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Tell a Great Story

Anyone with children knows that one of the best ways to keep them quiet (for more than five minutes) is to read them a story. A well made book with great illusions will always help, but with my little girl I find that I can also make up stories (using trick-of-the-trade storytelling formulas) that keep her equally as engaged. Well told stories in any form, moving image, music or written will have this effect.

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(Image -

It doesn't stop with children either. Recently I had the pleasure of attending the Staffordshire Business Festival which had loads of wonderful events and speakers that gave talks about their businesses. Now some did give sales pitches, some were more engaging than others, but the ones that really stood out, told great stories.

(image - Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce)

(image - Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce)

One man in particular, told a compelling story about how his business started up, how it grew, how it almost fell and how they saved it in the knick of time, with risky choices and brave decisions; resulting in the success it is today. It wasn't until the end of his presentation that I broke my attention and began to appreciate what he had done. The room was watching, listening, and engaging with this man. He didn't give us any more or less information than the previous speakers had, we just heard every word this time, because he told us in a storytelling format.

Good stories always have one key thing in common. They always show a journey of change. They go from good to bad, then back to good again. They show a normal day, throw in a problem, then show the audience how that problem was overcome, resulting in an improved situation and a learning curve that we can understand.

(Image - /

(Image - /

We love this familiar format because we learn easily from it because that’s how we have been learning since the dawn of time. We sat around campfires and heard about how Dad got bitten by a saber-tooth cat, but managed to escape with his life after doing something clever. We learned about how when the crops started to inexplicably die, somebody had the courage to try something new and saved the town from famine. We read about how even in her darkest hour, the entrepreneur didn't give up after losing everything and how the unassuming friend she had shown kindness to years before, saved the day, turning the situation around through trust and good teamwork.

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(Image -

Stories were the original lessons, the original form of education and we as humans instinctively engage with them. This is why my daughter loves stories so much and this is why the key to effective communication, education, marketing or even sales is to figure out what information you need to get across and then do it with a great story.

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How Animation is Priced

I wanted to chat a little bit about how we price our projects to help people understand what information to supply animation companies with when requesting a quote. 

You’d be amazed at some of the requests we’ve had. People have come to us saying they don’t know what they want yet, but would like a rough quote anyway. People have asked for an animation akin to Avatar for the price of a pair of Shoes! People have called us on a Wednesday and asked if they can have a 5 minute animation done by the end of the week.

There are two main things to know. First, buying animation is like buying a car. You can look around the showroom to decide what you want, but really you should have a budget in mind and you should expect a Rolls to cost more than a Corsa. But you don't need an MOT or insurance to buy an animation,  and all our animations are brand new, there are no second-hand animations for sale here!

Secondly, there are three standard questions which will always need answering before we can give you an accurate quote. They are 'what is the duration? The style? And the schedule? I’ll go into more detail on each below.

The Duration. Catching a taxi to the local supermarket should cost you less than catching one from London to Manchester (I know someone that's done that before!) Animation is exactly the same. Two minutes of animation will cost less than 10 minutes and knowing how long your animation will be is a key piece of information when requesting a quote.

When deciding the duration consider the audience (and their attention span), consider the platform (youtube, facebook, live presentation), and consider your budget too!


The Style. Claymation, computer animation, infographics are all examples of animation Styles. Bugs bunny is 2D animation. Shrek is computer animation. Wallace and Gromit are primarily claymation. They are priced differently because they each require different skill-sets and some take longer to make than others.

We’re used to people calling us and saying they would like a cartoon, or 'something like morph'. That’s enough for us to understand, a lot of people send us youtube links to animation they like as well, which is also very helpful.

They all have their individual advantages in the market, it just depends on your cause. It may sound counter-intuitive, but there is a lot of substance to be had in a smart style choice.

(Image: Bugs Bunny - Warner Brothers)

(Image: Bugs Bunny - Warner Brothers)

(Image: Shrek - Dreamworks)

(Image: Shrek - Dreamworks)

(Image: Gromit - Aardman Animations)

(Image: Gromit - Aardman Animations)

The Schedule. The amount of working days this will take our studio to complete, AKA the project deadline. We have a wonderful production manager (who literally herds cats for a living) and she will work out who is needed on the project, for how long and what that’ll cost.

Ultimately, your best bet for a high quality, enjoyable and satisfying project is to allow enough time for things to be completed at a normal pace. We will give you an estimated schedule along with your quote.

That’s it! Come to any animation studio with that information to hand and 9 times out of 10 you will get a quote that very same day.


Good luck with your projects and for more information on this topic or other animation related topics, email us and ask for a copy of our animation myth buster guide.


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Making A Great Mascot

I think brand mascots are brilliant! They are a great way to engage with the public and are a very effective form of communications and marketing, b2c and b2b.

The best mascots are the ones that literally embody a brand and become a walking, talking representation of their business. If you saw an image of Mickey mouse and the Michelin man (Bibendum) shaking hands, you would instantly know that Michelin are making tyres for Disney, or Disney are making a film about Michelin, or that the two companies are definitely doing something together because those two mascots represent those two businesses.

(Image: Micky Mouse - The Walt Disney Company)

(Image: Micky Mouse - The Walt Disney Company)

(Image: Bibendum - Michelin)

(Image: Bibendum - Michelin)

So let me tell you about what goes into a good character design and hopefully you’ll pick up some helpful tips and tricks that you can do by yourself before going to a designer for the final mascot. Character design has a lot more to it than I can cover with a simple blog post, but my aim here is just to help you think about the right things before going into it.

In the film and television industry you start by answering key personality questions that have been written specifically to bring out defining personality traits, hobbies and factors that build a well-rounded character. It's no different when designing corporate mascots, at least not with the best ones. I recommend you grab a cup of coffee and take yourself through these character-defining questions (provided by our industry friend and mentor Ed Hooks to work out who your mascot is and how he behaves. This is a process that requires creativity, so take your time, have fun and enjoy the task! You can see the questions below, filled out about our own character mascot, Ime:


Physical Attributes: Blue, Square head, fully plasticine.

Defence Mechanisms: Can change shape

Locomotion: Bipedal

Age: 11

Lifespan: 150 years

Diet: Pot Noodles, Coke, Crisps, Chocolate

Physical Health: Good, occasional cold

Procreation: Mixing plasticine with a significant other. Offspring are sculpted then brought to life.

Relatives: Aunts, Uncles, Mum, Dad, Siblings (all back on his own planet)

Sense of Humour: Physical Humour

Fears: Fire

Goals: To be a superhero

Culture: Alien

Intelligence: Good with art, bad with maths. Practical guy, not academic

Education: First school, Communications Apprenticeship

Relationship to the business: Adopted by founders

Source of income, Livelihood, Industry: Lives at C&W where he is fed and taken care of.

Name: I-me

Normally, you would write paragraphs for each heading, but even after answering those questions quickly, you should have more of a picture in your head now of who your mascot is, what their personality's like and how they would react to, or approach, different scenarios. For example, how would your mascot approach a video advert job? Is he confident in front of the camera like Mazuma mobile is? Or does he get distracted easily and cause trouble like Aleksandr. meerkat? Remember your mascot can change as time goes by, this is just a foundation, a starting point.

(Image: Mazuma - Mazuma Mobile)

(Image: Mazuma - Mazuma Mobile)

(Image: Aleksanr - Compare the Meerkat)

(Image: Aleksanr - Compare the Meerkat)

Sometimes companies play mascots safely and always deliver things professionally (to reflect well on their business). Other times mascots can be a little crazy and leave an equally important, memorable first impression (‘The Animal‘ pepperami comes to mind!).

(Image: The Animal - Pepperami)

(Image: The Animal - Pepperami)

It's important to research what others around you are doing, particularly competitors. You're lucky because very few businesses have a good mascot, so just having a character mascot at all will help you stand out.

If one of your competitors does have a mascot, great! You have something you can criticise! What do you like about it? What would you change? And are they making the most it? How does it work in conjunction with their brand?

Now that you know your mascot's personality and you know what others are doing around you, it's safe to start drawing (omg drawing?!). Look at your character's personality sheet and draw them doing the things you've alluded to. If you said he likes fishing, draw him fishing. If you said he is a wimp, draw him getting shocked by something silly.

Draw them with the company logo close to hand, because the mascot will need to work hand-in-hand with it. As your drawing keep asking yourself, with a little polish, would this character work for your brand?  And a final few tips - Keep the design simple and remember it needs to be visible when it's scaled down for use in the corner of a web page or letterhead. It's important to start colouring your character in sooner rather than later, so you can determine whether your brand colours work with the design or not.

I know some people are not natural drawers, but you can still make a rough impression and do at least 50% of the thinking work before you pass the baton onto a professional. They will appreciate the work you've come to the table with because it makes their lives easier and it enables you to set the stage for the creation of your company mascot. 

Good Luck!

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Business Showcase

Monday 7th November brings the start of Staffordshire’s first ever business festival ran by our friends at the Staffs Chambers of Commerce.  

With our animation studio being in Stoke for the past nine years it has always felt like local business festivals have been missing.  The best options until now involving traveling to Birmingham or Manchester.

Events like this are so important for local networking opportunities which will lead to growth and awareness of what is on our doorstep.  Stoke has so many great companies that create important work on an international level, yet they are practically unknown on their home turf.

Many people will not have heard of our animation studio and the fact we have worked with ITV, Channel 4, United Nations, NHS, Michelin, Pathe and Mccann Worldwide (England, Germany and Australia).

I like to showcase what we do and learn a lot more about what others do.  I hope I can inform people that high-quality, creative animation is available on their doorstep.  There’s no need to head to Manchester, Birmingham or London, reducing the need to pay big city price premiums.

Our first event next Monday will be the Chambers of Commerce networking breakfast and later on the Festival Launch in Stafford.

Who else will be going?


Thoughts by

Daniel Waterman

Marketing Fireworks

As we get closer to the 5th of November and many of us stock up on fireworks this year, I have found it very interesting to look at the advertising of fireworks.

For obvious reasons fireworks are not advertised on TV and any other obvious outlet, so that begs the question; how as a consumer do we know what to pick when we walk into the a supermarket, fireworks shop or shop online ?

I wanted to look more into this, and the first place I looked left me with so many questions I didn’t look any further. I used google to search fireworks and this took me to the website Their website seemed as you would expect for a firework company, with lists of various fireworks, but something very interesting sat on the front page.

On their front page was an image that can be seen consistently through all their social media. This is an image of Stephen Hawkin surrounded by a large amount of fireworks with text above the image reading: "Question: Where does the world's most intelligent man buy his fireworks from” and underneath the picture it read: “Answer:”

I find this incredibly intriguing as a campaign. Why would you use Stephen Hawkin selling Fireworks without saying “Big Bang”  ? Is that an actual photo or is it photoshopped? -and is that the point?

Thinking about this image front and centre on the Epic Fireworks website and social media, I couldn't quite decide if the image was real, and my honest initial reaction was “it doesn’t feel like something that would be genuine” (especially looking at the poor image, lighting and font). Having dug deeper and seeing multiple blog posts of their work with Stephen Hawking I now believe it is real and fantastic. I think the importance of this clarification dictated how I reacted to the advertisement.  But I imagine without the context and with a normal amount of cynicism, this marketing could go very wrong.

What was your initial reaction to the marketing image ? Did you question if it was genuine? - and if you felt it wasn’t would you think differently about the company ?

Let me know your thoughts!

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Cave Paintings

It’s clear to us everyone is looking for the best way to communicate to a mass audience.  With most businesses setting their sight on a global market problems can arise.

Thanks to software like Skype, communicating internationally is now quite easy.  However, the task of communication isn’t just about the ability to speak different languages but the ability to manoeuvre the nuances of different cultures.


When we think about the international communication challenge, we simplify it to a presentation in a room full of ten people. It’s incredibly useful to visualise your target market.

In business presentations no-one wants walls of text accompanied by someone reading bullet points directly from the presentation.  You could have all the charm of Robert Downey Jr but the audience’s attention will be lost.

Look towards the master of presentation, Steve Jobs and his Apple keynote addresses (check them out on YouTube).  Watching his keynotes you can truly appreciate the phrase “a picture's worth a thousand words”.  Text is kept to a minimum and it relies on stills and video.

This method might seem new and exciting to many businesses but it’s not new at all.  If you could go back in time thousands of years ago you'd find yourself in a dark cave along with a caveman looking at the wall.  On the wall a story is being told about a successful hunt in which three men caught two deer.  The incredible thing about this is that in modern day those old cave paintings require no translation.

When the Lascaux caves in southwest France were discovered in 1940 they were seen as a wonder to modern man.  All the simplified bite-sized stories on its walls told us so much about the people that came before us.  When you look at Steve Jobs presentations technology is clearly present but the core of the presentations are simple images that sell his product.

Using animation to communicate is not a new gimmick but merely a technological upgrade.  Animation has opened the door to primitive, universal communication and create an incredibly powerful marketing tool - a tool with no cultural limits.


Thoughts by

Daniel Waterman