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.