Monday, November 23, 2009
This community could encourage the next generation of Indiana's Traditional and Digital Artists to grow both inside and outside of the classroom, and at the same time, encourage them to stay in Indiana to study the ARTS.
Well, that community is HERE! Enter IndianaUploaded !!!!
IndianaUploaded.com is an online community centered around design competitions that high school and college design students can embrace and grow with as they hone their design skills and learn the value of collaboration and criticism.
Sign up today, keep up to date information about Rules, Registering, and PRIZES!!! Prizes will range from college scholarships, software, hardware, internships, contract work, and notoriety!
IndianaUploaded will go Live in late December with the first competition following shortly after! Your support by signing up now can help Indiana Uploaded secure scholarships and prizes! http://www.indianauploaded.com
For more info email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Upcoming Events Include:
Our annual Halloween party/design competition. Coming Thursday October 29th. Contests this year:
SIGGRAPH IUPUI Logo and T-Shirts: Design promotional material for our organization so we don't have to. The theme for this year's design is "The People Behind the Pixels". The meaning is, as always, open to interpretation so get outside that box! The logo should be a simple design that can be easily shrunk down to smaller sizes. The T-shirt is more of an illustration that should contain no more than two colors and leave room to incorporate future logos and organization info.
Also be sure to show off your darker side in our Halloween themed art contests. We will be accepting spooky 2D illustrations, photo-manipulations, and 3D stills as well as scary animations, motion graphics, and videos. And don't forget to wear a costume for our annual costume competition!
You can enter up to 3 submissions for each category (there are 4 if you lost count) and wear only one costume (duh). Submit your work to email@example.com with your name in the file name before the 28th. Please remember that submissions must remain anonymous during the presentation so no signatures on artwork or credits on animations. As always fame and fortune await the winners so lah-dee-dah...
I am also obligated to inform you that we will be holding another SIGGRAPH Student Exhibition Splash Animation Competition (whew) this December 3rd. Think of it as a commercial: a short 2D or 3D animation that advertises the next Exhibition. We're telling you this now so you can get a head start and give us something we can be proud of. This competition will also use anonymous submissions so refrain from adding credits until after the winner has been picked. Expect more info on this event in the future.
Disclaimer: the Logo, T-shirt, and Splash Animation selected as the winners are going to be used on advertisements and promotional material all year long. The artists will recieve credit where credit is due, but remember that we'll need to use these materials at our own discretion.
If you have any questions, comments, or just want to be a whiny little -bad word- then you can contact me at Koompa17@gmail.com and maybe I can help. Just remember: I'm a dashing special agent with a Ph.D in Kicking Your A** so watch yourself!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I hope your summers went well! This semester is starting off with a bang! If you remember briefly about a project I mentioned at the beginning of summer, I was working on a non-for profit / Indiana design competition website with the President of Flash Indianapolis Mark Grossnickle.
We would like to have a dual-group open forum next week on the 27th to go over our vision, ideas, and get input from both groups as we move forward. Whatever is decided, Mark and I will take the brundt of the responsibilities to get this thing moving forward and will hopefully be working with a CGT 411 capstone team or New media group of students to see it through fruition. We would like all of your feedback and talk to those of you that would like to help further!
The meeting is next Thursday evening 6:00-7:00p.m. in Campus Center CE 268.
Things we would like to go over:
- Competition name
- How often will the competition occur? (Yearly, Semester-ly, Monthly, etc)
- Will it cost money to enter or Sponsored by Gifts?
- Will we categorize the competition (by discipline, experience, team vs solo) or will we lump it into one big group?
- Will it be themed? Mad-Lib style for Humor or Driven by a Purpose?
We will also be discussing a possible Microsite, branding/logo ideas, and requesting help with recruitment and PR.
We will go out to eat/drink afterwords! I hope to see all of you there!
All the best,
Thursday, August 13, 2009
This year SIGGRAPH was hosted by New Orleans. A city that is far more welcoming than most of the cities that I have been to (especially Los Angeles). New Orleans offers a perfect evening backdrop for those who don't get out much, to let loose, and to meet face to face to forge new relationships!
This year I was lucky enough to speak with hundreds of professionals about game design ideas that my brother and I cook up (thanks Will Wright), preview new softwares, meet hundreds of new students who are excited about their future, and eat oysters with good friends and well known CGsociety bigs (owners and editors)! Not to mention I received feedback and research on about every part of The Red Kite's production pipeline from several professionals within Pixar, Digital Domain, ILM, and Sony ImageWorks to name a few!
So Why SIGGRAPH? My answer is why not? Its the only place you can go to find people as passionate as you are about your work! And its the one place a lot of you weirdos could fit in! Next Year is Los Angeles hosts once again. Counting professionals, students, and IUPUI Alumni we had 32 Indianapolis people that I know of in attendance! Lets beat those numbers in 2010!
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
The video is for advertisement of the event on Friday, April 17th, 2009 from 5pm-10pm in the IUPUI Campus Center room 450. Everyone including business professionals, students, faculty, and friends are invited to check out the amazing work that IUPUI computer graphics students have to offer!
For more information, visit our website at siggraph.iupui.edu. We hope to see you at the event!
Do not forget about the SIGGRAPH Night Life event tonight, Thursday, April 2, 2009, in ET 306, starting at 6pm.
This is a great time to show off those projects you worked so hard on to get into the Student Exhibition with. Get critiques, watch movies, meet new friends, get free high fives, the possibilities are endless.
Come find out for yourself! See you in the lab.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
ONLY those registered for the SIGGRAPH Student Exhibition in April may show their work. But, all members are welcome to come and see what the various pros in the industry have to say. I say come if at all possible.
THIS THURSDAY MARCH 26th
6pm to 9 pm
Be there or be left in the dust!
Hope to see you there!
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Although it's true that this disparity has existed over the years, it's less prevalent in some of Pixar's recent films, such as The Incredibles and WALL-E.
Keep in mind, also, that Disney feature animation has historically been at least as focused on leading ladies as Pixar has been on its leading men. Granted, there are some important exceptions like The Lion King and The Jungle Book. Overall, though, the roll call of great Disney feature film characters has mostly been a roll call of heroines and villainesses, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to this year's The Princess and the Frog. (Well, it's unknown yet whether the heroine of the frog movie will be great or not. Moviegoers will find out in December.)
Pixar director Brenda Chapman, who has been known to refer to herself kiddingly as Pixar's "token female," has worked at both studios and noted the difference in emphasis:
At the start of my career, I was the only woman in the story department at Disney, but at that time we were working on "Princess movies" with strong female leads, so at the time there didn't seem to be any need to strengthen other female roles...most of the funny characters were guys.... But now I'm at Pixar, and there films are very much for the boys. I don't think it's a conscious thing, I just think they're making films they want to see....
(Brenda's film The Bear and the Bow, starring Pixar's first fairy-tale princess, is scheduled to be released in 2011.)
Thanks to The Pixar Touch for the post!
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
If you haven't seen this movie at least once yet, you are missing a true visual treat. CG society just rapped on a Production Focus article showing some of the process of creating Dr. Manhattan, Rorshach, and the other heroes. A MUST READ!
CGSociety :: Production Focus
10 March 2009, by Paul Hellard
The broad extent of visual effects in The Watchmen had the many crews on the development cycle for a long time. CGSociety brings this perspective of the work by Sony Pictures Imageworks and Intelligent Creatures.
Monday, March 9, 2009
This is a friendly reminder that this Thursday SIGGRAPH IUPUI will host yet another Night Life event. Yes, they just keep coming don't they? Of course they do because there is one every week! Duh! Where have you been?
Pay close attention to the details on this one. (Note the room change)
Date: Thursday, March 12, 2009
Location: IT 255
If you have any movie suggestions, please write one of your wonderful SIGGRAPH officers. Also, bring work to get critiqued. The professional portfolio review is right around the corner!
See you at the event!
Friday, March 6, 2009
Who's famous now?
There are two more flyers to be completed by next Friday so if anybody wants to jump onboard the steamboat to Successfulvanyia let me know before Monday and maybe (just maybe) you'll get a chance to get your work out there. There's already another poster guru signed up so the quicker you contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) the more likely it is you'll get some work sent your way. Remember that whatever I send to you is due on very short notice and if you don't getr' done by the deadline I'll assume you are dead and have do the flyers myself.
What I'm trying to do here, for you I might add (but mostly for me), is come up with a sorta unofficial flyer-maker's club. Every artist does a flyer in their own signature style and then they get circulated around campus for all the boys and girls to see and then BOOM: free publicity. And then somehow someone gets famous and marries a supermodel. At least that's how it works in my head.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
The comic is going to either be a long-winded graphic-novel or a verrry long series. We shall see. It's kind of a noir, hard-boiled sort of thing. Urban fantasy genre. Whoever draws it for me should be comfortable working with M-rated material; the story deals with a lot of violence, religion, death, and moderate amounts of sex and some good old-fashioned angst. Also substance abuse. And an extra helping of foul language.
Yeah, I think that just about covers it.
As for art-style, I'm looking for something a little more on the sophisticated side. Not really into the anime style of art. If I had to cite examples, I would probably have to point at things like the Fables series, or Marvel Civil War. Iron Man: Extremis, even.
I'm not really paying right now, this whole thing is currently just for fun and personal satisfaction, but I do have this desire for publication in general that borders on obsession, so I will be TRYING to get this published, and if I do, whoever is drawing the comic for me will definitely be paid.
As for story specifics and that sort of thing, I can start going into that whenever someone contacts me. Doesn't do to throw out too many details too soon, I think it's easy to overwhelm people with that. I'll just say it's like Hellboy meets Constantine meets Sandman meets Dresden Files meets... Haibane Renmei. Meets American Gods.
That's about it.
Monday, March 2, 2009
He will be teaching on techniques for drawing Mecha, Manga, and anything related. Truly an event you do not want to miss if you have even the slightest interest!
Date: Thursday, March 5, 2009
Time: 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Location: ET 306
Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
01: Nice guys finish first
“First of all,” says Miika Saksi, “make lot of friends in different fields. Get to know people. But don’t be pushy, be a nice guy.” And if your folio is light, make some projects up. “Make posters, company identities and flyers for both imaginary companies and potential clients. But don’t call them ‘personal work’. Call them proposals or pitches.”
02: Think it through
Make sure you know what you’re doing, says Ravi Vasavan. “Think again, talk to freelancers you know of – and if you come out of this feeling confident, then you ought to be okay to dip into these waters.” And, ready or not, prepare yourself for the unexpected, “such as a client bailing, or running away with your pay cheque!”
“I have a couple of different timescales,” says Mike Perry. “First, there are long-term projects, some of which are self-initiated. Then there’s medium scale projects that are maybe a month in advance.” And finally, there’s illustration, “where they say, ‘Hey, we need this next Tuesday’.” Try to have a range of work on the go, as this will help you avoid a calamity if one source goes into meltdown.
04: Partner up
Two heads are better than one. “But,” says Dominic Prévost, “if you want to start freelancing, it’s cool to have someone with you who’s different enough that you can make the best of each other’s skills; perhaps someone who’s particularly good at handling the clients or the money.”
05: Be pragmatic
A dash of pragmatism can’t hurt, says Janine Rewell. “Make sure that you have a plan B, in case it turns out that you’re not as talented as you thought and you’re not getting any work.” And if you have the talent but don’t enjoy fronting it up, get an agent: “It’s nice to have someone to do all that dirty money-talk with the clients for you.”
06: See opportunity everywhere
Even if there is a global economic meltdown, you still have stuff to be getting on with, says Dominic Prévost. “If everything crumbles, it’ll give us time to experiment. I’ll make indie movies and publish them myself.”
07: Be creative
One of the undoubted benefits of freelance life is the chance to explore your own creativity. “I would say that what’s really worked out for me is constantly making new work for myself,” says Mike Perry. This, he explains, is where he really pushes himself and the work, showing the breadth of what he can do. “Clients often end up hiring me for the work I’ve already done,” he says.
08: Don’t be swayed
You’ve got to stand up for yourself, as not every client has your best interests at heart. “I really believe in what I’m doing,” says Mike Perry. “It’s about fighting for your right to do what you feel you should be doing. If you believe in your work, then you should be able to stand up for it.”
09: Keep your finger on the pulse
“Companies want unique styles and street credibility,” explains Miika Saksi. “They’re trying to get on the same level with consumers, the young adults especially.” It’s your job to facilitate that, says Saksi: “I guess it’s been like that for a long time, but now it’s stronger than ever. And agencies like to buy that knowledge from freelancers who are in the scene and live the same life as their target group.”
10: Hire a professional
“I should have hired a book keeper right away,” laments Janine Rewell. “I tried to save money by doing all my taxation myself, but actually I lost so many valuable working hours by filling out those forms that it wasn’t worthwhile.” Remember, you are a designer, not an entire studio rolled into one.
Thanks to Computer Arts for the wonderful link.
Listen up! I want you to do something for me, right now. Get up from your computer and find the nearest mirror, stand in front of it, and take a look at yourself. Take a good long look and ask yourself, "Do I have what it takes to be in the Student Exhibition? Am I prepared? Do I want to start my career this year?"
Chances are, you answered the questions as many at our level would. You need to start thinking about what it takes to land that internship or job you've been dreaming of because not long from now, you will have that opportunity!
Us officers wanted to take this time to remind you of the process you should be aware of in order to hold you position in the Student Exhibition. You must be a paid member of. You must be registered for the event via the SIGGRAPH IUPUI website. You must submit your portfolios in prior to the event (deadline still tentative, but it will be around the end of March). From submitting your portfolio, it will go through a screening consisted of IUPUI Computer Graphics and New Media professors. You must pass that screening in order to have a booth at the Student Exhibition.
Now, if you don't pass the screening, that doesn't mean you cannot show up to the event. We will be needing many volunteers to help organize and pull off the event, run the tables, and answer any questions employers may have. That will also mean that you can mingle with the employers, even being a volunteer!
Yes, that was a long message, but now you must take this time to really focus and get your work ready. This event is going to happen and you need to be prepared! There will be one additional portfolio review on March 26 consisting of industry professionals. It sounds like the screening process will take place right after that, so plan on the deadline being less than a week after that date.
Have a great weekend everyone and, if you have any questions, feel free to direct them to myself or any other officer.
Friday, February 20, 2009
The room was packed, but that didn't stop us from having fun. The critiques were very constructive and watching the other reviews (not just my own) allowed me to learn so much about what I needed to improve on and how to build my portfolio. If you had to miss this event, you may want to make it a priority to make it to our SIGGRAPH Professional Portfolio Review on March 26, 2009.
Thank you for all who were in attendance and a special thanks to the amazing faculty who made this event a true SIGGRAPH success!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
The sign-in sheet outside the door will be used for who is reviewed first, second, etc...
This event is still open to all members, but this event is primarily for those who have registered for the Student Exhibition. (you should probably register-hint, hint) You can register for the Student Exhibition by clicking on the Exhibition link on our website (www.siggraph.iupui.edu) and filling out the form.
See you all this Thursday!
Here is their latest production focus article detailing Laika's premiere achievement Coraline!
Stop Motion has a new face in Henry Selick’s Coraline, a story based on the award winning book by Neil Gaiman about a little girl who finds a secret door to an “Other World” much like her own, but better… or so it seems. The first stop motion filmed in stereoscopic 3D (S-3D) during production, Selick wanted to tackle an even bigger accomplishment: creating a true stop motion film with the smooth facial transitions of CG animation in a hands-on medium.
The answer to this quest was to use replacement animation, where one stop motion puppet face is progressively swapped for another slightly different expression with the needed smile, frown, or appropriate eyebrow position. This method is not new, but the effect is a bit choppy- often desirable for a hand made look, but has never before had all the in-betweens that Selick wanted. However, sculpting those thousands of expressions by hand would have taken years to complete. To keep the budget and timeline intact while creating stop motion animation so smooth you could read Coraline’s lips, production studio Laika creating blend shape CG face models that were output through rapid prototyping (RP).
Like? Rest of Article:
Thursday, February 12, 2009
So you see, nothing too intense. You have complete freedom over art direction, all you need to do is provide all information for the event. Drop me a line (email@example.com) if you want some work and if there's anything available I'll send it your way.
Disclaimer: Do not make this your magnus opus! Finish the poster and send a digital copy to me within no more than two or three days, I get these at very short notice.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
The lecture took place at the Apple Education Summit in the Spring of last year and is a must watch for anyone looking into a career at Pixar. Mr. Nelson gives great advice and points out that Pixar recruits people with a strong understanding and mastery of their skill; breadth, and collaboration skills. Watch the speech from Pixar’s in-house university dean here. You’ll see they are useful tips for any career!
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Who knows, maybe since Pixar had won so consistently since Nemo, the ASIFA members just felt they should snub a film which many call the best animated feature of the decade, or ever… Or maybe, DreamWorks (a gold sponsor for the awards) got lots of people to cash in the minimal $75 dollar fee to pay their way to win…
Well, there’s always the (way more important) Oscars coming up…
Congratulations to all of the winners though, because it’s not like they didn’t deserve any awards either
But to end on a good note, John Lasseter was awarded the Winsor McCay Award last night, so Pixar didn’t go completely empty handed.WALL•E, Andrew and co., you’re all winners in our eyes!
Thanks to to Upcoming Pixar for the post.
Monday, January 26, 2009
This project is a 3 semester long, CG short animation. Yes, there will be stereoscopic, yes there will be HD, yes there will be surround sound, and yes it will be legendary.
In the following weeks we will bring you updates, and welcome feedback from those of you inclined to offer thought outside of the normal rhetoric.
Stay tuned shortly for the story synopsis and Concept art. We will keep this blog primarily for production updates and spare everyone the details of the extensive research we are doing into current CG technologies!
So hold on to your knickers, kick back grab a beer, this is going to be one hell of an experience!
Just make sure you come every Thursday night with work to have critiqued and projects to work on during the movies. This is a chance to network with your peers, get constructive feedback on your work in progress, watch movies, have fun, and stay on track with your projects!
Date: Every Thursday Night
Location: Et 306
Saturday, January 24, 2009
1. Your friends and family won’t watch movies or TV with you because you make too many comments about the poor lighting or bad composition.
2. You are pro-Facebook because 95% of the MySpace pages burn your retinas.
3. You refuse to purchase products that have poorly designed packaging.
4. You buy dog food based on the bag’s use of color and typography.
5. You critique every piece of design you see without realizing it (ex: “That is a horrible Photoshop mask!” or “I wouldn’t use that color scheme. A softer blue would do just nicely.”)
6. You’re in the sun and you look around for a Drop Shadow to sit under.
7. Seeing someone use Lens Flare and Comic Sans adversely affects your blood-pressure.
8. You maintain a grid system for your refrigerator magnets.
9. You’re up ‘til 5 am because you came up with the best idea ever while brushing your teeth.
10. You can name more than 200 fonts in under five minutes.
11. When you know what “kerning” is and you really, really like it.
12. You use words about fonts you dislike that other normal people reserve for fascist dictators and serial killers.
13. If you could go back in time you wouldn’t go back to see the rise and fall of civilizations, you’d go back in time to destroy the creators of Comic Sans and Papyrus.
14. Looking at a restaurant menu make you go “hmmm, ITC Baskerville italic” rather than “mmmm, lunch!”
15. Cmd+Z is the first thing that goes through your mind if you break something.
16. You can understand everything on this list and relate to almost all of it.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Email any question to firstname.lastname@example.org, with this format:
And it could be featured as the "Question of the Week!" How cool would that be, right? Yeah, really cool!
So, you ask, how does my question get picked? Simple. Be creative. Ask questions that you wouldn't normally hear! I'll assure you that the answer that follows will be nothing less than amusing.
Try it now!
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Those of you who are animators or aspiring animators may be asking yourself: How do I get that job? Carlos recently offered his answers to that question, and the question of how to thrive in an animation job once you have it. A few samples:
* Be professional at work. Don't be stuck up, and don't have an attitude/ego or no one will wanna work with you again. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.
* Help your peers. They'll help you when you need them.
* Make your environment fun. Simply have fun with what you do...and try not to look at it as a job. I know it's hard...especially with deadlines. I've been there. But try to find the fun aspects of what we do as it'll make the journey a lot more fun and less stressful.
* At one point, be ready to call your shot done. We can polish things to death...but some places/productions will need you to move on.
This is not bad advice for others who are non-animators as well! Thanks to The Pixar Touch for this article.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Below is a playblast of the animation. I am pretty happy with it all things considered and am rendering as we speak. If the sound comes together nicely, I should be successful.
Stay posted for the final render!
Friday, January 16, 2009
- A special presentation about the state of the graphics industry and just how hard it is to get a job these days.
- An overview of SIGGRAPH events past, present and future and how you can get involved.
- Road trips? How you can join the SIGGRAPH team during this year's conferences in New Orleans and Asia.
- Student Exhibition Q & A. Just remember that there are such things as stupid questions so think before you ask.
- We'll be picking the winner of the SIGGRAPH Student Exhibition Animation contest to be used as promotional material.
We've got a full night planned so skip class/work/babysitting duty and come on down to see what we've got in store for the new year!
We sure did, Businessman. We sure did...
Thursday, January 15, 2009
This is a great resource for beginners like us.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
We'd like to know where you think the future of stereoscopic 3D lies, and where you think 3D artists should be focusing their attention. Cast your vote in our poll and see the results in 3D World issue 114.
In which market sector will stereoscopic technology really make its mark in 2009?
Cinema: Blockbuster movies like Monster vs Aliens will be where the technology really shines
Games: More accessible equipment for home gaming will bring stereo displays to the masses
Both: Stereoscopic 3D is gaining ground in both markets. It will simply become taken for granted
Neither: Stereoscopic 3D is overhyped. Traditional display formats will still rule the roost in 2009
Cast your Vote!
Saturday, January 10, 2009
First things first… Visual design. I don’t know about you, but if I go to a web site that is not visually pleasing, it is a quick turn off.
That’s not to say that every top website needs an incredible visual design — but if a site looks like it hasn’t been updated since 1994, it’s just not going to be associated with other great websites.
A clean and simple design is usually all you need. Bells and whistles are nice, but I’m one who tends to go with the “less is more” theory. You don’t want your design to be over crowded. You just want it to look good so it can stand out from your competitor(s) in the minds of your potential clients.
First impressions are key. Although good design alone will not keep someone on your site — an eye-catching design will, at the very least, grab their attention long enough to take a look around.
2. Thoughtful User Interface
Along with good design comes a good user interface. The user interface is the foundation of any good functional web site. When designing a site, you’ll need to take into consideration your average user. Who is going to be visiting your web site — who is your ideal customer? Are they tech-savy? Are they computer illiterate?
It’s helpful to create an image of your ideal visitor and have them in mind when planning out the design for your site. Be sure you offer everything on your site that they would want to find before buying from you or becoming a subscriber.
You’ll want to be sure that your navigation is easy to spot and consistent throughout the entire web site. Make it obvious where the user should click both in terms of your primary navigation, as well as for links within your content areas.
3. Primary Navigation Above The Fold
Part of having an easy to navigate web site is ensuring that the primary means of navigation — links to the key areas of your site — are kept above the fold. With today’s large computer monitors and growing screen resolutions “above the fold” is generally considered to be within the top 500-600 pixels of your site design.
Elements to include here are your logo (which should link back to your home page), as well as links to the main sections of your site. If you can link to sub-pages here that is great, but in most cases that will over-clutter your design.
For example put “Home | About | Services | FAQ | Contact” in a very easy to find location at the top of your site. You can place sub-links such as About-Bio / About-Resume somewhere else, such as in your sidebar or as sub-links under the main page title of that section, etc.
Consistency is key here — be sure to place both your primary and sub-navigational links in the same spot throughout the various pages of your web site.
4. Repeat Navigation In The Footer
If you use images (or even flash) for your main navigation, it’s especially important to offer a duplicate set of navigation links in your footer. Even if you use text links at the top, the duplication is still helpful. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to find the content they are looking for on your site.
Often times the footer will link to additional information — such as Terms of Service — as well. Things that should be easy to find, but not necessarily something you want taking up real estate on the primary navigation area of the site.
5. Meaningful Content
You know the saying… “Content is King” — you might have a pretty web site which will catch someone’s eye, but if the content is no good, you can be willing to bet that they aren’t going to stick around.
When writing the copy for your web site, it’s important to provide helpful, knowledgeable information about your company, products, services, etc. If you’re running a blog, informative articles related to your area of expertise are incredibly helpful as well.
While it’s important to sell yourself or your company, you also don’t want to oversell, either. Particularly in a blog setting — people reading a blog don’t want to hear all about “me me me” — they want to know how you can help them.
6. A Solid About Page
Among the top 10 most popular pages of my own site (after the home page, blog, 3 specific blog posts and my portfolio) is the About page. I have more clicks to my about page than to my services or portfolio pages, if you can believe that!
It’s simply because people are curious. They want to know who is behind a company or a blog. I was personally quite shy about including a photo on my own bio page, but finally did it a few months ago. It’s amazing what the sense of curiosity does — I myself am always clicking on about pages too, trying to find out more about the designer or writer, etc.
Include information on your background and how it pertains to your own business and expertise, etc. The about page gives potential clients a little bit more information about you and can often help create a more personal bond. If they are reading your writing and know a bit more about you, they’ll have a better sense of connection and better be able to relate to you on another level.
More often than not, a potential client will select the company with a “real” person behind it, rather than the faceless organization that refuses to get even a little bit personal.
7. Contact Information
Contact can turn off a prospective client more than not being able to find a way to contact you. If they’re interested in your services, and can’t find a simple contact page with a way to get in touch and hire you they’re going to end up going over to the competition.
Ideally you’ll want to give more than one method of contact. At the very least an email address and contact form. To make you more “real” though you should try to include a phone number (and if possible a mailing address) as well. I know many freelancers work from a home office - as do I. A quick solution is to get a separate phone line for business calls, as well as either a PO Box or other mailing service address.
Keep in mind that these are tax deductible expenses and makes you look that much more professional than someone who only includes an email address. To other home business owners in the same boat, it might not make a difference. But if you work with any larger or corporate clients, they’ll see a public phone number and address as an added sign of stability and that could play a small part in them choosing you over someone else.
If you have a large web site or blog, having a search field is incredibly helpful, as well. There’s nothing like wading through hundreds of pages to find specific content without a search feature. If a potential customer can’t find something easily on your site, but Joe Designer over there does… odds are they are going to go with Joe whose content is easy to search through.
You can often use a Google Search on your site, or if you have WordPress (or another blogging platform or CMS / Content Management System) this will be fairly easy to accomplish. It’s not quite as easy to set this up with a static html site, but there are still services out there that will let you incorporate a functional search box onto your site.
9. Sign-Up / Subscribe
If your web site offers content on a consistent basis — such as with a blog — you’ll want to make it as easy as possible for people to sign up for updates.
This is something else that’s extremely easy to add if you have a WordPress blog. By default they’ll provide you with a feed address. But if you want to step it up a notch, you’ll want to sign up for a free account with FeedBurner. Better yet, you might consider using the FeedBurner FeedSmith plugin that will help re-direct all feeds through your FeedBurner account for easy tracking of your subscribers.
If you don’t have a blog, but still want to offer subscriptions to an email newsletter, for example, there are many companies that will let you setup and manage a mailing list. They will provide you code for your site to enable your web site visitors to sign up for updates using their email address. (FeedBurner allows you to collect email addresses too, btw). In some ways this is better than an RSS subscription because you are able to collect email addresses of potential prospects. While you can keep track of subscription numbers and other generic statistics, RSS subscribers get your updates via feed reader and have no need to provide an email address.
There are two kinds of sitemaps - one for humans and one for the search engines. An html (or php, etc.) sitemap meant for visitors to your site can be an invaluable tool for finding just what they are looking for.
Creating a sitemap - a structured list of all pages of a web site - is especially useful if you are unable to add a search feature to your site. A link to the sitemap is another item that is helpful to place down in the footer of your site, as well. A good sitemap will list out every page of your site in a hierarchial format - clearly showing the relationship of pages in terms of primary pages with sub-pages and sub-sub-pages, etc.
11. Separate Design from Content
Long gone are the days of using html tables for layout and design. The best developed sites use a combination of XHTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), which create a separation of design vs content.
With use of
By linking to an external CSS file in order to separate your content from the design, it leaves your html page with mostly nothing but actual relevant text in your source code. The separate CSS file is what specifies the fonts, colors, background images, etc. for your site design.
What’s great about this is you can update just one CSS file and have the change made site-wide (no longer having to go into each and every html page of a static site, to change your main link color from blue to green, for example).
With this separation of content from design, the search engines no longer have to wade through all of the excess code to find out if your content is relevant, either. And with separate files, the content can load quicker, too - always a good thing in the mind of visitors to your site.
12. Valid XHTML / CSS
It’s not just enough to develop your site using XHTML and CSS, though. It has to be accurate code. Two invaluable tools for checking your source code are offered by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C):
* W3C Markup Validation Service
* W3C CSS Validation Service
There are many reasons to write valid code… With valid code, you are a few steps closer to ensuring your site will look good across the different web browsers (see number 13 below) and will help you with the search engines, too. If your site is built to current web standards, the search engines can easily wade through your content.
Not to mention it just shows that you know what you are doing. Yes, many clients don’t know the difference, but a few do - and specifically request standards compliant code. If you can offer this but your competitor can’t - that gives you an extra edge.
And besides this, other web developers are likely to check out the source code of a site to see what’s under the hood… both out of sheer curiosity, and just because they can!
13. Cross Browser Compatibility
Although you might live and breathe inside Firefox, your client may not. There’s a good chance your client is using Internet Explorer. Unfortunately there’s an even better chance they’re using Internet Explorer 6 (please don’t get me started on this issue - lets just say I know I’m not the only web developer who wishes this browser will simply GO AWAY!)
It’s imporant that your own web site and the site(s) you create for customers display well in as many of the mainstream web browsers as possible. If you can make them compatible across platforms too, that’s ideal. Most end users are on a PC so this is probably the most important platform to target. However many people in the creative fields are on a Mac, so if this is your audience they are important to pay attention to as well.
Unfortunately most people aren’t lucky enough to have both a PC and a Mac (not to mention Linux, etc.) but with the help of a site called Browser Shots you can enter a URL - select from a variety of web browsers across different platforms - and have them create screenshots for you. Very helpful if you’re on a PC running Vista for example, where you no longer have access to an old copy of IE6.
14. Web Optimized Images
When designing for the web, it’s important that you save all your images in a compressed format. Not too much that your images become pixelated, but as much as possible while retaining quality.
If you’re accustomed to doing print work, you know that 300dpi is the standard. Not the case with web sites, though. When designing for the screen you’ll want to save your images at 72dpi which will make for a much smaller file size (aka quicker download time for your web visitors).
Programs like Adobe Photoshop have a “Save for Web” feature that will automatically convert your image to 72dpi if you forgot, as well as give you a variety of compression settings when saving your imges. For web this will likely be either png, jpg or gif depending on the particular usage.
15. Statistics, Tracking and Analytics
Although this element is behind the scenes and not one you’re likely to know about as the web visitor — as a web site owner it is crucial, if not down-right addictive!
There are many services that offer tracking of web site statistics which include information such as:
* How many hits does my site receive?
* How many of these are from unique visitors?
* How are people finding my web site?
* What search terms are they finding me under?
* What web sites link to me?
* What are the most popular pages on my site?
* Who is my average visitor (platform / browser / screen resolution)?
It’s actually quite amazing what kind of information you can keep track of with a good analytics program. Perhaps the most popular site for this is Google Analytics which offer a very robust (and free) tracking solution.
If you want to monitor your web site’s performance and figure out how you can improve your site, having a good stats package is key!
Original article here.
Friday, January 9, 2009
- “The Illusion of Life” is on your bookshelf. There is a yellow glow around it and you hear angels sing every time it’s opened.
- A trip to the toy store isn’t for the kids.
- When you hear the word arc, you know it has nothing to do with Noah.
- They strongly believe (and you must agree) Wall-E should be nominated and win an Oscar for Best Film. In fact, the academy shouldn’t even waste there time nominating any other films, why bother?
- “When She Loved Me” by Sarah Mclachlan makes them cry.
- Lasseter, Stanton and Bird have become the guy friends who won’t leave.
- You have some sort of Star Wars paraphernalia in your house.
- There is often a video camera set up in your bedroom, but it isn’t for kinky reasons.
- They have convinced you that the pot of gold at the end of every rainbow is a myth. It’s actually Pixar.
- All the love and passion they express for their craft, is nothing compared to all the love and passion they express for you.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Make sure to get your own copies, and, if I haven't bought them, share!
It does not end there though! Cars comics will be released simultaneously and will feature two covers both feature Lightning McQueen before the events of the original Cars. A small price to pay for a collectible and a wealth of inspiration.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Copy and paste the link of this URL and spread it all over the internet! Tell you friends, family, and anyone else who is interested in computer graphics and SIGGRAPH to check this blog as if it were a food supply in a famine!
All the cool kids are doing it!
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Adam, an animation student from Full Sail asked me this recently:
It's only about 6 months until I graduate and get thrown into the world and have to begin the search for a job. I was just wondering if maybe you could give me any tips on getting my first job as a character animator. Maybe some do's and don'ts.So I told him I would turn it into a post for everyone else since a lot of people have similar career concerns. Now, this is just from my personal experience in commercials and Feature Film environments after I graduated. These are mostly things to be aware and to think about:
- Once you graduate, continue working on your animation education. Just because you graduated, doesn't mean the learning ends there. Quite the contrary. You may get rejected when applying to jobs because your skills still aren't there...so my main advice is to continue learning the craft.
- Don't apply to the main studios and expect to get an answer (good or bad) right away. Some people are lucky they get in right away. A couple co-workers at Pixar got hired because their talent showed potential even with their lack of computer animation training. But this is rare, and you could be waiting a really long time. Instead apply where you want to apply, but also apply to other smaller places. Chances are, you may have to start from small and then keep aiming higher. I know of some students who passed on great studios who made them offers just because they didn't get a call from Pixar. This in my opinion is a big mistake because they could be learning elsewhere and not waste their time waiting for a call that may not even happen.
- Be respectful and professional with the recruiters. I don't think it'd help if you keep calling them to see the status of your reel. Chances are, if they need you they'll contact you. Focus back in your work to make it better...and re-apply in the future.
- Enjoy the journey no matter which places you are at. Just because you are not working at your dream places doesn't mean you can't have a great time. A lot of what we do, is the people we work with.
- Once you are in the industry and in your new job, be ready to work in a team...no matter where.
- Be confident in your work...however, don't refuse feedback. Sometimes, we look at our work so many hours, we start to lose the essence of it, and we can't see some major things going on in the shot right away. So having fresh eyes will always help.
- On getting feedback: Be open to ideas, suggestions and feedback constantly. Don't get feedback from 20 people...or else you could be pulled in 20 different directions in your shot. However, maybe get feedback from 3-5 people whose work and/or experience you respect, and show them your work. If the majority comment on the same issues, then you know something in there needs to be fixed.
- On giving feedback: give feedback that's constructive. A simple "what the hell is that" or "the animation is off" won't help anybody. Try to help whoever is showing you their work in which areas they can improve. Also let them know which areas are working. It's nice to hear we are doing at least one thing right.
- Learn from your peers, regardless of their experience or age. Someone can bring something to the table, whether they have 20 years animation experience or if they are fresh off School.
- Be professional at work. Don't be stuck up, and don't have an attitude/ego or no one will wanna work with you again. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.
- Help your peers. They'll help you when you need them.
- Make your environment fun. Simply have fun with what you do...and try not to look at it as a job. I know it's hard...especially with deadlines. I've been there. But try to find the fun aspects of what we do as it'll make the journey a lot more fun and less stressful.
- You'll work with all sorts of different people. Some may be more difficult to work with than others. However...leave the personal things aside, and find a way to work on things because ultimate you want the final product to not suffer.
- Keep your animation habits healthy. Meaning...stay organized in your workflow and keep things simple. That'll make it easier once you get changes from directors/supervisors.
- At one point, be ready to call your shot done. We can polish things to death...but some places/productions will need you to move on.
I hope this helps.