Remember when it was good enough to be good at something and make a living doing only what you loved to do? We don’t either. One of the many things we learn when we take the huge step of making our passion our career is that there’s a million ways to go about it and a million more things to learn in the process. The good news is that the tools are all available and with a little patience, intuition and experimentation, there’s a lot of fun to be had creating your own media. You don't have to be a photographer or have expensive gear. A little imagination goes a long way. We’ve certainly had a lot of fun marketing in our own way and we’d like to share a few experiences that we hope you’ll find interesting and informative.
This 2017 Halloween video was done with a torch in Steve's garage and edited quickly in Hitfilm
In this highly visual, increasingly digital world we live in, a decent camera and understanding of how to work it is a small business owner’s best friend. At Wintercroft, we are a much smaller team than you might imagine, so professional product and lifestyle shots are often not viable as they can be prohibitively expensive and time consuming. Once you’ve obtained a decent camera, learn how it works, have fun experimenting and taking it around with you trying shooting in different environments using different techniques. There’s also so much you can do with a phone camera or tablet and with Facebook and Instagram increasing the focus on “stories”, there's an expectation for the material to feel more behind the scenes and not necessarily polished or slick.
Here's an early Unicorn Pendant product photo - sometimes all you need is a bit of paper and some nice light
Getting your initial image captured as close to finished as possible will certainly save you time, but there are many intuitive and accessible editing tools available free online that don’t involve you being a pro to operate. I use Pixlr for basic cropping, resizing and lighting edits every day. For banners and images involving text I go to Canva which is a powerhouse media generator for small business with all kinds of templates tailored for different social media platforms. Video is more involved, but the reward in interaction is always worth the effort. You don't need expensive editing software. We use the free version of Hitfilm and find it incredibly useful. Video can require many resources to produce, so we've found slideshow creators such as Motionden handy for turning static images into moving, film-like media.
Here's a cool little advert we made using static images in Motionden - It always helps to discard the stock music and add your own if you can though - in this case, Steve's Moogs at work
The more you play, the less it feels like you're working. I realise Wintercroft is a mask company, so we have a bit more freedom than a law firm, but creating media can and should be fun. We're marketing in an environment that rewards individuality and unique brand identity. When Steve designed the Sound Reactive 3D-Printed LED Mask, we decided to go ahead and make-up an imaginary robot company for the marketing campaign. I donned a lab-coat, got my synths out and polished up some of my dodgy high-school film class acting chops. Steve shot the video on his camera, edited it in Hitfilm and I added sound effects from my Manther synth...
Playing a faux-robot company corporate mouthpiece and tapping into our love of 80s' Sci-Fi made for a fun day at work
We love creating narratives and characters for Steve’s masks and this has led us to creating new kinds of projects and products from doing so. Creativity begets creativity, birthing new things to share with the world. One example came from Steve’s mum clearing out her attic. We were kids in the 80s’ so seeing all those LEGO, Transformers, Action Man (or G.I. Joe if you’re a Tennessee boy like me) toys again was such a trip. Next thing I know, Steve is shrinking down his mask designs to fit his Minifigures. Any excuse to get the old toys out will do, but this was one with purpose. It was a blast setting up photo-shoots with these old familiar favourites and it created something unique that resonated with our builders.
Shooting white product on white is really difficult, but it can be done with a smart lighting setup and no expensive gear is needed. The issue is that you can't set your camera to correctly expose the subject and the background at the same time. To make sure both are exposed correctly, you have to physically separate the subject from the background, so that you can light them individually. There's plenty of Youtube tutorials on how to do this, but here is Steve's variation:
Crop away the unwanted elements and viola - an awesome, eye-popping product shot is achieved
We hope this little behind-the-scenes piece has been fun and we can't wait to try new things and share the results. Ideas always out-way the perceived budget and gear limitations. The reward for doing a lot with a little is ultimately satisfying and we believe it adds to the value and individuality of the media. This is a journey that we've been through and we are not trained photographers, filmmakers, or marketing experts. We're learning as we go everyday.