Oct 31 11

How Pat’s Niche Site Duel Kept Me Motivated

by Harlan Yee

Over the past year, I learned some great skills to help me get into internet marketing… resulting in generating my first dollars online. I had been a fan of Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income blog and I soaked up everything I could about blogging and internet marketing. When Pat’s Niche Site Duel challenge was presented, I knew I had to follow along either in public or private. I decided that I’d do it publicly and present my updates on Pat’s site along with all the other participants.

Smart Passive Income

At the time I started, I had not made any money online. I had one website… the one you’re on now. I had never performed any keyword research or SEO for that matter! So I made up my mind that this was going to be an excellent learning opportunity. Something profound Pat said was that by documenting his progress, it made him accountable to see the project through… and that’s the attitude I took. It was the motivation behind my entire niche site project. Whether I made any money or not was not my goal. The real goal for me was to learn new skills and actually take action.

I knew this would be a launching platform for future online projects. I had taken this type of approach in other things in the past and it has benefitted me greatly… mostly in my career, but in a different way. I am constantly learning new skills in my job to stay on top of current trends and software in my profession. In documenting my journey of creating my first niche site, I thought I could go back and review what I did and possibly be able to repeat the process. Now it is a year later and I am getting ready to post my one year results. Looking back with what I know now about niche sites, there were some things that I didn’t do right in the beginning. But that didn’t matter. This whole process gave me a year to get “hands on” experience to make mistakes and figure what I could’ve done better. A year is way too long to spend on just one site but I needed the time to get to where I’m at now.

And you know what? It paid off! I haven’t touched my niche site in about 4 months but it’s making a consistent income right now. You can see my most current Niche Site Duel updates here. I will work on the site again in the future and plan to occasionally document the evolution of the site.

Wedding Slideshow Ideas

I’m very satisfied with the results from my first monetized site but it is only the start. But how do I continue this momentum? This month, I am creating 3 sites simultaneously using a new strategy I learned and I will be documenting it in a series I call the Niche Video Challenge. The reason I’m keeping a journal of this new project is to help keep me motivated like it did in Pat’s Niche Site Duel. However, this new challenge is not being published anywhere except here on this site. I’m not documenting it for the publicity necessarily; it’s to keep me personally accountable for what I said I’m going to do and to keep me on the task.

Am I going to do this for every project? No. But I will do plan on doing it every once in awhile when I need the extra motivating factor to see my projects to completion! In conclusion, one of the biggest lessons I took away from the original Duel was the documentation of the task which is my biggest motivator in my online endeavors. Everyone needs motivation to get things done at times and I’ve found mine when it comes to my online projects!

Oct 19 11

Niche Video Challenge 1: A New Challenge And Keyword Research

by Harlan Yee

What This Challenge Is All About

Today, I am starting a new challenge for myself. After some success participating in the Niche Site Duel, I’m ready to use what I’ve learned in the past plus methods from a recently purchased training course to create a new income generating niche site. I will be following the methods described in the Niche Video Tycoon training course.

Niche Video Tycoon

What makes this training so unique is that the keyword research tactics in Niche Video Tycoon goes against what every other online marketer teaches. What I mean is that usually, you’d want to build a website that has a lot of search volume for keywords that you want to rank for in Google. In this challenge, I am going to be targeting low (extremely low) search volume keywords. As you’ll see shortly, the keywords I’m going for have less than 1000 searches a month!

Part of the reason for documenting my process here is to help me stay motivated and stick with my plan. It worked out with the Niche Site Duel and I hope it does the same for me on this project. A secondary reason to keep track of my progress is that later, I could possibly turn these notes into instructions for a virtual assistant to follow so I can automate and repeat the process with future websites. If this course helps generate a $500-$1000 a month income from a single website, then I will definitely be building more of these.

Overview

Here’s a condensed version of the tasks I’ll be performing:

  • Find a low volume seed keyword
  • Find 7-15 related keywords which also have low volume searches
  • Build a WordPress site with pages targeting each keyword
  • Make a video targeting each keyword and embed into the corresponding pages
  • Build backlinks to each page
  • Add an opt-in form on the site with a free give-away
  • Create an email autoresponder series
  • Create a free giveaway to entice subscriptions
  • Create a 2-3 hour video-based training product to sell
  • Create an upsell product for an additional charge

For about a week, I studied the process in Niche Video Tycoon and found a book at Amazon.com that is in my niche. That is one of the “green light” indicators to go ahead and build one of these sites. The niche I’m pursuing is in a growing trend and I only found 2 paperback books on Amazon that are directly related to my niche. At Clickbank, I found one ebook for $27 that is an exact match for my niche and about 15 vaguely related products. The Clickbank product is cheap compared to the price I’ll charge for my info product. That’s the beauty of creating a video based product because the perceived value is higher. I then went to Market Samurai to begin my search for keywords.

Before I go any further, I want to let you know that I will not be revealing my keywords in this challenge as I did in the Niche Site Duel.  Thank you for understanding. One inportant thing to look for in the keyword research is the title competition. In Market Samurai’s keyword research tool, I’ll check mark the SEOTC box to get that info. I’ll be looking for keywords with an SEOTC of 5000 or less… if its less than 1000, even better. Without showing you my keywords, I’ll reveal the stats on the keywords I found in my niche:

Keywords

  1. Searches: 590 – SEOTC: 1410
  2. Searches: 320 – SEOTC: 1250
  3. Searches: 260 – SEOTC: 77
  4. Searches: 260 – SEOTC: 454
  5. Searches: 260 – SEOTC: 35
  6. Searches: 260 – SEOTC: 380
  7. Searches: 210 – SEOTC: 772
  8. Searches: 210 – SEOTC: 59
  9. Searches: 210 – SEOTC: 1830
  10. Searches: 210 – SEOTC: 15
  11. Searches: 170 – SEOTC: 7
  12. Searches: 170 – SEOTC: 1710
  13. Searches: 140 – SEOTC: 8
  14. Searches: 140 – SEOTC: 1910
  15. Searches: 140 – SEOTC: 66
  16. Searches: 1600 – SEOTC: 11000 (might not be used)
  17. Searches: 1000 – SEOTC: 6120 (might not be used)

Each keyword is related to keyword #1. To me, it looks like I should be able to rank at least in the top 10 for my list of keywords. I’m staying pretty conservative on my estimates because I don’t want to get too over-confident in my ranking skills. Here’s a look at the competition of the top 5 keywords in my list:

Top 5 Low Competition Keywords

Some of the keywords have quite a few backlinks to them and higher page rank than I’d normally like to see but the “on page” factors look good and most of the sites aren’t even targeting my keyword. I’m still experimenting with ranking sites so we’ll see if my data analyzing skills measure up in a month or two.

Picking A Domain Name

I don’t know why this is so hard for me but I’m agonizing over the domain name for my site. I keep doing different combinations of the keywords and I’m being very unproductive because of the time I’m spending on this. But I eventually came to a decision. For the domain name, I chose  keyword #1. You might be wondering why I have keywords #16 and #17 in my list. Well, those 2 words are definitely related and I’d love to rank for them but the SEOTC is too high so I’m going to keep those on the backburner for now. In the end, I chose keyword number 1 because I’m able to get an exact match .com domain.

Building This Site Will Be Different For Me

One major thing that will be different when I’m building this site is that I will be outsourcing some of the work. I will not be writing all the articles for this site which removes a huge burden right off the top. This means I’ll have content for my site shortly after I’ve got WordPress installed. I’m also paying a friend to shoot some pictures and video that I will use on the site. The reason is that he lives 5 minutes from the location where I need the images shot… whereas I’d have to drive at least an hour to get to that same location. This saves me at least half a day!

Domain Name Purchase

But for now, I’m off to GoDaddy to get my domain and start the next part of the process.

Let’s Spice Things Up A Bit!

Actually, to compound the income potential and to make this project really interesting, I am not only creating the website I described above… but will be creating 2 additional sites in 2 other niches at the same time. So when I’m done, I’ll have a total of three websites built around the Niche Video Tycoon course. However, I will be mainly documenting the step-by-step progress of the first website. I hope you stay with me and see how this all turns out. See you in the next update!

Oct 13 11

Best 3D TV 2011 Plus 4 Pairs Toshiba FPT-AG01U 3D Glasses FREE

by Harlan Yee

If you’re in the market for a 3D HDTV, right now, here is a deal where you can get 4 pairs of Toshiba FPT-AG01U 3D Glasses for free! These are the high quality 3D glasses that have the Active Shutter liquid crystal lenses and feature a sturdy resin frame and comfortable arms and a nosepad. These are powered by a CR2032 coin battery.

Best 3D TV 2011

Features:

  • Fits over prescription eyeglasses
  • Adjustable nose pad for comfort
  • Auto power saving feature to prolong battery life
  • Easy to find replacement batteries
  • See more features

How To Get 4 Pairs Of Toshiba Active Shutter 3D Glasses For Free

To get 4 pairs of Toshiba 3D glasses for free, purchase a Toshiba 46WX800U 46-inch LED 3D HDTV and the 3D glasses at Amazon.com. Add all items to your cart and the glasses are yours for free. Full retail price on each pair of Toshiba 3D glasses is $170! You save $680.00!

Toshiba 46WX800U 46 inch LED 3D HDTV is the best 3d TV 2011

Full details of the offer can be found here. Now your whole family can enjoy 3D movies at the same time!

Why Buy Your Toshiba LED 3D HDTV from Amazon?

You might have doubts about buying your HDTV online but here are some advantages when buying from Amazon (not including the Free 3D glasses)

  • Free Super Saver Shipping
  • Schedule your own delivery time
  • Free returns on HDTVs and projectors

So with free shipping, scheduled delivery time and free returns if you don’t like your purchase… this is one of the best 3d TV 2011 deals I’ve found.

More info on: Toshiba FPT-AG01U 3D Glasses

More info on: Toshiba 46WX800U 46-inch 1080p LED HDTV

More info on: How To Get 4 Pairs Toshiba 3D Glasses Free

The price of the Toshiba 46WX800U 46-inch 1080p LED HDTV at the time of posting this article is $899.98. Regular price is $2599.99 – A savings of $1700.00!

What’s Included For $899.98!

To recap, for $899.98, you get the Toshiba 46WX800U 46-inch 1080p LED HDTV and 4 pairs of the Toshiba FPT-AG01U 3D Glasses! Truly one of the best 3D TV 2011 deals found online!

Oct 11 11

Photoshop Image Deblurring Sneak Peak

by Harlan Yee

I’m a huge Photoshop fan and user so when I came across this sneak peak at what the guys at Adobe are working on, I had to share it here. I remember just before Photoshop CS5 came out how blown away I was at their Content-Aware Fill that allowed users to remove objects in a photo and automatically replace it with the background that would be behind it. And now at the Adobe MAX 2011 conference, we find that they have been working on a Photoshop image deblurring feature.

Photoshop Image Deblurring Sneak Peak

As indicated in the video, there is no official word on when or which future version of Photoshop this will be included in. But, as you’ll see from the cheers of the crowd, this feature is amazing! The Photoshop image deblurring feature as the name implies can take a blurry image and “unblur” it. You have to see the video. Unfortunately, the video quality isn’t the best but you can see it work and by the reaction of the audience, this feature doesn’t disappoint. Check it out for yourself!

Oct 6 11

Get A Free 16mm f/2.8 Wide Angle Lens

by Harlan Yee

Here’s a deal I found on the Sony Alpha NEX-3 digital camera where you can get a 16mm f/2.8 wide angle lens for free! This a 14.2 megapixel camera and is one of the smallest cameras available with interchangeable lenses.

The big thing for me is that it shoots 720p HD video and it has one touch recording. This means it has a dedicated video button for instant recording. No more switching dials to get into video mode. And the Sony Alpha NEX-3 features auto-focus and auto exposure while recording if you want this camera to behave more like a camcorder.

If you’ve ever used a wide angle lens before, you know how useful it can be. This is a great opportunity to get into DSLR video while getting a free wide angle lens at the same time! At times, I wonder if I should sell my Canon 7D and get a smaller camera like this. I often find it is too much of a hassle to carry around a full size DSLR. So this looks like an affordable alternative to DSLR video.

The Sony Alpha NEX-3 comes with a 18-55mm lens and if you get it before December 3, 2011, the 16mm f/2.8 lens is free. For complete details and more images click here:

Buy A Sony Alpha NEX-3 Camera, Get A Wide-Angle Lens Free

 

Sep 22 11

Own A Real Life Electric Power Tron Light Cycle For Free

by Harlan Yee

If you’re a fan of Tron Legacy, you’ll love this! Parker Brothers Custom Choppers has built a REAL LIFE electric power Tron light cycle. The replica from the movie started out as a gas powered model but was recently re-introduced as an electric light bike.

At the heart of this machine is a 96 volt electric motor powered by lithium ion batteries. It can reach a top speed in excess of 100 MPH and has a 100 mile range. Battery charge time is a mere 35 minutes! This light cycle looks great on the streets in the day but is super awesome at night when it’s all lit up!

The cost of the original gas powered cycle is $55,000 but as the title of this post indicates, you can get one for free! How? Well this is where your skills as a video producer come in!

Tron electric power lightcycle - motorcycle

Parker Brothers Custom Choppers is having a Tron Light Cycle Giveaway video contest. Here’s what to do:

1. Register at http://www.parkerbrotherschoppers.com/index.php?main_page=pb_registration

2. Submit a video no longer than 3 minutes, indicating why you deserve the light cycle.

3. Semi-finalist videos will be placed on their website and the public will vote on the winner.

This is the perfect opportunity to put the HD video capabilities of your HDSLR or compact digital camera to good use for a chance to win a great prize!

It doesn’t matter if you’re using a top selling DSLR camera, HD digital camera or HD camcorder, video contests are always a great way to get great prizes or recoup the cost of your camera. In this case, you could be the proud owner of a Parker Brothers custom electric power Tron Light Cycle!

Please be sure to read the complete contest rules. The electric power Tron Light Cycle Giveaway contest ends November 7th, 2011 so start planning your video now! One last thing Parker Brothers Custom Choppers wants you to remember… Keep it simple. DON’T DO ANYTHING STUPID!

While we’re on the topic of electric vehicles, you might want to check out a video I shot from a trip to the local Tesla dealership in Seattle featuring the Tesla Roadster and Model S luxury sedan.

End Of Line……

Aug 31 11

Repair Cost Of Canon 7D Bent Pin In Compact Flash Slot

by Harlan Yee

I recently got my Canon EOS 7D back from the repair shop with the bent pin repaired in my compact flash slot and everything is fully operational again.

Before you read on, if you missed my initial post where I showed pictures of the bent pin on my 7D, go to this post: http://therenderq.com/canon-7d-bent-pin-in-compact-flash-slot

I assume you are here because you have a bent pin in your 7D and you might be wondering how much this repair will cost you? If your camera is under warranty, you might be able to get Canon to fix it for you for free but don’t count on it. I’ve heard stories both ways where Canon has fixed the pin for free while for others, they will not cover the cost.

Canon 7D Bent Pin Repair Cost

My Canon 7D was repaired locally at Photo-tronics, Inc. in Seattle. As you can see from the receipt below, the total cost ended up being $366.83. From looking at their website, you can send in your equipment for repair if you don’t live in Seattle.

Canon 7D Bent Pin Repair Cost

So you can realistically expect around that much if you were to take it to a local repair shop. They said the only way to fix this problem was to completely replace the compact flash assembly.

Canon 7D Bent Pin Repair Cost

It only took a couple of days since they had the part in stock but it sat in their facility for about a week until my friend had time to go pick it up.

Canon 7D Bent Pin Repair Cost

The cost is nothing to sneeze at though. For the price of the repair, you could get some nice accessories for your camera like a Zacuto Z-Finder or even a nice camera slider. Next time, I’ll have to insert the compact flash card a little slower and hopefully avoid this from happening again.

Aug 12 11

Cannon Beach, Oregon – Shooting HD Vacation Video Without A Camcorder

by Harlan Yee

I just got back from a very relaxing week in Cannon Beach, Oregon. The Oregon coast provides some of the most beautiful coastlines in the country. It’s about a 4 hour drive south of Seattle just off the famous Highway 101.

Cannon Beach is home to Haystack Rock… one of the major attractions on this highly acclaimed beach. On this trip, we were able to experience low tide both in the morning and early evening hours. Haystack Rock is a protected wildlife reserve and is a wonder to experience at low tide.

Even though we visited the Seaside Aquarium in Seaside, Oregon, it doesn’t compare to seeing oceanlife in it’s natural habitat.  It’s one of the highlights of the beach. The water is ice cold even in the summer but it’s ok for wading in. I may have to go back in the winter to experience the fierce storms I keep hearing about. They say the waves are spectacular.

I brought my Canon Powershot SX200 with me to capture some of the beauty but it doesn’t compare to actually being there. It’s nice to carry such a small camera that shoots photos and HD video all in one package… and it has a fairly wide angle lens.

Here’s the video footage from the beach! It was all shot handheld because I was traveling light and didn’t want to lug around a tripod with me.

 

And here are some photos from the Canon Powershot SX200.

 

If you’re still carrying around a separate camcorder and digital camera, I strongly urge you to try to go on vacation with only a digital camera that shoots HD video. It’ll make things a whole lot easier and convenient. This time, I didn’t even pack my camcorder. If you’re ready to go off on a trip without your camcorder, here are some affordable Canon digital cameras that would work great for vacation photos and videos.

Please note: I tried to find the best deals and link to camera’s sold directly by Amazon which offer free shipping. If you don’t see the “Free Super Saver Shipping” offer next to the item, then the item is sold by a third party vendor on Amazon and you’ll have to pay shipping. Free shipping offers are subject to change.

Canon Powershot SX230 HS

Features: Built-in GPS tagging of photos, full 1080p HD video recording, image stabilizer, 28mm wide angle lens, 3-inch LCD display, see full feature list and price.

Canon Powershot Digital ELPH 500 HS

Features: 3.2 inch touch panel LCD, bright f/2.0 lens for low light situations, 1080p HD video recording, see full feature list and price.

Canon Powershot Digital ELPH 300

Features: Very thin, full 1080p HD video recording, 24mm ultra wide angle lens, 12.1 megapixel, see full feature list and price.

Canon Powershot Digital ELPH 100 HS

Features: Very affordable, full 1080p HD video recording, see full feature list and price.

My Recommendations

The Powershot SX230 HS and ELPH 300 HS have wide angle lenses that are great for scenery. If you’re looking for a different digital camera than what I’ve listed here, Amazon has a nice camera page that lets you select the features you want the most and it’ll help you narrow down your choices. Click here to try it out!

Final Vacation Tip

Don’t forget to get a decent size memory card. I only had a 4GB SDHC card and I had to limit the amount of video I shot. I had to carefully pick what video to shoot and deleted any that I thought might not work out on the spot. For my next vacation I’m either going to get a 16GB or 32GB card. Hope you enjoyed the images!

Aug 8 11

Niche Site Duel 8 – Rankings and Earnings Report

by Harlan Yee

It has been quite awhile since I’ve released a status report on my niche site progress. A lot has happened so this might be a long post. Also, my apologies if you came to my site for digital camera info… this was the only website I had at the time when i started my niche site project so I continue to post my updates here.

I’ll begin with what I’ve been doing with backlinking. It has been a tiresome, boring, monotonous task that I dread doing. If you read my Niche Site Duel 7, you’ll know that I started using a service called Build My Rank (BMR) to build high PR backlinks to my site. These links point directly to my money site. It’s really quite easy to do, just write 150 word articles and place a link to your site.

I find this service a little faster to use than Blog Blueprint because I like how you can set your anchor text/links into drop down menus and choose the appropriate link when submitting your articles.

These are 150 word articles instead of the 100 words required by Blog Blueprint. Please note that this is my only backlinking strategy at the moment. I switched to Build My Rank because it’s virtually the same price per month as Blog Blueprint but from reviews I’ve read, it is very effective.

Build My Rank gives me a pie chart that shows me the number of links and the PR coming from that link. According to BMR, they also build on average 50 backlinks to the BMR articles to build up the link juice. So far, I am enjoying the service except for all the manual work I have to do.

BMR allows me to see a listing of all the articles I’ve submitted and you actually get a link to the posted article so you can see it live. It tells you the PR of the site my article was posted to and whether or not it has been indexed.

Is My Backlinking Strategy Working?

Let’s look at my rankings over the past 2 months using Build My Rank. The following are my stats from Rank Checker in Firefox. Click to see larger image.

As you can see, in the beginning, I was ranked 56 for my primary keyword of “wedding slideshow” and 3rd for my secondary keyword of “wedding slideshow ideas”. After 2 months of backlinking strictly with Build My Rank, you can see that I am now ranked 18th for my primary keyword and I’m at number 1 for my secondary keyword. My primary keyword ranking keeps jumping around but in the stats from July 28, it was at number 12 in Google. So it looks like I’m going to have to use another method to get the primary keyword onto the first page of Google.

In the Google Analytics profile, traffic appears to be growing steadily. As of today, I have 1,718 unique visitors a month.

Niche Site Earnings Report

This is the part you’re probably most interested in reading about. I’m happy to say that the income generated by my site is growing. It could be because I’m ranking higher or maybe that we’re in the heart of wedding season. The only affiliate program I have on the site is from Animoto. Click image to view larger.

As you can see, income is rising as the months go on. I’ll be waiting to see what happens when we head into the winter months when typically, there are fewer weddings. It’ll be great if this site can generate between $100-$200 a month consistently on autopilot. One thing I don’t understand is that this morning, I had earned $12 in August 2011 but now it shows zero. Keep in mind that we are at the beginning of August which accounts for the low dollar figure. One thing that perplexes me is that the number of sales doesn’t match up to the actual income… For example, in July, I should’ve only made $74 but it shows I earned $114 ($12 for Plus/$50 for Pro). I will have to check with Animoto to see if I also get commissions on DVD and high resolution file purchases. That’s the only thing I can think of that could account for higher earnings.

Ebook Giveaway

In July, I finished my ebook and offered it as a free giveaway for people who sign up for my newsletter. The ebook is 16 pages and actually includes helpful tips for wedding slideshows. The last 1/3 of the ebook promotes the Animoto product with affiliate links of course.

When people sign up for the newsletter, they’ll be included in a 16 part autoresponder series that starts off with informational emails but I go into promoting Animoto by the 3rd email. By the end of the email series, I start promoting Animoto Pro which pays a $50 commission per sign up. I’ll be looking for other products to promote via the email list. As of today, I have 30 email subscribers which I think is pretty good since I just implemented the list last month.

For my ebook cover, I used my own set of Photoshop actions to help me quickly build the cover that appears on my page and my ebook download page. Back in April, I created 38 ecover templates in hopes of building another business with them. So far, I have been too busy to work on that but if you’re interested in a demo, go to EbookCoverActions.com.

Additional Strategies

July has been a busy month with this site. In addition to the ebook and autoresponder series, I created a Facebook page for my niche site. Facebook is a good way to build some additional publicity to my site. The only thing wrong with the Facebook thing is that I hardly update it. I’m just too busy working on other stuff! In the next section, I’ll tell you how I’m going to remedy this.

I created a landing page for “fans” and “non-fans”. The non-fan page encourages people to click the “Like” button.

The “fans” page has an opt-in Aweber form that offers my free ebook and to gather subscribers.

Future Plans

Ever since I implemented the email newsletter, I have kinda let this site run on autopilot. I’m hoping the email autoresponders help sell the product without those subscribers having to visit my site again. However, I am not finished with this site. One of the things I have planned is to hire a virtual assistant to help with things like article writing, Facebook updates and contacting wedding professionals for a possible future wedding directory… specifically wedding planners. I’m hoping to use wedding planners to help promote my site offline when they are in meetings with couples. The virtual assistant is also part of a larger plan to help build future niche sites as well. I’m finally in a position where I’m making enough money with 2 monetized websites to invest more into this business.

What I’ve Learned

I read somewhere that what you do today can have a dramatic impact on what happens tomorrow. Over the last few months, I’ve really tried to put time into building this business. Most of my spare time is now spent working on my websites doing various tasks. Also, I used to try to do everything as cheap as possible, now I have a new attitude about making smart investments that will help me grow my business. One last thing, if I hadn’t taken action to start my niche site, I wouldn’t have gained the experience that I have now. I’m still very much a beginner but I’m learning everyday.

In my next update, I will post the stats for the one year anniversary of my niche site going online. Click below to go to Niche Site Duel 9.

Niche Site Updates

To make it easy for you to follow my progress, here are all my posts for the Niche Site Duel in one place.

Niche Site Duel 9 – Year One Report and Earnings

Niche Site Duel 8 – Rankings and Earnings Report

Niche Site Duel 7 – My Site Is Now Generating Income

Niche Site Duel 6 – Building Backlinks

Niche Site Duel 5 – Getting My Website Online

Niche Site Duel 4 – Hosting Dilemma and Free Tools

Niche Site Duel 3 – Keyword Research

Niche Site Duel 2 – Choosing A Product To Promote

Niche Site Duel 1 – Introduction

Jul 21 11

How To Make A TV Commercial Without Shooting Any Video

by Harlan Yee

I don’t talk too much about my professional commercial projects but recently I created a Spanish language television commercial for a Univision station without shooting a frame of video! How you might ask? I used After Effects… my favorite computer program of all time! Actually, now that I look at it, there is one clip of green screen video I used that was shot for another project but you don’t see it in the final commercial… in fact, when I was done, I was able to delete that video clip out of my project!

So I thought you might be interested in how it’s done. This isn’t a full tutorial but a general overview of how I took very few elements and turned them into a full blown 1280×720 broadcast quality television commercial. The technical term for this type of work is “motion graphics”… Motion graphics has been the emphasis of my career for the past 5 years. In fact, I rarely shoot video anymore when it comes to commercial production.

I’ll start by showing you the finished commercial and then break it down and highlight some of the key steps in producing this commercial.

That commercial kinda goes by quick. I can’t speak Spanish but I’ve been producing Spanish language commercials for about 8 years now. It was a challenge in the beginning but editing to a Spanish voice track doesn’t bother me anymore as long as I have a translated script next to me. Let’s start analyzing the commercial!

After Effects elements for motion graphics

The first thing I started with was some green screen video of a group of people dancing. In the commercial, I turned them into silouettes because I wanted to be able to repeat that clip over and over again to create a crowd of people.

After Effects elements for motion graphics

When the green screen clip was in my timeline, I used Keylight to remove the green background. I then went to Layer>Auto-trace to turn my keyed video into a vector mask.

After Effects elements for motion graphics

At that point, it becomes an animated mask layer and I can assign it a color. At this point, I can delete the original video clip. I then Pre-Comped the auto-traced layer and inserted the pre-comp several times in my main timeline to create the crowd of people. They were placed in 3 rows on different Z-axis positions.

After Effects elements for motion graphics

Additional graphic elements I brought in were images of guitars and light bulbs. All the graphics needed transparent backgrounds. I used Photoshop to remove the white background from the images. Everything on screen had the 3D layer attribute activated so I could utilize a Camera Layer.

After Effects elements for motion graphics

This is important because the camera is what creates all the movement on the screen. All the elements are placed in 3D space but are locked down on the X, Y and Z axis. The virtual camera is able to fly over all the objects in the Comp.

After Effects elements for motion graphics

The guitars were Parented to the light bulb graphics so that they are essentially “attached” to the lightbulbs and move with them.

After Effects elements for motion graphics

The three lightbulbs have a rotation element to them so it looks like they’re rocking out. The anchor point was moved to the base of each lightbulb and I added random rotation with The Wiggler. In order to use The Wiggler, you have to have 2 keyframes on the layer you want to use it on. After that, just set the Frequency and Magnitude to your liking.

After Effects elements for motion graphics

The large array of stage lights behind the main screen was created from one dot generated by using Effect> Circle. I added another effect called Motion Tile to “repeat” the dots.

After Effects elements for motion graphics

The number of repeats is determined by adjusting the Tile Width and Tile Height parameters. The stage light element was placed inside it’s own Comp so I was able to use it 4 times in the spot. I also added the Trapcode Starglow effect to create the reddish glow to the lights.

After Effects elements for motion graphics

Additional spotlight layers were added to light the scene. You can see them above visualized as stars on the comp window. Normally, spotlights are invisible in After Effects but by using Trapcode> Lux, you can make the light beam visible. It’s really a cool plugin. Some of the lights have random rotation to them thanks again to The Wiggler. In addition to adding the beams of light, I added a haze to create the atmosphere of the scene by adding a layer with Effect> Fractal Noise set at 30% transparency which slowly moves on the X-axis. Oh, I forgot to mention that the Trapcode plugins are premium plugins and not included with After Effects.

After Effects elements for motion graphics

When the camera zooms into the big on-stage screen, I used another pre-comp to create a separate animation for the screen contents. The light bulbs that appear were created once then duplicated and off-set so they appear in a sequence.

After Effects elements for motion graphics

And finally, in the transition to the final end graphic, I used Effect> Card Wipe to make the slats that flip into place.

In conclusion, these are the type of projects I really have fun with. I enjoy figuring out how to do things with graphics only and will continue to build my skills in After Effects. If you are a motion graphic designer, I’d like to see some of your work. Feel free to leave a comment and include a link to your work. If you’re just starting out with After Effects, maybe I can answer some of your questions and save you some time. Again, leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!