The gospel according to Oktobor.
GOOD COP (ARTIST): The person (Oktobor Artist) who makes stuff look good, including the ad, the ad people, their clients. This person needs to worry about nothing but making stuff look good.
BAD COP (VFX PRODUCER): The person who assists the Good Cop in every way possible behind the scenes to realise their vision, while wrangling expectation, money, assets, deliveries, approvals and timings, dispatch, ID boards, audio laybacks, They make the calls that creatives consider Bad, such as "you have no more time", "you have used all your money".
TRANSLATOR: My job is to take words and turn them into pretty shapes and colours. Sounds simple enough.
ETIQUETTE: In summary, people usually prefer Good cop, hence the use of the words 'Good' and 'Bad' in front of the word 'Cop'.
BEER ADS: First rule of advertising is you need to understand what you are selling - you need to touch it and taste it - really experience it as a consumer...
QUOTE: "The constant companion of creativity is self-doubt."
TIME & CULTURE: Time is a commodity these days, so very good design, well-executed creation and strong delivery underpins quality entertainment - and that captures eyeballs. That's what we put at the very forefront of the biggest challenge that brands have. We execute that and we don't change 9.99 to 9.95. People who hold key design positions at a creative level come from an 'art' background. That's the culture we need to foster.
MISTAKES: All mistakes have symptoms and you can start to build a mental picture of why certain things don't work. For every great visual moment, there are 20 bad ones that no one sees... I've become less precious over the years and take to my bad ideas with a big knife.
PERSONALITY: I think this industry suits strong sprinters.
DESIGN FOR DESIGNERS: Gets squinty eyes in this biz
PANEL BEATING: I feel grateful to work in an industry where I can be professionally/psychologically /egotistically encouraged by good work. It feels somewhat more tangible than other industries. If you work in a parallel industry for a while, you really start to feel like you're missing out on that party all the cool kids are going to. Except for full-time explosive demolition work. That would kick ass.
OSMOSIS: Letting the people around you influence your work is what makes it unique, effective and, most importantly, good to other people.
ALIGNING: At first it's difficult to understand the collaborative process and let go but, after a while, you really start to embrace how dynamic and relative the design process is.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO OKTOBOR
The Seawall and Bad Cop
Good Cop (Okt artist) versus Bad Cop (Okt VFX Producer) - and other people involved.
The other playas:
1 - Creative folk from the Agency and/or Directors- They love cool stuff, and shouldn't/don't want to worry about how long it takes and how much it costs
2 - Prod Co and Agency Producers - Like cool stuff if their creatives/directors like it, and it's done within time and budget they have allowed
3 - Account Service - Will like cool stuff only if the client likes it, and worry about nothing but how long it takes and how much it costs
4 - Clients - (generally) like cool stuff if the creatives tell them it's cool stuff
5 - Group Accountants - Don't care about cool stuff
6 - General Mangers - like cool stuff and timeline /budgets met
7 - Executive Producers - like cool stuff, and want timeline/budgets met every time
Enter this VFX Producer, who wants all the above to be true, but whose M.O. is fantastically balanced between cool sh*t, (cool sh*t = more business and happy artists, more business means mo' money, happy artists = artists who stay to help take/make mo' money) and the age old equation of time versus money.
Discreetly in cahoots with Bad Cop, Good Cop works closely to optimise the given time and resources, while GC outwardly appears to have sided with creatives/director, to poo poo BC. BC is aware of this, so doesn't take it personally (most of the time). Based on the above rationale, the 'power' is given to the artist, while the internal 'deal' is you have free rein within this finite period.
Important/relevant/spontaneous questions in search of knowledge and/or enlightenment
Should I move to Auckland? Should I harass/contact the head of motion @Oktobor? Maybe he'll give me a job. Am I even good enough yet? Will I get passed on to his secretary? It's probably worth a shot, yeah? How do I describe what I am? A graphic designer? A faux interactive designer? Multimedia designer?
A motion designer? Oh, so I'm a motion and design artist? I'll take that. How did they find
out I stepped into someone else's 'game' and
was threatened with a 'shiv'? I'm one of the youngest artists here? So I'm gen-y? Do I resent that? Maybe I'm borderline gen-y? I have a fresh perspective?
So we're not making art, we're making money; "Am I concerned at all with the responsibilities inherent with being a translator?" I need to answer yes to that don't I? How do I translate this abstract concept? Is my translation relevant? How do I communicate that? How do I reach the 'next level'? Perhaps we could move the desk here instead? My job is to take words and turn them into pretty shapes and colours. Sounds simple enough.
"Oktobor gives a shit"....What were you hoping to achieve by giving key clients a 5kg gold-plated turd and embroidered polishing
cloth for Xmas?
Did it work as a concept of an idea? Yes. We knew that it was a risk but yeah it worked and this says a lot about our culture, our brand and the current state of the economy.
It's a dangerous line but obviously almost anyculture receiving faeces will find it offensive. Faeces is offensive full stop but the issue was that it was always going to a creative audience not a corporate one, hence I expected a fair amount of interpretation on what the meaning was.
... and on being the 'lion'... and we the 'cubs'?
I don't see my role as finding the jobs and I see motivation as the key in our culture at Oktobor. I have quotes that I stand behind. One example is "the constant companion of creativity is self-doubt" and in our business there is a lot of self doubt because it's a high-end creative business and I sense the doubt all the time: "Is it a good idea?", "Have I approached this in the right way", etc.
And computers?... I also think we haven't been bent out of shape about technology from a culture perspective. To summarise we need to stay one step in front of our client. I think that talk about technology and discussing the subject too much puts you two steps in front then you're disconnected.
"The planets have to align" - good work is just 1/6th of what it takes to do good work.
Making good work is hard and most of the time it's out of your control. As much as you are behind the wheel when you create something for someone else, there is always a handful of different people with different ideas of good in the back seat telling you where to go. With most projects there is an inevitable point when I have no idea where we will end up. This is when the planets align either in your favour or not. At first it's difficult to understand that and let go, but after a while you really start to embrace how dynamic and relative the design process is. Letting the people around you influence your work is what makes it unique, effective and, most importantly, good to other people.
There's a point in my creative process where things could go either way. It's usually about a third of the way into a project when a tangible 'product' is produced which everyone can discuss. For every great visual moment there is 20 near misses that no one will see. I've become less precious over the years and take to my bad ideas with a big knife.
The great thing about advertising is how measurable it is. There's a goal or single-minded proposition which is usually well defined. Visually, some things work and other things don't. There's always someone close by to tell you why - the client, agency or random colleague with a drive-by opinion. The tipping point often focuses on a single gathering. Usually an image that will drive the success of that meeting. This is the Fulcrum, which is the most stressful and anticipated moment in just about any project for me. Everyone wants to see 'it'. What is my commercial going to look like? What are your intentions with my brand? Even though we've only just started. When a Creative Director, Account Manager and Producer all see a single image and chorus "that's it!", it's a very reassuring moment. The image shouldn't need a verbal description. The visual communication needs to work beyond other clever creatives and designers.
Customised Visual Engineering and Construction Work
One of the most enjoyable things about making TV commercials is that we are providing customised visual solutions to every client. At the low/fast/cheap end, there is always some recycling, but for higher-end commercials we really get to sink our teeth into a brand-new challenge every couple of weeks. It's different to long-form TV or film work where the really long hours on the same job can continue for months on end. So it comes down to the style of working you prefer. I think this industry suits strong sprinters. The ups and downs, adrenaline and excitement of fresh challenges that advertising requires is both alluring and addictive. The thrill, relief and satisfaction of successfully delivering a great TVC is probably the best part.
"Ask for 'product' and you seem less desperate".
How do you visually translate a product on screen if you don't appreciate all its subtle nuances? Let's be clear - receiving 'product' is not a perk - it is the beginning of the intensive research phase. Unfourtunately my wife saw it a little differently when a large quantity of alcohol 'product' turned up on our doorstep one Friday afternoon. Once the unexpected 'product' drop had been explained - the research began and much was learnt by all.