Media art production—a professional development journal.

In media, production design comes before prototyping and prototyping before production. Because everything in the process except imagination comes with a cost, time must be allocated to meeting these costs in order to bring the imagination into reality.

In the modern world of trade & commerce, that usually involves finding a client that will pay the costs and wages of bringing your idea into reality. Ideally you will find a client who wants the product of your imagination, or even better, they will find you.

Your idea will cost money to produce, but how much? This is where efficiency comes in. First you need to learn what the market desires and this is subject to trends of the time. Next you need to find who the players are that satisfy this market desire. After that you must tantalise them with your offer if they are to become your clients…there is no escaping marketing.

Marketing involves finding customers and that involves selling your concepts and ultimately your product, for you cannot have customers unless they are buying. The line between marketing and sales is blurry at best.

Sales often start from promotional hype. For long-term success this hype must be achievable. When it comes to the commercial world of digital assets, born of creative imagination, logic and accountability must be employed to quantify this creative process, giving it monetary value. Unless you are not in need of further wealth, you, as a creative, are going to need to use the other side of your brain to fund the process of bringing your concepts to market as a desired product.

In the creative media production field, that means documenting and planning every stage. It’s the only way to put a monetary value on things. The biggest cost will be time. How long will it take to learn what market trends are, what has been and is very successful, what the shortcomings might be, what resources are required to create a market alternative, how long will it take to find customers. It comes down to the creative versus the proficient in the right place at the right time. A freelancer flying solo has their work cut-out for them, but all creatives need to know the basics to survive solely off their talents and abilities.

In the world of creative media production, proficiency evolves with experience and time. The quantification of the whole process from concept creation to finished product must be undertaken with every project and contrasts made between them over time to produce an average cost that results in more and more accurate quotes with each project.

This information is the foundation upon which the achievable promotional hype can be built. Products of media are usually audio, text and visuals used to help deliver a message. Often the nature of this message is either educational, informative, or entertaining and on the digital web platform, can be two-way interactive. Visual media is further divided into still and animated media. Video is a series of still images that become animated through technological real-time rendering. Movies are usually a mix of still frames animated and synchronised with audio. The still frame animation is achieved through video in the digital sphere, but may be achieved through film and projectors in other media and entertainment spheres, including home viewing.

Movies usually take much of the metaphoric encryption out of still visuals used to portray a message. Cognitive interpretation is made easier and more consistent across an audience through the movie medium.

One of the advantages of visuals over text is the instant eye-catching aesthetics that draws in an audience. Text may hold the attention of an audience attracted by its content longer than still visuals, but movies, being part of visual media, have the potential to do both. Motion graphics lean toward aesthetics that help branding, or reinforcing a message, often being delivered through audio narration with associated motion visuals—be they graphic, or photographic.

Part of finding a market and customers is knowing which medium is going to work best and whether you have the resources to work with that medium within the budget that is identified with that marketplace.

As already stated, it all starts with learning to quantify the process of creating media assets and establishing an estimated cost, that can later be adjusted by the real cost. Over time these experiences lead to more accurate estimates and quotes.

The first step is to draw up pre-production documents that will help articulate a proposed idea and act as a plan. An idea needs to be explored to realise its potential. For this, a research folio should be started. Following the research folio should be a sketchbook, a design brief, a time schedule and finally storyboards.

In the following weeks more articles will be published here elaborating on these pre-production documents.

Researched and written by Gavin Lardner CC-BY 2016.

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