07 Nov 5 Questions With TVC Treatment Designer BB Gunn
Recently, I sat down (via email) with BB Gunn, a visual researcher and TVC treatment designer who has done some amazing work in commercials, music videos, TV series, film and fashion and asked five questions about his design services. This is what he said:
Me: How does one amass a collection of a million images? The organization that must require is above my comprehension. How do you do it?
BB: It’s a mind numbing process and takes forever, but it’s the only way. I started by finding individual photographer’s websites and pulling every photo, even if I never thought I would use it. Then I moved on to photo agencies, which featured 10-50 photographers each, and one-by-one, pulled everything off their individual sites. Then I went to every production company’s website and began taking stills of every commercial and music video each director had made.
Yes, it takes forever, and the organization of those images takes even longer. I still have 300,000 unorganized images sitting on an external hard drive waiting for me to go through, not to mention 300+ director/photographer websites I’ve been meaning to get new images from. I’m trying to get around to it, but thankfully I’m too busy making treatments!
Me: How has Paradise helped with your treatment design approach? Has it made an impact on the quality of treatments you produce?
BB: Everyone thought I was crazy when I started producing my own print magazine, but I believed in it for a multitude of reasons and remain very proud of what I made. No one knew (myself included) that it would wind up being the best 300+ page portfolio I could ever ask for. It was what cemented me a job as a treatment designer’s assistant when I first started out. (For the record, a treatment designer doesn’t need an assistant…I left to design on my own after 3 months).
It helped show clients that I knew about other artists, understood a multitude of aesthetics, and could research/write/design two 150pg magazine issues by myself. Anyone who can do that can put together a 20pg McDonald’s treatment, no problem.
Me: Name three things you can’t start a treatment without…
BB: Google Image Reverse Search: If you find a random photo somewhere, but it’s too small, or you want to see where it came from, drop it into an image search on Google. It’s the best way to find other (hopefully larger) versions of that exact photo, and the photographer’s site it came from.
InDesign: This is obvious, but I’m pointing it out since I’m so opposed to Keynote. Every treatment, no matter what, looks cheap coming out of Keynote. Not sure why, it’s hard to put my finger on…. Meanwhile, nearly everything that’s exported out of InDesign looks polished! I’ve turned down work that required me to design in Keynote. I tell them I can do it, but the program makes me move at a snail’s pace, whereas I can zip around InDesign at the speed of light.
Adobe Bridge: Another obvious one, but it’s open on my computer everyday. It’s the best way to view and organize all your photos. I have folders within subfolders within subfolders, and there’s no better way to review and reorder thousands of images than with Bridge. I had never used it before making treatments, so I’m glad I got started off on the right foot.
Me: What do you do when you’re not designing treatments?
BB: I’ve worked nearly everyday since I went freelance (I used to work in-house). I thought I was going to have all the free time in the world, making only 1-2 treatments a week. Instead, I’m in my living room designing every single day. I’ve found that if I want a break (and this may be true for all freelancers), I need to turn down work and force myself to go on vacation. Next week I’m leaving for Europe for three weeks, my first time out of the country in ten years! I’m afraid of letting my clients down during that time, but I’m sure they’ll do fine without me for a little while. They know that I’ll be back and ready to work nonstop when I return!
Me: How do you cope with stress? Exercise? Hobbies?
BB: I’m still figuring that out! In terms of stress, if I have a bad client that really stresses me out, I simply don’t work with them again when they call. There are so many awesome directors out there and if we’re going to collaborate for 2-3 days, I’d rather work with ones that don’t give me paragraphs and paragraphs of notes for every draft, or select 3 photos after I’ve given them 600, or keep me on the phone working with them until 2am. It’s not worth the anxiety. Making treatments is a skill, and I love working hard for my clients, but…if both parties know what they’re doing, there is little reason to work all night, source 1500 photos, and create 22 different drafts. It shouldn’t be that difficult on either end.
And by dropping those clients, I’m making more time for the clients I enjoy working with: directors who give direct/helpful notes, who trust my work, and are overall nice people to work with. I hold on to those clients like gold and will even cancel/reschedule personal plans to work with them, since I know it’ll be a low-stress, enjoyable experience.