Justin McClure is a motion and graphic designer with over a decade of experience in the fields of advertising, motion graphics and broadcast television. He has worked for Leo Burnett (Chicago), Barkley, and CMT/MTV Networks. He is now the owner and executive creative director at JUSTINMCCLURE.TV, a motion graphics and design studio located in Wichita, Kansas. More than a traditional production studio, they work side-by-side with their clients during every step of the creative process, from conception to execution.
Justin has been recognized by the Addy Awards, the Graphex Competition, BDA/Promax, Omni Awards, and the online publication Motionographer.com. His work with national level clients, as well as being the creator of Rerendered.com, has led him to become one of the most recognized motion design artists in the industry. Justin’s experiences have allowed him to work with major television networks such as ABC, CMT, Syfy, Discovery Channel, Disney, and the Science Channel. He has also worked for national consumer brands such as Dell, Payless, Sonic, Coca Cola, Sprint, Cingular, Major League Baseball, Red Lobster and EA Hasbro.
Come see Justin’s full presentation noon, October 26, at the new Naked City Gallery.
Q1: Two plus years in the Wichita scene with your own studio – how has the location worked for you in attracting clients, finding talent, and establishing a studio?
JM: Two years ago my wife and I had to make a decision between furthering my career by moving to Cupertino, California or moving back home to Wichita, Kansas to start my own business. I know we made the right decision. Family played an important part of our decision. I grew up in El Dorado and my wife is from Derby and after moving 6 times in 10 years we decided to make Wichita our home. So now that you know that Wichita was not a strategic business move… I believe that technology erases the need to be in a certain location to do business. Most of my clients are out of state and in some cases even over seas. I quickly learned that as long as you are kicking ass, doing great work and hitting deadlines that you can work with anyone from anywhere. I have an in-house staff of designers (who are awesome) but I’m not afraid to seek out other freelancers to find the right fit for a certain situation or project. Occasionally those freelancers are local, but most of the time they are not. Distance is not a hindrance when we are approaching a project, large or small. But don’t get me wrong, Wichita has been great. I love the vibe of Old Town and the Delano District, there are a lot of wonderful things happening here and I am glad to be a part of it.
Q2: How does having your own studio differ from working for a larger agency?
JM: It’s night and day, but that also depends on your job description. Being the Motion Graphics Director at Barkley was certainly different than being a Designer/Animator at CMT. I think the biggest difference in owning a studio versus working for an agency, is that I am responsible for all of the other business aspects and nuances on top of trying to kick out great creative. The thing I loved best about CMT (besides the people I worked with) was the fact that I could just put on my headphones and start cranking out work with little, or no, interruptions at all. Try running your own business with your head down and the music up; I’m afraid you won’t get very far. Now the headphones come on around 10 PM, after the rest of my day settles down. In a nutshell, I gave over 110% at every agency that I have ever worked at and it doesn’t even hold a candle to a normal day at the studio now.
Q3: With people able to access video and information in so many different formats, how has the business changed for you in the last 10 years and how do you evolve your business and processes to meet ever emerging technologies?
JM: You are right, the internet is definitely here to stay. I think the biggest difference is how fast we can transfer data now. Back in the day you couldn’t just view a quicktime or other multimedia (at least nothing high-quality) on the web. You had to use programs like Macromedia Director to make an interactive cd to get even a moderate amount of quality. I can remember the first time I compressed a rendered video file and had my first working hacked DVD. That was a big moment. We are miles beyond that now, and it has only been a few years. There are certainly more avenues for digital media to be seen these days, but it is interesting that no matter what the final format is, the creative process remains the same. More often we work directly with web developers and a new breed of professionals called web directors. We are certainly learning how to cross-pollinate the motion graphics/television world with the wild wild web.
Q4: Are 3D movies a fad or the future in motion graphics and why do you believe that?
JM: 3D Film? You mean that new Polaroid technology from the 1930’s? I think 3D will always have it’s place in the movie industry and it will continue to get better and better as new technologies emerge. However, I would have to say it is a fad as well as the future. I know it was big in the 1950’s and there will always be certain situations that make sense to be in 3D (mostly cheap horror films). But there are also a great many movies that shouldn’t be made in 3D. I have always been a big believer in concept or story and I believe for every great movie you see in 3D there has to be over a dozen that were done badly or simply didn’t need to be in 3D. If the idea or story is great, then you can animate still frames of stick figures and keep people captivated. If you’re not convinced, just check out the animation work of Don Hertzfeldt and tell me you’re not amused (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJYxCSXjhLI).
Q5: Have you always been interested in storytelling and what led you into motion graphics?
JM: When I was 12 years old my brother and I would borrow my parents (then state-of-the-art) VHS camcorder and create short films, which were entirely edited in-camera WITH music being pumped through a walk-man tape player that was duct-taped to the microphone. That is where it all started. My true passion developed later in college with my first After Effects 4.0 course. I was a Design major, but at Fort Hays State University you were required to have a final portfolio on an interactive CD. In order to fulfill the criteria for an interactive CD we had to learn programs like Director and InfiniD, as well as After Effects for the animation and interactive components. One After Effects project and I was hooked. I mean, come on… Photoshop in motion? I was in love.
Q6: What advice do you have for someone wanting to get started in motion graphics?
JM: My advice to them is to come out to the AIGA luncheon on October 26th. I will be handing out tons of first-hand advice and survival tips for becoming a motion graphics designer. I will share one quick little insight though. Learn design first, I can’t stress that enough. The other tools will come as you grow and mature as an animator, but the fundamentals of design can make or break your career.