Samantha Gordon

Video marketing, like any creative content marketing pursuit, takes talent, hard work and dedication to create winning videos that will resonate with your audience. We are pulling back the curtain to give you a closer look at the world behind the camera with Brafton’s Director of Video Product, Jim Davis.

From humble beginnings, a video marketing rockstar rises

Director of Video Product Jim Davis poses for a portrait.Jim joined Brafton in 2013 when our Video department was still gaining its sea legs – perfect for someone returning from a five-month sail around the North Atlantic. He came on board as a Video Production Associate, working on both videography and animation projects.

As the video marketing department began to grow and add new members, Jim took the helm of the Animation team. He even continued to manage his team remotely when he moved to Dallas, Texas, in 2015.

“Working remotely was challenging. I was able to better focus on my work, but there was a human interaction element missing (maybe because I was talking to my cat about clients and production schedules).”

Cut to July of this year, and we welcomed Jim back to the Boston office with open arms to step quite literally into his new role, where he still works with the Animation team, but now oversees Videography projects as well. Jim’s experience, expertise and keen design eye play an integral role in all of the videos we produce for our clients.

We managed to squeeze some time into his busy schedule to get his insights into video marketing and industry trends – and learn a bit more about the man behind the video.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Growing up, I wanted to be a deckhand/marine mechanic with the world’s largest tool collection. Now it’s just a hobby.

So, what drew you to animation?

In high school I was very into sculpture, which unfortunately doesn’t always pay the bills. Then I discovered 3-D modeling and the bevvy of jobs associated with it. While the two vocations are quite different, the spatial thinking element is still there with similar rewards. I went to Northeastern (go Huskies!) for economics, but my passion for multimedia propelled me into the art studios, where I found a group of inspiring, motivated artists and never looked back.

What are your favorite animation styles?

It’s easy to fall into a certain trend or style. Despite the fact that there are more motion graphics being created now than ever, a great deal of it all looks similar. Personally, I enjoy folk aesthetics – things are better when there is a little grunge. Anything futuristic looking is always fun too. J.J. Abrams is running the world right now, and I don’t think many people are complaining.

Where do you see the video industry heading in 2017?

With the decentralization of education (thanks internet), people all over the world can create content. This means video content will be more prevalent than ever before, but it also means it will be more mediocre than ever before. Facebook feeds are strewn with random videos, GIFs and adverts – people are inundated. Up until modern times, people rarely encountered bad animation/video (people wouldn’t pay to distribute), but as they encounter animation/video more often they will get better at recognizing mediocrity. So there will be more video overall, which means lots more mediocre video content. But, even creamier cream will rise to the top.

Which video marketing best practices do you find have become ineffective or are on their way out?

Video for video’s sake! Be gone! Better to have nothing than a bad video, just like those “under construction” pages on the internet. A new trend of short videos without audio are being proliferated, again reinforcing that no one ever wants to watch your eight-minute corporate overview (even if your nephew put it together). Also, whiteboard animations – after the UPS commercials of ’07, they were dead. Seriously, please let them die.

When would you recommend animation over live-action, or vice versa, for a client?

Animation is ideal for presenting abstract concepts, explaining how behind-the-scenes tech works and doing software demos. Really, anytime someone says “the Cloud” or “Internet of Things,” they should be calling my Bat Phone.

Live action is ideal for showing companies’ people and offices, and giving a human element which is often lost in the world of online/remote companies. Event coverage, demonstrations and presenter-driven product demos are all impossible in any other medium. Also, there isn’t anything cooler than a production facility or warehouse video with some tight editing.

How long does it actually take to animate a 15-second clip?

Some fifteen-second clips can take up to three full days to work on, and some animators can spend months on fifteen seconds for an especially complex sequence.

What’s it like to spend hours creating something that’s only a few seconds long?

It’s like making lasagna – it’s an unbelievable amount of work for a short window of noodly glory.

Viewers gobble up video content.

Viewers gobble up video content as quickly as it can be created.

What are some of the common challenges that arise when developing a new video?

Avoiding cliches or fads is one of the most difficult challenges for new videos, and explaining abstract ideas to stakeholders who may not be visual thinkers can be tricky without a video to show them.

What should a client keep in mind before kicking off a video marketing project?

Clients need to decide if they want to be part of our production process, or if they want us to drive. You have to understand how large of a project any type of video is. The easiest way for you to have a say in the final product or concepts when working with a content marketing partner is to be a part of the creative process from the beginning.

Can you tell us about a project that you absolutely loved working on?< /h3>

We did a project for a client loosely modeled after the Adult Swim show “Tom Goes to the Mayor.” The project was a beautiful mix of photographs, jerky motion, absurdist humor and comedic timing. It’s very different from anything we’ve done, present or past – and I think it turned out great. The reason for success? We had a client who trusted us to bring their vision to life.

Interested in learning more about what Jim and the rest of Brafton’s video marketing team can do for your business? We’d love to discuss the possibilities with you. Contact us today.


* Note from the author: I absolutely did not intentionally reference Garfield. Any reference to cartoonist Jim Davis is purely coincidental.