WGA - Experiment 1B

Whelp, since I may have inadvertently screwed up Experiment 1A’s results with the small pop of color, I’m running another test based on the same premise of color.

In this version, I am keeping the original version where the word “color” is highlighted in orange. I will be testing that against an all-white version of the same text to see if there’s any discernible difference in engagement. I’ve also thrown the 2nd place video in just to see if there happens to be a change in engagement (there shouldn’t if the first experiment’s results are correct).

Three versions for testing. The only new version is #2.

Three versions for testing. The only new version is #2.

If Version 1 still wins instead of Version 2, then I’ll know I tainted my own experiment. Welcome to science, you numbskull.

Here we go!

WGA - Experiment 1A (Results)

We have a winner (sort of)!

We tested videos with black, white, yellow, red, and blue backgrounds to see which version performed the best. We looked at both 100% video completion and engagement and here’s what we found out:

The video with a Black background had the most video completions at around 9.1% while White had around an 8.5% completion rate.

What did we learn? The versions that aren’t even colors won the test for “Which is the best color?”

Now, onto what really matters: the engagement results.

With an astounding 11 clicks…Black for the win! Followed in a close second by Blue with 6 clicks. Red and Yellow had 5 clicks a piece and lowly White took last place with 4. Remember: each test cannot cost any more than $7.00. Therefore the test sample size is going to be rather small (and slightly less accurate).

I think I can speak for most brands when I say that companies prefer engagement over 100% video finishes.

Admittedly, I think I tainted my own results. See, the test was to see which background color would work. The constant was the white text on top of the block of color. I didn’t want to get called out for not knowing what a color was by including black or white so I chose to pop the word “color” with orange. Could this have been the reason people chose to watch and engage?

There’s only one way to answer that…to the next test!

WGA - Experiment 1A

The first experiment of the World’s Greatest Ad journey will be color. It’s one of the first things we start to recognize when we are infants so why not?

I have chosen the basicest of basic colors: White, Black, Red, Yellow, and Blue. Yes, I know, white is the presence of all colors and black is the absence of light (and therefore no colors at all) but bear with me.

Five different colors for testing

Five different colors for testing

How will a user respond to the same exact message but with vastly different colors? Will it show any real difference in interaction? Will people hate the ad and scroll right by it leading me to start the test all over again?

Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves (or in the comments below)!

World's Greatest Ad

What makes a great ad? Is it the color you use? Is it the use of a sans-serif font instead of a serif? Or maybe it’s the inclusion of some retired actor only senior citizens can remember?

Who the hell knows?!

Science knows! And in the coming weeks/months/years I’ll be using said science to test and track as many facets of an ad’s design as possible to achieve the World’s Greatest Ad.

Of course, I have to set myself some rules that will be carried through every trial.

  1. I cannot spend any more than $7 per ad. Why $7? Because 7 is not a lucky number. Therefore, any results I get won’t be tainted by some unforeseen positivity.

  2. Any videos I post must be kept at 6 seconds or less. It seems my own attention span can barely last that long so it seems a pretty good starting point.

  3. Each campaign can only test ONE thing. Knowing what changed to give a positive uptick is essential in an accurate test. Otherwise, what’s the point?

  4. Always honor the results! If I disregard data because of my own personal preferences then I’m no better off than some common street urchin.

I’m 99% positive a few Google searches can tell me exactly what I want to know but as my junior high biology teacher used to tell me, “figure it out yourself and stop asking me!”

Well, Mr. Campbell, you’ll be happy to know I’m figuring it out for myself.

From Thin Air - Making a Promo (Part 3)

Happy Saturday, anyone who’s reading this!

Welcome back for part three of our "Making a Promo” series where you’ll find out everything that goes into creating beautifully designed and drastically underwatched promotional videos.

Today we’ll explore a short animation test of our lead character, Tom.

An animation test of our leading man, Tom. You know, as in Thomas.

Step 6 (we think)

Testing out your animation is important not just to decide how your character moves but also forces you to be more familiar with them. We started this animation as just a round red ball with a face and stem. But after animating Tom, we know that he is a single father with three kids and a golden retriever puppy that gives just too many kisses! His job as an account manager at a struggling small business isn’t fulfilling enough so he works as a paid extra on weekends.

This video was created with several different design/animation programs. First we used Autodesk Sketchbook (which just went entirely free - so get it, it’s honestly the best digital drawing software) to design the character. You can go as far as you want in terms of completing the character: thumbnail, line drawing, shaded, inked, or even fully rendered (our preference).

Then when we find a character we are happy with and ready to animate, we export the drawing to ToonBoom Harmony where we build an animatable character. Depending on the style of the animation, the construction of the character can vary widely. Tom, however, is very simple so we went for a basic character rig (shapes with pivot points).

ToonBoom Harmony interface

ToonBoom Harmony interface

With Tom’s basic animation finished, we exported the animation to a PNG sequence for later use.

Next we went back to Autodesk Sketchbook to create a background for Tom to sit on. We cheated a little bit and built an environment within Blender which we then used Sketchbook to paint on top of. Isn’t it magical how you can use so many different bits of software for just one project?

From Blender to Sketchbook

From Blender to Sketchbook

Once we were satisfied with the backgrounds, we imported everything into Adobe After Effects for compositing. We also added sound at this point (which is basically stealing sound effects from YouTube and talking into an iPhone). True, you can add sound in Harmony but we’ve been using After Effects for so long that the workflow is just ingrained at this point.

Next up, we might try a few more animation tests with our other characters (Enis the Tennis Ball or White Guy the Tennis Player) but what we’re mainly focused on now is creating the finished animation.

Keep an eye out for that next bit of behind-the-scenes fun!

Best Buddies Spotlight

Obscure&Co. (along with talented Lizzy Fay) had the opportunity to visit a grade school outside of Chicago to experience the Best Buddies organization firsthand.

Best Buddies is a non-profit organization that pairs a buddy who has an intellectual or developmental disability with a friend or mentor. Unfortunately, those that were handed a disability often find themselves on the outside when it comes to socialization. Best Buddies has been changing that for the last 30 years.

We met with teachers, students, and parents of some of these buddies during our visit while filming a spotlight on one very special friendship: Anna and Fiona.

Best Buddies Anna & Fiona

If you ever get the chance to help out with a Best Buddies organization or event - make sure you do in some way or another! It’s a truly rewarding experience!

Donate now at

From Thin Air - Making a Promo (Part 2)

Step 5

So we’ve got our characters figured out. We’ve spent hours upon hours making sure the mouth is just the right distance from the eyes and we are just too tired to continue any alterations. Now comes a little thing we’ve found to be very helpful: the Animatic!

The animatic is your storyboard. The only difference is that you can add motion and sound to get your timing right. Doing this now is so much easier than altering a high-quality animation down the line. Saving time and sanity is essential in animation since every other aspect of it can be soooooooo so tedious.

Check out the animatic for our Tomato promo video below!

Test animatic for a promo video starring a tomato.

To be Continued…

We’ve got our story, our characters, and now even our timing and sound down. After you’ve sent your animatic to your mom and she’s told you how wonderful you are, it’s time to get down to the dirty work of animating your final version. Whether you use ToonBoom Harmony (our favorite) or the corner of your Sociobiology textbook, animation is not for the faint of heart.

So please, if you have any existing heart conditions, consult your doctor to see if animation is right for you.

From Thin Air - Making a Promo (Part 1)

Character Models and a Thumbnail Storyboard

Character Models and a Thumbnail Storyboard

Have you ever wondered what goes into making one of our award winning (ha) promotional videos? No? Oh. Well…would you want to learn anyway? Just keep reading if the answer is “yes” or press the back button on your browser if the answer is “no”.

Thanks for staying!

Step 1

Stand in the shower and waste copious amounts of hot water while your brain muscles start the creative process. Now, it is very important that the water is running. Without the nagging feeling that you’re wasting something so precious to other countries, you won’t feel the pressure to deliver results. Even the smallest kernel of an idea is a good enough start. At this point, feel free to turn off the water.

Step 2

Here, we like to scribble down that tidbit we found in the shower. No, I don’t mean the dried clump of shampoo that squirted against the wall when you tried to use the pump. I mean the idea that the rest of your promo is going to grow from!

Grab a notebook, a Kleenex, or even write on the foggy bathroom mirror (just don’t be angry when the ink evaporates with the steam). Write your idea so it can start to incubate.

A Thumbnail Storyboard.

A Thumbnail Storyboard.

Step 3

Now comes the visualization! We like to grab some graph paper to outline some thumbnails in a grid fashion. The small size of the thumbnails keeps us from focusing on too much detail. You really want to outline the story here. Don’t even focus too much on what the characters are going to look like - just get a working idea!

Step 4

Here’s the point where you can start working out your characters. Sometimes this takes us weeks to do and sometimes we love the first attempt (like what happened here with Tom).

Our Character Model of Tom. It’s rare but we were happy with our first go at this little vegetable. Fruit? Legume? Who even knows?

Our Character Model of Tom. It’s rare but we were happy with our first go at this little vegetable. Fruit? Legume? Who even knows?

Give your character some turnarounds (a front view, a profile view, a 3/4 view, falling out of a spaceship view). Try out different emotions. Stretch him to the limits in case something catches your eye. Hate him entirely? Draw a new character beating the old one mercilessly.

To be Continued…

Hopefully this is a good spot to leave you at for now! Look out for Part 2 where we tackle an Animatic (moving storyboard) to get our timing all set! Then come the backgrounds and the start of our animating!

You've Got the Pieces

We decided to make this little promo to illustrate how every company has a story. A story told in the wrong way, however, doesn’t help anyone.

Think of any of Dr. Seuss’s books. Without his wide vocabulary of non-existent words, we’d be left with a typical nursery rhyme — and I can’t remember ANY of those. Or what if Mozart had written all his music on a See ‘n Say? I’m not even sure how he would do that but he might not have been so memorable.

At Obscure & Company, we want to put your pieces together for you in a way no one will forget!

A Trail of Breadcrumbs

Hello, world!

You have found Obscure&Co’s dynamic autobiography; a documentation of the process. What can you expect to find here? Anything and everything…relatively speaking.

You won’t find any selfies here — my deepest apologies for that. But what you will find is imagination at work! Creativity in motion! Selfies! Wait, no selfies.

Come along as we start our journey. We can’t promise that you’ll enjoy yourself but we can promise you that you’ll maybe never not forget it!

Shall we?