In this video Q&A, Joey virtually met up with students from Hyper Island to answer questions about freelancing, landing your first job, and more!
Long before Joey's head became a clean-shaven icon, Hyper Island was empowering artists to passionately pursue their careers. Since 1996 our Swedish predecessors have been pumping out amazing MoGraph talent with both in-person and online courses.
We've looked up to Hyper Island for a long time, so we were absolutely stoked when they asked Joey to do a live-chat Q&A with their students. In fact, we were so excited about the video that we had to share the recorded footage with you today.
Get ready, this video is packed full of delicious MoGraph knowledge nuggets. Yummy...
Note: The video also has the same run time as Mean Girls so you might want to grab a comfy chair or read the breakdown below. Also, you don't have to wear pink on Wednesdays to watch it.
If you don’t have time to watch the full video, there's a breakdown of the answers below.
Hyper Island Q&A with Joey Korenman
Feel free to skim through that section and grab some knowledge on the way out!
How did Joey get started in the motion design world?
Joey has been doing motion design work professionally for about 15 years. Since he has been in the industry for so long, his career inside of motion design has taken so many different twists and turns. This is quite normal for someone who has made a career out of the motion design industry. Motion Design isn’t your typical 30 year and retire with a 401K sort of job.
Joey studied film and television at a college in Boston where he graduated in 2002. Before graduating and landing his first job right out of college, Joey interned at four different places. There is no better way to get your foot in the door and land your first full-time job than to work for little to no money as an intern.
Joey immediately got a job as an assistant editor where he worked for two years before taking the editors’ position that had gotten fired. This is where he started getting into After Effects as a motion designer. Back in that day, the term was not motion design, it was mograph or motion graphics.
As an editor, he would be given ingredients and have to cook something from that, but as a motion designer, you’re given a blank page to imagine something and then technically figure it out. Joey became fascinated with motion design and quit his job after being there for only two years. He turned to freelance for around seven years, which turned out to be a really positive experience for him.
While freelancing he got sucked up into having this vision of owning his own studio with artists working together in this space with polished concrete floors and a coffee maker in the corner. So Joey partnered up with two local people in Boston and founded a company called Toil.
He was the Creative Director, Lead Animator, and Technical Director of that studio for four years. They did a lot of work with ad agencies since Boston is a big ad agency town. Some examples of the companies they were doing work for is JetBlue, Hummer, Subway, etc.
After four years, Joey sort of peaked and realized running a studio was not what he thought it was going to be. During those four years, Joey realized he really loved to teach the junior artists and interns that would come into their studio. He was able to reverse engineer the knowledge he would suck up from the Creative Director they hired and teach it to the artists and interns.
That is what led Joey to leave the studio six years ago and shift careers to teaching, where he started School of Motion. He moved to Florida and taught at Ringling College of Art and Design for a year, decided that wasn’t for him and put all of his focus on School of Motion, where it has grown really fast in the last few years. Now his full-time job is to stay out of the way of his team and to make sure School of Motion doesn’t explode.
Why did you start with giving away 30 Days of After Effects with School of Motion instead of charging money?
30 Days of After Effects came into play about a year and a half after School of Motion was a thing. Joey offered this for free because he was afraid to ask for money. You have to remember that School of Motion has only running classes for a little over four years; that’s not very long.
At the time there was no such thing as a $900 After Effects class, so Joey thought it was crazy to ask people to pay money for this. YouTube was free, everything on Greyscalegorilla was like $12 a month, so he thought no one would value this enough to actually pay what it would take to turn this into a real business.
Part of it was fear, the other part of it is when you’re building any kind of web presence like the one we have, you have a chicken and an egg problem. The goal is to eventually find and grow an audience or tribe (Joey uses a lot of the same language as Seth Godin). You want to find a tribe of people that think like you and focus on providing as much value before you charge money.
You can build an audience through purchasing ads and raising capital, but Joey went the route of offering a free course of 30 days of After Effects in a row to build his audience. He stole this idea from the Podcast called Entrepreneur on Fire by John Lee Dumas. Dumas was a great interviewer and he was interesting to listen to, but the thing that made it take off was that he had an episode come out daily.
Joey thought that he would at least compete on quantity since he wasn’t sure about the quality of his tutorials. He figured doing the 30 days of After Effects would gather a lot of attention and people would think he is crazy for committing to something like that. It was really hard to do, but it worked.
After that, he had thousands of people on an email list that were emailing him daily telling him how great the video was and how it helped them by using the tricks he talked about. That is when he realized he was in a position to create a class that people would pay for.
Joey actually recommends building your audience first, because if you trying to monetize first, your incentives are in the wrong places. School of Motion looks through the lens of adding value wherever they can and helping make the students’ lives better. If it was looked at through the lens of it being a means to pay bills, then things would be done that didn’t line up with the core values.
How do you figure out what to charge?
When Joey was a freelancer, the only reason why he knew what to charge was that he asked another freelance friend. He wrote The Freelance Manifesto, a book on freelancing and put the rates you should charge right in the book because everyone needs to know how to charge when working freelance.
There is obviously a range depending on your skill level and how niche you are. As you network and talk around with other freelancers, you will start to get a sense of what you should be charging.
Joey changed his prices twice while freelancing. Nobody flinched the first time he raised his prices, which told him he was undercharging everyone. He received push back the second time he raised his prices, which told him where the line was for his work.
When running a studio, you're not just charging for your time, typically you’re bidding on projects. When Joey worked for Toil, a post house studio actually gave them another company’s bid, so they got to see how much they should be charging. Toil took into consideration the location and experience level of the studio and knocked their price down 25%, and that’s how they started.
We just had a Podcast come out with Joel Pilger on building a studio from the ground up and selling it. Pilger talks about pricing and how you should charge based on value instead of time. Say you get a 30-second commercial project and you think it’s going to only take a week to do, but you are the only place in town to be able to pull that off, then that elevates your rate.
If the client is a pain in the rear and you know this because you’ve worked with them before and they're going to be really “pixel effy” then you’ll want to pad that bid around 30%. You can add that padding through different types of fees on your invoice. There is black art when it comes to sending bids.
It seems unethical at first because you are essentially pulling numbers out of your butt, and not many people will admit that. But the truth of that is that you have to maximize the amount of money you are getting out of your client, that’s the name of the game. If you short change yourself once, it hurts you forever. You will forever be the budget option or the studio that the client goes to when they can’t afford Buck or Stardust.
There is some math and some science to successfully bidding. In the end, as a studio, you do need to focus on bringing in as much money as possible because it is very expensive to run a studio, especially the kind that Toil was.
How do you get over the fear of charging clients?
It feels weird to try and charge a lot of money when you are doing something that you actually enjoy. There will be some rough days, but for the most part, you will love being a Motion Designer.
The short answer is that there is a wall in your mind that you can’t get over because you are about to ask for $500 a day to work as a Motion Designer. It’s not going to feel normal until you destroy that wall, and the only way how to do that is to close your eyes, take a deep breath, take a shot of vodka, whatever, and say out loud that your rate is $500 a day.
The first time Joey felt that way was when he was on the phone with a producer from Converse Shoes because a friend had recommended him. This lady is talking to me like I know what I’m doing as a professional designer. By the end of the call, she asked me what my rate was, and Joey had to literally choke out the words “$500 a day”.
He freaked out once the words came out and she responded with “Perfect! We’ll see you on Monday!” You’ll say a number and they won’t hesitate and that’s when you know you said a good number. You just need to get that first bid out of the way.
Practice saying to yourself what you are going to discuss with your client. Eventually, it will become natural to say because you have internalized it. At some point, you are going to have to tell someone your rate or talk about your expected salary for a position.
Just know that every person in this industry has to go through that wall at some point, and as soon as you do, that fear generally goes away. Until you prove that you are worth more than the market says you're worth, you will generally get paid entry-level prices.
How do you handle clients that don’t know what a motion designer is worth?
Joey doesn’t recommend going after clients that don’t know what motion design is since there is so much work out there to be done. Try focusing on the easier ones, the ones that are easier to deal with. It would be easier for you to walk into an ad agency that does advertisements for apps than it would be for you to walk into an arcade and convince them to hire you to make some digital animation clips for their digital signs.
There is a Podcast coming out soon that talks about how animation in some cases is actually increasing the value of a product. When you think of motion design, you probably think of the work OddFellows does or the stuff you see on Motionographer, where it is advertising. Advertising is easy to sell, it is instantly valuable. You make something for people to see and then they buy that product after being shown it.
Another area is to find a software development firm such as Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Google, Airbnb, etc. They all hire motion designers by the truckload because using motion inside an app or on a website increases retention, time on site, and it decreases customer support because you can communicate things better. So having clients like that make it super easy to explain what motion design is and how valuable it is.
To recap, go after clients that know who you are and what you do and learn how to position yourself to clients that come off as valuable.
How do you stay relevant in motion design?
The industry of motion design is humungous and it’s hard to see that until you get into it yourself. You will start to network and find motion design work come from places you never thought you’d see work come from.
There is enough room for everybody and you don’t have to know everything. Joey only animated projects for the first 5 years of his career. He didn’t know anything other than After Effects because he didn’t have to. You will have to know more than one software to land a job unless you want to completely specialize in certain software.
Focusing on the tools people are using in the industry is the wrong way to go about trying to stay relevant. You do need to know Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects, everything after that is gravy. You will be worth more money if you know some Cinema 4D.
It’s hard to do all of those things really well, so you will have to figure out what you want to specialize in a bit more than others and let some of the programs get a little rusty. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what tool you are using as long as you understand design, know your composition, and you know how things move.
Staying relevant in the industry is all about knowing what the design trends are and what new ways that motion design is being used. It is far more important to focus on visual trends in storytelling than to focus on what software to use.
What are the visual trends right now to focus on?
There are a few trends to focus on currently, and the cool thing about these are that they used to be trending back when Joey started designing and now they’re coming back. The collage, photo bash kind of grungy look is coming back. Kinetic pieces are starting to trend again.
There is a trend going back to the analog look from the 80’s, which Joey really loves because it is so “graphic designish” and it’s a great place for motion designers to start.
The abstract, photorealism trend in the 3D world is being driven by the third party renders such as Redshift, Octane, and V-ray. It is allowing people to create cool stuff without having to know as much. Traditional animation is slowly picking up speed, it’s always been part of the industry.
Joey predicts people will start using 3D animation to make things look like mixed media and playing with timing.
What are the technology trends to focus on?
Technology seems to always be getting better. Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, and Cinema 4D are not going anywhere. In Joey’s opinion, you should learn them in that order. If you know the first three, then you have a job waiting for you.
If you know all four, then you will have plenty of jobs waiting for you making more money. If you have all of these skills but can’t get a ball to bounce across the screen correctly, none of that will matter.
In ten years, where do you see this industry going?
Right now there is absolutely nothing out there that can do what a motion designer does. There are some really cool technologies like Dataclay that can spit out a ton of versions of the same project you originally created. There is a video on our YouTube channel that discusses Dataclay.
There are templates that clients can buy to plug in their content and make it look the way they want. But there is always going to be room for quality and high-end work because companies care about their products.
It could cause problems in VFX work since there are technologies that can rotoscope for you. It’s not perfect now, but in ten years, it will be perfect. It will kill some jobs, but will also open up other jobs that we don’t know about.
Have you had a job where the user interface is in code?
Joey quit doing client work before the time work could be implemented with code in an app somewhere. He did do a lot of product prototype videos where he would get a design of an app that didn’t exist and would have to show how it would work. It was really just to sell the idea through and then they would go to a UX Designer and they would figure it all out from there.
What’s cool about this topic is that it’s a very new idea and concept. It’s like the wild west because no one has really nailed it yet. There needs to be a standard way of doing before it becomes something important. If you are interested in this topic, you need to learn about UX. UX is separate from UI because it is more psychology related because it deals with getting inside the user’s mind on how they want it to work naturally.
Showreel vs. Individual Clips to land an internship.
There is a different bar you need to hit when you are reaching for an internship over a job position as an animator. The bar you are trying to clear for an internship is to show that you are super passionate about the industry and that you have some talent.
You don’t need to show them that you are a total pro at motion design, you have plenty of time to do that. A showreel is useful, but they really want to see that you know what you are doing.
The best tip to snag an internship is to do a short case study of the video the company just watched explaining what you did in order to make that happen. This shows them you care enough and you were good enough once to get that result. Case studies will get you an internship faster than trying to stretch your few pieces into a showreel or posting them on Instagram.
Joey’s advice is to not try and do a reel, just blog about your work with a few sentences explaining what you were trying to accomplish.
How do you follow up with a potential client that hasn’t responded to you?
Let’s start by answering why people don’t respond to your emails. People are usually super busy. If you’re writing to a producer, creative director, or even an animator, there is a good chance you won’t hear back from them.
You want to make sure you install the plugin Right Inbox or Boomerang to your Gmail account. Write an email to a person you are wanting an internship with the night before you send it and schedule it with one of those plugins to hit their inbox first thing in the morning.
Mailtrack is another plugin you should install because this will tell you when they open the email. If they opened it and didn’t get back to you, you know they at least know you exist, but maybe there was a reason.
Maybe they looked at your work, Mailtrack will tell you if they clicked any links in your email as well. If they did open your stuff and didn’t get back to you then you know they probably aren’t interested.
If two days go by and it still hasn’t been opened then you know that they are probably really busy at the moment and are not good at email management. Try sending the same email with a few lines switched up to see if that works.
The Freelance Manifesto goes really deep into this kind of freelance advice.
The next step to all of this is follow up. If the email you sent was open and clicked on, but they didn’t respond, you need to use the same Right Inbox plugin and snooze that email and have it come back in two or three months.
A reminder will pop up in your inbox three months later to help you remember to write them a new email following up with what the last email was about and any new work you have done since then.
Reach out to 30-50 people when you are looking for an internship or job, you will get a bite from someone. Be sure to think of your subject line and be intentional about it.
Hopefully, all of that was enough to get you started.
If you could go back to 17-year-old Joey, what would you say to him?
There are things that Joey did wrong that he really wish he didn’t have to go through at the time, but they did teach things that turned him into the Joey he is today.
What he wishes he learned sooner was that your success will be dictated by how good you are at the work, the quality of your work, how good you are at building relationships with people, and how reliable and how professional you are. And the last two mentions are far more important than how good you are at work.
What sticks with people is how nice you are and how good you are at communicating.
The secret to doing good work is not always about the work that you do. It takes all of the other qualities to work together to help you land that job and be remembered.
Give all of your clients an availability check email just letting them know that you have some open time to works on projects. Most of the time you will get emails back because there are agencies that are needing something right away and don’t remember who you are.
Any tips for the interviewing process?
Joey likes to get to know someone when they are interviewing. Companies already know the basics of your work. When you go to an interview, they are looking at if they can stand being around you full time. Are they going to enjoy having you on the team?
Do your research about the company you are interviewing with. Find out everything you can about that company. Find artists from that company and try reaching out to them about how the company is to work for. Figure out what your potential future coworkers are interested in and talk about those things in the interview.
First and foremost, be the nicest person that you can be. Be interested in what they are doing currently and create a conversation with that work.
What networking and social skills are good to have to be a good motion designer?
To be more creative, you will need more ammo. You can’t live in a studio apartment and watch Netflix for 20 hours a day and be very interesting, right? You need to get out and see things and expose yourself to the things you aren’t used to. It will give you a visual vocabulary and help you expand your palette.
You need to have an outlet besides motion design to get the poison out. Spending eight hours in front of a computer will fry your brain. Go for a run or walk and meditate to alleviate the problems you are experiencing.
Go to live events with people that are a lot like you so you can bounce ideas off of them and learn new techniques. There will be some sort of connection you will make by going to these events.
Tutorial Full Transcript Below 👇:
Joey Korenman (00:00:00): What's up everybody, you know, actually I feel like I can't say what's up, that has already been taken by someone else. So I'll just say, hello, Joey here for School of Motion. And this video is going to be a little bit different. I recently had the opportunity to speak to a class of motion design students at hyper island, which is an incredible college out in Sweden. The students did an amazing job of asking me great questions, everything from, how do I get an internship? How do I ask for money as an artist? What do I need to be on the lookout for as I look towards the future of motion design and I did my best to answer their questions, this video is dense. So grab a coffee, grab a pen, take some notes, get comfy and let's get to it.
Music (00:00:41): [intro music]
Kashyap Bhatia (00:00:49): So basically it was like, uh, I thought it would be great to start with how you started in the ocean industry and where you
Joey Korenman (00:00:59): All right. Cool. Um, so I'll, I'll try to give you the cliff notes version. So just for context. Um, so I'm 37 right now and I turned 38, uh, in April. So I've been doing motion design in some form professionally for, uh, God. It's really kind of scary to like do the math. I probably like 14 or 15 years now. Um, just to give you all some context. So like, when I talk about my career, it's a really long time to get from where I started to, to where, where I am now with a lot of twists and turns. So I just want you to sort of know that going in, because that's actually really, really normal in motion design. Um, this is not a career where you generally get a job and you stay there for 30 years and you get a 401k and you retire when you're 65.
Joey Korenman (00:01:43): Like it, it just doesn't really work that way. You kind of there's the abs and flows and all this kind of stuff. Uh, so I basically, I went to college in Boston. Um, I studied film and television and I graduated in 2002. Um, and then I immediately, uh, got a job as an assistant editor. Um, I should tell you prior to that, I actually interned, uh, at, I think, four different places. So I started when I was 19 doing internships, uh, all the way up until I actually graduated college and then got a job that was a huge, huge advantage for me. Uh, and I know that you're all going to be looking for internships and there's really no better way to get your first full-time job than to be able to work for very, very little. Um, most studios will actually pay you something as an intern.
Joey Korenman (00:02:36): Uh, it's very good to be able to do that if you can swing it and then your foot's in the door. Um, and that's really what it's all about. So I was an assistant editor at a production company. I did that for about two years and by the time I left, I was the editor that I was working under, had gotten fired. So I took over his position. Um, and that's when I really started doing a lot of after effects. So this was like 2004, 2005. Back in those days, there was no, the term was not motion design. It was MoGraph or motion graphics. And it was a lot more commoditized than it is now. So as an editor, clients would come in and we'd be editing, say like a subway sandwich commercial. And they would say like, oh yeah, by the way, we need the name of the sandwich up on screen, do something cool.
Joey Korenman (00:03:22): And so I would sort of figure something out and do it. And I just kind of got fascinated by that the fact that like, as an editor, you're given ingredients, and then you're told to cook something, but as a motion designer, you're given nothing, you're given like a blank page and it's like, imagine something and then figure out technically how to actually do it. Uh, so I quit and I went freelance. So I was only full-time for two years, I went freelance. I freelanced for like six or seven years. Um, had a great time doing that. That was like a super positive experience for me. Uh, and then I kind of got sucked up into the thing. A lot of young motion designers get sucked into, which is I wanted my own studio and I had this vision of like, oh, I'm going to be, I'm going to build a studio and I'm going to have artists and it's going to be cool, like polished concrete floors and a nice coffee maker.
Joey Korenman (00:04:10):
So, uh, so I partnered up, I partnered up with, uh, with two local people in Boston, um, and we founded a company called toil and I was the creative director, lead animator, kind of technical director of that studio for four years. Uh, we built it up. We were doing a lot of work with ad agencies. Um, Boston is an ad agency town, so you've got big ad agencies like Arnold and hill holiday, um, you know, big accounts like subway and Hummer used to be there and jet blue. Um, so we were doing a lot of work for them and, uh, after four years I had sort of peaked. I thought I, um, you know, running a studio is not what I thought it would be. Uh, we can talk about that a little bit, if you all want to, um, I'll be super honest about all of it.
Joey Korenman (00:04:59): Uh, and I realized that really my favorite thing to do was to teach. So we had like junior artists working on stuff. We had interns coming and going, and I got the most pleasure in my day out of like sitting down and teaching someone like an after effects trick. Um, and then once we hired a full-time art director, I realized, oh my gosh, now I've got this like amazing designer sitting next to me. I could suck all of their knowledge out. And then I can sort of like reverse engineer it and teach that to our interns. So I kinda got really obsessed with that. And that's what led me to kind of shift careers. Um, I left the studio about six years ago now, uh, and started school of motion and, uh, moved to Florida. I taught at the Greenland college of art and design for one year, decided that wasn't for me, focused on school motion
Joey Korenman (00:05:49): And now school of motion has just grown really, really fast in the last few years. Um, and, uh, so yeah, now my full-time job is basically making sure school emotion doesn't explode. Uh, and, and I have a really amazing team, so I just try to stay out of their way. Um, I get to do fun stuff like this and, and go to meetups and conferences and stuff like that. Um, so yeah, it's been quite a journey and if you'd told me like seven or eight years ago that I wouldn't actually be like doing client work anymore, I would just be teaching. And I would, you know, I'd be like a Nick Campbell knockoff with no hair I would have, uh, I would have never believed you. So, but, but here we are. Yeah. So that's kind of like my, my story in a nutshell, and I will answer any questions you asked me. I am an open book,
Kashyap Bhatia (00:06:34): Uh, 30 days of after effects for a school of motion. Right. So why the free part before you started talking?
Joey Korenman (00:06:42): So this is a great question, actually. Uh, so I started off 30 days of after effects, I think came in about a year and a half into school of motion. So I actually had, um, some other videos that I'd made and basically the reason it was free, um, was because I was afraid to ask for money. It was that simple. Like you have to, you have to remember that, you know, um, we've only been running our classes, uh, for a little over four years. It's not very long. Um, and so four years ago there was no such thing as a $900 after effects class, you know? And so I just thought, this is crazy. No one's going to pay for this because YouTube was free. Um, everything on grayscale gorilla was free. lynda.com was 12 bucks a month or whatever. And I thought, no one is going to value this enough to actually pay what it will take to turn this into a real business.
Joey Korenman (00:07:43): Um, so part of it was just fear, uh, to be honest, the other part of it though, is that when you're building, um, any kind of web presence like this, you kind of have a chicken and an egg problem. So you want the goal is to eventually find and grow an audience or a tribe. Really. Uh, I read a lot of Seth Godin. So if any of you have read, this is marketing or purple car or any of that, um, I'll use a lot of the same language. Um, so you want to build a tribe. You want to find a group of people that think like you, that that are have a similar worldview or into the same things. Uh, and then to turn that into a business where now you can just focus on that and really just put everything into adding value to your audience.
Joey Korenman (00:08:24): You have to charge and you have to make money and getting that tribe and getting that group. Uh, you can do that by just paying for it. You can buy a bunch of Facebook ads and, and, and that's what a lot of startups do. You know, you raise capital and then you, you go and you buy an audience. Uh, I didn't know that that was even an option. And even if I had, I probably wouldn't have done it. So I thought what I really need is I need to find the tribe. I need to find people that like the type of teaching that I'm doing and find value in it. Uh, and I thought the best way to do that would be to just do some crazy sort of, um, you know, sort of marketing shenanigans, like doing 30 days of tutorials in a row.
Joey Korenman (00:09:07): I actually stole that idea. There's a, there's a podcast I used to listen to, um, a lot of my best ideas I've stolen. Like it I'll tell you who I stole them from. So this one I stole from, um, there's a podcast I used to listen to. It's called entrepreneur on fire. Uh, the host, John Lee Dumas started the podcast several years ago now. And it immediately took off and became hugely popular and the owner and it's, he's a pretty good interviewer. He had pretty good guests, but what made it take off was that it was daily seven days a week. He had a podcast out and that was literally it. That was the only difference. And I, and I saw that and I said, well, that's really interesting because like, at the time I had no idea if I was actually good at teaching, like I taught at Ringling.
Joey Korenman (00:09:50): So I thought, okay, at least I've been paid to teach before. So that was like some kind of signal, but I didn't know if anyone actually liked these tutorials or if they were just being nice because we're in a very nice kind of industry. Um, you know, and so I, I just decided to, um, like basically take that idea and say, well, if I, I'm not sure I can compete on quality. I can at least compete on quantity. And so I just did, so that's why I did the 30 days thing. I was like, let me, I figured it would get a lot of attention. People would think I was crazy for committing to something like that. It, it almost killed me. It was really hard to do and to keep up with it. Um, but it worked because after that, I had thousands of people on an email list and, and that were emailing me daily.
Joey Korenman (00:10:35): Every single time a new video would come out, they would email me and tell me how great it was. It really helped them. I just use this trick. And so finally, um, I was in a position where I could then say, okay, how about this? How about I make a class? And I have like, there's homework and like, we'll critique it. And I pitched this idea. Um, and since I had an audience and I had a tribe and I'd already given so much value away at that point, they were willing to give it a shot and say, all right, we'll give you a few hundred bucks and try this out. So that, that's the reason I started with free and then moved into paid. Uh, and I actually recommend that, um, when I talked to, you know, I'll talk to a lot of, um, a lot of sort of entrepreneurs now that see what we've done and they want to sort of replicated or they're in our industry.
Joey Korenman (00:11:19): Uh, and I always tell them, try to build the audience first, because if you try to monetize first and, and there, there's actually some interesting correlations between this and freelancing, uh, if you try to monetize first, your incentives are in the wrong place. And so like at school motion, everything we do is, um, we look at it through this lens of like, how can we add value? How can we like make our students' lives better by reading the article we just put out or, or a class that's gonna really help people. If we looked at it through the lens of, I have bills to pay, I need to make money right now. Then we would do some things that wouldn't line up with like our values and stuff like that. So that was a long answer. I hope that kind of answered somewhere in there.
Kashyap Bhatia (00:12:02): And then, um, yeah, like you mentioned, uh, running a studio and stuff. Uh, so I had, uh, my thing about, um, like being afraid of getting paid, like how do you even know what to charge? Where do you even begin with? You don't know the hours that you're going to need and the kind of money that you
Joey Korenman (00:12:27): Sure. So, um, all right. So I'll start with, like, when I was freelance before starting the studio, I knew how much to charge only because someone else told me, that's literally the only way I knew I asked another freelancer and he told me, this is what you charge. Um, and that is a huge problem, right? If that's the only way is that, like you happen to know someone that you can ask and who will tell you, cause some people are really squirrely about that. Um, so, you know, I've, I've written a book on freelancing and I literally put the rates right in there because I, I think like everyone just needs to know that this is, this is what you charge. Um, there's obviously a range. So depending on your skill level and how, um, how niche you are, like if you're the only, you know, fluid simulation, Houdini expert in your city, you can charge a lot of money.
Joey Korenman (00:13:19): Um, but if you're, you know, right out of school, junior after effects artists, you can't charge as much. So I had, I had an idea of during freelancing from talking to other freelancers and then just getting a sense through experience. Like, you know, I raised my rates twice while I was freelance and the first time, no one even blinked, which told me that I'd been undercharging the whole time. Uh, the second time a couple of people pushed back a little bit. And so that told me, okay, so this is where the line is right now, as far as running a studio, uh, it's kind of a different beast because when you're running a studio, you're not just charging for your time. You're not just saying, okay, well it cost a thousand bucks a day to work for our studio. Um, typically you're doing bids. So, um, I don't know how familiar you all are with, with like a professional looking motion design studio bid.
Joey Korenman (00:14:11): Um, but the ones we used to use at toil would be five or six pages long. Uh, they were these kind of industry standard things were literally every conceivable thing that you could throw at a post-production job, buying tape, stock, hiring voiceover talent, FedExing hard, drives around anything was itemized and available. And so we would literally have to go through and create this very detailed bid. Uh, and the, the first time I actually, uh, grasped how to do it, um, was again, I kind of got lucky. I don't know if I should say this. Well, I guess it was been a long ago, statute of limitations has run out. Um, one of our producer friends who worked for an ad agency gave us a bid from a very well-known post house in New York, very well-known motions. I studio a, and so we got to see how they were bidding and we got to see their rates.
Joey Korenman (00:15:06): And so from there it was like, okay, well, there, they were in New York and in New York you can charge more money. And they were one of the top studios. And so we were, we weren't going to charge as much as them. So we kind of knocked it down like 25%. And that's where we started. That was like literally how we set our rates at first. Um, I don't think it's really the smartest way to do it. Um, you know, I just had a, um, I actually just had a, on our podcast. I had a guy named Joel Pilger on, and he's a consultant who consults for studios. It's really kind of a niche cool thing. He does. Um, he might be a good person to actually cash to have do one of these cause he's he's. So he's literally built a studio, run it for 20 years and then sold it, which is super rare.
Joey Korenman (00:15:50): And now he consults. Um, but anyway, but, but the way that, you know, I've heard him talk about pricing and the way Chris DOE talks about pricing is that you don't charge. Like it's hard to it's, it's hard to do this in practice as a motion design studio, but it is possible to charge based on value as opposed to based on time. So if you get a 32nd commercial project and you look at it and you're like, okay, this is going to take us one week to do this is really, really easy, but you happen to be the only place in town that has the chops to pull that off. That elevates your rate. Uh, if the client is a pain in the and you know, this you've worked with them before, and they're going to be really pixel Effie, then you're, you're probably going to want to like, you know, pad that bit a little bit.
Joey Korenman (00:16:39): Um, we used to pat our bids around 30%. So we would figure out this is how much time we think it's going to take. We had rates that we sort of use just to do the math. Okay. So animation costs this much design costs this much. Are we going to have to use a freelancer if we are let's pad that a little bit so that we can still make money on it. And then at the end you get a number and then we would pad that 30% and we would pat it in different ways. We would add things like a render fee, um, a file posting fee, uh, sometimes a creative fee. So, um, there's kind of a black art to doing these bids. And, and it's funny. Cause at first it actually seemed like almost unethical the way we were doing it. And I was told over and over again, this is how you do it.
Joey Korenman (00:17:24): And the reason I felt that way is because you are essentially, in some cases, pulling numbers out of your, like you really are. Um, and, and, and not many people will admit that. Uh, but the truth of it is that you have to maximize the amount of money you're getting out of your client. Like, that's the name of the game? Uh, because if you, if you short change yourself, once it hurts you forever, you will forever be the budget option, or you will forever be the studio that the client goes to when they can't afford buck, you know, or when they can't afford start us or something like that. Um, so we ended up getting a pretty good actually towards the end, at like trying to like suss out, like we would get a, a proposal from a client, like, this is what we're thinking of doing.
Joey Korenman (00:18:13): Can you give us a bid? And you can almost like, you can almost smell it and say like smells like about, about 40 K. And we were usually pretty close. And so we would bid like 50 K and then they'd bring it down to 40 and we'd get the job. Um, so there's like, there's some math to it. There's some science, there's a little bit of hand-waving and art to it. Um, and in the end, like as a studio, you really do need to focus on like bringing in as much money as possible. Cause it's very expensive to run a studio, especially the kind that, that toilet was.
Valeria Valdes Calderon (00:18:43): Um, speaking of rates and also having fear of charging we've recently had a freelance module where we all had to find someone who would hire us for a job and they were like get pay. And that was when the fear struck and for a lot of us in our class. And that was a very common pattern. So I would ask how do you get over the fear of charging and just find yourself comfortable in that position when you're, you can put out a number and it's fine, you can stand by it with pride.
Joey Korenman (00:19:14): That is a really great question. Um, you know, it's really funny that there there's, there's always this tension with artists, like any kind of artists, like an illustrator photographer, when you get started, you almost feel like you're tainting it by asking for money. And there's also this feeling of like, you know, I'm sure you all know people who have jobs that they really, really hate that, right? That's a lot of people, um, as motion designers, you will, for the most part, really enjoy what you're doing. There'll be like bad days and good days, but you'll like, it's a pretty sweet way to make a living. So it feels weird to try and charge a lot for it. Um, so really it's all like mental hacks. So the, the, the short answer is, um, with anything like that, right? There's basically this wall and in your mind, it's like, I can't get over that wall.
Joey Korenman (00:20:09): I have to tell someone I want $500 per day to do after effects for you. This seems insane. Right. And here's the thing. It's not going to feel normal unless you like destroy that wall. And the only way to do that is to just close your eyes, take a deep breath, take, take a shot of vodka, whatever, and just say the words out loud, like just disassociate, right. Um, just go to your happy place and say like, yep. My rate is $500 a day. Um, the first time I ever got a freelance job, I experienced exactly what you're talking about. Uh, so I was on the phone with this producer that was for converse shoes and my friend had recommended me and I'm on the phone. I've never been on the phone with a producer before. And, and she's talking to me as though I'm a professional and I know what I'm doing.
Joey Korenman (00:20:59): Like little, did she know? You know, like imposter syndrome is just it's everywhere. Uh, and so then, um, she said, awesome. Yep. Everything sounds good. Uh, how much what's your rate? And I, and I had this moment where it, like, it's the word started to come up and then they got caught right there. And I had to literally like, like I had to like swallow and gulp and just like, just force the words out. And I said like 500 a day. And I remember once they were out, I was like, oh my God. I said it. And there was like one second. And then he goes, perfect. All right, we'll see you Monday. So, and then, and literally, and that, and that is what will happen to you if you're not, if you're charging the right amount, the client will just say yes. Right. That's kind of how it works.
Joey Korenman (00:21:44): And then I never felt weird about asking for money again, so that you could get the first one out of the way. Um, now there are some kind of mental hacks that you can kind of do. Um, I mean, first of all, I find this helpful, it's a little bit strange. Uh, but I'm used to talking to myself alone in empty rooms, uh, is, is just practice saying the words like, um, it's funny, I do this with my daughter now, so I've, I have three kids. My oldest is eight and she's at that age where like, you know, she's experiencing like kid, like someone at, at her, you know, school or whatever, like be kind of mean to her or be mean to one of her friends and this will come home and she'll tell me. And she's like, I don't know what to say.
Joey Korenman (00:22:25): Like when they do that. And I'm like, all right, well, let's practice, let's rehearse it. And we'll literally like, write a script for her and she'll read it and then she'll say it, and then she'll say it again. And then it starts to sound natural and then she's internalized it. And now it's not hard for her to say it. And so then next time that happens, she feels comfortable like confronting somebody or something like that. Um, so it's just like, when you have to give a speech, you practice, you practice practice. You're at some point you're going to have to say the words, I, my rate is $500 a day, or, you know, if you're going for a job and they're like, you know, what, what kind of salary range would you like? You're going to have to say I'd like a 60,000 plus benefits.
Joey Korenman (00:23:03): Right? It's going to be hard to say that. Um, but you can, it's just words. You're just like, it's just sounds you're making with your mouth, right. It shouldn't be hard. So, um, just know that every single person in this industry has to go through that wall at some point. And as soon as you do that, fear generally goes away. Now it kind of comes back, uh, as you progress and get more expensive. Because if you are, if you're freelancing, you want to raise your rates. All those same fears are going to come back. Oh my gosh, they're going to think I'm greedy. They're going to say no. Then they're going to tell everybody that I'm greedy and I'm never going to get work again. And none of those things are true. Um, now that's assuming you're not actually greedy and you're not doing it just to make more money, like should be some reason that you cost what you do. Um, but generally when you're starting out, especially you're going to cost what the market says you cost, right. And until you prove that you are actually, you know, Ash Thor or something like that, right. Um, you know, or Karen Fong, then like you will get paid what the market says you're worth. Um, but in two to three years, you'll be able to kind of set your own rate based on what you could do.
Stina Wahlen (00:24:10): I have like a ad question on that. Well, how do you handle clients that don't know what emotional graphic person is worth? Like, cause I think that's where we have experienced that as well. Like people haven't worked with a, with a motion graphics person for
Joey Korenman (00:24:24): Right. Great, great, great question. Um, so first of all, for the most part, um, if you're trying to freelance and you're going out and searching and trying to get work, I wouldn't recommend going after clients that don't know anything about motion design, you key, it's totally possible. Um, but there's so much work out there. There's like infinity jobs out there. So why not just focus on the easier ones, you know, the ones that are like easier to deal with. So if you go to like, um, you know, if there's a local arcade or something or a pool hall or a restaurant in your town, and you're thinking, man, you know, they have a digital sign and there's no animation on it. I can make some animation for it. Um, it's going to be a really hard sell for them, but if there's a local marketing agency or if there's a, you know, a local software development firm, uh, that makes, um, iOS apps, you guarantee that they are doing animation prototyping.
Joey Korenman (00:25:22): Um, they, it's going to be a lot easier to explain to them what it is you do. Um, and then the main thing, this is, this is actually, um, it's actually something I just talked about. There's I, I don't know when it's coming out. There's an episode coming out of our podcast in a few weeks where I get into this with, um, ESR willing skimmer. And it's this idea of animation in some cases is actually increasing the value of a product. So when you think of motion design, you probably think of like the stuff Oddfellows does, the stuff you see on Motionographer, it's almost like short form narrative films, right? Or explainer videos, things like that, where it's advertising. Um, now advertising is actually a pretty easy thing to sell because it's instantly valuable. You advertise something, people see that they buy the product, you make money.
Joey Korenman (00:26:13): That's the way it works. Um, but there's other areas like if you find a software development firm, and this is like one of the fastest growing areas of motion design, by the way, uh, you know, Facebook, apple, Netflix, Google, uh, Airbnb, they all hire motion designers like by the truckload because using motion inside of an app, for example, or on a website, it increases retention and increases time on site. Um, it decreases customer support because you can communicate things better. So if you find clients like that, it's not hard to explain a what motion design is, but B more importantly, the value of motion design. You're not just saying I can make you something pretty, you're saying I can make you something pretty and it's going to get you these results. Um, so, so I guess there's kind of two parts of the answer there.
Joey Korenman (00:27:04): It's like one over the longterm, don't go after those clients, like go after clients that know what you are and what you're capable of and, and know how to use what your, your product is. Um, and, and then on the other hand, um, you know, just with practice, like you'll learn how to position your skillset in a way that it's clearly adding value to clients. And it's not just putting, you know, nice and a new coat of paint on something. Um, cause if that's all you're doing, frankly, um, you know, you're kind of wasting everyone's time. Like there should always be some points to sitting down and, and, you know, crafting something beautiful.
Kashyap Bhatia (00:27:43): Uh, one question that I had was, um, how do you stay up to date and relevant as a motion designer? Because, uh, one of the things that I'm experiencing is, um, there's Adobe animate. And then, uh, just yesterday we were talking about twin boom. He was, uh, kind of like for cell animation, it's it's worth looking into, and there is cinema 4d. So there's so many programs to look into that. It just seems like impossible to stay up to date.
Joey Korenman (00:28:16): Yup. So here's my thought on that. So, uh, the, the industry of motion design, like the worldwide industry is humongous. Um, it's hard to see that until you get into it and you start networking and all of a sudden opportunities come out of nowhere that you never would have imagined would need a motion designer. Um, so there is enough room for everybody and you don't have to know everything. So for example, for the first five years of my career, um, four or five, I only animated. I almost never designed. Uh, and I only knew after effects. I did not know cinema 48. And this was, you know, 10 years ago, 15 years ago when there was a much smaller, actual use case for motion design. Now, motion design is everywhere. I mean, this was pre iPhone. I'm talking about, like there was no like full color screen on your phone.
Joey Korenman (00:29:15): Um, so even back then, I was able to get away with only knowing after effects. So now, uh, there's, you know, a hundred times as much work if you're going into the studio thing and your goal is to like work for the top studios to go, you know, work for gunner, work for golden Wolf, people like that. Um, just being a good after effects person, isn't enough. You're going to have eventually you're going to have to be able to design. You're going to know how to animate pregnancy little 3d. Um, but you can also just totally specialize. So at gunner, uh, there's an artist she's is she was actually on our podcast too. Her, her name is Rachel Reed, uh, and her specialty is selling animation and she's just awesome at that. And that's her thing. And so that's what gunner has her do, uh, on Rica Berona who just left giant ant to go freelance, same deal.
Joey Korenman (00:30:05): Like he can animate in after effects, but he's mostly a traditional animation guy probably doesn't know 3d at all. It's not affecting his career. Like he's still, you know, probably booked as much as he wants and doing fine. So part of that, and I always see this with students too. It's like, um, you know, shiny things syndrome, like I think part of, part of, um, part of, part of the mentality that I, and I had this too, by the way, I was like super guilty of this is that when you're new to this, um, it's sometimes hard to tell when you see something amazing, what makes it amazing and then you'll find out, oh, well that artists used octane. Okay. So that's the secret I need to learn octane now. Okay. And that's just the completely wrong way to look at anything. Um, you know, some of the most amazing work that's ever been produced in animation was done with like a pencil and paper, right there wasn't even a computer involved.
Joey Korenman (00:31:01): So, uh, focusing on the tools I think is just the completely wrong way to do it. Now, I will say you have to know Photoshop. You have to know illustrator. You have to know after effects, everything after that is gravy, right. It's really helpful. And you are worth more money if you also know some cinema 4d, but it's hard to do all of those things really, really, really well. So if you want to be like, you know, a crazy rich NAS worthy, you know, twisted poly, 3d monster, you're probably gonna have to let your Adobe illustrator skills slip a little bit, or your after effects chops will get rusty. Cause you're really focused on 3d. And I guarantee you, uh, neither of those guys that I mentioned, uh, are missing after effects very much. I mean, they, you know, uh, Chad Ashley uses fusion, right?
Joey Korenman (00:31:50): It's like, uh, it does not matter what tool you're learning, as long as, you know, design, you understand composition and you know, how things move, like, you know, the animation principles, um, in terms of staying relevant as a motion designer, because you took that question in the direction. I didn't think it was gonna go. Um, I mean, I think that, um, staying relevant is far more about keeping up on what the design trends are and what are new ways that motion design is being used and what are some new techniques that could come in handy? Uh, so just as an example, um, when I was coming up in the industry, uh, one of the biggest studios that always did the best work was PSYOP. They're still around, but they're, it's, they're kind of, they've morphed into a different thing. They don't do the same kind of work.
Joey Korenman (00:32:36): Uh, but PSYOP was known for producing where it was always one seamless, crazy camera move with weird transitions and there was no cuts and it just looked super cool. So I was obsessed with that, uh, that is extremely hard to do. It's expensive, you know, it's actually really a terrible way to, of working because then any change your client makes unraveled the entire thing you've built. Um, and then at some point, um, I forget what studio was. It might've been Shiloh. They started doing a lot of motion design stuff with just quick cuts to it. So it was more editorial. And I saw that and I'm like, oh, that's allowed, oh my gosh, I can just cut, just edit. And my life got easier. My work got better because I started as an editor. So I actually knew how to edit. Um, and that became a trend for awhile.
Joey Korenman (00:33:24): And then, uh, you know, I was like, well, I'm not that great of a designer, but all of a sudden, uh, you know, Jorge Jr cannest ends up at buck. He produces this piece that is sort of like the precursor to all explainer videos that you've ever seen. And it's all simple shapes and just easy, like just good animation with like triangles and circles and stuff. And I'm like, oh wow, that's a thing. Okay. I'm allowed to do that now. And all of a sudden I could do that all day and I built half of my career on that stuff. Um, so I think it's far more useful, um, frankly lucrative and smart to not focus on software as much and to focus on like visual trends and storytelling trends.
Stina Wahlen (00:34:02): What are the trends right now?
Joey Korenman (00:34:05): It's interesting. Cause I was thinking about this, um, like at the end of last year I was trying to like sum it up in my head, like what are the visual trends? So there's a few and what's interesting to me is that all of the things that were really cool when I got into the field and then they kind of went away and now they're coming back. So, um, that like collage photo bash kind of grungy look, that's coming back. Um, the I've actually seen a couple of amazing kinetic tight pieces. Uh, Ben Radatz, who's one of the founders of M K-12 put out this, uh, amazing, um, opener to like a conference. And it's a kinetic type piece, which I don't even know if you all know what a kinetic type piece is that used to be like the thing you did in motion graphics, you'd have a voiceover and you'd have the words popping up in time with the voiceover, but they'd be doing something interesting.
Joey Korenman (00:34:58): And you know, like they would say the word gun and the word gun would pop up, but it would be in the shape of a gun and then there'd be a muzzle flash, like stuff like that. So Ben Radatz did something like that. And it was the first one I'd seen in probably eight years and it was brilliant and I know people are gonna start copying it. Um, Oddfellows has even started doing stuff that does not look hand drawn, illustrated, flat shapes, simple visual metaphors. Um, you know, it almost looks like something out of like a skateboard magazine from the eighties. Um, so I think that there's, you know, I think that there's like this trend towards this throwback analog look, which I personally love. And I think it's actually a great place to start as a motion designer because it's so graphic design ish.
Joey Korenman (00:35:42): It's like when you, when you get into like explainer videos and the illustrated thing and giant ant and, and their aesthetic, um, that's very specific and very hard to pull off if you don't have those skills, but to do something like one of our instructors know Hoenig, uh, just, um, you, you can find this, um, on his website, it's the drawing room, uh, NYC, if you Google that you'll find it. And he put up this case study, he did a, an opener to a show about UFO's. So I guess there was a bunch of documents declassified in the U S about UFO's and stuff like that. And he did this title sequence that feels like almost out of the sixties or something, but it's really, I mean, it's like modern with the techniques and everything, but the design is very classic. Um, and really cool.
Joey Korenman (00:36:30): And I see a lot of that, Ariel coast is another one who, you know, he's got this trend of like chopping up stock photos and these weird, interesting things and making collages out of them. Um, so that I think is one trend. And then on the other side, you've got 3d where the trend is abstract photo realism. And I think that that is being driven by third-party renderers, like Redshift and octane and, um, V-Ray, um, which I think is now GPU accelerated. And, and so, uh, it's, it's allowing people to create neat looking stuff without really having to know too much, uh, which is good and bad. Um, and so that's actually a trend that I'm watching kind of carefully because, you know, we're, we want to teach people 3d. We have a cinema 4d class we're about to start building a photo realism class.
Joey Korenman (00:37:18): And these trends are interesting because I don't know, is that a flash in the pan? Is that actually going anywhere or at some point, are people gonna realize like, oh, just because it's photo real doesn't mean it's good, you know? Um, cause there's still a lot, there's still a lot of that too. Um, yeah. So those are two that I've noticed and I'm trying to think if there's any other, if there's anything else. I mean, uh, you know, traditional animation is still slowly picking up speed. I mean, it's always been part of our industry, just the hand drawn cell look, I suspect here's a prediction, actually, I'm gonna make a prediction right now. We'll see if I'm right. Um, the, the new Spider-Man movie, the spider verse, that the way they animated that, you know, a mix of everything on twos and some things on ones and then drawing stuff over it by hand and getting this crazy look that you've never seen before.
Joey Korenman (00:38:14): Um, I've seen in the motion design community, like everybody's just exploded about that movie. And I suspect we're going to start to see people playing with that idea of using 3d animation, but making it look like mixed media collage and really playing with timing, um, doing things on twos and, and mixing that up. Um, I mean, frankly, I was thinking it'd be really fun to experiment just in after effects. Like only using hold key frames, doing everything by hand as if you were a character animator at Pixar or Sony or something like that. Um, doing things on twos. But every once in a while, it goes to ones for like quick moves and things like that. You get this totally unique look that you can't get any other way. It's actually very old school. It's sort of Disney ish. Um, but I would, I would love to see it, make it come back. Um, and I predict that we're going to start to see some, some of that stuff.
Kashyap Bhatia (00:39:05): Part of the reason why, uh, I find that relevant question a little bit around is because the future trends in motion design, it's like, um, we, we do have to look into, uh, what the future of, um, motion trends are, but not just in, uh, visual trends, but also the tech side of it. So I was like, curious, what's your take has a birds eye view on the, on the whole seat.
Joey Korenman (00:39:36): Yeah. I mean, I can say specifically about tech. Um, it's just, it just always gets better. Um, after effects is not going anywhere, Photoshops not going anywhere, illustrator's not going anywhere. Cinema 4d is not going anywhere. So those are the big four. And in order, I would say probably for me, Photoshop illustrator after effects, cinema 4d. So learn them in that order. You could flip flop, Photoshop and illustrator, if you want to. Um, if you know, the first three, you have a job waiting for you. If you know the first four and you're decent at them, then you have plenty of jobs and you're going to get paid more. Um, but again, if you possess all of those skills and you can't animate a ball bounce, so that it looks right, um, or you don't know how to lay out type so that it like looks good, has good hierarchy.
Joey Korenman (00:40:27): It's clear visually where you want people to look what's important. What's less important. Um, none of that matters. So like, I'll answer your question, but I still want to harp on the fact that like, that is probably the least important thing that you're going to learn. Um, and, and hopefully at hyper island, I mean, that's a big focus, right? Like, you know, the, the tools you have to learn them and they're tricky and they're fun, and you've got you, you know, you can go watch the tutorial and learn how to do something really, really cool. Is it actually going to be something a client asks you to do a, client's going to give you their logo and they're going to give you eight lines of type and a bunch of legal, and they're going to say, make this look good and make it readable. So like most, and to be honest, most after effects artists, I meet can't do that. They like, they can write expressions for days, right. But lay out an end card in a readable way. They can't do that. Um, so that that's really the main focus.
Kashyap Bhatia (00:41:23): I think a lot of times we started realizing how the fundamental basics of design principles and animation principles are actually what we need to focus on. And also the concept that drives the entire motion piece. So it's like, um, I was listening to one of the podcasts where it's a about before animating a single key frame. And it's important to have a solid concept what we're doing most of the time at hyper it's, like we're talking about what it is that we want to present and how we're going to do it. And also how the cheapest going to work with each other. So it's like it's post-it notes, it's paper and pencil. And then the after effects part comes pretty much last again.
Joey Korenman (00:42:08): That's good to hear because that, to me, cash, that's the hardest part. You know, if a client comes to you and I mean, this is such a typical thing. Like if you, um, you know, you could go to New York or LA and you could get a gig at, you know, one of the big studios and your first project will be for some company you've never heard of. And they've got some it product that uses, you know, blockchain encryption to like, you know, distribute blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And it's the most boring product ever. And they need a one minute video for a trade show and it's got a budget of $60,000 or a hundred thousand dollars. And you have to V you have to come up with like a concept that explains that visually you have to like wrap your head around what it is.
Joey Korenman (00:42:56): And then you have to say, how can I make a visual metaphor for blockchain, right. And that is a really tough skill to develop. And the only way it develops is by doing exactly what you said, ideally being in a group and bouncing ideas off and, and getting used to the idea of like, I'm just gonna open my brains and be like, open it up. And I'm going to let all the ideas out. And 98% of them will be terrible, embarrassing, useless ideas, but the 2% is going to be something in there. I can kind of Polish and turn into a good idea. Um, and you know, when you, when you look at like all of the work that really sticks with you, good design, good animation, those are helpers, right? Like my, um, my favorite motion design piece ever, I think still, I haven't seen one.
Joey Korenman (00:43:46): I like more is, uh, something G monk did it's called box. Um, have you guys seen it? It's the two robots holding these screens. Right. I just think it's brilliant, like on a technical level, on a design level, but conceptually it is so amazing. And it's like this magic show and there's different, like tenets of magic. Um, and the music plays with that. And then you've got the performer sort of doing things like a magician would, and it's all to create the sense of wonder. And it's like, everything is in service of this one key concept. That's kind of rare. You don't often find projects that have that much clarity and direction to them. And so there are lots of projects that have cooler, 3d, or cooler lighting or neater music, but that one sticks with me, it's the same with, um, the original buck, good books piece, the hunter S Thompson one, uh, metamorphosis that one, you know, the animation's amazing.
Joey Korenman (00:44:43): Right. But it ties in with the script and the story. It's such a deep level that it really like hits you hard. Um, and so, you know, like, there's really, honestly, there's not that many pieces like that, that come out. I think forms in nature that chromosome fear did a few years ago was like almost there. Um, you know, there's some things like that. So, uh, again, like you can be the best designer, but if you can't think at that level, um, you know, you can still go really far and have a great career and make a ton of money and you, you can work with the Patrick Claires and the people who are good at that. Um, but if you can be the person that can come up with that idea and even just kind of get it started and then hand it off to a really good designer, that's invaluable. That's actually what a creative director does.
Moa Machado (00:45:34): I have a question about the future. I'm thinking about these companies like generates videos, stuff like that. I see coming, I was just wondering on your take on that maybe 10 years from now, or where do you think this whole industry will go and like the jobs and yeah.
Joey Korenman (00:45:52): Are you, so are you asking about, so it's funny when you said to about the future, I was thinking of Chris dos channel, the future. And I was like, wait, you want to tell you about Chris though? Um, so, so are you asking, um, about companies that are, when you say generate their own videos, do you mean, um, like they're making content like that, like YouTubers and things like that, or like companies doing branded content?
Moa Machado (00:46:14): No, it's, uh, pretty much, uh, like generate, you know, what I'm talking about? I don't know the name, but it's like, you put in a what you want some things that,
Joey Korenman (00:46:25): Oh, I know what you're not, I am almost like, like ordering a MoGraph piece at McDonald's like a little menu and okay. I know you're talking about,
Moa Machado (00:46:32): And I was just thinking like, okay, I don't know how new that is or if it's developing or if that's something that people will use more, when would be cheaper than maybe hiring a studio and like, how will that, how will the future developing change?
Joey Korenman (00:46:46): I've talked to a lot of people about this because, um, you know, there's a lot of stuff in the news right now about AI and how self-driving trucks are gonna like take 25% of the jobs away and stuff like that. Um, and so right now there is absolutely nothing out there that can automatically do anything approaching what a motion designer does. It just, that doesn't exist. Um, there are some really cool technologies like, um, you know, data clay as a company that makes, uh, a script for after effects. I have a video about using it on YouTube, where you can design something and animate it, but then you can have this like computer program spit 5 million versions of it on demand. The client can log in type in their name, whatever, and it spits out a render for them. Now you still have to design it.
Joey Korenman (00:47:39): You still have to concept it and animate it, right? So the computer can't do that part, but it can version it. Um, and it's actually been pretty disruptive. I mean, a lot of legacy studios kept the lights on by doing a commercial and then making a hundred versions of it, doing a car commercial, and then doing one version for all of the 50 markets that that car is sold in. And literally just changing the phone number on, on the commercial stuff like that. Um, now you can literally just have like an iMac sitting in the corner, doing that all day long in the, in the client can order their own commercials. So some examples of that are, um, there's a great studio in London called Cub studio, and they spun off a side business called mow, share where that's what they do. And it's really amazing if you, if you go to their website, it's most shared.co.uk, you can see these great case studies where their clients are like, um, I'm gonna use the right word football teams.
Joey Korenman (00:48:34): I almost said soccer, uh, like football teams, rugby teams. I think they do stuff for the NFL now. So for like American football and they will set up these beautiful templates for like Instagram posts, like social media, where, you know, the, um, the Dallas Cowboys want to, uh, put up on Instagram, the score at the end of each quarter during a game. And they want to see the Cowboys helmet and then the helmet of the team they're playing and the score and some stats to roll up and they want it to be designed well and animated well, and they don't want to have to hire a Cubs studio to make those every single time because they make thousands of them. So Fraser and his team, they make a template and they, they use some expressions and a little bit of code, and they basically build a computer program for that client that now they're done and they charge the client.
Joey Korenman (00:49:25): I don't know how they charge. It's probably like a recurring monthly subscription or they build them for whatever they use or something like that. It's an entirely new business model. I mean, I think it's brilliant, frankly. I mean, if the goal is to grow a business and scale it and make money, which you can then use for other things that is way better than selling your hours right. And doing like a service. Um, so I think that's incredible. Now you were asking about like, can a client go to a website and pick female character wearing blue pants, walking over, holding a cell phone what's on the cell phone? Well, it's just like, yes, someone could make that. And there are versions of that out there, but they're terrible right now. There's two, there's two things about that. One is sometimes terrible is enough. So, you know, uh, if you're, if you're going after the local, uh, you know, laundry mat and trying to convince them that they need to do some YouTube advertising and you can make a cool video for them, they don't really need a $20,000 slick piece of animation.
Joey Korenman (00:50:30): They just don't, their business doesn't need it. They would be fine with the $500 kind of semi-automated, you know, whiteboard video. Right. Um, or the, or they'll just get on fiverr.com or Upwork and hire like a cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap freelancer. Um, but there is always, always, always going to be room for quality. And high-end Google is never going to use something like that. I promise you like co like good companies have tastes, um, good companies care about their brand and everything they put out as ref is a reflection of their brand. Right. So if school motion started, um, running YouTube ads with like crappy white board videos and like a bad video, right. Like a really bad video talent, um, that would reflect pretty poorly on us. Right. So, you know, if we launch a course, you know, when we launched courses, we always have these animations that, that open and close the course videos, and we've had buck do them and animate and Gunnar and companies like that.
Joey Korenman (00:51:33): So if all of a sudden I let my little brother who, you know, he he's like, he's like a manager at a company and he, you know, but like maybe he dabbles in after effects or something and I let him do it. It's going to reflect really badly on us. So companies care about quality and they will always go to the artisan, you know, the person that can craft something for them, bespoke, as opposed to using the AI bot that will, you know, like Google deep learning and face swapping and putting Nicholas cage on a video for them or something like that. Um, yeah. So I I'm honestly not worried about it at all. Um, I will say, I'll say there, there are some areas where it could affect people like in visual effects, it could be, uh, it could actually cause problems because, um, there is a lot of jobs doing rotoscoping.
Joey Korenman (00:52:24): Um, it's hard to imagine that that's, someone's full-time job, but it is, there are technologies now where they're using, uh, deep learning and things like that. Um, machine learning to rotoscope now it's not there yet. Right. It's still imperfect. Sometimes it's perfect, but most times it's not. Um, but in 10 years it will be perfect. Like I can almost guarantee like you'll, there will be shots, like maybe 80% of shots, you can just feed to a computer and it will just, it will be done in like 10 minutes. You don't have to pay human to do it. That is going to kill some jobs, but it's also going to open up other jobs that we don't yet know about. That's the other side.
Ricardo Aponte (00:53:02): And you move a job where you say experience or user interface happy.
Joey Korenman (00:53:08): So I quit doing client work about five years ago, and this is right when that really started to take off. So I've never worked on a project where what I was doing was actually going to be implemented in code in an app somewhere. Um, I did do a lot of, um, sort of product prototype videos where I would get a design of, of an app that didn't exist. And I would have to sort of make the video, like put, stick it on an iPad with element 3d and sort of show how it would work and stuff like that. Um, but it was really just to sort of sell the idea through, and then they would go to a UX designer and, and figure it all out. So I haven't, um, I did just talk to someone who that's literally like his specialty. Um, he actually teaches people, the concepts of animation in the UX world.
Joey Korenman (00:53:58): It's pretty interesting. Um, and what is cool about that kind of stuff is that it's a very new, it's like a frontier. It's like the wild west right now. Like, no, one's really nailed it and figured out how to like conceive of the way things should move. People have come close and people have gotten really good at it, but there's not like a standard way of doing it. And then there's not a standard way of prototyping it. Like some people use after effects, some people use a framer or haiku or things like that. Then there's not a standard way of taking that and turning it into code. Some people use Lottie, some people just rebuild it from scratch. Some people use inspector space, time. Um, so people who, uh, are looking for what's going to be big. I mean, it's kind of already big. If you move to San Francisco or Silicon valley, um, you know, you can go to Google and you can freelance for them for six months and make $200,000.
Joey Korenman (00:54:54): You got to be really good, but like, they'll pay you that. Um, so, uh, there's a couple of other things I want to say about this too. So, uh, so one, I think that, um, if you're interested in that you need to learn about UX user experience, uh, which is really about psychology. It's kind of fascinating. It's, it's separate from UI user interface. UI is kind of like the it's kind of just like the way things look, um, UX is literally like getting inside the mind of the person using the app and being like, okay, so the open the app, what do I want them to feel when they open the app? I want them to feel like anticipation. How do I do that? Okay, cool. Then now the apps loaded, how am I going to tell them what they're supposed to do now? I need to somehow direct their eye to this button.
Joey Korenman (00:55:36): Cause this is the button I want them to push. How do I do that? When they push that button? I want them to know that by pushing that button, they've now created a new project. How do I tell them that that action caused this? And it's really about psychology. It's really fascinating. And if I was getting in to this, uh, into this industry, now I would probably go pretty hard at it. Um, but the big thing to know from a career standpoint is that every single app is going to need animation. Uh, and you know, the big companies are, are way ahead and the smaller companies are, are kind of catching up. Um, and what's cool about this from a career perspective is, and it's also like a problem for studios when you're a motion design studio and Coca-Cola comes to you and says, we need a 62nd spot, or we need a bunch of animations or we need something on a billboard in times square.
Joey Korenman (00:56:27): The money to pay for that is coming from their advertising budget, their marketing budget. When Google comes to you and says, we are building a device, that's going to sit on your counter and it's got these four colored lights on top of it and they can spin. They can close and open. They can, they can, you know, sort of brighten and dim. They can turn on and off. That's what they can do. And we need to develop a visual language to tell the user when it's loading something, when there's a message waiting for them. When, uh, you know, the volume is rising when the volumes falling and that the money that they're paying someone to do that is not from the marketing budget. It's from the budget, like the operating budget, the product budget, which is an order of magnitude greater. And so that's why companies like Amazon and Google and Facebook can pay these outrageous salaries because they're not looking at the work you're doing as an ad.
Joey Korenman (00:57:25): It's not, it's actually part of the product that they're selling and they're going to make so much money off of it. They're willing to invest more. So that's something to keep in mind from a financial standpoint, this is kind of a new thing. It can, it's also causing problems because now studios have to compete with those salaries and they can't because the budgets are not going to go that high. So there's kind of, there's kind of this interesting dynamic going on. Um, I've been talking about it a lot with guests on our, on our podcasts lately. Um, but yeah, so I don't know if I answered your question at all. I just kind of like brain dumped on you.
Kashyap Bhatia (00:57:57): I'm really, really into salvation, making a show, every bunch of centimeters. It's so time consuming that we don't really have the time to do that during school time. Right now, even though I try to sit in the evenings, if you really try to lie in that kind of throat, If you, uh, if you're like are applying for an internship with them and you really want to try to niche towards that, because that's what you love you say, because I don't have a show, like instead of have like rolling cell animation pieces on a website, would you say like Sheree versus just pieces being in gifs, animated gifs on a website, do you have any preference or like, you know, I, I will never be able to make a 32nd show with different pieces right. At this moment.
Joey Korenman (00:59:00): All right. So, okay. So here's the thing. So if, when you're going for an internship, there's a different bar that you have to clear. Um, if you're trying to get booked as a cell animator at buck, there's a different bar. If you're trying to get an internship at buck, there's a different bar, right? So the bar you're trying to clear is to show them that you're super passionate about this, that you're willing to work hard and that you have some talent, so you don't need to show them that you're a total pro at this. Okay. You have plenty of time to do that. So, um, instead, you know, having a real is is useful, but I think what they really want to see is that, you know what you're doing. Um, so one of the best tips I can give anybody, and this, this goes for like anything freelancing getting a full-time job at, especially for internships is do a short little case study.
Joey Korenman (00:59:56): Okay. Because if I see something that you animated by hand, even just a ball bounce, right. If it's a good ball bounce, I'll look at it and I'll be like, cool, good for you. Or if you, what would be really impressive if you could pull this off is like a really cool, like 20 to 24 frames cycle of flames or something. Interesting. Right. So me looking at that, I'm going to be like, whoa, he knows what he's doing. But then if underneath that, there's just a short little breakdown of like, you know, first, you know, like little thumbnail sketches of like, what's the style of this flame light. Is it going to be like really pointy and detailed? Or is it going to be kind of blobby and stylized? And you know, how big is it going to be? How little is it gonna be?
Joey Korenman (01:00:40): Is there going to be logs underneath it? And then write a, like two sentences about like, so the first thing I did was just try to find the style of this flame. Then underneath it show like some failed tests, you know, which I'm sure if you try to do this for the first time, you'll have many show, some of those and write a little blurb about what you learned. So in this first one, I had too much, uh, difference between each frame. So it looked too flickery and this one, I didn't have enough. So it looked too slow and it looked like the flame was in slow motion. And then this, in this one, the flame, a good, but I didn't have enough little pieces flying off the top, you know, little embers. And then finally I arrived here. So now what you're showing them is, Hey, you care enough to like go through this very painful exercise.
Joey Korenman (01:01:22): And more importantly, seeing the end result means what it means you were good enough once to get that result. It, maybe you got lucky, you know, like I bet if I just sat here for two days, I do not do traditional animation, but I bet if I looked at a YouTube tutorial and I sat there for two days, I could probably come up with a 22 frame flame sequence that would look okay. And could fool somebody and show them that like, yeah, I, wow, he's a great selling animator, but I like savvy people know that that could just be, you got lucky, there's a great expression. Um, the sun shines on every dog's for 15 minutes, right? So like, maybe that was just the sun shining on your for 15 minutes. But if you have a case study, even for like a one second looping flame, that shows me way more, it tells me way more about you.
Joey Korenman (01:02:14): So if you only have five little, you know, two or three second things, you've, don't try to stretch that into a show reel. It will be ridiculous. Don't do that. I would do do the easy stuff. Right? Like put them on Instagram, um, you know, put them on a website, but do case studies case studies, we'll get you an internship faster than, than just about anything else. Um, and then when you, when you approach people for an internship, if you approach giant, and if you approach buck, if you approach, you know, uh, digital kitchen, I know they're looking for a lot of, of selling animators lately. Um, when you approach them, approach them as a traditional animator and link to one of your case studies, don't link to like your front page or something. Say like, you know, I, I, you know, I'm a student at hyper island, I'm looking for internships.
Joey Korenman (01:03:02): I'm very interested in traditional animation. And, uh, I've done a lot of, I've done a lot of experiments and I've blogged about them. And here's the one I'm particularly proud of. You can check it out if you want to, and they'll check it out and they'll read and they'll be like, wow, this person actually cares. They actually want to get good at this. And as an intern, that's really what you care about because you're going to go to that studio and they're going to probably make you like, get muffins for their clients and stuff. But then they're also going to throw you into the fire and they want some sense that like, they can count on you that, that you have a work ethic. And so the case study is the way to go. Um, so that's my advice. I would not try to do a reel. I would just, I would just blog about it,
Kashyap Bhatia (01:03:41): Try it
Joey Korenman (01:03:43): If you can, I'm telling you that it's like, that's like, that's like the crucible for animators or like a good like water splash or something like that. Um, you know, doing a ball bounce is, is useful to learn, but you're not ever going to do a ball bounce in real life. You're going to, you know, and, and really what's in demand now is character animation, which is incredibly difficult. Like there's a real steep learning curve to do hand-drawn character animation. Um, but so if you don't have that skill yet you can sneak up on it, like learn to do some effects, animation, um, even do just like some experimenting, you know, like this, um, little lines and little elements in the facts and things like that. Um, you know, try drawing a face and morphing it into another face in some interesting way, these abstract things. But, but write your process out. Um, you get a lot of tension that way.
Kashyap Bhatia (01:04:37): I have a question related to that, uh, where it's like, okay, um, you've sent out a couple of emails and you're waiting for responses sometimes. Um, people don't get back to you. So how do you follow up on that? Because, uh, we had this question a couple of times in the past where it's like, ah, I don't want to be pestering someone, but at the same time, I do want to find out if that emails came in or what's happening, you know, like how do you follow up?
Joey Korenman (01:05:04): Sure. Let's start with, why do people not write back to you? Okay. So the most common reason they don't write back is because they are super duper busy. So if you're writing to a creative director, if you're writing to a producer, even if you're just writing to another animator, they are probably going to be very, very busy. Like we did a survey, this was three or four years ago now, um, of producers who are typically at studios, the people hiring freelancers, making the call and booking people. And we said, how many emails do you get a day? And most of them said, they get more than 50 a day. So they have a job to do a very labor intensive job, producers work their butts off. And on top of that, they're supposed to get back to 50 people. It's just not going to happen.
Joey Korenman (01:05:53): Right. Uh, especially if it's someone looking for an internship and they're like, and it's not because they don't want you to have an internship or that they're being mean it's that they just, they don't have the bandwidth. They don't have the time. So there's a couple strategies. So one is, uh, you want to go install this plugin for Gmail. It's called right inbox. There's another one called boomerang. And I think they both have free versions. Okay. What you want to do is write the email to that person and you want it to hit their inbox. First thing in the morning, you want to be the first email they get, because right, when they get to work, they're probably going to check their email and they have like 30 minutes of peace before the crazy starts. And you know, if you're the 50th email in there, you're not getting answered.
Joey Korenman (01:06:43): But if you're the first one way more likely, uh, so write the email the day before you can use this plugin to schedule it, it will go out. And I would just like, figure out what time zone they're in and set it to go at like, you know, eight in the morning, eight 30 in the morning, nine in the morning, something like that. Um, so that's one thing. Then I would install another extension called MailTrack, mailtrack.io. What this will do is it will tell you if they opened the email, okay, this is important because if they opened it and didn't get back to you, okay. At least now they know you exist, but maybe there was a reason maybe they actually looked at your work by the way, MailTrack will tell you if they clicked any links in your email too. So you'll know if they went to your website.
Joey Korenman (01:07:30): Right, right. Yeah. So, so knowing that changes everything, right? Cause if they open the email, clicked on the link, obviously they then looked at your stuff. If they didn't write back to you, maybe they're not interested. Maybe you're not a good fit. Right. So move on the, the, the, world's a big place, plenty of fish in the sea. Right. Um, but then if you sent that email and two days go by and they haven't even opened it, they're probably not good at email inbox management. And they probably have, they're probably one of those people that have the red dot on their phone and like 10,730 unread emails. Right. Raise your hand if you're like that. Right. So yeah. So, so a D D and like, do you feel guilty about not replying those people? Like, no, you kid, there's no way a human being can do that.
Joey Korenman (01:08:19): So they didn't open the email, send the same email, change the subject line, try sending it at a different time. Um, and so, so that's part one hit them at the right time and see, and just try and track when the thing was opened or if it was opened. Right. And then by the way, if any of you are curious, there's a, there's a book called the freelance manifesto that goes deep into this kind of stuff. This is like, this is my wheelhouse, like, like hacking emails and like that. Um, yeah. And so, so then the next thing is follow up. Okay. So if someone opens the email, they click the link, they don't respond. What I want you to do is use that same plugin, right. Inbox. And you can snooze that email and have it come back in two months or three months.
Joey Korenman (01:09:06): And then one day you'll wake up and boom, that email reappears in your inbox. And it'll remind you, oh, three months ago I wrote to them and they opened the email and looked at my work, but they didn't, they didn't re reply. So that's okay. So then you just write them a new email. Right. And they probably won't even remember you, but you write a new email saying like, Hey, just following up, I wrote to you a few months ago, and in the meantime I've been doing this and this and this, I'd still love to work with you guys, if you ever have a need for an intern or something like that. Um, boom. And that's it. And so, and then the other thing is don't just write to one place or two places or three places, right. To 30 places. It's not hard to like find places to intern.
Joey Korenman (01:09:48): Um, you know, I guess it depends like where, how far you're willing to travel and stuff like that. Um, but there's a million opportunities out there. And so it's really a numbers game. If you have decent work and you hit them at the right time and you follow up every three months and you reach out to 30 or 50 people, you will get a bite. It's just almost inevitable that you will. Um, so don't, don't be, don't take it personally when people don't write you back. I cannot write back to everybody who writes to me, like it's just physically impossible. I actually have a tag in Gmail called a guilt ignores, you know, I throw in there and I'm like, one day I'll have free time again. And I'll be able to like, answer all of these, um, you know, and, and it's not, I, I, and I'm not trying to be mean or like disrespect people.
Joey Korenman (01:10:35): I just literally, I would just answer emails all day long if, if, if I answered everybody. Um, so just keep that in mind, be respectful that these people are super busy, that you're writing to, um, but use technology to like hack it a little bit. Um, and it's, that also goes way deeper than that too. This is a rabbit hole. I love going down. I mean, when you write to them, what's the subject line you're using? Are you saying like, looking for internship? Well, gosh, my eyes just bounce right over that. I don't even see that. Right. Or are you doing a little bit of research? And are you finding out that, that producer, that you're writing to looking at their LinkedIn profile, uh, went to the same school as your sister or something and you know, like your subject line is, my sister also went to hyper island, you know, and that's going to get opened. Right. So there there's other things like that too, where you can use psychology to ensure that you will rise to the top of the email pile. Um, yeah. So there you go. That was a, that was like a little teaser, hopefully that's enough to get you started, right? Like try that.
Moa Machado (01:11:41): You could tell yourself like a 20 years younger, Joey,
Joey Korenman (01:11:48): 20 years I'd be 17. Um, wow. Um, you know, it's hard. It's like, it's a tough question because there are things that I did wrong that were really painful to go through that I like at the time, I'm like, I really wish I didn't have to go through this. Um, but they taught me something and they turned me into this, Joey. Um, but so, but, but I will say this. Okay. So, um, what I wish I'd learned sooner was that your career is, is like it's made up of all these components. Like your success will be dictated by how good you are at doing this. Like the quality of your work, um, how good you are at building relationships with people and how reliable and professional you are. And these two are far more important than how good you are at the work. That is the least important in my experience.
Joey Korenman (01:12:53): And as an artist, that's kind of crushing because you, you w what you want is you just want this perfect meritocracy where whoever works the hardest and, and really like devotes themselves and, and, and practices and stays up all night, perfecting that thing. That's the person that's gonna get the gig. That's the person that's going to end up, you know, running a successful studio. It does not work that way at all. It really doesn't if, okay, so Claudio is one of the most talented animators I've ever worked with. He is absurdly good at it. Like stupid, scary, good at it. But if he, but also when we worked with him, we hired him to animate something for class, everything showed up the day. He said, it would, I will have something for you on Tuesday. It shows up on Tuesday. Okay. Um, he gave us a bid and then he stuck to it.
Joey Korenman (01:13:49): Even though we've had some extra revisions, he didn't charge us for those. He like was nice. He was like, Hey, I'll just do it. Um, he's super nice to work with, right. He's just a pleasure to work with. So the quality of the thing he made for us that like I know is there, but what, what I remember and what sticks with me is how nice he was and how professional he was and how honest he was about how long things would take, if something came up and he needed an extra day, all of that stuff goes way further than just having a little bit better piece on your portfolio. So when you get to a place in your career where you feel like you're stuck and you'll get there, it's inevitable. At some point you'll be somewhere and you'll be like, I'm stuck. What do I do?
Joey Korenman (01:14:35): The answer is not, my work needs to get better. That will help. The answer is usually I need to level up my business skills, or I need to network more. I need to get out and meet more people. So that more opportunities pop up. I really wish I'd known that, especially when I was running my studio, because our studio was in Boston, where at the time there were really very few studios. There was only like one or two other ones. And our work was very good. Like for Boston, especially, it was like some of the best looking motion design coming out of Boston. It didn't matter. Our clients would still go to the crappy post house down the street, because they'd worked with that guy for 15 years. And I never understood that. I was like, why? You know, but like, we're better, like, look at our work.
Joey Korenman (01:15:20): Like it's designed better. Like I'm better at, after effects than that guy, you know? And it's like, and it's like such a silly, egotistical way of thinking. And I wish I'd, I'd broken that mental habit sooner. Um, because I would have spent more time just going out and like having lunch with people and just talking about music and stuff, not related to motion design, because ironically that's where gigs come from. Um, I had a lot of studios. We all have someone who's either executive producer or a biz-dev business development person. Their job is literally to make friends like that. That is actually their job. Now they're supposed to then take that friend and kind of hint, Hey, you know, w w well, you guys got anything cool going on over there. Cause we got all these artists that can make cool stuff. So just saying, um, but really their main job is to make buddies and to take people to lunch and to throw parties and to fly out to the person's office and bring them a gift and to remember what their birthday and to call them on their birthday. That's how you get work. Um, you know, it's, it's kind of like, it's like the dirty little secret of any creative industry that the secret to getting work is not always just doing good work. In fact, most of the time, it's not,
Kashyap Bhatia (01:16:32): Uh, I actually tried that with, uh, I was, uh, in touch with a talent manager from a studio in, uh, Canada. Um, and it was like, um, you know, I didn't have a, uh, website at the time and it was like, okay, so I need to keep the conversation going because we have something good running here. So how do I do that? And I sent them kind of like our student video that we shot at the beginning, without any knowledge and the skills we need, just basically a rough cut video with a rough story and stuff like that. And yeah, it turns out that she enjoyed it. So it was like a conversation that kept on.
Joey Korenman (01:17:16): Yeah. Yeah. That's all. And I mean, you'd be really surprised. Like how often, even when you're freelancing, you know, you may have this perception that a producer has this Rolodex in, in their head of every freelancer that's available all 25 that they work with and a job comes in and it's like a computer, all right. Which one's the most appropriate? Well, this one's good at 3d. This one's better at design. This one, not how it works, how it works is the first name they think of is generally the one that email. Right. And a lot of times the first person they think of is the last person. They talked to the person who is currently working on a job for them or the person who they just finished a booking two weeks ago. And they ha they remembered how great they were and they just call them back.
Joey Korenman (01:17:57): Right. So part of, part of the game is staying at the top of their mind. And so that's why these followup emails are so important and using tools to like remind you to do that is super helpful because sometimes, you know, when you go freelance, one of the things that I recommend people do is re like automate this, like have the plugin tell you when you need to do this, um, give them an availability, check. An availability check is like, you know, you haven't been booked by them for a few months. You, you have no bookings coming up for the next couple of weeks. So you write to all your clients and you say, Hey, hope you're having an awesome summer. Uh, just in case you guys are busy. I just want to give you a heads up that I have some availability opening up in case that's helpful.
Joey Korenman (01:18:41): That's all have a good day. That's it? It's just a courtesy. And you will be shocked how often that works and turns into work. Because like, if you write to 10 producers, it's almost guaranteed that one or two of them have something percolating that they're trying to figure out and boom, right at that moment. And that email shows up at eight 30 in the morning, right. On the dot. And you're checking to see if they opened it and they'll be like, oh my gosh, this is perfect. I totally forgot about this person. I didn't even think of you. Um, thank you for writing to me. Yes. Let's put you on hold. You know, that happens all the time and it's, and it can be the same with internships too. If you write to someone, you may, you may have this perception that studios and agencies are well-run well-oiled machines.
Joey Korenman (01:19:23): Some of them are, some of them are not, some of them are very disorganized. So if you write to someone and they're like, oh my gosh, your work's great. Yeah. We'd love to have you as an intern. We're not hiring right now, but we'll keep you in mind for the summer. It's not on them to remember to write you back. Right. You need to say, awesome. I'm going to follow up in a month. And then you need to click right inbox, remind me in a month. And then in a month you need to follow up and say like, Hey, just following up, if you guys are looking for interns, I'd still love to, you know, help out. Um, and in the meantime, check out this cool thing I did. And, and it's like, you just keep doing that. It's like, um, you know, it's like, you have a rock and you just a drop of water, hits it. Like, you know, like once a day for a million years. And eventually it wears down, like, that's how get in at these places. And that's how you get clients. Um, it doesn't take a million years though. It can happen pretty quick.
Joey Korenman (01:20:14): Most of the time.
Kashyap Bhatia (01:20:15): Yeah. That was a good one big step there. You had like this sending it something new that you you've created.
Joey Korenman (01:20:22): Yeah. And even if it's not something new, it's just, you took something that you already did and you wrote a case study about it. Right. I mean, that, that works too. Um, I mean, it's, it's crazy case studies are like the secret weapon right now. Um, you know, studios that do them. And again, it's all about showing your client that you did not get lucky. You have a process. You, you, you know, it's not like you open Photoshop, threw some things together. And whoa, that actually works. Look at that. It looks good. It's like, no, no. You know how to aim at something and refine and Polish. And it really helps to see those initial things that don't look so great. And then to see how your process led you to the end result, which is amazing. Um, that's super powerful. So yeah, definitely like, and, and that's a way you can, you can leverage old work too. You can just like rehash something you've already done. Uh, you know, just write a write out case study about it.
Kashyap Bhatia (01:21:16): Any tips?
Joey Korenman (01:21:19): Yes. So yes, yes. Okay. My, um, alright, so, so I'll tell you, so we've, we've just been hiring, uh, recently, um, and the it's probably different for everybody, but I'll tell you what I love when I'm interviewing someone. So two things, one, um, I like to get to know you. Um, so like, what I don't want is someone to tell me their educational background and you know, like how much effects they know and you know, that they won the student award for this and that. I'm going to know that before I ever interview you, right? Like if you've gotten to the interview part, they've already looked at your work, they've already looked at your resume. Or, you know, if, if you sent that over, they've gone to your portfolio and they've looked at the breakdowns at that point, when you're in an interview situation, they're really looking for two things they're looking for.
Joey Korenman (01:22:17): Can I actually stand this person? Like if I'm going to be in a room with them all day for weeks on end, are we going to enjoy each other or am I going to get sick of this person? Um, and then that's probably the most important thing. Um, and then if you're going for an internship, this doesn't apply as much, but it might still, um, but if you're applying for a job, this is like gold. Uh, do your research find out everything you can about that company. Right. Um, I'm trying to think of an example. So if you want to go work for tendril, let's say in Toronto, right? A lot of the crazy stuff they've been doing lately is this really cool abstract, conceptual, 3d. Okay. And so what I would do is I would like go find the artists that worked on those things.
Joey Korenman (01:23:07): I would email them, let them know you're applying for an internship at tendril. Do you have any advice? Um, I would, I would research all the credits on their work and see like, oh, what did they use on this? Did they use a Houdini person? Did they use octane? Um, was this like just one person that like, you know, does all this, who was the designer on this? Like, oh, do they, you know, find out as much as you can about that company. And then what you want to do is basically create a story in that person's mind in the interviewer's mind, where they can picture you in their ecosystem. So what's worked amazingly well to get hired at school of motion, uh, is people do their research and they find holes where we're not doing as good of a job and they'll offer suggestions, Hey, by the way, whether you hire me or not, I think really what would be helpful is if, you know, you had notifications on your site, because when I signed up for one of your free classes, uh, I found it difficult to keep up with all the emails.
Joey Korenman (01:24:03): I was like, shocked that someone told that to me when they were trying to get hired. I thought that was a brilliant, right. Um, so if you're, if you're applying at tendril or something like that, you probably don't want to criticize what they're doing. Um, but you might want to, you know, if you know that they're doing a lot of things with octane right now, maybe bring up the fact that you just read a press release about, you know, the new version of octane is going to have this artificial de noiser and it's really, really cool. Have you heard of it yet? And it's like, oh my gosh, this person, like, they know we use octane. They know that like, yeah, I probably am interested in that. Um, you know, just like do your homework and you'll just be able to almost subtly offer ways where like, you know it, cause they'll probably ask you some generic questions, like, so, you know, uh, what's your favorite part of the motion design process.
Joey Korenman (01:24:49): And so like, if they're a very concept, heavy place, like a elastic or something like that, um, or if they're a very, um, you know, design focused place like Gretel, then you will kind of know like what they really look for. And what's important to them. If I was interviewing at Gretel, um, do your homework. There's there's interviews with Greg who founded Gretel out there and you can find out who his favorite designers are. And you can talk about how you're really inspired by McGreevey and like, you know, all of these like art history names, um, that will impress someone like that. It may not matter at all to Jay, from giant ant, but Jay from giant ed, if he listened to interviews with him, you'll find out that he's really, really, uh, he's into running. And he's a family man. Um, and he really cares about story.
Joey Korenman (01:25:40): Story is the big thing for giant. And, and so I was sort of positioning yourself as someone that I really love crafting the arc and the narrative, you know, like the design is fun, the animation is fun, but I like looking at it as a whole and having those climaxes, those peaks, that's my favorite part that will stick out, like, you know, like crazy, but you have to do your homework and you have to know who it is you're talking to and company you're talking to. All right. So like, first of all, like take, take a note from Claudio and a and B and just be the nicest person. You can be put any, any negativity that you have just get rid of it, go like meditate or something, you know, drink some kava, um, and right. Or don't you get a bellyache. Um, and, and just be very nice, be very friendly, be interested in what they're doing. Talk about the thing they just put on their, on their Vimeo page. Right. Talk about what you liked about it and do your homework. So, you know, probably what they liked about it, right. Because it's going to be different from studio to studio where, where the focus is.
Ricardo Aponte (01:26:45): And he goes to any top studios here in Europe, except by except,
Joey Korenman (01:26:51): Uh, in ju yeah. So I'm in the Netherlands. You've got, um, boy, I'm blinking all of the names. Uh, one, one size, I think it's called, um, in Berlin, you've got a set. It's a German word. I'm gonna totally butcher it. It's a cashew might know. Right. It's assess you. And then there's the zeitgeists there's X Ponza there set shoot. So, so in Germany, there's a bunch in London, obviously there there's a bunch, um, uh, in Paris, you've got, um, uh, Matt trunks studio, uh, does amazing stuff. Matt trunks used to do tutorials by the way. He's amazing at it. Um, thank goodness he left. Cause he would have taken my lunch money. Uh, but he does amazing work. Um, I'm trying to think where else, I mean, there, there are studios everywhere. Uh, actually, um, it's just the, the, the ones that you've heard of, like the big ones, um, you know, are really just the ones that are good at marketing themselves.
Joey Korenman (01:27:56): Um, but if you get on Vimeo and you type in after effects Portugal, I guarantee you're gonna find like, so this is what I would do. I would get on LinkedIn. Right. And, and I would look for, you may have to use this. They have a tool on LinkedIn, it's called recruiter. You may have to pay for one month of it and it's like 79 bucks or something, but it's, it's worth it. So let's say that you have your heart set on getting an internship in Italy or something like that. Right. What Isla is in Italy. So I would just call them M I L L. Okay. But let's say that they're, I think they're in Milan or something. So if you don't want to be there, then what you do is get on LinkedIn, grab the, you like sign up for one month of recruiter and do a search for anyone that has the word after effects in their LinkedIn profile in Italy, within 50 miles of the town you want to be in, what you'll find is you might actually get lucky and find studios pop up.
Joey Korenman (01:28:57): Well, you probably find our after effects, artists or motion designers or Photoshop art, you know, like you'll do a few searches. And if you find an after effects, artist in Rome, find that person's, uh, you know, on LinkedIn, they actually list the studios they work for, but find their portfolio, look at their work, look at the credits, see who they're working for now, you know, the studios, you know, in, in those places. Um, I mean, there's really, there's great studios everywhere. And then, you know, great studios are also a place to aspire to. So even if your first internship is at a studio doing like pretty good work, you know, not cream of the crop, not Motionographer, but like pretty darn good. You're gonna learn a ton. You know, it's gonna look great on your resume. You're hopefully going to beef up your portfolio, learn a bunch of new skills, and then you can, you can progress from there.
Kashyap Bhatia (01:29:49): Then there's the networking and socials are soft skills. Uh, talk about, uh, what else is good if you want to be a good motion to
Joey Korenman (01:29:59): About networking and social, social skills, enough
Kashyap Bhatia (01:30:03): Skills to look what are good skills to have or what helps to grow as a motion designer?
Joey Korenman (01:30:10): Um,
Kashyap Bhatia (01:30:11): So to meditation.
Joey Korenman (01:30:13): Oh, okay. So like the non-obvious things. Right. Okay, cool. Um, well, so I am, I am big into all of that stuff. So like, you know, meditation and nootropics and the occasional psychedelic, all that stuff. Um, I think that, so, um, some advice that I got early on and that I've heard repeated throughout my career, uh, I think is really, really appropriate here, which is to be a better creative, to be more creative, you need more ammo, right? Like you can't live in a one bedroom apartment and watch Netflix 20 hours a day and be very interesting, right? Like you need to be out and you need to see things. Um, you know, I feel like you're, you're all in a great position because a lot, probably most, uh, students in, in my country do not travel to other countries very much. It's rare actually.
Joey Korenman (01:31:11): It's like we don't travel extensively in America the way Europeans do. So just being exposed. So like different looking buildings, like in hearing different languages and meeting people from completely different cultures and different foods and different color palettes, um, you know, all of that stuff, it gives you a visual vocabulary that it's not obvious why that's useful. Like if you spend a bunch of money or, or you backpack across Europe, you know, for six months or whatever, it's not obvious how that's going to make you a better motion designer, but I promise you, it will because you're going to have just a more expanded like palette really. Uh, when you have to come up with ideas, when you have to design things, you're, it's going to be easier for you than for someone like I grew up in Fort worth, Texas, which is like a very, it's a pretty, it's a pretty homogenous place.
Joey Korenman (01:32:06): Right. You've got like, you've got like white people and Mexican people and that's it. That's what I grew up with. And so like, I'm really used to Spanish, but the first time I heard Japanese, like I, you know, and I saw like Japan, I was like, I've never seen anything like this. It blew my mind. Um, and I wish I'd been exposed to that a lot more. I wish that frankly, my parents had like traveled with us more because now as an adult, I get to travel and I find like everything opens up. Um, so that's one thing, like just exposing yourself to stuff. Um, you need, you must have an outlet besides motion design to get the poison out. Right. So if I sit in an animate for eight hours, I am fried and I might have a problem I need to solve. Like, I can't quite figure out how to get from this frame to this frame.
Joey Korenman (01:32:53): I'm not going to figure it out by sitting in front of a computer. I have to leave it. Literally, I've never solved an aftereffects problem in front of after effects. Like, you know, like, like simple stuff, of course. But if, if I'm like, how do I get from this frame to this frame? And how do I rig that? So like, I can change it and stuff. And so what works for me is running. So I run a lot, um, and running for me, it's almost like a form of like moving meditation where at my brain turns off. And then all of a sudden I'm like thinking about something and then all of a sudden out of nowhere, boom, there's the answer. And it almost feels like the answer didn't come from me. It just like bubbled up. Now I have it. Um, but it doesn't come up unless I'm in that flow state.
Joey Korenman (01:33:35): Um, I also, I do meditate too, but that's more for like, um, I guess that's, that's more just to boost confidence and become more aware, like as you get older, um, you know, you're all nice and young. So like, this is what happened to you for awhile. Um, but as you get older, um, you know, and you get more and more responsibility. If you start a studio, if you start a company, uh, you know, the problems get bigger too, and the stakes are higher. And so it just takes a little bit of a different strategy to manage that, manage your internal state. So for me, that's what meditation does. Um, in terms of you, you know, I think you mentioned networking cash. I'll bring that one up to you. I mean, really the value of networking cannot be overstated. So even just, you know, going to blend, which is probably astronomically expensive from where you all live, um, are going to NAB are going to move, which is in Prague, right.
Joey Korenman (01:34:29): Are going to, um, you know, Fitzy, if it's an Amsterdam or something like that, like going to those, you will meet all of these people who are just like you they're creatives they're they know what after effects is. They know what a key frame is at the worst case scenario, you're going to make some friends and be inspired and have a good time, but you will probably also likely form relationships that will help your career in one way or another, because literally all it takes, especially at the beginning of your career. All it takes is one little crack in that door. That's all you need. Once you're in, everything just starts flowing naturally and things just land. And all of a sudden someone looks over and they see you working and they think your stuff's pretty good. And then they remember you and they go to a new studio and they remember that person.
Joey Korenman (01:35:10): And all of a sudden, now you're over there that you need to just get your foot in the door. Um, so going to live events is actually incredibly, incredibly valuable. Um, you know, it's also nice to have a network of people, uh, around you, even if it's just virtually that understand what it is you do. Um, you know, my, my, my group of friends in Boston, some of them were editors, but, uh, there weren't really any after effects artists. Um, you know, so it was very hard for me to like, if I really just wanted to like geek out or decompress about something there, wasn't like a good way to do that. Now you've got MDA slack. Um, you've got like our, our alumni group. That's what it is all day long people talking about motion design, uh, you know, you've got the motion hatch Facebook group. You've just got all these places where you can meet virtually, but doing it in person is just, the value is astronomical. I highly highly recommended if you could swing it.
Kashyap Bhatia (01:36:08): Thanks a lot for doing this. Um, I mean, it's been a lot, um, one question I had is, uh, McDaniel our program manager, uh, he's going to be continuing to be here. So I hope that this could be something that you guys could do with future students. And it's something that's interesting for you.
Joey Korenman (01:36:29): Yeah. So I want to say first off, thank you so much for asking me to do this. This was like super fun. I love, I love nothing more than I can just do this all day. This is just like lights me up. Um, and as written, you all had such amazing questions and, you know, like you're, you're on the front lines of motion design, right? Like I'm in a strange position. Now I'm running school of motion where I'm sort of like floating above the industry and I'm in it and I'm touching pieces of it. But the market forces at play in our industry don't affect school motion, the same way they will. You. And so that's why it's really awesome for me to hear your concerns and the things you're you're worried about. Um, and any advice I can offer. Um, so, so cache to answer your question, uh, I would love to, to do this over and over again, and frankly I'd love to, to come out and do this in person too. Uh, you know, I, I think, I think that, I think that'd be really fun and, uh, you know, like maybe, maybe in the summer or something, when it's warm, I'm not good at cold, not good in the cold weather.
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