Free Photo Shoot Friday: Bloki.com

 
 

We’re doing Free Photo Shoot Friday today.  How does it work, exactly?  First, a company sends their product to us, then we photograph a 360 view of it and make a detailed video tutorial on how we shot it, and then we give their product away for *free* through our Facebook page.  Free 360 product photography – free video tutorial – free product giveaway!  It’s basically a win-win-win. This week the folks from www.blokistand.com sent us a product that they successfully funded on Kickstarter.  This company makes a slick iPhone stand called the Bloki-i5, which is basically a charging dock that orients your phone in landscape mode instead of portrait mode.  This particular model is compilable with the iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c. Want to win one? Entering yourself into the contest is pretty simple. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Upload a new 360 view to your Imajize account (you can click here if you don’t have one yet).
  2. Select “URL” for the embed code.
  3. Copy and paste it onto our Facebook page.

That’s it! You’ll be entered into the product giveaway contest for this week.  We’ll randomly pick out a 360 view and announce the winner next Friday (April 18th, 2014).  So you have one week to post a 360 view onto the Imajize Facebook page. Now then, let’s cut to the chase and get started with the in-depth video tutorial on how we shot this 360 view in our magical photography laboratory.

Video Tutorial: How we made a 360 view of the Bloki stand:

 
 

Video Transcription #1

Hey guys, Michael here from Imajize.com, and today we’re doing this thing called “Free Photo Shoot Friday.” It’s the very first Free Photo Shoot Friday that we’ve ever tried, so… what it is is a free photo shoot for a company that sends us a product. We do a video on how we shoot it, and then we give the product away for free through our Facebook page. Really, really simple. The company that sends us the product, they get a free 360 view of their product. They can add it to their website and do whatever they want with it. You guys get a really cool video tutorial. You also get a chance to win the product on our Facebook page. If you like the product, and you actually want to try to go for it and win it—really simple—all you have to do is upload a new 360 view to your Imajize account, go to “embed” and select “URL” for the embed code, copy and paste it right onto our Facebook page. That’s it. You’re entered into that Free Photo Shoot Friday for that week. So from today onto next week, you’ll have all that time to upload a new 360 view into your account, copy and paste that embed code, and you’re pretty much good to go. Then next week, well, next Friday, we’re going to do it all over again. We've got a little bit of a waiting list for other companies that want to send us products for free photography, and we’re going to be giving those away too. So, every week so far, we’re going to be able to do free photography for these companies, free video tutorials on how we shoot it, and basically just give the products away for free on our website. Check in next week, we’re going to be doing another video tutorial on this, and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. 

What do we got this week? This week, a company called Bloki, sent us this really cool aluminum, anidide, CNC machine, iPhone stand. Really cool. It actually works with your iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, or iPhone 5c. How it works is you have your iPhone charger right here, and you’ll put it through the hole they have, and you just plug it into your phone. Really cool, works out really well. I actually have one myself, and I like it a lot. I have this app called Alarm HD, and when I have it set up it shows me what time it is. I just put it by my bedside, set the alarm, and this stand is a perfect little stand that just holds my phone up so I can see the time. Also really cool if you’re watching a movie while charging your phone. It’s a pretty cool little stand. That’s basically it. I think you guys will be pretty interested in seeing how we shoot this thing. So, let’s check it out. Next we’ll do a video on exactly how we shoot this product, and from there we’ll give you guys a chance to win it on our Facebook page. Let’s check it out!

Video Transcription #2

Ok, cool. So we’ve got the product here. Let’s check out the camera settings, the lens, the lights, the turntable, all that stuff. First lets check out the camera. The kind of camera we have here is a Canon 5d Mark I, and we’re using a Canon 50 millimeter F1.8. Really great lens, super sharp. Like that lens a lot. That’s the camera we’re using. In terms of camera settings, I’m just going to post it on the screen right here so you can check it out. We’ve got 1/160 for the shutter speed, using 13 for the aperture, we have the white balance set to 5700K, the ISO is set at 100, and that’s pretty much about it. Of course we have it in manual mode so we’ll be able to manually manipulate all those things. So that’s it for the camera settings. In terms of the lighting and the tent and stuff we’re using, we’re actually using a tent here, totally a homemade deal. It’s made out of simple white background paper you’d find at any photography store or Amazon or whatever. To help fight the reflections—because we’re shooting an iPhone right here, which are notorious for being highly reflective on the screen—we set up this black felt right here just for making that background nice and black so you won’t be able to see it. That’s it for the background. In terms of this tent, let’s go over this tent so you can see what we’re working with here. The tent is made out of this paper here. When you see simple photography background paper, this is what it’s made out of, really simple stuff. We’re just using a couple light stands here to hold the thing up. Just a simple tent, took about a day to make it. It makes shooting reflective products a whole lot easier, and on top of that it shoots non-reflective products really well too. That’s it for the tent. As far as the lights go, we’re using strobe lights. We like strobe lights a lot, because strobe lights allow us to use a really high aperture value on the camera, and that makes the whole photo really sharp. It’s a little bit harder to do with video because you have to use continuous lights with video, and you have to use super bright lights that are on all the time to make video work at that high of an aperture value. Since we’re using regular photographic strobe lights, we’re able to use a really high aperture value and increase the depth of field, and make the photos look really nice. That’s it for the lights. We’re using Alien Bees B800s for the two sides, and then for the background—we need to use something a little bit more powerful—we’re using a 1600. An Alien Bees 1600 for the back. 

Turntable—we’ll go over this more when it’s running, but it’s a homemade turntable. Made it back in about 2010. It’s got a little belt drive there, it’s got a little motor. Totally homemade deal. It was a lot of fun to make it. As you can see here it has a little disc with 36 frames on it. We can change out the disc and use different one if we want to change the number of frames per rotation. It’s got a little optical infrared sensor right here. It’s able to read the little white lines and fires the camera every time a white line goes underneath it. Works out really well. We’ll go over it in a second when it’s running. So, that’s the turntable. We chose 36 frames, by the way, because 36 is just generally a good number right now. It loads fast and it also spins pretty smoothly. We like 36 and we chose that for this project. So, 36 frames! 

The next part is centering the product, and this is an art. There’s a lot of tricks of the trade to centering a product really well and quickly. For here what we do is we use a small piece of tape. I don’t know if you can see it, but let me move this out of the way—there it is, right there. I don’t know if you can see that, let me zoom in on it. It’s pretty hard to see, which is kind of a good thing, because we don’t want it to show up in the photo, but it’s a really small piece of tape right there. These strobe lights are so bright that they’ll actually make that piece of tape disappear completely. You won’t notice it at all. What I’m going to do is I’m going to find that piece of tape, and I’m just going to center that product based on where the piece of tape is. What we want is to get the Bloki stand perfectly centered, because that’s the center of attention right now. I mean, the iPhone is great too, but in this case we want to shoot the product. So we’ve got it all centered now. 

Next we need to be able to clean the product, because when you’re doing a 360 view, you need to make sure that that product is super clean. If you have a little speck of dust on there, you’re going to have to remove it from all those different frames that it shows up on, and that can be a pain in the butt. If you have a whole bunch, it just turns into a nightmare. We have this little dust blower and we’ll just clean off the iPhone. We’ll also clean off the stand too. Kind of cleaned it off in advance, but just to give you an idea. If there’s a little piece of dust that’s a bit fussy, just use a little brush and brush off the extra stuff. 

Next let’s work on shooting the product. We’ve got the camera settings all set up, we’ve got the lighting all set up, let’s shoot it. So with this turntable, it’s a homemade deal, so it’s a little different from what you might buy off the shelf. We’ve got a little on and off switch here. You just hold it down for a second, and there’s a little automatic switch that turns on so you don’t have to hold the button down. That’s basically it, it’s kind of cool. When you’re shooting a product with strobe lights, and the turntable is spinning continuously, you need to be able to control the speed so that turntable’s not spinning too fast. If it’s spinning too fast then these lights won’t have enough time to recharge, because they need about a second or less to recharge. You can see here there’s a little green light that goes on and says “Hey, I’m recharged!” So you can see there it’s spinning at about just the right speed. We can control the speed with this little thing right here. We can slow it down if we want to, it’ll take forever, and we can speed it up again. Just adjust it till it’s perfect. It takes a little bit of fine tuning, but we don’t mind that. So that’s pretty much it, it’s just firing right now. It’s just about finished. You can see down here we have the little lights, and you can see whenever it goes over a white line, it actually fires the camera. I’ll speed it up a little bit. We’ve got the motor here, a little belt drive. Don’t laugh, but we’re actually using a socket wrench as a tension right now. It has a little on and off switch right there—that little brown thing. It’s got a little lobe. That switch right there actually turns off the whole motor and everything. It’s kind of cool. 

Let’s check out the photos right now. We shot everything in RAW. Makes life a little bit easier when we’re doing batch editing. We’re going to go into Photoshop right now, do the editing, and we’ll go from there. 

 

We have all of our images ready now and what we’re going to do is we’re going to edit them in Photoshop. We’ve got the images here. What we’re going to do is we’re going to open these guys up in Photoshop, so let’s go ahead and do that right now. We have our images, they’re just kind of loading up, but we can see here that the images turned out really nice and really sharp. Really like the way the reflections turned out on that screen, looks really good. The next thing we want to do is we want to remove the background in a way that makes it look white. What we can do is we can over here to “highlights,” and you can see we can adjust it. This actually changes the color of the background. The more we adjust it the more we’re able to remove it. You can move your mouse around into an area kind of like the corner over here, and you’ll notice it says RGB up over here. It’ll actually tell you how bright that pixel is, whichever pixel you’re hovered over. Right here the pixels are pretty bright, it’s about 245. It’d be nice to get it a little bit higher than that. What we can do is we can adjust the exposure and just crank it up a little bit more until we’re able to get to the value we need to. That’s getting pretty good. Don’t want to make the phone too bright. I think that looks pretty good the way it is. So now what I’ll do is I’ll click “Select All” and “Synchronize.” I’ll click “OK.” Right now it’s just going through all the images and it looks like it’s pretty good. The next thing after this is we want to save the images, so we’ll just click save. We’ll select a folder to save it into. In this case we’ve got a folder on our desktop, and we can just save it to our folder “save for web JPGs.” We’ll go ahead and save it. It might take a minute, so we’ll just fast forward and go to the part where we’re able to see the finished images. Let’s go ahead and do that right now. 

Now we have our JPG images. We’ve got the number one shot right here. I think it’ll probably look better if we have the number one shot, the very first shot, look like this image right here. What I can do is rename the first four images and move them to the back so this is the first image right here. What I’m going to do here is go to the first image. Let’s see here, 36… I’ll just name this one 37. I’ll name this one number 38…39…and 40. Now this is the very first image. It’ll start going down the list and finally it’ll get to 36, and then back to the first couple images. Perfect. Now it’s in the order that we want. 

The client that makes this stand asked us to add a screenshot of an alarm app onto the iPhone. What I did was I downloaded the app, called Alarm HD, and I’m going to add it to the screen on the iPhone for each individual frame. We only have to show it on the front of the iPhone, not the back, which is nice, so it’s half of the images, not the whole thing. Instead of adding it to 36 images we have to add it to 18 images. At the very least it’s going to look really cool. We’re going to have to add screenshots to each and every individual photo here, so let’s go look at the best way to do that. Let’s open up the first image. First lets do a little bit of editing to this guy. What I want to do is I want to open up an Action here that’ll allow me to mess around with the cropping. I created an Action that actually does just nothing but cropping. I can double click it and adjust it. I’m going to adjust the crop of this guy. There you go. From there we can add another Action that will be able to get rid of all this extra stuff that we don’t need. We’ll basically be able to just add a gradient. Here’s an Action right here, and what this one does is—it does all kinds of stuff actually. But the most important part is it allows us to add a gradient. I’m going to add one in right now by hitting “Record.” Make sure I’m selected on the right part. What I’m going to do is just add a little gradient right here, just like that. That looks pretty good. I think we’re pretty much just about done there. 

The next part I want to do is I want to add Curves/Hue and Saturation. What we can do is we can add an Action that will automatically add a Curves so we can adjust that, make the background totally white. And a Hue and Saturation to adjust the color. Because this product has no color to it we can actually bring it down a whole bunch. There we go, click “OK.” Now we have that recorded. Then we’re going to have an action that just plays back all these different parts, so that way we don’t have to do it by ourselves every time. It’s kind of a little program that does it all by itself. Let’s go ahead and run this batch action now. I’m going to go ahead and close Photoshop. We can run this batch action on all these guys. When we go into Photoshop we can click on the Action we want to run, in this case it’s going to be “360 Setup Background Removal.” From there I’m going to go to File > Automate > Batch. From here I’ll choose the folder that I want to select from. In this case we want to just drag and drop our images into there. Click “Choose,” then click “OK.” What this Action is going to do—you can actually see over here it’s processing the images for us in Photoshop and saving them into this folder right here. You can actually see all the images being processed. It might take a minute, so we’ll skip ahead and we’ll be able to see the finished images. Looks like we’re all finished up, we have all of our images here. Looks like we’re ready to start adding the screenshots. 

I’m going to move these over from a temporary folder to a more permanent folder. Now we open these up individually and start adding those screenshots. Let’s check out that screenshot real quick. This is actually the screenshot that we’re going to be adding to the iPhone. What we want to do is we want to open up one of the images. From here we can select the top most layer, then go to File > Place. Now we will select the screenshot that we want to add to it, so we’ll click here and that’s pretty big. What we want to do is downsize that a little bit. There we go, much better. From here we’ll just need to fit it onto the screen. Move it around and do some transforming to it. I’m going to hold down “Command” on my Mac and click and drag the corner to this corner. I’ll adjust the opacity back to a hundred percent by hitting the number zero on my keyboard. From here what we’ll want to do is we want to go to “Lighten.” We’ll just select lighten for the mode, and it makes it look very natural. We’re just going to do that for each individual shot until we’re all done. I’m going to fast forward and do it to all of them so you don’t have to watch me do it manually, but you’ll get the rough idea. From there we’ll pretty much be almost done. 

Looks like we’re all finished up now. What we’re going to do is review everything and make sure all the screenshots were applied correctly. Looks like they were. I’ll spin it around to the front so we can kind of see it again. You can see all those other shots. So from here what we’re going to do is basically turn all these PSD files into JPG files so then we can upload it to Imajize. To do that we can just open them up. Actually what we’ll actually do is go right into Photoshop, and we made a little Action that just does save for web. This Action here saves the file and closes it. It’s got a couple extra things but we don’t need those right now. In fact we actually unselected that one so we don’t need it—it’s a high pass filter, little bit complicated for now, don’t worry about it. I’ll select the folder that I want to run the Action on. Let’s go ahead and go to File > Automate > Batch. We’ll just choose the folder we want to run the Action on. Click “Choose,” and click “OK.” Alright so from here we’ll just fast forward again and once it’s all done we’ll be able to upload the images to Imajize. 

Looks like we’re all finished up, got all of our JPG images here. We’ll go and open up Imajize now and what we can do is we can name this product. There we go. Now we’ll select our images and we’ll click “Open.” From here we can adjust the settings. Background color: white, because the images are white. Turntable’s spin direction: some turn counter clockwise, and some turn clockwise. Mine turns counter clockwise. Autospin: you can disable this if you want to, but in this case we’ll just leave it at ten rotations per minute. Zoom magnification: we can disable that for now, but if you want to turn it on and zoom you can. Spin control: you can do hover over. Fullscreen mode: you can turn it on or off, in this case we’ll leave it on. Then we’ll click “Create 360 View.” 

We have the finished 360 view here. I’ll spin it around—looks really cool. You can actually see the alarm on all the different shots. Go into fullscreen mode and check it out there. Loads up real quick. There we go, we’ll spin it around and see all the fine detail. Looks really big in fullscreen mode, sharp as a tac. Now we can close that up. To add it into the website, just click on “Embed,” and you can choose from a variety of options how to embed it onto your website. If you have a Wordpress site you’ll click on the HTML tab, and you just copy and paste this code in there. If you have any trouble adding it to your website, as part of the service Imajize offers free help for adding it into your site. If you get stuck, just drop us a line at support@imajize.com and we’ll be happy to help you out. 

As for this contest thing, if you want to check it out, go onto our Facebook page and just add the 360 view. Just upload a 360 view to your account, go onto “URL” here, and just copy and paste this into the Facebook page. That’ll automatically enter you into the contest giveaway for this free Bloki stand for your iPhone. The last thing we can do is check out the Bloki stand on their website, so let’s check that out. Here we go. Looks like they have it already added to their site. Click on 360 view and there it is, right on their site. Looks really cool. Also got the fullscreen button there, but you already saw that. Works out really great. We gave the images to him, he seems to be really happy with it, and hopefully it’ll help him out with making more sales and showing people exactly what his product looks like. 

Good luck with the contest, and thanks for watching the video! Take care guys.