Startup Videos Interview: Grumo Media
This is the first interview in a series called the Startup Videos Interview Series. In this series, we will be interviewing top motion designers and agencies in the community to give you the inside scoop on the persons behind the explanation videos we showcase here. Today we're bringing you an interview with Miguel Hernandez, the talented designer and entrepreneur behind Grumo Media.
About you and your agency
Let’s start with an introduction. What is your background and what do you do?
My name is Miguel Hernandez and I run an animation studio that creates explanatory videos for startups (Grumo Media) from Vancouver, BC. I have a very diverse background in mechanical engineering, web development, 3D animation and film-making.
How did it all started with your studio/agency?
Back in October 2010 I created a spec video for Hipmunk.com that turned out to be very successful. The founders of Hipmunk introduced me to hundreds of startups and requests for videos poured in. I was not able to meet the demand alone so I started to contract animators and Grumo Media was born.
What did you use to do before making videos / creating your agency?
I have done many things. From 2000 to 2003 I worked as Mechanical Designer for a local plywood machinery manufacturer. There I taught myself 3D animation and ended up modelling and animating most of their product line. Eventually I was laid off and worked doing 3D industrial animation for a couple years. Then I took a couple film-making courses and got involved in the production of several TV commercials and music videos.
At the same time I taught myself some basic web development skills and begun creating websites for friends and small businesses. In 2006 I started working as a camera guy/editor/IT support for a local advertising company where I made of great connections and learned a lot about video production. In 2008 they closed that company and started developing an online project managing and invoicing application called PointKit. I spend 1.5 years developing it on my own until I ran out of resources. One day I went to an event looking for mentors for my startup and ended up meeting the founders of Summify (just acquired by Twitter). We hit it off right away and they hired me to do a little video explaining their startup.
Right away more people started asking for videos so I saw an opportunity to make a living producing demo videos for startups. I really wanted to validate the market opportunity before dedicating all my resources to this new venture so I zeroed in on a up and coming startup that was lacking a demo video. That company was Hipmunk. I produced a demo video for them for free, they loved it, promoted me to everyone they knew and Grumo Media was born to meet the demand.
What about now? How many people in your team? (In-house, remote, freelancers?)
I work with a team of 5 freelance animators. Most of them work remotely.
Where are you working from? Your own office, coffee-shops, home, co-working space?
I work most of the time from home. Recently I opened a small office to use as a casual working environment. Any animators working on projects are welcome to come to the office to work, brainstorm, and spend time together.
About your production / creative process
Can you tell us about your typical creative/production process? (Brainstorm > script > storyboard > animation > etc ?)
All starts with a client sending a brief of the product or service they want to promote. Then we usually get on the phone or Skype where I run them through the whole production process ahead and find out more about the problem their product is trying to solve. With that I put together a draft script within a couple days and we iterate versions until we both are happy. Some clients come with great scripts and storyboards from the start. Some need a lot of work and we need to iron out our creative differences before going into production.
The full production process has 7 stages: script writing, storyboarding, voiceover, illustration, animation, sound design, and final editing. Every stage needs to be approved by the client before moving to the next one. The typical video takes about 4 weeks from beginning to end depending how many revisions we go through.
What about your production setup? (hardware / software / paid web services)
We use Adobe Illustrator to create the graphics, After Effects and Cinema 4D for animation, and final cut for editing. Music and sound are bought online from stock music sites like Pond5.com and AudioJungle. For bigger projects we work with a professional Sound Designer.
What are you favorite sources of inspiration?
Startups-Videos.com, have you heard of them? they are awesome!
Tell us about your team organisation, do you produce everything in-house, do you collaborate with others creative people/agencies (copy writers, illustrators, animators, sound designer, etc... )
Most of the creative process is still led by myself but as we grow larger I have trained other people to write scripts and produce storyboards. One of the reasons why I produced an entire course teaching how to produce demo videos was to train other animators and script writers to handle the creative process as well.
What are your favorite projects you’ve worked on so far?
Hipmunk.com because there was no client interaction and no revisions and was a complete success. PadMapper because there was also no revisions and got me to meet Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore. MyGardenBag.com because it really made the client happy and helped launch his business. FanBox.com because it got me flown to San Diego to meet with their founders and brainstorm about their video. Roamz because despite the complexity of mixing After Effects and Cinema 4D we nailed it on the first try. Faronics because they let us do anything we wanted creatively and became 3 times repeat customers.
if you had to share one ultimate bit of wisdom that you’ve learnt through out the years what would it be?
Do everything you can to lose your fear to try new things until you find something you enjoy doing. Embrace failure as an opportunity to learn not as a personal defeat. Learn the 1 in 10 rule, 9 out of 10 times most people fail at whatever they attempt so if you have failed only a couple times don't give up just yet, you are a couple of failures from a home run. Now, if after 10 attempts you keep failing maybe you should drastically change your strategy or try do something different all together.
You seem to always have a tone of other projects on the go like these cool video tutorials you've made to "create awesome videos" or to "create an awesome WordPress site in 4 hours". How do you split your time between client work other Grumo projects?
Client work always takes priority as it is highly constrained by deadlines but whenever I am done with it for the day I work on other fun projects. Teaching stuff online is something I started doing last year and find very satisfying specially when students write to me sharing the stuff they've built thanks to my courses. A lot of my animation course students were startup founders that could not afford a studio like us to produce their demo video and it is great to see some of the great videos they've produced themselves after taking the course.
Video Explainer / product demo market
Most startups realize that explaining their product/services through video is now a must have in their communication/brand strategy. What would be your advices for startups looking to get such a video, what are the “must have” and pitfalls to avoid?
Startups looking for videos should make sure they have a clear idea of what problem their product/service solves and what is their main target audience. We need to know that in order to produce a demo video that hits the right demographics and tells the perfect message. Also I usually discourage startups to get a video if they are still very early in the development of their product unless they are well funded. If a startup is bootstrapping, is short on cash and does not have a clear idea of what their product is supposed to do then their money will be a lot better spend in further product development and market validation.
According to you, what are the trends for 2012 and what can we expect for this year design-wise, budget-wise, message-wise?
I think in 2012 most startups will feel incomplete without a demo video as more people become used to watching them. In fact prospect customers will expect to see a demo video before engaging further with a brand because it is such a superior medium to engage and get people excited about new products and services. This will be great for business but will bring a lot more competition as the costs of starting your own studio will keep dropping. We may see bigger studios entering the market as they see there is a huge demand for these type of short fun explanatory videos.
I think we will see more early stage development startups producing their own demo videos in house using affordable tools like Keynote and Camtasia for screen recording. In terms of style I think that 2D animated videos will keep thing the most requested and for startups with bigger budgets we will see more live action videos produced but for a fraction of the cost charged by well established production houses. I am pretty sure 2012 we will be the year of the demo video, not just for startups, but for all kinds of products.
We are seeing more and more book trailers, app videos, product animations, and soon demo videos for professionals, lawyers, doctors, and eventually the general public. Your demo video will be like your interactive business card, if you don't have one you will suck! Looking 5 years down the road a lot of the production will be simplified by the proliferation of automatic video making platforms like Animoto.com and SpotMixer. YouTube will keep integrating many of these platforms as well and eventually they will all go mobile so people will be create amazing demo videos in seconds right from their smartphones. This will put out of business many studios but the need for excellent hand crafted demo videos will never stop so only the best studios will survive. Another big trend already merging will be video crowdsourcing platforms like PopTent, TurnHere.com, Tongal.com , or Wooshii.com. Many similar startups are trying to break the 99 Designs model for video making but that will be a tough nut to crack.
However I am pretty sure that by the end of 2012 or beginning of 2013 there will be a couple a major players which will gobble up a substantial portion of the demo video market. In conclusion, it is going to be a super exciting year for this industry!
What is missing, or what would you like see in the industry right now?
I'd like to see two things a great crowdsourcing model for video making being developed and an amazing mobile platform for automatic video creation.
If you had the choice what company or client would you like to make a video for?
I can make a video for anyone even if they don't want me too. Another thing is that they like it or want to pay for it. I would not mind producing a video for Apple, Larry David, or TED.com. Anyone famous and influential but Justin Bieber!
Fun / Personal
Where is your accent from?
Are you a Basque terrorist?
No but I know a few. Most are already behind bars.
Have you ever shot porn?
What was the toughest client so far?
Jessica Mah of Indinero. A true perfectionist no wonder she runs a multi-million startup at just 21 .
Why are you so handsome?
I eat home grown beautifying carrots twice a day
Do you think you are cool?
No, I think I am the opposite of cool. I am less cool than Mark Zuckerberg and billions of dollars poorer.
Your favourite movie line?
Matrix: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5m1A7zoIcc Agent Smith: You hear that Mr. Anderson?... That is the sound of inevitability... that’s is the sound of your.. death..
Your favourite indian dish?
Veggie pakora.. nom! nom!
Any other news? Projects you're working on? Plans for the next few months?
My plans are to produce cooler videos for bigger clients. Also I am planning to produce a few more online tutorial videos and build up the new studio.