I had the chance to attend Manchester Animation Festival this year, and when picking which day to attend, I had to choose Wednesday purely because of this talk. I've looked up to Goldenwolf for over a year now, often referencing them as inspiration in my university projects - so I jumped at the chance to hear them speak about their work. Here are the things I resonated with most, and what I felt were the most important takeaways from their talk.
1. Experiment! Do things for fun! Henry and Tom explained that whenever anyone has spare time in the studio, they work on small animations they can upload to social media to maintain their following, while trying out new styles, techniques and team combinations. This gives them a large bank of styles to pull from to show to clients - oftentimes, people don't know what they want unless they can see something that already exists.
2. Studio led, not director led, is the way to go. When Goldenwolf projects are published, they don't have specified directors or leaders; instead they are published under the studio's name. Everyone is seen as equally important - Henry also said that people switch roles in the studio, and that everyone is given the opportunity to come up with concepts and lead a project if they want to, even as juniors.
3. STAY HUMBLE! Even when you have giant global companies as clients, and hundreds of thousands of instagram followers, it pays to stay humble, still make friends and meet new people - you never know what could happen in the future.
4. Collaborate. Leading on from the last point, it's important to meet people who are outside of your practice; designers, audio experts and everything else - it will always lead to a better outcome than you working alone. As a studio, Goldenwolf is all about teamwork and people filling the role that they do best.
5. Animation should be design-led. As someone who is moving into animation from graphic design, this point definitely made me happy. Henry said that animation should be underpinned by design principles, especially as animation projects almost always have a still or print outcome attached to it too - you need to be able to do both to succeed in animation!
6. Storyboards aren't (always) needed. This was a really interesting point I found bizarre at first; sometimes Goldenwolf will skip the storyboard stage and jump into animatics instead. This is because they produce largely short-form content ranging from 8 to 15 seconds, and project deadlines are often extremely short - this gets the project moving towards the final outcome faster.
7. Get out there! Meet people face to face, get your name in front of studios, get advice, all of that good stuff. This was a bit anxiety inducing for me to hear, but it's true - no one knows your name unless you talk to them.
8. Software doesn't actually matter (!) As Henry said, if you know how to animate, you know the main principles, software doesn't matter - it's just a case of finding the right buttons. It often feels like a massive focus is put on knowing different software (the inevitable question of Goldenwolf's software of choice came up in the Q&A, proving this point) but in reality it's your actual skills that matter; they will transfer to whatever software you use.
9. Short form is king. In today's age, short form advertising is becoming more and more prevalent because of social media, the ability to skip ads and to scroll onto the next thing. Tom explained that years ago our attention spans had shortened to about 7 seconds - I can't imagine what that figure would be now! Audiences need to be engaged instantly for them to take notice, which Goldenwolf achieves mainly through humour. The next generation of animators need to be able to do this even better.
10. Entertain and storytell. Following from the last point, the twins suggest that even short form content can have a story; it may not be John Lewis Christmas advert grade, it may not have a strict beginning / middle / end, but it can still evoke emotion. A fantastic example of this is Goldenwolf's latest set of animations for KFC:
11. Use stock footage! Maybe I'm missing something, maybe it's my graphics background, but this never even crossed my mind. Use stock footage in order to get your concept across with full movement, without you having to animate everything - that way, clients can understand what your intentions are and make decisions much earlier into a project, and you haven't spent time or resources to create what they are judging. Brilliant advice.
12. Own your mistakes. Don't try to hide it, just fix it and move on. This was some more great advice; Henry talked about a mistake they had made in their recent rugby cup promo for ITV where they mixed up the order of bind and set. With this comes another important point: be an expert, whatever your project is on, to avoid as many mistakes as possible.
13. Challenge is FUN! Instead of looking at a challenge as a struggle or hinderance, see it as a fun way to experiment and play with more interesting ideas - the twins explained that it is extremely rewarding to make something uncool look cool, even if it's a struggle to get there.
14. Don't just think about it. This one really hit me hard; don't just think, do. If there's a passion project you've thought about doing for ages, a new style you want to try, then make it and see what happens. You never know where it might lead.
I'm absolutely thrilled I got to see Henry and Tom speak about their work in such detail and give amazing advice - if you read this, thank you for such an inspiring talk! I came out of it feeling energised and equipped with much more knowledge than when I walked in, with an increased passion to transition fully into animation as a career. For everyone else, if you'd like to check out Goldenwolf's work, which I highly suggest you do, their website is https://goldenwolf.tv/ and their instagram is @runwiththegoldenwolf or https://www.instagram.com/runwiththegoldenwolf/ - thanks for reading!