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Issue: December 1, 2012

SWOT: Big Machine's Steve Petersen looks at Motion Design trends

By: Steve Petersen
STRENGTHS: “The artists and producers in our motion design industry are like Spartan armies — small and mighty. Whereas large effects companies and even video game companies have massive pipelines and bloated budgets, we have had to figure out ways to apply our talents to get projects done on tight budgets and unrealistic deadlines. Of course, we always want more time and money... who doesn't?  But working within the inherent limitations of our industry has made us more resourceful.”

WEAKNESSES: “Taking on projects that aren't good for the company is never a good idea. It is always difficult to turn down work in a slow economy, but when a prospective project's budget is too low, has an unrealistic deadline or comes from clients that don't understand or respect the process — these are things that have to be carefully weighed. Taking on bad projects not only hurts the company, it hurts the industry. It sets negative precedents and expectations that are hard to change.”

OPPORTUNITIES: “There is so much new software and new pieces of hardware that become available each year, they give new opportunities for us to be able to find better and more efficient ways of doing what we do. Even if a system is working right, it is important to keep looking at new and better ways to do things. Totally ignore the saying: ’If it ain't broke, don't fix it,’ cause if it ain't broke, that doesn't mean it ain't working as good as it could be.”

THREATS: “With so many new media outlets and places to watch content emerging — like smart phones, tables, web TV, on-demand services, cable, satellite and online companies — there is a greater need for content and design than ever before. But so many outlets means less concentrated ad dollars and that translates to smaller budgets. So that means clients are looking for cheaper ways to get high quality work. Scary.”

OUTLOOK FOR 2013: “2013 will be the greatest year yet for mixed media commercial work. It is rare to see a promo, commercial, TV show or film nowadays without a combination of live-action and visual design. As lines between animation and live-action are blurred, we have had to adapt and become multi-faceted studios to meet the demands of the market. And some of our best work has come from that evolution.”

Steve Petersen is a Co-Founder and Creative Director with Big Machine (www.bigmachine.net) in Burbank, CA.