Pre­par­ing for Launch

Four es­sen­tial items the in­de­pen­dent an­i­ma­tor must have to make a pos­i­tive im­pres­sion on the peo­ple who do the hir­ing.

Animation Magazine - - Opportunities -

Now that you’ve carved out your niche, in­cor­po­rated your business (visit sun­biz.org) and set up a business check­ing ac­count (visit your lo­cal bank), there are four things we need to cover that no suc­cess­ful in­de­pen­dent an­i­ma­tor can be with­out: business cards, a pre­sen­ta­tion, a lap­top and a web­site.

The Business Card

Your business card lay­out needs to con­tain all of the es­sen­tials: name, e-mail, phone, web­site. How­ever, it also needs to be vis­ually rep­re­sen­ta­tive of your niche. It should in­clude the word “an­i­ma­tion” or another short phrase some­where on the card that ex­plains what you do or how you can solve a client’s prob­lems. Stay away from lengthy de­scrip­tions or a list of bul­let points. Go for a short, con­cise, unique sell­ing propo­si­tion (look this up on­line) that re­flects your niche.

By all means, stay away from do-it-your­self business card kits. As tempt­ing as it may sound to print and cut your own, even the most ac­com­plished trim­mer will pro­duce a pal­try num­ber of im­per­fect cards that only suc­ceed in com­mu­ni­cat­ing your in­abil­ity to ac­quire some­thing as sim­ple as pro­fes­sional business cards. And don’t think you’re some­how sav­ing money by at­tempt­ing this feat. There are plenty of business card spe­cials to be found on­line from rep­utable, pro­fes­sional print­ing com­pa­nies that will print high-qual­ity, cus­tom cards on ex­tra-thick, high-gloss or matte card stock and ship them to you for as lit­tle as $20.

The Web­site

Your web­site needs to match your business cards and should be ooz­ing with your niche. As a stan­dard rule, sites should be clean, sim­ple, easy to use and de­void of any of the lat­est whiz-bang plug-ins that might cause trou­ble for vis­i­tors try­ing to view and nav­i­gate your site. Don’t make your web­site a puz­zle un­less you want to guar­an­tee no one will ever see what you have to of­fer.

The home page of your site should con­tain a demo reel show­ing your best work first and some very com­pelling rea­sons why peo­ple should trust and hire you. Easy-to-find con­tact in­for­ma­tion should be read­ily avail­able so po­ten­tial clients can ef­fort­lessly con­tact you if in­ter­ested. To save time and en­sure com­pli­ance with the lat­est CSS and SEO stan­dards, pe­ruse the thou­sands of qual­ity tem­plates — many of them free — avail­able on­line.

The Pre­sen­ta­tion

Your in-per­son pre­sen­ta­tion needs to be short, sweet, to the point and con­sis­tent with your web­site, business cards and niche. This can be a video, a Flash pre­sen­ta­tion, a Pow­erPoint doc­u­ment or even HTML, as long as you can play and pause it as needed from your lap­top. If your prospect has a pro­jec­tor or other in-house equip­ment, you may use their gear, but be sure to ar­rive a few min­utes early to fa­mil­iar­ize your­self with the setup — and al­ways bring your lap­top as backup. Re­mem­ber, a lap­top is only good for small pre­sen­ta­tions to one or two peo­ple. Larger groups will re­quire a pro­jec­tor or large-screen TV. Thank­fully, most larger com­pa­nies have th­ese read­ily avail­able.

It is cru­cial to start your pre­sen­ta­tion with a bang. Cre­ate an in­tro that wakes up the au­di­ence and shows your very best work first. After you daz­zle them with the open­ing, the body of your pre­sen­ta­tion should fo­cus on what so­lu­tions you can pro­vide the client and why they should work with you. Stay away from lengthy de­scrip­tions and speeches of your per­sonal his­tory, your fa­vorite car or how many friends your cat has on Face­book. In­stead, the pre­sen­ta­tion needs to fo­cus on the client, their needs and how you are the one and only so­lu­tion.

Keep your pre­sen­ta­tion free of word clut­ter. Never use long sen­tences or para­graphs, be­cause no one will read it and it mucks up your beau­ti­ful de­sign. What lit­tle text is in­cluded in the pre­sen­ta­tion should be key­words or short bul­lets that serve as talk­ing points and are ab­so­lutely not to be read word-for-word. Face the au­di­ence and be open and friendly. If you want to learn more about your client and keep them en­gaged, you need to ask ques­tions, lis­ten and es­tab­lish an open rap­port with the au­di­ence.

There are droves of books that metic­u­lously doc­u­ment case stud­ies, statis­tics and of­fer de­tailed in­sight to each of the above top­ics and con­cepts. But if you use th­ese gen­eral guide­lines as a foun­da­tion, you will be well equipped on your jour­ney to be­com­ing a suc­cess­ful in­de­pen­dent an­i­ma­tor. Martin Gre­bing is an award-win­ning an­i­ma­tion di­rec­tor and pro­ducer who fo­cuses on smaller stu­dios and al­ter­na­tive mar­kets. To­day, he pro­vides cre­ative con­sult­ing and is the owner-op­er­a­tor of Fun­ny­bone An­i­ma­tion, a bou­tique stu­dio that pro­duces an­i­ma­tion for a wide range of clients and in­dus­tries. He can be reached via www.fun­ny­bonean­i­ma­tion.com.

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dler, C.C.H. Pounder as Dr. Amanda Waller, Greg El­lis as Cap­tain Boomerang and Gian­carlo Es­pos­ito as Black Spi­der. The Blu-ray combo ($24.98) in­cludes spe­cial fea­tures Arkham An­a­lyzed: The Se­crets Be­hind the Asy­lum, The Joker’s Queen: Har­ley Quinn, an ad­vance look at the next DC an­i­mated fea­ture and four episodes from the DC Comics Vault. [Re­lease date: Au­gust 12] mak­ing-of do­cus, com­men­tary and more. John Musker and Ron Cle­ments’ Her­cules in­cludes mak­ing-of and mu­sic fea­tures, and Ich­a­bod & Mr. Toad comes with a Legend of Sleepy Hol­low Sto­ry­book. Bed­knobs and Mus­ke­teers also pack in a num­ber of fun and in­for­ma­tive ex­tras. Any is a per­fect ex­cuse to get a good TV-in­duced brain rot go­ing be­fore you go back to hit­ting the books. [Re­lease date: Au­gust 12]

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