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outsource the tough stuff

02/01/2012

Here’s a lesson I’m still learning.

You don’t have to know everything.

I usually stick to the old adage, “if you want something done right, do it yourself.” Working as a one-man-band for all those years in TV news only enforced that rule. I’d simply rather do most things myself so they’re exactly like I want them. And I won’t have to blame anyone else when/if it doesn’t work.

But there are some great ways emerging online to outsource the parts of a big project you don’t have the skills — or time — to do yourself.

Case in point.

Here’s a video I produced to promote career fairs to potential employers. There were several key statistics the client wanted included, such as security clearances, education levels, and military experience of job candidates at these career fairs. I wanted to present these visually rather than listing the numbers on a full page graphic.

I could have created a pie chart and given it some slight 3-D animation in Premiere Pro or AfterEffects. Anything beyond that would have taken a good deal more time.

Instead, I turned to a site called VideoHive. They sell footage and motion graphics to use in projects. It’s all royalty-free, which makes it even better.

A quick search for “charts” pulled up 18 results. I chose the InfoGraphics package. For $25, it was not a bad deal.

What I bought was AfterEffects compositions, ready for me to insert my statistics. You open up the project in AfterEffects and follow the instructions to customize the charts with your own numbers. The instructions were easy to follow, and I was super happy with the result. These compositions were well made, using a variety of expressions (something I know terribly little about in AfterEffects) and effects. I knew just enough to be able to tweak the end result a little.

The final effect gives this project exactly the feel I wanted. Something visually interesting and unique. I added some spotlight effects in Premiere Pro to most of my video footage, to reinforce the polished, edgy look of those charts.

Point: don’t be afraid to outsource some of your work. There’s always someone who knows more than you… don’t be too proud to use their help!

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