I’ve been discussing Rampant Design Tools an awful lot lately, and with good reason. They create tools that allow small production companies like mine to not only make stuff look good – we have been able to ramp up our production of high quality videos by a massive factor, increasing our profits dramatically and making our clients happier. I usually talk about how fun and easy they are to use, but today, I’ll talk about them from a business perspective.
As producers, we have got to always keep our eye on production trends, the latest tools and ways to improve our workflow, efficiency and techniques to ensure we are making the highest quality product each and every time we make something.
Well, maybe not every single time, right? Budgets are shrinking, tools are cheaper, and recent grads are interning for nothing then leveraging the plethora of tutorials online to create half-decent looking videos. The industry has changed dramatically, and we have to adapt to stay relevant, as well as profitable.
So what do we do? Start buying and customizing After Effects templates? Reuse old project elements? Buy stock instead of shooting it? Sure, why not? If the budget isn’t there we have to get creative in cutting our costs.
What else can we do? How about looking at products that have done some of our work for us? After Effects templates are one thing, but they don’t solve the issues that a) they’re unoriginal for the most part and b) we don’t have any pervasive elements to use throughout our project.
I want dust and flares. I want frost. I want a color treatment for my shots. I want cool sketchy lettering and dazzling backgrounds. I want them to look awesome.
I want, I want.
And my client wants, too. Only they want to pay $800 for a video that should easily cost $3500. This means that the effects I would normally spend a week on have to be ready to rock when I sit down to cut and finish.
Lucky for me, I was introduced to Rampant Design Tools at NAB 2013. Rampant Design Tools are created to fill exactly that need – they are fully developed elements that are ready to go, finished in Quicktime files with alpha channels. They are designed to fill a need in your projects and keep you profitable.
The best part is that they are created at a level that most of us would struggle to match, even given the same tools to create them. Created by a multiple-Emmy award winning visual effects specialist and his team, these are, without question, the best pre-baked effects and tools on the market.
Smoke, dust, glitches, transitions, frost (which was new to me), color overlays, style mattes… over 60 products that take work off of my desk, keep my deadlines tight and budgets managed, all while making my work look better than it did before I began using them.
This all means more money for my business.
Call me shallow, but I like to create art at night and on the weekends. Staying in business as an independent and not having to warm a seat for somebody else is way too important to me. I might be busy as heck, but if I want to take a break and watch JFK while eating ribwiches, I can do it if I’m running efficiently. Back and to the left…. Back and to the left….
Let’s face it – we may be artists at heart, but we should all be business people when we approach client work. At the end of the day we make widgets. We try to make the best widgets possible based on client preferences, specs and budget. There is pride in doing a good job, but using tools that allow us to create a project in half the time for the same money is not something to be ashamed of – it’s the goal.
Efficiencies are key in our business more and more. With every $1000 Super 16 Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera that hits the market we should be opening our eyes another two stops wider to spot new ways to maximize our margins.
If I don’t have to futz with a particle emitter to create a smooth bokeh background effect from scratch and can instead drag something very similar to my vision over my footage, change a blend mode and move to the next step I just made money.
Newcomers will enjoy tools such as Rampant’s as well. As they learn the craft they will need elements that can spice up a shot, or add a unique look, while also maintaining an original look. So many new editors and motion graphic designers miss the point of tutorials online – the goal is to learn from them and become better instead of simply regurgitating the lesson.
Beyond newcomers, editors at every level will be able to use Rampant’s tools to their advantage and improve their work. I guarantee it. And many have. From what I know, these tools have been used in major productions by huge studios. Rumor has it, ABC and Disney have both invested in tools from RDT. That’s endorsement enough for me. As I said before, these are the highest quality pre-rendered effects on the market, period.
Of course, we all have different business models, and it should be pointed out that some companies might not need tools like these, even if they can still use them. If you make four videos a year and have the time and budget to spend endless hours perfecting an effect, please – by all means create awesome effects. Inspire this and future generations with them. For my own personal projects I will do the same. Like most artistic people, I see the value in constantly working at getting better at this craft. Even in my personal projects, however, I still use RDT. They’re high quality and easy, allowing me to focus on my big picture. And hey, come to think of it, whether I make four videos a year or 400, aren’t margins are equally important?
Making art is wonderful, fulfilling and soul-feeding, making us better personally and professionally, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But let me tell you this: when business opens at Russ Fairley Productions each and every Monday morning, I’m back to making the best value-oriented, market-dominating, ass-kicking widgets I can – over 400 of them a year to a wide range of happy clients – and, to me, tools that make my business model possible like the ones created by Rampant Design Tools are a no-brainer.
Russ Fairley is the owner of Russ Fairley Productions Inc., the founder and co-chairperson of After Effects Toronto, and the proud host of a new web series called RFShow.TV where he also rambles on about Rampant Design Tools and other great products. Russ and his company have won awards for design, while operating successfully under the radar for years with no demo reel, a top-secret client list, and an annual marketing budget of $0.
Right or wrong, that’s how they roll.
To compliment Russ, drop him a line at russ (at) rfpvideo (dot) com. To verbally abuse him, please write to his alternate address at sean (at) rampantdesigntools (dot) com