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Gone Fishing.

The Fleeting Nature of The Stream Of Consciousness & Importance of Saving Every Idea

Intellectual capital is the economic capital of the new economy.

It happens all the time, you enter a room and forget why you went there in the first place. Thoughts can be easily lost in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. We live in an age of constantly being connected, always checking our mobile devices, and being awash in a flood of notifications. With so many distractions, it’s no wonder we forget why we walked in a room or can’t remember what that one amazing idea was that you had.

They call it the stream of consciousness for a reason; a stream is always moving.

They call it the stream of consciousness for a reason; a stream is always moving. Thoughts are always flowing in and out of your noggin. When you hook your next big idea, be sure to reel it in and store it somewhere or risk that marlin of an idea flopping right back into the stream never to be seen again.

We’re bombarded with so much noise, mass media, technology, and information on a daily basis that we are more and more susceptible to sensory overload and forgetting our ideas.

As someone working in the creative field, it’s our job to come up with unique perspectives and ideas. We are living in a changing economy where intellectual property is increasingly becoming the way people make money. Content creation is king! It’s for this reason why it’s so crucial that you make sure not a single one of those ideas gets lost. The brain is an amazing thing, but it’s also working fast to decide which thoughts to keep and which to purge. We’re bombarded with so much noise, mass media, technology, and information on a daily basis that we are more and more susceptible to sensory overload and forgetting our ideas.

There’s no such thing as too much intellectual capital.

When an idea comes to me, I write it down immediately no matter how obscure, no matter if it’s about a project I’m currently working on or for one that has yet to or may never come to exist. It’s important to record every potentially useful thought. I know if I don’t write down my idea right when it comes to me, there’s a 50/50 chance that I will ever remember it again. Just like the mental exercise of creating a mind map, inside many unconnected thoughts may lie the key to your next big idea so be sure to write them all down! There’s no such thing as too much intellectual capital! Your phone is the perfect device to jot down your every stroke of genius. You don’t need to buy some fancy note app as most mobile devices come preloaded with a free note app that will back up all your notes to the cloud. This gives this method a leg up on a notebook or writing it on a napkin. This also helps so you don’t accidentally blow your nose into your next amazing idea.

Your “eureka” moment can occur at the most unlikely times (I always seem to get them right before I fall asleep or in the middle of a jog), so this is one instance where always being connected and attached to your phone is actually beneficial. Type down that idea quick before you forget why you picked up your phone in the first place.  That stream of consciousness can be a torrent!

Happy fishing!

If you’re looking for free note apps other than the ones built into standard mobile OS’s, I recommend both Evernote and Google Keep.  Evernote has a limited free version while Google’s Keep is completely free.  Both are great as they both sync between all devices.


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Tips to ensure your work gets seen and you get hired!

Whether you’re trying to land your first design job or striving to move on up to a better one, the process of applying to jobs can be a shot in the dark. With hundreds and hundreds of people applying to the same job, you need to make sure you have the edge and stand out amongst the crowd. Here are some ways to increase your odds of being seen and getting hired!


1. Crafting Your Online Presence

Whether your line of work is illustration, web design, or animation, the most important thing is not just solely having a collection of great work but making sure it gets seen. These days it’s very easy to set up your own blog or website, but you can also draw eyes to your site and your work by posting your portfolio pieces on creative sites like Behance, Dribbble, Tumblr, Instagram, or Vimeo. A good rule of thumb is to be very active on these sites by not only posting your work, but by following other artists and commenting on their work. And a word of advice, avoid randomly posting your own work in other artists comment sections to get views or feedback as this is universally frowned upon and considered a pretty spammy practice. You may be asking how often should you post your work onto these sites. I try to post a piece of work once a week, whether it’s your behind the scenes process (which a lot of people enjoy seeing), a still, or a short snippet from an animation. Ensuring you post often helps to maintain a constant presence on the feeds of these sites. If you’re not creating enough client work to post enough content weekly, make it a point to work on a small personal project every week. We live in a time where GIF’s are a viable platform to show off your work in the form of short 3–5 second clips. Dribbble and Tumblr are great online communities of creative folks constantly sharing these tiny bits and pieces of their work in GIF form. These sites are also perfect venues for getting feedback on your work and learning how you can improve. I can attest to the benefits of creating often and sharing your work to the point that it inspired me to host an entire series on lynda.com on the importance and benefits of creating and learning everyday. Not only does posting and sharing your work on these sites allow more chances of your work being seen, it also helps you…


2. Network

Being active in the design community sharing your work not only increases your online presence but simultaneously allows you to meet other creative folks that can inspire you or give you feedback on your work. The people you develop relationships with can help introduce you to the right people. Twitter and LinkedIn are good places to plant your online flag and cultivate your professional network. Getting to know people and develop relationships takes time but it’s a great investment that can pay off big, so make sure this is something you allow yourself to work on so you can organically meet the right people throughout your career. Start by following creatives who inspire you, comment on their work, share their work with your followers, and get to know them. A great way to gain followers is by sharing useful articles, tips, or tutorials relevant to your field, artists work you enjoy, and anything else you think your ideal audience would find interesting. Companies get hundreds and hundreds of inquires so just having your work out there is not enough. Sometimes it’s all about who you know and by building your online presence and reputation, it will ensure you have a leg up on getting hired if you have a recommendation by someone close to the company you want to work at.


3. Allow Your Individuality to Shine

Distinguish yourself from the pack! When reaching out to potential employers, don’t craft generic emails that could be sent to multiple companies at once. And when reaching out to a company, don’t just drone on about yourself and your accomplishments. Companies want to know what you can do for them so frame everything you say in terms of how you can help that company. Be sure do your research and know the ins and out of that company so you’ll be able to talk specifically about why you like their company (whether it’s their style of design or the quality in general) and what you can do for them. We work in a creative field so be creative with how you craft your e-mail. On Dribbble and Twitter, many companies place ads in GIF form that attracts attention, why shouldn’t you do the same when looking for work? By adding some imagery or humor, whether it’s by making a fun animated GIF about the company or yourself or cracking a (appropriate) joke about your skill set, it can help make you stand out and form a lasting impression.


Crafting an interesting GIF to send along with your e-mail helps you get noticed. (Credit: https://dribbble.com/Motion)


4. Learning from Failure

If you don’t hear back from a company, don’t hesitate to be persistent and reach out a couple of times to check in and ask about the status of the position to show your maintained interest. If you get rejected, your job is far from over. Politely ask the company if they can give you constructive criticism on your work or your interview so that you can be more effective in the future. Some clients may be open to this and appreciate the initiative you’re taking, some may not. Putting in the effort to try to learn how you could improve is always a good trait to exhibit to a company. And listen, we’ve all been rejected at some point. It’s the necessary consequence of putting yourself out there, so don’t be discouraged by rejection. You have to keep in mind that while there will be people better than you, there will be people worse than you too. The difference between the designers who are good and those who are bad are that the good designers worked past their bad work to get to the good stuff, so keep striving to get better!


5. Commitment to Improvement

Always be learning new things and adding new skills to your skill set. Aim to learn something new everyday, no matter how little that thing may be. Step back and review your portfolio. If your current portfolio of work isn’t relevant to the job you’re trying to get, make sure your creating the type of work that you want to work on! A company will never hire you for work/skills you’ve never shown. Have weaknesses? Work on them! There’s so much free information online in the form of tutorials or articles on how improve at literally anything! There are also some great resources for structured learning provided by numerous online schools and subscription based learning sites like lynda.com that can help you if you’re lacking in fundamental skills like design, animation, or any other business related topic. And finally…read! There are some amazing books out there like ‘Show Your Work that can give you great insight on how to grow as a creative and how to get noticed.

It’s always good to be honest with yourself about your own skills. The sooner you address your weaknesses, the sooner you can improve your portfolio and the chances of getting hired!


By EJ Hassenfratz. If you have any tips or questions on how to get hired, or topics you’d like to see me write about, feel free to email me at ej@eyedesyn.com. You can also find me on Twitter or on my website.


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The importance of communicating to clients that they get what they pay for.

We’ve all been there, a client wants to hire you for an animation that has a “needed this yesterday” deadline and a “loose change in my couch” type of budget. You can politely decline the gig, suck it up and take it knowing full well you’ll most likely be severely underpaid and severely overworked, or you can try to educate your client on why their demands aren’t realistic nor fair to ask someone to work for what could potentially amount to below minimum wage. One phrase that is jokingly tossed around a lot regarding client expectations, and is very true is: “Pick 2: Cheap, Fast, or Good.” When a client expects all 3 is when trouble arises.

Show up to a car dealership with $500 to spend and you’re walking out with a busted up golf cart.

As freelance designers, we work in the world of visual communication but we tend to forget the importance of communicating to clients what your services and skills cost and most importantly why they cost what they do. The difference between a budget of $500 vs $5000 is massive but for an uninformed client they may not understand why you should cost so much. Here are a few important things you need to communicate to your client to justify why you cost what you do:

1. When you talk about budget you talk about time and cost.

Clients with limited budgets need to understand that hiring a designer is like hiring any other expert in any other field. There’s this perception in many creative fields that due to the fact that many of us love our jobs that we don’t want to get paid for it properly. If they have limited budget that client has to be honest with themselves about scope and expectations. A client won’t get a talented, experienced designer with a very small budget. Sometimes a client is faced with having to rethink what’s more important, adjusting project scope and budget to be able to afford someone to get the job done right or risk hiring someone who may or may not get the job done. With a low budget, they can only afford someone with no or very little experience and they may not deliver to expectation. Show up to a car dealership with $500 to spend and you’re walking out with a busted up golf cart.

You wouldn’t hire an architect right out of school to build the Golden Gate Bridge.

2. In many instances, designers estimate project cost based on a day rate.

Sometimes that rate may be as much as $500 a day, so that means that for a client whose budget is only $500 they’re only going to get a day or 2 of work in order for you to make a fair wage. It’s really simple, the bigger the budget the bigger the scope, and the more experienced a designer they probably want to hire to handle such a large important job. You wouldn’t hire an architect right out of school to build the Golden Gate Bridge, nor should they hire an inexperienced designer when a company or brand’s image is on the line.

If a client goes cheap on hiring a designer, they run a great risk in not getting the job done to satisfaction and that will end up costing them more money in the long run if they need to hire someone else to finish or fix the job.

3. Many clients may ask “Well why is it so expensive, what am I paying for?”

Well why does anyone get paid any amount of money for anything anyone does? You’re paying for quality, expertise & experience. You’re paying for all the years of a designers experience in fulfilling clients needs and the experience in learning design, in animation and in learning the software to create a final product. You’re paying for the time cost that designer will be working on that job. If you ask a builder to build a house, it’ll be more time and money than if you asked to build a shed, and a lot more expensive and a lot more time if you wanted a mansion. And you want that builder to be trustworthy and to have built many houses before with success. If a client goes lowest common denominator on hiring a designer they run a great risk in not getting the job done to satisfaction. And if that does happen, it may end up costing them more money in the long run if they need to hire someone else to finish or fix the job. Better they pay someone fairly who will get the job done professionally the first time and allow them to sleep better at night knowing they hired an expert in their field that will meet & succeed expectations…that expert is you!

4. Visual branding or advertising is how the world sees a brand.

Will your client want the world to see them in a soiled t-shirt and sweatpants or will they invest in their image by buying a designer suit? There’s a reason why people try to dress their best when meeting new people or for a job interview. Your image is THE thing that communicates to people who they are and what they do and it’s also why large companies spend millions of dollars on a logo or ad campaign.

Just because a clients’ budget is unrealistic doesn’t mean you can’t work with them to let them know what they can afford.

5. Being Upfront About Costs Allows You to Be Flexible and Negotiate

When your client understands everything that goes into your rates, you can then be in the position of finding a middle ground with your client about what a certain budget can get them. They wanted a 90 second animation but their budget realistically might get them only 30 seconds of animation. Pitch how you could communicate what they need in a shorter amount of time. Explain why a shorter and more concise animation may even communicate what they want to convey to a viewer even better due to most people’s attention span. Just because a clients’ budget is unrealistic doesn’t mean you can’t work with them to let them know what they can afford.

Backing up your rates with justification will help ensure you get paid what you’re worth. After all, an amazing animator with mediocre business acumen will be paid like a mediocre animator.

What are some experiences you’ve had with clients regarding rates?  Have you ever had to explain to a client that their expectations don’t match their budget?


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5daymograph_banner-copy

I’m excited to announce the start of the 5 Day Mograph Challenge that I am hosting on lynda.com! What is the 5 Day Mograph Challenge? The 5 day mograph challenge is all about getting better day by day and honing your skills as a designer and an animator. Just like athletes need to train every day to get stronger physically and musicians need to practice their instrument everyday, designers need to practice creating everyday. By getting into the routine of daily creation you’re exercising a very important part of your brain…the part of your brain that problem solves. While creating new neural connections, you’re making this part of your brain stronger and expanding on your creativity. So why is it so hard to creating something, anything daily? Many people have the best intentions to try to get creating but always get stuck by the question: “What do I create?” The task of creating then becomes daunting and it’s all too easy to ultimately get overwhelmed by the infinite possibilities and you end up just not creating anything at all.

This is where my 5 day motion graphics challenges come in. They’ll narrow your focus and give you a theme to then create something from. I invite anyone who wants to sharpen their skills, learn new ones, or just needs a little extra inspiration in order to create to take on these challenges! How these challenges will work is every weekday I’ll present a theme and you’ll then create a short animated GIF based on that theme. There are 5 weeks to this challenge and the schedule is as follows:

Week 1: 08/03/15
Week 2: 08/17/15
Week 3: 08/31/15
Week 4: 09/21/15
Week 5: 10/05/15

Join the 5 Day Mograph Challenge

VERY IMPORTANT! These challenges are completely FREE and open to non-lynda.com subscribers for the week of release up until the release of the next challenge.  For example, the Week 1 challenge will be open the week of 08/03/15 and close 08/17/15 when the Week 2 challenge beings so be sure to join in & watch the challenge videos during the week of that challenges release up until the days leading up to the next challenge.  If you’re a lynda,com subscriber you can join in at any time!

When you’re finished with your animation, please share it on social media using the hashtag #5DayMograph and post it to the challenges Tumblr page: http://5daymograph.tumblr.com

Need more convincing? Here is why daily creation is so important:

1. It expands your creativity by training your brain to find creative solutions to daily design problems & at the same time making those decisions quickly!  That translates to being able to handle inevitable tight client deadlines!
2. It gives you an opportunity to try a new technique or style that you may not get the chance to in your normal work day
3. Beef up your demo reel! This is a perfect opportunity to add more work to your reel & show off what you can do
4. Creating work means you can show it off! You won’t learn what’s good or bad design until you share your work and see what people think. You won’t learn that well in a vacuum.
5. Daily challenges will teach you commitment & perseverance. Everyone who is good at design & animation is a former noob, but they didn’t get to be good at their craft overnight. Every day you’ll make small improvements that over time become large improvements!

Did I convince you yet? Ready to join in?

Join the 5 Day Mograph Challenge

The hardest part of creating is going from creating nothing to creating something, so let’s go!

Watch the video:


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lynda

You all may have noticed I’ve been quiet on the tutorials front the past couple months, but not without good reason! I’ve been very busy preparing my first in depth project based Cinema 4D course for Lynda.com, and I’m super excited to announce that it has finally released!  Check it out here!

I am honored to be a part of the Lynda community and getting the opportunity to share my creative process through my courses!

What’s It About?

So you might be thinking, “What’s it about and why should I watch it?”  Well, for one, it’s my first project based Cinema 4D course.  Unlike my tutorials I host here on my blog which are fairly short, quick blurbs on a certain workflow technique or tip; in my Lynda course I’ll show you from start to finish the process I go about creating a finished and polished animation.  From setting up and animating a project in Cinema 4D, preparing it for render, and importing and putting on the finishing touches inside of After Effects.  In this course, I’ll show you how to create a network promo bumper for a fictitious TV network using Mograph effectors efficiently so to animate the entire thing, all it takes is two keyframes, along with some workflow tips and tricks along the way.

How Do You Learn?

I’ve found that I learn a ton from watching people go through the process of creating a project from start to finish and developing my first course demonstrating how I do it was very interesting because I literally had to write down all my steps, all the things I do to create an animation.  When I watch other people work, I love observing all the little habits and processes someone goes through while working in Cinema 4D or After Effects.  Being a freelancer, I don’t have the benefit of sitting around a bunch of other artists and being exposed to how other people work day to day and learning from them, so I hope seeing my process is just as beneficial for those of you out there in similar situations.

Future Courses

Some people have already asked me if I have any more courses in the pipeline, and I’m happy to say that I’m planning on releasing a total of 8 courses this year for Lynda.  It’ll be a challenge, but I’m definitely excited to take it on.  The course I released is almost 2 hours of content, so it was definitely an adjustment coming from doing 5-15 minute tutorials for my blog.  My Lynda producer was great in mentoring me in the process of creating professional training content so I’m looking forward to my continued improvements in how I can deliver information and knowledge to you all in the future!

What’s This Mean For the Blog?

It means better content for you!  I’m going to continue producing my own short Cinema 4D based content here on eyedesyn.com just like I’ve always been, I’m committed to creating better and better content and my experiences working with the great Lynda.com folks will only make me better at creating training content.  I already have tons of tutorial ideas backlogged in my brain!  Not to mention a big update to Text Edge FX that should be coming out soon!

Feedback

For those of you who check out my course (or for just those who watch tutorials on my blog), please let me know if there’s anything I can do better, or if there’s anything you’d like to see for any of my next Lynda courses or even my tutorials here on my blog.  What’s something you’d really like to learn?  What’s some workflows you’d like to see me demonstrate?  I’d greatly appreciate any and all input you can give!

What is Lynda.com?

Lynda.com has a multitude of excellent training content for everyone, not just motion graphics artists.  For example, they have great courses on how to be a freelancer, how to conduct business meetings, photography, setting up video shoots, and the list goes on and on!  Not only that, but they’ve joined up with Video2Brain.com to add even MORE great content (including multilingual content) to the Lynda.com universe.  And even if you’re just interested in After Effects and Cinema 4D, they have some AMAZING artists on there sharing their knowledge such as my fellow authors Chris & Trish Meyers, Chad Perkins, Mark Christiansen, and Rob Garrot.  In the coming year there is going to be a ton of new AE and C4D content to go along with the highly anticipated updates for both pieces of software, so stay tuned!

Thank You

When I first launched my blog a little over a year ago, I didn’t imagine that it would grow as much as it did, that I would be presenting for MAXON, working for Lynda.com, or having all the other great opportunities I’ve been given along the way.  I couldn’t have done it without the support of all you out there pushing me to keep doing what I’m doing and seeing that people are learning a bit of something here on my blog.  I did this in an attempt to pay forward all the training that has been provided to me for free online when I have been learning Cinema 4D the past few years, to give back to the awesome motion graphics community that inspired me all these years.  Thank you!


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Cinema 4D R14 Announced!

It’s Christmas in August!  Cinema 4D version R14 has just been announced and I’ve had the opportunity to be able to play with R14 over the past few weeks and check out all the new features. While you may be hearing most about the new Sculpting features in Cinema 4D, I’m going to focus on some of my favorite new features that I think I’ll be using heavily.

 

1. New Snapping Tools

You can now move and align geometry with more ease now with the new snapping tools.  You can have splines or polygons faces, points, or edges snap to other objects geometry in the scene as well as being able snap to guides and workplanes.  This makes having a cubes face align to another cubes face very simple and you’ll spend less time in the Coordinate manager.

r14-snapping

2. Aerodynamic Wind

This has got to be one of my favorite new features and one that I noticed was missing when I did my balloon tutorial.  With the new Aerodynamics function, Rigid and Softbody objects can now interact according to their aerodynamic shape with all of the particle modifiers such as Wind, Turbulence, and Gravity.  So a balloons shape will be taken into account when floating about when a wind object is applied to it and not just float linearly.  Along with this new feature, there is also Acceleration and Force modes.  Force Mode takes into account individual object masses and affect it’s interaction with the modifiers, while Acceleration mode disregards object mass.

(Check out my Aerodynamic balloon tutorial here.)

balloons1_poster

 

3.  New GI Mode and Sampling Method

Sky Sampler GI mode has been replaced with a new and faster Discrete Sky Sampling (DSS) mode.  This new Sky Sampling mode works as the last one did where you use a Physical Sky or HDRI texture applied to a Sky object to light your scene, but new in R14 is the ability to have your Sky or HDRI texture cast shadows in your scene according to your Sky or HDRI textures contrast.  Along with DSS is the new GI Sampling Method of using Radiosity maps that, long story short, speed up GI calculation.  Radiosity maps can also be saved and used again like prior GI sampling.

 

4. Camera Morph Tag & Camera Calibrator Tag

Animating cameras in any piece of software has always been a pain, trying to get from framed shot to another.  CSTools has eased this a bit with EasyCam, etc.  But, basically what the Camera Morph Tag does is bring that CSTools functionality completely integrated into R14.  Now when you’re setting up camera moves, you can keyframe multiple cameras, throw vibrate tags on them, etc, and using the Morph Tag, you can now seamlessly transition between all of them.  You can also add “steady cam” like shake effects to add some natural shake to your camera animation.

Camera Calibrator Tag helps you recreate the camera’s focal length and position from a still image.  Using this, you can easily composite geometry into that flat background image.  Huge new features for sure!

r14-cameramorph

 

5. New Normalizer and Weathering Shaders

Normalizer- This sort of makes the Bump Shader obsolete.  By using a Normalizer shader in the Material Normal Channel, you can use regular textures (grayscale or otherwise) that you’d normally use in the Bump Channel to calculate a pseudo Normal Map.

Weathering Shader- Adds realistic grunge or bleached effects to your objects to give it that weathered look.

r14-weathershader

6.  New Xpresso Features

Xpresso got a lot of great new additions that range from new UI and workflow enhancements to entirely new nodes.

  • R14 brings a new, slick UI to the Xpresso Editor
  • Create ports by simply dragging and dropping one or multiple attributes into the XPresso Editor
  • New Xpresso Node “Track Operator” – Very nice addition.  This node outputs animation values and can pass on animation and time information to other objects
  • New Xpresso Node “Dynamics Body Status” – Using this node, you can now trigger dynamics on and off using Xpresso when a boolean value of True or False is used.

7. Import .C4D Files Directly Into After Effects

Cinema 4D has always been lauded for it’s integration with Adobe products, specifically After Effects.  In addition to being able to export out an .aex file from C4D for use in After Effects, you can now open C4D files directly into AE and PS.  On top of that, you can create a “.c4d” file from After Effects (that includes all animation (including Expressions), Cameras, Lights, 3D materials, and Null objects) and open it into Cinema 4D.

 

8.  Overall Interface Enhancements

Not exactly the most sexy addition, but there are a load of tiny GUI improvements that you’ll barely notice but will really enhance your workflow.

  • Object highlighting –  Hover over an object and a white outline will surround the geometry, select it, and the white outline turns yellow.
  • Camera Crosshairs – One feature I clamored for that is now in R14 is a center crosshairs option for your Camera Object that stays visible in the viewport even when the Camera Object isn’t selected.
  • Specular and Specular Color Channels have been combined into just one material channel.
  • All Dynamics caches can now be baked from inside a Dynamics Body tag.  No more having to dig into the Attributes manager to find that option under project settings.
  • “Commander” is very cool, it works just like in After Effects when searching in the Effects & Presets search bar.  Commander lets you search for objects, tags, tools and much more by beginning to type the name in the Commander search bar.   You can also drag and drop search items directly into the interface so you can customize all the commands in your C4D layout.
toy
r14-objhighlights
r14-commander

Here’s a nice roundup of other sites describing some of the new R14 features from The Pixel Lab.

That’s all I got for now, stay tuned for some in depth tutorials on some of these features, as well as more Xpresso features!

packshots


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Finally got around to putting out my 2012 (more like 2011) reel. This is a collection of what I’ve been hard at work on over the past year or so. I’ve got to say in 2011 I learned a lot, worked on some of the coolest projects yet, and met a ton of very cool people in the industry, and 2012 is looking to be even better year! I appreciate all of you who have visited my newly update blog over the past few months and I hope you’ll stay tuned in the coming weeks and months. I plan on putting out some Cinema 4D tutorials and some more free stuff! Here’s to 2012! Keep on learnin and hustlin!

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My buddy @JorenKandel at PixelLab.net was gracious enough to ask me to be interviewed by him for his website.  Here I talk about my work, my thought processes, and some tips for people trying to get into the industry.  Hope you get something out of my ramblings!  Enjoy!

Listen to the podcast here.