Good Monday morning folks! Man, is that not a SWEET title graphic?

Okay, so it's somewhat obvious that I'm NOT a graphic designer. BUT, I do work with a few of them here at the Hat, and I gotta tell ya, they've been bustin' it out this summer.

In my last blog I talked about the amount of work we've done over just the last year, and went on about how we're the experts in our field. Rest assured, none of that has changed, but it's been on my mind for a while to figure out what it is that makes some of our work better than other work. Oh sure, we can't always do the very absolute best project ever created in the history of mankind, but that's at least what we're shooting for. So why isn't everything the best?

Over my 8+ years of working at Old Hat, there have been a couple times that a client has mentioned they didn't feel they were getting the same level of design as other clients; that perhaps, because a client is a big-time university, they might be getting our best possible work while others are getting the run-of-the-mill stuff. Now I know design is very subjective, and unless you have The Design Spectrometer 400TL, it's really hard to gauge the level of design you're getting from a designer. That's why we always scan and document the results for each design using the DS400. By doing so, we can ensure that each poster gets equal amounts of athletic aptitude, branding recallability, design and structural interface integrity, and love. Yeah, you know what, I made that part up about the DS400. I thought we had started doing that but apparently not.

Okay, so seriously... why is it that some work is better? I've gotta say, I think these two graphs tell the story. Before you get upset and send me hate emails, know that I realize clients don't actually perceive things the way that I have them in the first graph. This is a dramatization intended to make a point. Or maybe some clients and others not familiar with the creative process actually DO think this is the best method. In that case, I would ask that you study the second graph.

Here's a quick breakdown of the graph below:

- The level of quality goes from low to high as the client provides input. Simple graph: more input equals better quality, regardless of how much or what type of input a client gives (content or design related). This is what I would call the "perceived" best design practice. And just to be absolutely clear, this is wrong.

 

The graph below is what I'm calling the actual best design practice. And here's a brief explanation:

- Quality goes up as input is received, similar to the first graph, up to a certain point. The point at which the quality starts to take a downturn is generally when clients move across that imaginary border I'd call the design line. In this graph, that's represented by the Ideal Input line. Providing all the pieces to the puzzle is great, but as the experts, we then have to take those pieces and put it together in a way that screams AWESOME!!

- The Quality level is represented by the upside-down U (downward parabola for you math folks), because having little or no info is probably not going to lead to a great result. In the same way, having too much information or design direction (after you get past that design line) is not going to lead to a great result either.

So what's the ideal amount of input? Honestly, it will probably vary from project to project and client to client. As a general rule, when we have as much content and direction necessary to effectively communicate your message, combined with the freedom to creatively enhance that message. That, my friend, is the ideal amount of input.

 

 

It's that time of the year again. Zac and I headed up to Denver to shoot a PSA for the Western Athletic Conference during their WAC SAAC meetings. I love this shoot because the WAC is awesome, Amanda is awesome, the student athletes are awesome and Denver is pretty awesome too. This year was a little different than previous years as we normally just shoot some green screen with the student athletes in the hotel. But since the WAC is launching a new digital network, we got some other footage for them to use there. 

Friday, we headed down to the Boys & Girls Club to get some footage of the student athletes hanging out and playing with the kiddos. At first I was really nervous about bring fancy camera equipment around a bunch of children, but those kids loved hanging out with the student athletes so much that hardly any of them even noticed the camera. We also got a few interviews with the student athletes about how much giving back to the community is important to them and I was super impressed with all of their efforts through the WAC and their own universities. (Sidenote: We also went out to dinner that night and got those amazing pretzel sticks I blogged about last year. I think they somehow got even better over the passing year, so shout out to Amanda for ordering them and sharing with everyone!)

Saturday was pretty chill. We got some footage of their meetings during the day and a little bit of them cutting loose during bowling that night. Then Sunday was the green screen shoot for the PSA with the student athletes reading from a teleprompter. I'm usually a little nervous about using a teleprompter because A.) it's hard and B.) it's not easy. Ok, I know those are the same thing but seriously, talking into a camera with all those bright lights pointing at you is intimidating enough and then you gotta read some scrolling text?! Forget about it. But actually don't, because these guys NAILED it. No wonder they were sent to represent their universities.

I'm really excited about everything we shot, so be on the lookout for an awesome WAC PSA in the coming weeks!

Old Hat Capture has been on the road again the last couple of weeks with trips to Texas Tech University, Southern Methodist University and the University of Tulsa. Here's some quick links to get you up to speed on all the stuff we've been paying attention to lately. 

• Blackmagic Design is offering their pocket cinema camera for $500 until late August. Amazing deal for a cool camera, even with all of its shortcomings. 

 

• We just returned from a recent Capture shoot at Southern Methodist University. Check out the video below!

(Video courtesy of Old Hat Intern Josie Logsdon)

• I always want to improve the commercials and intro videos we shoot so I watch a lot of movie behind the scenes features, read a lot of industry publications and am constantly examining the masters of cinema at work. This guy does an AMAZING job of breaking that kind of stuff down and I really dig his new YouTube examination of Michael Bay. Check it out. 

 

That's it for today folks. Come back next time for more cool stuff!

I'm so thankful to be working in the sports industry. It's fun. It's fast-paced. It's entertaining. It's something different every day. And it's a challenge. Chances are if you're reading this, you're working in the sports industry yourself, and you share these sentiments.

From time to time, I forget what makes us a great company, what it is that sets us apart from other creative agencies and freelancers. I forget how good our people are at what they do. I forget how difficult it must be to produce new materials each and every day, yet give each project its own unique identity. But it's the experience of creating new projects each day that makes us the experts at what we do. If you look at popular theory (Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers and others), expertise comes through repetition. Basically, by the time you put in 10,000 hours doing any one thing, you've become an expert in that field. That equates to roughly five years of doing 40-hour work weeks to become an expert.

Old Hat has experts on staff. We've got print designers, developers, animators and (don't forget) client service reps with that kind of experience. It goes beyond that though. Our designers, developers and animators aren't just simply putting in hours to gain expertise. It starts with talented people that push themselves, which in turn causes those around them to work harder (iron sharpens iron). That's a benefit we have that you won't get from freelancers and in-house designers. That's not to say they can't create great work and aren't experts themselves, but I'd put our team of experts against an individual any day.

If you look at the sheer volume of work Old Hat produced in 2013, you might realize what I've realized: 1) how difficult it must be to constantly push ourselves to greatness and 2) how our experience continues to keep us the best at what we do.

So what is that volume of work? Let's see what we did in 2013, and this is by no means an exhaustive list, just some of the common projects we work on daily.

PRINT

Posters - 353

Schedule cards - 146

Ads- 63

Tickets - 49

Billboards - 25

Magnets - 34

 

LOGOS: 71

WEB projects (some full sites, some updates to existing sites): 64

VIDEO

Intro Videos - 73

Commercials - 54

Animations - 63

 

Photo/Video Shoots: 19 full day shoots, 7 half days

 

I think the evidence speaks for itself. So if you ever wonder if we're truly equipped to handle your next project, just trust us, we know what we're doing.

 

 

I've spent all summer traveling to shoot jobs for clients. It's a whirlwind of packing equipment, unpacking equipment, setting up, tearing down, and capturing photos and motion along the way. 

The benefit of all that work is that we come back to the office with some amazing content to put out for clients. The disadvantage is that I get way behind on showing that work off on this blog. 

Recently we attended NACMA and had a new portfolio put together to show clients there. Here's a digital version for all of you who didn't get the chance to attend. Hit us up here at Old Hat Headquarters to see what we can do for you.

 

Quitters never win.  Winners never quit.  What a load of crap.  Sure, if you're running a race and you quit in the middle of it, you're not going to win.  But some people subscribe to the notion that quitting is a bad thing, in all situations.  "You can't just jump ship when things get tough or don't go the way you want."  Of course you can.  And thankfully, studies are now showing that you SHOULD.

"Learn to appreciate the upside of quitting.  Because you can't solve tomorrow's problem if you're not willing to abandon today's dud." - Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner in Think Like a Freak

Now I'm not advocating that anyone quit on something at the first sign of dissatisfaction.  That would be counterproductive.  But I do believe (and the people at Freakonomics agree) that we should all be more willing to pull the metaphorical plug a little earlier on things when we know we're unhappy.  There's this notion of "sunk cost" that keeps us fighting losing battles which ultimately end up causing even greater dissatisfaction and 6 months down the road, you wish you had just quit 6 months ago.  When we have sunk time, energy, money, etc. into something, we hold onto it hoping things will turn around.  And we SHOULD... to an extent.  But there's a point at which we know that we need to just call it quits but we continue with it because we've already invested so much time in it.

I've always subscribed to the philosophy that when faced with a decision, you should do what you'll regret the least... not necessarily what you want the most.  So before you go off and quit something, the first thing you wanna do is make sure you're not going to regret it later. So I'm definitely not advocating quitting something without giving it a LOT of thought and consideration.  But once you've figured out in your head that your future is not in that job, relationship, situation, etc., end it immediately.  You'll be glad you did.

Disagree?

When was the last time you quit something that didn't end up being a good decision?  If it's happened a lot, then maybe you're one of those people that makes decisions like this without giving it enough thought.  For me, I can't think of a single time that I quit anything where I regretted it for a single second.  Are there things I miss?  Sure.  Would I have loved to stay in that situation if it had been salvageable?  You bet your hiney.

When I was in eighth grade, I hated school.  Absolutely despised it.  And a lot of it had to do with the school I was in.  That school was fine for some people but for me, it was pure hell.  So I quit going there.  I transferred to a different school where I had a great experience, met lifelong friends and met the eventual mother of my children.

When I worked for the OU Athletics Department, I eventually got to the point where I knew I had reached my potential there.  I was not happy.  People told me I was absolutely NUTS for wanting to quit.  I had a good, reliable job working for a university, doing what I loved and getting to go on free Bowl trips every year.  But I quit.  And it was one of the best decisions I've ever made.  I now own the nation's premiere sports creative agency and am infinitely more satisfied with my career.  And when the time comes when I'm not, I'll probably quit this too.

I've quit other things, too.  Personal relationships... Professional relationships... I quit holding on to the idea that I can grow a nice head of hair and just decided to buzz it all off.  Point is, not only do I not regret anything I've ever quit, I'm much happier because of those things.

Think Like A Freak

Still don't believe me?  That's okay.  But you should read the latest book by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubnar, Think Like a Freak.  They spend an entire chapter on this and do it way more justice than I have.  The point they make (and the one I'm trying to make), is that quitting is okay.  And for the most part, it leads to greater satisfaction in life. 

Dear Old Hat Staff: Please don't quit.

I sincerely hope that this blog hasn't inspired anyone on my staff to quit.  That would suck.  But only because my assumption is that if I've inspired them to quit, they have to have been unhappy here for some time.  And THAT is what would bother me.  All I want for any of my staff is that they are as happy as they can possibly be.  And if quitting their job would lead to greater happiness, I would encourage them to rip the band-aid off and move on to the next phase of their lives.  

Sincerely,

Zac

P.S. But seriously, Old Hatters... don't quit your jobs.  This philosophy applies to everyone but you. 

 

It's my final day in the office before we depart (Sunday) for Orlando for what will be our 10th NACMA.  The photo above is from our first ever NACMA when I was the only employee at Old Hat and we only had about 4 clients.  I always get nostalgiac around NACMA time because I think back to where we started and how far we've come.  That first booth was a pop-up that took about 10 minutes to assemble.  It was made of carpet and I velcroed just about every decent project I had ever designed to it. I had to ask a friend of mine to come with me to Orlando to help out as I had no employees.  I didn't even pay him, I don't think.  Just offered him a free trip to Orlando.  Thanks Cory!  Now, we more than 25 employees and every year I have to decide who gets to/has to go.

That first booth and all our materials fit into two plastic cases on rollers.  Cory and I checked them on our flight and rolled them through the airports, onto the car rental shuttle and into the exhibit hall to set them up.  The booth space was 10' by 10' which was more than enough room to showcase our company.  Today, our booth is 20' by 20' and it takes a U-Haul to get it there.  It will take us a few hours to assemble it all and we spent months in preparation for it.

In year one, Old Hat Design Company was a print design shop.  We did posters, brochures, schedule cards... And I designed ever single thing we produced.  Today we have six divisions that will be marketed at NACMA.  Print Design, Interactive, Productions, Consulting, Branding and Capture.  And I don't design anything that any of those divisions produce.

NACMA is always a reminder of what we have accomplished in the past ten years and it's quite humbling to think about.  To say that I couldn't have done it alone is the understatement of the century.  The people, both internally and externally, that got us to where we are are too numerous to count.  But they know who they are and I offer a heartfelt THANK YOU to all of you.  

Please stop by and say hello at the booth next week.  And take a mental picture of what it looks like.  If we do as well the next 10 years as we did in the first 10, we might be occupying the entire exhibit hall.

Last week, Dustin and I went on another adventure together.  We traveled to the University of Cincinnati to visit our friends Brad, Jaime, Leslie, Ronnie, Michelle, Shane, Tommy G, and Koz.  We were on location to capture footage for this year’s football intro video.  

Normally when we are on campus for a video shoot, we usually stay exactly that: ON CAMPUS.  Not this time…

Since October 2013, Brad’s mind was set on our next shoot being in a warehouse with FIRE (see blog title for exact quote).  While fire quickly became a very dangerous option, Deb and Dustin crafted a plan to keep this concept in line, just minus the fire.

Jaime stumbled upon a building perfect for us.  Roadtrippers, a start-up company, owns a building with a scary basement for us to borrow.  After venturing about 80 feet below ground, we set up our equipment and had our location for the shoot.  

Legend has it, this building used to be a brewery.  Around prohibition times, they brewed the beer where we were, and then took it down this long dark tunnel and bottled it across the street.  No one would ever know because it all stayed underground.  

Dark scary tunnel behind us:

I wonder if Dustin is related to any of the Schmidt Brothers Brewery...

The only way to accurately describe how awesome (and scary) this space looked is to show you photos.  Enjoy!

What the location looked like before we set up:

Coach Tuberville

If this isn’t fate, I don’t know what is…but we ran into Lil’ Duey’s great great grandparents!  They miss him very much and hope he comes to visit them soon.  

The boys...posing for an album cover?

Our 2nd annual trip to Graeter's Ice Cream!  Sooooo good!

 

Thank you to everyone at Cincinnati who helped out with this video shoot!  We couldn't have done it without you!  This is going to be an EPIC video, and I absolutely cannot wait to see it.




I wanted to send you off into your weekend with a few cool links/stuff/thoughts that I've been checking out lately. I've already been lots of places since my last blog and that work will be popping up all over soon. Stay tuned for that stuff.

• First up, cameras. This Leica camera will set you back $21,000. That's right, $21,000. Frankly I think Leica's are overpriced, but so are lots of things in life. Pick your vices. 


• We shot some photos for SMU football recently. Check out this very cool behind the scenes video of the shoot that their video department put together. 

• The photo industry has been in a state of flux for several years now. But the last couple of months have certainly brought some new challenges (opportunities?) to light. Interesting thoughts from the Thoughts of a Bohemian blog here

• We shot these photos for Tulsa football several weeks ago now, but I realized I never put anything about it on the blog. 

Shooting with holi powder is a messy affair and also a technical challenge. Although it does linger in the air for a long time, (we were finding it in every spot you can think of after the shoot) you do need to shoot a lot of frames to capture the right moment. It's only cool-looking and cloud-like for a couple of frames after you throw it, so you have to be ready. 

We had a blast shooting that job and we're looking forward to more crazy shoots in the coming months. 

 

Last week, Dustin and I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Laramie, Wyoming, to visit the University of Wyoming.

I have never been out that way, so I was very excited to go.  I knew it would be a little cooler up there than it was here in Oklahoma, but I was definitely not ready for 25 and snow!  When we left, it was 85 in Norman.  

We met up with our client Nick and captured some video for football, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball.

The shoot went really well!  We had two set ups:  green screen and a practice gym.  The green screen was set up for the football intro and basketball player features.  The gym set up was for both basketball intro videos. 

I now have a better understanding as to why it is so tough to play in Wyoming.  I was out of breath just moving our equipment around at that altitude!

Thank you Nick for an amazing trip!  

Be on the look out for this season’s Wyoming videos!

Here are a few photos:

Our drive started out nicely from Denver...we were enjoying the view: 

...then as we kept climbing higher, we noticed the temperature kept dropping, and before we knew it, this is what it looked like:

They had the room ready for Dustin with a sign and everything!

 

 

 

 

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