Submitting To Festivals

26 Apr 2010

In our last blog, we mentioned some of the problems that students in particular suffer when entering film festivals- namely, the lack of communication on the festival's side. As we consider ourselves as something like experts on the subject of submitting films, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share our worldly wisdom on the very important subject of festival submisison.

Step 1: Finding out what film festivals are on.
There’s a site that I simply cannot recommend enough, called contains a very near complete list of all the festivals in the world, and they’re searchable by keyword. You can search for ‘Animation,’ and festivals that have their submission deadlines in ‘April’ to get a complete list of more festivals than you ever imagined existed. Some of them charge for submission, so watch out for that, and the information isn’t kept up to date particularly, but it’s still the best resource we’ve come across.

Cannot recommend enough that you keep a list of all the festivals you’ve submitted to, and keep a note if they tell you they’ve received your film, when you should know if you got in, and which ones you’re successful with.

Step 2: Submitting
Somewhere on the festival site (albeit sometimes hidden in a place that no normal person would ever look) there will be a ‘submissions’ link, which will take you either to an online form or to a paper download. The forms all ask for much the same information, but some ask for additional material. When we prepared copies of Death by Scrabble on DVD for festivals, we also prepared a CD with additional material. Some festivals ask for the additional stuff with the submission, some wait until they’ve decided you’ve got in, but all that does is add to your postage costs.

Our additional CD contains a synopsis, a script, a biography/ filmography and photo of the director, credits, screenings and awards and techniques summary, as well as 3 promotional images in good resolution and thumbnail resolution. Not every festival asks for all of this, but it covers everything we’ve ever been asked for, and is much easier than making specific cds for different festivals.

CHECK and double-check your dvd in as many players as you can get your greasy mitts on. A festival director friend of mine said that about 10% of the films they received didn’t play, and needless to say they did not get accepted!

Step 3: The waiting game
Once you’ve sent your film off, not much left to do but hope and pray! Some festivals you will never hear from again, some will say they’ve got your film and then leave it at that. The politer ones write to tell you if you haven’t made it, but the number of these is disappointingly few in our experience.

When you are successful, some festivals will offer you tickets plus bed and board for the duration, but at the other end of the scale, some of the smaller ones can barely afford to give you a ticket to the screening your own film is in. We recommend going to as many as possible- although watching your own film on the big screen can be painful, opportunities to mingle don’t come much better!

So that’s it. Good luck and we hope to see you at next years Annecy!

List of video sharing sites

24 Apr 2010

Viral marketing describes a promotional strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a message to other people.

This creates the potential for exponential growth in the message's exposure and influence, with people 'infecting' their friends and loved ones before they even know what they're doing.


When we make viral marketing campaigns for our Clients, they often expect us to simply upload the video to youtube and then sit back and watch it go three times around the world before supper.

In truth of course, there's a lot of work in making a video go viral, and in promoting it online.

Here's a list of over 50 online video sharing sites that serve as a good starting point. It's not a complete list, so please let me know any others that you know of so we can keep the list up to date.

Atom Films
Buzznet Video
eBaum’s World Video
Google Video
HelpFul Video
Kyte TV
Medicine Films
MSN Video
PhotoBucket Video
Self Cast TV
Seven Load
Smart Video Channel
Stumble Upon Video
Yahoo Video

Business Club

22 Apr 2010

We have recently made the decision to join a networking group called Business Club. Despite having severely disenchanted with networking following our year with the severely cult-like BNI, this is a tentative step, but one that we take with confidence following a very fun and profitable first meeting.

After all, when a networking group pays for itself for the first 2 years in the first meeting, you feel as though you might as well join!

The meetings are lively, entertaining and educational. Although the focus is very much on business and networking, this is done in a relaxed and informal way, allowing real relationships to develop that aren’t strained by constant pressure for referrals.

Best EVER Animated Music Videos

16 Apr 2010

What makes an awesome music video?

It's not the song, because we've all seen some bad songs made bearable by great videos, just as we've all seen great songs let down by a terrible video.

There have been a lot of really creative, original music videos made over the last 50 years or so, that have combined with the song to make a truly seminal, memorable experience. The music video should enhance, evolve and explain the track. They are the visual translation of the lyrics, the tone and the meaning of the song.

Animation is the perfect medium for Music Videos, because you have 3 minutes to try something totally new and innovative. Lots of new animation techniques have been pioneered in the Music Video Industry, because artists are given so much freedom to express themselves visually.

This is my list of the top 20 animated Music Videos ever. Some are old, some are new, all are awesome.

20. Jason Forrest - War Photographer

Directed by Joel Trussell
2D animation

19. Keane - Bedshaped

Directed by Corin Hardy
Stop-motion animation

18. Nizlopi - The JCB Song

Directed by Monkeehub
Hand drawn animation

17.Weird Al Yankovich - Jurassic Park

Directed by Mark Osbourne

16. Pearl Jam - Do the Evolution

Directed by Kevin Altieri and Todd McFarlane
Handdrawn animation

15. Oren Lavie - Her Morning Elegance

Directed by Oren Lavie

14. Johnny Reubonic - Word of Mouth

Directed by Chris Oatley
2D animation

13. Santogold, Julian Casablancas, and N.E.R.D - My Drive Thru

Directed by Psyop
Photography and CGI animation

12. Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.

Directed by Passion Pictures
CGI and 2D animation

11. Royksopp - Remind Me

Directed by H5
Isometric shapes 2D animation

10. Oldelaf and Monsieur D - Le Cafe

Directed by Stephanie Marguerite and Emilie Tarascou
2D animation

9. Team William - You Look Familiar

Directed by Michélé De Feudis and Joris Bergmans
2D animation

8. Junior Senior Move your feet

Directed by Shynola
Pixel Art (using Microsoft Paint)

7. Fujiya and Miyagi - Ankle injuries

Directed by Wade Shotter
Dice stop motion animation

6. White Stripes - Fell in Love with a Girl

Directed by Michel Gondry

5. Streetlight Manifesto - Would you be impressed?

Directed by Jurjen Bosklopper
2D animation

4. Michael Jackson - Leave me Alone

Directed by Jim Blashfield
Mixed Media

3. BBC Children in Need - Children in Need

Directed by Chapman Studios

2. Peter Gabriel - Sledgehammer

Directed by Aardman
Stopmotion animation

1. A ha - Take on me

Directed by Steve Barron

I hope that you enjoyed this list of the best animated music videos. If you want to see other music videos, here's Wikipedia's list of All the Music Videos ever made with Animation. It's a long list,but if you're interested, it's a great way to spend an afternoon!

And here's the shameless plug part: Check out our recent music video for Sam Roman's song 'The Best Day We Ever Had.'

Writing for the web

5 Apr 2010

People don’t like to read information from a computer screen. They scan pages for important content, and click on the first link that catches their eyes or vaguely resembles the information that they were searching for.

The more content you have the less people will read. This is because too much text on a page is intimidating; it scares people away.

In addition to this, having a lot of text is bad for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), because it means that your important keywords are buried within a lot of less relevant text.

Short, succinct copy is the goal, and these tips are intended to help you write for the web, or review existing content with both optimization and readability in mind.

Most Important Things To Remember:

  • Copywriting is about selling first and writing second. This involves an understanding of your reader and what makes them tick.
  • Focus on the reader. It’s not about you, your company or your product. Figure out who they are, what they want, what will make them buy from you.

A good copywriter knows their product inside out. A great copywriter knows their audience inside out. Build a psychological profile of your typical reader, and keep it in mind when writing your text. Ask yourself:

  • How old are they?
  • What sex are they?
  • What are their hopes/ fears/ desires/ vices?
  • What is their occupation?
  • What is their income bracket?
  • What do they want more (or less) of in their lives?
  • Do they value money or less stress higher?
  • Do they value fashion or comfort higher?
  • What are their values?
  • How do they see themselves?
  • How do others see them?
  • Are they lead by their head or their heart?
The more insights you can gain in to your reader’s mind, the more likely you are to write copy that appeals to them in a way that they can’t ignore.

  • Always refer to the reader as ‘you.’ Not ‘some of you’ or ‘all of you.’ Imagine that only one person is reading your copy
  • Use ‘you’ at least three times for every time you say “I” or “we.”
  • Don’t tell people what they are interested in, e.g. “as a busy managing director, you’ll want to know all about…”
  • If you state a fact about your product, follow it with the benefit to the reader.
  • Keep in mind the reader’s constant state of mind “What’s in it for me?”

Benefits selling:

You must provide plenty of objective reasons why your reader should buy your product, but remember that people buy mostly on emotional grounds. Benefits sell. Features do not.

Tell the reader how your product will improve their life, and they will care. Tell them that it has a 16 gigowatt engine and is made of a polycarbonate encrusted shell, and they will not.

Writing for the web is all about showing your readers that your product is the solution to their problem. That means the first thing you have to do is to work out what their problem is.

How will your product improve your reader’s life? Answer that question in the first 2 sentences and you’re off to a great start. Mention as many benefits as you can, and use concrete, specific examples to illustrate what you’re saying.

F – features - our websites are designed bespoke for your business
A –advantages – your visitors will be impressed and consider your business creative and professional
B – benefits - your revenue will increase dramatically

So, how is it done?

1. Put the most important information at the top

The “inverted pyramid” began in Journalism and is hugely relevant to writing for the web.

Identify your key message make sure it is within the first paragraph, because the reader could stop reading at any time. Most people read just 3 lines before deciding whether or not the page is relevant.

Ask yourself what you want the user to do with/find out from this page. Make this the most obvious part of your content. If your reader can identify quickly what each page is about, they can decide whether it is worth reading further.

2. Less is more!

A good rule is that you should be saying the same as you say in print on the web using half as many words. War and Peace, for example, will never be popular as an e-book.

  • Keep your language and sentence structure simple. This is not time to show off your vocabulary.
  • Dense chunks of complex text will put readers off.
  • Remember, short copy is good copy
  • Stick to one idea per paragraph.

3. Make web pages easy to scan

The web is a visual medium, so it’s very important to provide the visual clues for scanning

  • Highlight key information
  • Use bulleted lists
  • Break up copy into short paragraphs
  • Use headings and subheadings as visual clues

(click to enlarge)

4. Use brief and emotive Headlines

Headlines are one of the most important things you will write on the web. The first couple of words need to be real attention-grabbers if you want your visitors to read on.

  • Be concise. They should not be longer than 10 words
  • Use clear and descriptive keywords. Remember that headings count very highly towards your optimization.
  • Use headlines to get your reader’s attention and provide information about what the text is about
  • Use powerful words to grab attention
Example Bad/ Good words:
Optimal / Best
Cost Effective / Cheap
Impact negatively / Hurt
Raison d'etre / Purpose

5. Use brief and effective Links

Links are great for helping people navigate around your site and around the wider web with ease. Longer links are harder to read than shorter ones, so be as concise as possible.

  • Avoid the use of “click here,” as the link text, for optimization as well as readability reasons
  • Text in links counts highly for search engines; try to choose a keyword or phrase as the link text.
  • Try to make links read as part of the text.
  • Links are good, but only link to reputable and relevant sites.
  • Don’t use complete sentences as links.
  • If you want someone to read important content, make sure you place the link AFTER the content, not before or in the middle.

6. Consider the way people search

Put yourself in the mind of your perfect visitor and try to use the language and words that they might use to find you.

This will make your pages easier to understand for the user and have a higher chance of being picked up in searches. The best thing about the web is that your perfect customer is the person who is searching for you!

Example: Use cartoon instead of animation if that is what you think your target audience will type in to Google.

7. Avoid scrolling pages where possible

Most users only scroll up to 2 web pages. To avoid scrolling:
  • Be ruthless - cut & edit unnecessary content
  • Break up large chunks of content into multiple pages with this,
  • Use ‘more information’ links for people who are particularly interested in the subject
  • Link out to supporting information

8. Use plain English

Plain English does not mean ‘dumbing down’ your text, it's about having a clear message that helps readers to locate key information. Avoid jargon and don’t write in a flowery, academic or marketing style. Don’t use prior to when before is just as good

9. Avoid welcome waffle

Never use the phrase “welcome to our website” or an equivalent. It’s like small talk, it doesn't convey any information; it’s an attempt to be welcoming and friendly. However, web users don't have time for small talk, they just want to find information (e.g. name and telephone number) and then move on. On the web it’s all about quick communication and getting fast results.

Your website section will actually be much more user-friendly if you avoid welcome waffle.

10. Last but not least: Proofread your text and check your grammar!


  • Begin by planning your text carefully and thoroughly
  • Only write once you know exactly what you want to say in each paragraph and the tone you will take
  • Keep your imagined reader in mind constantly
  • Keep it short, but more importantly, keep it relevant
  • Use benefits, rather than features to sell your product
  • Read and rewrite as many times as necessary. Leave it for a day and come back to it before signing it off.

Web design competition - win $10,000

Weebly are offering $13,000 in prizes ($10,000 1st place, $2,000 2nd place, $1,000 third place) for the best submitted themes. Sounds like a pretty good competition to me - you don't even have to slice and dice the design yourself, just submit the .psd.

Of course, they can use all of the designs submitted, so it's a good deal for them too, but it's still a great opportunity for any web designers out there! They also have a fairly impressive list of experts judging the competition, and will give credit on the designs so everyone should get a little something out of it.

Animation Showreel

4 Apr 2010

We are exceptionally pleased and proud to reveal our new showreel! It contains our work over the few years from projects including Title sequences, Music Videos, Short Films, Series pitches, Idents and Commercials, for Clients including Sky and ITV.

How to train your dragon

1 Apr 2010

Dreamwork's new film How to Train Your Dragon has not been on top of my years must see films. The films coming out of the studio (since the original Shrek, which I wont hear a word against!) have been generic, formulaic and, lets be honest here, designed with merchandising very much in mind!

The trailers haven't done a huge amount of improve my opinion of the film (although I have read some very good reviews), but yesterday I came across this concept art which shows where the film came from visually. I've always absolutely loved dragons and fantasy art, and this is no exception. It looks like at one point it was going to be a really dark, moody piece with atmosphere and drama.

I don't want to judge the film before I've even seen it, but comparing this beautiful concept art with the images of the finished film screams to me that someone somewhere took a very wrong turn!!

... and how it turned out. Very happy meal friendly!