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Monday, 21 December 2009

Christmas... DONE! (nearly)

It's Monday morning - two days of work left before my Christmas break begins. I'm feeling smug because I've hit my sales target 10 days early, so can take a couple of weeks off for Christmas without feeling guilty! (Although this has only been achieved by working 12-hour days for most of this month!).

This also means my turnover has been exactly the same as last year - not bad for a year strongly hit by a recession!

Last week I finished work on my new DVD title - "Club Candy TV" - at long last! I'm still waiting on stock to arrive from the duplicators, but the initial response I've had has been fantastic. I've already got ideas for a second volume, so I hope it sells well!

Over Christmas I'm planning on writing a couple of articles for my blog/website. The first will be a guide to marketing for Nightclubs and Bars. The second will be a guide to setting up a small business for individuals - I thought it would be nice to 'give something back' and share some of what I've learned during my 10 years of self-employment!

Anyway, better get some work done - still a few loose ends to tie up before Christmas.

I have no idea how many (if any!) people read my blog, but best wishes for Christmas and the New Year to any of you out there!


Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Introducing Club Candy TV!

I've nearly finished work on my latest product, Club Candy TV.

I've put together a website with some video samples, and plan to release it at the beginning of December.

For full info, check out the website here:

It's been two (very intensive!) months in production which has put a bit of a strain on my resources, so apologies to all my clients for my being a bit slower than usual, and thank you for being so patient!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Teaser video...

Here's a short teaser video for my latest DVD product which is due to be released sometime in November. Watch this space for more info!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Busy busy busy!

September and October have been incredibly busy for me which is great from a business point of view, but pretty stressful on a personal level! I've got 18 jobs queued up at the moment, and the work just keeps coming in!

Last Wednesday I had a 'no phone or email' day, which was a great help in getting through the backlog of work. It's amazing how much time you lose to admin and communication as a one-man business.

I also added a page to my club & bar website giving information on turnaround times. I've always prided myself on fast turnaround, but that's only possible when the work is coming in at t the same rate as it's being completed. Something which I mentioned on the page was the old design mantra which states "You can have any TWO of the following: Quality, Speed, Low Cost - but not all three" - this is so true!

I think the high volume of work is a combination of the usual seasonal peak as we head towards christmas along with a lot of clubs/bars upping their marketing spend as the recession eases off.

Anyway, better get back to it!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

My First Shoot... a success!

Well the big shoot took place this week - I spent Monday setting up the studio, and Tuesday was a solid day of filming.

The studio was perfect for the job, and being just down the road from me, it was very convenient!

The big day went very smoothly with all of the dancers doing a great job, providing some fantastic footage.

There are a few things that I would do differently if I did it again, but it wasn't bad for a first effort!

I've spent this evening keying the footage which has been surprisingly easy, despite being filmed on an AVCHD camera. I'm glad I did my homework on getting the lighting right!

Here's a short bit of video I've put together - this is a very rough composition of some of the footage so isn't representative of what the finished DVD will be like!

Friday, 11 September 2009

"It gets earlier every year!"

You know you're getting older when you start saying "Christmas gets earlier every year..."!

I'm working on my first Christmas-related job of the year today. The funny thing is, my bar & club clients always get their christmas marketing going nice and early, but the majority of them don't seem to think about other events until a week before which is nowhere near enough time to promote an event!

I'm currently writing an article for my website giving some basic advice on marketing. It's very apparent to me that many clubs and bars don't have an understanding of some of the basic principles of marketing and advertising, which are essential in the current economic climate.

Whilst I wouldn't claim to be an expert, I've been working in the industry for 10 years, and promoted a successful club night for 6 years, as well as animating adverts and branding for clubs and bars for 5 years, so I think I'm well positioned to give advice from both an outsider and insider's perspective!

Watch this space...

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Lights... camera... action!

I've been neglecting my blog a bit recently, so thought I ought to make another entry!

The last month has been very busy work-wise, plus I had a family wedding which I was heavily involved in so spare time has been a bit sparse this month.

I'm currently preparing for a day of filming for a new product I'm working on.

It involves some dancers, and I had an overwhelming response from an advert that I put on a pro dancers website. I've now selected all of the talent for it - Simon Cowell eat your heart out! I'm really chuffed with the people I've selected - they're going to look great on camera.

I've also found a great little studio just down the road from me which is perfect for the job.

Now I've just got to plan the shoot and bring everything together on the day. I'll post a 'behind the scenes' video on here once it's been done.

There's lots of 'firsts' for me on this project, so it's quite daunting, but I'm really excited about it - I have a feeling this is going to be my most successful product to date!

Anyway... back to it - watch this space for more info!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Celebrating 5 Years In Business!

On 28th July 2004 I sold my first video creation, so today I'm celebrating five years in business!

To mark the occasion I put together this little video - nothing groundbreaking, just a bit of fun!

Friday, 10 July 2009

Semantic Satiation

Slightly random post this one, but I've finally found out what that sensation is called when you stare at or say a word so often that it starts to look/sound strange... It's called Semantic Satiation!

I experience it almost every time I try to choose a font, as I stare at the word whilst flicking through the hundreds of fonts, and I have to look away and do something else for a few minutes until the word no longer looks strange before continuing my search!

I'm sure it must affect all graphic designers!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Beware of Imitations!

When you have a successful business it's important not to get complacent, and to keep an eye on your competition.

When I started producing motion graphics for nightclubs and bars in 2004, as far as I am aware there were only two real competitors to my service, and neither offered a fixed price structure like mine.

I put together the price structure to make it easy for venues to understand what they were paying for, and work to their own budget.

I recently did a bit of Googling to see who was out there now, and found a few new websites which have sprung up offering custom nightclub/bar visuals. I was amused (and flattered!) to see that they have all copied my pricing structure, and in some cases have made a very obvious copy of my business model, even down to the wording of their website and additional business areas (one has a 'themed DVDs' section, which is 'coming soon...' - it will be interesting to see what comes of that!)

It's nice to have some company in my area of business - I believe competition is very healthy, and by having alternatives out there it means clients can take a look at what is on offer and feel happy that they've made their own choice of supplier rather than only having one option.

Importantly, it also gives me the motivation to keep developing my service and improving the quality of my work.

I have two major products/services in the pipeline specifically for my nightclub/bar clients, which I believe, in addition to my 5 years of experience, will maintain my position as an industry leader.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Pride Themed DVD Finished!

I've finally finished my Pride Themed DVD. It has a pretty limited market, but I've enjoyed making this one. Hopefully it will appeal to gay clubs and bars for use during Pride festivals.

I've been agonising over whether to concentrate on adding more titles to the Themed DVD collection (I've got a few more in mind and would really like to reach 20 titles!), or to get started on converting all the existing ones to NTSC format in order to access the American market.

The sensible option is probably the NTSC one as the weak pound is making my products better value in the USA, and it's a much bigger market. The downside is that it's a pretty tedious/boring task to undertake, and there are a few other considerations to make such as Product Liability Insurance (Americans will sue for anything!), choosing a distributor (Fulfillment by Amazon is looking like an attractive option), sorting out the exporting and the impact that US import duty etc will have on the profit margin.

My visit to PLASA Focus in Leeds earlier in the week was worthwhile. The seminar about the Media City development in Manchester was very interesting - it sounds like it will be very beneficial to the city and the creative industries within it. I also had a wander around the trade show although that was a bit disappointing. I haven't been to a PLASA show for a few years now, but there was nothing ground-breakingly exciting in the world of lighting/video, just lots more LED products everywhere!

Monday, 27 April 2009

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

I'm afraid I've got a bit lax with blogging over the last couple of weeks - things have just been very busy work-wise, which is of course no bad thing!

Tomorrow I'm off to the PLASA Focus trade show in Leeds to listen to a seminar about the new Media City project in Manchester, so may well blog about that tomorrow.

The show is also a chance for me to keep a tab on what the pro sound & lighting industry is up to (which of course includes a lot of video technology these days!)

I was reading a thread on the After Effects Mailing List about dealing with anxiety, and Trish Meyer made a great point about keeping fit and healthy. I couldn't agree more with this - I go to the gym first thing in the morning four times a week, and can say without any doubt that I work better and think clearer on those days. This combined with a good diet and adequate sleep are essential if you want to work at your full potential. I believe it's best to take excercise in the morning as it leaves you feeling great for the rest of the day, and lets be honest - the last thing you want to do after a long day at work is go and work out for an hour!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Happy New Financial Year!

Well that's another financial year over. I spent Friday morning catching up on the last 3 months of accounts so I can submit the final figures to the accountants - one of the not-so-nice aspects of being self-employed, although it is very satisfying getting it finished and being able to see how the year compares with previous years.

I finished the Kids Party themed DVD last week - - and have nearly finished the Pride themed DVD. Will hopefully get that completed on Monday.

I've got quite a busy week ahead of me, so the bank holiday has been a welcome opportunity to recharge my batteries.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Media Glasses

I was out for after-work drinks on Friday evening with a graphic designer friend of mine (, and he was describing a friend of his who is a video editor and said "she wears media glasses"!

I asked what he meant by that and he said he meant those bold rectangular glasses that seem to be worn by anyone who works in media, which is so true!

I have recently been prescribed glasses for computer work, and picked what I thought were a nice pair of D&G glasses. I've actually already gone off them (they're too wide for my face - that'll teach me to buy glasses online!), but what amused me was that they fit my friend's description of Media Glasses!

Friday, 27 March 2009

Across The Pond

I've noticed a huge surge in work from the USA recently - I think the weak pound has actually done me a huge favour! I've always got a buzz out of knowing that my work is being seen by hundreds of thousands of people every week around the UK, so to know that it's also being seen across the pond is another huge buzz for me!

Speaking of ponds, my stock footage on has also seen a huge increase in sales over the last couple of months, and as the footage is sold in dollars I'm benefitting from the weak pound that way too!

With the media contstantly doom-mongering about the recession, I think it's vital not to get sucked in to all that, and focus on the positive things - the above is a great example of how it's not all bad news!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Forthcoming DVD releases

I'm currently working on 4 DVD titles which will be released over the next few months:

* Nineties - Nineties themed visuals to compliment the existing 70s and 80s titles.

* Kids Party - Designed primarily for mobile discos who cater for kids parties, featuring clowns, balloons, cakes, etc. This title will hopefully also appeal to parents holding parties for their kids.

* Pride - A collection of cool rainbow-themed visuals aimed at gay pride events

And one other title which I'm keeping under wraps :-)

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Upgraded to CS4

I've finally got around to upgrading my Adobe suite of software to the latest version - CS4.

I skipped the last release (CS3) so there's big differences in all of the applications.

It's great to finally have a working version of Adobe Bridge (the version included with Production Studio Premium was just hopelessly buggy). With thousands of stock footage and backgrounds to wade through it's going to be a massive time saver to be able to index it all in Bridge.

All of the apps are looking very neat - the user interfaces are much slicker and compact making better use of the available screen space.

I've just been playing with the Puppet Tool in After Effects and can see that's going to be very useful. Character animation is something I've always shyed away from in the past, but the puppet tool will allow me to tackle this in the future.

The Layer Styles and Shape Layers (which were introduced in AE CS3) are also going to be incredibly useful (although I find it unbelievable that it took this long to implement these very obvious features!)

It's a shame GridIron haven't released an update to allow Nucleo Pro to run in CS4, although I can understand them focusing their efforts on getting GridIron Flow released as I believe this will be a truly groundbreaking piece of software.

Adobe's aquisition of Macromedia has meant that Flash is included with the Creative Suite which will be very useful to have on hand, as I'm being asked to produce more and more video for the web, and whilst After Effects can produce FLV files, you need Flash to be able to produce a SWF file which is what clients expect.

The OnLocation video capture software which is included looks useful, particularly as I'm planning to invest in an HD camera later in the year.

I haven't had a chance to play with Soundbooth yet, so am looking forward to trying that out - I've been using a very out of date version of Wavelab for audio editing for far too long now and hope Soundbooth will provide an better alternative!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Tip for all After Effects users!

If the save dialogue box pops up randomly, for gods sake use it to save a backup copy of your project!

I've often found that if AE crashes unexpectedly it will pop up the save window without necessarily warning you that it has crashed (which it usually does when it crashes) - if you close the window it will usually be followed by some evil Runtime error and AE disappearing!

(The first few times this happened, I crossed off the window, only to lose my work! Needless to say, I've learned to always save a backup copy when this happens!)

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

What's in a name?

Something that continues to niggle me is my company name, "Phil Bearman Creative Media Solutions" - here's the story/explanation/excuse for it!:

The name started out in my freelance lighting designer days as "Phil Bearman Lighting Designer" which was fair enough (the only problem being that it didn't fit on my bank cards which had to read Phil Bearman LD!)

So when I moved into motion graphics I need to change the name. This was the perfect opportunity to come up with something a bit original, but despite hours of brainstorming and suggestions from friends and family I just couldn't find a name that I liked that wasn't already in use by somebody else. So I accepted defeat and carried on using my own name. The trouble was, at the time I was trying to do website design, motion graphics, graphic design work and more, so I needed a name that would encompass all of that, and that's where the dreadful 'Creative Media Solutions' came from!

Now I've streamlined my business it would be more accurate to change it to Phil Bearman Motion Graphics or similar, but the hassle and cost of changing the company name outweighs any benefit. Plus, as a friend pointed out to me, the company name is actually well established and known (some people know the company as just 'Creative Media Solutions'), and as the old saying goes 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'.

So, for now at least, the company continues to be Phil Bearman Creative Media Solutions (and continues to be abbreviated on the bank cards - to Phil Bearman CMS!)

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Night Magazine

I've spent today putting together a magazine advert to go in February's NIGHT Magazine - it will be going with an article about my business, so if you read NIGHT, keep an eye out for it! I'll post a link to the article once it goes online.

One of my friends is a sales and marketing guru, so as usual I've had his input on the design which is always very helpful.

It's easy to get tunnel vision when you're running a business and I think it's essential to ask for, and act on other people's ideas and opinions, particularly when they are more experienced than you in an area - it's SO important to act on the advice rather than just acknowledging it and then convincing yourself that you know better!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Early Spring Clean

Ok, so it's not Spring, but I'm always pleased to see the back of January - it's just such a depressing month, particularly so this year with the constant doom-mongering of the media over the so-called 'Credit Crunch'!

So feeling all upbeat and positive, I decided it was time for another big sort-out of my PCs, and have spent the day tidying up files (it's amazing how much crap you can collect in 'My Documents'!), organising Internet bookmarks, defragging, removing unused software, archiving old work, and fixing little niggling problems such as my DVD printer taking forever to start printing.

I've long been of the opinion that it's better to leave PCs on permanently. Ok, it's not very 'green', and some would argue that it puts a lot of unnecessary wear on components, but my PCs are set up to run scheduled house-keeping tasks such as virus scanning overnight meaning that they are always ready to roll each morning. It also means Emails are downloaded instantly preventing my inbox filling up with large files that clients have sent).

My oldest PC is still running fast and flawlessly after 5 years, so I think that speaks for itself!

Mentioning my 'green-ness' prompted me to take the WWF Eco Footprint test which I saw on Not Easy Being Green earlier this week... To be honest I thought I'd score really badly, but I came out at 2.22 planets, which is apparantly below the UK average! I don't feel so bad about leaving those PCs on now :-)

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Eighties DVD... DONE!

Today I finished work on the new Eighties DVD. I'm pleased with the way this one has turned out, so hopefully I will shift quite a few copies when the stock arrives at the end of the week!

I'm still battling with a huge workload from clients, so it's nice to have the 80s DVD out of the way at last!

Better get back to the grindstone...

Friday, 9 January 2009

Eighties DVD in the pipeline

Today, work has started on a long awaited Eighties themed DVD. I've had a number of requests for this kind of thing in the past and my distributor, Mixmash, has also seen a lot of interest.

As I already have a number of Eighties themed animations that I have created in the past I've got a bit of a head start on this one which means it shouldn't take long to complete.

Planning continues on my other big project - it is going to involve a shoot, so there's a lot of prep to do. I need to decide whether to invest in an HD camera (something I've been considering for a while) or just rent one. The Panasonic AG-HMC151 is looking very attractive at the moment.

Sales of my stock video clips on Pond5 have been going well, so I think the camera would probably pay for itself if I used it to create stock footage to sell.

January's a bit of a funny month - it's traditionally one of my busiest, but always seems to be full of random one-off projects rather than work from regular clients (not that I'm complaining!).

In other news, I've run out of milk and am struggling to function without coffee :-)

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Work on new DVD title started...

Today I started work on a new DVD product which is aimed at nightclubs. This will be the first product that I've created entirely in high definition.

I'm not going to divulge any details about it just yet, but I think it's going to be a very popular product when it's launched, as there's nothing quite like it out there at the moment!

My 'off-the-shelf' products have been selling better than ever over the last few months depsite the economic decline, so this year I plan to add several titles to the range, and also launch the whole range in the USA in NTSC format as I've been seeing growing interest in my products from the States.

Friday, 2 January 2009

My First Post!

Well it's a brand new year, and I've decided to join the blogging craze!

I plan to use this blog as a journal of my work life for my own record, but hopefully it will also be of interest to others!

I've never been very good at keeping a diary/journal in the past, so we shall see how I get on!

Here's a potted history up to where I'm at right now:

I'm a freelance Motion Graphics designer based in Manchester, UK. I specialise in producing visuals for the nightclub and entertainment industries. I started doing this in 2004, and prior to that I had worked as a lighting designer since 2000. Add to this my 'amateur'/part time years whilst I was at college and I've clocked up 10 years working in entertainment technology.

I now supply over 500 nightclubs and bars around the UK and Ireland, and work for some of the UK's leading event management companies.

Other related skills/interests include web development (I don't offer this as a service anymore, but designed and maintain my own company websites, and continue to provide support for a handful of companies who I have developed sites for in the past). I am experienced in PHP, MySQL and JavaScript (which I also use in my Motion Graphics work).

From my lighting design days I'm knowledgeable about lighting technology and although I never got a chance to use some of the more exotic lighting desks, I do know the Pulsar Masterpiece inside out!

I've got 3 A Levels (Computing, Design and Maths) but can honestly say I haven't used any of what I learned during college in my career to date! (Although I'm pleased to say that trigonometry from GCSE maths has come in very useful!). I didn't go to university, and apart from perhaps missing out on the social side of it, I have no regrets about that!

Outside of work, I'm passionate about food - I love both cooking and eating! After a day stuck in front of a computer screen, there's nothing I love more than getting busy in the kitchen (I think about what I'm going to have for dinner the moment I wake up in the morning!).

I co-promoted a successful club night for 6 years, and DJ'd at this too, so can beat mix and my musical knowledge regularly comes in handy in my Motion Graphics work.

That'll do for today... check back soon!