T Nation

Getting our ideas noticed...


Hey.. for the last couple of years, my buddies and I have been coming up with all of these ideas for animations/movies/ whatever. Some of it is kind of based off of people we have known, and a lot of it is just made up. We have stacks upon stacks of notebooks filled with notes, character descriptions, drawings, etc. We've all been sort of busy lately, but now we're trying to do something with it. I was thinking of just using flash animation or something and setting up a website with some 5-10 minute segments or something. How would you guys recommend I get this stuff noticed? We've put a lot of work into it, and there really is some quality material there. I've dropped some of it on alot of different people and they really seem to like it. I don't know... maybe a pipe dream, but I need to give it a shot. Patricia, I know you have some ideas for me :wink: What would you recommend as a format for the animation? I know flash is kind of easy... As far as importing the drawings and stuff.. I have a scanner and I know a few things about Photoshop. I have never really animated anything though. It doesn't have to be really fancy shmancy because I think the writing will speak for it self. I guess its kind of like a R-rated Seinfeld/Simpsons style... but not really. Theres alot of observational type humor there, but I really can't describe it here. It's not a ripoff of anything, by any means. I definitely want to use the internet... but what about sending a videotape or dvd to different tv/radio stations? Anyone have any suggestions? Thanks guys!


I am not really sure, but I think you need to get a production company to buy it from you. Now this won't be some little hundred bucks, if it is good enough they will pay big bucks for it, but it has to be really good. That is all I can say. Good luck bro!


First off, Michelle might be a better help for you - she knows MUCH more about web stuff than I. I do deal with Photoshop, Illustrator and Page Maker (Adobe products). But that's not what you're going to need - at least in my opinion. Macromedia Flash, Fireworks, and Dreamweaver are the industry standard for Web Publishing. Many, many web designers use the Macromedia applications for creating, editting, animating graphics in some really cool websites. Adobe has LiveMotion - and you can use that to create Macromedia Flash animations. BUT the BIG baby software for animators would be Maya's: base, Artisan, FX and MEL(the Maya scripting language, fully embedded). Ooooh that nice package is gonna cost you a pretty penny in the area of at least $7000. Then there's Newtek Lightwave sofware for 3D graphics/animation. That's around $2 - 3000.

Are there any art schools by you? And if so, do any of them have computer animation courses? I live by several. As a matter of act, a few blocks down from where I work, there's a film school. Oh, and aren't there animation festivals like Spike and Mike's Twisted Animation that you could consider to enter for next year? That could be a start. How about looking into some small theaters/art houses that would be interested in showing your animated shorts as an opening to a feature. There's a few art galleries here in Portland that also show "film shorts". You can always see if there's a gallery in your area that is more "performance art" oriented and would be willing to show your work as some sort of "display".

And again, I'll have to pass on the internet ideas to Michelle. She's more of the guru in that area.


If it's quality, all you have to do is email your friends with the info. Word of mouth will take care of the rest. You don't need to advertise, because you aren't trying to make money, so you don't need people to notice instantly. :slightly_smiling:


Scanner is helpful - but for single images. What you need is a digital video camera. You can feed the images into a computer via a USB cable. But I believe with Mac's that have DVD RW (rewritable) feature, you can edit DVDs'.

And chuck, wanted to let you know that I did rec'v your last email. Have been rather bizzy and wasn't able to reply. I hate leaving people hanging! Anywhoos, let me know how that all goes!



okay, as a professional animator, I can tell ya that it's not especially easy to get your ideas made. I've worked on more Pilots that were absolutely awful than I can recount (and they all had financial backing!). Flash is a terrible format, but simple to pick up. THe problem with flash, is everyone puts their stuff online
, and there's no real method to actually making money off your ideas. 5 years ago, people thought there was gonna be a big cash cow at the end of the flash animation wave, but it never happened. Most large studios are now buying shows that have already been produced for other markets at low costs, and airing them over here. Too many people have taken baths these past few years. Believe me, I've seen in first hand. Also,... don't be sending tapes to tv stations, that's a great way to get your concept stolen. If indeed you do have a novel idea, find yourself a good entertainment attorney. I've actually had to resort to using a lawyer on a few occassions just to get paid for deisgns I've done for commercials. It's a shit industry bro, I wish someone told me that long ago.


First of all, thanks for the props Patricia.

Your website will have to be slick and to the point is you expect any studio execs to even look. This does not mean anything you can build with FrontPage or Dreamweaver, unfortunately. If you want to look professional you have to be professional. That means a designer and a developer usually. The 'best' web animation tool all depends on who you ask. I like Flash, but there are many others, and that is not my speciality anyways. Ther are many high end anamation studio programs that are a better bet for you I'm sure. You would create teh animation in them, then condense them for web display.

Photoshop can be an incredible asset or your doom. Be careful not to get up in 'effects'. Be aware of file sizes, and remember that everyone does not have DSl... size does matter here. Bigger is not better.

An ex-co-worker of mine just had a short film in Sundance. He got it there with a lot of leg work. His film is now being looked at by HBO and a few other companies from Europe and Japan. There are two ways it can go.. you can hit the jackpot and luck out (a la South Park) or you can make it work. To make it work you need to sink the money into production... weither that means doing it yourself or paying someone else... then entering it into film festivals. Matt had his film shown all over the country before Sundance noticed it. That means sending it to many many festivals and only getting into a handful. If your work is good it will get noticed... just be patient. One word about length, there are strict length restrictions between a 'short' and a 'feature' if you miss it by 30 seconds you will be competing with films that are in the 45 minute and up range... and a 12:30 (or whatever) minute film won't go over all that well.

I'm not playing the Imperial Death March here, but be realistic. You could wait for lightening to strike, but your odds are much better if you bust your hump a bit. It sounds like you're willing to do that, so make sure you give yourself teh best chance you can. Studios get tons of pitches every week, make sure you stand out, or you'll get lost in the shuffle!


Yeah, ya know... theres this Academy of Design & Technology in downtown Chicago. I dropped four grand on the last semester... it was a total scam job. Those people didn't teach me anything. Now I watch their commercials, god.. the animation is horrible. The place is a total joke, and I still owe the student loan. Pissed me off. But, I don't know... as far as animation software goes.. I have a buddy that has all that stuff on his computer.. Lightwave, and probably a few others. I don't really know a damn thing about 3d animation, though. I'd rather just buy some books and teach myself then spend money on a school. I tought myself how to code in C/C++ when I was like 13-14... it's alot easier for me to learn on my own. I'll have to get on top of that. I'm just kind of excited now so I figured throwing up some flash animations might be fun. I can draw and scan in the images, and I have a pretty good idea how I can put together a little sumpin' sumpin'.

Patricia, yeah don't worry about the e-mail... I figured I'd run into ya here anyways, no biggie. Thanks again for your help. Today I went for my second interview, and got the job. I start next Monday. Rock'n'roll. Good hours, and hopefully some good money. My boss is a chek golf biomechanic, and he finished level 1 of his thing. Nice to hear... Stay cool, sista.

Stu - yeah dude... you're probably right. I just got excited because the guy that had all the notebooks with him just came back from Colorado... he's been gone for a while. It was cool to read all that stuff, and I wanted to do something now. I'll still put something together in flash just to see what happens. I definitely want to do the work myself, so I'm going to look into getting some how-to animation books.

When I do get something done... I'll want your guys' opinion for sure, so I'll let ya know. Thanks again everyone.


Chuckwagon--First thing you should do is copyright your creation. This is very important to avoid having your property stolen. Now if you want to have an animated show on TV, your going to have to make a proposal package, that means you'll have to have several scripts, character sheets, style guides and animated samples. Then you have to shop it around. It's a tough industry your trying to get into. Now if the web is what you want to do, then you can go the Flash route, or if your a little more advanced you could use 3D Studio Max, Maya, or Soft Image. All are very expensive to buy, but if you know what warez sites to look at on the net, you can download them for free (but that would be sort of illegal). If you want some more in depth info, go to shaneglines.com. He's an animator that runs an art forum website. Lots of great info there.


Hey Michelle. Did you go to school at all? Or did you just teach yourself? What animation studios are you talking about?

Ya know.. I guess I was just thinking of the South Park guys... they just started with that short Christmas animation, yeah? Everyone involved is willing to bust their ass to get things going... I know that. The material is there, it's just a matter of getting the drawings & animation done.

As far as the film festivals go... I never really thought things like Sundance would accept the style of film I have in mind. I don't know too much about it though. I always see these artsy-fartsy movies they show on tv from these film festivals. I'd think if they saw what we were doing they'd be offended :wink:. That Spike & Mike thing Patricia mentioned might be alright. I guess I'll have to look into others. I think most of the stuff we've written would work better in 30 min "episodes" I guess, rather then a full movie. But, Thanks for the input... I may have some more questions for ya later.


Tommyboy... Whats shakin' bud? Yeah copyrighting is definitely the first thing I want to get done. I know that. I think we have enough material here to put together a nice proposal package. It's going to take some time to get everything in order, but I'm not in a huge rush. I checked out that website too, cool forum. Thanks for the link, bud. Take 'er easy.


What you should keep in mind,is that the best shows are concept driven. Although most of the time your pitches will be to the PR guys who know abnsolutely nothing about animation, nor writing (they're just looking to see if they can turn a profit from your idea). Most major studios have their own submission
guidelines. Its worth looking into, because you wouldn't belive how many people could have gotten a good idea over if they had presented it a little better.
I actually got my M.F.A. an NYU Film a while ago, had a pretty decent program, of course I already knew how to draw my ass off, and was getting professional work before I even took my first class. It all comes down to who else is pitching at the same time you are. If no one else has any good ideas, yours will look incredible (luck plays a huge part in getting something over).
Also, remember that the market is not what it was a mere five years ago.... there's not as much quality work being turned out, so a well thought out, well presented, novel idea casn go pretty far. Heck, I've done work for Disney, Mirimax, Cartoon network, comedy central, SNL, and a slew of other 'big' names,.. and ya know what,... it's damn hard to find work these days! I wish ya the best bro,... I know I;ve got a few of my own ideas n the back burner, one day I'll actuallyt get around to finishing em!


Well congrats, Chuck!!! That's great to hear! Sounds like you'll be part of a great gym, too!

What tommyboy said is SO true. Copyright your work! It's really pretty simple to do. I'm a member to the Graphic Artists Guild. The GAG main site has links to all the resources for copyright and trademarks. Go to www.gag.org (I'm a member of the Portland Chapter).

And man, so glad Michelle added her expertise. What she said about being aware of the size of the site. It does matter. Web Development course might be good to take to learn the basics as well as some "tricks of the trade".

I'm all too familiar with the tune of some of these posts too. Being a professional creative is TOUGH. But when you do get jobs or projects, it is worth it. Look into organizations for creatives - like GAG. We have a few animators, I believe. Hey, as a matter of fact next Thursday, my chapter is having a director from Wil Vinton's studio speaking and doing a presentation. It's gonna be so great! Anyways, he has some cool stuff. And a website....I'll look that up and pass on the link here.


Let's see... I went to school for Graphic Design and Photography, then worled for a while, then went to 6 weeks of training (10 hour days, 5-6 days a wekk, plus outside projects) where I learned the web stuff I do now. I primarily work in ColdFusion and SQL.

The anamation studios that I am familiar with are Studio max and Maya... I've never used them for work, but I was able to 'play' a bit a while ago.

As for Sundance... my friend's short film was a bout a guy who wanted to get fired, so he brought in some interesting things for lunch.. like edible undies and body butter. It was REALLY funny... and a bit off color. I wouldn't worry about offending anyone there.

To be successful, you have to be seen. Film festivals are all over the place, and you have to start small.