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The Wisdom of a 25-Year-Old

Lessons learned in 25 years.

25 years — is a long time in “computer years”. Our digital studio has learned a lot in the last two and a half decades, and I hope that others can learn from my mistakes. To that end, here are four “lessons learned” I’d like to share with the benefit of experience and hindsight:  

A five-minute conversation can easily save $5,000 on set. There are a lot of decisions to be made on a set which influence how the filmmaking process is going to be handled in post-production. It's best if producers can bring us in early in the process. Some options we can suggest may be more or less expensive, and some options have more or less flexibility later on if filmmakers decide to change their mind about a creative direction. If producers call us up before a project, we're always excited to brainstorm and talk about the options they have, or answer questions about how effects should be handled “in camera”.  

We hire for creativity because it's easier to teach technology. Over the years, I've found it makes a lot more sense to hire for creative passion because we can’t train that characteristic in a person. We’re better at teaching our creative artists and producers technology, rather than the other way around.  

Early on, I was intimidated by the design process. It was almost as if designers had magical powers. As my career progressed, I learned that it's actually a methodical process that involves close collaboration with the client. The client understands their brand and product, and our team uses Mechanism’s deliberate, multi-phase process for boiling down and teasing out the intersection of their brand and goal of the campaign. Together we hold the key to uncovering the best answer to the puzzle.

I wish we had encouraged artists to work remotely before the pandemic. Now that we've lived the remote lifestyle, I’ve come to appreciate the new life that's been breathed into our staff as a result of working from home and spending more time with their families.  

I always assumed our shop would eventually be remote at some point in the future because we don’t really need to be in the same room to produce a digital deliverable. It just all happened a little sooner than I thought thanks to the pandemic — and we see the results.

Using cloud technology saves money. Business changes with the seasons. Sometimes we have five artists working, and sometimes it’s 25. The cloud provides flexibility that allows us to ramp up with the fastest, most expensive computers for producing and rendering — and we can shut them down without having to maintain these machines while they’re idle.  

When I started in this business 25 years ago, one had to be a computer programmer to be in this business, but now creatives can leverage digital tools to tell stories much easier — without having to know as much about how computers work. The result is the best of both worlds. Looking forward to the next 25!  

Celebrating our 25th Anniversary! - CGI, VFX & Design since 1996 - We love our creative clients and look forward to the next 25 years!

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Originally published: 08/12/2021

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