IamA a former YouTuber turned animation producer with over 500 Million views, best known for "Do You Want to Build a Meth Lab?". I provide a living for our YouTube animators as we create the next generation, virtual studio. AMA!
I'm Zack James, once known as OutbackZack, former YouTuber turned animation producer. I've worked with the same animators for the last 4-5 years, and even provide some with a living. Together, we've created videos seen by 500+ million, covered in publications such as Time and People, and even Walter White himself posted our video.
Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul shared our Breaking Bad/Frozen parody, "Do You Want to Build a Meth Lab?": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uty2zd7qizA
Our younger audience loves YoMama: https://www.youtube.com/user/yomama
Every video is produced entirely from our homes across the globe. We are a virtual, animation studio built on the spirit of YouTube collaboration. We've created the first sustainable and scalable YouTube animation business model. Our initial investment of $5,000 has generated over $1 Million. We're excited to continue growing our studio wing at RISE9 with the people we consider our family. So, that we can continue providing them and many others lifelong careers.
Today, Reddit's front page made my stomach drop: https://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/3yspef/animator_shares_his_experience_of_getting_ripped/
All too often do animators struggle to be the creators that they are. The traditional industry continues to ship their jobs overseas, and new media has yet to earn its value. It's important that we honor, respect, and give value to our animators with everything they do. So, that we as fellow creators can give our industry its true value. I would like to shed light on better business practices, creating a sustainable production, and everything people are curious about.
My Proof: https://twitter.com/ZackJamesOBZ/status/682384836397543424
EDIT: I'll be staying up to answer every question that comes in.
EDIT 2: Answering some quick questions while also working on the "tell me your story" questions.
EDIT 3: Over 12 hours and the questions are still rolling in. We have Reddit's front page to thank for that. I'll continue answering questions until I pass out. In which case, I'll make sure to answer any leftover questions going into 2016.
EDIT 4: Woke up from a 3 hour nap and ate lunch. Going to answer all the remaining questions.
I'm dedicated to this industry for life. I want to see it mature and grow into the beast it can become. It's important to keep in mind that this industry is built on the shoulders of many creators. Allowing one creator to fall due to bad business practice and miscommunication would only take us a step backwards. Weakening our industry and its ability to provide creators a living.
I want to work with MakBot. I believe in his animation, humor, and sense of self respect. Helping him go into 2016 with a sense of pride and value will only lead to a longterm, healthy relationship. Thus, making our industry stronger for all creators.
You sir are my dream producer. So side question: do you hire freelance editors? And can weekends work?
We actually still edit the videos ourselves. However, we're going to scale our team in Q2. So, email me your resume: [email protected]
I wish more people would do this, You come here to help people and then you offer jobs to people willing to work. Youtube needs more of this.
We will. Our community is still very strong, if not stronger. It's just a little lost in an industry that's experiencing growing pains. One of our goals is to actually bring back a sense of community with a greater focus on creators. We experimented with this at VidCon, and are now looking to turn our community back into the daily lifestyle it once was.
Just saw your youtube channel.. how the hell do you have an animated cover photo for youtube? Do you just upload an animated gif and it plays out?
YouTube supported gif banners last summer. They've since turned off the option to upload them, but allowed us to keep ours. We simply can't replace it without losing it.
What.... why would you add such a feature and then take it away? Surely it wasn't harming anything...
YouTube does this when users are not using the tools often enough. They did the same thing with front bumpers (3 second vids you could mass insert on your YouTube channel). They were perfect for promoting anything! Yet, sadly, not enough people used it.
Can I email you my resume too? It's not very flattering, I've only got my BFA in animation and no real work experience.
Never hurts! You can always send an updated version too.
Cool dude. I'll get to that when I get home from work (I'm in a call center right now lol)
Fun fact: my first "real job" was at a call center. Had to convince people to take 30 minute long surveys in the middle of dinner. Good times.
In other words, you put him in your pocket.
Honestly, that's a fair perspective to have since you don't know my character. We've both referred to it as a donation though, and I know Harley from EpicMealTime did a similar thing. We're both simply looking out for our fellow creators, knowing that what isn't much for us can really go along way for someone else.
What was on today's front page that made your stomach drop?
Google Cardboard and the VR options for viewing seem like an entirely new realm for movie making and story telling, It seems like theres not much content out there and the possibilities are endless, Are you, and how are you embracing this new interface for the viewer of your programming?
Great question! We're actually forming a partnership with a VR/hologram studio. We've been discussing what animation would look like in the future, and they're even doing something super sick themselves! NDA though.
I believe VR options will allow us to explore the world that's entertaining us. Why not explore the Yo Mama world while the characters are talking? Why not have an adventure that shapes the episode of a cartoon? We're constantly asking these questions to best understand how we can take advantage of this. Today's ideas, tomorrow's reality.
How will VR effect the workload per video? Going from 2d into 3d and suddenly having to create an entire environment for your story sounds like it would require a ridiculous amount of additional work.
This would be a spinoff project. So, it wouldn't affect the current team and their workload, and it's more of a year away. We're actually exploring hologram onstage entertainment, but I currently can't go into detail right now.
Holy fuck, $5000 to $1,000,000. How the hell can I invest in you?!?
Well you'll need more than money. Sure, money can talk, but sometimes I enjoy my silence. What then? What comes after the money?
Next comes the power, then come the women, if Scarface serves me correctly.
...they'll be making movies about me. Win.
Oh man. Excellent AMA. Thanks for sharing!
I run my own very similar production studio: theoryanimation.com. We're also collaborators from around the world who've worked in television and commercials. Yet cracking YouTube and understanding has been so foreign to me. My straight up question:
what do you think we're doing wrong? ➡️ https://m.youtube.com/user/TheoryVisionTV?
No joke, this could get more views than our own content. I can't quite recall the channel, but I know there's a 3D cartoon YouTube channel that's been going super viral. Like crazy sick viral. My suggestion? Look into these popular 3D cartoons, and check out their metadata. There's plugins that will show you this. Kids that are looking up their cartoons should also be finding your cartoons. YouTube ads, placing your videos before theirs, is a great way to attract their audience.
For you, it's all about the right video with the right metadata. Getting these younger viewers will be the key.
Fuckin Outback Zack. I'm still subscribed. I was a kid when I subscribed to your channel. Now I'm a grown ass adult male. How's life goin? Any regrets?
So many of my Little Lunatics are growing up! Welcome to adulthood!
Life is great! Staying extremely busy, and learning so much along the way. Not a single regret. Only motivation to keep pressing forward.
Man I miss that so much! I'm so happy you're still around. I feel you helped me shape who I am today via my humor and thought process. Thanks Zack, Your efforts certainly did not go to waste. :)
This quite honestly put a huge smile on my face. Thank you :)
Fellow Animator/Producer/Whatever here with a tiny Machinima channel that consists of 5-6 people. I am studying visual effects in the first semester now and I really look forward to my career.
We are at the point of getting hired for promotional videos and the amounts we are getting offered to work for are a joke. I literally would make more picking up old glass bottles and turning them in. So I kinda know the pain and want to thank you for paying that animator the amount that they owed him. Great move.
I just want to ask: What keeps you motivated to complete projects? I've got a lot of unfinished .aep's where at one point i thought "Oh god this will never work". It's a huge problem for me.
Also, how to you fight procrastionation?
You're right, most amounts offered are a joke. We work in a young industry, and as such, we have the power to negotiate that value. Every deal we take, every project funded, every contract sign sets the standard in our industry. It's up to us to set the proper standard.
To answer your question, I've actually seen this happen with our animators and their own projects. My first piece of advice is to start small in length. Make something shorter with a stronger punch. My second piece of advice is to build, build, build off of what you have. We're starting to get away with longer videos because we build a world of assets. It's a balance of being creative and having a strong production strategy. Work smarter, not harder.
What's your YouTube channel btw? Would love to check it out.
Can you elaborate on how your business model is sustainable and scalable?
Also, are you looking for new talent? I do animation: https://youtu.be/fOZHB6qt75s
Love your animation! Message me your email.
We scaled based on asset creation and time length. My co-producer, Alex Negrete, approached me one day. He told me how much $$$ he spent on a minute of animation for his music videos. Mentioned the money wasn't being made back fast enough. So, I asked "Why does it have to be a minute? Why not 15 seconds and 4 videos?" This was before YouTube factored in watch time. Once that kicked in, we created comp videos such as 100 Yo Mama Jokes. This is a 30 minute video of reused content, resulting in pure profit, and it has ~60 Million video views: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XG8b7WhANNA
From there, we made sure every asset we created was going to be reused. Also, the animators have amazing cheats that doesn't cheapen the quality. Today, we sometimes find ourselves producing an entire YoMama episode that's was really already created from before. Which gives us breathing room to create even stronger, more detailed assets in other episodes.
Can you expand on YouTube watch time for videos?
Are you saying it's smarter to produce longer content now?
It's the major factor behind Pewdiepie's success. So, here's how it works:
1 View =/= 1 View
It used to, but not anymore. It's now:
1 View of 5 minutes > 1 View of 15 seconds.
The more watch time your channel generates, the higher your ranked across the website. So yes, it is smarter to release longer content. Producing it, that depends. We produce each joke as its own video, and then compile them into long form compilations. The strategy will vary based on the production needs.
How many man hours goes into the creation of one YoMama clip?
-60 minutes to record 8 jokes with Brock Baker
-Redminus and/or StevRayBro will spend 2 days total on animation, 10 - 14 hours.
-Max Repak completes SFX and music in 2-4 hours.
Its nice to know that your business model is working out well. Gives me some hope for myself, my future plans, and for my own content.
So a question I have for you is this: How often do you and your animators get in a rut/depression/downward spiral/loss of motivation and what are ways that you and they get back on track?
We constantly remind ourselves of where we came from. Personally, I started my career yelling at a camera in the bathroom medicine cabinet. So, anytime I'm in a rut, I think back to that first YouTube video, and tell myself "You've come too far, and you're only going further." There's simply no turning back. That motivates us.
Fantastic! Thanks so much for helping out the animators. I run an animated show on YouTube and I question my sanity every day. I wish I could produce videos quicker, but that's the nature of animation of course. Since YouTube favors creators that produce huge amounts of content, how do you deal? How would you like to see YouTube and other companies treat animated content differently going forward?
I've only managed to release one animated video this year... so far.
Here's my channel: https://youtube.com/hellodoctorpuppet
You actually have way more videos in your hands than you realize. We upload each video more than once, but in different ways. Example:
-YO MAMA SO FAT! Dracula: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sADwtmFyXmI
We uploaded this video at least 3 more times in the following videos.
-100 YoMama Jokes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XG8b7WhANNA
-50 Fat Jokes in 3 Minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpdARyAjr7s
-Yo Mama Halloween Collection: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CtZbeRXJm4
That's 66 Million more views than before, and YouTube favors the longer watch times. So, putting together these compilations have played a huge role into our success. It literally led to a 25% raise in everyone's pay. We're playing into both the watch time and generating more net revenue.
What you have here is a perfect chance to upload ~30 minute video using all your current episodes. You could have a "Best Moments" video. Don't worry about your viewers getting angry. Ours rarely, if ever do. Instead we're getting put in front of new eye balls ~15 Million times a month. Same thing can be said about releasing this content across all platforms. Each video is more than one video.
Any thoughts into putting up the music from the "Watch Me Draw" videos somewhere? They're really chill
Yes! We're working on getting everything properly cited again. A mass edit across the videos caused everything to get lost. We want our viewers to explore and enjoy everyoned involve in the making of our videos.
You are the guys responsible for these Yo Momma videos my little brother is watching? Finally. If you recognize that you have a younger audience, why still include blatant vulgar talk/messages such as this line from this video? That was just one line 2 minutes in, but the video is filled with "bitch" this and "bitch" that. I can only imagine what else was in those 39 minutes.
Everything we do is part of Brody's character. We're creating a generational experience as we continue to explore Brody and his world. We actually have an ending planed out once his entire story is told in a long form series. So, to answer your question, Brody is a real YouTuber who is as flawed as I was.
I know this seems like a bullshit answer. However, I hope that Brody becomes a character the kids and young adults can grow up with. Brody will grow, and this will affect the Yo Mama episodes as well.
I respect your dedication to a character's personality, but at the same time it causes faults and results in suffering in other areas. It does seem like a bullshit answer, but there isn't much I can do about that, can I? I just want you to have something to think about for a while.
We've actually been thinking about it for quite awhile. Yo Mama for Kids is coming out in 2016. Its own channel and will be apart of YouTube Kids. All the content will be edited version of the original videos.
As someone who has no (real) idea of youtube. How is revenue created (and how do you create it)? Is it all created by ads?
Ads, brand deals, and now we're seeing funding thrown around. That's the TLDR answer.
Thank you for your answer. How does funding work/what's the framework of the funding process?
Varies with each source of funding. We retain all our IP if the other party fails to continue funding. This is even for future seasons. How does the process start? They contact us due to a viral video, or we already have a working relationship. The content usually ends up on their desired platforms and often double uploaded to our outlets.
Can you talk about how the funding model has or has not been altered by YouTube Red? I was concerned that it might stifle/entirely squash new and enterprising content creators.
YouTube Red is a victory for our industry of creators. To answer this question, I have to shoot straight; we're having conversations with YouTube. So, we know enough to say this "pay for premium content model" will bring new life into the YouTube landscape. Creators will see greater security coming out of YouTube, and will begin flocking back to the platform. YouTube Red will have a one of the greatest finical impact on creators.
I'm in college right now and no entirely sure what I want to get my degree in ( just doing Gen. Ed. right now). I took a film course in highschool for a couple years and absolutely loved it and I'm going to take a few more in college this upcoming semester and hopefully if all goes well I can see myself going in that direction... I really love movies, and not just watching but analyzing and thinking "how would I have done this"... A lot of my favorites are animated movies. I know absolutely nothing about animation, and I have ZERO artistic abilities. Is animation something I should just rule out entirely? or is it something worth checking out for myself you think?
Okay, so this is a great question. I had asked myself a lot of the same questions, and felt compelled to break everything down. Frame by frame, techniques, and even started noticing when I new studio took over a popular show. Dragon Ball Super has a new set of animators mixed with some veterans. You can tell with the fight scenes, the animators haven't been able to nail down a detailed look without all the details.
I had considered attending CalArt for animation, and had artistic abilities. However, I knew the time and energy was more than my mind could handle. My thought process fell more inline of a producer role, and that excited me more. Loved the idea of working with a team of animators and overseeing more of the production from beginning to end.
Now that said, RedMinus is a different story. He's our lead animator for YoMama, and he went to school for audio engineering. It wasn't until after school that he taught himself animation. Brock Baker, our lead voice actor, went to school for animation. After school, he taught himself voice acting, and can now do more than 100 popular characters from Peter Griffin to Jesse Pinkman.
So, I guess time will only tell, but now you have an idea of where life can often twist and turn.
This is an exciting time, with virtual studios popping up here and there.
I've worked with one other 'virtual studio' called Skynamic studios, and it was kind of a new and interesting experience compared to a brick and mortar studio.
How do you keep organized? Google hangout, spreadsheets, email? And how many are you? Do you bring on contractors, or do you only work with a core team?
Great questions. We do a lot of unrelated projects and productions. That said, I'll use YoMama as an example:
-6 Team members: two producers, two animators, 1 voice actor, and one audio engineer.
-Step 1: Record voiceovers via Skype or in-person (drive) with Brock Baker. These voiceovers are edited with Audacity and sent to RedMinus.
-Step 2: RedMinus decides to either animate the entire episode or create an animatic. The animatics are emailed to StevRayBro as a Flash file, where he'll complete the animation. Total time either way is 2 days. Animations are sent back via personal DropBox links.
-Step 3: Convert animation file to .MOV and send to Max Repka for sound via Google Drive. He's emailed every time there's a new episode and is given direction. He sends back via Drive folder followed by email informing me of delivery. Time varies based on needs and deadlines.
-Step 4: Piece together the sound with original animation (before conversion). Edit and render several versions for different platforms.
-Step 5: Thumbnails are created and the videos are uploaded.
We use a Google Drive production calendar to keep track of all stages of production and deadlines.
There's usually anywhere from 3 - 6 team members on each project. The projects are ran by different departments; creative, digital, and events. All channels of communication between management level is done via Slack, along with selected employees based on department needs. We work with a mix of a strong, dedicated core team and contractors that are longterm (they love that freedom). The virtual studio is a cog in our machine.
Thanks for the detailed breakdown. Would you rather it be brick and mortar studio if location wasn't an issue? Is that something you're working towards, or does the virtual studio model suit you fine?
We're pushing the boundaries on everything we do. This will include our offices, and we're excited to announce soon how that will impact our community of influencers.
What was it like working with Brock Baker (man of a kajillion voices)?
Brock Baker is one of the most brilliant, talented, kind hearted guys that I enjoy working with. He really brings Brody and other characters to life. There's moments where he'll improv a line and we'll bust out laughing for a solid couple minutes. I'm grateful and honor to have worked with Brock the last 4-5 years, and I look forward working together towards a greater future.
What do you think about the reputation Machinima has for taking advantage of rising personalities with draconian contracts? Is that style of management common, and how can we consumers help?
It's funny, everyone I enjoyed working with at Machinima has since left to do their own thing. Brilliant minds, and honestly, Machinima deserves a slight mention in helping maturing our industry.
That said, they're not the industry. We are. I don't care who's screwing you over (MCN, record label, movie studio, etc) you let everyone know. That's the power of our influencer, and I've seen it worked more often than not. Speak up. That's why we're social media.
Some hater is downvoting a lot of this AmA. Tough crowd, but I think you're doing very well. Keep on truckin'.
Thanks! Haters gonna hate, lovers gonna bake... pie. Pie is good people.
Favorite fast food restaurant?
How much do you make a month\year, on average, Zack?
I've put myself on a $60k salary the last 2 years. Some argue that we could easily bump it, but I'm always looking for ways to reinvest. So, I live within my means while making sure life has the right amount of fun.
So, are you rich yet?
What was the saying? "A Million Dollars Isn't Cool. You Know What's Cool? A Billion Dollars." That said, no. I'm all be reinvesting right now for a more secured future for both myself and everyone involved. I take a very modest salary.
Can you elaborate on the boot strap days of the $5000? What was the strategy for growth? What was the legal side like?
Is there anything you would have done differently with the initial investment? If so do you mind sharing?
The $5,000 went right into asset creation and the first two episodes. This included Brody's design, all 9 original moms, title and outro cards. Both videos hit the front page of YouTube, generating 3 million views and 75k subscribers in a single weekend. This generated all the money back, and allowed us to continue scaling. Legally speaking, we all worked on a handshake agreement and honored that deep in our bones.
Honestly, there's nothing I would've done differently. Everything has worked out perfectly.
goddamn. you built literally the exact kinda studio I've dreamed of building since 2013. congrats man, Anyplace I can apply to work for you?
You can email me your resume: [email protected]
We grow with the flow.
I do stopmotion videos on my channel,http://youtu.be/0HX9kgklSdw I started in a while ago and blah blah, I am not going to bore you but I am wondering, how can I step my game both in terms of craft/technique and in terms of viewers? Any books you recommend?
Wow man. Honestly, your game is on point. Like impressively on point. The camera motions were an amazing touch, and you know your sense of direction. All you need is better resources. Keep it up!
Email me with updates: [email protected]
What gave you the idea to mix Breaking Bad and Frozen? What animators inspired you?
Our friend, Amanda Hill, deserves all the credit for the initial idea. She isn't a YouTuber per-say, but she's very creative. She tossed out the idea during a beach day. Steve Kardynal loved the idea so much that he pushed me to consider producing it. We had some character assets already, so the idea was given a lot of weight. Once it become more fleshed out, we decided to do this from the ground up with all new assets and style. Something more in the spirit of Disney.
I wouldn't say my inspiration is limited to the animators, but more so stories and themes they carry. Greg Weisman's Gargoyles and Young Justice inspires the desire to tell a woven story thread between characters and their motives. Rick and Morty inspires me to push the limits of pacing, character development, and isolated story arcs that fits within an unfolding mega-arc. Then shows like Pyscho Pass reminds me of the darker, more deep rooted society themes we should question and explore in theory. So, overall I'm more inspired by story telling and themes, and love all varieties of animation styles that can fit the themes that need them most.
I love traditional animation, and am an animator by trade though I use Maya to model/rig/animate. I've never tried flash animation, it's always been one of those things on my to-do list.
My question is are 3d animators something your new empire is interested in?
Study the VR industry. 3D animation will follow the VR* trend hand-in-hand. Everyone is interested in VR.
Any tips on getting content out to as many people as you can when you have no visibility?
Scale your strategy. Start off with viral style content (hitting on hot topics, pop culture, controversy even) to build your audience, and use that audience to test the ideas you love.
Also, feel free to reach out to blogs, websites, and even news sites to publish your video. They're usually looking for great, likeminded content to share with their audience. I would also suggest trying Facebook video, as this is quickly becoming a viral platform. Friends often see their videos get more views on Facebook than YouTube. Diversify where you publish your content; Vine, Instagram, etc. This allows you to tap into audiences that don't cross platform.
What programs/software do you generally use to do the animation?
RedMinus draws and animates in Flash. Drawing in Flash is often unheard of, and it blows some of my more traditional animators away. The guys have been talking about using Toon Boom too.
Have you considered using open source programs? That way you can extend them as needed. It seems like ya'll would be the perfect users for it. That sort of commitment to the creators could also translate into commitment to the tools as well.
This is actually a bit new to me, and I haven't heard any of the guys mention it yet. I'll have to ask them to weight in on it. Thanks for pointing this out!
Reading your post was very inspiring, thanks for doing this!
I've been a voice actor since 2001 in TV shows and video games.. And spent the last year releasing an animation on YT semi weekly as I taught myself how to animate in toonboom.
I managed to learn a lot, and now I feel like I want to focus on a consistent cast of characters and build my own little show, rather than the random assortment of ideas, themes, genres, and characters I've been using.
What's your perspective on building an audience through a consistent cast and original topics, versus using pop culture material as a launching pad?
Maybe in an ideal world I would mix both, but am I being a pretentious artist by having a sweet spot for my own little imagination world?
We've actually been exploring this idea as well. I say go for it, regardless of how much more challenging it may be. That said, never hurts to do something fun and short to test the waters.
Do you have any general advice for people who are trying to become creative professionals?
Work smarter, not harder. Creative folks love to work hard until the passion runs out, and find there's still more to do. The people who get it right structure out their creative process. Every talent and skill in life needs discipline.
My only question is how. Would you say tentpole programming (releasing the parody at the height of Frozen and Breaking Bad popularity) really helped with your big break? I've been at this five years and while I can't complain at 4K subs and 5 millions views, I still feel like the whole YouTube thing is against us animators (or there's just something I've been overlooking for far too long).
I also 1000% appreciate what you're doing and saying and couldn't agree more. Not only is all the hard work that goes into making animation misunderstood, it's doubly annoying when we are indeed taken advantage of. Thank you. Thank you indeed. :-)
HOW?! Actually there is a big how. Here's the problem: your viewers are not converting into subscribers. RedMinus had the same problem when he started working with us; 1+ Million views and only 1k subs. 5 years later, and 13 more videos, he now has 363,665 subscribers with 21 Million views.
So, here's the how: tell your viewers to subscribe. Look at RedMinus' outro cards:
After advice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AAodXRrD30
Before advice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcwswB7Rbbs
Notice how the first video compels you to subscribe. Viewers need to be made aware of all your content. I would love to dive deeper, but your hyperlink goes right back to Reddit. What's your channel?
Whoops totally edited the messed up link now but my channel's here
Ah, I have indeed put subscribe annotation at all my videos from 2012 and beyond-although admittedly I've switched back and forth between just using a silent graphic or making it similar to RedMinus'. Instinct tells me I'm also having a big problem with which part of my audience to focus on (I regretfully attracted more of a fetishistic community when I got my start..unless that's something I can use to my advantage).
Thanks so much for answering my questions. :-)
Then you got yourself some paid style content. Look, people pay to get access to what's hard to come by. Especially when it's great quality and meets their needs. Do some digging.
Animation student here (focusing in more on 3D) and getting close to graduating. What do you find personally to be the biggest hurdle of a project, and how do you surpass it?
Being with your production limits. I've sadly had to axe amazing ideas, and scale them down to make production sense out of them. However, you actually get a finish product, and a finish product is often better than no product. Start small, and then scale with your assets.
So great to see someone out here posting and helping others after having success themselves! I hope I'm not too late, but I was wondering what you'd suggest would be the best way for someone to break into the graphic/animation/voice acting/freelance video editing scene? I lot of people tell me to make a demo reel showcasing my editing skills but I'm not fully sure how to go about doing that.
I was also wondering, if possible, would you mind looking at my portfolio/resume? I'd love some feedback, tips, and suggestions whenever you'd have the time.
Love your work!
Of course! Send everything over to my email: [email protected]
I'm not an animator by any means, but I am a creative. I've been one for 20 years. I can't gain traction. It does not matter what it is I am creating it never gains any momentum and nothing can take off. I cannot find my 'big break'. Advice for someone who has the skill to make a career but not the know how?
What real advice? Give me as much detail as possible. I won't give you blanket bs.
Photographer of over 10 years, new to automotive video production. As well as car illustration/drawing (digitally)
I know with anything creative, it's an uphill battle. I've been doing photography for a decade now, honed my skills, developed style, I create work that I thoroughly enjoy, and I don't know how to bring it to the next level.
My idea of the next level , is career. I want to do it for a living.
I have a great product, I'm good at it. I don't know how to make it work for me. This is a question I've been asking alot of people and I can't seem to find the answer.
I guess it comes down to any other business. I just don't understand how to make things work. I have a product that is in demand, and only growing but I can't get it out there.
What is the 'key'? I've been told "the key to success is the grind". How much grinding does one have to do? I've been at it for 10 years now and haven't moved forward and can't figure out what I'm doing wrong.
Honestly, I've always hated that saying. It's really an excuse for not working smarter. Yes, hard work is important, but smart work is the blueprint to success. Hard work is just the fuel for the blue print. So, let's take a step back here and work smarter. Look at what you have, look at what other people have. What are you doing? What are they doing? What's the difference? It's all cause and effect. Chaos theory doesn't kick in until things really start up.
thanks for doing this and staying up so late answering questions! I'm a night owl, hence me reading this and posting now.
my friend and I are preparing to create our own YT channel (sort of a mix between animation and gameplay). however, we have no online connections whatsoever. even in real life, I have few friends (who are all introverted like me). so I'm afraid that when we finally upload our videos, I'll be looking at that view count rise no more than the amount of times I watch them.
is there any way to not make that number be a sad single digit? aka how can I get exposure for our videos, having zero visibility in both the digital and physical world? I'm also feeling a little bit panicked of our work not being appreciated (aka spending a lot of time making good content, but nobody seeing it because we're a nobody channel).
It's okay to be nervous, but that should only make you more excited. Shows how much you care about what you're doing. That said, share your videos with everyone you know. Friends and family will be your first viewers. You can also look into tools like YouTube ads to place your videos in front of new viewers. Don't let the single digit stop you though. I remember my first 30 views til this day.
First of all thanks for doing this AMA and also sticking up for the animator!!
What is your favorite animated motion and your greatest accomplishment?
It's really hard to nail down my favorite animation motion. Nightmare Before Christmas, Pinocchio, The Incredibles. I all movies.
As for my greatest accomplishment... I actually keep forgetting what I accomplish. Sometimes I'll be sitting at a bar when suddenly Avicii's Wake Me Up - Remix starts playing. Suddenly I remember, "Oh man, I produced this music video for his Vevo channel." So, honestly, I haven't achieved my greatest accomplishment yet.
What software do you use to do the art and animation?
RedMinus draws and animates in Flash. Drawing in Flash is often unheard of, and it blows some of my more traditional animators away. The guys have been talking about using Toon Boom too.
What are the necceceary steps that beggining content creator on youtube should take , that are often overlooked?
Getting a true sense of your brand. You need to come in strong, knowing exactly who you are to set that foundation straight.
What are your margins like, if you don't mind me asking? Reason why I ask is because I know the Sci show made $2M, but it cost them $4M to make the whole show and I was trying to figure out how the model of youtube videos works out in the long run. Thanks!
I can say we're currently seeing a 500% ROI in December. That's with the high CPMs. We see 200% in January due to lower CPMs.
Is there a market for graphic animators? I'm becoming quite skilled with animated titles but have no idea where to start to get work.
I know there is a market for graphic animators. Especially YouTubers begin to rely more on addition video elements. I would suggest going to YouTubers with your portfolio. They often have their business email somewhere on the channels or videos.
Any advise on this new channel? https://youtu.be/IcvrMfnxQs8
The first and only video has 13.6k views. My advice, upload more videos.
I've been making videos for YouTube for over 3 years, and I'm planning to keep making them even if I never make money on them, but I'm also curious how I could increase my views. I've done a video every single week since I started.
My videos are mainly for teaching the Korean language, so perhaps I'm just in too niche of a market, or I'm doing something else wrong? I've tried making some different types of videos too (such as videos on food and travel), but I usually don't get too many views despite how much time they take to make. It seems that my viewers enjoy my videos, but I'd like to make them more enjoyable and get more views.
I know this isn't related to animation directly (though I have done some animated intros for my videos), but I wonder if you have any insight into how I can improve. Thanks for reading. Channel link
Alright, your views are coming from your titles. What's happening is your most viewed videos are actually searches that people perform, or close to what people search for. Whereas "Let's eat ____" is more of a statement, and wouldn't be close what someone searches. So, think more along the lines of "How can my video titles be closer to what someone types in the search bar?"
Overall, I suggest learning as much as possible regarding YouTube metadata. The more you learn here, the more views you'll get.
How do you go about finding voice actors? And do you need one who will work for little to nothing? Pm me.
Our voice actors now find us! Feel free to email me your demo: [email protected]
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
...I wanted to be a Power Ranger. More specifically the Black Ranger since we shared the same name. Funny story: I actually met the original Black Ranger when we were both invited to speak at ConnectiCon. Then once again when we were both back in LA:
What tablet do you think would be good for a small animator?
Funny enough, StevRayBro will put you on the right track: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42dMDCQuno0
Any plans to transition live action content back in as well to go along with your animated content?
Actually, yes! We've been approached for live action. We're currently in development through an incubator team.
If like to start dabbling in the world of animated videos, any recommendations? I'm sure this is a very generic and broad question. It's 4 am and I'm unable to process anything more profound to ask you.
Here's the 4 Steps for your 4am!
Step 1 - Download Flash or Toon Boom
Step 2 - Watch How To videos
Step 3 - Practice
Step 4 - Repeat 2 and 3 until you develop that creative snoopiness we all have. That's when you're doing it right.
Do you need free voice acting? I'd be willing to lend my voice to you for free for whatever animation projects you guys need.
Always looking for talent! Email me your demo: [email protected]
Juicyy AMA. How did you get the team together without meeting?
Emails, Facebook, Skype messages. No lie, I spent 5 months working with RedMinus before ever hearing his voice. 3 years before seeing more than one photo of him. Then only recently did we meet in person at our RISE9 event in July. Mom was wrong about the strangers. Embrace them.
Zach, firstly thank you so much for the effort that you're putting into this AMA. I've only just started reading it, but you're still here answering questions 6 hours into it. Kudos!
I wanted to ask you if you have any advice for someone who wants to do comedy and/or write on the YouTube platform specifically? I feel like so many channels nowadays are so similar in style that it's hard to tell them apart (quickcuts, really over-the-top speech inflections). Hopefully we'll all be able to contribute towards a vibrant YouTube community and be able to work from anywhere in the world, while staying connected via online platforms!
Please keep up the great work! Really inspiring how you're keeping on eye out for the greater good and supporting great work around the net :)
Alright, I'm going to say something that we don't really hear... it's no longer about YouTube, and they know this. The video space has grown thanks to Facebook, Vine, Snapchat, Twitter. I've seen my comedian friends upload videos to YouTube and only get a few thousand views. I've then seen them upload to Facebook and get millions of views.
People are hungry for content! They want to watch funny videos! Look, we're always going want more than what we can have. So, let's push that limit by taking advantage of these new video platforms. Facebook is brilliant in this sense: the video goes from profile to profile with each share. That video is moving across the website with legs. YouTube videos? They stay on one watch page unless it's embedded.
Funny videos = people engage = video moves with engagement
It's really never been about the content. It's always been about getting the content in front of the people. The more they're aware, the more they'll watch.
Thank you so much for the thoughtful reply! I'll definitely take that advice to heart -- thanks, Zack!
Keep in mind that Facebook pads views on their hosted videos substantially, as anyone scrolling through their feed and having a video autoplay for a certain amount of seconds counts itself as a "view". So while inflated, it's so true that views are definitely coming really quickly via FB. The 'having legs' analogy is great.
Have you encountered issues with unaffiliated video aggregation accounts hosting your videos without permission and hi-jacking your views yet? Anything to pay attention to to prevent that from happening?
Honestly, we let it happen. We allow our videos to get reuploaded for the most part. That said, we come across a Yo Mama Vine account with 500k+ follower and using all our videos? We're getting that account. Thank you for all the hard work. Seriously. Thank you. They gave us the Vine account and we now work with them on regular bases. There's only so much gold in the world, but there will always be more views than we'll need.
What made you want to start animation and a YouTube channel? Was it of bordem, curiosity, or because you just wanted to start making videos and seeing how they do?
I started YouTube knowing I would make a living, and that it would put me on the right path. Life was pretty much figured out for me coming out of high school, and it didn't excite me. So, I took a step back and asked myself, "How can I do anything I want, and be focused?" Sure enough, I went to high school with DeeFizzy, a fellow YouTuber.
That story is pretty long, but as said, I knew what I was doing. The same thing with animation. I knew exactly what needed to be done, how to do it, and when I would see results. That's my TLDR thought process behind every step that's taken.
Animation is something I've wanted to do since I was a kid. I've always had a knack for drawing from references, but I'm still learning the ins and outs of animation software and honestly also find the transition from paper to tablet challenging. I know that is something that will just take more practice though. Another issue I'm having though is developing my own unique style. I'm so used to using references that I'm finding it hard developing one. Any tips? I also wanted to ask since I had the opportunity to ask a much more experienced animator directly, as far as the general process goes, are there any little, yet notable, 'shortcuts' or 'tricks' I could learn to help speed up the process, or any things I should avoid that would otherwise take up more time? Thanks for your time in advance. Awesome work on the channel btw. Just subbed.
I would love to give you advice. Sadly, I'm the not the animator, I'm the producer. HOWEVER! My animator, StevRayBro, tends to lend tips and tricks. He also teaches animation at a school. Here's his public email: [email protected]
God damn dude i remember when you started out as a youtuber way back like five or six years ago.
I guess i'll ask you this: Do you plan on ever going back to youtube or are you staying as an animator?
Either way you were my favorite youtuber and your "EPIC DOUCHE TIME" video is still one of my all time favorites.
Hello my Little Lunatic! So, let's talk insanity for a moment...
I'm not an animator. I produce animation, and overall, work with teams of people on various unrelated projects. The environment keeps throwing me situations where the camera wants to roll. So, it's only a matter of time before people finally see what's really going on.
PS. Glad you loved that parody! Harely was such an amazing sport about the video. His kind and supportive nature was also shown today when he reached out MakBot to help pay for the animation.
How does it feel to be the guy that finally pushed me over the edge to watch Breaking Bad?
Feels like I'm Walter White and you're Jesse Pinkman. Time to cook.
How are you making money? solely on ads?
We actually make most our money outside of YouTube. Overall, people value traffic. Have views? Can push and pull your following? Ads is only the beginning, and brand deals is the first hurdle. Social media influencers are now getting book deals. Our revenue is only growing as it continues to diversify.
Two questions; What do you mean by sustainable YouTube animation business model? Also, what is the business model?
Here's the quick rundown, because I'm not writing for Forbes:
-Sustainable means we're making money back from our video to continue producing the videos. This is rare when expensive animation means low paying ad dollars.
-We achieved this by a sheer number of factors. Everyone works in their homes, low overhead. Videos are short, affordable budgets. Assets are reused, quicker turnaround times. We reupload our videos as compilations that generate millions of views and pure net. Repeat.
Hi zack! I was a huge fan of your earlier videos though I've drifted from YouTube in recent years. Thanks for all the good times.. Anyways my question to you is this. Do you still have your amazing long hair?
Hello my Little Lunatic! I still have the long hair.... and now have a huge beard! https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10155988971755230&set=a.10150286532265230.555257.873310229&type=1&theater
Hey man - wow! Just wow. Me and two friends are in the same(ish) business (we make content for kids aged 2 - 10 on youtube) and we aspire to make it big like you.
Firstly, have you ever worked with an MCN? We're currently signed to one and our contract ends in February, but **** are trying to poach us and we're unsure of what to do. To be honest, they've not been massively helpful but we felt like we needed a lil' crutch to support us when starting out.
Also, how long did it take you to 'take off'? We've been doing this for just over a year now and some days are so, so hard. Especially after the massive drop that comes after Christmas..
Thanks so much!
Yes, we're actually signed with two MCNs at the moment. Both contracts are approaching their end dates, and we often ask ourselves the same question. That said, we always come to the same answer; don't take the initial offers given to you. I won't dive into specifics out of respect for those we work with. What I will say is your revenue share % is extremely negotiable, and never sign on longer than a year.
Why do we work with MCNs? We're in the position to negotiate. YoMama wasn't on a MCN for over 2 years until someone finally gave us an offer worth entertaining.
As for how long it to me to "take off". I would say about 3-5 months as OutbackZack. I started my channel with Shane Dawson shouting me out due to some t-shirt designs I had made for him. YoMama took off in the first hour, and got a million views in a day. Why? More shout outs and I already had an audience myself to promote to. Point being, I didn't "take off", instead I leveraged. So, learn to leverage.
Ahh cool - I didn't know you could be signed with two at once! I'm glad you've mentioned about about revenue shares being negotiable because it's something me and the team are really focussing on with this next (potential) contract.
SUCH GOOD ADVICE DUDE, THANK YOU! If only we all had a Shane Dawson eh!
Ps, if you fancy, please check out our Addicted to Love parody. NB: it's for kids :]
Oops! I should clarify we have two, different channels. Hence the two MCNs.
Great animation btw! I'll keep you guys in mind in the future.
I have a great script that want to turn into an animation, can I hire you guys?
We're not really a work for hire studio unless we own stake in the IP. Also, the budgets can get fairly large very fast. I've seen web animation get as high as $10k/minute depending on everything involve. You'll most likely want to look at a studio funding the project in exchange for IP. This is quite the TLDR answer. It's important to really do a lot of digging when it comes to your ideas, and protecting them from people as you look for someone to work with.
What's your ultimate goal? Is there something longer-term that you're working towards? Let's say that I work for Google and I was just given a $500 million dollar budget to develop a few animated things without any parameters and I approached you and a few other people. What would set you apart from your peers? You could potentially win the whole budget... What would you pitch me if you knew I was already in your corner? I'm only buying what you're genuinely passionate about.
I'll shoot straight here: harnessing and structuring the sheer force that is social media. Yeah, right now it's all cat videos and selfies, but we're talking about mankind's greatest communication device to have ever existed in our human history. This device will change the very fabric of our society, governing bodies, and the positions of powers. What's gonna happen one day when a billion people are all pissed off at once about the same thing? Turkey's riots after shutting down Twitter will look like a cupcake to what Cake Boss is cooking up with his big, Italian family.
So, what would I do with $500 million dollar budget... look, why are we spending that much on animation? Let's not try to create the next Pixar here, and instead get back to the roots of diversifying our library of content. I'm not going to do anything differently here. I'm instead going to do exactly what I've always done; great ideas and find the right people to work on them. I will seek out and tap into every YouTuber that has an idea, talent, or skill set than can lend itself to the overall mission. We're not only talking talent, we're talking labor force and operations. Need someone to manage all the content and channels? I'm not hiring someone out of college. I'm hiring the guy with 100k subs. YouTube will tap more itself than it ever did before.
You said in another comment that YouTube won't get you random viewers like it used to 5 years ago.
It's funny I only mentioned this to my wife earlier today. How do I convince her to allow me to invest $10 a week into YouTube ads?
I still remember seeing the first ep of Yo Mama. Those were the golden days of YouTube. Back before Let's Play videos shudder
Think you can turn $10 into 10,000 total views? Both directly and indirectly. I'll be honest here, I'm the expert, but I know the experts. These are the questions they ask themselves, and if you're really a numbers & data guy, you're about to dive down a rabbit hole. Show your wife the data.
Are there any particular genres you stick to? A virtual animation studio- is that anything at all like a group of game developers all collaborating from home?
Comedy is more of our stick. Virtual means we operate via the internet using emails, file sharing, Skype, etc. Not in the video game sense.
At what age did you get into animation?
I've loved cartoons for as long as I remember. Would watch Dumbo, Pinocchio, and Lion King nonstop. Then the adult theme cartoons (anime, Adultswim, etc) kept my interest as I got order, and naturally I began studying animation from a technical point of view. Always stuck with me.
Hey Zack! Are you guys looking for artists? Never hurts to ask right? :)
You're right! Never hurts to ask! We're expanding our team in 2016. Feel free to email me your portfolio: [email protected]
Do you have advice for someone who has been making YouTube videos, is growing modestly and is looking for a way to grow exponentially? (My son makes videos & I don't want to shamelessly promote him, but genuinely want to help him). Thanks!
-Collab with likeminded YouTubers. They'll expose you to their audience, many of which may never have seen your videos.
-Take advantage of what's hot right now. We incorporate people like Donald Trump in our videos, or hit on things people love such as Minecraft. We still stay true to our content while allowing new viewers to discover us.
-Reinvest. YouTube ads, when done right, can pay off in both an ROI and new viewers.
-Try additional platforms like Facebook. Not everyone is on YouTube, and it's important to diversify your distribution. This will protect you in the long run too incase there's a mishap or one of the platforms is no longer popular.
What's your favourite made up word?
I tend to say "Yargen" a lot. Totally made up word that for some reason means "Yeah".
What made you reach out to MakBot and pay him the amount that Syndicate owed him?
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