How I Create Videos For Instagram in 2018

The Power of Video

Recently, Instagram announced their new feature, IGTV. When initially announced, I thought it would be like Facebook Watch where only the most popular & well-known creators would be able to create programming for the platform. Imagine my surprise when my Instagram app updated and I found out everyone on IG could now create long-form video content. At launch, some well-known creators and personalities had content populating IGTV, showing us what was possible. Days before the launch, I had been thinking about making more videos for Instagram and possibly making an “Instagram show” of sorts so this development pleased me.

Instagram has evolved from just photos to allowing 15 second video (which I experimented with) to allowing up to 60 second videos. Now, with IGTV, creators can upload videos up to 15 minutes with some creators being able to upload up to 1 hour. I’ve written about the power of video before and the power only increases with each new advance in tech. So, with each new advance, comes new opportunities to experiment and attempt to master.

The Process of Making IG Video

The process of designing anything for any platform or purpose begins with setting up the file. I edit all my videos in Adobe Premiere Pro. So, when I create a new sequence in Premiere, I have to make sure of two things in particular: the frame size and the pixel aspect ratio. For square Instagram video that I’d post on my regular feed, I use a 1080 x 1080 frame size. For IGTV, I use a 1080 x 1920 frame size for the vertical video format. With any video I am posting on the Instagram, I always have the pixel aspect ratio at 1.0 (square pixels).

According to Instagram’s website on IGTV:

Videos must be between 15 seconds and 10 minutes long. Larger accounts and verified accounts can upload videos up to 60 minutes long, but they must be uploaded from a computer.

Videos must be in MP4 file format. Videos should be vertical (not landscape) with a minimum aspect ratio of 4:5 and maximum of 9:16. The maximum file size for videos that are 10 minutes or less is 650MB. The maximum file size for videos up to 60 minutes is 5.4GB.

As far as filming (or using) content for IGTV specifically, I try to keep in mind the vertical video format. I either just try to keep the main content centered when filming so I can maneuver while editing in Premiere or just film vertical, which you can do naturally on your phone. I have attempted to translate some videos I already created into IGTV format from my YouTube channel. The challenge there is to not assume all the content will be seen in a vertical format. I shift video file around and get creative in editing to make sure I am presenting the visuals in a way that’s appealing and unique to the platform.

I encourage everyone who has a personal Instagram account or manages one for a brand to experiment with IGTV and video on Instagram in general. With any new feature or platform, you have to taste it and figure out how to best use it for the building and sustaining of your brand for your goals. I like that Instagram is giving creators so much on one app. I don’t necessarily see it as a YouTube killer but it does give creators another option and avenue. I have enjoyed my IGTV experience thus far and am looking forward to producing more content on it in the future.

~b.

An Illustrated Tribute To Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer

From the moment I laid eyes (and ears) on her “Tightrope” music video in the year 2010, I have been in love with the creative tour-de-force that is Janelle Monae. She is my favorite music artist of any genre, any time period. She and the Wondaland Arts Society produce music that is so creative, exciting, soulful, meaningful, and exquisitely crafted. I devour any and all music that she releases or is featured on. Recently, she released her latest marvelous body of work, Dirty Computer, and I was inspired to create illustrations based on each of the marvelous songs on the album.

Similar to my 100 Songs Project, I listened to each song as I attempted to illustrate a corresponding visual concept. I sketched out some ideas that I thought would work for each track. From each sketch/idea, I went into Adobe Illustrator and came up with something I thought would speak to each track. Along with listening to each song on repeat while designing, I used the lyrics and breakdown from the website Genius as well as her own interactive tracklist with her listed inspirations. Some of the illustrations are also inspired the accompanying emotion picture she released along with the album.

Here are the 12 illustrations I came up with for the project.

1 – Dirty Computer – This one was a minimalistic illustration of the back of my MacBook Pro with a silhouette of an Janelle Monae illustration from her “Django Jane” music video (which you’ll see featured in number 5) replacing the Apple logo.

 

2 – Crazy, Classic, Life – This is an illustration of a frame taken directly from the Dirty Computer emotion picture.

3 – Take A Byte – A microchip branded with love with a literal bite taken on out of it.

4 – Screwed – This illustration is directly inspired by the lyric – “You f*cked the world up now, we’ll f*ck it all back down”.

5 – Django Jane – I drew this from the frame in the “Django Jane” video where she pans right for the angle.

6 – Pynk – Directly inspired by the music video and the pants the dancers wore.

7 – Make Me Feel – Inspired by the shades she wore in the music video and how she danced between a man (Mars) and a woman (Venus), hence the symbols.

8 – I Got The Juice – Juice box for the win! Using the Django Jane silhouette here too.

9 – I Like That – Made my own like icon on this one. Inspired by “Told the whole world, I’m the venom and the antidote / Take a different type of girl to keep the whole world afloat”

10 – Don’t Judge Me – A judge’s gavel crossed out.

11 – So Afraid – This one was the most challenging. I was trying to figure out how to visually represent fear. So, I took inspiration from the Scream movies. I utilized negative space for the heart shaped tongue, the teeth, and the tears welling up in the eyes.

12 – Americans – A good old-fashioned American apple pie! With equal signs all over the top. Using red, white, and blue.

Tribute projects are fun to work on. I am happy anytime what I love do can intersect with other things I am passionate about. Put time into design series like this is great practice for me and a way for me share what I like with the world – like the greatness of Janelle Monae.

~b.  

How Spotify Helps Me Practice Graphic Design

One of the greatest events in the history of music was when Spotify began allowing people to upload their own feature images for their music playlists.

Probably going overboard with that statement but it still was pretty cool.

From that moment onward, I starting thinking of cool cover art I could make for my playlists. As a lover of playlist making, this added another element to one of my favorite pastimes. As a music lover and a design lover, the intersection of the two has always provided me with great joy.

Over the past few months, I have been making my Bobbie’s Music Monday playlists and sharing them on my social media. Each playlist is made up of songs that I had never heard before and really liked upon discovery. Every Bobbie’s Music Monday playlist has its own custom cover. Starting with the 4th edition, I designed a matching back cover with the tracklist for each one. Yesterday, I posted the 26th edition. I followed my usual Music Monday process with the latest.

The art for each playlist is usually inspired by one of the tracks or one of the source albums. Once I finish the playlist, I think about what I want the cover to be. The front cover is always designed first. The back cover plays off the front cover’s concept. With playlist number 26, I knew I was going to have “This is America” by Childish Gambino as the opener and “Americans” by Janelle Monae as the closer. So, I immediately starting playing with a minimalist version of the American flag. In Photoshop, I warped the shapes and then put some torn paper texture within the design. My Music Monday logo was overlayed twice: once right side up and the other upside down. I wanted to go for something that showed the American colors but warped and torn. Normally, my designs are very clean but sometimes I like to go abstract and even messy when the artistic mood strikes me.

The Music Monday playlist cover designs have been great design practice. They allow me to experiment with concepts outside of my usual work. Thanks again to Spotify for allowing me the ability to truly customize and be creative on the platform.

~b.

What I Want To Do With Content: Teach. Inspire. Reveal.

To properly execute a strategy you need to know what you want to accomplish. In my humble opinion, creating with purpose is essential to a fulfilling life. Regardless of what you are creating, you need to be aware and constantly evaluating why you’re doing it. What do you want to accomplish? This past weekend, three words came to mind and I wrote them down. I want to accomplish these three things with my work and content.

Teach. Inspire. Reveal.

I want to teach what I learn as I learn it. I believe in pouring into others as I am being poured into. Being a person with expertise means having the power to help others who want to do what you do. I want to be seen as a resource for aspiring designers as well as potential clients.

I want to inspire through the work that I share. I cherish the ability and the opportunity to be a catalyst for someone else to create. My wish for everyone is to achieve the reality of their creative potential. Sometimes that takes seeing someone else doing what you want to do. I follow numerous graphic designers who inspire me on a daily basis. I would love to one day be seen as an inspiration to someone who sees my content.

I want to reveal the process behind the work I do as a way to help people gain understanding. People who aren’t even in the design space seem to enjoy my content. They like the visual concepts and content I post on my social media. They like seeing the behind-the-scenes of what I do. That behind-the-scenes content contextualizes my designs and serves as teachable opportunities.

Through this blog, my video series, my designs, and more, I want to be an advocate for creativity. I want to do as much as possible with the skillset, resources, and opportunities I’ve been blessed with.

~b.

How To Give Team Feedback To A Designer In An Effective Way

Knowing how to give feedback to your designer is crucial to the progress of a project. When you are required to get approval from multiple people, feedback can become a sea that you and your designer will drown in. However, there are ways to navigate that sea.

Tip #1: Have A Unifying Vision

Before bringing anyone in to do work for you, make sure you have your vision and goal(s) set. The more unified the team, the better the overall project and process will go. Know the gameplan and what you’re trying to achieve. The designer is more likely to be successful when the goal is clearly defined as early as possible. Creative clarity is always important to have from the very beginning. Keep in mind that the unifying vision shouldn’t be at the whim of any one person’s personal preference but at the whim of the overall goal. This vision must be kept at the forefront of the minds of all parties involved, moving forward.

Tip #2: Be/Have A Point Person

Make sure the team selects a point person to be the main contact for your designer. This person will be the liaison between the designer and the rest of the team. Don’t let various members of the team shout changes to your designer at any given time. That could get overwhelming to the designer and make the process very choppy and unfocused. One person should be the collector of all the feedback and the main communicator with the designer.

Tip #3: Be Organized

Filter and organize the feedback for your designer. Some feedback will be repeated. Some people may even contradict each other, depending on how unified the team is (see Tip #1). In your meeting with your squad, collect all the thoughts of the people present and discuss those thoughts. Condense everything to an organized bullet point list of changes and comments. When I’m working with a team of clients, I ask for all feedback to be given at once in a single e-mail. It helps me to see it all at once and neatly itemized. I want to make all the necessary changes at once rather than change some things then get other changes later from feedback I wasn’t expecting.

Don’t let the project become another design by committee statistic. It is possible to come to the proper design solution that satisfies the team need with proper execution and communication.

~b.

3 Tips on Providing Feedback To Your Designer

Chances are the first attempt at a design solution won’t be a home run. On the first go round, I usually have no problem shooting in the dark. Sometimes, people need to see something before they can explain what direction they want to go in. Seeing something visually can spark ideas. However, the amount of time playing the guessing game should be kept to a minimum. Creative clarity is more important than creative freedom. Clarity requires proper communication. So, here are some tips on how to communicate feedback to a designer.

Tip #1: Be As Specific As Possible

Provide context. Try to refrain some simply saying you don’t like a concept. Explain why you don’t like it. Provide examples that suggest more of the direction you’d like to see the project go toward. In my client questionnaire, I included a section that asks for the potential client to provide examples (from in and outside of my portfolio) that hint at what they’d like to see.

Tip #2: Be Inquisitive

Ask questions of the designer. You may be confused about a design decision and clarity on that decision may give you a better perspective. Learning the why sometimes can change a person’s mind on a design. Be open to discussion and seek to gain insight. Your vision and the designer’s expertise must come together for the project to work. A desire to understand and a spirit of cooperation are absolutely crucial.

Tip #3: Be Honest

Be upfront about what you want. Be honest yet respectful. Appreciate the time that went into creating the concept(s) but don’t be afraid to reveal what you don’t like. We want you to be satisfied with the service we provide. We can deal with honest, constructive feedback because it makes not only the project but us better at what we do.

Feedback is necessary to reach the ultimate goal. Designers and clients must be open-minded and listen to one another.

~b.

Couple of Reasons To Seek Professional Help For Your Logo And Not DIY

What is a logo?

It is your stamp. Your mark. It represents you, even when you aren’t in the room. It is your symbol. Your emblem. It’s worth working with a professional designer to craft the right one to be the centerpiece of your visual brand identity. If you yourself are talented at logo and brand identity design, have at it! However, for those who are not skilled in those areas, you need to consult a professional.

Gain A Professional Perspective

Professionals in the design can help you see the long game. There are a lot of parts and steps to building a brand. Someone experienced in logo design and brand identity work can help you navigate the process. It’s not just the designing but the opportunity for consultation. The conversations you have with designers about your goals can be very fruitful and enriching for you personally and professionally. We are not simply tools but potential teammates. The questions creatives typically ask will refine the need you have. Your vision plus an expert teammate you can trust equals magic!

You Get What You Pay For

Experience and quality matter. If your main objective is to spend as little money as possible building your brand, you will get what you pay for. What is achieving your goal worth to you? If you are not willing to invest in you, why would you expect anyone else to? The more you put into your foundation at the start of the process, the more value will be realized and the longer it will last. If you are unwilling to spend money on your brand, that says something about how much you actually believe in that vision.

In Conclusion

What is your brand worth? Do you believe in its purpose? Is it worth making sure you do it right the first time? The best logos should be timeless, original, and versatile. There’s so much that goes into the conception and construction of such a logo. Seek out those who are experienced in crafting such so that your brand may experience maximum excellence.

~b.

The Importance of a Spirit of Collaboration & Teamwork

I prefer collaboration over dictation.

I’m not a tool. I’m a teammate. Whether you are the designer or the client, the best result comes with you are working together. Teammates value what each brings to the table and allows each other to flourish within their skillset. As a designer, I am not here to just execute someone else’s vision. I’m here to use my professional expertise to help produce the right design solution for the client’s goal(s).

Collaboration needs fluid, frequent, and effective communication. It requires and develops trust between all parties. Mutual respect of what each is bringing to table enhances the experience and amplifies the joy of the working relationship. When everyone feels valued and everyone is invested, the chances of success increase exponentially. The best work comes from the best teams and those teams are more likely to want to work together again in the future.

Designers must listen to their clients. It’s their brand/project they are investing their money in. You won’t know what path needs to be taken without conversations and research. Even though you’re the designer, those conversations could spark something within you that leads to the solution. Clients need to listen to their designers. The designers are the experts in the field you need. The designer will provide you with a professional perspective you need. Together, you can ask the necessary questions and answer them all with combined creativity and clarity.

Collaboration also occurs designer to designer. For example, let’s say there is a large visual brand identity project on the table. One designer may not have all the skills to execute the solution. Within the design community, there are specialists. An illustrator may be brought in to work with a user interface designer or a website designer. Collaboration requires you to know your strengths and being willing to trust those who have strengths you don’t.

The north star is the goal. Everything that is done is to serve that end. Put ego aside, amplify self-awareness, and value the expertise of others. Teamwork does indeed make the dream work.

~b.