3 reasons why you should consider animation

Turn on your TV, and you’ll notice an increasing trend for businesses to gravitate towards animation and motion graphics for their advertising needs. Ever curious why this is? I hope so – i’ve been meaning to plug my motion design services for a while.

1. Get ready for this – live-action adverts require actors and models.

No surprise here, but let me explain a little about what happens during the planning stages. Finding the correct voice, look, and overall talent requires a lot of time. Assuming after a week of research you finally found the perfect person, but what if he’s unavailable, busy, or sick? Something as simple as a schedule conflict already complicates what was once a seemingly easy streamlined process. Also, even non-union talent have managers and other forms of representation, which won’t only require an additional fee but may also charge depending where the commercial gets distributed.

Want to get more intense? Concepts might not be fulfillable due to their acting skills, height, or even hair color. What if the talent receives bad press over something irrelevant to your ad? Perhaps legal trouble or a sex scandal. Will people view your campaign the same way?

2. Cost-efficient

Don’t get it wrong – it’s not crazy cheap, but contrary to popular belief it’s not substantially more expensive then the standard video route. I can’t speak for all studios but the reason for this is mostly due to lesser setup. I’m talking about ignoring some of the most expensive components of the pre-production stage like location scouting, securing, scheduling, and overall project management. Yes – I charge for all this. I have to, unfortunately. It takes a lot of setup and prep work.

Let’s talk worse case scenario and assume the footage didn’t live up to expectation. Well, your next steps are to either to release sub-par work or setup another re-shoot which of course costs extra capital. Both options sound pretty bad. Motion design and animation have flexibility because it’s fully controllable in post production. Animated characters associated with your brand like the Geico lizard or that pink haired girl from those E-surance commercials also wouldn’t suffer the things listed above. Fake lizard involved in a sex scandal?

3. The sky is the limit

Let me know what resonates more:

A) a 90 second interview where a small business owner talks to the camera about what they do.

B) a 90 second interview where a small business owner talks to the camera about what they do, filled with infographs, open/closing title sequences, lower thirds, chapter bumpers, etc.

Not too hard of a question. Starting to see the value here? From a video-guy perspective, I can’t see a single reason why anyone would oppose to having animated segments in their spot. But there’s more! How about showcasing a product that doesn’t exist yet, or a building that hasn’t been built. It’s very possible to still generate awareness in your prototype stages without having anything physical at all.

Done for now – quite the long post. Hope i shared some insight to anyone interested in this stuff, and be sure to hire me when the time comes.

New website is finally here!

We’ve successfully relaunched our ScooBox2.0 webpage! Pretty sleek right ?

The whole thing is powered by our good friend RatchetFPS, who’s also a prominent DJ and musician. Very big thanks to him for dealing with me and all the massive revisions.

Lantopia – Branding and Identity Launch

Synopsis:

5 years ago, my friend threw his first LAN party. For those not nerdy enough, LAN parties are where you invite friends, bring their computers, and play games together in the same room. This small operation held in his apartment has now become something much more popular where people now fight (politely request an invitation) for a seat to join in. After realizing the potential to scale his event to something more massive, he came to me asking for some promotional help.


Logo:

First step was to create identity. Not just any identity, but something recognizable for a targeted audience. My original design involved a standard crosshair used in FPS games. To give personalization, the vertical lines were shifted to define the L and T. He said he liked the concept but looked too corporate and flat, so I changed the viewing angle, trashed the red and went with a sleek grey. It got much better feedback, but everyone said it didn’t retain any ‘value’. Or rather, nobody knew what the hell it was, which actually led to the final design.

We mixed together the logo with a futuristic, hackerish font that clearly stated what the event is, and added 2 ethernet ports that connect together for stronger character. I also manually drew the wire because a regular-looking one lacked energy.

Promotion: After identity comes promotion. A series of posters were created and distributed through social streams such as Facebook, twitter, reddit, pintrest, and etc. to get some more eyes looking at this thing.

T-shirts were printed and given to the 30 members that attended this year’s event. We were hoping that receiving swag would increase retention from invited players while promoting outside awareness through their free gear.

And finally, the only physical result that everyone would likely see – the video. I got the chance to be at the actual event for a few hours to capture some video. I threw it into FCP and applied a glitch treatment  for all of the bumpers to enhance the image they were aiming for. We are now currently in the middle of distribution and spreading the word.

I’ll keep everyone informed! Phew. Talk about total solution.

Konova Slider – Product Review

I was recently in the market for a bearing-based slider. As it turns out, everything was too expensive and thought i’d end up with some friction-based slider which I’ve heard nothing positive about (besides cheap costs). After a few months of research I went with Konova, a 3rd party company based in Korea. Considering this item was coming from an unknown vendor based overseas, I was skeptical about the durability and performance. Well guess what.

ITS PRETTY GOOD GUYS. Take a look at my Konova Slider Montage. It definitely has it’s shortcomings but for its current price point it can’t be beat. Very recommended if you understand it’s downfalls.

PROS:

Price - The Konova slider at the time of purchase, cost 300$. It’s cheap and falls into the same price range as friction-based sliders. As far as I know, this is the cheapest roller bearing slider on the market (not including DIY projects), 200$ less then the Kessler PocketDolly.

Build Quality - The tracks are nested ‘inside’ the body and protected from outside wear and tear. the 120mm model i purchased is very light and portable, making it ideal to lug around for shoots. the screw that locks the sliding base in place is sturdy and can comfortably hold the camera in place.

Setup - No assembly needed. No setup or breakdown. Konova provides you with tools to increase the drag but you need to physically take apart the item to make the adjustment. make initial adjustments at home because on-site changes will take a while and you risk getting dust/debris inside.

Flexibility - There are multiple tripod holes (1/4 and 3/8) located on both ends of the slider. It allows for a huge range of diagonal and vertical setups. Konova includes 2 legs which you can attach for more ground stability. They upgraded to a new set of terrain legs which is a huge advancement over the original. Make sure you get the correct ones.

CONS:

Lack of Motor - The lack of a motor or even a hand crank makes it difficult to get smooth shots. For each shot, I generally slide the camera 3-4 times at different speeds for safety. It’s not difficult with some practice but take extra care when working off-the-cuff or big scale projects.

Stability - A lack of wider tracks causes some stability issues. Don’t forget that a ballhead attached to the sliding plate raises the center of gravity also. The shakiness becomes apparent when a front-heavy lens is used, or if you’re zoomed in.

Flex - If you notice shots ‘dipping’ in the montage, that’s because it is and it’s not intentional. During my first series of shots, I attached the slider to a tripod mounted in the center with a 550D+Tamron 28-70mm. The slider wasn’t able to hold this weight, causing it to bend when it reached the sides. When 2 tripods are mounted to each side, it dips in the middle. No battery pack, 200mm, lens hood, 5DM2 body, or anything that carries significant weight was used. Konova claims they can support this weights but can’t. Everything works fine with a 3rd tripod to support the middle but it gets annoying.

5 Things to Have on Set for the Low Budget Filmmaker

Ever spent weeks preparing for a shoot only to arrive on-site and realize you’re out of batteries or your memory cards haven’t been dumped? Well, if you’re a potential or future client, then know that this surely hasn’t happened to me. Anyways, take a look at some other things that’s proven helpful over the years besides battery chargers.

 

 Dry-Erase board + Netbook

Investing in a slate or dry-erase board helps you easily share ideas, shot lists, and scripts. It creates a visual roadmap for both you and the team, so avoid the chance of any miscommunication.

The laptop is self explanatory. Right? Showcase you’re work, vision examples, reference videos, to the rest of the team. Dump your memory cards when they’re filled up. Pull up the script or a google doc. Personally, I always arrive pre-loaded with assets/songs/references/shot concepts to give the talent a better understanding and what the final product will look like.

 

Gaffer Tape

Fix broken light stands, mount components to your camera rig, control lighting, set marks on the floor for talent. The uses for gaffer tape are unlimited. The strong cloth type material doesn’t leave any residue when you unpeel it or take it off of stuff. It costs a bit more then duct tape but just buy it. Then bring it. Then paypal me donations.

 

Fans

Continuous lighting sure does get HOT. Keep the talent happy and cool. When I was doing my sister’s portrait shots (see: top pic) I brought in 2 fans originally for the hair, but quickly realized how much of a cheap solution it was to offset the heat coming from a continuous lighting kit. The fans haven’t left my studio since.

 

Reflector/Diffuser

Weather conditions are uncontrollable. iPhone weather apps lie. Indoor lighting gets even trickier. These cheap tools can fix a ruined shot and optimize a good one. For outdoor, nothings worse then having harsh, dappled light on the subject. No excuse for not spending the 15$.

 

Stepping stool

Understand the importance of scene composition and framing? DPs do. Sometimes the difference in getting ‘the shot’ can be as little as moving the tripod 5 ft to the left or climbing that extra rock. A small stepping stool from target/walmart gives you ability to change your vantage point whenever needed. Also, i’m kinda short.

Mikes Hard Lemonade commercial – Behind the Scenes

My Mikes Hard Lemonade commercial is now live. I’d take a look before reading.
Now. where to start…

GROCERY STORE: When I originally scripted the concept, I didn’t take into account how hard it would be to film at a grocery store. The only way was to go a Safeway at 4am and hope no one would catch me. Well, guess what. Within 10 minutes I get kicked out by the store manager. After rejecting a 40$ bribe, I proceed to get kicked out of 3 more stores in 3 different cities. Got home at 5:30am.

FIELD OF BERRIES SHOT: I got this shot from Shorline Park in Mountain View, CA near google offices. Big mistake to shoot on a weekend. There were tons of people at the public park staring standing 5-10 feet away from me. We had an area roped off so it caused lots of unwanted attention. I borrowed the hat from my aunt’s hat collection.

RUNNING IN FOREST SHOT: This shot in particular needed to be framed perfectly. If the camera panned 2 inches to the right, you would see a freeway. 2 inches to the left would reveal a residential street. I drove through this area a while back and took mention in my sketchbook to come back one day to do something with it.

SWIMMING SHOT: My friend suggested to film at his house in Dublin, CA. He has a custom built pool thats elevated from ground level with an open glass window on one side, so we just setup a tripod right next to the window pane. What you can’t see from the video is the sub-freezing water temperatures. I only did 3 takes.

The ending sequence was copied from their official campaign, and filmed in my kitchen.The fireplace was turned on to strengthen the composition. Overall, it was quite embarrassing from beginning to end but wildly fun. I’ve also learned to bring more bribe cash.

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