Having managed over 3,000 video productions over the past 20 years, the creative team at Richter Studios has amassed a unique “grab bag” of creative resources. These hard-to-find gems have helped shape and inspire so many of our projects. If you are a fan of outstanding typography, editing, animation, cinematography or sound….do we ever have some revealing discoveries in store for you.
Below is a curated list of many creative resources the master craftsmen at Richter Studios would love to keep all to ourselves. However, given our creative success and good karma over the years, we felt it was our obligation to share these wonderful tidbits with others. You may have heard or even used some of these resources on your projects but most likely not all of them. So buckle up for a deliciously fun read and prepare to learn about some of the killer creative secrets in our repertoire.
Nearly every video project on the planet involves some form of typography. Some may include text only as simple as a lower-thirds treatment throughout or as part of a call to action at the end. Others feature kinetic text treatments and incorporate typography as the main element of the video.
Ever found yourself trying to figure out what typeface a particular sample is in? Perhaps all you have is a physical brochure, t-shirt or other item but no further guidance about a particular typeface you have stumbled across. One of coolest typography pages I’ve come across recently is the “WhatTheFont” feature on the MyFonts website. I’m half convinced it’s part witchcraft, part mad science but all you have to do is upload a file (say a picture you have taken on your cell phone) and it magically interprets what font was likely used. It’s not a perfect solution but it still has floored me on more than one occasion.
Another website that I love to frequently visit is Creative Market. Not only do they have over 13,000 great fonts and counting, they also make it incredibly easy to visualize how their typefaces would look like on projects you might be considering. By this, I mean postcards, t-shirts and other examples. They also have an area where you can input custom text to see how it would look. Most importantly, their interface is so easy and intuitive to use. Literally everything you need to make an informed creative decision is beautifully organized on one simple page.
Seeing that nearly all videos are shared online, an important consideration is what types of fonts are getting the most eyeballs on the websites themselves. Depending on the creative objective for your video, it may make a lot of sense to feature fonts that are commonplace on the web. Or perhaps you are looking to feature a font that is very unique. To either end, FontReach is a fantastic tool that scans the top million sites to show font usage across the web. All you have to do is type in the font you’re considering using and it will display in a few seconds just how many sites are displaying that particular font. Super cool insight. Hint: If you want to quickly see the top fonts used on the web, click here.
My absolute favorite typography destination, however, is the amazing House Industries website. They take the love of fonts to a whole different level. Naturally, there are some great typefaces you can license but they also have a merchandise store with a variety of creative goodies that feature their fonts and general awesomeness. Unique stuff like handmade alphabet mugs, unique decor items and a variety of lettering toys. Everything on their site just screams “craftsmanship” and its the collective of their work that leaves its mark. And for fun, they sure know how to create films which promote their quirky but endearing style. Check out this gem:
Erich Weiss Director – House Industries_ Velo-HD
Oftentimes the creatives who are under the most pressure are Editors. For reasons that don’t always make rational sense, they are the ones who have impossible deadlines lopped onto them at the very last second. With so little time to react, having spectacular tools at your fingertips is a must. Kevin Viol, a freelancer Editor for Richter Studios, swears by the RED GIANT Magic Bullet Cosmo II Plug-In for Adobe Premiere Pro. It’s a color correction tool that provides the ability to quickly balance skin tones, reduce wrinkles and remove skin blemishes.
RED GIANT | Magic Bullet Cosmo II
For production-related audio hiccups, we also have some goodies to share. Our Lead Editor, Luke Sheldon, is a big fan of the Izotope RX Plug-In Pack. In his own words:
“The Dialogue De-noiser in this pack is amazing when you have ambient hum or background chatter in your audio. It’s pretty hard to find a room or location for interviews without this ambient noise. It can come from air vents, electronics, machinery, or cars on the street outside the building, but unless you’re interviewing in a sound studio you’re going to get at least a little, and usually quite a lot of this unwanted noise. You just add the De-noiser to the audio track and it does a great job off the bat. If it’s an especially bad noise you can tweak the settings and to take more out. I use it for 95% of the films I edit.” ~ Luke Sheldon, Editor
Not all editing challenges are easily solved through plug-ins, however, and that’s when another freelance Editor, Brian Sarfatty from Perfect Fit Post, turns to the forum community at Creative Cow. “It’s a great forum for technical tips and problem solving,” explains Sarfatty. “A little more specific and thorough than a Google search. It’s the first place to go when I’m in need of a technical solution or trying to figure out the right workflow.”
Especially in the world of motion design, any trick or shortcut that can help you bend a pixel even more to your creative will is a major plus. There are several websites that we frequently check in with to learn the latest and greatest. One that we absolutely LOVE is School of Motion, which is an outstanding tutorial resource for ambitious animators. They have TONS of free lessons that include great detail and information, as well as super-immersive training classes that require payment but we have found them to be tremendously insightful. Another great hangout, especially for learning intricate compositing techniques, is Video Copilot. They not only have over 150 fantastic tutorials but also a very active forum community and some of the best After Effects plug-ins in the business.
Speaking of plug-ins, here’s a gem courtesy of the Lead Animator at Richter Studios, Jessica Lawheed. Meet Newton 2, commonly referred to as the “Physics Engine for After Effects.” Lawheed isn’t shy in describing her affection for the plug in:
“Gone are the days of meticulous physics keyframing! This plug-in makes 2-D animation even more fun than it was before. Instead of keyframing a bunch of things falling and bouncing off of one another, you just set it up in the program, hit render, and it does all the work for you. You have to learn how to use it first but trust me it’s amazing.” ~ Jessica Lawheed, Lead Animator
Newton 2 Showreel
If you are exploring 2D character animation, a great animation tool to consider is Toon Boom. Patrick Cheng, a Character Animator at Richter Studios, really enjoys using Toon Boom over competing products. For starters, you can draw directly in the program and can also create both raster and vector artwork. As character animation often requires a ton of redrawing, it’s very helpful to have this feature directly within the program.
“Unlike other animation tools, Toon Boom’s system is geared toward making character animation much easier to work with.”
TOON BOOM REEL 2016
It’s probably safe to say that, perhaps more than any other creative profession, cinematographers are constantly searching for new insights and approaches to their craft. One spectacular destination that Richter Studios DP Joe Martinez, Jr., often frequents is The Wandering DP Podcast.
“He has a semi-regular podcast about all things cinematography. Everything from interviewing popular commercial DP’s to breaking down lighting setups from his commercial shoots. He also features links to new work by up and coming DP’s and Directors that are great to look at for inspiration. I like his straight forward approach to talking about an industry that isn’t very straight forward. His commentary is great too, which is probably the main reason I listen. I think he is a valuable resource for everyone into cinematography, experienced or not. ” ~ Joe Martinez, Jr., DP
As Martinez is a huge Canon fan, another resource he swears by is the Canon Rumors website. “I always want to know what is on the horizon for new gear,” said Martinez. “Canon Rumors is a very credible site that decodes patents and has inside sources that can give light to new Canon products that are in the works. Sometimes the announcements don’t always pan out, either way it is interesting to follow the camera giant’s ideas from conception.”
Finally, nothing beats the Vimeo Staff Picks for creative inspiration. “They continue to do a great job at curating current content,” observed Martinez. “It has a good variety of projects, music videos, short films, doc’s and commercials. I don’t like wasting time spiraling down the internet wormhole looking for good video content. This is why I routinely visit Vimeo Staff Picks channel to stay up to date on what is trending in quality video content.”
It’s often been said that great sound can actually save a good story even if the visual quality is terrible. In this day and age, many creatives turn to PremiumBeat to find quick, inexpensive music tracks or sound effects. The challenge, however, is that as good as the service is, literally everyone is using it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched videos on YouTube or on television and heard one of their jingles. As much as I personally like using PremiumBeat for a variety of needs, I often have the desire for something more. That, without question, is APM Music, which rightfully boasts it has “largest, deepest and broadest music collection in the industry.” Over 500,000 tracks to be precise. Believe me, if you are willing to put in the time, you will find some outstanding works in their vast library for just about any need you can imagine. And if you’re so inclined, they even have a division that composes and produces original music for a wide variety of projects.
Another staple in the sound business is Voices.com, which features a portfolio of over 200,000 voice actors. The key takeaways with this service are quality and speed. The process is really simple too. All you need to do is submit a sample script and fill out some basic parameters for your project and, voilà, you’ll typically have between 40-50 voice auditions to review in an hour or two. The team at Richter Studios likes the service so much that we even created this nifty testimonial film for them.
One simple but incredibly useful tool we often use for voice-over content is Merriam-Webster. They have a pronunciation feature that comes in very handy when certain technical words factor into script. Just search for your word and then press the sound icon next to it when it appears.
Were these creative gems helpful to you? Do you have some more you would like to share? We would love to see your comments below!