Viewing entries tagged
digital

Staffordshire Digital

Image: Deviant Art by  Sintonio

Image: Deviant Art by Sintonio

I’ve got a reputation in the office for being an 'old man' despite only being a little under 30! This came about when I started declining invitations to go to late night cinema showings and the pub because I needed to be in bed for 21:30 ready for an early morning start. I don’t mind my OAP reputation (even if it is very clearly false), but what I do mind is Stoke’s ‘Has-been’ reputation (which is also very clearly false)!

 

Image: http://www.express.co.uk/

Image: http://www.express.co.uk/

For those didn’t know: Once upon a time Stoke was a very creative capital of the UK, shipping hundreds of thousands of highly artistic ceramic products across the world and thus we were known as ‘The Potters’. Then our pottery industry bubble burst and the factories relocated abroad, leaving Stoke’s economy, culture and spirit to slowly decay and fall into ruin.

 

Well I have been delighted to find that as a region we are starting to write one of Stokes next chapters; as a part of Staffordshire's overall digital presence. Staffordshire already has a great number of ‘Digital Businesses’ who are healthy and actively operating across the west midlands. We’re building websites, making videos, programing apps, selling computers and of course creating animation, but we are doing so, very separately.

 

Image: British Flags

Image: British Flags

An idea I found interesting from a meeting had last week, was one of uniting the whole area under a single umbrella brand: Staffordshire Digital. Of course the idyllic picture would be that people across the UK will think of Staffordshire as being on the forefront of digital services and innovations and although I like the idea, I don’t think it is something we as a town or region can just choose to label ourselves with. It is, however, something that we will become known for, something we’ll earn in time. To become known for something, we must first be noticed, we must stick some seriously noteworthy flags into the ground and sing from the rooftops about them. Flags like the feature films and television work Carse and Waterman are doing right now in federation house. Flags like the scientific innovations Keele university are achieving and flags like the ambitious City of Culture title which Stoke city council are boldly marching for. If we keep doing these things, keep bringing new exciting projects to the area it won't be long before the rest of the UK start to notice us again.

Image: Stoke-on-Trent city of culture banner

Image: Stoke-on-Trent city of culture banner

We’ll never get to choose what we’re known for, that's up to the rest of the country, but we can work hard in getting noticed as a town and as a region. This OAP is working on some noteworthy flags of his own, here at C&W and hopefully in time (and with effort), the rest of the UK will actually brand us as 'Staffordshire Digital'.

 

Thoughts by

Gary

The right studio for you

 

I'd like to chat a little bit about what to consider when shopping for animation. Often you know your budget and you may know what you are looking for, but how can you differentiate between, and choose the right animation studio for you. And is bigger always better when it comes to animation studios?

Animation studios have strengths and weaknesses.  

Most animations have a speciality, a way they got started, a style of animation they are renowned for or simply a trademark type of animation. Aardman, for example, are world renowned for plasticine animation. So if you’re a marketeer with a big budget and a need for a stand out style, you would start with them. My own company is well experienced and equipped to produce 3D computer animation, for corporate purposes or for entertainment and we also have a strong infographic portfolio. You wouldn’t go to Aardman for high end photo realistic animation (the likes that WETA digital champion) and you wouldn’t come to us for a full scale motion capture film project unless we specifically offered it. It really helps to know roughly what you are shopping for, so do a bit of research and look for a studio that has a range of experience in that particular style.

 

Image: WETA digital

Image: WETA digital

Image: Aarman Animations

Image: Aarman Animations

 

Pick a studio close to home.

Strange as it may sound, picking a studio close to home is a wise choice. Animation is a creative process, excellent for communications and marketing, but very, very bespoke. Picking a studio closer to home means you can stay involved with the process (if you are so inclined). You can pop into the studio to join the creative discussion, you can look over the shoulder of the artists and see what they are doing and you can influence the project in a way you simply cannot achieve via phone or email. Some clients pay us to solve their problems and deliver a finished piece, which is fine, but other clients benefit greatly from being just down the road from the studio they've hired.

 

Image: quotezone.co.uk

Image: quotezone.co.uk

Don't fall for the cheapest deal!

Animation is not priced the same way as any old commodity. You are paying for the time a studio can spend on your project, which has many variables, i.e. number of people, number of hours and ultimately the quality they can achieve. So when you barter with price you are ultimately bartering on quality too. We never discount costs, we'll simply tailor our service to fit a budget, so come with an established budget and we'll give you realistic options. Often youngsters can offer incredible low prices for animation because their overheads aren’t very high yet and the experience is more important to them. Sometimes video production companies offer cheaper animation as a side service, but this too will normally be outsourced to a young startup studio or a freelancer, which may be fine for quality, but is unlikely to buy you great customer service.

Image: Only Fools and Horses

Image: Only Fools and Horses

The London premium.

The London premium price is a strange phenomenon, where by you pay a London company a much a higher price than you would pay an equivalent company based elsewhere for the exact same time and service. This is of course down to overheads and liabilities being much more expensive in London, but this shouldn’t really influence a client's choice of studio, yet it does. Well I am here to tell you that buying animation in London, simply because it is London, is the same as paying a premium to buy River Island Jeans instead of shopping around for a reasonably priced pair of jeans. Yes, London is essentially a brand in itself, but like most brands, bigger isn’t necessarily better, but its always more expensive. Big companies are notorious for being rigid operators, time is money and creativity can be suffocated by the strict schedules and multiple projects a bigger company has to juggle. Which brings about another disadvantage, if you’re one of many clients and if they have bigger budget projects than yours, you won’t necessarily get that personal service a smaller business can offer.

Image: http://www.keyword-suggestions.com/YmlnIGJlbiBjYXJ0b29u/

Image: http://www.keyword-suggestions.com/YmlnIGJlbiBjYXJ0b29u/

 

The personal touch.

A personal touch can really make a difference, (which is why so many brands strive for personality in their marketing) so judge a studio on just that, the personality of the people you are dealing with. Are they prompt? Are they well presented, professional and do they do what they say they will? In a large company this can be emulated well, but in a smaller studio the people are the business so you can really can judge a business by its people. When buying animation you often aren't just looking for a one off video that looks flashy, you probably have a marketing plan. Animation is a long term game plan and so will probably require multiple videos as time goes on, which means it's a good idea to think about the relationship you’ll have with the studio and its people, and not just the video at hand. Find a friendly local animation studio that can create what you are looking for and who you think you'll enjoy working with time and time again.

 

Thoughts by

 

Gary