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StillmotionFolderStructure
 

 
There are countless reasons why having a standard system for how you organize your files is going to save your life.

Whether you are the editor, producer, or shooter on a project, you should always keep your assets neatly organized… because there’s nothing scarier than aimlessly searching for files while on a tight deadline.

Knowing where your files are is something that will save your editor tons of time and it’ll be a huge lifesaver for your archiving process. A standard folder structure also allows you to work in editing teams efficiently, and will drastically reduce the risk of technical errors — which are ultimately going to hurt your story.

While there are certainly more exciting topics in this world than “folder structure” — this is something that we’ve found saves us hours of time in post, and many headaches.

Having a working folder structure is invaluable!

And what’s more important: having a folder structure that works for you and your team. We’re sharing ours with you because we know how helpful an example is when figuring this stuff out — but we’re not saying you have to copy our exact structure. Find what works for best for you and stick to the plan!

Here we go…

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thumbnailcollage
 

 
Doesn’t it feel great to finally upload a project?

Come up with a catchy title, add a little description, and press upload… sweet, sweet satisfaction! Walk away from the computer knowing that your film is out there in the feed for the world to see…

But hold it right there: did you just let Vimeo choose your thumbnail for you?

You didn’t…. DID YOU?

Don’t you think that you, the storyteller, could choose something better?

Yes, you definitely could.

As the storyteller and someone who has seen the film 1000 times, you know all the shots and from them you can choose the best thumbnail that makes people want to “click.”

But does the thumbnail REALLY matter all that much?…

Yes, it does!

Whether you’re uploading on Vimeo, YouTube, or whatever platform — thumbnail choice plays a big role in people’s choice to press play or keep scrolling.

There are some factors that make thumbnails more enticing than others, and it’s important to know what those are for every upload.

So… what type of image makes for a “clickable” thumbnail?

It’s hard to put the answer to that one sentence, but here’s the short version: something compelling, interesting, and story relevant.

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_DSC4447
 

 
After 23 days of non-stop editing before the Sundance deadline, Patrick reflects on the process, knowing that our documentary only became what it now is because of one thing: we went all in.

When it comes to filmmaking, I’ve never really felt like I was particularly creative… or talented for that matter.

Growing up, my father always used to say “can’t isn’t in your dictionary” and he encouraged us to always believe we could do anything we dreamed of. While filmmaking was never something that just came to me, dreaming big certainly was.

But those dreams always came at the price of going “all in.”

Here’s a quick story for you…

At 16, when I was looking to save up for my first car, I took at a job at the local YMCA. During the summer break I had several weeks where I would clock 100+ hours. I can remember looking at my time sheet at the end of the week and always feeling proud at how much I had done.

It was never particularly hard work, nor was it anything I felt particularly connected to, but I was always proud of the accomplishment of simply doing something I may not have thought I was capable of.

One shift in particular: I can remember starting at the front desk at 9am on a Saturday morning, rotating to work with the kids camp around 4PM, switching to an overnight shift in maintenance at 10PM, and then picking up another another handful of hours with the kids camp in the morning…

What reached just over 30 hours straight ended up getting me in trouble with several departments (I believe that may have been illegal…) but it was just the start in opening my eyes to what was possible when you pushed yourself.

When I was old enough to drive, my dad gifted me with a business he had started and thought would be great for me to run with. It involved selling newspaper subscriptions for a commission on each sale. We had a crew of 5-6 kids that would rotate as our door-to-door crew, and a minivan to transport everybody from city to city.

Here I was at 17-18 years old, running a team of kids selling newspapers, having to handle payroll, and acting as their guardian when we traveled hours away from home. All of this, and I’d never really read a newspaper myself, had any interest in running a business, or been particularly fond of kids.

It was the challenge to see what we could do, to see what was possible, and the ideology that had been long engrained in me…

Can’t isn’t in your dictionary.

At our peak, we sold 152 subscriptions on one magical, yet long, Saturday in the middle of summer.

At a $20 a pop, it meant the kids would get a paycheck of $500-600 cash for a few days work. I can remember having to step in and stop one of the 7-year-olds, Stephane, when he went to somebody’s door to sell a paper and ended up throwing down a $1,000 cash offering to buy the car listed for sale in their front yard.

When we became the top selling team in our region and got to meet the head of the newspaper in person, he was shocked at just how young I was. Much like my current feelings that I’m not particularly talented in the art of filmmaking, at that time I certainly didn’t feel any special gifts in selling newspapers…

We were just willing to work harder, go longer, and do what nobody else would do…

_DSC4475Mapping out the flow of the #standwithme story board in the edit bay.

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We all want to be creative.

We all want our work to be different, to get noticed, and to be appreciated. We want people to look at something we’ve done and genuinely tell us that they love it.

Above all else — we want it to be ours.

In the beginning we’ll imitate others — for a filmmaker that would mean drawing inspiration from someone we admire or even just a random video we saw and liked. For a musician, it’s learning how to play the all-to-familiar opening riff of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are”…

But once an artist begins to improve and find a niche, it’s time to take ownership and make original work. Originality is obviously great, but as a filmmaker (and often a musician) you’d be a fool to think you’re better off on your own than in a collaborative environment.

So what happens when we let go of that sense of ownership? When we step into a new space with other opinions and ideas, ones that challenge our own or add a new layer that we never knew existed?…

Well, a lot of things can happen. It can be awkward, it can be fun, it can be a terrible idea altogether…

…or it can be really special.

This is why we made a film for Side By Side, which just premiered yesterday via nofilmschool. The special, one-of-a-kind, crazy good work that comes from creative collaboration is something we’re really familiar with, and when all these great musicians went into one studio to create a record… we knew we had to be there.

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This film we made with our friend Marshall Jones recently reached a strong 315K views and counting (woo-hoo!) after being featured on Upworthy and passed around on the Internet.

There are several things that contributed to this film’s success: the magical mojo of doing free work (yes, we did this one for free too!), the “clickable” thumbnail choice, and most importantly Marshall’s incredible writing and performance.

But one other thing that really makes this memorable is the use of animation and text throughout the piece (shout out to animator Zach Daulton).

The film is simply shot, with just three angles of a single subject on a tripod — and with the animation so frequent and central to the piece, it functions as a character in itself.

While Stillmotion doesn’t use animation a whole lot in our work, we think it worked really well in this particular piece, so we want to use it as an opportunity to talk about some of the choices we made while planning for this film.

Basically, there are three major factors to think about when you’re introducing text and/or animation to a film:

  • Placement — where are gonna put it on the screen?
  • Color — nothing too flashy…
  • Font — maybe don’t use Papyrus, ok?

We’ll let you in on why we made the choices we made in each of these areas for the spelling bee piece, but before we get into that… let’s take a minute to think about why we use animation with video in the first place.