The hunger for digital content is feeding Australia’s creatives well

Despite all the doom and gloom, SUNSTUDIOS' Alan Brightman argues that digital has fundamentally changed how the creative industry works - for the better.

It’s now more than 20 years since Bill Gates wrote his famous ‘Content is King’ essay about grabbing attention in the internet age. It looks incredibly prescient now, but I suspect even he had no idea just how true it would become.

Digital has fundamentally changed how the creative industry works. Consumers want interesting content and brands are falling over themselves to provide it. Creatives are tasked with feeding the beast.

Credit: Scott Stramyk

Those of us in the content business – which includes anyone in advertising, production and communications – have seen the volume and scope of project briefs steadily increasing. There’s so much to do but less time to do it in. And I have some news for you: this doesn’t look like it will change anytime soon.

Most brands did a single video and photographic shoot per year not so long ago; bigger ones might have had two or three. Now the same brands often require 20 shoots to refresh their content arsenal in a world that moves at the speed of social.

This is a drain on resources and it’s getting passed on to creatives. Shoots get compressed, with longer filming hours crammed into fewer days. The technology that enables creatives is being pushed too. As hardware and software improves, big brands expect finished work to meet heightened quality expectations.

At a time where creatives need to do more with less, it’s increasingly important to diversify skillsets and focus on collaboration, as well as the growth of tools, environments and programs that enable upskilling and collaboration.

Even a jack of all trades must master one

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the past few years have been all about video content. But just because brands are flocking to video doesn’t mean it’s the only thing they want – we’ve seen growth in diverse content coming out of our studios. Brands are shooting stills and motion video; sometimes blending the two for the final piece, other times using video for behind-the-scene exclusives.

This diverse, multi-layered and multi-purposed content is moving up the priority list as brands become aware of volume and bang-for-buck benefits. As a creative, it means you need to be able to do both too.

There are plenty of opportunities to upskill – we see photographers operating as directors of photography (DOPs) and more videographers capturing stills. It’s great for business but forces you to think and operate differently.

That said, it’s still important to specialise in one area if you want the pull to book big jobs. In other words, be famous for a particular skill but have extras in the toolbox for when you need them. 

To secure more work in a digital world, creatives no longer need to rely exclusively on commercial opportunities to fill their resume. Personal portfolios have made a comeback, with more creatives embarking on their own creative projects.

This helps keep the creative spark alive and, in some cases, can open up doors to further work.

The lesson in all of this? The same forces that are disrupting the creative industry are also giving birth to new opportunities. Creatives have an opportunity to upskill to where the market is moving, collaborating with peers to improve their work and use passion projects to bolster their portfolios.

True to form, creatives are addressing the disruption in our industry by doing what they do best – thinking outside of the box.

Alan Brightman is the general manager of SUNSTUDIOS in Sydney’s Alexandria, which was acquired by Canon Australia in 2014.


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