Two years ago, Brafton’s video department launched, and today, our production teams’ videos are among the more popular elements of marketing strategies we create for customers. As we recognize MVPs across our editorial department, we’re pleased to highlight a video animator who is among our most talented staff and has set himself apart with consistent results for clients and standout leadership within his teams. The final installment in our three-part series highlights this year’s top video producer: Michael Bernard.
Mike is pretty humble about the fact that he taught himself the art of animation. “I took an interest in animation and decided to learn the software and principles on my own … If you have the motivation and time, you can definitely learn it,” he said.
But his teammates don’t want him to fool you: his raw talent isn’t something that’s easily acquired.
“The only limits you have with animated videos are your own creativity and abilities… [I'm] constantly trying new things.”
Mike’s curiosity for animation started as a simple experiment a few years ago when he was working at a nearby Boston advertising agency. While editing for broadcast television, he started taking basic motion graphic assignments and turning them into longer storytelling clips. What began as a hobby ultimately led him to Brafton’s video production team.
Animated videos are often a favorite among Brafton’s clients, and Mike’s natural and audience-savvy skills translate into consistent delivery.
“When I began at Brafton, I tried to hit the ground running and I guess that might tie into advice I would give a new producer: Just try to take on as many challenges as you can,” he said. “Otherwise, you don’t really learn and grow much. I would definitely encourage people to go all in.”
Making creative, quality animations look easy
Mike makes animations look like a breeze, and his peers and managers know they can depend on him to complete polished projects and turn around edits under tight deadlines.
“Mike’s style is simple. Or at least he makes it seem that simple, which is why he deserves the distinction of Producer of Year.” said Video Producer John Hopkins. “Nobody ever wonders if Mike will be able to get it done.”
“Mike always manages to surprise me with his creative solutions, and he knows how to make his work look great and pop off the screen.” - Video Product Director Perry Leenhouts
As an animator, Mike’s day-to-day projects range from explainer videos to product demos and company overviews. He always appreciates the chance to explore a new skill, and his favorite projects are the ones where he’s allowed the most creative freedom.
“One of the best things about having Mike on the team is that he always delivers quality work, and does this at a fast pace,” Director of Video Product Perry Leenhouts said. “Mike always manages to surprise me with his creative solutions, and he knows how to make his work look great and pop off the screen.”
Mike’s 5 key ingredients to creating a compelling animation
So how does he deliver results-focused AND creative videos for a diverse range of customers? Mike is known by his teammates for “nuggets of wisdom” on how to refine a project, and he’s shared essential elements for fellow producers (and brands investing in video) to consider.
Story - Animation is a medium of storytelling, so without a story it doesn’t really serve much of a purpose. Whether it’s a video overview of a highly technical software or a consumer-facing ad, use the visuals to create a narrative.
Design - Good layout and composition is key to an aesthetically pleasing animation.
Style - Different use of color, texture, lighting, shape, etc., can help achieve whatever style best reflects a brand, whether it’s something familiar to viewers or something totally new and unique.
Tools – Knowledge of the software is pretty essential. It’s important to take the time to understand the nuances of each, or work with someone who does.
Personality - The difference between a video that “comes to life” and one that stays flat on a screen is how lively the elements of the video seem. Disney has outlined 12 principles of animation that are really important to achieving good motion and visual flow, which make characters pop.
Bonus: Pushing the boundaries – An advantage of animation is that anything is possible. The only limits you have are your own creativity and abilities, so Mike believes that it’s important to constantly be trying new things and push past what you have already done.