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.
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
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:
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
My name is Brooke Bandoni, and I am an 18-year-old high school student that will be graduating from Tampa Preparatory School at the end of May, and attending the University of Central Florida in the Fall. For the past three weeks, I’ve gotten the opportunity to intern at Company Man Studios in Downtown Tampa. I knew I wanted to go into the field of graphic design, editing, and video production in an advertising context, but I wasn’t sure exactly what aspect I liked the most. I am a business minded person and very interested in advertising and marketing, but I also really enjoy the creative aspect of graphic design and photography. Company Man Studios is the best of both worlds.
I have my own internet business, a YouTube channel, that I work on in my spare time. Brands will contact me to feature products or services on my channel. When I met Rob and Jon at the beginning of my internship, they were excited to discuss my channel. At the time, a company called WoolFresh had sent me a pair of socks they wanted me to review on my channel. Rob and Jon decided to give me some tools and insight into making sponsored product videos for my channel, and help me create a very nice video for WoolFresh.
Behind the scenes
On my first week, Jon, a producer at CMS, explained the process in which Company Man does video shoots for the companies they work with. He showed me a storyboard for a shoot I would participate in, and talked to me about shooting schedules, the roles of people on set, and how they feature products in an alluring way. That Thursday, I participated in a 10-hour video shoot for Alessi. By watching the entire process, I learned a lot about video production, food styling, and photography. It was an amazing experience to help with the setup, shooting, and tear down. The clients were at the shoot with us and giving input to the shots to make sure they’re pleased with them.
Behind the scenes at Alessi
Some of the equipment lined up
When it comes to sponsored products on YouTube, the client is rarely involved with the shooting process. Most of the time, companies understand that online content creators have certain style and audience, and most companies allow the creator to have a lot of creative freedom with their work. Being able to see how Company Man Studios did their video shoot gave me great insight into the professional world of video production.
After the shoot, I sat down at my desk and created a storyboard and shooting schedule for my WoolFresh sock video. I planned on filming myself doing different activities throughout the week and documented how the socks benefited my day. Each morning, someone at CMS checked in on my progress on my video and helped me along if I was stuck on any aspect of my filming, editing, and tweaking.
Throughout the week, I shadowed with a few CMS employees who helped me with my project. I got the opportunity to work with Edna Pabon, the senior editor at Company Man, who showed me some tips and tricks. I usually use Final Cut Pro X to edit my videos, but Edna showed me the ropes of Premiere and After Effects, as Adobe’s editing software is primarily used in the editing industry. Edna also taught me the proper way to organize footage, elements and project versions, just in case I need to make revisions or a client. I learned a lot from Edna, and it interested me in a possible career in editing.
I have been working on re-branding my content on my YouTube channel and creating a more consistent presence on social media. Jazz Fernandez, a graphic and motion designer, helped me create some new branding for my YouTube channel and showed me how she uses Photoshop and Illustrator to create transparent logos and dissect PNG files to extract vector images. She was able to create a beautiful custom logo for my channel, as well as some banner art for my social media websites.
By the end of my three weeks, I had produced a great sponsored video for WoolFresh. They brand was very pleased by my work and how the video came out. I ascribe my success to all the input and help I received from everyone at Company Man.
My experience with Company Man has been eye opening and an incredibly invaluable experience. I hoped that by spending some time at Company Man that I would have a more specific idea of what I wanted to pursue as a major and career, but instead, CMS has opened me up to even more ideas about the field and possible future career paths. I wish I could spend more time at CMS, but unfortunately my time with these amazing people is coming to an end. Over the time we spent together, I believe I’ve made some friends here, and I will definitely miss everyone when I leave.
Thank you, Amber, Jazz, Jon, Chris, Nathan, Kevin, Terry, Edna and Rob for this amazing experience!
– Brooke Bandoni, Tampa Prep
From the Intern’s Desk May 22nd, 2017companymanstudios
I walked into the doors of Company Man Studios not knowing what to expect. Starting a new job is both exciting and nerve racking. I have been here a few months now and I already feel like I have become fully integrated into this amazing company. The charm the office has is unlike others. And, without a doubt, Rob (Founder and Executive Creative Director) knows how to make you feel welcomed and part of the team of extremely creative people producing amazing things.
Sitting down with our senior editor Edna is always a delightful experience. I was able to sit in on a few edits including one for Achieva Credit Union. It was a great opportunity for me to see the process of the footage Jon (Director/Producer) shot turned into an edit from start to finish in post-production. As well as the client interaction that happens throughout the process. The turnout was amazing leaving both the client and our team proud of the work produced.
As I traveled around our office I made my way over to our two exceptionally talented animators. Kevin (Animation Director) and Jazz (Designer / Animator) know how to flow from a storyboard to the screen with ease. Producing fun and informational characters to help our clients like Tribridge easily get their message out about their company. Next up was a trip to the CXIS office, which gave me new insight on the continued abilities that Company Man Studios has. Making plans to transform the office space with Nathan (Senior Art Director) and Terry (Art Director) into a client friendly and welcoming environment. Putting plans into motion for future print and design changes to give their office the look they need.
In a short amount of time, I’ve been able to be a part of numerous shoots, listen in on voiceovers, watch animations come to life, read finished scripts, view websites go through revisions and sit in on post-production edits. The capabilities of this company surpass what I thought when I walked in on my first day. Everything from production, print design, web, info animation, billboards and the list continues. Understanding what everyone does allows me to be able to seek out the correct potential clients – and the fact that Buddy Brew is next door doesn’t hurt either!
WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER
Pancake Day at Company Man Studios
Teamwork screams importance at Company Man—and not just with each other. It’s important that we have a collaborative approach with the clients, as well. We love to be able to sit down and talk in person with our clients about the content they would like to create. Whether it is working on the next promotional campaign for Achieva or scouting locations for Saint Leo’s commercials, everyone is available and ready to go. The environment that Company Man Studios has created is unlike the rest. I could see this from the moment I walked in and continue to notice it more and more every day that I work here. If you don’t believe me check out our 2016 recap video. Not only does it capture our awesome company culture but you get to have an inside look at the behind the scenes of projects produced throughout the year. Looking forward to an even greater 2017!
Although web design isn’t our primary focus at Company Man Studios, a lot of the work we do involves the interwebs. On a day-to-day basis, we’re using the world wide web for design inspiration, tutorials, and to download movies illegally compelling imagery. There are countless sources of information online. If you’re not using the internet in some capacity to work more efficiently, you’re doing it wrong. That being said, there are also a ton of shortcuts and tricks to just using the internet. I’m talking about browser extensions.
(Stick with me. I promise this is going to be exciting stuff.)
For those that don’t know, browser extensions are tools that interact with the HTML on a page to help the viewer in some way. Extensions come in a wide range of uses, but the primary goal is to get the most out your time online. I have my favorites and, when I’m on a new device, the first thing I do is install them. So, I decided to compile a short list of extensions and plugins that I think are helpful for designers.
I’ve found this plugin to be useful, since so many social media sites are constantly changing their image requirements. With simple click, you can drag around an object and get the measurements of an image. This is way easier than googling the dimensions. Get it for Chrome here.
My FAVORITE plugin. (I can’t believe I’m even sharing it here because it’s so good I don’t want anyone else to use it.) See a font online that you love but can’t identify? Click it and hover over the text and Fontface Ninja tells you what it is. It even tells you where you can download the font. This is one of those extensions that makes me question: WHAT did people do before the internet?
This is a vanity app. However, if you’re particular about how things look—or, if you get distracted easily—give this one a download. It darkens your screen around a video player when you’re watching something. Try it out while you watch one of our awesome videos.
Everyone has a browser preference. A lot of designers prefer Chrome, because it’s customizable. But while a lot of people like to hate on Safari, it’s the browser I’ve always used and I’ve really gotten to know how to make it work best for the work that I do. And that’s really what this is all about: finding the method that makes you work smarter, not harder.
Browser Extensions for Designers: Plug it in! March 9th, 2017Terry Lynn Campbell