Creative trend: The rise of interactivity and animation

Creative trend: The rise of interactivity and animation

The days of static web pages, emails and designs are behind us, and with interactivity and animation rapidly gaining momentum over the past few years, it’s safe to say immersive content is here to stay. Offering up richer experiences for customers and users, interactive designs are proving much more effective and engaging, and creative businesses have been quick to adopt the trend and make it their own. So what kind of interactive, animated content have they been creating and how could it affect business and generate better marketing results?

Due to the fundamentals of human psychology and visual perception, ensuring the effectiveness of your visual communications is key – that’s why usability and accessibility are so important to any digital or online experience. Linear, easy to use interfaces, intelligent personalisation and specialisation should be your top priorities when it comes to UX (user experience), and in 2018, interactivity and animation have an essential role in all of that.

As a form of interactive storytelling, these mediums have proved successful with customers and are now an integral part of marketing engagement. Reportedly, 88% of online customers are less likely to revisit a website if they’ve had a bad experience, while 75% of judgments about website credibility centre on a site’s aesthetics. To top that off, a massive 94% of first impressions are based on design, showing just how important it is to create engaging content that offers something unique and different, with interactivity being the key hook to keeping customers engaged with whatever your company is offering.

Interactive creativity

We can’t have a conversation about the rise of interactivity and animation without discussing the actual content that’s being created. While some websites opt to have video backgrounds, this can lead to noticeable performance issues. To overcome this problem, web designers have begun employing background animations – known as ‘particle backgrounds’ – instead of video. Created from lightweight javascript, particle backgrounds let animation form a part of a website’s natural background, reducing load times while still engaging customers in a unique, thought-provoking way. Taking this one step further, so-called integrated animations are another way that designers have taken advantage of browser technology improvements, and are particularly useful for keeping a user engaged throughout the duration of their visit to a website. They can be used to liven up a typically dull loading screen, display something fun and attention-grabbing while hovering over a link or image, or react according to a user’s scrolling and navigation patterns.

Mobile-optimised websites are another facet of interactivity that’s taken hold in recent years. In 2016, smartphones and tablets overtook desktop to become the population’s browsing device of choice. Desktop’s portion of browsing traffic dwindled to 48.7%, while mobile web browsing’s share of the action had risen consistently since 2009. That meant that developers, marketers and eCommerce giants had to respond accordingly – they started to create sites that were just as easy to navigate on mobile as they were on desktop, if not easier. Featuring stripped back, minimalist designs, mobile-friendly sites are seen as nigh-on essential these days, making it even easier for customers to interact with their favourite brands online while engaging with products and content. Likewise, responsive design has even helped revolutionise desktop browsing. These days, websites typically respond to the size of the window they’re being viewed in, and react and resize depending on how the user manipulates them. In the coming years, designers will have to accommodate newer mediums such as AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality), which demand deeper interactivity for users.

But what do actual creatives think to these new interactivity standards and the inclusion of animation in design? We asked our resident Web Designer, Jamie, for his thoughts – “With mobile phones and tablets becoming today’s primary devices for browsing, I think responsiveness is key to giving equal experience to a user, regardless of screen size. And if you want to capture a user’s attention, animation and interactivity are great tools that draw on the curiosity and playfulness of a person’s mind.” Our Graphic Designer, Videographer and Animator, Simon, added “The presence of motion graphics on a web page or email immediately draws a user’s attention and provides an extra level of engagement. Animated GIFs or longer animated videos embedded in the page can also help get an idea across more clearly than a still illustration or icon in some situations.”

How can interactive designs and animation benefit business?

A number of industry marketing studies suggest that brands which utilise animation and interactivity (and have paid particular attention to UX design in general) will see the results. According to one study, one in three people will abandon a purchase if they can’t find the correct information, suggesting an interactive site that responds to a user’s needs and displays information more clearly would retain their custom. Similarly, visit-to-lead conversions have shown to be as much as 400% higher on websites with a better UX design, while a more user-friendly UI (user interface) has raised conversion rates by 200% in some cases. It’s also worth noting that 97% of business customers consider usability to be the most essential component of mobile apps, something that interactivity and strategically placed animation could help companies take advantage of.

If you’re more concerned with email design, polls have routinely ranked interactive emails as the number one email marketing trend. Interactive emails can consist of a news story feed, polls, navigation bars and tabs, feedback functionality and more. In 2015, Ticketmaster trialled an interactive email containing a poll. It let recipients vote for the best music video of the year, best female video, best male video and best rock video, all without clicking away from the email – and it paid off! On top of better than average click-through and engagement rates, the email received 182% more opens than standard email communications. Some companies have even gone so far as to include the ability to place orders within an email, and while few have perfected it, it’s led to an uptick in sales within these communications.

Want to get started?

Thankfully, there are plenty of tools out there to help you bring animation and interactive design in-house. A designer’s first port of call should always be Mac, which is ideal for any creative looking to immerse themselves in animation. Built with enough processing and graphical power to handle intensive animation generation, Apple hardware is perfectly suited to the requirements of modern creative workflows. If you want the best of the best, the brand new iMac Pro is fully equipped to take on 3D animation, which’ll really put you ahead of the competition!

Adobe Creative Cloud, which includes everything you could need to get started (as well as tutorials to lend a hand along the way), is essential if you want to achieve the industry-standard and remain competitive. Popular Adobe apps for animation include After Effects, Animate, Illustrator, Photoshop and new Character Animator. Simon thinks highly of Creative Cloud’s powerful tools, too – “Motion graphics are increasingly simple to produce within Adobe Creative Cloud. The timeline window in Photoshop is great for compiling short sequences, while After Effects has every tool you could ever need to produce longer, more complex animations.” You can find out more about Creative Cloud here, including features, applications, benefits for your studio, and price plans.

If you want to know more, give us a call on 03332 400 888 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Our first look at Adobe Character Animator CC

Our first look at Adobe Character Animator CC

Last month, we took a look at the latest Adobe Photoshop CC features following MAX 2017. This time round, we’re delving into Adobe Character Animator – Adobe’s new live motion capture and multi-track recording app for controlling layered 2D puppets drawn in Photoshop or Illustrator. 

Character Animator allows users to create 2D animations and bring them to life with incredible accuracy. The app actually copies your facial movements, so characters act and react realistically in real time. Once again, I caught up with Xenia – our Senior Designer – to find out all about her first thoughts on Character Animator, what she managed to create while experimenting, and how she’s planning on using the software going forward.

What were your first impressions of Adobe Character Animator?

“The first thing I realised was just how easy it was to go from not knowing anything about animation to suddenly being able to animate easily in a few simple steps – and it looks good! When you first start with Character Animator, there are pre-built options that take you through basic face animation so you can get to grips with it. There are preset characters too, so you don’t have to create your own from scratch in Photoshop or Illustrator first – you can just get started right away. When you click on a preset, it opens up in Photoshop as well as in Character Animator so you can customise it and replace elements.

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I think it would take a long time to create a character that’s really beautiful in Photoshop, as they’re built in individual layers. As far as I can tell, that’s how Character Animator knows how to target different body parts for animation, whether it’s eyebrows, eyes, nose, arms or whichever. And if I edit a preset animation in Photoshop, it’ll automatically update in Character Animator.

Character Animator screenshot 1

The app uses the webcam footage and audio from your computer to animate various points on your face. First, I had to set a rest pose by looking at the monitor with a neutral face, which helps the animation respond better to any facial expressions.”

What did you create during your first try of the app?

“Well, when you open an initial template, one of them is a blank face. When it loaded up in Photoshop, I experimented with customising the background and eyebrows. I left the mouth and eyes as they were – they require a bit more work and I’d need to capture lots of different facial expressions for Open, Close, Left, Right and more, and as it was my first time, I didn’t want to get too much into them just yet. Once I’d saved my creation in Photoshop, it loaded up in Character Animator and I started animating it with my own facial movements and voice.

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I noticed that it isn’t quite as intuitive or responsive as I expected it to be – there appears to be a slight delay and the character missed my mouth when it opened a couple of times. However, having looked a bit more into settings and options, it appears that you can tinker with things to make animations much more responsive and accurate. To be honest, I was genuinely surprised by how quickly I picked it up. All I did was watch a few official Adobe tutorials online and follow the instructions in the app. The best thing is that Character Animator does exactly what it says on the tin, and works exactly how Adobe say it will – I’m very impressed overall. It means that people who aren’t very experienced with animation and apps like After Effects can achieve a good standard with minimal skill, knowledge and time.”

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What are you excited to do with Character Animator in the future?

“Personally, I’m looking forward to making my own story and animating it! Thinking about future work though, I think it will be fun to bring a dull project to life with animation without adding too much to my workload. I noticed that Adobe have additional preset characters available for download, so I’ll definitely be experimenting with those when I can. And the app lets you add animated characters into live streams that respond to your facial movements in real time. That could be great for a future social media live stream or something like that.”

If you’d like to find out more about the latest Adobe Creative Cloud updates, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email adobe@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

A day in the life of… artist, illustrator and lecturer Jo Berry

A day in the life of… artist, illustrator and lecturer Jo Berry

We sat down with freelance illustrator, artist and lecturer Jo Berry to find out about her work in the field of scientific imaging, what she’s working on right now, and the technology she uses to bring her creations to life…

What have you been working on recently?

I’ve been working with scientists a lot over the past few years. And I’m working on some different case study projects right now with five different research institutions. One of them is Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg. I went over there last September to work with them in their laboratory, as I’m really interested in microscopy and advanced imaging. So what I’ve been doing is going into different labs, observing research scientists in action and participating in scientific experiments over a range of different subjects.

A couple of years ago, I went down to the Natural History Museum and I worked with their electron microscopes to examine natural objects such as butterfly wings and radiolarian – lots of things that were really, really tiny and you could only see through an electron microscope. I’ve been doing quite a lot of work with the images and data that I obtained there.

I’m also working with the University of Nottingham. I’ve been working with the med school there for a number of years, collaborating with their cell signalling and pharmacology department. They also have a top of the range SLIM (School of Life Sciences Imaging) department, where they image all sorts of biological cell samples to find out how they operate. They’ve been working to find out more about the heart, diabetes and obesity. So I’ve been taking film and static images of scientists at work and collecting a range of data to create new interpretations of science and art-data visualisations.

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How do you use creative technology like Mac or Adobe Creative Cloud?

The scientific department at the University of Nottingham has PCs, so I don’t use Macs there. However, at home I have two Macs – including a brand new one – and an Apple laptop, and I used Macs while I was working in Sweden. For me, working on Mac feels more natural and it’s just something that I’ve gotten used to. The only thing I’d like is a bit more flexibility for the programs that I use to be able to move across PC and Mac.

At the university, I take the information and data I’ve gathered and load it into the scientific software they use on their PCs, and then I export it so it can be used in Adobe software. I mainly use Photoshop to crop and to layer, and I spend a lot of time doing digital drawing in Illustrator. I do my drawing very specifically as I do a lot of laser cutting – so it’s done for the purpose of being laser cut or exported into another 3D program. However, I love the simplicity of these drawings and see them as artworks in their own right.

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What aspect of digital design and drawing are you interested in?

I’m really interested in the pixilation that is part of the imagery that comes out of these scientific computations. Of course, they look like really slick, beautiful images but they’re actually made up of hundreds of thousands of pixels. So I’m interested in simplifying the pattern that you get with the different colours and layers of these images. In Adobe Illustrator, I’ve been using squares and rectangles a lot recently, and I match them together with Pathfinder. I do this to create intricate drawings that are sourced and created digitally, and then can be moved into another program to be reprocessed as laser cut images at a later date. I take a long time drawing, and I aim to be able to show real depth and intricacy in the images. I’m also interested in making things that combine science and design, and creating something that is another interpretation of science.

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You mentioned your work with film earlier. What does that involve?

I capture moving images of cells, then export them into Quicktime and use them to make stills. But I make movies, too. I’m doing a lot of work with Premiere Pro at the moment, and I’m looking to doing even more of those sorts of projects going forward. I’m currently studying part-time for a PhD, so I’ve been documenting what I’ve been doing while I’ve been going into these labs with a handheld Panasonic camera. So, I’m getting all of this data from these experiments – still images and film – and I’m trying to put them together so I’ve got footage of scientists actually working. Then I’ve been combining this footage with these beautiful, moving scientific images to create a sort of montage documenting exactly what I’ve been doing and observing.

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What has your experience with Premiere Pro been like?

It’s quite simple and I find it a bit like putting together a collage of sorts. But of course, even after you’ve sorted out your timeline, you’ve still got to do the audio to go with the images. I think it just takes time to sit and do it, and learn it all properly. To be honest, everything I’ve ever learned on a computer I’ve done by just getting hands-on. I also like to learn software based on how I think I can work with it.

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Could you tell me about your work as a lecturer? 

I lecture in illustration at Birmingham City University in the department of visual communication. I teach illustration to first and final year students and I also train them in Adobe Illustrator. Obviously, I really like working in a cross-disciplinary manner as I’m interested in both drawing and technology, and there are opportunities within the department to do that. I enjoy finding out how you can use a computer and digital programs to create things such as drawings, movies and whatever else. Jo_Berry_Image11

What technology has had the biggest impact on your work as an illustrator?

Adobe. Working in Illustrator has had a profound effect. About ten or fifteen years ago when I first started working in Adobe Illustrator, that completely changed the nature of my work. At the time, I was doing an advanced research fellowship at Loughborough University, and I was trying to make light drawings in unusual ways. I was making light boxes where I was drilling holes into perspex and lighting them. But then as soon as I started working in Illustrator and I could laser cut, everything became so much more sophisticated. It moved away from craft, and became design. I really liked the purity of Illustrator, because you can work in a very linear way with shapes and Pathfinder, and include the computational source material.

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What creative and design trends are you thinking about as we head into 2018?

I don’t follow trends – I’m not really bothered about them. I mean, I read and follow a lot of different things, and I’ll go to exhibitions and people will say “are you thinking about doing this” or “have you read this or that”, but I think you’ve got to find your own individual voice. Of course, this involves research and a design process, but it’s important to really think about what you want your work to be about. And that’s what I encourage my students to do. I tell them to come up with their own ideas and concepts, and not to copy anybody else or be too heavily influenced. I suppose we’re all a bit like sponges – we soak everything in, but it really is essential to find your own voice while grounding it in knowledge.

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Exhibiting regularly and widely throughout the country and internationally, Jo’s work is highly regarded, with pieces in the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), Arts Council England (ACE) East Midland Collections, Nottingham University Medical School and Zeiss, Munich. Residencies include the Florence Trust Studios, London, the Natural History Museum, London and Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham University.

joberry.co.uk 

If you’d like to find out more about about any of the creative technology mentioned above, give us a call on 03332 400 888 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook. 

Our top five budget products for creatives

Our top five budget products for creatives

Looking for new tech for your team but shopping on a budget? From MacBook Pro to Wacom tablets and more, here are five great value products that’ll get the job done!

1. 15″ Touch Bar MacBook Pro

16GB RAM, 2.7GHz quad core i7 processor, 512GB flash storage, AMD Radeon Pro 455 2GB graphics.

Perfect for both at home and in the workplace, and running all the creative applications you could need, this powerful ex-display MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is highly portable and can be easily plugged into a display when you want to get into some more serious work.

Save £670!

£1549 (£1858.80 inc VAT)

Shop now

2. Wacom Intuos Pro Paper Edition

Up to 8192 pressure levels, built-in Bluetooth, customisable ExpressKeys.

With this creative pen tablet from Wacom, you’ll be throwing your mouse away and never looking back. The Intuos Pro Paper Edition is great for creating, and accurately emulates the feeling of drawing on paper. It’s ideal for those who frequently work with Adobe Creative Cloud, and is a handy tool for navigating around your files and desktop.

£316 (£379.20 inc VAT)

Shop now

3. EIZO 24.1″ FlexScan EV2455 display

1920 x 1200 native resolution, supports USB 3.0, VGA, DisplayPort, HDMI and DVI-D, ultra-slim 1mm bezel, LED-backlit IPS LCD panel with 178-degree viewing angle.

Ideal for viewing at different angles as part of a multi-monitor setup, the EIZO FlexScan EV2455 is a display that’s easy on the eyes and budget, and delivers optimal performance, quality and reliability for creatives.

£299.79 (£359.75 inc VAT)

Shop now

4. Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud is the industry-standard creative solution, letting you create amazing content, collaborate across desktop and mobile with powerful apps and syncing tools, and make sure you’re always one step ahead of the creative curve. With immediate access to new products, the latest features and exclusive updates as soon as they’re released, you can make sure you’re always up to date too.

Single app plans start from £303 ex VAT.

Shop now

5. Canon EOS 750D DSLR with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens

The Canon 750D is one of the best DSLR cameras available for beginners, and is perfect if you want to avoid the cost of buying a separate camera and camcorder. Packing advanced features, it’s capable of great quality video and capturing a high level of detail in a variety of scenarios.

£599 (£718.80 inc VAT)

Shop now

For more information, get in touch with the team by calling 03332 400 888 or emailing sales@Jigsaw24.comFor all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Receive 90 days’ free Creative Cloud with Wacom tablets

Receive 90 days’ free Creative Cloud with Wacom tablets

Thinking of forking out for a Wacom tablet? Now’s the time! Jigsaw24 customers will receive a free 90 day Adobe Creative Cloud membership with the purchase of selected tablets between 1st October 2017 and 31st March 2018.

Wacom and Adobe are teaming up to help creatives hit the ground running as soon as they buy a brand new Intuos Pro, Cintiq, Cintiq Pro or MobileStudio Pro tablet. With three months of free Creative Cloud, users will be able to access Adobe’s entire collection of creative apps for Mac, PC, smartphone and tablet and get to work right away. That includes 29 separate desktop apps and 10 mobile apps, including favourites such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Premiere Pro. Customers will also have access to exclusive Adobe services such as Adobe Stock, Typekit and Behance absolutely free.

Ideal for mobile working, collaboration and productivity, Creative Cloud allows users to sync, share and create on the go thanks to Adobe CreativeSync, which powers Creative Cloud Libraries and lets you access your favourite creative assets anywhere, any time. Throughout the 90 day period, you’ll also receive new features and updates as soon as they’re available, plus in-app tips to help get you started if you’re new to Creative Cloud.

Which Wacom tablets are eligible?

Wacom Intuos Pro range

Intuos Pro Medium

Intuos Pro Medium Paper Edition

Intuos Pro Large

Intuos Pro Large Paper Edition

Wacom Cintiq range

Cintiq Pro 13″

Cintiq Pro 16″

Cintiq 13HD

Cintiq 22HD

Cintiq 27QHD

Cintiq 27QHD Touch

Wacom MobileStudio Pro range

MobileStudio Pro 13 (i5 128GB)

MobileStudio Pro 13 (i7 256GB)

MobileStudio Pro 13 (i7 512GB)

MobileStudio Pro 16 (i5 256GB)

MobileStudio Pro 16 (i7 512GB)

How do I redeem my free membership?

Just follow these simple steps:

1. Purchase your chosen Wacom tablet from us between 1st October 2017 and 31st March 2018.

2. Register at www.wacom.com/en-gb/register to get your personal voucher code before 15th April 2018.

3. Redeem via Adobe. Visit www.creativecloud.com/redeem.

For more information about this limited time offer, visit Wacom’s website.

Want to find out more about our Wacom offering? Visit our online store, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and gossip, follow us on Twitter @WeAreJigsaw24 or like us on Facebook.

Our first look at the latest Adobe Photoshop CC features

Our first look at the latest Adobe Photoshop CC features

Following their MAX conference in October, Adobe released the latest version of Photoshop CC. It offers a variety of new features for designers, digital photographers and illustrators, and our design team were eager to get their hands on the newest iteration of the app and put it to the test. 

With Adobe touting the effectiveness of the Curvature Pen, Stroke Smoothing and Variable Font functionalities, I sat down with Xenia – our Senior Designer – to hear her thoughts on the enhancements, how she’s been using them and how they’ve affected her creative workflow.

Curvature Pen tool

“The Curvature Pen tool is really useful, and it’s taken the hassle out of drawing curved shapes and straight line segments. I like that it lets me plot basic points in a rough shape initially, then move and adjust each point when needed – and double clicking provides an angular point rather than a curved point which is helpful, too.

Overall, I’d say it’s much easier to use, intuitive and accurate compared to the regular Pen tool, and its helped streamline my Photoshop workflow by cutting out the time consuming, unnecessary tasks that used to make drawing simple shapes kind of awkward. Plus, the tool makes it quicker to create paths without losing accuracy, which is ideal for when I’m cutting out certain elements of photographs.”

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Stroke Smoothing (Pulled String Mode)

“I’ve enjoyed using the new Stroke Smoothing functions in Photoshop, particularly Pulled String Mode. My favourite thing about it is that it’s given me more control over the brush tool, which feels much smoother and creates less jagged edges – it’s a way better experience. As you use it, you can see the brush rotate and twist carefully, making the brush strokes much more accurate and precise, and cursor movements inside the ‘smoothing radius’ don’t leave a mark on your design. This has allowed me to create softer curves and rounded elements. It’s nice because it means I can put more time and care into my work, and helps me get things right on the first try without having to redo things.”

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Variable Fonts

“They’re okay, but not as useful as I expected them to be. Variable Fonts let you customise certain attributes of fonts with sliders, such as weight, width and slant, although some Variable Fonts only let you adjust one or two attributes rather than the whole lot. And while this has still been helpful, not every font is as ‘variable’ as I had expected, meaning you’re limited to Adobe’s predefined list of Variable Fonts.

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The list appears to be quite large, but is actually just made up of slightly different variations of the same few fonts. If I’ve needed to use a Variable Font, I’ve just found myself looking for one in the list that most closely resembles the font I initially wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I like that you’re able to quickly toggle different options with fonts, and it’s helpful for when I’ve been experimenting with quick layouts and I’ve wanted to see how a font may impact the overall design, but I think it could use some work. With a bit more development, it could be a really handy feature and I’m excited to see what Adobe do with it going forward.”

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If you’d like to find out more about the latest Adobe Creative Cloud updates, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email adobe@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

 

Trouble at the Old Mill IV: IT – Behind the scenes

Trouble at the Old Mill IV: IT – Behind the scenes

MacBook Pros have been disappearing all over Jigsaw24 HQ, and there are reports of a mysterious red balloon making its way around the office. Three intrepid team members headed down to the depths of the basement store room to take on the ghoulish clown causing all the trouble…

We had a blast filming the latest instalment of Trouble at the Old Mill, starring our very willing junior copywriter Joe as the titular clown. Aside from a rubber mask, some face paint and a bright yellow raincoat, our kit list for filming the video featured a range of great products from Canon to Adobe. Our director and in-house videographer Simon let us know what was used to create the Halloween magic…

The kit

CAMERA: Canon C100

“The C100 is nice and simple to use,” says Simon. “The controls are quite similar to Canon’s DSLRs, so setting white balance, aperture and ISO is all very quick and straightforward. It’s also pretty compact for carrying around and setting up – the camera, lens, multiple mics and power all fit in one backpack-style camera bag.

“The camcorder is known for its ability in low light, which was useful for some of those dark storeroom shots where I bumped the ISO up pretty high without the noise getting unbearable. I tried out a different picture profile for this video than I usually use for normal corporate videos. The ‘cinema’ profile is very flat in tone and desaturated in colour, which provides greater scope for grading later on.”

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“One thing that I wish this model had (which the C100 Mk II and other cameras in the range have) is higher frame rate shooting options. A couple of shots would have looked really good in slow motion, but at 25fps I couldn’t slow it down without the image visibly lagging.”

You can still pick up the Canon C100 Mk I at only £2039, or treat yourself to the C100 Mk II at only £2999, which now comes with a FREE Atomos Ninja Blade!

LENS: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Telephoto Lens

“This range of focal lengths provides great versatility without having to keep buying and swapping lots of lenses. I used the longer focal lengths (and positioned myself further from the subject) for getting shots with nice shallow depth of field, and shorter ones for fitting everything in the shot where space was restricted. At 2.8L it’s also pretty fast, which again helped in those low light situations.”

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Get the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Telephoto Lens for just £626, now with a 3 year warranty!

MICROPHONE: Sennheiser MD 46 Handheld Cardioid Dynamic ENG Microphone

“I’d never used this mic before, but my usual lapel and shotgun mics were picking up too much background noise when we were trying to record dialogue in a noisy office. Its intended use is for reporters, so it’s very directional and cuts out a lot of peripheral sound. This meant we had to position it very carefully when trying to pick up multiple voices, hence some very precarious boom setups (that actually appear in the video once or twice if you look closely…).”

The Sennheiser MD 46 is just £190 right now!

MICROPHONE: Rode NTG-2 Shotgun Condenser Microphone

“For backup, and because I had a spare channel I thought I may as well use, I kept my usual shotgun mic attached to the top of the camera and pointed at the action the whole time. I didn’t end up mixing this into the edit very much, but at low levels it occasionally added a subtle ambience when combined with the Sennheiser.”

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Get the Rode NTG-2 for just £174!

LIGHTING: Photoflex Medium Starlite Kit

“We have two big softboxes and a smaller Dedolight. I don’t really have any clue on how you’re meant to use these, but spent a lot of time aimlessly moving them around so everyone else would think I knew what I was doing.”

If you know more about lights than Simon, we’ve got the Photoflex Medium Starlite Kit for £440

 

The editing software

INGEST: Adobe Premiere Pro and Media Encoder

“One feature in Premiere Pro which I’m a big fan of is Proxy Workflow. I set the project ingest settings to automatically create proxies, so whenever I imported from the browser window into the project in Premiere Pro, Media Encoder would open and do its thing in the background. This then meant I could edit with lower resolution previews, so there was none of the frustrating stopping and starting that can occur when working with full HD footage. There’s a simple toggle switch for going between the proxies and the full res files, which I used when working on finer detail grading and sharpening.”

EDITING: Adobe Premiere Pro

“I used Premiere Pro for sorting through the source files, adding markers at points in the shots that I thought I was going to use, and started dragging clips on to a timeline. Because the video has distinct scenes, with different looks and sound requirements, I edited each one separately in a nested sequence, then lined them all up and worked out the transitions between them on a master sequence. I used a lot more film dissolve and crossfades from the Effects pane than I would on a normal corporate video to try and get the edits flowing smoothly and to accentuate the atmosphere of the scenes.”

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COLOUR CORRECTION AND GRADING: Lumetri Color in Premiere Pro

“Lumetri Color is an incredibly powerful and versatile colour tool in Premiere Pro. My process with it was to use its ‘basic’ controls to hone the white balance and overall levels so that the shot looked neutral. Then it has a set of ‘creative’ controls for giving the footage more of a distinct look.

day2_3

“After trying out a LOT of third party LUTs, I ended up using the same one throughout (but increased and decreased in strength), which just seemed most natural with the footage we’d shot and added an extra level of consistency between shots. I did all of this on adjustment layers above the source footage on the timeline so that each clip was treated the same without having to go in and apply to each individually.”

SOUND MIXING: Premiere Pro

“All of the sound was mixed in Premiere Pro too. The source footage generally needed some gain control for consistency between clips and then a bit of EQ, compression and a tiny hint of reverb. I also used noise reduction for most of the dialogue because the ambient office sounds were distracting and inconsistent between shots. Because it then sounded unnaturally quiet between lines, I mixed in a stock effect of an office environment.”

SPECIAL EFFECTS: After Effects

“Titles and a few special effects were done in After Effects. The dynamic link between the apps allows me to see the graphics I’m working on in After Effects over the video footage in Premiere Pro instantly.

“Trying to make the cloud of bats was my first experience with the Particle World effect. I think it’s more designed for small, non-descript particles that look like rain drops or suchlike, but I applied it to a bat shape I made in Illustrator and it turned out pretty much how I wanted.”

day1_2

“The clown coming out of the computer was also my first go at filming against a green screen. I tried to get the lighting even and consistent with the shot I needed to composite it with while shooting, then used the Keylight effect in After Effects. Playing around with the Keylight controls managed to isolate the clown how I wanted, but I found I still had to animate a couple of masks frame by frame to get it looking right as it moved in and out of the laptop.”

Find out more about Adobe’s great video-editing apps here.

You’ll save too… check out our scarily good savings at www.Jigsaw24.com/offers, get in touch with the sales team on 03332 400 888 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, events and hauntings, follow us on Twitter @WeAreJigsaw24 or like us on Facebook.

 

IBC 2017: Adobe reveals new tools for Premiere Pro and Audition

IBC 2017: Adobe reveals new tools for Premiere Pro and Audition

Adobe’s MAX conference isn’t until October, but being good sports they’ve joined the general IBC announcement scrum and announced some exciting new video and audio tools to coincide with the show. (They’re also live streaming demos on Facebook, if you need something to distract you from the fact that you’re not in Amsterdam.)

Adobe are focusing on four big changes: Character Animator, a VR viewing environment, Team Projects, and auto-ducking in Audition. Here’s the official breakdown:

Character Animator 1.0 is unveiled with changes to core and custom animation functions, such as pose-to-pose blending, new physics behaviors and visual puppet controls. Adobe Sensei helps improve lip-sync capability by accurately matching mouth shape with spoken sounds.

Virtual reality video creation will be possible with a dedicated viewing environment in Premiere Pro. Editors can experience the deeply engaging qualities of content, review their timeline and use keyboard driven editing for trimming and markers while wearing the same VR head-mounts as their audience. In addition, audio can be determined by orientation or position and exported as ambisonics audio for VR-enabled platforms such as YouTube and Facebook. VR effects and transitions are now native and accelerated via the Mercury playback engine.

With the release of Team Projects, Adobe has improved collaborative workflows on the Local Area Network with managed access features that allow users to lock projects and provide read-only access to others. Formerly in beta, Team Projects will offer smoother workflows hosted in Creative Cloud and the ability to more easily manage versions with auto-save history.

Adobe Audition adds flexible session organisation to multi-take workflows and continuous playback while editing. Powered by Adobe Sensei, auto-ducking is added to the Essential Sound panel that automatically adjusts levels by type: dialogue, background sound or music.

If you want to know more, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter‘Like’ us on Facebook or take a look at our IBC roundup.

We pit our senior designer against herself in a series of productivity challenges

We pit our senior designer against herself in a series of productivity challenges

Across a series of productivity challenges featuring Apple, Wacom and Adobe, it’s Xenia versus Xenia in an intergalactic battle to find out which tools make our senior designer more efficient in a creative environment. They may not be quite as scientific as a benchmark test, but they’re marginally better soundtracked.

Round one: Wacom Intuos Pro v keyboard and mouse

Can a Wacom tablet help you stay more productive? Find out whether an Intuos Pro or a keyboard and mouse can make you 150% more productive (and a lot less stressed).

 

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Round two: Apple MacBook Pro with TouchBar v regular MacBook Pro

Could the addition of the TouchBar really save you 94 hours in a year? Xenia blasts off in this challenge to see just how much of a boon for productivity the TouchBar on the Apple MacBook Pro is…

 

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Round three: Adobe Creative Cloud Libraries v Finder

Xenia faces off against herself for a final time to see just how productive Adobe Creative Cloud Libraries can make you – spoiler alert, it works out as saving you 1/5 of your design time!

 

Shop now. 

For more information on the best design technology to help you stay creative, get in touch with the sales team on 03332 409 306, email sales@Jigsaw24.com or visit Jigsaw24.com/design.

 

We’ve renewed our place on the G-Cloud 9 Framework

We’ve renewed our place on the G-Cloud 9 Framework

Big news! We’ve successfully renewed our relationship with the government’s G-Cloud 9 Framework for the supply of cloud software services and support for the fourth consecutive year. 

As part of the agreement, we offer a full range of services and support through the Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) Digital Marketplace to bolster cloud-based working across the public sector, including local government, health, education, not-for-profit and devolved administrations.

The CSS is a public sector organisation that acts on behalf of the Crown to drive savings for the taxpayer and improve the quality of commercial and procurement activity.

Our G-Cloud 9 Framework offering includes:

Cloud software services

– Adobe Creative Cloud.

– Managed fulfilment of Apple technologies and services.

Cloud support

– Apple audit services.

– Cloud help desk services and support.

– Active directory (AD) Apple integration cloud services.

– Hosted Apple management.

– Bring your own device (BYOD).

– Apple VPP (Volume Purchase Programme) service.

– Apple cloud consultancy services.

– Apple DEP (Device Enrolment Programme) consultancy services.

– iPhone and Apple Watch managed services.

– Tech bar services.

– Adobe Creative Cloud VIP programme.

If you’d like to find out more about each service and support solution, including scope, planning, pricing, implementation and much more, you can visit Jigsaw24’s section of the G-Cloud 9 Framework Digital Marketplace here.

Want to talk to us in more detail about cloud services and support, and the G-Cloud 9 Framework? Give us a call on 03332 400 888 or email gps@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.