Sunday, January 13, 2013

Bring Your Projects to Life ~ QR Codes

Bring Your Projects to Life
by Roxanne Buchholz, Studio Creative Team Lead
I first introduced you to the latest in QR technology in last month’s newsletter article entitled “Keepsakes that Talk.” We covered how to get an app that reads QR Codes on your smartphone or tablet, as well as how to generate your own QR Codes for use in your customized Studio projects.

This month, I’d like to expand on the topic and discuss how to set-up a YouTube account, as well as create an Animoto slideshow—both ways to help you make fun QR Code messages to add to your own projects. Setting up these accounts is quick, easy and free. 


"HM Mission Calendar 2013 QR," 11 x 8.5 Calendar shown above, by Roxanne Buchholz, template 101779

Creating a YouTube Account 

A YouTube account is a key part in the use of QR Codes because the videos you create need to be uploaded to the internet and have a URL associated with them in order to generate the code. YouTube allows you to manage your videos from multiple sources as well as create your own through your camcorder, webcam or screen capture software.

#1 — Go to and click “Create Account.” Because Google and YouTube are partners, for every account you create with YouTube, you will also have an associated Gmail address instantly. 

#2 — Enter your e-mail address and a password. Fill-in a few simple questions and type in the characters seen into the word verification field to continue.

#3 — Check the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy box after you have read all the legalese.

#4 — Click on “Next Step” to verify your account via text message or voice call. You will then enter the verification code that was given to you and click on the “Verify” button.

#5 — Congratulations! You now have your own YouTube account and can begin creating your own videos or link any videos that you created in other programs, such as Animoto or iMovie.

Creating an Animoto Video Slideshow 

Animoto allows you to create a video slideshow set to music. They offer free unlimited 30-second video productions or you can upgrade to unlimited length HD videos for as low as $2.50 per month. This is a great option for those of you that would rather show-off photos than a live video of yourself.

"HM Valentine Stamps QR," 7 x 5 Invitation shown above, by Roxanne Buchholz, template 99232

#1 — Go to Click “Sign Up” to begin. Enter your e-mail address, name and a password, and click on the green “Sign up” button to continue.

#2 — Click “Create Video” in the upper left to begin.

#3 — Choose a style. The style affects the look and feel of your video. Click on any of the styles to see a preview of what a video would look like in that style.

#4 — Add pictures, text and music. Animoto will then walk you through the steps required to create a video, including uploading photos and video clips and choosing a song. Don't forget the Advanced Settings in the top-right corner to add those extra great features that make your video pop.

#5 — When you’re all done, click the green “Preview Video” button. Animoto will then generate a low resolution preview. If it all looks good, go ahead and click on the blue “Produce” button. If you need to make changes, go ahead and edit.

#6 — As soon as your video is generated, Animoto will send you an email letting you know it’s ready to upload to your favorite social media outlet. You will now have the option to “Share” to your YouTube account, your Facebook account, your blog, email to your friends and more. Click on the appropriate social media button or choose “Download/Export” to share the video to YouTube. Simply click on the blue “Begin Export” button, grant access to your Google/YouTube account, and wait a few minutes. You will be sent an email notification when it’s finished.

Remember, in order to create your QR Code, you will need to upload to your YouTube account and copy and paste the URL into your QR Code generator.

Generating the URL for Your QR Code

Whether you create a video or slideshow, by uploading it to your YouTube account, it will then have a URL, which is needed to generate your personalized QR Code. Simply click on the video in YouTube that you’d like to create a QR Code for, and highlight and copy the URL at the top of the page. Then open up your favorite QR generator and paste in the URL. Within seconds, you will have created your own personalized QR code featuring a very special video or slideshow produced by you.

Tips and Tricks for Successfully Using a QR Code in a Studio Project: 

#1 — NEVER use a border on a QR code; use a frame instead. Our borders intrude slightly on the design and may make the code unreadable if they are too wide.

#2 — If you or your recipient has trouble watching the video greeting that you’ve made on YouTube, Animoto or iMovie, make sure the smartphone or tablet system has been updated with the latest version of software.

#3 — Always test your QR Code BEFORE publishing your project. Always, always! After you have created your own QR code and dropped it into your Studio project, give it a test to make sure that it is readable at 100% of the project size. If you go to “View” at the top of your Studio page, scroll down to Zoom and select 100%. That will give you an accurate view of the size it will be when printed. Simply hold your smart phone up to your computer screen and scan. Did it take you to where you wanted to go? If not, try re-generating the code or making the QR Code larger in your project.

The 8 x 8 Vacation Storybooks above were designed by Roxanne Buchholz: "HM 1880s Train QR," template 101819; "HM Badlands QR," template 101818; "HM Deadwood and Lead QR," template 101817; "HM Needles Scenic Highway QR," template 101816; "HM Custer State Park QR," template 101815; "HM Black Hills Caverns QR," template 101813.

By creating your own videos or slideshows with QR Codes, you can add that extra “wow” factor to your already fabulous Studio projects!

Keepsakes That Talk ~ QR Codes

Keepsakes that Talk
by Roxanne Buchholz, Studio Creative Team Lead

Featured Above: “HM Bring on Christmas QR” template 97322, “HM Bring on Hanukkah QR” template 98392, “HM New Years Party QR” template 98397, “HM Talking Candy Hearts QR” template 99303, “HM Chalkboard Christmas QR” template 99297

I am proud to announce that Heritage Makers is on the cutting edge of new technology—being one of the first companies in our industry to allow you to place your customized QR codes on our customizable products.

QR Codes have been around for a while but are now entering the mainstream of our lives. It’s time for us to get on board and start making our 2-dimensional projects come to life with this new interactive technology.

You may be asking some of the following questions:

What is a QR Code? 

“QR code” simply stands for “quick response” code. It’s like a traditional barcode but so much more. QR codes actually have information embedded into their pixels and can store amazing amounts of flexible data. Have you noticed them on magazines, billboards, business cards, shop windows, t-shirts and more? When scanned, QR codes direct people to personal and business websites and blogs. They can contain text messages, music or your favorite YouTube videos.

Sound too difficult to figure out? Scared about the latest technology? Don’t know how or why to use them? Don’t be afraid! We are going to show you how easy they can be to use.

Who can scan a QR Code? 

Anyone who has a smart phone or tablet with a camera can download a QR Code Reader App and then scan a QR code. Once you have the App, you simply take out your mobile phone, point your camera at a QR code and you will instantly get more information—maybe it will take you to a website, a video or a text message.

Where do I get a QR Code Reader?

If you have an iPhone or iPad, simply go to the App Store and search for QR Readers. Most of them should be free. We recommend the following: QR Code City Scan and Quick Scan – QR Code by iHandy, Inc. For our Android users, we recommend going to the Google Play App Store and getting the QR Droid Reader. Once you have a QR reader app loaded, give it a try! It’s amazing how many QR codes you’ll find around you to read.

How does the QR Code App Work? 

Once you’ve installed the App, simply point your camera at the QR code; the App will then lock on and scan it. The QR code will load the data instantly and you will be brought to the web page, video or text message directly.

Why would I want to create my own QR Codes? 

With QR codes, you can make any printed project more interactive. Put one on your business card or on party invitations with directions or a gift registry. How about a poster to promote your business products or services? Have you thought about personalizing your holiday cards with your family newsletter or videos of the kids playing their favorite sport or a photographic slideshow set to music? QR codes simply bring a 2-dimensional product to life.

How do I create my own QR codes? 

You’ll need to jump on your computer and search for free QR Code Generators. You’ll find many options. We recommend the following:,, and

Once you have a generator page pulled up, give it a try. Type in a message or copy and paste the URL from your favorite YouTube video and see what happens. You’ll be amazed!

Tips and Tricks for Successfully Using a QR Code on a Studio Project: 
#1 — Never print a QR code which is smaller than ¾-inch square on a card and always print larger if used on a poster or canvas. The more data you put into the code, the smaller the dots become, so size adjustments may need to be made. For most smart phones, the relationship between scan distance and minimum QR code size is approx. 10:1. That means a 1-inch code will be most effectively scanned at 10-inches or less.

#2 — Always test your QR Code before publishing your project. Always, always! After you have created your own QR code and dropped it into your Studio project, give it a test to make sure that it is readable at 100% of the project size. If you go to “View” at the top of your Studio page, scroll down to Zoom and select 100%. That will give you an accurate view of the size it will be when printed. Simply hold your smart phone up to your computer screen and scan. Did it take you to where you wanted to go? If not, try re-generating the code or making the QR Code larger in your project.

#3 — Until people become aware of QR Codes and how to use them, we suggest placing some simple instructions on your holiday cards this year. For instance: “To see what’s new in our lives, simply open up a QR Code reader app on your smart phone, point your phone’s camera at the code on the card and scan.” 

#4 — We suggest that you always use the QR Code in its original black and white form. If you choose to add color, always remember that the code color should be dark and placed against a light-colored background. Make sure the contrast is sufficient or the code will be difficult to scan. A reversed-out code, where the background is dark and the pixels are light, is never recommended. And always, always test before publishing!


“HM Christmas Penguin QR,” template 97637

QR Code FAQ’s

Is there any way to access QR codes without a smart phone?

Although not easy, if you use your computer’s search engine, you can find a few sites that offer a service of translating the QR code for you. But it requires taking a picture of the printed code, downloading the picture to your computer and then uploading the QR code to the translation site.

Will QR Codes be good for years to come? Or are they a passing fad?

 QR codes have been around for a while but are just becoming popular in the mainstream. QR codes are being used in magazines, on marketing campaigns, in museums and art galleries. As long as the URL or website address exists, QR codes will always work.

How do we get our own QR Codes into our Studio account and can they be used in both Basic and Premier? 

QR Codes can be uploaded into your account just like a photo. Once in your Photo Album, a QR code can be used in a project just as a photo would. Just drag and drop to replace an existing QR code or photo in a project. QR Codes that are .png or .jpg files can be uploaded into a Premier account. However, QR Codes need to be saved as .jpg files to be uploaded into a Basic account. To save an image as a .jpg, simply right click on your code and select “all files” as the file type and be sure to type in a file name followed by .jpg.

“HM Christmas Stamps QR,” template 99301

What do I look for when searching in the Template Gallery? 
We have introduced many new QR templates in the Template Gallery and more are being added every day. Simply keyword search “QR” and you’ll find many selections. If you ever see a QR Code on a template that has the Heritage Makers book in the middle of it, please know that it is purely a placeholder and will need to be replaced with your own QR code. If you see a QR Code in a project in the Template Gallery and it does not have the book in the middle, that means that it is a real or “live” QR code and you have the ability to scan it and play. Once again, any QR code that you see in one of our projects from the Template Gallery will need to be replaced with your own QR Code. You wouldn’t want to make someone a card or calendar with another family’s message on it. Always double-check your QR Code before publishing your project just to make sure!

How else can a QR Code be used? 
So many possibilities exist for using QR Codes; consider the following:
Driving directions on a party invitation
Preserving Grandma and Grandpa’s story or message to future generations
Documenting each child’s school year
Making a video guest book for the bride and groom
Placing a video recording on your family holiday ornament
Adding your baby’s first cry to his birth announcement
Making a card asking your girlfriend to the dance
Adding clips of each school year to a graduation card or gift
Talking calendars where there is a special message recorded for each family member’s birthday or a special holiday message
Letting Dad read stories to the little ones to hear while he’s serving far away, or your little ones recording video messages to send to him

The possibilities are endless with QR Codes. Clearly, our society values all things digital but QR Codes are also fun to play with and can add that “cool factor” to your Heritage Makers projects. There is no need to fear the unknown. We, at Heritage Makers, encourage you to give it a try and to see how simple and easy it can be.

For further information, be sure to check out our free recorded QR class or call your Heritage Makers Consultant.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Quick Studio Tips That Everyone Should Know

Here are a few Tips and Tricks that can make your Heritage Studio experience even better and easier.

• When you first open a project, go to your page navigator on the right-hand side and double click on each page. Then go back to the page that you want to work on. This causes all of the pages to load up behind the scenes while you are working on your current page. Later, when you’re ready to click on a new page, it’s already loaded and ready to go.

• When placing a background or paper on your page, stretch it all the way past the gray outline of the canvas or page. This will ensure that there is plenty of room for the printer to crop.

• When placing text and images you don’t want cropped, keep them at least a half of an inch away from the gray border. In order to know exactly where a ½” in located on your page, click on the View button at the top left-hand side of your screen, scroll down to Rulers and Show Ruler. This will bring up a red grid. Each square on the grid represents ¼”. This is an easy way to make sure that everything is lined up or centered in your project.

• Once you are finished with an object (picture, text, etc.), instead of leaving it to the side of the page, delete it. This will allow your pages to load and preview faster. Use the delete key on your keyboard.

• If you’re having trouble getting some of your changes to save (like adding drop shadows or other effects), try moving the object slightly after making the change and before clicking Save or Preview. If the last change you make to your object is to move it, all of your other changes will be saved (even if you put the object right back in the same place). 

• Before you click the “Publish” button to complete your project, click Save and Quit, then open the project again. Click on each finished page and let it load one more time. This will ensure that all of your changes on each page have been saved.

• When previewing your project before publishing, be sure to check each page of the preview to make sure everything has loaded properly.