We all love staring directly into a camera and trying to display your personality in one photo…NOT. But headshots can be an important marketing tool for you or your company to help relate to the public.
Headshots are part of your companies branding. If your headshots aren’t professional, it makes the public question the quality of your work, and what else you’re cutting corners on. The more professional your website is (headshot included), the tighter knit your branding is.
The tighter knit your branding is, video, website, print, business colors, etc, the easier it is for your customers to separate you from your competitors. This will also help people take you or your company more seriously.
For women, last year was a trying time. From the attempted defunding of Planned Parenthood to the aftermath of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, 2017 was overall tough for females. And yet, from these misfortunes we are beginning to see women rise.
This is no exception in the world of adland.
Flick through any industry magazine, website, or social media platform and you are likely to see only a handful of women in senior-level positions. Now in 2018, we are officially seeing subtle changes in this industry as well as the rest of the world. Read more
Redefining Industry Standards March 22nd, 2018Jessica Thomas
A few weeks ago I opened a YouTube account and posted my first animated short film. It was the culmination of a long journey to get my labor of love across the finish line. For a year and a half I’d spent late nights and weekends drawing and coloring 10,000 frames of animation. And when I posted it, the unexpected happened. Making a hand drawn animation is not for the faint of heart. It is an extremely tedious process, it requires a lot of patience and most of all, a lot of time. Let me walk you through the process of creating an animated short.
The process of creating an animation is similar to standard filmmaking. It begins with a story. This is the most important element of all. You could have beautiful animation, perfect performances, but if your story sucks, well, so does all of the hard work you put into your project. I worked hard on the story, I tested the story with everyone I knew. Sometimes they would have questions, sometimes they would offer suggestions, and often they would help make the story better. I feel like this is the most important phase of the entire process of storytelling. You have to be willing to listen, to gauge responses, and to take criticism.
A storyboard is a beat by beat drawing of the entire film. Storyboarding is absolutely essential to the process. It solidifies the film by being specific about what exactly will happen and how it will look. It forces you to think about characters, acting, backgrounds, setting, pacing, and of course the shots. I love this part of the process. I have a clear picture of it in my head, so I work as fast as I can to create my vision. Often the storyboards will spark new ideas as well. Everyone has their own way of doing storyboards, but I liked seeing the animation frames stacked on top of each other with the notes on the side. Which is why I made a template for my storyboards based on the one used for anime.
Once the storyboards where completed I moved on to making an animatic. This is where you get a chance to test your story and see if it works like you imagined. An animatic is an animated storyboard. It is a chance to see the film in stills. I scanned in my storyboards and added music and sound effects. I timed everything out like the final film would be. This part of the process takes a lot of time and it forces you to make decisions and it is also a very rewarding part of the process. When you start to assemble the storyboards together you get to see the film come to life, and you get to see if the film is going to work like you planned. Once I finished the animatic I tested it with everyone and listened to their feedback. You would be surprised how much people respond to the animatic. On other projects, I’ve had people cry watching an animatic, and when people cry to drawings, you know it’s going to work.
In animation nothing makes a sound, so you have to create every sound. And sometimes finding the right sound can take a long time. For instance, what sound does a light bulb turning on make? It doesn’t really make much of a sound. But in the case of my short, I needed it to play a dramatic role. The bulbs are a huge aspect of the film, so I knew their sound would be critical. I also knew the bulbs needed to sound like the old fashioned kind. What I came up with is not at all what you think you are hearing. The sound of the bulb initializing begins with a briefcase latch clicking, then an old 8mm projector powering on, followed by the familiar fluorescent bulb hum. The entire film was an exercise in creative sound design. I made the decision early on not to have any talking. I had a version initially with talking and it just didn’t feel right. But since there was no talking, what sound should an screaming angry boss make? So I went for the emotion, I decided that it needed to be a roar, so I tried a lion roar. The lion roar wasn’t quite right so I began layering different roars, and ended up with roars from crocodiles, hippos, rhinos, and bears.
You may have noticed a few different character designs in the animatic, that is because through the entire process I was refining and changing the character design. I went through a lot of iterations of the character. Finding something that looked good from every angle was the most challenging part of the design process. I knew I wanted the main character to look depressed, I knew I wanted him to have a hat, I knew he was thin and emaciated, tired, and wrinkled. I knew I wanted him to have a big nose. I wanted him to look like he barely made enough money to eat, and the boss would be the opposite. The boss would be fat, gluttonous with a toupée. I wanted the two characters to be the exact opposite of each other, which would also make them easy to read . I wanted the boss to be squishy, making him a lot of fun to animate. The executive had to be contrasted from the other two characters so I made her a short older woman with dentures. I gave her dentures because I thought it would be fun to animate them dangling in mid air.
I hadn’t animated before, so I read every book I could find on the subject and then jumped right in. I knew I wanted draw the animation on paper, so I bought a animation disc from eBay, bought some animation paper and got to work. At first it was scary, there is always that moment that you think, there is no way I can do this. So I did some animation tests, and then the most awesome thing happened, the character started to come to life. It was like magic. It was revitalizing, and extremely fun. I studied anime and cartoons I loved, clicked through frame by frame studying how they made their characters come to life. I gained a renewed respect for animators, let me tell you, they are incredible artists, it is not easy to make Bugs Bunny do his thing. Once I had my drawings made I scanned them in and cleaned up the drawings in photoshop. Once all of the line drawings were completed I put them into Adobe Premiere and created a pencil test of the entire short. Then I made tweaks and even re-animated a few shots that I wanted to revisit.
Coloring was the least fun of the entire process. Psychologically it felt like I was starting all over again. Coloring was the most tedious process of all, I watched A LOT of Netflix while doing this 🙂 There was a point where I was at 80% of coloring and I remember telling my wife “I quit, this is too much.” She was encouraging, and a trip to the beach didn’t hurt either. Coloring was extremely satisfying however. Seeing the final color on a shot, and knowing that part was finished was very rewarding. Once the coloring was completed it was time for the backgrounds.
Backgrounds really play a major role in setting the tone of the film. I painted the backgrounds in photoshop and made foreground elements to add a cinematic feel.
When I posted my video on YouTube, I was anticipating my video being viewed by friends and family, but what happened was completely unexpected. Within hours I was getting thousands of views, then tens of thousands of views. Then the video hit the #5 spot on YouTube’s trending page. Within two days I had thousands of comments and subscribers, and 500k views. But what impacted me the most were the comments, people connecting to the story, talking about life and their experiences.
The Working Man: an Animated Short Film December 14th, 2017Tim Searfoss
Interning has become essential for all college students. More and more employers hire based off experience and not just on educational background. Company Man Studios provided me with the perfect internship experience. The internship was geared towards me and what experience I wanted to gain.
To begin with, from day one I got hands-on experience with a list of projects I could do from start to finish. I didn’t know if I wanted to pursue a career in directing, producing, or editing so they catered to all three to help me figure out my passion. I was able to work independently on multiple projects from creative design and shot calling to post production.
I got helpful critiques and feedback on shot composition and subject focus along the way but the CMS team allowed me to complete the majority of the creative concept and work. I loved this aspect. Free range was exactly what I needed to find my strengths and discover my passion.
The project I enjoyed the most and got the most experience from was creating a culture video for the Company Man website. I got to script, setup, film, and edit the entire project. At first I didn’t know what to film, they showed me a previous video that was used to give me some inspiration and guidance as to how they wanted the final project to look. The project was a short clip of B-roll footage and behind-the-scenes shots of Company Man that would attract viewers attention on the CMS website.
First, I filmed everything I could think of. Not all the shots were good, but it gave me a starting point for feedback and improvements. I was told to focus on the subject and to make it clear to the viewer and try new angles instead of straight on or looking down on the subject. Another piece of advice I received was really look at the composition and get rid of ‘dead space’ though specific object placement/blur or by changing the camera angle. After improving the shots by following the team’s advice, I was sent straight into editing and preparing the shots for presentation.
This internship allowed me to explore all parts of the pre and post production process, whether it was shot setup and scheduling or editing for slow motion and color correcting. I got to see which area I enjoyed most, for me it was the hands on filming and the magic that happens in the editing room. I am fully confident that I would not have got this experience elsewhere. The CMS team avoided giving me the stereotypical paper stapling, coffee running intern treatment and saw me as a young man interested in the video production field who was after experience and guidance–CMS was happy to provide me with both.
Overall, through this internship, I learned about lighting, shot composition, the importance of organization when editing, how to treat/deal with clients, and got familiar with different cameras/lenses and other filming equipment. I was given helpful advice about improving my reel, such as keep everything and always think about how a project or shot could improve my personal reel, and marketing myself to the career field I am most passionate about. When I was young, around the age of nine or ten, I got my first video camera. It was a handheld panasonic camera that was only around $70. I filmed my first video of my cat playing fetch and edited it, well put it together for viewing, in windows movie maker. I had so much fun doing something so simple and easy that it was then I knew I wanted to go into the video production field, but I didn’t know which part specifically. Through this amazing internship, I learned that I like both the creative process and editing footage and the multiple projects I worked on allowed me to improve in both areas.
John Cote – the Intern 2017 November 27th, 2017Nina Sanchez
With the ever changing world we live in, it’s hard to keep up with what’s the newest–but it is part of your job after graduating to keep teaching yourself. As designers we must constantly keep up with the trends of today’s society. This is the second part to my blog entry, that gives advice to those who are fresh out of school.
The computer and software you use to design is just an extension to the skill you have as problem thinker. Knowing how to use Adobe CC doesn’t automatically make you a skilled designer. You are a perpetual student in the realm of technology, because it’s always changing. A great example is the iPhone X compared to the iPhone 6.
The phone is the same kind of concept, but Apple always adds new features to its latest phone. In this case, the facial recognition software analyzes facial features and muscles and tries to mirror your expressions is also being used as a password, instead of the fingerprint to access account information—this phenomenon is becoming more of a normality in the technological world. But when the iPhone 6 came out in 2014, it was hard to even picture what was next. You are constantly learning to use new tools available to you. But the core of design isn’t based on these tools, so it’s a good idea to start out with old school paper and pencil—as rough as these sketches may be, it makes you think about problem solving design differently without having the crutch of technology to rely upon.
In the design world, feedback isn’t optional. Always welcome criticism. You are putting work out there for everyone to take in, some people will love it, and others won’t. It’s important to encourage criticism in order to better your work for future designs. When you receive creative direction from your mentors or supervisors, you have to evaluate, listen and improve. Accept the criticism, but also think for yourself. Be different. Ask why. Have a point of view, but don’t be obnoxious. Remember you are a perpetual student, and there is always something new to learn from the process or from people. If you’re asked to critique, make you sure you do it with honesty and finesse. If you receive criticism, receive it with gratitude and openness.
And always remember to be humble
After graduation, it’s gonna feel like someone dropped you out in the middle of the ocean and said “swim”. You don’t know what the next steps are, or who to turn to. You’re used to having the educational support of classmates and professors, but now you’re on your own. So what do you do? Showcase your designs on a super nice online portfolio, apply to about twenty thousand jobs, and lastly—reach out to your community. Every city has a design community. If you reach out to a design professional for a meet up at a café to talk about life, design, or even puppies, chances are they’ll agree to meet you. This is not an opportunity to ask for a job, it’s just a way to reach out to someone who is active in the field and see what their experiences and perspective of design in your city. Every person you meet, regardless of them being creative or non-creative, has something to teach you. Networking is essential to continuing your career because design is a human-centered field.
Another piece of advice is to find an experienced team that you can learn from. Which leads me to Company Man Studios. The office has an open concept with public work spaces and casual meeting spots for everyone to gather and talk. There are vibrant colors everywhere and artwork hung on the walls made by our very own executive creative director. My very first interaction was a phone call with the Art Director, Terry Campbell. I’ve been here for almost 3 months and I love it. So far the culture of the studio has been extremely welcoming—everyone that works here has a special task, but when teamwork is needed no one hesitates to step up and help. Every person that works here loves what he or she does. Since the first day I started, we all eat lunch together; we all ask how the other is doing. It’s so personable and I feel like they treat each other like a work family as opposed to just having a co-worker relationship.
The main point is to always keep learning. You must provide yourself a continuing education on a daily basis. If you don’t know something, google it. There are thousands of youtube videos and articles explaining the DIY of many things, from coding sites to animating a GIF. You are still constantly learning about yourself and how to overcome the challenges you face.
Here are some sites for my fellow perpetual design students: LEARN
I attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and graduated this past December with a BFA concentration in Graphic Design and a Minor in Art History. While in school I learned a lot about design, but after school is when I’ve learned the most. A lot of people undermine design education. But being a designer automatically makes you a perpetual student. I believe that the education I received is totally worth “the fat check” that was written for it. But what they teach you in design school is mainly how to teach yourself.
Learn new trends. Learn from history. Learn from peers, professors and colleagues. There will always be learning.
Thanks to the Bauhaus school, design students are exposed with a way to merge arts & crafts and technology together. The school favored simplified forms, rationality, functionality and the idea that mass production could live in harmony with the artistic spirit of individuality. Students learn the basic elements and principles of design while on the track to receiving a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts. Being exposed to a variety of art professions from photography to painting to printmaking and digital design, classes like these open up a completely different perspective on how to look at the world. You can always look at things, but design helps you see things better. Try thinking about a picture in terms of contour, colors, lines, and shapes; this is how a fine artist thinks.
Although education is always a good start, school doesn’t teach you everything. You have to have the motivation to teach yourself everything that they don’t cover.
Bauhaus: Design in a Nutshell
LEARNING TO THINK LIKE A DESIGNER PART 1
First things first, as a designer, you are a communicator of ideas. We help our client translate their message to their particular audience. There will be very little instances where you are the audience you’re designing for. The audience is one of the main things that constantly changes depending on the client, so you have to learn to speak different languages. You always have to practice empathy. Empathy is the ability to see the world as other people do, to see what they see, feel what they feel, and experience things as they do. If the message is complicated, then as the designer, your job is to be able to simplify complicated concepts.
The Importance of Empathy
Try to understand how other people experience the world.
Design is the intentional solution to a problem with a set of constraints. In order to design, the first thing you have to do is research. Without research you can’t understand the problem you are trying to solve, and therefore, you can’t design. Ideating comes next. Divergent thinking is when there is never one correct solution. After you’ve established what your problem is you come up with a variety of solutions so you brain storm, make mind maps and brain dumps. These techniques allow you to come up with the craziest ideas that can then be narrowed down into a feasible idea that fits what your client is looking for. The first draft of any design is never going to be the one you go with, kinda like how you make that first pancake and it’s always the worst one. The more pancakes you make, the better they come out.
If you are working as part of a team, the Art Director or Creative Director will oversee your designs, in which case you must follow their suggestions for the direction of the design as it’s the client’s best interest that’s important—not your creative genius. As a designer, customer service is key. Learn how to ask questions, not just to the client, but also to your supervisors and mentors. You can always get better, as long as you keep learning.
You have to step back from your designs and reevaluate your work in order to see a better solution to the problem. This also helps with allowing you to breathe and not get frustrated with what you’re working on—because it will happen at some point in time. Another thing to keep in mind is that design doesn’t sell itself, you are a communicator of visual impact, but you also have to learn to talk about your work. Work it.
Here are some sites for my fellow perpetual design students:
Recently, I was in a meeting where a prospective client said that social media marketing wasn’t relevant to their business. Their reasoning was valid. This particular client’s target audience was baby boomers—the generation who spent two-thirds of their lives without the internet. This generation is perceived to be barely affected by social media. After all, they’re not really on it all the time like “kids these days,” right? So what’s the point of social media marketing for a business who is never going to see these ads?
“Social media marketing doesn’t apply to my audience.”
To start with, this perception is completely misguided. Saying that baby boomers aren’t on social media just isn’t true. In fact, a Colorado University study shows baby boomers spend 27 hours online per week. This statistic is two hours more than users 16 – 34. (Maybe retirees are filling their job-less hours with internet surfing?)
It might come to no surprise to anyone with a mom that the prime social platform for baby boomers is Facebook. And, with the purchase of Instagram by Facebook a few years ago, we will likely see the generation move on to other platforms in time. The truth is, it’s really hard to tell where social media will be in five years. But it’s unlikely that the baby boomers will be completely off it.
Building your brand for the future
However, boomers aren’t the real topic here. It’s individual brands. Even if you feel your company doesn’t need to be targeting one generation, you shouldn’t completely disregard the next. While boomers and Gen-Xers hold most of the cash now, it won’t stay that way for long. Those annoying Millennials are eventually going to step up to the plate. We’re more widely educated and Internet-savvy. What’s more—millennials like social media.
Building your brand an online presence—including social media—is so important. Internet users are more likely to have trust in a brand that they can connect with on social media. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are avenues to make your brand more relatable. If a user sees that you respond to reviews on your Facebook, they’re more likely to buy. A social profile is like putting a face to a name (get it?).
Through social media marketing, you’re paving the way for future success. When Millennials and the generation after (Gen Z??) do come into full fruition, having a good online presence will prepare you to receive them. If millennials feel foreign to you, consider social media as knowing how to speak their language. In a lot of ways, you are. Don’t take the risk of not having the groundwork laid down now. If you start building and gaining Facebook “likes” now, you’ll avoid seeming awkward in 5 years with only 52 followers.
If you’re still not convinced about social media marketing, consider the following. Even if you’re not directly driving sales through social media marketing, it’s still a useful tool for SEO. Users that interact with your social media are more likely to have visited your website, or visit your site in the near future. Anytime you can drive traffic to your site will help with your search rankings. So, if you are trying to appeal to Baby Boomers, remember that they love to Google things. And, they’re probably going to click on the first thing they see. And, that could be you.
Social Media Marketing: “I’m too old for this…” October 3rd, 2017Terry Lynn Campbell
Whether you’re an owner of a small dog grooming company, mom n’ pop restaurant or a high-end business CEO, telling your story helps people relate to you on a more personal level. A strong brand message can influence people to want to use your product or service. In the past, if you wanted to reach customers your options were pricey tv campaigns, magazine or newspaper ads, or billboards. Today, with people spending more time online, it’s much more efficient to advertise and reach potential customers using animations on social media platforms.
Animation was once reserved for juvenile audiences—used for children’s books and lighthearted stories. However, today animation appeals to people of all ages and backgrounds. This is because animation is a compelling way to tell a story. With all the modern, advanced tools, it’s easier for animations to tackle real-world conflicts and explain complicated issues. Brand recognition is a great reason to use animations in social media. Keeping your colors, typography and other elements consistent will help ensure your audience remembers your business.
With advertising and marketing reverting to social media outlets, animation helps catch audiences’ attention quickly and keep them engaged with compelling videos.
One of the great resources Company Man has is a small team of animators than can help personalize your story. Our artists come from a diverse background to help get your message across in a fun and engaging way.
A few tips to help tell your story are:
1) Show your audience, don’t tell them.
While most animations involve a voice-over script, not every frame needs to be “see-and-say.” Use iconography to illustrate what you’re trying to say. Illustrations are more universally understood. Plus, since many social media platforms don’t automatically play sound, using animations to tell a story will relate your message to a wider audience.
2) Have a beginning, middle and an end.
People are used to receiving messaging that has a concise beginning, middle, and end. Make sure your message is clear from the start, elaborate it, and wrap it up. Most animations seen on social media and website will clock in around 30 seconds. If you use more time than this for your animation, you might lose interest.
3) Focus on one message – Your story needs to be clear, engaging and short.
Again, keep your messaging short and to the point. Since you’ll likely deploy your animation on a social media platform, you need to assume that people will likely just scroll by and ignore it. Using color and imagery to engage your audience at the beginning of an animation will help ensure that you attract viewers’ attention.
Storytelling with animations in social media. July 31st, 2017Kris Spelce
It’s no secret that the Company Man crew has an ongoing love affair with Buddy Brew Coffee. Every day at around 3 p.m. you can see us walking in a line like little ducks over to Buddy Brew to get our afternoon dosage of caffeine. Cortados, espresso, black tea (and more) are poured over and over for our thirsty creative team.
However, our love for the specialty coffee goes much deeper than proximity. In fact, in our infancy, Company Man Studios shared a space with Buddy Brew before we each expanded to our own buildings. Since then, we’ve worked closely with our neighbors to help develop ancillary marketing materials throughout the years. We’ve offered our design support for everything from label design and packaging to event posters and video production. It’s been a point of pride for us to watch Buddy Brew flourish and expand to multiple locations, and to see our label design on their product in Publix stores in the Tampa Bay area. Read more
Company Man Studios & Buddy Brew Coffee July 18th, 2017Terry Lynn Campbell