Donna Huffman, Media Communications Specialist at McGohan Brabender, is a pro at blending Vyond with Premiere. Her creative and experimental video skills are why she is our January Video Hero. Vyond’s Video Heroes are customers whose videos are creative standouts and that we think other Vyond video makers can learn from.
Here is Donna’s innovative video across three screens that caught our attention.
We caught up with Donna to learn about her video-making process, usage of Premiere, and tips she recommends to new video makers. But, before we deep dive into her process let’s meet Donna and the rest of the McGohan Brabender video team:
What are the Vyond videos used for? Are you working towards a specific goal?
DH: I work for an insurance broker. We use these videos for clients, prospects, and employers that are looking for a simpler way to deliver employee benefits. My boss, who is a Marketing genius, researched and found Vyond online when we agreed to do an animated video series for a business partner. We decided to produce a series of 27 videos explaining how all the different lines of coverage work (medical, HSA, dental, etc.). The videos are used to assist our clients and their employees by increasing their knowledge regarding health care and to help them make the right choices individually. Our goal is to empower healthier living.
The nice thing about doing this in Vyond is how I can easily use a video I’ve already created and change one or two items to be specific to a company’s benefits. Employees can watch these at home with spouses and make educated decisions as a family.
We also use Vyond for what we call, “Daily Disruptors.” They’re videos our sales staff use on social media, in emails, and in meetings to show prospects and clients how we can help them engage their employees for healthier living, keep healthcare costs down, and why we can do this better than the competition. We film the consultant in our production studio and use animation to explain the “meat” of the story.
What advice would you give to a beginner making an animated video?
DH: One quick way to learn Vyond is to create a “test” video using the different scene templates. You start with a short script or story. Then put the scenes together, save them, and watch. Afterward, you go back and change some of the props, characters, backgrounds, etc. and customize them to suit your story.
I promise, you’ll be so into it and having so much fun, your brain will start exploding with ideas. We all learn as we go when trying something new. The more we do it, the better we get. Things like this have to be hands on.
Talk us through your start-to-finish process for making a video.
DH: When we create videos, our scripts are written by our professional writers. Because of deadlines, I make the animations before the voice-over is recorded.
I first create a scene with an extended length of time so that I have enough time to work with syncing the animation and the voiceover. Meanwhile, the “movements,” or effects, already in the scenes (eyes blinking, background movements, etc.) continue. Extending the timing of each scene means you can splice and cut the scene wherever you need to connect it to the next one without losing the emotion and movement.
Then I copy the scene and add it after the existing one. Afterward, I add the animated text entry, change of character expressions, etc.
Vyond is perfect for using green screen keyframing because when you delete the background in a template, it automatically creates the green background you can key out.
Let me show you what I meant with my escalator example. In one, I took out everything except the background which has the movement of the wall with pictures. For the other two I took out the background and made sure none of the characters had any green coloring that would also key out. One with the characters going down the escalator, the other with the reactions on their faces as the first character falls down the escalator (see video below).
Here’s how to do it in Premiere Pro:
- Add the background on the timeline
- Then add the first scene with characters in the timeline on top of it
- Go to Effects -> Keying -> Color Key
- Using the dropper tool, click to select the green in the scene and adjust Color Tolerance, Edge Thin and Edge Feather
- Connect the next scene and key the same
The reason you would do it this way is to have the background movement be consistent. If the pictures on the wall are in different places when you connect the two scenes, it will be very noticeable.
The 3 Monitor Video
How did this video come to be? What led to the idea of using multiple monitors?
DH: The credit for this, once again, goes to my boss. We have a “room” called the “Immersion Center” at all three of our locations. We invite clients and prospects for meetings to show visually how we can help them engage employees while keeping their healthcare costs down. One of the ways we do this is to show multiple videos using a wall that has three large TV screen monitors. Because there are multiple people attending, everyone has a good view, making watching more fun. It’s innovative, just like our approach to taking care of our clients.
What technology was used to sync across multiple monitors?
DH: The process was done entirely in-house. You can buy complicated, expensive equipment that will put your video on multiple screens, but this will greatly limit what you can do. All it does is expand the video which means parts of it will be hidden (including any text) by the edging of the monitors. In my opinion, it is a waste of time and money.
My normal video sequence size in Premiere Pro is 1920 x 1080 HD. 1920 x 3 = 5760. I start by making a sequence of 5760 (W) x 1080 (H). Then I add two vertical lines showing three sections. After putting a few scenes together you will need to play it on the monitors to adjust these lines. The placement will depend on the mounting of the monitors and their edging size. From here, be creative about the way the scenes enter, exit, and which screen they show on. Save color backgrounds in Vyond so you can be consistent with what shows on the screens. This is a fun project and not as difficult as it appears.
What do you like to do to take your videos to the next level?
DH: Besides expanding the capabilities by using Premiere Pro, one of the many things I like about Vyond is the ability to make the videos fun. When creating videos, the key is to tell the story. In order to do that you not only need a good script, you need good visuals to keep your audience engaged.
Vyond’s extended library of templates, props, and characters, lets me put a humorous spin on boring topics that help keep the audience engaged.
Another thing I really like about Vyond is it moves; eyes blink, backgrounds move, and characters have emotions, expressions, and movements. You aren’t just putting a graphic up there that remains still. This helps keeps the audience’s attention while you are telling your story.
What are some of the challenges you face in Vyond and what are some workarounds you’ve found?
DH: The biggest issue I have with Vyond is syncing the audio with the visual. For me, it is difficult to have the animations change at the exact time I need them. Since you can’t listen to the audio while editing on the timeline, you have to: preview, go back and try to change the timing, preview again, and do this until you get it right. This is why I like creating the various scenes in Vyond and then taking them into Premiere Pro for the audio. It sounds like a lot of work but it is actually easier and faster. But, it is my understanding that the new Vyond is resolving this issue in the new video maker.
What are some of the best reactions and experiences you’ve had using Vyond?
DH: Clients like it because it also saves them time and money while ensuring all employees are getting the same message in a more engaging manner than a piece of paper. Employees like it because they can look at the information any time during the year, with spouses if need be, and always have it at their fingertips.
What is the single biggest reason you would recommend Vyond?
DH: You can create engaging, creative videos using the many templates, props, music, and characters. You can put a comical spin on it, make it serious, or create your own characters. It is fun putting these together and very easy. And you don’t have to use Premiere Pro or any other programs to do it. I have recommended this to people already, including some that have never made a video before.
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