Promoting

Posted on August 27th, 2007 in Entrepreneurship, The Company by Marc Bourbonnais

A reader who recently started his own animation studio sent me a few interesting questions about the different promotional strategies:

  • What are your thoughts on agents/reps? Most people claim they don’t help, but most of the successful studios have them.

I think they can help but since we are at an early business stage, we are keeping expenses very low. Just using our own contacts and networks is keeping us busy at the moment. We already have a few prospects on our plate for the coming weeks. They are not real contracts yet, but we are working on it…

  • What mix of direct mail, advertising, cold phone calling do you have planned?

If by advertising you mean placing ads in Cinefex, again the cost issue is holding us back. It might be a fine idea for established companies, but I have doubts for start-ups. There are other ways to promote your studio. You can join one of the many film or FX studio associations, especially if there is one in your region; with their help you can gain some extra exposure and new contacts.

As for direct mail and cold phone calling, yes we are doing a lot of that for the first few weeks. You will not get immediate results but it does not cost a dime and you can at least get your name into new places.

  • What types of networking events and strategies are you considering to meet new potential clients?

Every event of any kind! Getting to new clients is the hardest part. We’ve already met new interesting people just by going through our list of contacts, so that’s a start. Even outside professionals such as accountants and lawyers can have connections in your industry. As I’ve mentioned before, talk about your biz to all your friends and their friends as well.



Web site is up

Posted on August 23rd, 2007 in The Company by Marc Bourbonnais

Sorry if I’m not too active this week, bad case of summer flu. But our new Web Site is up and running, with more coming up. It gives a glimpse of our goal. You can check it out at www.modusfx.com by clicking ‘enter’

As with our logo design, this is the fine work of Nicolas Landry at Nickel28.



Insurance

Posted on August 20th, 2007 in The Company by Marc Bourbonnais

I thought it would be difficult to explain to investors, bankers and other financial partners how our business usually works. I can understand how hard it can be from someone outside our field of work to grasp the grey area of creative service providing of such a technical nature. When things go well it goes something like this:

  1. You hear about an idea for a TV spot or a film with some special effects;
  2. You pitch a package with solutions, early designs, work calendar and prices;
  3. It gets accepted;
  4. You get paid while some if not all the aspects of the project are modified;
  5. You adjust your solutions, designs, work calendar and prices;
  6. You work until a producer somewhere says it’s enough – until then, go back to number 4.

To my surprise, the financial folks can get this. It’s their business to take risks, and they are willing to take risks with respectable professionals. They also have resources in every business field imaginable, so they will find out if you are pulling their leg. So it goes through, most of the time.

 Then you shop for insurance for your studio. Of course, you have to.

 I thought you just had to shop around, fill out forms to get quotes and just go for the least expensive proposition. But insurance brokers get nervous very easily. When you talk about creative content, expensive computers you change every two years, daily video conferencing over the Internet, sending tons of movie stills through FTP, 4:00 am automatic incremental backups… The big insurance corporations bail out immediately.

 Luckily there are specialized houses that deal with the media and film world, so they are at least knowledgeable of the movie-making process. That’s what we found, after quite a bit of digging around. So that was my small tip after a lengthy post.



Speaking at //ADAPT 2007

Posted on August 17th, 2007 in CG Community by Marc Bourbonnais

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I’ve had the honor of being invited to be a speaker at //ADAPT 2007 in Montreal, in the 2D/3D+ program. This conference is about artists and their craft; since I’m becoming more of a manager/producer, my presentation will focus around CG careering. Not just about getting a job in our industry, but also networking, career advancing, production best practices and yes, entrepreneurship.

I’ve got the key points I want to talk about, but I’m still polishing the details. Feel free to make any suggestions on what would be interesting to add in my 90 minute talk.

Hope to see you in Montreal this September.



Buying equipment

Posted on August 16th, 2007 in Hardware, Software, The Company by Marc Bourbonnais

Space Ace was asking a couple of weeks ago about the gear we will have to buy in our start-up. I won’t go in the details just yet since we are currently shopping around and going through sales quotes. A few things I can mention about financing and buying equipment:

Everything has to be in the business plan. Your business plan will go through the hands of bankers, investors and partners. They WILL check up on you. So if you forgot to put in those high-end ergonomic chairs, you’ll have to explain why you need to modify your initial budget for twenty 800$ chairs. Be realistic, right from the start. You’re better off with a high start-up cost than looking like someone that did not plan your business start-up properly.

Make sure you’re reasonable about the time you need to pay off your hardware. Accountants will try to write off your hardware in about five years. In this biz we all know our computers are obsolete after a year or two. You can stretch your early loans in five years, but think about the hardware you’ll have to upgrade or replace after two years.

You will not be able to rent hardware until you have good credit. Your corporation is a week old and you want to lease 20 high-end workstations? Good luck.

… but the good news is: Material goods are the easiest costs to finance. Since they are sizable assets, your creditors can take it back if you tank. (But you won’t!) Your interest rate will be lower because the risk is low.

Show you are flexible and your creditors will be happy. I’m not saying you should overshoot just to lower your costs, but if you have a backup plan or a step-by-step scheme for buying equipment, you’ll have a better chance at financing. Creditors like milestones and would rather give money in several amounts over a period of time. 



Visit at the NAD Center

Posted on August 13th, 2007 in CG Community, The Company, Working in CG by Marc Bourbonnais

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Last Friday Modus was graciously invited to give a speech to the soon-to-be graduating students at the NAD Center, a Montreal CG / VFX school for film and gaming. It is where I got my own professional diploma a long time ago. I’ve also been a CG instructor for a few years at NAD, so it was with great pleasure that I got back in front of a class to spend 90 minutes talking about our new company and answering numerous questions about CG careering.

The main goal of our visit was to meet the students before the start of their corporate internship program. Being a start-up company, we are very eager to start working with experienced professionals but young graduates are also excellent candidates to help us start building part of our team. I truly hope we can find many artists and technicians that share our long-term vision. Of course we’re setting ourselves as we go, but we sure know where we are heading. With the constant feedback we keep getting, finding adequate and motivated staff is looking good.



Siggraph 2007 : Day 3

Posted on August 11th, 2007 in CG Community by Marc Bourbonnais

Now that I’ve slept 12 hours after this ridiculous trip back, here is what I had planned to post two days ago… and talking about sleep deprivation, right now I’m on my way to supervise a shoot for the whole night. Augh.

The day started with the traditional 3vis – Montreal breakfast. At every Siggraph 3vis invites the attendees from the Montreal region for breakfast. It was great to see again my colleagues from A2M, Buzz, Damn fx, Hybride, Meduzarts, UbiSoft, 3pod and 3vis.

As planned, I spent the whole day at the exhibition, again going through the corporate loop. I spent a good amount of time at the different motion capture booths; with the huge space we have at Modus FX we will definitely setup some sort of production area with a green screen and perhaps somewhere in the future we’ll add some mocap equipment.

My Siggraph concluded in the best way with the Softimage party at The House of Blues; wonderful party, the most excellent music and great crowd.

I’ll have a more thorough report on what I’ve seen at Sigg soon.



One night at the airport

Posted on August 10th, 2007 in Uncategorized by Marc Bourbonnais

I’m finally back, a day late. Finally, with my boarding pass at 3:00 am, I had to sleep on the oh-so-plush carpet of the Philadelphia airport, with hundreds of other stranded travelers. There were sleeping bodies everywhere. I found the last available electrical outlet, hidden behind a baggage carrousel. I woke up to the luscious sounds of carpet cleaning machines.

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