The Adobe Max Experience

It’s been almost two months since my trip to Las Vegas for Adobe Max. Now that I’ve had some time to reflect I wanted to share some highlights with you.

First of all, Adobe Max is huge -- much bigger than I had expected with over 12,000 people in attendance, all of whom are designers, photographers, programmers, or crafters of some sort. There is an awesome creative vibe everywhere you look. I’m not kidding; even the directional signage was amazing. Just stepping foot into the Adobe space made my mind start spinning and thinking of new ways to make my designs better.

The presenters were top notch! All of them were engaging, informational and most importantly,
welcoming to any questions I asked. In a setting like this, where there are so many people in each
session you attend, it can be intimidating to interact and get the most out of the experience. They
did a great job of making you feel welcome and open to interacting. Be ready to receive an
overload of information, tricks, tips and stories.

My favorite session was “Stuff That Has Nothing to Do with Graphic Design” with Aaron Draplin, from DDC.

My favorite session was “Stuff That Has Nothing to Do with Graphic Design” with Aaron Draplin, from DDC.

‘SNEAKS’ has me dreaming of the future! If you are not aware of what Adobe Sneaks is about, it's the time where a select few Adobe Developers present the new technology they are working on. These include everything from photo editing, 3D drawing, painting, and more. Here are a few of my favorites:

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#SonicScape  

#ProjectPuppetron  

#ProjectDeepFill  

#ProjectQuick3D 

There were also some new products and tools that were launched at this year's Max. A few of my favorites include:

Puppet Warp

The Puppet Warp tool allows you to add, move, or rotate images to transform your vector artwork.

Although this is extremely fun and can often lead to a ton of time just playing around, it does serve a big purpose. Numerous times I’ve created vector images or characters that need tweaks or changes. The Puppet Warp tool allows me to manipulate these vectors quickly and easily without having to completely recreate the artwork or mess with individual points.

Adobe Dimension

According to Adobe, Dimension “makes it easy for graphic designers to create high-quality, photorealistic 3D images”. In other words it allows us, as designers, to place the logos or designs we create onto 3D products (from the Adobe Stock library), and place them into 2D images to show our clients what a final product would look like in real life. Saving a tremendous amount of design time when trying to create a realistic proof.    

*The image above took me less than 15 minutes to create. This is a low resolution rendering to show you a small example of what Dimension can do.

*The image above took me less than 15 minutes to create. This is a low resolution rendering to show you a small example of what Dimension can do.

All in all, Max was an amazing experience and I’m already looking forward to next year!

Do you need help with graphic design or have questions about our capabilities? Drop us a line or tweet us @Thinpigmedia.

 

 

 

 

This Way to Productivity : The Pomodoro Technique

Productivity. Time management. Discipline. These words are used frequently throughout school and in the professional world, but as common as they are, they can be daunting themes to master.

I have been working remotely for almost a year, and while getting adjusted to this new work style I have tried little things here and there suggested to me by others who work outside of an office. While I found value in these tips, none really seemed to make a large impact on my workflow. That was until my friend pointed me in the direction of the Pomodoro Technique.

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The Pomodoro Technique is a time management style that aims to provide a person with maximum focus and creative freshness with the goal of completing projects quicker and with less mental fatigue (www.lifehack.org). Being in the social media marketing industry, creativity and projects go hand-in-hand practically daily, so I was pumped to learn more about this and try it out for myself!

How It Works:

  • Identify a task you want to complete

  • Set your Pomodoro timer (a Pomodoro cycle is typically 25 minutes)

  • Work diligently on your task focusing on that one item

  • Timer goes off, you stop working

  • Take a 5 minute break

  • Reset your Pomodoro timer

  • Repeat

A trick to keeping your Pomodoro cycles on track is to download an app on your phone specifically made for this. I use an app called BeFocused, available in the iOS store, and it beeps after 25 minutes then times my break for me as well. You can even label the different Pomodoro cycles for tracking purposes, get reports, and more.

Even though this technique is really simple, it improved my day dramatically in a short amount of time. There’s nothing worse than working on a task and noticing three hours have gone by because you’ve hopped over to your email to reply to someone about something unrelated then go back to that task to pick up where you left off. A lifehacker.com blog post about the Pomodoro Technique mentions that it helps you hyper-focus and power-through distractions. To me, this is a no-brainer for those in the social media industry.

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One of my colleagues relies heavily on his calendar to keep his day in order and to keep track of time. “Basically I just hate feeling like I'm falling behind, so I schedule things in advance whenever possible. If the plan becomes outdated (more like 'when' haha), I change the plan. That's the beauty of working for Thin Pig,” he says. I tried his method and realized I was putting so much time into organizing my calendar that it was taking time away from my actual day. 

Another colleague of mine said she has a hard time sticking to one task due to new incoming emails interrupting her workflow, and other items that can pop up throughout the course of a day. To combat this, she sets goals of getting 4 to 5 tasks done in a certain amount of time or gives herself a block of time to complete items on her to-do list. I found it funny how similar her process is to the Pomodoro Technique, but different at the same time.

Overall, I find it interesting that several of my colleagues and myself are all Social Media Managers working remotely, but managing our time in different ways. As you can tell, no matter what keeps us on task, time management is a must for us to survive in this industry.

Have any tips or tricks as to how you stay productive? We would love to hear your feedback! Tweet us @ThinPigMedia

Personal Ad: Thin Pig Seeks Relationship

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Quick Bio

Hello world, my name's Newton. I am a single, successful, and compassionate pig who loves my career, friends, food, wine, travel, and adventure. I don't identify as male or female. I could possibly be labeled as hedonistic. My hair is short and bright pink. I have dark eyes and am fairly short (2' 6" tall to be exact). My body type is “thin”; I admit I like to work out. People say I am quiet but an amazing listener and find just about any topic fascinating. If you like to talk about knitting, ninja, CrossFit, “mocktails”, Canadian politics, rockets or anything else, I am all ears. I am especially passionate about social media marketing and am addicted to Instagram! (I have my very own hashtag…more on this below).  At just under one year old, I am old enough to know what I like... but young enough to be up for almost ANYTHING!

Seeking

Overall, I am seeking companionship and the opportunity for adventure. You must be able to lift and carry at least 8 ounces. While my career is awesome and on a rocket-like trajectory, I don’t make much dough (so travel expenses will be on you...but don’t worry, I am a cheap date!) You must be chill and open to a variety of activities like hiking, biking, snorkeling, site-seeing, bungee jumping, skydiving (tandem only), movies (totally confess I am a sucker for Charlotte’s Web...pass the Kleenex) and book club to name a few. Please be kind, open-minded but confident enough in your beliefs to have deep conversations and the occasional argument.  

Likes

Mud baths, food scraps, dogs (although dogs REALLY love me so please don’t leave me alone with them), pizza, sunbathing, Depeche Mode, working on my screen play, and volunteering for a variety of worthy causes. I also LOVE my job at Thin Pig Media! I am basically a traveling ambassador promoting social media around the world. This has afforded me the opportunity to visit countless cities and towns around the globe. I am happiest when I am getting a new stamp in my passport.

Dislikes

Mean people, bacon, Nickleback, cats (sorry, just a preference...but if you have a cat, I will be cool to it). Also dislike political posts on Facebook, Comic Sans font, jerks, Steven Seagal, fakers, excessive sarcasm, bell peppers, and sushi. Also….not a fan of clothes, I never wear them, but totally understand if being Au Naturale is not your thing. (Although my sister, who lives with @CRFleming22, is quite a fashion diva.)

Family

My family is very important to me, and I have a BIG one.  As I write this ad I have 86 brothers and sisters. (Mom and Dad are prolific and taught each of us that, “If it feels good, do it,” and always encouraged us to have the travel bug). My sibs are spread around the U.S. and also in seven countries. Like me, they love hanging with people and having fun adventures. Whoops!  Disregard the number above, Mom just had another litter -- we are up to 94 (nice work mom!)

Contact

As mentioned above, I have my very own hashtag. To get hold of me, hit me up using #ThinPigAdventures. You can see pics of me 'doing my thang', and also see my brothers and sisters in action around the world. As a matter of fact, I will ship one of my siblings to you if you are one of the first 10 people to tag #ThinPigAdventures on Instagram or Twitter. And since they'll probably want to know where they're off to, make sure you say something like, “Come visit _________!” Once you receive your new friend, we always love to see photos of their adventures, so don't be shy in sharing pics on social media with the #ThinPigAdventures tag!

Thanks for checking out my ad. I hope to meet some new friends very soon!

Peace,

Newton

Tweet for #Education

Twitter, the social network that just increased its character limit from 140 characters to 280 at the beginning of this month, attracts a wide spectrum of users, including a growing number of educators. In the world of education, teachers are using Twitter to enrich their classrooms and connect with informal professional networks. Twitter is frequently used to reach out and communicate with students and parents alike, for assignments, links to educational resources, changes to homework, last minute information, and contests, just to mention a few.

By Sylvia Duckworth

By Sylvia Duckworth

Twitter is not only a great tool for reaching students and parents with a quick tweet, it also connects teachers with their colleagues and forums for quick up-to-date references on what other institutions are doing as well as the latest trends. Twitter for Teachers gives teachers access to hundreds of important links and helpful ideas from teachers around the world. The forum also gives teachers an opportunity to follow and implement good examples as well as share their own efficient teaching methods.

At Kuentz Elementary in Helotes, Texas, using Twitter to connect with students and parents is common practice. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with one of the 5th grade Teachers, Karen Connor, to find out why she finds Twitter useful:

TPM: Why do you use Twitter as a communication channel in your classroom?

KC: As a professional and the Fifth Grade Teacher Leader, I was encouraged by our principal to use Twitter. She invited me to attend a motivational speech by George Couros (@gcouros), which was very enlightening and encouraged me to use social media professionally and personally. In my classroom I use Twitter to share positive things that are happening in school and at other schools. I also use Twitter to connect with parents.

TPM:  What are the three main things you use Twitter for?

KC: I use Twitter for professional development, outreach and global learning. Public schools are in direct competition with chartered schools for students. I keep myself informed on @WeGoPublic, so I know what I am up against. I try to stay ahead of the educational game by connecting with other teachers and schools.

TPM: Do you feel you connect better with your students and their parents using Twitter?

KC: It has improved since I started using Twitter two years ago. More parents follow this year and prefer Twitter over our web page, but the majority still rely on emails. My students are too young to have a Twitter account yet, but I do have an iPad in the classroom that they can use every now and then.

TPM: When do you resort to tweeting and how often do you tweet?

KC: When I tweet during school hours, it’s mostly an ‘in the moment’ thing when we’re doing something fun or creative that could be useful to other students and teachers. We use Periscope and go live too. My students think it’s fun and will make an extra effort.

TPM: What is your prefered social medium and why?

KC: For personal stuff I prefer Facebook. It feels more secure because I can limit who can view my posts. I use Twitter for professional development, to reach out and learn what is new in my field.

TPM: Do you feel Twitter is a good tool for professional development?

KC: I do now, but at first I hated it. I don’t like wasting my time, especially when you’re asked to go to professional development courses on your own time. With Twitter I can do it when it’s convenient, narrow down relevant topics and it’s an instant gratification.

TPM: Is it mandatory that you tweet and stay technologically savvy by Northside Independent School District (NISD)

KC: It’s not mandatory, but it’s encouraged. I am privileged to have a proactive Principal who encourages us to be on the cutting edge of what is going on in our field, and who provides us with the tools necessary to get there.

TPM: Do you find you connect better with your students by using social media?

KC: I use it mostly to connect with parents and the public. My students do get very excited when their work will be shown on Twitter and will work harder. Most of them don’t have their own Twitter accounts yet.

TPM: Twitter expanded its character limit to 280 characters. Is that helpful to you?

KC: When I first started using Twitter the 140 character limit was very frustrating, but it has helped structure my thoughts and get to the point quickly, and it makes it very easy to go through my feed. I am not sure what I think of the expansion. I haven’t reached the limit of 280 characters in any of my tweets yet.

TPM: Do you tweet professionally? Privately? Why?

KC: I do both. I have a classroom Twitter account and I have a personal account too. In the morning I will scroll through quickly and catch up on headlines, but after my day it will be something more purposeful and enriching.

TPM:  Has Tweeting helped you develop new contacts in the educational world?

KC: Absolutely! I am much more connected. Not just to Northside Independent School District and Texas, but also beyond. I constantly learn about new methods on teaching or new ideas, and adjust them to fit into my classroom. I also reach out and tweet about what we do here. It’s refreshing.

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Clearly Twitter has been a powerful medium for awhile now, and it continues to beat traditional media to the punch. In fact, traditional media often uses tweets to mold or lead their stories (Good luck trying to count how many POTUS tweets have national media coverage this year.) Personally, I have mostly worked with Twitter in a marketing capacity, and have viewed it more as a platform for celebrities to interact with their fans worldwide, or push products they are endorsing. But having a fifth grader in Karen’s class exposed me to another exciting world on this platform. Learning how educators like Karen are harnessing Twitter for networking, communication and professional development to further enrich the learning process for kids in elementary school was eye-opening and encouraging. And since these kids will be around social media their entire lives, being exposed to it in a positive, constructive manner this early in life to counter the increasing negativity is certain to help shape their views on how they use it later in their lives.  #IwishKarenwouldhavebeenmy5thgradeteacher

 

 

The Secret to Drastically Improving Your Social Videos: Better Audio

Your social videos will look 10x better if they actually sound good.

Everybody thinks that they’ve got to have 4k fancy cameras, or upgrade to the best phone, or get the new GoPro to have the best social videos. Whether you are vlogging, highlighting an event or just doing a little social media video for your property, you don’t need a new or more expensive camera to drastically improve your videos. The real secret to drastically improving the performance of your videos without breaking the bank is better audio.

I would rather have a 3 year old camera and proper audio than the latest camera tech and a built-in mic.

Because of all the compression of media online and the many contexts in which we are watching video (like on tiny mobile screens), people have become much more forgiving of poor quality images. Of course, the better it looks, the more professional the viewer feels it is and the more likely they are to get drawn into your story. They will rarely ever turn the video off because of poor image quality as long as you meet a certain threshold.

On the other hand, people will exit your video in an instant if your audio is bad. People don’t want to strain to understand what you are saying over the noise of the room or listen to the wind howling. They have no tolerance for your audio static playing through their $300 Beats by Dre. They want to hear you loud and clear as if you were standing right in front of them. If you are using the built-in mic for your camera, I can pretty much guarantee that your audio is atrocious. Even if you are using a hot-shoe mounted mic, your audio is probably still lackluster at best. This is by far the biggest pitfall new video makers fall into.

The secret to good audio

The number one rule for good audio is to get the mic as close to the subject as physically possible. The closer you get, the better the audio. It is that simple. Whether you have a $3,000 microphone or you are using an iPhone mounted on a boom pole, the closer you can get it, the better it will sound. 

This is the biggest problem with hot-shoe mounted microphones on your camera. Yes, they are very convenient, but they are too far away from the subject. Unless you are prepared to put a parabolic dish on that little shotgun mic on your camera, you are going to need to take it off your camera and put it on a boom pole. Or even mount it on a second tripod below the bottom of your frame. Your camera is most likely 6+ feet away from your subject and for most mics, you need to get them within a foot and a half of your subjects mouth.

If your subject is going to be moving around and you don’t have an extra set of hands to operate a boom pole, put a lav mic on them. You don’t need to buy an expensive wireless lav mic system and constantly worry about interference though. One of my favorite set ups is to use the $60 Rode SmartLav+ with a $100 H1 Zoom recorder in the pocket of the subject. It is surprisingly high quality and extremely reliable. It does require a little extra work to match it up in post production, but with a program like PluralEyes from Red Giant it takes a matter of seconds.

 
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Editing your audio is a whole other can of worms that I will open up in a future blog post. For now, just know that you should adjust your dialogue audio to be about -12 decibels and background music should be around -20 to -30 decibels. It will sound different on different speakers and headphones, but these are fairly industry standard starting points. If you want to dive deeper on editing your audio, I highly recommend using Adobe Audition.

In conclusion, if you want to make your videos significantly more enjoyable to watch, improving your audio is the absolute biggest low-hanging fruit. You don’t need to break the bank to do it either. You simply need to take a few extra minutes to set up properly.