Where do animations come from?
Q: What does CGI stand for anyway?
A: Computer Generated Imagery. (It is sometimes shortened to just CG by people who have never worked video productions involving Character Generators.) It covers any visual media that is either produced or manipulated in a computer, including flying logos, cartoon characters, or attacking dinosaurs.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: Animation is very expensive. It is more expensive then you ever dreamed. A single frame of animation cost more then all the penicillin ever used south of the equator. A full second of animation cost more then a Plymouth Voyager filled with viable human kidneys. Ten-second animation costs more than putting a Popsicle on the moon.
Q: No, really.
A: Electric Crayon Studio is not the cheapest source of animation available, but we are the best value. Roughly 80% of our jobs fall in the $1k to $10k range, the rest equally above and below. A quote is given up front for the job in question. (If the original job description changes during the course of the project, so will the quoted price, just like a plumber.)
Q: Can you give a ballpark figure on a logo animation?
A: $50 to $50,000, depends in what ballpark you want to play. The more specific you are the more specific I can be. Use existing animation as reference as to the nature and quality of animation you are looking for, as in 'Super Bowl Ad' or 'Local car dealer' level animation.
Q: How can I get the best deal for my CGI dollar?
A: Start with describing what you want to accomplish without holding back what you think might be too expensive. . If you start the process with "This is what I need to have done and this is the budget I have to do it with" you will get a lot done. Many things are expensive, but by understanding the objective it is often possible to find an alternative.
Q: How do you base rates?
A: You are paying for time, rendering, and creative input. We can pretty accurately estimate the amount of time necessary to complete a project to give an accurate quote. Rule of thumb is based on this; $50 an hour, $500 a day, $2000 a week, with a minimum charge of $200.
Q: How can I reduce costs? Would 2D be cheaper?
A: 2D animation cost the same. The best way to reduce cost is to have a clear description of what you need to accomplish. Being up front with budget concerns allows us to work out compromises.
Q: Why is animation so expensive?
A: Animation is not what is expensive, CHANGES are expensive. A reliable shot list, storyboards, examples, and artwork in electronic format can cut the costs in half. Do not be shy about your drawing skills, a rough sketch can go a long way in communicating your desires.
Q: I know what I want, I can't describe it but I can see it in my mind and that's what I want you to do. Can you just do something and then I will tell you if it is close?
A: As long as you pay in advance, by the hour, and your checks clear. See previous question.
Q: What kind of animation do you do?
A: All kinds, check out the gallery. It can be very flat and cartoon like, completely photo realistic, or somewhere in between. What ever it takes to get the job done.
Q: What about other Digital effects?
A: Lately there has been a lot of call for 'invisible' digital effects. Post work to fix or enhance existing footage in a way that does not call attention to it's self. Often it is removing unwanted people from the footage (grips behind chairs, directors from rear view mirrors). Some times it is seamlessly replacing signs or buildings. Producing a flawless composite is one of the most satisfying jobs I get to do.
Q: What about audio and sound effects?
A: Electric Crayon Studio is expanding into the area of Foley work and custom music, due to the demand of the business and my need to justify me buying a new guitar. I also came up with this great name (Foley-wood) that I would love to use. More on this later.
Q: What if I need something changed?
A: Every job goes through an approval stage, where you are shown a rough cut to make sure you are getting what you need. If there is a problem with the graphics, an error due to a miscommunication or bad spelling, notify the animator IMMEDIATELY. Computer animation is like pouring cement, if you don't fix a small problem early it gets to be a big problem.
Q: Do I own the animation?
A: Yep. Once you have paid for it you can use it as often as you want. I do assume the right to include the material for demo purposes, except in situations involving nondisclosure agreements. If the animation is used more then 100 times or for longer then a year, you are morally obligated to supply Electric Crayon Studio with a bag of donuts.
Q: How long does it take to create an animation?
A: Depends on the animation, but quicker then you may think. It also depends on how quickly you can supply the necessary materials. (True story "We won't have the files you need to you until Wednesday but we are editing on Tuesday, could you have the animation to us before then?")
Q: How big is the Electric Crayon Studio?
A: Electric Crayon Studio is primarily Patrik Beck, the founder. Additional talented associates are called upon as the occasions arise.
Q: Do you do Web pages?
A: No, and stop asking. We can supply the graphics and animation in the requested formats.
Q: What about track lighting and a pool table?
A: None of that distracting and deceitful set dressing here. Investments are made in keeping abreast of the latest in animation and computer technology, keeping the overhead as low as possible.
Q: How do I get the animations?
A: On tape (BetaSP or DV), as frames sequences on DVD or CD, or animation files (AVI or QuickTime). Other formats are supported if you ask very nicely. It is assumed you need 720*486 with even fields first, the NTSC CCIR standard, but can easily be adjusted for your needs. But PLEASE mention that BEFORE the work is started.
Q: What about HD?
A: High Definition is less of a problem here then it is for most production, as long as we work in electronic files rather then physical tape formats. Frames, AVI's, or QuickTime's in any specified resolution.
Q: What formats can you read?
A: Virtually any image format that a respectable person would use (Targa, tiff, bmp, jpeg, PSD, ect). Supplying artwork in an electronic format, as in a multi-layered PhotoShop or Illustration EPS, makes you an extra special person.
Q: What software is used?
A: Why does everybody ask this? Nobody asked Leonardo DiVinci if he used Craftsman tools from Sears. Electric Crayon Studio uses the exact same software that the top Hollywood houses use.
Q: So what software do you use? Why don't you use -----?
A: I primarily use Lightwave 3D for all 3D animation. Lightwave is an industry standard and I am considered an expert in its use. I have authored dozens of articles, several books, a trade magazine, taught seminars on both coasts, taught classes in two states, have the Wave guide line series of tutorial CD's, and even dream about Lightwave when I'm sleeping.
I also use other programs as the need arises, depending what is best for the job.
Q: If you're so good, why aren't you in Hollywood?
A: Because I prefer the weather in Wisconsin.
Q: Are you available for teaching, consulting, speaking?
A: I am hired to teach animation classes from time to time, usually right before the semester starts. I often speak before professional groups and students on such topics as Animation, Digital Video, and independent film production. When you look alone most of the time you appreciate the opportunity to get out once in a while. Consulting is also available; fees are determined on a case-by-case basis.
Q: What's the deal with the Demo?
A: A demo is available upon request. The ECS demo is redone every year or so and contains primarily animation completed since the previous demo, or repeats stuff that was really cool. The VHS demos come in pretty colors, yellow, red, blue, green, and purple. This was a bald faced marketing ploy but it helps brighten up the office. Now the demos are being put on DVD because the quality is so much better. Blank DVD's are actually cheaper then the VHS cassettes, but as yet they do not come in pretty colors.
Q: May I speak to the person in charge of your long distance carrier?
A: This is the question I get asked most often. Sometimes several times a day. I once had call waiting go off while I was politely saying no to a phone company telemarketer and the incoming call was another phone company telemarketer. I am no longer polite to telemarketers and heaven help you if you call on a day I am grouchy or bored.
Q: I'm working on this movie and I was wondering...
A: Say no more! Electric Crayon Studio is a big supporter of local independent filmmaking and will offer Hollywood quality effects at drastically reduced cost. Working on films affords me the opportunity to work on cool stuff and meet interesting people.
Q: Do you work on spec?
A: No, AND I HAVE PLENTY OF STUFF TO PUT ON MY DEMO REEL! I do not do work for free, but I am open to trading services. I have been known to create animation is exchange for dog sitting. My house also needs painting and there is lots of garlic mustard in the yard.
Q: I saw this effect in a movie, and I was wondering if you could do it?
A: Magic Eight Ball says "Yes, most Probably". Best bet is to call before you shoot; a dollar of pre-production is worth a grand of post.