Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
pixelpusher

Concept vs Execution

Recommended Posts

I just read an interview with Kylie Matulick from Psyop which has blown my mind. Here's a couple of quotes:

 

http://motionographer.com/features/interview-kylie-matulick-and-todd-mueller-of-psyop/

 

"I come from a pure design background. I don’t really need to know how to animate. I mean, it’s good to have a sensibility for it, and it’s good to be able to explain your idea, and you need to be able to communicate and work with a team of people. If you want to focus on directing, you need to be able to sell an idea, you need to be able to to develop a concept, pitch a board, and you can always find a team of people that are really skilled technically."

 

"It’s probably a good idea to figure out what you enjoy more: coming up with the concepts or doing the production and the design. And then it’s just about thinking about that and making the call to yourself and focusing on one of those."

 

I've always taken it as a given that if you wanted to work in concept creation on big projects then you had to rise up the ranks as a generalist until you got to the stage where you could lead a team of specialists. My understanding was that in this field you needed to know how to track/model/texture/light/rig/animate/composite in order to warrant a position leading a production.

 

Have I been fooled by an illusion of the one-man-show, superstar mograph artist?

 

Is high-end concept creation (without the hands-on technical work) the hotly contested end-goal of most designers here? Or have I been needlessly competing with the more technically passionate while I should have been focusing on creating compelling style boards?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It really depends, and there's a good deal of variation.

Like many careers there's not one established, set in stone, path to follow. There's a much more structured hierarchy in film, but in more commercial work there's often smaller teams and so people tend to wear many different hats.

In order to stay marketable many folks, particularly around this board, are both highly creative and cultivate a good understanding of technique and execution. It's often easier to find work if you can concept AND execute, particularly early in one's career. That being said that's not the ONLY way to do things. I think there's definitely something to be said for developing really good ideas and concepts regardless of execution. Often the best work is developed without much thought for how it will technically be achieved. This really pushes the boundaries of what's possible and the technology itself. Technique changes so rapidly that by the time one finds themselves in a more senior position it's often the case that the more junior staff is actually more in touch with the intricacies of the cutting edge tools. The best creative directors I've worked with actively acknowledge this and their job becomes leveraging their team's unique abilities while concerning themselves more with the concept and big picture. That's just one possible path, however. It's a common goal for folks in this industry, but there are also those that choose to remain highly proficient with technique/tools and though their goal is not to direct the whole creative process they are still highly desired on many projects by those who's job it is to direct.

It's really all about where you personally want to end up and then doing whatever it takes to get there. In general the more senior the position the more time you spend supervising and managing a team. As an example I know guys that are certainly experienced enough to be in the CD roll but they prefer to hone their craft and to push the boundaries of technique. These folks are no less valued. In fact they are sometimes more coveted. Likewise a good director who knows how to use their team to its fullest and understands how the different pieces come together is huge.

 

In response to the specifics of your question:

Have I been fooled by an illusion of the one-man-show, superstar mograph artist?

I think that the amorphous terminology is somewhat misleading sometimes. The person often referred to by the title "mograph artist" is usually a person that does everything from concepting through execution. So most "mograph" artists are a one man band, but when and if they move on to other rolls, like Creative Director, they usually are not referred to with such a vague label anymore. The obvious result is that it appears that all mograph artists are generalists because, for the most part, those given that title are. It's somewhat circular in that way. Kinda like the whole 'square is a rhombus but a rhombus is not necessarily a square' thing.

 

Is high-end concept creation (without the hands-on technical work) the hotly contested end-goal of most designers here?

 

It can't speak for everyone here, but for me the answer would be yes and no. I'm moving towards taking on more senior rolls, which tends to require me to be more concept oriented and often does not afford me the time to execute everything myself. I do still enjoy getting my hands dirty and keeping abreast of new technique developments. In general, form what I've seen around me, a motion designer will probably become more concept oriented as they become more senior level, if not by personal choice then by the necessities of studio life.

 

Or have I been needlessly competing with the more technically passionate while I should have been focusing on creating compelling style boards?

 

Do you feel you've been wasting your time? If you feel like your real strength is in concept rather than execution and that you'll never be as technically adept as your competition then by all means start selling your ability to develop concepts over your ability to execute them. If you find it difficult to secure work in your market this way then build up some experience in execution and keep honing your concept development skills in the meantime. Whatever keeps you most marketable and most happy. Not always the same thing unfortunately. I can tell you that in my market the shrinking budgets for projects has definitely squeezed many highly specialized folks. Our studio definitely prefers freelancers that can bring more than one skillset to the table. The purely concept people we do work with tend to have a LOT of experience under their belts already and are perceived to be a "sure thing."

 

One thing to keep in mind about that interview; "Happiness Factory" was a fairly atypical production. The project wound up working much more like a film project than a typical commercial spot. As a result there was a much higher degree of specialization than you would find in most motion design commercial pieces.

Edited by SaintEfan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the detailed response, I really appreciate the insight.

 

Do you feel you've been wasting your time? If you feel like your real strength is in concept rather than execution and that you'll never be as technically adept as your competition then by all means start selling your ability to develop concepts over your ability to execute them. If you find it difficult to secure work in your market this way then build up some experience in execution and keep honing your concept development skills in the meantime.

 

In a way I do feel like I've wasted a lot of time. Countless hours trying to get Blender liquids to export as mesh sequences and import into Cinema4D, when I should have been drawing. Endless meddling with contradictory articles to devise a consistent color management workflow, when I could have been experimenting with light and composition.

 

I know I have technical tendencies otherwise I wouldn't have come this far, but I can say without a doubt that if I could just focus on the conceptual and collaborate with masters of technique I'd be a very happy man. I just didn't think it was possible in the near term...

 

Point well taken on the unusual nature of the Psyop piece. Do you have any advice on how to migrate across to the sort of role we're discussing? Should I begin hand drawing style frames for long-project houses (blur etc) and just start pitching?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Have I been fooled by an illusion of the one-man-show, superstar mograph artist?

 

Is high-end concept creation (without the hands-on technical work) the hotly contested end-goal of most designers here? Or have I been needlessly competing with the more technically passionate while I should have been focusing on creating compelling style boards?

 

Kylie who? never heard about her till you posted this, honestly, could be pure ignorance, then again, could be the outcome of the choices she made.

on the other hand:

I've heard about Justin Harder, Joost Korngold, Maxim Zhestkov and there are plenty more....

 

It's kinda like saying Writing songs vs Singing them .... some people prefer one of the two, and some do both

 

by the way, ,if you look at the credit list, you'll see Jonathan Garin & Naomi Nishimura who are listed as "only" a 3d guy... well , judging by Kylie's theory they are nothing but "good technical artists who are easy to find"

 

but fact is they are Pandapanther nowadays and they rock.

Edited by yoni bendor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You don't necessarily need to target just bigger, longer form, shops like Blur. Even smaller projects need good style frames to pitch to clients. It all depends on what the budget allows though. My recommendation would be to keeping developing your conceptual and design skills, since that sounds like what you love, but to keep a basic level of know-how. Often being a good general AE guy, perhaps not a master technician, is a good way to get in the door and to give people an exposure to your work in general. It's pretty much the same process as getting hired as an animator; put together a good portfolio, send it out, wait for responses. Network network, network.

At the end of the day a moderate sized project will probably only need 1 or 2 people doing style frames while needing perhaps twice as many people to execute. So the market is somewhat more limited for someone that ONLY wants to draw style frames.

 

You don't need to be a master of everything (3d, 2d, stop motion, photography, typography, vfx, etc.) to get work as an animator in this industry. Don't be afraid to do both, to pay the bills, while you hone your design chops. It never hurts to be technically savvy AND a good artist. I think it's rarely as black and white Kylie kinda makes it seem.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the thoughts guys, I guess it's not as alarmingly clear cut as the impression I drew. I guess I'll keep going with the animation work to stay afloat but dedicate time to purely concept stuff while I move in that direction.

 

Time to start checking out style frames around the place to see what I'm up against..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is defintely not as clear cut as Kylie makes it sound. I'm sure that the amount of people just coming up with concepts and getting their minions to execute them is very small indeed, certainly in the majority of this industry. It does sound like a great job though and something to aspire to, just being a pure director of motion graphics projects.

 

That said, if you can come up with great concepts then you have a career for life. That is the part I find most challenging and difficult. It'll often take 2 weeks coming up with an idea and 3 days executing it! I think great concepts are harder to learn, develop and stay fresh with. With the technical side you can just get better and better over time, but creativity sometimes doesn't work like that. It is a bit like the music analogy, but in reverse. You can teach someone to write a song and develop that skill, but can you teach someone who can't sing to sing?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand what Matulick is saying and agree with it to some extent but I don't think it's wise to get too snobby about concept vs. execution. After all, the agency already had the concept when they came to Psyop. They could have hired somebody else and still gotten their "Happiness Factory" spot with a different execution. So it's difficult to define exactly where that concept/execution split lies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I understand what Matulick is saying and agree with it to some extent but I don't think it's wise to get too snobby about concept vs. execution. After all, the agency already had the concept when they came to Psyop. They could have hired somebody else and still gotten their "Happiness Factory" spot with a different execution. So it's difficult to define exactly where that concept/execution split lies.

 

Was wondering about this. For those of you that work mostly doing boards are you working more with advertising agencies than production companies/mograph houses? From what I have seen on bigger budget projects where concept and execution are kept more separate seems like everything is pretty much set by the time it leaves the agency and then it's just shopping around for company that will execute or is a mograph shop typically brought in to work with the agency on developing the concept?

 

None of the stuff I have worked on could be classified as big budget and even if the roles are seperated, there is still a lot of back and forth that goes on between the concept and execution side where one informs the other, seems like this would be desirable to keep on bigger budget projects wondering if anyone has insight on if/how this is done?

 

Seems sometimes like execution is undervalued, sure you need a good concept but if it doesn't get realized properly it's useless, how many times have great treatments turned into so so spots. Agree with Nog that it really is hard to draw a line. Even if someone is brought in to do "pure' concept work, they still need to be able to execute in some way to communicate that idea whether it's drawing boards or writing a treatment.

 

Interesting thread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just be aware that while it's great to know a little bit of everything, if all your technical 3D experience comes at the expense of improving your design skills it's easy to find yourself pigeon holed in areas of technical expertise rather than creative prowess. I spent my first few years doing comping work & realising other people's designs and it's taken me a long time to be taken seriously as a designer, partly because I wasn't nearly as good a designer as I wanted to be. There was an interview I did after leaving my first job, with this showreel, where I was turned down because they were 'looking for designers, not technical types' & that really stung, but there was truth in it. At that point I was more proven as a compositor & completely unproven as a designer and my design work wasn't anywhere near the level that would justify my selfperception.

 

So if you want to be a designer/concept person, focus on that part of your craft. If your idea requires you spend days messing with a complicated new technique, reconsider if you could change your concept to make it more achievable with the skillset you have. It's really important to be learning new skills & being an all-rounder definitely makes you more employable for now, but if you want to be a creative lead in the future no one is going to care about how good you are at rigging or liquid simulation. They're only going to care about your ideas & your ability to generate concepts that are creative, achievable & fulfill their brief well.

 

It's worth considering that this can happen in all industries as well, that your actual abilities can run counter to your ambitions. My girlfriend works in the not-for-profit sector, she desperately wanted to get into campaigning but was better qualified and more capable in research. She's taken a research job, and she volunteers her time with campaigning groups. You can be gainfully employed as an amazingly competent all-rounder & still make your own work to satisfy your own creative urges.

 

Edit : Hah, that showreel is pretty boring :(

Edited by boy.finley

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So if you want to be a designer/concept person, focus on that part of your craft. If your idea requires you spend days messing with a complicated new technique, reconsider if you could change your concept to make it more achievable with the skillset you have. It's really important to be learning new skills & being an all-rounder definitely makes you more employable for now, but if you want to be a creative lead in the future no one is going to care about how good you are at rigging or liquid simulation. They're only going to care about your ideas & your ability to generate concepts that are creative, achievable & fulfill their brief well.

 

I think that's the key really - if you want to get paid to do something, you need to show that you can do that specific thing well. What you choose as a means of survival in the mean time is up to you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Was wondering about this. For those of you that work mostly doing boards are you working more with advertising agencies than production companies/mograph houses? From what I have seen on bigger budget projects where concept and execution are kept more separate seems like everything is pretty much set by the time it leaves the agency and then it's just shopping around for company that will execute or is a mograph shop typically brought in to work with the agency on developing the concept?

There are lots of different relationships out there. Lots of different types of people at different types of agencies and studios who are more and less collaborative and more and less concerned with different types of engagement in parts of the process. Sometimes an agency and a studio will get in a groove and maintain a specific kind of relationship with a consistent expectation of how things are gonna work. The jobs I do range from being asked to do "whatever" for a certain brand to being handed an actual script. An agency may have more or less input, but I don't personally choose to deal with agencies directly in any way.

 

And you're right that an integrated approach involving concept and execution is really the way to go. The best work usually comes out of situations where the creation/execution is all in the hands of the same person/people. But that's not usually how it works in the commercial realm, and there are varying degrees of separation between the so-called "creative" and "production" sides. Most of the time I take a brief of some type and come up with some stuff and do boards and hand it off to the studio and that's it. That's my job. And that's limiting to the final product unless they take what i've started and really make something of their own with it that's interesting or whatever. But usually it just gets bounced around with changes for a while and then thrown to another freelance animator who makes it move however s/he wants it to, and that's it. Passing through so many hands, an "idea" is usually bound to get muddied. Hopefully you have good people involved along the way who can provide vision when it's been lost. Or a director who can oversee the whole thing in detail and keep it on track while it evolves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i work for an agency as a motion designer in house.

 

The agency i work for is known for interactive work. The 3d/motion graphics department is relatively new, AD,CD's, and PM's have difficulty understanding our process entirely. Since they don't understand fully the flexibility that we have to convey a story using 3d animation and motion graphics, they usually come up with very simple vanilla concepts that are easily explained to the client. Obviously when it comes to execution we make are own twist to it, but we have AD's pull us back to execute what was originally pitched.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just read an interview with Kylie Matulick from Psyop which has blown my mind. Here's a couple of quotes:

 

http://motionographer.com/features/interview-kylie-matulick-and-todd-mueller-of-psyop/

 

 

 

 

 

I've always taken it as a given that if you wanted to work in concept creation on big projects then you had to rise up the ranks as a generalist until you got to the stage where you could lead a team of specialists. My understanding was that in this field you needed to know how to track/model/texture/light/rig/animate/composite in order to warrant a position leading a production.

 

Have I been fooled by an illusion of the one-man-show, superstar mograph artist?

 

Is high-end concept creation (without the hands-on technical work) the hotly contested end-goal of most designers here? Or have I been needlessly competing with the more technically passionate while I should have been focusing on creating compelling style boards?

 

the director of District 9 started as a 3d animator

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Generally, projects look a lot better with good art director supervision.

However, a 2nd rate art director will destroy a project either by holding back the animator or by inflicting tired, old motion hacks on the project.

The best art directors give a lot of latitude to the animator.

Edited by tomcat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...