Although I intrinsically know, that I have the creativity to conceptualise an idea and design a video, I have the experience to produce a storyboard, I have the skills to illustrate said storyboard and I have the ability to animate the designs, my confidence in all those skills was wavering.
The knowledge of being able to perform those tasks was based on my experience, having executed each one on different projects throughout my career. That knowledge was fading away, however, with the years of not performing those tasks by myself on one singular project, during the past 6 years. More often than not, I either worked with a design department, which created the designs, or the client delivered ready-to-animate illustrations, sometimes alongside a storyboard and in some cases, I merely had the task to execute the animations as instructed.
But recently, a friend of mine, Andy aka rot169, asked me to help him with a cyber security video for his YouTube channel. His videos show how to spot and prevent hacker attacks. This was the perfect opportunity to flex my creative muscle. Since he needed a look & feel, graphics and a final animation to go along with his voice over, I had an opportunity to recover my confidence in all those areas.
Having launched a collaboration series on my YouTube channel about a year ago, I plugged this personal project into that streaming series and documented the design process live (you can watch the process of this and previous projects there).
The Creative Brief
In the first episode, Andy and I went through his concept of the video, while I wrote detailed notes in my client briefing document. This document holds all important information about a project and the client, including contact info, deadline, budget, project requirements and deliverables (Pssst…subscribers of my mailing list have access to a template of this client brief as part of their perks).
Compiling a creative brief like this, is extremely helpful in aligning the client’s and the creative’s expectations about the project and ensures that all parties are on the same page about the final product.
But why is it important to have a creative brief for a for-fun personal project, you might ask. Well, I am a strong believer in following work processes, regardless of commercial or personal projects. Once you have put some structures in place for yourself, in order to allow for a smooth workflow, like I have, you can rely on those structures to guide you through the project without a hitch.
Dropping pillars of this structure because it’s “only a personal project”, might end up costing you time down the line. You might not have taken into account what those pillars were holding up. Speaking from experience, simplifying the work process just because the project was “small”, has caused me a lot of trouble in the past. Now, I tend to stick to my trusted processes, no matter what type of project I am working on.
Of course there needs to be some leeway. If the project doesn’t include another collaborator or client, I might not fill out an entire creative brief, but simply put together some concepts before I start illustrating. Similarly, I won’t jump into After Effects, before planning out how I will animate the graphics.
It takes time to structure your work processes and your project pipeline, but once you have found what works, I recommend sticking to that and only amending as necessary. With a creative brief, not only does it give the designer some guidelines and limitations on how the project will grow but it also serves as a basis for what the client can expect from the project.
This is especially important when working as a freelance designer, where an initial consultation will inform the scope of the project, as well as budget and duration. A creative brief will become the basis of a formal proposal or serve as an agreement between the client and the freelancer about the scope of the project. It can be referred to, when questions about project expectations surface down the line.
If you are creatively curious, like me, I invite you to join my live streams. I have made some headway in the collaboration with Andy. The first draft of the storyboard is now complete and we have gone through the first half of Andy’s feedback in the latest stream (as of posting this). You can see the first 9 frames of the storyboard above.
Comment below with any questions about my work process and/or tell me your creative insecurities, so I don’t feel like the only imposter.