School of Motion

This Year in MoGraph: 2018

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Ryan Summers sits down with Joey to discuss everything we learned about the Motion Design industry in 2018.

The Motion Design industry is always changing and evolving, and 2018 was no exception. From new tools to emerging artists this was a big year for our industry. Conversations on freelancing, value, and storytelling swept through our industry leading to thoughtful discussion and debate.
As always the team at School of Motion was thrilled to be along for the ride, As such, we thought it’d be fun to sit down with our good friend Ryan Summers to discuss some of the biggest news coming out of the mograph industry in 2018. In the podcast we talk about everything… from incredible projects to #chartgate. No stone is left unturned...

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Show Notes


This Year in MoGraph Transcript

Joey: This is the School of Motion Podcast. Come for the Mograph, stay for the puns. As I sit here on the cusp of 2019, I got to say, this year was intense. Never mind what was going on over here at School of Motion, but just in general, the industry seemed to be firing on all cylinders. We had amazing work come out this year, incredible updates to AfterEffects and Cinema4D, new players getting into the education and resources space, more meet-ups, events, parties. There was a lot, and this time of year is really just perfect for reflecting on the past twelve months and looking forward to another, to channel Andrew Kramer, very exciting year.
Joey: My good buddy Ryan Summers, Creative Director at Digital Kitchen has returned once again to wax philosophical with me about the year we are wrapping up. Now, he and I can be a little bit long-winded, so I do have to warn you that this is the longest podcast we've released so far. It's absolutely crammed with references to work, artists, tools, websites, resources. The show notes for this one are super dense, and you can find those at I hope you enjoy this lengthy, sometimes rambling discussion, and that it helps you put a nice bow on 2018 as we head into the future. Here we go. Well, Ryan, here we are again, one year later with a giant list of things to talk about, and I got to say, man, this has been an awesome year for the industry, for School of Motion and I'm so excited to have you back to talk about all this stuff, man.
Ryan: Well, man, thank you so much. The only thing is I can't believe it's already been a year. I feel like we recorded that like three, four months ago? I went back and listened to it, and I'm like, “Wow. This has been one of the fastest years I've ever had.”
Joey: Yeah. I think there's that thing that's happening, and it's not just in motion design, but the pace of change and iteration seems to be speeding up just across the board, and so in the last year, I actually had, we're ... I'm also working right now on an article about all the things that School of Motion did in 2018, and I've forgotten gigantic things that we did because they were 10 months ago, just because everything's happening so fast. So, on that note, let me really quickly give everybody just a brief update. There's going to be a much longer article about this.
Joey: But, just for everyone listening, just to, you know this is like sort of bragging, but also just kind of keeping everyone informed because everyone listening to this, you're a huge part of the reason that School of Motion is able to grow the way we have. This year we dropped five new classes, which is kind of crazy. We dropped our first Cinema4D class, Cinema4D Basecamp with EJ. We dropped a beginner Photoshop and Illustrator class, taught by Jake Bartlett called Photoshop and Illustrator Unleashed. Buck did the intro to that class, which blew my mind. That was a bucket list thing for me. We dropped, we actually completely redid our Rigging Academy course. Rigging Academy 2.0 came out based on DUIK Bassel. We released Sander van Dijk's course Advanced Motion Methods, which sold out in five minutes, literally five minutes, sold out.
Ryan: Sold out-
Joey: Faster than-
Ryan: Faster than Blend. So the ... this is now that what Blend, Blend 3 has to try to sell out faster than Sander's class.
Joey: I think that's actually going to happen, that would be my prediction, and then finally we released a free class called The Path to Mograph that's kind of a love letter to the motion design industry and it's hopefully intended to get people who are new to this scene indoctrinated and to get them to fall in love with how cool it is to be able to do this kind of thing, and sort of show a day in the life of a motion designer, what does it look like to do a project from start to finish.
Joey: We have expanded our team quite a bit. We hired two new full-timers, Jeahn Laffitte and Ryan Plummer on the team, and they have been kicking butt. We've hired I think 15 new teaching assistants this year. We've added more contributors. I actually was kind of trying to figure out how big the School of Motion team is now, and if you add everybody up, I think it's around 70 people are sort of helping in various ways to make School of Motion what it is. We are now, with this current registration period, we're at nearly 6,000 alumni and active students all over the world, and our site's getting something like 200,000 visits a month.
Joey: I mean, so all of these things, it kind of inflates my ego, but it also makes me realize, you know, my philosophy with this kind of thing is that that doesn't happen unless what you're doing is actually helpful, and that's really the driving force between, behind everything we do. It's like hopefully this is actually helpful, and helping people grow and achieve what they want in their careers, and every day that I come to work, and I know I'm speaking for everyone on the School of Motion team, we're super humbled by this, and just thrilled to be able to do it every day, so thank you everyone out there who's even come to our website once or listened to one episode of this podcast. I'm giving you a big hug right now. I hope you can feel it.
Ryan: A big, warm radio hug.
Joey: Yes, exactly. A big bald hug. Alright, so let's get into the industry. What's been going on in the motion design industry this year, and I thought we'd start the same way we did last time, Ryan, just talking about some of the incredible work that came out this year, so why don't you kick it off and tell us about some of the work that you really loved.
Ryan: I mean, the work this year has been ridiculous, right? I mean, we were talking about this before, but it feels like we're almost in third-stage Mograph now, like we ... the first stage was just like technical knowledge, you know, how do we get to the tools? How do we get access to them? How can we push them, and then we started seeing artistic kind of creativity and more kind of design fundamentals working their way in, and now I think I'm going to talk about a lot of ours during this show, but I think for me, the biggest, one of the biggest things was this year is the first year I really felt resonance.
Ryan: There were a lot of pieces that made me feel something, and it wasn't necessarily something associated with the product, either. I look at what Rich and Scott did over with the-
Joey: Yes.
Ryan: Ted Sydney titles, the TedxSydney 2018, and you know, it's I think a great example of photorealism is available now. It's not necessarily free, but it's nowhere near as difficult as it was even two or three years ago for a lot of different reasons, because of tools, because of presets, because of availability of training, but man, if there, I don't know if there was another project that I started watching, slowly leaned into and was just blown away emotionally by something that was just a title sequence for a Ted Talk or something that should just be an introduction.
Ryan: It felt like one of the, if not the best title sequences to a TV show this year in a year full of amazing title sequences, but the emotion that came out of that, and I feel like ... and we'll talk about a bunch of different spots, a bunch of different things, probably I'm sure over this whole thing, but that was the one that really stood out to me, that it was a small team using bleeding edge technology for a really interesting project. It wasn't for a product, it wasn't for something somebody was trying to sell, but the thing that came out of it was like, “Wow, this sums up a lot of the emotions I was feeling for, over the last year and a half, two years in the world, not necessarily just in motion graphics, but the issues we're dealing with.”
Ryan: It put that all front and center in just a really, really beautiful way. Well-directed, well color-designed, well-animated with the cameras, but all of that just added into this thing that I'm sure I'll be talking a lot more of, just this resonance, this feeling behind it that wasn't, it wasn't just that feeling of like, “Damn, I wish I made that because it was so cool,” it was, “Wow. This stopped and made me think.” Were there any other pieces like that Joey that, off the top of your head that really just shook you to your core?
Joey: I'm really glad you brought that one up because that was probably the one that stood out to me as, you know it ... I mean, the team that made it was sort of a dream team, and so I'm not surprised that it came out as good as it did, but you know, we've seen a million of these photorealistic sort of octane porn things, and you know, the vat, like, it's funny because the quality in terms of the design and just the technical skill involved to make something like that, it's almost taken for granted now because there's so many really good 3D artists out there, but it's still very hard to create a narrative that gets you.
Joey: That one really did. If I was thinking of something else that came out this year or something that recently came out is the Share Your Gifts spot for Apple that Buck did, everyone's kind of going crazy over that also because of the way they produced it, with a combination of practical photography and CG, and just this amazing story. I, one thing that as I was kind of going back through all the bookmarks I made this year that really ... I don't think it hit me like emotionally resonant, kind of the way you're saying, but it made me watch it six times in a row just to soak it in was the Welcome Home spot that Spike Jonze did for Apple, which, yeah, with-
Ryan: Oh my God, yeah.
Joey: This woman, she kind of gets home after a long day and she's unwinding, and this music starts playing and her apartment starts stretching and splitting apart and the best way to describe it is it's like a live-action pixel smear effect that they built practically, and it's so brilliant and it's Spike Jonze, so it kind of has this weird quirky, melancholy thing running underneath it the whole time. That one blew my mind when I saw it, and it's also not ... like, you know, 15 years ago if you said motion graphics, that's not what you were thinking of, but now you don't really say motion graphics, you say motion design, and it kind, this kind of feels like it fits into that a little bit now. It's like the umbrella's gotten so much bigger, you know?
Ryan: Yeah. No, I mean that's what I think, you know we're looking at all of the different kind of companies and studios that were doing stuff, and we earmarked, we've already said two of them, but I feel like Apple, while we'll get to it later about their hardware and their software, the creativity that they're pushing out into the world to represent their products, you know, it ... They had that Share Your Gifts spot. That's an emotionally resonant one, and then on that other end of the spectrum, Welcome Home was just kind of that, that ... it's almost like the pinnacle of that 90s music video director.
Ryan: Spike Jonze, Chris Cunningham, David Fincher, just an amazing, bad-ass, wonderfully executed, analog plus a little bit of digital, but one of those things that just makes you within five seconds of the first trick happening, you don't care about the technique. You just want to see what the next thing is, and it, all of the technology, all of the how-tos in the back of your head just disappear because it's magic now all of a sudden. It's the same thing for me that really good 2D animation still does, is that it very quickly, you stop wondering how it got made and you just fall into the magic of the piece.
Joey: Right.
Ryan: But yeah, I think Apple, Apple did some, between those two pieces and then, I think in the middle of the year, they had that iMac Pro series of films where they reached out to Imaginary Forces and Sarofsky and a bunch of different places, that if they weren't hitting on all cylinders with their hardware, they definitely were on their creative.
Joey: Yeah, so we're going to get into this a little later, like they're ... So, Apple I think is the perfect example of a new force. They're not a new force, but the way that they're impacting motion design is sort of new in that there's companies like them, and like Google and Facebook, and now with those giant companies with infinitely deep pockets realizing the power of motion design, and not just motion design, but storytelling in general, to help prop their brands up. It's opened up just enormous pockets of work for everyone from new motion designers all the way up to Spike Jonze, and there's some positives and some negatives to this, but one of the positives is that a company like Apple is almost like a patron of the arts now. They can afford to spend-
Ryan: Yeah, exactly-
Joey: You know, as much money as they want to to basically make, they could pay Buck and ManvsMachine and Sarofsky and Tendril and whoever else did those iMac Pro films, and really it's just to promote a new computer they released right? And they are uniquely positioned to spend the kind of money and to hire the best of the best, and to give them enough resources to do their thing and stay out of the way, and I think that's amazing. I mean, I remember ... I mean, God this was so long ago, no one's going to remember this, but probably like 15 years ago, BMW did this groundbreaking thing where they hired filmmakers-
Ryan: Oh yeah.
Joey: I know you probably remember this Ryan, where they hired filmmakers just to make cool stuff, and the only requirement was it had to have a BMW car in it, and it was the first thing, it was the first time I ever remember seeing branded content like that, and now it's just everyone does this, and it's obvious, but at the time it was groundbreaking, and now you have Apple and you have Amazon and Google and Facebook spending so much money doing very cool motion design-driven content, and I mean, you know it kind of ... It's kind of interesting that some of the top work for, from this year came from that model.
Ryan: Yeah, it's kind of funny how the see-saw has flipped, where the entertainment industry is completely obsessed with technology and teaching you about their technology, like we have Netflix, we have streaming, and we have all the TV stations are trying to create apps, and they're trying to tell you, sell you on essentially speeds and feeds, like “Look at our new technology and we're going to make AR versions of things,” and then all the tech companies are over-indexing totally on emotion, right? They're the new, like you said, they're the new patrons.
Ryan: They're ... the music industry used to spend millions of dollars on music videos because they just wanted to have the point of pride of, “We're the most creative, and we have the emotional resonance,” and now it's Facebook and Uber and Lyft and all, and Apple and Google, they're spending those millions of dollars that used to be spent on music videos on motion design to sell their product. It's amazing how it's almost completely done a 180.
Joey: And it's really, I think it's cool that companies like this are focused on not just sort of direct-to-consumer, you know, “Check out our product and this is how an Amazon Echo works,” they're really ... You know, marketers and advertisers are very, very savvy now in terms of building brands and letting artists sort of do their thing to ... I mean, this is kind of a controversial thing I know in some circles to take the cool from the artist, and hopefully some of that leeches onto the brand a little bit, but in terms of letting artists do really cool work and get paid really well for it and make a living doing it, I think that market force is one of the most exciting that I'm seeing.
Ryan: Yeah, and I mean and you said that at the beginning of this too that there's good and bad behind it and ... One thing, I didn't even remember what that Spike Jonze Apple video was a commercial for. I talked about the commercial, I remember showing everybody the making of it as soon as it came out here. It still stuck in my when we started talking about what were cool ads or what were cool things done. I had to go back to the video, and look and see what it was actually a commercial for.
Joey: Right, yeah, exactly-
Ryan: It's the HomePod? I don't know the last time I actually even thought of the HomePod, you know, so there is something about that that like ... sometimes maybe over-indexing so much on the emotion and is the product being forgotten a little bit?
Joey: That's an interesting point, and I guess in making this list, for me that, I mean this kind of speaks to an interesting thing about motion designers is that what we see as a good piece of work. You know, one of the best pieces of work that came out this year, it actually was a terrible commercial for that product, you know?
Ryan: Exactly, exactly.
Joey: So that's funny, yeah, I don't know what an advertising agency would think about it. So, let's move on from the gigantic, huge budget Apple stuff, and talk about an artist that I've been following for years now, and I feel like this year, he's ... He's kind of been slowly moving towards a certain style, and I'm talking about Allen Laseter, who is a freelance animator and a designer and a, frankly a genius, I think, and he's released a bunch of cool things this year, but he released this really amazing piece, I think it was kind of recently called Mumblephone, and the concept is hilarious.
Joey: I guess it was for Lagunitas, and he, they got drunken voicemails left by customers because Lagunitas is a beer, and so they would, they gave Allen this voicemail from a drunk person basically talking about his night and stuff, and Allen animated it. And the style of it is so, it's funny, I was going to say it's so fresh. It really is like the 60s. I mean, it reminds me of like Yellow Submarine or something like that a little bit, or like Schoolhouse Rock, but it's got that modern kind of twist to it the way, you know, the noisy textures and the animation style, but the look is ancient in motion design terms, and it's so bad-ass, and I hope people start copying it because I'd love to see more of it.
Ryan: Yeah, I mean we, this is ... I think this was one of the first things we talked about last year was that there's this growing kind of two-pronged house style in motion design for character animation, especially kind of hand-drawn 2D, you know there's our kind of rubber hose, and then our skinny head, like skinny, tall, tiny head people with little black triangles. Allen is amazing. I actually, I went down to Nashville to just go and kind of see what the scene was down there, and met some of the guys at ID, and Zac and Allen came out and, man the dude, he's so humble, you wouldn't even know that he is this master-level animator designer when you talk to him. He's just kind of in his career is just exploring styles and trying to push stuff, but I don't know if there's, there is very few people who have both the design chops, the variety within his kind of playground in terms of style.
Ryan: I mean, you can look at stuff like Moon Camp, you can look at stuff like Simple Life and they all look like him, but they don't necessarily look like the same piece. His style can change based on the brand or the product or the storytelling. But, man I think, I talk about this all the time, and you see so little of it, but he has masterful timing and spacing. His texture and his timing and his spacing is I think almost unparalleled. Not everything is super buttery-smooth, and everything is like ... every tangent is perfectly massaged. It's chunky.
Ryan: There's starts and stops and straight-up holds that sit there for a while and then pop, it's so ... It's one of the things that I talk about a lot of times, that your signature as a motion graphics artist isn't just your color palette or which design style you kind of reference. It's also you can have a signature in the way you make things move, and I think Allen is an incredible example of when you see his stuff, no matter what the product is, not matter what the color palette is, you know it's an Allen Laseter animation.
Joey: That's a really interesting point, and then it kind of reminds me of when Jorge and Sander started coming out and getting recognized. I kind of felt the same way about them, and I'm not sure I could have put my finger on it the way you just did, that there's a feel to the movement itself. It almost doesn't matter what the design is, you can kind of tell, “That kind of feels like something Sander did,” you know, like the way he thinks and the same with Jorge.
Ryan: There's a precision to Sander. Sander has an incredible precision, and then Jorge has almost like a Warner Brothers, old-school Looney Tunes snappiness, right? His spacing is ... he has eases but it'll move really quick, and then when he cushions, he cushions for a long time, you know, and then and you put Allen almost on the exact opposite side where you look at his curves almost like you'd look at a sound wave from a band, you can almost look at his curves like you could look at a Metallica sound. It'd be like, “Oh, that sound wave, I don't need to hear it, I know it's this band,” or this is this type of music. It's again, it's that signature. It's something I'd love to see more people playing with and experimenting with.
Joey: Yeah, it's sort of finding the ideal ratio of ... or, the way I talk about it sometimes with our students is that good animation often is about contrast.
Ryan: Yes.
Joey: You know, like fast then slow. Not moving, and then moving really, really abruptly. Yeah, and I mean comparing Allen Laseter and Jorge, it's like two very different styles, two masters in their own ways. So yeah, I'd recommend, by the way, I should say, everyone listening, we're going to link to all of the things we talk about in this episode in the show notes, so you can check everything out at School of Motion. I also would like to call out Oddfellows, because basically every time they put something new out, it's just awesome. I mean, it's almost I guess, I mean it's kind of pointless and cliché to talk about how good Oddfellows is, but they're still so good.
Ryan: Yeah, I mean I was just listening to a podcast about comic books, and they had this phrase that I thought actually refers really well to the Oddfellows and the Golden Wolfs of the world, where there are certain comic books that are essentially metronome comics, where they're so good but they are so good at a reliable pace, that they just tick-tock back and forth, that it almost is like, “Yeah, oh yeah. That's one of the best jobs of the year, but that's just Oddfellows. That's what they do. They're the best,” you know, it's like they're so good that they almost just kind of float into the background a little bit when you're looking at all the work for the year, but you have to force yourself to stop and look at something like, man the Adobe XD spot was amazing, and it's just a small example of the type of work they can do, right?
Ryan: Beautifully designed, wonderful color palettes, something that's deceptively simple that slowly kind permutates into something way more complicated, but at the same time it's always well-designed, it's never chaos. The other thing I think that's really cool about Oddfellows that I noticed this year is that I feel like they're starting to integrate a lot more 3D, but not the 3D we talked about earlier, right, not photo-real, not Octane, not Redshift, not trying to be physically perfect shaders and materials, just starting to use more 3D to complement the stuff they've already been doing, and that's one of the things I'm super excited about to see as they meld the two kind of styles together.
Joey: Yeah, and you know, I was looking at their portfolio as we were kind of prepping for this. The Adobe XD thing is one that stood out, and that one stood out not because of some technical crazy execution, but really just because of the restraint involved. If you watch that spot, it starts out so simple, and pretty slow, and then builds to this crescendo, and it takes a lot of discipline, frankly to do that and to just consistently nail the concept. That's one of those ... it's a difficult thing to talk about sometimes. It's a lot easier to look at something and say, “Oh, it's very pretty. Oh, the animation's cool, oh they did a cool effect.” It's a lot harder to say, “Wow, just the idea of the entire thing is good,” and to me, that's the hardest part.
Ryan: Exactly, and I think we talked about this too I think a little last year, and we're starting to see more of it. We're starting to feel like this theme kind of building as the years go on that I think, I see it with title sequences all the time, and I've actually gotten to the point where I'm kind of tired about title sequences because most of the time, what you're really talking about is, “That was really difficult, and I wish I could do something that difficult,” versus, “That was incredibly well-conceived. Obviously the execution was tough, but it resonates so much with what the story is about or what the mood is I'm trying to evoke,” and sometimes, you can do that with simple techniques, and it's more powerful. But I feel like in our world right now, we're still trying to get over the like, “How would I do that,” or, “Oh my gosh, did they have 20 people,” or, you know. Sometimes, we're just so wrapped up in how to make something that we forget why is it being made or is it actually connecting to the kind of desired response from the audience?
Joey: Another thing I wanted to point out that Oddfellows did this year was something for Nike. I think the name of the piece is Nike Battle Force, and what I loved about it is that, you know, when Oddfellows sort of ... became Oddfellows, and everyone talked about them and all that kind of stuff, what they were known for was they had a lot of sort of traditional animation. Really smooth, buttery key frame animation, great design, and that, I mean it feels like for the past decade, that's kind of been what everyone's trying to do, and that's what 10 years ago, that's what made Jorge kind of burst into the scene and get really popular was that kind of thing, but this Nike thing they did looks like something Shilo would have done in 2004. This gritty, grungy, snappy, analog-looking thing, almost like ... I mean, it's almost like something Mk12 could have done.
Ryan: Yeah, totally.
Joey: And that, that, and it's funny because I think a lot of younger artists coming into the scene, they'll see that and be like, “Oh my God, that's so fresh,” and us older guys are going to recognize, “Oh my God, that was cool 10, 15 years ago, and I love that style, and I've been waiting for it to come back because it's such a neat look,” and so it was just amazing to see Oddfellows doing it, and of course they just crushed it, and it feels ... like the energy to it, the way they use that style but kind of put their own twist on it, I was just blown away.
Ryan: Yeah, no I ... I'm so glad that you set that out and you're agreeing with this, because it, it really shows the strength of the artistry behind Oddfellows, and that they're not allowing themselves to be pigeonholed. I would tell everybody who's listening to this, if you get a chance, man, go to Oddfellows and look up Nike Battle Force because besides the actual piece itself, there is a wealth of riches in terms of what their kind of breakdowns and their process. Storyboards are immaculate, there's tons of cool little breakdowns, and you're totally right.
Ryan: It reminds me of like Shilo, Mk12, Three Legged Legs, the old stuff they used to do where they'd do video and 2D animation over the top of it, but then it still feels uniquely them, and I want people to go and look at this because there's one thing besides all the design and everything. There's one piece in here that's just a throwaway little like ... probably an Instagram-like gif, but there's literally a dude break-dancing against a grid and it's made all out of masking tape, and it's something I've never seen from Oddfellows whatsoever, and I honestly feel like this is one thing I love about Oddfellows as well.
Ryan: If you look in the credits, there's a little bit of secret sauce there. There's a guy by the name of Ariel Costa, and if you imagine, and if you know what he does, you imagine him in a mash-up with Oddfellows? It explains this piece a lot because he's not listed as a director, he's not listed as CD, but man, his animation and his design is definitely sneaking in to the rest of the capabilities of Oddfellows, and I think that's something more and more studios is we ... one of the other [inaudible 00:27:14] I think I'm going to talk about a lot this year is that this is one of the years of that remote freelance is really taking over, and I feel like this is a great example of where, combined, you could almost stick this as a Oddfellows times Ariel Costa, and release it as a mash-up, and people would really understand it's so cool to see two kind of great things come together and make something that's better than either of them working on their own.
Joey: Hell yes, and we'll talk a little bit more about Ariel when we get a little bit further down our outline here. I want to keep us moving, so let's talk about another piece, and you've already mentioned it, the TedxSydney Titles. Directed by Scott Geerson and a dream team of 3D artists, including our good buddy Rich Nosworthy, and you know there's a lot of reasons I love this piece. For one, it's a rare ... There's a lot of Octane porn out there you look at it, and you're just drooling, like, “This is so gorgeous. The lighting's gorgeous, the texturing and the techniques are incredible,” but then at the end of it, you feel like you just ate an entire bag of Skittles, right?
Ryan: Yep.
Joey: It's like, “Oh, wow, it tasted really good while I was watching it, but as soon as it's over, it's over.”
Ryan: Yep.
Joey: This piece isn't like that. This piece, you watch it, and then you sit there kind of silent for a minute afterwards thinking about it. It's very hard to do that, and also I was just really happy to see Rich, his star has been rising ever since, I mean, I remember seeing something he did. It was some experiment like eight years ago, and to see what he's grown into was also really, really satisfying.
Ryan: Yeah, no I love it. Rich and Scott both, I would love to be able to elevate this title, or this piece even more because I think what they're trying to do out in Australia, and they're trying to get the kind of notoriety, when I look at this piece and I feel like it stands head and shoulders right with the best of the work that Elastic has done with Patrick Claire in terms of storytelling, in terms of resonance, and when I watched this, I literally was like, “Man, I want to see the TV show that this is the opening title to,” like I, the stories that started building in my head just from the imagery, the way they used their camera to reveal things and hint at things, then give you details, but not tell you the whole story?
Ryan: Each one of those kind of vignettes felt like an episode in a season of a show, and I think that's the greatest compliment you can give a piece, is that if it can resonate with you, stick with you and imagine what it would be like to live more in that world? I mean, that's doing everything that every client would want, everybody who reads a story would want. I wish more people saw this piece and more people were talking about it and reaching out to Rich and Scott for more work like this because it's in that kind of like we were saying, this is third-stage motion design. This is going and kind of seeing what motion design can do better than music, or what it can do better than animation, that it has a different kind of capability all to itself.
Joey: Yeah, and I just want to point out for everyone listening that it wasn't just Scott and Rich. There's a lot of artists involved, and really, really amazing ones. So, I want to talk about, I guess the last piece of work, and I should point out that there were a lot of amazing pieces of work this year. This is, by, this is not an exhaustive list, obviously, this is just, I thought-
Ryan: No, we could do another two hours just on people.
Joey: Yeah, yeah, this was just like a smattering, just some things that stood out, and one piece that stood out kind of for a similar reason as the Nike Battle Force, so Ben Radatz, I think this year he moved out to L.A., and he's been doing some I guess freelance stuff, and he did a title sequence for a conference called Made in the Middle, and Ben Radatz, if you're unfamiliar with that name, he's one of the founders of Mk12, and he's responsible for a lot of the look and feel of the old-school Mk12, and so this title sequence, it's essentially a kinetic type piece.
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Joey: So, this title sequence, it's essentially a kinetic type piece. You remember that?
Ryan: Yeah.
Joey: Remember kinetic type? That's essentially what it is, but it's amazing, and it feels ... His voice is so unique. Everything he touches. He did the intro, actually, to our After Effects Kickstart class, so everyone who takes that class, you'll see an intro. He animated it, and it feels like him, and I was just blown away by how I haven't seen a kinetic-type piece ...
Ryan: In ages.
Joey: ... In probably six years.
Ryan: Yeah.
Joey: Yeah, and I haven't seen a fresh take on kinetic type in way longer than that, and this is that. The style and everything, again, it kind of feels, to me, a little throwbacky, but with this modern twist to it. Again, I saw it, and I'm like, "Yes, we need more of this." It feels so fresh in 2018.
Ryan: Yeah, it took me ... It was a type warp, man. It took me right back to the[ Mode REF 00:00:55] .NET ages, and every time you're just waiting with baited breathe for MK12 to release something. Whether it was a title sequence or a commercial piece, or something they're self-motivated on their own. For me, and it's probably because of the time we came from, that everybody when you get into motion graphics has that kind of hero company or that hero designer or director. And I feel like MK12 was literally the entire ethos of motion design. They were it. I bow down to Ben and Timmy and the whole team there.
Ryan: The work they did, it feels like it's just kind of disappeared, that type of work. And again, it's the kind of work that you can't just emulate because a plug in came out and now all of the sudden everybody can do, you know, pixel dimming. And people can do stuff that, you know, is technology based. I feel like stuff like what MK12 does, it's really difficult to copy. Because if you do a really good job of copying it, everybody just points a finger and says, "Well that's just MK12, are you ripping them off?". And it's something that's based in their art. I bang on it probably every time I've ever been on a podcast episode with you, Joey. But, Ben and Timmy and MK12 are the definition of artists, always trying to find their voice, and always trying to find their vision. And its a thing that I feel like we're kind of missing a little bit in the industry while we're all getting our feet underneath us and learning the technology, and figuring out how to make money and freelance or studio. These guys have always been doing work like this.
Ryan: I missed this piece until you sent it out to me. For some reason, never even came across my radar. But I literally stood up and started clapping when I saw it. I was like, "Oh man, I feel like they're back." It feels like Michael Jordan coming back to the NBA. Seeing this kind of stuff....there's so many lessons to be learned here for design, for timing, for spacing, for story-telling. Those are lessons. People should be looking at this piece and diving into it and trying to tear it apart and figure out what they can take from.
Joey: Yep. So there's two over-all things that I kinda took away from looking at this list. And one you've already touched on. It's know, there was a time maybe several years ago where it was enough to have a really well executed idea, good design, great animation, good sound...and that would sort of make a know, an instant classic kind of thing. But it doesn't seem like that's enough anymore because I think there's just so much work out there now that it's pretty easy to find beautiful design and beautiful animation.
Joey: So now the bar to win motion awards and things like really is about getting the viewer to feel something. So what I'm kinda taking away from this is...and it even influences the way I think about school of know, for the past several years we've been really focused on trying to teach our students how to use the tools, how to think like a designer, how to use animation principles. And in a more shallow way, dipped into the whole idea of finding a voice and things like that. And learning how to get emotion...pull emotion out of the viewer. But that's becoming more and more important. I think that's something that we're gonna be focusing on in the future too.
Joey: The last thing I wanted to say about this is that these pieces, a lot of them you know, I know that there's probably thousands of other pieces out there that are just as good. These ones rise to the top because of something called marketing. All of these artists and studios....when they do good work...they also then take the next step which is to tell people about it. I think that that's also becoming a requirement to really get ahead in this new era of motion design being everywhere. There's a lot more studios, a lot more artists. I think this is something that I know...people who remember the early days of the Mograph's probably harder for them to come to grips with this. That now you have to also be a marketer in some way if you wanna get to the next level. There's too many people out there for you to just be recognized the way that that used to be possible. So what do you think about that?
Ryan: Yeah, I'm glad you brought it up. This year is the first time I've started doing open office hours. Where during my lunch hour I basically have an hour where anyone can reach out on a calendar app, book time with me. We can talk 15 minutes, 30 minutes or an hour and just kind of see what's going on in the world. If they need feedback on a demo reel. If they have a hard time finding work. If they're thinking about moving to L.A. or New York or somewhere else. I think I've done 181 as of yesterday, sessions. And I'd say more than half the discussion is people who've been in the industry 10 years or more and them lamenting the fact that now they actually have to start branding themselves. Even though their job has been to brand, market and create stories for other people. It should be in your skill set.
Ryan: But there's a lot of frustration with, "God, how do I handle Instagram and Dribble and Behance and Twitter and Slack and all these different places where I should be present? But how do I manage am I smart about it? How do I start networking, how do I let people know about my next job? Do I start doing team-ups with people?" Just yesterday or the day the day before Steve Sabol and Reece Parker put out a mash-up animation that they put out together that blew up. [crosstalk 00:37:21] Super cool, right? But you haven't seen many people doing that.
Ryan: That's the kind of stuff that people do in the music industry all the time, right? Your about to drop a new album you make sure that you have a song with a guest star on it. You're about to drop a new demo reel, maybe right before you drop a demo reel you have a self-motivated piece with someone that has a little bit more heat right now. There's tons of techniques and ideas and I think it's super exciting. There's so much more need, there's so many more jobs, there's so many more canvases, there's so many more brands and companies looking for what we offer. It's gonna be more competitive. That works not gonna come for free because, I mean, you said there's 6,000 people actively working within these fluid motion universe. I think that's great. People are knocking down the door and there's people with jobs. But you're going to have to do more work. And you have to be smart about it. That's been more than half the discussions that I've had this year.
Joey: Yeah. I think especially on the high end. What we're talking about now with this pieces that really, really resonate. To get those kind of opportunities it's not enough to just be really great. You also have to cultivate the reputation. I think that when there was only a dozen or two dozen studios that really were capable of this kind of work, it was enough to just do the work and kind of put it on your vimeo feed and it would get seen, and get a staff pic and maybe end up on Motionographer. But now there's way too many. So the studios, to me, that seem to be the most successful...(at least from the never know how it really is going) are the ones that also understand how to market themselves.
Joey: I'll say just as an example, Animade is so...I mean they're amazing, but they're also really good at marketing. They have an email list, they're great on social media. They're smart in that they use marketing as a way to attract freelance talent and attract interns. They really understand the value of putting out content. (Laughter) Frankly. It's a weird way to think about it.
Ryan: They created their own product, you know. They created Boords. People who may not have ever even heard of Animade now are using something that Animade production tested...tested in the battle field pools.. that they're now making available for anyone to use. We talk about it all the time. That in the future the people who you are going to know about, the people who you're gonna be fans of, the people who you're gonna support are gonna be the people who not only make great product for other people but have also in some way become the product. You, yourself, School of Motion...we're seeing it with Cristo and the future. I look at Animade making Boords, which honestly...if no ones played with it, if you have to do collaborative boards or do anything where you have to story board stuff for's an amazing tool. It's terrific. And it's something they've been using for a long time and created as a service to other people.
Joey: Yeah it's invaluable. It really is the frame I owe for story boording. It's incredible. And I think that that leads perfectly into the next section of this episode. I wanted to talk about some of the trends that we've seen this year in the industry. One of them is kind of a continuation of somethin that I really started to notice last year. Which is motion design companies branching out into the world of their own products. Animade being a perfect example with Boords...Boords is an incredible tool and it wouldn't surprise me if at some point that business dwarfs their animation fryer business. It's really great because it's kind of like they're scratching their own itch. I'm sure they built it first because they needed something like that. Then realizing the value of it, opened it up to the industry and now they keep improving it and iterating it to where I think it's just gonna become more and more useful to more and more people.
Joey: That's so cool because the motion design and animation industry can be kind of lumpy in terms of revenue. It can be feast or famine. And products are an amazing way to smooth out the revenue and make it possible to do things like spec projects, personal projects, studio projects....the things that really move the [crosstalk 00:41:33]
Ryan: Yeah, totally. I mean we're seeing it across the board. We mentioned a little bit about it, I think last year, where I've been super jealous of the visual effects industry with the kind of open sourcing initiatives across the board...where you see things like Disney or ILM create pipeline tools. Because it makes their lives easier because they have to interact with everyone else they make them readily available. And I think we'll talk about it a little bit later but even something like...the volumes systems that you're seeing in Cinema 4D came from open sourcing of something like Open VDB.
Ryan: We're slowly starting to see that happen now. I forget which company but it's one of the more tech driven companies. It might have been Uber or Lyft....started releasing tools that they were using internally to the general public at large. They've just open sourced them. That initiative of trying to open and share and almost create standards that everybody uses across the board is slowly making its way into. But I think something like Boords is amazing. Even on the product side. Even seeing something like....Zach over at IBM Nation doing their first video game. We have the tools to create narratives, to create IP and to create experiences. We do it for other people all the time. It's probably a little scary to do it for yourself because you don't know what the return is going to be. But man, I still play Bouncy Smash to this day. Not just because I'm friends with Zach but it's a great game. It's well designed. It animates the way the best animation I watch...when I'm watching T.V. So it makes sense that playing a game from them would also animate amazingly.
Ryan: I think it's gonna be something that goes from the largest companies all the way down to individuals. It is literally in the capability of a single person to pick up from the company, work for a year and a half on their own, and generate something. I have a friend in the game industry that just literally did this and he's now a millionaire. For having left his company, saved a bunch of money, worked in his apartment for a year and a half, released a game on Steam. That game went from Steam and it got bought by Microsoft and it is exploding right now. And he's an army of one. There's no reason in the motion graphics world that that can't happen as well.
Joey: Yeah that's so true. I'm glad you brought up Bouncy Smash because what blew me away when IV released know, I'm thinking to myself, "Alright this is a very talented motion design studio and they can also do production, but a video game? I mean that seems like a totally different beast.". So I had no idea what to expect. I downloaded it and I'm like, "Zach's awesome, I'm friends with Zach, I'll download it.". I was blown away man. (Laughter) I was like this is amazing, it's fun, the production value is incredible. You can feel the animation principles and that design eye in there. I mean my kids are addicted to Bouncy Smash. It kind of made me realize just how uniquely positioned motion designers are to do things like this.
Joey: I remember when I was doing research for an article that I wrote earlier this year. I think it was Remington Mcelhaney...I think is his name. He's a motion designer at Google. He gave me this great quote about how uniquely positioned motion designers are for a career in...he was talking about the UX industry. Adam Ploof at one point told me that he sees motion design as a tool kit. It's not even really a career as much as a collection of tools. People are now savvy to this and realizing, "Hey we can build these incredible products." That opens up this entirely new scalable business model.
Joey: Buck released an app called Slapstick, which is this AR app, where you can basically stick these crazy animations to surfaces, take video of that and share and stuff like that. They're really cool. I think another trend that...I'm starting to see a little bit more of it. I still feel like it's mostly under the this idea of creating motion design on demand services. The way Moshare is doing it....Fraser and the Cub Studio team. The way Elo is doing it over in Italy with their algo product. Clearly this is more and more common. Facebook is doing...I mean I can't even imagine...probably a billion renders every few months. Whenever you see that "year in review" animation on Facebook that's some version of what Moshare is doing. Just on a bigger scale.
Joey: I feel like at some point someone is gonna figure out what the killer app is for that and make a killing.
Ryan: It goes back to the whole kind of passive income idea. If you can...I think you guys just put out a tutorial for this maybe a couple days ago. But like a robot-driven animation kind of sourcing tool. There's no reason that you can't essentially make money while you're sleeping if you do all the heavy lifting upfront. I agree, I think we're slowly starting to see this methodology thinks. The team at Adobe, they've really indexed heavily on treating data like it's a footage type. Being able to link to outside sources, being able to kind of create more templates and more automation driven tools. I think as more people touch it, see it, see end will just start to explode.
Ryan: I think we talked about a little bit this year...we're seeing more applications. I feel like we're almost to the same position as AR where in the next year to two, automation will hit critical mass where it's just something everybody knows, everybody does, everybody deals with. And there'll be those three or four shining stars that everybody is chasing after. I don't think we're there yet. But I bet someones working on it today for the thing that this time next year everybody understands and knows and accepts that it's something everybody will do.
Joey: Yeah, and I do agree. We've gotta give props to Adobe for sort of recognizing the direction this is all going. There's things that they've added in recent years like the essential graphics panel. Which, too, the motion design industry at first might be like a head scratch. Or like, whoa why are we doing this. But now you look at it with a birds eye view and it's like this now becomes a tool that you can build and customize solutions for clients. As opposed to just giving them a render you can give them literally it's almost like a little app that customizes your design and animation. You can look at it as, well that's taking work away from me. Or you can look at it as this is a brand new service and ability I have as a motion designer to offer to my clients. And that's the way I think everyone should look at it.
Joey: I think everyone....if you haven't gone to Moshare's website and Algo's website, we'll link to those. You've got to see what they're doing. It's so amazing to see, just, the quality of design and animation. With some expressions, a little bit of coding, you can have these crazy custom animation where your client literally orders it like they're ordering a cheeseburger. (Laughter) I mean it's pretty fantastic.
Ryan: Yeah there's something in Adobe brewing under the service where I think they're starting to get it and I think we're starting to understand it. I don't know if everybody saw the stuff that's coming with Adobe XD which is honestly an app that wasn't on my radar at all. But there's something in there that if you get to the point where you can actually export data, or code, or [inaudible 00:48:52] an app from something like afterfects or through a bridge between afterfects and XD. That you create all these touch's almost getting back to the macromedia director days but way faster, way cooler and way more capabilities. But if you could use afterfects as the engine that allows you to drive app creation for some people, or at least introduce us from our side, it starts getting really powerful. That there's someway to talk back and forth with your phone straight from afterfects. Publish from afterfects. Or to another app that lets you do that.
Ryan: Again we talk about canvases and screens and places. If you could start making that with all the skills you already have and sell it, or create subscriptions to it. That's another whole revenue stream for studios and individuals that just doesn't exist right now.
Joey: Yeah lets talk about that. One big trend that....we've seen this coming, it's been like a train just coming at us and now it's really hitting the million and one delivery formats that clients are asking for. I think by the time this episode drops, you won't yet be able to listen to this.....but at some point, I just did an interview with Erica Vorchow. And one of the projects that she worked on this year was helping Slanted Studios and the amazing team there design this insane, it really is insanely cool, interactive set for a show on Netflix called Patriot Act. The floor, the giant walls behind the host...they're just giant screens. And as he's sort of monologuing to the camera, what's on the screen is reacting and changing in real time and it's just incredible. That is...that use case for motion design is something you couldn't even have thought of like 5 years ago. And I guarantee you with the success of that show everyone is gonna want that now. That's just one example.
Joey: Then you've got 4K becoming more common. Stereo, 360 video, clients asking for Instagram versions of things. It's pretty crazy and I think that this is a trend's gonna take really the next 10 years to fully pan out. But we're definitely....our alumni are telling us already that a lot of them are literally doing animations for SnapChat and things like that.
Ryan: Oh yeah. We worked was probably a year and a half engagement with Mercedes Benz stadium for the Atlanta Falcons, the Atlanta United, the new soccer team...congratulations guys, you just won the championship in their second year. But we did a ton of content, a ton of kind of expiration for them, and our final deliverable was 21K, 60 frames per second, plus 13 additional screens of radically different resolutions and compositions and layouts. One that was a giant triangle that was, I think 8K. Another one that was 6 stories tall but was essentially Instagram proportions. Then at the very end of that project, to kind of wrap up what we were saying before, they decided they wanted it as a tool kit because they liked everything so much.
Ryan: So we needed to be able to swap out these 21K renders, we need to build afterfects files that let them swap out, for every possible team. For every possible color pallet for the teams themselves. Then also they wanted all that stuff as, again, SnapChat, YouTube pre-roll and Instagram options for systems to be able to also send this stuff out when game days about to happen and a player gets announced that he's hurt. They wanna be able to send out an Instagram thing but with the same kind of look, feel and quality as this gigantic 21K, 360 degree screen.
Ryan: The pipelines don't really exist yet to be able to really handle that. You're really kind of just, patchwork quilting together. Like, "Okay well, I'll do this in afterfects but I'll send this over to Nuke and then I need to have two artists on the backend just repurposing everything and re-laying everything out." And that's just the start. I think in 10 years...I think more like 3 or 4 years that's gonna become the standard for everyone.
Joey: Well you just reminded me, one of our buddies at School of Motion is Zach Leavitt, who is one of the smartest people I know. He's done scripts for A-scripts, he's been a motion designer. But now his sweet spot is actually being sort of this....I'll have to ask him how he would actually title himself...but I would say he's almost like a work-flow specialist for motion design studios and things exactly like you're saying. Where there is no tool yet that makes this simple. You kind of have to rig something up with a little bit of code, and some expressions, maybe a script...maybe one of those HTML 5 extensions. He's gotten really, really good at that and is booked a lot building these custom pipelines for things just like that.
Joey: When he told me that, that that's mostly what he's doing now, it kind of blew me away. That that's literally a thing that maybe 5 years ago there was like one or two people that were kind of doing this. And now there's actually a handful that that's full time almost, what they're doing. It's really fascinating to me.
Joey: I also want to point out that there's entire companies starting up that are focusing on this new area. One that is just started and they're kind of...I asked them, I got their permission to mention them cause I wasn't sure if they were on the DL. Gunner is...they have spun-off a side studio called Hobbs. Which, I love the name. They are focusing there on non-traditional mediums. They sent me this clip of something that they did this year where it's this animated drone show synced to music. I didn't even know this was possible what they showed me. It was drones literally coordinated so precisely that you could have Santa Clause's face opening and closing his mouth with drones. It was crazy.
Joey: Again it's one of these things where now that you know that that's possible and that it exists, it's pretty obvious that motion designers are the ones that are gonna be able to pull this off.
Ryan: Yep. I can think back...I can't remember, it was maybe three or four Super Bowls ago...Lady Gaga did the half time performance and it was sponsored by Intel, if I remember correctly. They had a drone, she was standing on the top of the stadium and she jumps off, but right before...the American flag suddenly appears behind her. Everybody thought it was being keyed in real time. And it wasn't, it was...I think several hundred drones all with screens or with colored lights...all being choreographed to move to each other. That was like bleeding edge, nobody else other than Intel could have the technology to integrate it. Now you're seeing, two or three years later, a pretty small studio in the middle of Detroit is getting paid to also do it. That's why I'm saying...when you say ten years, I think the rate at which this stuff is gonna go from: "No one can do" it to "being in your hands" on your MacPro with an Adobe app letting you do it. I think it's gonna just happen faster and faster.
Joey: Yeah you're probably right. I can't wait. It's gonna be really fun to play around with all this new tech. Speaking of new tech, lets talk about VR and AR, which I think a few years ago everyone was feeling like, "Alright this is just around the corner. This is gonna become the next big thing.". And it hasn't really, at least from what I've seen I don't think it has. Do you have any thoughts on why everyone doesn't have a headset at home?
Ryan: I'm gonna be very controversial about this, and I've said it before so it's not a new thought. But I think VR is a niche of a niche that we have seen come and go three times. I'm convinced that VR has nothing to do with the technology is not fast enough, or people aren't introduced to the concept enough. I think VR is a subset of gaming or special events that when done correctly is cool and it wears off very quickly. I think AR is the next thing since a cell phone or a smart phone that will change the way the world works. I hate that they're always joined at the hip. I think AR is incredibly powerful. The best example of it is a 5% implementation of what AR is possible change the way the world worked in terms of gaming and social interaction.
Ryan: If you look at what it was...when Pokemon go just a few years ago...that was a small representation of what being able to put a new reality as an overly on top of the world you exist in. Versus putting yourself in a face cave and avoid the world that you get from VR. I think AR will change the world. I think we're a half a generation to a generation away from it being completely accessible and completely enjoyable by everyone.
Ryan: But when you can take your phone, and I think I sent this to you. When you can take your phone and through an AR app, with just the API's that you get from apple, and you can see what looks like a completely photo reel sneaker with translucent materials and it's scanned from a real thing so you see all the actual in infinite details as you get closer and closer, and it's locked into place and you can't tell the difference. The possibilities for entertainment, for education, for training, for therapy, for journalism are endless. We're on the cusp but I think we're a half a generation away from AR having close to the same effect that smart phones have socially in the world.
Joey: Yeah I want that to be the case. Because I recently upgraded my iPhone, I got the XS. I think the last one I had was like an 8 or something like that so it couldn't really do AR that well. The new phone came with this simple act called measure where it kind of scans your environment and it's incredible. It's the simplest thing. It basically can lock a point on your wall and then you pick another point and it tells you exactly how far apart it is. I mean it seems so rudimentary but it kind of blew my mind.
Joey: I know what you're talking about with the sneaker by the way. We're gonna link to this in the show notes. I don't know the full backstory, but on Twitter Mimic posted this capture from an AR app and it's kind of hard to believe it's not fake. It's so amazing. Basically they have an app that is placing a 3D shoe on a table and the shoe is somehow being lit by the light in the scene and casting shadows. And it looks 100% real. It's all real time. This is like the holy grail people have been waiting for, where you can point your phone at your feet and see what it looks like with the new Nike shoes on it. It will look 100% real.
Joey: IKEA is already kind of doing this where you can place furniture in your house to see how it fits and stuff like that. But it doesn't look totally real the way this thing did. There's some crazy technology behind that. I know AR kit from Apple is a big piece of that, making it just easier in general.
Joey: I think this kind of leads into another thing which is the real time revolution where motion designers are gonna have to at least be familiar with tools like Unity and Unreal to be able to pull this stuff off.
Ryan: I think...we talk all the time about, we'll probably talk later...the competition between things like Octane and Redshift continually pushing each other is a benefit to all of us. Having competition in your tool space or entertainment or in anything always levels the playing field for everybody and raises everything up.
Ryan: Everybody is always saying like, "Why can't there be a faster, better, smarter afterfects" and I think part of that is there's no competition. But I would argue that sitting inside on reel and sitting inside Unity that there is an afterfects competitor waiting to be lifted out of all that code. There needs to be a little bit of UI and UX love put on top of it, but I really think the next great motion graphics tool will be built on top of real time API's. Built on a real time core. And it will help us to get to things like AR at the same time as getting us to a pre-render title sequence. At the same time as getting us to a real time set for live television. All at the same time, from the same data set, from the same work. That essentially becomes the hub that you publish everything out of.
Ryan: I don't necessarily know if that's something that can be retrofitted into a thing like afterfects. I don't even know if its something that can be retrofitted into things like Cinema 4D or My or Hudini. I think the core of the next generation of motion graphics tools are sitting right in the game mentions that we've got right next to us. That we're playing games with. That motion graphics artists are starting to kind of dabble in.
Joey: Yeah I've seen some insane tech demos this year. New versions of Unity and Un-reel come out. And they'll commission someone to make a film in it. There was a film, I think it was called "Adam" that came out. It's gorgeous. There's depth of field and glows and everything looks pretty close to photorealistic. And it's hard.....
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Joey: Everything looks pretty close to photorealistic and it's hard to believe that it's realtime, especially when you're used to working with the tools that we use every day where they've gotten a lot better, they keep getting faster and faster. But they're nothing close to realtime. So, I hope you're right. I hope that at some point, there's something, either After Effects updates or there's something like After Effects that there is no RAM preview. It just plays the thing.
Ryan: Exactly. You live inside it too, right? I look at the work of John Kahrs. He was one of the story guys that made Paperman at Disney a couple years ago, this 2D-looking 3D thing, and he left Disney. He just recently released Age of Sail through Google Spotlight. Everybody thinks that video games right now is just photoreal, but I really think that there's also a lot of the beautifully designed, almost 2D-feeling animations that we're used to seeing in motion design. That's also perfectly capable and perfectly acceptable to be done within realtime as well.
Ryan: If people haven't seen it, Age of Sail, it's one of the best short films I've ever seen, the great storytelling. It was produced with Chromosphere, so the guys, Kevin Dart and the guys over there, working with John Kahrs. It shows, I think, the potential for realtime is just waiting for us to move over there and start playing with it.
Joey: Yep. So, to wrap up our discussion about AR, one big thing that happened this year was the Magic Leap finally launched and there was so much hype around it. I've never worn one. I don't know what it's actually like to wear one, but the reviews I saw were kind of, "Yeah, it's kind of neat." So, I don't know if that was just overhyped or if it just turns out that the technology part is way harder than everyone thought it would be. But I don't think it's where it needs to be for mass adoption.
Ryan: No, not yet. I think Magic Leap was one of those companies that they've raised so much money and they're an industry darling. I think they've benefited and then also had the curse of the J.J. Abrams mystery box theory, that they didn't really tell people exactly what they were doing and that created a lot of hype and interest and people trying to look through patents and figure out what they were doing. They were saying all these amazing people, like Weta Digital is working with them, then I think just that very first implementation.
Ryan: That's why I say I think for the true AR experience, we're a half a generation to a generation away of that transformative, "My glasses just have AR built into them or I'm wearing contact lenses that are basically projecting onto my eyes." That stuff is coming. It'll be there eventually. But yeah, I think Magic Leap definitely had the hype and I think there were a lot of people hoping it wouldn't work, and when it came out and it was just so-so, people just dog piled on top of them.
Joey: Right, right. Well, overall, I think the tools to do all this kind of stuff are improving every day. I just saw a random tweet from that right now, I guess in beta, is a 360 video viewer/critiquing tool, which is incredible. Both Premiere and After Effects have added a bunch of great stereo tools in the last releases, so that stuff is getting easier. Let's talk about another trend, and this isn't really something that's new this year, but I just keep seeing more and more artists opt to do this.
Joey: I guess I would call it the scaled down studio/collaborative model. I talked about this with Erica recently, Erica Gorochow, and she runs a studio called PepRally. How many people are at the studio? One, right? It's an interesting model. Another example, Jorge, Jr.canest, for those not in the know, he was on the Motion Hatch podcast this year and talked about how he's been working in this collaborative model with not really being a studio per se, but it's not just him either.
Joey: We actually were very fortunate to be able to work with him on an animation for Saunders' class. We hired him to do it, but Yuki Yamada designed it. So, it's like you hire Jorge, but you get Jorge's entire network. That model is, there's so many advantages to it and disadvantages, but it's becoming very popular and I think it's cool.
Ryan: Yeah, and honestly, this has been going on for a long time under the radar. When you hire GMUNK, you hire GMUNK Industries. That's a certain amount Bradley and a certain amount a bunch of other people you already know who are working under that umbrella of GMUNK. There's two or three amazing, really what I would call senior heavyweights motion graphics people here in Chicago that have, air quotes, "companies" that are, it's them and then their network of friends that they know. Depending on if it's a job they can do by themselves, they do it by themselves. If it's a job where they need a little bit of design love, they bring in a designer.
Ryan: They may start the job off and then hand it off to three people to finish out, or it may go the other way. They may basically bring the work in almost as a biz dev person, assign it to a friend, and at the end, just put that last little bit of comp love other the top to make it their piece. But I think, again, in my world of ours this year, a remote freelance, I think, next year will be the year of remote freelance. I think this kind of collective approach is going to be the way that people get around the overhead of having to start a company and all the legal limitations and dealing with insurance and all the just, the overhead cost of starting a company, but allowing people to get access to a Giant Ant or an Imaginary Forces level of quality that you can trust because they're the people you worked with before.
Ryan: I think this is why I think in the next two to three years, there is going to be a radical redistribution of the industry. I think the biggest of the big companies are going to get a lot smaller really fast or disappear. I think some of our favorite individual people will actually get so busy that they're going to actually turn from these collectives into companies because I think it's sustainable when it's three people or four people and two projects. But when you have people knocking on your door and you could be running five projects, but you need 20 people, it's much harder to run it as a collective vs. a real company with a producer and a finances person and somebody project managing everything. I think we're going to get to see the really small people get bigger, then we're going to see the biggest ones just collapse and flatten out.
Joey: It's interesting. I'm not sure I totally agree there, and I'll tell you why. One of the things, because I think if you'd said that to me last year, I would have said, "I agree 100%." What's changed this year is I've had a couple of interesting conversations. One was with TJ Kearney, who came on the podcast and really dove into the economics of different stages and sizes of studios. Then I had another conversation recently, which will be a podcast episode that comes out very soon, with Joel Pilger, who ran a studio called Impossible Pictures for 20 years, sold it, and basically now is a consultant and a coach for studios.
Joey: He was telling me about, he has clients who are 10 to $50 million a year studios and agencies. There's this whole high level in terms of revenue and in terms of the clients you're working with that I think most of us are just not even aware exists because it's just to far outside of our universe of what we're used to. At that level, the level of ... Buck is the most obvious example of a studio that has managed to adapt and change and shift and continue to just improve everything they do. I don't know that a company like that's going to get smaller.
Joey: But then on the other hand, you have companies like Viewpoint Creative that most people have never heard of unless you're really in the know in the industry. They do amazing work, they're based out of Boston, they actually were just acquired, and they grew by expanding into more of a creative agency. So, I think that we'll probably see ... You know, Ryan, that sometimes that doesn't always go very well, but in their case, it went really, really well. So, I think that there's more options that I think people are going to be more and more aware of.
Joey: Hopefully, we can help shine a light on some of those where you can be a motion design studio and the options aren't hire more artists and do more motion design or get smaller. There's these sideways kind of things you can do too. I also think too, the TJ conversation really made me realize, and I got this comment from a lot of people who listened to it, that there is a ceiling if you do this collaborative thing. It can be super lucrative, there's a lot of flexibility and freedom involved. You can operate at a much lower price point.
Joey: If you're someone like Jorge that has the reputation and the body of work and the chops, you can get amazing giant clients too. For most people, there's going to be a ceiling where it's going to be tough to get Amazon to trust you. It's going to be tough to get Facebook to trust you because they're taking a risk vs. if they're going to IV in Nashville, it's a studio, they have an office. There's a LLC or an S corp or something. Just psychologically, it's easier for clients like that to trust that the big check is going to get them a return. So, it's going to be interesting, man.
Ryan: I agree with you in the sense that there's more than just those two options, that I think acquisition is definitely something that's happening all over the place. I think as brands start getting into the game and start trying to build their own design teams and see how hard that is to do from scratch, I think some large companies will just cherry pick a company and just basically board them, absorb them into.
Ryan: I do think also, though, for some of these collectives, I know we're actually, I've done it several times here at Digital Kitchen. But we will partner up with some of those collective sized companies as they're in their journey trying to figure out if they're going to become an LLC or an S corp or an official company. We will essentially white label or partner with those companies. We've done multiple times. Some really good success where it's essentially they almost, even though they're remote, it's almost like they're coming in under the umbrella of our company. We have a little bit of art direction flavor that we put on top of it, partner with them.
Ryan: In situations where we are task saturated and we have more work than we can handle and a job comes in that we would love to work on, rather than just pass it off or say no, we've done that several times where we reach out to an individual that has a small network of people. I think it's a great way for a company like that to be able to reach up and work on a larger brand that they would really necessarily get access to. It's almost like a co-production in the film or in animation world where you're working alongside a partner.
Ryan: So, yeah. I agree with you. There's tons of options. I think the options are just getting bigger and bigger. There's more people looking for partners, there's more people looking for extra bandwidth or different styles or looks than they can do. So, yeah. It's like sign of time.
Joey: Yeah. Dude, you just blew my mind, by the way. I have never heard the term white label used the way you just used it. To be honest, that's not even something I really knew was happening and that's really fascinating to me. So, I think anyone listening, if you are in this position of you're a freelancer, but you're starting to grow into this collaborative thing with some friends maybe, that's an amazing idea is to reach out to bigger studios, obviously as a freelancer. But you can also position yourself as an option for a bigger project that maybe the studio doesn't have the bandwidth to take on. But they can creative direct it-
Ryan: Yeah. Exactly.
Joey: ... and you can be the remote production team. That's very cool, man.
Ryan: I think we're tying back to what we were saying earlier. That's where, not just saying ... I talk to so many people about demo reels and how to present themselves. That's where that whole idea of voice and vision comes back again as well, right? If at our company, we have five creative directors and they all have their sweet spots and their strengths and a job comes in and none of those creative directors are either available or necessarily hit that style or that way of speaking, I'd love having a list of freelancers I can work with.
Ryan: Not just based on in my database saying Houdini, Trapcode Particular, Stardust, but also, they're amazing at doing stuff aimed at his category of client or I know that they love doing underwater photography or animation that feels like it's super slow motion, but it's hand drawn, that they have a voice or a vision or a thing they're trying to do. For me, a lot of times, my job as a creative director is acting as a casting agent now, is like, "Oh, man. I love this artist. I'm a fan of them. I want to work with them, but I know they want to do this kind of work in the future and they haven't had a chance because they've reached out to me and I have this suite of work that I'm trying to get done."
Ryan: That's an incredible opportunity if you have more than just a list of technical capabilities on your demo reel and you have a, "I will do this kind of work." So, that's why I bang on so much about voice and vision when I talk to people because it can be a key differentiator for you.
Joey: So, this leads into, I think, another trend. This isn't a trend so much as just a reality that I keep hearing from studio owners and producers and creative and art directors is that they're ... It's fascinating to me because from my perspective, School of Motion is growing and our student body's growing and our alumni list is growing. We're trying to put more motion designers out there and a lot of them are getting work and people are going freelance and getting double and triple booked.
Joey: It seems like there's not enough people in general to do all the work that's out there. But at the high level, at the Digital Kitchen level, at the Buck Level, at the Giant Ant level, the Gunner level, it seems like there's this insatiable need for really proficient high end artists who really know what they're doing and there's not nearly enough of them. It surprised me to hear that even the best of the best studios at the very top, sometimes they can't find enough people to do the work.
Ryan: Yeah. Joey, it's more than sometimes. It's something we deal with every day. I have a small circle of people from my freelance days and just networking that I talk to that reach out to me and I reach out to them. There is a vacuum from the middleweight to heavyweight level across the board. When you see a company like Giant Ant reaching out on Twitter saying, "Hey, we're looking for more cel animators," in my mind, and I know I've done this myself, that's because they've reached out to all the people they've reached out to in the past, they've talked to all the people that work for them to reach out to their support structure, and they can't get enough people.
Ryan: If you're doing essentially an open call to the world, not even on message boards or on forums or on Slack channels or on LinkedIn or Motionograher, the School of Motion board, but you're just blasting to the world on Instagram and Twitter looking for anybody, these are the best companies that everybody wants to work for and we're all having a hard time finding middle to senior heavyweight artists that we can hire staff and honestly, even as reliable freelancers over and over.
Ryan: Thank God there's places like School of Motion and Mograph Mentor that are teaching people and getting them ready and working their way up. But it's really difficult. It's actually surprised me how hard, not just me being in Chicago in a secondary market, but friends in LA, friends in Seattle, friends in New York, everybody is having a hard time finding the right people as they start to expand.
Joey: I'm curious, what is the reason for that, do you think? So, one market force that I think, at least on the West Coast, is clearly making it harder is just these tech giants being able to pay freelancers and artists twice what a studio can, in some cases. So, is it that? Is it competition for them? Or are there just not enough that are good enough?
Ryan: I think it's part of it is that there definitely is a bit of the top tier artists getting sucked up and being pulled out of freelance or being pulled out of companies they've been at for seven or eight years. When I was at Imaginary Forces the last six months, that happened. Two or three of the best people that'd been there for a while got basically cherry picked and pulled in. A couple people considered going freelance and within less than six months ended up at Apple or at Google or at Facebook. I think that's part of it.
Ryan: I think the other big thing is expanding what the definition of good enough actually means. There's a lot of people with technical skill. There's a lot of people that are proficient. I think that there's a ton of people that are lacking in the soft skills, things like being art directable, things like knowing where and when to speak up, showing when you have voice and when you need to just do the assignment, people who can think on their feet, people who are willing to be given an open brief with a box that they work within, and then get an assignment and take it to, I hate using this phrase, but take it to the next level of advancement.
Ryan: There's one thing to do a design that fulfills the checklist. But there's another thing to say, "I also have these other ideas that I wanted to integrate that I think can add to the conversation as we're designing the animation or designing the storytelling or finishing up the ideation for the process." That stuff, I think is still a hole that needs to be filled in the education, not just from online schools like School of Motion, but honestly, even from people coming out of Art Center, people coming out of Otis, people coming out of SCAD.
Ryan: Those soft skills, I feel like as everybody's really focusing on the technical capability and the ability to render and do 2D animations, those seem like those are things that I myself and other of my peers are having a hard time finding to fill for a senior artist or for a person who's going to be an art director that leads a team of two or three people. I think honestly, that's really just going to come from experience. As all these people knock on your doors, knock on Mograph Mentor's doors, and start getting in the industry and start working, hopefully we'll see more of those people who are just amazing technically proficient artists work up into being able to be the kinds of people we can use and trust reliably all the time.
Joey: Excellent. That's really good advice then and that's something that, to me, it seems like an obvious thing that, especially if you're freelance, you have to develop interpersonal skills. It's basic how to be cool, how to be friendly, and how to be easy to work with. It's a little bit disheartening to hear that that's one of the primary things holding people back from getting the call. So, all right. I'm going to be thinking about that a lot in 2019 and trying to find ways to help our students and our alumni calibrate to that. So, thank you for bringing that up.
Joey: Let's talk about, there's a couple more trends here I wanted to get into. One, and this is one of those things I can't tell if it's a trend or if it's just because I've been noticing more, it feels like a trend. But it seems like, I think part of it is just the culture today, especially in the United States, is very touchy. Everyone's a little on edge. I think people feel like they have to be a lot more careful with what they say and there's that term woke that popped into my head. So, there's a lot more conversation, I think, about ethics in our business, which is a good thing, I think.
Joey: So, one of the things that's most interesting about that, there's obvious things where if, I don't know, if you're a vegetarian or something, you don't want to do something for Tyson chicken. There's things like that that are kind of obvious. But then there's these gray areas. Really, the time that I always see it is with social media companies where there's undeniable good they do, there's undeniable bad they do, and the balance of that can vary, depending on who you ask.
Joey: Some people, especially motion designers, because often we are called upon to make those companies feel more relatable and friendly and, "Hey, look at this neat commercial we did," and we're very aware of what we are being asked to do and we are paid handsomely for it sometimes. So, it's just a question. It seems to be more discussion about it, and I think it's really interesting. I'm curious what your thoughts are on that.
Ryan: Well, I love some of the stuff that Sander talked about in your podcast, that he did a great job of explaining what was important to him where he was at in his career right now and where he was in the past and decisions he made back then vs. where he is now because of his station, because of his, essentially, I use the word leverage quite a bit. But because of his capabilities, his reputation, he can say no to things and he can take a stand. He's not necessarily saying everybody else should take the same stand as he is, but I think the lesson coming from his is that you can. Right?
Ryan: I think the thing that all of what you guys are doing, what the future is doing, what Hayley with Motion Hatch is doing is teaching people the things that they can make choices about. Right? When you start to freelance, you can put in kill fees. When you start to freelance, you can do what Jordan Scott does and say, "I don't take holds. If you want to book me, book me. If not, I don't do holds. It's not worth my time. If you want me, you know where to find me." Everyone's starting to learn that they can treat themselves like companies or they can treat themselves with a rule set that's personal to them.
Ryan: It just so happens right now too, we live in a world that's basically a minefield, but the minefield is essentially in a giant bowl of Jell-O. Every step you take pushes the mines to the left and right and no one really knows where all the problems are. Right? I love Twitter. I live and die by Twitter. Twitter when it started, or at least when I jumped in, was a beacon of light. It was communication. It was connecting people. It was responsible for political and social change in the Middle East. Now it feels like a totally different place in a short amount of time to the point where I've seriously considered ... I took six months off of it last year. But I seriously considered just completely abandoning it.
Ryan: Probably two years ago, I would have loved to work for Twitter, actually work at the company, do motion graphics, be involved with the UX design, help them figure out features. I would never want to work there right now in the current system that they currently have, with current leadership, and the things that they're responsible for and the things they allow to happen. I love that Sander was able say, "Look. As a leading member of the industry, as somebody everybody aims to be, I'm not going to do work for certain companies. I'd rather do work for a startup or do work for a company that does something that does social good."
Ryan: I think it's great. I just think it's important for us not to say what the stance should be. But I think it's really important for us as leaders of the industry to say, "You can take stances, you can make choices, and it's up to you to make those." Those choices change over time as the landscape changes.
Joey: Yeah. I think the way that I like to look at it is it's less about feeling like you have to fight back against these companies that maybe you disagree with and it's more about just knowing your worth. That's something that when you're starting out, of course, you really have no idea what your worth is. Right? But once you've been working for a few years, and especially if you go freelance or you start a studio or something like that, eventually, you have to come to grips with the fact that you are offering an incredibly valuable service to your clients and that you need them to get paid and pay your bills. But they need you more in some cases.
Joey: That's a really weird mental switch to turn on, and this is the kind of thing that I love. Chris Doe talks about it all the time. He's really great at explaining it. But if you can make that switch and just be confident in your worth to that client, you have a lot more power than you think you do. Of course, when you're starting out, you don't. Right? So, you are very likely going to be put in the position of having to say yes to something that maybe is ethically questionable to you because you have to buy diapers or pay the mortgage or whatever.
Joey: But I just love that there's a conversation about it. I think that's the main thing. I'm hands off politically. Everyone do what they feel they need to do. But I think that even just talking about it is healthier than just burying those feelings and just saying, "Well, I got to eat. So, I'm just going to hold my house and do the job."
Ryan: Yeah, and honestly, this year has been the year of talking for me and reaching out to people, people reaching out to me. I hope with the future with you guys, with Motion Hatch, with more people face to face and meeting each other, whether it's conferences or meetups or just going and getting drinks, these conversations about things like rates and bookings and, "Should I work for company X?" The more we all talk about it, the more we realize that it's common to everybody.
Ryan: Everyone, whether you're at day one working as a freelancer coming out of school, you've been at a studio for 10 years, you've worked for yourself for 20, everyone to some degree is basically having these same conversations. They may be at higher levels or lower levels and with a little more mistakes. But I totally agree, man. That's the thing that I'm most excited about the next year is the level and amount of conversations that are starting to happen. Feel like it's totally different than it was in the past.
Joey: Yeah, and everybody is very open and I always talk about how great the industry is and how everybody's friendly and open. It's true. I'm not blowing smoke up the industry's ass. It's actually, it's the way it is. So, the last trend I want to talk about, and I couldn't really think of a better way of putting this other than un-sausaging the party. There's been some really strong voices in the motion design community that have been pushing for more fairness and equality and frankly, just awareness of some of the issues that female artists have had to deal with.
Joey: We've had Michelle Ouellette from Yeah Haus on the podcast. She talked about some really awful things that she's gone through in her career, Angie Feret. These stories, when I hear them, it's hard for me to imagine and it's made me realize that this is actually one of the big lessons that I learned this year that we'll get into a little bit is that I sometimes live inside my own head a little too much and the experience that I have, it's easy to assume that everyone else's experience is similar. It's just not true.
Joey: So, I'm really, really thrilled to see more and more female role model type artists step up and say what's on their mind and really point out some of the inequalities and the bad behavior. Some of the organizations, Punanimation, which gets the award for the best name, yeah, Strong Women in Motion, Women in Mograph, which was sponsored by Maxon. Maxon's been behind the scenes, but pretty involved in pushing more female artists to the forefront. I think it's an amazing thing. It's just helping build a strong community of female artists for up and coming female artists, which is super important in my opinion.
Ryan: Yeah. I agree. I would even add to that, I don't think it's happening fast enough and I think it's not just women in the field. I also think it's minorities. I think it's diversity and voices across the board more than people that look like you and me. There are enough middle aged White bald dudes at conferences and running podcasts.
Joey: We've got enough of them.
Ryan: There's enough of us. Not to say that there shouldn't, that everybody should have an opportunity. But I think the important distinction between what you said, though, is that it's not just the women in our industry's responsibility to step up. It's our responsibility to step up as creative directors, art directors, studio runners, people with podcasts, people booking conferences. Women and minorities and every other voice that needs to be heard in our industry because let's face it, we are taste makers for culture, we are designing the products and the messaging and the stories that everyone hears across the board.
Ryan: This is happening in the film industry, it's happening in the animation industry, it's happening in the music industry. But on our side, I feel like I walk into almost every office and it looks a lot like me. It is our responsibility as much, if not more, than anyone else that's trying to climb up to create the opportunities. It goes to the bigger picture initiative about, like I said, the conferences and the hiring.
Ryan: But it also goes down to the day to day experiences in your brainstorming rooms, in your offices, at the desk that when you're in a group of people and you're brainstorming, it's our responsibility not just to make sure that there's people in the room that don't look like us, but to give them the opportunity and the safety and the environment to feel like they can speak up.
Ryan: I don't know how many times I've been in a room brainstorming and there'll be five guys, two women, and maybe one African American man. The only people talking are the same two or three experienced high level older White guys. It's our job to point to the room and say, "I need you to speak up. I know you have ideas. I put you in this room. I found a way to get you here. I want to hear what you have to say and it's important for this room to hear it." Not necessarily to always put people on the spot, but to create the environment.
Ryan: Sometimes, that's spending three to four weeks having one-offs, having coffee conversations, going and getting lunch with people that feel like not just because of what you've done or because of what the company's done, but because what their school experience was like, what their previous jobs were like, they haven't been valued enough, they haven't been given the opportunity to speak up. It's not just reach for it. It's creating and environment and pushing people to break free from the previous lifetime's worth of being held back and being gaslit and being told no to create and break from that and create environments where people feel like equals and they have an opportunity to speak up to be able to reach up and to be able to put themselves in the position to do that.
PART 3 OF 7 ENDS [01:33:04]
Ryan: Speak up. To be able to reach up and to be able to put themselves in the position to do that. There's a reason why, when I try to do a podcast and I reach up to 20 people, 10 men and 10 women, only two women respond back saying that they want to be on the podcast. Then, one of them says, right before, “You know what? I thought about it. I can't do it because I'm afraid of the blow back that I would get from social media, from other people, for speaking out.”
Ryan: But, all 10 men don't even think twice about it. That's a systemic issue in our industry. The only way it's going to change is if, everybody comes to the table, but right now, the bigger difference comes from us, trying to make a difference.
Joey: I'm really glad you said that, man, because the way I've always looked at it, and from what I've seen and heard this year, really kind of reinforces the idea. The lens I look at it through is that, as human beings, we all sort of model our behavior after other people's behavior.
Joey: When there's lots and lots of people who look like you, doing something, it subconsciously gives you permission to also do that. So, to me, it seems like there's a lot of issues, but in terms of the under-representation of females in the industry, I think probably a lot of it comes down to, there haven't been ... because of these systemic reasons, there haven't been enough female role models.
Joey: There are amazing ones out there, of course. The Karen Fong's, and the Erin Sarofsky's, and now the Bee Grandinetti's, and the Sarah [Batts 01:34:30] and Erica Gorochow, and Hayley Akins, by the way, who is killing it.
Joey: So, I think that we need to, A, push them up really high so that everyone can hear them, but also, be proactive about it because I think you're right. It's sort of this weird self-sustaining thing, where because there isn't a really popular African American motion-design podcast host, then it might be a little bit harder for someone who fits that demographic to feel permission, to feel like it's okay, to start one.
Ryan: It goes to the teams, too, right? Like, I think we index on the inspirational figures and the high-end people because that's who we want to be, we want to reach for that, we want them as guests on our podcasts. So, we'll always go to the Michelle Doughertys and the Karens and the Erins, but I think just as important as that, it's that when people come out of school, that they see a peer set that reflects the world as well.
Ryan: When I go to Art Center, or when I go to Cal Arts to look at the animation teams ... The last two years I was in L.A., when I go to schools now, 60%, more than half of the people in those schools are women. Right? There's a growing number of minorities in those schools, but for some reason, from the year they graduate to within a year after they get out into the industry, those numbers dwindle to 15, 20, 25%.
Ryan: There's something going on from the moment you finish school, to the moment you get in the industry, that is causing that. People aren't just going into the industry like, "I don't like animation anymore, even though I spent four years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to do it." It's that there's something systemically active in the industry that's keeping people from saying, "This is an industry I want to keep pushing forward. I have opportunity. I have peers, I have people to look up to, and I have chances to move through it."
Ryan: I don't think we see it because we're just trying to get the best people, and we're just trying to get the most work, and we're trying to move up, but there's something else going on under the surface that we all have to work together on.
Joey: Yeah. I think that ... what I suspect, and what I hope happens, is that the younger generation, like the new artists coming in ... I think, just overall, are more socially aware than our generation was, and the generation before us certainly, and just the attitudes about diversity and including everybody and having voices that are different and all that kind of stuff.
Joey: I think it just feels far more important, there's a lot more emphasis on it now in the way we're raising our kids, and in the way the world is operating. I think there's going to be a lag where we don't see it right away, but I do think that one or two generations from now, in MoGraph years, I think the numbers are shifting.
Ryan: I think the way marketing speaks to people is changing very radically too. Before it used to be, maybe 10 years ago. If there's a new product coming out, you speak to everybody the same way. Right? You make one ad, you spend $1 million on it, you speak to everyone over TV. Now it's, "Oh, I'm going to take that million dollars, I'm going to put it towards different types of messaging for different types of audiences, and also different places."
Ryan: So, as marketing slowly filters through that and kind of re-calibrates and sees like, "Oh, wow, a millennial that's in school doesn't want to be spoken to the way a 45-year-old guy with a family wants to be spoken to, and also those people want to be spoken in different places." I think that that would filter out to us as we are still ... unfortunately, still primarily a service industry. We will react to that and then hopefully change it even faster once it gets down to us.
Joey: Right. Well, it's a big topic, it's deep one, and I know that in 2019 this is still going to be a big piece of the conversation in our industry, and I hope ... We try not to make too much noise about it, but behind the scenes we are actively trying to do things that help the situation and things like that. I know that you're helping a lot of people with your office hours, so hopefully we really start to see some progress and some really awesome success stories, I guess.
Joey: Now, we can move into something a little less heavy. Ryan, let's talk about ... let's get geeky now. Now let's talk about some of the new tools, and resources, and just ... toys, that have been released in 2018 that have been really helpful. Why don't we start with After Effects, the elephant in the room. Big release -
Ryan: Huge.
Joey: ... CC 2019. What did you think of the release?
Ryan: I think it's getting better and better. I mean, I think ... I always have to continue to remind myself that they're serving such a large user base, that it's not just me and my buddies animating. Like, they can't fix everything all at once. I think we're slowly starting to see more of it, I think that they actually ... we talked about it earlier, but ... they've opened up a whole field of interaction with data that we're just at the tip of the iceberg for that.
Ryan: Lots of little things that, for us, don't feel like its that big of a deal, but I can only imagine how much time ... Expression engines completely updated, right? Like, we're to a more modern co-base of JavaScript versus Expressions, little things like Monospacing, the actual Expressions editor. Sounds small, but anybody who does a lot of Coder, does any kind of scripting, night and day.
Ryan: So, there's little stuff kind of coming through. I really love master properties, like the ability to be able to make one core composition, and then pre-comp that all over the place, but then in my master comp, reach down into the pre-comp and make unique, individual instances of it. I've always said that I never think After Effects would become a node-based editor, but I always wanted to be essentially, a node based organization tool.
Ryan: I feel like we're starting to get that, with the ability to look at effects before and after masks within an effects deck, master properties, there's a lot of things that you get from nodal-based systems that exist now in After Effects that are finally there, that I don't think people really understand the power of just yet.
Ryan: I would love to have a node-based viewpoint to see how those things are all starting to kind of talk to each other and interface and fingers crossed, maybe one day be able to parent things across a node-based editor. It'll never turn into Nuke, it'll never turn into Fusion, I don't think that's ever possible, but they're making a lot of steps.
Ryan: It still isn't as fast. It's still the grand preview or whatever you wanna call it still, isn't as reliable as it used to be, but I'm thrilled with the newest version of After Effects. I think it's slowly but surely getting better.
Ryan: One thing I love about it is that the responsiveness between the After Effects team and the user-base, is ridiculous. If you're on the slack channel, they're there. Tim's there, the team is there, they're asking questions, they're active, they have the new kind of vote-based forum for putting requests, which is a lot more responsive now, when you're starting to see what people are really wanting versus just what you hear the same three people complaining about all the time.
Ryan: So it's not perfect, I don't think it ever will be until we actually get a true competitor to light a fire under Adobe as a company, not as a team, but I'm getting more and more happy with it, and then I'd say on top of that, to me, the biggest explosion has been After Effects Scripts.
Ryan: The amount of scripts in the last ... it feels like every week there's four or five things that blow my mind. But definitely this year, I've seen more useful and essential scripts come out than I think the last two or three years combined.
Joey: Yeah, and I wanna second what you said about the Adobe After Effects team, led by Victoria Nece, what I love about the last couple releases is that there's always this balance, I'm sure, that has to be struck between features that are kind of sexy sounding and kind of good bullet-points versus features that don't really look all that interesting on a press release, but make my life as an animator so much easier.
Joey: The new expression engine I think is a great example of this. That's not something that is gonna excite a brand new After Effects user, or someone who's thinking of signing up for Adobe Creative Cloud, but there was this collective cheer that went up when it was released, and expressions run faster, and the editor looks better with the monospace font.
Joey: I mean, to me, that's a life enhancer. Having something that works better, especially if you're doing character animation, and you're using Duik, and there's all these expressions, a rubber hose, it's a noticeable increase in speed. It's incredible.
Joey: Master properties, I think, is a complete game changer, and like most things, I think it's gonna take artists a while to sort of unlearn their old habits of the way they sort of worked around the limitations without master properties, but I mean, once I started playing with it and wrapped my head around it, I said, "This solves so many problems." It's a really awesome thing.
Joey: So yeah, what you just brought up about the ecosystem around After Effects, you go to [Ace Scripts 01:43:50] and literally every other day there's something new on there. The quality of those tools and the sophistication of them is kind of blowing my mind lately, too.
Ryan: Yeah, no, is it okay to do a shout out to one kind of new script developer on Ace Scripts?
Joey: Absolutely, yeah.
Ryan: So there's these guys, I think they're in Australia, or New Zealand, and it's the plug-in to everything guys, and the speed that they've been developing new stuff, they just released something called File Hunter, they do this great job of doing a mix between modernizing and enhancing effects that have been around forever, like something like Echo, and then also creating these bulletproof amazing little workflow tools, that if you deal with other people's files, are just the chef's kiss. They're like perfect and they solve problems.
Ryan: So File Hunter, they just came out with, it basically allows you to I'm sure if you are working in a studio, you're working on a project, you hand it off to someone else, you get it back and none of your files link up. It essentially mimics the ability that you have in Premier, that if you find one file that's been linked up and then Premier sits there and thinks for a few seconds, anything in that folder stack, it essentially also finds and re-links, it's essentially like a one and done re-link everything.
Ryan: They also have this tool that I work with, probably five to six different people in my office, but then 10-15 remote freelancers at any given time, one of the hardest things is no one follows any kind of naming structure in terms of what they name solids or what they name track mats or how they organize things. There is a tool that they have created called OCD Re-namer that you can basically set up your pre-sets and how you want things to be named, and in one button click, you can rename every single layer in every one of your comps, and it'll sit there for a few seconds, think about it, and then all of a sudden, everything's been transferred over to your naming system.
Ryan: It has been unbelievable. And it's one thing that if you're scrolling through 80 scripts, you probably wouldn't even notice it, but life-changer.
Ryan: And then on top of that, they just have of bunch of little effects kind of features. They have a great [inaudible 01:45:57] node plug-in that basically allows you to create - the noodles that you would get from a mind mapping tool, really easy to generate and build them, that's always a pain in the butt to do, text lays, kind of improvement on top of the really clumsy but super powerful text animators in After Effects, and then cartoon moguler is like a next generation Echo effect, which I use all the time, but is incredibly slow if you start using and stacking it on top of each other.
Ryan: These guys, I think they've been doing these for less than a year. They do a little podcast all the time on YouTube where they explain what they're working on and ask for feedback and. Man, they have quickly come from being someone I've never known to being absolutely essential in my workflow.
Joey: Absolutely, well we'll definitely link to them in the show notes and I'm familiar with them, I haven't really dove in, but I have seen one of their videos, and they're really funny and great personalities, and the tools are amazing.
Joey: Just a couple other tools that I wanna call out that came out this year, a new version of Stardust.
Ryan: Holy cow!
Joey: It basically started out as a particle generator, it's become, I don't know how you'd even describe it at this point, it's one of the most powerful plug-ins there is for After Effects. It's unbelievable.
Joey: The way I look at it is, it's a complement to Trapcode in particular, which is still I think my favorite particle plug-in for After Effects, just because of how easy it is to use and tweak, but there are things it can't do.
Joey: Stardust can almost do anything. It's kinda scary.
Ryan: It's actually, for one, the development team, I don't know how big they are, but it feels like every quarter, they release an update that should be a full version number increase. In my mind, in the year and a half they've been doing it, Stardust should be on version five.
Ryan: It's a node-based particle system, it feels a lot like Particle Flow in 3D Studio Max, really fun to work with. It's a great primer to node-based workflows if you've never used them before. So, if all you've ever done is After Effects, it's a great way to get your head around how and why nodes are something you wanna learn.
Ryan: But yeah, like in recent versions, they've added, I think, the bullet real time physics tools, are built into it. The open standard is, so basically you have real time physics that you would have in something like Cinema 4D, but built right into After Effects.
Ryan: They have import of 3D models so you could almost treat it like Element 3D lite, they've added MoGraph tools that emulate a lot of things that we've always wanted in After Effects from Cinema 4D. It's almost like its own program that sits within After Effects.
Ryan: Like After Effects is the base, and now it's this particle motion graphics utility kit of stuff. And every three months it feels like there's a whole new feature set that comes in across the board.
Joey: Totally. It's really fun to play with, and another big tool that's near and dear to me, and I know Morgan Williams, who teaches our character animation boot camp, the new version of Duik dropped. Duik Bassel.
Joey: And for anyone listening who isn't familiar, Duik is this script, and it's very deep, and it essentially gives you all these tools that make rigging and character animation possible inside of After Effects.
Joey: The old version of Duik was great, but the way it worked was, I think, a little clunky, and unlike typical workflows in a 3D program. The new version of Duik uses this bones system that's very much like the bones system in Cinema 4D or Maya, and it's so much easier to use. Way more powerful, too. And it's free, by the way, it's actually a free script.
Ryan: It's insane!
Joey: Yeah. So that, for character animators and riggers I think is a total game changer, and I think one of the coolest things that came out this year.
Ryan: Yeah, I mean it's essential at this point. There are a lot of other tools to do character animation. None are as full featured, none are as tightly developed, and none of them are the industry standard.
Ryan: It's mind blowing to me that that developer's still offering it for free. I mean, it should be the number one selling tool on After Effects scripts at this point, but he's amazingly generous, and hopefully people are donating to him and supporting him, and I don't know if he has a Patreon or not, but he should. It's amazing that the defacto standard for character animation is freely available.
Joey: So let's also talk, Ryan, about the incredible update that Maxon did to Cinema 4D this year, Cinema 4D r20, and I know as soon as it came out, you went on social media, and could not shut up about how great it was.
Joey: So why don't you talk about some of the things they did and what you thought was really important.
Ryan: Yeah, man, I honestly think it's - since I've been using it since 12.5, it is the best, biggest, and most impactful update that Maxon has released, and that's saying a lot because I can't remember if it was 16 or 17, but when they released the takes and tokens release, it was mind-blowing. It was everything.
Ryan: I had done a project previously about a year and a half ago on imaginary forces where I was working directly with Maxon, and I kept on telling them, "Just, look at what Houdini's doing, and implement a lot of the way they're dealing with versioning and being able to audition different things in a Maxon style way." But they were kind of best in class.
Ryan: And two years later, they literally put together exactly what me and my team were dying to be able to have to manage scenes and to experiment and audition stuff. So fast forward however many years this has been, four, five, six years, everyone is playing around with, we spoke earlier about open VDB, and all these kind of open source initiatives, that Maxon has been slow to integrate a little bit, but volumes has showed up, volumes and fields.
Ryan: And those two combined at the same time with the kind of Maxon intuitiveness, it's kind of like these new features that bolt on for Maxon. They take a little longer, but they're almost bulletproof, and they are incredibly easy to play with. Like it feels like that's the best word. It feels like play when you're messing around with them.
Ryan: But then they are so deep and so integrated into the workflow. Fields basically replaces fall-offs, but they're universal, they're across the entire program, and there's a little bit of stuff kind of behind the scenes, not that I'm in the beta at this point to know, but you can kind of read the tea leaves, they also finally introduced node-based materials into the physical and standard renderer.
Ryan: And I think a lot of people might rolls their eyes because they're like, "I'm using Octane, I'm using Red Shift, or [inaudible 01:52:24]" or whatever, but the thing that's amazing about it is, when Maxon does something, it does take awhile, but I would argue that their new node-based editor is best in class across anyone who's added nodes inside of Cinema.
Ryan: And the exciting thing about that, and where I think it might be going, and again, I'm not in the beta anymore, so I don't know where they're going, but it feels very reminiscent of if anybody remembers this back in the day, I was a big Softimage user, when Softimage switched to XXI a few versions in, they rewrote the entire program as something called Ice. And essentially every single thing you could do, was essentially a little node. Every button press, every tool, every component. And the whole program was accessible to anyone to basically tear apart, rewrite, restack, re-node, and kind of package these little bits of tools that then you could either sell, or build on top of other tools.
Ryan: I don't know that this is happening, but if you look at the node-based editor, and understand the experiences of like using Expresso back in the day, it really feels like there is some kind of effort going on at Maxon of rebuilding the entire core of Cinema 4D for the last five or six years, and we're finally starting to see the little tips of the iceberg of those efforts.
Ryan: I don't know if that makes any sense to anyone listening to this, but if you can't tell in my voice, I'm incredibly excited. R20 is a really great step up in terms of a lot of things we can do. [inaudible 01:53:46] which were kind of a joke and weren't very clean and weren't very fast, essentially have [inaudible 01:53:51] on steroids with fields and volume builders.
Ryan: I think next year, we'll probably start seeing more of what, when you think of open VDB or volumes in terms of smoke and fire, those kind of volume metric particle effects, I think we'll start seeing more of that, I'm guessing, but I also think we're gonna start seeing a lot more power open up at the very granular, close to the metal level of the core. I think r21 is going to be mind-blowing at this point.
Joey: That's awesome! That's a really good kind of summation of all the features. The other things that went on that really don't have much to do with the actual software, but I think are just as important, is that Maxon had quite a shake up this year. The founders of sort of the parent company I guess retired, and they brought on, I'm blanking on his name, but they brought on a guy from Adobe, really high up experienced person from Adobe, to be the CEO, they've promoted Paul Babb to head of worldwide marketing.
Joey: Interesting side note, I was talking yesterday to a visual effects artist who uses flame, and if you're not familiar, if you're listening and you don't know what a flame is, a flame used to be the thing everyone used to do visual effects and even a little bit of motion design, and one of the big problems that he was talking about with me was that flames are still very powerful and there's a very good use-case for them, the problem is, Autodesk as a company doesn't do anything even close to what say Paul Babb does in terms of evangelizing the product.
Ryan: Right.
Joey: So there's not a young generation of artists coming up through the ranks, excited to learn flame the way there is for Cinema 4D. And Paul Babb, I think, gets a lion's share of the credit for that with assist from Nick Campbell, of course, and I think that you combine the amazing sort of feature development with the ecosystem around the app, and it's honestly one of the most exciting and kind of wholesome, I guess is a word that comes to mind, sort of software ecosystems that I've ever seen. So very bullish on Maxon in 2019.
Ryan: Oh my god, yeah. I mean I can't echo more what you said about Paul Babb. I always talk about this whenever I go to a new company, or I freelance somewhere. I've always learned at this point, after doing, I think, 15 or 16 different companies, culture is defined and dictated by the person at the top leading the company.
Ryan: I would argue that Paul Babb has defined the culture of motion graphics as an industry more than anyone else with openness, with the friendliness, with the fairness, with the generosity, with the desire to expand the connections and not be a silo like ...
Ryan: Maxon USA has done so much work to connect Cinema 4D to so many other programs, and they've done the leading edge work to go and shake hands with people at different companies, at Houdini, at Substance, to the tools that you have and the bridges you have, you can look at that a lot as being part of what Paul and his team has done.
Ryan: But on top of that, the initiatives for diversity in our industry, Paul is the leading light for that. The initiatives to get more people from other places that you've never heard of on a stage, and introduce them and their work, Paul is at the head of that.
Ryan: Honestly, there will be times where you don't even know Paul's doing something, but there might be a Kickstarter, or there might be an Indiegogo that's on the edge of being funded, I've seen Paul silently come in and be the person that puts them over the top to make it happen.
Joey: Absolutely.
Ryan: I can't say enough about Paul Babb. And honestly the decision that they made for who they're getting to become the CEO, super excited. David McGavran is from Adobe. I believe he was a programmer back in the day, and when he left, he was the director of engineering for audio and video.
Ryan: So he understands the market, he understands broadcast, understand post-production, understands an individual programmer's need, but also the market's needs. I couldn't be more excited about where Maxon's going for next year, and future.
Joey: Love it, love it, amen! So let's talk about, I just mentioned Nick Campbell, and Grayscalegorilla has been on a tear this year. I've lost track of all the new products that they've put out.
Joey: I feel like they really hit their stride. I know that they hired a really great marketing manager recently, which helped a lot. It seems like they've been really focused.
Joey: It's always difficult when you're a small company like that to figure out where to deploy your limited resources, right? And what I've seen from the Grayscale team, is that they've really kind of niched down and figured out where their sweet spot is, and they've been focusing on these tools that are really designed to help make high end 3D way more accessible.
Joey: This is a very small sampling of the stuff that came out this year, but I thought it was really cool. Light Kit Pro 3, which is amazing. And it's not just amazing cause it makes it a lot easier to light your scenes, but it's also just so cleverly constructed. It's kind of fun to play with, and I know that a real hardcore 3D artist might think that's unimportant. That, "Who cares? I don't care what the UI's like, as long as the tool does the job." I think it's actually really important, and that's what Grayscale's always been amazing at.
Joey: They released GorillaCam, they released, pretty recently I think, Everyday Materials, which is this just ginormous materials pack that works with all of the sort of primary renderers out there, and they released Red Shift training. And they seem to be really on the Red Shift bandwagon these days.
Joey: So really cool. It's great to see them still going strong and even accelerating it seems like.
Ryan: Yeah, the things I love I always lose, because they grow too fast. They always end up disappearing, and I think you cannot applaud Nick and the team there more for managing growth.
Ryan: When you have a small company, every person you add is a make-or-break decision, I'm sure you've gone through this and you understand it as well, the school of motion, but the move to add Chad Ashley, I don't think can be overstated more, how important that is both to I'm sure Nick and GSG, but I think also to the greater industry at large, because I think Nick and Chris did a great job of making the funnel larger for the people that could possibly come into both cinema, and honestly even motion design, but I think that they were starting to tap an upper limit of what they could do and who they could address and how they could get people to elevate.
Ryan: And the timing of more accessible render engines with Chad Ashley being at Grayscalegorilla couldn't have had better timing to expose the whole industry to much deeper levels of rendering, shading, lighting, camera animation, pipeline of workflow. I think it was something that everybody was kind of struggling with. If you've been in the motion design industry and hadn't been in gaming or in visual effects, and I think it's just been a perfect meld of a person at the right time in their career with an audience waiting for something.
Ryan: I think Everyday Materials is groundbreaking in the fact that people can literally go from Arnold to Octane to Red Shift, and essentially, in the press of a button, one, swap something out, so if you have a designer who loves Octane, but it's not ready for production, and you have a team that uses Red Shift, it's not that hard to take your base level materials now, if you're using them, and swap over.
Ryan: The other thing that's awesome is - we're going through this at our office right now - if you ever wanna go from learning Octane to learning Red Shift, it's not just learning the render settings and tweaking the settings, it's learning the shader trees, and learning the render nodes, or I'm sorry, the node editor. It's so cool to be able to go into Octane, look at something, and then switch over and see what the small differences are that make it work in Red Shift, to be one to one.
Ryan: So yeah, I think their training, if anybody wants to learn x particles, their x particles training is top notch, they constantly update it. And I think their Red Shift is fighting right now with Tim [Clackum 02:02:04] and helloluxx to be the de facto standard to get into GP rendering.
Joey: Yeah, and just to that point, too, something that I've talked about a little on other episodes, my philosophy is that there is so much room in this industry, especially with how fast it's growing, for everybody to teach in their own way, right?
Joey: So you've got the helloluxx course, you've got the Grayscalegorilla course, it would shock me if they actually weren't very complementary. The Grayscalegorilla style ...
Joey: I mean I've taken Grayscalegorilla training, I've taken helloluxx training. They're both excellent. They kind of tend to have different approaches, different styles, and it's the same with us.
Joey: There might be people that would learn much faster from Grayscalegorilla's style than from our style, and I think that's totally awesome and fine, and so I really love seeing how many people and how many companies are getting into the online training game, because it just makes the whole ...
Joey: I really believe in that old cliché, of "a rising tide lifts all boats." As there's more education out there, it also grows the awareness and the need for it.
Joey: So I think it's pretty amazing, I'm a big fan of Grayscale, I've told Nick this, I've said it before, there is no School of Motion without Grayscalegorilla. He was a big inspiration for it. Applause for the Grayscale guys.
Joey: Now, let's talk about ... okay, so the site is a newcomer, but the person running the site is not a newcomer. Joe Donaldson, who has become a very good buddy of mine, he lives in Sarasota, very close to me. We actually went on a very long run the other day, we ran like 15 miles together, he is the editor of Motionographer, and he also launched a site called HoldFrame this year. And when he was thinking about it, he was telling me the idea, and I said, "This is a no-brainer."
PART 4 OF 7 ENDS [02:04:04]
Joey: When he was thinking about it, he was telling me the idea, and I said, "This is a no brainer. This is a great idea". He's uniquely positioned to pull it off. So, if you're unfamiliar with Holdframe, I'll try to describe what it is. I would love to hear your take on it, Ryan.
Joey: What it is, it's a collection of motioned-designed projects. All the files, assets, after-effects files, cinema 4D files, Photoshop, elements, all of things packaged together, for some of the best projects out there.
Joey: Andrew [Vukos? 02:04:31] "Power of like" video, for example. You can purchase the entire set of project files. It comes with a few videos, that actually dive into the project files, and give you a little explanation about some, of the choices that were made, some of the technical choices and techniques. It's this unbelievable resource.
Joey: The other reason I really love it, is because that now becomes a new business model for motion designers, that normally is never going to make you one cent, you're using it as as investment, hoping someone sees it and hires you for client work. Or, maybe you're just doing to do it.
Joey: But now, you can do it and then, you can also make a little money on the back end. Which, helps fund the next film. So, it's a really cool option, and it's an amazing learning tool too.
Ryan: Yeah. I'm 100% behind this man. There's a website called Craft, that does something very similar for independent animations. I'm friends with the people at Cartoon Saloon, the people who did Secret of Kells. They have a ton of stuff online. When you take a feature film, you have all this stuff that's left over. It's kind of, like maybe you make an art [inaudible 02:05:40] book, and that's the most that you'll ever do with it.
Ryan: But, I think it's even more perfect for something like Holdframe. Where, it's short, that you can get your head around, you can learn some lessons, you can try to recreate it. Honestly, my only frustration with Holdframe is, I want them to press down on the gas pedal, then I want there to be some, sort of ongoing conversation afterwards, to discuss it or ask questions.
Ryan: When I went to imaginary forces, the single, most exciting thing, was being able to stay late, and go on the network and start trolling through all the different folders of projects that had been done. Pitches that never made its way out, jobs that are famous that are done. I can literally, go into the after effects files from 12 years ago.
Ryan: Holdframe feels like the same thing. I almost wish it was a subscription based thing, and there was a series of constantly having interviews, or having Q&A's, or having other artists go and recreate something, and having the original artist critique it. But, at it's base level, it's absolutely amazing.
Ryan: Like you said, you couldn't have had a better person to be the standard bear for it. I'd love to see it continue. I'd love to see it go beyond animation. I'd love to see pitch boards, for jobs that won. In my head, this whole concept could just get bigger and bigger. For me, everything is about transparency and discussion, and conversation. I just want to see more of it. I think it's awesome.
Joey: Yeah. I know Joe's talked a little about of the mentality he's gone into this with. I think he was on the motion hatch podcast pretty recently, and he talked about how Holdframe for him, he wasn't sure it was gonna work. I think, I was much more sure than he was, initially, of how successful this would be. It's been pretty darn successful.
Joey: Now, this is just the beginning. He's going through that thing that every entrepreneur goes through of, "Now what do I do? Oh crap, it worked". I expect that a lot of the things that you're wishing for, will show up in one form or another in the future.
Joey: Speaking of motion hatch, since I mentioned it. I can't remember if motion hatch started this year, or if it started in 2017. But in either case, Hayley Aikens is become one of my favorite people in the industry. Her take on things, and her voice, and she is so humble despite this amazing thing she's built. She released her first product this year, the freelance contract bundle.
Joey: She's built this community, with thousands of people in this Facebook group, and they're talking about business. She's been a leader, in our industry in terms of, elevating the business discussion. Which, other people have tried to do, but she's focused on it, and she's done it in such a way, where it's become so accessible to everybody. I wanna give her kudos, and say if you haven't checked out motion hatch, and the motion hatch podcast, you gotta check it out.
Ryan: Yeah. She's an inspiration. Honestly, people say that, and throw it around as much as people say genius and it's false. But, I honestly feel like Hayley and motion hatch demonstrate, that there's so much more room, and so much more oxygen in even, just the motion graphics world. For more conversations, more representation, more new voices.
Ryan: She's talking theoretically, at it's core, about the same things that Chris Do is talking about at the future, but in such a radically different way, and such a personal voice, that you can see the response. You go to the Facebook page, and it's insane, the amount of discussion, and great conversations that are happening. In a totally, different way that doesn't make the future null and void, or anyone else who's talking about business.
Ryan: But, man. It's just such a great sign, that there's more podcasts, there's more conversations, there's more discussions about the business that can happen. It's awesome. I've gotten to know Hayley, just a little bit. I was on her show. I talked to her back and forth, when the freelance contract bundle was ramping up to be released.
Ryan: I honestly feel like, anyone coming out of school should be handed the book that you wrote, and the freelance contract bundle. Like, if you ever wanna give a gift to anybody who is coming out of motion graphics to get into the industry, hand both of those things to someone and they're set. They're ready to go. In a way that, two years ago, three years ago, didn't exist whatsoever.
Ryan: Standing ovation to Hayley.
Joey: Yeah. I talk to her from time to time. We kinda, just keep each other updated on what's going on. I don't wanna say too much, but she's got some very exciting ideas about some things that she wants to do, to help her audience, and the industry in general. Some of the ideas that she's thrown out, I think are complete life changers, if pulled off correctly. I would look out for that, early 2019, I think you're gonna start to hear more from her about that.
Joey: I want to bring up someone that I actually, never talked to, and I have to. I have to talk to this guy. I'm really fascinated by what he's been able to pull off. That's Markus Magnisson. Marcus is a really good illustrator, animator, very good. What he's done, is created a Patreon campaign. I might be getting some of the details wrong, but essentially, what I gather, is that the business model is, he's creating elements, and tutorials, and long form lessons, and downloadable content. You have to be a patron for that.
Joey: It starts at 5 bucks, or two bucks, or something like that. But, I looked at his page, and he has 2,800 patrons. That's a full time, decent living. I know other people have tried this, and it never really works. Motionographer tried this, and didn't really get the traction that I know they hoped to get. Markus has managed to it, and I suspect it's because he's adding incredible value, to the lives and crews of his patrons.
Joey: That model fascinates me, and the fact that he's been so successful with it, just speaks to you how much value, and how valuable the content certainly is. I haven't checked it out, I don't know Marcus. But, go check that out. Google his name, Markus Magnisson. It's Markus with a K. That'll help get you there. We'll link too in the show notes. But, I was blown away man.
Ryan: It's amazing. Again, this chunk we're talking about now, is probably the most exciting thing that's happening in 2019. For me, is people becoming the product, instead of just making product for other people. Markus is amazing. I think the other key thing, similar to what we talked about with Hayley and motion hatch, is I think Markus has found an audience that's in desperate need of a leader. The same way Andrew Kramer hit on a nerve at one time.
Ryan: Nick at [inaudible 02:12:51] did. There are a ton of people who have been doing motion graphics, that never went to school for animation, that are desperate to learn about character. Like, how do I do character work, how do I do it after effects, how do I do it in cell, how do I do anything to bring these ideas I have in my head to life? And create character, and create charming and appealing character, in my designs, and make it move in a way that feels like it's on par with everyone else.
Ryan: I think he's hit a nerve. On the other side, on the 3D side, there's a guy named [Mark Vilsen 02:13:17] that also has a Patreon. He is doing C4D tutorials that are mind blowing. That, most of the time are using out of the box tools, that are already in cinema 4D, in new and exciting ways.
Ryan: Along the way, he's started creating his own plug ins, that do really weird, crazy things. He has things like [inaudible 02:13:40]. Basically, you can subscribe to the Patreon, and get access to these new things, along with the tutorials. Or, you can just go buy his plug ins later. But you're essentially, paying a subscription service to be in a beta, as he develops these tools. I think that's what's great.
Ryan: Essentially, if you think about it, Patreon becomes a subscription service, and Kickstarter becomes a pre order service. We have all these tools to make product, create audiences, make fans, create value for people. I think it's more than passive income. I think for some of these people, for the right personnel is, it can literally become the primary source of income. That, maybe you only freelance half the time during the year, and your other time is essentially, creating, addressing, and servicing an audience of people that really need this stuff, and really want it.
Ryan: I think Murk, and Markus are great examples of how you can do that.
Joey: Yeah. It's super exciting to me. We've talked with Jake Bartlett on this podcast, he's one of our instructors. One of our amazing instructors, actually. He found a way using a combination now, of skill share, and school emotion, to achieve the same thing. Where, he's found his genius, which is teaching, and presenting material, in this amazing, unique way only he can do.
Joey: I love that so many people are experimenting, and trying things. The reason I brought Markus up, was because I have seen so few people do it successfully with Patreon. It's kinda like Kickstarter had it's hay day, where everyone was doing Kickstarter, and raising millions of dollars. Now it's very hard to do that.
Joey: Patreon when it launched, sort of had the same thing. Then, it became very difficult, because it got saturated. Markus came into Patreon kind of late, and managed to build this amazing following. I recommend everyone check that out.
Joey: Now, I want to talk about a couple of apps, that I've only used of them. I felt this way last year too, it didn't really quite happen this year, but I feel like we're on the cusp of the UI, UX animation orgy. Like, eventually it has to happen. Right?
Joey: There's a couple of apps that came on my radar. One is called Hiku. I got introduced to the CEO of the company, Hiku. They were in y combinator. If anyone's familiar, it's a very popular start up accelerator. It's sort of, like after effects except, it's got layers, it's got key frames, all these things. But, instead of kicking out a render, it spits out code.
Joey: I think a lot of our listeners are familiar with things like body movin. We had [inaudible 02:16:28] and Brandon, who worked at Lodi, at Airbnb. We had them on the pod cast to talk about that tool, which translates after effects, body movin exports into something that you can use on IOS and on Android. But, there's still a disconnect between, what we're doing as motion designers in after effects, and the end result which is code.
Joey: There's some apps that are now, coming out and they're very young. They're still very feature poor. But, they are trying to solve that problem. Hiku is one. It's a very cool model too. It spits out a piece of code that you embed in your app, and it sort of links back to the original project in a way, where if you update the animation, you can very quickly push that change, and it updates in your app. You don't necessarily have to have a developer write a bunch of new code.
Joey: There's another thing that just came out, called Flare. Which, looks amazing. It actually, has rigging capabilities in it. Yet, it still spits out code, it works with this new technology from Google, called Flutter. This is outside of my wheelhouse, so I'm gonna get this wrong.
Joey: It's basically, like a UI tool kit. I'm guessing it's like a set of components, that developers can use to make it way easier to animate and design apps. It's cross platform. It works for IOS as well, and this new app, Flutter works with it.
Joey: Then, adobe XD, I've never used it. But, also I know a lot of UI artists are using that too. So, there's all these apps coming out, that are trying to bridge this gap that still exists, between the design and animation of a thing, and the actual code, that implements it.
Ryan: It feels like it's that same situation, where it's either needing a person that becomes the leader, that's talking to people and demonstrating it. Or, like one specific use case, that everyone in the next year is going to have to learn, or just a maturation and consolidation of the tools.
Ryan: Right now, it feels like it's a volcano that's exploded, and lava's going every direction, and we're waiting for the play field to settle down, and be like, "Okay cool. You're gonna use this one for this situation. This one works with IOS way better".
Ryan: But, I feel like it's such a wide field, and the people who could use it, potentially haven't gotten there yet. It feels a lot like the discussion we talked about with [inaudible 02:18:58]. Where, we know it's out there. We know the eventual winner, or the program that everyone's gonna use is probably being worked on right now, but it's so hard to tell.
Ryan: It's rare for me to say this, but I think the XD movements towards combining after effects towards an authoring environment that you're used to, and already have. It's going to be ... training will be accessible, and there will be a large body of people using it.
Ryan: This is an area, where I feel like standardization will help everybody get to where we want to go. But, right now the experimentation is awesome. I wish this level of app development was happening with after effects plug ins, and more motion design tools in general. So, it's exciting.
Ryan: But, yeah like you said, I don't know where, or when I'm going to work with these tools, but I know that it's gonna happen in the next year, or two.
Joey: Yeah. It's interesting. I had a conversation recently, with [inaudible 02:19:48] he runs a site called I'm gonna have him on the pod cast soon. He's very smart, very interesting guy. His sweet spot is teaching UX designers how to animate. Yeah, it's really cool.
Joey: He does all of his stuff in after effects. I asked him, I said, "You know, there's all these tools coming out, do you see them displacing after effects, when it comes to this world of prototyping the animation for apps. He said, honestly he doesn't. Just because, after effects is so full featured. You can do anything in it. I'll ask him when he comes on the pod cast, but I got the sense that it would be easier in his mind, to create a tool that works with after effects, to spit the code out. That, works just the way people need it to.
Joey: It's basically what body movin does, except body movin doesn't export it in a way that works instantly, with a react app, or something like that. But, you can mock up absolutely anything. Then, you can see what it looks like on a phone, in a different comp. You can see what it looks like on Instagram, in a different comp. There's nothing that can do all of those things, or even come close.
Joey: The downsides are far outweighed by the upsides, of using after effects for this kind of thing. I thought that was pretty interesting.
Ryan: Yeah. Super interesting. Just the fact that there's even a name or a person. I feel like, last year what Devon Co was doing with 3D for designers, and bringing cinema into the world of 2D designers, and making it accessible, shows them a pathway, and lets them see little successes, that build into confidence.
Ryan: I feel like whether, it's the person you just mentioned, or someone else, that's what this space in the motion design world needs, is the person who's like the flag bearer saying, "Hey come over here, play with this, this is why you want to do it".
Ryan: I think an app, whether it's after effects, or something else, that lets you work in one place, and helps you shuffle your content, reorganize it, re lay it out to you, all the different surfaces that you can possibly work in, that would be huge. Right now, I feel like we've accepted that after effects is gonna be the hub, or the platform. There's gonna be a patchwork quilt of tools and scripts. Maybe, we call Zach Lovett and ask him to build something. Then, some old script that's been sitting on [inaudible 02:22:12] scripts, for four years, that nobody's touched in awhile, all of a sudden becomes useful again.
Ryan: There's that constant archeological dig for a pipe line. If there was a tool, or a suite of tools to be able to do that, I think all of us knowing that, we just have so many canvases and surfaces we have to work with, that every project almost feels like it's brand new. Having this stuff going on, makes it easier to know that there will be something that can help us when we get there.
Joey: Yeah. Another area of technology, I don't think that this really impacts the motion design world yet. We're probably several years away from it. But, in the visual effects world, there's a very cool thing. It still seems like it's very beta-ish. There's a program, I'm not sure if it's a separate app, or if it's this online service. It's from the foundry, it's called Elara.
Joey: It's essentially, a service that you pay for. Where, you log into a website. Then, you have nuke, nuke studio, Mari, moto, all of the apps that they make, and it runs in the cloud. So, your web browser is the monitor, and the computer is a thousand miles away somewhere else. It's this infinitely scalable thing, for visual effects studios.
Joey: Obviously, everyone listening is probably thinking, what about lag, and bandwidth? Is it gonna be interactive enough to use? I've seen demos of it. If you Google Elara, you'll be able to find video demos of it, and it looks pretty darn promising.
Joey: This is something, especially once you get into the world of GP rendering, and stuff like that. The thought that you could buy a subscription to octane, or Red shift, and it comes with a GPU that is a thousand miles away from you. You can instantly click a button, pay a little more, then have eight GPU's, and have a render farm. It's all in the cloud.
Joey: That's so fascinating to me, I don't think we're quite there yet, in terms of having universally amazing bandwidth for everybody, to be able to use it. For those use cases where it makes sense now, that's a giant shift in the model.
Ryan: I'm incredibly thrilled. I was at Siggraph this year, and at NAB, and I think the two most exciting things that I watched, and talked to, was the Elara announcement. Then, I sat down with Jason Schliefer, he's an amazing animator. Worked with the guys building Maya, back in the day. But, he's house now with Nibble collective, which is basically, a cloud animation studio in a box.
Ryan: But, I think with 5G coming with hopefully, more improvements to easily accessible, as fast as you can get internet connections. At least, in the states. Other countries are way more set up than we are right now. The idea that you basically, have an interface. Your computer's almost a dumb box, with input devices, with a keyboard, and a mouse, and a wake up tablet, or touch sensitive thing. But, all of your computing's done off site.
Ryan: I think it is going to be the biggest thing that disrupts, in the next three to four years, our industry. Nibble collective right now, is basically, trying to create a feature animation set up. Elara's trying to address the individual and small collective, and small studio size VFX shops. It's kind of amazing.
Ryan: I think it's still kind of prohibitively expensive for some people, for the market that they're trying to attack right now. But the idea that you can basically just rent what you need, when you need it, on demand, to scale up, scale down, all of your footage, all of your project files are in the cloud, for anyone to access. This is gonna become more and more important as we all go along. But, having MPAA security stuff, that's already approved, and taken care of, so you don't have to build that, every time you build a pipe line you get through that incredibly difficult process.
Ryan: Both of these sides, both Elara, and Nibble, I'm sure are gonna have to address that. But man, it is super exciting. 'Cause it's not just the software in the cloud, in a box. But, it's all that connective tissue. That stuff we were talking about earlier, with Zach Lovett. As you start going into bigger animations, and you have more freelancers working together, the ability to do versioning, the ability to make sure that all of your naming is pre described, and pre built. Being able to organize your shots, to get approvals, to be able to master, to be able to send it out to your sound and color, and manage all of that. That's the part that, right now is keeping the three and four person teams, from being able to do these larger jobs.
Ryan: But, if you can get a pipe line that's built by the same people who built "What is pipe line.". it's in the cloud, and it's literally, just a subscription feed that you pay for. That, you can all of a sudden go from five people in pre production, to twenty people in production. Then, bring it back down to the core group of people when you're versioning and finishing everything out.
Ryan: This is what will take the four and five person teams, that scale up to twenty people, they can compete with the Imaginary forces, and the Digital kitchens, and the Blinds', and all the other shops. This is what they've spent ten or fifteen years building. It's incredibly exciting. I think we're probably, not as far off as you were saying. But, I think we're a still a year or two away, from something like [inaudible 02:27:21] or Elara being something that is accessible to motion design.
Joey: The other thing I love about this in theory, is that it separates the computer that you're working on, from the horse power. The horse power is somewhere else. As someone that thinks a lot about the ability to work from anywhere, with a laptop. You mentioned 5G, when 5G becomes universal, and you can just bring a wi-fi hub with you, a 5G hub, and a laptop.
Joey: But in reality, the computer that's doing the processing across the country, is the fastest, most cutting edge, 128 gigs of ram beast. It really, is gonna enable that remote work lifestyle, even more than it exists now. It exists right now, and it's super doable. But, I think there are certain areas where it's not.
Joey: If you get into high end 3D, it becomes a lot harder. If you get into visual effects, it becomes a lot harder. This is kind of, a solution to that.
Ryan: We're actually doing a proto-version of that, here at DK. Where, we have our artists in Seattle, L.A, and Chicago. Chicago being the hub for technology. We're using a hardware-software combination of stuff called Tera d2, that allows all of our artists, whether on a Mac, a PC, if they're on a laptop, or a dedicated desktop. They basically, call in to our machines here. In our render farm, we now have boxes with GPU. So that if somebody is on a laptop, and they need to get into Octane to knock out a design, they sign on, they basically start using a machine that's already locked away here at our farm.
Ryan: It's gone shockingly well. I was really skeptical of it, like thinking, "Wow. The whole point of using Octane, or Red shift is for that interactivity". The lag, if your connection, and our connection are both dialed in, and the networks are tuned to what we need to do. It took quite a bit of fine tuning. It's incredible.
Ryan: We actually have artists with meeker systems in one office tapping into everything we've got here. It allows people from anywhere, if someone goes on a vacation, and they need to make a quick change. If someone needs to go out for a pitch. It just happened to me. I was on a pitch in L/A, and I need to call back into the office to be able to work on something in my two hours between flying out there, and pitching. You can be anywhere and have access to everything.
Ryan: This is at the very early stages. It's honestly game changing.
Joey: So, I got one last tool I want to bring up. It's a neat tool, the tool itself is not really why I'm bringing it up, it's more about the paradigm shift that I think it is speaking to. Google earth studio. Google just released this web app, and you can essentially go and key frame camera moves between different locations, and you can turn on all the data overlays, roads, and everything.
Joey: All of the information that Google has in it's maps ecosystem. You can create animations very easily from it, and key frame them. It's gonna be a very useful tool for certain use cases, people who work on t.v series, and documentaries, and things like that.
Joey: I think it's gonna make certain tasks easier. But, it was very interesting to me, because why did Google make this tool? My theory is that, animation is now, I'm gonna use a really pretentious term, the lingua franca of communication. I should've warned you.
Joey: For anyone listening, who's like, "What the hell does that mean"? It's the language everyone uses. Animation has become just ubiquitous. There's another [crosstalk 02:31:14] word. Good lord. So anyway, animation ...
Joey: Every company in the world is now aware of the power of motion. Google has always been on the forefront of this. The fact, that they literally had a team build this app, to make animating their maps easier, I think that's a bell weather. That tells you, how important animation really has become, in any area of communication.
Joey: It just made me really excited, because I always look at the landscape and say, "Is motion design expanding? Is it contracting? Is it staying the same? For the past few years, it's been obviously expanding. I keep waiting for some sign that, that's slowing, and I haven't seen anything to give me that impression.
Ryan: Yeah. The big question's like, where would you go next? Once you get past animation, story-telling, and film-making, the next thing is almost full on world building through game development. What's the next thing that you can sell?
Ryan: Seeing the video that it plays, as an ad is one thing. But, actually going through and seeing the demonstration. This has a full on curve editor, it has the ability to export out through the cameras. There's tons of animatable effects. I would argue that the curve editor, actually right now I haven't played with it yet, but it looks more modern than After effects' curve editor. Which, is kind of amazing.
Ryan: But, they literally demonstrate in the video, the ability to render it, export the 3D camera back out to After effects. Google has essentially, created an in browser, After effects plug in, to render camera moves. Like, powers of ten camera moves, like form Earth's orbit, all the way down to street level.
Ryan: It's kind of mind blowing, when you look at it. I have no idea if this is gonna be free, or if it's something that they're eventually gonna sell a subscription to, but it's a full on animation plug in for this kind of work. It's pretty amazing.
Joey: Yeah, we'll link to it in the show notes. Everyone go check it out. At the very least, it's super fun to play with.
Ryan: You're gonna see it everywhere. You're gonna see in in t.v shows, and explainer videos, and enhanced moments inside feature films. If you see it, you're not gonna know it, this is where it's gonna all be coming from.
Joey: Right. Like I said before, it's gonna be so useful in those cases where you need that.
Ryan: Yeah. Ubiquitous is the word. Yeah.
Joey: Alright. We're gonna move onto the next section here. I want to talk about some of the things that came up this year, in the motion design community. One big one, at least from my perspective, was the NAB [inaudible 02:33:45] meet up. NAB, National association of broadcasters. It's a giant conference in Vegas every year. It's had it's hay day, maybe 10 years ago, 15 years ago. Then, it shrunk a whole bunch, and became far less relevant in terms of, it's old purpose. Which, was to inform you about new products, and let you see them.
Joey: The internet made that irrelevant. So, now NAB, at least from the motion designer perspective. It's undergone this renaissance of, now it's like a networking event, and hangout event, and community event. So, last year we partnered up with seven co-sponsors.
Joey: Through what was supposed to be a small get together with some of our alumni, and it turned into this 300 plus person, we rented out Beer house, and threw a rager. It was pretty amazing, because I always underestimate I think, how big our community is, and how much passion people have, and that hunger for human, in person meet space interaction.
Joey: Honestly, it feels ... I know I have a weird perspective on the industry-
PART 5 OF 7 ENDS [02:35:04]
Joey: Honestly, it feels, I know I have a weird perspective on the industry, so this might just be my feeling, I'm curious what you think, but it feels like that community aspect, that tight bonding thing that we all want to get together and meet, and high five each other and talk about key frames, that's growing, it's getting more and more powerful. I think that party was just, for me, it was a symptom of that, that really made it clear.
Ryan: Absolutely. NAB will always hold a special place in my heart because it's the first time I ever felt like I was actually part of the motion graphics community. The first year I went I felt like a complete outsider and a year later of a lot of work of networking and meeting people, talking, it felt like that high school greeting of, "Oh, I saw last year," or, "Oh, I missed you last time and let's go hang out. Let's go walk the floor". I feel like the last two or three years it had kind of died out a little bit for me, the Maxim was great. There's always a huge crowd to see Andrew Kramer at the Adobe booth, but it was kind of starting to become less essential. I would honestly say, the MOGRAPH meetup especially with where in the schedule you guys put it and the fact it was open to everyone, and there were people who had never gone, the people who had gone for 15 years, or people were coming back. The fact that it basically opened NAB, it felt like NAB kind of came back from the dead for me. I always loved going but it was always kind of like a chore.
Ryan: This year it was just like seeing everyone ... You can't underestimate the power of meeting a bunch of people that we've talked to for a long time but have never met in real life, and everybody was having these moments of walking by, looking down at someone's name, you could see their database going through, "Oh, is this person on Twitter or in Slack?" It was a amazing. You see all these people who have never met each other realizing and shaking hands, and realizing they've been friends for three years or five years. I'm so glad ... You guys are doing it again, right? Is that something that's happening?
Joey: We are officially doing it again, yes. I've reached out to all of the past sponsors. We have I think seven out of eight sponsors are coming back and we may add a few more. Yeah, there will be lots of information about that coming out.
Joey: If you're new to this industry and you kind of feel like you're operating in a vacuum, which is very common, I really recommend if you can swing it, come out to Vegas at least for the party, if not for the entire convention. It gives the whole thing a different feeling. I remember the first time I went and not only is it really cool to meet people that you've seen on the internet, but it is really eye opening to show you the scale of the industry we're in. We're a little piece of an f-ing huge industry, it very large.
Ryan: The one thing I'll say too is I think the meetup, by having everybody there that first day, the meetup you don't feel like this pressure to try to see who's going to be there those three days. You saw everyone, you met everyone, you talked to everyone. It allows you to go off and explore a little bit more at NAB as well. If you only have two days there, make sure you get there for the meetup the next, hit up [inaudible 02:37:55], the Maxim booth [inaudible 02:37:57] people and then go and explore and see some stuff you've never seen before.
Joey: Exactly. Go check out the VR section or the drone section. It's really good. It's a horizon expanding thing. On the same kind of note, meetups, in general, seem to be on the rise I guess. We actually sponsored I think almost a dozen events and meetups in 2018.
Ryan: Oh wow.
Joey: We're hoping to do more in 2019. To me, it feels like the overall emotions in the community, it's grown to a point where every major city has some sort of MOGRAPH meetup, Boston has one, New York has one, Denver has one, Chicago has one, Detroit has one, LA of course. Then there's other ones too, Kansas City I believe has one, they're all over the place. It's really cool that these are things that used to only really exist I think in the major markets. Now even these mid-sized markets are starting to have this community.
Joey: I went to the Denver C40 meetup this year that EG Hassenfratz organized. I want to say there was like 60-70 people there. It kind of blew my mind like really there's this many people?
Joey: I went to a Detroit meetup at the end of 2017 and there was like 40 or 50 people there on a Monday night or Tuesday night, whatever it was, to talk about the industry. It was super cool man.
Ryan: I think this is just going to continue to explode as more people get in the industry. Honestly, as we've all start doing more remote freelancing, as we all start just sitting in our offices and knuckling down and doing work, that desire to just trade stories and find out what's going on, I think it's just going to become more and more prevalent, more and more popular, I think there will be more meetups in more places that already have some because every time I've gone to Nashville, I've gone to Detroit, I've gone out to Dallas, everyone has it's own kind of flavor, it's own way of talking about things, the same way the podcast [inaudible 02:40:04]. I don't even think there needs to be one, I think there can be more. There can be animation-focused ones, design-focused ones, business-focused ones.
Ryan: I was wondering, what do you think are the hottest up and coming scenes right now in the motion world? I was thrilled by what's happening in Detroit. Then when I went down to Nashville I didn't make it for a meetup, but I went over three days, met just a bunch of ... Alan Lassiter, Zach Dickson, Mark Walczak, a bunch of different people doing different things, and it's so exciting to see. I don't even like calling them major or minor, or secondary markers, but these places that top of mind aren't the place to go, but it seems like it's popping up everywhere. Do you have any ones that are under the radar that you're really excited about?
Joey: Sure. Detroit would be the number one on my list. I think that obviously it helps that you have Gunnar there, you have [Yahouse 02:40:54], you've got Lunar North. You've got incredible talent there. But I think even before you had that, there was still somewhat of a scene there. That kind of surprised me. Denver really blew my mind because that's kind of under the radar too.
Joey: One of the meetups that we sponsored, and there was a lot of people there, I didn't actually attend, but Caleb from our team did, and recently Ryan Palmer went, is Dallas actually has a pretty good scene. I've started to hear whispers ... In Tampa, close to me, there is I think a little bit more of a CG artist scene than a motion design scene. The west coast of Florida, in a weird surprising way, is turning into a little bit of motion design of you've got Joe Clay from WorkBench lives over here, Joe Donaldson. Michael Jones moved here recently. Ringling is here. We're reaching a critical mass even here where I live, which in motion design terms, is the boonies. We're almost at the point where I feel like there's going to be a spontaneous uprising and a meetup will start here.
Joey: Other than those cities, I know that there are user group meetups. One of our teaching assistants, Kyle Hammerick, leads one of those. I forget exactly what city, I think it's in Missouri, but just a place that wouldn't be in the top 10 cities you'd think of. I think it's really everywhere. Dallas really surprised me. I grew up there, I grew up in Fort Worth and then I went back there. My first internship was there. I've kind of kept an eye on it. There has never really been a scene, but not the BroGraph guys live there and they've organized it.
Joey: One of our alumni, Greg Stewart lives there. Greg Stewart is a name everyone needs to watch out for because that guy is a killer. Some of the work he's putting out is so top shelf. Even in a place like Dallas, surprisingly enough, there's a scene.
Ryan: I guess it really takes three people, two companies, and one amazing project to just get enough attention.
Joey: Yep.
Joey: Let's talk about a big event that's coming up. It was announced this year and it's happening in 2019, which is Blend, round three, will be in Vancouver in September 2019.
Joey: Just for everyone listening, if you're unfamiliar with Blend, all you need to know is you have to go to it. I can basically just stop talking there. It's the best conference for motion design I've ever been to. Now, I haven't been to them all, but I've heard this from almost everybody who's attended Blend that there's something very special about it. It's weirdly good.
Joey: The other thing you need to know about it is that last year they sold out like 400 tickets in I think 6 hours. It's very popular.
Ryan: Yeah [crosstalk 02:44:04].
Joey: I've heard whispers, nothing official, but I think they will have more capacity this year. I think they'll have a bigger venue, but I still expect tickets to go insanely fast. That is despite the fact that it's in Vancouver and most people have to fly there and stay in a hotel to attend it, and it still sells out almost instantly. Put that on your calenders everybody.
Ryan: Yeah, block off that month, don't take any freelance, use up your PTO, whatever you have to do to get there. This is the year I'm definitely going. Every year I've gone I've bought tickets, or I've wanted to go, and then work kept me from it but I've already told everybody here that as soon as that week is announced it's reserved, I'm going. I have to go this year.
Joey: Blend FOMO is a pretty serious affliction-
Ryan: Oh yeah.
Joey: ... and I don't want you to fall prey to it.
Joey: There was a new conference announced this year, which is happening in February called the Key Frames Conference. It's being put on by Future Media Concepts. This is a company that puts on Post-Production World at NAB, they've put on Adobe Video World in the past. They do an editor's retreat. They do a lot of these production industry, broadcast industry conferences and they're very, very good. They always get really good speakers. The Key Frames Conference, I know you're speaking Ryan, I'm going to be there, Hailey Akins, Joe Clay. I'm trying to think who else, I think Chris Doe is going to be there, our own [Rabinowitz 02:45:31] is going to be one of the keynote speakers. EJ is going to be there. I's a pretty crazy lineup and it's one of the first conferences that they've thrown that is solely focused on animation. It's the first year they're doing it. I'm really excited to be a part of it and to see how it goes.
Joey: I think that's kind of cool thing too that now obviously there's a big enough need that they're willing to step in and throw a full blown animation learning conference.
Ryan: Yeah, I'm super excited about it. I'm always dying for more conversations about animation, just in general, and getting to the nitty gritty of texture timing and how character design makes your choices different for how you animate. The lineup is great. I think there's some of the standards, the regular people that you'd expect that are always dependable but then for me the wildcards are always super exciting. I don't know how many people know who Joe Clay is, but the stuff he does on Workbench, on YouTube, awesome tutorials, very different way of looking at learning, and teaching and approaching just after effects in general. I want to go and sit down for whatever he's doing. It's a good mix. It's a mix of 2D, 3D, motion designers that have done some video editing, people that just do straight up 2D animation. I'll be excited to see how it goes.
Ryan: It would be the first time I think being able to go to Orlando in the middle of February as somebody who lives in Chicago is highly appealing to me. Hopefully we'll get a lot of people from varied places almost looking at it as a retreat versus like ... I love seeing the character of all these different kind of conventions or conferences. Some of them are super industry focused, some are business, some are just a big party. I'll be interested to see year one of Key Frames will it have that Blend magic or will it feel a little bit more like Adobe Video World. I'll be excited to be there for the first time.
Joey: It's going to be really cool. The weather in February in Orlando is pretty much paradise and there's going to be a pool. I think part of the conference is even taking a trip to Universal Studios with everybody.
Ryan: I'm flying early to be there for that. If anybody knows me, I love theme parks, so I'll be nerding out with everybody.
Joey: It's going to be amazing.
Joey: There's a couple more things I want to talk about. They're not as fun as the things we just went over.
Ryan: Oh man.
Joey: The first one, which just was announced like two days ago I think is that Justin Cone, the man, the myth, the legend, has stepped down and is no longer part of Motionographer. I knew this one was coming, but it still hit me pretty hard. Anyone of our generation, Justin has this very outsized presence in the industry. He's just been a constant and a staple. I think what I'll say in having met him, and talked to him and hung out with him, his public persona is that he's this very smart, measured, wise beyond his years person. When you meet him in person it's the same thing, that's who he is. He's also very funny and extremely nice. But having someone with that level of maturity rise to the prominence and be able to almost shepherd the industry into maturity I think was extremely valuable. He will be missed. I think it leaves a hole, frankly, that he's officially no longer with Motionographer, despite the fact that Joe Donaldson is running it and Joe Donaldson is one of the most impressive human beings I've ever met, but there was something really, really special about Justin.
Ryan: I feel weird calling him an elder statesman, because he's not that old at all, but he is. There's only a few things I can think of that for when motion graphics in my realm of it, it was starting out, there were only a few places you could go that you'd get the Stash DVDs, like DVDs that basically complied and curated the top stuff that came out that month from in motion graphics, and animation and live action, so that was one place. If you wanted conversations there was That was the acidic super jocular make fun of people, push people around, but you earned your stripes kind of place. There's Art of the Title, but it was kind of limited to title sequences, but it was important. Then here was Tween and Tween was the heartbeat of the industry. There was Cream of the Crop and it gave you a goal to try to get to, it was almost like the Billboard Hot 100. There were the conversations and finding a little bit more about the people behind the stuff, which just wasn't happening.
Ryan: I think for me, the biggest thing that Justin did is I felt like motion graphs or motion design was a thing because of Tween and then Motionographer that deserved respect and carried weight. The same way when you say someone with an Emmy or you won an Oscar. If you made it to Cream of the Crop there was a certain amount of authority that person or that company received. All this stuff that is honestly, most of the stuff we do is so ephemeral and so temporary. It takes 10 times longer to make it than it actually lives in the world for the most part that there was somebody, somewhere who said this is important, this is something worth remembering, this is something worth documenting. I feel like it gave the industry weight and it gave it authority in a way that I still don't think anybody else has actually been able to do yet.
Joey: Agreed. There was just something about the tone of Motionographer that no one's replicated. It's going to be really interesting for me to see what happens with the site because also Motionographer came at a time when the blog format had a lot of potential to turn into a real business on its own just by being a popular blog. That model is extremely hard to do now. I know that Motionographer has always been trying to search for that business model that's going to let it sustain itself and grow hopefully.
Joey: I don't know one way or another if it's actually founded, but it would be really nice to see it continue to thrive. I guess skeptical is the word, not because ... The quality of the content is incredible still. It's still the best writing about motion design on the internet, but it's just our attention is split, it's been fragmented. You used to just go to Motionographer to see what was going on. Now there's 100 places to go-
Ryan: Exactly.
Joey: I don't know. I'm curious, I hope, I'm a little bearish on it kind of sticking around forever. I don't know. This one really makes me feel weird to talk about it too because it was such an influential thing for me, meeting Justin Cone for the first time at the first Blend conference, I feel like I was meeting Superman. I have so much respect for him. I can't say enough good things about him, so big shoes, big shoes people.
Ryan: Big shoes. I think this will lead into the next thing you want to talk about, but anytime I wonder about is Motionographer relevant anymore, do we really need it. We don't even do Cream of the Crop anymore, there's not that goal to aim at. Every time I wonder about that then there's a moment that Motionographer helps literally crystallize in time in the industry. I don't think there's honestly a better example of something this year than your article about MOGRAPH going through puberty. Anytime you question does it still have the distinction, are people looking at it, are people paying attention, I don't think there was anything this year that had a bigger ripple affect in terms of turning the entire industry's attention towards one thing. I think that says a lot about the power of Motionographer still.
Joey: For sure, yeah. Let's talk about that a little bit. For anyone who doesn't know what we're talking about, I wrote an article for Motionographer earlier this year, it was called "MOGRAPH Goes Through Puberty". The big point of the article, it's a very long article by the way, I think it was like 10,000 words or something, the point I was trying to make was that I've been in the industry now long enough to have seen a full cycle where what is old becomes new again. There are business trends that I saw at the very beginning that basically capsized the industry that existed at the beginning of my career and created the modern motion design industry. I'm seeing things happening now that remind me a lot of what happened back then and there are dangers to be avoided, there are opportunities to be had. It was sort of a love letter/history lesson in looking through the lens of my experience. There was a chart in this article. If I could go back in time and just close that Google Sheet window I would do it.
Joey: Basically, there was one section where I talk about this phenomenon that's happening where as budgets shrink, as there are more and more studios out there, there's a certain size of studio where it becomes very hard to stay afloat. If you're a very small studio with very low overhead it's pretty easy. If you're a big studio with established clients and a workflow that's been battle tested and you've got a great team it's not easy, but it's easier. If you're in that middle it gets really tough, very, very tough.
Joey: I actually have a podcast episode coming out soon with Joel Pilger talking about exactly this. That was my studio. I ran a studio at that size and I saw first hand just how difficult that can be. When I left my studio, when I removed myself from Toil and I went freelance, I found myself in this position of doing jobs that had the exact same budget as jobs I was doing at Toil. If I was running a studio, the expectations were higher, the expenses were higher. There was so much more involved that you'd make these tiny little profit margins on say a $20,000 or $30,000 job, whereas, a freelancer, and especially a freelancer that was in my unique position of being able to work from home on equipment that I owned outright and I had no debt, and all of those things, the profit margin was pretty close to total.
Joey: Anyway, I made a chart to illustrate that point, just that a freelancer doing a $20,000 job versus a small/medium sized studio doing that, it's night and day. It's untenable in the studio sense. As a freelancer you're making a killing. That was the point I tried to make. I know in hindsight I made some very grave errors that I paid dearly for on Twitter.
Joey: I guess this would be an interesting time, maybe a good time, to talk about some of the lessons I took away from it. I have a tendency when I write and when I speak to be very hyperbolic. I think it's probably, in my case, a defense mechanism feeling like an introvert with a giant megaphone. I just try to be loud. I write in a very hyperbolic way. I also didn't really see the landmine that I was stepping on there. I think the way I wrote that section, I was writing it as though everybody reading it would know that the experience I had is one that they can also have and that the way my brain works and the way I see the world is probably close to the way everybody sees it. That's something that is just a character flaw that I'm working on, so a lot of people saw that. They saw the chart that essentially said as a freelancer a $20,000 job gives you $18,000 of profit, as a studio it's $2000 of profit. There were arguments about well what do you mean by profit, you're not taking taxes out. Wait a minute, how come you're paying for sound design here but you're not paying for sound design here, all these things. I didn't really full flesh it out to explain myself well enough. Even I had, I don't know if it would have made a difference.
Joey: The negatives that came out of that were I was Twitter shamed. It was my first experience being fully Twitter shamed. Andrew Embry ended up writing a response piece to it that was not very flattering about me or the article. I think that overall, now the painful period of really feeling that everyday and losing sleep over it, that's passed.
Joey: I've actually spoken to Andrew. To his credit, he reached out to me and we had a very civil, productive call over Skype. I got to understand his point of view a lot better. I hopefully explained my point of view better. In the end, we realized like most arguments, we agree on 95% of everything. If any good came out of it, and I think good did come out of it, is that it got people thinking. Whether it made people very angry at me or not, I think even if it provoked just some soul searching or taking a second look at well wait a minute, I've never gotten a budget that big, why am I not getting those budgets. If any of that happened, even if it resulted in anger at me, I'm okay with that.
Joey: I learned a lot about how I need to approach the way that I write things like this. I need to be a lot more aware and a lot more empathetic to the fact that the way my brain is wired is not the standard way brains are wired. Everybody has different lenses that they look at the world through. I need to take that into account if I'm making big, bold sweeping statements like that. I've said my peace on that. I would love to hear your thoughts on this Ryan.
Ryan: I'm glad to hear that. I'm glad to hear you and Andrew got to talk it out. I think it's important for people to hear that conversations are happening. A couple takeaways for me, I think the first one is that holy cow, people actually read. That chart was not in the first five or six paragraphs. That was very close to the end of a 10,000 word screed on the history of motion design. Someone, somewhere actually took the time to go all the way through and still had the wherewithal to look at that number, which goes to my second point.
Ryan: I feel the point you were making was 100% spot on. Honestly, the sword that you died on was it's the power of a single digit. I think if you would have said on a $20,000 job a freelancer makes $8000 instead of $18,000, the majority of the righteous anger that was generated by it probably would have just slipped by-
Joey: Right.
Ryan: ... because it was a more reasonable. But the point you were trying to make, to me, was coming through. I think another minor thing, Alex Poke's drawings in that were awesome, by the way. I think-
Joey: Oh she's a beast.
Ryan: I think there are a lot of great stories, references, lessons, the illustrations. All that stuff I feel like totally got lost. I think it was 10,000 words, 1 number kind of drew the ire of the industry, which I think is warranted because I think the biggest thing exposed to me is that, I used this phrase earlier, but I've experienced it in the last year of talking to people. There is a level of anger and frustration. Honestly, even kind of contempt for the industry people work in that's slowly brewing under the surface. It isn't coming as fast or as hard as I saw when I worked in the visual effects industry, but it's honestly one of the big reasons why I think these things need to happen, and people need to talk, and get this stuff out and start understanding what everyone's user scenario is. I think the anger that blew out of this was a little shocking just because it was like, look, if the number's wrong the number's wrong. Let's talk about what the number should be, but the additional emotions built on top of that, those are coming from somewhere.
Ryan: There's something that's driving that desire, whether it's jealousy, frustration, not understanding exactly where everyone's coming from, having a career that's not going where you want it to, seeing the fact that people are getting bigger budgets, like you said, that they don't have access to. There's something fueling that emotion or that reaction. I think that's still a work in progress. I've been trying to figure out what caused that and why that's happening. It was definitely eye opening to me, but I would just love to go back to if you could go back and read this article now, minus the chart, I think there's a lot of great writing in here that a lot of great things ... I love the fact that it opened with here's this city, this town that is nowhere near as difficult to live in as LA, or New York, or honestly even Chicago. There is a thriving, burgeoning motion design scene that could happen anywhere. You could be the catalyst for that. Your town could become Detroit. I think a lot of that stuff got lost in the mix of that number is ridiculous anger that came out of it.
Joey: Yeah, yeah. I think privately a lot of people reached out to me. The folks in the industry who have climbed high up on the mountain, I got a lot of emails saying that their experience matches mine. They've had experiences of getting a $25,000 budget on a job that takes them 2 weeks. Because they're freelancers and their salary is essentially whatever profit you make on a freelance job, a $25,000 job equals at the end of it, $23,000 in the bank. Of course you got to pay taxes, but studios pay taxes as well.
Joey: My point being that I do stand by the numbers even though they got me into a lot of trouble, and a lot of people disagree, they were real. I pulled them from real jobs. The mistake I made, and I really do apologize if it pissed people off, that was not the intent, it was more like this is possible and this is not only possible, this is a thing that happens all the time. I think that when you say things like that, those motivational kind of things, I think I need to be a lot more descriptive, and add more context and just, like I said earlier, be more empathetic to the fact that I was at that point in my career in a very privileged position. I'd been a creative director. I had existing client relationships. I had spent a decade building. At that point, those budgets and those profit margins were possible for me. To someone five years in, that might seem like just straight up lying. I didn't even take that into account.
Joey: Lesson learned, I got slapped around, I got bruised, and I learned from it. It triggered a lot of self-reflection in me and I know that I've grown from it. In a way, thank you, thank you everywhere for doing that.
Ryan: In some ways, it's a point of pride too. You were this year's brick layer comment from Chris Doe.
Joey: Hey, I like that, there we go. Maybe Chris Doe and I can trade. Maybe next year he can say something and get everyone upset.
Ryan: Every year someone's going to say the one thing that drives the conversation [crosstalk 03:06:02].
Joey: I love it, I love it.
PART 6 OF 7 ENDS [03:06:04]
Ryan: One thing that drives the conversation.
Joey: I love it. I love it. Excellent. All right, cool. So now, we've got a couple more things to talk about here. I wanted to talk about some artists and studios I think everyone should watch in 2019.
Ryan: Yes.
Joey: I have to say again, this is the opposite of an extensive list. These are just some cherry picked ones that personally I find very interesting. We'll link to everybody. And we're going to kind of do these quick, because there's a bunch of them. So first off, Sarah Beth Morgan goes freelance. She was at Odd Fellows for years and good lord is she talented. And I cannot wait to see what she's up to.
Ryan: Yep. Her and Tyler both going to Odd Fellows was kind of like a huge deal. I used to work with Tyler, hung out with them all the time. I was like, wow, that's so awesome to see a team of an animator and designer go together to a company. And then seeing her kind of bounce out, get some experience as an art director, some bigger jobs. And then kind of move on. Again, super excited. I think Sara Beth is the kind of person that anything she does, I'll be a huge fan of. If it's designs, if it's products, if it's posters, if she did a web comic, if she story boarded a short film, I'd be right there. I'm a fan from day one to eternity for her.
Joey: If she made a class, wink wink. So-
Ryan: Wink wink.
Joey: So the next person on my list is Nidia Dias who came from Tendril. She went freelance, too, recently. I'm almost embarrassed that she wasn't on my radar and I looked at her portfolio, because everyone was sort of retweeting and sharing that she went freelance. So I checked out her stuff and oh my God!
Ryan: Yep, she's amazing.
Joey: This stuff is so good! And so, there's often times when someone is like embedded at a studio and while they're there, they're not really on the self promotion train, right, for obvious reasons. So it feels like they come out of nowhere when all of a sudden, they're really popular. And I suspect that Nidia is going to be one of those because her work is just next level.
Ryan: Yep, no, she's awesome. Her work is great. She's another one of those people who as she starts to self promote, she'll be ubiquitous in the industry. I actually ... She came out. I think I had done an office hours talk with her and then she happened to be in Chicago. And we had lunch. And man, it's so exciting to see someone go through that, I'm about to quit and I'm essentially taking meetings with everybody. While they're in that kind of afterglow of, "What is my value? Who wants to work with me?"
Ryan: If you can get to that point in your career where you work at a studio for a while, you generate a good solid body of work, and then you kind of announce that you're available. That week to two weeks, month experience of getting the calls, meeting people, getting on Skype with the studios you've always loved. It's something that's just a joy and it makes you feel like all the hard work you've done is kind of paying off now. And super cool to see Nidia kind of in the middle of that right now.
Joey: Yep. Another just beastly talent going freelance is Aaron Quinn. And Aaron just has this incredible style to his work. It's like ... There's a lot of artists now that are so good and so proficient and I don't mean this as a knock or anything, but it's like a lot of their work kind of looks like everyone else's work. It's a very challenging thing to avoid. Aaron does not have that problem. Aaron's work looks like Aaron's stuff. And it's really just brilliant. That's another one to watch out for.
Ryan: Yeah, I mean, if you want to see what Joey's kind of talking about, I always in my head always think of like certain things are just like the house standard. In motion design, there's like a way to draw trees and plants and leaves that everybody copies. Every 2D or cell animated thing just has that motion design tree. And if you go on his Instagram, there's just like one picture of just sketches of him doing just like mushrooms and leaves and bushes and trees. And it looks unlike anyone else's. Color palette, shapes, the way he uses black to kind of spot shadows out.
Ryan: And it's something that simple, where you're like, "Wow, I can look at a bush or a tree and know that, wow, that person is unique and different and want to look at the rest of his work." So yeah, it's ... again, it's super exciting to see these people go freelance, because it's like, how many more people are out there that we don't know that are just toiling away at a studio? And then the next year are going to kind of reveal themselves to us.
Joey: Yep. Another artist that has been on our radar for a while but just sort of had a breakout year this year, I feel like, was Ariel Costa.
Ryan: Yep. Oh my God, yes.
Joey: Obviously just brilliant. He worked on a documentary about Mister Rodgers, which by the way, as an aside, if you're going to watch it, just make sure you're not embarrassed to cry in front of whomever is watching it with you. Because it will make you cry.
Ryan: You might want to be alone.
Joey: Yeah, you definitely want to watch that one like ... not on an airplane, which is where I watched it. It was very uncomfortable.
Ryan: Oh God, that is like the worst place.
Joey: But he got to work on that. He worked on this incredible video for the band Mastodon. I mean, he just keeps getting better even though he's already amazing. I think 2019 is going to be a big year for him.
Ryan: And again, I mean, I think more than anyone I've been around or tried to hire or tried to work with, Ariel's stuff is so singularly his work. And it's again ... It's the same thing I said about Patrick Clair. Ten years ago, he went down this path of trying to kind of create this is my look, this is my style. And now, you see the kind of evocation of all of that work, right? Like you can't go to anyone else to get Ariel Costa's style, because it looks like a bad imitation.
Joey: Exactly.
Ryan: It's a mix of cut out animation and montage and there's great little illustrations and his color palettes are so ... He's one of the few people that you can see four images and pick up Ariel's immediately no matter what part of his work you're taking posts of.
Joey: Yep. Also incredibly nice guy to work with, too. [Beegrand Anettie 03:12:04]. So Bee, if you listen to this podcast for any length of time, her name has come up. If you've taken Design Bootcamp, she's one of the interviewees for that. She also created the Explainer Camp opening for our Explainer Camp class. And she was actually full time at Google for I think a year and she's now re-entering the industry. And so if you've been wondering why it's been kind of quiet from her in terms of new work and stuff like that, that's why. I think that is going to change very rapidly in 2019.
Ryan: Yeah, that's one of those things I was talking about, where you have people that you are fans of and like you said, sometimes they disappear and you don't know why. And then inevitably they took a full time job, they're kind of squirreled away somewhere at a studio or at a brand or at a company. But I feel like people use certain words way too often in our industry. But sometimes people are just pure distillations of that. Like I had the word delight or delightful in my world or in our world right now, because it's just overused to the point of meaning nothing. But when I look at her work, it's always just ... that is the definition of delightful. It's fun, it's always calming and it makes me smile. There's something about her work that like, again, I can't imagine who she's going to work with and it's going to change the way you look at other people's brands or their work when she does jobs for them.
Joey: Totally. Totally. And I think that's a reflection of her, too. Her personality and her work are very closely linked, I think. All right, so let's talk about a few studios. So State Design and I don't know if they launched this year or if I just became aware of them, but they're amazing. They're sort of a tier of studios that the Odd Fellows, the Box, the Royales ... it's kind of thin air up there. The Tendrils, the Giant Ants. And they're there. I mean, their work is there. The Golden Wolfs. And it's really fun when you have a new company like that pop up.
Ryan: Yep. They pulled the trick that Royale pulled I'd say three or four years ago, where they kind of ... Royale had this moment where they re-launched and did a lot of self motivated work, had a brand new reel. Did something they called The Manifesto that just basically re-announced them to the world. And I feel like ... I don't know enough about State to know if this is the case or if they just launched like this. I think it was this year or early in this year that they released a reel and it's one of those standup moments where you're like you pay attention to someone because, in the reel it was basically ... portions of it were just their logo animating, resolving, doing something different. But it was such a wide range of styles that I was like, "Oh shit. How do I not know about these guys or haven't thought about them for a while?"
Ryan: And I honestly went through their entire website at that point, just to be like, "Wait, what work have they done?" It was probably like a 15 minute departure of whatever I was doing, from the moment I saw the reel to when I realized I had to get back to work, because it was just like one of these kind of overwhelming moments. Where they're right there with, like you said, with everybody. And somehow they were just off my radar.
Joey: Yeah, so they're incredible and I bet we're going to see some amazing stuff from them. Also want to call out my buddy, David Stanfield. He partnered up ... I don't know if it was actually in 2018. It might have been the previous year. But I started seeing some work with him and Matt Smithson. They started a company called Igor and Valentine. The recent stuff they've put out is unbelievable. I think that's a perfect example of being more than the sum of their parts. They're both very talented, but you put them together and the stuff ... it just really good. It's really fresh. It's a big variety of styles and I think they have a very bright future, too.
Ryan: Yeah. I think the way you described it is best, is that they're like a power couple. They're almost like the Black Keys or White Stripes of the industry, where it's like the two people separate are great and you know they're powerful, but there's something about when the right two artists start working together over time. Like not just like oh they worked on this project and then for six months they didn't work together again. And then they got back together.
Ryan: But when two people or three people are working together for two years straight and they build that shorthand or they realize what people are good at, that's a rare thing in the industry now that we used to have all the time. You have a staff of seven or eight people and they're constantly working together and building that kind of workflow. I love seeing that. Two really good artists becoming the power of ten artists just by being together for a period of time, working and creating at the same time. It's pretty cool.
Ryan: There's a piece called The Depths of the Barely Visible that they did that the design work in it is just like top tier chefs kiss. Like amazing.
Joey: It's beautiful. Yeah, that was the one that really made me realize, "Oh, yeah, okay. They've arrived. They're hitting the big time now." So my next two picks, they're not new but they've actually been around a while, both of these. But I just ... so the first one is Black Math, which is a studio based out of Boston. And their work is so brilliant. But for some reason, it just hasn't seemed to pop in terms of like the motion design industry just being aware of them the way they're aware of Buck and everybody else. But they're on the same level.
Joey: There's an advertising agency award show in Boston every year called The Hatch Awards. And they've worked on the branding and the animation for that a couple years. And it's just genius level stuff. They're so good, the design is awesome, they have that quirky ... I think Jeremy, who is the creative director there, came from Buck so there's a little bit of that Buck DNA to it. They're just amazing.
Ryan: Yeah, I mean, I do a lot of talking about demo reels and different stuff. And one of the things that comes up a lot of times is the different between a demo reel and a show reel. And for me, a demo reel is just like how I can hire somebody today and what your skills are. But a show reel is like here's all the work we've done and here's our personality and here's why you want to work with us as a team and partner with us. And man, I don't know if there's a better demo reel I've seen in a while than BlacK Math that just expresses who they are as people. Like their opening probably 15 or 20 seconds is A, hilarious. B, shows the range of work they do and shows them as human beings, like people and artists. I think those are things that are really hard to do in a minute long or minute thirty long demo reel.
Ryan: And I think Black Math is honestly like just that one cornerstone keystone client or job away from being considered the same as like, "Wow, where did Golden Wolf come from?" Or where did this other studio that everybody's talking about all of a sudden? They have the chops, they have the range, they have a couple things most people don't have. Like they have a sense of humor that seems to pop through a lot of their work that's not like technology based or a style that's something. It's just there in their work. I just feel like they're probably just missing that one ... like when Happiness Factor came out for Sci App, all of a sudden everybody was like, "Whoa, who is that?"
Joey: Right.
Ryan: To me, actually, when I flip through this, the only studio I can think of that I've loved in the past and you may have mentioned them earlier today that they seem to mimic to me is, back in the day, Three Legged Legs. Greg Gunn and the two other guys that kind of dispersed all over the world. But they graduated and for a couple years, they were just putting out these stuff that like had a sense of humor. Every job had a different technique. Color palettes never felt the same. And they were big clients. I feel like they're just missing that one kind of grab you and pull you in piece that everybody's like, "Who did that?"
Joey: Well hopefully 2019 is the year for that. And the other person that has been a staple of the motion design industry since day one almost is Brian Gossett who updated his portfolio this year. So we worked with Brian actually for Design Boot Camp. He designed a bunch of elements that we give our students to use on one of the later projects. And working with him was like just so cool. It was like, "Oh my God, I've gotten to work with Brian Gossett." His updated website ... I mean, you go to it and you're like, "Okay, this is one of the best sort of motion design centric illustrators you can hire." This guy is a monster. He's capable of a lot of different styles and techniques. And just his use of color, everything's really beautiful. And so I hope that we see a lot more of his stuff in 2019 also.
Ryan: Yeah, I feel like this year was the year of, "Oh man, they finally put out a new website." Like from a lot of like defacto standard motion design people. And Brian ... You know you're going to love someone's work when their website starts popping up and the first thing, you're like, "Wow, that font is beautiful. Where did they find that?" If you go to his site and you're not on the fastest connection, it's literally his name and then his three buttons and then the work starts kind of dribbling in. And immediately I'm like, "Wow, this guy's a designer. I want to see everything they've done."
Ryan: It's something that's like ... It doesn't happen very often when you have that, but it's like you can tell someone's strength by just one element of what they do. And yeah, it's almost like a story when you go through Brian's site, the new site. It's like the font's great. It's simple. It's clean. It directs me directly to what I want. And then you get to like the first one, you're like, "Wow, that color palette is insane on his Hatch Award Show." And you scroll down and you're like, "Wow, he does character stuff. That's cool, but I haven't seen character like this. Like it doesn't feel like the standard." And yeah. Great illustrator. Great use of texture. Again, we've said color palettes but everyone we've talked about has like a unique eye for color in different ways.
Ryan: But yeah, in a world where everybody's doing the same character stuff, his characters are really clean. They're really neat looking. But then he has these really awesome illustrations that I don't think have anything to do with animation or for a product. There's a really dope Kendrick Lamar poster that he has. Like yeah, it feels like next level stuff but it has that nice familiarity of someone that you've followed for a long time.
Joey: Yeah, he's awesome. And he also hosted a podcast for a while called Motion Sickness that went on like semi permanent hiatus. And I know he keeps threatening to bring it back, so hopefully he does. I really love his take on things. Yeah.
Ryan: Oh man, yeah. I'd love to hear it.
Joey: All right, so you actually threw three more names on this list, Ryan, that I was unfamiliar with. So why don't you introduce them?
Ryan: Yeah. I mean, I think that's a super cool thing right now, is that there's so many people. And I don't know if it's because it's people going freelance or Instagram's algorithm is finally tuned itself to what I like and I'm just getting fed this kind of stream stuff. Or it's more conversations I'm having. But I think there's three really interesting people to look at. There's a bunch more but just for the sake of time. There's a guy named Fabio Valesini that just went freelance in think maybe in the last week or two. I'm not even sure where he lives, but holy cow. Go to his show reel if you guys have the link on Vimeo and just take a look at his stuff. Animation is all over the place in terms of style, super playful.
Ryan: But if you've ever heard me rant about animation, one of the things I talk about all the time is textured timing. And it really is just talking about how you use timing and spacing so that everything doesn't feel super smooth and super floaty. And everything's like perfect. It's kind of the difference between classic Disney 2D animation and UPA style animation, where there wasn't a big budget but you made beautiful design and you're really judicious about your framing and how you used the number of frames you could actually have in your animation.
Ryan: His stuff is really poppy. There's times where it's chunky and then there's times where it zips really fast. He also ... We're starting to see more and more people do old school 2D animation tricks, like a lot of smears and a lot of blends. I think he has a great control of that kind of stuff. And then I don't know if I've seen any single person ... I've seen studios do a lot of this, but I don't know if I've seen anybody do better kind of crazy wide angle camera fish eye transitions and swoops. But mixed in with this kind of textured timing style. I could rave on about it for forever. But he's someone who was not on my radar until maybe two or three weeks ago. And I think he's somebody that people should be paying attention to.
Joey: Awesome.
Ryan: The second one was this ... And I'm going to apologize to her if I actually say it wrong. But there's a woman named [Nino Juan 03:24:27] that I don't know where she came from. I have no idea where she works. But holy cow, her character work is completely mind blowing.
Joey: It's bonkers.
Ryan: She has one little- yeah. The thing that she did for Punaniman ... I always say it wrong. Punani Animation. It's black, white, and yellow kind of color scheme. It's only ten seconds but man, if you don't loop this thing like seven or eight times to just study it, animation is just unbelievable. It feels like if any of your favorite anime actually had the budget they deserve to do all of the full on animation that they want but with more charm than you've ever seen in anything. Her stuff's excellent. And I haven't heard many people talk about her.
Ryan: And then the last one is totally different from these two, but a guy that I met online. 3D artist. And his work has always been great, but I think about a month ago he released something that at least in the 3D world, in the Octane world, you have to go and check out. It's Aaron Covrett and he did this piece called Harvest and it looks like a renaissance level painting. But then you go to his breakdown and you realize that it's all 3D. It's done in Octane. He's using tons of really different techniques. He's doing scanning of objects, he's doing simulations. Tons of stuff just for a single illustration. But this one piece, I think he's using Marvelous Designer for cloth. He's stringing together all these different tools and different techniques. But to basically recreate a painting style that ...
Ryan: One thing I know I get really frustrated, and I think we've talk about this with like one a days and the push to kind of do photo real stuff. Everything coming out of most of people's renders feel the same, right? Everything looks like people are chasing Beeple. This is the first time I saw something that felt completely fresh, completely different. And then when I went and saw the breakdown, it was just like, "Wow." This guy could literally put on a School of Motion class for one piece to talk about his through process. Why he chose to do it, how he started going through all the scans, and what he learned about rendering and rending passes. It was taking something that I think is super technical and applying like master class level artistry to it.
Ryan: And it kind of came out of completely nowhere. So if you get a chance, take a look at Aaron Covrett, his Harvest piece. And honestly, the piece itself is amazing but on Vimeo he has a breakdown that will change the way you think about working with things like Octane and Redshift.
Joey: All right. Well, it's funny because as you were talking, I was kind of looking at all of their stuff. And I realize I've seen Aaron's work. I've seen Nino's work. I hadn't seen Fabio's. But I didn't know who did it. And so I think that hopefully if they hear this, if someone tells them that we mentioned them, I think this is the perfect example of you've got the goods and it takes a little bit more than that these days to really break through and kind of get to that next level in terms of having more opportunities than you can possibly ever take. Those three are all so talented that I don't think they have that problem. But I think if they did like a teeny bit of self promotion, they would soon be swamped with work. More than they could ever do.
Joey: All right, so we're going to bring this thing home, Ryan. Looking ahead to 2019, let's do three quick ones and then I'm going to let you close this out with a big one. So first of all, next year, are PCs going to overtake Macs in the motion design scene? Is that ever happening? I know Nick Campbell just got a PC and he kind of talked about it. I know in the 3D world, PC is dominant just because of GPUs and stuff. But it still seems like Mac is hanging on. So what do you think?
Ryan: In my world, I have no skin in the game, man. I don't care either way. I'll use whatever gets me the best bang for the buck and has the most tools that I can use. But I just don't trust Apple. I feel like in our world right now, as more things go towards 3D and as 3D goes more towards GPU based rendering being kind of the defacto standard, I feel like for the 3D professional and maybe motion graphics in general ... Aft Effects is going that way. More and more things are going towards GPUs based on a video technology.
Ryan: I feel like it's bottom of the ninth, there's two outs. But Apple does have this modular Mac that has been sitting in the background that we've been slowly seeing more and more stuff, hearing more and more things, that's supposed to come out next year. The iMac Pros were launched with a big fanfare, they're crazy expensive, they're not modular. You can't really do a lot of updating with them. I don't feel like they've made a big splash in our industry. I think it was the last thing that got a lot of people to just say I'm not spending that money. I can get a PC that's twice as powerful and I can upgrade for a long time.
Ryan: But I do think if they do this right, if they make essentially the next version of the cheese grader that we all know and love, it's modular, it has some video options, it has AMD options which I think the in video side ... they're going so much down the opposite direction of controlling their entire pipeline, from software APIs, hardware, the manufacturers that they're choosing to use. We just saw them release ProRes for Windows I think as a last ditch effort to say, on our hardware, we're abandoning DMX HD. We're abandoning CineForm. We're saying we're only going to double down on ProRes, which I never thought the day would come that we'd have that natively on the Windows side.
Ryan: I think they're just going in towards their eco system. They've done so much on the mobile side to ... I mean, I love my iPad. The iPad Pro for so many things in my mobile workflow. It's amazing. But honestly, for like my getting down to the hard work, I really don't enjoy sitting down at a Mac at this point because of my options for GPU rendering.
Ryan: I don't know if the Mac will ever full gives up, because there's just designers who will live and die by it and they'll never go to Windows. No matter how good or bad the operating system is. But man, if someone like Nick decides to go to a PC, I mean ... if your Mac dies, I'd love to know what you'd do right now. But I think there's a lot of people facing that like, man, just make this new Mac Pro something I can use for a long time. But I think we're close to the end.
Joey: Yeah, that's what I'm praying for because I don't want to switch to PC, just because of having to relearn all of the sort of pro user tips I know about Macs. So my fingers are crossed that that modular Mac comes out next year and is just kick ass and the savior of motion design on Macs.
Joey: So two more quick things. Next year, I think starting in the summer, ramping up into the fall, Blend Fest is going to be a very big story. Everybody's going to be talking about it. It's set three alarm clocks. It will sell out. It might sell out instantaneously. Be ready for that. I also want to say that I think next year, we're just going to see more and more examples of MoGraph being everywhere. Every single screen requires some form of motion design at this point. The demand for work is increasing way faster than the supply of artists that can do it.
Joey: So the actionable advice is to just keep learning new stuff. Keep learning new tools, new skills. Just expand, develop yourself personally. Read a Tony Robbins book, because I think that we're definitely getting into the Seth Godin world, where it's not enough. I mean, we're there. It's not enough to be good at a thing and I know the buttons to push to get this thing. You have to be ... And now it's almost ... At the high levels, it's not even enough to be a good designer and a good animator. You can make a great living doing that, don't get me wrong. But you want to get to that next level? Well, now you also need to really be good at client service and marketing and sales, self promotion, and story telling and all of the other things.
Joey: So I think that's a focus internally for School of Motion for next year is helping to push those skills, as well as the technical and sort of creative skills that we've already been working on.
Ryan: Yeah, I would add to that, if you're going to list new skills and tools, things like Houdini or X-Particles or Cell Animation. With equal weight and value, I would add networking. Networking should be a skill that you try to become a master at in every way possible. I would say learning how to communicate amazingly. Not just in terms of like talking to your boss or talking to your supervisor, but just being able to have conversations like this with people.
Ryan: And then I don't know of a good way to describe this other than be fans of other artists and other freelancers that are peers around you and try to create a desire for other people to be fans of you, your work, the things you talk about, the things you enjoy. Because I think those factors are just as important as your skill set in keeping your career going, advancing your career, and finding your path down this industry right now. Because I think everything's the wild west. Everyone's looking for people to partner with, everyone's looking for people they can trust, and honestly people are just looking for people that make the day go faster and easier and are fun to work with.
Joey: Damn, that was a really good way to put it. Really good way to put it. Yep. And I agree 100% with that. And you actually got me thinking about some ideas, some ways to think about that. Networking is a learnable skill. It's not, "I'm an introvert. I can never be good at networking." I don't believe that.
Ryan: Absolutely.
Joey: So-
Ryan: And it doesn't have to feel sleazy.
Joey: Exactly.
Ryan: It doesn't have to feel sleazy or like it's a life hack, which I hate that term. It can feel like something that's just as important as being able to draw or being able to animate type. Like it can be something you actually work on.
Joey: 100%. So I'm going to leave you with the final thought and so in the notes, you wrote down this is the year of three R's. But then I think you added a fourth R, didn't you?
Ryan: Yeah. And I think I actually just changed it right now. So I would say I think 2019 is going to be the year of Redshift. I think Octane was falling a little bit and I think the competition is going to get it to kind of like push back and come back into prominence. But I think finally with the training and the tools and everyone kind of settling on hardware, Redshift is going to become a tool that everyone has to learn. Everyone has to use. Every shop has to invest in.
Ryan: We talked about it earlier but I think this is really going to be a year of resonance, in terms of what we said at the top of the show, that it's not enough to be great technically. It's not great enough to be creative. It's really going to be about creating work that resonates and has an emotional connection, whether it's the work you make, it's the Tweets you put out, it's the podcasts that you're a guest on, it's the conversations you have with people. I think being emotionally resonate is going to be really important.
Ryan: And hand in hand with that, this is the one I feel I'm going to change after what we just said, I think relationships are going to be incredibly important next year. As people start getting further along in their career, as people start trying to go from being a freelancer to being staff, or from staff to a creative director, or from a creative director to a shop owner, your relationships that you've worked on for your career are going to be something you rely on quite a bit more.
Ryan: And then I think the last one is it's obviously to me, it's already happening, but I think it's really going to come to an inflection point. Remote freelancing. 2019 is going to be the year where all the shops, all the studios, all the people who were kind of afraid of it, between the tools and the demand, remote freelancing is going to be something that is expected at this point.
Joey: You still with us? Holy geez did we talk! 2018 was absolutely an incredible year for our industry. For the artists in the industry, for the tools we all use, and I think that 2019 is going to be another humongous one. And in 12 months, Ryan and I will be right back here to sum it all up.
Joey: I can't thank you enough for taking time to listen to the School of Motion podcast. And I hope we can get back inside those beautiful ear holes in 2019. So from all of us at School of Motion, have an amazing holiday season. Happy New Year and I will see you in 2019.
PART 7 OF 7 ENDS [03:36:41]