(part II, the big post)
It’s been a few months since BlendFest. It's been fun to relive the BLEND experience through photos and notes.
In October of 2015, Jorge Estrada Conest and a handful of other awesome people drew in a crowd of several hundred.
I did have one big fear that ended up being completely untrue. I thought I would be judged and/or accepted based on my work. The reality was that there was no judging. *To be real though, there wasn't time to look up someone's portfolio when you're meeting so many people in just a couple days.
Beginners and legends blended without skipping a beat.
One such legend, Joey Korenman of School of Motion, MC’d the event. I had a blast hanging out with him and a bunch of fellow Animation Bootcampers. The dude is super down to earth and went out of his way to hang out with his bootcampers.
Ok, now I want to jump into the speakers. I should have written this the week after BLEND, but here I am writing from my memory and my notes (some way more sparce than others). These are likely out of order and I didn't include every single speaker.
To kick it all off, Buck's new studio from down under created an out-of-this world intro.
The four guys at Tendril create a really cool, smart team. They've worked together for quite a while and have always kept the attitude that they need to constantly be proving themselves. Never settle. This was a consistent theme in their talk. And they aren't just trying to prove themselves to the world or the industry, but to themselves.
On a real practical level, they emphasized the importance of building relationships with reps. Your reps need to know the work you want.
I really like how intentional they are about their workspace. Your environment influences how you work, so experiment with new things. Test different work station setups, lighting, and decor, and find what works for you and your team.
Blend of influences. Inspire and feed off each other. Respect the chemistry of the people who work with you.
Put a lot of work into thinking through what you want to do, why you want to do it, and where you want to be (as an individual and as a group). Let these goals drive your decision making.
Do self initiated projects. Too much client work can be soul sucking. Make your own art. It's good for you and it can attract the clients you want.
Rebranding includes redoing your logo, but even more so, it means re-thinking.
Kevin Dart opens by referencing my favorite movie, Jurassic Park. You know how the scientists have to use frog DNA to fill in what's missing from the dino DNA? Kevin uses this as an analogy to collaborating with others to fill in the gaps that you have.
If you're familiar with Kevin's work, you might be really surprised to hear he is colorblind. He found his way around it by starting with BW paintings and monocoloring afterwards and doing screen printing (limited color pallet). This approach helped at first, but it became a crutch. He started using more color and making sure he was surrounded by people he trusted to make sure his work was looking spot on.
Collaborate with people who are good at what they do, so you don't have to hand hold the whole time. Let them do what they're good at. That way everyone has fun making something great.
Jay and Leah from Giant Ant
Jay and Leah started Giant Ant and had some really insightful and open things to say about the motion design industry and themselves.
They like to work on projects that they care about. "Would our moms be proud?" is a question that helps them decide what clients to take on.
We are the company we keep. We hire people we would want to grab a drink with any night of the week.
Budgets and Pitching
Normal projects for Giant Ant: 2/month at $60-$70K each
$250K projects would be great, but they're tied up in reps and pitching.
This is a photo of their breakdown of how big budget projects end up getting split up between reps, fees, extra studios, and time/money put into pitching and only winning a handful of them. It's a rough estimate, but they realized they would be getting $10K jobs if they pursued the really big projects.
Basically, the budget goes way up, but there are more hands in the pot and you're spending time and money on pitching.
Choose the right medium for the concept.
Kirsten does a lot of amazing stop motion. Stop motion automatically gives you warmth from textures and shadows.
"Don't set out to create a masterpiece." - Kirsten's Dad.
- Take the pressure off yourself
- Quit being so serious
- Give yourself permission to be imperfect
Kirsten said, "I almost quit half way through on almost every film I've made." She said that finishing the projects you start is hugely important. FINISH YOUR PROJECTS.
Also, a friendly reminder that in animation you can do ANYTHING!
The beginners mind - Always be open to knowing you're not an expert and having conversations with others and yourself.
To be honest, I was just really enjoying Kelli's talk and I forgot to take notes. But Kelli has the coolest job. She's an Adobe Resident Artist. So she just makes cool shit and documents it and Adobe pays her to do it. She certainly deserves the job. Her work is incredible and inspiring.
Find the new flavor.
Albert prefers not to be called a code artist. He uses code in his art but it is more about humanity and life than just algorithms.
Some of my favorite work of Albert's is his gloppy human animations. The best way I can describe them is this: I can't look away, but I'm not sure how I feel about what I saw. And I want everyone else to experience it.
His personal art work rarely has a specific meaning behind it, but many feel they really connect with it. Each piece may not have a particular purpose, but after hearing him talk about his frustration with client work and how he uses his personal art as an outlet, his work feels like it has a lot of meaning. He's exploring.
Client work steals your sole. You don't have to dumb things down to a kid intelligent level for all audiences.
If you can't do that with client work, make art.
Justin Cone, probably best know for his industry website, Motionographer, wrapped up the conference with a big “future of motion design” talk.
Why talk about the future?
- It’s inspiring
- It can get you unstuck
- It empowers you to shape it instead of being shaped by it
- It gives you something to rally around or against, which is the essence of community building
- It’s fun!
The over arching idea was that in this industry (like most areas of life) the pendulum swings. The major pendulum swing in this case is that 2D flat has reached the end (or near end) of it’s pendulum swing of popularity.
Conversely, 3D & CG has reached it’s peak of unpopularity and will come back as the main focus of the industry, but in new ways like virtual reality, augmented reality, real time renderings, etc.
For the last 100 + years, film has been shown through a rectangle (the screen), but the future is going to be screenless. The rectangle is going away in many ways (VR and all sorts of new crazy mediums… non-rectangular screens).
For those who like bullet points (like me), here you go.
Visual trend predictions:
- We've reached peak 2D
- CG has reached it's peak on the hate side of the pendulum
- Less nostalgia, more futurism
- Nostalgia runs on a 20 yr cycle
- Less code art - more artful code - like Albert Omass’ work.
Technological trend predictions:
- Near real time rendering (octane)
- The rise of web animation
- The explainer (as we know it) is dying
- It'll fragment into new things
- Interactive animations – the iPhone 6s page is a great example of an animated explainer web page
- The dissolution of the screen
- Virtual reality & augmented reality
- Film is a group of rectangles and that's the way it's been for 100 years
- The rectangle is going away in many ways (VR, all sorts of new crazy mediums)
Justin Cone's Takeaways
- Don't freak out! - Motion design hasn't been around all that long. Things are always changing.
- More opportunity comes along.
- Be honest with yourself. What are your strengths and passions and what is adjacent to it? What is your DNA?
- Spend (and lose) some money on experiments.
- Be empathetic to coders and work at the edge of your understanding.
- Don't freak out! - Motion design hasn't been around all that long.