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Starting a High-End Studio: Ordinary Folk Interview
We sat down with Ordinary Folk, a new studio led by JR Canest, to chat about their recent launch, pain points, how they create such beautiful work, and even how faith plays a role in their lives.
When you look up motion design inspiration there is a high chance you've seen work by Jorge Estrada, otherwise known as JR Canest. If you haven't, then you're in for an amazing surprise.
We talked about a lot in this podcast, and if you look at the show-notes you'll see we're not exaggerating. Jorge and his team were an open book, giving a great look at the industry, how they operate, and what influences them. They even lay out solid insights for anyone looking to start up a studio. Surprisingly they even admit that they aren't good designers; so how is everything they create so beautiful?!
If you're looking for someone to follow, to learn from, and to imitate... you probably couldn't ask for a better group of extra-ordinary folks. So, without anymore pause let's give this weeks episode a listen.
Ordinary Folk Show Notes:
We take references from our podcast and add links here, helping you stay focused on the podcast experience.
Ordinary Folk Transcript:
Joey Korenman: This episode is a special one, you see, many years ago, I built a course called Animation Bootcamp. To date, well over 3000 animators have taken that class. And one of the artists that we interviewed for that course is none other than JRCanest, aka, Jorge Rolando Canedo Estrada. I really had to practice rolling my Rs for that one. Jorge is one of my favorite animators of all time. And he was also the very first person that I interviewed for School of Motion. If you've taken Animation Bootcamp, you've heard that interview. And now, you're going to hear what Jorge is up to these days, which is opening his own studio, with a very talented team behind him by the way.
Joey Korenman: Ordinary Folk is a new studio based in Vancouver, and I'm just guessing here, they're going to be big. On the podcast today, we have not just Jorge, but also Greg Stewart and Victor Silva, who are living the MoGraph dream, and working to help build Ordinary Folk into a successful studio. These three scary-talented artists go into lots of topics in this long episode. We get into why Jorge decided to open a studio now, why not sooner? We talk with Greg and Victor about how they ended up working underneath one of their heroes. And we even talk about the role that faith plays in their lives, and in the way that Ordinary Folk runs.
Joey Korenman: There's a lot to unpack in this episode, so you're going to want to grab a notepad, and a Big Gulp, and maybe some Swedish Fish. I really should have eaten before recording this intro.
Joey Korenman: We have three people on the podcast today from Ordinary Folk, Jorge, Victor, and Greg. Gentlemen, it is a pleasure to have you on the School of Motion Podcast. Thank you so much for doing this.
Jorge Canest: Thank you for having us, it's quite a privilege.
Greg: Yeah, it's weird.
Joey Korenman: Is it weird? I'll tell you what, three guys, one microphone, that's weird.
Jorge Canest: It is weird, yeah.
Joey Korenman: You guys are all friends, it's all good. Let's start here, this is the first thing I wanted to ask you, Jorge, when I found out that you were opening Ordinary Folk. Everyone listening should know that Jorge was actually the first person I ever interviewed, if you've taken Animation Bootcamp, you've heard that interview. And this was back when Jorge was still full-time on staff at Giant Ant, so we've kept in touch over the years. And I thought you would have opened a studio a lot sooner, but then I thought, "Maybe you're having second thoughts." Because obviously, you can freelance and get booked as much as you want, and probably charge a bunch of money and stuff.
Joey Korenman: So why did you decide to finally open a studio?
Jorge Canest: I don't know.
Joey Korenman: All right, next question.
Jorge Canest: No, it's funny that you ask, because I've been writing an article for three months answering that specific question. I can't quite finish it. Because it wasn't an easy thing, and honestly, I should start by saying if anybody listening is thinking of doing it, you should rethink it. I'm not saying that in a negative way, but I feel like a lot of people talk about that. And it's one thing that I wanted to make sure is that I wasn't going to take it lightly. That's why it really took me that long to officially make the jump. And even Victor can talk probably more about my hesitation, because even though he was working for me already, we hadn't really decided that we were going to do this.
Jorge Canest: But the reason, the simple reason is that I had to try it out. It's been since I was a teenager, I had this idea that I wanted to start whatever my own thing was. Whether that was a studio, or whether that was just freelancing. And I wanted to make sure that I had the right experience before doing that jump. And after Buck and Giant Ant, it gave me the confidence to go freelance, and try that first. And see how I liked working. And pretty soon I realized that I actually way preferred building a team, I realized that I didn't really mind doing all the managing and producing, and dealing with clients, and paying people. And I enjoyed it, it was a fun challenge.
Jorge Canest: And I also realized that I didn't really just being a freelancer, that I was brought in as an animator when everything else was figured out. I was like, "I want to be involved from the beginning." That was my favorite part about Giant Ant, when it was a small team, was being able to be involved in the whole process. And I also looked in the future, it was like, "Am I going to be a freelance animator for the rest of my life? I've got two kids, a family, what's going to happen in the future?" And I wanted to build something that wasn't just tied to my name or myself, to be an identity on its own. So clients or whatever could come to the studio, and know, expect a certain trust or quality that wasn't necessarily tied to one person. That was going to be a true studio.
Jorge Canest: And the other reason was, I just wanted a team. I didn't want to be on my own, even though we love working with other people all the time, I wanted to be not just my thing, I wanted to be part of a team. And that team evolved very organically, these guys can speak more to that. I think that summarizes it a bit, and I wrote a document when I decided to do this, and wrote down why I wanted to do it, and a lot of those reason were there. Which were work related, there were some other personal reasons, some faith based reasons, but that's the gist of it. And yeah, it's been working out so far.
Joey Korenman: That's awesome, man. It makes a lot of sense now, wanting to build something that's bigger than just you. And also, as you get older and you have a family, and you start thinking about the future, you don't want your business to rely on your name. If ideally, Ordinary Folk can exist with or without Jorge, then that's great. But at the beginning of this you said, if someone's thinking of starting a studio, maybe they should rethink it. I'm wondering what you meant, because it sounds like you really did your homework, and you thought things out. And you decided that in spite of all the challenges, this is what you want to do. But maybe you could talk about what those challenges are, that maybe people don't know what they're getting into.
Jorge Canest: Yeah. I think I briefly touched on those, there's a lot of dealing with people, a lot of managing and managing [crosstalk 00:08:14]. That's probably the thing I've learned the most in the past year or two, just all that stuff. And if you don't like doing that stuff, you should be worried about that, and think about it. Because I feel like there's a lot of talk like, "I'm just a freelancer," and in theory, you could just start a studio, hire a couple people, and go. But I guess that's what I'm getting at, it's not that simple.
Jorge Canest: I've talked to other studio owners, like Chris and Jay, and there's a lot of directing teams out there, but they're not necessarily, they don't have the structure of the studio, and I want to say stress that comes with a studio, and responsibilities. And I feel like it's those things that I feel people take for granted. Like I said, I'm not complaining in any way, and it's something that I expected, but I just want to make sure ... I remember talking to TJ from Oddfellows, way back when we were even thinking about, when I was freelancing, considering it. And he had a podcast with you even, and he's also raising this warning sign that says, "Hey, starting a studio is not just ... You should be ready, what to expect." And the responsibilities and stress that comes with it.
Jorge Canest: And I decided to go for it, and honestly, I don't regret it one minute.
Joey Korenman: That's awesome. So Victor, Jorge briefly touched on your role in this. Can you talk a little bit about, from your point of view, you're working with Jorge, I'm assuming on a freelance basis, what was it like when he started saying, "Maybe we should make this official, and turn this into a thing."
Victor: I think I started working more [inaudible 00:10:04] status with him in 2017, no it was last year 19, when I was hearing you were already, and I could definitely feel the difference from that beginning where, mostly him getting some jobs and like last year over to me or directing me to, help him out. And, like now with the full team, just the amount of projects, the way that he dresses are smart to just take decisions. And last week, he went away for a couple of days, and I was fine for us to just take care of things for a bit. So, I think a big part of it is just having Greg here too. So makes more like a team, like two people working together.
Joey Korenman: Right. So you just brought up a really good point, Victor, I've been very fortunate, through school motion to meet some very, very talented high level people. And sometimes it's really hard for them to let go and trust other creatives especially if, you're building something off of your reputation in the industry. So Jorge was that a turning point where you realized, oh, I've actually found some people that I trust, where I can leave for four days, and they can keep going. And it's still going to be, up to my standards when I get back.
Jorge Canest: It wasn't as smooth as that. But I think even Victor sometimes tells his story, and I'll just tell it for him, that the intro that we were working on for Ordinary Folk, we were working on it forever. So many designers touched it. And then, it was in process for forever. And I was sure, nobody else is going to animate it. This is my baby, this is like, I'll find the time and I'll make it cool. This just the way it's going to be,
Joey Korenman: I wouldn't have really blamed you. I get it.
Jorge Canest: But then I was like, what is it? Starting a studio with that mentality didn't seem quite right. And the more I work with these guys, and the more I started to trust them, I was like, that's just foolish, it didn't really make sense. Like if I really wanted to build a team, I start trusting my team. So when we started working together more, and I realized that we could be a team. I was like, this is going to be our first team project, to the world. And I'll just make sure to get them the best direction I can give them and, redo shots as we need to. And we all did that for our shots. Yeah, I think that was a good example where a little thing turn for me to start trusting this guys more.
Jorge Canest: The other thing that emerged is our authority for your feedback from freelancers. Do you think that that changed a lot as the studio grew into, more exciting?
Joey Korenman: That's really cool. So I'm gonna I want to dig a little bit later into how Victor and Greg came into the picture. Because, I think a lot of our listeners are... I guess I'll just use the word jealous of the job they have right now. But I want to talk about your studio Jorge. So, I just had the pleasure of interviewing Ryan Honey. And in that episode of our podcasts, he talked about the fact that Buck has about 250 employees right now. It's a very big studio, they try to keep everything in house. So, that is one model of a studio.
Joey Korenman: And then on the other hand, you can have a studio that's one person, and almost of what Erika Gora does, right, like Pep Rally is her studio, but she's the only full time person there. An Ordinary Folk seems somewhere in the middle. So, I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit about what kind of studio you want to build? Do you want, something that can grow to the size of a Buck? Or do you deliberately want to keep it small? Can you talk a little bit about what your vision is for it?
Jorge Canest: Yeah, that's a great question. Some of the things I also wrote down early on when I was doing that document, and then it's funny that you bring in Erika, because after her talk on Blend, last Blend, we had an awesome conversation, because I was like, you have the model that I want right now. And I asked her a bunch of questions and stuff like the solo studio thing. And it was, it was really eye opening. And initially, that's the route I was going for, which is like doing a solo project.
Jorge Canest: But I think kind of what I talked about earlier, is letting go of things helped me to open my eyes that I was in a way, limiting myself and other that model itself is limiting. But for someone like me, I felt it could have given more it just made more sense to me. And once I started doing it, it became easier. And in terms of the model that we want now, is I do intentionally want to keep it small to be able to... a few things, but one of them is like be able to control which projects we take in and be able to say yes or no to the projects that were more passionate or invested in.
Jorge Canest: And I definitely don't want to be a big Buck. Like, that's just too crazy for me. I mean, things could change in the next decades, I guess. If you asked me right now, I definitely want to keep it as small as possible. And that was part of the reason why I wanted to build a little team is, small team, there's complementing each other. And, being very cautious about not growing fast, because now I see the temptation, like projects coming in you having to say no, it's so much want to just grow it out and do more. And it's something that one needs to resist.
Jorge Canest: But the idea is to keep it small, and not this small, I think we're we still have room to grow for the core team. But generally keep it to a small size that is scalable as projects needs more freelancers, or designers or whatever that is, but having the core team same.
Joey Korenman: Cool. So, I was going to ask you about the team because I went through your site. And just about every project on there, has outside designers, Yuki Yamada, people like that, doing the design. And obviously you three are all amazing animators, and you're good designers too but you're working with outside designers on almost everything. And I'm wondering if that's, out of necessity, because you just don't really have a designer on staff yet? Or is that the point you want to have the flexibility to work with outside designers, do you envision growing to where you have someone on staff full time?
Jorge Canest: I think definitely we will need a full time designer eventually. So there's definitely a bit of that. But honestly, I feel like I have to say this without insulting us animators. Our animation skills can be applied to various styles, and still be able to maintain a certain quality. And, being three animators, and it wouldn't necessarily be the same way we had, say one designer. And things wouldn't be as broad in terms of style. So being able to work with other designers that we love, that we probably wouldn't be able to afford them full time. But we can afford them for a cool project.
Jorge Canest: It allows us our animations used to be very flexible, and it pushes us to different limits. So in a way, it is a bit intentional to be able to collaborate with as many other designers as possible. And one thing that I've learned is that, I feel like designers that are just focused on design can be a lot more... once you establish a certain direction or whatever.
Joey Korenman: You kind of pigeonhole yourself into that one style.
Jorge Canest: Yeah, exactly. But also, it's easier to establish consistent design with one person. And it's much harder to do that with say if I'm trying to point, if it was the other way around, we have three full time designers, and then just freelance animators. It's a lot harder to keep consistency of animators with people that you're constantly working on and off. I feel like I write the animation consistent, with us and then bring in freelancers as needed for the design aspect.
Greg: And I like what you said about it pushing us because I think, there's something to be said for... Yeah, I've grown a lot as an animator in the last six months because, we've worked with a lot of different designers and, some of them have been the same project to project and some of them it's a different designer or a couple different designers, every project and I think, that's pushed me and I think pushed us to push ourselves and, have to push the limits of what we think is possible in terms of what we can animate. And yeah, there's just something neat about always having to grow and problem solve. And so I think there's something I like about working with multiple designers.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, I think ideally, frankly, you could always work with outside designers, because then it's almost like you're going to the designer store, and you're picking out the one you want to work with and the one that's appropriate for this project. I'm just thinking about logistically, as you grow, how are you thinking about scaling the company, and obviously, you're you're not planning on being a 250 person studio. But even if you're a 15 person studio, I'm curious, Jorge, how you sort of envision the staff looking like, right now you have three animators and you have a producer, who's the next hire, who are the next three hires for you?
Jorge Canest: Yeah, that's a good question. So we're the producers actually not fully established yet. So that's what we're working on right now. But definitely the next hire, I would say that it will be a designer. Because we do want to keep the flexibility to be able to work with other designers as projects come, but we definitely also want someone who can, be part of the core team to help with projects that maybe have a quicker turnaround, or projects that have more of our voice? So, I would say probably the designer, and honestly after that, I don't even know. I feel like the core team of one design three animators and one producers seems right now, very comfortable.
Joey Korenman: You're done. You're done at that point.
Jorge Canest: At least for now, it's not even now you might like, the full time designer might not even be until later.
Joey Korenman: Cool. So let's talk about some of the nitty gritty stuff. So, are you guys doing the thing where you all work remotely, but you're full time together? Or is there an office? Like, what's the setup in terms of being on site?
Jorge Canest: So we have a co-working space here, and me and Victor are here every day. Greg is flip flopping.
Victor: Not in terms of my loyalty. So I'm still living in Minneapolis half time, which is actually where our producer lives. So that's kind of fun. And then I'm here the other half of the time, and eventually I'll be moving here. Sooner, hopefully,
Jorge Canest: Yeah. So he has that eventually will be here, in real person, because I think we will realize that as much as remote is super flexible and great, there's nothing like being next to each other.
Jorge Canest: Right. So, that's the goal, but where this co-working space is a whole bunch of other people here, like some architects, industrial designers, interior designers, and we'll be here until we don't have room for us, and which might be sooner than we think. With Greg coming back, and maybe the producer.
Joey Korenman: Nice, yeah. I bet you'll outgrow that. By the end of the year, that'd be my prediction. So we've, mentioned Buck already. And Jorge, you worked there. And as far as successful studios, not just in terms of that, they make a lot of money, but also their work is incredible, they have super loyal staff everybody wants to work for Buck, that's about as successful as you can be for a studio. And you actually got to work there and see what that's like.
Joey Korenman: So, I'm curious, now starting your own studio, what are some of the things that you took away from Buck that you either definitely want to do the same or that maybe you want to do differently for one reason or another?
Jorge Canest: Yeah, that's a good question. I was in your Buck, but I feel like it was different than what it is now. And it was a lot smaller, obviously. But the main thing that I gathered from Buck, it was just the quality of the talent there. Like every day I walked in, just looking over what people were doing in their computers, and just completely blown away and realizing, why am I doing here, literally, these guys are so much better than I am. And it's just that comparison, every day just in your face, it just pushed you really really hard to get better and better.
Jorge Canest: And that was definitely the number probably the number one thing that I liked about Buck, the talent they have is like no other. And the talent they bring, it's crazy and the stuff you learn from just working next to this people, this is ridiculous. And at the same time though, I felt like there wasn't that involvement as much definitely was, in the process from the beginning, that I enjoyed. And in comparison, that was probably my favorite thing about just being able to be involved with the process and helping out with the project from start to finish.
Jorge Canest: So I want to say trade off. But there were interesting, two aspects of those things. And I think what I would like to bring to Ordinary Folk is that, our talent hopefully will grow, and we'll get there. But ultimately, even though we want to aim to do the best work that we can, I almost rather create a studio in which we all really enjoy what we do, we really all hang out and that's part of the reason why the name, we're just ordinary people, doing our everyday deeds.
Jorge Canest: And I want to create an environment in which we all enjoy doing and being part of the process. And hopefully, we'll get to a level of excellence, maybe we won't get to the level of excellence of but but we'll definitely aim for it and even higher, but I don't necessarily want that to be the main goal. Because I feel like part of the whole idea of Ordinary Folk is that work is not the most important thing. And at the end of the day, in our deathbeds who's gonna care how many female likes we got for that piece you know?
Joey Korenman: Right, yeah, that's a great perspective. And I think it'd be cool if you tell everybody where the name Ordinary Folk came from, because I found it on your website. And I thought it was really cute. That's, the word that came to mind, I hope I didn't offend you.
Jorge Canest: Honestly we actually find out the true origin [inaudible 00:26:08]. And we're not telling people. So originally, it's from a quote from the Hobbit.
Joey Korenman: See, cute come on, how is that?[crosstalk 00:26:21]
Jorge Canest: Initially, we thought, Oh, cool. We're gonna have a J.R.R. Tolkien quote, as part of our company name. And it was actually, Peter Jackson's take on a quote from Tolkien. Like it's not fully Tolkien, it's inspired by Tolkien and taken by[crosstalk 00:26:39] really, Peter Jackson. But we're not telling anybody that but I guess I already said.
Victor: Everybody listening to this pod.
Joey Korenman: No one listens to this podcast.
Jorge Canest: I was reading a book actually, can't remember what year it was, but it's called stories we tell. And it was a Christian book. And it's basically a perspective on everything and every story that has ever been told, and kind of going different genres, and how each of those genres, in a way echoes the redemption story of the Bible. And adores the end this he has a there that talks about our job as artists and, he talks about this quote, we're not here to save the world or to change it, there's someone else that is doing that for us. But that doesn't mean that we don't do our everyday part. And we read diligently our callings, or whatever I'm doing our Ordinary Folk things.
Jorge Canest: And I was like, this is a really cool idea. And I really liked this and had a nice ring to it. And I was like, this is a good name for a studio. So I kept it in the Buck burner and bought all the domains. And thinking about, ordinary that CEO, which hopefully will use it eventually. But that's how it came to be from that quote. I can't even quote it properly. Victor can you go to properly?
Greg: I think, it should be a company requirement to be [inaudible 00:28:06]
Joey Korenman: Yeah, you should probably have to hold a lit match upside down and recite it before you burn yourself. Almost like a fraternity, I think that would be the way to do it. That's awesome. And it's a really cool story, especially the part about it not actually being a Gandalf quote, which is what it says on your website.
Jorge Canest: What is Gandalf or it is about George Morgan?
Joey Korenman: Yeah, right, Gandalf, it came from it. So I do love the name. And knowing you a little bit Jorge, I think it really fits. Because you're a very humble guy, as much success as you've had, you still are a pretty normal guy, in person. So, I want to talk about the... I told our school motion alumni group that we're going to be talking with you guys, and not surprisingly, there was a lot of questions about, how are you so good?
Joey Korenman: So, I'm going to ask you some of the questions from them. And the first one actually, refers to something that Greg said, and I don't know where you said this Greg, maybe in conversation or something. But one of our team members, Ryan Plummer said that you have said, Greg, that every frame is important and has to look good. So I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit about that. And then talk about how do you implement that idea when you're animating something, especially the kind of complex stuff you guys do?
Greg: Right. I think I said that in the behind the key frames interview that actually I did with Ryan so[inaudible 00:29:45] remember that. And I think the context of that was, I was describing the first time that I come up here and worked with Jorge and Victor and had like frame by frame feedback over the shoulder, like, Oh, I don't like this frame doesn't look good. And I think what I was struck by, was the heart behind that is like the intention of like, we want the quality of this to be really good.
Greg: And I think philosophically, a good animated piece, it shouldn't be like style frame transition style frame transition. And so to that end, you don't want to just be paying attention to the the style frames that you're animating, but how you're getting in between them. So I wouldn't say that every frame is equally important. And there's certainly places that where it's more important that there's going to be more attention on a certain part of the screen that it's more important for those, I guess, like frames to look good.
Greg: And what I meant by that was, I'm going to watch through this entire three minute thing frame by frame and make sure that everything looks equally good, because I think that, that's looking at the leaves on the trees and not the whole forest. But I mean, I think quite simply that gets implemented in attention to detail. But I think more than that is knowing what details matter most, then got something I'm definitely learning, I tend to... Yeah, I have a proclivity to pay too much attention to the tiniest details and sometimes miss more important things.
Greg: But I think that's where having a team is really important. Because other people can say like, dude, move on. We need to push this part a little bit more, or what if we killed this all together, and I think that's one of the things I'm most grateful for about being part of this team is having the guys that I work with, having being able to get feedback and encouragement and feedback from them.
Greg: Yeah, so I think it's a discernment thing, sometimes you have deadlines and other projects going on, and you can't spend a million hours on five seconds. But sometimes, it's really important, you just have to know, where the most strategic use of your time and effort is.
Joey Korenman: I'm thinking back to when I still did client work. And I would go into studios, and I had that same experience where I would get, say to style frames, and I would animate from A to B. And A and B looked great, but what was in the middle was just kind of stuff and being told like, know that, the part in between the part also has to look good. And then eventually, after years of that, I gained the ability to sort of detect that myself. So, are you finding Greg, that now, you can almost hear Victor Jorge's voice in your head a little bit? I know they're not going to like that frame right there but I fixed it?
Greg: Yeah. It's not a bad thing. I respect their opinion. So I wouldn't want to not have their voices in my head. But at the end of the day, we don't want to make pretty powerful PowerPoints, fancy transitions in between slides, like you want to make something that flows well. And so things that, I think it can be one friend can throw that flow off. And so it's not like, again, you have to watch every frame individually. But is it taking away from the bigger thing that's happening?
Greg: And I think I first heard that in one of the shots I was working on for the Bible project piece where it was this world building on and there was a couple, there was one frame at the beginning where we could see the dot and Jorge suggested just like, cutting the dot off on that one layer, or that one frame, and all of a sudden is like, Oh, this like, somehow feels a little bit more cohesive now. And something that was, honestly the first time I'd ever had feedback like that, but not just your animation sucks. But that wasn't what was said, but this is taking the concept. And yeah.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, there's a level of detail that you don't even know exists until someone pointed out to you, at least, I mean, that's how I felt when I started working with studios that had was a way better taste than me. And made me realize you can just frame by frame things you literally can put a key frame on every frame and make it look exactly the way you want. And now that's counterintuitive, I think it's After Effects artists anyway. And that's one of the things that I noticed early about Jorge's work that made me like it. So, that's really cool.
Joey Korenman: Another question that came up, and I feel like this is almost a softball. This is just someone just tee off on this one. But I want to ask it, because I want you guys to say it out loud. It seems the student who asked this was wondering if their work even has the potential of being beautiful and high level looking, given that they're early in their career, and they're not working with Volvo, and Ted, and doing the CNN color pieces and things like that. They're not working with big clients and stuff like that, right? Maybe they're working for the local car dealership.
Joey Korenman: So do you have to sort of wait until you're at a certain point in your career, before you can start to do the really kind of conceptual well design stuff that that you guys are doing?
Jorge Canest: Good question.
Joey Korenman: Moving on.
Jorge Canest: No, I think I would echo that. Like, I feel like, one advantage that we have for so as that started motion way back is that, it was like, a fun thing and we were just playing around with it and learning by accident in so many ways. There wasn't that pressure to do amazing work, right aways within a year. I've been animating for well, personally open flash, I was nine.
Joey Korenman: Four years?
Jorge Canest: No, it's 18 years, I guess, since I first put a key frame in my life unlike us, that's a long ways. Like it's not something that you just get by and that's when I give talks or whatever the few times I've done is my favorite thing to show is my demo reel, only crappy stuff I do the first years, because it's crappy, and it's fine. I also think one thing that I like feeling beautifully done sometimes they're referring to know so much about how things move and how things look.
Jorge Canest: And that's one thing, I feel like a lot of motion designers have this expectation that if you want to be a good motion designer, you are going to need to know how to be a UTM auto design, and a great steward of animation or whatever that is. And the reality is that, most people like us, we're example and, none of us are really that great at animating, at design. We can get by, but we depend on people that are way better than us at design. And I feel like working with an inspiring design with a team that is better than you, helps you to see, okay, maybe I don't suck as much as an animator, if that's what you're focusing on. Because you can make this design move in an interesting way, but the design already is cool.
Greg: Yeah. I would never say that they're completely separate, that the client or project that you like the nature of the project that you're working on, has no bearing on, the quality of work that you can do, I think sometimes, the reality is you're limited by budget or by time or like some subjects just, which is totally subjective, but frankly, they just might not be that interesting to you. And so, it might be hard to push yourself to do something, for me, cars are cool, I guess. But it would be hard for me to say I'm really passionate about selling cars. And so therefore be hard for me to put all of myself into it.
Greg: But I think that you can still definitely do. Even if the designs that you've been given or that you've made aren't top-notch, you can still put 100% of the abilities that you do have into it and, as long as you keep doing that in wherever you're at in your career, or whatever team you're working with, you can continue to push your abilities and your skills to a place where you grow. So yes, definitely you can do beautiful work, regardless of who you're working with but it certainly like I said, the work I've done has gotten a lot better working with Jorge and Victor than I was doing before. And the clients that we're working with, who give us a lot of creative freedom, or that we're frankly, we're passionate about what they're doing. And so we want to make it something that's really beautiful.
Joey Korenman: So this leads perfectly into the next question, Greg, thank you for that perfect setup there. Right now I'm on your site. And I'm looking at a project that, I don't know, maybe you guys were really passionate about the product, but it's called Web Flow is the client, it was an e-commerce spot. And it is gorgeous. It's like we're going to link to it in the show notes everyone go watch it, the product and the client are your standard web kind of technology thing. And it's a video explaining what it is. But it's so pretty, the designs amazing, of course Yuki designed, it just was name on there.
Joey Korenman: And the three of you animated on this. And what I wanted to ask you about this one specifically is that it is there are so many pieces to it, the design is pretty complicated. And even, just the amount of elements on screen would make this complicated but then there's also, tons of gradients and interesting masking that you guys are doing. This is the thing that, I think Ordinary Folk will probably be known for like really beautiful complex animation, you're very, very good at it. And sometimes when I used to have to do stuff like this, and I would get some storyboards with 100 things on it. And I know that this thing's going to need an alpha Matt, and this thing's going to need a mask and, it's like overwhelming.
Joey Korenman: Thinking about the amount of work it's going to take just to animate it, and then to go back and polish it and make it feel good. So I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit about what your process looks like, for building out shots that are super technical. And the context behind this question was that, a bunch of our alumni were saying you know that they have ADHD or some variation of that and it's very hard for them to get started sometimes. There's this mountain in front of them that they have to climb, and they're afraid to take the first step and yet, if you're running a studio, you have to consistently do that. So I wonder if you could talk about how you approach, really complex stuff that you guys do.
Victor: I think a big part of it is just the breaking the piece into smaller pieces. So if I see a scene that has a lot of elements, but maybe first a mock up the camera movement, so I know roughly how long each element will be on the screen. And I know roughly where it's going to be and what's going to happen. And then we start maybe from the bigger than the most important elements. So we're slowly building the scene from scratch right? So and as we spend more time and we have time to do particularly tales, we start refining stuff. And it's very important to pay attention to every single element that isn't there, but not at the same time. They just go well not all the beginning.
Jorge Canest: Yeah, I think echoing what Victor said, I think process is where it becomes so important here. Because you are going to keep in mind, it's not like we've been handed this style frames and then go right, we've been involved especially for this workflow and so, Greg, there's some initial, like thumbnail things, and then we build upon that. And then those were the skeletons that you can use to build upon that. And then we're all working from scratch, and we're all seeing it evolve. So by the time we see a style frame like this, we're like, okay, we know what's going to happen, we still have no idea how to pull it off. But we have an idea of the concept and what needs to happen.
Jorge Canest: And one of the main questions that we ask among each other is like, how would you build this? Just like, it's problem solving and there was like, Well, you could do and there's like five different answers, I think the five of them could work. And for example, this workflow has, I would say 30% shots entirely in cinema. And I like to think that some of them, you wouldn't be able to tell because I could have been done in After Effects or cinema, and there was an awful lot of gradients we put in half to make it look like 3D It's just taking the advice steps breathing apart following the process.
Greg: Yeah, and I think we all did different shots and we all use different tools in the shots. I am definitely afraid of cinema. I think I've opened it twice, probably a good time to plug see for the Boot Camp.
Joey Korenman: I was going to say I know a guy [inaudible 00:43:16].
Greg: Most of my shots were all two and a half D or sort of fake 3D in After Effects. I think I used element on a couple things. Victor I was working on part of this remotely, so I don't even know if I assume that half his shots were in cinema and most of them like that one I think their element, right? Or there's a couple of them that I thought was...
Victor: Yeah, I think we do it two or three, maybe three of them were maybe cinema. But even those ones are very simple, simply built.
Greg: Yeah it looks simple.
Victor: Because, most of the work was done with match in After Effects, just like the shadows and the box I got from cinema.
Greg: But I think this is in Austin Shaw's designed for emotion. But it's something that's stuck with me is the idea of the creative process being a funnel. And so you're starting with broad things and getting more and more specific and detailed as you go on. And I'm sort of maybe projecting how I wish, I put things more if you remember operating into the D because I the details are the fun cool things. And that's where you want to release I want to spend most my time.
Greg: But I think it is really important to block in your big movements first, because those are the things if you start in all the other little details, and you have to change the timing, or the voiceover needs to change, you're kind of hosed. Because then to go and change all those hundreds of key frames is a huge pain in the butt. But when you're working with literally like a 2D style frame that's just still in a camera, you're working with four or five key frames and if you need to move the time, it's really no big deal.
Greg: So I think really starting with the questions of what's most important here, and then working all the layers of details on top of that, and not like I got overwhelmed, but I looked at the style frames for this piece. For real I was like, I don't know, I'm going to do this but starting with what seems manageable, okay, I can bring it, I can bring a JPEG into After Effects and animate that camera. I can do that, that's a place to start.
Greg: Okay, I know how to break up a Photoshop thing into layers. And so I think just breaking things into bite sized chunks that seemed manageable and baby stepping it through, makes it so that things that might feel overwhelming initially or look overwhelming. They're not really once all that bad once you get into it.
Jorge Canest: Yeah, sorry, Victor was going to say something before I forget.
Victor: And just that it all goes back to the whole process of animation. If you talk to somebody that has never ended in your life, they wouldn't know where to start. But being here, we know that they're all starts with scripting, and then goes to storyboard then like Tayo frames. And it's the same thing with animating a single shot, like you go from the basics and improve as you go.
Jorge Canest: Yeah. And I think one thing I also want to add is, and bring the fact that I have an animation background as the main background I have, I try to make sure that we have enough time, because I feel like that's one thing that can be very tricky, Well, sure you can do all that. But who has the time to spend three weeks in a shot? And the answer is like, we need to make time for that like, we if you want a shot to have the level of complexity and detail you want it's going to take time, the interest shot that Greg did, which is the first what, 10 seconds of the piece, how long did it take from start to finish?
Greg: A couple weeks, that was like a week, maybe?
Jorge Canest: Yeah.
Greg: And it was a 10 or 15 seconds but yeah.
Jorge Canest: Yeah. So, I think it's like being like, that's in a way, my responsibility to me make sure that there is enough time for shots and chicken with the guys was like, okay, how many shots are you going to take, we assign all the shots from early on, and we plan it out so that we know that we have this much amount of time to work on the shot and because we could keep working on it forever, right? I never done.[crosstalk 00:47:23]
Joey Korenman: Yes, this is actually a big part of what Sondra teaches in his advanced motion methods class, because with the advice you guys just gave is amazing. When you see the final product, unless you've actually worked on something this big before you don't realize that what you're seeing is probably version 30. And you're on step 10 of a long process that gets you there. Yeah and this is something I'm always curious about to like, I remember, early in my career, when I wasn't as comfortable with the tools I use, and I would get a style frame and there would be this feeling of dread, I have no clue how I'm going to do that. I don't even know if I can do that.
Joey Korenman: And then eventually, I got to a point where I sort of had enough tricks up my sleeve where I was like, I can always brute force this, there's always a way to do it. And I'm curious if the three of you feel that way? Yeah, like, do you ever get something where you truly feel that fear and you don't know how the hell we're going to pull this off? Or was there a point where you're like, you know what, push comes to shove, I can literally just you shape layers and make it look this way?
Jorge Canest: Yeah, I think I want to say that, I want us to have that feeling the least amount as possible. We know exactly how we're going to do something, and we're doing something wrong. I think part of the way that we know that we're growing is being terrified. Like right now we're about to start to project and we are no idea what they're going to look like.
Greg: Nothing scary Jorge.
Joey Korenman: I love it.
Jorge Canest: But it's terrifying and it's not just about the animating aspect, we're trying to figure out what the whole day is going to be about. And I think like the moment that we know exactly what's going to be and we can easily pull it off and we're getting too comfortable.
Greg: Right. It's like if you didn't feel anything when you were lifting weights, you're not going to get stronger, or I don't know. Yeah, I mean, the first time I ever worked with, Victor I don't know if you guys remember, it was this video for crossing that Peter Voss had done all the illustrations for, and the illustrations was incredibly detailed. And they sent me for books, and I literally was just like, I have zero idea how I'm going to do this. And I think we're on I was on a call with Victor and Jorge he just said, well, if you want to work with us, you have to get used to it. And I was like, alright, cool.[inaudible 00:49:51]
Greg: It really wasn't that bad once I started, but I hadn't felt that but before last year, I literally have no idea how to this can happen.
Jorge Canest: That's amazing.
Victor: That's definitely part of every project. But there's also this feeling where, I know I can count on Jorge and Greg, help me figure this out.
Jorge Canest: Greg and I have no idea yet. [inaudible 00:50:14]
Victor: I think it is really important, we feel that too, we want to we pursue feeling that on projects, because we want to keep making stuff that's challenging us to get better. And if you're not feeling a little bit of that at the beginning of something then, you're not working on something that's going to challenge you to push your skills.
Joey Korenman: That's beautiful. I love that. Actually, I do love that, I don't do client work anymore. And that's, that's probably the thing I miss the most is that feeling. And then the joy of figuring out how the hell to actually pull it off. I mean, that's to me, that's what got me into motion design in the first place was like, those puzzles you have to solve. That's really fun.
Joey Korenman: So I have another sort of minutiae question that came up, which is, when you're working on really complex shots, I mean, the way I always like to do it is to put headphones on and literally, I don't want another human to look me in the eye or touch me or talk to me for six hours, because I need to be in the zone, I have to have the entire comp in my head. So I can move around freely and do it. And some people can't do that at all they need PAMA Dorros and they work for 20 minutes, and then they take a break. I'm just curious how you guys end up working?
Victor: I like to focus too but I also like to here something in the Buck, a podcast or even a YouTube video in the car on the screen.
Jorge Canest: Smartphone.
Victor: But it also depends on the scene, especially if I have to write an expression, I have to speak more detail thanks or maybe math, it also depends like in the part of the scene I'm working on. Sometimes we're in a mode where we're just filling gaps, and we don't have to think that much. Sometimes we need to really think through stuff. So, maybe I am there is something playing on that, but I'm not paying attention to everything. It's not rare that I go back upon minutes, even the same token, but yes, because you don't pay attention at all.
Jorge Canest: Yeah, I feel like mine has evolved throughout the years. I was definitely more like you. And I think that's those my preference like, just get into flow, don't talk to me, don't touch to me, don't do anything let me just animate this stuff. But obviously, as you can imagine, that's become like.
Joey Korenman: It's impossible now.
Jorge Canest: Yeah, and incredibly difficult.
Victor: [inaudible 00:52:49] emails us the direction.
Jorge Canest: So I think I just made my piece and actually, not just me my piece, but actually enjoy the fact that I know that I'll be directing and giving feedback and even dealing with clients, maybe 60% of my day. And maybe they'll be one day for them. But then try to carve time to be able to have, maybe it won't be six hours, but at east I'll be able to let it block three hours of just saw that animation. And I'm cool with that.
Jorge Canest: And I think it depends why at what stage in the process that is if we're in the middle of a project, then we know that we're saying no to everything, because we're fully slam then there's a chance for the three of us to be six hours non stop just animating and that's nice flow moments happening. But for me, it's just being okay with all that flexibility that sometimes they won't happen at all, I won't have any flow that day. But then hopefully I'll start thinking about it so that the next day I can come back to it.
Greg: I'd say it's probably evolved for me too. But something that really changed the way I thought about work was reading the book, Deep Work. Have you heard of that Jorge?
Jorge Canest: Great book, excellent book.
Greg: Yeah, I think that everyone should at least I mean, you can get it on Audible or read it. But it just talks a lot about the human brain and how we're wired and how attention works. And I mean, my something that I took away from it was just the idea of removing distractions. Even if it's for a short period of time, it's more efficient, you're likely to be more efficient if you have half hour of uninterrupted, uninterrupted time, or at least where you know, you're not going to be interrupted, as much as possible.
Greg: So for me, sometimes that looks okay, I'm going to check my email and I get in, and then I'm not really going to look at it or have notifications on for a couple hours. If I can afford to do that that day. Or I'm going to quit slack for the next 30 minutes to focus on this so that I don't have things popping up or notification sounds going on in my head.
Greg: Yeah, I think sometimes my preference is to have a couple hours. But even just I found that it's helped me to have even short bursts of time where I can really focus intensely and I know I'm not going to be or I'm not likely to be interrupted.
Joey Korenman: There's a really great essay that, this famous Silicon Valley guy, Paul Graham wrote called makers schedule, manager schedule, will link to in the show notes, if you guys haven't read it, you should read it, especially you, Jorge, because you are moving, for sure into the management role. And it talks about that a lot of the things you guys just brought up. So I want to talk about something that is fascinating to me, honestly, and that is how Ordinary Folk, but also Jorge, and Greg, like on your personal websites, you were very very open about your faith.
Joey Korenman: And, I can understand that on a personal level, that's that's who you are, it's important to you. But on Ordinary Folks website, you're referencing your faith in God and things like that, which is not very typical, I can't think of another studio that's done that. And so, on top of that, a lot of the work that you've done, I mean, some of the most beautiful things you guys have done, are sort of faith based, right, related to the Bible and stuff like that. So I'm curious if you could talk a little bit about that, are those clients drawn to you? Or are you seeking them out? How does how does faith play a role in Ordinary Folk?
Jorge Canest: Yeah, good question. I think we'll start from your last question. Initially, me, actually, we're all unintentionally, it wasn't like we set out to be like this, we're all Christians, I don't believe in the idea of a Christian studio. But I do believe that we can, have beliefs and that the by any means, that means it is a requirement, it just can't happen to be like that. But, I always wanted to do some work like that and even some of the ways that I started doing motion were for some, like, very crappy stuff that I did, or my church back in the day and that got me into it. And being able to do stuff like that, that is very close to my heart. And do what I really think is important, it's one of the most satisfying things that you can do as an artist.
Jorge Canest: And, so in years ago, I started reaching out to different ministers or whatever that I really liked. And, it was like, Hey, I know how to make videos, I would love to do something for you. And, well, this one was back in the day. And a lot of times, they just didn't reply and actually, Stephen was one of the persons that reply an email I sent, I think it was two or three years later, he replied, Oh you sent an email [inaudible 00:58:00] is there something? We never check this? And oh, yeah, we need a video right now type thing. And it was okay.
Jorge Canest: One other thing is, there's this idea that, especially, a lot of faith based art. There's this idea that it needs to be like, a fancy, like tract, and I don't believe that's the case, I believe we can do beautiful art, but it's not necessarily directly related to that, and we're still using our gifts. But a lot of the art that is out there that is related to ministries like this, or that it's dealing with is honestly terrible.
Jorge Canest: And I love music but honestly, Christian music is, how what percentage of that is actually good music. And that applies for many other areas of art. So I will definitely want it to be bring that same sense that we wanted to do quality stuff for other ministries, that organizations or even personal things that we want it to have the same level of standard because I mean, why not? And honestly, it was way back, the reason why churches were so magnificent and beautiful.
Jorge Canest: It was a close relationship with art and I feel like we've lost that. And I definitely want to be able to bring that back in some ways, and what better way to do it through our studio on our work. So yeah, I guess that's one answer.
Joey Korenman: That's actually really cool. I didn't put that together and that does make a ton of sense. And it's funny because, I live in Florida. And there's a lot of really big churches around me, and they have rock bands and projections, during their services, and it's this really cool, fun scene. But then I'm Jewish, if you go to a Jewish synagogue, it is the total opposite. It is like you're wearing a suit and tie, you're sweating underneath.
Joey Korenman: And there is no rock band, and I always wish that someone would take, this the awesome production value that churches are doing and bring that to a synagogue so, I love that idea, you're taking your talent, and you're saying, Listen, religion needs a little bit of a design refresh here, we need to need it.
Victor: That's awesome.
Jorge Canest: Yeah, there was a famous religion that talked a lot about art and Christianity and the relations with it, and how it's been separated when in theory, if we truly believe what we believe, we believe that anything that is true, anything that is good, and anything that is beautiful, points to the Creator. And so aiming to do beautiful and good and true, is what we want to do.
Joey Korenman: You'd want to almost more new beautiful things to do, if you believe that.
Jorge Canest: Right.
Joey Korenman: Cool. So, let me ask you this, though. So that makes total sense to me. And that's a really beautiful, sort of, like, personal philosophy to guide you. And clearly is like, guided you well. I'm curious though, why did you decide to make it so public, like on the about page of Ordinary Folk? And the reason I ask is just because, I think the common wisdom would be well, you're an animation studio focus on that keep your religion out of it. But you didn't you probably put it on there. And I'm curious if you know, what was that decision like, you know?
Jorge Canest: Yeah, it maybe stands out more, because it's Christian and it's a lot less common, but they knew one artist, or motion designer who hasn't brought in their beliefs into their work, whether its political beliefs, or whatever that is, it's part of what we do, and artists an expression of who we are. And a lot of the times is commercial stuff so you might obvious, but I feel like, we always have the desire to use why we love doing to bring in whatever that is that we believe whether, whether that is I don't even know, any kind of belief in many ways. So if I truly believe that the most important thing in my life is to glorify God, how could I keep that from my work?
Greg: What would anybody believes about anything, whether it's directly or indirectly religious is going to, like, if you can't help, but that's going to influence what projects you take on? Or what projects you feel most excited about? And I don't think that's bad. I think that, especially the people who are in our industry have a huge, I don't know that responsibility, but sort of, because we're the projects that we choose to work on, you're helping companies, look cool, and draw attention to their message.
Greg: And so I think, everyone has the right and to some extent, the responsibility to ask themselves, do I feel passionate about this or is this something I can really get behind? And I know, other artists have talked publicly about turning down big name clients, because they didn't feel excited about their work. And so, for me, at least, I think the things that I get most excited about working on are, honestly, videos like the Bible project, where we get to do something that's really beautiful, artistically, but also has a message that's close to my heart.
Greg: And obviously, within that, I don't impose that on everybody else, but I hope that other people get or to the extent that they can choose projects that they can be excited about, not just artistically, but philosophically or whatever that person.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, I think that's the ideal situation is that you can find clients that line up with your worldview and what you find important, and then you really can put everything in. Yeah, I mean, it's really interesting talk to you guys about this, because I think that I have a tendency to look at almost everything through the business lens first. And so the reason I keep asking this is because to me, I would be nervous, to put what you guys have put on your about page simply because I would think, well, some clients are going to read that, and then they're going to think that, we're going to want to inject the Bible or God into their work or that I could see there being a bias and this could be completely imagined by me.
Joey Korenman: But I'm curious, was that were you worried about that at all? Do you care that maybe some client reads that and they're too churchy for me, I'm gonna pick a different studio?
Jorge Canest: Okay with that, I can live with that. Yeah, so like I said from the beginning, work is not the most important thing for us. And if even something awful happens, and nobody wants to work with us because we at least maybe I should speak for myself, I know what this thing is. [inaudible 01:05:22] because of what I believe, then I'm okay with that.
Greg: Yeah. Only familiar, I don't want every single project I do know some Christianity thing. I think I've you my first job out of school was at a church and so that was like, you think Joe, even in the freelance Manifesto, they're the spectrum of jobs that pay nothing, but you have all the creative freedom, and then jobs that pay well, and you don't have that sort of the no man's land in between. I think a similar spectrum exists when it comes to your level of passion. And if all you're ever doing is things were, you have you feel some sort of religious fervor, or pressure to do something, and put all of your heart and soul into it, that's really exhausting, you know, I've felt burnt out when I've been in that world.
Greg: And so it is really refreshing to I'm going to work on something totally separate from or apparently totally separate from that or I don't really have to think about religion in this project. So I think it is like I wouldn't want to be all in one of those camps.
Jorge Canest: And I think for lack of a better word, a Christian work ethic doesn't mean inserting the violin through everything you do, and in many ways, the way we call that is really just a good work ethic. It's a good excellence and do the best you can and treat people well and that doesn't mean that I'm going to put hidden Bible messages and videos, although I know people are have done that.
Joey Korenman: Really.[crosstalk 01:07:03] You should.
Jorge Canest: But that's not how will see it. I do what I was saying about the truth I couldn't beautiful and excellent. It is not about, the words that we do directly related with, Christianity are very explicit. Those means that everything else is a little bit sneaky, no not at all. We're going to do the best work we do with whatever project that is.
Victor: And it's also we care deeply about these things, but they're not all we care about. We also technology and other stuff. So we do our best with those things, too.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, I want to say thank you guys for being so frank about this, because it's a really interesting topic to me. Frankly, I wish I had the conviction because that you're so open about this is important to me, I'm not going to hide it even though there are social pressures to sometimes not talk about your religion and stuff, that let's be honest so, I think it's amazing. And the clearly the clients that are coming to you and the work speaks for itself. So just want to say thanks for getting into that with me.
Greg: Well, I think it's awesome to hear what other people believe too, I think that's where maybe one of the bummers about social media, I guess, is a whole other conversation. But I think that some of that conversation is lost. And I think I love hearing about what other people believe in how that impacts the lens they see the world through or how that impacts their art. And I think that being open about it, what I believe on the front end sometimes facilitate helps open those conversations a little bit.
Victor: Yeah, thank you to give it as a speech.
Greg: I just think often things happen when we learn from each other.
Joey Korenman: Except on Twitter. So, I want to talk to Greg and Victor now. When I write these questions, just so everyone listening can have some context. I try to give little themes to groups of questions and this theme is MoGraph dream job. Because I've heard from some of our alumni that Greg, Victor, you both have the dream job, you get to work with Jorge, who is a lot of people's favorite animators and you're doing amazing work and you're learning.
Joey Korenman: How the hell, did you pull that off? And it may be one at a time, let's start with Victor, how did you end up working with Jorge and then eventually becoming full time at Ordinary Folk?
Victor: Yeah, it's a bit of a long story, but I'll try to sum it up for you. So a few years ago, maybe 2014, a documentary course. And a good bit after that Michael Jones refer me to Jorge to work on the piece was pulling together, a bunch of animators, the biggest story. So, that's when we started working together, and after that he started calling me for some small jobs here and there. And eventually, in after one of those jobs that he randomly said that he wanted to open a studio, if I'd be interested in helping him talk about it.
Victor: So I think I was just blown away and What is he talking about? Is he being serious or what? Is it a joke? What's going on? So I wanted to talk to him more about it and we chatted, and he was like, maybe a year from now or something, we can do something.
Jorge Canest: Very hesitant back then.
Victor: Yeah, right. So the very next day, another company they were working on this web series called alpha, and they wanted somebody to come here and work with them for four months or so. But coincidentally or not, these four months and plus the time before it happened would be exactly one year after our talk. So I thought maybe you should go there and see what happens.
Victor: So, I talked to my wife, and we were recently married. But we know from some time ago that if I would like to grow my career and not work alone my house anymore, I wouldn't have to go abroad somewhere. So we thought would be a good opportunity to just like few how will be to leave a different country. So we came here and after this four months, it worked out that I could work with Jorge, for another year until he opened the studio, and here I am.
Joey Korenman: So were you in Brazil during all this?
Victor: Yeah, I was in Brazil via working him before, I came here about three years ago.
Joey Korenman: That's amazing.
Victor: But we were working together even before that.
Jorge Canest: Yeah [inaudible 01:12:15]. Just helping, it was the Bible project that we did, was like work with pretty much every animator that was willing to help.
Victor: The biggest story.
Jorge Canest: The biggest story sorry. And he helped with that and then we really like the stuff that he was doing, and he has I really Victor is one of those guys that will work hard without complaining and just make it happen, and he's got an incredible work ethic and admire that, and it was great working with him. So we just kept I just kept making him my go to Freelancer when I needed extra animators, and then eventually just made a pre criminal answer he was saying and became a full time.
Victor: One thing that I remember now that they maybe help people to reach their dream jobs or whatever is a conscious that you're being hired to do a job. It's not ultimately, your vision to it. You have to make your director's vision happen. It's not like you're doing your best but you have to remember it's not your work.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, it's a team. And so Jorge, you mentioned that the work ethic was stood out to you, because what I was going to ask you next was, what did you see in Victor, versus all of the other animators that you've worked with over the years that you thought, this is someone that I'd like to hire full time?
Jorge Canest: Yeah, I mean, it's not going to work with that many others. I like sticking with people that were working past, but I'm a lot of the projects that we were doing, he was already involved and he was in Brazil, and he was available. So it's okay, let's just keep going and the more I work with him, the more feedback I gave him, I realized that he had all this, I don't want to say hidden skills, but in away like every project I work with him was something else that I hadn't seen from him that surprising and even to this day, he's like, Oh, I can do cel animation, I can do this super elaborate sketches, and whatever.
Jorge Canest: It's amazing, and then he was always ready to take it to the next level and he didn't hate me when I send him emails with very long notes. [inaudible 01:14:22] And then he does explain it and he got it and we clicked, and I guess that's kind of what I mean. He just was willing to get it done whatever it took, and or not whatever it took.
Joey Korenman: Everybody has limits, right. Victor it's so cool to see you end up here. So we're going to link to this in the show notes to you. A long time ago, we did a thing called 30 days of After Effects at School of Motion and I say we, there was no way that was just Joey. And part of it was at the end of the 30 days, I asked people to submit animations and we picked a few and critique them actually brought them over to my old haunts at Ringling, and me and the Ringling faculty critiqued three pieces and Victor's was one of them and I forgot about a console yesterday, when I was preparing for this.
Joey Korenman: So that's amazing and it's pretty cool, because now everyone can go watch that thing you did five years ago, and see how much you've improved in five years, which is astounding man.
Victor: Yeah, I still really like that these. I can see how I proved and how it's not that you're newer, but I still like it.
Joey Korenman: All right, Greg. So now it's your turn. I would love to hear how you ended up at Ordinary Folk.
Greg: It's still kind of crazy. I wake up every morning, I'm just like, what? [inaudible 01:15:51] No, no, not at all. It's like everyone wants to go work with this Ordinary Folk.
Jorge Canest: Just ordinary.
Greg: Yeah. I didn't actually like Korea, and I had never met until last summer. And ironically, I was actually born in Vancouver so this is moving back to the homeland for me. So I was coming I had just gone freelance a couple months earlier, and I think maybe Jorge and I had sent a couple of emails to each other. So he actually reached out a couple years ago, and I'd put out a piece when I was at open book and just to say, I really enjoyed watching this great job. And I remember falling off my chair when I got that. I mean, honestly, just meant a lot to me as an artist to hear from someone I respected and admired. So I was emailing him cold but there was a family reunion in Vancouver, and I wanted to write it off as a business trip.
Greg: So email [inaudible 01:16:56] like people in Seattle and say, can I get some meetings is on the calendar before the weekend. And Jorge was one of the people I emailed, and so we connected and I just really enjoyed chatting with him. And he had brought up that there might be a gig coming up with a Bible project and I was like, Oh, I have a Canadian passport and so, I thought maybe you could come up for a couple weeks. [inaudible 01:17:19].
Greg: I mean, I honestly was trying to write off the trip. But I also just wanted to meet him. And I wasn't expecting any work out of it, but he also told me about starting the studio, and I was like, Oh, that sounds cool. It's going to be exciting for other people to be a part of that. But I never would have dreamed that I would have actually been a part of it. And then, I think it was a couple weeks after that was when he reached out about actually working on something, which again, was like, Oh, okay, sweet.
Greg: And that was the one I mentioned with a Peter Voss illustrations which is I don't know how I'm going to do this. But I mean, honestly it just meant a lot to me to have the opportunity and so I just decided, this might be a one, I'm assuming imposter syndrome that I'm going to get this opportunity, I'm going to do a terrible job or he's going to see my CM a fake, and then never talked to me again.
Greg: And that was going to happen but I just decided, I really want to do the best that I can on this. And even if I never get to work with these people again, I want to be able to say I've left everything on the table after animating this thing. Yeah and that was fun. And yeah, then I ended up coming up in September, for the Bible project video about God, just funny because my background, my degree is in theology. So it's like I'm finally using my degree.
Greg: And a couple weeks in I think, that's a chat and I was like, Well, I'm about to be set home. And now I mean, it was like, he wanted to know, my plans were and I was like, I don't know. I had just been freelance, I guess, maybe five months at that point and didn't really have a long term goal it was what made sense to keep growing as an artist. And he just threw out the possibility of me joining the team. And just like, yeah.
Greg: I mean, there's more to it than that I had to think about it but he actually, shared that document that he mentioned about starting, his vision for starting the studio. And I came back to Minnesota and thought about it and read over that and I honestly, I feel this is Jorge's reasons for starting a studio. And what he wants to do with it are basically a lot of the same things that I want to do with my life. And so you know, I can get behind. Why behind this studio?
Greg: And honestly, I'd never been, that September project was the first time I'd been in house animator on a team of animators, part of that had been on, super talented teams, but just the only motion designer and so, I think just seeing I have so much more to learn and there's these awesome guys that I could learn a ton from, as artists and as people.
Greg: There's just like, yeah, I really want to do this. And I get excited about, helping build something and being a part of something as it's starting. So it just made sense, I guess.
Joey Korenman: And it worked out. And now you get to use your theology degree. That's fantastic.
Greg: That's hilarious [inaudible 01:20:46].
Jorge Canest: I would like to add, I don't know if I can emphasize enough how hesitant I was about, doing the job really, even when I already made up my mind that I had a name and all that stuff. It was still so terrifying, in a way. And, I also feel like I never set out to find Victor or Greg or Stephen. It kind of they all just reached out and one thing led to another. And in a similar way, that's happened to a lot of even the freelancers that we work with.
Jorge Canest: And it's in it, that always lands you a job by any means but it's been interesting, because it wasn't really until, I knew that Victor was in, and I had no idea when I was looking, okay, I want to hire, Greg, we got to take a lot more projects to be able to afford another animator can we do it, all these things, it was a very, very, very hesitant. But eventually, when I saw that we could work together as a team and all these things. We just all of a sudden we were a team, and I was like, when did this happen? It's like I gotta make this official.
Jorge Canest: It gets, let's just launch it and do it. And I think even now that we are, in a way, established studios in the sense that we're out there. I feel maybe now we will be more or I will be more strategic about how we grow the studio. We're definitely lacking a lot of things, we're lacking a lot of figuring out in the producing size and managing things, all the things that I've learning. I think we definitely could use maybe more diversity in our team we could use different[inaudible 01:22:47]. Yeah, we tried to work with as many people out there as possible.
Greg: In all different countries.
Jorge Canest: Oh, yeah, that's right. We only have one Canadian, and he doesn't even live here. But I think it's been interesting how it, I just got pushed into launching and without really being sure about it by just the people that were around me. And it's Yeah, we'll see how the next few years ago?
Joey Korenman: Yeah, I know that. I know that feeling man. It's scary to hire people and say, Yep, I'll pay you, you can count on that. I'll definitely always make payroll. Yep. So Jorge, I want to talk a little bit about the pre Ordinary Folk days because, it's really, it's really cool, because I've followed you, way before we ever talked. And, I think I probably saw something you did it Buck and that was the first time I'd heard of you.
Joey Korenman: And you're one of the first motion designers that I really remember thinking this person's famous, in our in a weird MoGraph famous way. And now having one percent experience of that of what you've experienced, I understand that, it's a big career advantage to have your name out there and stuff like that. It opens doors, so I'm curious if you could talk about, how did that happen for you? Was that intentional or did it just happened and then you're all right, well, I guess this happened now maybe I'll do something with it.
Jorge Canest: It was definitely not intentional. I feel it was all very much, even the whole process of me coming to Vancouver that I got a scholarship and all these things,it was all I don't know, what else? Well, the word on providential. It's crazy, it was definitely not, oh, I'm gonna be super active in Super social media, I'm gonna start doing this and that it was not like that, I was just enjoying what I was doing. I was trying to put the best animation I could put out there. And, of course, putting it out there, it's an important part but it was never my goal.
Jorge Canest: And I feel is crazy to me to the thing that my name is known in the Motion design world it's like, I have a huge list of people that I look up to, and if I were to put myself on that list, or probably the last one in there, and it's like, why don't you like his stuff better? You know, it's way better. But, it just happen. But it's amazing, we probably wouldn't be able to have a studio right now and being okay without that.
Jorge Canest: So I'm not complaining by any means and I'm very grateful because, I've had so many years of experience that when I started a city wasn't this random studio with this random person, I was able to fund, all the projects that were coming towards me directly into the studio. And that definitely had a lot to do with competence to start us to you. It was like, okay, we have something established here. So it's in a way, unfair to say that we're young studio, because we all have collective experience that it's more than a lot of new studio. But I don't know, it's crazy. I don't really know how to answer a question, it's weird.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, it definitely is weird. But I mean, it's obviously it's been helpful for you throughout your career, and I'm imagining that there's a little bit of a difference now that you're a studio. I mean, does the years of being featured on oceanographer and speaking at conferences and things like that? Has that carried over now to help bring work in for the studio? Or is it a different beast?
Jorge Canest: I think so. I don't honestly, so many inquiries that we have. I'm so curious to know where they're coming from.
Joey Korenman: You should ask them.
Jorge Canest: Sure, how did you find us? So I feel like a lot of it is just previous work that we've worked on and the future in different websites. I also think a lot of it has been an intention like just being able to have a course out there or posting a few things here and there that are helpful. It just gets passed around and all of a sudden, your name is out there and it's a happy consequence of helping others all of a sudden, it just makes your name louder.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, let's talk about that a little bit. So, first of all, I wanted to ask you what your thoughts were on the way social media is affecting our industry because I see a lot of artists now trying to replicate the name brandness that you have as Oh, and by the way, let me digress for a second. I've been saying JRCanest for years, can you clear it up? How are we supposed to pronounce that?
Jorge Canest: No, that's good, that's it.[crosstalk 01:27:52] Canest JR it's just a silly thing that I made in school to make my name shorter. Jorge Orlando canoes, take the first letters of my two names, and then combine the two last names. And they have it but yeah. You know, trying to phase out from it, right.
Joey Korenman: We need a new one. People's taken you can have that one.[inaudible 01:28:18]
Joey Korenman: Getting back to what I was asking was, I see a lot of pressure on people getting into this industry now they look up to artists, the ones that you've heard of tend to be the ones that are on social media, promoting themselves and doing things like that, which is very helpful. Is that necessary now? Is that just the price of getting your foot in the door, at a great studio or something like that? You need to not only be a good motion designer, but also have a personal brand?
Jorge Canest: Yeah, that's a good question because I feel like it can go either way. Some of our favorite designers that we were work with, there under the radar, how much activity you did you see up social media.
Joey Korenman: Right, yeah, good example too.
Jorge Canest: We've worked with Lena and Stephanie and they're out there, but I wouldn't say that they're putting all their work online, and it's easily find the will or whatever and those are some of the people that we like working the most with. So it's interesting, but at the same time, when it comes to getting client work, I feel like reaching out to a broader audience, I'm just rambling. But I guess what I'm trying to say is that, that's a tricky one, because present online presence does not equal quality of work.
Jorge Canest: I'm trying to get at and I feel you do need to put your work out there to get noticed but getting notice doesn't mean that you are amazing yet, that how I feel. When I see animators that I look up to and they're like, why don't they have so much more following I guess, that doesn't make sense to me?
Jorge Canest: But I think it's just going back to online presence does not equal quality. And I think as long as you know that, it's great to put yourself out there. But that doesn't mean that the people that are most active are the best, because that's definitely not true.
Joey Korenman: It's really interesting times man because people ask me for advice about that a lot. And I got into the industry around 2003 so many many years ago, and there was really no social media or I was very young back then. And I never thought that you needed it. And I'm also like a far bigger proponent of doing the outbound thing going to clients you want to work with and telling them directly about yourself, rather than trying to build a social media presence, and let people find you. And it's ironic, because now school motion has a huge social media presence and of course, we work hard to do it.
Joey Korenman: But back in the client work days it wasn't as important when I was doing it. Now it's just interesting and I think a lot of people are watching what you and Greg and Victor are doing right now. Because of your social media presence and how much notoriety you gained over the years while you were at Buck and Giant Ant and Freelancing. So I'm trying to see if there's any lessons people can learn from this, I guess you answered it already. Do you think that having that MoGraph fame made it easier to open a studio, is that right?
Jorge Canest: Yeah, I wonder neither. Definitely just in terms of pure logistical points that I knew if emails keep coming the same way they're doing maybe we'll be okay.
Joey Korenman: Maybe.
Jorge Canest: It is just that [inaudible 01:32:00] but I also think social media as a whole, so much of it is democratized, that quality is hard to find, as opposed to way back in the day, even when we had cream of the crop and oceanographer, it was there was an authority in a way that was like, okay, looking out and this is the cool stuff is a cool studios. And I think that's where in a way channels Wine After Coffee, or even school motion promoting whatever students they have that have done great work is very helpful.
Jorge Canest: Because sometimes I let we gotta be realistic about this to a lot of the people that are super talented, just don't have the confidence in the work. And I don't want to blame it on them. I also think that we have a responsibility to find good work and promote them. So there's definitely a lot of aspects of this conversation that I find very interesting, even just as to really Wine After Coffee.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, well let's talk about that a little bit, because that's another pretty big undertaking and Wine After Coffee, I am imagining is a decent size undertaking, but probably pales in comparison to Blend, which I'm assuming most people who are listening are aware of Blend which is about to have its third go around in Vancouver. And you've talked about in interviews and stuff like that, why you started Blend, but it might be good for everyone listening, just to hear a little bit about why you started it and then what has Blend done for Jorge's career? I know that's not why you started it, but again, you've talked about this a little bit, when you give back to people, it tends to bounce back at you almost like karma.
Jorge Canest: Yeah, well, so shortly Blend was really just an excuse to bring all our favorite animators into one conference. It's not like there wasn't one but we felt like we want to do a lot of things different so we decided to start one. And you were part of the first one you were host.
Jorge Canest: And it was a happy accident, we didn't know what was going to happen and the idea was simply that bringing the best people in the industry under one roof, and partly because we just want to meet them. And because so many people Wine After Coffee, we're already talking and being nice to each other and commenting and whatever critiquing work, they want to do it in real life. So, that was sole purpose of it. And it seemed like a fun challenge and I didn't really know this at a time, but I feel I take joy in building a team, and putting people together and just hanging out. And that's what Blended is just a big party with a bunch of animators I love hanging out with.
Jorge Canest: And in terms of how that's helped me, I think I'm intentionally tried to separate Blend from myself the same way that I never post a video of myself and Wine After Coffee, you do this there because someone else did it. Because, I don't want this to be a self promoting channel. I want them to be the things on their own that...because this Blend is not just me, Teresa is probably even more than me these days and then we have Sander and Claudio and there's so much that goes into it. And we all do it for the same reason that we just want to create a cool festival to hang out with people we like in motion design industry.
Jorge Canest: But you probably right, that has helped put my name out there as a curator of content, if you will. And maybe without realizing that's given me some, I don't want to say authority, but definitely a voice in the industry. And that's definitely helped to bring new clients and more projects and so on.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, I think from the outside, if someone had never interacted with you, they might look at you and say, Oh, you're some mastermind, because you've managed to achieve this giant social media presence and start a curatorial channel on Vimeo that's super popular, and start a conference and now you started your own studio. And it's just interesting to hear from your perspective. I mean, how much of your journey to this point, Jorge felt like, Well, that was lucky, Oh, that was lucky again, I shoot it happened again, or have you been driving the bus very deliberately this whole time?
Jorge Canest: No, I have not. That's a simple answer. It's also seems unfair, doesn't it? It's like, that's how I feel every morning. Completely unworthy of it.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, so even you have imposter syndrome. It's good to hear.
Jorge Canest: [inaudible 01:36:44] weekly depressions that's my wife, it's crazy. It's not the president, president was like, I'm lying in bed without even to sleep and was like why did I start a studio? What was wrong with me?
Joey Korenman: Yeah, it's funny, I wrote an article about that a while ago about chasing more. And because I'm the same way, I always think after this thing wraps up, I'm going to slow down, and then I'm just going to coast for a while. And I've never actually been able to do that. Hopefully, now that you're building a team, you'll find a way to step back every once in a while and let your team do the work. Although, I some how doubt that's actually what you'll do to be honest.
Jorge Canest: I know definitely it's longer than more responsibility. It's hard to just step out.
Joey Korenman: Yeah. So I only have a couple more questions for you guys. Thank you so much, you've been awesome, like super generous with your time. So Jorge, as you know, you're in the early days of Ordinary Folk, and you're going to hire a designer eventually. And the work is awesome and you seem to be good at bringing really great people together, not just talented, but also just really good people. And so I suspect you will probably be very successful and grow and eventually there'll be 10, 15 people.
Joey Korenman: So do you hope that you always are going to be able to sit and use After Effects and animate? Or do you see a day where you're really just a director and a mentor and managing teams?
Jorge Canest: Yeah, that's a good question. I was actually just chatting with the guy yesterday about that. And I think if you asked me even two years ago, if I ever saw myself stop by me, I would say get out of here, no way. I'll be my nightmare. And it's funny, because now is, I definitely just enjoy animating so much. But I feel like getting into all these new areas and unknown areas that I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy or whatever, and realizing that I had to enjoy them.
Jorge Canest: I think I always like to be involved in animating, you feel part of me, that's always going to be a certain creative output was client or personal work, because I just enjoy putting things in movement like that. But if I want point, like there's a week in which I don't want to meet anything, and I'm just working with amazing people around me and I'll be happy with that. But that's not me, I hope that that's on soon.
Joey Korenman: Ease into it. That's awesome.
Jorge Canest: Yeah, but this is something that I never thought I would say for example, and I'm changing.
Joey Korenman: Getting old, it's one hell of a drug. So Greg, and Victor, I think I said this already. There's a lot of people listening that are just you have their dream job, right. You're going to be living full time soon in Vancouver, which is an awesome city. You get to work with Jorge, who, can teach you a lot as a Great Eyes is going to make you up your game. You're going to be working with great designers and learning a lot every day, and it's going to be awesome.
Joey Korenman: Now, someone listening is thinking, I want that job one day, I would love to end up in a similar position. So what advice would you give them in three sentences?
Victor: Yeah, a lot have been said already.
Greg: Yeah, I'd say work with people who are going to push you whatever situation you're in, whether you're a freelancer at a studio, try and surround yourself with people who are going to push you to just challenge you. I think as we're talking about being scared by style frames, if you're not getting that push internally, or from the work you're doing, try and get it from other people, it's a group text with some like my guy friends who are all in production or animation and call like the production thread.
Greg: But I'm just having people, it's like I can I post something for feedback. And some of them are in film, some of them are in other things, but just certain finding yourself with people who are going to encourage you. I think, now being in a position where I'm helping find freelancers, I think trying to flex the director muscle a little bit, even if you're not, that's not in your title, as I think learning to bring ideas to the table and say, I think this might be a better way of doing it or you're the director here, but I had this idea.
Greg: That's something I love hearing from Freelancer that we work with, and we have a lot of awesome freelancers that do that. And take a School of Motion course, obviously.
Joey Korenman: Thank you for that.
Greg: [inaudible 01:41:38] somewhere, and also, don't be afraid to put your work out there. I know can be really scary and especially in the School of Motion group where you just see so much crazy good stuff all the time. It meant a lot to me to post stuff in there and have people react really kindly or maybe that's how you got on Jorge's radar, I don't know. But just don't be afraid to put work out there and do the best work you can, wherever you're at.
Victor: Knowing how to take feedback too, a lot of people just want to do the work being one to and can't accept heavy that were changed.
Greg: So hard balance between you want to put yourself into your work, so it's good, but you can't put too much of yourself into it so that your identity gets wrapped up in it and if someone says change this, you're taking it like oh, you hate me.
Victor: But especially if you're working with good people, I know that feedback from Jorge, who always make my[crosstalk 01:42:32] I agree we can bounce, right? But it's important for me to listen, and because he has way more experience than me.
Joey Korenman: There was so much to pull out of this conversation. I really hope you got a ton from it, I know I did. If you've listened to this podcast for a while, you know that Jorge has been an influence on many motion designers over the last several years. But I hope you can also appreciate how his personality, discipline and mindset have contributed to his career, there's a lot more to being successful than just being really good.
Joey Korenman: And a lot of the things that he, Greg and Victor spoke about are far more important in the long term, than being able to push key frames around real nice. I see a very bright future for Ordinary Folk and I hope hearing this story inspired you to chase your own MoGraph dreams. You never know, when just reaching out to someone you admire will land you a gig working with one of your heroes.
Joey Korenman: I want to thank Jorge, Greg and Victor for being so generous with their time and for being really open about everything. They're not just great artists, they're great people and frankly, I think that is really the key to being successful. And of course, thank you for listening to this very long episode. I hope you dug it, check out the show notes at schoolofmotion.com, and I will smell you later.