Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Three New Free Sites You Can Use to Create Marketing Materials (PLUS Update on My Film)

I discovered some new sites which
helped me make this movie poster. They
might help you market your book
or other project.
I want to write a follow up article about what's happening with my short documentary, "The Door," but I know some of you are looking for ideas and helps for your own writing, so I'm also excited to share some new-to-me free web sites I discovered while making my movie poster (seen on the right). I used five different sites, all free, to accomplish these techniques. Two sites you probably already use, but three are new to me. With some imagination I'm sure you can use theses sites, techniques, and ideas to come up with great posters or images to market your books, e-books, your own short films, or whatever you're creating.

First, the update on my documentary film "The Door"


In my May post I wrote about my adventures and lessons learned while filming my short documentary, "The Door." Towards the end of the article I wrote this:
As I write this, the Camera/Editor, Mike, and I spent the past two days editing the film. I couldn't be more pleased. I can't tell you a lot more about it until it competes in the 168 Film Festival in August, but I'm thinking I'll write the August post about what happens between now and then. 

Since then a lot has happened! The film will premier at the 168 Film Festival at the Regal Cinemas Premiere House at LA Live in Los Angeles on August 26 - 17, 2017.

My film is scheduled to screen Saturday afternoon. You can see it on the 168 Film Festival Screening Schedule in Block 5.

I'm very pleased our 168 film, The Door, has now been nominated for two awards! Wow!

  • Best Documentary
  • Evangelista Award 

The Evangelista Award "honors the writer for creating the tool that best facilitates the telling of the Gospel of Jesus and the Method of Salvation. Directness, Simplicity and a minimum of distraction are core values. Evangelista has raised the bar for Gospel Films. All films except Write of Passage Spotlight are eligible."

Of course if you're in the area (or not!) and want to come the film festival you may. See 168 Film Festival ticket information here.

If you haven't seen it yet, you can watch the movie trailer for my film here: The Door Movie Trailer.

You can also catch a few seconds of my film in the 168 Film Festival Clip Reel 2017 here. We're at 1:03 - 1:06 seconds in.

I'm so pleased to also have had a part in developing the screenplay for another film in the festival. You may know that for many years I've been a "Development Executive" for the 168 Film Project's "Write of Passage" short film writing contest in October. Last year one of the writers I mentored, with the help of my Assistant Development Executive Sherry M. Cook, was Laura Woodworth. She wrote the script "In Tune" and this year she produced it for the 168 Film Festival! You can see "In Tune" on the schedule in Bock 7 Sunday afternoon. "In Tune" has also been nominated for five, count 'em, FIVE awards! I can't wait to see the film at the festival! Learn more about "In Tune" here.

Three Free Sites You Can Use to Create Marketing Materials


So are you wondering where I got my movie poster? I made it. It took some doing. And some learning. I'm thinking what I learned you might be able to use to create posters, postcards, images for Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, business cards, Facebook and Twitter headers, banners… or whatever else your imagination can come up with to market your own stuff — books, e-books, whatever you're doing. So here's the free sites I used to create my poster. (Tweet that!)

I took me several steps to get there. And each step took a different site. A few of these you've probably heard of or use yourself, but I'm pretty sure some will be new.

I have to confess that I did not keep notes (wish I had) and I was bouncing around so many sites trying to fix problems that were cropping up that now I can't remember everything I did. But I will do my best to reconstruct what I did here.

CREATING THE MOVIE POSTER


First, I needed to create an actual movie poster. (Tweet that!) I know we've all seen a million of them. I was thinking of all that information on them that tells who stars in it, who directed it, who produced it, etc. Actually, I was thinking of all the formatting that would go into that and it just seemed daunting. I didn't have the time for it. But didn't I remember seeing some free movie poster templates somewhere?

I was sure I'd seen one on Canva.com. But when I went to look I couldn't find it.

So I went searching for a free movie poster template. Some of the sites I searched out required a payment to remove watermarks or to get a higher resolution poster so it wouldn't be blurry, which was disappointing to discover after I created one poster.

Then I found a site called Poster My Wall.

If you go there, look at at the white poster with the woman's face. It says Recina Phalange (the woman actor's name, I assume?) at the top and the title of the movie below her chin is "Headline." That's the poster template I used for mine at the top of this page.

Obviously I switched out the photo with a slide my editor captured for me from our film. We chose a scene that captured an emotional image at a crucial point in our film and saved a frame for the poster. You could use your book cover or an image (if the rights allow) for your poster.

After I switched the image on my movie poster using the editing tools on Poster My Wall, I edited the text to insert the information for my own film, deleting what didn't apply, copying and pasting to duplicate where I needed more.

I had a little trouble editing it to look the way I wanted. I ended up taking the project to Canva.com (which you probably already use) to do some more editing. I couldn't get the production team information on top of the photo (onto the pavement under the actor's feet) so I had to figure out something different. I ended up removing the image and replacing it with a plain background. I first put a white background behind the text, which didn't work because the text was in white so it disappeared. I then tried a black background and the text popped.

I then saved that image as a jpeg and took it over to PicMonkey.com (which you probably also already use) where I cropped the rest of the picture out so I had just the image of the text on black at the bottom of the poster.

I had wanted that info at the end of my movie trailer like the "real" movie trailers, but I didn't know how to make it happen. Now that I had it as an image, I could go over to YouTube.com, make a new copy of my trailer, and add that slide at the end. Bonus!

Again, I had a little trouble making everything happen that I wanted so I ended up doing more editing with Canva.com. There I was able to get the picture as I wanted it, the movie crew info at the bottom, and the "168 Film Project" text at the top. Turns out it was very handy later to have the poster on Canva.com. I keep going back there for more editing.

ADDING LAURELS TO THE MOVIE POSTER


So that's how I created my movie poster. But then something interesting happened. The 168 Film Festival announced the list of award nominations and my film was nominated for two awards! Before I knew it, I saw other films' posters popping up on Facebook with that little thingy we've all seen (I didn't even know what to call it!) with the leaves and the award nominations or winner inside. I learned those are laurel leaves and so these are called "laurels."

I asked the 168 Film Festival where to get them and they made them available on FilmFreeway.com. But… but but but … Next dilemma: How do I get them from there onto my movie poster? Or web site? Or wherever I want them?!

Yes, download them, save them. But… but but but … they were black laurel leaves and text on a white background. I already knew black text wasn't going to show up on my dark poster. So where do you get the ones with white laurel leaves and text?

And furthermore, when I did try to add my new laurels to my poster, it made a big white square covering too much of my poster and being too loud or bold. How do people put JUST the image on top of another one without blocking out a whole square? (Tweet that!)

I've always noticed the Lord gives me the hints I'm going to need when I don't even know I need them. (Tweet that!) In the email from Mark at the 168 Film Festival letting me know where the laurels were available, he "just happened" to mention that I could "invert" the colors if I needed to on a "transparent background." Had he not said that, I wouldn't have even known what terms to google.

INVERT COLORS


So I knew I wanted to "invert" the colors. (Tweet that!) That's what it would be called to change the white background to black and the black text and leaves to white. (If you already know this stuff, please don't laugh.) So I googled for how to do that. I found ways to do it using MS Paint, which I knew was on my computer but that looked complicated. As usual, I was in a hurry and didn't have a lot of time for this!

Then I found the site Pine Tools and its "Invert Colors Online" function. It was so easy to figure out: click "Choose file." I chose the file of the laurel I had saved to my computer. Click "Invert!" Done. Save the new white text and laurels on black background to my computer.

I went back to my movie poster on Canva.com where I wanted to add the laurels. But I discovered a problem. The laurels now had solid black background, which meant they blacked out whatever was behind them. The transparent background was gone. Now what?

Back to google.

TRANSPARENT BACKGROUNDS


I tried a couple different sites before I found Lunapic and its "transparent background" at the bottom of the Edit menu.

Again, it was very easy to use and did a great job. Click "Choose file." Choose the white on black images of the laurels I'd saved to my computer. It asked me to click on the color I wanted to become transparent. I clicked on the black background. (Tweet that!) The background became gray and white checkerboard. Done. Save the new black on transparent laurels to my computer.

By the way: I was careful how I named each image when I saved them. "Nom Best Doc on trans bkgrnd" for example, so I could be sure of which saved image I wanted at each step. Plus each version of each laurel would be together and easy to find.

I took my new white text and laurels on transparent background images back to my movie poster on Canva.com and put them on top of my poster. Fantastic! The inverted color to white and the transparent background worked perfectly! HowEVer I had a very hard time getting the three of them the same size, lined up right, centered, etc. What to do now?

Then I had an idea…

PICMONKEY COLLAGE


I went to Picmonkey.com and used their "Collage" feature. I used the three images lined up like ducks in a row and inserted each of my three white laurels with transparent backgrounds. (Tweet that!)

Oops. Problem. The laurels had a lot of space around them, especially at the top so I needed to crop each one first. I was careful to crop them to exactly the same size (in pixels). Then re-saved them.

When I put the cropped version into Picmonkey's collage, they were perfectly sized and lined up. Then I saved THAT image and took it back to Canva.

(It seems now that somehow I had to make sure the background stayed transparent, but I can't remember now. If you can't figure that out, you can always take it back to Lunapic and redo the collage with a transparent background.)

CANVA


When I put my Picmonkey collage with my three white on transparent laurels on top of my poster, I was able to line it up and position it to look great. Then saved it to my computer.


"The Door" movie poster before the
laurels were added.
Whew. Yes, all this was a lot of back and forth and experimenting to figure out what worked, but I'm so pleased with my movie poster.

I can imagine ways to use these techniques to market my books. For example, when I revised one of my e-books that had become outdated, I wanted to put a "Newly Revised" image on the cover but I didn't know how. Now we can create it, invert colors if needed, make a transparent background, or keep a colored background if we need it to show up on our cover.
"The Door" movie poster after the
laurels were added.

And why not make a movie poster-style poster for your book? It could be fun! I hope you enjoy these three new free sites — Poster My Wall, Pine Tools, and Lunapic — you can use along with Canva.com and Picmonkey.com to create great marketing materials for your books, e-books, films, blogs, Facebook ads, and more.


In September I plan to post about the coming 168 Film Project's Write of Passage writing contest. If you're interested, sign up now for the best price.

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