The View from Venice

Deep ex­plo­rations of the top vis­ual-ef­fects and an­i­mated movies mark the Ger­man event’s 20th an­niver­sary. By Tom McLean.

Animation Magazine - - Spotlight -

FThun­der­birds.

ew places are as idyl­lic as Venice, which is per­haps why it’s the ideal real-world lo­cale from which to let an­i­ma­tion launch a voy­age from his­toric Is­rael to fic­tional Tracy Is­land of Thun­der­birds fame.

The 18th edi­tion of Car­toons on the Bay, set for April 16-18 in the iconic Ital­ian city, con­tin­ues its tra­di­tion of ex­plor­ing the depths of an­i­ma­tion from all corners of the world.

Is­rael is the guest coun­try of this year’s fes­ti­val, with the Pul­cinella Ca­reer Award go­ing to Al­bert Hanan Kamin­ski, di­rec­tor of the 1995 an­i­mated fea­ture The Real Sh­lemiel, based on a novel by Jewish No­bel Prize-win­ning writer Isaac Ba­she­vis Singer.

Born in Brus­sels in 1950 to a Jewish fam­ily, Kamin­ski moved at age 20 to Is­rael, where he worked on a farm com­mu­nity and be­gan study­ing graphic arts. A grad­u­ate of the Beza­lel Academy of Art and De­sign in Jerusalem, he also stud­ied at the Ri­jk­sakademie of Am­s­ter­dam and pro­duced in 1981 his first short, The Pink and the Grey.

In the early 1980s, he be­gan work­ing in Is­raeli chil­dren’s pro­gram­ming and be­gan a long co­op­er­a­tion with the Chil­dren’s Tele­vi­sion Work­shop that saw him de­velop an Is­raeli and a Pales­tinian ver­sion of Sesame Street.

Liv­ing in Paris in the 1980s, he worked on many TV se­ries and was men­tored by famed French an­i­ma­tor Paul Gri­mault. The suc- cess of The Real Sh­lemiel led him to di­rect more fea­tures and TV se­ries, in­clud­ing Pett­son and Findus. He lives in Tel Aviv and is work­ing on a new fea­ture, ti­tled Be­ing Solomon.

Kamin­ski will serve on the in­ter­na­tional jury at Car­toons on the Bay, along with spe­cial ef­fects artist Ser­gio Sti­valetti of Italy; Amer­i­can vis­ual-ef­fects artist An­thony LaMoli­nara; RAI Com pres­i­dent Costanza Es­clapon; and So­phie Boé, head of chil­dren’s co-pro­duc­tions and pre­sales for Canal Plus in France.

The com­pe­ti­tion will present hon­ors in eight cat­e­gories: TV se­ries for preschool­ers, TV se­ries for chil­dren, TV se­ries for tweens, ed­u­ca­tional and so­cial work, TV pi­lot, advertising and pro­mo­tional work, in­ter­ac­tive an­i­ma­tion and short film. More films, in­clud­ing an Ital­ian preview of The Book of Life, will screen out of com­pe­ti­tion.

Ad­di­tional spe­cial awards will be given for best char­ac­ter, best Euro­pean work and best sound­track. The pro­fes­sional pro­gram of­fers three days of pan­els, pre­sen­ta­tions and awards, and will open the pro­ceed­ings with a screen­ing of Nyosha, an an­i­mated short film from Is­raeli film­maker Li­ran Kapel.

Other pre­sen­ta­tions range from a look at women in an­i­ma­tion, li­cens­ing, and an­i­ma­tion in Italy to com­pany-spe­cific spot­lights from Toon Boom, Nick­elodeon, ITV Stu­dios, Mad En­ter­tain­ment and Car­toon Net­work.

The pro­gram also of­fers the Pitch Me! con­test. This year’s event will be ju­ried by di­rec­tor Guido Man­uli, di­rec­tor Roberto Rec­chioni and writer Cinzia Leone.

The con­fer­ence will present ad­di­tional hon­ors to Graphilm En­ter­tain­ment, as Ital­ian Stu­dio of the Year; DreamWorks An­i­ma­tion and ITV Stu­dios each will be hon­ored as In­ter­na­tional Stu­dio of the Year. Re­ceiv­ing Pul­cinella Spe­cial Awards this year: • Sylvia An­der­son is best known to an­i­ma­tion fans as a voice artist, pro­ducer and cos­tume de­signer on the many iconic Bri­tish an­i­mated se­ries she cre­ated with her hus­band, Gerry An­der­son, in­clud­ing Thun­der­birds, Su­per­car, Cap­tain Scar­let and the Mys­terons and Stingray. She most fa­mously voiced Lady Pene­lope in Thun­der­birds, which is be­ing re­launched this year as a CG-an­i­mated se­ries from ITV Stu­dios.

• Marty O’Don­nell is an Amer­i­can com­poser, au­dio di­rec­tor and sound de­signer best known for his work on the video-game fran­chise Halo.

• An­thony LaMoli­nara is a vis­ual-ef­fects artist who won an Os­car for his work at Sony Pic­tures Image­works on Spi­der-Man 2 and was nom­i­nated for an Os­car for work on Spi­der-Man. He also worked as an an­i­ma­tor on the orig­i­nal Toy Story.

A trio of art ex­hi­bi­tions will run through the fes­ti­val: Boom Boom, from Graphilm En­ter­tain­ment; 50 Years of Thun­der­birds, from ITV Stu­dios; and Leo for Expo 2015, from Gruppo Al­cuni. For more de­tails on Car­toons on the Bay, visit www.car­toons­bay.com.

If you’re search­ing for a peek at the tech be­hind the top vis­ual-ef­fects and an­i­ma­tion block­busters of to­day and to­mor­row, the 20th an­nual FMX con­fer­ence in Ger­many is the best place to start. Set for May 5-8 at the Haus der Wirtschaft in Stuttgart, the mul­ti­fac­eted con­fer­ence is of­fer­ing in-depth looks into this year’s Os­car win­ners In­ter­stel­lar and Big Hero 6, and is sure to have one of the hottest tick­ets in the in­dus­try with an early look at the ren­der­ing in Find­ing Dory, Pixar’s highly an­tic­i­pated 2016 se­quel to Find­ing Nemo.

FMX’s pro­gram­ming will ex­plore a broad range of top­ics from sta­teof-the-art cre­ative achieve­ments to the best op­por­tu­ni­ties in the busi­ness. For the or­ga­niz­ers, such pro­gram­ming is both rep­re­sen­ta­tive of FMX’s mis­sion and a cel­e­bra­tion of 20 years of con­tri­bu­tions to the fields of vis­ual ef­fects and an­i­ma­tion.

“FMX has sought to of­fer an in­ter­na­tional plat­form for the in­dus­try to re­flect its achieve­ments and losses, and — above all — the op­por­tu­ni­ties that the fu­ture holds,” says FMX pro­gram chair­man Jean- Michel Blot­tière, who is re­spon­si­ble for the over­all com­po­si­tion of the pro­gram. “At FMX 2015, we there­fore as­sem­ble lu­mi­nar­ies that have con­trib­uted to FMX over the years and we look to the new in­no­va­tions in the realm of im­mer­sion and vir­tual re­al­i­ties, the two in­ter­twined themes that are al­ready chang­ing ev­ery as­pect of film and media pro­duc­tion world­wide.”

As in pre­vi­ous years, at­ten­dees can con­tinue these con­ver­sa­tions at the con­cur­rent An­i­ma­tion Pro­duc­tion Day, set for May 7 and 8, pre­sented in part­ner­ship with the Stuttgart Fes­ti­val of An­i­mated Film, which it­self is run­ning May 5-10.

Here’s the low­down on the must-see events at FMX and its re­lated events.

The only Ger­man mar­ket ded­i­cated to an­i­ma­tion, An­i­ma­tion Pro­duc­tion Day has joined forces with Car­toon — Euro­pean As­so­ci­a­tion of An­i­ma­tion Film to qual­ify the top three pre­sen­ta­tions for par­tic­i­pa­tion in Car­toon Fo­rum.

The move is de­signed to pro­mote Ger­man pro­duc­tion ef­forts at the con­fer­ence, which will present 30 to 35 hand­picked an­i­ma­tion projects dur­ing its day and a half of pro­gram­ming.

This year’s event also adds a new half-day event called Pro­duc­ers Meet Pro­duc­ers. Aimed at an­i­ma­tion pro­duc­ers, ser­vice pro­duc­ers and pro­duc­tion ser­vice providers, this event fo­cuses closely on the cre­ation and pro­duc­tion side of an­i­ma­tion projects. The event of­fers one-to-one meet­ings in a re­laxed at­mos­phere, pro­vid­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to meet po­ten­tial na­tional and in­ter­na­tional co­pro­duc­tion part­ners.

The meat of the event is the APD Con­fer­ence, which fea­tures case stud­ies of ground­break­ing projects and con­tent brief­ing ses­sions that al­low broad­cast­ers and dis­trib­u­tors to ex­plain their cur­rent pro­gram­ming re­quire­ments.

Com­ple­ment­ing the pro­gram are lunches and din­ner events that pro­vide ad­di­tional net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Broad­cast­ers Show is fo­cused heav­ily on broad­cast tech­nol­ogy, of­fer­ing some 1,700 ex­hibitors to see in the rel­a­tively short span of four days — April 13-16 — at the Las Ve­gas Con­ven­tion Cen­ter.

So, the ques­tion for peo­ple who work in an­i­ma­tion or vis­ual ef­fects is how to boil it down to by­pass the booths with net­work switch­ers and news van broad­cast an­ten­nae and fo­cus on the stuff that mat­ters?

Your pri­mary stops should be the big guys: Adobe ( booth SL5030), Au­todesk ( booth SL3317), Maxon ( booth SL10405) and The Foundry ( booth SL6329). All of them should be mak­ing pretty big an­nounce­ments at the show, and this is typ­i­cally the time of year that Au­todesk re­leases the most-re­cent up­date to its Media & En­ter­tain­ment Suite.

Maxon had some ex­cit­ing an­nounce­ments back around SIG­GRAPH, but they usu­ally have very well-struc­tured and in­for­ma­tive demos. And The Foundry is go­ing to be tout­ing Nuke Stu­dio hard be­cause of its in­te­gra­tion into a broad­cast-cen­tric pipeline.

Soft­ware tools for artists are prob­a­bly go­ing to be next on your list. Here are a few things to check out that can make your toolset more ro­bust:

BorisFX ly ac­quired Imag­i­neer Sys­tems – the award-win­ning devel­oper of the pla­nar tracker, Mocha — so it will be mak­ing a big deal about that, on top of its huge li­braries of ef­fects for com­posit­ing. RE:Vi­sion Ef­fects ( booth SL5807) will be re­veal­ing GPU ac­cel­er­a­tion for Twix­tor and Reel Smart Mo­tion Blur, which is avail­able for most of the pri­mary com­posit­ing tools such as Nuke and Af­ter Ef­fects. We are re­tim­ing stuff all the time nowa­days, and if some­thing can help speed that up, then it’s def­i­nitely worth check­ing out. I’m in­trigued by ThatS­tu­dio ( booth SL6106). They have a suite of ef­fects and edit­ing tools, but they also have a count­down on their web­site with the state­ment, “Some­thing amaz­ing is com­ing … ” So, color me cu­ri­ous. Other soft­ware de­vel­op­ers to visit are mainly plug-in de­vel­op­ers and such. Dig­i­tal An­ar­chy ( booths SL6005, SL6105) is the home of Knoll Lens Flare and Beauty Box – both sta­ples in the vis­ual ef­fects artist tool­kit.

Ram­pant De­sign Tools ( booth SL5706) pro­vides a crazy amount of stock clips of film and light ef­fects at 2K, 4K and 5K. Thinkbox Soft­ware also will be there, talk­ing about the new ver­sion of its ren­der man­ager, Dead­line, and Se­quoia, a point-cloud mesher that is still in beta. But, you’ll have to make a spe­cial trip to their hos­pi­tal­ity suite in the Re­nais­sance Ho­tel.

For those of you who want to in­vest a bit more in your craft – or just like cool toys — there are a num­ber of hard­ware ex­hibitors with some tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances.

The most-re­cent ad­di­tion from Black­magic De­sign ( booth SL219) is Dig­i­tal Fu­sion – which I guess is just called Fu­sion now. The com­pany made waves by re­leas­ing a free ver­sion to the masses to be used for per­sonal or in­die level projects. I’m sure their booth will be pretty busy be­tween that, the cap­ture cards, the cam­eras and their DaVinci Color Grade suite.

Lightcraft Tech­nol­ogy ( booth C6746) is all about op­ti­miz­ing work­flow on pro­duc­tions, es­pe­cially for very time con­strained ones like for tele­vi­sion. They have cam­era track­ing sys­tems, real-time com­posit­ing sys­tems, and 3D ren­der­ing – all bun­dled into a pack­age called Pre­vizion. If they do have some­thing setup at the show, the amount of tech­nol­ogy work­ing hand in hand is a won­der to be­hold.

As a seem­ing an­swer to Pre­vizion, Mo­tion Anal­y­sis ( booth SL2428) has evolved its mo­tion-cap­ture tech­nol­ogy into a CamTrak so­lu­tion to not only pro­vide real-time com­posit­ing,

Iknow, this doesn’t seem like a very “an­i­ma­tion” cen­tric prod­uct, but it kind of is. As film­mak­ers, we have new equip­ment com­ing out ev­ery time you turn around. So some­times tools like this may just help make your next vi­ral video shot on a GoPro.

The SteadiCam Curve by Tif­fen is a gim­baled counter-weight sys­tem de­signed to be used with GoPro He­roes. While it’s not as fancy as a full-blown SteadiCam, it func­tions in a sim­i­lar fash­ion. The han­dle sep­a­rates your own mo­tions from the cam­era – adding a buf­fer of sorts. This gives the cam­era a much more fluid mo­tion. This is im­por­tant for an­i­ma­tors be­cause we want to try and avoid all that shak­ing and jit­ter­ing, es­pe­cially with the no­to­ri­ously Jell- O-y rolling shut­ter of a GoPro.

I found the setup to be in­cred­i­bly easy and I was up and run­ning in min­utes. But don’t ex­pect to be a pro just be­cause you have a new toy. Like any­thing, the con­trol of the Curve takes a bit of prac­tice and a lot of fi­nesse. The touch is del­i­cate, so like those pos­ture ex­er­cises for eti­quette where we see women walk­ing with books on their heads, the Curve wants some grace from the user. Once you get it down, there is no com­par­i­son be­tween the footage from a straight hand­held GoPro and one mounted on a Curve.

If you like to in­cor­po­rate your vis­ual ef­fects into live-ac­tion footage, but don’t have ac­cess to a full-app DSL or Red or some­thing, the cost of en­try with a GoPro isn’t bad. And if you al­ready have a GoPro, you can find the Curve for as low as $ 80.

Full dis­clo­sure: GoPro footage isn’t ideal for vis­ual-ef­fects work, but once you get the hang of the foibles, it is great for found footage vis­ual ef­fects. Todd Sheri­dan Perry is a vis­ual- ef­fects su­per­vi­sor and dig­i­tal artist who has worked on fea­tures in­clud­ing The Lord of the Rings: The Two Tow­ers, Speed Racer and Avengers: Age of Ultron. You can reach him at todd@ tea­spoon­vfx.com.

TThe largest toon-cen­tered event in the United States brings the North­west An­i­ma­tion Fes­ti­val — its big­gest show ever — to Port­land and Eu­gene, Ore.

he Pa­cific North­west has earned a rep­u­ta­tion both state­side and abroad for a vi­brant cre­ative com­mu­nity, wel­com­ing at­ti­tude and less-than-ideal weather. But as Port­land, Ore., cel­e­brates its third year as home to the largest an­i­ma­tion-fo­cused fes­ti­val in the United States this month, the re­gion is look­ing to claim another so­bri­quet un­re­lated to any Port­landia skits.

This year marks the fifth an­nual North­west An­i­ma­tion Fes­ti­val ( nwan­i­ma­tion­fest.com), run­ning May 4-10 in Port­land with encore screen­ings May 15-17 in Eu­gene. The week­long event at the his­toric Hol­ly­wood Theatre will screen 176 films — and, for the first time, fea­tures, in­clud­ing Car­toon Saloon’s Song of the Sea. The shorts were se­lected from more than 1,400 sub­mis­sions from roughly 60 coun­tries by an in­ter­na­tional jury con­nected by a built-from-scratch sys­tem.

“Much of our suc­cess stems from a de­ci­sion to let film­mak­ers sub­mit their work for free,” says fes­ti­val di­rec­tor Sven Bon­nich­sen. In year three, NWAF moved to a hy­brid sys­tem with a free “early-bird” sub­mis­sion pe­riod fol­lowed by a fee-re­quired pe­riod. De­spite the ad­di­tion of fees, that year saw the amount of films sub­mit­ted in­crease by three and a half times the pre­vi­ous year’s, ne­ces­si­tat­ing the world­wide, hun­dred-per­son jury. “Ev­ery­thing we do has this do-it-your­self ethic.”

Bon­nich­sen, who in found­ing this home­grown fes­ti­val has per­fectly melded his ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with lo­cal non­prof­its and his pas­sion for stop-mo­tion an­i­ma­tion, was ini­tially inspired by 2007’s Plat­form event. A lack of fund­ing shut down Plat­form af­ter its tri­umphant de­but as the largest an­i­ma­tion fes­ti­val in U.S. history. “I’ve ap­proached ( NWAF) as if it were a grass-roots po­lit­i­cal cam­paign: build­ing up our com­mu­nity of in­die an­i­ma­tion artists and en­thu­si­asts one per­son at a time.”

This year’s event, the big­gest ever, will kick off with three days of guest shows, ret­ro­spec­tives and spe­cially cu­rated se­lec­tions. On Thurs­day, the North­west scene will be cel­e­brated with the Ore­gon An­i­ma­tion In­dus­try Show­case, which will spotlight Port­land-area stu­dios like Bent Im­age Lab and lo­cal free­lancers. Fri­day through Sun­day will of­fer im­mer­sive, four-hour marathon screen­ings of in­ter­na­tional shorts, and the week­end’s af­ter­noons will be split be­tween Satur­day’s “Fam­ily Friendly” pro­gram and the ever pop­u­lar “Strange & Sexy” show on Sun­day — the per­fect Mother’s Day treat for the ru­grat-free set.

“We ap­proach cre­at­ing this fes­ti­val with the idea that it is fore­most be­ing pro­duced by an­i­ma­tors for the ben­e­fit of other an­i­ma­tors … We want to share the best work of our peers with the broader au­di­ence of an­i­ma­tion en­thu­si­asts, and then go even fur­ther, en­tic­ing the gen­eral film­go­ing public,” says Bon­nich­sen. “An­i­ma­tion is one of the youngest art forms — fes­ti­vals are a cru­cial part of cap­tur­ing its history as it hap­pens.”

Though the vol­ume of re­sponses means Bon­nich­sen has had to share the wealth by bring­ing in in­dus­try-savvy jurors to nar­row down the pro­gram­ming, he still makes an ef­fort to watch ev­ery film that comes in. This year, he’s no­ticed the in­creas­ing in­flu­ence and artists’ mas­tery of dig­i­tal paint­ing tech­niques in 2D an­i­ma­tion. He’s also no­ticed a pretty cyn­i­cal the­matic trend among film­mak­ers world­wide. His must-see picks?

“The ge­nius of the best film­mak­ers is in find­ing a plau­si­ble exit out of im­pos­si­ble sit­u­a­tions. Beach Flags by Sarah Saidan does this in a very lit­eral way, telling the story of a young Ira­nian life­guard who helps a peer es­cape an im­pend­ing forced mar­riage.

“Other films make an im­pos­si­ble de­par­ture by break­ing the rules of nat­u­ral­is­tic il­lus­tra­tion and sto­ry­telling. Cruis­ing by Zachary Zez­ima, for in­stance, tells a ba­si­cally mun­dane story about a young man who feels sen­sory over­load while walk­ing through the crowd of pas­sen­gers on a cruise ship. Yet, with an over­lay of psy­che­delic col­ors and ab­strac­tions, the telling be­comes a mes­mer­iz­ing ex­er­cise in synes­the­sia. As al­ways, it is a de­light to find films like this that can only be told via an­i­ma­tion.”

Li­cens­ing Expo moves into the dig­i­tal space and more global mar­kets for its 35th edi­tion, set for June 9-11 at the Man­dalay Bay Con­ven­tion Cen­ter in Las Ve­gas. Fac­tor.

The Char­ac­ters and En­ter­tain­ment Zone of the show floor fea­tures booths rep­re­sent­ing brands from such well­known an­i­ma­tion com­pa­nies as Aard­man An­i­ma­tions, DreamWorks An­i­ma­tion, The Jim Hen­son Co., Masha and the Bear Ltd., Para­mount Pic­tures, The Poke­mon Co. Intl., Tezuka Pro­duc­tions, Toei An­i­ma­tion Co., VIZ Media and Zag Amer­ica.

Owned and or­ga­nized by UBM Ad­vanstar and spon­sored by the In­ter­na­tional Li­cens­ing In­dus­try Mer­chan­dis­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion ( a.k. a. LIMA), Li­cens­ing Expo this year ex­pands its pres­ence into both the dig­i­tal space and into more in­ter­na­tional mar­kets with new pro­gram­ming and fea­tures.

With more than one-third of show at­ten­dees now com­ing from out­side the United States, Li­cens­ing Expo has in­creased its in­ter­na­tional fo­cus to de­liver a more global ex­pe­ri­ence for both ex­hibitors and at­ten­dees.

Brands from more than 35 coun­tries will be rep­re­sented on the show floor. For 2015, Li­cens­ing Expo will host new pavil­ions and in- creased rep­re­sen­ta­tion from coun­tries in­clud­ing Mexico, In­dia, China, Ja­pan and the United King­dom.

These new in­ter­na­tional ex­hibitors join a grow­ing list of global com­pa­nies and fea­tured pavil­ions that in­clude Brazil and Korea, with China and Ja­pan sig­nif­i­cantly ex­pand­ing their foot­print at the 2015 show.

Held in con­junc­tion with LIMA’s Li­cens­ing Univer­sity, the Dig­i­tal Media Li­cens­ing Sum­mit is a first-of-its kind pro­gram that cre­ates a bridge be­tween the man­u­fac­tur­ers and re­tail­ers of li­censed prod­ucts and the world’s most suc- cess­ful and pop­u­lar dig­i­tal-media com­pa­nies and stars.

The inau­gu­ral sum­mit fea­tures ex­hibitors from the dig­i­tal con­tent world, as well as a full day of pro­gram­ming on June 8, which fea­tures a num­ber of key­notes and pan­els fo­cus­ing on new busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties that lever­age the tec­tonic shift in young con­sumers’ media habits to­ward dig­i­tal plat­forms and stars.

Dis­cus­sions with high-level stars and ex­ec­u­tives will ex­plore the fu­ture of li­cens­ing in mul­ti­ple cat­e­gories. All of these pro­gram­ming el­e­ments and ex­hibits were specif­i­cally cre­ated to bring these two worlds closer to­gether, and foster the de­vel­op­ment of new li­cens­ing part­ner­ships.

The con­fer­ence fea­tures an open­ing key­note panel fo­cus­ing on the fu­ture of re­tail. Pan­elists in­clude Dow Fa­mu­lak, pres­i­dent of Global Brands Group; Lisa Harper, CEO of Hot Topic; Mike Fitz­im­mons, CEO of De­liv­ery Agent; and Richard Barry, ex­ec­u­tive VP and chief mer­chan­dis­ing of­fi­cer for Toys R Us. Marty Brochstein, se­nior VP of LIMA, will mod­er­ate.

Li­cens­ing Univer­sity of­fers ev­ery­one from new­com­ers to in­dus­try vet­er­ans the chance to dig into top­ics such as “How Kids View Brands Glob­ally ... and Lo­cally,” “Roy­alty Rate Trends” and “Tap­ping into the Power of the U.S. His­panic Con­sumer.” The pro­gram runs over three days and re­quires pur­chase of a Li­cens­ing Univer­sity pass at reg­is­tra­tion. De­tails on reg­is­ter­ing for or ex­hibit­ing at Li­cens­ing Expo can be found online at www.li­censing­expo.com.

As an in­de­pen­dent an­i­ma­tor, there is no limit to your po­ten­tial earn­ings, if you have the right plan. On the other side of the coin, how­ever, if you are just start­ing out or strug­gling, you may not know where your next pay­check is com­ing from or when it may ar­rive. Be­ing in­de­pen­dent pro­vides the unique op­por­tu­nity to have com­plete con­trol over your goals, plans and des­tiny, so it’s your per­sonal and pro­fes­sional re­spon­si­bil­ity to make them amaz­ing.

In­stead of ek­ing by, scram­bling to pay the bills and ac­cept­ing any and ev­ery toxic client that comes your way just to try and make ends meet, how would it feel to boost your prof­its by 20 per­cent? Fifty per­cent? What about dou­bling your in­come this year?

Once you break down the ap­par­ent enor­mity of dou­bling your in­come into sim­ple con­cepts, you will re­al­ize it’s much more at­tain­able than you thought, in­volves some­what ob­vi­ous strate­gies ( once re­al­ized) and re­quires only sim­ple math equa­tions. Be­lieve it or not, in some cases dou­bling your in­come may not even re­quire ad­di­tional work. This be­ing the case, what’s hold­ing you back? Here are three sim­ple ap­proaches that you can start now:

Op­tion one: Dou­ble your rates. This may sound ob­vi­ous if not im­prac­ti­cal, but you may be sur­prised how much more money qual­ity clients are will­ing to pay above and be­yond what you think they are will­ing to pay. Most in­de­pen­dent pro­fes­sion­als un­der­charge their ser­vices be­cause they think it in­creases the chance of land­ing more projects. What this does in ac­tu­al­ity is over­load you with small projects and cheap clients that will try to nickel and dime you to death, thereby keep­ing you over­whelmed pro­duc­ing work at cut-rate prices. Dou­bling your rates overnight for ex­ist­ing long-time clients will cer­tainly cause un­friendly waves, so the best ap­proach for this op­tion is to send no­tice to your ex­ist­ing clients of a fu­ture rate in­crease (test the wa­ters, but I sug­gest keep­ing the in­crease mild, un­der 25 per­cent), while dou­bling your rates for all new clients.

For ex­am­ple, one of my clients who had been run­ning a mod­er­ately suc­cess­ful busi­ness for over 10 years made ab­so­lutely no changes other than dou­bling his prices and he achieved record sales that very same year and, more im­por­tantly, record prof­its. He of­fered the ex­act same prod­uct and the ex­act same ser­vice, dou­bled his prices, dou­bled his earn­ings and even gained more new clients than he lost.

Op­tion two: Dou­ble your projects. If you pro­duce twice the amount of projects with­out rais­ing your rates, you will dou­ble your in­come. To do this, you can ei­ther pitch and land twice as many projects with your cur­rent client list, or you can land twice as many new clients. In re­al­ity, this op­tion will prob­a­bly end up be­ing a mix of the two — more projects with ex­ist­ing clients plus ac­quir­ing new clients.

If you choose to dou­ble your projects, keep in mind that you will also need to dou­ble your la­bor to cover the new projects. If this is more than you can han­dle alone, sub­tract the amount of money you will need to pay in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tors to pro­duce the ad­di­tional work and in­crease the tar­get num­ber of ad­di­tional projects you will need to land to com­pen­sate for this ex­pense.

Again, this ap­proach may sound fairly ob­vi­ous, but so few peo­ple ever come to this re­al­iza­tion, set this spe­cific goal or put it on pa­per.

Op­tion three: Hy­brid ap­proach. This is prob­a­bly the most re­al­is­tic and fea­si­ble ap­proach for those of you who com­mit to dou­bling your in­come this year. Your plan will more than likely in­volve a blend of op­tion one and op­tion two. If you al­ready are mak­ing a very hefty rate for your work, I would rec­om­mend fo­cus­ing more on op­tion two than op­tion one. If you al­ready are over­loaded with more projects than you can han­dle, I would strongly rec­om­mend fo­cus­ing much more on op­tion one than op­tion two. In this case, it might ben­e­fit you greatly to purge some of the high main­te­nance/ low- pay­ing clients in your ros­ter and seek only new, pro­fes­sional clients that are more than happy to pay your new rate.

If you are se­ri­ous about sky­rock­et­ing your earn­ings as an in­de­pen­dent, choose an op­tion listed above, plug in your own num­bers, com­mit to it and don’t look back. Break­ing this goal down into sim­ple steps and even sim­pler math, you may find that dou­bling your in­come is eas­ier and more at­tain­able than you ever imag­ined. Martin Gre­bing is an award-win­ning an­i­ma­tion writer/di­rec­tor/pro­ducer, small busi­ness con­sul­tant and pres­i­dent of Fun­ny­bone An­i­ma­tion, a bou­tique stu­dio that pro­duces an­i­ma­tion for a wide range of clients and in­dus­tries. He can be reached via fun­ny­bonean­i­ma­tion.com.

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