Here at Old Hat, there are times when our designers, developers, etc. don't have a lot on their plates.  Rather than spending that time posting photos of their lunch on facebook or tweeting about what they're thankful for, we ask that they spend that time working on Toy Cannon projects.  I could bore you with the story behind why it's called a Toy Cannon project but that would require that I remember why it's called that.  Something about how there was an old baseball player the called the Toy Cannon because he was small but hit a lot of homeruns.  

I feel like it's important to encourage our staff to challenge themselves with projects outside their daily routine.  We want them to learn new techniques, new skills and have as much professional development as possible.  It makes them better at their jobs and hopefully more fulfilled as well.  For the past year, our development team has been working on a side project to develop their skills in iPhone app development.  Set to launch this week, the Due You Know Sports app (which Kevin will talk about more tomorrow) not only offers Old Hat exposure as an application development firm and provides an additional revenue stream, should people decide to download this app, it ALSO has given our development team that ability to grow in their skill set.  Tanner led the programming charge and spent hours and hours and hours on this app.  Richard helped with programming at times, Dustin offered design assistance and Kevin oversaw the project and tested it.  Four members of our team now have valuable experience they would not otherwise have gotten.  And it was all done in between other projects so it didn't cost Old Hat anything.

Many companies do similar things to the Toy Cannon, challenging their teams to come up with new products while at the same time giving those employees the ability to learn new skills.  It's been something I've really enjoyed seeing our staff participate in as it gives us the chance to see what they can do if they have no limitations.  

Follow @OldHatCreative for this year's #OH12Days. Each day a new Old Hatter will take over Twitter to answer your questions about the given topic. Check the schedule below and get your questions ready! Be sure to use #OH12Days for your tweets to show up in the conversation. 

Monday, Dec. 9 - Mobile Apps & Websites - Kevin

Tuesday, Dec. 10 - Customer Service  - Robert

Wednesday, Dec. 11 - Print Design - Tricia

Thursday, Dec. 12 - Networking - Jessica

Friday, Dec. 13 - Logo Design - Jared

Saturday, Dec. 14 - Social Media - Kelby 

Sunday, Dec. 15 - Old Hatter Book Suggestions - All Old Hatters 

Monday, Dec. 16 - Running & Building a Business - Zac 

Tuesday, Dec. 17 -  Fan Engagement - Ashley

Wednesday, Dec. 18 - Sports Video Productions - Deb

Thursday, Dec. 19 - Working with Coaches - Bethany

Friday, Dec. 20 - Photography - Dustin 

 

 

Nellie Logsdon was my grandmother.  She passed away when I was 18.  But one of her many philosophies was this one.  Now, by no means did she intend to say that you shouldn't apologize when you screw up.  What she was really saying was, "Don't screw up."  She knew how badly it sucks to have to admit when you've failed someone.  Looking them in the eye and admitting that you made a mistake and then apologizing for it is really hard sometimes.  And she knew that the only way to avoid it was to not make mistakes.

Well, we all make mistakes.  And she knew that too.  I think that a subliminal part of her message was to say that when you screw up, you MUST apologize.  Some people say, "Failure is not an option."  But I think she'd say, "Not admitting failure is not an option."  And that's the philosophy we have at Old Hat.  I cannot tell you how many times we have dealt with vendors that simply will not admit with they've screwed up.  And further, they won't try to fix the mistake.  Nothing could be more counterproductive to building a loyal client base in my opinion.  

Old Hat turns out an absurd amount of projects in a given month.  Hundreds of videos/animations, numerous websites and thousands (yes, thousands) of print projects every year.  And the amount of times we just completely screw up is nearly 0%.  We have many systems in place to prevent such failure.  The problem is, we're human and we mess up.  Not often, but we mess up.  Sometimes we make the most boneheaded, inexcusable mistakes.  So what do we do when that happens?

I'm sure all of you have watched a basketball game at some point and seen a player commit a foul.  Most of the time, the player (like most vendors) acts like he did nothing wrong.  He/she look at the ref as if to say, "Are you crazy?!  That was NOT my fault."  But sometimes, you'll see the player just nod his head in agreement, point at himself and take responsibility for the mistake.  That's Old Hat.  

When you fail, you have two choices.  You can either embrace it or act innocent.  Either way though, the person looking at you knows you failed.  Embracing that mistake shows that you are taking responsibility for it and while you may end up looking like you failed, you certainly don't look like a failure.

How to Apologize

We screwed up recently.  A couple of times, actually.  First step to take when you realize you've screwed up is to do anything and everything you can do to fix it.  If we make a typo on a print piece, WE call the printer to see if it's too late to send a new file.  We volunteer to go back to the office at 9p on a Friday to revise the file.  And if it can't be fixed, just apologize.  If you can't fix the problem, at least take responsibility for it.  It won't change anything but it'll sure as heck make your client feel better to know you accept responsibility.  And don't be afraid to accept responsibility even when it's NOT your fault.  "Yes, we just copied and pasted the information you sent us but we should have caught that."  Chances are at this point that tempers are high and you should just be seeking to calm things down.  The client will remember that rather than being a tool about it, you admitted fault.  And it's likely that 24 hours later they'll realize that it really wasn't your fault and they'll respect you even more.

Finally, and most importantly, after a few days have passed, the person responsible for the mistake (designer, client rep, etc.) will send a handwritten note to the client further apologizing for the mistake.  By this time, the client is probably totally over it.  Which is the perfect time for you to apologize again.  Don't just tell them you're sorry.  It's imperative that you also outline the steps you will take to make sure that same mistake never happens again.  They care that you're sorry... but they care even more that you're not going to let it happen again.  They need to be reassured that this isn't going to be a reoccurring thing.  

Nellie was right

Your best bet is to follow Nellie's advice and just never screw up.  But when you do, nod your head and point at yourself.  

A former supervisor of mine used to say "I don't mean to brag but I'm terrific" when asked how he was doing. That's kinda what I'm doing here. Though I'm coming up on my six-month anniversary here at Old Hat, I'm still the new guy - someone who is still learning things and picking up new skills. Even before I got here, I knew this place turned out an amazing amount of quality projects in a variety of areas. You saw several of the great intro videos in yesterday's blog, so here are a few pieces I grabbed from the print realm. With the recent start of hoops season, I'll limit these to some of our most recent basketball schedule posters.

 

North Carolina Tar Heels

 

Michigan Wolvervines



Notre Dame Fighting Irish

 



Rice Owls





Arizona Wildcats




North Texas Mean Green



Utah Utes
 



SMU Mustangs
 



Florida State Seminoles
 



James Madison Dukes




Duke Blue Devils
 



Appalachian State Mountaineers
 

I've had some pretty cool opportunities while working for Old Hat. Meeting people, designing things, eating M&Ms on the company dime to name a few.

The most recent cool opportunity was getting to be Dustin for the day. We all know the universe can sustain only one Duffy, so I didn't pull off his charm or catchphrases. What I did, however, was pick up a camera and steal some of his moves for showing people how to fake play basketball for photographs.

Last Friday, I took some photos of the Utah men's basketball team. It was my first time soloing an indoor shoot with fancy lighting and posed subjects. I'd done outdoor sports photography and videography in my college days, but this was different. In these kinds of shoots, lighting is everything. Even though you're performing the same basic function, this type of photography is vastly different—to me, at least. I've still got plenty to learn, but I think the shots turned out great. Soon we'll roll out a few pieces for the team and I'll get to see the photos in their final form. 

As Dustin would say, "They're good enough for the gals I go with."

On top of that, these shoots are also good ways to snag a profile picture for Facebook so everyone can look at you and think "Wow, Luke is marginally cooler than he was in high school." I've always wanted a picture of me in black and white doing something cool. Thanks, Utah Kory.

As a designer, I appreciate photography. Sometimes it can make or break a piece for me. I've freelanced for clients with stock imagery or even just whipped up something for a friend who needed something in a pinch. In those situations, I feel like the photos in the piece could use some more life. A buddy of mine once told me design was like peanut butter and photography was jelly. Or vice versa, maybe. Point being, the two go hand-in-hand to make a really great product. If either one isn't up to par, the piece can suffer.

An example of this: The Utah Gymnastics tickets. I'm really pumped to see how these turn out. I'm happy with the design I created, but I'm really just blown away by some of Dustin's photography. Check back on the site sometime in the near future and I bet you'll see them.

Well, that's it for me from Salt Lake City. Now I've got to put those photos to use on some trading cards.

One of my favorite parts about working at Old Hat is when I get to see our completed projects in person. This past Friday I had the opportunity to make the short drive from Greensboro to Durham for Duke's annual Countdown to Craziness event. Since Duke basketball is sort of a big deal around these parts, fans cannot wait for the season to start and the first chance to see the teams scrimmage. 

After picking up our tickets and waiting in line with thousands of other people, they opened the doors and everyone eagerly made their way into Cameron Indoor Stadium. On my way in I was handed a Duke Men’s Basketball roster card that just so happened to be designed by Old Hat.

http://oldhatcreative.com/project/duke-mens-basketball-roster-card

I also saw some people walking around with the Duke Men’s Basketball poster and schedule card that we also created.

http://oldhatcreative.com/project/duke-mens-basketball-mini-poster

http://oldhatcreative.com/project/duke-mens-basketball-schedule-card

After getting to our seats, there was still a good hour before the team scrimmage was set to start. During this time, Duke did a great job of entertaining the fans with various games and video features. One of those videos just happened to be a video Old Hat created about Cameron Indoor Stadium and some of the past great Duke players who have played there. Old Hat’s video crew did a complete 3D model of Cameron and then did some fancy thing called rotoscoping where they cut out players from old Duke video footage and placed them into the 3D model. You can check it out here for yourself!

http://oldhatcreative.com/project/cameron-experience-video

After that, it was about time for the team to take the court. To further build the anticipation, Duke asked Old Hat to create a two minute countdown animation leading up to the team taking the floor. They used one version of the countdown animation on top of a video that they play on the main video board every year before the start of Countdown to Craziness. The other version of the animation was played on the scorer’s table video board. 

http://oldhatcreative.com/project/duke-mens-basketball-countdown-animation

 In the next week Duke will also be debuting video player features and a couple of unique Duke logo animations that we also had the opportunity to work on. Check back soon to see more info on those projects! Countdown to Craziness was a great event to be at and even better because I got to see a lot of Old Hat’s work in person! 

Lately I've been traveling a lot to shoot for clients. When I get back in the office there's quite a bit to catch up on, so today I'm sending you on a link journey, in lieu of having any other great content to write about for you today. 

So, without further ado...

How about using craft paper for your next big budget magazine cover?

I love publication design and I really love it when they take on new design direction. Here's a nice insight into the Self magazine redesign via Pentagram

The film Gravity came out recently and although I have no interest in seeing it, I'm excited about the behind the scenes photos shown here

 

Have a wonderful Wednesday.

As a graphic designer I'm always on the look out for creative inspiration and reasons to quit having a bad attitude. Most of the time the inspiration comes visually, like this package design for a box of golfballs or this graphic from Sunday Night Football.

 

 

 

 

But other times the inspiration comes in the form of music. For me, music is just as important to the design process as the visual inspiration. It's my secret weapon. It's what gets my creative juices flowing.  Below is my official "Design Jamz" (with a Z cause that's cool) Spotify Playlist. Chance are, if I designed your poster and it was awesome, I was listening to one of these songs… if it wasn't awesome, I was probably listening to NPR. Sorry about that. I'll be sure to listen to one of these songs next time. I promise. 

 

 

These are the final words in Martin Scorsese's film The Aviator, a biopic about Howard Hughes. Hughes was one of the world's great innovators in the first half of the 20th century. It's a pretty fascinating film that captures one man's absolute creativity and drive to push the limits. There's also his fall into madness, but that's for a completely different blog post written by somebody a little mad (looking at you, Kevin). Right now it's all about the creativity and pushing of said limits.

In the sports video world the way of the future is MOTION GRAPHICS...actually it's more like the way of the present. It's my belief that motion graphics and design effects separate today's Intros/Commercials from those of 10+ years ago. Okay I may be coming off as Captain Obvious, but if you look at 50-60% of videos being professionally produced in the sports landscape there are still those who are perfectly comfortable with putting highlight clips in a timeline and timing it with music. That's all fine and dandy, but when your Intro looks like something 14-year-old Joe Fan Jr. created and posted on YouTube you're probably paying too much for that video.

This is where Old Hat Creative Productions enters the picture. Our artists are not only very talented video editors, BUT they're also highly skilled and trained motion graphic designers. That's a skill that isn't fully developed in a lot of in-house studios. And spending $40K a year on somebody who fakes the knowledge could be trouble in the long term.

Here at OH the Deb and Stevie Show are more of the crazy faces and hard core sports fans of Productions, we handle a lot of the management and preproduction work. The rest of the team is in the cool, dark basement with the mole people and are probably listening to Hanson right now. These folks are able to crank out multiple high quality projects each week and they continuosly amaze me. Hugs to all of you!

Our people power (aka man power) can also be a real asset to in-house video crews. We work with some incredible videographers and editors, but the amount of projects on their plate can be pretty daunting especially when football, volleyball and soccer are still in season and hockey, basketball and gymnastics are starting to ramp up. We're here to share the load. We recently got two new basketball clients who have talented in-house video crews and those guys have sent us top notch highlights, green screen and atmosphere clips. High quality assets + high quality postproduction = a beautiful thing.

So what it all comes down to is entertaining and informing your fans in a world where their standards for video production are pretty high. You have to place some value in production because it's the WAY OF THE FUTURE.

 

So for years I've been sporting Old Hat apparel around the nation, representing our fine company in high style.  And I occasionally get comments about my shirts... people commenting that they think it's cool or whatever.  But no one has ever come up to me and said, "OMG! That's so cute!  Where can I get one of those?"  Well apparently my wife is prettier than I am (surprise, surprise) and makes clothes look better than I do because when she wears our stuff around, people are always commenting on how cute it is and asking where they can get one.  So for a year or more she's been saying, "Get some cute shirts printed up and make it easy to get to on your website so I can tell people where to go to get them!"  So finally, I listened.  Within the next couple of weeks, the designs above (plus one not shown) will be available at www.oldhatuniversity.com.  So tell your friends and go buy stuff.

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