Banner Ads Giving Insight to Client Animations and Motion Graphics

You see a beautiful client marketing example and then when you really wonder how they envisioned it with motion, you’re stuck. Of course you can dream up some motion treatment but you know they have very experienced agencies or people already doing it. Then, it happens, you randomly see a new banner ad one some random webpage that is the exact campaign and shows the animation treatment. Opa! Champaign (or beer) falls from the heavens, angels start signing … you got the insight you need and you didn’t have to bug your client to go through the endless channels to try and find that answer (that they really didn’t understand how to ask anyway).

I feel stupid admitting this now but I use to take multiple screenshots to try and capture the essence of the motion. Then I was slapped on the back of the head and introduced to Quicktime’s screen capture feature where you can easily record a specified part of your screen and save it as a video. And, its free. I know, crazy talk, right? When SnagIt costs money, but a video capture tool is free with the Quicktime app that we’ve all had on our Mac’s forever.

Then the little problem of assets come into play. You hope and pray that the PDF you received (or downloaded from the client website) allows you to open it in Illustrator and easily separate the layers. Usually you get lucky and you’re able to at least save out the background and its in some decent size format for you to leverage in a HD or UHD/4k manner.

Just for reference, www.Moat.com is a good site to easily throw in a client name and it pulls up all their online media. BUT, this does not let you play any motion clips, only view the static media. But its still a  good tool to use if you want to quickly glance at a brand’s newest online styles or marketing campaigns. It has become a staple in my online client stalking repertoire.

A Year Full of Company Blog Content and It Didn’t Kill Me… Almost

We’re closing in on the end of the calendar year which marks our first full year of company blog content. It was a big goal this year, for our company to step up its marketing game and try to create custom content for a full year of weekly content … which turned out to be sometimes bi-weekly but that was fine. It wasn’t easy, but we did it amidst our crazy work schedule, client nuttiness, product builds, hiring madness, etc. (www.signet.tv/news)

I actually found it really fun to take time out of the craziness and sit back and think … if we’re industry leaders (like we like to envision ourselves), then what do we want to say, what do people want to learn from us… and then position those ideas into compelling and engaging blog articles. Ok, I don’t know if we fully hit that, but it was a good start and I feel really good about us hitting that next year.

BlogPics - Company blog year full embed

At first the struggle was what to actually write about; company news, project highlights, partner callouts, etc. Some initial ones turned out like case studies and not really news or industry trends, so we shifted a little and made them more like news-worthy project stuff or true industry ideas that are helpful. Some articles were easy to include a cool picture and then we started creating small/simple videos to embed for some ancillary context through video (which I would guess most people prefer).

If anything, our learning experience was invaluable. I learned very few people who say they will write articles, actually will. BUT, I learned people do like to ideate about them, so next year I’ll just hold brainstorming sessions and then extract enough info from that person to outline the article and have a copywriter do it up.

You can view it here: www.signet.tv/news

Planning Media Buys Might Just Drive Ya Nutz!!!

Looking towards the next year, I started looking into media buys aligning to our 2016 marketing budget allocation, which is when I felt some extra gray hair coming in. (like I needed that) I had captured all the influential industry outlets that I wanted to target and now was the time to reach out for all their material and pricing. Doesn’t sound that hard, does it?

I setup folders per each website and event that I was targeting, which already got confusing because some companies owned multiple, and some events actually mapped back to some industry websites but didn’t actually have their own section. But, at last, I got that ironed out and put their various PDFs in each folder. Yeah, various PDFs… each organization sent between 1 and 4 PDFs that ranged from pricing tables, screenshots, audience graphs, media examples, etc. So that was fun.

Then I took a deep breath, went and bought some beer, and then started trying to compare the options. Each one was completely different in how they package and price their options. Literally, from pricing media per view, per 1000 views, per page, per email, per month in an email, per blast, per 1000 emails, etc. And the best is, no sales person wants to give you the easy answer because they actually want to know your budget, then they’ll sell you a sweet package for about 130% of your budget. I’m not mad at them. They know its easy for us to approve that then haggle for weeks with them.

So you finally get the sales people to give you buttoned up proposals of clear options so you can really compare them. Then the hard part…. presenting those options with your recommendations to your boss, controller, or anybody else who gets to chime in. Now I know just to prepare to go back and forth with those proposals at least 3 times before everyone is happy and satisfied. I’ll just plan on writing another blog article after Q1 next year, when I share marketing results and get feedback galore on how I chose wrong!

Going the Extra Mile on Projects that Excite You

Every once and a while it seems like a certain client aligns to your interests and you feel like you’re just having fun and not really working… which makes it super easy to go the extra mile. Recently GoPro, a brand I live for and love, became a client of ours and when they asked last minute if we’d film the construction of the new retail kiosk, my answer was, “Duh.”

It was 6pm on a Wednesday and the client asked if we’d setup cameras to capture time-lapse footage during the 2-3 day construction. I was actually leaving for the gym at the time, but I was happy to completely shift my plans to figure out how to make that happen for such a cool brand. I actually had no idea how a GoPro camera could be plugged in for power and continuously video a time-lapse, but I knew enough about the normal usage to be confident we could figure it out.

We double checked our GoPro inventory on hand and then headed to Fry’s for the items we thought could bring this together: USB power cords, outlet adapters, memory cards, etc. We stayed late (which probably involved some beers) at the office trying various time-lapse settings and doing the math on how different time-lapse captures would produce certain length of footage (based on frames per second) and how much memory on our card would that take up (so it didn’t fill up over the night and shut off before morning).

Arriving at Fry’s at 7am before they opened to setup the cameras, was very early for us 2 who went, but was still fun to get them setup from each side and test the initial footage on our phones to see how the time-lapse was capturing the view at this huge store area. We essentially had to drive to the Fry’s store multiple times over Thursday, Friday, and even Saturday morning to make sure they were still and that nobody have messed with them. But overall it was a blast, and I enjoyed staying late and even working over the weekend to edit all the footage (which was essentially 4 days of footage – 2 days from each camera) maybe because of the hope that GoPro would pass it around and maybe it shows up on their social outlets … we’ll see.

Behance’s Company Pages seem like a Great Way to Catch Designer’s Attention

Last year I noticed Behance started introducing company pages where multiple designers can associate their work to their company’s page. This immediately made me think about attracting design talent by them seeing all the cool range of work that our company handles and how it can help them get the coolest portfolio.

I like to promote the fact that our company will help grow a designers portfolio like no place else. And sometimes thats hard to show a potential hire without having to whip out a powerpoint presentation and start showing mockups. The behance page seemed like the thing to easily shoot a designer, or even put in the job posting for them to go checkout. (I’m tired of just having people checkout our website because I hear too many weird things which makes sense because potential hires is our sites target audience)

After asking the design team if they would want to pursue a behance page for their portfolio, which they answered yes, I took this a little more seriously and figured out a way for us to ensure we load up that company page. I asked the project management lead to give the design team 2 fridays off of client work over the course of 2 months. She didn’t really baulk at it and just essentially skipped those friday’s in our project plans, almost like a holiday. I planned with the design team to have a behance day, and we figured out which projects to try and tackle. The days were pretty relaxing, even though creating a portfolio page is always tricky (us designers are so picky when it comes to presenting our work… probably like a model getting dressed in the morning… or not, that just came to me) After those 2 fridays, the company page is now loaded with over 10 new projects ranging from mobile apps, tablet apps, data widgets, video walls, motion graphics, social media, etc. It was also the perfect timing because we were wanting an intern after the first of the year and were seeking out local colleges for talent … we’ll shall see.

And it was a great way to start playing with final projects and products in a marketing manner, like how to position them in real environments and make them look super sexy for when we want to start using them in our real company marketing material.

The client doesn’t have cool motion stuff… Fine, we’ll get creative

Whenever we do a media wall project, we try to look for impactful media to really impress people with and that usually is best served through motion like a video or motion graphics. In this scenario with Lockheed Martin, they only were able to get access to some high resolution brand images. But I will say that the brand images they had were some of the best styled brand imagery I’ve seen in a while.

We ideated internally on how we can make the most impact with what we had to work with. Some initial ideas was to just use the images and slightly animate them in the background, like panning side to side with a slight zoom change, giving a very slight sense of motion.

Then we settled on the idea of taking out some main subject elements of the brand images and creating a subtle motion graphic. So we cropped out the main element (like a satellite or fighter jet), manually filled back in the photo, and then concerted out how to animate those main elements back over the originally composition. Our end execution had the main subject extremely slowly moving and twisting, which creating a cool effect where the viewer was reading other text on the screen but then after a few moments would notice the background and take a few extra seconds to try and figure out that its actually moving, because the object was slowly overlapping different from the text boxes over it. Overall the clients loved it and was so surprised at our innovative approach to work with their media.

 

Portfolio Shows & Stalking College Design Talent

Staying connected to the local colleges that have design departments is a bit tedious but an important task that I try to fit in.  There almost needs to be some mechanism or website that fulfills this need. Now, I’m just relying on Facebook and hoping those design programs are posting about upcoming shows or related news. There’s way too many talented college students who could truly benefit from experience like an internship or even talking to professionals in the real word and get some key advice.

At one portfolio show I was surprised to be the only person there from an outside company. There was just the students and few professors. I admit I was taken back by that, and when I approached the professors afterwards, they were almost surprised I showed up. I thought that might be the point of these shows. At my university, our senior show was advertised to every single agency and design firm in  a 100 mile area … and about half of us got internships and interviews.

I do feel like a bit of a stalker having to follow the schools on Facebook and then when I see a picture of work hanging up, I almost want to comment and ask if it’s a public show. Here I am, practically begging to get in there and catch some of this talent … BUT shouldn’t that be the other way around? I would absolutely love it if I had department heads at these design programs contacting me on a regular basis to discuss opportunities for their kids, or asking me to come in and talk about digital media and real world projects. Hmmm, I think I have a new goal. I’ll make this happen soon.

Stock Photos: The Hunt in Today’s World

There’s almost nothing more frustrating than coming to a great idea for the photo direction, but then not exactly finding the right image. I couldn’t imagine trying to find the right stock photo way back in the day, before websites with metadata and account preferences and fancy features. I do have to admit this is a frustrating process and almost silly thing to bitch about, since before the more advanced internet of things, this process was so much harder when your only option was to plan, budget and execute on a custom photoshoot to capture that perfect image.

Anyway … websites like istockphoto.com have made it so efficient to not only find the perfect image, but to repeatedly use their tool for ongoing campaigns, special needs, and any research. From all the autosuggest category tags, which is actually extremely very helpful if you think about the fact that they are showing you what actually tags have content, and you don’t have to peck and hunt via crazy words that you just came up with.

The “light boxes” on istockphoto are also worth a shootout. They are essentially just folders to save your image ideas in (and what a cool way to brand it and make it sound more connected to the industry) … anyway … The real reason I love this is because I used to take thousands of screenshots when doing research for images or just mood boards, and it was a pain because I was always ensuring I also captured the ID or URL, in case I wanted it and then couldn’t find it again (starting the craziness of the process over again). I fill those light boxes up, and love the comfort in knowing every idea is one click away from purchase.

And thank god, they have the additional filters like file type, because I can’t stand seeing illustrations when I’m looking for a photo. Theres way too many people out there essentially doodling in illustrator and trying to sell it professionally as stock work.

Graphs, Charts, & Data Visualizations are getting Pretty Advanced

Its amazing to see how data visualizations have been pushed from a development standpoint, which helps designers know which cool affects can come at a smaller development effort and not break the bank or timeline.

graph data visualization entry

When decided on the actually graph or chart type, its easy to have 3 or 4 that really fit your data in a good way, but then it becomes more of a cosmetic discussion on what looks better or fits better with where you’re displaying it at.  Even stylistically the development Libs or plug-ins make the design more streamlined as they have built in CSS treatments like gradient shading or drop shadows.

A lot of the libraries really focus on the animating of the actual graph pieces which really make any data vis really pop. Even if the end visual seems sort of plain, that first 1-2 seconds when it is animating into its full representation, any client or stakeholder will be wowed with the motion graphic aspect of it.

New Sport Stadiums Promoting Sales through Experience Centers

With my second visit to a stadium experience center (you’ll see the SF 49ers and the Sac Kings above pictured), its amazing the effort and detail that goes into promoting a new sport stadium center and how impactful it really is. Its one of those things that you never really think of or know exists until you’re fortunate enough to be involved and see the production and experience of it.

The centers are usually nearby the new stadium location and can view the construction, but it is a promotional area that features renderings of the stadium in different mediums; digital 3D renderings, architectural models, to actual suite rooms with projection walls showing the view to the playing area.

The actual suite rooms are the most impressive and might need to be since selling the suite space is one of the key goals. The room has the actual layout, furniture, materials, and actual seats. And the wall were the view would be is sometimes a projection wall with game footage so you can get a sense of your view and perspective.

My old wise Chinese design professor said if I didn’t write this shit down it would vanish in thin air. Note taken, here is my daily discoveries of the ever evolving design world around me.