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New Facebook Ads are Standing Out

You may have recently noticed that video advertisements in your Facebook newsfeed have begun to play automatically as you scroll past them.  You may have also noticed that these videos do not include audio until you click and enlarge them.  Why this change in formatting, and what does it mean for businesses sharing their marketing videos on the social media platform?

Just as Facebook’s text advertising allowances prove, the company understood that it needed a marketing and advertising solution that would satisfy sponsors while keeping the average user interested and un-hassled by obtrusive advertisements.  According to Josh Constine in his article on Tech Crunch, “The company knew that if it was going to grow to reach its full potential and become one of the most used parts of the Internet, advertising had to be subtle and it had to fit in...The strategy worked. Users were pestered by the ads, but not enough to quit the social network, and Facebook continued to grow into the 1.19 billion user juggernaut it is now.” Since so many businesses have come to understand the power of video advertising, Facebook took the same attitude when creating new guidelines.  Users will be forced to see the advertisements, but they do not have to tune in fully unless they choose to do so.

Though this was a sensible, logical move on Facebook’s part, these new protocols may bring about some difficulties for companies and their advertising departments.  Now, if they want their videos to succeed on the social media channel, they will have to create video advertisements that rely solely on visuals to gain audience attention -- a task that may be harder than one would think.  Of course, advertisers could superimpose subtitles on their videos, but this measure alone is not nearly enough to engage viewers.

One way to overcome this obstacle is obvious: produce bold, striking visuals.  Facebook users have begun to see videos that are more color-saturated, contain bizarre images, and employ quick, sharp transitions.  Furthermore, ensuring that videos are of the highest quality is now of paramount importance for advertisers.

“This is good news,” says Producer, John Haslam, “as there is a growing need for high quality, creative content that can be guaranteed by large production companies such as Skystorm Productions”.

A great example of overcoming the silent advertisement dilemma comes from Summit Entertainment with their advertisement for the recently released film “Divergent,” which Facebook has been using as a test-run for the video strategy. Notice that the images are sharp and transitions are quick and crisp, and bold lettering helps reinforce the advertisement’s purpose.  These elements create a compelling trailer that urges viewers to enlarge the video and listen to dialogue.

Ultimately, treat your video advertisement as though it were a movie trailer.  Focus on the storytelling elements of your commercial, and remember to show your messages, rather than tell them.  With high-quality, engaging video, your audience will certainly take notice.

15 April 2014 No comments

Skystorm Attends NAB Show 2014

Skystorm's owner, John Haslam, and Mobile Truck Engineer, Robert Miller, on Day 1 of the NAB Show 2014.

"What Happens In Vegas Stays in Vegas!" This is not the case for Skystorm Productions.

For many years, Skystorm has been attending the Annual NAB Show, the world's largest electronic media show covering filmed entertainment and the development, management and delivery of content across all mediums. Each year, the team comes back armed with information on the latest innovations and techonolgies in the broadcast industry.

With more than 93,000 attendees from 156 countries and 1,550+ Exhibitors, the NAB Show is the ultimate marketplace for digital media and entertainment.

For more interesting facts about this year's NAB Show, click here.


7 April 2014 No comments

Skystorm shoots the XBOX Call of Duty Championship

RUN studios, based in Seattle, Washington, partnered with Skystorm Productions to cover the XBOX: Call of Duty Regional competition held at Full Sail University March 7th-9th. Along with creating a Recap Video for the event, Skystorm also produced and shot Team Documentaries with some of the best Call of Duty teams in the world.
Since all the videos were happening simultaneously, Skystorm provided 5 distinct 2-camera crews and a stills team.

Team Documentary: Team EnVyUs

Recap Video - Which can also be found on the Home Screen of the Xbox One and Xbox 360:

You can view more of the documentaries here:

Team Documentary: Team Kaliber

Team Documentary: Strictly Business

Note: To watch the videos, you will need to be logged in to Google to provide age verification.

31 March 2014 No comments

What Type of Video Does Your Company Need?

According to Stu Siegal at Video Industry News, “Video strategy is the creation of a plan to systematically use video to drive business goals.” Believe it or not, there are numerous different types of videos that you can tailor to your specific business needs when determining your video strategy.  The following are just a few common video types you may be able to use and modify for your ambitions in the new year.

Tutorials, or how-to videos, are becoming ever more popular in web video marketing.  These video manuals, which have a high potential for growth, are best for companies promoting a product or service who want to establish themselves as experts in their industries.  By producing a high-quality tutorial, you can provide your clients with information relevant to your industry and make the user more comfortable and familiar with your services.  You can also entertain your audience, as Nokia does in this video demonstrating how to create a phone case from old CD’s:

The customer testimonial is another great type of video production for companies who wish to increase their fan bases.  According to the Nielsen Group’s 2013 Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages Report, 84% of consumers still value word-of-mouth recommendations as the most influential factor upon their purchasing decisions.  In that vein, testimonials act as a word-of-mouth recommendation with a global audience and can help to promote a great deal of brand awareness.

If you are seeking internal growth for your company, corporate training videos present a cost-effective method to keep employees informed of responsibilities and company updates.  Hosting such videos online defers the cost of providing in-house classes and relays important information.  Remember that the whole of your company is only as strong as the sum of its parts; through the use of corporate training videos, your well-trained and informed employees can help your business to continue to grow and follow your visions.

There are myriad other types of videos you can use to reach your 2014 business goals; you can find more about them here.  Regardless of the type of production you choose, always ensure that your purpose is well-defined and your video is of the highest quality so that you can engage your target audience.

27 March 2014 No comments

Using YouTube and Other Social Channels to Your Advantage

Within the last decade or so, new technologies and Internet services have transformed the world into a global community and completely changed the nature of marketing.  According to this article on Forbes, “Creating or expanding business relationships is not about selling – it’s about establishing trust, rapport, and value creation without selling.”  Customers no longer want to be sold to—they want to be spoken to as peers.  Video hosting websites such as YouTube allow companies to go beyond the traditional expectations for video advertisements.  Rather than pushing a product or service, many companies are transforming their YouTube channels into how-to video blogs, expert news sources, and even entertainment hubs.

Take for example Steve Spangler’s “Sick Science” channel.  Spangler is an author, Emmy winner, and the founder of two companies who attributes a great deal of his successes to the traffic generated from his YouTube channels, on which he performs experiments like this one. Notice that beyond the company name and logo, Spangler does not overtly try to force his brand upon his viewers; rather, he establishes himself as an expert in the field of at-home science experiments.  The simplicity and inventiveness of this video series quickly caught the eyes of many YouTube users, as well as those of the company itself, and in 2011 YouTube offered Spangler one of the hundred available funded channels.

Since Spangler began hosting his online science show in 2007, YouTube has developed a number of new and insightful features that further help individuals and businesses alike to promote their videos to a specific audience.  Features such as annotations and relevant link embedding catch the interest of the audience and call them to action.  Furthermore, it now enables users to distribute their videos across a wide array of social media channels and target watchers using key demographics such as age, location, gender, interests, and many more.

Beyond the simplicity and innovation of YouTube and other video hosting websites, online video advertisements are among the most cost-efficient ways to promote brand awareness.  Uploading and sharing videos through YouTube is entirely free, saving you the cost of purchasing time slots on the air.  Users have the ability to release videos as they please to a relevant audience without spending a dime.

The Nielsen Group has determined that earned media, or content spread through organic means rather than paid advertising, continues to be one of the most powerful tools for today’s advertisers.  The best way to take advantage of this is to host relevant branded videos on a hosting site, targeting your intended audience.  With a great production and the right insights, your followers will share your content amongst their social circles and help you gain a broader audience.

21 March 2014 No comments

Mastering the Branded Video: A Case Study on Chipotle’s Ad Campaigns

Branded videos muddle the distinction between entertainment and advertisement, often featuring only a brief glimpse of the company name or logo.  The growing popularity of these types of videos points to the nature of advertising today.  Customers no longer want to be sold to; they want to be informed and entertained by an expert source.  They want to trust a company before they purchase its products or services.  According to Mashable, “There is nothing that turns off a customer more than an overtly promotional video.  You aren’t going to see people sharing a video in which a brand talks about how awesome they are – instead, a video with informative, entertaining, or touching content will garner shares.” 

In this manner, Chipotle has taken a firm footing within the world of branded videos, eschewing the traditional product pitching and opting instead for videos that highlight the downfall of modern agricultural practices.  In 2010 and 2011, the company released two ad campaigns that helped them bring in $800 million in revenue and over 8 million worldwide viewers.  Compared to the first quarter of 2009, Chipotle’s first quarter net income for 2010 was $37.8 million – a sizeable increase of 49.1%.  Founder Steve Ells attributed this to their “vision to change the way people think about and eat fast food by serving great tasting food made from higher quality and more sustainable raw ingredients,” demonstrated to the community largely through these video advertisements.

This year, 2013, Chipotle came back once more with this “sequel” advertisement, called “The Scarecrow,” which once again proved successful.  This most recent commercial earned nearly 12 million views on YouTube – the equivalent of 49 years worth of viewing.  In addition, the video had tens of thousands of reposts across major social media sites.  Combined with press coverage, this campaign reached over 600 million people across the globe.  Unruly, the leading global social video marketing platform, determined “The Scarecrow” to be the 55th most shared video of 2013.

What exactly made this video campaign so successful?  On the surface, this video brought together a number of important creative elements, from powerful music to enticing imagery and, of course, strong storytelling.  However, according to Unruly insight director Ian Forrester, “Recent research has found that sharing is not really about creative appeal, but more about emotional appeal.”  Throughout “The Scarecrow,” the audience is moved by the poor treatment of the farm animals and the scarecrow worker’s seemingly dismal situation. Even though consumers are 30% more likely to share advertisements that evoke positive emotional responses than negative ones, Forrester went on to say that “The Scarecrow” is so clever since it holds “an unusual combination of both positive and negative responses.”  Finally – and just as importantly – the Chipotle brand name is not revealed until the last five seconds of the video.

When they are created properly, branded videos help gain the audience’s trust as well as brand awareness without overselling the consumers.  When working with a video production company on your next advertising campaign, try taking a hint from Chipotle.  Ensure you select a company that has just as much expertise in creative services as production techniques. [source:]

14 March 2014 No comments

Netflix to Stream in 4K

One of the greatest leaps we have witnessed so far in the realm of 4k TV comes not from a tech production company, but from Netflix, the long-popular DVD rental and movie streaming service.  Netflix recently announced that it will shoot and edit the new season of House of Cards, its wildly popular original series starring Kevin Spacey, to optimize it for 4k streaming.  This development will make House of Cards the first full television season available in 4k.  Similarly, Amazon Studios announced that it will be shooting all of its original productions for 4k throughout 2014.  However, the question remains: when will 4k technology be readily available for the average consumer?

Numerous technology giants continue to develop and produce televisions and other devices with 4k capabilities, with a number of brand new models featured at the 2014 CES in Las Vegas.  Though most currently available 4k televisions have price tags of $3,000 and above, developers predict that prices will gradually decline, just as they did following the advent of HDTVs.  Vizio even announced a 50-inch 4k model to be sold for only $999.

In conjunction with the new developments in filming technology, many companies are turning toward SmartTVs, which include a number of pre-installed apps such as Netflix and Hulu Plus for video streaming.  Roku, creator of one of the most popular and affordable streaming boxes, has announced that they will be teaming up with six different manufacturers to produce SmartTVs that include the functionality of the Roku as a standard feature.

This announcement has caused a very noticeable push toward the “cable cutting” trend, in which a number of loyal cable users have foregone the expensive channel packages with hundreds of unwanted stations and replaced them with user-friendly streaming.  Not only is streaming less expensive and easier to tailor to personal viewing preferences, now it is also making the movement toward much higher picture quality than what cable can offer.  This power play puts the ball into big cable companies’ courts, and may “signify a shift in 4k adoption,” according to NBC News.

As for video production companies, 4k technology broadens horizons in the way of image quality and high-definition shots.  Effectively, videographers are now able to get four camera positions in one single shot.  As the availability of this technology increases, we are sure to see a plethora of streaming companies and tech developers alike making 4k available--and affordable--for all.

24 February 2014 No comments

Skystorm made the 2014 National Pro 100 List!

Skystorm Productions has made ProductionHub's National Pro100 2014 List: the 100 most popular profiles on ProductionHub! Along with being a popular profile, criteria for being selected included having awesome reels, stellar portfolios and generally inspiring work. To view our ProductionHub profile, click here. Be sure to recommend us while you are there!

12 February 2014 No comments

Why Online Video Marketing is Becoming So Important

Gone are the days when video advertising was restricted to the 5-minute segments that interrupt your favorite TV show.  Today, the web video is king.  There are many social channels available in the marketing world that provide exposure for your web video.  But why should you focus your attention on video marketing on the Internet?  Why is it so important? 

According to the Nielsen group, YouTube reaches more adults in the United States between the ages of 18 and 34 than any cable network.  Take into account that the United States alone had more than 2.75 million cable viewers between the ages of 18-46 in 2013 and you may realize just how astounding this figure is. 

View the full graphic with more info here.

Furthermore, these numbers only apply to American viewership: worldwide, YouTube brings in more than 1 billion unique viewers every month.  That’s more than three times the population of the US—and it doesn’t even include statistics for viewers on Vimeo, Facebook, and other venues.  In this manner, YouTube and other social media and Internet video platforms immediately give your video a much more widespread audience than traditional television advertisements. 

Not only does Internet video marketing have a broader viewer base, it also allows you to better address your selected demographics.  The first, and most important step to take when planning any advertising campaign is to determine your target audience by such factors as geographic location, age, gender, interests, and more.  Of course, you can select an appropriate broadcasting company and time to air your commercial on TV, but through Internet video marketing, your audience can be much more specific and thus much more tuned in to your message.  With the help of social media channels, you can target unique groups of people with a customized set of parameters, making your information relevant far beyond the means of traditional outlets.

As social media marketing comes to the forefront of the marketing world, videos are excellent tools to create brand awareness and recognition as they are shareable across a wide variety of platforms, including mobile devices.  This means that your message can reach viewers from any location, at any time.  Additionally, videos give companies the means to hit that “sweet spot” in their advertisements, combining entertainment with education and a call to action.  Thus, videos are a powerful tool for your company’s marketing campaign, and as an estimated 50% of all web traffic will come from videos in 2014, online platforms are the best place to host them.

When producing any video marketing series, it is important that your equipment is top of the line and your crew is knowledgeable.  Silver screen production value is paramount, whether you host your video on YouTube or broadcast it on a major cable station.  Give your online viewers an engaging, high-quality experience through your video advertisement, and you have the potential to earn global esteem.

3 February 2014 No comments

New Compression Rates Bring Promise of Streaming 4K

Video compression codecs are a critical puzzle piece in the overall scheme of video production and H.264 has been the standard codec for quite some time. While it’s done a good job with delivering videos ranging from broadcast quality to streaming 1080p to a computer, H.264 has its limitations. Video sizes are growing ever larger and with 4K resolution on the horizon, a better compression codec is needed to deliver the desired quality while somehow cutting back on the bandwidth used.

That’s where H.265 steps in.

This latest compression codec is like the proverbial new kid in town with the special athletic moves that upset the already-established gym class hierarchy. H.265 promises to deliver the ability to stream high quality video to not just laptops at home, but mobile devices on the go – all at half the bandwidth used with H.264. In other words, a video paying in 720p that normally required 1,000 KBps now only uses 500 KBps. No drop in quality, but half the bandwidth. Check out this demonstration video from Cisco Systems.

NOTE: Although both screens share the same quality, the example is suffering from a poor adjustment in color temperature.

What this means for video production houses like Skystorm Productions is this new form of video encoding enables us to shoot super high quality video - 4K resolution for instance – and deliver that same resolution to the consumer while preserving bandwidth and keeping loading and streaming times similar to what consumers are used to. What’s more, Skystorm’s clients can expect the absolute best quality final product that end users will enjoy, remember, and act upon; whether it be a commercial, inter-business training film, or music video.

“We’re excited to adopt H.265 as it rolls out into mainstream use,” says Jason Chamberlain, Skystorm’s Senior Post Production Editor. “It opens the door to ultra-high quality video at streaming speeds we’re used to and that benefits everybody down to the end user. Skystorm is always working on the cutting edge, so H.265 is exciting news about where our industry is headed in the not so distant future.”

24 January 2014 No comments