The Art of Colour Grading

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by: David Capizzano

The process of adjusting the colour, contrast or overall look of footage is called colour grading, and it’s probably one of the most important steps in the production process. Despite this, if it’s been done well, you might not even notice it at all. Colour has a massive impact on how we respond to what we’re seeing on screen, and a good colour grade can bring out an entirely new set of ideas or thoughts which can be communicated to an audience, and with the advent of digital technology, the options for setting a look are almost endless.

But it wasn’t always this way.

In the days of film, directors and DoP’s would use a series of chemical baths and prisms to chemically alter the colour composition of the film after it was shot. They might have also used a series of filters on the lens while capturing the scene.

Before Roger Deakins used a digital colour process on the film O Brother Where Art Thou (2000) to achieve a dustbowl look, chemical timing was standard practice. Despite shooting in a very-green South Carolina & Mississippi, Deakins used a digital process to essentially remove the colour green from the film, resulting in a wonderfully bleak and magical depression era setting.

These days, the most common method of capturing footage is through using digital cameras. These cameras are incredibly powerful and capture images up to 6k resolution (5760 x 3700), however upon first glance, the footage you initially get doesn’t look fantastic, but there’s a very important reason for that. Like shooting digitally, these cameras capture video in a RAW format. A director or DoP might choose to shoot raw to ensure that they’re getting the most flexible footage possible. Later on in post production, RAW formats allow the DoP & Colourist to match shots effortlessly, adjust white balance with amazing specificity, and to recover areas of the footage which might seem too bright or dark.

So until the footage gets processed, it typically looks something like this:

By capturing the scene in as flat of a colour profile as possible, you’re ensuring the camera is collecting the maximum amount of data possible, offering you tons of latitude later on. Sometimes, a LUT (or Look-Up-Table) will be applied to the footage temporarily on set as the flat footage can be tricky to see through if you’re not used to it. This allows the client or viewers to get a “glimpse” of what the final colour process might look like.

On larger productions such as movies or t.v shows, a colourist will usually be brought on to work with the DoP to grade the footage using a control panel specifically designed for colouring software. This control panel is large, expensive, and requires incredible skill and knowledge to operate, so the process is usually reserved for bigger projects. Smaller projects can be graded without the use of such systems, meaning you can achieve great quality and professional results by using your edit suite, or a free version of the Davinci Resolve software.

Almost everything you’ve ever seen on t.v, at a theatre, or even online has been through some sort of colour treatment, but when it’s done well, it doesn’t draw attention to itself. Colour will continue to become an increasingly important step in the production process as more and more footage is shot using digital cameras, and the technology inside of those cameras progresses. Taking the time to go through this important step with your project could make the difference between something great, and something spectacular.

And hopefully, if it’s done well, your audience won’t have any idea it’s been done at all.

5 Reasons Video Is Essential For Your Marketing Strategy

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By Keith Jolie

This past weekend I was busy volunteering with the annual Polar Bear Dip for Habitat for Humanity in Toronto. Amid all the interviews, media interactions and watching around 700 people run into icy cold water,  I was struck by the prevalence of video at the event.

One of my interviews with a larger news media company was via Facebook Live, and many of the dippers had GoPros strapped to them as they ran into the water. Those videos, shared by a significant percentage of the participants, have allowed the event organizers to market the excitement of the event to a very large audience and to grow the event year after year.

Video has grown to become in many cases, the linchpin of a successful content marketing strategy. While content marketing is a bit of an overused buzzword, the concept is sound.  Marketing your business or organization involves engaging several channels in order to attract customers and as with traditional advertising, mediums like search engine marketing ( SEM ), social media marketing, and email marketing all rely on quality content to entice the customer to engage with the medium and for you to meet your marketing objectives.

If you’re not already using video as part of your content marketing strategy, here are five reasons why you should give it a second look:

1 – Critical Mass

Recent statistics gathered by Google pointed out that 53% of consumers on mobile feel more favorable towards companies whose websites feature video content. Video more than ever has reached a critical mass.  It is expected by your customers, and much like a business or organization that doesn’t have a website, not having video content will soon be seen as a sign that your business or organization isn’t professional.  

2 – Distribution Options Abound

There has never been a better time for businesses to embrace video as part of their content marketing efforts, and with both free and paid distribution options it also has never been easier.  Any business can easily (and for free) create a YouTube channel to feature video content and videos can easily be embedded in your website, sales presentations and used as part of conference displays. About 100 million hours of video are watched every day on Facebook.  With both Facebook and YouTube (Google Adwords) offering complex targeted distribution through their paid advertising models, more than ever you are able to direct your video content to the most appropriate audience and measure the results.

3 – High Definition and High Speed is Everywhere

In 2017, high speed data is a reality on even the most basic of mobile networks and most newer mobile phones now feature high definition displays and sound that would have been unimaginable even a few years ago.  This advancement has caused the global audience for video to grow exponentially. While high quality video looks best on the big screen, it is superbly suited for mobile consumption because it requires no user interaction and it can be shared easily.  Video allows a mobile user to take in a large amount of information without having to scroll through lots of text or click through from page to page and the audience is definitely there.  On mobile alone in an average week, YouTube reaches more 18+ year-olds during prime time TV hours than any cable TV network. (Google Think, 2016)

4 – It’s a Supercharger for your SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a constantly moving target with search algorithm updates being released frequently. Recent observations by SEO professionals agree that the inclusion of video on your website continues to have a very positive impact on how frequently your website appears in related search engine results pages.  The benefits come from a few specific traits of video. First – multimedia content, and graphical (picture) content has for a long time had a positive impact on page SEO. Second, video content is sharable and social media shares are metrics that feed back positive SEO signals for your page. And third – properly embedded and encoded videos with script information expand the relevant keyword possibilities for any page that includes them.

5 – Buying Decisions Are Heavily Influenced By Video

The buying decision process in both the consumer and business to business markets has undergone a massive shift in recent years.  Product and service information that was once only available from sales staff can now be readily accessed from a wide variety of sources including review sites, best of lists, and industry publications. For businesses and organizations, ensuring that your content is front and centre during that critical research stage of the buying process is more and more important. With 68% of YouTube users (70% in Canada) indicating that they watched YouTube content to help them make a purchasing decision, the importance of ensuring that it is your message that they receive in that video becomes even more magnified.

While video isn’t the only element of a content marketing solution a business needs to employ, there is a strong argument to be made that most businesses should be prioritizing video as part of their marketing strategy. To find out more you should also check out our video called “Why Video”.  

Double Barrel Studios can offer your organization guidance as you consider video – give us a call, and let’s get talking.

Double Barrel Podcast: Episode 2 ‘Why Story?’

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At Double Barrel, we’ve had the pleasure of working with people from all types of industries.

They all come to us with a need – a new business or program or product they need to promote – and almost everyone recognizes the importance of telling a compelling story. Inevitably, though it comes time to put pen to paper – and that, my friends, is where everyone struggles. When you have so many things you need to say, how do you even begin?

Luckily for us, the craft of storytelling has been around for as long as we humans have roamed the earth. And over hundreds of years of refining of this craft, writers have developed a very clear methodology when it comes to keeping your audience engaged while still getting across the things you need to say.

In our SECOND installment of the Double Barrel content series, we’ll walk you step-by-step through this methodology, outlining the top 3 elements of compelling storytelling – so that you can be sure your next piece won’t fall flat. And don’t forget, we’re always here to answer your content questions. Feel free to drop us a line anytime!

Enjoy!!

PROJECT LAUNCH: International Village BIA

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Hamilton is a city in the midst of renaissance. Nowhere is that more apparent than the downtown core, where new businesses are emerging at a breakneck pace. A new company cracks open its doors seemingly every single day.

At Double Barrel, we live and work downtown too. So when the International Village Business Improvement Area asked us to help tell their story, we jumped at the chance.

Our challenge was substantial. First: to showcase the changing face of the downtown core. Second: to spur interest and get people excited to pop downtown to shop. Essentially, we wanted to get people out of their comfort zone and into these blossoming boutiques. Old habits die hard, and with so much going on for all of us on the daily, it’s just too easy to pass stores by. We admire the frontages but never actually venture inside, choosing instead to zip up to the cozy confines of our closest shopping mall.

Through needs assessments and working closely with the client, we developed the branded online series ~ My International Village. The friendly tone invites the viewer to come by and make the International Village their own. The consistent, broadcast style intro and extro let the viewer know what to expect in a style that is familiar, while each vignette focusses on a different shop and story. This allows the audience to build a personal connection to shops they might otherwise pass by without a second thought.

Overall, My International Village entertains and informs potential downtown shoppers. Through the content, the International Village BIA illustrates how the tapestry of the downtown core is changing. Every single entrepreneur has a story of their own to share, and a reason why for them – right now – downtown #HamOnt is the absolute best place to be.

Thanks to Susie Braithwaite and the International Village for inviting us to explore!

Put Your Best Flick Forward

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I was so thrilled to be asked to participate in Donna Papacosta’s Digital Communications Strategy class this past weekend at University of Toronto, Mississauga.

The students were enthusiastic, engaged and above-all-else excited to produce video pieces and test out their movie-making mettle.

I gave a presentation that went through the top tips I’ve gleaned over the past 14-or-so years of producing content, sifting down my time in print, radio, broadcast and digital to highlight some of the pitfalls and best practices to follow when determining your digital content strategy. In this case, focusing on video as a delivery medium.

From the Twitter discussions afterward it seems the class enjoyed my chat – so I decided to reprint those tips here for either students who missed marking them down, or for you – dear reader, should you be interested to find out more about how Double Barrel does what we do – and how you can implement some of those strategies in your own communications.

Enjoy!

  1. VOICE attracts AUDIENCE.
    Develop your brand’s unique identity and voice early on – then use that to speak to folks who are interested in what you’re offering.
  2. Controversy is GOOD.
    A little bit of shock value can be a good thing. People are inundated with information and grabbing attention by shaking the tree a little can be  a good thing.
  3. Editorial is EVERYTHING.
    When it comes to video – determine your editorial strategy early. Then use that strategy to ensure your dollars go as far as possible over the course of your year. Video is expensive to produce but it doesn’t always have to be – small pieces done effectively and consistently are just as useful as one $15,000 project a year.
  4. VOICE & ENTHUSIASM trumps EXPERIENCE.
    Getting into a new communication medium can be scary. You may feel unqualified or that you don’t understand enough about the production process to be effective. Stay true and hold fast to your own personal brand voice and enthusiasm will make up for the inexperience.
  5. TALENT is CRITICAL.
    From the outset of your project, reach out to the best talent you can afford. Finding great people to make something sing will pay off in the end, we promise.
  6. Comedy is HARD. But HUMOUR goes a long way.
    The pull to produce comedy is a tough one to ignore – especially since comedic videos do so well online. A badly done comedy segment, however, could harm your brand reputation. If part of your communications strategy includes making people laugh – refer to number 5 when it comes to casting, writing, filming and editing. You’ll thank me later!
  7. DIGITAL is NICHE.
    You know how there’s a million different kinds of toothbrushes at the grocery store? The same applies to content. Remember that the internet is not like broadcast. You can reach out to very specific niches and provide content that speaks JUST TO THEM. Done well, this means that you can target with pinpoint accuracy your ideal viewer. Don’t be afraid to dive deep on subject matter.
  8. KEEP it SHORT.
    Online attention spans are.. well.. fleeting. If you made it this far I’m impressed. Be ruthless in the edit suite.
  9. BUILD on EXISTING AUDIENCE.
    Lastly – when developing content look to people within your organization that already have a social media presence for talent. Are they active on Twitter? Do they blog? Do they have an active Facebook page? These are the things to focus on. Online content is churned more quickly than your stomach on the Tilt-A-Whirl.. you’ll need all the help you can get to reach as many people as possible when it comes to distribution.