What happens when By The Booth needs a billboard design animated and I'm on the road? Well, get someone else to drive and sit in the back with my laptop of course.
When I got the call from Luna shortly before Christmas Vacation, they were in desperate need of help for an investor meeting early in the new year.
That didn't leave a ton of time. And myself not being really clear about what it was their app did, and what the blockchain or machine learning was, I really understood their need for a snappy, fun way to get those ideas across to investors without putting them to sleep.
What ensued was 3 weeks of craziness over Christmas vacation. Luckily the script was provided by the client, and they had it in hand when they asked me to work on the project.
Step 1: Research
What the heck is the blockchain? What do dating apps look like and how do they operate? How is Luna different? These are just a few of the many questions that I ask at the onset of a project.
For Luna, I had to throw myself in to trying to understand how the blockchain works, and what it even is. That required a heavy dose of research in to things like Bitcoin, Etherium, and machine learning. In order to properly visualize these abstract concepts, I need to try to understand how they work.
Step 2: Conceptual
After watching some documentaries and Youtube Videos, I became a mini expert on what the heck the blockchain is. Now it was time to get down to trying to visualize it as simply as possible, in relation to the Luna Dating app.
There wasn't much back and forth on this conceptualization due to the time constraints. I was very up front that they wouldn't be able to push back on a lot of the concepts, so I had to try and make it as good and clear as possible in one go.
While I would have loved more time to flesh things out, sometimes that's not possible. I'm still very happy with the results that came from such a short turn around. Sometimes when you lack the ability to fuss over concepts you can make great decisions because you must.
Step 3: Design
One of the crazy things about this project was that they really needed something before Christmas, which gave me a week to get up to speed on the blockchain, conceptualize and animate a project. That is not enough time for anything good.
What we settled on was a short teaser video that didn't try to explain anything, that I could build assets for that could be reused in the full video. That let them have something to shop around that was slick, and allowed me some breathing room for conceptualizing and designing the longer piece.
In order to meet the crazy deadline I had to pull a lot of resources, especially the characters, from some previous illustrations that I had done for personal work. Luckily they suited the style that Luna was going for and I could easily augment them to fit the project.
The only thing that was going to work in such a tight deadline would be the flat, low detail style that we agreed upon. Lucky that it already fit most of Luna's branding.
Normally I would have hand drawn the storyboards from the initial thumbnail concepts in to something with a lot of frames so we could get an idea of a sense of timing and movement.
We didn't even really have time for that. So I had to pull pre-made objects and assets to just get an idea for the visuals in front of the client.
Even with little to no time, the storyboard is so crucial. Perhaps even more crucial than when you have all the time in the world. The ability to change ideas and concepts in the animation stage is hugely time consuming. It is far less so in the storyboarding stage. So despite the time limit, I still insisted on the use of a very basic set of storyboards. Any major changes needed to happen in this stage, and not when I had keyframes the characters.
Step 4: Execution
Since they needed something to show clients before the Christmas break, and there was no way I could execute the full 60 second script in that time, we decided to do a short teaser instead. That allowed me to build up some assets for the final piece, and also give them something to tie over investors until the final long form was complete. Gave me a bit of breathing room to finesse things.
Character animation isn't something I would go with for such a tight turn around project. But luckily I had some previously made characters I'd never used that, with a few design tweaks, were able to be made in to astronauts. I also was able to create a rig that allowed me to swap heads and colours easily to make a multitude of characters from the same rig.
After the project was completed I offered up some additional assets that could be used in online ads. We just came up with fun slogans that reflected each of the ideas that Luna was presenting, and I chose scenes that were getting those across. Then I just made a fun little looping gif that was provided as an extra deliverable at a very low additional cost.
A little bit of sound design, and a lot of late nights and I not only pulled off getting this inventor video finished, but some additional deliverables to boot! The client was extremely happy at the quality I was able to produce at such a short time frame, and so was I.