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.  

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 Design A Basketball For March Madness In Illustrator

March Madness, also known as the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, is the greatest post-season in all of sports. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. This time around, I decided to create a logo that celebrated it’s return.

The concept I had was a basketball in the center with brackets feeding into it. I started with the basketball since that would be centerpiece. A lot of things can be made in Illustrator simply by positioning the right shapes in the right places. I started with the circle. Once I applied the right amount of stroke on the circle path, I copied the circle twice. I positioned the two additional circles so the bottom and top curves, respectively, would line up like they are seen on a basketball. The two crossing bars were applied and positioned to complete the center image.

Cutting away the portion outside of the center was done in three steps:

  1. highlighting everything thus far and doing Object > Path > Outline Stroke
  2. drawing a new circle on top
  3. applying Divide Objects Below and deleting everything outside the main circle.

Step 1 was necessary because I used Stroke to create the weight. If I had attempted to draw the circle and Divide Objects Below in that state, the cut would have been incorrect. I didn’t want the blank center to count as something to cut. The circle(s) must be counted as rings and not full circles.

Cutting stroked circles vs. Cutting circle outlines.

The brackets were pretty easy. I just drew one bracket with the desired weight and copied the positioned the rest. I added the text “March Madness” in the center and used “Unite” Shape Mode in the Pathfinder window. I like to unite the vector paths to make sure there aren’t any small white border lines separating the different layers. Uniting the paths helps ensure that the concept is seen as complete and not an assemblage of parts.

After finishing this and posting on my social media, I saw an interesting thread. Carrington Harrison posted a March Madness style bracket of Kanye West’s best songs – the #KanyeMadnessBracket. Immediately, I started working on a Kanye version of my March Madness concept. I kept the same brackets on the outside and created a simple Kanye West illustration. I used a Kanye photo as reference and made the center image. I started with the head shape and worked on everything fitting within and around it.

Those glasses were chosen because they are iconic and easily recognizable as a past Kanye staple. I played with the colors and even made a graphic for my personal #KanyeMadnessBracket Final Four.

Big events breed big, creative ideas. Glad I was inspired to design a couple of ideas to add to the fun of the season!

~b.

What I’ve Learned About Commitment, Consistency, & Time

Time is the most precious resource. I have friends who have full time positions but also pursue passion projects and other purposeful endeavors after work. So, they know the power of time management. I am far from a master of time but I have learned the power of scheduling time to work on my designs, videos and blogs. You’ve heard a million times that we all have the same 24 hours each day. It’s an immutable fact. But sometimes we get trapped by the idea of having to do everything in that 24 hour period. That trap causes you to think, if you don’t accomplish everything on your 35 task long to-do list, you’re a failure. That fear of failure can keep you from attempting anything at all. Start with one 30 minute period and one task to complete.

Start.

“Without commitment…”

Doing weekly blogs and weekly videos first requires commitment. The commitment is the state of being dedicated to a cause or activity. It’s the initial determination. Denzel Washington, in his acceptance speech at the 2017 NAACP Image Awards, stated that “Without commitment, you’ll never start.” You have to first discover within you what you want to do. Preferably what you want to deposit into the world for the benefit of others. I knew I wanted to do more. I knew I wanted to give more than just what I did at work and for freelance clients. I wanted to share as a way to help people understand design and give insight into the world of graphic design, branding and content creation. I also wanted to practice my craft and get better in as many phases of creativity as possible. It’s important to maximize the potential I have and inspire others to do the same. The better I get at designing and communicating, the better help I can be to others in all aspects of my creative life.

“Without consistency…”

Consistency is not easy. Multiple times I’ve done the 100 Day Project, where I designed a logo every single day for 100 days. I committed to the project and wanted to see it through. But, somewhere in the middle of the project, I hit a wall where I realized just how much I’ve committed too. Consistency is about showing up every day. The improvement and desires I expressed in the previous section are only achieved with consistent, purposeful practice. It doesn’t have to be perfect each time. Denzel Washington says, “Without consistency, you’ll never finish.” We all have to power through those “I don’t feel like it” days. We are responsible for the kind, quality and amount of good work we do. There are more people than you think counting on, appreciating and benefiting from your consistency – “your showing up moments.”

One hour of focused time on one task, building something you’re passionate about, is better than no time spent at all. Commit to your purpose. Consistently work towards being better at it.

Life would be easier if I were to just go to work and go home. But much less fulfilling. Take and use the time you have to deposit as much of your gifts and talent as possible into the world.

Keep working. Keep striving.

~b.

Bonus: Denzel Washington’s 2017 NAACP Acceptance Speech

How To Create A Logo For Super Bowl 52 Like The Logos of Old

Last year, I talked about my dislike for the decision the NFL made to standardize the Super Bowl logo. I was a big fan of the personality shown in the old logos. So, I decided to start a design series in anticipation of the then-upcoming Super Bowl 50. I continued that with my Super Bowl 51 design. This year, after much struggle and many deleted concepts, I arrived at my version of the Super Bowl 52 logo.

Super Bowl 52 will be held at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. So, the very first thought I had was to try to incorporate the unique shape of the stadium architecture in the logo design. Deciding how to incorporate the shape proved more difficult than anticipated. I mistakenly tried to jump right into Adobe Illustrator and play. After failure and frustration were achieved in vector form, I took a step back and decided to go to pencil and paper. Sometimes you have to just stop and start over instead of trying to force a square peg into a round hole – especially, when you’ve created an obscene amount of layers with no solution in sight.

Wikipedia
So much failure in vector form.

Once I recalibrated and created a new concept on paper, I felt a lot better about the possibilities. In 2018, I’ve pledged to do more pencil and paper work – not just for rough ideas, but drawing full concepts before opening Illustrator. With the Super Bowl 52 concept, I finished my idea and then analyzed it. I drew guides on the drawing, which helped me see how I would want to construct this on the computer. It is important to determine as much as possible before opening Illustrator. The drawing, with guides for construction, proportions, and angles, helped give me clarity before assembling the vectors.

The hardest part of designing these Super Bowl logos – actually, logos in general – is achieving something I feel like could even stand in the same room as those that have come before. I’m not comparing myself to other designers, positively or negatively. It’s about the work. It’s about creating something that has a worthwhile polish that will appreciated and accomplish the goal. I was constantly looking at the Super Bowl logos that have come before, while reviewing what I had done for 52. I arrived at something I felt comfortable enough showing to the public.

~b.

How To Create A Graphic Design Video Show With A Cool Name

In 2018, I embark on a new creative journey. Towards the end of 2017, I decided I wanted to produce more video content on a consistent basis. I began working on a new video series to premiere in 2018 called “Run The Layers”. Run The Layers is a show created because I thought it was a cool name and I love Adobe Illustrator (+ the entire Adobe Creative Cloud) and making logos. The purpose behind the show is to take the viewer on a journey on how designs are created. I want to break down all the layers, figurative and literal, within pieces of graphic design.

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