Photoshop for Beginners

 

I generally do all my work in Adobe Audition, Premiere, and After Effects.  I’ve barely scratched the surface of Photoshop, but more and more I see it recommended that we use Photoshop for making thumbnails for our YouTube videos.

photoshop

When we started making YouTube videos, we didn’t have any choice about the thumbnails.  YouTube gave us 3 images to choose from, automatically generated from somewhere in our video. As you can imagine, they didn’t make for the most interesting, eye-catching thumbnails:

factoring

This is pretty…terrible.

Thankfully, after a couple years of this, YouTube relaxed the restrictions and allowed us to generate our own thumbnails.  Video thumbnails can almost be thought of like mini movie-posters.  How can you tell the story of your video in the blink of an eye?

strawberries

This might be easier if we made videos about strawberries.

At some point, we need to go back and make decent thumbnails for all of our old videos. Fingers crossed we can raise enough money on Patreon to be able to hire an assistant to help us with this kind of work!

But for now, we’re on our own, so we need to carve out a little time and energy to make sure all of our newest videos get the royal Photoshop treatment.

Now we’re not planning on going crazy.  We don’t need to look like fashionplates or anything:

fine-skin-retouch-photoshop-action-1024x681

These are both quite terrifyingly beautiful.

No, no, we just need to make our thumbnails stand out a little more. Do a little colour correcting, add some text, and layer in a relevant image. Sometimes we can pull this off in Premiere right in the same file when we’re editing our video, like this thumbnail we made for Black Holes:

black-hole-thumbnail-20160416

But all our sources say Photoshop is the way to go. It’s just more flexible and you can do so much more.  I’m ready to learn!

Today I read a book called “THE ULTIMATE BEGINNER’S GUIDE FOR MASTERING ADOBE PHOTOSHOP!”  I wouldn’t call it the Ultimate guide.  I was able to read it in about an hour, and it walked me through the basic menus and toolbars.  It did let me know that the toolbar was roughly broken into sections: selection tools/ pixel editing tools/ text & vector editing tools/ and navigation tools.  See, I didn’t know that.  But it didn’t tell me nearly enough to MASTER Photoshop.  I think they oversold the title a little. It didn’t even tell me what’s the point of flattening layers, and I really want to know what that’s all about.

Anyone have a set of #photoshop tutorials they can recommend? Much obliged!

KHH

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SERIES PREMIERE: BIOLOGY

 

We’re launching a new series on Socratica! Today we released our first video about Biology. 

We’re starting with that most important molecule, DNA.  DNA provides all the instructions an organism needs to develop, survive, and reproduce.

Before you can really appreciate how DNA works to do all these vital tasks, you must understand the structure of DNA. That’s why we’re starting with this video!

We had a secret weapon for making this video. We knew we wanted to build a model of DNA, but we didn’t want to just buy a kit that snaps together. Honestly – that’s just too easy. It’s all too easy to snap the pieces together without really digesting what you just built.

Our special tool?  A 3D Printing Pen!

MorphPen was kind enough to send a 3D printing pen to Socratica for us to try.  It’s like nothing else we’ve ever tried before. Sort of like an incredibly pliant, quick-drying clay that goes right where you want it to. We can make 3D sculptures! 

giphy

We’ve always known how vital it is to draw something, if you want to really understand its shape. Think of all those maps you drew as a child.

But to be able to draw in 3D is a game-changer!

If you’d like to #trymorphpen yourself, here’s a link:

Thanks for checking out our new series! Let us know in the comments what you think! 

KHH

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SERIES PREMIERE: CALCULUS

Socratica has just started a new math series on Calculus.

Our first episode is an overview, called  What is Calculus :

This series stars our co-founder, Michael Lee Harrison.  Michael is a mathematician, who has a lot of valuable experience under his belt.  He got his BS in math at Caltech, and continued his studies at UC Berkeley and University of Washington . He holds an MS in math from UW and is ABD on his PhD…we’ll see if we can round up some more abbreviations for our next profile!

Michael taught math at the college level for several years, where he was a good-humoured and encouraging instructor.  He next went into finance, working as a “quant” (quantitative analyst).  He then worked at Google as a developer for five years before leaving to start Socratica.

You’ve seen Michael’s work on Socratica for years now, but this is the VERY FIRST TIME he has stepped in front of the camera.  More to come soon!

KHH

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Our secret ingredient: Dog clickers

At Socratica Studios, we record our voice-overs with the aid of a secret weapon.

DOG CLICKERS. 

I recently had the chance to try this product from pet’s mum:

dog whistle bundle

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017RYDHG0

They sent it to me free in return for my honest review (FTC disclosure).

Well, I tried it and it sort of worked.  The clicker worked, no problem.  But the dog whistle I could actually hear with my own ears.  I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to work that way. We’re tossing the dog whistle.  I think it’s probably mis-aligned, because I twisted it lots of different ways and it still made a whistling sound that I could hear.  The dog was nonplussed.

The clicker, on the other hand, is a keeper for sure.  Oh, it works fine for dog training.  But it REALLY works for recording voice-overs.

When we do VO work, of course we sometimes stumble.  We edit out all those mistakes before we put together the visuals to make the final video.  That can be tedious, listening carefully for mistakes and watching the waveforms to see exactly where the mistakes are.

So we use a dog clicker!

Dog Clicker visual

See the nice clean mark?  That’s me messing up. 

It makes a nice clean mark on the audio recording.  Hey presto – quick audio edit.

And this clicker comes on a cute little wristlet! No more losing them all over the house.

KHH

Here’s our latest example of a screencast with voiceover:  Significant Figures. 

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#dogwhistledogclickerdogtrainingclicker

 

 

 

SERIES PREMIERE – Study Tips – How to be a Great Student – Cornell Notes

This is the FIRST EPISODE of our new series on How to Be a Great Student! In this episode, we learn about the CORNELL METHOD.

 

This is a great method for taking notes in class (or from your textbook, or watching a video). There’s no way to remember every word of a lecture. But taking great lecture notes is the first step to getting good grades and being a great student.

The most important rule is don’t write down every word. Listen carefully, then write simplified and abbreviated phrases that capture the main ideas.

When you get home, RE-READ your notes! Proofread them, making corrections as needed before you forget. Check your notes with a friend! In the margin, write brief headers that will cue your memory of each section of your notes.

Finally, write a summary at the bottom of the page so you can quickly tell what this page of notes is all about.

Do you have a different method of taking notes? Let us know what are your favourite study tips in the comments!

KHH

**********

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Related:

Are you curious about how we filmed these videos?  Check out our episode of Socratica Backstage about this video shoot:  Socratica Backstage: Overhead Mirrored Shots

Watch the trailer for our Study Tips: How to Be a Great Student series

 

Socratica Backstage: Behind the Scenes look at Mirrored Overhead Shots

We’re launching a new series on Socratica called “Study Tips: How to Be a Great Student.” An essential part of the videos in this series will be overhead B Roll and Insert Shots, to demonstrate things like how to take notes, how to use flashcards, etc.

overhead camera rig

Where do you put this thing when you’re not using it?

Many people use a large frame and suspend a camera overhead in order to do overhead shots. It’s one thing if you’re using a GoPro, but this isn’t something you really want to do with a larger camera with a nice lens. Other drawbacks include the amount of space an overhead frame takes up, and the fact that the camera is not easily accessible. You can’t zoom in during a shot unless you have a sophisticated remote control setup. You can’t easily move the camera from its fixed position, which limits the kind of filmmaking you can do (no pans, tilts, or slider shots).

Today on Socratica Backstage, you can watch how we mounted a large mirror in order to do better overhead shots. We immediately put it to use, filming B Roll and Insert shots for our first video in the Study Tips series, “How to Take Great Notes.”

 

We release our Backstage Videos early to our Patreon Supporters.  Thank you for being our super-fans!  Your support means so much to us.

If you are not yet a supporter of Socratica, please visit our Patreon Page and consider joining our team. You’ll be supporting our efforts to make more high-quality educational videos. Thank you!
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KHH

 

 

Our Fab Music Videos with Kat McDowell

You hear a lot of advice as a small YouTube channel.  Make more videos!  Tweet every day!  Shareability!  Longer videos!  Likes! Annotations!  Ask them to Subscribe!

But the big piece of advice we never took was: COLLABORATE. 

rising tide lifts all ships

A rising tide lifts all ships, the saying goes, and the idea is that if your channel can help out another, you should do it.  And don’t worry about contacting a channel with more subscribers than you – you could be bringing in a brand-new audience to the bigger channel.  Everyone wins.

It’s easier said than done, of course.  We’ve tried to pull of collaborations before, but something always got in the way:  schedule conflicts, too big of a difference in style, lack of funds.

But this year, with the help of the YouTube NextUp program, we finally did it.  We made two videos with our friend Kat McDowell – one for her channel, and one for ours!

This time, everything went right, the stars aligned, and the fates smiled on us.  We met Kat at an event at YouTube Space LA, and we recognized her from one of our favourite music videos – her cover of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” She’s a singer-songwriter from Japan and New Zealand, who makes “positive surf-pop” that will bring a smile to your face.

We knew we wanted to collaborate with Kat, but it was just a matter of finding a time and place to make it happen. Amazingly, we were both selected to take part in the YouTube NextUp program!  This meant we were in the same place at the same time for an entire week, with beautiful filming studios and tons of equipment at our disposal.

SUCCESS!

We hope you enjoy the videos as much as we enjoyed making them.

Here’s the video about Musical Harmony we made for our channel:

 

And here’s the music video “Human” we made for Kat’s channel:

 

 

Remember to tell your friends about Socratica Studios, and encourage them to try our videos and subscribe!

KHH

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Don’t forget to check out Kat McDowell’s channel  for more beautiful music! 

 

 

Related Post:

Game Changer: YouTube NextUp

Our YouTube NextUp Classmates

 

Our YouTube NextUp Classmates

Socratica was incredibly lucky (#blessed) to participate in the 2016 Class of NextUp at YouTube Space LA.  We were one of 16 channels who gathered together in Playa Vista at the YouTube Space for a week of intensive filmmaking classes and guidance from industry experts about how to grow our channels.

We’d like to introduce you to our classmates! In alphabetical order, here are the 16 talented creators we got to know and love:

  1. Ali Spagnola  – Ali is a force of nature. You can’t believe how much this woman gets done in one day. She is really well known for her snapchats, but her one-woman-band music videos are AMAZING.

 

2. Angel Wong’s Kitchen – Angel demystifies Taiwanese cooking and shares all of her most delicious discoveries with you. We hope to lure her down to the San Gabriel Valley to go on a dumpling crawl with us.

 

3. Cordero Roman Pay no attention to the man in the bushes.  Cordero is best known for his hidden-camera videos and awkward interviews. But he recently announced he is branching into new material, so stay tuned!

 

4. Dahlia & Dia Dahlia and Dia Tequali are twins who make surreal mini-movies. We sincerely hope David Lynch is watching. This video includes some guest appearances from other NextUppers.

 

5. EddieG!  Eddie Garcia makes hysterical comedy videos, occasionally featuring his alter-ego, Tiburcio. This video featured a lot of us from the YouTube Creator Camp!

 

6. House of Haute Toni Duclottni makes fashion and beauty videos, with all kinds of advice and her own personal touch. I didn’t even know latex dresses were a thing.

 

7. imSarahSnitch Sarah Sterling is an expert in all things Disney. This is her personal channel, but she’s also part of the Thingamavlogs channel, starring 4 Disney enthusiasts! If you love Disneyland, DisneyWorld, Disney movies, etc., you need to know about these channels.

 

8. Kat McDowell Kat is a singer-songwriter who was born in Japan and raised in New Zealand. She makes positive surf-pop style music you’re going to sing to yourself all day. Here’s another video that featured the NextUppers!

 

9. Mr. Fix It Aaron Massey makes clear and good-humored DIY, How-To, Installation, and Home-Improvement videos. Anyone who thinks they could never take care of their own home repairs needs to give his channel a try.

 

10. Nic and Pancho Nic Bello and his friend Pancho (who also attended NextUp) make the most charming comedic videos. You would swear Pancho understands every word Nic says. By the end of the NextUp camp, we all wanted to adopt Pancho, and Nic as well.

 

11. Painting with Jane Jane Font owns and operates Pandemonium Art Gallery. In addition to running this home for experimental art, she also makes free instructional art videos. They are hypnotic and relaxing, and make us all want to take up a brush.

 

12. Rayann410 Rayann Young hails from Atlanta (the 410), and has a lot of wisdom to share about taking care of your beautiful hair without it driving you crazy.

 

13. SammieSpeaks Samantha Zolt shares her shopping/beauty/lifestyle interests.

 

14. Socratica (that’s us!) Kimberly Hatch Harrison and Michael Harrison make educational videos. We focus on STEM, but there are some humanities in there too, so really we should say we make STEAM videos. Enjoy!

 

15. Studio Knit Kristen McDonnell makes the most adorable and creative knitted creations. Her channel features all kinds of knitting projects and fun crafty ideas.

 

16. Vagabrothers Marko and Alex Ayling are a couple of vagabond brothers (Vagabrothers) who travel the world and make it look easy and fun – there’s something for everyone on their channel.

 

When you make videos for YouTube, most of the time you are working on your own. It was such a gift to get to meet with other creators and see how they worked.  It was incredibly freeing to see how they could make a mistake, shake it off, and try something else. We’ve learned so much from these guys. 

Please check these great channels out!  They’re the next big thing.  We’re going to be able to say we knew them when!

Remember to tell your friends about Socratica Studios, and encourage them to try our videos and subscribe!

KHH

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Related Post:

Game Changer: YouTube NextUp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Game Changer: YouTube NextUp

A miracle occurred at Socratica Studios last month. Actually, it happened in Playa Vista, which is about an hour east of Socratica Studios.

Playa Vista is the location of YouTube Space LA (YTSLA).  We spent an entire week there, because Socratica was chosen to be in the 2016 class of YouTube NextUp.

YTSLA blue sky

What is YouTube NextUp?  It’s a program run by YouTube to identify and support promising up-and-coming YouTube channels.  Hundreds of YouTube channels applied, and 16 of us were brought to YTSLA for an intensive week-long course in filmmaking and growing your channel. Each channel had an experienced mentor,  and we worked all week with experts in the fields of cinematography, lighting, sound design, set design, greenscreen work, etc. etc.

It’s sort of like finding the golden ticket and being adopted by Willy Wonka.

willy-wonka-golden-ticket

 

Previous winners include ASAP Science (we’re big fans), Ingrid Nilsen, and Cassey Ho (who we actually got to meet and hear about her experience).   So many of them are now well over a million subscribers. It really seems like this is a turning point for the channels in the program.

One of the best things about the NextUp was getting to meet and work with other YouTube creators.  Working by yourself can be a kind of an echo-chamber, where you ask yourself, “Self, is this a good idea?” and you answer, “of course it is!” and you don’t question it. You always do things your way, in your comfort zone.  Watching the other creators work and helping them with their shoots was an incredible education in how many ways you can go about getting great videos.

Our 2016 Class of YouTube NextUp:

YTNextUpClassof2016

Next time, I’ll include videos from my classmates and tell you more about their channels.

Remember to tell your friends about Socratica Studios, and encourage them to try our videos and subscribe!

KHH

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Socratica reaches 25K!

Socratica has just hit 25,000 subscribers!  GOSH that makes us happy.  Thank you, everyone, for your support and encouragement. We will continue making educational videos to the best of our abilities – we think you deserve it!

We can't stop smiling!

We can’t stop smiling!

If you have friends who enjoy watching educational videos, please send them to our channels. The more people who watch, the more videos we can make. Every person helps!

KHH

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