animation process

Went to a really interesesting alumni event last night. The first speaker was Rob Cook, VP of Advanced Technology at Pixar. He gave an overview of Pixar's animation process that I want to see impact how we approach our animation process for interactive projects. Pixar starts with a script and then pencils out storyboards. So far, just like us. Then they go into the studio and do a voiceover session. What they do next however, is really interesting. It's an extra step, but saves an enormous amount of time later. They have an editorial version where they sync the VO to scans of the handdrawn pencils. This lets them review the story flow (which we would do with our clients) before animation ever begins. What this will do for us is reduce the number of changes we see once we start animating—drastically. Then they design keyframes, lay them out, animate and render. A pick-up session in the voiceover studio may be inevitable this way, but that's relatively cheap compared to making major story flow changes once production has begun.


My other blog is famous

An article I wrote just got published in BtoB magazine:

Visit ‘Browser blur,’ and why you need to focus on it.

If you have any comments, visit my other blog: browserblur.wordpress.com

Better research

Picked up a copy of Business Week while I spent an hour waiting for a doctor's appointment this morning. It was from a few months back. The cover story was about Crispin Porter and talked about their work with VW. At Traction, we've been doing some soul-searching about what makes us different (and hopefully better) than other agencies. One of the things we've zero'ed in on is our approach to research.

Some of the tactics we've used include "wine-and-cheese focus groups" in our office or a cafe (no double-paned mirrors) and one-on-ones in people's comfortable home environments. Last week we were doing some digging into a college-age target, so we went to Cal with a pocketful of fives and walked around campus asking people for "5 minutes for $5." We also did in store observational studies when we did package design for Plantronics last year. Same type of thing when we were doing research for a potential line of products that were going to be marketed in convenience stores.

Anyhow, it was refreshing to see that Cripsin uses unconventional methods for digging up consumer insights as well. When VW parked the account with them, they needed to get work out the door in 2 months. They did 24 one-on-ones with customers, but first gave them a homework assignment: make a collage out of magazine clippings representing a VW owner and another representing people who own Japanese competitor cars.

I'm also reading IDEO's book on innovation. They're really big on "anthropological" studies of human factors. Similar to our team sitting in Best Buy watching people interact with electronics on store shelves to create the ideal in-store brand experience for Plantronics. IDEO also does "unfocus groups" where they mix grandmas, CEOs and teenagers to get a broad swath of opinions on something.

Nice to see that companies I respect have the same basic philosophy. Just because something is typically done one way, doesn't mean it's the right way to do it.