Archive | April, 2013

Incorporating Vine into your Communication Repertoire

30 Apr

What is Vine?

Twitter launched Vine in January. This new app allows users to create and share six second looping videos. (Think animated gif.) The clips can be incorporated in a tweet or posted to Facebook. Vine is a great way to add visual content to social media.

Users create six second videos just by tapping the iPhone/iPad screen. (Currently the app is only available for iOS devices.) The Vine app lends itself to creating some great stop-motion/time-lapse clips. Additionally, it is simple to use, and there is no editing. So users are either happy with what they create, or trash it and start over. You have to get it right in one take.

Linking Vine to a Twitter account makes creating and sharing the short clips very easy. While there is not an option for any editing, the clip is also saved to the user’s camera roll; Vine creates mp4 files. Here is a link to the original vine clip.  https://vine.co/v/bF76nig3bmq 

vine

oragami vine clip

It’s easy to get started. Here’s how:

  1. Download the Vine app.
  2. Create a Vine account, either linking to your Twitter account or sign up using your email.
  3. Tap the screen to start the video recording. Tap again to stop the recording. (According to one user, she was able to get 120 taps in one six second video.)
  4. The status bar at the top shows how much video has been recorded and how much time is left.
  5. When you finish, either use all six seconds, or click on the green check in the lower right corner. Then select Next.
  6. There is an option to add a caption and a location.
  7. Choose to Post to Vine, Twitter, and/or Facebook.
  8. Done.

Some points to consider when creating a vine clip:

  • Avoid trying to cram too much into that six seconds.
  • Avoid too many camera angles; it can make the viewer feel sick!
  • Too many shots/points of view dilute the message.
  • Try to keep the device steady while filming. Consider mounting the iOS device, using a Gorilla tripod for example.
  • Remember that Vine records audio as well. Audio may not be desirable with some clips.
  • Try to give the clip a descriptive title; six seconds is not much time to make your point. Use all the tools available to you.
  • Keep it simple; you need to get it right in one take.
  • Pay attention to your lighting.
  • Profiles and videos on Vine are public, so anyone can see them.
  • If you create a video and choose not to publish it, the only way to access it is through your device’s library or camera roll.

Vine is a simple tool; it’s easy to use and can add interest to social media.

Understanding Photos and Resolution: a Brief Primer

11 Apr

As a graphic and web designer, I frequently work with photos, both digitally (for the web) and in print. Many of the photographs I use come from everyday users snapping a quick pic with their cell phone or a point and shoot camera. But if users don’t have some understanding of resolution and pixels, images captured this way may be unusable in a particular medium.

So what is resolution and why do printed images need a higher resolution than those displayed on the web?

Pixel dimensions measure the number of pixels across a photo’s height and width. Resolution is measured in pixels per inch (ppi). Resolution is basically how much detail the image holds. The higher the resolution, the sharper the image.

A printer is a high-resolution device. Generally, for printing an image a resolution of 300 pixels per inch will yield a clear image. Sometimes even 240 pixels per inch will produce an acceptable print.

A monitor, unlike a printer, is a low-resolution device. 72 ppi is the standard for digital images. That is why you cannot successfully create a sharp print with an image pulled from the web (unless you make it very small).

Another consideration with images is the file size. For web, a smaller file size will load faster. If we have roughly three seconds to capture a user’s attention, pages need to load quickly. Since file size is directly related to the pixel dimensions of an image, the higher the resolution, the larger the file size. So one could use high-resolution images on the web, but they would be very slow to load.

Another consideration when processing images is that different file formats also contribute to the size of an image. (Different formats use different file compression methods; compression can also mean loss of data.)

A good rule of thumb is this: shoot the image in the highest resolution your camera will allow. One can always crop an image, but you can’t create detail (additional pixels). This way, the image can be used in print or digitally.

 

Image

Communication through Social Media

5 Apr

There are numerous options when it comes to social media outlets, and new ones appear all the time. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, and Tumblr are just a few of the options for communicating across the internet. While it may be enticing to link multiple social media accounts together, such an arrangement is ill-advised. Accounts get hacked all the time, and if all of your accounts are linked, the possible damage is multiplied.

Social media has multiple uses, and while many individuals use social media to interact with friends, most businesses and organizations use social media in some form as well. Many businesses use social media channels to engage customers and offer customer service. These online tools and websites foster communication and community, and offer vast amounts of information. Due to the sheer volume of content, users need to selectively filter the information.

Facebook and Twitter are two of the easiest platforms to use. Accounts are free, and online help is easily accessed. Both will allow users to share photos in addition to text. Due to its abbreviated format, (140 characters), Twitter tends to be more fast-paced than Facebook; information becomes “old” very quickly.

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