Elmwood: Day Five

Friday today. That means I've survived my first week at Elmwood, and that I'm exactly half way through my work placement there.

Today was a good day; for starters the traffic wasn't as bad as it usually is, and I actually got to work for half past eight, and, on Friday mornings, the staff at Elmwood watch a "TED Talk" rather than getting straight on with work. For anyone outside the design community, a TED Talk might sound a bit odd. I know when I first heard of it I thought of giant teddy bears giving lectures. In reality, it is a series of lectures, but given by inspirational speakers from the design world, not the stuffed toy world (although to be honest, I still have no idea what 'TED' actually stands for). This morning's talk was given by possibly the most famous product designer in the world: the fascinatingly irritating, pompous, French lunatic that is Philippe Starck. I've blogged about Starck before when he had his own Apprentice-with-a-design-twist-esque reality TV show, and in the talk we watched this morning he was on top form, starting with the evolution of man, and eventually linking it to why he designs toilet brushes. I believe that he was trying to make a point about how important it is to consider the end user and how they will interact with the product, but he certainly went about it in his own very unique way.

I really like the idea of getting all the staff together every Friday morning to watch these talks. It's something a bit different, a nice break at the end of the week, and it gets everyone discussing it around the table afterwards. Apparently they usually have bacon sandwiches whilst watching too, but that didn't happen today for some reason. Very disappointing.

After the TED Talk, it was time to get on with some work again. This morning I got to see some of the development work that's been done on the logo, for the mystery client that I'm not allowed to mention. I think it's the guys at Elmwood in London who've been working on the identity, and they've narrowed it down to three possible ideas. All of which are pretty much exactly how I thought they would be - very corporate, slick, and still quite cold and faceless looking. However, having said that, I do really like two out of the three designs they've come up with, and I can definitely see them being used by the client.

The big problem however, is that the ideas that I've been working on for my animation now look a bit odd in comparison to the new identity that Elmwood are developing for the client. In my opinion, the animation ought to be in a similar style to the logo and the whole new identity, to give the brand some visual consistency, and so that the two are recognisable as different parts of the same whole. So why am I making an animation for a brand which hasn't even been decided on yet? In the real world, Elmwood would finish the logo and identity work first, and only then surely, would they start work on designing the new website, the animated content, and whatever else that goes with it. I'm guessing it's only because I'm in on work experience that they've even started considering the animation yet.

Well, I'd already drawn out all the different elements to my (very twee looking, hand rendered) animation, so I thought I might as well scan them and put the animation together just to show what it would look like. I didn't have a lot else I could do, and I thought it would be a shame not to actually make the animation now that I'd drawn everything I needed for it. Also, I thought that if I had a proper animation to show, I could then make a stronger argument about the fact that it doesn't work with the new identity.

So, I was shown how to use the scanner (it's very impressive actually, it scans up to A2 size paper, the scans only take about two seconds, and then it emails the scanned images straight to your inbox), and then spent the rest of the day putting my animation together in AfterEffects. By 5pm it was complete, and looking quite good in my opinion. I was eager to show Alex and get his thoughts on it, but for once Alex had left work on time (he usually stays quite late), and so I won't be able to get his opinion until Monday morning.

At the end of the day, Abi came over and started talking to me. Thank God! It was nice to have someone come over and take an interest in what I was doing. She graduated from the graphics course at Leeds two or three years ago, and it was her and Ben from Elmwood that I had to present my work to in order to win this work experience in the first place. She was really nice actually; she asked me how I was getting on and if I was enjoying it and so on, and I showed her the animation that I'd thrown together, and explained my concerns about it not fitting with the new brand identity. She even invited me to the pub later this evening, but unfortunately I had to decline the offer, as it takes me two hours to get home and I have a ridiculous amount of university work to catch up on. I can just imagine what my father would be saying at this point: "You must go for a drink with them, it's essential". Well, I'm sure it would have been a good opportunity, but seriously, I do not have the time!

I ended up staying until about 6pm talking to Abi and doing some extra bits of work, making sure I'm all prepared to show Alex my progress on Monday morning. As well as the animation, I've also made some examples in Photoshop of what the illustrations look like when layered over photographs, as that was an idea that he seemed to like a lot. I remember saying the other day that I thought it could either look great, or it could look horrendous, and having played around with it a bit, I now see it's swinging slightly towards the horrendous side unfortunately.

For some reason, Friday's seem so much more special when you've been working a 9-5 job all week. Despite the fact that I've got nothing but more work to do when I get home, the thought of the weekend was still quite an exciting one. And today, the drive home only took me an hour, which was pretty awesome.


Post a Comment