Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Shark Week 2015: A Bite of Branding – the good & the gory on social media

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

“Shark Week” is officially back and brands have been quick to dive in to the celebrated TV phenomenon. It’s almost impossible for a socially active company, big or small, to resist piggybacking onto any news event’s buzz. And this year’s Shark Week is proving to be no different.

Here are the good, the bad, and the gory ways advertisers have been turning “Shark Week” into a brand-relevant social event and according to Adweek, even turning it essentially into “a national holiday.”

1. Dunkin Donuts 

Dunkin’ Donuts has been known for going all in on Shark Week (remember the shark-week donut from last year?). This year, Dunkin is taking to video platforms like Vine and using Vine stars like Gabe Erwin and Trey Kennedy to make funny, short video clips. The clip below stuck out to us the most – a desperate attempt to portray a pony tail as a shark fin is sure to stop anyone scrolling.

2. Coca-Cola

No ‘big branding on social’ list would be complete without a mention of what Coca-Cola is up to. They went for an animated, gif-like video of what truly makes a Shark smile – coke…

3. Volkswagen USA

Volkswagen prepared us for Shark Week before the week even started by posting this teaser on June 30.

And finally on July 5 they satisfied all of our yearnings to know the answer to their branded riddle. Here, Volkswagen and the Discovery Channel partner for a campaign to help save sharks by changing the way people feel about them.

4. Malibu Rum

Malibu Rum went for something more hands-on to catch their audience’s attention. It reminds us of Pinterest’s DIY content – content for a forward-looking audience. It’s pretty clear ‘Shark Week’ is now more than ever a holiday and therefore an appropriate reason to have a party. Seeing content like this doesn’t make us question what type of party drink might be getting served this week.

5. Tidy Cats

Above all, our kudos for best Shark Week branded content might have to go to Tidy Cats. They are putting great effort into shining the spotlight back on what really seems to be the world’s favorite animal.

We look forward to not only watching the rest of Shark Week, but also to watching more battles unfold between brands reaching for their audience’s attention.

What was your favorite piece of branded content so far? Let us know on our Facebook page.

Big Pgh Brands Give Away the ‘Secret Sauce’ of their Social Media Success at #SoMePgh

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Last Friday, our client and friends at VisitPittsburgh hosted their annual Tweet, Like & Be Social event featuring the best in the ‘Burgh on how to engage the community and customers using social media. I was able to snag a front-row seat, as some of Pittsburgh’s favorite brands filled the stage with presentations on social media and content marketing success. The following rundown makes clear why these brands are considered local leaders in the industry.

Screen shot 2015-06-22 at 12.38.36 PM

1. Scarehouse 

“25% of users turn away from a YouTube video if the video doesn’t start within 5 seconds” – a stat keynote speaker, Margee Kerr from Scarehouse opened with on Friday. With a PhD in sociology, Kerr began by offering a bite of basic human behavior on why this may be. We learned humans have evolved to be drawn to novel experiences. We seek out and pay attention to shiny, interesting, startling and instantaneous things – it’s how we survived. Sure, back then it meant discovering a wolf nearby, but today it’s how we discover content.

These marketing perspectives inform Scarehouse’s every marketing move

  • Know what images and colors will be most impactful
  • Use visuals that don’t contribute to distraction, but engage and keep attention
  • No one likes to be sold to, entertain them instead
  • People want to form connections, give them content they can connect with, engage with and share

What works for Scarehouse 

Scarehouse publishes video and images on a daily basis. These videos aren’t just sneak peaks. They use videos to teach people how to do things, discuss their expertise, offer behind the scenes footage, meet the team and more. The clip below for example features a look behind the mask of one of Scarehouse’s popular actresses. Customers want to know the people who make up the brand on a personal level. These tactics present Scarehouse as a company of people who know people, not just a brand trying to sell tickets.

 Scarehouse is also known for their instantaneous social media posts that connect people with the brand all-year-round. Their iconic bunny figure shows up a lot in such material. You can see this in the picture below – when Fifty Shades of Grey came out, Scarehouse jumped on the opportunity to sneak their brand in with the trend.
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“The Bunny will see you now” inserted into Fifty Shades of Grey iconic movie poster

2. Seven Springs 

Alex Moser, Director of Marketing for Seven Springs and Hidden Valley Resort zoomed in on the importance of branded video today. Moser opens with “transparency is paramount and video can help with that.” His marketing team pushes out branded video and photography daily, especially in the winter, to connect with their audience. In the winter, their audience wants to know one major question each day, how much snow is there? Instead of posting text updates, Moser’s team finds creative ways to show the conditions of their slopes like the one below. These videos are snackable and sharable, making the audience want to come back for more and buy tickets when they’re ready – creating not only brand awareness, but also brand loyalty.

3. Fittsburgh 

Brothers Anthony and Joe Vennare combined a passion for Pittsburgh with extensive knowledge of health and fitness and how to reach people. Their product is called Fittsburgh – launched in May of 2014. Now with thousands of followers, customers and subscribers, Anthony gave the #SoMePgh audience a look into his marketing success.

Anthony focused most on the phrase “delivering value.” As a start-up with no following, Anthony’s first mission was to build an audience. He communicated his brand’s mission was to make sure being healthy becomes part of what it means to be from or live in Pittsburgh. He did this by not focusing on the clicks, but by growing his audience one door at a time, literally. He went door-to-door, meeting people, introducing himself and giving branded materials and educational info on being fit. He asked over and over gain, how can we add value? He found his answers here:

  • Joining in the conversations – if the conversation related even just a little, he added insight, was grateful and gave help for free (through the brand)
  • He delivered hand-written letters from the brand as a way to say thanks for taking interest and engaging
  • He built trust and credibility through influencer marketing and branded articles in trusted publications like Mens HealthScreen shot 2015-06-22 at 8.48.15 AM

From starting with a “pay what you want” sales model, Anthony and his brother noticed people giving large amounts of money. Why? People saw the value in the brand and wanted to pay for it. His philosophy continues to be: make the best brand, make the best product, add value and share what makes you the best with your target audience. And they key, he adds – “to listen.”

4. VisitPittsburgh 

VisitPittsburgh brought us back full circle at the end of the event with a reminder to focus on your goals and your audience.

  • Publish posts that your audience can connect with – meaning find something in your content they can personally relate to
  • Interact with your audience on every platform you’re on
  • Be consistent and interesting, but not pushy – no one wants to feel like they are being sold something
  • Share other people’s content in your industry
  • Show your audience a personal side

Want to join in on the conversation? To share your social media marketing tips or for even more highlights from VisitPittsburgh’s event, search with the hashtag #SoMePgh.

The Best Blog Post You’ll NEVER Read

Monday, June 8th, 2015

You won't believe what happened next...
Are you still reading this? I know we are just past the headline of this blog post but, a recent independent study shows that most people don’t read past the headlines of a news article or blog posting. That’s why the idea is to capture the reader’s attention with something that sounds so spectacular, that they will have to read it or they “won’t believe what happens next!”

Social media is still going strong, however in this fast-paced world that finds it hard to read anything without abbreviations or anything over 140 characters, and we can only chat in a snap or watch 6 second videos, it’s no wonder that we don’t take the time to actually look things up, read content and draw our own conclusions from being informed. “We” simply get what we can from reading a headline so that “we” misinform the next sucker with just six simple words that have nothing to do with the article and everything to do with what we believe to be true based on some other misinformation that we got from the last person to post six simple words that were based on what they got out of the headlines, and so on and so on…

So where does the madness end? Unfortunately, it comes down to accountability. Something that is now “old fashion” because things like personal responsibility, morality and even common sense have given way to blame someone for something, if it feels good do it and leap before you look.

The seriousness of this has gone way past affecting just a few people. Uninformed people have always been a part of our society, especially when it comes to politics. In fact, politicians usually count on the ignorance of the masses in order to get elected. And it seems that this group of people is growing larger by the year. It’s almost impossible to have a political discussion via social media anymore because of people either not knowing anything about what they are talking about, or being misinformed about the topic of discussion because they only know what they read in a headline. The more that this sinks into our political culture, the more the uninformed will elect people who are probably just as uninformed as they are. Have you ever heard the term “The blind leading the blind”? Are we there yet? I guess it depends on the situation. But isn’t it sad that the answer is not a straight up “no”?

The questions are – are we willing to do something about this? Does anybody care? Are we at the point of no return? Does Polly really want that cracker? Is anyone still reading this? Hellllloooooo out there!!! {cricket… cricket… cricket…}

John Donne wrote that “No Man is an Island”. Meaning we are all part of the big picture, and we are all in this together. But lately, it seems as if you are part of the “old fashion” ways of wanting to read content and get informed, then you are out in the middle of the ocean by yourself looking to be saved. My “S.O.S.” is up, but in this case it stands for Save Our Social Media. I guess that’s really S.O.S.M., but then again nobody’s reading this, so…

Find out what it means to be a “Northwood Mom” – Apple Box Studios teams up with Northwood Realty & The Motherhood for Integrated Marketing Campaign

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

Calling all moms!

Thursday evening: the wine and cupcakes are flowing, and so is the conversation. Set in the Northwood Realty offices in the Adams Shoppes in Cranberry Township the Northwood Moms and a group of mom bloggers from all over western PA came together to share stories, advice and laughter over the communal bond of work and motherhood. If you haven’t heard, The Northwood Moms are 5 rockstar realtors who also happen to be very active mothers.

(picture collage from’s blog post on the #northwoodformoms event last Thursday)

Along with the organization The Motherhood, Apple Box Studios had front-row seats to the powerhouse discussion. In a space that more resembles a friend’s living room- complete with a stone fireplace and comfy couches the bloggers arrive and break off into small clusters, chatting amongst themselves and the Northwood Realty staff. Each blogger was able to then get to know the mom agents through a “speed-chatting” round and a quick sharing of baseball cards designed by Apple Box.

The bloggers were individually selected by The Motherhood (an organization that engages moms online on behalf of brands) to write about the evening’s events.

The end game of this meetup from a marketing perspective was to increase the recruiting efforts for Northwood’s Mom Campaign through new media outlets. By teaming up with the Motherhood’s mom bloggers, Apple Box was able to create a huge push on social media, add to the ongoing and integrated Mom’s Welcome campaign and support the latest video launch for Northwood, produced by Apple Box (see video below).

After the event, the #Northwoodformoms hashtag generated more than 2.3 million impressions and made Twitter’s trending topics list for Pittsburgh.

In addition to enhanced visibility the big picture PR of this effort paints Northwood Realty as an innovative, resourceful and compassionate company. All true, and all exemplified by CEO Tom Hosack who gave opening and closing remarks and was extremely well received by the attendees.

Tom Hosack, CEO/President of Northwood Realty with Mom Bloggers at the #NorthwoodforMoms event last Thursday

The main themes of the night organically rose to the surface. How do you keep all the balls in the air? (You don’t.) Define balance/happiness for yourself. Superwoman is not a reality. All moms have passion, are they present in their child’s life in the way they want to be? Flexibility leads to productivity and does your boss have to have children to understand this?

All the moms agreed that sometimes it feels like society pushes you to make a choice, be at home or be at work. Instead of trying to push through a glass ceiling, real estate provides a path that is wide open. Wendy Kelly one of the Northwood Moms likes to be “all in, or not at all.” Ditto for her counterpart Susie Holmes who says “I don’t think there’s such a thing as part-time” but goes on to say “I can’t be everything all the time. Susie gives herself permission to not be perfect, and that she does the best she can. Wendy echoes that sentiment with “Thank God for grandmothers!” Technology is great, but it’s family picking up your kid, not Uber.

At the end of the day, work and motherhood are topics that can be discussed and debated, the merits of each outlined and dissected. The key to happiness I think, is finding what is right for you. In my own little circumstances I am the mother of two small and lovely children. I am in our office several days a week, but not every day. Sometimes I’ll call in from home to take part in a strategy session or pop in for an hour on an off day for a big client meeting. I get everything in the world out of being at home with my kids. I get job satisfaction and validation, an outlet for creativity and a paycheck at Apple Box that I identify with and value. Most days I feel like everyone wins.

If you’re a mom and want to learn more about Northwood Realty and part-time opportunities, get more information by clicking here.

Have a question for one of the mom bloggers who attended Thursday’s event? Or want to keep the conversation going? Checkout the Motherhood’s mom bloggers below or join in the conversation online with the hashtag #NorthwoodForMoms

Dana, Lavishly Living Life Out Loud

Heather, Diary of a First Time Mom

Nicole, Champagne to Crayons

Muffy, Brown Mamas

Brynne, Femme Frugality

Kelly, Pgh Momtourage

Maria, Adventures of the Mommy Homemaker

Chaton, Chaton’s World

Nicole, Mediterranean Baby

Rachel, Third Stop on the Right

Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania, Grace to Give Integrated Marketing Project

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

They are all around us – more than 10,000 people living with Parkinson’s disease in Western Pennsylvania. They have chosen to quietly persevere with grace and dignity. In doing so, they bring a renewed purpose to their lives and a meaningful lesson to our own. For this example, we are grateful.

On April 1, 2015, with the help of Miami University’s Business Fraternity, Apple Box Studios and the Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania took to the streets of Pittsburgh and the online community to spread the word about Parkinson’s.

Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania #GraceToGive Campaign

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. To increase organization and disease awareness as well as raise donations to PFWPA, Apple Box Studios and PFWPA created and recently launched an ongoing, integrated social media and content marketing campaign. The campaign was centered around the hashtag: #GraceToGive, which is tied into the Parkinson Foundation’s brand message and tag line: perseverance, grace, purpose.

Our team and PFWPA embraced several moving parts in order to fuel the #GraceToGive campaign, but the kickstart and highlight was a guerilla marketing initiative that took place on Friday, April 3. Apple Box, PFWPA and Miami University’s Business Fraternity gathered 1,000 donated tulips (the official Parkinson Foundation flower) and 1,000 branded #GraceToGive cards and hit the streets of Pittsburgh Friday evening. Sporting our #GraceToGive t-shirts, our group was able to color the Cultural District and Liberty Avenue, Market Square, the North Side, Lawrenceville and the South Side Works with hundreds of tulips and #GraceToGive cards.

Pittsburgher’s not only accepted the tulips and cards with wide smiles and open minds, but our group was pleasantly surprised how many people responded with personal stories of someone they know living and persevering each day with Parkinson’s Disease.

The picture below shows four of our student helpers from Miami University gearing up with bundles of tulips and cards to give out in Lawrenceville.

Miami University Business Fraternity handing out #GraceToGive tulips to Pittsburgher's on April 3, 2015

Catherine Wertz, 20, a sophomore from Miami University in Ohio and daughter of Mike Wertz (Apple Box Studio’s Owner and Creative Director), was one of the fraternity members handing out tulips and cards at Katz Plaza with our group. She and her father have seen the physical effects of Parkinson’s disease on her grandfather and Mike’s father, Ron Wertz, former president of the Hillman Foundation. But they have also seen him continue to live an active and inspiring life. “He kind of uses Parkinson’s to live his life to the fullest. He travels frequently. He’s always helping my nana around the house,” Catherine said.

PFWPA provides support groups, exercise programs, educational sessions and other programs for about 13,000 other people like Catherine’s grandfather – both those with Parkinson’s and their caregivers. The Foundation is completely funded by grants and donations, which is keeping our teams motived and determined to spread #GraceToGive even beyond April.

As an integrated campaign, Apple Box and PFWPA produced and released 13 billboards that now can be spotted across Pittsburgh that feature the hashtag and direct readers to the foundation’s website where #GraceToGive is an every page callout. We also released a public service announcement on KDKA Radio and 30-second TV spot. The short video PSA produced by Apple Box Studios and can be seen below.

Besides our collateral and outreach efforts, the #GraceToGive hashtag can be searched online to find several other photos, flagship videos, tweets and Facebook posts about the campaign. The campaign was also featured in a recent TribLive article that can be read here.

For more information or if you can find the grace to give, visit PFWPA online.

Are you or someone you know persevering each day with Parkinson’s disease? Tell us your story or tweet us in support with the #GraceToGive hashtag: @PFWPA and @AppleBoxStudios.

Apple Box Weighs in on Ad Bowl 2015: Winners & Losers

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

During the four hours of the Super Bowl each year, top brands and agencies compete off-field for the most talked about and shared ad spots. Now that the games have ended, the Monday morning quarterbacks at Apple Box Studios are pleased to bring you the top five best and worst ads of Super Bowl 2015.

Our Top 5 Winners

1. Be More Human – Reebok

To push their new logo and brand message, Reebok has launched a fully integrated campaign designed to decode what it means to be human – capable of anything. This ad not only highlights the physical benefits of fitness, but also the mental, emotional and social benefits that appeal to every type of human. We’re used to brands like Nike and Under Armour tellings us we need to be more like the star athletes in which their ads focus on. Reebok, instead, shows us the parent, the protector, the coach – roles any audience member can relate to. It’s not about being strong like Michael Jordan, it’s about being strong in your daily life and facing the non-stop punishments no matter who you are. Let’s not forget to mention their kick-butt, interactive website, equipped with a first-ever “human score” test.

2. Newfangled Idea – BMW i3

BMW’s ad “Newfangled Idea,” pushes aside the muscle trucks and Internet newbies of the past and braces for a high tech today. In 1994, no one knew how big the Internet would be. Not even broadcast journalists Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel. 21 years later, a new big idea has them scratching their heads again. In this spot, BWM shows it has a clear vision of the future and innovative technology with it’s new i3 produced with good fuel economy.

3. #LikeAGirl – Always 

Following Dove’s lead, Always shifts the spotlight on an under-represented issue. During a ritual that seems to be dominated by men, they pose the question: when did doing something like a girl become an insult? By giving women a voice in the conversation, this ad proves that “like a girl” doesn’t have to be something negative. A personal favorite of all the ladies at Apple Box.

4. “Lost Dog” – Budweiser #BestBuds

No Super Bowl ad mecca would be complete without Budweiser pulling at our heartstrings yet again. As the supposed final chapter of the best buds story, Budweiser reminds the beer-in-hand audience that beer is more than just a drink. It’s about friendship, love, home and…wait…a cute puppy?

5. The Brady Bunch – Snickers

“You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” – a commercial we’ve seen a hundred times over takes it to the next level with Danny Trejo starring as a very hungry Marcia and if that’s not enough funny, Steve Buscemi swoops in at the end as the perpetually forgotten Jan. Great writing plus an unexpected casting lands this ad the final spot in our top five.



Now for the Bench Warmers 

1. Showdown with Jerry Rice and Andrew Hunter – Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes let us down with this prequel to their content marketing win, “Fable.” Mercedes-Benz is supposed to symbolize luxury and opulence and to us, the ad screamed tacky and a lack of focus. The best or nothing? Not with this ad.

2. Kate Upton – Game of War

Kate Upton in this ad, hid her disdain for Game of War about as well as she can act. That’s all we have to say.

3. #MakeItHappy – Coke

#MakeItHappy? more like #MakeAFire, cause that’s what would have happened if a full coke bottle were to spill on a bunch of computer wires. We had much higher expectations from the monster brand after a year of success from their “Share a Coke” campaign. Coke probably should have explored a safer and more realistic approach to solving cyber bullying.

4. Make Safe Happen – Nationwide

“Sadvertising” continues to be a common wrap-up word describing this year’s Super Bowl ads, but many are arguing Nationwide took it too far. Although the Insurance brand is gaining a lot of buzz surrounding preventable child accidents, no brand should want to be associated with headlines like “child-death ad.” This could have been an extremely disturbing moment for the tens of thousands who have lost children to a tragedy.

5. Tackle It – Jublia

First of all: who is Jublia? and why are they showing us thirty seconds of toe fungus on one of the most food-loving days of the year?

What ads made it on your top five? Continue the conversation on our Facebook page.

An Ad Agency Year In Review

Monday, January 19th, 2015

2014 was an amazing year for Apple Box Studios. here are a few of the highlights:

We expanded our team and welcomed Andrea Short, Client Services Manager, Molly Fallone, Social Media Manager, Caitlyn Depp, Inside Sales Representative and Sam Eisen, Copywriter Proofreader as the latest Apple Box Studios additions. And, more importantly, a new mascot: Chicko…Director of Cuteness.

We are excited about the addition of some new clients this past year including: DCK Worldwide, NearShore Technology, Visit Milwaukee and Rinovum.

In summer 2014, we continued to support our charity-of-choice, Parkinson Foundation of Western Pennsylvania. The Apple Box Team joined forces with friends, family and community members to increase awareness and raise money for the Parkinson Foundation. The fundraising also included an annual Moving Day walk. More than $3 million was raised in 2014, (a $1 million increase) and we are proud and excited to have been apart of it.

We had a video go viral. It wasn’t quite a Kim-Kardashian take-over, but the Mighty. Beautiful Pittsburgh spot for Visit Pittsburgh, produced by Apple Box Studios had a surge of 100K+ video views spanning a little over one week. The video was featured in a blog post from in early November with the title: “If You’re From Pittsburgh, This Will Be The Most Jaw-Dropping Thing You See Today. Hands Down”. The blog received almost 540K hits and spread through social media. Along with our friends at VisitPittsburgh, we were beyond excited to see the video go viral and generate so much Pittsburgh spirit and buzz.

We expanded our social media reach. You can now find us on, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and SlideShare! We post content daily on industry tips, trends, inside news and other goodies! Check us out with a /appleboxstudios.

And to top off the year, we ended with a Christmas party for the ages that included stops at some of our favorite Pittsburgh places like the Pittsburgh winery, Meat and Potatoes and Club Cavo in our hood – the Strip!

Thank you to our friends, clients and creative partners for another wonderful year and your loyal friendship. Looking forward to all 2015 has in store for the Apple Box Studios team.


Video Keeps Rolling – Strap in for a year of GoPros, UVACs and 4K Production

Monday, December 29th, 2014

In 2014, three key technological forces combined to keep the creative power and business of video rolling. Today, the use of this impressive trio has proved to CEOs, commercial producers and clients alike that video is no longer a luxury but rather a necessity that can be affordable and effective in telling a compelling visual story. As the video production industry heads into 2015, our tech compass is pointing at the GoPro camera, UVAC technology (unmanned video aircraft carrier, or “drones”) and the growing attraction to (and use of) 4K production as drivers of strong growth in video production.

Let’s start with the GoPro. Since the company went public in June 2014, no device, company or innovation had symbolized the surge of video usage we all experienced this past year like the GoPro. A point-of-view camera made famous by extreme sport athletes and risk-takers alike. 2014 was the year this mobile mini wonder expanded beyond the weekend warrior platform and went mainstream production with commercial and corporate pros behind the lenses.

The camera became a force for transforming the way consumers and pros capture footage and express meaningful life events in video. GoPro has pushed not only its users but also the art and science of video production to new extremes during a year that ultimately showed production personnel and clients that the GoPro can serve as a powerful and even cost effective production tool.

The company’s web site ( touts that the GoPro enables people “to capture compelling, immersive photo and video content of themselves participating in their favorite activities.” Typically, those activities have been outdoors and involved athletic activities., a financial web site, even noted that by mid 2014 there were 500 million+ views on YouTube of GoPro generated video content. It’s important to note that most often, these are consumer-views. However, if we drill down deeper, filmmakers and Directors of Photography from all over the world along with corporate and commercial video pros are using the GoPro to capture some never before seen shots. Check out for a deep pool of GoPro-created videos.

In 2014, we’ve seen feature films like Need for Speed, cable shows like Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, and corporate video productions for manufacturing, training and marketing. In these productions, the GoPro has become a staple in the producer and videographer’s toolkit. And let’s not forget to mention quality… the GoPro can quite clearly hold it’s own when intercut with high-end production cameras. In a recent episode of Bourdain’s Parts Unknown produced by ZeroPointZero Productions, Bourdain and his crew outfitted a fishing boat working the waters of Cape Cod with five GoPro units. The cameras, intercut with the compliment of cinema-styled Sony F5’s and 55’s, captured stunning point-of-view imagery of the boat dipping in and out of seas, high and wide-angle views of the boat’s deck from above and unique perspectives from the Captain’s wheel as the boat headed out into even deeper waters. You can catch the episode at

The GoPro camera is like no other before because it goes where most do not or “cannot” go – on helmets, cycles, torsos, in places the size of a coffee mug, in environments where the air is thin or the water is deep and even strapped on and bouncing on top of animals’ heads.  A great example can be found in To Climb An Iceberg, part of the Adventure in Life 4k series The filmmaker’s ventured through dangerous arctic waters in Greenland’s Disko Bay looking for the ultimate iceberg to capture on video and send home. The GoPro’s and their videographers risked their lives and pushed their limits climbing fragile icebergs. Shot 100% on the HERO4® camera, we see one more dramatic example of how and where the GoPro is taking us.

How about flight? UVACs (unmanned video aircraft carrier technology) also notoriously known on the streets as the aerial drone, is our second force that keeps video rolling into 2015. UVAC simply means a drone unit is holding or strapped to a GoPro, DSLR or larger camera. Let’s just say this technology has really taken off in 2014 (pun intended).

British filmmaker and video guru Phillip Bloom, known for his DSLR filmmaking, blog and workshops, says he loves flying a GoPro mounted on his DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter, and, “How freeing it can be” even comparing it to his dreaming of being an astronaut (source: Digital Filmmaker Issue 18). More and more, video production pros are using this birds-eye tech to grab shots that typically would have been off limits due to cost or capability- shots that in most cases would have been attempted using a camera crane or even pricier – helicopters. Today, however, it’s getting more and more commonplace to use UVACs to shoot aerial footage for commercial purposes like real estate marketing, outdoor events, travel videos, training videos, wildlife conservation videos and even as delivery vehicles (as we’ve seen with industry leaders like But to experience the freedom Bloom speaks of, professional UVAC operators are working hard to gain experience, record training flight-time and seek out clients. And, on a positive note, never before have we seen pilots flying with such an eagle-eye on safety.

 Prior to October 2014, UVAC regulations permitted use only for personal applications or hobbies. Commercial and paid use of UVACs was banned. However, on September 26, 2014, the FAA granted rights to use UVACs in commercial applications to 6 production companies giving certain exemptions and special status specifically for the purpose of aerial (source: Wikipedia). As we head into the new year, we are beginning to see more structured and safer use of UVACs with much needed governmental guidance in the works at the same time.

Today, video production pros and firms like us have expanded on and embraced UVACs for commercial and marketing use. For us at, Apple Box Studios, we’ve been getting high over beautiful, city landscapes, tall and detailed architecture and buzzing street ways with UVAC technology. In fact, you may have even come across one of Pittsburgh’s 2014 viral videos, Mighty Beautiful Pittsburgh, a spot for Visit Pittsburgh and produced by the Apple Box crew (check it out here: UVACs gave us the ability to capture Pittsburgh’s mighty beauty from all angles. As the video proved positive, utilizing UVACs is a powerful tool for destination marketing, one of our main services at the Box.

We can point to a dramatic example of the growing UVAC phenomenon as in the case this past Fall in the Northeast U.S. when videographer James Grimaldi used his UVAC to capture the first major snowfall of the season in West Seneca, NY. A storm had hit Southern Buffalo and its southern-most towns killing 14 and covering the region in more than seven feet of snow. The storm created a surreal landscape and from high above Grimaldi’s drone brought a magical view on unplowed streets, buried vehicles and a treacherous Arctic landscape. Grimaldi published the footage on YouTube showing the world his UVAC in action as the unit flew through a garage door and out across snow-covered neighborhoods. The footage is breathtaking and can be seen at

Not only did Grimaldi seem to capture the attention of the world with his now classic “snow flight”, he shot the footage with the help of a GoPro shooting 4K footage. 4K. The third force fueling video’s growth storming into 2015.

If you open up almost any television and film production magazine today, you’re bound to see at least one article showcasing 4K resolution cameras and tools. 4K is in. 1080P is fading. In fact, one of the many new podcasts being published for producers, videographers and directors, 4K Shooters, is heralding the new wave of high-resolution 4K production tools and viewing displays. Whether it’s lenses, recording media or cinema-quality digital cameras, 2015 is looking like it will be the year 4k gets a warm embrace.

So what is 4K? 4K Ultra HD, standardized by the International Telecommunication Union, has four times the pixels (four times the resolution) of the 1080p HD format, today’s most-used format for acquisition and viewing. (source:

We saw many ads this past holiday season pitching 4K television sets for consumers. Although 4K viewing is slowly becoming a player, networks, studios and producers like Sony Pictures Television, Netflix and director Peter Jackson (Lord of The Rings and Hobbit trilogies), believe it makes sense to shoot in 4K because the cost is low and because it’s always best to have as much resolution as you can. (source: Having said that, until producers and distribution networks make 4k programming available, 4k will most often be down-converted to 1080P or 2K formats (source:

The good news for 4K shooters is that both YouTube and Vimeo’s are making 4k content platforms available to consumers and pro’s. Although currently limited to mostly nature documentaries and tech coverage, 4k content production and usage online is expected to grow, and as of 2014, Vimeo PRO members and Vimeo On Demand sellers can allow people to upload and download 4K video files. Creators have been able to upload in 4K for some time, but now these files can be downloaded and played on high-end, 4K-compatible displays (source:

What’s the bottom line for our three powerful video industry drivers? These are tools that help our clients and our projects push the bar higher. With new point-of-view technology like the GoPro and the strong embrace of commercial and industrial applications for the UVAC we’re getting wider and more compelling aerials and ground shots than ever before. Drones are soaring and as long as we’re safely operating them when we’re after the next great shot from above, they’ll continue to be a go-to tool along with 4K production that offers the production pro of today and 2015, more resolution, color and vantages than we could have ever imagined.

So, video content lovers and producers alike, brace yourself and hold on tight for an exciting, high-flying, high-resolution year for video production in 2015.

Mighty Beautiful Pittsburgh Video Goes Viral

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Created by Apple Box Studios for VisitPittsburgh, the Pittsburgh. Mighty. Beautiful. tourism presentation went viral last week. Featuring aerial footage of the Steel City, the video showcases Pittsburgh like you’ve never seen her before.

Movoto Real Estate, a realty blog and online guide were the ones who lit the spark on November 3. In their blog post titled “If You’re From Pittsburgh, This Will Be The Most Jaw-Dropping Thing You See Today. Hands Down,” Movoto embedded the 3 minute VisitPittsburgh presentation, which has been taking off on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook over the last eight days with 94K+ likes and shares. Today, the original Movoto blog post has reached more than 469K views and is still climbing.

The Apple Box Studios team is grateful and excited to see the tourism piece spreading, but we must admit – Pittsburgh makes it easy to make such a mighty beautiful video. Although next time, as the video’s many comments have repeatedly stressed, the 6-time Super Bowl Champs, the Steelers, just better get some prime aerial coverage too. 😉

Go ahead, one more view ain’t gonna hurt ya! Click here.

Apple Box Welcomes Four New Hires

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

We are excited to announce the four latest additions to our Apple Box Studios team: Andrea Short, Molly Fallone, Caitlyn Depp, and Sam Eisen.

Andrea Short, Client Services Manager, provides administrative, financial, project management and business development support.

Molly Fallone, our new Social Media Manager, manages social media marketing, planning, writing, execution and reporting for clients, as well as Apple Box Studios.

Caitlyn Depp, Inside Sales Representative, is responsible for lead generation, marketing and business acquisition. Here she comes.

Sam Eisen is our newest Copywriter Proofreader. Sam joins Apple Box Studios as a preferred freelance partner providing creative copy writing, technical writing, social media content and proofreading services.

If the opportunity presents itself, I hope you will take a moment to welcome Andrea, Molly, Caitlyn and Sam into the Pittsburgh marketing community.