So welcome George! How did you get started as a motion graphic designer?
So welcome George! How did you get started as a motion graphic designer?
I first got started as a motion graphic designer, at a time when I wasn’t really designing at all! I was a video editor at ESPN, it was my first real job out of college. I would edit sizzle reels for the sales teams, who would sell ad time on their networks. This ad time took the form of commercial breaks, in game/studio integrations, and co-branded spots. All the things you see when you watch any sporting event or sports studio show, on all networks and platforms. So as I cut these reels, I would watch the on-air graphics, see how they work and how they’re used. One day I finally said to myself, “I can make these”. So I approached people in the company with a simple pitch: “Sending these things “out of house” to be made, costs money. If you let me make these instead, the company doesn't have to spend any money.” And just like that I got my first project.
It was a co-branded spot, advertising a Best Buy/ESPN contest that would air during their Monday Night Football broadcasts. Keep in mind at that time, I barely knew how to even use Adobe After Effects. It was only a 10 second spot that ran at the tail end of the commercial breaks. Honestly, Youtube taught me how to make the spot. Working on that was my crash course in Adobe After Effects. It took me about 2 days to make. If I made the spot now, it would have only taken me about 1 to 2 hours at most. After that I got more projects, and as they say, “The rest is history”.
What does your day-to-day look like?
My days look very different, depending on what time of year it is. I currently work for The Dr. OZ Show. Between the months of August to April, the show is in production and I don’t really get to see the sun much. During those months I’m designing away. In my position, I work with the show’s producers to design the graphics that go in their segments. On the weekends, I would sometimes escape the city and go hiking or drive somewhere for the weekend. I also spend my weekends doing some painting and watching horror movies.
During the show’s summer hiatus, I get a chance to work on some personal projects, from painting, to writing, to animating. Last year I started a Youtube channel! Also during this time, I continue to manage my company, Carrara Creations. ESPN, is my biggest client, yes I continue to make things for them even after I left the company. I’m not a sports nut, but they’re a company of great people and they’ve been very good to me over the years. I like to work on a project for them whenever I can. Aside from that I continue to do work for NEST USA, where we create educational content for WordScientists.org. The content consists of educational videos and ebooks. The videos and books are a mixture of cartoons and puppets. The content follows a bunch of students from a futuristic school who go on adventures as they learn about science and language arts along the way. I’m particularly proud of the work I’ve done over there, I designed the characters and the look to the world that they live in. Plus the platform is spreading global literacy!
Oh I almost forgot! ...During my off months I do a lot of traveling. I just got back from a 2 week trip to China, it was amazing!
What are some of your favorite projects you've worked on and why?
Hands down my favorite project is, working on WordScientists.org. Basically the people over there have created a platform that is currently teaching thousands of underprivileged children around the world how to read. It’s a lot of fun working on the content. As I said earlier, I did the character designs, and visual development of the world they live in. I also illustrated a lot of the books that are currently being used in schools around the world, as well as directing many of the videos being used. I really enjoy making children’s educational content!
I also really enjoy the cartoons I get to make over at the Dr. OZ Show from time to time. This past season I made an animation that stars a talking waffle and pancake! Some other projects that I am really liking are my personal side projects. Last year I made a Youtube channel called “Channel of Gods”, the channel is still up, I’m currently plotting a new direction that I want to take the channel in. Also this summer I have two personal projects brewing, that I carve some hours out of the week to work on.
Motion graphics are pretty omnipresent, yet we don't really think about how they get created. Can you walk us through the process of making an animated logo or screen?
Yes, just like graphic design, motion graphics is everywhere! People encounter it when watching pretty much any kind of video content: From a sporting event to commercials to the latest vlogger that you just watch. It’s everywhere, and the viewer only really notices it when they encounter a bad design.
Every project always starts with a meeting, the client tells me what the animation is airing in and what info they want to convey. Then I get to work, the first thing I do is I go to the client’s website to understand the brand image. Sometimes the client sends me brand guidelines to understand what “no-no’s” to avoid. After I do some research I get designing, sometimes I storyboard, other times I just make a mock-up of the animation. There’s a very funny idea that has been around for a while: “The client always wants their logo bigger”. There is some truth to that, but I’ve also had clients that are fine with the original size that I make the logo. So anyway, we then have a meeting and they tell me what they want changed. Sometimes it’s a quick project and I complete it after only the second version, other times I’ve gone up to a version 10 or 11 and higher.
Besides your work in motion graphics, you're also an illustrator and artist. What inspires you creatively?
Honestly I get inspired by the content that I watch. I watch a lot of cartoons, anime, and horror movies. I also play video games when I have the time. Another great source of inspiration, is checking out the artists on Instagram, there are some amazing talent on there. Aside from Instagram, websites like ArtStation and CG Society, are a great source of inspiration.
Where do you hope to take your work in the future?
Some years ago I sat down and made some life goals for myself. One was to one day get a full time job as a designer, meaning a job where I don’t video edit anymore. I’ve achieved that goal a couple years back. Another was to simply make a living off the design work that I do, I’ve also done that. There are two big goals that I still would like to achieve, this goes back to my 2 current side projects. One goal was to direct a feature film or show. The other was to write a book. The way I’m tackling the first goal is to get back into directing narrative content. I’m currently in pre-production for an animated short... you know, you need to take one step at a time. The other side project is a horror anthology graphic novel, in the same vein as Junji Ito’s work. I’m a HUGE fan of his. I’ve currently written 3 scripts for it. I want to write 2 more before I start drawing. Also doing Visual Development Art or Concept art for a video game company or film studio sounds like fun. I often think about it when I browse ArtStation and CG Society!
If someone wanted to get started in motion graphics as a career, where would you recommend they begin?
Youtube! Go onto Youtube and pull up any After Effects or Cinema 4D tutorial, then go to town! That’s how I learned, I didn’t learn motion graphics in school, I studied film/tv production. Some of my favorite Youtube channels are: Grayscale Gorilla, Mt. MoGraph, and Eyedesign. These are just a few, there are many Youtube channels out there that can teach you what you need to know. I’m currently using Youtube to learn ZBrush, and Blender 2.8… as well as new things in After Effects and Cinema 4D!
Hmmmm... Chances are that he'll yell at me no matter what I make. So if I had some time to prepare, I would go study under a person that makes realistic looking plastic food, the kind that sit in some restaurant windows in Japan. Once I know enough, I would prepare him a glorious looking dish, and see him slowly grow angry as he realizes that the food is fake.
That or just some pasta, it's hard to go wrong with pasta!