Eric Miller Animation November 2015 Update

It’s time for my November 2015 Update to let all of you know everything we are working on.  I’m really good at keeping myself overworked, and extremely busy.  No matter how productive I am each day I never get to a point where I feel I’m caught up.  You may have noticed from my failure to post to this blog each week that I have not been able to keep up with everything.  While continuing to write weekly posts is very important to me sometimes I’m just not able to find the time in my schedule.  So while I might not post every week please don’t give up on me and this blog.

Recently I have hired a marketing consultant to do some research, and strategizing for my business’ marketing plan.  There are two areas we are working on with this plan.  One is branding and marking the company as a whole, and the other is planning the release of the animated short we are working on.  I feel these are both things which will help grow my business, and hopefully get us more client projects.

I have also been doing a lot of research on foreign animation service companies.  One of my biggest challenges is the cost to do animation in the US is much higher then it is in other countries with cheaper labor or tax credits.  My plan is to find out how much these other companies are charging for each service, and then finding ways to lower my costs to compete with them.  I know I will not be able to get costs as low as them, but if I can get close I feel I will be able to win clients through other things we can offer.  For example being local makes it a lot easier for clients, so being in Los Angeles gives us a huge advantage.  Having amazing quality that is better then our competitors.  I hope to show this level of quality with our animated short.  Customer service, I want to make working with us as easy and comfortable as possible for our clients.  I want them to be so happy they not only return to  work with us again, but also tell other people about us.  Hopefully these other benefits will be enough to get the clients to pay a little more  in order to work with us over our remote competitors.

The short always tends to take the majority of my time each week.  So far we have had 14 people working on the short, so we have had a decent size crew.  We started working on it in May of this year, and plan to be working on the first 30-second episode until early next year.  While it is taking a long time to complete I’m very excited with how things are progressing.

All the assets for the first episode are modeled and currently being worked on in surfacing.  We have also finished character rigging, and we have started working on camera and rough animation.

Here are some rough poses done by our animator Jacob Gardner to test the rig, and get something more appealing then a t-pose for surfacing to work with.  It really gives you a sense of Bink’s personality, and where we can take it.

Bink Poses

As we continue to move forward on the short I will send more updates.

This weekend I will be attending The Creative Talent Network Expo in Burbank for the second time.  I went last year and had such a great time I wanted to go again.  You can read about my adventures last year at CTNX here… “An Amazing Experience at CTN Animation Expo” .

The first year I went to see what it was all about, so this year I’m hoping to take full advantage of what the expo has to offer.  It is a great place for networking with artists, animators, and anyone involved in animation.  I plan to attend some really great panels, and also hoping to learn some new things.  Next year I’m considering getting a booth for my company, and maybe even participate in the job fair to find talented artists to work with.

Facebook Network:
My Facebook network is continuing to grow, and we now have over 4,000 Facebook likes on our company page.  The larger our network the better chance we have of getting the short to be seen my the right people.  If you have not liked our page you can do so with the link below.  Also I always appreciate when you share my blog posts, or other social media sites with your own network.


Paris Attacks:
I wanted to end by briefly commenting on the terrorist attacks in Paris, and other places.  It is disheartening people resort to violence towards innocent people to make their statements.  My thoughts are with all of you who have lost loved ones, or have been effected by all this violence.  The animation industry has a very large and talented French community, and I hope you and your families also stay safe.


If you have not already, I hope you will join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  If you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.

Is it really almost November?

Is it really almost November?  This year has been flying by, and will be over before we know it.  I guess that is what happens when you are having fun?  This year has been a very busy year with running the business.  I feel that I’m learning new things everyday, and there is always challenges to overcome.  To me the challenges are part of the appeal of running my own company.  There is no roadmap that will work for every company, and it requires you to constantly readjusting your strategy.  Below is a quick update on some of the things I have been working on lately.


It is really great to see everything coming together.  All the models for the first episode are now built, and both Bink and the Hand are in-progress on the rigs. I have started to see very early surfacing work on Bink which is awesome to see.  I would share the renders, but I think it is a little early for that.  We should be able to start animation in November if everything stays on schedule.

The other big thing I have been working on is trying to line up the voice talent.  I’m looking for a female voice for a scientist that makes announcements over a PA system, things like “Ready to initiate testing”.  As well as the voice for Bink, and this has been much more challenging.  I think I have a few options for the female scientist, but nothing for the voice for Bink.  I’m looking for a unique voice that is similar to the way minions, or Stitch talks.  A unique language that you can’t really understand most of the time, but occasionally there are words you do understand.  I recorded my son “talking” to use as an example, since when he talks it is very cute and you can occasionally make out an actual word. If you are anyone you know might be interested please let me know.  Here is the link to the VO project.

LA Society of Creative Professionals:

This last Tuesday we had our 4th monthly society mixer, and it was another great turnout.  So far our attendance for our events have ranged from 10-50 people.  I have been meeting a lot of really great and talented people, and hopefully others are enjoying the events and getting something out of it themselves.  I feel that no matter what you do networking is a key to being successful.  Plus I just love meeting new people, and learning about their unique lives.  I always show up to the mixers early to get things setup, and there is always this fear that no one will show up.  So far that has not happened yet, and hopefully it never does.


This week I have been learning a great deal about authorized and issued shares.  I have been having a highly debated conversation with my CPA and my attorney on how many shares we should issue, and how many we should save.  According to the articles of incorporation for Eric Miller Animation Studios we are authorized to have 100,000 shares.  I learned that it is a good idea to not issue all of them, and save some for later.  For example my attorney suggested only issuing 100 shares to me.  Since there are only 100 shares issued I’m still 100% owner, but it gives me extra to bring on partners, or offer to employees.  The debate has been how many shares to issue, 100, 25,000, or some other number.  It seems my CPA and attorney had different opinions, so we had to work out each of their reasonings for me to make a decision.

Part of that discussion is also how much I should spend on those initial shares.  My attorney explained to me “The greater the capitalization, the stronger EMAS is against an attack that it should be disregarded as an alter ego. Alter ego is a judicial doctrine that says that people should not be able to hide behind a corporate form if the corporation is inadequately capitalized and fails to comply with corporate formalities. If the corporation is found to be your alter ego, then you will be personally liable for its debts. If “the corporate veil is pierced” then a creditor could get a judgment against you individually. This defeats much of the purpose of incorporating.”

So as you see I have some pretty important decisions I’m trying to make.  As I mentioned I’m learning so much each day about a variety of different things I would have never learned about if I did not start my own company.

We are having another baby:

My wife and I made the announcement yesterday on Facebook that we are expecting another baby in May of 2016. We are both very excited for the new family member, but it is also very scary.  It is very challenging to have one child so having another it will be more of a challenge.  Having a house payment, two kids and in the second year of starting my own company is enough to stress anyone out a little.  I’m positive we will find a way to make it all work as we did with our first one.


Well, there is a quick run down of some of the things I have going on in my life.  Thank you for reading about my journey in starting my business, and as always leave me comments below.  I love reading about what is on your minds, and your responses to my posts.


If you have not already, I hope you will join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  If you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.

Eric Miller Animation October 2015 Update

Is it really October already?  Wow this year is flying by.  I’m already starting to see Christmas advertisements online and in my email inbox.  I have not been doing the best job at posting every week.  It is challenging to find the time to think, let alone write a post for my blog.  I will do my best to keep posting, so I thought I give you all a quick update on what is going on.

Animated Short:
In my previous post I mentioned I was considering naming the creature character and the short “Bink”.  I had a lot of very interesting reactions from different people.  While it still seems the majority of people like the name Bink I thought I share the other name I was considering.  The name I first I really liked was “Neap”.  I liked it because it was different, but also had reference to the ocean.  A neap tide is a tide that occurs when the difference between high and low tide is the least.  A neap tide comes twice a month in the first and third quarters of the moon.  I thought having a name that is in reference to the ocean would tie the creature to his back story about him being a seafaring species.  The main reason I kept looking for names was because the need version of the spelling meant “the remnant substance left over from vaporizing marijuana”.  I’m not sure how common this word is used, but was not sure it be a good way to go.  There is also a character called Meap on Phones and Ferb.  I’m still leaning towards Bink, but would love to hear what everyone thinks about Neap as a name option instead.

We are making some great progress with the short, and we have started rig wrecking and surfacing the creature character.  For those that don’t know what either of those are here is a quick and simple explanation.

rig_wreckA character TD will take the model and add a “skeleton” with joints to allow the model to move. Then they have to tell the geometry how to behave when a joint is moved.  Sometimes when a joint is moved in a certain way it does not look right.  Rig Wrecking is the process where an animator tests the rig trying to find things that don’t look right(Trying to wreck the rig).  This is then sent back to the Character TD with the animator’s notes of what issues need to be fixed.  This image is an example of things that were found during rig wrecking that were sent back to the Character TD to fix.  It is not uncommon for this back and forth to happen several times to get it working properly.

Surfacing is the process of adding a texture to the models so that when lighting is added and you render the scene everything looks amazing.  This can also be the stage where fur is added, where you define how shinny or reflective the surface is, and many other attributes that influence the final look of the characters and environment.

Both stages are very exciting because the characters become more and more realized.  We also will have a lighter that will be starting in November to start getting things ready to be rendered.  All surfacing, and animation has to be finished before lighting can do their final renders.

Company Update:
I mentioned earlier our company was changed from a sole proprietorship to an S-Corp, and the corporation started on July 24, 2015.  Once the corporation was formed then I needed to elect it to become a s-corp.  This process took a little longer, since we had to wait to hear back from the State.  I just received word that everything has now gone through, and the S-corp is completely setup.  Our first annual meeting will be held January 30, 2016.  I’m currently reading through the incredibly interesting corporate bylaws, so that I can sign them.  I’m reading sections at a time with breaks in-between to avoid falling asleep.

Client Projects:
I have not talked about client projects for a while now, and there is a good reason. While I’m still getting businesses contacting me about projects I’m not actively pursuing clients.  Instead all my energy has been going into the shorts.  I believe that it is important to have the shorts finished and in my portfolio before I spend marking money to find clients.  If they come to my website looking for 3D animation they won’t see much in my portfolio.  Once I have the shorts finished and on my website I will then invest in marketing to find new clients.  I’m also learning a great deal from making these shorts, and refining my processes and pipeline.

This is scary and a bit risky, since currently I’m spending more money then I’m bringing in, but I feel it is the smarter way to go.  Lets hope I’m right about this.


If you have not already, I hope you will join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  If you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.

Bink, Naming an Animated Character

Bink… Yes, this is the name I’m considering calling the cute creature in our animated web-series.  Trying to find the perfect name is a very difficult task.  It reminded me of when we were trying to think of a name for my son.  You realize they will have this name for the rest of their life, so you want to find something that they will like.  For a character you want to find something that has not been used before, but that only makes it more challenging.  When you find a perfect name you have to make sure there are no other meanings that are less then desirable.

I have been looking for a name that is monosyllabic, easy to say, and catchy.  I have easily gone through hundreds of names trying to find one that fits, and did not have other issues.  One of the names I really liked meant Turnip, which I could live with, but also was slang for what is left of a joint after you smoked it.  While I really liked the name it did not seem like the best name for an animated character.

On Sunday, September 6th my wife and I were on our way back from visiting her parents, and we were trying to think of names.  I jokingly suggested Bink which gave us a nice laugh, but then my wife said that is actually a really good name.  You might be wondering why it was funny suggestion, so allow my to explain.  My parents had nicknames for me and my siblings when we were babies.  Well the name they had for me followed me into adulthood, since my parents, aunts, and older brothers still call me by it.  To me it was always an embarrassing name, but as I grew older I realized it was more of a term of endearment.  Bink is the shortened version of that childhood name.  I will leave you guessing to what the longer version of the name is.

While the initial thought of naming the creature after my childhood nickname was comical it started to grow on me.   The more I thought about it the more I could see it being a good name for the character.  We did a quick Google search to see if it is already in use, and if it had any alternative meanings.  To our surprise there was nothing to terrible.  Bink is the name of a proprietary video file format, the nickname of a musician, and a character name from a story called Bink & Gollie.  The storybook character is very different then my character, so it should not be an issue.  This might seem like a lot, but finding a name that has never been used is almost impossible.

The next test was looking it up in Urban dictionary, since most of the times this is where you find out about all the really horrible slang uses of the name.  Surprisingly it was mostly positive.  Here are a few of the definitions in Urban Dictionary.

pronounced- /Bing K/ *Adj: 1. A slang word, primarily used by Italians/New Yorkers, that refers to a sharp dresser or swell looker. Similar in meaning to the word “dapper” that is often used by Irish/Irish Americans, immaculate in dress and appearance.

(v) in poker, to catch fortuitous cards; also applicable in other gaming contexts
(interj) in poker, exclamation made upon catching fortuitous cards and/or winning a large pot
I binked a straight flush on the turn.
Bink! I just doubled up!
n. a generic nickname used to describe any upstanding individual in one’s personal network. Variations: binky, binkazoid, bink-bonk, banks, bianks.
Hey Binks, how’s Grandma Binks feeling? Binks said I should ask you.
The next test, and the one I feel is the most important, is do people like it.  My family members whom I have told instantly like it because of the history it has in my life.  I have mentioned it to a few people involved in the project, and they seem to like it as well.  It is hard for me to decide if it will be a good name, since I’m very close to the name.  I would love to hear what all of you think of the name.  What do you like about it, and what don’t you like about it.  I realize not everyone will like it, and that is OK.  I would still love to get an idea of the general feeling on the name.  Please leave your comments below.
If you have not already, I hope you will join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  If you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.

A Short Update

I wanted to give a short update on our short to let you all know where we are with it.  It is what I spend most of my time on, so I don’t have much else to talk about.

In order to discuss our progress lets break it down into two areas, asset creation and shot creation.

Asset Creation

MechanicalArm_WebFor the 1st short there are 3 main assets, the creature, the mechanical arm/hand, and the testing room or environment.

The Creature – We are currently in progress on the model of the creature, and getting close to finishing.  Modeling is currently working with rigging to see if there are any issues that we can spot now before finalizing the model.  Once the model is finalized it will go to both rigging, and surfacing at the same time.  Rigging will in essence give it a bone structure that allows it to be animated, and surfacing will give it color and texture.  Each step of the way brings the character more to life.

The mechanical arm/hand – This has been designed, but we have not started it in modeling yet. It is the next in line to be modeled after we finish the creature.

The Testing Room – This room has been modeled, and ready to be surfaced.  I’m still looking for a surfacer to help out with the project, so once I decide on someone it will be ready to get started on.  I wanted to line up a lighter before finalizing my decision on a surfacer.

Shot Creation

I’m throwing a lot into this category from writing, storyboarding, to layout.

Writing – We have the basics down, but down we are working on the details of what each test will be, and what will happen to keep them entertaining.

Storyboard – The first short is pretty locked down, so I’m about to get started on storyboarding it out.  This will start to give us a better idea of where we can find humor, if it is working, and timing.  Once the storyboards are completed I will edit them together into a rough cut, and scratch to see how it plays.

Layout – I’m still trying to figure out if I want to hire someone for the layout, or have the animator take care of it.  Since they are so short, and the camera angles are limited I’m not sure if I need a full on layout step.

Once the assets are all finished, and the shots are set up we can begin animating and really see the characters come to life.

There are also some other things I’m working on like trying to come up with a name for the character and the shorts.  Ideally the character’s name would be the same as the name of the shorts.  I think a monosyllabic name would work best, but am open to other options if the name fits.  I’m looking for uncommon, easy to pronounce names, and catchy.  I would love to hear any suggestions you might have.




If you have not already, I hope you will join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  If you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.

Introducing Our First Animated Shorts

I’m very excited to be introducing our first animated shorts to all of you.  I have mentioned it a few times in previous posts, but I know some of you have been dying to see some artwork, and hear more about it.  As promised here is a more detailed introduction to the shorts we are working on including some concept art.  Please let me know what you think in the comments below.

Earlier this year after finishing with the Toys”R”Us project I wanted to create a series of short animated videos that I could post online.  I had a general idea of what I wanted the short to be, but did not have a story idea.  Really all I knew was that I wanted a character driven short with a cute lovable character.  Something that audiences could connect with, and enjoy watching.  I thought it would be a great way to showcase the kind of work my company could do, and wanted to do.

On March 10th of this year I contacted a very talented writer, and great friend, Charlie Petrek.  He had just left DreamWorks Animation, and I was hoping he could help me with the story.  We met up for lunch, and talked about what I wanted to do, and we had a really great brainstorming session.  The next day I woke up to an email from him with all kinds of great ideas on where we could take these shorts.

Shortly after Charlie accepted a position at Disney, but I had enough to go on for the first few shorts.  Over the next few months the story continued to grow, and the short started to take form.  It continues to evolve every day as we continue developing the story.

valerio_working_creatureI reached out to Valerio Fabbretti about doing the character design for the little creature.  He was the illustrator for the “Action Movie Kid” book that our friends Mandy Richardville and Daniel Hashimoto wrote based off of Hashi’s hit “Action Movie Kid” YouTube web-series.

creature_for_webValerio agreed to do the character design, and in May started his work on it.  Since we were doing a lot of exploring on what this creature would look like we went through a lot of sketches all of which could be a character on their own.  I wanted something that would work great for this short, and by July we had a final design.

At this point we were also in progress on the model for the room environment that all the action will take place.  We are now ready to begin work on the model for the character, and I can’t wait to see how he translates into 3D.  Often times you find out that something that works, and looks good in a 2D drawing does not look good in a 3D model.  It takes highly skilled modelers to be able to look at a flat drawing, and bring it to life in a third dimensional world.

I wanted to get concept art that we could use for surfacing and lighting as a color key.  Unfortunately for me, but great for Valerio, he got a position at Cartoon Network and was not able to help with the concept art. I was able to find the amazingly talented Rachel Wan, and she agreed to do the concept art for the short. She started towards the end of July, and was able to complete it by the 5th of August.



I was very happy with how it turned out, so I asked Rachel if she would do the character design for the mechanical hand(the shadow in the background).  She agreed, and has begun work on the design for it.  I’m very excited to see what she comes up with.

This catches you all up on where I’m at with the short.  You may have seen posts from me looking for different artists to help out.  As you may already know it takes a crew of people to make these things happen, and I could not be happier with the people who are helping me with it.

Before I end this post I’m guessing you might be interested in find out a little more about the story.  So here is a little back story on the creature.

He is not an alien from another world, but actually a creature of Earth.  His species are seafaring, and travel around on the sea.  This is why we have never come in contact with them before.  The oceans are so vast that they could have avoided us forever.  There are stories told by sailors that date back to when we first started to sail the uncharted seas of these creatures, but people took them for nothing more then stories from drunk sailors.

Our main character was curious, and wanted to learn more about us humans.  Contrary to what the humans who “captured” him thought, he actually let them catch him.  It was his curiosity to know more about us that brought him to this secret testing facility.

Each short will be about a different test that the humans perform to learn more about him.  Don’t worry, he does not seem to mind the tests, but what he does seem to mind is the mechanical hand that administers the tests to him.  All he wants to do is observe the humans, and this hand keeps getting in his way.  It is this conflict that creates tension, and comical outcomes during the testing.

As I mentioned the story is constantly evolving, but I hope to have a lot of fun with it.  I will keep you updated as we progress through this blog, and eventually share the completed shorts.


If you have not already, I hope you will join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  If you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.

July 2015 Update

This last week I have been mostly working on our animated short. Animation is a slow process, but we are making some great progress. It might be a month, but I do plan to get some fun concept art to share with all of you.

I have also been working on a bid for a potential client that will require a mix of a CG character in a CG environment, with a live action actor.  I’m collaborating with some other companies to do the live action, and sound, since those aren’t services we offer.  I will find out later this year if the project was awarded to us.

I’m also very excited that our followers on Twitter are growing.  We now have over 400 twitter followers.  I don’t always put as much effort into twitter, but I’m trying to give it a little more of my attention.

I talked to my attorney yesterday, and he finished drafting the articles of incorporation to make my sole proprietorship into a corporation.  He will be filing it with the state of California today, so now we just have to wait and see how long it takes to finalize everything.  I have never been the CEO of a corporation, so this is all very exciting to me.  I have a lot to learn, but I have some great advisors to help me along the way.

The big news for today is that this evening is our first Society of Creative Professionals Mixer.  Currently we have RSVPs for 46 people going, and 23 maybes, which is much more then I was expecting for our first event.  Typically half the people that RSVP actually show up, but I’m excited to see what the turnout ends up being.  Hopefully after the first event the word will spread about it, and we will have even more people at the next mixer.  This will be a great way for me to meet different artists in the area, and hopefully those that attend will also get something out of it. Event details and RSVP

It is a busy day, so I’m going to keep this post short.  As always, thank you for reading about my journey.


If you have not already, I hope you will join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  If you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.

Update on our Animated Shorts

We are making great progress on our animated shorts.  I say shorts with an ‘s’ because it will be multiple 10-15 second shorts that we will be creating.  They will all be in the same environment with the same character, but each vignette will have a different “event”.

So far this experience has been so much fun, and it really re-energizes my passion for animation.  The feeling that you are creating something out of nothing, and how almost endless your options are to create this imaginary world. I’m not expecting to make my money back on this short directly, and honestly I don’t plan to make any money from it.  Everything is being paid for by the company out of our savings.  I’m looking at the expense as an advertising expense, since I plan to use this to help get more paying customers.  It will hopefully show what kind of work our studio can make.

So you might be asking where we are at with everything?  Currently we have our character in the final stages of character design, and he will soon be heading over to modeling. All the action will take place in a single room, and that room is currently being modeled.  I’m also in talks with a surfacing artist, and a lighting artist to be ready for the next stages of production.  There is a lot of asset building that needs to be done before we can even start animation. We should be ready to start animation sometime in September or October.  I’m hoping to have the first 5 shorts done by the end of this year.

I plan to post some concept art in a later post, so keep following to see what we are working on.  Also now would be a great time to subscribe to our YouTube channel, since that is where we will be posting the shorts once they are finished.


In other news, next Tuesday (July 21st) will be our first Creative Professional Mixer, so if you are living in LA I hope you will make it.  So far we have over 30 people RSVP’ed to the event, and it should be a great time.  I plan to have a mixer once a month, so join our Facebook group to get updates on the events.

I have also started the process to change my company into an S-Corp, so soon I will be the CEO of Eric Miller Animation Studios.  Sounds so fancy, right?  This will provide me with some tax benefits, and legal protections.  I have been doing a lot of work in trying to grow my business, and this is the next logical step.  It is a very exciting time, and I’m looking forward to the future.


If you have not already, I hope you will join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  If you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.


My 3 Areas of Focus

I have been very busy working on the company, and I wanted to give an update on what takes up all my time each day.  There are 3 main areas that I’m focusing on, and everything I’m doing is connected to them.  These 3 areas are Ad Agencies, Direct to Business, and a GC Animated Project.  I will go over each of them below.

Ad Agencies:
The first area I’m working on is building the number of ad agencies I work on projects for.  Normally larger companies with with an ad agency to create their marketing campaigns, and those ad agencies will hire production companies to do the production work.  For example, the VFX work we did on the Toys”R”Us commercials was through an ad agency.  The ad agency is who hired us, and we actually had very little contact with Toys”R”Us. This is how much of the broadcast commercial work is done.

One ad agency has many clients that they work for, so getting into one ad agency you have a chance of working on multiple client projects.  The budgets for these projects are often higher, and can be very lucrative for the production companies they hire to help.  This also means that it is very competitive to win these projects.

I’m always trying to figure out how to get more agencies that will call me for any of their animation needs.  I still have not figured out the secret to winning these contracts, but I’m putting a lot of time and effort into learning.  One approach is getting a commercial rep, but that has also proven to be difficult.  There seems to be very few commercial reps that are taking on new clients, so I have mostly been trying to reach out to the ad agencies on my own.  This of course can be very time consuming, and more often ends with no positive results.

The one benefit I have is that I already have my foot in the door from the work we did with the Toys”R”Us projects.  I have heard from several people with production companies that getting your first project with an advertising agency is always the most difficult, but once you have worked for one it is much easier to get work with other ad agencies.

I also recently received this great testimonial from Kent, the Executive Producer of the ad agency I have been working with.

There very well may not have been Christmas this year if not for Eric Miller’s steady hand on the reins. Eric Miller and the team at Eric Miller Animation played an invaluable role in putting the magic in our 2014 Toys R Us Holiday campaign. With over 80 spots in 2 short months, each requiring photo real 3d and character animation to breathe life into magic imaginations, the ask was truly immense. Eric MIller’s experienced professionalism, coupled with a talented and scalable team helped us easily and responsibly manage the ongoing flux that defines a mercurial holiday retail environment. From late season offer and product changes to unplanned branding needs, the team was regularly relied on to exceed expectations, and to do so within reasonable budget parameters and under impossibly short timelines. Santa could not have delivered a better Holiday partner.
~ Kent

Direct to business:
The second area that I’m pursuing is working directly with business to make animated videos for their companies.  These could be anything from explainer videos that they can post online, or training videos that can be shown to their employees.  This is why I have been looking for artist that I can work with to make these videos.  I want to be able to offer whiteboard animated videos, motion graphics, cartoon, and CG animated videos explainer videos.  I plan to make a few of these videos to explain my company, and also show the quality of work I can offer.

My first step is adding a section to my website that markets specifically to businesses offering these types of videos. After my website is in place I plan to have a copywriter write scripts for a few minute to minute and half videos that highlight the different types of videos we offer.  Then I will pull a team of artists together that I can work with to produce these projects.

After we make a few of these videos for the company I can add them to the section on my website for small businesses, and start reaching out to businesses offering our services.  The “Selling” of these services seem a little clearer to me then the selling to ad agencies, since there are many more clients to reach out to directly.

CG Animated Project:
The final area that I’m working on is producing my own animated shorts.  I worked with a friend to come up with a basic idea for the shorts, and I have now been working on putting a team of artists together to make it happen.  The plan is to design a lovable character for the shorts, and make several 10-15 second videos that we can post on YouTube.  These will all be high quality CG animated videos to show off what our team can do, since so far I have very few examples of that kind of work.  This will give some great examples of the kind of cg work I want to do with the company.

Unlike the other two areas this one will not bring any money into the company, and will actually require a significant amount of investment to get them made.  I will be using the money I made from the Toys”R”Us project to help fund it.  I had a decision to make that I could either play it safe, and keep the money I already made for a rainy day, or take a risk and use the money to make something great.  I decided that I did not leave my “secure” job at DreamWorks to start a company so that I could play it safe.

There are a few things that I hope to achieve with these videos.

1) Build a team: Creating these videos will help me in finding talented people, and assembling a talented amazing team that works well together.

2) Animation Pipeline: I will need to develop our animation pipeline, and work flows in order to make these shorts.  Creating these videos I will learn what areas need to be improved.  It is better to figure it out on these projects then when we have a paying customers that are expecting the pipeline to already be figured out.

3) Develop the Brand:  By making really great, gorgeous shorts it will help in building our brand.  It will show people what kind of work we can do, and what people can expect from us.

4) Gain a following: Hopefully if people enjoy our shorts we can start to gain a greater following through social networks.  I want to create something that will entertain people, and having a following will make sure we have an audience to actually see our work.

5) Source of Pride:  The idea of pulling a team together, and creating something amazing is very exciting.  Being able to create something from nothing is why I love animation.  It will give me and the company something to be very proud of.

If I can accomplish any of the above with these shorts I will feel like they where worth the money spent on them.

There you have it! The 3 areas that I’m working on to build my business, and creating a brand.  I was also looking into the government contracts, but decided that was not worth the trouble at this time.  Not only do you get buried in tons of paperwork, but often they have a requirement that you have been in business for 5+ years.  So for the time being I will shelf that idea, and focus on these 3 areas instead.

As you can see I have a lot to do, and a long way to go. I often find myself jumping back and forth between working on the different areas trying to make progress.  Sometimes I wonder if I should not be dividing my focus, and find one thing to go after.  I think for right now I feel like these are all working towards the same goal, and worth me splitting my time.  The Ad Agencies will be a main source of income for the business, but those are not enough to keep us busy all year long.  The direct to business will help keep us busy for more of the year, and these two things can help fund the third.  This will hopefully allow me to do what I want which is make amazing animation.


If you have not already, I hope you will join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  If you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.