Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Enabling Pinterest on Your Website

Pinterest has been getting my attention lately. Pinterest allows you to graphically bookmark or "pin" photos and videos on a website and organize them into folders called "boards". The social networking aspect comes where you follow other's boards and "repin" content to your own boards. Users can also surf a content stream of different predetermined categories such as diy crafts and food and drink. The most popular Pinterest account belongs to Power of Pinterest Book with 28,000 followers. That's a pretty paltry in comparison to the most popular twitter or facebook

After launching in 2010, Pinterest has managed to capture and hold onto a strongly female demographic. According to Mashable, 68% of Pinterest users are female with 27.4% of the all users in the coveted 24-34 age range. If you are a business that sells products for women then you should absolutely implement Pinterest in a big way on your website - your competition is.

The biggest reason that a business should actively engage in Pinterest is inbound links. Every time someone pins or repins your content from one of their friends an inbound link is created. Search engine ranking gives a lot to weight to inbound links.

Pinterest integration can be incredibly easy to implement but must rely on two separate and distinct methods of generating Pinterest interest. The first method relies on the business creating their own pins. A "look at me" kind of approach. You simply pin images from your site to your boards and then hope and pray that people will follow you. To add this to your website you just add a button.
Follow Me on Pinterest Follow Me on Pinterest Follow Me on Pinterest Follow Me on Pinterest
Here's a group of buttons that can be embedded on a website. These allow the user to follow specific accounts not unlike a "follow me on facebook" button. These, in fact, are buttons to my account.

The  second method is dependent upon visitors to your website to pin content for themselves. This "look at them" is a far better means of communicating your message. You can also add a button to a web page or a blog post to enable a user to create a pin and add it to one of their boards. Pinterest has a really effective code generator on their site to make it easy to add this functionality simply.  Here's a button that pins content on this blog post to your Pinterest account.

Users can also take "pinning" into their own hands by adding "Pin It" functionality to their browsers. This is the option that most appeals to me because currently the vast majority of things I want to pin are not Pinterest enabled on websites.

Over the course of a few months of pinning I have noticed a few problems that make pinning difficult. When trying to pin an image I get the error messages stating that there is no usable image on the pin. The fixes are not easy. They require thoughtful web design which is an art itself. Here's a list of best practices I came up with for making your website Pinterest friendly.
  1. You must have an image or a video. Pinterest cannot graphically pin something that is not graphical. Pinterest will recognize media from upload sites such as YouTube and flickr so don't be afraid to embed content from the cloud.
  2. Don't use incompatible image types. Pinterest can't pull an image from a Flash image gallery. Manually test pin all of you images to see if they work.
  3. Don't use too many images on a single page. Make it simple to pin. Don't have 25+ images come up when someone wants to pin a page. Pinterest pulls every image on the page including headers and footers. One good one is the best. Having an individual item on a page as opposed to a table full of items makes it easier too. Not only does limiting the number of images on your web page help with pinning, it is good web design in general.
  4. Avoid filler jpegs. That white jpeg you are using as a space saver because you don't know CSS will show up too.
  5. Don't use images that are too big or too small. Some images don't  frame the subject well especially if you are using your jpeg to eat up white space in your design.
  6. Go square or vertical with your images. I noticed this particularly on the mobile app. Long, thin, horizontal images look squashed and unflattering on Pinterest.
  7. Always use alternate text for each image. Pinterest pulls the alt text of your image as the description. Otherwise the user will have to fill in the details of your product and might get it wrong. Include the product name, your company name and the price. This will also help with repins of your products as all the pertinent details show up on mobile devices.
Pinterest is definitely growing in popularity. It is becoming a visual facebook. The next big sector of growth for Pinterest will be with men. Find a reason for men to Pinterest and you'll make a lot of money.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Final Cut Pro X Film Grain Plugins

Here's a short list of film grain plugins for FCPX. Some are renderable plugins while others are video files that you overlay your base video layer. If I've missed any please comment on this post.

Final Cut Pro X Film Grain Plugins

PRO8MMPRO8MM by Pixel Film Studios
Create the hip or edgy film that you always wanted to with PRO8MM by Pixel Film Studios. This collection of 25 professionally made grunge effects for Final Cut Pro X allows you to add moving textures and color burns to your film to give it that aggressive look. $34.95
Cinema Film Grain Cinema Film Grain by FCPeffects
Make your digital film complete with some real, high-quality 35mm film grain. Quickly & easily add real 35mm film grain to your next film! $39

cineLook for HDSLR’s with GORILLA GRAIN cineLook for HDSLR’s with GORILLA GRAIN
by Color Grading Central
Instantly add a filmic look to your HDSLR! And NOW featuring GORILLA GRAIN film grain, film grain from real 35mm film scans! A purpose-built plugin for HDSLR’s that imitates the characteristics and look of film called cineLook™. $99

Rgrain Rgrain Realistic Film Grain Loops by Rgrain
Make Your digital footage look organic and analog with realistic film grain plates from Rgrain. Choose from subtle 35mm to gritty 16mm and nostalgic 8mm film grain looks. $30-90

Gorilla Grain FCPX 35MM PRO PACK PLUGIN by Gorilla Grain
Instantly add cinematic 35mm grain to your footage! Featuring REAL 35mm film grain! The FCPX Gorilla Grain 35mm 1080p Pro Pack features 9 different REAL 35mm film grains to achieve that precise 35mm film look that you are going for! $69

Grain35 Grain35 by CrumplePop
Grain35 is real 35mm and 16mm film grain that you can easily add to your own footage. Just drag and drop Grain35 onto your clips to add the beautiful texture of real photochemically processed film. $199

Monday, January 21, 2013

Final Cut Pro X In-Camera Effects Plugins

Here's a list of effects plugins I have compiled for Final Cut Pro X users. Since there are so many different types of FCPX plugins I decided to concentrate this post on plugins that emulate effects caused organincally by a cameras and lenses. Also knowns as in-camera effects, these effects used to be the cause of something going wrong in the production process. Filmmakers eventually began adopting these errors in artistic ways. These lighting effects include light leaks, lens flares, glows and rays. This is in no way an exhaustive list of all in-camera effect plugins. If you see some that I have missed please comment below with a link.

Final Cut Pro X In-Camera Effects Plugins

Lumineux by CrumplePop
Lumineux is a suite of optically captured light leaks for Final Cut Pro 6, 7 and X. With Lumineux, you can quickly add light leaks to any project by simply dragging and dropping right inside of Final Cut Pro. $69
Paul Irmiter Series Dacar by CrumplePop
Paul Irmiter Series Dacar is a 2.5GB collection of light leaks and lens flares created with a 1953 Dacora Dacar lens. By simply dragging and dropping right inside of FCP, you can add subtle layers of depth to many types of footage. For Final Cut Pro 6, 7, and X. $99
HalfLight by CrumplePop
HalfLight is a collection of optically-captured light leak transitions built specifically for FCP X. Just drag and drop HalfLight onto a clip to add beautiful, organic flash transitions to your footage. An extensive set of controls allows you to customize the color and opacity properties of each transition. $49

OverLight by CrumplePop
OverLight makes it easy to apply washed-out glows and lens flares to your footage. Simply drag OverLight onto your clip to add a subtle, organic light texture that is impossible to create digitally. Extensive opacity and color controls allow you to customize each overlay. OverLight works with Final Cut Pro X only. $49

Organic Light Leaks by FCPeffects
These light leaks will help make your videos more beautiful. Available in 1080p & 4K resolutions! Companion plugin for FCP X also included! $39

Light Rays by FCPeffects
Add beautiful light rays to your videos, pictures & text in Final Cut Pro X with the Light Rays Plugin. Watch the video to see it in action! $39

Poor Man's Lens Flare by FCPeffects
Add realistic lens flares to your Final Cut Pro X videos with this powerful & easy to use plugin. No need for expensive lenses and camera filters! $39

PROLUMETRIC™ by Pixel Film Studios
Want to give the illusion that epic or stunning light rays are poking through clouds or a stained glass window? With PROLUMETRIC™ from Pixel Film Studios create beautiful volumetric lighting effects in Final Cut Pro X. $34.95

TRANSFLARE™ by Pixel Film >Studios
Flicker, flash, and flare your way from one clip to the next with TRANSFLARE™ from Pixel Film Studios™. With 70 professional light burst transitions for Final Cut Pro X, you can create endless vintage, hip, or edgy looks. $29.95

PROVEGA™ by Pixel Film >Studios
Add high-end lens flares to your FCPX project with PROVEGA™. This collection of dozens of professional lens flares was designed to create realistic streaks and light spots caused by light reflecting inside a camera lens. $49.95

PROLENS™ by Pixel Film Studios
Create the cinematic masterpiece you always wanted to with PROLENS™. This bundle of professional lens plugins and video enhancing tools for FCPX will help you look like a professional Cameraman. $39.95

PROFLARE™ by Pixel Film Studios
Easily add beautiful, epic, or vintage lighting to any footage in FCPX with PROFLARE™ by Pixel Film Studios™, a collection of over 150 professional light leak effects. $29.95

Digital Heaven FCPX Transitions Pack 1 by Digital Heaven
Add a splash of energy to any production with five brand-new transitions for Final Cut Pro X. From lens flares to camera shutters and rolling film, these dynamic transitions will become an essential addition to your effects toolkit. $29.99 
Sapphire Edge Video Effects by GenArts
Introducing Sapphire Edge version 2, a groundbreaking approach to visual effects software. GenArts designed Sapphire Edge to enable time-constrained videographers to easily create the best look for their project in the least amount of time. $299
mLeaks by motionvfx
To use mLeaks in your production, simply drag the leak into your timeline, make sure you place the clip on a new layer above your current footage, select the suitable blend or composite mode and you're done. $49
mFlare by motionvfx
mFlare is the most advanced multi-platform plug-in for designing and animating realistic lens flare effects. $119
mBurns by motionvfx
mBurns is a collection of 50 film burn effects for your favorite video editing suite. $49
Light EffectsLight Effects by NewBlue
NewBlue Light Effects gives you maximum control over post-production lighting effects for your video. Create soft glows, harsh strobes, shimmers, flickers, sparkles and blinks that are difficult to capture in camera. $49
Light Kit Pack 1.0Light Kit Pack 1.0 by Luca Visual FX
This bundle reproduces lighting effects such as flickering, regional, burn and flashing light. Other plugins like Multicolor Gradient, Multicolor Vignette, Vivid Touch and Stylizer offer new ways of stylizing images and ambient light.  $49

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Color Timing Instruction by Hollywood's Best

Color timing is the art of enhancing the look of motion picture footage. Every frame of every movie you have ever seen has been meticulously tweaked by a color timer. Even such Hollywood notables as Howard the Duck, From Justin to Kelly and the perennial classic Showgirls had the great color timer talents of Dennis McNeillBob Putynkowski and Jim Schurmann, respectively. Money that was better spent than on the writers.

Color timing or grading is mostly a corrective measure. Continuity is lost when a sequence of poorly timed shots are edited together. Imagine beautiful park-like setting with saturated greens a blues. An attractive couple is having a picnic on red and white checked tablecloth. They are truly in love. Now imagine that every time there is a close-up of the hunky lead actor the image is desaturated with heavy, dark shadows. You've just turned a love story into a psychological thriller.

In typical productions, shots in the same sequence may have been captured hours, days, weeks or even months apart from each other. On exterior shoots sunlight can change minute by minute. Other factors that effect the look of a particular shot may include different lighting, exposure, lenses or even cameras. When color timing is done well, shots within an edit become seamless. Like they were literally shot one right after in real time.

The real skill of the color timer is using color treatments to develop a mood for a particular scene. Imagine Pleasantville, Lord of the Rings or Saving Private Ryan without it. With skillful color timing we, as moviegoers, are quite at home in a small black and white town in middle America, a cavern filled with Orcs or a Normandy battlefield.

Speaking of Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg's go-to color timer is Dale Grahn. He created the subtle differences in the movie that intensified the battles and lifted the lighter scenes.  His vast filmography is quite impressive and envious. Working on such notable films as Valkyrie, Munich, Bug's Life and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Dale is a giant in the film industry. Wouldn't it be great to intern with Dale for a few months to learn his secrets? His magic? We could turn our footage into visual gold.

Now we can. Dale, working with CrumplePop, has recently developed a color timing tutorial application for the iPad that takes you through all of the tricks and artistry Dale has accumulated over his years in the industry. This app, titled Dale Grahn Color, is available through iTunes and retails for $3.99.

Controls on the app are simple. RGB and CMY sliders and controls for adjusting saturation and density. No trackballs or control points on a response curve.

Practice and learn techniques

You learn directly by viewing the 20 video tutorials of Dale working with an image. You can also challenge your skills by matching a shot with a master. There is instant scoring of your tests to see how far you are from master. Pretty cool. You can also upload your own image and time it to your heart's desire then post it for your friends to see.

Get instant scoring and stats. Watch Dale work with the image

If you've always wanted to update your color timing skills and hadn't yet found an easier way, Dale Grahn Color is the way to go. It's as easy as pausing Words With Friends on your iPad.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

EWU Libraries - Maurice Sendak Exhibit

Here's a video I created that highlighted the Maurice Sendak Exhibit at EWU's JFK Library.

EWU's College of Business - Microeconomics of Competitiveness

Here's video I created for EWU's College of Business and Public Administration. They were offering a course with material from the Harvard Business School. This piece was intended to be shown with a group of other videos highlighting EWU's successes over the previous academic year.

EWU Campus Living - Krista

Here's a video I created for EWU's Residential Life. It is a brief glimpse into what living in a residence hall means for an Eastern Student. Shot with a Canon 5D MKII and Canon lenses. Posted with Final Cut Pro 7.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Keywords: The 21st Century Personal Ad

In today's world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), it's all about keywords. Also known as metadata, metatags, or simply tags, keywords are the little slices of code that we use to define our site kind of like the old personal ads in the Nickel Nick. "SWF BBW 42YO NS ISO FS P SAM  40-55YO for FTA. LTR ONLY NO CD, MBL or LDR. 420 OK." Search engines use these descriptors to classify and rank our sites just like randy singles perused the personals on a Friday night.

Back in the day, SEO companies used various nefarious tactics to artificially bump up search rankings but Google and others have become wise to these practices and now ban sites using them. Just like using the descriptor SBF on your personal when you are actually SBTG, don't misrepresent your site. It will only cause long pauses in conversation at the Starbuck's when you meet up. Check out this article on banned SEO tactics. It explains that going crazy with keywords is a sure-fire way of getting your site ignored. Make sure your keywords actually pertain to your site no matter how much you'd like to throw in "sexy coeds" or "jello wrestling". It simply won't help.

So the question is how many keywords do you need to be effective and not put you on a blacklist. In the old personal ads, you only had a column inch of print space to sell your desperate self. On the web you can have millions of keywords. You aren't limited to simple classifiers like HWP. You can be of average build, tall enough for your body, not overweight, adequately framed and of moderate stature all at the same time. A good starting point as to the number of keywords you'll need is to compare your site with your competitors. One of the best tools for gauging your keyword strategy is This site is a gold mine of information about your own site and your competition. As an online marketer you should definitely spend a few hours on this site. It will open your eyes as to how search engines perceive your site and suggest ways to increase your visibility.

The best place to start regarding keywords on SEMrush is the Organic Search tab. Here, clicking on the Competitors button, you can see how you're stacking up. Generally speaking, the greater number of keywords you have the higher your ranking. The number of keywords must reflect the quantitly of your product or service line. If you are an online retailer and you sell ten products then having 5k keywords is ridiculous. But if you have 10k products in your line then having 5k keywords is totally inadequate. Other factors are also involved in ranking but pretty much it's that easy - add more meaningful words, get more hits.

Although the way we are ranked is partly out of our control, how WE define ourselves is totally within our control. Don't be afraid to add "VGL Domme D SWF SOH WLTM Sub J M P TS 65YO+ for B&D" to your tag list if that truly reflects your site. And frankly who want's to be home alone on a Friday night.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Wings in the Poplars

The poplar trees in my backyard are the tallest in the neighborhood. Right before dusk birds flock to their branches. Here is a triptych I created of a few frames I captured. I shot it with my Nikon D60 through a 70-200mm zoom at 1/125th of a second at f14. I shot at a slow shutter speed to blur the wings.