My cat Heidi testing out a couple interactive fishpond projection effects. She was really confused. :)
Should I stay In school? How do I promote referral-based user acquisition? What should I charge for SaaS?
Every so often I am asked to give advice to other young people who are considering launching a tech company, or who have launched while they are still studying and are wondering when it is time to take the leap and invest all their time into their emerging business. These questions were submitted by Myles Recny, who has built a wonderful application called followgen, which helps brands acquire new users through social media platforms. I have highlighted my answers in the hopes that it will help other young entrepreneurs who are wrestling with the same questions.
Question 1 - How Can I Encourage Referral-Based Acquisition?
My product is extremely effective at driving traffic, and because of that brands don’t want to broadcast the fact that they’re using it. They’d rather seem organic. How do I navigate this to have healthy referral-based user acquisition?
Your client’s decision to maintain the impression that their social media acquisitions are organic is understandable. It is your job to market your service as one that ‘augments organic acquisition’, rather than one that ‘buys followers’. This is a key differentiator, and one that will allow you to request referrals to expand your user base by encouraging the brands you support to promote you as a service that has helped them drive relevant traffic without making themselves seem as though they are buying traffic.
Question 2 - When is the right time to leave school?
I’m toying with the idea of quitting grad-school and going full-time on this. What are your thoughts on the value of education in school vs education via building a business?
You are in the best position to determine what you stand to gain or lose by quitting grad school. If your goal is to become an entrepreneur, and you are absolutely certain you will never want to, (or have to), work for someone else, you may want to invest in your startup rather than continuing your education.
However, the money you invest in education buys you more than a degree. You also have a priceless opportunity to network with academia and potential future clients from the perspective of an ‘expert student’ who is on the cutting edge of technology. That is not an opportunity you will ever have again, and it’s not something to brush off lightly. In addition, your future employees are probably also in school right now, and students are cheap labor if you can inspire them. Your future business partner may be in a class with you. Think about how you will find people to support your venture if you abandon the resources of your school… it isn’t easy to build a successful business on your own.
Having said that, you may want to experiment with a transition. Look into classes and networking opportunities outside of your school. Connect with the advertising community. The best possible scenario would be that you find sufficient labor and clients to build your business organically without having to seek investment or interrupt your education.
Question 3 - What do I charge for SaaS and how should it be structured?
I offer a free trial but no free version of the product .. what’s your philosophy on pricing SaaS?
I am a trial and error girl. Your model will have to reflect what brands are familiar with (CPC, CPA etc…) if you want them to buy in, but how you structure that (subscription, freemium, promotion-based) will depend on what your clients want, and I promise you they will all want different things.
Our SaaS model is entirely based on what 3 people could build with no money. Over time we’ve restructured to encourage people to buy in to a recurring revenue (subscription) model, but I can’t say it’s been a raging success.
Ask yourself 3 questions:
- How can I make the entry point as easy as possible for potential clients
- How do I present my service as a value-added tool that will sell more sh*t for my clients (proven ROI is very important in your market)
- What is the easiest way to implement a recurring revenue model so I can automate my service and hire some N00bs to do all the work
Answer those three questions and you’ll know what you need to do. Good luck! :D
Joss is our newest designer, and many of her projects are featured in my blog. If you want to connect with her directly, the link will take you there. :)
Anonymous asked: Hi, I am interested in video mapping and I want to ask how to measure the distance between the projector to the wall. And any tips for the beginner before they try to make their first video mapping. Thanks, I love your works, it is so amazing!
ADVICE FOR NEW PROJECTION ARTISTS
Hi! Here is my best advice, and it applies to anything (not just videomapping).
1) Just do it. Take your projector and point it at a wall and see how it looks. You can learn all the fancy math as you go. Ever single projector has a different lens ratio and throw ratio, and there will often be noticeable differences even between two projectors of exactly the same make. While you are learning there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ distance. Play around, see what looks good to you.
2) Start with something simple. The best way to figure out what looks good is to know what you want to accomplish. A good starting exercise is to make it look like bricks are popping out of the wall.
3) Think about the shadows. Remember that videomapping on any surface (flat, irregular, multi-sided) is only convincing if you pay attention to the shadows. The areas that are NOT lit up by your projector are often more crucial than the areas you light when it comes to making a convincing special effect.
4) Add audio if you can. You’d be surprised how much this adds to your effect.
Here are a few videos of tests I asked our newest employee Jocelyne to do at our office last month to help her learn techniques. I asked her to make it look like something was coming out of the wall, to project clothes on a mannequin, and to create a realistic interactive floor effect with depth. She created all the motion graphics using 3D Studio and After Effects.
If you tell me what kind of graphics software you are using, I can maybe send you some simple instructions to make your first effect. Have fun!
Here’s an interview I did with the Huffington Post talking about the interactive projection platform we’ve built, and the direction we’re heading with it. Running a company is hard. :)
epsilonrnd asked: What materials did you use to construct that hologram thing, and where did you get them? Also, is there any information about how to create the videos to use for the holograms?
I used a flat piece of clear plastic from the front of a package. Nothing fancy. It was about the same weight as cardstock. You just need it to be stiff enough to stand up.
There isn’t much info online about making the videos. The screen we were using was an iPhone screen, which is 6cm wide. So we made a square canvas in After Effects and put the characters centered against each side of the square. Each one was shot rotating at a different perspective. (Front, back, left, right). The feet point towards the middle, since in the reflection the character will be flipped. As long as they are centered along the side and equidistant from the center of the canvas they should appear to be floating in the middle if you made your hologram box right.
Hope that explains some stuff! I find it’s easier to learn this stuff by just doing it. This post documents my second attempt. :)
Okay, so we still don’t have robots that can beam holographic messages asking us to deliver their planets from the Death Star. But we’re almost there. Honest. And while you wait for a princess to send your robot to you, you can make your own holographic display and impress your friends for less than it costs to impress them by taking off your clothes in public. If that’s not what your friends are into then we have different friends.
First you need a phone with a display. Retinal is better, but not required. All you need is a phone that’ll play a YouTube video.
Then you need to find a piece of flat, clear, relatively thick plastic. You should be able to cut it with scissors.
You will also need: scissors, a hot glue gun or clear tape, a piece of plastic and a bolt of other flat, heavy, relatively small piece of metal.
Then you should watch this video and make note of the measurements and the method of making your little hologram box.
Okay, it’s not in English. It doesn’t matter. This guy is my hero. In his honor, my friend created a little test video of a rotating chicken with a fetus skull head which you can use to test your new holograph box. Once you have your little box built, load this video on your phone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5O_rGiwPOU
This is what you’ll see when you put your little hologram box on your phone.
Let me know how it works out!
Some experiments we’ve been doing at work using po-motion interactive projection software and manual videomapping, twitter displays, and other fun stuff.
Video taken with my phone of the videomapped mannequin. Some better footage can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHkXICh7-uk
Last week, I decided it was time for our new designer Joss to learn a bit about how light falls on irregular surfaces.
Joss’ room-mate Andy has some nice creepy headless mannequins for some reason. I asked Joss to bring one to work along with a detached head, which she did on the bus, earning her some great comments and lots of stares. :)
We decided to set up a front projector (short throw BenQ MP771). Here’s a photo of the setup:
Once this was set up, we turned on the projector, turned off the lights and opened Photoshop.
The first step was to extend Joss’ computer display so that she could full-screen her work area on the projector. How to do this on a PC:
1) Go to the Start menu
2) Open Control Panel
3) Click on Display
4) Click Connect to Projector
5) Select ‘Extend Display’
6) Open Photoshop
The native resolution of the projector is 1024 x 768, so that’s the resolution to work at in Photoshop. Create a new document that size, and then drag the document window to the projector. The rest of the tool windows and stuff should be on your computer, only the document window should be on the projector screen.
In the View menu, select Actual Pixels, and then select Screen Mode > Full Screen Mode. This will allow the Photoshop document window to be projected on the surface of your object at the correct size and aspect ratio.
Next comes the tricky part. Using the pen tool and different colors, draw shapes around the areas you want to be able to isolate in your final projection. For example, I drew around the breasts because in order to make a projected shirt texture look real, I would need to know where those areas were in order to make the texture appear to bulge appropriately.
Here’s an image of the final quick shape outlines we did on the mannequin and the final texturing we did using the reference outlines. All of this was created while painting directly on the mannequin.
Once this was done, I dropped in a background image. I ended up just putting it on the foreground projector, so there are still shadows. Joss textured the mannequin with pajamas. What we ended up with were two images, one with the mannequin in jeans and a shirt in front of an office and one with the mannequin in pajamas in front of a bedroom.
To make the projection interactive, we imported these images into the Motion Maker Fog Template on Po-motion.com
Once we were happy with the effect, I downloaded the file and projected it on the mannequin using Po-motion software. When anyone moved in front of the mannequin, its clothes and environment changed.