Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

the wheels on the bus

My latest video animation The wheels on the bus go round and round. An animated song for children. Have fun

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ok – I’ve had a break from blogging for a while – new baby and all that….

Anyway, a few odd jobs have cropped up – some more odd than others (I’ve made a birthday animation about somebody’s pets, created a logo for a student TV station, and I’m doing a montage of artwork for projecting on the side of a lighthouse….)

I’ve also just decided to jump on the 3dTV bandwagon – producing a 3dtv primer – partially to learn the 3dtv ropes and partially to flag up that I can handle this revolution if it comes.

My feeling is that it probably won’t come in it’s current form. At least, it’ll be restricted mainly to cinemas… nobody, I think wants to wear 3d glasses at home. I think the reason it’s being plugged so hard is to create the case for video content you can’t pirate. Whether that will work or not is anyone’s guess….

Anyway, the results of my foray into the 3dtv world are here (you need red/cyan glasses to watch this:)

Monday, January 11, 2010

The new year has started with few resolutions and a lot of ideas. I’m still finishing off the trilobite documentary and I think the end is finally in sight on that project.

The client wants it cut down to 40 minutes – I’m not sure what slot he’s got in mind – but anyway, I think I’m getting there, and the edit does improve the flow of the thing. I’ve also managed to tidy up a few bits of editing that look messy.

Music is a bit of a battle – for some reason, it always feels right to put more music in while I’m editing, then when I come to review the work, I end up taking it all out again. Not sure why that is, but it’s also a bit true of narration – I’ve cut out a lot of my voiceover and it doesn’t seem to have made the story less clear, so obviously I’ve been rattling on for no good reason….

I’m also painfully aware that my tax recipts need adding up and presenting by the end of the month.

It’s not a fun job and every time I do it, I wish I could be organised enough to do it every month instead of every year. Calculating tax is one of those things you always feel bad about – even if you’re finally doing it, there’s always a dark suspicion in your mind that you’re doing something wrong and that someday someone’s going to turn up and have you arrested.

I’ve been doing the work in dribs and drabs this week as the new baby has meant I haven’t had enough sleep to be confident in my adding up….

Aside from this, I’ve dug up an old project – a children’s picture book on evolution I created about 5 years ago with the intention of submitting it to publishers.

For some reason (I think it was as trivial as my printer not working properly) I shelved the project and never sent it to anyone…. But now, I’ve dusted it off and I’m getting it out there.

I think this is partially because I’ve got another kids book idea (as well as a couple of grown up ones) and I want to see what happens when you submit stuff to publishers…

Well, I guess I’ll find out.

Looking through the websites of publishers, they vary hugely – some give clear guidelines for prospective authors – others (even big ones) make it very difficult to find out even basic information (like the fact that they don’t want writers sending manuscripts).

For that reason, a lot of the biggest publishers simply aren’t going to get a look at my book – I’m a professional, and I expect my publishers to be professional too – I’m not going to waste my time trawling through badly organised websites trying to find information (particularly when providing that information would save the publishers from receiving submissions they don’t want).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Crashing back into work after my paternity leave, I’ve had quite a lot on my plate –at work and at home. So this is the first chance I’ve had to update this blog in a while…. Forgive me if I skip over some stuff….

The new showreel
The new showreel updated just before I went on paternity leave seems to have had a massive effect – instead of a couple of enquiries a month, I got about 1 a day while I was on leave (although it’s dropped off again in the run up to Christmas.

The change? Well, I put in a couple more shots to give a more rounded feel, but basically what I did was to change the music – from the gentle tones of “the blue Danube” to a piece of hard-hitting aggressive modern music (taken from

Amazing the difference it’s made.

Also, in the last couple of weeks I’ve written another book - on how to write and publish newsletters. It isn’t a massive book, and it’s not aimed at professionals, so it’s a fairly basic guide… However, I’m quite pleased with how it’s gone, and one thing it’s really made me think is that if I was really strict with myself, and really put some time aside, I could probably write a novel without affecting my other work too much.

When I say too much – it’d probably cost me about £2-3,000 in terms of the time I’d have to take away from other work and it would be incredibly hard work. In addition, I would have to give myself very firm targets and it’d have to be tightly written and planned without lots of arty digression and vagueness – but it’s something I’d really love to do… so maybe….

What I do for a living
This last couple of weeks, leading up to Christmas I’ve put aside for tidying things up – so I’ve managed to get all the admin and boring nonsense out of the way and even got some way to doing my tax for the year.

Doing all this involved doing a spreadsheet of all my work, and along side that I did a little playing with Excel’s chart function. In short, I used it to produce a pie chart of how much of my income comes from writing, artwork, documentaries, and animation.

Here’s the result:

Two music videos
I’ve worked on two music videos since returning to work – and they couldn’t be more different. One is completely animated – a really fun and fast moving piece of animation for a fun track. The other is a piece for a Norwegian goth band – on which I took the bluescreen footage they’d shot (about 60 shots in all) and did background and compositing including dragons and pirate ships.

Pitching article
I also – in my quest to work out how to pitch my work to new markets – wrote an article on how to pitch for 3d artist magazine. The idea behind this was to ask companies that were very good at getting 3d animation work how they do it, then try it for myself on a couple of projects.

I did get some useful tips from the research - including the fact that a lot of animation studios have a dedicated marketing person, so I’m planning to get one next year.

Christmas card mailout

I decided to send out a Christmas card to everyone on my mailing list with an offer of a free piece of stock footage to download at … it seems like something a lot of companies do and it just reminds people that you still exist…

I’m ambivalent about the results - When I checked my web visit stats, around 7% of people who got the email responded by visiting the site – and that’s not bad, I think. Or to look at it another way, I pay about 40p per click at google, and this got me 230 clicks, so the equivalent of nearly £100 spent on advertising. Which I guess if you look at the time spent on it isn’t much… Then again, they’re people I’ve targeted, so they’re more likely to be the right people… a couple of people responded by asking me to take them off my email list – but really very few (about 0.1% by proportion)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Things that don’t work
I’m taking a good long look at my strategy for getting work. Since I’m playing a bit of a waiting game right now and I’ve scaled things down (partially on purpose – partially not) ready for the arrival of our next baby (any time in the next couple of weeks).

Anyhow, that leaves me with a bit of time to think about how I should be expanding (now that there seems to be more work about). I did a bit of that at the beginning of the year, and discovered a couple of things that don’t work.

SEO – search engine optimisation is one of them. I re-worked my website, and replaced it with a slightly easier to update, but less good looking site mainly because I thought it would appeal to search engines.

I also wrote a lot of how-to articles that I thought might appeal to my clients and got a company to post links to them on lots of interested websites so I got lots of backlinks (something search engines love) to my site.

It worked from the point of view that my site now appears much more frequently in web searches and comes up strongly when my favourite keywords are typed into google.

A success.

Or so you’d think. However, what I find is that it doesn’t make any difference. I haven’t got a single piece of work or even a contact (that I know of) from a normal search engine search.

On the other hand, I’ve got loads from the searches I pay for on google – the sponsored links.

In other words, if someone searches for an animator and I come up in the normal search they don’t bother clicking on it – or if they do, they don’t then contact me. If it comes up as a sponsored link, they do.

Which is a bit puzzling because I do the opposite – I assume that the sponsored links aren’t what I’m really looking for, and the really good stuff is the stuff that’s come up without being paid for….

Oh, well.

Another thing I did that doesn’t work is mailing lists - Getting a firm to find email addresses for lots of companies and sending out a mail to all of them. I’ve got a pretty good response in terms of people saying thanks for emailing, and I’ll keep your details, etc. but nothing to speak of in terms of actual work.

I have a feeling this is partially because I don’t really like doing this kind of mailing, and I’m a bit nervous about it, and it doesn’t sit well with me.

I think I’m finding myself forced by degrees towards a more serious and more personal approach to marketing. I have to do, what I guess I knew all along I’d have to do – just go out (or at least get somebody to go out) and personally meet and talk to the people I want to use my work.

It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. now, it’s just a matter of finding out who that somebody should be…

Friday, October 2, 2009

Because I’ve not got very much work on (although I know it’s all about to kick off again just in time for the new baby), I’ve taken the opportunity to try to make my life a bit easier.

Right now, when ever I have to produce a pitch or give someone an idea of what I’m planning to do, I end up spending most of my time making things look good and not much time actually laying out my ideas.

That’s because animation and graphics is difficult stuff, and just creating a lighting setup, background and materials that work is pretty time consuming before you even start on the concepts you’re trying to create.

So what I’ve been doing is building effectively a set of ready made studios. These are sets I can just load up and start to customise knowing that whatever I create in them, when I hit render the results will be pretty. All the laborious playing around with hundreds of settings to get the best result will already have been done.

I’ve also created a storyboarding “kit” – with simple primitive shapes and characters I can hopefully drag around to very quickly create visual representations of what I’m aiming at, so clients, others I hire to work on the project and me myself can get a feel for what’s needed.

I’m hoping the ability to do all this will become more important because I really do want to start pitching for more and higher level work. My magazine article on the pitching process is helpful – allowing me to pester people on the subject, and get lots of good advice on what to do and how.

I’ll put all that advice here once I’ve collated it, but the thing that’s coming across most strongly right now is that I really need to take networking seriously – I (or more likely a salesman who I hire) needs to be out there calling and meeting with production companies and commissioners to ensure that I’m on the list when animation work is put out to tender instead of just waiting for that work to come in from my advertising…