01. Defining the Problem Quest.
How can narrative through motion design be utilized to inform first-time millennial self-publishing authors on the process of publishing?
Self-publishing has been slowly growing as a market. As of 2015, self-published books that were produced accounted for 18% of the book market and nearly 80% of the eBook market. The Big 5 publishing firms still account for around 37-40% of the book market, however, self-publishing is on the rise with companies such as Amazon.
Writing is only about 70% of what makes a book successful. Advertising and marketing a book are the next biggest processes to
a successful book. Without marketing, no one would know about the book. With proper marketing, a book can gain hype and anticipation upon its release. Next, editing, cover art and design are also issues of self-publishing. Bad design will lead to an uncomfortable experience. According to the New York Times Best Seller listing, a book that is poorly designed will have little to no success. This is due to legibility problems and dissatisfaction. Writers looking into the option to self-publish their books are finding themselves hesitating, due to a lack of understanding for self-publishing and what it means as an author.
Millennial writers that are hesitant to self-publish
Minimal research done
Male or Female: 20-40
My target audience consists of young authors, who have never self-published before. They are either new to self-publishing or hesitant to try. These authors do not want to be overwhelmed with information or too much visual content. They are looking for videos that are simple and straight to the point. Some of these authors may have no knowledge of the process at all. Others may only struggle with individual areas of the process.
My final deliverables are to design a small series of motion graphic videos that inform first-time self-publishing millenials about the roles and process of self-publishing. From my research and exploration, I plan to explore all parts of motion design and narrative. Including, pre-production, production and post-production.
My goals are to have foundations for a resource that new writers, who want to understand the topics about selfpublishing, can connect with. Through narrative and story telling, my pieces need to engage users enough to capture their attention without losing the ability to remember and retain the content within my pieces.
My thesis is solving a problem in the start of self-publishing because self-publishing overall is a complex situation. My end hopes are that if hesitant and new authors have an understanding of what it means to be a self-published author, these writers will feel more confident to self-publish.
02. Gathering the research.
Initial Research: Online survey to target audience
I began my research with a survey directed at an audience consisting of young authors. I did not limit myself to only self-published authors. I did this because, first I wanted to understand the publishing industry from an author’s perspective. I also wanted to learn why the authors who had not yet published remain that way. I also wanted to question why some authors do not (or have not) want to go down the route of self-publishing. This gained a better idea of what problems would arise in the future. This initial survey was important for me to better understand my target audience and gain perspectives on potential problems that my solution could solve through my thesis project.
From this survey I learned the different techniques of learning that people feel most comfortable with. I also began to make connections of topics that were problematic to these authors.
Users were considered visual learners
Users learned better with videos available.
Users are hesitant
to self-publish due
to a lack of understanding.
Users prefer narrative or storytelling videos.
Results: My target audience focused on authors that were new to self-publishing
Originally, my target audience was going to be new or established self-published authors. However, after conducting user surveys, interviews, and research, my target audience shifted. Now, the focus is on first-time or new self-published authors. Through user research and subject matter research, I began to understand what problems lie within the self-publishing industry. For example, authors do not know how or when to market their books. Also, self-published authors do not understand design. There are even self-published authors who
don’t know much about editing. All these problems circled around a core problem. That problem that I found through my research was that self-published authors were lacking the knowledge it took to self-publish their books.
Secondary Research: Author Interviews
After I understood my target audience, I began to learn the specific opinions of self-published authors about what the problem is. These interviews focused more on the industry of video. I wanted to know how to use motion and narrative to solve a problem self-publishers
have. Initially, it was through these interviews that I received a statement, which helped to drive my thesis to where it ended up. This statement was commonly repeated among different phrasing by several of my surveyors. All of which expressed the want for tools to
help new self-publishing authors.
I conducted ten interviews with authors of varying experience within the self-publishing industry. Six of my interviewed people had never published, nor self-published before but were constant writers on Online platforms. Three of the interviewed people had self-published
one book before and one interviewed had self-published a book before, and used a small independent publishing house with a short novel of theirs.
“There should be a resource for beginning authors that want to publish, as way for them to have sufficient knowledge on how to publish a book.”
- J. Lebak
Secondary Research: Industry Research
Self-published authors often take on too many roles (other than being an author) to complete their books. Yet, many of these authors have no experience in these roles, which can lead to their books being unsuccessful. In turn, this allows the five big publishing firms to continue to make 75% of the estimated revenue of published books, according to a January 2018 report of revenue by Author’s Earnings. One key factor that came through my research was that, while there are plenty of articles, Online blogs/communities, books and a few tutorials, most of the information that self-published authors need are all over the place. The information needed to be condensed down into one location that authors can access easily.
Another end goal for me was to better understand the industry that I was working towards, which was motion design and narrative within motion. The human brain interprets content then translates that information at a significantly higher rate with visuals than without. Using visuals to drive a narrative in videos, or to connect to a target audience has become a powerful way to present information. Raymond Mar, a psychologist at York University in Canada, analyzed of 86 fMRI studies. He concluded that there was a connection in the brain networks used to understand stories. Narratives offer an opportunity to engage audiences, as we identify with characters’ longings and frustrations, guess at their hidden motives and learn of their encounters with different types of people.
03. Know who is the persona.
Understand: Who would be using these animated videos?
In the beginning, I sought out three user types for my intended audience. Yet, after consideration on who I am making these videos for, I scaled down my audience to only two users types. These videos are not meant for established and confident self-published authors. Rather they should be used as informational resource for writers that are new to self-publishing, on order to help guide them.
My first user type is, “Could Use Guidance.” These users may have already started the process of self-publishing and may have conducted their own research. Yet, they are hesitant to start because they need more information. They would use my motion pieces for certain topics they have yet to research. Also they would use these videos to get more comfortable with self-publishing.
The other user type is, “Just Starting Out.” These users have never self-published a book and have done minimal research into the industry. They would be using my motion pieces as tools from start to
finish. By using these videos,they will get a better understanding of the topics within self-publishing. They are looking for information, research, advice and help in more than one area.
The point of creating a persona was to help me to visualize my target audience. My persona does not fit all the needs within my target audience. Instead it becomes a reference for me to use and to remember that I am not designing these videos for me, but rather for these new self-published authors.
Lana is a broad example of some key points that came up in user surveys, interviews and after speaking with my SME. The persona helps me to remember personal motivations and desires unique to my target audience. It also humanizes them in a matter that I can begin to understand and design a solution for.
04. Begin Video Production.
Where to start: Mood Boards, storyboards and style frames all around
After finishing my research, my mentor and I talked about the first steps towards my videos. He suggested starting with mood boards. Mood boards allow designers to figure out the direction of their pieces and the mood that their pieces will create. Mood boards include color palettes, aesthetic designs, stylistic choices and typography. These all help to create an overall feeling that the videos will convey. These mood boards helped me to hash out several ideas at once and get out the ideas that would not work for my project. Then it helped me to narrow down to designs that would work best. Mood boards helped me to draw connections between the stylistic choices that I, as a designer, would be making in order to create a cohesive theme through the visuals of my videos.
The mood of these videos was to be fun. If they’re not entertaining to watch, then users will get bored quickly. Can you remember sitting through a boring lecture with terrible images, and all you
wanted to do was leave? That is the opposite reaction that I want to get from these videos. Flat images that can be easily recognizable as icons or symbols are effective in visuals, especially when reaching audiences of many languages. We connect through symbols and visuals when a language barrier exists. By having flat visuals, stripped down to their basics, I am presenting my video to a broader interpretation. There also needed to be consistency between typography for more important information and the visuals through the videos.
Mood Board: Flat and Minimal
I selected price as one of the topics for this series of videos, because through the Independent Book Publishing Association forums, there were over 200 filtered comments with questions and concerns authors had on how to price a self-published book.
Pricing can be tricky because in a world where Online consumption is a large market. People are always looking to purchase books. One of the biggest mistakes that self-published authors make is pricing their book too high. This results in readers skimming over their books. here’s a stigma that many self-published authors fear when it comes to pricing. This stigma was explained by selfpublished millionaire Amanda Hocking, “...authors believe that lowering their prices on books results in a book being a failure.” Amanda Hocking first sold her books at $0.99 a piece to draw in readers and build her intended audience. This price was affordable for most and often intrigued readers to give her a chance. After reader’s got hooked, she then bumped the prices up to $2.99 to start to make a profit off her books, and then priced them up. She started with affordable prices, then increased her prices over time, when she knew her audience would be willing to pay more.
Storyboard: Social Media
Social Media is one of the most common and accessible ways to market and advertise a book, without having to hire a team of marketers. Just like with design or any other industry, in order to be successful and market yourself in the world as an author, self-published authors have to work double time to network themselves. The world of social media allows for authors to directly interact with their audiences at the tips of their fingers, in order to build fan bases or “fandoms.” Fans will create hype and excitement over a book. Self-published authors are typically in total control over their marketing network, which means they have to understand the market of the types of books and the genre of books. Certain books will do better at specific times of the year, such as physical books selling more quantity over the summer
months and around Christmas holiday, while eBooks perform better all year round depending on their genre.
A common mistake that self-published authors make is flooding their social media with link advertisements reminding their followers to buy and read their new books. While this is beneficial to serve as a reminder, followers may be drawn away from social media that is flooded with boring link ads.
05. Time for the heavy lifting
Animatics create pacing; stylization captures interest; animation keeps them interested
Animatics are a technique used by editors, story boarders, motion graphic designers or anyone working in the world of motion. They keep track of pacing and timing. Animatics could be in the form of moving storyboards. Or they could be a piece of audio from a film, with sketches of low fidelity frames. They can even be in the early pre-production phases of music videos, such as with the Gorillaz. The point of animatics is not to focus on the actual animation of the videos, but to instead organize and correct any timing and pacing issues that may come in the future. By using key frames, I lay out the overall animation piece and begin to focus on each individual frame. This works in junction with a track voice over. It helps me to understand where scenes may need more or less time to be in pace with the narration, and to get a better flow of the video.
Animatics helped to solve fundamental timing problems that may have occurred when finalizing the audio and narration. It can also help to set up where transitions need to be added, or where scenes needed to be cut or slowed down.
Track Voice helps with tone.
Like the animatic, a track voice over helps to establish the final timing of a video. I can then use this to figure out if a video is too short or needs to trimming down. Through a basic track voice over, I can also begin to see where scenes are establishing and how long these scenes need to be. A track voice over can also help to identify content that needs to be deleted or added later. This all happens before animation production begins. When creating my animatics I went through several stages of track voice over, and I began to break up my videos into chunks and segments. The stages of the track voice over ranged from changing speeds based on mood or what was happening in a scene.
To get an accurate timing and pacing idea, a track voice over should be broken up in “scenes.” Later, I will organize the animations to help break up content plan a story. Track voice overs should not be recorded into one sitting, in order to eliminate any outside pauses.
Principles of animation: The key fundamentals to keep in mind when animating any piece.
There are twelve principles of animations described by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson. These twelve principles help to make animations more fluid, coherent and stylized for animated videos. While many of these principles were established because of animated films, they all can apply towards any type of animation. Which includes motion graphics. These principles are the basic foundations for any animated piece of work.
1 & 2. Squash and Stretch:
Exaggeration to animated objects in motion to give a greater sense of weight and volume.
Staging helps to create mood, focus and clarity of what is happening in a scene.
4 & 5. Straight Ahead Action & Pose to Pose:
A technique of drawing each pose, one right after another, and where key frames show where action is being oriented.
6 & 7. Slow In & Slow Out:
Otherwise known as easy-easy, this creates anticipation and momentum in objects.
Objects don’t often fall in straight lines due to gravity. They more likely fall in arcs from each end point.
9. Secondary action:
Gestures that support the main action to add more dimension to the animation.
The way that frames are drawn and the pacing of animation to establish personality.
11. Solid Drawing:
An enhanced level of realism added to make 3-D models of flat animation.
This is established before anything moves through visual engagement. Appeal doesn’t always have to be attractive to have charisma.
FRAME.IO HELPED ME TO ANALYZE AND GO OVER MY VIDEOS WITH MY MENTOR FRAME BY FRAME. THUS HELPING ME TO WORK IN SHORT BURSTS OF EDITING AND CUTTING.
06. It's near the end of the road.
The final touches.
In the last phases of creating these videos, I came into the process of sweetening. Sweetening applies to both animation and audio. While at this point, the animation part is complete, I now focus on color correction, timing/pacing and adjusting the audio.
Sweetening audio adds another layer of sound design to the animation, such as by creating noises if an object swishes by or pops onto the screen. If I want to emphasize a scene, involving money, I could use a common sound associated with money. This would draw more attention to what is happening. Audio sweetening also deals with making sure the narration is clear, concise and can is heard at the same level through the video. To do that, I sweeten music and other audio levels to be appropriate. I do this by using headphones or through
speakers. This part of the process is crucial in making sure that all loose ends tie up and the videos are at the best of their quality.
These three videos only just begin to scratch what Book Worm could be. Throughout my research I came upon almost twenty topics within the self-published industry that could be used as individual segments for this series. This would give authors more information about self-publishing. My thesis is only beginning to scratch the surface of how we can use video and narrative to help. Book Worm would live on a platform such as Skillshare or Lynda, with access to a broader audience. It would be promoted as tools that writers can use. Skillshare is a platform where videos, or “lessons” can be broken up into segments, and watched in order from start to finish.