Illustration of video game consoles and text stating how we made a 60-second gaming video

How We Made A 60-Second Gaming Video

During my placement with Makematic, I was tasked to produce a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) video on the benefits of gaming and the life skills it provides.Read More

Image of student doing online learning/classes on laptop. Notes are shown by her side

EdTech News – February 2021

We’ve rolled into February, but for many of us, it’s just a continuation of the same theme – lockdown.Read More

Illustration of Aine Carlin for Makematic's employee spotlight blog

Employee Spotlight: Aine Carlin, Producer

In this month’s employee spotlight, we’re highlighting one of our many, talented producers Aine Carlin! Aine is one of the O.G. producers at Makematic. She’s been working at the company since it began in 2016 and has been involved in multiple projects. We caught up with her this month to talk about her role at Makematic!Read More

Image of student doing online learning/home schooling/distance learning

Our Faithful And Educating Friend

If there is anything we have learned in the past year, it’s that video is no longer a nice-to-have but has become instead an essential part of the educational content blend at whatever level of education we examine.Read More

Lets Talk About History

Let’s Talk About History: Makematic Behind-The-Scenes Episode 10

The history that doesn’t make it into the textbooks is the best stories to tell.

It’s a new year and not much has changed in the world. We’re still in a global pandemic, we’re still at home and we’re still washing our hands. But some things have changed. The US has a new President and Vice President, there are vaccines being administered every day around the world, and a lot of new Untold videos are being released.Read More

Illustration of online learning in 2021

EdTech News – January 2021

2021 has started off with homeschooling in the UK. A webinar I attended earlier this week on Lessons Learned from Covid-19, made it clear the correct term is online learning and not remote learning as there is nothing remote about it. It certainly brings us closer together in that virtual way, but it also opens up new opportunities, such as amazing guest lectures from people who would have otherwise never traveled to give a lecture. You can watch Educate’s webinar here.Read More

Video Content in 2020

Video Content in 2020

It is the end of a long year, what better way to end than to do my usual and have a quick round-up of how video content has been growing as a consumer favourite in 2020.

Whilst international physical boundaries have been closed due to the Covid crisis, digital traffic has increased hugely.  From our perspective as a business who produces short-form educational video targeting post-millennials and millennials, we have seen pretty explosive growth this year as brands, publishers and non-profits all turn to short-form animated and live-action video to educate their audiences.

According to Cisco, who this time last year said that in any given second 1 million minutes of video are crossing the internet, at the end of 2020, they say that 75% of all internet traffic is video content, and this will rise to 82% by 2022.

Publicis and Verizon in a joint study have discovered that a lot of video content is consumed on the go or at work and as a result of this, 92% of those in their study watch video with the sound off.  So captions are becoming a must!

More than 2 billion people use Youtube – that’s one-third of all internet users with around 5 billion videos watched on Youtube every day, and Youtubers are uploading 500 hours of video every minute.  According to Social Media Today, 82% of Twitter users mainly use the platform to watch videos. These are mostly mobile users as well since roughly 90% of all video views on Twitter happen via mobile phones. 

We already know that most view video content via mobiles courtesy of eMarketer’s study in 2018, so this has only grown since then. We are nearing the point where everyone who possibly can in terms of device ownership, will view short-form video content on a daily basis, wherever they are, anywhere in the world. What’s interesting to learn from Brand Gym is that when consumers are viewing adverts on a mobile device, 75% skip the advertising in an average of 5.5 seconds (ie: as soon as they can!), so if advertising-supported video content is your strategy, then it’s completely the wrong one and something needs to change.   

On the educational front, video-assisted learning has become more and more popular.  Classrooms are awash with high-tech digital displays and now that schools are connected to the internet worldwide, video has become an important part of everyday learning – this has of course extended into the home this year.  The Covid pandemic has created the perfect environment for distance learning which has increased spectacularly with universities having to create high-quality distance learning modules with high production values for their video content.  Animated videos enrich subjects and help pupils and students understand complex subjects simply and easily in a format with which they identify.

The US government have recognised this and are awarding grants to those who produce educational video content. PBS Education an off-shoot of the network PBS has secured a $24M federal grant this year.  They’ve seen the opportunity that presents itself and are going to spend it on creating high educational value, curriculum-linked video assets and they’ve employed early-learning and children’s education experts and media producers to realise this project.

Those targeting post-millennials are getting it right.  I have often mentioned Blippi and how he’s grown to become a multi-million dollar brand in his own right through simply producing quality educational videos and posting them on Youtube. Last year he’d made about $12M. This year, judging by the merchandise in our house he’ll be making a lot more.  

In the past week, Ryan Kaja became the highest-earning Youtuber earning $29.5M from his Youtube child influencer shows and a further $200M from his branded toys and Marks and Spencer pyjamas.  Nickelodeon have now signed him for a series so next year that will only increase.

Without a doubt this year has been a big turning point for video content.  It was always on the cards that short-form educational video was going to become the learning medium for learning anything. But the fact that the entire population of the planet was forced online this year, whether they liked it or not, has made this happen now.  Not next year or the year after.  Today.  Those who choose to ignore this will simply be left behind.

Illustration of two people sitting on the couch watching TV. TV features Santa Clause

Christmas Commercials and Why They Work

Have you ever wondered why Companies would spend millions per year on commercials at Christmas that can only work for one to two months of the entire year? Might seem like a bad investment, however, Christmas advertising works, and here’s why!

Iconic Imagery

Christmas ads have their own unique look and feel. You should instantly be able to see one in between your scheduled entertainment and instantly connect “Oh, wow it’s nearly Christmas”. That’s all to do with Iconography.

IRN-BRU’s 2011 Advertisement was based on the Christmas classic short: “The Snowman” and provides that Winter-esque symbolism we’ve grown to connect with Christmas. From a Snow-laden, Winter wonderland to Urban Christmas lights and a tree to match. You can instantly watch this alongside many Christmas advertisements and know instantly what it’s about.

Social Commentary

Even though some would prefer their advertisements to be apolitical or lack commentary of topical events and movements from the year as a whole. Some companies use the opportunity to help raise awareness of an issue which overall can help the company’s reputable grow.

UK Supermarket chain, Iceland got into a spot of bother with their ad in 2018 however when their planned Christmas advertisement was banned in the UK for being “too political”. They tried to raise awareness of the use of Palm Oil in food products, which they were also eliminating from their own-brand productions in-store.

Here at Makematic, we started a video series on the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, which you can watch and take part in with the whole family! Here’s more info: https://makematic.com/promo/un-sdgs/

Melody

Christmas music over the years has changed dramatically, however, those classic Christmas tracks hold inter-connected qualities that are instantly recognizable.

Coca-Cola got into a habit of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” in regards to their recurring, melodic theme song as their UK commercial in 1995 showcases:

Overall, this was a branding success for Coca-Cola; providing that deja-vu factor while instantly becoming a Christmas classic in advertising.

Storytelling

Storytelling is key, the aim is to take the viewer on a journey. Usually fantastical in nature e.g. including Santa Claus and sometimes with an emotional aspect to tug on the heartstrings as Christmas builds up.

Research by Kantar found that “storytelling was a feature of 80% of Christmas ads between 2015 and 2017, compared to the 40% average for the rest of the year”.

Amazon Prime’s 2020 Christmas ad entitled “The show must go on” showcases a young ballet dancer whose spirit and tenacity triumphs through the challenges of 2020. All with a little help from her family and community – a feel-good narrative, that anyone in the family can relate.

We love the work of Amazon Studios which is why we’ve recently partnered with them to produce a series of Educational resources connected to their Amazon films; Radioactive & The Aeronauts.
Why not check out our collaboration – right here.

Family-Friendly

Christmas is a time for kids, and advertising should reflect that. The success of your commercials during the Christmas period is highly dependant if you can inspire and connect with the demographic you need to impress the most to gain sales – children.

Even though children are key, it’s the parents (alongside Santa, of course) that are required to make the deal happen. Keeping commercials kid-friendly while allowing for a narrative that parents and all can connect to is overall the best way to capitalise on your investment – as has been the case previously in Christmas advertising.

Demand is High

The month of December for many outlets usually provides their best sales for the entire year! With some outlets like FAO Schwarz gaining nearly half of their entire revenue for their store products in that one month alone!

John Lewis has been synonymous with their Christmas advertisements. It’s been reported that they spent approximately £8 million on their 2018 commercial featuring Elton John.

The question is, however, is it a worthwhile investment? A John Lewis spokesperson stated to the BBC: “Our ads always deliver an excellent return on investment at a time of year that is critical for us, generally delivering 20 times the return on our original spend,” a spokeswoman tells the BBC.

At Makematic we understand high demand, especially due to COVID-19 the need more than ever for effective, online educational content that can be utilised by educators, parents and students of all ages during this shift to online-based learning.

Looking for American History? Why not check out our Untold series for free here: https://untoldhistory.org/. You won’t regret it!

Illustration of video content being created

Coming To A Device Near You Soon – Part 2

In my last blog, I talked about my experiences of attending online conferences recently instead of in person.  Since then I’ve again been at an online conference, Futurebook, but this time sitting on the other side of the fence as a presenter.  

Before I go into that, I became curious as to what the origins of online and virtual events are.  This year we’ve all just flicked a switch and adapted because of the Covid crisis, but when did online conferences first start?

I thought a quick internet search would help me find an immediate answer, but it seems that the origins of online and virtual conferences are a little hazy. Turning quickly to Wikipedia, the first-ever publicly described reference to a “virtual tradeshow”, was in a presentation to investors at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in NYC in April 1993 by a company who are now Onstream Media. They had an HTML map to which they’d attached videos of exhibition stands and presentations which could be accessed online.  Thereafter there were further developments in the 90s but not a lot of information exists until the early 2000s.  Internet bandwidth had grown enough to support simultaneous video, voice and text in one call, and in terms of actual virtual conferences, after the economic crisis of the early 2000s, companies looking to tighten their belts, started attending virtually instead of in-person and the whole concept took off.  

At Futurebook last Thursday, I chaired a panel entitled How publishers have turned to video. I’m very grateful for the contribution made by my esteemed panel members, Paul Chen from Wiley, Sam Dumiak from Cambridge University Press, Matt Kibble from Bloomsbury Publishing and Justine Piekarowicz from Richmond ELT.  

We covered a wide range of subjects on how publishers are using video content, both licensed and commissioned, original footage and animation.  Each panel member brought a unique viewpoint to the conversation. 

Video Is Here To Stay

The main overall conclusion was that for the publishing sector, the amount of video in online products which a consumer in any publishing sector expects is rapidly increasing.  The publishing ‘niche’ is mirroring mainstream trends.

Therefore, those publishers who want success in the online world, are also rapidly increasing the amount of animated and live-action video content that makes up their digital portfolio of content.

How To Ensure Success?

By accepting that video plays a rapidly growing part in any publishing portfolio, then the necessary steps can be taken to put in place a strong strategy with short, medium, and long-term goals. All evidence suggests that video content is fast becoming a preferred medium for consent consumption for those under the age of 30. Recognise this, plan accordingly and thoroughly because in a truly multimedia world many others, who you would not see as traditional competitors, currently are.

How Are You Currently Budgeting?

Budgeting for video is different from that of print or other digital products. The amortisation of video as an asset is something new to which publishers need to adjust. Start with an understanding of the ROI and work backwards. Those publishers who are adjusting their business models accordingly are the ones who are capturing and captivating a new video-content orientated consumer. Plan your product investment for future success.

Developing A New Workflow

The workflow for producing video is vastly different to that of published content. Key changes will need to be incorporated, particularly around publishing programme timings, because short-form video, animated or live-action, takes a period to produce. Talk to and engage those with the knowledge that you need and incorporate the necessary changes to ensure future success.

Defining What Is Right For Your Audience Is King

Video-based social networks such as TikTok owe their continued success to low-production-value video shorts uploaded by users.  This shows that defining the right look and feel for your audience is king. Broadcast quality can define a brand, more social media-friendly formats can help build digital product audiences even with lower production values. It is key to define what is right for your brand and your digital product audience. In the overall process of building out your video portfolio, the idea of ‘quality’ should be separated from production standards. A current style of social media format may have a limited shelf-life so finding the “right quality” is what leads to engagement and impact. 

Creativity & Engagement & Fun!

Keeping a digital product fresh and new is a new challenge for the publishing sector and short-form video offers an opportunity to excite and engage your consumer, whomever that consumer is. So, use it as an opportunity to do just that. Video content allows boundaries to be pushed and can inject a big slice of fun. Whether it’s bringing children’s reference and drama content to life, injecting short informational films into an ELT or schools education programmes, explaining complex research papers in a quick two-minute overview, or helping someone cram for law, accountancy, finance or business exam, video is the perfect medium for captivating an audience.

What Is Your Overall Strategy?

As we have seen with the effect of the pandemic this year that having a solid digital strategy for your systems infrastructure, content portfolio and content blend is key. Whilst we are facing challenging economic times, many in the publishing world are seeing the true size of the digital opportunity the power of carefully created and disseminated short-form video content. 

All last week, throughout the sessions at Futurebook, a lot of coverage was made of the explosion in importance of audio content and we are about to witness the same with video content too.

Illustration of Kyle McGeagh who is Makematic's Content & Distribution Coordinator

Employee Spotlight: Kyle McGeagh, Content & Distribution Coordinator

This month’s employee spotlight blog we’re shining the light on the commercial team. In particular, Kyle McGeagh our Content & Distribution Coordinator. Kyle has been working at Makematic for 2 years now and we spoke to him about his unique role in the company.

How did you get your job at Makematic?

I was in the process of moving down to Derry, so I began to send out my CV and a cover letter to media companies in the area. After contacting Mark, I was offered an interview. Not long after my interview with Brian and Catherine, I was offered a position here at Makematic. Originally I was hired on as the Post-Production Coordinator, and then during my time here was moved into the position of Content and Distribution Coordinator.

On a day to day basis, what are your responsibilities and priorities?

My days can vary day to day, it all really depends on what is currently in Production and what is finishing in Post. My main responsibilities would be: Data wrangling rushes and projects, creating straightforward and understandable folder structures and workflows, managing our shared storage, and backing up rushes, masters, deliverables, and project files. Creating metadata for our content and cataloguing it, preparing content for distribution, which includes pulling together all of our master files, gathering or creating SRT files and thumbnails for our content. Managing our Video on Demand platform, our YouTube channel, and various other video hosting platforms. 

How do Content & Distribution Coordinators collaborate with other teams within the company?

A lot of my collaboration with other teams and members in the company comes in the form of me chasing people so that they will fill out a big scary Metadata Sheet, this is usually done through emails or through Zoom or Google Hangout calls. Usually, I prefer to do it through a call, that way I can walk people through the sheet and what it entails, which helps to alleviate the fright of the Metadata Sheet and make it much less of a daunting task for them. Another big part of my collaboration with other members is creating problem-solving, setting up workflows and ways of getting things done quicker and easier is a big part of my job. Most problems will find their way to me and it’s my job to figure out what it is we want to do and how to best achieve that with what we’ve got.

Are you working on any big projects?

I’m kind of across the board on our projects, mostly at the end of them to back everything up, and begin to prepare it for distribution. Getting things ready and prepared for distribution is quite the project on its own. Right now I’d say one of the biggest projects that I’ve been working on the past few months would be Untold Edu, it’s a great project to work on but it is quite the beast. 

What’s an important lesson you’ve learned while working at Makematic?

I’d say the most important lesson I’ve learned at Makematic is that good, strong workflows and systems are crucial to things running smoothly. Without a workflow or system that is clear, consistent, and understandable simple tasks can be made into mountains. Ironing out a workflow or system is also never the final step, these workflows and systems can always be built upon and improved; especially with how fast technologies and our understanding of them change.

Ever since Kyle started working in the company, he has had his hand in the majority of the videos produced by Makematic at some point; whether that’s creating thumbnails to videos or SRT files (subtitles). One of his many responsibilities is to ensure that the Makematic VOD is updated – check it out here!

In case you missed it, read our three previous Employee Spotlight blogs featuring Caoimhe Sweeney (Motion Graphics Designer), Conor McKelvey (Motion Graphics Designer), and Ryan Lee (now Producer!).

Animated drawing of a video game. This includes a person holding a games console and a screen that shows a video game scene which includes a man & woman

EdTech News – November

I’ve tried to focus this month on finding some good news stories from the world of EdTech. Some of us might be in another lockdown, facing (more or continuous) school closures and other uncertainties, so we can all use some good news. I’m glad to say I’ve managed to find some. 

First up is a story from Estonia, a country which is excelling at digital learning. Turns out the key is in early adoption and routine, so we’ll all be experts soon enough.

With knowledge from the above, it’s no surprise that Estonia ranks very high again in the list of countries which are best preparing their children for the future of work. “The best education systems are those that encourage students to analyze and think for themselves and create the right learning environments” according to the report. Developing critical thinking skills is crucial in this. For those of us who are worried about our children spending too much time online gaming. Rest assured, those critical thinking skills can also be developed playing fun games online! 

For some educators and students, it’s been difficult to make the transition to an online virtual learning environment, especially when it comes to social-emotional learning. There are educators, however, who use EdTech to develop social-emotional skills such as collaboration. Some teachers are convinced using platforms like Microsoft Teams and Google Classrooms in a non-restrictive way teaches students flexible thinking and self-control. Have a read here.

The main thing though is that students are engaged in learning and we all know EdTech can achieve that!

Belfast Design Week 2020: Educating Gen Z On Instagram

This year’s Belfast Design Week was a little different. Instead of coming together in person, it was all on Zoom. Zoom is fine, it’s just not the same as going to an in-person event, meeting new people and taking one too many free snacks.

Yesterday (04 Nov), we hosted a webinar entitled “How To Design Your Instagram Feed To Educate Your Audience” with a focus on how to gain the attention of Generation Z. For those who attended and to Belfast Design Week – thank you! For those who didn’t get a chance to hear what we had to say, we’ve put some key highlights about Post-Millennials (Gen Z) and how Instagram is changing as a platform in terms of how people are using it.

29.6% of Instagram’s users were in the 18-24 age group (Statista, 2020)

With the current social climate that happened this year and is continuously happening, Instagram is no longer an appropriate place to exist unfazed by current events, politics, cultural and social issues, and much more. 

Travel photos and group selfies have been replaced with protest photos and educational infographics.

With a quick search, you can find posts advocating for anything you can think about with thousand of engagements. Posting bite-sized squares of information in the form of a carousel which Instagram launched in 2017, has been used by activists, advocacy groups and well-meaned individuals as a way to educate and inform.

Consider it something like PowerPoint activism (Nguyen, 2020)

In a time of social unrest, these text-based slideshow graphics have found new resonance and an eager audience, like Gen Z, on the platform, which has been known for prioritizing still images over text.

But if you are planning to do this text-based slideshow graphics, make sure that it’s coming from a good place. This means that if you’re trying to educate your audience on a certain topic or matter, you need to make sure that you are practicing what you preach as Patel (2017) stated that “Gen Z is going to know very quickly whether they are a part of something special or are caught in a big-talk campaign”.

As social media users, it’s up to us to be more critical and intentional with our digital footprints. This is something Gen Z (individuals like myself) wants to use social media for. We want to be educated and learn more about what is happening in our society, as sometimes in schools we are not taught about certain things, therefore we take matters into our own hands.

Learn more about Post-Millenials and Civic Engagement here.

We had recorded the webinar so that everyone who did not attend is able to watch it – even folks who didn’t sign up. Look out for this next week!

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