The Daily Show

Best... Show...Ever...

I’ve been doing this animation thing for a while, and while I’m not a fantastic artist, my one saving grace is that I work fast. Really, really fast. At least I thought so until I went to the Daily Show with John Stewart (my favorite show, and the only reason I take a few minutes to eat every day) yesterday and went to the show, and afterwords, talked with some of the graphics team about what they do. And they do a lot.

When I was working on commercials regularly, I thought the 2-day turn around time was pushing it. But imagine having a job where you’re asked for an animated graphic for air in 2 hours – or less! For those of you who work on Broadcast News shows,  I know the news is a lot like that too –  but add the need to make it funny/loony, and it’s at a whole new level of work.

One thing I’ve really tried to do with my tutorials is help you get better at using After Effects. Not to just recreate what I’ve done. Here’s why:

In many ways, to be successful in this industry, it’s more important to be fast than it is to be talented. If your not a designer, speed and attention to detail easily trump artistic flare – no question. Don’t get me wrong, if you have real artistic talent, attention to detail, and you work fast – well that’s the best. But I don’t, so I work with what I’ve got. And I know a lot of people who have been very successful just because they can get the job done quickly.

So for those of you like me, who love animating, but maybe aren’t true artists: practice, practice, practice. In these tough economic times, where you may be in a work slump, use your down time to get better and faster at what you do. Create your own projects and animate them. Learn as much as you can. It just might make you indispensable on your next gig. I know I’d rather hire someone who knew what they were doing over someone that didn’t.

All of that said, I need to give credit where it’s due… The Daily Show has a graphics team that has it all: Artistic talent, speed, attention to detail, and most importantly, the ability to be creative and funny under extreme pressure. Good stuff.

I’ll end this by saying, while I have worked with a lot of cool people, I would kill to work with John Stewart, who, by the way, is 10 times funnier when the camera is not rolling – and that’s saying a lot. Now… I’m going to go hide under a blanket until these jealous feelings goes away.

12 thoughts on “The Daily Show”

  1. This is something I’ve been needing to hear for a long time. I’ve been struggling with thinking I need to become an awesome artist in order to compete with the “next guy”. I forgot how important it is to be fast and efficient, especially during this economic crisis. Thanks for the great words of wisdom!

  2. Trevor – more to the point, attention to detail is crucial. You don’t have to be a great artist to animate a camera well, or to move text on and off the screen. It’ almost all technique. What really trips people up is not cleaning up the work. Get your work done fast and WELL making sure the work is solid with regard to motion and flow. I know that it seems almost defeatist to say “we can’t all be good artists so why bother?” – but what I’m really saying is “It’s good to aspire to create new and beautiful things, but you don’t need to be an artist to be a talented animator who is in demand.” Design and animation are not the same thing, and unless your being asked to design a new look, there’s no reason a skilled animator can’t get the job done and satisfy their client.

  3. Wise words. For me this was a very encouraging post. I’m not an artist or a designer. The shear power of a software tool like After Effects makes me feel like one, at times, but I know the truth. I struggle to be a “facilitator” a craftsman of sorts. I like tutorials that help me get better at manipulating the tool effieciently. To that end your tutorials fit that bill and more Aharon. So once again, muchas gracias.

  4. LOVE the Daily Show! This makes me look up to you more than I already did! You should totally do a tut on how to make Daily show like graphics. Or are you afraid of Viacom’s wrath?

  5. I kind of suspected you to be Daily Show addict, being that you are goofy and pretty damm funny yourself. Keep up the great work and good animation\design advice. And now for a moment of Zen….Practice, Practice Practice!!

  6. Aharon, I would have loved to continue working for Conan, but due to personal issues, I had to remain in NY.

  7. That is really great to hear (or should I say….read), and inspiring! I too don’t consider myself to be the best of “artists” in terms of motion graphics or animation. In fact, I’m a trained cinematographer. Funny how my bread and butter is editing and motion graphics. I owe a lot of that to you, Andrew Kramer, John Dickinson, Harry Frank, etc.

    I’ve learned soooo much from you guys about AE. You all have demystified what can seem to be a complicated tool upon first glance.

    I also feel that editing and motion graphics have helped me as a cinematographer as well and it’s certainly fueled my appetite for wanting to go further with motion graphics and animation by taking on Cinema 4D and adding that to my toolset.

    Thanks again for all you do!

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