong positive end. You need to leave your audience with the ending they expect and will remember long after they leave the conference room.
Storytelling is used every day in classrooms, court rooms and meeting rooms, this is no coincidence. Stories are able to cover every topic you could think off, sacrifice, obstacles, triumph, personal achievement, making tough decisions…the list is never ending. 

By using a story to create your presentation you are allowing the audience to see the meaning in the messages. You are connecting them personally to you and your presentation. These kinds of emotional connections will stay with them long after the event. 

Talk to us to find out how you can create the presentation that everyone will talk about long after your next event.

So You Think You Know London Animation

London will be in the world’s spotlight this year with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics happening. To celebrate we have produced a dynamic and creative animation highlighting hidden facts and fun trivia surrounding the great City of London, click here to see how much you didn’t know!
As a multi-disciplined team we are able to produce all the elements needed to create this animation, from the research to create the storyboard, through to the voiceover and selecting the music track.

Starting with the research, we trawled resources to find all kinds of trivia, stories, facts and history about London. Breaking it down into sections we began to storyboard our animation, deciding what facts and trivia would be visibly appealing and what would work as clever animations. It was then a case of finding a logical and smooth transition between the sections to combine them and make a complete story.  We next fleshed out the information with a dialogue and proceeded to produce the voice over.  We could then begin the animating! Picking a music track that we felt had a London vibe was our next challenge, nothing too overpowering but definitely up-beat and positive.
Finally the editing and final tweaks take place, which can take a few times to get right but the attention to detail is what makes good, great.
Please feel free to contact us to see how we can help you produce an animation.