Ask Me Anything with Caitlin Cadieux: A Slack Conversation

The DSN+DEV+OKC edition of Ask Me Anything features some of OKC’s most talented members of the creative community who share with us their advice, best practices, and things they’ve learned along the way.

This week’s Ask Me Anything features Caitlin Cadieux, a native OKCer, and an OU alum. Caitlin is a designer, illustrator, and animator currently based in New York. She is mostly self-taught in the growing field of motion design and is an influencer in the motion graphics industry.

We hope by now you’ve been following along in our #ama series on our Slack channel. If not, here’s a little summary to get you up to speed. AMA or Ask Me Anything is a popular Reddit format, where an expert who’s got something figured out, or took on a successful project, introduce themselves and what they’ve been working on and openly answers questions for an hour. We’ve taken this idea and formatted it to our Slack community.

Read on for our conversation with Caitlin on topics such as her favorite projects, her process, the tools she uses, and a little bit about her Oklahoma tornado shelter memories.

Intro:

 

 

 Caitlin Cadieux:

Hey y’all! I’m Caitlin Cadieux, an animator and designer for The Atlantic magazine’s internal video team. The Atlantic is an American magazine and multi-platform publisher, founded in 1857 as The Atlantic Monthly. We turned 160 this year! Atlantic Studios is the internal video production studio for The Atlantic. We create original documentaries, interviews, explainers, animations, and much more.

I’ve been working for The Atlantic for almost two years. I was born and raised in Oklahoma City, graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2013 and got a job in OU’s WebComm department for the following year. Moved to NYC for a year to take my current job, and I now work remotely full time in upstate NY to be with my fiancé, who is currently in grad school there. I miss Oklahoma passionately and sing OK’s praises to whoever will listen here in the northeast!

I’ve reduced the amount of freelance projects I take to focus on my full-time job, but I do continue to work on a variety of freelance opportunities when my schedule allows. I recently completed a project for Adobe creating AE templates for video editors that are available for free on Adobe Stock.

I pitch and script original video ideas, full storyboards, create all assets, animate, and add polish/sound design. I also provide supplementary graphics and animations for our original documentaries and series. I helped to design our GFX package and built out a comprehensive system of templates for the editors to use in their videos. (lower thirds, text overlays, etc.)

I help moderate the weekly twitter chat #mochat, which runs every Tuesday at 9 PM EST. It’s an hour long chat based on a new motion graphics-related topic each week. I’m also an admin on the Motion Design Artists slack (hashtagmotiondesign.com) for practicing motion designers to network, collaborate, and learn from each other.

The Visual Communications program at OU gave me an excellent design foundation but isn’t oriented for motion graphics, so I am mostly self-taught. It was tough to find my way into the industry and I learned to use social media really effectively to connect with seasoned industry professionals and find opportunities to advance my learning. I have a lot left to learn myself but am so excited to share the things I’ve learned along the way!

Things I can talk about:
Motion graphics – anything and everything!
How and why to incorporate mograph into your skillset
Working remotely/freelancing
Editorial design
Networking

 

Q&A

 

 Cara Bell:

Welcome back (even though it’s just online) :slightly_smiling_face:

 Will Phillips:

“mograph” might be my fav new industry jargon. :ok_hand::skin-tone-3:

 

 

 Emily Smart:

What would you like to see in terms of the motion graphics industry in OKC? How would you like to see it grow?

Since it’s not my specialty, I know very little of what’s already established, but it doesn’t seem to have a huge presence here like it does in some of the bigger cities.

 Caitlin Cadieux:

Ooh great question. There is only one motion graphics place in OKC that I’m aware of – Camp Pixel (camppixel.com) and they were around when I left in 2014. A lot of work still gravitates to NYC and LA, but they are starting to pop up in other places (Nashville is a bigger one that I can think of). I would be SO happy if more video production studios set up shop in OK. Right now it may be easier for remote freelancers to base themselves in OK and try to pick up work from outside of the state. Similarly, upstate NY has very few opportunities for motion graphics work, hence my remote situation!

 

 

 Cara Bell:

What’s your favorite project for the Atlantic so far?

 Caitlin Cadieux:

This is so tough! I am really proud of the David Sedaris animated interview that was my most recent project.

 Caitlin Cadieux:

In terms of content, I loved working on the Women in Tech animation here. One of the best things about my job is how many interesting and complex subjects you get to handle. I learn SO much on the job, and also get to work on subjects that are really important to me personally.


 Hannah Schmidt:

These are so cool! How long does something like this take you from start to finish?

 Caitlin Cadieux:

Our turnarounds are really fast for animation since we’re often trying to meet editorial deadlines. For Women in Tech we had about a month, I believe! I may have had more time on Sedaris, I got to work on it in bits and pieces between other projects so it’s hard to say. I’d ballpark that we get about 2-3 weeks to work on a video, which is breakneck – and often have other projects we need to juggle at the same time!

 Cara Bell:

Are you remote?

 Caitlin Cadieux:

I am! I’ve been full time remote since October of last year, so a full year now. I absolutely love it!

 

 

Tien Pham:

You mentioned you were mostly self-taught so how did you get started with motion graphics and really in the mindset of thinking visually but in motion (if that makes any sense).

One of my goals this upcoming year is to learn motion graphics (I’m currently a full-time graphic designer). I’ve messed around in after effects and have had some motion graphics project but they didn’t turn out how I expected because I was overwhelmed by how different I feel I have to visualize each element in the project as opposed to designing a static project.

 Caitlin Cadieux:

This is a tricky part of motion design! I always wanted to be an animator growing up, so when I discovered After Effects in college I was sold. A big challenge is learning how to create your designs to be animated – so how you make an asset can strongly affect whether you can animate it in the way that you want.

Trial and error, and liberal asking for help/lynda.com/Pluralsight is the only answer! It took me probably two years to feel mostly comfortable inside of AE. Tailoring your designs to the intended animation is one of the biggest factors, so you just gotta learn how to do what you want to do, and keep in mind as you create your designs.

 

 

 Jenn Clore:

How did you utilize social media to make connections in the industry?

 Caitlin Cadieux:

I noticed that a lot of motion designers were frequently on Twitter, so I started there. Somehow I stumbled on #mochat, which was a year or two old at the time. I just jumped in and started asking questions. The varied topics were really helpful, so I got little glimpses into what mograph professionals were actually dealing with. It was easy to be really involved because I had no other outlets in real life to talk about this stuff!

This was SO helpful when I went to my first conference, NABShow in Vegas, with the video team from OU WebComm. A lot of the other attendees actually recognized me from Twitter so there was no icebreaker needed. I’ve done this many times at conferences since and always recommend being active on Twitter for creatives, since we seem to like it a lot!

 

 

 Elle Mann:

How has this networking been helpful in your career? What direct results (or maybe indirect results) have you seen?

 Caitlin Cadieux:

I owe my current job to someone I met online and met in person one time at a NY conference. She gave my email to my boss and here I am now! A lot of freelance work I get is from recommendations; my recent freelance project with Adobe was from knowing someone who originally was a motion designer at a documentary studio in NY who is now the project manager for After Effects!

It’s also helped me get really involved in the online community in general. I started out doing #mochat as a wee student and now have been helping run it for quite a while!

 

 

 Jimmy Kennedy:

I am a web design student, with a BFA in painting and an Assc in engineering. Currently studying repositories, and am curious if your design work is subject to collaborative decisions, and what sort of version control you use?

 Caitlin Cadieux:

Atlantic Studios is a little scrappier than similar video production operations. There are three other animators on our team, but we almost never work together on projects for a variety of reasons! Mostly our work is subject to review by the department art director, who’s fairly hands-off, and our senior and executive producers. I do have to adjust my designs sometimes based on their feedback, and get notes from them throughout the animation process, but that’s about it. No real version control to speak of!

 

 

 Joyce Tseng:

What’s your average/best/worst turnaround deadlines when working on stories at The Atlantic?

 Caitlin Cadieux:

I once made a video in four days from start to finish. Totally crazy! As a result it’s very design-centric with very limited animation.

 Caitlin Cadieux:

As a department, we’ve gotten a lot better at figuring out how to maximize our time per project. We usually get 3 weeks now instead of 2, which was very difficult to stick to. Best deadline scenario was probably the David Sedaris interview, which got more time than usual since it had no specific deadline. Got a lot more time to polish that one up!

 Cara Bell:

Oh @caitcadieux have you met @ijjtseng? She does similar work for CNN :nerd_face:

 Caitlin Cadieux:

I haven’t!! Hello @ijjtseng I am always extremely excited to chat with other editorial folks!

 Joyce Tseng:

ish haha I don’t do motion graphics but yes editorial.

 Joyce Tseng:

@caitcadieux yello 🙂

 

 

 Cara Bell:

If my design style typically leans hand drawn/ink/rough – are there elegant ways to incorporate modern motion tech into that?

 Caitlin Cadieux:

absolutely! Often to simplify our process we use static illustrations that are partially or otherwise simply animated. A lot of the time for us that’s using photos or vector illustrations but hand drawn is just as accessible! It’s tough to be more specific with this hypothetical but it’s very doable. Animating type drawing onto the screen is a popular one too.

 

 

 Emily Smart:

What would it take to establish a mograph studio away from the big cities? Like what would constitute an agency’s worth of work / is it more common for motion graphics positions to be in-house jobs?

 Caitlin Cadieux:

think in-house is actually relatively rare. Most common mograph jobs are ad agencies that specialize in mograph, like Buck (buck.tv) I think the biggest hurdle to clear is building a client base. NY and LA seem like the popular locations for face-to-face meetings between client and agency. I think in the next several years you’re going to see a lot more people spreading out because the work is so remote-friendly, that aspect isn’t as crucial anymore. I know of a Nashville based studio that works with major brands like Amazon and Netflix, and access to those clients is much easier now than it was!

 

 

 Jenn Clore:

What was your interview like at Atlantic? How did they test your skills?

 Caitlin Cadieux:

I was fortunate enough to be recommended by a mutual acquaintance, which I think got me out of doing an animation test. I remember doing some pitch tests, where I had to select stories from the website and describe how I would adapt those into a video format and why. The two new animators we’ve brought on since I joined went through our fellowship program (internships, essentially) and I believe they had to do some pitch tests that also included mocked up visuals like style boards for these potential videos

 Jenn Clore:

Did you happen to meet this mutual acquaintance through Twitter?

 Caitlin Cadieux:

I’m not 100% positive where we first met but it was either on Twitter or on the motion design slack I’m an admin on. But we had definitely internet-met! I met her in person for the first time at a conference in NYC. I had been living upstate for a little while, working a not great job and trying to pick up freelance, and asked her if I would have to move to NYC to really start my career. She ended up passing my name to my now-boss and the rest is history!

 Caitlin Cadieux:

I did actually end up having to move to NYC to take the job with The Atlantic, but after almost a year got the clearance to work remotely. It’s been a life saver.

Tien Pham:

Do you think moving to NYC really helped with your career? NY is on my list because I want to experience living there but I’m afraid of the cost of living although I know there are many opportunities for creatives out there. I just recently graduated OU in May and I know eventually I want to experience the big city. I’m not sure when I’ll FEEL ready but I think you never really feel ready, you just do it right?

 Caitlin Cadieux:

I absolutely didn’t want to move there, but ultimately I had to face up to the fact that it would be very tough to get started otherwise. Many people successfully freelance remotely full time, but usually this means you have to build up a reputation with those big-city clients until they trust you enough to let you do so.

 Caitlin Cadieux:

I definitely didn’t feel ready! It was tougher for me because my now-fiancé and I had been living together for a year, and I had to move out of our apartment together to move in with strangers a few hours away! It was rough. But I definitely don’t regret it. There is so much cool stuff to do there and so many amazing people, and it’s common to spend a few years and then move away from the city/on to new things

 

 

 Jimmy Kennedy:

how are your videos and animations submitted when they are to be published to the web?

 Caitlin Cadieux:

I work out of a shared Dropbox, so once everything is approved, I generate some thumbnails for the site/Youtube and place the final render, a compressed .mp4, into a Deliverables folder that I send to our curator. She writes up the text for the website post and for YouTube and handles the publishing from then on out

 

 

 Elle Mann:

How do you schedule your time working remotely? How much people time do you get? What are your strategies for maintaining work/life balance?

 Caitlin Cadieux:

I am obsessed with working remotely. My work/life balance is excellent. I have my own office in our apartment, which makes it easier to stick to work. We have a weekly video chat meeting every Monday at noon, which includes all the people in the DC office and the NY office. I also have a check in call with the executive producer, and a conference call with the other animators and senior producer every week. Other than that it’s mostly me checking in with various folks on Slack and just keeping track of my deadlines!

 

 

 Cara Bell:

I’ve noticed more brands are animating their logos. Are there other trends/styles we should watch for?

 Caitlin Cadieux:

A lot of brands are actually really into gif campaigns for social media! SlimJim’s Vitaminwater campaign is a notable one: http://www.slimjimstudios.com/15folds/

 Caitlin Cadieux:

Here’s another fun one for Subway: http://glander.co/filter/gif/Subway

 Cara Bell:

oooh nice

 Caitlin Cadieux:

I’ve not worked on a campaign like this personally but I’ve noticed the uptick in frequency over the past year or two. Lyft also employs a motion designer full time for similar stuff. It’s been interesting to see where animation is cropping up like this.

 Jenn Clore:

so fun!

 Jimmy Kennedy:

I just Made a .gif for my brand! lol

 

 

 Ben Parker:

What hardware are you using for creating? Do you rely on a Wacom tablet, utilize an iPad Pro? Just curious!

 Caitlin Cadieux:

I have a macbook pro that I work with when I travel, but often at home work on a ~2012 27″ iMac. I do have a 22HD Cintiq that I absolutely cherish and adore. I also use a Wacom Intuos, mostly to replace the mouse and mitigate RSI/wrist pain.

 Caitlin Cadieux:

People are doing REALLY cool stuff with iPad Pros and Surfaces now. I don’t personally use one yet but they seem pretty useful. I have a 13HD Cintiq that I also use for traveling. They’re really invaluable imo

 Ben Parker:

I need to get a new tablet of some sort! Going to go check these Wacom’s out right now! I have a Surface which can be fun. Trying to decide on iPad Pro or Wacom.

 Caitlin Cadieux:

Wacom has sadly had some annoying software issues for the past couple years, but when they work they are absolute gold

 

 

 

 Emily Smart:

haha to go with @ben.parker’s q, what software are you primarily using now?

 Caitlin Cadieux:

A lot of my work is Illustrator/After Effects, but I’ve been branching into 3D work for a while now. Maxon Cinema 4d is the industry standard for that, although it is unfortunately very pricey :sob:

 

 

 Emily Smart:

What are the 5 key basics / starting points for someone starting to dip their toe into mograph work? Like tips or technical stuff or best practices.

 Caitlin Cadieux:

ooh I’m gonna make these up on the fly so I hope they’re cohesive!

 Caitlin Cadieux:
  1. play to your strengths! I started out mostly in 2d styles because of my illustrative/design background. Mograph is so broad, this is a great starting point.
  2. There are great online resources for this now, Lynda.com has a lot more than it used to. School of Motion’s 30 days of AE is a great, free resource to learn a TON of basic stuff.
  3. You can do a lot of really cool stuff with not a super juiced overpowered computer. Don’t be afraid to just play around!
  4. in my experience, mograph people are super giving and willing to help. Don’t be afraid to (respectfully!) reach out to people for help and guidance
  5. Try to learn how people made the projects that you think are intriguing. You want to build a library of animation skills and this is a good way to narrow it down since there’s so much out there

 

 

 Jenn Clore:

Which do you prefer? A NYC winter or OKC tornado season?

 Cara Bell:

lol. And is it dark there yet?

 Caitlin Cadieux:

I hate to say, NYC winter!! I actually find it less cold here than OKC winters too because it’s not quite as windy. In upstate it’s extremely scenic and pleasant in the winter! This does bring back, er… fond? memories of hiding in our storm shelter with our 3 dogs and 3 cats though :joy:

 Jenn Clore:

As someone who is from Philly, I totally understand. The wind factor here is out of control. I don’t even know why I brush my hair sometimes!

 Caitlin Cadieux:

Totally!! It’s chaos :joy:

and YES it gets dark here so early now. Maybe one more hour of daylight. So sad :disappointed:

 

 

 

 Stephen Bell:

Do you ever have to do motion graphics that incorporate real-world video footage? Where’s the line between what you do and regular video production?

 Caitlin Cadieux:

I do! We do graphics for our documentaries or series too, which sometimes means animating over footage. Most of the time that means simple overlays, but sometimes we need to track something into a shot (AE has great tools for this, like Mocha, which is built in)

 Caitlin Cadieux:

We work with the producers/editors to coordinate what graphics are needed and where, but don’t much interface with the video production pipeline from that angle otherwise

 Jimmy Kennedy:

anything like the Lord of the Rings cartoon from 1978?

 Caitlin Cadieux:

haHA I wish!!

 

 

 

 Emily Smart:

What is your ideation / sketching / story board process like? Does it differ from how you approach 2D design or illustration?

 Caitlin Cadieux:

It’s almost an extension of that. The script is (or should be :eyes: ) locked at that point. I’ll start sketching to generate some ideas, and almost always have a pinterest board for each video for visual research

 Caitlin Cadieux:

once I have a general idea of a visual direction I like, I jump to storyboarding, which is sketches in Photoshop that I then assemble into a PDF like so  – https://www.dropbox.com/s/o7y5xljzp55i0k2/1707_Sedaris_Storyboards_v2.pdf?dl=0

 Caitlin Cadieux:

this can change a bit from boards to animation but mostly because our deadlines are so tight and we sometimes have to adjust at the last minute, but it’s kinda like… illustrating/2d design but in sequence

 Emily Smart:

waaaaahhhh so cool :heart_eyes:

 Jimmy Kennedy:

wow, really cool story boards

 Emily Smart:

Also love that you’re still using pinterest like this. I constantly use it for current project reference and inspo, and when I bring it up to other designers and artists, a lot of times they’re like “um wtf.”

 Cara Bell:

reeally cool. Is that link public approved?

(can I share)

 Caitlin Cadieux:

yes! I actually don’t know why I haven’t got round to putting these on my website haha

 Caitlin Cadieux:

whaaat @emilysmart pinterest is such a godsend! It’s also super easy to casually send to the producers so they theoretically approve the visuals (really we don’t have time for this step most of the time, which is one nice thing about super fast deadlines haha)

 

 

 Caitlin Cadieux:

Alright y’all, looks like it’s time for me to hop off! Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any other questions, or find me on social @caitcadieux or shoot me an email caitcadieux@gmail.com. Thanks so much for having me on!

 

 

Next time:

If you want to listen in to find out when the next AMA is scheduled, or ask your own questions, get your slack invite here: dsndevokc.com/join-our-slack

Who would you like featured in our next AMA?

 

 

 

 

 

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Jenn is a social media and content marketer with a deep love of pumpkin-flavored everything and weekend naps. Currently an online web design student at Francis Tuttle, Jenn plans to make her mark on the digital world with mad coding and marketing skills. With over 13 years’ experience in digital marketing, she’s been in the game since the chat room days. When Jenn is not writing content for Steed Interactive or Red River Roofing, you can find her checking out the newest local eatery or sipping on tea at Urban Teahouse.

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