Bigleaf Networks / Cloud-first SD-WAN



- One of the most common questions that I frequently hear from my clients is: what does the entire process of producing a promotional video look like?
- Well, the truth is that there is no one specific answer to that question. Indeed, multiple variables have to be considered first before I can provide the right answer.
- But on this post, I will make an exception, and I will try to explain how I was able to produce successfully (by myself) one of the most challenging projects that I have recently worked on.

- First, let's meet the client:

*NAME: Bigleaf Networks
*DESCRIPTION: Bigleaf is dedicated to providing a better Internet experience with simple implementation, friendly support, and powerful technology. Founded in 2012, Bigleaf Networks is investor-backed, offering service across North America.
- Bigleaf Networks improves Cloud connectivity and Internet performance. They are a team of telecom and network software professionals who built their Cloud-first SD-WAN service based on the natural architecture of leaves.
*WEBSITE: http://www.bigleaf.net/

- Now, I would like to start by sharing the final result of my work:

- Now, you might be wondering, why was it challenging?
- Well, the answer is simple. Neither the client or I had any idea about how to translate all the technical concepts that they wanted to be part of this video into something that could visually explain -simple and easy- the key technical differentiators between them and their competitors.
- That said the entire video production process begins with a first meeting.

1. KICKOFF MEETING

- The first meeting with the Bigleaf team took place at their headquarters office in the city of Beaverton (Oregon).
- I had the great pleasure to meet and work with the company's CEO, the co-founder, and the developer/designer (who led this project on their behalf).
- During this initial meeting, I got to introduce myself and provided further details about my education and experience.
- This is also the time where the client usually provides answers to questions like:
     * Who are they?
     * What does the company do/sell?
     * How do their products/services benefit their customers?
     * Who is the competition?
     * How do they compare to others?
     * What makes them unique/different?
     * Why do they need a video?
     * What is the marketing/sales goal that they are trying to achieve with this video?
     * Who is their target audience?
     * How will they deliver this message/video?
     * Do they have a script?
     * Do they have a storyboard?
     * What graphic/photo/video assets do they currently have and what assets must be produced or obtained from third party sources?
     * How long do they expect the video to be?
     * What is the deadline?
- I always demand my clients to ask as many questions as they need to. After all, I am there to help.
- After reviewing together the script that Bigleaf provided, one of the first questions they asked me was: "Arturo, what key factor do you think will make a very technical project like this successful?" My answer was simple: "The client's willingness to collaborate and provide support and answers -when needed- as we move through each phase of the process." Once I start working on something, we are a team. Therefore each piece of the puzzle becomes as important as others.

Final script provided by the client: Bigleaf Networks
Final script provided by the client: Bigleaf Networks


2. PROPOSAL / ESTIMATE

- Next, I provide a formal written proposal that clearly states all the aspects that will be part of the deal from beginning to end, as well as pricing.
- As soon as the client accepts and signs the proposal, it is time to move forward!

Just the beginning
Just the beginning


3. TRAINING

- This is not a typical step in the process, but let's be honest, who knows what "Same IP Failover, Intelligent Load Balancing, and Dynamic QoS" are?

Bigleaf Networks key differentiators
Bigleaf Networks key differentiators


- Unless you are an IT guy, you are probably not familiar with these terms. At least, I was not.
- But I have to admit that knowing the basics of how the Internet works helped me a lot to understand the technical part of these concepts way faster than anyone thought.
- I truly believe that the experience plays a huge role as you make progress in your professional life, but nothing compares to having a good foundation that in my case was obtained when I attended college to pursue my Bachelor degree in "Science and Technologies of Communications." For this particular project, it paid off.
- The Bigleaf team was kind enough to assist me with two training sessions at the very beginning of this process to help me get a deeper understanding of how their technology works. After all, you can not run fast if you do not learn how to walk first, right?
- Your final video will be great only if you have a thorough understanding of its content.

4. BRAINSTORMING & STORYBOARDING

- This is the stage of the process where creativity takes place. And, of course, two heads are better than one.
- During this phase, I worked next to the Bigleaf team's developer/designer, Andrea Braunstein.
- Andrea brought to the table many valuable ideas to guarantee that the final design and concept was in line with the brand image and style guide.
- The storyboard is the document that shows the client not only what the visuals or graphics will look like, but it also includes a description of how the elements that are part of the design will interact and transition among them.
- It is important that the client approves 100% this document before I jump onto the next stage of the process. Doing this will avoid having to make structural changes to the video after the voice over has been recorded, and most of the animation work is completed.
- The point is, having to remassage the script or the overall structure of the video at this point of the process typically means adding more time to the original estimate, and that means money, and we all want to avoid that, right? It is in my best interest to save the client's money as much as we can.
- This is also one of the strongest benefits of having to work on a storyboard towards the beginning of the entire process.
- For this project, I worked with Adobe Illustrator to build all the graphic layouts.

Adobe Illustrator: Bigleaf Networks storyboard
Adobe Illustrator: Bigleaf Networks storyboard


5. VOICE OVER RECORDING

- Voice 1 2 3 is an excellent resource that I often use to receive auditions from great VO talent around the US.
- This site also gives me the option to share the project inbox that I create to start receiving the proposals with my clients, so that they can review all the details related to each audition, including pricing.
- After the client picks its top 3 talents from the list, I contact them (in the chosen order) to check their availability and discuss all the details concerning to the service that they will be providing.
- It is a standard procedure to require the VO talent to consider up to 2 rounds of additional changes after the client receives and reviews the first recording.
- This step ensures that the client receives at the end the result that they were expecting from the VO talent.
- To approve the VO recording is also crucial because this is the base that usually dictates the overall pace and timing later in animation.
- For this particular project, the Bigleaf team chose Conner Evans to work on the VO recording. Conner is based in San Diego, California and he was easy and great to work with.

Voice 1 2 3 - Audition Inbox
Voice 1 2 3 - Audition Inbox


6. MUSIC BED AND SOUND FX

- When required, I also take care of the music bed selection and the final audio editing.
- For this project, we obtained the music bed from Audiojungle.net.

Audiojungle.net
Audiojungle.net


- Sound FXs are a great source to add that special touch to the final mix. I love to use them mainly when the video is driven by motion graphics or 3d animation.
- For this project, we obtained the sound FXs from Sounddogs.com.

Sounddogs.com
Sounddogs.com


7. ASSETS COMPILATION / ANIMATION

- Now it is time to add eMOTION to the process.
- Once the storyboard is 100% approved, and all the assets required have been gathered, the animation process starts.
- The list of assets that the client must provide at this point (besides the ones that I have already created) includes the company's logo, icons, illustrations related to the project that they might already own, photos in high resolution, among others.
- When something is missing, and the cost to produce an asset might be too elevated, luckily there are many high-quality resources available for purchase. It is also part of my job to assist my clients in getting the best assets at the best value from the right sources.
- When it comes the time to start working on the animation, I typically rely on two of the most popular applications in the market: Adobe After Effects (AE) and Maxon Cinema 4D (C4D). I find the integration between these two applications very powerful.
- For this project, the 2D animation work was accomplished using AE. Many times most of the tasks needed to build a powerful promotional video can be achieved by using this software only.

Adobe After Effects
Adobe After Effects
Adobe After Effects
Adobe After Effects


- Many times 3D work is also required. It has its benefits and magic. In 3D we can break the rules of physics and -if necessary- make artificial things behave as they will do in real life.
- Once the animation work finishes, it is time to render. Rendering is the final process of creating the actual 2D image or animation from the prepared scene. This can be compared to taking a photo or filming the scene after the setup is finished in real life.
- Depending on the complexity of the scene, this is a task that can take few hours to multiple days. Of course, there are many available resources to speed up this process and make this job more cost effective.

Maxon Cinema 4D
Maxon Cinema 4D
Maxon Cinema 4D
Maxon Cinema 4D
Maxon Cinema 4D
Maxon Cinema 4D
Maxon Cinema 4D
Maxon Cinema 4D


- One of the strongest features that I like a lot about applications like AE and C4D is the possibility to expand their capabilities by adding plugins to their interfaces. This feature takes their potential to the next level.
- All of this makes the process of learning software like AE or C4D appear like an infinite task, but one that I absolutely enjoy due to my constant desire to learn new things. If a project requires that little something that I did not know how to do before, I will just learn it. I am happy, and also my client. Bingo!
- That said, one of my favorite plugins that run inside AE is called Newton. This is an amazing tool that offers endless possibilities to create 2d physics simulations.
- For this project, Newton was primarily used to visually explain how the Internet data reacts when certain conditions have a negative impact on their competitors.

Motion Boutique Newton
Motion Boutique Newton
Motion Boutique Newton
Motion Boutique Newton
Motion Boutique Newton
Motion Boutique Newton


8. FINAL ASSEMBLY / VIDEO EDITING / COLOR CORRECTION / AUDIO EDITING

- Once all the 2d and 3d data have been converted to video, it is time to work on the final assembly.
- This is the stage when all the videos get combined with the Voice Over, music and sound effects.
- For this project, I used Adobe Premiere. Since it belongs to the Adobe suite, its integration with AE makes many video editing and post production tasks easy and fast.

Adobe Premiere
Adobe Premiere
Adobe Premiere
Adobe Premiere


9. FINAL ENCODING / DELIVERY

- As many of you already know, customer satisfaction is always my primary goal. When the client is happy with the final result, and the video is approved, it is time to encode the video for proper delivery.
- For this project, the final video is primarily going to be displayed at the client's website and social media channels to reinforce the strategies of its marketing and sales departments.

Adobe Media Encoder
Adobe Media Encoder


- Finally, the Bigleaf video was uploaded to the company's Youtube channel and is also available now to be seen 24/7 all around the world at the company's Website: http://bigleaf.net

Bigleaf Networks
Bigleaf Networks


- To wrap this post, I would like to share one more time the final video that was delivered to the client.

- Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you soon to assist you with any of your Multimedia business inquiries. Have a nice rest of your day :-)

Update (05.08.17) - Comments / Testimonials

Bigleaf Networks
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