Q. Describe the most common types of jobs you do for your clients.
A. Overall, the services that most of my clients seek from MediaMajik are web graphics and 3D modeling and animation. Most local clients desire the fulfillment of more basic design projects: logos; web stills and animation; some user-interface (UI) design. Most out-of-state clients typically solicit more-sophisticated projects: product-prototype (3D) designs; multimedia UI projects; advanced web graphics; copy writing/editing/proofreading.
Q. Describe three recent jobs you've completed.
A. During May and June 2012, MediaMajik completed two 3D product-prototype projects: 1) one an attachment for an existing commercial project (non-local); 2) another for another inventor, for two configurations--separate products--of sport-drink bottles that would open at top and the midpoints (unscrewing)--local. The third project was a self-commissioned photography project chronicling 50-plus images of the Missouri State Capitol Building, for potential future sale of some sort. Each of the first two projects involved a large time investment in lighting and texturing modifications and test renderings.
Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A. My best advice for an individual or company seeking the professional services that MediaMajik provides is to consult someone--before commissioning their particular project--who can adequately inform them of what technically is required to address their project professionally.
Q. If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?
A. What all of the services MediaMajik provides entail in the way of skills and experience. The response would be that all of the work types provided require much natural and/or acquired skill and extensive experience--expertise covering at least several years.
Q. What questions should a consumer ask to hire the right service professional?
A. It is essential and critical that the prospective client seeking work done by a CG provider is as knowledgeable about the genre's work as is possible. This is true because clients most often and out of ignorance, immensely understate the skills, experience, complexity, and time involved in generating computer graphics-specific projects. They tend to generalize that the entailed processes are largely automated, which is wholly untrue! (To the contrary, CG work involves complex, highly intricate work, and very specified skills enhanced through years of experience. This is neither overstatement, nor arrogance, but pure fact--and there are not very many "short cuts"!)
Hence, a potential client should research the type of work they intend to have done, and/or discover standard, industry-specific hourly rates--via an Internet search, for example. Alternatively, he/she should contact a local provider and query about rates, estimates, quotes, and the rationale behind them, as well as the skills, experience, and time invested in their particular project.
Q. What important information should buyers have thought through before seeking you out?
A. Potential clients should have conceived a "treatment"--or at least some reasonably concrete concept--for their project and be technically savvy enough to provide any furnished digital materials on the appropriate medium (usually CD or DVD). They should have some definitive ideas about what they want, specifically, selected color(s), etc.
Q. Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?
A. Few, if any, businesses in the municipality in which MediaMajik operates offer the complete and diverse array of communications solutions that it provides.
Q. What do you like most about your job?
A. The variety of project types that I address I find to be the most-stimulating and -exciting aspect of my work. Variety and diversity help mitigate the sometimes-mundane nature of some work.
Q. What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A. 1. Q: What do you charge? A: Hourly and per-project rates depend upon the type/nature, required turnaround time and complexity of the work. (If specifics are discussed, then I will provide an hourly rate upfront or deliberate about a project rate, then return contact with the inquirer to provide the job quote.)
2. Q: Have you done this type of project before? A-1: If yes, I describe the nature of the project and the client for whom the work was done. A-2: If no, then I usually--if it is the case--mention personal-project work in that particular area, or knowledge of skills and steps required to complete it. (I may offer a reduced rate if I have not completed such a project for pay.)
3. Q: May I see some samples of your work? A: Absolutely. I direct the potential client to the MediaMajik web site: in particular, the "Showcase" and "Clients" pages.
Q. Do you have a favorite story from your work?
A. One of my favorite stories about my work concerns three post visual effects shots that I produced for a local independent filmmaker's short film (film run time about 10 minutes). Although I never had produced any post VFX shots for FILM before, I was fully confident I could complete the project professionally, and I knew which tools I would need to do so. I explained these circumstances to the gentleman, provided him with a quote, and he commissioned me to do the work. I quickly researched which tools would be the most-capable, yet most cost-effective. Then, in a period of about two months, I acquired the tools, learned the software and techniques, and produced the finished product. (I logged approximately 20 hours more than were included in the quote in order to fulfill the job.) A great learning experience and a testament to my experience, skills and learning abilities!
Q. What do you wish customers knew about you or your profession?
A. I wish those seeking the services MediaMajik provides had at least some knowledge of the skills, experience and time required to professionally complete the type of project commissioned. (Because I live and work in a relatively provincial area, most of my clients HERE are unaware of the resources required to professionally complete their type of project. [Out-of-state clients usually have much more knowledge of what the necessary work entails.])
Q. How did you decide to get in your line of work?
A. As a former daily newspaper editor and writer, and an ex-PR professional, I had become aware of the growing appearance of digitally-produced visual media and was intrigued by many of the projects I had seen. My natural curiosity and creativity led me to purchase some consumer-level computer-graphics design software. After dabbling with it for several months, I gradually developed a more serious design interest, then began to approach digital design with professional ambitions.
Q. Tell us about a recent job you did that you are particularly proud of.
A. An ongoing, evolving project (nearly five years) for a local client has occupied most of my time during the past several years: producing extensive, relatively sophisticated, fully navigable Flash "slide shows" (3) and updating and editing the large volume of copy repeatedly. Each of the original 25-40 frame Flash movies has been down-scaled to several mini-presentations, for easier and more-efficient user navigation. Each has entailed the following: color selection; user-interface design (including interactive buttons and logos); much ActionScript 2.0 Flash coding, and complex, sophisticated animation sequences involving the use of 3D, special effects, compositing, audio, video editing, and more. The "mini-presentations" work interactively with three directly related web sites.
Q. Do you do any sort of continuing education to stay up on the latest developments in your field?
A. I continue to persevere in being abreast of new software and current software upgrades, and computing-hardware developments in the digital-technology world. Recently I upgraded my graphics workstation's on-board memory (RAM) and operating environment (Windows 7 Pro 64-bit), and made three key creative content-development software purchases, plus acquisitions of digital photography/video hardware.
Q. What are the latest developments in your field? Are there any exciting things coming in the next few years or decade that will change your line of business?
A. Unfortunately for professional digital creative content-development providers such as MediaMajik, highly-capable and user-friendly tools have been made available to the average computer user who wishes to invest some time in learning the proverbial trade ropes. The result, of course, is that, as time evolves, more and more potential clients will be doing their own work--albeit not as well and complex, but nevertheless done. In addition, computing-hardware advancements and consumer demand have made greater technology available to consumers at continually declining prices. (However, ultimately, the truly high-end creative digital work always will require more-expensive tools and greater expertise.)
Q. Describe your most recent project, what it involved, how much it cost, and how long it took.
A. My most-recent commercial project was modeling, texturing, lighting, and rendering a scene depicting two separate sports-drink 3D prototypes: items that have screw-on tops and screw apart at center (local client).
For brevity's sake, an old Coca-Cola-shaped bottle was used as a reference for modeling using a NURBS outline--having an offset copy, resized and "concatinated" (attached), then the items closed--one for the respective top and bottle halves. The single entity then were revolved around their axes to form a two 3D shapes--with the cap modeled separately.
Another 3D program was used to create the "threads" serving to connect the two bottle halves--by creating a "helix" (spring-like) path around which a small circle was "swept," forming a 3D object. The object was exported to .obj format (Wavefront), imported into the main 3D program, then down-scaled entirely and vertically.
The most challenging portions of the project, however, were customizing "shaders" (non-image-mapped materials) suitable to the circumstance and environment. A translucent, light-blue, slightly reflective shader was applied to the Coke-like bottle.
Next was modeling a beer bottle-like object using an previously created model--as well as a viewport-background image, for reference. Again, a NURBS profile shape was created by clicking at various points along the contour of the reference model. This was done for the separate top- and bottom-half bottle shapes. Again, object outlines (one per half)--profiles--were create, then each duplicated, custom-downsized (including meticulous translation of separate "vertices" (points), then joined and closed. Each shape then was revolved around its axis to generate separate 3D objects. The threads fitting the first bottle model were duplicated and scaled to fit the second (beer-like) bottle. Once again, finding and highly customizing an existing "material shader" was difficult and time-consuming. A modified, highly reflective, slightly translucent, red shader was applied to the four (including the custom-modeled cap) parts of the beer-like sports bottle.
Another time-consuming phase was the lighting. The tandem of materials/textures and illumination sources/settings (brightness/shadowing/fall-off/color, etc.) whose outcome is desired frequently requires numerous (10-25?) test "renders."
Additionally, per the client's request, based on his examination of another MediaMajik project whose sample appears on the web site, supporting "scene" objects were added to the mix, then textured: background (wallpaper texture); table-top and small, luxurious cloth underneath prototype objects. (Attributes of these three respective textures required modification, followed by test renders.)
Two final, super-high-quality, 640x480 renderings (.tga format) were output and submitted by email: 1) perspective view of unscrewed bottles; 2) perspective view of assembled bottles (which was not specifically requested but assumed to be needed).
Projects of this type, particularly involving a tricky balance of light/shadowing with delicately and intricately created and applied "material shaders" often require 10-30 hours do complete.
Hence, MediaMajik frequently charges the client based upon a PROJECT FEE rather than by the hour. (For example, this particular project spanned about 20 hours.)
Q. If you have a complicated pricing system for your service, please give all the details here.
A. MediaMajik's pricing system is not complicated, but here are the details, which must remain flexible, by the project, based on the particular job's requirements:
> 2D/graphic design -- $15 hourly
> 2D animation -- $15 hourly
> 3D modeling/animation -- $25 hourly
> Audio editing -- $15-17.50 hourly
> Compositing (still) -- $15 hourly
> Compositing (motion) $20-25 hourly
> Copy writing/editing/proofreading -- $15-17.50 hourly
> Creative conceptualization/strategizing -- $15 hourly
> Digital imaging/correction -- $15 hourly
> Journalism -- $15 hourly
> Multimedia authoring/development -- $20-25 hourly
> Post visual effects (digital/film or video) -- $20-25 hourly
> Photography -- $15 hourly
> Photo restoration -- $15-20 hourly
> Promotional consultation -- $12 hourly
> Video editing -- $17.50-20 hourly
> Web design/development -- $15-20 hourly
Q. If you were advising someone who wanted to get into your profession, what would you suggest?
A. Firstly, you had better be a fast learner. Secondly, you had better be willing to work feverishly in embracing a variety of digital creative content-development (DCC) areas: graphic design; web design/development; digital video; 3D; visual effects; multimedia authoring; Flash authoring. Pick a specialty, and focus on it, but you MUST learn at least a little bit of each. Versatility in this business is invaluable. A degree doesn't hurt (especially in 3D), but most of the people I have met in the CG business have been largely self-taught. (At the higher levels, however, you'll find much of both in modelers and animators.) Presently, the industry hotspots are 3D modeling/animation, Flash authoring and game development. Where's the money? Work in the creative side of 3D is rewarding in every respect, but the competition is absolutely brutal--as are the hours. (It's best to freelance, and don't try any of it in California or New York, as these are the high-tech hubs.) Flash authoring is red-hot now, but this means, in large part, being very, very good in Flash's ActionScript scripting language. Again, brutal competition. If you're programming-minded, and you are very, very good in C+ and/or C++, one of the hottest tickets is with game-development companies. These jobs are fewer and highly coveted, but so is the talent.
Q. What is your greatest strength?
A. My greatest strength is my computer-graphics versatility and experience, plus my natural and finely honed gift of writing, whose professional publishing dates back to 1987.
Q. What are you currently working on improving?
A. To enhance my current skillset, I am more deeply exploring both the digital video (technical/shooting) and audio (technical/editing) realms, performing research, making acquisitions, and performing personal skills tests.
Additionally, I also am further exploring post digital VFX tools/methods, and working on learning CAD-like 3D building and other visualizations.