5 Tips to Prepare Your Office & Team for a Video Shoot

5 Tips to Prepare Your Office & Team for a Video Shoot

Making the decision to tell your brand's story with a video project is a great first step towards highlighting the special things about your team, but as a business owner or manager you know that team cooperation doesn't just happen because you scheduled it. There are ways to get your team and office organized to make sure that video shoot day goes smoothly.

Take a look at our best recommendations for getting ready! 

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Animation Demonstrates New Products from USA Industries in Complex Working Conditions

Animation Demonstrates New Products from USA Industries in Complex Working Conditions

USA Industries is the leading manufacturer and supplier of Piping Isolation and Testing Products, providing customers with the largest inventory of isolation and hydrotest paddle blinds on the market. Because their products are used in complex industrial piping processes, it's not always easy to show employees and potential clients their new line of products in action. So USA Industries contracted our team to help them animate a few of their new products to be shown in a typical working environment. 

Our team created the following animations using a pre-made 3D industrial environment of an industrial environment that we then modified to fit their vision. Considering the scale of the environment they required, it would have cost a fortune to animate their actual facility from scratch when really we want the audience focused on the new products and how they work. Instead we purchased a fully modeled out refinery and manipulated the areas to fit the client's needs, saving a lot of time and money. Plus USA Industries will be able to reuse this environment for other products they want us to showcase in the future.

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Master Flo Interactive Touch Screen | A Virtual Overlay for a Real-World Valve

Master Flo Interactive Touch Screen | A Virtual Overlay for a Real-World Valve

We created this touchscreen to showcase Master Flo's choke valve assembly. The concept was to have the actual valve present in the booth, and have the touchscreen display as an "overlay" on the valve basically giving the illusion that you're manipulating it yourself. We gave the ability to show a cross section of the valve and activate fluid flow at different levels to show how it can control the flow. To do this, we mounted a webcam on the back side of the touchscreen that displays through the experience so you can "see through" the screen in real time.

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Vimeo makes a few interesting hires and ROLLS OUT SUPPORT FOR 360 VIDEO

Vimeo makes a few interesting hires and ROLLS OUT SUPPORT FOR 360 VIDEO

First, Vimeo announced that it's joining its competitors, Facebook and YouTube in adding support for 360 degree video to their platform. 

Now you can upload 360 videos in stunning high quality, dig into 360 Video School lessons, find inspiration on their curated 360 channel, and much more.  

"We want all creators to feel empowered, start experimenting with new 360 techniques, and begin sharing insights," Vimeo stated on their blog. "The more we can delve into your wondrous videos, the more we can all find inspiration, and usher in the new standard for incredible storytelling."

Next, in a move to gear up for the launch of their subscription VOD service, Vimeo hired Alana Mayo, previously VP of production at Paramount Pictures, as VP and head of original content development, as reported by Vartiety. They also hired two other execs to round out the content team: Kesila Childers, previously VP of digital media at Bunim-Murray Productions, as director of content development; and Kelly Miller, formerly with Hulu, as director of content acquisitions.

While Vimeo hasn’t revealed a timeline or other details for their proposed subscription VOD offering, investors are buzzing that the company believes it can launch a compelling, Netflix-style service “at a fraction of the cost of other major competitors by virtue of the audience and content benefits conferred upon Vimeo through our existing marketplace.”

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Fun Facts to Celebrate Super Bowl LI in Houston!

Fun Facts to Celebrate Super Bowl LI in Houston!

It’s not often that a media storm like the Super Bowl comes rolling into your city, so Super Bowl LI (51) in Houston is very exciting for the Abstract Media team. 

Roughly 140,000 people are checking in to most of our city's 84,000 hotel rooms, and more than 1 million people are expected to be celebrating all around downtown. The City of Houston will have about 5,000 police officers on duty to keep everyone safe. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said about $1.5 billion has been spent on various downtown projects to get ready for the Super Bowl, including a new 1,000-room hotel and a refurbishment of the convention center.

All of this Super Bowl BUZZ made us curious about the history of this esteemed event, so we went on the search for the best Super Bowl facts and trivia to get you as excited as we are for this weekend!

Like, did you know that the first two Super Bowls were almost lost to re-taping of soap operas?
In 1967 and 1968, the big games weren't broadcasted live, and the only known footage was thought to have been erased. According to NFL Films' Steve Sabol, “they were erased in order to film soap operas”. Luckily, a single fan was found to have recorded the events, preserving the Super Bowls for posterity.

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Now Hiring! We're Looking for Ambitious Sales Talent with Desire to Sell Unique, Creative Projects

Now Hiring! We're Looking for Ambitious Sales Talent with Desire to Sell Unique, Creative Projects

We are currently taking applications for a full-time Business Development Executive to join our growing visual technology company. We are an interactive & visual media services agency, specializing in quality video productions, beautiful 3D animations, software development and design, augmented reality experiences, immersive virtual reality simulations and so much more. Our talented team can give you solutions to sell to clients that will leave the room speechless. 

Several of the technologies we offer are just now being introduced to the public and are a fit for any industry. This is a great opportunity for the right person to enter this industry well before it's peak. 

This position will be heavily commissioned to start with options for salary or draw depending on background and first month performance.

Additioanlly, you will be provided with:
Company Credit Card for Business Expenses
Free Gym Membership to Facility Next Door
Option to Join the Company's Cell Phone Plan
No Cap on Potential Earnings

This opportunity provides health insurance after three (3) months and retirement with company match after one year. The work atmosphere is casual, fun and creative.  

We are a fast-moving company of young professionals and, if you're up to the challenge, are willing to provide the right individual with a great potential to grow their career and achieve lucrative financial stability.

Experience in Sales/Business Development/Marketing Preferred. Some overnight travel may be required for this position. The right person will be able to think outside the box and is willing to work hard.

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Have You Seen Our Latest Office Expansion?

Have You Seen Our Latest Office Expansion?

Earlier this year we told you about our plans to expand our North Houston office (which we already doubled in 2015) to open another suite of offices within our building towards the end of 2016. Well check out us completing projects early! 

During 2015, our office went from 2,500 sq. ft. to 5,000 sq. ft. with the addition of a new wing for editing pods and a chic conference room for brainstorming. The extra space has been fantastic, but it was pretty clear that we were going to out grow it quickly. 

Now we are settling into another 7,500 sq. ft. to accommodate our growing team. The new 3-story extension opens up the left side of our office. On the first floor we added 3 private offices for our sales team and spacious kitchen with proper equipment for feeding our hungry crew.

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Hardware, Software, 3D Modeling… This Project Took It All

Hardware, Software, 3D Modeling… This Project Took It All

Texas Children’s Hospital is a valued client of ours, and frequently expressed to us the need for a better way to present their “naming rights” opportunities to prospective donors.

When people make charitable contributions to institutions like hospitals and museums there are typically several different “naming” tiers presented to the donor as a thank you and recognition of this person’s generosity to patrons of the facility.

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Media Trends in 2016 Continue to Favor Video

Media Trends in 2016 Continue to Favor Video

Each year AdWeek releases their Digital Content NewFronts – a robust study of digital media and marketing stats – to see what was hot last year, and where the trends for online content are heading next.

If you noticed, there’s an overarching trend in this list that can be summed up in one word … VIDEO. Whether it’s a 15 second attention grabber, or a full documentary uploaded to Facebook, there‘s no denying that video content is the preferred method of communication online.

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Augmented Reality will bring Construction Industry into the Future

Augmented Reality will bring Construction Industry into the Future

We’ve written before about the basic differences between Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR), and how those differences give each technology their own place in the content game. VR offers many great possibilities for creating content that takes the viewer completely out of their current environment, to help them see something unimaginable. However, in this article, we’d like to focus on the real-world content opportunities that lie within AR … especially for the Construction and Architecture Industries.

Augmented Reality works by overlaying stunning virtual data and imagery onto an existing physical space or object. A very basic example lies in professional football. If you ever caught a game on TV and viewed the enhance lines on the field marking the downs, then you’ve experienced AR. If you take the idea of overlaying graphics on a physical space, and apply them to a construction site, imagine creating an AR experience that renders a completed building (or step-by-step phases of construction) on any screen pointed towards the work zone.

The construction industry is already catching on to the uses of AR during the building process. The Institute for Systems Biology completed a renovation project of their headquarters a few years ago using AR models and markers throughout the building to provide full-scale perspectives of design elements and building components before they were ever built or installed. This gave project managers a unique way to look at the finished designs and evaluate the feasibility of the models before construction began.

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Businesses End Up Burned When Amateurs Create Content

Businesses End Up Burned When Amateurs Create Content

Whenever we lose a bid and the feedback is that our rates seem very high, it makes us wonder what scale that client is using to judge the price of good work. Our hourly and per project rates are on the low-end of the industry average, and we always review each bid with the team members who will be doing the work to fairly assess the hours necessary to do the project right. We also go the extra step to include access to project management software for our clients to work closely with our team and ensure the project is headed in the right direction, every step of the way. So if our bids come in so outrageously high, maybe it’s because we put more work into creating a better product than the other guys. Or perhaps the client ran an inaccurate bidding process (yes, that is possible), leading to an apples-to-oranges comparison of teams that seem to be similar … on paper.

Our statements of work are always created around accomplishing the goals presented to us, but that’s not always how other content creators operate. The other guys don’t always make a bid 100% accurate to the detail of work necessary. Often the other guys will ballpark their numbers, knowing they can just up-charge for changes later … or just take 3x the estimated time to complete the work.

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OCULUS VR GEAR LOOKS SEXY, BUT CONTENT IS STILL WHAT MATTERS MOST

With all the buzz this week about the new release from Oculus, it’s easy to get caught up in the flashy hardware that makes Virtual Reality look sexy. Once you strap that gear on, however, professional-looking VR content becomes the key to captivating people. What makes VR content good? A lot of the same principles in telling any great story …

DEFINE YOUR MESSAGE 
When you have something to say, the best place to start is with defining what that is. When you Know your story, and have a clearly defined message, you don’t run the risk of making content about nothing. This also keeps you from leaving your viewers feeling underwhelmed.

CREATE A GOAL FOR YOUR CONTENT 
Once you know what you want to say, how do you want people to react? Defining a goal for your content, will help you plan what your audience should do after they finish viewing your VR content. You have their attention, what do you want them to do?

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Pick an audience for your content, because not everyone speaks the same way. If you know who you’re talking to, you know how to speak to them.

PLAN EACH SHOT 
If you have a story in mind, what does it look like? By sketching out each frame like an individual art board, you ensure the entire piece of content is pleasing to the eye.

DON’T OVER-COMMIT YOURSELF … OR YOUR TEAM
If this sounds like too much, don’t waste your money trying to do it yourself. Hire a professional team with a portfolio of work to show you. Then, once you settle on the right team, use these check points as a guide to getting the work done right.    

WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH 360-VIDEO?

What’s better than 1 Go Pro Camera shooting the action you want to capture? Strapping 6 Go Pro cameras together to capture all the action happening in EVERY direction … it’s called 360-Video, and it’s about to become your new best friend.

GIVE IT A TRY … 

Play the video below of footage from our trip to Torrey Pine’s to film the Farmer’s Insurance Open and Shaffer Hospitality Tents. Once the video starts playing, use your desktop mouse to move around the video screen. 

This new way to create engaging content is a bit hard to conceptualize at first, and often gets confused with other forms of visual content like Virtual Reality. We took a moment to address some of the most frequent questions we receive about this emerging video technology.


6 GoPro Cameras

6 GoPro Cameras

WHAT IS 360-VIDEO?

This technology, also known as Immersive Video, is content shot in any environment where the camera captures every direction at the same time. This creates a spherical view of the space that can be moved around when viewed on any device with a touchscreen or mouse. Typically you see people viewing 360-video on a phone or tablet where the device can physically be moved in order to rotate around the video.

There are still a few issues with 360-degree video as the technology continues to develop. For example, the stitching is not always seamless. So if having top quality footage is critical for your project, you may want to consider a larger-scale VR solution.

Abstract Media 360 Video Rig

Abstract Media 360 Video Rig

WHY WOULD I USE 360-VIDEO?

This technology gives content creators the chance to visually demonstrate a large space or object that would ordinarily take a lot of images and explaining to properly show. These days, it doesn’t make sense to 3D model an entire golf course, or construction site, when a simple 360-video puts the viewer right in the middle of the action.

Blake Setting up the 360 Video Rig

Blake Setting up the 360 Video Rig

IS THIS A SUBSTITUTE FOR VIRTUAL REALITY?

No, and this is a common misconception. While VR works for 99% of projects where you want to create a visual experience, it’s not always cost effective to build exactly what you imagine. VR can often take weeks of work to assemble properly, where a 360-Camera Rig can take the same shot in minutes. Creating 360-video is a simpler process because the content of the room or space is taken all at once. You can capture a 3-minute video in 3 minutes, instead of waiting weeks for an edited VR product. In the right situation, this can be both time and cost effective.

Abstract Media 360 Video Rig

Abstract Media 360 Video Rig

IS 360-VIDEO EXPENSIVE?

It can be if you look to purchase your own equipment, but that’s why you work with a video partner like Abstract Media. We have the latest GoPro gear that sets up quickly, and takes high-quality footage. We also have a team of editors who have in-depth experience with “stitching” shots together. This is the process of aligning the seams between the end of footage shot on one camera, and the beginning of footage shot on another. This is an intricate process, and if not done correctly, could lead to your CEO’s body attached to your Marketing Director’s face.

WHAT WOULD I DO WITH A 360-VIDEO IF I HAD ONE?

Thanks to the recognition of 360-video by sites like YouTube and Facebook, it is now easier than ever to embed this type of content on your website, and share it with your online network. A short 360-video experience can make even the smallest brand look quite tech savvy.

Animation can Bring Any Process to Life... Here's Proof

We took a second to review what we’ve created for ourselves recently, and it occurred to us that we could really use a new opening animation. This project took roughly a year, by our team putting in spare moments between client work.

Our inspiration came from a few different movie studios such as Lions Gate and their intro animation. Naturally we wanted to go bigger and better while keeping it relatively short but that went out the window as we began production. The idea was to present a short and impactful story about the creation of our logo. It started with the foundry idea, we wanted to create a chaotic atmosphere because there is a common “Chaos breeds life” trope in all creation stories or events such as the birth of our planet or a star. 

As we were wrapping up production on the foundry area we were trying to figure out where to go next. We had a few ideas but we were coming up with the story as we were creating it. We didn’t want to put constraints on the project by creating a storyboard. Typically we plan every frame of animation in excruciating detail but we wanted to be a little more free spirited with this one. The crazier the idea, the better the result … right? 

We ended up going with a space-age clean-room style factory environment. We felt that it was a great contrast to the gritty and chaotic foundry environment. Think of it like a restaurant or retail store. The back rooms/ kitchens are always chaos, but everything in front of the customer is nice and presented well.

Once we decided on the clean-room concept we figured why not have it in space? Why not have the metal produced in the foundry get stomped into plates on an assembly line, then have robots pick up the plates and use them to construct the logo that we are currently in? Better yet, why not harness the power of a star to power it all then have it “Big Bang” and breathe life into the logo? So that’s what we did! 

We used a pretty standard workflow for this project. Modeling and animating was done in Autodesk Maya. Multiple render passes were created using Octane render and compositing/scene finishing was done in Adobe After Effects.

This is animation not only represents the level of animation we can do for our clients, but also the complex processes that we can bring to life. We would love to do more creative projects for our clients that are used to tell a story! I feel like we produce our best work when our team is allowed to be creative without restrictions. 

Showdown Between Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality

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Debates pitting various technologies against each other in a battle for media dominance have risen for decades. First it was 8-track vs cassette, then Beta Max vs VHS, Blu Ray vs HD. Now, the debate focuses on Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality. These two technologies take viewers on a journey to see things beyond what is in their current sight-line, but which experience is better?

Virtual Reality burst onto the tech stage recently, especially after a great showing at CES earlier this year, where all of the new technologies for viewing VR content were on display. One would think that this is lights-out for the less sexy Augmented Reality option, but we think that anyone who truly understands the differences between AR and VR capabilities would easily see the useful applications for each technology in creating content for brands.

How do Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Differ?

This is one instance where the answer lies in the name, if you just take a second to think about each word. Both technologies require that you look through a device to alter what you are seeing in front of you … just at different levels of intensity. Augmented Reality content keeps you in the world you currently see around you (for example, a car dealership showroom), but when you look through a device at certain “markers” around the room you will see some fun surprises pop up. One minute you’re looking at a car right in front of you (which you can reach out and touch), but then someone hands you a smartphone to look through and all of a sudden a dragon is bursting out from the window. Seriously, this could happen. 

On the contrast, Virtual Reality takes you completely out of your current surroundings to visit a different setting where you can interact with and walk around your new environment. VR requires that you look through a special headset that puts the specially made 3D video content all around you – no matter where you walk or turn. Once the headset is on, you could find yourself floating through space or taking a tour of The White House.

Ways to Apply Each Style of Content

Going back to the car dealership example, Augmented Reality technology is exactly what a salesperson would need to keep their potential customers in the showroom, yet still allow them to take a little trip down customization lane. Imagine being able to look at a car that is right in front of you, and then have the power to swap out the colors, or the interior, or whether that car has a sunroof. Sure beats flipping through a catalogue. On the other hand, Virtual Reality has a million ways it can go for brands that want to help their audience envision something that can’t be physically presented in that moment. Imagine a science museum that wants to help you understand how big the planets are, or an oil drilling company that needs to train new employees on equipment currently located under the ocean. We believe that VR content can have a huge impact on the way we train people to do all sorts of things.
 

How to Determine the Best Technology for Your Project

Cost is not necessarily the deciding factor for these types of projects because each can be created for relatively similar budgets, depending on what exactly it is that you want. It’s more about what you need the technology to do for your client experience. What are you looking to accomplish with your content? For a car dealership, AR would be more applicable because we want to keep that audience in the environment and just give them the ability to change options on a car that they are looking at presently. A VR experience means you want to take your audience to a completely different environment. Furthermore, VR is usually achieved by wearing a VR helmet or goggles similar to the Oculus Rift – whereas AR can be viewed through a number of different Apps using a smartphone or tablet. So you need to consider which devices are feasible for you to keep on-hand.  

 

Next Steps … 

We wrote this content to explain the differences between these two technologies to help our clients make a more informed decision about the content they need. However, all you really need to know is your desired project goals, and comfortable budget, in order to book a discovery meeting with our team. Then we can help walk you through picking the exact style of content to do the job right. Do you have to use a production company like Abstract Media to create AR or VR content? No, you could definitely hire a college intern to help you figure it out. But why pay for someone to practice making your visual content when our team has worked with this technology for years, and is ready to create it for you NOW. Also we have big fancy computers that process a lot faster than your intern’s Dell laptop.  

DON’T BELIEVE US? JUST WATCH. | ABSTRACT MEDIA IN 2016

Our New Year is off to a running start, and (as most companies do) the Abstract Media team sat down to reflect on our success in 2015 and to discuss the work ahead for 2016.

Last year our team saw growth in size, abilities, and even in the office space around us. Most especially we leveled-up our client portfolio quite a bit with the addition of the prestigious technology company Schlumberger, and the award-winning Texas Children’s Hospital.

What we did for Texas Children’s Hospital was definitely the greatest amount of work we’ve taken on to-date. As a team, we completed 1,500 hours of scriptwriting, shooting, editing, animation, and voice over work … in just 6 weeks. We think the resulting videos are simply amazing …  

Physically, our growth exploded with the doubling of our office space in 2015, and we expect to open another suite of offices within our building towards the end of 2016. During 2015, our modest office off of Magnolia Circle (just North of Houston) went from 2,500 sq. ft. to 5,000 sq. ft. with the addition of a new wing for editing pods and a chic conference room for brainstorming. This year we plan on adding another 7,500 sq. ft. to accommodate our growing team.

Last year was a good one for Abstract Media, and we anticipate 2016 to be even better. That is why we added a new page to our website for news, updates, and even commentary articles from our team. We wanted to provide our friends, clients and fans a way to keep up with all of our action. Beyond the new construction we mentioned before, some of the big things we will be doing as a brand in 2016 include new clients, new projects, and even plunging into new technologies for content creation.

First, we are sending several team members to San Diego to capture footage of the Farmer’s Insurance PGA Open at Torrey Pines on behalf of an exciting new client. We will be taking images and video of the course, the tournament play, and the hospitality areas, so we will get to know this event inside and out! Be sure to look for samples we’ll be posting on social media. 

As a visual media company, we immerse ourselves in the technological innovations for creating content. With that said, it is widely known that the upcoming year is going to be ALL about Virtual Reality, particularly after the VR explosion that just took place at CES (see more on our recentFacebook post for more on that discussion).

This year our team is dedicating a portion of our time to answer this question: how can we help brands make consistently good content for VR? Particularly for our Oil & Gas clients, we see a lot of use in VR content for training and research development. However, we don’t want to limit ourselves to the industries we are comfortable with – why not explore VR content in a lot of applications? If we put our minds together, what could we do with VR content for a commercial construction business, or an architectural engineering firm?

We offer many online resources for you to learn more about Abstract Media and what we build for our clients. However, we’re also a team of living, breathing humans who enjoy a good conversation over the phone (or in our fancy new conference room we told you about). Don’t hesitate to reach out for an exploratory chat about your potential project!