DesignChat Q&A

July 22, 2009 - By 

UPDATE: The video is uploaded and is embedded below. There were a few audio and video hiccups but it turned out pretty good. Again, drop more questions in the comments and I will answer them in an upcoming GSG Q&A.

I just finished up @DesignChat with @hupajoob. It was a blast. I’m not always the most eloquent when I speak about myself, but I think it went well. If you missed it, It should be up on DesignChat soon. I had so much fun that I wanted to collect the unanswered questions from the chat and do a video soon where I can answer more of your questions. So, drop a question in the comments that you wanted answered about DK, design, school or whatever and I will try to answer it in an upcoming video or I may even do a live cast. Thanks again to DesignChat and Mashable for hosting this. It was really fun.

Posted In:  My Work
  • Hey, What are some of the first things that go through your mind when you are given a project. Where do you look to for design inspiration or ideas for it? Thanks!

  • I liked the interview a lot! My question is about the work of a motion designer inside DK. We all know that you are a complete professional, you can do photography, design, animation, 3D and so on! So as a motion designer in DK, do you get to do 3D, some concepts, anything, or do you just animate and do the After Effects stuff? I’m curious about that because as individuals we’re always enjoying ourselves learning different applications and working at different areas (concept, 3D/2D, tracking, keying, compositing, color correction), and we do the whole job by ourselves. How is it like inside DK, a big studio? Thanks a lot! Hope to see more interviews and talks!

  • Why greyscale?

  • Sorry, did not get to stick around for most of the interview. I was wondering how you went about learning the formal aspects of motion design. When i say ‘formal’ i mean like how photography has ‘line, form, texture’ etc. Since motion is not as linear as designing a spread in a book, print-based media, how do you go about concepting/planning/executing such projects/ideas? Is there a recommended curriculum? How did you go about figuring out how timing/pacing pulls works together with the visuals to keep the viewer interested and the composition interesting. Are there any composition no-nos that are specific to motion design (like how in photography you don’t ever want trees ‘growing’ out of people’s heads, etc). I’m trying to self-teach myself AE, and i have more of a print/academic/formal background.


    • I’m not the Gorilla, but in my opinion, timing is something that is self-learned. In talking with other animators and editors, a lot of knowing when something should happen appears to be innate—I’ve edited with other editors and we always wanted cuts at the exact same moment—or at least ingrained from watching the work of so many others. However, I don’t think that it IS innate so it must be learned. Unfortunately, I don’t think it can be taught. It takes a while. Try to look at as much work as you can. Even bad examples will help you by showing you what not to do.

      The biggest hurdle in animation for new animators is definitely pacing. It has always been my experience that new animators make their moves way too slowly. A move that they make in one second should normally at most be ten frames. Play with timing in your own work. Start by making an action last a second, and then dwindle it down until it finally becomes too fast. Once you’re they’re you just need to back it off a few frames and you’re good. Another thing that starts to happen as you work is that time seems to take forever. I work on 30 second spots all day. You’d be amazed at how much can be crammed into that time frame!

      As far as composition, it’s pretty universal in my opinion. You don’t want a tree growing out of someone’s head in motion either, unless you’re trying to make juxtaposition or surrealism or something! I hope my essay-length reply helps, at least before the man—Gorilla?—can answer you!

      • Great reply Joe. I will definitely talk more about this subject in an upcoming video. Cheers!

      • I´m soooo with you on the timing thing with other editors / animators. That happens a lot!

      • nice reply. thanks for the input! i get what you mean when you talk about kind of just ‘knowing’ about the timing for certain things. Sometimes it just feels too slow. Thanks for the tip on the exercises, i’ll be sure to put that to practice.


      • a long time ago i watched a clip that still is THE example for me how important timing is. unfortunately, i don’t recall the clips name or director.


        in it there was a shot (static) of an empty kind-of-baroque room where nothing was happening at all. then, suddenly, the chandelier fell down and shattered on the floor… and i was crying tears of laughter. really.

        later, i thought about why this moment had such an impact. the action itself was so replaceable, so i figured it was the timing. if the chandelier had fallen done four frames earlier or later, the effect would have been lost… or at least it wouldn’t have been so intense.

        if it falls too early, the viewer has not enough time to build up expectations. if it falls too late the viewer is already bored or disappointed, has lost interest.

        timing is important.

      • This discussion is great! I will definitely dive into this topic soon. Should be fun.

    • That is great question, as a self taught noob I’ve always been on the hunt for better timing and compositional technique. I know everyone’s been saying it but just watch and dissect as many pieces and films as you can. The more varied the better. If you can get a download (vimeo is great for this) of the piece you’re studying, even better. It’s difficult to believe what the effect something can have that might only be there for 2-5 frames, if you didn’t know better you’d maybe think details that short would go unnoticed, whereas once the sound for the piece is right these tiny shots and details completely sell whatever the piece is aimed at. While I’m talking about sound as well. It may be worth having a small collection of sound beds to work to for practice as even relatively cool stuff comes across a little dead when there’s no noise. I think I wish were better at the noises.

  • Yeah, I second Daniel. I’m working in a smaller shop where I’m doing all the tasks on a job. How does project flow work when you’ve got ADs and CDs, producers, other designers, etc. all influencing your work. It would be cool to see a project profile over at DK.

  • where can i watch it??

  • After watching your tutorial on ‘Conform Non Conform’ I’ve always wanted to ask, since most other After Effects tutorials out there just teach you how to create the final product, how does one become comfortable enough with After Effects to be able to simply know which effects to apply, what to keyframe, etc. to achieve a desired effect and make it “look good?”
    I hope that question makes sense.

  • I was curious what influenced you to choose Cinema 4D, was it DK or a personal choice, why not maya or any of the other 3D packages?


  • I asked this question in the chat but I wanted to get your opinion. What are your thoughts on using a brand logo (ie. coca-cola, nike, etc..) for self projects and later using those motion graphic pieces for your reel to display what your capable of? Do you think this is right or wrong by using a companies logo in your reel when no work has actually been done for the company? Is this giving people the wrong impression or are you supposed to label within your reel that this is ‘student work’ or a ‘self project’? I’ve always been confused on if its legal or not since as a freelancer the goal is to make money. What’s your thoughts on this?

    • Great question. I will answer this in an upcoming video. The quick answer is that It’s not illegal, but I don’t recommend it.

      • in same topic … i have created a title sequence for a big show here in my country and its never delevried for some reasons .. business problems .. but it was one of my best
        now i cant put it in my reel .. cuz the client is never seen that project

  • My question is for the After Effects animators experimenting with with Cinema 4D and bringing those assets into After Effects. Maybe a quick demo with something simple created in Cinema 4D then brought into After Effects for compositing? Anything along those lines would be awesome. Thanks for all your help Gorilla!

  • why do you work with cinema4d?
    do you think it is better than the other 3d progamms or is it because you just start working with it and never changed it.
    what pro & cons do you know between the different 3d programms like maya or 3dmax or whatever…

  • Here’s one total different, but I also think is important and what makes a piece. Where do you get your sound from(more specifically soundfx)? Any resources?

  • How closely does the final piece look like and follow your initial styleframes and storyboards? When I’m working on projects, I often find that I add and take away a lot during the animation process, as things don’t quite turn out as I had first envisioned. I have a great idea of how I want something to move during the design phase and then when the time comes to actually animate, I might completely go in a different direction than I first thought. Is that just poor pre-planning on my end? Or is that common at DK and with you..

  • a bit geeky … but great to watch!

  • Great stuff. Funny too!

  • Hey Nick

    I got an off-topic question; FCB7 is out and I was in the process of learning FCB6. I even got the official training book from Apple. Do you think the changes in the new interface are radical to the extent I should quit learning FCB6 and already move on to 7?

    a hands-on review would be great


  • Hey, this is a pretty cool idea! Very interesting!

  • Can someone help me out? My RSS feed for the gorilla is not working, I have tried to update it by clicking the big RSS button and doing what I did way back to add the feed to my e-mail. Has it been changing? I changed it about two weeks ago and it worked for a day now I get nothing? Thanks!

  • what application did you use to capture your interview?

  • Hey Nick,

    I was wondering about the interaction between the design team and the editorial team at DK. It seems like a lot of work on D Kitchen’s website could be entirely built in After Effects, so how does the pipeline work between graphics and your editors? Also – do your editors have a heavy graphics backgrounds, or what is the criteria they are looking for good editors? I know that’s not exactly your department but I myself am an editor who is absolutely in love with your website (and with DK.) And I’m just very interested how the DK office works together?

  • Spencer Burnside July 29, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Very cool. I always get frustrated that I can never stick to one thing. I’m always jumping around with interests. Motion graphics, audio production, 3D, video editing, etc…

    But is there a point where I need to just focus on one thing and become and expert at it?

    • If your nature is to move on, then I suggest that you embrace the direction of your passion and put all of your energy in the next thing. You may not ever be the best at any one thing, but as you learn more stuff, you will know how to integrate all of your sills into the entire creative process. DON’T FIGHT IT!

  • Hi Nick,
    thanks for sharing your knowledge with us…!

    I´m wondering if I have to ask the client/agency before I can use the video for my reel (on my website)?
    And what if I just had a tiny role in the project… In my reel noone can see if I did all the animation or maybe just the clipping-paths..?


  • What’s Up Nick!!!
    I think its really cool that you are taking peoples questions by the way…

    Mine is:
    What are the steps in making a website for your reel, or a personal one.

    -Where is a good place to buy the domain name
    -Do you layout the site yourself or do you pick a layout that they give you
    -Do you update it yourself with html code or do you have to let them know what you want
    -Do you have to pay for space for posting vimeo links and pictures
    -Do you pay for each page on your site

    All-in-all, from start to finish of how to start a website.

    I know thats many questions in one…but I feel like this is a big step for everyone in this field, and it’s hard to find the right information and not get scammed.

    Thanks Again!

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