Andrew McDowell
Motion Graphics Designer

Blog

Nodefest 2018 Takeaways

As always, this year’s Nodefest conference was an awesome day packed full of inspiration and information, while still staying fun and friendly. I can’t recommend it enough to anyone with an interest in motion graphics. Every speaker offered a wealth of information and I came away from the event with a bunch of notes (and discount codes!) as well as a few more general takeaways. While they may not have been the main focus of the presentations, I wanted to share some of the ideas that most resonated with me:

Motion graphics is a mixed medium - and that’s awesome!

Jonny Kofoed kicked the day off with a great talk showcasing some of his recent work interwoven with entertaining and insightful anecdotes. Aside from the fantastic design and animation, I was particularly taken with Jonny’s description of motion graphics work as like “making collages” and how the vague boundaries of what counts as ‘motion graphics’ makes it easy for practitioners to move between different roles. The diverse melting pot of disciplines that combine to form motion graphics is part of what makes it so appealing to me and Jonny’s work seems to embrace that with a sort of mixed-media style that I think is fantastic.

 Jonny Kofoed at Nodefest

Jonny Kofoed at Nodefest

Diversity is always important.

Up next was Lilian Darmono. Whilst her talk was predominantly focused on character animation, something that I don’t do much of, I still found Lilian’s talk super informative. In her presentation she talked about drawing inspiration from real life and ensuring we’re not using stereotypes as a shortcut - something that I think is important for anyone who’s creating to consider and reflect upon. Possibly the most important part of Lilian’s talk though was about diversity in the industry and ensuring people are being equally represented. Her suggestion of ensuring your social media feeds include people of differing backgrounds was a simple and actionable step to take, and something that I’ve already started trying to do.

 Lilian Darmono at Nodefest

Lilian Darmono at Nodefest

There’s always more to learn.

Courtney Hopkinson and Ben Watts rounded out the morning with talks on ZBrush and Houdini respectively. Having not used either piece of software a lot of the details they went into were lost on me, but it was an interesting glimpse of the programs’ capabilities nonetheless. What the two talks did impress on me though, was the importance of continual learning. The motion graphics industry moves so fast you have to constantly adapt and evolve your workflows, incorporating more efficient tools and practices where possible in order to deliver the best content you can.

 James Cowen talks to Ben Watts at Nodefest

James Cowen talks to Ben Watts at Nodefest

Storytelling trumps new tools, but new tools are cool.

After lunch was the famous EJ Hassenfratz. His talk mostly made me want to rush out and upgrade to Cinema 4D R20 for those sweet new fields, but he also shared some thoughts on the commodification of motion graphics and the importance of ensuring that good storytelling is at the heart of the work you create. These ideas dovetailed nicely with some ideas I’ve been mulling lately about the future of the mo-graph industry (blog post coming soon!) so was interesting to hear his take and certainly gave me a lot of food for thought.

 EJ Hassenfratz at Nodefest

EJ Hassenfratz at Nodefest

Personal projects can lead to exciting opportunities.

Capping off the day were Lisa Vertudaches and Luca Ionescu. Lisa’s talk was the most entertaining one of the day in my mind, with (paraphrased) quotes such as “its good if you don’t have to learn things, but that’s not a good message to share”. Hearing the incredible things that have come from her sharing her simple animations reminded me of the importance of doing personal work, and putting out the kind of work you want to be paid to do. In a similar vein, Luca’s talk was testament to the benefits of experimentation. With an overwhelming range of work, Luca’s portfolio featured everything from 3D printing to LED installations. Seeing how he had applied his design and typography skills to such unconventional canvases, and hearing how those experiments had come to inform other projects and lead to new opportunities made a compelling case for trying out different things. Between the two talks, I left for the after party feeling excited to create and experiment with new things.

 Luca Ionescu in front of the sellout Nodefest audience

Luca Ionescu in front of the sellout Nodefest audience

Whilst they may not have been the intended points the speakers wished to make, these were some of the ideas that seeped into my brain and have been rolling around since. I look forward to re-visiting the talks when they’re released online, and would encourage others to check them out as well - there’s far more to learn from them then what I’ve covered here.

 Thats me on the left!

Thats me on the left!

Big thanks to James and Kim for organising the event, to all the speakers for sharing their work and wisdom, to the sponsors for making everything possible, and to all the awesome attendees who make the day so fun and welcoming. Can’t wait for Nodefest 2019!