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Chapter 4. 2-D Animation > Case Study Interview with Andrew Keeler

Case Study Interview with Andrew Keeler

Andrew Keeler is an award-winning designer who has created animated ads for Hewlett Packard, Adobe Systems, and Intuit, to name a few. Here, he discusses his process for creating animated banners:

Q1: How does an animated banner differ from a still-frame ad image? What are the advantages and limitations?
A1: With most ads, you are competing for the viewer's attention. Using animation gives you an instant advantage. You can also get more information and ideas in your ad as text and images change. The disadvantages are that file size can increase, and you do not know if all the frames of the animation are seen or if they only catch a glimpse, and then your whole concept might not work.
Q2: What is your goal when creating animated ads?
A2: It depends on whether the ad is to promote a brand or if it is geared to drive traffic to a certain site. Either way, it should be clever and easy to understand.
Q3: Is there a secret to creating interesting animated banners?
A3: Make sure the message comes first and doesn't get lost in all the bells and whistles of the animation.
Q4: What is the worst thing you've seen in an animated ad? What is the best thing you've seen?
A4: Sometimes, the animation is uneven or distracting. That can get your attention, but it is also annoying. The best animation surprises you and makes you want to watch it loop again.
Q5: What is your process for designing and implementing animated ads?
A5: First, I meet with the client and try to establish the goal of the ad and what specs are needed, and then come up with some different concepts. The first round is usually text-based, to make sure the message works before the artwork is added. As fonts, colors, and images are added, it remains a series of static frames. When these elements are approved, I move it into the animated stage, and final decisions are made on how fast the animation plays.
Q6: What tools do you use, and do you have special or unusual tricks for using them?
A6: I use FreeHand for most of the comping and type issues. It is good for going back and making changes and updating. Photoshop is still the best program for manipulating images and creating effects. The key is using as many layers as possible, as you will always have to go back and change this bit and remove that part and add this color as clients make their comments. I use GIFBuilder to compose the animated GIF.
Q7: What technologies do you employ in creating animations? Is it all GIF, or are other options available?
A7: I am starting to use Flash for creating more complex ads, but predominantly, I am creating GIFs.
Q8: Are animated banners more difficult or time-consuming than com parable still ads? Why?
A8: Animated ads have many more variables than a still ad and can take a lot more time to complete. Most clients think that since an ad is animated, they want to jam as much info as possible into it.
Q9: Do you have any tricks for creating ads of different sizes?
A9: Luckily, sites are starting to standardize their banner specs. If a banner is being created that will go in a few similar sizes, the key is to work in the smallest common proportions and try to create a little marginal area that can be expanded or deleted as needed. It is very difficult to try to resize images and type after they have been prepared in Photoshop. If the ads are significantly different sizes, then those issues have to be considered in the development stage. Most of the time, you can't take the same elements of a 468-by-60 banner and tweak it to fit a 150-by-150.
Q10: Do you have tricks or techniques for palette control or compression in banner ads?
A10: Start with the 216-Web-safe-color palette and reduce from there. Using as few colors as possible is the goal to keep the file size small. The other big factor is the number of frames and how much information is replaced from frame to frame.
Q11: What is the future of animated Web ads?
A11: ads and small Shockwave games. Since click-through rates are so low, there needs to be a better way, and sponsors will try different ways to engage Web surfers while promoting their brands.

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