White Text. Black Background. Done?

White text on a black background.

Long has it been a style I admire. Long has it served as my mantra – at least on my #TeamCybis profile page. But even longer has it been a method that is recommended, yet advised against, praised and down-right hated. In design terms, it’s called inverted text. In ink and paint terms it’s a reversal. It’s opposite of how we read pretty much 99% of all text. I think even this blog is black on white.

I like opposites. I like doing the unexpected. I’m an inverter. A reversist. (Maybe that one is a stretch of the English language).

Ok to tell you the truth, even as a self-proclaimed “inverter” of text, I’m certainly not a purist when it comes down to using it. See our Cybis icon? Or the Cybis tagline you’ll find hiding at the end of most of our video productions? Those may be the only actual places I’ve practiced with absolute compliance with what my profile page preaches. Most of the time, I can’t help but add a lens flare, or two. Maybe some flickering particles… or a little texture or grain. But, the principal is the same. It even works well with other players besides black and white. White text on red works. Take stop signs, and the Target’s bullseye logo. Or how about this one:


(via the DMA)

In general I think it’s one of the easiest ways to get a message across, because the message is the only thing in the picture. It’s clutter free. It’s pure typography. It’s you and the story/message/logo/tagline/joke interfacing without interference from anything else. You have no choice but to focus on the words and contemplate their meaning. Inevitably, the black expanse around the white text is a blank canvas onto which every reader paints his own picture. (Notice I haven’t mentioned that it’s cheap to produce… because, well, that really isn’t true).

It certainly isn’t always the best approach. It’s just one of many. There are many who are steadfast in their disapproval of the style. Marketing firm, Transio, says:

  1. Inverted text is proven to decrease readership by as much as 50%.
  2. Inverted text is exactly opposite from the format of text people are used to reading (black-on-white).
  3. Readers cannot easily focus on any one piece of text for a long period of time

This, apparently, comes from “years of market research in the field of advertising.” Maybe the facts are true, but I categorically disagree. My argument? Because I’m the Creative Director, and I think white text on black is cool, effective, efficient, and pretty damn sweet. So there!

While we’re on the topic of black and white. Check out this awesome title sequence that is kinda white-text-on-black. It’s for the awe-inspiring PS3 Title “The Last of Us,” (which, if you haven’t played, is mind-numbingly good, and is video-game storytelling at its best… it literally makes you cry). Anyway, it’s a game set in a post-apocalyptic 2033, years after an outbreak of a fungus that wipes out 90% of Earth’s citizens. The fungus attacks the brain and spreads itself through airborne spores. The title sequence sets up the visuals well with a haunting but beautiful soundtrack. It’s chaotic and mesmerizing, and it’s all white on black.

The Last of Us Title

Keep on invertin’ people!

Post by Clayton Carter, Creative Director


Audiences Talking Back

InteractionNothing is worse than an audience who talks back to a presenter… or is that no longer the case? In today’s interactive world, I would argue that audiences who talk back are just what the event industry needs. If attendees aren’t engaging with the event, chances are high that they are connecting with something else competing for their attention.

Luckily, there are many alternatives to a stale, old one-way presentation. For your next event, consider implementing one of these solutions to give your audience a voice like never before.

  1. Set the framework – Months or weeks prior to the show, establish a hashtag for the event. Do the research and ensure it’s unique to your event. Be sure your own social media platforms are up to date, and then begin promotion.
  2. Share your information – During the event, share your social media information on screens, programs, banners, and other collateral material. There’s no limit to the creative ways this information can be displayed.
  3. Show you’re listening – During each presentation, show the audience you are listening by reading off recent tweets from the stage, or better yet, displaying them on screen.
  4. Display live tweets  There are plenty of free and affordable live twitter options that you can use to display tweets between presentations. Attendees love sharing their message for everyone to see.
  5. Display live media  Capture the audience’s photos and videos from Twitter, Instagram and Vine for an added on-screen bonus.
  6. Ask questions – During the presentation, ask questions and encourage the attendees to respond on twitter. This can also be a new high-tech spin on an outdated question and answer session.
  7. Own the second screen – Using mobile apps, you have the ability to control what the audience sees on their smartphones and mobile devices. Exclusive behind-the-scenes content will allow you to tell your story in a new way.
  8. Share media – Rather than just collecting photos, be sure you are uploading your own photos and videos live from the event. Imagine capturing the biggest award presentation on the night and posting it before the recipient makes it back to his or her seat.
  9. Surrender control – For a more engaging experience, let the audience control the content of the session. If an audience votes for a certain option, adjust the scripts and flow of the session accordingly. This takes advance planning, but is a truly empowering experience
  10. Follow up – After all of the work you put into creating an interactive event, don’t let the experience fade away. Continue to leverage your new connections and the content you collected to create an ongoing conversation.

Post by Danny Spors, Associate Producer

Stage Tips 101

View from the StageDon’t you just show up, speak and walk off?

Well, if you have ever had the opportunity to speak in front of a few hundred or even thousands of people, you know it’s not that simple. So, it’s my job, as a Cybis Stage Manager, to coach every individual who walks on the stage. But coaching goes beyond telling you to picture everyone in their underwear. We want the speakers and presenters to make a connection with the audience, and the only way to do that is by believing in the message you’re delivering.

So yes, part of a stage manager’s job is to coach VIPs and let them know that stage right is on the right side of the stage from the the presenter’s point of view (facing the audience). …And we remind you to point the mic at your chin and project your voice so the person in the back of the room can clearly hear you. But we also go over the message with every presenter and remind them the importance of eye contact and inflection. We explain that a smile goes a long way, and they are in fact contagious!

The sense of accomplishment when you complete a flawless show is unforgettable, but it typically takes hours of hard work, practice, and preparation.

So remember:

  1. Stage right is to your right
  2. Stage left is to your left
  3. Point the mic at your chin
  4. Stand up tall and proud
  5. Project your voice
  6. SMILE 🙂
  7. And say it like you mean it!

Post by Elsa Soriano, VP of Operations

Guide to Making Quick Decisions

Penguin TimerDo you need to find a way to accomplish more each day?  Do you want every decision you make to be the best decision possible?  Do you stress over all the options you face every day?

Team Cybis recently completed the StrengthFinders 2.0 assessment (Gallup) and I found out that one of my strengths is, apparently, “Decision Making.”  The theory behind the StrengthsFinder insight is that when people leverage on their strengths (instead of dwelling on their weaknesses) they can be happier, more productive, and more successful.  So, now I’m making it a personal mission to be a better decision maker.  For me that means making quick decisions.  I bet you can do it, too.

Research has shown that “quick decisions” may be just as accurate or preferred as those we mull over.  If you’re like me, consider how often you thumb through a menu out of fear of ordering the wrong meal.  …The wrong meal!  Assuming you’ve been out to eat before, how hard should it really be to decide if you want pasta, a burger, or a salad?

This used to be me, but a friend recently reminded me that it won’t be my Last Supper.  The next time you visit a restaurant, try committing to being the first one ready to order instead of the one who needs to “order last.”  I believe you’ll immediately feel a triumph that can set the stage for thousands of decisions ahead in your life.

Instead of fearing the wrong decision, start to fear not making a decision.  The time and energy exhausted by weighing the myriad of options every day can be channeled into productivity and enjoyment.  The legendary former CEO of GE, Jack Welch, insists that we not “sit” on decisions.  “Decisions at every level should be made in minutes, not days or weeks.”  I recently bought an egg timer so that I can force myself to commit to decisions within a finite amount of minutes.  I’ve already found that our team can confidently press forward with projects with several minutes of discussion rather than an hour.  In the company, this time equates to money.  But, perhaps more importantly, each decision we make frees our minds in a powerful way that leads to great satisfaction and… let’s face it, the next decision.

Check out this fascinating comparison of “pondering whether to do the laundry” versus just doing it.

My favorite excerpt:

You’re allowed to make some wrong decisions when you’re making a lot of right decisions. You have my permission to make the wrong choice, as long as you do it quickly. Now give yourself permission. You’ll find that the fear of making wrong choices is one of life’s greatest hoaxes and a root-cause of dissatisfaction.

My first blog might not be the best ever, but I’m three weeks ahead of schedule because I opened my laptop and just decided to write what I knew.  I would typically procrastinate on something like this, dreading the idea that I may not have the most riveting blog about decision making.  But you know what?  I made the quick decision to go for it.  Now I’m finished and you read it – so mission accomplished.

What are you debating about today?  Give yourself 5 minutes to decide and do it!

Post by Jeff Douglass, Founder & CEO

Cybis at After Effects World

Allen at After Effects

I had the great privilege of attending After Effects World last week in Seattle, led by Future Media Concepts. It was an inspiring 3-day conference packed with workshops, keynotes, training and networking with some of the best motion designers in the industry. I loved being exposed to such a depth of expertise, which covered everything from advanced motion design principles/techniques, to business development and industry trends. I definitely left with new knowledge, contacts and inspiration!

Adobe very generously gave us a tour of their office in Seattle, which was an incredible experience! We met the entire After Effects development team, and heard from them on the history of After Effects and details about their process for developing future versions.

This included “table talks” with the developers, where I had the opportunity to ask specific questions about our workflow, then hear (and suggest) recommendations for solutions. I was so impressed by how transparent and honest the developers were – they often admitted “You’re right, that should be an easy fix”. By the end of the day they had pages of such notes!

Where’s the Industry Headed?

After Effects World 2013

A highlight was the keynote by Steve Forde, After Effects‘ product manager, who spoke about the direction of the motion graphics industry and what he sees as two of the most important tools for studios:

  1. Re-purposing: Leveraging and re-purposing existing assets.
  2. Automating: Developing processes to automate as many of the non-creative tasks as possible.

He also spoke about the roadmap for Adobe’s products and the big picture issues they are trying to tackle in the next few years. I love knowing that the team is passionately involved in our industry and cares deeply about making the best tools.

It was an inspiring weekend and I definitely have a broader perspective of not just Cybis‘ creative output, but all of the steps we take along the way and how we can improve the process for ourselves and our clients.

If you’re planning to attend this conference next year or anything similar, let me know!

Post by Allen Ellis, Senior Motion Designer