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Refugee to MoGraph Expert: An Interview with Sergei at Ukramedia
We sit down with Motion Designer Sergei Prokhnevskiy from Ukramedia to talk about his incredible life-story and his transition to full-time MoGraph education.
What is the hardest challenge that you've had to face on your MoGraph journey? Was it learning After Effects? Landing your first gig?
Our guest today is no stranger to determination. Sergei Prokhnevskiy is a Ukrainian born MoGraph artist who was forced to leave his home as a refugee at the age of 12 along with his twin brother Vladimir. After landing in the United States (and not speaking any English) he would go on to work on MoGraph projects including the Fox Sports Robot for the Super Bowl.
Recently Sergei and Vladimir quit their full-time jobs to exclusively work on Ukramedia, an online Motion Design education site. On this episode we’ll talk with Sergei about the transition to full-time MoGraph education and talk about his incredible life-story. This is a super inspiring episode.
Sergei Prokhnevskiy Interview Transcript
Joey: It's an awesome time to be learning Motion Design. There are so many resources out there now that didn't exist even five, six years ago. I love seeing new faces pop up in the tutorial scene, I guess, if there is such a thing. My guest today is one to watch. Sergei Prokhnevskiy is one half of Ukramedia, a site that is growing very quickly, and has gained a loyal following by creating great After Effects tutorials, a podcast, an online community, and coming soon, a course on After Effects Expressions. He and his twin brother, Vladimir, went all in with the site a few months ago leaving behind a steady paycheck, and devoting themselves full-time to their business. It sounds pretty scary, right?
Well, that's actually not as scary as coming over to the United States as a refugee when you're 12 and don't speak any English, and the brothers did that too. In this episode, we dive into a crazy story of how two Ukrainian brothers found themselves living Tennessee, of all places, playing around with Photoshop on a friend's computer, and eventually, running a website devoted to teaching motion graphics. It's a really inspiring story, and I also think that Sergei has a ton of wisdom to share when it comes to facing scary situations. I think you'll get a lot out of this one, and I think you're going to like Sergei. So let's get to it.
Sergei, thank you so much for coming on the podcast, man. You have a really interesting story. Let me just try to pronounce this, [foreign language 00:02:20].
Sergei: You nailed it. I loved it, man.
Joey: Perfect. Perfect. That's my one Russian word that I know.
Sergei: That's all you need to know, man. That's all you need to know.
Joey: Exactly. So thank you coming on. I appreciate it.
Sergei: No, thanks for having me on, man. I've been a fan of what you guys do, so this is definitely a great honor to be on, man.
Joey: So, let's go back in time because when I was doing my research on you and your ... You have a twin brother, Vladimir, who I got to meet on your podcast recently. He mentioned you guys were refugees when you came over to America. And so, I'd love to hear that story. Where did you come from? Who came with you? How did that go down?
Sergei: Yeah, we were. We moved to the states when we were about 12 years old in 2000. So, you can only imagine the world ... We came from Kiev, Ukraine so we were used to a whole different culture, a whole different mentality. I'm not even talking about the culture. Just the way people thought it was a lot different. We weren't exposed to a lot of technology. We had like a little, small black and white TV that we watched soccer on, and that was about it. So now we were coming to a new world. In 2000, we were 12. We don't know the language. We don't know the culture. And dude, we had these two churches that sponsored us. I'm talking about complete strangers. We never met them. They completely showered us with all kinds of gifts, all kinds of ... They found us a place to stay, like a house that they rented out. Just so much love they put. Every day we had someone come by and take us somewhere. They sent us stuff for soccer, they took us to tournaments, they paid for everything, like boy scouts, and all that stuff. We were just completely were amazed by the American love that we always heard about, but we literally experienced it throughout all that stuff.
And really, honestly, that's where my love for people comes from. I just saw how much people put in me and I'm like, "Hey, man, I want to do the same." I had so many mentors growing up. So many people putting so much life into me and my twin brother. We had this one guy and there's so much more to that. But we had one guy who was with scouts and he gave us his computer. Keep in mind, Joey, we've never seen a computer in our lives. This is like our first time ...
Joey: What is this thing?
Sergei: Yeah. We were like, "Oh my God, this thing is amazing." Obviously, it wasn't anything great. But it had some stuff installed like Premier, Photoshop, Illustrator, Macromedia Flash, do you remember that one?
Joey: Oh, yeah.
Sergei: There were few others. We dove in. We don't know the language. We don't have any friends. Obviously, we just moved here so we don't know how to talk to people. We were very new to the environment. All we had, we had that computer, and we just start pushing on buttons. We didn't speak the language. I didn't know what converse was. I didn't know what copy paste, all of that, I didn't know anything. So we were just pushing buttons like, "Oh, wow, this does this. Or that does that."
Naturally, I feel like I learned the tools, my brother as well, from a different perspective, not from how it's supposed to be because we didn't know limits. We didn't know where the box ended. We were like, "All right, yeah, I didn't know this was hard. Let's try it." Internet at that time, that was like 2000, 2001, we couldn't just go and watch tutorials because it was [inaudible 00:05:28], and I couldn't read blogs. I couldn't do that because I didn't speak the language.
So it was a lot of figuring stuff out. I couldn't read menus. So that was my journey. I just started creating stuff, and keep in mind we don't speak the language. And at this point, we're creating stuff and people that we go to school, our peers, our sponsors they're seeing our work and they're like, "Wow, this is impressive." In a weird way, it became like a voice for us. Right now all over sudden, we have some value. In a weird way, it just gave us this awesome satisfaction that until this day I absolutely enjoy.
Joey: What a crazy story. All right, let's go back a little bit. You said that the mentality in Kiev, where you came from, was totally different than where you ended up. Can you talk about that a little bit? What do you mean by that?
Sergei: First, I don't want to offend any Ukrainians or Slavic people. They're awesome people. American mentality and Slavic mentality is different in a lot of ways because it's a lot of more harsh, more tough love type deal, maybe not anymore. Obviously, internet changed a lot of things these days. But at the time, it was like that. Keep in mind Russia went through wars. It's our nation with our grandfathers. Mothers raised a lot of people. So there was a lot of harsh love, a lot of that coming from a culture, and a lot of, "Ah, don't do this. Just stick to the job." And it was a lot of limiting don't dream as much kind of thing. And when it came to the states it's like, "You can be anything you want. Go after this. Go after that. Try this."
That was impressive to me. People all over sudden have value. They see you differently like, "Yeah, you can be anything you want. Sure, go for it." I know it seems like not a lot to you guys because you're used to growing in that mentality. That's how you grow up, but for us it was different. We were like, "Wow, all these opportunities. You wouldn't have that many opportunities." For us, it was just survival mode. How can we survive another day? But this is like a whole different perspective on life.
Joey: Yeah. I think you're right. I certainly took that for granted most of my life. Just the idea that, work hard, take some risk, and you too can have your own company and whatever and achieve your dreams. It's beaten into your head, and that's a good thing, I think. I can't imagine growing up in an environment where it's the opposite and you're basically told, "Don't do that." And looking at what you and your brother are doing now with Ukramedia, which we're going to dig into a little bit, you two are entrepreneurs and that's ... It's not a uniquely American thing, but there's a very strong element of that ethos, I think, baked into this country that idea that you know what? Quit your job, start a company, and you can do anything, right?
Sergei: For sure. Especially that immigrant mentality like, "Hey, I showed to this country with a suitcase in my hand. I started with nothing so if I lose, how bad can it get?" It's that kind of mentality like, "At this point, let's try. I don't know. I'm not sure. I'm feeling a little uncomfortable about this, but let's jump off this cliff, and let's hope there's water." It's that kind of thing.
Joey: Yeah, it can't get any worse, right?
Sergei: Yeah. I think for me what was so important is ... I think people forget this part is that when you jump, when you do a lot of crazy uncomfortable things that make you grow, what's important is the support that you have, and I think that's what American people are super awesome. They're always there. I know my wife, obviously my brother, my family, we're all so supportive of each other. In a way, it's like, "Hey, go after these dreams because if you fail, I got you." It's that kind of mentality. I think that's encouraging.
When we first moved, we moved to the south. It was tri cities area. I don't know if you've ever heard Tennessee Brewstew Johnson City area. That's where we grew up mostly. I don't know. A lot of people always ask me, "How did you end up there? A lot of immigrants go to bigger cities like Chicago and New York." We just ended up there because my dad had a sister that lived there. We just somehow ended up there, which I'm so thankful because I have huge love for southern people. They're so awesome, man. The way they do life in general is just so encouraging. I'm so glad that I was able to get that kind of influence in my life.
Joey: Well, as a Texan, I fully support that idea.
Sergei: That's good.
Joey: Why did your family have to leave the Ukraine? Was it like a choice like, "You know what? It's just not so great here. Let's get out of here." Were you in danger? What's the reason?
Sergei: We created this recently a video for our YouTube Channel. We included our story. That's like the beginning our story. That's beginning of our story, but it's obviously like a mid story for our parents. We always include that and a lot of people, especially Ukrainians, they would comment like, "What was so bad about Ukraine that you fled as refugee?" That's a good question because when we left, it wasn't that bad anymore. You have to know a little history.
In 2000 or '91, Soviet Union collapsed, and then everything became chaotic and then it became more normal. So by the time we got here, it was more normal and more stable. But my parents were, they're Christians so they were persecuted Christians at the time. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, they were Christians. Because of that, they were persecuted for their faith. They weren't encouraged ... They were preaching ideas that fleeing and don't follow the system. Obviously, the government naturally would suppress that.
So, they were persecuted a lot. They were put in jail and all kinds of stuff. Obviously, the family I have there is all together nine of us, so I have six brothers and two sisters. It's a big family. We grew up poor in a bad ... Obviously, because everything came from the state, communist country. Obviously, if you don't go along, they catch you and make it very painful for you to survive kind of thing. So my parents obviously went against that. They were Christians, so they were persecuted.
We had an opportunity to leave the country. In the 80s, the US government gave us paper saying, "Hey, if you want to escape this, go ahead and go." And my dad was like, "No, man, I'm staying here. I'm fighting." We had that opportunity at the time, but my dad obviously didn't go for it. It was until years later, like around mid 90s after the collapse. It was even worse for us. We started sharing toothbrushes and shoes. It was pretty bad. And then my brother had his sister here in States and then she invited us to come in through the refugee status just to prove that we have gone through that before.
Technically, we weren't fleeing because it collapsed already, but we used that opportunity because we didn't do it then into escape it anyway. In a weird way, it did affect us because our future ... It affected our future how we were living before then. After the collapse, everyone were okay but not us because we didn't have a lot of income because of the prosecution. We were still affected by it, but we didn't directly flee the country because of it. It was the effects of it. So, that's how I would have to explain it. I know it's a little complicated. Yeah, we still had that status though.
Joey: Got you. Okay. So it was more ... It's amazing. You said something that was crazy to me. You said your parents were openly Christian, and I'm guessing they were proselytizing or something. And you said of course the government cracks down on that, and it's obviously not how it works here. We're free to move religion and all that kind of stuff. That's a crazy story, man, and I'm guessing that that experience has probably prepared you for the life of Motion Design in terms of breaking into industry and having to take your leaks, and then being an entrepreneur. Those things must seem a lot less scary.
Sergei: Yeah. I remember in Ukraine we would have secret meetings. As Christian, they would gather secret meetings. Obviously, they wouldn't get busted. But then they would burst people and release dogs on kids and stuff. There was a lot of that. Yeah, when you come to America and you have these opportunities thrown at you, I agree with you, Joey, it's not as scary as it might seem. What's the worse that can happen?
Sergei: Yeah, this is not what I wanted. Oh, wow. I agree with you. Definitely, it has a whole different perspective of life.
Joey: So, you finally get to the States. I'm assuming right away you have to learn English, which at 12 is probably a pain in the ass, I'm guessing. I can't tell you how many times I had to practice saying [foreign language 00:14:17], so I'm sure English is just as hard. You said a friend gave you a computer with some software on it. So, was After Effects on that computer, or did that come later?
Sergei: Honestly, I can't ... It had a bunch of stuff. I can't remember. It was a lot of stuff that had nothing to do with Adobe, but I think After Effects was a part of it. He didn't even know how to use it himself. He was like, "I just have these things." He was a fan of video. He was a boy scout and he did national jamboree stuff. Honestly, he saw that we had interest in that, and he in plugged me in. We were working at the boy scout camp. We were the camera people. I was slowly ...
He was tagging us into his passion. That was his passion. By the way, the guy's name was Mike Wolf. He was just a great friend still until today. Anyway, he helped us along the way, gave us opportunities to go and try things. I went to this national boy scout jamboree. I think it was away, it's like a different section. But anyway, I was able to work with people that are in the industry doing a lot of cool stuff. So I got to expose to that kind of environment to see. They gave me some advice. It was a good opportunity for me, but it started with that one computer with one guy just showing his passion with me, sharing it with me.
Joey: That's really cool, and I love how you said earlier that when you still weren't very comfortable with English you used that outlet as your voice because you can create, you can show people, and then they smile. They liked what you did, and they saw something there. At what point did you think that this was something you wanted to pursue further? Because you did end up going into an animation program. So how did you get from the 12-year-old with a laptop, with some Adobe stuff on there to, "Now I'm studying animation in college"?
Sergei: Yeah. Keep in mind, we were still not aware of a lot of the culture that America had. For example, we were in high school. We were pretty decent soccer players, me and Vlad both we did really well. But we didn't know about scholarships. We didn't know any of that stuff until it was too late. My senior year we were like, "Hey, did you guys know you can get scholarship for soccer?" I'm like, "What?" All over sudden coaches would contact us and they're like ... My GPA was terrible. Basically, if I had to described it the reason why I passed class is because I was a pretty good soccer player and it was a small school, and teachers were like, "Hey, we need him. Come on, let's pass him." I was that guy.
So school education just was not my strongest. Keep in mind, I was, especially in Tennessee they were not used to immigrants coming to that area. They would put me I the same class, English class, as the American guy, and they would expect me to get the exact same result and here I am like, "Dude, I barely speak English." I remember one guy was cheating off my paper and I remember thinking like, "Dude, you're in big trouble. Do you understand what you're getting yourself into?"
It was a lot of that. And not only that, I remember a guidance counselor we had to sit down and was like, "Okay, we've got to graduate. We have to somehow make you guys graduate. Let's look over all your credits and stuff." Was like, "Oh, you guys need to take second language." I'm like, "Wouldn't English be my second language?" "No, no." I was like, "What about Russian? I speak Russian. Can we do that?" And they're like, "No, we don't offer that. You have to take something else." They literally forced me to take another language, and I was taking Latin. So here I am barely speaking English trying to learn Latin. Oh man, it was a comedy show.
Joey: That's rough.
Joey: Oh my gosh. All right. Is that how you ended up at East Tennessee State? You were like, "Well, I guess I'm going to college. I better pick something. This sounds good."
Sergei: Well, it came later. I was dating my wife at the moment ... Oh, my girlfriend who became my wife. I heard her once say, "Hey, I'm not going to marry a guy who didn't go to college." So I'm like, "Oh, I've got to figure this out. What does that mean?" And plus here I am an immigrant dating somebody else's daughter so I was like I want to up my value a little bit. I'm like, "I better do something with my life."
I thought it was a good idea to go and get this thing called education. I hear it's really, really great. I signed up, and I realized that I was pretty terrible. I went to community schools for two years, and took a semester in just developmental classes which is, for those of you that are listening you don't know what that is, it's basically classes that you would take before you can actually take a college credit class. I'm sitting there trying to learn all this stuff. Literally, I'm struggling with basic math, basic English, basic whatever. I'm struggling at it.
I went from that in four years taking calculus and doing really well in that. It was four years of, "Man, I've got to figure this stuff out. I've got to learn." It was a lot of methods that I figured along the way. It was also for me, Joey, I always pictured myself as stupid, dumb, this is not for me. I'm not good enough for that, in the education realm. Soccer came natural to me, graphics came natural to me, but education was not something good for me. It started when I was a kid. I remember a teacher would just say, "You guys, you Prokhnevskiys are just not very good. You'll be lucky one day if you end up in America," which we did. Thank you for that, lady.
That was the kind of influence that I had, that mentality, the Soviet mentality like, "Oh, you guys are just not very ..." I naturally, growing up, put that cap on myself like, "Hey, I'm not good at this." But those four years helped me to get out of that. He gave me confidence one class at a time. It was like a step, step, the next thing you know I'm there, and eventually I arrived, I was able to get a degree and learn a lot of stuff, a lot of information along the way.
Joey: Cool. So what did you learn once you got into your animation program? Were you doing Motion Designing animation, or was it more of a traditional animation program like character and traditional?
Sergei: Yeah, I went to ETS. It was like state school. It was known for character animation. A lot of people that work there or that went through that program ended up doing good stuff like feature films, but they didn't have motion graphic stuff. I knew earlier on that I wanted to do motion graphic. So I went through that program. I learnt modeling and Maya and all that stuff that I didn't really care for. I had to do rigging and Maya and all that stuff. It was out of my element.
But along the way, my professor allowed me to use cinema 4B. I was able to use somehow. They indirectly created my own path for me through motion graphic, so they were very careful with that. I wouldn't say that I picked up a lot along the way. Most of the learning came from the industry. They had some good foundational stuff input in me that helped me to figure things out along the way. It was a good start somewhere, but I don't think it was ... I can't say that I learned everything I know from that program.
Joey: Well, you said that you knew right away that you wanted to do motion graphics. How did you know that? Did you see something where you were in mograph.net? How did you figure out that that's what you wanted to do?
Sergei: I think all roads lead to [Edu Climber 00:21:34] for everybody.
Sergei: That guy just ... He just never ages, that's what I hear. Is he God? I want to meet him one day.
Joey: He's just as handsome in real life. I can attest.
Sergei: What does he do? What does he eat for breakfast? But anyway, that guy obviously influences a lot of people. That's how I realized like, "Hey, I really want to do this." I do weddings and filmed brudios. I did Fox Sports stuff. One day, I remember I was working for this small ... I went to school and then I was pick up freelance gigs. I just fool people. They would come to me and tell me, "Hey, can you do this quick lower food for us?" I'm like, "Yeah, I can do it. Give it to me, of course." And then I'm like, "What the heck did I sign myself up for here?"
I was freaking stuff out like that. While other kids were playing video games in their dorms, I was committing. I was doing a lot of freelance. During the summer, I would do rodeo tour, and I would create graphics for their video stuff. It slowly merged into that, and I really like sports a lot. After college, it's just a natural fit. I'm like, "Hey, I don't care much for film and character animation." I get it. It's fun, but I like quick turnarounds like a TV style thing where I can be just have maybe me and somebody else working on stuff instead of years of work, and a lot of variables involved. To me it was just a natural fit. I knew that it fit my personality. I liked that environment, that kind of work, so yeah.
Joey: Yeah, I agree with all that. So, then how did you end up getting hired at Fox Sports? I think there was a few years after you graduated were you doing some other things. But it sounds like Fox Sports because you're a soccer player, it sounds like a good fit. So how did you end up there?
Sergei: Well, I started at the very bottom right small shop, then a bigger production company, and then I always want to do sports. I would apply at ESBN, and they would nicely tell me, "Hey, try again next time." So it's just like, "No, I don't want do ESBN." I'm glad I ended up at Fox Sports. Eventually, I just knocked a lot of times and said, "Hey, I love sports. I'm hungry for it. Put me in, I want to do this." Just the regular step, you just apply for it. In fact, the way it happened I just saw it pop. I wasn't applying for jobs. I saw it pop up. I think it was motionographer or something like that. And literally they say, "Hey, submit your application in here and all that stuff." I get tired of applying for jobs. So I literally whoever post that article, I just sent them an email with my demo reel. I'm like, "Hey, interested? Here is my Demo reel. If you're interested let me know. If not, it was good talking to you."
Two months later out of nowhere they just email me saying, "Hey, we'd love to consider you." They flew me in. We tried it out and it was great. I'm so glad that I got the job. It was honestly, Joey, one of the best jobs I've ever had. The environment, the way they do things it was totally different from what I was used to. Yeah, man, I'm so glad that I did it.
Joey: So what kind of stuff were doing there?
Sergei: You'd be surprised. It's in Charlotte. The main headquarters is in LA. But Charlotte, they have a Charlotte office. I didn't think they did a lot of stuff in Charlotte. They would just tell me it's like ... That was during the stage when it just transitioned into FS1, Fox Sports 1 and all that stuff. I didn't understand all of that. I thought it was just one part of the channel like FS1 it's not FS2. But when I got there I realized, man, these guys created graphics for the Super Bowl, and all these graphics packages. We worked on high level national stuff. It's created in Charlotte.
I was so excited about that. I worked in NFL, college football, baseball package. We literally would create graphics packages in there in Charlotte, and then we would source it out for everybody to use and they would version them for teams and stuff like that for other local affiliates of Fox Sports. You'd be surprised how much is actually done in Charlotte. I was amazed by it.
Joey: I'd love to know a little bit about the workflow for that because I've done some stuff. I've actually done freelance work for Fox Sports, but it's always ... It's pre-rendered stuff that goes into a segment about a player or something like that. But I'm assuming that a lot of the work you were doing had to be then turned into live graphics that could go on air during a football game or something. So, how does that work?
Sergei: They have different levels of staff. When you first get in there, obviously, they try you out. There's a lot of doing with producer, and then they give you work order, and then you update the players, kind of what you were talking about. But then there's another stage to where they team people up like four of you will be working on the MLB package, four of you will be working on NFL. They team up. They go through stages. Literally, you go from the very bottom like research, you do the boards, you do everything. Everything still, present the whole package. We'd go through seven, eight revisions of different looks, and then we go into the animation stage, we'd go to compositing stage. It was a full blown production and it's growing. I think they're planning on expanding Charlotte office even more.
It's just unbelievable how much they do there. I've done a lot of just creating ... At first, it was just small stuff, but then eventually we got into creating heavy, heavy stuff. It would be everything, 3D from the ground up. You have input at every stage, and I love that. That was awesome.
Joey: That's really cool. Would your work ever end up, say, being used some of these RT artists like lives stuff like that?
Sergei: Oh, yeah. I designed stuff that was in the open. I designed stuff where was ... I'll tell you one story. I remember I was creating line up for MLB World Series. I don't know much about baseball, but apparently it's a big deal. So the World Series-
Joey: Kind of.
Sergei: Yeah. I remember doing a line up, and literally I was talking to a producer in a truck in New York. I think that was not this World Series but the one before that. They still use the same look, by the way, for World Series. So when they line up they have three people come up and they swing their butts. They have name at the bottom. So I designed that literally like an hour before it aired. We rendered it out. Obviously, we worked the whole, and then we rendered it out before it actually went live. I put it through the system. The guy in the chat got it, got in the car, drove home, literally got through the door, turned on the TV, and in five minutes the graphic came on. I was like, "Oh my God, man. That's really cool."
Joey: That's crazy. That is really crazy. Were you involved because a lot of that stuff, like those big sports packages there's even live footage elements that have to be incorporated into it. Are you involved in that? Were you involved in that end too? Like you know what? We want all of the players lit a certain way because it's going to go with the graphics we're doing, or was that just given to you?
Sergei: No, we create graphics and stuff. They would use all of our graphics. We would design sets, design everything, and they would ... Obviously, you mentioned they would do that in this and they would create all that stuff. Basically, we create templates if you can think of it that way. We would create templates that they can quickly play stuff in, footage, swipes, anything. So anything graphical we would create, and they would put live stuff in there. They have a pretty good system, Joey. It's really, really, really detailed how they do things. It's unbelievable. It's like-
Joey: Yeah, I've never worked in-house at a place like that. I have a lot of friends, actually, who are editors that work in live sports. They've told me just the pace of it you can't even believe. Coming from the normal Motion Design world doing a 30-second spa where you spend a month on it versus, okay, we have ... There is a commercial break on right now, and when we come back I need that graphic, like that kind of thing.
Sergei: Yeah, that's more like in track. You go different stages. You'll experience a lot of it. It's never the same. I guess most of the work gets done in the main graphics package work. Once you figure everything out for stuff like that with any stuff on the fly, they literally have these people who just type stuff and boom, it's done. So they already figure things out when they create the package. So, literally all that stuff on the fly is just a matter of typing and rendering because everything else you select the logo you want boom, boom, and render you're done.
Actually, that's why the Expressions came in handy for me. Before I left, I did this whole ... We did MLB package, which is ... I think it's live right now. I went in, and I used my expression stuff. The way I rigged it is super awesome to where you have drop menu. I have literally a [inaudible 00:30:31], you go and select drop menu and select which team you want, and then you pick few other things, and literally everything gets adjusted to that scene. The way it was rigged it was super awesome. I presented it to the higher ups, they loved it, and then couple weeks later I tell them I quit.
Joey: Perfect. Perfect. I just want to call out just for people listening who aren't familiar. We've been talking a little bit about something called Viz or Vizrt. I have no experience using it. So, Sergei, you can probably talk more about it. But it's basically a real time graphics system that overlays graphics on top of life footage. But you can update things in real time and play things in real time. Is that accurate or is it what you do?
Sergei: The way it works, it's ... Actually, like when you look at it first it's very impressive, but then you realize what's going on. So you would design something in [inaudible 00:31:21], and then would give it to these people. I'm talking about you would design the animation, the render, everything, and you hand it to them. And what they do, they basically dam it down, take a lot of verses out, bake everything, so it's like a gaming engine. You literally make everything down, and literally try to get rid of as much detail as you can get away with. So that's why it's real time because they get rid of a lot of that. They fake things. It's impressive how they do it. It's just a gaming engine, essentially.
Joey: Got you. And you never had any interest in migrating over there?
Sergei: I was close with Expressions and stuff I was fascinated by because a lot of those guys use Java Script. The way they rig stuff for producers to use. They have interface, they would type stuff, and they would update things. I was very fascinated with that. I would always bump them like, "Hey." I would ask them questions a lot. But no, I never ... I've seen a few guys that migrate that way, but I just want to stay with what I was doing.
Joey: That's crazy. I would love to have these RT artists on the podcast because I've known almost nothing about it and it's fascinating. So Sergei, when I was doing my research I found a real of yours on Vimeo that I think it must have been right before you got to Fox Sports, because there was nothing from Fox Sports on it. And then I saw some of the work you did at Fox Sports, and the jump in quality is astounding. So I'm curious, what was it about that job that got your work ... It's not like the next level. It was like you jumped like three levels. It got really polished, really just high level stuff. So, how did that happen?
Sergei: Well, you have to keep in mind where I came from and where a lot of people listening come from, we come from working on gigs that are two days, three-day deadline. You have to use what you have to get it out fast because clients want it fast. They want it cheap. That's the stuff that we were used to. So when time comes to make it real you're like, "Crap, I've got nothing. Because what I made was bits of seconds that I did hear that I was proud of. That was because of time. A lot of times I used to judge people like, "Oh, you're not as good." But then I started realizing people that do that stuff they're amazing, but because they don't have the time and luxury we did at Fox, we spent six months working on a graphics package. Surely, you can have something done that you're proud of in six months.
But when you work on projects that are two, three-day turnaround, then yeah you're quality [inaudible 00:33:55]. You don't see yourself as that. But I guarantee you if you put anybody in that place and give them six months and put a bunch of creative people. I work with some of the most creative people like Chris Watson. You know the Robert guy, the NFL guy?
Sergei: Chris Watson the guy I sat next to a couple of years? He modeled the guy and I learnt so much from him, and then there are so many other influences. It's unbelievable, though. Yeah, when you're around those people you grow. I don't know if you play soccer or any other sports, when you play with people that are better than you, you automatically jump to that level. I don't know how that happens. It does. You all over sudden have that confidence and you're doing the same stuff. And I think that's what happened to me. When I got to Fox Sports and I was around those people, expectations were different, and I realized that and something happens within you that competitive spirit kicks in and you rise up to that occasion. So I think that's what happened to me, man.
Joey: I agree 100% with that. I can remember when I was freelance for the first time and I finally got my foot in the door of this really cool studio in New England, and I got in there and they had all of these ... They had frame artists. They had designers, they had really good After Effects artists, and I was the crappiest person in that room. The first time they gave me something to animate I was terrified, but somehow I pulled it out of myself and then it was like, "Oh, I guess I can't do that. Okay." So almost you need permission to do more than you've been doing.
Sergei: And you know on the flip side of that, anybody listening if you want to up your game I highly advise that you sign up for a job that you're not qualified for and see if you can get it. If it doesn't scare you, if it doesn't make you feel like you're going to fail, then you're not going to grow. You can be the biggest fish in the pond, but put yourself around people that are better than you and watch what happens. Obviously, you're going to have anxiety going through the roof. There's going to be nights where you're going to be questioning your motives and stuff. At the end, though, it's going to make you a much better artist. I promise you that.
Joey: Yeah, you have to check your ego and be okay at failing. I'm wondering if ... Because there's a ... To be honest to me, and I think a lot of people have trouble doing that. They have trouble putting themselves out there and just taking a chance by applying to a job that they don't feel qualified for. I'm curious have you and your brother, because I talked with Vladimir and you guys seem very much alike, have you guys always been confident and able to make difficult decisions like that, or do you think some of that came from the experiences you had having to leave Ukraine and move here, and all the challenges there?
Sergei: To be honest with you, I struggle with confidence and so does my brother. But it's not necessarily that we're good at being confident. It's more like we just know that it's never going to go away, and it's easier to just live with it and realize what it's going to do. For example, body builders they love the pain. But who loves the pain? They want that pain. If they workout and they don't feel the pain, they get emotionally depressed or whatever. In a lot of ways, pain and anxiety and all that lack of confidence, it's painful in a lot of ways, but you have to have that. It makes you better.
I understand earlier on I've got to go towards it because even though I hate it, even though it stretches me and I complain to my wife all the time and she loves me for it, at the end of the day, it's definitely ... I don't know. Something about comfort, man. It just kills. I see people do that over and over. A guy the best at the shop and he just going to figure it out and he just stays there, and you can see slowly just dying with his skills and just ... He's not pushing himself. But then I've seen people that older, and they're going after all these scary stuff, and then they're better than the young guys coming out.
So there is something about running towards danger, running towards things that you know are going to make you better. I think just naturally we understand that. It scares the living daylights out of me like even the jump from quitting the job ... When I quit the job, Joey, I had two months of savings, no products. We were making 180 bucks from YouTube a month and that just split with me and Vlad and then before taxes, and that was it. Somehow, I'm six months in. We haven't really sold too much, and things lined up, you just figure things out, pressure kicks in, you just figure things out.
But unless you make that jump, unless ... I remember when I was sitting there my boss was saying, "Man, that's a pretty bossy move." And I remember at the time I realized, "Crap, it is a bossy move. I didn't realize it was." So something about that, when you jump, when you go towards danger, you just know the outcome is so much better.
Joey: So, you said one of my favorite phrases, which is embrace the pain. Actually, I think it's in the beginning of, we've a course called animation Boot camp, and right in the beginning I actually give the students that advice. This is going to make you uncomfortable and you're not going to be good at it for a while. You've to embrace that. You've got to hug that because that's what ... I love the bodybuilding metaphor. It's perfect, man. So let's talk about that. What you described as one of the best jobs you've ever had, and it sounds amazing, and you're learning a ton, and you're getting better, and your work is showing up on national broadcast probably several times a week. Why did you decide to leave that to go full-time with Ukramedia?
Sergei: Obviously, I had many variables, and it's not just a one-kind of an answer. It's combination of you know this, Joey, you're a father, you want to be close to your kids. I blink, and my kid is five and I'm like, "You know what? I want to be with my kids. I've done this game long enough to where I don't need it in a lot of ways. I get it. There are guys that are younger, and more passionate, more motivated that still oblivious to the whole industry in general." You get all this pressure you're like, "Man, I want to focus. I want to be strategic how I do things from now on. I don't want to be doing this chase all the time. I want to be more strategic. I want to be more influential in some other ways. I want to ..."
Basically, I turn on the thinking cap and I start doing strategies. I love where I'm at. It's great, but I'm thinking five years from now do I want to be doing this? It was a lot of strategies, a lot of that, and plus I love my family. I want to be close to them. I just saw that slip like, "Hey, I'm spending too much time at work and I'm spending an hour, an hour and a half with my kids. I've got to do something about it because it can be a couple of more years and they're in college and you're done." There was a lot of that.
And plus, I've always had a dream. My bro and I when we first got to the States, this whole Ukramedia thing how it came about. We were 12. We were clueless about life, and just didn't know where boundaries were, and we were like, "Hey, man, that would be so cool if one day we open up a company." And we were like, "Yeah, that would be cool." And then we were like, "Let's take it a bit further. Let's think about the name. What kind of name ... What would we label that company?" And with our limited English at the time we were like, "Hey, we're from Ukraine. We like media, like bunch of media, so let's call it Ukramedia." That was Vlad's idea. And they were like, "Cool, hey, I'm going to come up with the logo." And so I came up with the logo.
We just played that for years. We make name tags, and their passes where we would do huge boy camps to create backstage passes that deal. It was just a ... I won't say joke, but we just took it a step further. I had never thought anything of it until one day I decided to do a YouTube channel because I was frustrated at the job, my first job. I got tired of watching tutorials that were, what I would call, entertainments. It was fun to watch when I had a lot of time. But now I don't have that much time. I want to get something out of it, and I realized that not many people were actually showing stuff that I can take in and apply it on daily basis.
I remember my coach, soccer coach, used to say, "Hey, if you want to be a better soccer player, you would just teach somebody something." That summer I went and got coaching license and start teaching and next thing I was an all state soccer player. So I'm like, "All right, hey, I'm seeing the area that people are not in. No one is doing quick tips kind of stuff, and I also want to learn." So when I teach people I combine the two and then boom, next thing you know I was thinking, "Hey, we've got to come up with a name and that's going back to Ukramedia." I'm like, "I can't think of a name. It seems like all the good ones are gone." So I'm like, "Let's do the whole Ukramedia."
We just accidentally just kept on arriving at Ukramedia, Ukramedia until one day we realized, "Hey, I think people are finally taking us seriously. They think it's legit." And then that's how we arrived here, man.
Joey: That's awesome. I can relate to that. I can definitely relate to that. So you run Ukramedia, which is ... Let's just give everyone some more detail. You have a YouTube channel with lots of really great tutorials on it. What else falls under that umbrella?
Sergei: We're big on people, man. We're huge on community. We're huge on ... Just obviously because we had so many people put into our lives. Our main focus is obviously content, something that you can apply quickly to your practical workflow. But we also want to have a community of people because it sucks being alone. I know what it's like to be alone, not speaking the language, not having people mentoring you in the ways that you want to. We have really making it about people. We really want to grow the community. My twin brother opened up a podcast. We want to bring in people like you, Joey. We want to make it like a family, like a big family to where ...
I remember I would go to some blogs or forums and I would ask a question, and next thing people made me feel like I'm so dumb. All right. We have a community, like a Facebook community, that we created that's like 2,000 some people, and the whole culture is like there is not a dumb question. We love you guys. How can we help? How can we ... What can we do? I see the growth in that. Honestly, man, that is something I'm very excited about. I'm making friends and, dude, I just can't wait one to get some conference going and just meet everybody.
I've met so many awesome people, people like Tim [Tyson 00:44:43], and just all kinds of ... You'd be surprised how many people that just carry so much knowledge and so many ideas that we're not tapping into because we just don't go in and actually get to know them. We're big on community and teaching people the content. That's something we're going to get behind, and obviously we have to have fundings, so we're trying to come up with courses, and we also want to bring in more people in and grow the Ukramedia brand and not me or my brother.
Joey: Yeah. I've had to go through that process, and I think you're doing it right, though, because the truth is the community is actually the most important part. We have a Facebook group, and right now it's only for alumni of our courses, but it's over 2,000 people. It's funny because originally when I made that as part of our first class and didn't know. I was like, "What do we do with these people? Let's make a Facebook group for alumni." And it's just grown so big. We have alumni tell us that that's the most valuable part of they're getting when they get a course is access to that because it's the same thing.
I feel like the vibe of an online community it's a reflection of whoever started it. You and Vladimir are obviously very nice, warm people. And so, you're not going to make someone feel stupid for saying, "Hey, wait, what's a no object?" I don't know what that is, right? It's the same thing with us. We try our best to have just a fun, friendly, meme-filled Facebook group as much as we can.
Sergei: And honestly, it runs itself. You don't have to do much. It just runs itself. That's what I love about. It's like effortless thing that everyone should do. People get attached, they're talking to each other, they're making friends, they're getting together on some gigs. They're making friends that will last for a lifetime. I think that's great. I'd love to be a part of that.
Joey: Yeah. And it is very cool too if you ever get an opportunity to meet people in real life. We just cosponsored this party at the last NAB conference with Chrystal and Max and a bunch of other cool companies. There were a lot of School of Motion alumni there and it was so amazing to meet and actually like, "Oh, I kind of remember your name from the Facebook group. Oh my gosh. It's you." And it is pretty cool. That's one of the cool things about the Motion Design community is that everybody is just nice for the most part. Not everybody, but almost everybody.
Sergei: That's something I like about you, Joey. I can tell that you have that uniting spirit. You're not afraid of bringing in people that are competitors and just kind of, "Hey, man, we're all in it together. It's big enough for everybody." I heard about the conference, and I saw that you guys sponsored it, right? I'm pretty sure you guys did.
Sergei: Yeah, and I think that's great. I think you guys should do more of that.
Joey: Well, maybe next year you'll cosponsor with us. How about that?
Sergei: I would love to. I would love to.
Joey: I want to hear how ... Your brother, Vladimir, who he's been silent this whole time, but I know he's sitting right next to you. He is not Motion Designer, right?
Sergei: No, he is not. But the thing is, we started out at the same ... He is not ignorant to it. He knows a lot about it. We started out at the same level, but he would just try different rounds. He went to video and web. He's more of a web guy at this point. He still knows video. He's very, very good story teller. He's just an awesome communicator. I'm so glad that he's doing a podcast. He has that ability to connect with anybody, and I love that about it. You know how they say you have to have three kinds of people to run a business? You have to have a hustler, you have to have a nerd and a hippie. Vlad is a hustler. Dude, he hustles like nobody. He keeps me on my toes. I'm more of a nerd and like, "Let's do the numbers." And then we're looking for a hippie. We're still on the hunt for that one. But we're almost there.
Joey: Men, I love that. I've never heard that before. Okay, cool. I'm trying to think who at School of Motion fits each of those. It's amazing.
Sergei: You have to have it. I think it's a good mile for us. Especially growing up Vlad and I we always pushed each other in soccer. It's a natural fit for us. Even though he is not a motion graphic designer and stuff, he's been in it so much until he gets it. I kind of like that he is doing the podcast. It's not very technical, but he still understands what's being said and things like that. He's been with Ukramedia all along. Heck, he came up with the name. I know you don't know this, but he was the one who came up with the name. So he does know a lot. It's just I guess when we get into technical stuff, that's where he might check out.
Joey: Got you. Okay. Cool. I was curious about you guys split up the responsibilities, but it sounds like you handle the geeky After Effects stuff. You're the nerd.
Sergei: Yeah, I came up with the [crosstalk 00:49:45].
Joey: And then Vladimir is a hustler. He does the podcasts, and he probably does the website if he's a web guy.
Sergei: He's a good sales person. Growing up, he would oversell stuff a lot. To my level, he would always over ... He'd be like, "Yeah, this ..." I'm like, "Vlad, I don't know if I can do this." He is just a great ... He will make you feel great about what you're buying. In general, he is really good at painting a good picture. I don't think it's not only in sales, but he's just a good storyteller. The video he did for our YouTube channel, I don't know if you saw it, but he is the one that made it. He cut it, he filmed it, he edited, he wrote the script for it and everything. He knows a lot of video, but just maybe not the 3D side of things.
Joey: Got you. Got you. Are the two of you ... At this point, you said it's been six months since you both created your jobs, and you're all in on Ukramedia, which ... I've done that too and I know that takes ... I don't know what the Russian word for balls is, but if I did I'd say it. But at this point, are you ... Is that how you're paying your bills, or are you guys still freelancing doing other things?
Sergei: No, that's the thing. When we jumped, we said, "Hey, we're not doing freelance." There is no plan B because if you have a plan B, it quickly becomes plan A. We learn that earlier on. We don't have a plan B. So we just jumped and we're like, "All right, we have to keep working. What do we need to." I don't understand how it happened, but somehow things will line up. Somehow we'll get ... Things will pay. I don't know. I can't explain it.
At this point, we developed some. We have the course coming up on scripting, or Expressions. I'm sorry. We're banking a lot on that. But even then, we're so frugal in a lot of ways. We have structure down. We're debt free. I have never had a credit card in my life. We're smart in a lot of ways. It's a lean thing, but it's growing and then we have plans. We have a strategy, and we're backing it up. So we're so confident that we don't have plan B, per se.
Joey: I love it. I love it, dude. I love it. I want to hear about the products that you're creating. That's one of the trickiest thing, honestly. With any tutorial site, eventually if you want to sustain you have to figure out how to actually keep the lights on. I saw on your site that you already have some products on there now at the time of this recording and they look After Effects templates and things like that. How did you come up with the ideas for that stuff? Were those just experiments, or was there some process behind those?
Sergei: When I quit Fox, I only need 50% of what I know now with the Expressions. I didn't even know how to script. I didn't know how to create a script. So when I jumped, and you can tell how much confidence I had to jump. I'm like, "Yeah, I can do all of this. Let's jump." And then I get to, "Oh, crap. We've got to do stuff." I quickly learnt scripting. I knew enough about Java Script and all that stuff. And so, I was like, "Hey, what am I going to create?" And I decided to create something that I thought I needed. I use Shape Layers a lot. It's just my thing.
As soon as the Shape Layers had the feature to where you can draw mask on it, which was like three years, I was so up. I was like, "Goodbye, Solids. I hated you all along anyway." When you do set maths the way it's luster. It just works amazing. If you're doing solids, you've got to consider shapes. It's just my thing. I have a problem with Shape Layers because every time you click on a Shape Layer it always extends from the ... It scales from the center. I was like I hated that. I always have to rig it up, split the dimensions, and go from one side.
So, I decided I'm like, "Hey, I'm going to create scripts that I think are useful for myself, and if I find them useful, then I'm sure somebody else will too." So I create the script called smart rect, and literally I spent hours directing. So basically it makes a solid more ... It gives you more options. You can extend ... execute from one side, or from the other side. It's pretty cool. It's nothing too crazy, but it certainly gives you a lot of options that I love.
So I just created that stuff and posted it, and in a weird way, it helped me with the expressions course. So it was like a step, right? I create this thing, and then that gave me more knowledge about the expressions and then I started understanding expressions. I'm like, "Wow, I get it." You obviously understand the programing side of things, but I didn't know all of that stuff. But then I'm just starting to realize the basics. There's something a lot of people miss.
A lot of people miss expressions. They only look at methods. What can I get out of this method? That method? But they don't understand the basics of things. And so, I decided too, "All right, I'm going to create these plugins so I can, maybe, make some money and make it through one month until I'm building up this course." So it's like a journey to get me to another step. And then I finally got the basics. I'm like, "All right, it's an object-oriented programming language. Get it. So then objects are properties, properties just have value then we can apply methods to them." And really I would stop them, "Oh, what other method do I need to learn?" But then I learn about reflection objects. I'm like, "Oh, you can see what kind of methods you can apply to a string, to a bullying."
It was a huge journey for me. Those products just came about because of the journey that I was on. And now we're finally at this expressions course to where really I'm not going into each method like what's a wiggle? What's this? Even though I'm talking about it, but I'm talking about the foundation of it. Like, "Hey, here is objects properties methods. You need to know those. Here is how you find out the properties on the object. You need to know those. Here is what values those objects are, properties are, bullying, a string, a number, all that stuff, a ray."
And then you break it down and literally you don't have to teach every method. If people get a foundation of it, they get the expressions. After that it just mean, "All right, so what kind of method do I need to use to get this done, and vice versa?" So I'm thankful for the scripts. I would like to say that I created to create money, but honestly, it was just a result of my learning. It was my learning process. That was the first script controller was the ... No, no not controller, smart rect. I can't remember which one was first. It was my first script that I ever wrote. It's not like I had this knowledge, no.
I think what I have maybe others don't is I come from a background of motion graphic designer, and I see things from nonlinearity way. I get the lingo now, but I can explain it using my lingo. I don't know about you, but the programmers this secret society language that only certain handshakes will get you through. I just didn't understand it. It's not that it's hard, it's just the language that they use. You're like, "Oh my God, why didn't you just say that it's a text, a string? Why do you have to call a string?" That's something that I couldn't ... Even people would get so creative with their variables how they label them. I felt that that was a specific variable that you have to look up somewhere and I would like to copy it and I'm like, "Wait a minute, variables are made up."
A lot of that stuff was figured out through that journey. I know I'm saying a lot, but really those products were just the results of my journey, and I'm so glad that I went on that journey.
Joey: Well, I like that. So you started by scratching your own inch. You had this annoyance about Shape Layers scale or something and so you were like, "okay, well, it would be really nice if this tool existed that work this way," and it didn't, so you figured it out. You made it. And then from there, it leads you into ... It sounds pretty deep to the weeds and expressions. You said earlier that your soccer coach gave you some advice. If you want to be a soccer player go teach someone to play soccer. I'm wondering is that how you're approaching this expressions class? Hopefully, it can be a revenue generator. It can make the business work. But on top of that, to teach in expressions class, you're going to get really good at expressions.
Sergei: Obviously, it was combination of a lot of things. I wanted to get better at Expressions because I want to niche down because After Effects, even within After Effects, a lot of people are doing cool stuff. But I just felt like that one area where not everyone is excited about going. I feel like everyone is faking it like, "Oh, yeah, I know Expressions." But if you start talking to them, I think it's cute when you do the whole EFL statement, and they only put if and then condition, and at the end of condition they put a code block when they put one value. I'm like, "Why do you do code block for one value?" Code block is if you want to combine a bunch of them together.
They don't even understand the use of code block. In a way, I wanted to learn the basics. I want to know why we do this if, and condition and then code block. What are those curly brackets? What do they do? That's the area I feel like a lot of people don't want to go into. Expressions everyone is like, "Yeah, it can be cool tutorials." No, no expressions. I just don't know how. It scared me too. I was the same way. "I don't know if I'm qualified to do this." And somehow when you start that journey you find friends like Tim Tyson, who is my mentor. Not many people know about Tim Tyson, but that guy is that guy for me, man. I talk to him a lot. I'm trying to convince him to come on. He's actually going to do tutorials for us. I'm excited about that.
It's definitely area that I didn't necessarily wanted to go because I knew it was going to be uncomfortable, but I'm so glad I did it because I'm learning so much and obviously I want to teach others so I can get better as well.
Joey: Well, it sounds like an awesome class, man. I'm definitely going to have to check it out because I'm a big expressions gigs. The more knowledge I incriminate into my head the happier I am.
Sergei: It's actually not ... It's not like a ... It's not like a ... We won't have any quizzes. It's just me talking about the basics really. I haven't even gotten to a lot of methods yet. I'm still with objects, properties, and methods. I'm not expanding too much. I'm just really drilling in on the basics. That's what I'm doing. The tools that we have in After Effects, how to use them, why we're using and that kind of stuff.
Joey: I want to talk about, I guess, the future for you and your brother. Actually, I want to ask you a random thing first. I went on your YouTube page and I was watching a few of your videos, and I found one. I think it was how to animate a snow flake or something like. It was this cool vector snow flake. But it said in the description you actually translated it from a Russian tutorial into English.
Sergei: Yeah, it was my friends from videosmile.net. They're Russian motion graphic people that somehow I just got in connection with at the time. They were just ... I think they wanted me to translate their course. I'm like, "Cool, yeah. Sounds good. Let's give it a try." And I'm like, "No, I don't want to do that. It's just too much work." But that result was ... That tutorial was the result of me testing it and see if I can even do it. Let me check your tutorial and let me translate it. And then I translated it in that way and I showed it to them, and I uploaded to my own channel. They were cool with it. They got something out of it, and we got something out it. But it stopped there, though.
Then we wanted to do another tutorial. I don't know if you saw my blender tutorial. I have one blender tutorial, and I was going to translate another tutorial by them, just like a paddle thing. That was their stuff too. Then I'm like, "You know what? It's just too much work translating it. I'm just going to create it myself and I'm like, "Hey, I'm going to create it in blender." And I did it in blender. It was kind of we were going to go somewhere with that, but it just never went anywhere.
Joey: It's interesting. We have students from all over the world. I forget what it is now. It's 97 countries or something crazy. From a ton of them, English is not their first language and we've had requests like, "Hey, could someone translate this into Brazilian, or into Portuguese, or into Chinese or something like that?" It seems like not only is that a ton of work for something and probably a big expense but also, how well does it work? That's what I'm curious about. Someone else teaching something with their personality and their voice and the way they talk, and then you're trying to translate it. How successful was that, do you think?
Sergei: I struggle with it to be honest with you, Joey. The things the guy ... The stuff he was doing that I would normally do that way. I'm like, "No, no, you should use this shortcut." There's just stuff that I cut out. I'm like, "No, you don't need that." It was frustrating and that's why honestly I didn't enjoy it as much because I'm like, "Wait, I'm putting my name on this. I don't necessarily ... I wouldn't approach it this way. No disrespect." That kind of stuff. Translating a whole course, it's tough to make it look like you did it. I think that's probably the struggle is not to lose that, like not to have it feel like it's a translated course.
I don't know if you watched the tutorial. I tried my best to make it look like I was creating it, but that wasn't my course. That wasn't in my computer. There is that struggle. Yeah, it's tough. It was discouraging enough for me to where I backed out. It was hours and hours of stuff. I'm like, "No, I'm good."
Joey: I thought it was a really cool idea because English is the only language that I'm fluent in. So, fortunately, most of the After Effects tutorials out there are in English. The rest of the world gets the short end of the stick a little bit especially like ... I'm assuming China not everyone speaks English there, and so is there this whole other world of Chinese tutorials, or are they struggling to hear and figure out the English tutorials? And I thought what you did was really brilliant for that reason. I'm bumped to hear that it wasn't as successful as they hoped.
Sergei: No, I think me and Vlad do. That's a topic that comes up sometimes, doing something in Russian. We do want to explore other areas as well, but as far as bringing in content and translating it for them, I don't know if we're interested in that. We want to create our content. We have information. We have enough ... There is not a need for that. I think at the time I was approaching it like a freelance gig. Definitely, I would love to explore other languages, though. Is there something you guys are considering?
Joey: We looked into it. Translation services are very expensive and there's always that question of if we had someone translate, let's say, one of my tutorials into Portuguese, I have no way of knowing how good of a job they did other than asking somebody who speaks Portuguese who may not have the same expertise or the same experience with the After Effects. It's a tricky thing, actually, to translate very, very technical tutorials. I'm assuming if someone tried to translate an expressions tutorial from English into Russian, I'm sure it would be nightmare because of all the strange words like this is curry Q. Okay, what's curry Q in Russian? That kind of stuff.
Sergei: It's nightmare in English. [crosstalk 01:05:37]. What's a riddle? I don't know. There's that. But I think you guys should explore It. I think it would be a fun journey, you never know.
Joey: Yeah. Well, we are looking into it. Anyone listening, look for that. We actually are talking about it internally. I want to find out before I leave you, Sergei, I want to know where all this is going in your mind. What do you hope Ukramedia turns into? What sort of products and services do you hope that you can offer, let's say, in five years? What does this look like?
Sergei: Well, obviously my hope is to grow everything that we have. Just grow the community, that's a huge one for us. And obviously, grow the content. That's another one. But on top of that, it's a business, and that's something ... Before it was a hobby. It was just something you did and every now and then some money would come it to justify your time for your wife like, "Hey, I am doing something good here." But obviously at this point it's a business that we'd love to venture out, and we're learning a lot about that. I would love to bring in more people. I don't want it to be just us doing the work. We would love to bring in other creators, just what you guys are doing.
Expression course is one of them. It's actually, obviously, the beginning for us. We want to niche it down to the expressions for it now, and that's what we want do more of. We want to bring in more people like that. But essentially, it's just growing the areas that I feel like we're doing well at: more content, bringing more people, and expanding the community. Obviously, because we're big on people, we love people, we consider them as our family, we call it Ukramedia family. That's something were very passionate about. It's not going to change. Maybe just we're just hoping it's going to be expanded more. And obviously the funds would be more there for us to grow.
I've heard your stories about [inaudible 01:07:32] that went down. I love that guy. But because the pricing and everything, we're learning a lot about that. That's something that I'm not very good at as far as pricing. Again, learning, listening to the right people. We're here to grow. That's for sure.
Joey: Check out Ukramedia.com to see what Sergei and Vladimir have been up to, and to learn a whole lot of cool stuff about Expressions, After Effect tips, and a lot more. Everything we talked about will be linked in the show notes at schoolofmotion.com, and if you haven't already, you should sign up for Motion Mondays. What's that? You ask. Motion Mondays is our free weekly short email that we sent out on Monday mornings to keep you up-to-date on what's happening in the Motion Design industry. It's really short. It's so short. You can read it while you're taking a number one? You don't even need number two. That's it for me. I'll see you next time.