WOW. The creative geniuses at Presentation Studio are not only passionate about presentation design, they are also champions of top-tier Prezi design. As a testament to this, they have created “Ode to Prezi”, a fairy tale told with a poetic narrative, flash animation, and strong cinematic principles. I wanted to know more about the creative process behind a work of this magnitude, and Emma Bannister (managing director) was kind enough to give us a glimpse behind-the-scenes. Check out the presentation below, and keep scrolling to read the interview.
Amazing work, Emma! How big was the creative team on this project?
There were people that worked on this project at intermittent times. However there were 2-3 core people that made this a reality. The Studio manager Nathaniel Parry-Selmes came up with the concept and poem and provided the initial and guiding art direction for the project.
The sketch directions were brought to life with the hard work from our Senior Designer Denis and Prezi and Flash specialist Sophie.
I imagine the brainstorming phase must have been fun! Can you describe what that was like?
It was really fun, but extremely tough to manage the fun work with paying client work! The concept evolved quickly with the words practically writing themselves, Nathaniel being from an illustrator & animation background came up with the concept and final draft within a couple of days.
The brief we made for ourselves was to prove to people how good Prezi is for telling stories, and how good Presentation Studio was at making great Prezis. Nathaniel’s approach was quite simple, asking the questions; if you were to watch a Prezi… Why would you watch it? What would keep you looking at it? What would make you want to explore the Prezi artwork? Our answers were pointing to the need to show something cool, fun and with enough hidden gems to have people looking at it repeatedly.
With the content creator and art director being the same person – it was easier to build the message and visuals cohesively and make decisive changes for the betterment of the final project. Nathaniel generated the first series of concept sketches and then worked with Denis building the sketches into digital art. This was the fun part, drawing from many different references of traditional fantasy cartoons were then further developing the concepts.
As the project gained momentum with its final style developed – more people were slowly introduced to the project. Then the final stage (and the longest), Sophie’s great Flash and Illustrator art with her unique interpretations of the concepts that added that extra level of detail, cuteness and creative edge that ultimately became the “Ode to Prezi”.
Some people find it challenging to create a Prezi storyboard, since frames can be tiny, and nested inside other visuals. Do you have any workflow tips?
The biggest tip is to know the story and know what your key objective is. Think of it like a cinematic masterpiece. Imagine the final scene – what image/visual tells your key message most effectively, then visualise the journey on how you get there. Get a big piece of paper and put that visual in the middle and see how you can use scale, illustrations, movement through zooming and animation to help building the tension toward the final reveal and closure of you message. This will take a lot of thumbnails, a lot of iterations and some amount of coffee.
Get technical inspiration of other Prezis. Knowing what others can do with Prezi will unlock your fear of the unknown… then use your imagination and get further inspiration from movies and animations from all genres… Don’t be stuck with what is already done before.
Is your workflow different when scoping for a Prezi project, versus other slide-based presentation tools?
Slightly, We tend to try and spend greater conceptual time up front than normal. To make a good Prezi, you really need to see the journey and the final reveal. We also try to bring more graphical illustrations and animations to tell the story.
So if someone hands you a script, do you normally take a frame-by-frame approach when planning? Or do you start by visualizing the whole overview?
We like to start by understanding the whole message and flow of the story. Then we try and make the whole overview reverse engineering the build-up frame by frame.
For a project of this scope, how long does the planning phase usually take?
Surprisingly the planning phase of the “Ode to Prezi” was very quick. It was the building time that took a long time. There were so many stop, starts and interruptions. The project got shelved once or twice as well due to other overwhelming requirements. If we had our time again, We would ultimately have liked to put a full week into planning, one or two weeks of building and a week of refining – of course in the commercial world we often find ways of speeding up the planning and building time and bring our experience to find shortcuts and refine along the way.
Do you think most stories can be told effectively in Prezi? Have you ever had to talk a client OUT of using Prezi for their presentation?
Every story can be told brilliantly in Prezi, however not all clients can present in Prezi. Prezi gives the ability to have a story told really creatively and different, but not all stories and presentations need this treatment. It comes down to budget and time. Presentations in other commercial software can be easily updated and changed by the content owner, great Prezis cannot be edited so easily. When the content owner doesn’t need to make quick changes we love the opportunity to use Prezi. It has the best opportunity for people to be more creative and express their message with a lasting effect.