DIY, Educational, Fun, Tips & Tricks

A Day in the Life: In-House Video Marketing at Red Devil & How You Can Do It Too

If you have ever watched a webcast on the subject or looked into expert articles in the field, video marketing can seem pretty intimidating. You not only are expected to promote a product or service but you have to make it engaging to an audience within a limited time frame, have decent production value, clean editing, and a well planned campaign to market it on the Youtube or Google Display channels.

When these essential video marketing checkpoints are listed, rarely is budget or experience taken into account. The encouraging truth is  that when time, budget, or experience are tight, small-scale, in-house video marketing can still be a reality. Of course this level of video marketing will be very basic and limited in comparison to top companies with nearly unlimited resources, but it is still effective for creating buzz about a product or informing customers about product application and benefits.

Being that I, an intern at the office, have only participated in the production of a handful of very simple videos and still have much to learn, I hope this piece will be taken more as an encouraging story of how video marketing is possible for even humble resources and expertise with a few tips thrown in, rather than an all-and-out guide to professional video marketing. I also intend this to be a more in-depth look into how Red Devil has approached production advertising and video marketing.

The First Milestone: Getting the Right Camera

(Image owned by oneslidephotography.com)

First of all, when it comes to video cameras for this particular purpose, it is best to have in mind what editing application or software you will be using to give a finishing touch to your videos. This is even more crucial than the resolution or visual specifics in my opinion, especially for the initial corporate camera. This is due to the tedium and sometimes complete incompatibility that can result from a camera that doesn’t sync up with your editing software or computer.

We use a very specific editing program so I had to find a camera that explicitly promised to work with this software. Surprisingly, many cameras could only suppose or generally claim to work with popular editing software so it may take reading into reviews, blog posts, forum, or other sources of web community input and experience with each camera to confirm its application.

The second priority was finding one that had a quality built-in microphone system and several sound modes. Red Devil really needed a camera that could be multi-dimensional and perform several roles where external equipment would typically be needed. Mikes and sound stabilizers can get pretty expensive.

Within these specifications, I was able to narrow the choice to two cameras. The marketing department ended up going with one that was perfect for the context of high quality, low budget, in-house video marketing because it is capable of up to 200x digital zoom for up close product shots, it has an easy to use touchscreen interface, five sound modes for any amount of noise/narrator control you need, auto smart modes that adjust to most lighting, sound, and composition, and a great auto focus for moving shots.

Tales from the Script: Writing the Production Screenplay

I don’t follow any formal system for the Red Devil scripts. This is mainly because so many re-writes and trimming happens in the beginning that simplicity and clarity are better to keep track of spoken lines and editing notes. The most exposition will most likely be in the production notes which are for the purpose of planning out what a scene will accomplish visually and what editing will need to be done. The production note also tags which editing note belongs with which scene. Here is an example of what this looks like: [Production]: Scene 10- Cuts without transition to a still image (without any Ken Burns effect or zoom initialization) of a person or a group of people painting or repairing a wall. As the narrator references product information, this information is listed on screen in centered, bold, colored letters. There is a large still image of the Patch & Prime spackling just under this font. 

When it comes to the content of the scripts, there is usually no storytelling involved, but rather a focus on what a product is capable of and how to use it effectively. This is actually a very appropriate approach for a limited amount of production resources. Video marketing with a high degree of cinematic storytelling with a clear conflict, action, and resolution is best for a medium-large budget because actors, animators, professional screenwriters, high-end editing, or outsourcing to video marketing production houses may be required to get the end result that will attract and engage an audience on web video channels. This is not to say that it is impossible to get creative on a limited budget, but it may be more of a challenge then an informational approach.

Within the scale of basic product information and application pointers, including official product ad-copy at the right points can help. This could be general things like “easy cleanup” or what materials an adhesive can be used on. These points may be reiterated at the beginning and end of a video to drive home the selling points of a product. Here’s another example, [Narrator]: Scene 10- What I love about it is that it reduces indoor air pollution, accepts latex or oil-based paints, and cleans up easily with water.The middle of a video is usually the best time for demonstrating the correct application of the product or going in-depth into what differentiates our products from competing products or methods.

As I stated in the beginning, there will be many rewrites involved in video advertising and marketing, so do not get too attached to one particular version of a script. Product info that was relevant last month may be obsolete next week. Towards the close of production, I usually have about three versions or more versions of a script. The original, the revised, and the narrator’s version of the script.

Capturing the Magic: Filming the Video

(Image owned by rinteractive.net)

This is actually one of my weak points and I’m fortunate to have really supportive marketing superiors in the department that help me to adjust a shot and setup the composition of a scene correctly. What I plan to do in the future and what I highly recommend that aspiring, non-experienced video marketers like myself practice, is putting together thumbnail sheets or panels (like a comic book) of each shot that needs to be captured. Each thumbnail should effectively capture the composition of a shot needed for the intended impact or message being communicated. If the correct composition of a shot as scripted is confusing even at this point (as it can be for me) you can use example pictures from the internet as an example if they are relevant and close to the intended shot ideal. You could also have your supervisor or superior verify your thumbnails several times before shooting takes place. This will make setting up a shot that much easier and effective as well as prevent wasting time and camera memory on throwaway shots.

In addition to this prep for production set-up, it is a good idea to have several copies of a list of production materials needed for the shoot beforehand. The key here is to think ahead on every level you can think of regarding what is being shot and how that can be accomplished. It is also a good idea to consider worst-case scenarios and variables or mistakes that may occur.  In general, this list will include in-shot product materials, application/product context materials, set design materials, camera set-up materials, and clean-up/or touch-up materials. I wouldn’t recommend stepping a foot towards your shooting location without double-checking the list and gathering the materials to be used.

If your editing software doesn’t include an option for turning live shots into still images, make sure you capture as many still shots of the overall script context as possible. There will be many times where a relevant still image can complete the needed overall processing and transition time of a video as well as clarify meaning.

It also helps if your editing software has audio layering capabilities, because this will allow you to shoot audio and video separately. This is not the only way to approach shooting and layering audio, but it makes it easier to edit and organize these files later on, helps the narrator/actor’s focus, and gives it a quality finish. In addition, this makes it easier to augment poor quality line readings without disturbing the overall video flow.

Lastly, don’t forget to adjust your camera’s capture features to appropriate levels for the environment you will be shooting in (florescent lighting, sunlight, etc.), desired audio focus (100% sound pickup vs. dictation audio feed), or scene composition (extreme close-up, movement, stabilization, digital zoom, etc.). As an alternative, your camera may have a reliable auto-adjust for simple videos.

 

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Educational, Home Maintenance, Tips & Tricks

Home Winter Woes & Their Prevention: Part 2

So you’re strolling along your driveway, minding your own business, when the sole of your shoe catches a slick sheet of ice and you end up on the other side of town with a bad headache and a heart bent on retribution (Old man winters has it coming!). Okay, so maybe tripping up on a bit of ice isn’t the end of the world, but it this winter characteristic along with other cold-weather perils, can be a safety hazard and major irritation. Below, a continuation of winter woes and prevention tips is listed.

 

 

 

Snow Laden or Icy Sidewalks & Driveways

 

(Image owned by idratherbewriting.com)

 

 

Obviously, you can’t expect to prevent snow or ice from occurring naturally (and if you can, I salute you, because you are most likely an X-Men), but you can prepare your walkways to some extent to tolerate the inevitable elements. To start, fix small damages, like cracks or chipping, from freezing rain and snow before they morph into serious destruction. It’s also a good idea to start sealing your sideways and porch steps as early as possible, using a quality masonry & concrete acrylic sealant. Sealing maintenance extends the life of your concrete walkways as it fills in the porous openings that can absorb water, which can freeze and cause damage.  When winter precipitation occurs, avoid using sodium chloride/salt to melt down the snow as this will also damage the underlying concrete. Instead use calcium chloride which gets the job done damage-free.

Winter Storms

 

 

(Image owned by http://www.vosizneia.com)

 

 

As mentioned in the previous section, you can’t actually prevent a storm at its source, but you can be extra prepared for spontaneous, hindering winter storms with a survival kit. This survival kit should have quantities pertaining to about three to four days of health, comfort, and safety. In addition, the kit should include a working radio, water, medicine, food, seasonal items (blanket, flashlight, long pajamas, etc.), as well as entertainment (books, cards, board games, etc.). It’s best to keep this kit dry, as portable as possible, and updated throughout the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference

 

Solomon, Christopher. “6 Winter Home Perils: How to Stop Them Cold.” MSN Real Estate. MSN, n.d. Web. 30 Dec. 2013. <http://realestate.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=26325795&gt;.

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Educational, Home Maintenance, Tips & Tricks

Home Winter Woes & Their Prevention: Part 1

It may be the time of year “when the world falls in love” but that doesn’t keep mother nature from throwing a curve ball or two when you least suspect it. Before you take another bite of aunt Grelma’s fruit cake and watch another marathon of holiday films, you should make sure your home can resist the elements effectively. Below, common winter home issues and suggested tips for prevention are listed.

Tree Branches Falling on the House

 

(Image owned by thisoldhouse.com)

 

 

Fallen trees and tree branches are capable of extreme and costly destruction. To prevent this occurrence, it’s best to check your branches for cracking, V shaped limbs (which are less sturdy and prone to breaking, and any branches that hang near the roof. It may be that you just need to do a light pruning around the perimeter of your house or it may be severe enough to require a professional. When ice and snow storms start to hit town, it’s best to “bounce” your branches with a rake to loosen up any coated ice and snow. This will prevent excess weight from exacerbating the problem.

Ice Dams

 

 

(Image owned by wikipedia)

 

 

Indoor heating keeps us all warm and cozy during the winter months but the escaped heat from it causes the upper part of the roof to melt any lingering snow or ice, which gathers into the eaves of the roof. This gathered water then freezes into a dam and the consequential water within the dam entrenches the roof shingles, causing damage.  The first step to preventing this is to simply check your gutters and make sure they are draining properly before any snow or icy weather hits.  This may require cleaning them of any obstructing debris or buildup.  The second step involves preventing heat from moving into the attic and heating the roof. You may want to seal up (using a multi-purpose sealant) any open air paths between the house ceiling and the attic or increase ceiling/roof insulation. Over the course of the winter months, it is best to keep snow off the lower four feet of the roof with a roof rake.

Chimney Fires

 (Image owned by mavenrestoration.com)

 

 

Chimney fires are not only damaging and costly, but can also be fatal. This problem usually stems from the buildup of unburned materials or creosote, that move up the flue, get stuck there, and eventually catch fire. Unfortunately, the prevention for this peril requires a professional chimney sweep inspection annually in addition to recommended regular cleanings. In addition, only use wood with reduced creosote buildup, install a solid fireplace screen, and have a fire extinguisher handy in case of emergencies (water extinguishing can damage the fireplace further).

Frozen Pipes

 

 

 

 

Every year, millions of homes are ruined by pipes that freeze and burst. This can mean hundreds of gallons of water damage that can be costly or impossible to fully repair. To prevent this chaos, start by insulating your exposed pipes with mainstream foam wrappings or even newspaper and sealing any air leaks around vents, pipes, and electrical wiring that exit the house with caulk or insulation (Try Red Devil’s Window & Door Acrylic Caulk). Then, disconnect all hoses and turn off (if possible) all water supply to the outside faucets. After the water supply is turned off, the faucet should be left open to prevent any internal water from freezing. When winter weather hits, open cabinet doors under the bathroom and kitchen sinks to allow heat to be allocated to the wall pipes, keep the garage door closed, and avoid setting the thermostat below 55 degrees fahrenheit.

Reference

 

Solomon, Christopher. “6 Winter Home Perils: How to Stop Them Cold.” MSN Real Estate. MSN, n.d. Web. 30 Dec. 2013. <http://realestate.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=26325795&gt;.

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Educational

Alternative Heating Options

In the chilling winds of winter, the home should be a toasty, comfortable retreat. However, in the name of saving money, many are turning to heating options outside of the mainstream natural gas or oil. This includes wood stoves, masonry heaters, pellet stoves, and wood-fire boilers. Below, the options are defined and the advantages and disadvantages are briefly covered.

 

 

Wood Stoves

 

A wood stove is essentially a box supplied with firewood that generates heat, while the gases and smoke are expelled through a flue.


Advantages: Saves money. Adds to  overall home atmosphere.

 

Disadvantages: More potential pollution than any other option. Limited heating coverage. High maintenance.

 

 

Masonry Heater

 

A masonry heater or Russian stove is basically a heat box surrounded by masonry, allowing short bursts of fire to radiate through the mason material long-term.

 

Advantages: One of the most efficient or clean heating methods. Long term heating capacity for very little input or wood resources.

 

Disadvantages: Very expensive. Very heavy (may require reinforced flooring).

 

 

Pellet Stove

 

Don’t let the “stove” term fool you. This is really a fuel method that involves small pellet sized segment of compressed wood, cardboard scraps, and husk waste.

 

Advantages: Very efficient. Less messy than other methods. Less maintenance involved.

 

Disadvantages: Pellets aren’t widely available. Expensive. Uses electricity. Not as many cost savings as other methods.

 

 

Wood-fired Boiler

 

A wood boiler is a large placed in the interior or exterior of your home that heats water and distributes it through your home’s radiator or baseboard heaters before being recycled and rewarmed.

 

Advantages: As effective as gas and oil heating. Wide heating coverage (great for big houses). Capable of up to 90% efficiency. Less maintenance required.

 

Disadvantages: Expensive. Requires extensive set-up/installation. May require EPA certification depending on the state you live in. Lacking aesthetic value.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources

 

Solomon, Christopher. “Heat Your Home with Wood: 4 Options.” MSN Real Estate. MSN, n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

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Home Maintenance, Tips & Tricks

Must-do Fall Projects

Forget spring cleaning! Detox the stress from all of your leftover home improvement projects before the holidays and rest easy. Get out your check list and take note of some of the projects below that may have slipped your mind.




Replace your Windows





You may need to trade out your old, inefficient single layer windows for a double paned, filled, or spaced window. This will increase your savings on the heating bill for winter and increase overall comfort.

 

 

Paint your Exteriors



 


Paint is very sensitive to extreme temperatures so it’s a good idea to get any crucial exterior painting done before the weather dips too low. Any applications at 50 degrees or below is not recommended as it can disrupt the texture, tint, or dry time of oil-based and latex paints. If you’ve recently painted an exterior, it might be a good idea to add an extra coat or perhaps a weather-proof sealant to ensure protection against seasonal snow, ice, and wind damage.

 

 

Repair your Roof

 

 


You will want to take care of those roof leaks before winter hits or else ice damming may occur. Ice damming is the build up of ice to the point where an obstruction against water movement is created. This trapped water can lead to ceiling and roof damages, mold and mildew, and higher heating bills as the water compromises the insulation.

 

 

Power Wash your Exterior and Windows

 

 

 


Mold and mildew is attracted to grime and bacteria so it’s best to power wash your exteriors thoroughly before the weather gets too extreme for you to be outside.

 

 

Seal Gaps and Add Insulation

 

 

 


Prevent the cold drafts that are starting to drift in by sealing or re-sealing your walls, doors, and windows and adding insulation to the attic. This will also save money on your heating/energy bills.

 

Have your Furnace Checked Out

 

 


An inefficient furnace could lead to a frozen or damaged pipe which could affect your overall fuel supply. Not to mention, if the furnace gets messed up, you’re going to be without heat or basic comfort. Really, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t stay on top of this.

 

Wash your Carpeting

 

 

 


Deep cleaning your carpet in early fall is ideal because you will avoid having to ventilate the drying carpet and your home under extreme conditions such as hot, stifling air or winter-chilled, freezing wind.

 

Clean and Repair your Gutters



 

 

 


Your gutters are what guide excess water and debris away from your precious home so it’s important that you make sure they are in tip-top shape before winter ice damming or ice leaks can occur.

 

Repair your Driveway and Walkways



 


The compression of the cold that is arriving will only serve to expand or further mutate existing cracks. This is unsightly, inefficient, and dangerous so get it taken care of as soon as possible.

 

Winter-proof your Sprinkler System



 


Just as the winter cold has the potential to damage internal furnace pipes, the exterior sprinkler pipes are in danger of being damaged. Have your sprinkler professional winter-proof your sprinkler system with hose bibs.

 

 

 

 

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Tips & Tricks

Fall Fireplace Optimization

With the chilly weather blowing in and the rich, color transformation of the leaves, it’s finally starting to feel like Fall. This means more sweater shopping, heavy jackets, hot cocoa, and of course, spending all day by the toasty fireplace with a trashy novel. It’s best not to put off updating and polishing your fireplace because you never know when you might need a warm picker upper or, perhaps, an effective way to get rid of that possessed Ouija board. Read on for some simple tweaks that will make your fireplace the heart of your home again.

 

Repair your Firebrick Mortar

 

 

 

 

With the rapid temperature changes it is exposed to, overtime the mortar can deteriorate and fall apart. In addition to not being a very pretty sight, this leaves bricks open to damages and overall hearth integrity weakness. To set things straight, get a mortar compound similar in makeup to the current mortar (this can be achieved by having a mason specialist come in and analyze), chisel and wash out the old or damaged mortar, fill in the gaps with your mortar compound, brush off excess mortar compound, and let dry.

Install a New Mantel

 

 

 

Believe or not, you don’t have to be stuck with your old school mantel forever. There are plenty of modern styles available as well as salvaged mantels that can be refurbished. It’s just a matter of assembling the mantel pieces, dry fitting it to your fireplace, then securing the cleats. The hardest part will be picking out just one mantel style. Have fun!

Frame your Hearth with Tile

 

 

 

 

It can make a big difference in the overall hearth composition just to add some tile as a transition between the carpet or rug. This also frames and draws the eye to your hearth. There are many styles of tile to choose from but remember to choose a durable one that can withstand the heat.

Tile, Stone, or Granite the Fireplace Surround

 

 

 

 

This is for the overachievers out there.  A coat of fresh paint and some gloss may do the trick, but if you want to go the full mile, you can completely tile the fireplace surround. But please keep in mind that this is expensive, time consuming, and may require the help of a professional so this isn’t exactly a simple fix. It’s a great option, if you like the look of stone-veneer or granite-slab fireplace surrounds as well.

Install a Gas Fireplace

 

 

 

This will cut down on the amount of tending and cleanup you need to do exponentially as well as maintain overall room temperature. It’s a dramatic change but it just might be what you need to make your fireplace the ultimate family hangout setting.

Add a Fireplace Insert

 

 

 

 

This is another option for maintaining room temperature efficiency. An installed fireplace insert will prevent furnace-heated air from escaping.

Add a Mantel Pine Board

 

 

 

Warm up a drab fireplace with wood board accents and accessories. It will also give the living area a more natural, cozy appeal.

 

 

 

 

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DIY, Fun

DIY Pet Bed Projects to Try

In honor of pet gratitude, the best DIY pet bed projects have been gathered for your convenience and enjoyment. Show your sassy cat or loyal dog the love with these pampering crafts! The best part is many of them recycle or repurpose previously used furniture and accessories. Factors like time investment required, supplies needed, and source material are provided.

 

(image owned by Handimania) 

 

Source: http://www.handimania.com/diy/sweatshirt-pet-bed.html

Time Investment: Low

Supplies: Scissor, thread, needle, measure meter, pins, pillow, used sweater, and a piece of blanket.

  • It doesn’t get much simpler or lazier than sewing an old sweatshirt onto a pillow. This is thrifty, fun, and easy enough that you’ll be left wondering why this hasn’t become an international craft phenomenon that outfits everyone with a chill cushion, from squirrels to endangered tigers.

 

( image owned by voodoomolly.co.nz)

 

Source: voodoomolly.co.nz

Time Investment: Very low. Like, seriously, it’s an old drawer bottom and a rolled up blanket.

Supplies: Old drawer bottom. Rolled up blanket. It’s getting redundant now. Oh wait, actually a hand sander might do the trick on some of those rough edges. I recommend Red Devil’s coarse/medium sanding block. It can be used wet or dry and gives fast, smooth results.

 

If you’re ultra tight on cash, supplies, and time, this may be the pet bed for you. And it’s surprisingly quirky and cute for what little work you put into it. Just don’t get carried away with quick, cheap repurposing like this and start making tissue boxes into litter boxes or toilet paper rolls into dog toys because that would be sad….

 

 

 

(image owned by kolchakpuggle.com)

 

Time Investment: High. It takes about an hour to set up and another hour or so to freeze up.

Supplies: Kid-size air mattress or inflatable pool toy, 32oz. rubbing alcohol, 1 bottle dish soap, 32oz. tap water, small funnel, superglue (Red Devil King Kaulk is a potent choice), and…patience (according to the source author)

 

It might not look that cute, but the nifty part is the cheap cooling insert. Dogs have it rough (It was really tempting to use ‘ruff’ so I deserve an award for pun restraint) in the summer as we all know with their perpetual fur coats and need a little refreshment outside of the water bowl. Indulge your pup or kitty with some much needed chill time and try this one out! 

 

 

 

(image owned by SalvageShack)

 

Time Investment: Very low.

Supplies: An old suitcase, folded blankets, small pillows, old table legs or props,  and fastening materials (again, Red Devil King Kaulk adhesive is great for these sorts of projects). 

 

One of the best ways to get two opposed pets to live in harmony is to get them accustomed to each other’s scent. One of the best ways to get the scent exchange going is close sleeping quarters! Bunk-bed style! This idea doesn’t have explicit instructions or a formal DIY setup but the picture is pretty explanatory. This is one step up from the blanket in a suitcase idea.  

 

 

 

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