Tuesday, 17 January 2012

How on earth-

-did I forget about this!

After graduating, I was approached by a friend of mine who was setting up an online business and wanted a 'How To' video.  It had to explain the concept to people of the website to new visitors in under two minutes.  That website was Staywimi, a meeting place for people with rooms and beds they were willing to rent and people looking for an alternative to pricey hotel rooms, particularly with the Olympics coming up.  He asked me to make that video.

It was definitely a big learning curve for me.  I was fresh out of uni with a lot of enthusiasm but not much experience of the real working world, or the process of dealing with a client.  With both of us new to our professions and little or nothing to go on, every step of the relationship between me and Ali was a fresh experience and often a challenging one.  I found out things that old hands will think ought to be painfully obvious:
  • How to write a contract, and what your terms should be
  • Intellectual property
  • Rules about using other people's logos in your ad. (Basically, DON'T DO IT!!!)
  • Why you should ALWAYS have a fixed script before you begin animating.  We started drawing out ideas before the narrative of the script was really set, only to have other stakeholders come in later at several different points and request changes.  Even the final video you see now is not quite the video I handed over.
  • Using Illustrator and Flash, two programmes that I'd dabbled in but never really had much occasion to get familiar with.  Man am I familiar with them now!
  • Matching motion and scenes to the timing of a soundtrack.  To be honest I've never been told about this but have always done it instinctively.  As a musician the idea of counting beats and fitting different instruments together harmoniously seems natural and obvious.  I feel that music and pacing are key elements that can make or break an animation, but making things fit to words was a really fun thing to do.  I drew charts upon charts marking where words came in, and where the animation needed to be at that point in time, and it worked!  I still like the pacing of this when I rewatch it now.
  • Deadlines.  What a realistic time is to set for particular tasks, and why it's important that you keep to those - or are honest with your client if you realise that you can't.  I was job-hunting at the time and overestimated my ability to juggle both, so the first few weeks of the project involved a lot of give and take, and my friend was very generous with me while I figured out the ropes.  Hopefully now I'm a lot more aware of timescales and how long particular jobs will take me.

Looking back on it now, over a year later, I'm still pretty proud of it.  There's a few moments where I wince and think 'Ooh, thats a bit clunky...' or 'Argh, I can't believe I didn't spot that glaringly obvious error', but I guess that's called growth.  It just means I've improved since then, and learned more about my art.  The whole experience was fantastically helpful and goes to show that the best way to learn something is to simply do it, then screw it up, kill yourself fixing it, and emerge exhausted and victorious.  Seeing it live on the website is a huge honour, and I'm grateful to Ali who gave me that chance to try something new.

When I gave them the finished video the website was still in it's beta phase, so it didn't get uploaded straight away and I simply got caught up with other things and forgot to check for it.  What a great surprise to find it today!

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