Automatically Create Storyboards with Amazon’s New Tool

Posted on June 11, 2013 | No Comments

This blog appears on, targeted to kids entertainment professionals – but this info is helpful for all!

This week’s blog will look at something that’s super cool for us in the entertainment industry. While it’s currently targeted to movie scriptwriters, it can potentially be used for anyone looking to create a compelling story. Amazon Storyteller automatically turns any uploaded movie script into a storyboard, complete with graphics, for free. So cool! And no, I don’t work for Amazon!Amazon Storyteller

Right now, the system’s backgrounds and props work best for dramas and romantic comedies, but they’re looking to add more backgrounds, characters and props to expand genres.

So, if this isn’t targeted to kids and it’s strictly for film scripts, how will you use this?

If you’re a traditional TV producer, you can quickly develop a rough storyboard for an upcoming meeting to help provide clarity to your script.

Or how about using a storyboard differently, like creating personas for your next digital project? Rather than creating a basic profile and scouring Google Images for a random picture, develop a story about your key target persona and create a rough storyboard to help your team better understand and relate to the target demo of your project.

It’s also a good way to crowdsource your storyboards and see where you may have missed important details. Anyone can download a RTF formatted script from Amazon Studios and create a storyboard. You could put a call out on your social media channels and ask fans to storyboard scripts. Luckily, it can’t be published without the author’s permission, so there won’t be any weird versions of your script for public consumption, but it’s a good marketing tool that could help your potential fans be a part of the process.

To test it out, sign into Amazon Studios and click on “Find a movie script” here.  When a title has a script uploaded in RTF, click on “Create Storyboard.” Using lines from the script that you choose, the program pulls together some backgrounds, characters and props to create a rough storyboard – and you can further customize the images and texts.

I’d love to hear other ways this could be used, or if there are alternative storyboarding programs out there. Add your comments below!

Grow your kid-targeted IP with Vine

Posted on May 4, 2013 | No Comments

So, I’ve been out of commission lately as I had a baby in January. Veronica is a great kid and like every new parent, I naturally gravitate to Facebook to share her latest adventures.  One of the easiest ways for me to do this has been through Twitter’s Vine app.

Vine App

Vine is a mobile app that records and publishes six seconds of video. This length of video is perfect because I can tell you firsthand, most people have no desire to watch long videos of your offspring, even if they are the cutest thing.

Using the app is super easy – touching the screen starts the record function and releasing your finger acts as a cut-edit.  Once the recording is completed, the video is then looped so your viewers can watch the action over, and over, again.

Hmm… watch over and over again, I say? Why, isn’t that a typical request of the average preschooler? “Again! Again!” Methinks there might be an opportunity here for this industry to really take this app and make huge waves.

Given the firmly established passback phenom, where parents are handing over their mobiles to kids to play games and watch videos, there’s an opportunity to use Vine as a means to promote some fun features about your IP within the social media space.  It also gives a reason for more parents and kids to follow your brand on Twitter or Facebook if you’re regularly posting these quick and entertaining videos.

For inspiration, social media success story Oreo has some great examples on Vine. And feel free to also follow me – though fair warning, most of the videos will be about the baby or my dog.  For example:

Do you Really Need those Social Share buttons?

Posted on May 31, 2012 | No Comments


Came across an interesting blog post from about the effectiveness of adding those Like, Follow, Pin It and G+ buttons to your website and blog posts.

Their argument is these social sharing buttons don’t add any value to your website at all. If anything, it reeks of desperation.

“The user doesn’t come out of nowhere. We don’t land on your page and then head happily to those social networks to promote you, just because you have a button on your site. We find content through Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest etc., not the other way around.”

In my experience, not many people do click on these buttons. A website could get, say 5,000 uniques and out of that, only 3 clicks on a social button. That doesn’t mean their social channels were graveyards. In fact, akin to what IA is stating, visits and likes increased thanks to compelling content on the website.

I know the irony – I have a messy slew of share buttons on the bottom of this post. And I’ve had good traffic on this site with very few ‘shares,’ which does make it look as though my content isn’t good enough. The thing is, I have people talk to me about my posts, and they are shared about on social media without the need for these buttons.

I’m in the middle of a redesign and will be removing these social buttons post haste! We’ll then see if the content continues to speak for itself.

Remember: “Social media buttons are not a social media strategy, even though they’re often sold that way. Excellent content, serious networking and constant human engagement is the way to build your profile.”

Be sure to read the entire post from Information Architecture. Great stuff.


Shifting social TV for those without Cable

Posted on April 3, 2012 | No Comments

Social TV for cable cuttersIn Cannes recently, a number of top execs gathered to learn everything there is to know about social television – the act of adding the social networking experience to TV watching. Think: adding a hashtag to your live event.  Twitter UK’s top exec told the attendees that social television is happening, whether they want it to or not.  This is true, but maybe the focus should shift slightly.

As the industry works to better personalize the broadcast experience for its viewers, from adding full length content on their own websites to selling their catalogue rights to Netflix, there will be an increased marketing challenge to help audiences find their programs. Why? Because for those of us without cable,  it’s challenging to know what shows to watch because there’s no lead-in from a top rated show, or because programmers are selling preroll ad spaces to legitimate companies, not filling it with in-house advertising to promote their latest show (for the most part).

I find my shows by listening to podcasts, reading tweets (beyond a Get Glue check-in), or overhearing what colleagues are watching. I’m more compelled to watch a show when I see most people on my Twitter feed are tuned in versus seeing a big box ad for the program.  In fact, seeing everyone watch a program live makes me twinge a little for ye olde days of cable because there’s a community building on social media I can’t be a part of because I can’t see the show. I’m missing out.

So, how do you do start a social TV campaign?

– take part in some social listening. What are people saying on Twitter or Facebook about you? About your competition? Gather the data and think up a fun angle to build a community. There are free and paid-for ways to gather this type of data, from Google Alerts to customized packages.

– don’t ask your coordinator to handle your social TV just because he/she is always on Facebook. Hire a professional and check their credentials. Have they created a social media campaign before? Do they understand and take part in social TV?

– Don’t rely only on Get Glue, Miso or other social TV check-in sites. They’re good for creating a reminder to watch, but take the community to the next level now that you know they’re tuning in.

– Let the conversation happen organically – viewers can sense a fake tweet from a mile away. If your staff is writing tweets to support your program, be 100% transparent.

– Concerned about people revealing spoilers? Those without cable are used to hearing the ending of shows – doesn’t mean we’re not going to still watch it. In fact, sometimes letting your fans leak the spoilers results in more people watching.

– Keep your fans interested by holding fun hashtag games on Twitter. Ru Paul’s Drag Race asks its fans to come up with ’70s drag names between broadcasts, for example.

– Don’t rely on contests to build your community. People who enter contests tend to jump in and out without full engagement. Make it rewarding to talk about your show with retweets and engage them in conversations.

Any other tips? Let me know in the comments.

How to Correct Social Media Errors

Posted on July 13, 2011 | No Comments

This is a great article from PBS’s MediaShift on how to correct mistakes on social media.

MediaShift . How to Correct Social Media Errors | PBS.

Quick overview:

– Neither Facebook or Twitter offer a suggestion on how correct a poorly written post. Pundits suggest these services, or a third party app, need to create a functionality that lets users correct errors and notify anyone who retweeted the erroneous message (great idea for budding API developers!)

– Google+ allows users to edit posts and lists the date and time of the change.

Made a mistake? Best practices include:

– capture the error with a screengrab

– acknowledge the mistake and reference the error

– send tweets and messages to let those who shared or retweeted the error

If your social media mistake is offensive to some readers, and/or potential brand damaging, read this about Kenneth Cole’s rebound, and this, about Bing’s approach.


Like Me and I’ll Give You Something!

Posted on April 26, 2011 | No Comments

Did you ever see (in a movie or in real life) a young nerdy kid try to bribe “popular kids” for friendships by giving them things? “Oh, I heard you really like Sprite so I got you the last one from the fridge.” Remember how the cool kids would usually react? That’s right – with heart-wrenching indifference.

So why has Facebook changed all of that?

Every day, I receive requests to Like a brand or product on Facebook to get a coupon. It’s not only the fastest way for the industry to minimize the potential analytics and sincere word-of-mouth goldmine of a Facebook Like –  but it’s shocking because many of us very cool people are falling for it. It’s like we’re gladly taking a free can of pop from the annoying kid at school and not only thanking them for it, but promising to let everyone know -publicly – that we think this annoying kid is actually the coolest ever.

Seems kind of lazy to me.

Are the popular kids (us) just willing to put up anything on our profile (and our friends walls) in exchange for something free?

Google +1

Posted on March 30, 2011 | No Comments

“The web’s a big place: sometimes it helps to have a tour guide.”

This is the thought behind Google’s recently launched social recommendation engine, +1. If you like a link on Google, click the +1 button and your friends will know you like that site. Similar to Facebook’s “like” button? You bet – except Google’s social feature has the capacity to reach a different group of people than those on your Facebook.

The +1 button will recommend sites to people in your Gmail, Google Reader, Google buzz and other Google contact lists you identify.  It’ll benefit companies who eventually choose to add this feature on their website, as the more +1s, presumably the better your standing with Google’s rank. It’s also a nice new algorithm that helps Google searches move away from content farms that have been dominating their results lately.

If you want to try it out, visit this area on Google. And anyone in children’s media who think this might be a way for kids to become involved legally in social media… sorry. You still need to be 13 or older to be part of the Google community.

Facebook Questions

Posted on March 29, 2011 | No Comments

As I write this blog post, a very simple poll question, Mac or PC, has received over 2 million (!) votes on Facebook’s new Questions app.  Thanks to this new feature, everyone on Facebook now has the option to easily post a poll – and this includes anyone with a company fan page. Yes, even you. But is it something you should use?

One of the reasons why “Mac or PC” is getting so many responses is because it’s a quick question with a quick answer – and that’s something to keep in mind if you’re deciding to venture into Questions for your business. Don’t ask long, convoluted questions because you won’t get much response. Another key: while it’s good to get a gauge on what your fans are thinking, consider your audience. Do you want to ask questions that only your fans would know, or can you adjust your verbiage to introduce new users to your fan page/brand.

Questions is a great promotional tool for your Facebook page. When a fan decides to answer your poll, their vote is posted on their wall – prompting their friends to also answer the question and perhaps, end up as a fan of your FB page. If your poll is so specific that only your fans could answer, this might be a missed opportunity to capture some new traffic. But again, it depends on what information you’ll looking to gather.

So… early stage take aways:

– Keep it short (quick question, maybe two choices tops)

– Consider keeping it generic so anyone can answer to add fans to your FB page

Love to hear any other tips – please share!

Live Chat on Convore

Posted on February 10, 2011 | No Comments

First, there was Quora – a site that sparked immediate interest from digital pundits for its professional spin on a simple question and answer format. It proved popular at first, particularly from the technologically-savvy bunch because it focuses on high quality answers from well respected people in their fields.

Now, there’s Convore, a site that takes the Quora concept and turns it into live chat.

Basically, you create groups formed around a topic you’d like to discuss. So, I recently set up a group called Toronto- Interactive and posed a question – whatcha working on? I can invite my friends on Twitter or Facebook to join the site and participate in a live conversation, or I can join other groups and speak to international experts in the fields of tech, user experience, etc. You can even set up private groups, so if you’re working on a project with a group of people, you can set up live chats on this site.

Group chats are nothing new, but this site is free, easy to use and so far seems to be nicely focused on the topic at hand. It’s also a great research tool and a way to chat instantly about your favourite things. This TV Discussion, for example, separates each conversation by TV show.

So far, the site is interesting because it’s small and manageable. It’s also easy to see where your social media friends are chatting, which is a great feature. Let me know what you think of this in the comments.