Holdframe Educates with Top Animators' Project Files & Exclusive Interviews
MIKE O'DONNELL / EDITOR
In animation, a hold frame is a frame that is on screen for more than one exposure. Hold frames are generally a method used for emphasizing a performance or action. This makes Holdframe the perfect name for WNW Member and Motionagrapher editor Joe Donaldson's passion project, a new platform which extends and emphasizes the incredible work of top animators and motion designers. "In the typical model, what is celebrated is the fruits of the labor, the final render itself. This is what goes online while the project files and building blocks of the film just sit there on a hard drive figuratively collecting dust."
Not anymore. Holdframe serves up affordable packages that include project files, video walkthroughs from the artist, and exclusive interviews. "By creating this platform, individuals now have the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the industry and to deconstruct their actual project files while at the same time directly supporting the creator in the process. The hope here is that we can create a symbiotic relationship where everyone benefits."
As Joe shares in our interview below, the reception from the animation and motion design community has been incredible, confirmed by the roster of talent that's already hopped onboard. The current marketplace includes WNW Members Andrew Vucko and Kirsten Lepore, as well as Audrey Yeo, Sekani Solomon, Ariel Costa, and Elliot Lim. Holdframe packages are currently on sale at $35, which is a pretty good deal considering they include such unique file access and 1-on-1 lessons from these all-star creators. There's also a collection of "Freebies" for your immediate downloading pleasure from WNW Members Linn Fritz, Chris Guyot, Wednesday Studio, Freddy Arenas, Claudio Salas, Jordan Scott, Bee Grandinetti, Joyce Ho, Pablo Lozano, and Emanuele Colombo, plus Jr. Canest and Khylin Woodrow.
How would you describe the current state of the animation and motion design community? Is there a strong collaborative spirit and exchange of ideas, or does it sometimes feel like an isolating profession?
I think the animation and motion design industry is always changing and adapting. Every day there seems to be a new tool or platform to explore and seemingly endless potential. The way things are progressing is truly impressive.
The community itself is extremely strong, collaborative, and open. Just about everyone is a tweet away. It isn’t so much a matter of the community being isolating but the nature of the work. Even within a group setting, animation has a tendency to be a very introspective medium. On top of that, with more and more screens every day needing more and more animated content, opportunities are plentiful which results in more people working remotely. This can be extremely empowering and have many positive aspects but it also can become quite isolating and can have negative effects too.
How did you develop your skills and hone your process over time? Did you have mentors to show you the ropes, or turn to certain learning tools?
Over the past 10 years my wife and I have moved just about every 3 years or so. Originally from Florida to Chicago, to NYC, to LA, and now back to Florida. With how much we’ve moved I haven’t had the opportunity to have a mentor in the traditional sense but with each move there have been people who I’ve worked closely with and admired. This has definitely helped to shape my work and process over the years.
Historically, what did you see as the afterlife of animation and motion design projects once they were put out into the world?
This is a tough question to answer because every project is different and there are many indirect benefits that can span the gamut of emotional, financial, and professional.
Typically though, when a project goes online, it gets some love, maybe a few opportunities roll in, but after a few months, things go cold and the impact of the project is little more than the occasional spike in traffic or a few likes and follows.
Regardless of the success of the project, the world keeps spinning and things move on.
How did that inform your latest creation Holdframe? What’s it all about?
I don’t view this lifecycle of a project necessarily as something to be fixed. The biggest thing I wanted to explore is what other benefits a project can have after it’s finished, and what kind of impacts those benefits can have for both the creator and the community.
Further, in the typical model, what is celebrated is the fruits of the labor, the final render itself. This is what goes online while the project files and building blocks of the film just sit there on a hard drive figuratively collecting dust.
In what ways does Holdframe manage to both educate up-and-comers while also financially supporting animation and motion design pros?
The idea behind Holdframe is that we can create a closed circuit between the creators and the community. By creating this platform, individuals now have the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the industry and to deconstruct their actual project files while at the same time directly supporting the creator in the process. The hope here is that we can create a symbiotic relationship where everyone benefits.
What were some of the challenges and breakthroughs that have come with launching this platform?
I think the biggest breakthrough was the response of my peers and the initial contributors to Holdframe. This idea kind of just floated around in my head for a while as my potentially really good or really bad idea. Once I started doing outreach for the platform and got to experience people’s excitement and enthusiasm behind the idea, it really validated things and helped me to stay motivated.
The biggest challenge was simply doing everything myself. I was able to get Holdframe off the ground without investors of any kind. I’m really proud of this and it allowed me to not compromise my values and know how every aspect of the platform works, but that comes with a price. It’s also worth noting that I definitely found my limit in making this platform. These past few months while creating Holdframe I’d been wrapping up my semester teaching, and running the editorial arm of Motionographer, all on top of adapting to life with two kids and training for a marathon. It was way too much.
What has the reception been like so far from the animation community? Are a lot of animators and motion designers pretty open to revealing their technical tricks?
The response has been amazing and made all the efforts worthwhile. The animation and motion design community has really rallied behind the platform. In the past week we’ve already had over 10,000 downloads and over 12,000 unique users from 135 countries.
Further, as a proof of concept, the idea works and has potential. Not only have all these people been able to benefit from the platform to some capacity but the creators whose work is on the market are making money in the process ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand in just one week!
It’s been super exciting.
What are some skills that you have developed through working on this platform?
Alot! I’ve been really lucky to work with some big clients and lead some big jobs in the animation world, but nothing quite like this. To get Holdframe off the ground, I’ve had to do everything from writing all the copy to acting as the producer and coordinator, to being web developer and even creating all the promotional material and launch video.
What advice from this experience can you share with fellow WNW Members?
I would say to not sit on your ideas. There are so many tools available these days that anything is possible. For a long time Holdframe only lived in my head and then slowly came to life over many late nights and many, many emails. At the end of the day, it’s just a heavily tinkered-with Squarespace site. It has its limitations but it’s out there and now can grow and evolve as the community sees fit.
How can WNW animators and motion designers get involved?
I’d say the easiest way to help is simply to spread the word and pick something up from the Market if it interests you. If you’d like to get involved, help out, or share work on the site drop me an email: email@example.com.
I’d definitely love to hear your thoughts.
What are your hopes for Holdframe? What’s next for you and the platform?
My goal is to regularly release new Freebies as well as products on the Market, and I’m already working on a new aspect to the site that will focus a bit more on the designers and illustrators who work in the animation and motion design industry.
My biggest hope, though, is simply for the platform to continue to grow and evolve as needed.