The Headshot.

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.

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Redefining Industry Standards

Photo Source: For All Womankind

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

The Working Man: an Animated Short Film

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.

STORY

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.

STORYBOARDS

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.

 

ANIMATIC

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.

Behind The Scenes Animation GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

SOUND DESIGN

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.

CHARACTER DESIGN

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.

 

ANIMATION

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

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

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.

THE UNEXPECTED

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.

Storytelling with animations in social media.

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. 

“Achieva Piggy Bank” from Company Man Studios on Vimeo.

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.

Happy animating.

Company Man Studios & Buddy Brew Coffee

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

The Rise of the Production Agency

A few years ago, advertising agencies began adding production capabilities. This was in response to clients, particularly retail clients, seeking to cut their production costs, and as a way for agencies to land new retail business. Production “quality” was less of an issue than cost. Churn and burn. Meanwhile, an equal and opposite phenomenon was happening. It began in answer to the number of clients approaching production companies looking for someone to “help us shoot a commercial” when they had no script and no concept beyond a call to action. Typically, the production company would hire a freelance copywriter to provide one.

Production Company or Agency?

So in 2012, when Rob Tiisler started Company Man Studios, it was as a full-fledged production company. It was ready and able to work with advertising agencies in the production of TV commercials and videos for agency clients, but with account management and creative services available to work on projects with those clients that didn’t have an agency of record. A “production agency,” we’ll call it. I’d say the rest is history but, given the immediate and continued success of Company Man Studios, the reality is, the rest is the future.

behind the scenes of a video production shoot

Behind the scenes for a Saint Leo University TV spot, shot in Memphis earlier this year. Company Man Studios is primarily the school’s production company but provides creative as well.

Of course, clients aren’t just looking for TV production help. They need websites, social media campaigns, videos, animation, interactive, packaging, print, radio, point of sale, trade show elements, outdoor and whatever other ways they can reach their audience. As Rob says, “production means ‘whatever it takes.’” In fact, Company Man’s first project was to create interactive exhibits for MOSI’s Mission: Moonbase exhibition.

And while many clients came in the door needing one-off projects, many have become long-term clients. We do ongoing projects for Achieva Credit Union, Saint Leo University, Tribridge, and the world’s best neighbor, Buddy Brew Coffee. It would be easy to say that Company Man was ahead of its time. But, for clients looking for effective creative and high-quality production, it came along just in time.

From the Intern’s Desk

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

photo equipment

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

Branded Video: Because, who reads anymore?

Who reads anymore?

Yes, I am aware of the irony that this title suggests. Hopefully, you are reading this and not scrolling past it. Whether it is zipping through the numerous apps on your phone, poking around on your iPad, or searching on your laptop, we are surrounded by programs that allow potential clients and customers to watch, tap and listen more than ever. With all this being available, who wants to spend agonizing minutes reading numerous paragraphs about an info page? The answer: Consumers are opting out of reading when they can just watch and listen to a video instead.

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How to be a Better Interviewee

At Company Man Studios, we produce a lot of interviews. Whether it’s for a corporate brand video, a testimonial for a service or product, or just someone addressing a large group of people, we end up listening to—and editing—a wide variety of messages. The number one response we get from interviewees is “I hate the sound of my own voice!” Most people do (unless your last name is “Kardashian”), and there is scientific evidence as to why. The fact is, unless you’re on-camera often like an actor or reality TV star, you’re just not accustomed to hearing yourself speak from an outsider’s perspective. And, what makes the situation even worse, when people know they’ll be hearing or watching themselves on camera they often can’t focus on what they are actually saying—which is very inconvenient if you need to say something important.

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Contact us at Company Man Studios.