Because creative inspiration comes from the world around us, from our experiences — shared and individual — we post a bunch of things here. Whether it’s updates from the team, behind-the-scenes insights on projects, general inspiration, or just pretty things, this is the best place to get and stay inspired.
Supernaut is a design and animation studio in Sydney, Wollongong and Canberra.
Killer new showreel from a brilliant character animator, great dancer and all round awesome-guy, 3d character animator Ben Hubbard (Sydney)
Online video was once a nice extra.
But now, it has truly become the main event.
As a professional design and animation studio, we’ve always been firm believers in visual language, and specifically moving image, being one of the best ways to communicate and connect with people through the telling of great stories. Loving what we do, we knew the day would come when the online world mixed fully with the power of video to capture the hearts and minds of all sorts of audiences. We’ve been doing it for decades — honing our skills and systems in crafting beautiful (and meaningful) animation and video based projects.
We’ve seen the cultural shift in recent years that has placed video (often referred to as “content”) at the centre of the most effective approach to brand awareness and audience engagement.
The trend continues too, with more and more businesses, marketers and start-ups putting video at the very top of their engagement strategies. In 2017 video accounted for around 69% of all consumer traffic online. That’s a crazy amount of traffic.
The growing popularity in online video/content with brands and businesses really isn’t that surprising when you look at how it works. It’s easy to access, from everywhere. It’s ‘snackable’ and … offers a great way to make relatively dry information more interesting, easy to digest and therefore … engaging and easy to digest.
It’s all well and good to just jump in with the logic of “well let’s just add video to everything then!” to grab people’s attention and increase engagement levels. What’s crucial to remember is
… quality is superior to quantity.
If the content isn’t great, and isn’t considered, consumers will just move on. Making content that’s well-produced, creative, clever and compelling — targeted to the right audience/s — will do a LOT of heavy lifting for your brand, helping it to stand out and stick in people’s minds.
As well as its ease-of-access and mobile-friendliness, another key to video’s success as a marketing tool is how easy it is to share. A video’s potential can be maximised by spreading it across social platforms and utilising the audience’s own networks to get it in front of the right people. It goes without saying that if a viewer is moved, tickled or inspired by the content they’ll want to share it on social media, and the effect is exponential.
Ultimately, users who spend time with a well-told video story will spend time engaging with the brand that made it, which makes us all happy!
Good Design looks at What We Don’t Know
Most insight, because it relies so heavily on asking consumers, only deals with improvements to known and existing products and services (I’d like it bigger, cheaper, quicker, smaller, etc). It rarely deals with the new/never been done before — the unexpected but relevant solution.
No one ever asked for Starbucks, a walkman, iPods, or the Internet, or even texting — they were new ideas, and no amount of consumer research or ‘panels’ gave their creators the confidence to re-imagine their impact on the industries they sit within.
Good designers always aim to move beyond what you get from simply asking consumers what they need (and want). Most people (i.e, consumers), when asked, don’t actually say what they mean … or mean what they say, mostly because these people often don’t actually know. Good designers want to unearth the bits that consumers can’t tell them: latent & emerging needs and motivations; actual behaviours; attitudes; and, crucially, the barriers and drivers of change — or simply put, what your competitors don’t already know.
Good designers don’t tend to think about consumers — they think about people and what they want and need. It’s a fairly subtle point, but thinking about people as consumers immediately dehumanises them and makes it harder to empathise.
Secondly, good designers like observing. Really looking at what people do, rather than simply relying on what they say they do is crucial. As Paul Smith (the fashion designer) said when he was asked where his ideas came from: “You and I could walk down the street together and look at the same things, but I’d SEE ten times more than you would.”
Good designers bring expertise gained from other categories and industries to inform and offer input on problems in others areas. They pull together threads from different functions, disciplines, fields, and sectors, and integrate them into a new, holistic and cohesive understanding.
They look at what might change in the short, medium and long-term, by focussing on the best trends and forecasting intelligence. Unlike other crystal ball gazers, they use this insight to help them understand how the can bend the future and ultimately … shape it to their vision.
Good designers test their conclusions by consulting with other cultural ‘interpreters’ from a broad range of backgrounds and disciplines.
They Look for What to Do
Good designers want to solve problems — and this makes them transform insights into inspiration.
Firstly, they have the ability to visualise what has never been. As Bruce Nussbaum said in the same post, “Many firms are plagued by articulate and persuasive ‘smart talkers’ who sound good in meetings but get bogged down in abstract complexities.”
Good design studio/s (and designers) are great at realising what most might find abstract thoughts or so many post-its in a meeting. They enable large amounts of complex data to be understood and absorbed quickly with a diagram.
Secondly, good designers live and work in the future most days, immersed in the activity of actively creating and shaping their client’s future visions of new products and services. And this familiarity with fusing creativity with what’s feasible and commercial every day is what makes good designers so good at doing this consistently and better than others.
Thirdly, they overcome the “not invented here…” syndrome. For new ideas to survive and indeed thrive they have to be successfully embraced by all the relevant (another ghastly word) “stakeholders.” Good designers can act as a translator between functional silos as different as supply chain, marketing and R&D.
They Keep Going
When a good design studio talks about innovation, they mean (and I make no apologies for cribbing Lord Sainsbury’s much-quoted definition), “the successful exploitation of new ideas.” They don’t stop with the invention. They turn their inspirations into reality.
Firstly, in the case of a new product or service, it’s unlikely to be successfully brought to market unless it can be integrated into and be supported by all the other aspects of the marketing mix: and if we’re talking new business strategy, then good designers have to understand how the new offering could and should impact (and to what degree) all the other aspects of the organisation: from its structure, to its mission and culture…all the way to the business model(s) that underpin everything.
Good designers don’t claim to be able to do all these things, but they do know to work with the various functions and outside resources that do. And unlike some others, they don’t leave their colleagues at the bus stop; they stay with the project until the end because nothing gives a good designer more satisfaction than being able to point to something that everyone else thinks is the best thing since sliced bread and saying, “I did that!”
Secondly, they are good at practical resolution. Bruce Nussbaum describes the problem thus, “Some of the smartest execs get bogged down in the messy process of implementation.” But again, good designers’ ability to “make it real” can help resolve contradictions and find highest common denominator compromises, helping the (innovation/ marketing) process more forward.
Thirdly, good designers are good at iterative prototyping, refining the concept through repeated cycles and getting feedback from the right people as they go. James Dyson famously made two thousand prototypes of his bag-less vacuum cleaner before he got it right. The rest, as they say, is history.
Brand and Messaging
Many people think brand identity (i.e, the visual identity etc) is more important than what a business actually says. When we see pretty things (and like them) it’s easy to get caught up in this way of thinking. Even for the design-minded this can be a logic trap. Younger and less experienced designers often think (and/or actually believe) that those precious design skills and a-la-mode style is more important and will have more impact than the actual message it’s (meant to be) communicating. But … looks aren’t everything, and they’re certainly more than what needs to be shown on the surface.
If a brand has nothing to say, then good looks and great intentions are pretty useless.
For a lot of our brand identity clients — who struggle as much with what to say as how they should say it — our design process has grown to encompass the development of their tone and voice, as well as how they would share their unique stories with the world. It goes way beyond the “simple” look and feel of a brand and explores more of the essence of what drives their company.
While this iDiving into This process I’m about to share with you comes after the brand discovery workshop, where we dive deep into the brand and the ideal customer. The workshop helps us uncover insights about who we’re talking to, their goals and problems, who the brand is, why the brand exists, how they help solve their customer’s problems, and so on.
Once the workshop is done, I begin the fun of writing the high-level messaging to include in the strategy roadmap. These lines are used to guide any written content for the future. It’s especially helpful to have these examples nailed down right from the start since they can be handed over to a copywriter who then flushes out the day-to-day content or develops the messaging portion of the style guide.
Writing for brands:
1. Use common phrases and idioms.
Remember, at this point we just finished the discovery workshop, so we have plenty of information on what we want to communicate and what will resonate with the ideal client.
2. Look up quotes with relevant keywords to spur ideas.
I use Google images to look up quotes with keywords taken from our strategy. That way, I can get a quick read of the quote without having to click on a bunch of links. Keeping in mind who we’re talking to and what they connect with, and knowing that the ideal client enjoys some intelligent wit here and there, I knew I could play with this a bit. I will sometimes search “quotes about _____” or “quotes with____” or “_____ quotes.” In this case, I looked up “quotes about say” which gave me many quotes that then spurred the idea to list off all the different languages that ATS translates.
3. Embrace the objection—the elephant in the room—and then pivot.
During the workshop, we made note of any objections the client may have—one of which happened to be that the ideal client may wonder why they shouldn’t just go for a cheap or free option like Google Translate instead of ATS. There are a number of reasons to not use Google Translate for anything beyond small, day-to-day use (just google “Google Translate fails” and you’ll see what I mean). We decided to call out and embrace the elephant in the room—that online translating services were an option, but then pivot and present the reason why ATS is a much better choice:
“Google Translate may have technique, but we have tact.”
There are many ways to come up with messaging for a brand, but those are my current go-to’s. Some other options are taking things my client says straight from the discovery workshop, while others may require me to do research on TV shows, literature, or catchphrases that would connect with my client’s ideal customer.
I hope you enjoyed this peek into my process. Remember, looks aren’t everything. What you say matters.
In a busy life, Copi is a father who tries to teach the right way to his son, Paste.
But… what is the correct path?
Global virtual reality revenues will reach $7.17 billion by the end of this year, according to a new report by Greenlight Insights, which is also predicting that global VR revenues will total close to $75 billion by 2021.
More than 65 percent of all VR revenues will come from headset sales this year, according to Greenlight. Consumer content will make up for around 12 percent, and VR cameras will make up another 11.6 percent. Over the next five years, the revenue split will slowly shift, with enterprise — think VR for construction companies, education etc. — making up for 24.2 percent of all revenue in 2021.
Greenlight also forecast that location-based virtual reality in malls and movie theaters is going to grow into a significant part of the industry. In 2017, location-based VR will bring in $222 million worldwide; by 2021, that amount will have grown to almost $1.2 billion.
These estimates have to be taken with a grain of salt — it’s a nascent industry, after all. Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that many of the major headset manufacturers, including Oculus, HTC and Google, have yet to release any actual sales numbers for their devices.
Data shared by adult VR video company last week suggested that there may be a reason for why some of the manufacturers have yet to release any sales numbers. Samsung’s Gear VR, of which the company has sold more than 5 million units thus far, outperformed Google’s Daydream VR headset by 13X during the first three months of this year, according to Badoink.
Producing good computer animation can be a lengthy and expensive process. But what if there were ways of speeding up the production time without reducing quality?
French animator Michaël Bolufer has attempted to do just that by adopting the Unity game engine to complete Mr. Carton, a 13 x 2-minute series of shorts. The entire series is available to watch through France Televisions’ Studio 4.
Baobab Studios, the well-funded Virtual-reality animation startup founded by Madagascar and Antz co-director Eric Darnell and Zynga exec Maureen Fan, has announced its first episodic virtual reality series called Rainbow Crow. The first episode will premiere next weekat the Tribeca Film Festival.
Inspired by Native American folklore, the story is follows a bird “with the most dazzling plumage and mellifluous voice, who, after the planet turns dark and cold, must journey far from home to bring light back to the world.” Eric Darnell is directing the project. No public release date has been set for the series, and the number of episodes is not yet determined though the final project will be featurette-length.
Always awesome work … by Art & Graft