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- How did Jason get started in illustrating and animating building materials?
- The power of visuals to communicate an idea or a concept
- Remember we are all just people and people are wired to respond to visual stimuli
- Find a way to demonstrate your products to all audiences, not just technical experts
- Make your products the star of the show again
- How to decide which type of illustration or animation is the best choice
- Installation instructions as an opportunity rather than a burden
- The uses of visualizations for marketing building materials
Links of Interest From the Conversation:
If you haven’t seen what can be done with 3d visualization for marketing, selling and supporting building materials, this introductory video Jason has put together explains the whole thing
Transcript of the Conversation
Mark Mitchell: Hello, this is Mark Mitchell from Wizard Strategy and today’s podcast, I’m pleased to have my friend Jason Yana of Jason Yana Studios. As my guest today, Jason is one of the best illustrators and animators of building materials that I know of. As I always recommend to my clients that you should deal with an experienced person, someone who understands how a house or a building is actually built. It will save you a lot of time, money and frustration. Jason is one of those people that if you need to have your product illustrated or animated, I would recommend that you check out Jason’s website at jasonyana.com.
Jason Yana: Yes, sir.
Mark: Would that be right?
Mark: Very good. I’ve known Jason for several years and Jason, a funny story, lived in Chicago for years and realized that he could do his business anywhere in the world basically because of the internet. Jason and his wife and their young daughter decide to move to the Virgin Islands and so Jason lives in the Virgin Islands and I’m always jealous when I see pictures of him around the pool of the beach on Facebook.
Mark: So, anyway, welcome Jason.
Jason: Thank you Mark. I’m really glad to be here. I’m really fired up. I really am a big fan of yours in everything that you do and I think it’s really valuable.
How did Jason get started in illustrating and animating building materials?
Mark: Thank you, thank you. So Jason tell me, how the heck do you get started in illustrating and animating building materials? It doesn’t seem like a creative person goes, “Oh, boy. I’m going to draw two by fours.”
Jason: Yeah. Well, I’ll give you the short version of that. I went to architecture school in the mid-90s and it was the time when we did actually use a pen and paper, and a drafting board, and all that stuff, but computers were starting to be there and we had a computer lab and I got interested in 3D modeling and trying to figure out what this stuff was about. And also because, frankly, I’m not that good at drawing with my hands and this gave me a tool of way of expressing myself that I didn’t have otherwise.
My main passion was architecture and materials and how materials go together and how a brick feels in your hand and how all these objects, that are designed to do all these great things, have a certain beauty to them. It’s built right into them. And finding ways to express that. As I moved forward, I ended up working for a masonry trade association. Our job was to promote masonry. To get people excited about masonry. To get architects interested in not just how pretty a brick is, but how does it go together? How do you keep water out? How do you anchor it to a structure?
The power of visuals to communicate an idea or a concept
I found all those things beautiful and so in order to communicate those things between me and another person, I found that without using a good visual, it was very hard to explain. So I started to connect together the need to communicate these technical things and these beautiful things and this 3D modeling and rendering that I figured out how to do and combine them all together in a way to communicate the what, how, and why of somebody’s product in seconds.
Mark: Yeah, yeah because when you think about how fast the human brain can get something visually versus having to read three or four paragraphs. Also, Jason, you mentioned masonry. And talking about not only the beauty but how it installs and then how you keep water out and so forth, but I would think you also could demonstrate to somebody, I’ll call it the performance benefits. Why you would want to use, for example, a masonry wall instead of some other sort of cladding.
Jason: Absolutely, absolutely. That’s a marketing exercise and sometimes I believe that almost all the time, in sales and marketing you are a teacher. You’re trying to positively influence someone to help them do their job better. An architect has a job of trying to make a building that has to be beautiful but it also has to function properly. It has to do all these things. It has to keep water out.
Remember that Architects have enormous liability and their reputation is everything.
Because , back at the Masonry Institute, the industry had something called technical notes. It is a big binder of information on how to build a masonry wall and all the technical things that go into it. It is kind of the bible of masonry construction.
And do you know who the number one purchaser of those tech notes are?
Mark: Oh, wow.
Jason: Lawyers. It’s not architects, it’s not engineers. it’s not contractors . . . .It’s the lawyers.
Mark: Oh, my gosh. Yeah.
Jason: Because they can say, “Well, it looks here in tech note 19C, you’re supposed to have had flashing here and it’s supposed to have a minimum thickness of this. . . .”
Manufacturers don’t always get the importance of the images they present to customers
Also, when I first started working there I sat at my desk and I turned around and there was a volume of sweets catalogs on the shelf.
You know those sweets catalogs?
Jason: Not to call out one company, there are other companies that made those and this is what they all did. It was like a volume of those encyclopedias that your parents had.
Jason: It didn’t matter what shelf you put them on, it would bend that shelf and bend it and bend it and so I turned around and l thought, “okay, this is the “big time”, all right. This is not child’s play anymore. These are the best companies making the best materials and they’ve gathered together the best minds that they could possibly find to present to me – their products.”
I opened up these binders and it was disappointing because it’s all this text, full of all these drawings that looked like it was photocopied from the 1940s. There’s a certain style that patent attorneys use – these hand-drawn horrible drawings. And I was really disappointed and I knew that there’s a better way. . . That’s how I ended up working on all this stuff . . .
Mark: Yeah, first time that I used your type of illustrations was I was working for an insulation company and I had to figure out how to communicate what ice damming was and —
Mark: So yeah, so I went out with a photographer and took pictures from the outside of the house with the ice dam and then went up into the attic and found where there was some moisture damage and so forth.
Jason: Right, right.
Mark: Beautiful photos. You still had no idea what was going on, you know. And then finally I realized that a cutaway illustration could explain
Jason: In seconds.
Mark: — in seconds what happens and —
Jason: And someone who may not speak your language.
Remember we are all just people and people are wired to respond to visual stimuli
Jason: Yeah and you know, it’s very easy to put people into these little convenient categories of here’s how I speak to an architect. We do this and it’s very valuable and your information about the primary motivations of an architect or a contractor or distributor. They’re very different. They’re different people, they have different goals in mind but one of the things that I like to do is to think about not necessarily what they have that makes them different but what do they have in common?
I come down to the fact that, hey, we’re all people. There is this whole theory about learning styles. Have you heard this thing, where there are three types of learners? There are visual learners who learn by what they see. There are auditory learners who learn by the things that they hear and talk about.
Jason: Right, podcast. And then there are kinesthetic learners who learn by moving and touching and interacting with their environment. The funny thing is if you Google “the myth of learning styles”, you will find tons of research by neuroscientists who call it a neuro-myth because there’s no real evidence to support this because the brain doesn’t work that way.
We are all visual learners and the brain, half of our brain is used for processing visuals. Six parts of the brain are used for that and it’s the kind of thing that you can’t ignore; the power of visuals to connect one human to another. So when I start to think about architect, engineer, contractor, builder, all these people, they all have the same set of eyes and their brain works the same way. So if we can find ways to communicate with them in a way that everyone gets in a couple of minutes. I call that the wife test. I don’t know if you’ve read that blog post before.
Find a way to demonstrate your products to all audiences, not just technical experts
Jason: My wife, Elizabeth, God bless her, is amazing human being. She’s a rainmaker, in all ways of the word. She’s a type-A personality. She has a short attention span and she wants to know, “Hey, bottom line me, what’s in this for me? She doesn’t want her time wasted on features and benefits and all these long-form talk.” So if I am doing a two-minute video to help somebody communicate the value of their product. I will put that in front of my wife and if she can sit there for two minutes without kicking me or giving me “that look” and stay interested for those two minutes and then at the end I can say, “So what’s that product about?” And she’ll look at me and say, “Well, it’s flashing and it keeps water out. What do you think I’m an idiot?” Done. Mission accomplished . . . That’s what I’m talking about.
Or let’s say that you are trying to explain to your grandson, what you do Mr. Building Product Manufacturer, right? Now are you going to say to him
“my McGuffin works in these 17 ways and these are the 17 features of how my McGuffin keeps water out of the building”
That’s not going to work, right?
But let’s say you could show him a two-minute beautiful animated video that takes him from zero understanding of your product to completely understanding what it is, how it works, and why someone should buy it in just that amount of time. This is what grandpa did with his life. This is my passion, this is why I get up every morning and I can’t bounce you on my leg all day, right?
Jason: Or your grandma. . . She’s not going to sit around and listen to the 17 ways that your flamshooter connects the piece of product to another.
But if she can sit and watch a video for a couple of minutes and she can get it – that’s what I’m going for.
Because if I can do that, and if I can get my wife to understand it or somebody’s grandson or grandma, then everyone’s going to get it. The homeowner is going to understand the value of that ice dam, right? You know, as for the technical engineer, I want him to get it – but I want them all to get it and I want them to feel like :
“hey, you know, this is going to help me solve the problem.”
Mark: Yeah. There’s two other points you bring, know reminds me. One is how I see how all of us are understaffed, overworked, and everything is an emergency. Everything is a fire drill. So people no longer have time to read, to contemplate, to research, to investigate. They’re looking for a solution as fast as they can get it. So that’s another big reason to cut to the chase.
Jason: Yeah. And I think maybe they do have time in their spare time but that’s not what they want to do.
Jason: They’re not going to read your technical brief on your product when they’re sitting on the toilet.
Mark: If you take 10 people, in my experience, one person out of 10 really is skeptical and really cares about all of the technical details.
Jason: The “Troubleshooter”.
Mark: That really wants to analyze everything. They tend to be very smart engineers. The rest of us then go down from there in terms of like, well, I understand that will solve my problem, it looks good. I think I can trust this company. There’s my solution. I’m going to move on to my next problem.
Jason: Sure. Yeah, you have a lot of problems at once.
Mark: Well the other one that I noticed too is how when I think about it, every year so many people are retiring and so many people are moving into the field. So for example there’s roughly a 100,000 architects in the United States and every year there’s 5,000 new ones. So there’s roughly probably 4,000 or 5,000 that are retiring.
Mark: So the old gray-haired guy that’s retiring, he probably is quite familiar with your product. But the architect who just came out of school, okay, he is not. He is going to have to learn. And that person learns visually and learns online.
Mark: There’s no longer enough sales people now to come in and educate everybody. And the same thing I see, you know, with I don’t care if it’s distributors, dealers, builders, contractors, there’s younger people always coming into the market, into that business. And they need to have an understanding. I see some of the bigger builders and distributors, you’re dealing with MBAs now. You’re not dealing with the guy that used to have a hammer.
Jason: Yeah. It’s a very sophisticated operation.
Make your products the star of the show again
Mark: And that person understands a spreadsheet and understands financial statements and how to measure the financial performance of the business, and they really don’t understand necessarily how a house is built, why a customer needs a product. So this provides a quick way for that important person to go, oh, now I see why this is important. In all these years of doing things, what else have you learned about as you see companies, what works, what doesn’t work, or what did you learn that people could learn from you.
Jason: Yeah, you know just recently I think we’ve seen the internet become this huge, huge influence on everything that we do. We use social media, content marketing, and all of these things that we know we need. We need to have them, it’s something that we all do need, but I think that it becomes this multi-headed monster that sometimes the focus of your products kind of gets lost in the translation. I think is the product should still be the star of the show.
It’s the one thing that your marketing manager, your CEO, your accountant, everybody – they all have in common.
So to make that product the star of the show again and to make the thing that you share on the social media or Facebooks, or elsewhere – to make that something that is engaging and informative and exciting and gets down to the root of why you’re doing what you’re doing is something that kind of gets lost sometimes in the translation. We start to do things like, “Take our raffle so that you can win a Harley Davidson.” Okay, that’s good because it gets a lot of traffic but is it really informing people about what your purpose is and what you’re doing?
Mark: It’s like I’m starting to see loyalty programs come back. We go through cycles where it’s sweepstakes for a year then it’s loyalty, and rebates, and different promotional techniques. And now I’m starting to see loyalty programs. So you know, Mr. Contractor, you know if you buy my product, you get more of this.
Jason: Do you get a little card like you get at all the different —
Mark: No, no. It’s all computerized today, not the little punch card like buy 10 sandwiches and get the 11th one free. But it’s the same concept and all of a sudden the focus to me, in my experience, I’ve done this in the past, the focus shifts off of your product and onto the price. And I remember years ago when I was working for a very large insulation company that every year would take insulation contractors on a trip.
Jason: Somewhere cold or really warm, I hope, so they can insulate themselves.
Mark: Beautiful places. My job at that point was to put together a promotional program that would make the contractor want to go with this company instead of the other two that also offered trips. And then we discovered there’s some contractors so big that they would go to on all three trips. The three different insulation companies each offering a trip. Or they would in the beginning of the year say, “Martha, would you like to go to Paris with this company or Hawaii with this company or Tokyo with this company?”
Mark: And that’s how they made their proposition was the trip. And that’s wrong.
Jason: That’s weird.
Mark: It needs to be on the quality of the product and service and other ways that make the customer successful not just here’s a free trip, but anyway.
Jason: Yeah. I just was thinking about one thing that you were saying about the turn of people retiring and new people coming in, and one of the things that we used to do with the masonry business was we would go around to all of the architecture schools.
Jason: We would go to UIC, we go to Notre Dame, Ball State, and we would lecture all day about masonry. We’d put these kids to sleep and we torture them. I remember my boss, Chuck, had a presentation called “Problems and Solutions”, and he literally would spend two hours showing people what can go wrong if you don’t make the right design decisions — it’s like you want your kid to brush their teeth so you’re showing pictures of rotting teeth. He’s showing them all this horrible stuff, but the point was we would give them all those tech notes and books. We’d spend all this time and money educating them because they are going to be the decision makers of tomorrow. And if you don’t get them understanding your product and feeling comfortable with it and inform, educate, and inspire them, then the competition will.
How to decide which type of illustration or animation is the best choice
Mark: So tell me how you look at the difference between I’m going to use the word, cutaway illustration. Because one of the things I love about those is if you make a product that’s inside a wall or somewhere in, it’s a component, it is so hard to show, the product to show as well a show for example, how does it prevent moisture from getting in but you let allow water vapor to get out. And so, talk to us about the difference between you know when you would use an illustration and when you would use an animated video?
Jason: Well, I call this the what, how and why.
What your product is.
How someone should use it or how it’s used or how it works,
and why – most importantly, why should somebody ever use this thing?
When those things take you to a place that is not on the exterior of the building or intended to be seen.
Because products are either intended to be seen or they’re just trying to be neutral.
You know that little thing that it just wants to kind of blend in like the little caulk or little connector. It’s not this big aesthetic product but it’s trying not to at least look ugly.
Then there is the category that we call inside the wall products or hidden products, the not sexy stuff, the ugly stuff, the stuff that you’ll never see — these are some of my favorite things.
They’re the unsung heroes. I like to celebrate them, because without them, these buildings just don’t happen. These things don’t work.
And the people who make them, they’re obsessed with every little part and how that part works. They have to be . . . . They have to have an ASTM test done, have to make sure it’s UL compliant, etc. but every decision that’s made is made with an intent, with a purpose, and there’s usually not any material there that doesn’t need to be there.
To me those are beautiful things and the beauty isn’t necessarily the appearance, but it’s the function behind the products and the how it works and the all important why someone should use it. I’ll go wherever I have to go. If I have to cut a wall in half and show all those beautiful parts that go in there and how that thing works and put some arrows in there and put gravity or put rain. It’s all to me the same thing. It’s all communicating.
Mark: When you just want to — make sure our audience understands. When you say cut a wall part, you’re talking about you’re going to do that illustratively.
Mark: It isn’t like you’re going to build a physical wall and take a saw and cut it apart?
Jason: No, no.
Mark: Because you can visualize. You have so much experience that you can visualize how it goes together.
Jason: Yes because the process works like this. Somebody will tell me they need a visualization for their product. I will go first to their website. I’ll make a folder on my hard drive, right. It’s like a big crock pot. There are technical information in there and there’re photos. And just throw all this stuff together and try to distill it down into that real what is really this about? Crystallize it down to the most important part of that project.
Sometimes if it’s a small product they’ll send me a sample or If it’s a large thing, they’ll send me some dimensions and photos. if they have CAD drawings they will give me those too. I will then make a 3D version of their product in 3D space in a way that we can grab it and turn in and rotate it.
We can look at it from any angle. That can be done not just for the pretty stuff but for the whole wall. So you can visualize and I can draw a three dimensional version of what’s inside that wall, what’s behind those walls. And sometimes that is a very powerful way to communicate to a lay person or somebody very technical what your product is, how it works, and why someone should use it.
For instance, I had a client that they made underlayment that goes underneath the floor. It looks like plywood but it’s stronger. It does this it does that, features and benefits and all that right? But it is the foundation that goes underneath that beautiful kitchen with all the granite counter tops and the stainless steel and all that stuff. So we did a cutaway of the kitchen and we picked up the floor. So you have this beautiful kitchen but you picked up the floor and we showed their product underneath and what it’s trying to do is say, “If someone looks at that and they say ‘Gosh that’s a kitchen that I would like my family to be in. My family would feel safe in that kitchen. They would be happy. It would be the dream kitchen,’ and maybe I should think about what’s underneath that floor. What’s holding up that dream kitchen.” And just making that association of happy wonderful family kitchen and your product, that’s the way he brain works.
Mark: Right, right.
Jason: It will associate. It will connect those two things together and there will be a positive feeling, a positive impression —
Mark: Well, an awareness of something that they didn’t thought about.
Jason: And an awareness of something they may not have seen.
Mark: Sure. Let’s move on to another subject. You and I talked several times about the importance of installation instructions. So talk to us a little bit about what happens when they’re not done and —
Jason: Yeah everybody —
Mark: — did not do them right.
Jason: Everybody hates installation instructions. It’s not just you and I when we get something from IKEA and we’re trying to put it together and we’re frustrated and to the point where there’s an artist who has created a series of videos or images that look just like the IKEA’s instructions except where they are famous characters from horror movies. There’s like Freddy Krueger and then there’s one two Freddy’s coming for you, three four, that whole thing.
So we all have had frustrations with this and contractors are no different. And if you go to a manufacturer website and everything, it’s all beautiful. The product’s beautiful. Everything’s beautiful but then you go to the installation instructions and they’re just Step 1, Step 2, all this text, illustrations that are usually CAD drawings that are not inspiring or informative and they’re a little but frustrating.
And so what I had found and what we’ve found is that if you can make those just as beautiful as everything else and make them concise and use animated video which basically is the same thing we’re talking about with 3D models but they move. So we add the fourth dimension of time so you can see a virtual representation in a video format of how to put a product together or how to install a product and it eliminates things like the guy, the trades person. You don’t see their hands. You don’t see them talking. You don’t see their butt crack when they bend over. And it eliminates everything and it focuses everything on exactly what you want to see.
And we found that we can do it in more than half the time than you can do with a video. So two, three minutes, five minutes at the most. I think probably seven minutes is the longest installation animation that I’ve done. My clients have found, and we found together that it’s a way to explain very, very concisely and accurately how to install a product but there’s also a very interesting side effect that I’ve found from this.
There’s a company, they make siding material and they have all these anchors and connectors and little devices that they have to use in a certain way in a certain concert to get this product attached properly with the rain screen happening, all that. And so we did all these videos. The interesting thing was how the office accountant, some of the sales people, people that answer the phones all day, who don’t have a clue what all these little parts and pieces are for watched the six minute video and they get it now.
All of the people in the company are a little more excited about what they do because now they’re not just someone, some stupid little bracket, they know why that exists and they know why they’re selling it, they know why it’s important that it gets installed this way up and not that way up or this way in and not that way in.
Mark: That’s great. Yeah.
Jason: And it only took six minutes to change that attitude.
Installation instructions as an opportunity rather than a burden
Mark: Yeah. Well you know, also one of the things that I’ve learned over the years is that, I’m going to say like 95 percent of warranty claims are not a product problem, they’re an installation problem. And you look at the cost to the company of a sales person has to go out on a job site and look at something, inspect something. There’s lawyers getting involved, different people are getting involved.
Jason: Consultants get hired.
Mark: Even if you don’t end up having to pay or replace something, you spend a lot of money, you’ve now chances are, diminished your reputation with an important customer.
Jason: They probably won’t buy it again.
Mark: Doesn’t want to buy your product again because they had a bad experience. And so it kind of reaffirms the importance of doing whatever you can to teach the proper installation. So I think also about how many products are shipped with some printed installation instructions. And even if those are made to look more like easier to get rather than read two paragraphs and here’s like, you said like a CAD cam drawing that only an engineer can understand. We have a labor shortage today, here are less experienced people being put on the job. Part of it gets back to this area of silos within the companies that always frustrates me. So many times the person in charge of installation instructions isn’t necessarily in marketing or it isn’t given the importance —
Jason: And then it’s going to be passed through legal.
Mark: I want more money for ads than to do installation instructions. And the company doesn’t step back in the picture and go, “Wait a minute. Look how much money we’re spending here and if we spend some money improving our installation instructions we would reduce the amount of claims.” It doesn’t seem to work out.
Jason: Yeah. And for example that one company that we did, we started with the animated installation instructions. And they had already printed instructions that were kind of like were saying — so what happened then was after we did the video they said, “All right. At 30 second point of the video give me a high resolution version of that and at 45 seconds and at 50 seconds and so on.” And those became the figure one, figure two of their installation instructions.
So now their installation instructions are beautiful and animated in 3D, they’re easy to understand. Their print instructions, same thing. Now, oh, they want to do an ad. Take that same thing but add some arrows, show some water coming in, show it dripping out. That becomes their ad in architectural record. On their website, you want to see an interesting thing about their product, it’s the illustration. Same thing. So there’s a continuity.
The same way that Apple, every time you see their product, it’s very carefully presented. You don’t see their product all beautiful in the marketing but all of a sudden when you get down to the spec page the drawing looks like a napkin sketch. It’s all very carefully thought out even the box that it comes in is beautiful.
So the contractor in the field and the trades person, and you’re talking about the person who’s in charge of making their installation instructions, there is the silo problem but there is also the empathy problem. Think about that new guy on the job site, what his life is like and the fact that he’s trying to understand and learn all this stuff.
If you put yourself in that person’s shoes and just help him . . . .
Mark: I think it also gets down to how money is allocated. Let’s say the marketing department is in charge of installation instructions. Well there’s nothing sexy. You’re not going to win an award.
Jason: No, and they’re not trained. Yeah.
Mark: And so they’re thinking about great ads, trade show booths, the creativity of the website. Things that are going to get really noticed and here’s these installation instructions. And so they so much money to spend in a year and they try to spend, in my experience, as little as possible on the installation instructions.
They have more money to spend on the sexy stuff and that’s where it kind of takes a leader to step in and say, “Hey, either I’m going to give you some more money or the first thing you’re going to do is you’re going to do the installation instructions correctly then we’ll talk about the other marketing stuff you’re going to do.” That’s where I feel many times there’s this disconnect. Because it’s no skin off the marketing department if there’s a bunch of warranty claims. That’s not their problem, okay, but it is.
Mark: Okay. Because you and I can talk all day —
The uses of visualizations for marketing building materials
Mark: Just two more final things I want to talk about. I want to talk about the uses of the things you do, and I also wanted to educate people about if they contacted you, what’s a typical process and timeline? Now back to uses. Some companies, smaller companies perhaps have never made, never chosen to do this. So they have heard that engineering do some sort of drawing that’s technically correct but nobody can understand except Herb.
And so for them they’re looking saying, “Gee I’ve never invested in something like this and I know the cost can be overboard depending on how complicated it is and so forth.” So I don’t know when you get into that but what I’m getting to is like if you make an investment in this, if you think about it, you do an animated video or an illustration.
To my mind there’s many ways that it can be used. Okay. Like I think about you can use it on point of sale, you can use it in trade shows, you can use it in installation instructions, you can use it on your website, you can use it in printed literature, you can use it in ads, blog posts. I could probably keep going. You have any other thoughts —
Jason: Yeah, you can keep going and the thing is make a list of places you shouldn’t use it.
Jason: And now we’re going to scratch our heads a little bit.
Jason: And that’s not to say, “Let’s do 8,000 drawings.” That’s to say distill this thing down to what really matters and allocate and understand that you can do that once and use it in all these different ways. You know, like your website. You’ve got the www.yoursite.com, everything after that, you can use this stuff, right. You can use it.
To me, the big hero box that you first see could be a very polished short video talking about your product. When you get down to a product page, now you take the same product that you had in there, you just pluck that out and now that becomes the image. You want to do your installation instructions? Just make the video a little longer and show step by step in there. So to me it’s the kind of thing that you can use at trade shows. My goodness. These trade shows. I went to that, what was it? The Builders —
Mark: Builder’s Show.
Jason: — Show, right?
Jason: Just thousands and thousands of booths and frankly it’s a little bit difficult for me. I get like anxiety because I’m looking around at all these booths and I’m like “Wow. I could really help them express that, what they’re trying to express. I could help them do that a little bit more. I can help this guy –” I’m like “Aaahh,” you know. I just almost ran out of there. But the trade shows are an exciting place.
Mark: Yeah. I see the same thing at trade shows. They are one of my pet peeves because I see companies doing such a poor job with how they’re presenting themselves at a trade show and I shake my head at all the money they spend and it’s for three days and it’s dumb. And you either make it happen or you wasted your money.
So then let’s talk about, so if I’ve never done this before and I decide I’d like to talk to you about it, what’s the, “Hello Jason. How are you? How’s the weather on the beach?”
Mark: What’s the process that you follow?
Jason: Yeah. It’s different because companies vary in size, in structure, and some of them make pretty products that you see, some of them make things you don’t, some of them have thousands of products, and that’s tricky because it’s hard to decide which thing to work on first.
More often than not, I’m talking to a marketing director of marketing manager at a company. They don’t have a lot of time. . They’ve seen my work. They love it. So what will happen is, I will get from them their impression of who they’re speaking to and what they’re saying and why they’re saying it, right. The what, how, and why again.
And I will take that and I will take what their angle is and what they really feel like is the most important aspect of that product and what they want to communicate to another human being. And then just spend some time looking through all of this and collecting everything that they have.
I’ll take their product and I’ll make a digital version of it, a virtual 3D version of it. and it doesn’t matter to the audience how I do it, I’m sure they don’t want to hear about all that.
Then I’ll send them a sample of it and they’ll say, “Hey, you got that right” or “maybe you should turn this a little bit and get this a little better” or “that size is a little different.” So we’ll go back and forth a little bit on that and then we will create a script which would just be step one, step two, step three. It’s a spreadsheet which shows what we’re going to say in the video, this is how long it’s going to take, and this is step two. So we’ll go through, we’ll push and pull that until we get that right and then at that point I will generate a quote based on that.
So one of the things that you notice is we’ve done a lot of work and they’re getting a lot of value before we even — if they decide not to do it, what do they have? They have a script already of a plan of what they want to do so they’ve actually gained something without really going forward.
Once they decide to go forward, depending on the complexity of it, if it’s only a minute long, I’ll just crank it out. Show it to them and then we’ll go from there.
If it’s a longer thing, I’ll show them just a series of still images of here’s what it’s going to look like at step one, at step two, at step three, and that way we can iron out a few things before we go and do it and then we move to a first draft and edit it and we’re done. And that can take three weeks, four weeks sometimes.
Mark: Yeah. I’ve noticed in the years we’ve known each other, how it seems to me there’s been, every year, every time I talk to you seems like you’re doing more animated videos. And I use the word animated because when we use video many people think you’re going to take a video camera and shoot something.
Mark: I want to be clear, when you’re talking to Jason that he’s not using a camera.
Jason: The word animation is tough because sometimes people think I’m making a Disney movie like a cartoony thing, because that’s animation.
Mark: Yeah, right. Yeah.
Jason: Sometimes people equate just a still image with animation but really what we’re talking about is it’s a highly photorealistic three dimensional version of your products and they move. Some parts move around, camera moves around.
Mark: The question I want to ask you, I feel like from talking to you that the video part is growing as part of your business. Okay.
Mark: So what would you say right now when people come to you or what percentage your business now do you think is where you’re doing animated videos and what percentage do you think you’re doing still, I don’t know what, illustrations?
Jason: Yeah, I’d say probably 75 percent is videos.
Mark: Oh, wow. Wow. It’s grown that much.
Mark: Okay. But I would think like, where it was at five years ago?
Jason: A lot less.
Mark: Yeah, right. That’s the point I’m trying to make is —
Jason: But you know, the funny thing about this is people will look at it and go, “Wow. This is a great new thing.”
Jason: I’ve been doing this since 1995.
Mark: Right, right. Yeah.
Jason: I was the first person to say, “ let’s make 3D details.”
Instead of showing beautiful 3D images of the finished product, we’re going use this technology to show the details. The things that really need detail, right? It’s in the word! Back then we were not showing that much detail in details. We’ll show a cross section of a wall and what would we do? We pick the easiest simplest part of that wall to cut through because it’s going to take less time and we don’t have to deal with all the corners and the what happens at windows, what happens at all these complex locations is the kind of thing that can be much more useful if you just put it in three dimensions and show it.
And so I was doing that in 1996 and 1997. I didn’t have the confidence to go out and talk to companies about doing this.
People came to me for a long time because I was mostly technician, a computer geek in the back room, I didn’t know how to sell my services to anyone. But then there was one company that was the changing event for me.
I looked at their catalog. I looked at this whole bunch of products that they had. These unsung hero products that nobody ever sees and they were presented in a way that just wasn’t exciting. And I knew I could change that for them.
And then one day somehow, someway they contacted me. We did hundreds of drawings and I realized right then that this is important thing that everyone needs.
And so it took me 15 years to convince people to do that and now — people are starting to realize that the video is very important because of the way our brain works. If we are hit with moving visuals and see all these things at once, our rate of retention goes way up.
Then you look towards the future, you look at virtual reality and augmented reality. Can we put on a headset and look at a building and have a view of it cut apart now? Will that be possible? What would we be able to look at and touch a certain part of a building and see what’s inside and show our products and show how they could work?
That’s stuff that we’re working on and that may be exciting, but right now it’s just about, to me is about distilling down what’s most important and communicate it in a way that’s visually appealing.
Mark: That’s great. Hey, well it’s time. We’ve got to wrap things up always, as always Jason, I really enjoy talking with you.
Mark: You and I always have good conversations about building material marketing.
Jason: Well, I don’t get to geek out about this stuff with many people. So when I get to talk to you, it’s just —
Mark: Two strange people that’s suddenly like this industry but —
Jason: I get to just absorb all of your knowledge
Mark: Well, thank you.