Outlook 2017: Artifact Design - The evolving media landscape
Ken Vale
Issue: January 1, 2017

Outlook 2017: Artifact Design - The evolving media landscape

Ken Vale is the Executive Creative Director at Artifact Design (http://www.artifactdesign.com) in Atlanta. Here, he looks at the quickly evolving media landscape and how design continues to inspire.

The Future Isn't 

The future is unpredictable, but we can make some safe assumptions about the immediate future of the VFX and design industry. More consumers will embrace VR. Short-format digital storytelling and point-of-purchase advertising will be even more commonplace. Visual styles and trends will shift, as always. The bad news for some production companies: smaller budget jobs will dwindle with the rise of two-person, low-overhead companies that can do a decent job, while boutique ad agencies will storyboard and produce your basic spot completely in-house. But the past and the present paint a more insightful picture of our future, so let’s go there instead. 

The Future Is The Past 

Our mercurial industry has seen creative tools become more powerful, affordable, and easier to use. Generations of ambitious young creatives have jockeyed for relevance in a competitive landscape, as audience tastes continually shift and challenge them to embrace emerging media platforms. Client-hungry shops have popped up selling services for next-to-nothing, only to fade into obscurity. Along the way, we’ve seen quality and style flip-flop as designers have traded 3D logos and CG-heavy show opens for minimalism. All of these factors have played into a cold-hard reality: shrinking budgets. And without revenue, businesses fail.  

There’s a saying that the past must die for the future to live. Artifact Design has been successful over the last 17 years by letting go of past tendencies, being in the moment and reacting to significant trends as quickly as possible. Once very specialized in the world of CG network packages, we now do VFX for big-budget commercials, broadcast design, original content and more. Today’s media landscape is evolving even faster, so reacting quickly is more vital than ever.  

The Future Is The Present 

Successful companies consider the future in the present tense by matching trends. In his book “The Content Trap,” Bharat Anand explains how companies mistakenly focus all of their efforts on perfecting a product instead of building connections. Whether it’s an app, TV show or commercial job, ask how your product fits into emerging connections, networks and trends. 

As technology becomes more intuitive, we know with certainty that “high-end” production value will be the status quo, regardless of budgets. Today, you can produce a professional-looking spot using only a software’s built-in settings and effects. But artists who are truly dedicated to their craft will never rest on the laurels of technology and templates. They will be exceptional for their breadth of knowledge, skill and creativity; moreover, for their ability to answer the critical "why" questions in crafting focused messages for their clients. Those who master this will be the torchbearers of our industry. Furthermore, they will better harness technology for the sake of experimentation. It cannot be stressed enough how vital constant experimentation is to defining your company, especially when properly managed. 

The Future Is The Constant

No matter what, networks, studios and advertisers will always have a need to inspire their audience through great design, storytelling and production value. The best talent will surface and high-end design and VFX companies will have clients. And if brands want the best, they’ll pay for it.