If you’ve ever done business with someone in Australia you know that when you factor in time zones and international datelines, if you’re in the US your end-of-workday is likely going to be the beginning of your collaborator’s next morning. There was a time, not that long ago, when that might have been a potential dealbreaker.
But Spotify, with 15 offices internationally, has no hesitation about their US team working with Melbourne, Australia-based Vidico. In fact, the collaboration between the two companies is so successful that Spotify has them on speed dial.
The key to their successful relationship? A combination of incredibly collegial teams and Frame.io. In this installment of Made in Frame, we spoke to Vidico co-founder Michael Pirone, who generously shared his experience with us on a new campaign for Spotify.
Location, location, location?
Along with his brother, Evan, Vidico has grown over the past seven years from a bro-and-bro startup to a team of more than 40 producers, editors, writers, directors, and designers scattered across Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, and South Africa. Even so, Michael estimates that more than 60 percent of their business comes from the US and Europe.
Both Evan and Michael caught the video bug early and went to film school, after which they began Vidico to target startups that had a novel product and to create short videos to explain the product’s purpose. One of their earliest successes was for Algolia, a search-as-a-service provider who remains a customer today—along with companies like Square, Deloitte, and Airtable—and about 450 more.
Vidico specializes in breaking down complex products and technologies into understandable videos and commercials, providing an end-to-end solution for their clients by offering everything from concept to production and final delivery. Their teams work onsite and remotely, which allows them the freedom to build the right squad for each client according to their strengths. They also might team up with outside partners for illustration or animation, which is why Frame.io is so vital to their workflow.
But regardless of location, their ethos is to democratize creativity. “We really like to listen to the opinions of all the creatives involved,” Michael says. “And what’s great about Frame.io is that everyone’s voice is heard.”
What’s great about Frame.io is that everyone’s voice is heard.
It’s why big clients like Spotify keep coming back. When you have a truly open dialogue, the line between client and vendor blurs and what you end up with is a real collaboration. “We’ve worked with a number of teams at Spotify and it’s always such a pleasure. They tell us that it feels like we’re in-house, which is the kind of working relationship we strive for,” he says.
Uniting in the cloud
Vidico relies on Adobe Creative Cloud for all of their productions. Roughly half of them are animated, as is the case for the new Spotify Ad Analytics product, in which Illustrator and After Effects played key roles.
Spotify, with more than 550 million monthly active users across 184 markets, is committed to inclusivity in their branding, having run numerous campaigns that highlight the ways that music brings us together. In this particular campaign, animated characters of different shapes and shades meant that the visuals felt universal.
The fully animated video explains how advertisers can access insights about their ad campaigns using the new application—which is creatively highlighted by the character and dog giving an internationally understandable thumbs up when they learn that it’s free. The main one-minute explainer was then translated to create eight additional language versions plus cutdowns.
The Vidico team took only eight weeks to produce the main explainer, from research and scripting to delivery. Creative Manager Keith Crawford, Lead Producer Bridget Chilver, and Co-Producer Kelsey Pettifer were the key internal team members that drove the project. Because Spotify is a longtime client, they have an established package of illustration, design, and motion style systems that they developed together.
“Stylistically this video is part of a series of explainers featuring a modular character style and branding elements. The foundations of this style have led to optimized production timelines, as a lot of the usual questions we normally work through with clients are already set, and we can use design and ideation time to focus on visual content and communication rather than style development,” Keith says.
He further explains their process. “The project begins with an ideation phase with a written script, followed by a storyboard phase which we normally develop via quick physical sketches, and finalized storyboards drawn in Procreate. Designs are then created in Illustrator based on the storyboard frames, and once approved the animation team can use those same assets. We animate in After Effects, and then finish with music and sound effects to create the versions in Premiere Pro,” he says.
With teams working across three continents, as well as freelancers in other locations, a lightweight, accessible, global-standard software pipeline is a necessity. “Creative Cloud provides that pipeline, and Illustrator and After Effects are the two pillars of our process for the animation team,” Keith states.
“Communication between the two programs is stable and well tested, allowing us to easily import designs from Illustrator to After Effects without losing any design detail or requiring rework, which is crucial in ensuring that our clients can see and approve visual designs before we animate. The communication between the two applications also means design changes, if required, can be updated with relative ease and reflected in the animation.”
The asynchronous advantages
The three Spotify team members Vidico worked with were all located in the US for the entirety of the project. But given that the Australian team were starting work at the end of the US team’s day, there were actually some advantages to working asynchronously.
For one, Vidico could get notes from the clients and make the changes while the US team was offline, giving them new iterations for them to look at and evaluate when they came in each morning. In that sense, Frame.io was indispensable.
Even more important, however, was that especially because the video was animated, being able to leave drawings and annotations on the frame with very specific notes meant that even if the US team was done for the day, the need for the Australian team to ask them questions was vastly reduced.
The other significant advantage of using Frame.io came in the localization phase of the project. Because Vidico deliberately avoided using on-screen text in order to minimize the need to do numerous versions of animation, they needed to lean into the voiceover.
For that, they sent Spotify audio-only talent auditions on Frame.io, which allowed them to easily evaluate their voiceover options. “Once the voiceover artist and tonal reads were approved for each location, we supplied the voiceover artists with the original video on a Frame.io link, so that they had a timing reference, which allowed us to avoid retiming the animation across the nine videos,” Bridget says.
Once recorded and edited, the nine localized versions were then shared with Spotify. “The ease of file management in Frame.io, as well as the ability for Spotify to easily share the Review link with both the regional and the main US teams to add and collate feedback meant that review rounds were contained,” Michael adds. “We could also send feedback links directly to the voiceover talent, avoiding double handling, and could add our own notes and clarifications to be addressed.”
Seeing eye to eye
With so many clients and projects running through Vidico—more than 450 at current count—keeping their pipeline streamlined internally is extra important.
“We group projects by client, and our entire production team has access to those folders,” Michael explains. “Within these folders we normally separate internal and external versions of the video to ensure that we stay on top of versioning and the client is only seeing approved versions.”
Once their projects enter the animation phase, Frame.io becomes an even more essential tool for Vidico. “One of our favorite features is the ability to draw and annotate directly onto frames, which is of huge benefit in directing feedback to animators. Plus, we use it with designers, sound designers, and voice talent,” he says.
Vidico’s success is largely a result of their client’s experience. There’s no client that wouldn’t want to keep working with a vendor who makes them feel as though their input is truly heard. And that client experience factor is also part of why they enjoy using Frame.io.
One of our favorite features is the ability to draw and annotate directly onto frames, which is of huge benefit in directing feedback to animators.
“We always use Frame.io to share video links for review by our clients. We like the fact that it’s both simple enough for a client who has never interacted with video before to use and provide feedback,” Michael adds. “It’s easy for them to securely share with internal stakeholders without the need for passwords, and allows anyone to easily comment even if they aren’t logged in. Having one tool for all team members and stakeholders means we cut down on any missed feedback and double-handling. We also appreciate the speed and quality of Frame.io; videos upload in moments, with no discernable compression issues, which means our clients are seeing exactly what we see.”
A boon to business
It’s always interesting to ask our customers how they worked before they started using Frame.io and how it’s changed the way they’ve worked since using it.
But as longtime Frame.io users, Vidico can’t actually quantify the difference. What they can say is that the combination of Adobe Creative Cloud and Frame.io are the way they’ve always chosen to work, because it’s always made the most sense. Even when they first started Vidico, it was always clear that Creative Cloud had the integrated tools they needed to take their projects from start to finish, and with Frame.io the collaboration across their ever-increasing team and client base made their growth as a business that much easier.
According to Michael, “If it weren’t for Frame.io, we would not be able to do business this way.” As for the future of Vidico, spreading their creative wings seems a likely next step for the film-loving team as they consider developing their own content, and working across more bespoke commercial projects.
And as always, for us, hearing that Frame.io helps creatives across the globe grow their businesses is music to our ears.