(Before we get down to it, remember if you’re looking for a new role yourself to check out the Econsultancy jobs board.)

Econsultancy: Please describe your job: What do you do?

Lisa Ferrari: I am head of motion design at Silver, a B2B marketing agency. My job is to make client videos using animation and visual effects. The videos can be about anything from the launch of a new product to a brand piece that communicates a client’s values.

It is my job to take the brief and turn it into an engaging, informative and memorable 90 second sequence. In effect, I make complex propositions simple and consumable through the medium of video.

E: Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?

LF: The agency is divided into account teams and creatives, aka ‘the studio’. The motion team is part of the studio. I report directly to Silver’s CEO, Alison Masters.

E: What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

LF: Firstly you need patience. Animation is a time-consuming process with slow results and you may not like what you produce the first time. An active imagination is also important and an ability to verbally communicate your ideas to colleagues and clients.

You also need strong graphic sensibilities, a knowledge of the fundamentals of animation and the willingness to learn; because a motion designer, no matter how competent, should always be learning something new.

lisa ferrari

E: Tell us about a typical working day…

LF: I spend the majority of my day animating in a software package called Adobe After Effects and cutting footage together in Adobe Premiere.

Typically, I am briefed by one of our account managers when a project lands; I then work as part of a team to come up with creative concepts to answer the brief and develop scripts, storyboards and style frames which I eventually present to the client. Once the client approves these, we can then begin production and the day-to-day crafting of the final product.

E: What do you love about your job? What sucks?

LF: I love the craft of making videos. I also like brainstorming with my team; we live by the ‘no idea is a bad idea’ ethos. Of course, there are plenty of terrible ideas thrown out, but often a bad idea is the seed of a good idea and one thing leads to the other. 

What sucks? Rendering – the process in which your files are turned into a video that can be played back in realtime. Essentially when you are creating a video in a software package, you can’t always see the immediate results of what you are creating, and have to wait for the video to render (which is a bit like waiting for a video to buffer when streaming). I compare it to modelling something with clay and then waiting for it to fire in the kiln. It can be a very slow process and when you’re up against a deadline, it can be very frustrating.

E: What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?

LF: Throughout the process we are looking at the work and asking ourselves whether it’s novel, memorable, engaging and most importantly, tells a story. Video has become an integral part of every campaign be it brand or lead generation at Silver and the success of our work can be measured in the ROI of the overall campaign.

My goal and that of the whole team is to get a Vimeo Staff Pick; it’s like being in a mainstream band and finally getting a song in the charts.

E: What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?

LF: I use After Effects and Premiere every day and for every project. I also use Photoshop, Illustrator, Audition and 3ds Max. That said, I like starting a project with pen and paper; there’s still a nice freedom of expression when you start drawing out ideas on paper, the project is still malleable and can become anything you want it to be.

E: How did you get into motion graphics, and where might you go from here?

LF: I have been interested in art and design from an early age and motion design is just an extension of that. I found myself at the age 26 wanting a creative job but without any creative qualifications. It was at a time when smartphones were a novelty item and I thought ‘video and animation is going to explode, soon we’re all going to be walking around with the equivalent of a mini flat screen tv in our pockets, moving images will be everywhere’.

So I decided to do a degree in Computer Animation as a mature student. After graduating I worked for two years in the games industry making CG models in 3ds Max (a skill I still use today), until I segued into motion design.

E: Which brands do you think are using media well?

LF: I think Airbnb and Mailchimp use media really well; both companies commission some great video work. It’s not always about the clever use of motion graphics. I was recently impressed by a pre-roll YouTube advert for Asda Opticians, it was just six seconds long and featured Drew Barrymore mentioning Asda Opticians and then saying ‘here’s your video…’. It was such a refreshing change to the long and repetitive ads that we’re used to seeing before a YouTube video.

E: Do you have any advice for people who want to work in motion graphics?

LF: My advice to anyone wanting to work in motion graphics is to get inspired, look on sites such as Vimeo and Motionographer to see what the best designers in the industry are creating.

My other recommendation is to learn by doing, and that doesn’t necessarily mean doing a course at university; there are so many good free online tutorials, that’s one of the great things about motion design, it’s a sharing online community!

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