Illustration of Senior Animator Daniel McGarrigle

Employee Spotlight: Daniel McGarrigle, Senior Animator

This month’s employee spotlight features one of our talented animators who has been working at Makematic since the very beginning! We caught up with Senior Animator, Daniel McGarrigle this month to talk about his role at Makematic!Read More

Working From Home: How to Protect Your Physical & Mental Health

If the recent Pandemic has shown us anything, it’s reminded us of the overall spirit and tenacity of the human species; more specifically our ability to adapt. Read More

Image of woman sitting with her phone out with the text on the right hand side saying Learning on Tiktok

Learning on TikTok: Makematic Behind-The-Scenes Vlog

In this vlog, we’re learning about TikTok. We know the platform; some love it, some hate it, and some refused to download the platform at the start of lockdown last year because it was a platform “for kids”. Guilty. But now, I love the platform and learn so much from it.Read More

Illustrated image of Makematic's co-founder Catherine Davies

Employee Spotlight: Catherine Davies, Co-Founder

With Women’s History Month at full steam ahead, who better to highlight this month’s employee spotlight than our co-founder, Catherine Davies! We caught up with her this month to ask about her role at Makematic.

As a co-founder of Makematic, what were your motivations to create the company?

Before Makematic, I was a BBC television producer for almost 15 years. I love creating great content! I’m most passionate about making programmes for children and young people and I’ve been fortunate enough to work on flagship BBC shows like Blue Peter, Newsround and CBBC Comic Relief. 

Fast forward to when I became a mother, I struggled to find a variety of quality online educational resources for my own children. And I felt a personal responsibility to put my broadcast experience to good use. Creating wonderful content for children, teachers and parents from all over the world, no matter what their background or ability, is a dream come true.

What moments in the history of the company made you feel most proud?

There have been so many – and there are more peak moments every week! Take today as an example, as I write this, we’re on a Zoom call with the New-York Historical Society. David Rubenstein is in the studio and we’re directing him, via Zoom, for a huge series on American Power. That’s a peak career moment!

And the early wins are still bright in my memory. Our first commission. Our first employees (Hello Aine and Daniel!) And raising our first £1 million to build the business. It was validation that all the endless days and nights are worth it.

On a day-to-day basis, what are your responsibilities and priorities?

As the company has grown, I’m no longer directing or producing our films myself, instead, I lead the production, innovation and animation teams. Over 40 people now! I work closely with our senior leadership team on all aspects of production from the learning design, creative briefs, budgets, schedules and make sure everything is well resourced and everyone is happy.

As co-founder, I also work with Mark (our other co-founder) on making major business decisions and working with our commercial partners and board of directors.

How does the co-founder collaborate with other teams within the company?

This is where I get to shout out to our Directors! We’ve structured the company into large teams: Production, Innovation & Engagement, Animation and also Licensing & Distribution. Each team is lead by a super talented and experienced Director. Brian, Tara, Beatrijs and Sree. I work closely with this group every day – like the Avengers, only different.

What’s an important lesson you’ve learned while managing Makematic?

Owning and managing your own company is one of the most exciting and rewarding things you can do. It’s also one of the most lonely and stressful jobs I’ve ever had.

Covid was (and still is!) a real test but it has emphasised to me that trust and empathy are more important than MBA speak when it comes to leading a team. Human connection – that’s what all great companies are built on and that’s what I work hardest to encourage in myself and others. 

In case you missed it, read our previous employee spotlight blogs featuring Business Development Director Jon White, Producer Aine Carlin and Content & Distribution Coordinator Kyle McGeagh.

Gain while you game behind the scenes text featuring two women

Gain While You Game: Makematic Behind The Scenes Vlog

In this vlog, I’m taking you behind-the-scenes of our first Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) video: “Gain While you Game“.

This is not your traditional behind-the-scenes that you may have watched on YouTube. As you know, Makematic has been operating remotely from home for almost 12 months now. We have managed to shoot videos in the past few weeks with TOM 2.0 currently in the works, with social-distancing and cleanliness in mind. However, the majority of our current projects are animations or self-recording. With the current lockdown in place in N.I. until April we don’t think it will change anytime soon.

This CSR video was no different. I brought back Tasha, who was the Producer for this CSR video, and we discussed her experience producing a video online. We talked about the pros and cons of online production, what she thought of the final outcome of the video and of course, we couldn’t do a gaming video without talking briefly about games. If you didn’t buy a Nintendo Switch at the beginning of lockdown last year and played Animal Crossing for 6 months – did you really go through lockdown?

As mentioned in the vlog, there was a team of six who created this video. We communicated and collaborated all online. Emails and Zoom calls are the norm here at Makematic, so it was easy to talk to the team. We researched the key points that needed to go into the video, created a mood board for the look and feel of the video, and came up with a storyboard to support our ideas.

We made conscious decisions throughout the whole video. One of the most important decisions that we made was to cast two girls in the video. We know that a lot of people perceive gaming as a male-dominated field, so we cast two girls to reject this perception. It’s 2021, I think it’s time that we realise that girls like to actually play games.

If you haven’t already watched the CSR video “Gain While You Game”. You can watch it here. For the behind-the-scenes vlog featuring Tasha, watch it below!

Illustration of video game consoles and text stating how we made a 60-second gaming video

How We Made A 60-Second Gaming Video

During my placement with Makematic, I was tasked to produce a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) video on the benefits of gaming and the life skills it provides. After the initial planning, when I was faced with the task of editing a minute-long video I didn’t think much of it. However as the team and I planned the video’s content I started to get worried. The thought of trying to fit so much information about the benefits of gaming and the life skills it provides into 60-seconds was quite daunting.

Personally, I love long-form content. I’m the person who will almost never watch YouTube videos that are under 15 minutes and prefers hour-long content that I can have on in the background. And while I have made short-form content before in school and university, 60-seconds was definitely pushing what I was familiar with. 

However, once we had refined our script as much as possible and I started editing, I realised that it wasn’t as difficult as I was psyching myself up to believe it was because we had done the hard part while we were scripting. And as I watched the footage back I realised just how useful short-form content can be. The restrictions of only having 60-seconds to include as much information as you can while not bombarding a viewer with too much to take in means that you end up refining your points down to the bare minimum, and most interesting information possible. And this – if done right – inevitably makes for better content because it’s all of the best bits.

Our topic being gaming meant that I could use transitions and music to play into that aspect. The team and I knew that we wanted to start off with an old-school PSA style video in black and white, somewhat mocking the “serious” tone, but I wasn’t sure how to then transition into the rest of the video which would be in colour without it being a typical crossfade which wouldn’t work. After discussing it with Ryan, one of the producers, I realised that feeding into the gaming nature of the video would help in this case and so I tried out a bunch of different glitch effects to transition the clips. I think it has worked really well, not only practically, but stylistically as well I feel like it compliments the video contents really well. 

Massive thank you to young people involved in the video: Niamh Brooking, Justin Pornasdoro and Chloe Shaw!

If you haven’t yet, check out our CSR video on the benefits of gaming.

Illustration of Aine Carlin for Makematic's employee spotlight blog

Employee Spotlight: Aine Carlin, Producer

In this month’s employee spotlight, we’re highlighting one of our many, talented producers Aine Carlin! Aine is one of the O.G. producers at Makematic. She’s been working at the company since it began in 2016 and has been involved in multiple projects. We caught up with her this month to talk about her role at Makematic!

How did you get your job at Makematic?

I saw the job advert and thought ‘this sounds brilliant – it would be perfect for my friend’ so I forwarded it on. I guess I thought I wasn’t qualified enough. Luckily he persuaded me otherwise. I applied for the job and was called in for an interview.  It was perfect timing. I was getting tired of jumping between temporary positions, between my work as a lecturer at the local college and working on film/TV sets. It was also the perfect job, I loved the mixture of education and production. Looking back now I don’t know why I doubted my suitability for the role.

On a day-to-day basis, what are your responsibilities and priorities?

I’m across every stage of production, from the creative concepts to the finishing touches. No day is the same – just how I like it! 

How do producers collaborate with other teams within the company?

I kind of see myself as the middle person. I schedule, gather, and distribute the information for each department so that they can do their magic. 

Are you working on any big projects?

I’m currently on the Untold Series at the moment which is a Historical series for older teenagers. I’m learning cool stuff every day and the content is great to work on!

What’s an important lesson you’ve learned while working at Makematic?

Too many to name. But if I have to say one, I’d say that I totally understand what Mark Twain was on about when he said: “Find a job that you enjoy and you won’t have to work a day in your life”.

Aine has worked on several projects for Makematic! This includes Participate, Skillsumo, and Macmillan. Right now she’s working on our growing collection of American history and civics videos Untold. Check out the Untold trailer below.

Lets Talk About History

Let’s Talk About History: Makematic Behind-The-Scenes Episode 10

The history that doesn’t make it into the textbooks are the best stories to tell.

It’s a new year and not much has changed in the world. We’re still in a global pandemic, we’re still at home and we’re still washing our hands. But somethings have changed. The US has a new President and Vice President, there are vaccines being administered every day around the world, and a lot of new Untold videos are being released.

In this vlog, I’m talking about History; the history class, why history matters, and the American history and civics series Untold. Without giving too much away, I say the word ‘history’ more than 20 times, just in case you don’t know what this vlog is about.

There was a lot to unpack in this vlog. History class for me and from what I can remember was fun. I remember learning that The Battle of Hastings happened in 1066. I also remember the year very clearly because of the Hastings Direct advertisement. Henry VII’s rhyme about how his wives; died, divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. When you think about it, it’s a very grim way to remember how people died.

One of the things that I point out about learning history is from a book called “Answering Why” by Mark Perna who states that you have a lot of students who don’t want to learn something unless they know why they need to know it. This is definitely something to think about when learning not just history, but other topics in school too. That’s an entire video topic altogether, but if you’re interested, here is a blog about 3 things I wish they taught us in secondary school.

In this episode, I dive deep into the different series of Untold, which has grown since we started publishing videos for the series back in July. You can watch the entire series for free at New videos released every Wednesday!

It’s a new year with a new vlog, but the same situation as last year and I don’t think that will change anytime soon. Happy New Year! Watch episode 10 below:

Illustration of Kyle McGeagh who is Makematic's Content & Distribution Coordinator

Employee Spotlight: Kyle McGeagh, Content & Distribution Coordinator

This month’s employee spotlight blog we’re shining the light on the commercial team. In particular, Kyle McGeagh our Content & Distribution Coordinator. Kyle has been working at Makematic for 2 years now and we spoke to him about his unique role in the company.

How did you get your job at Makematic?

I was in the process of moving down to Derry, so I began to send out my CV and a cover letter to media companies in the area. After contacting Mark, I was offered an interview. Not long after my interview with Brian and Catherine, I was offered a position here at Makematic. Originally I was hired on as the Post-Production Coordinator, and then during my time here was moved into the position of Content and Distribution Coordinator.

On a day to day basis, what are your responsibilities and priorities?

My days can vary day to day, it all really depends on what is currently in Production and what is finishing in Post. My main responsibilities would be: Data wrangling rushes and projects, creating straightforward and understandable folder structures and workflows, managing our shared storage, and backing up rushes, masters, deliverables, and project files. Creating metadata for our content and cataloguing it, preparing content for distribution, which includes pulling together all of our master files, gathering or creating SRT files and thumbnails for our content. Managing our Video on Demand platform, our YouTube channel, and various other video hosting platforms. 

How do Content & Distribution Coordinators collaborate with other teams within the company?

A lot of my collaboration with other teams and members in the company comes in the form of me chasing people so that they will fill out a big scary Metadata Sheet, this is usually done through emails or through Zoom or Google Hangout calls. Usually, I prefer to do it through a call, that way I can walk people through the sheet and what it entails, which helps to alleviate the fright of the Metadata Sheet and make it much less of a daunting task for them. Another big part of my collaboration with other members is creating problem-solving, setting up workflows and ways of getting things done quicker and easier is a big part of my job. Most problems will find their way to me and it’s my job to figure out what it is we want to do and how to best achieve that with what we’ve got.

Are you working on any big projects?

I’m kind of across the board on our projects, mostly at the end of them to back everything up, and begin to prepare it for distribution. Getting things ready and prepared for distribution is quite the project on its own. Right now I’d say one of the biggest projects that I’ve been working on the past few months would be Untold Edu, it’s a great project to work on but it is quite the beast. 

What’s an important lesson you’ve learned while working at Makematic?

I’d say the most important lesson I’ve learned at Makematic is that good, strong workflows and systems are crucial to things running smoothly. Without a workflow or system that is clear, consistent, and understandable simple tasks can be made into mountains. Ironing out a workflow or system is also never the final step, these workflows and systems can always be built upon and improved; especially with how fast technologies and our understanding of them change.

Ever since Kyle started working in the company, he has had his hand in the majority of the videos produced by Makematic at some point; whether that’s creating thumbnails to videos or SRT files (subtitles). One of his many responsibilities is to ensure that the Makematic VOD is updated – check it out here!

In case you missed it, read our three previous Employee Spotlight blogs featuring Caoimhe Sweeney (Motion Graphics Designer), Conor McKelvey (Motion Graphics Designer), and Ryan Lee (now Producer!).

Image of two women holding up a sign saying We Hosted A Webinar - Belfast Design Week

We Hosted A Webinar: Makematic Behind-The-Scenes Episode 8

If you’re like me, a 20-something-year-old who is eager to learn and try new things but at the same time who is terrified to learn and try new things because it’s – well – new, then you’ve come to the right page.

Public speaking. Two words that for some people it’s a walk in the park, but for others who don’t have that much experience in (a.k.a me) it’s a -20C walk in the park with sleet, heavy rain and realising that your coat doesn’t have a hood. This year, I decided to take that walk into public speaking, albeit it was online and someone else was there to co-host with me. Besides that, the nerves were there, the pit in my stomach was present and I ran out of breath a lot.

This episode of the vlog explores the journey that Tasha (our Social Media Producer) and I went through when we hosted our first webinar for Belfast Design Week. It was a journey, to say the least. We prepared our content a week before, figured out what we were going to say the day before and mentally preparing ourselves for the pressure two weeks before. So in short, a lot of prepping happened.

To ensure that the webinar ran smoothly, I had to venture back into the office to get reliable WiFi. If you have the same internet provider as me, which fails on a daily basis and consequently makes me appear to freeze during Zoom calls with an unflattering expression, then you know what the frustration feels like. I won’t name names as to who this said internet provider is as A) I might get in trouble for legal reasons and B) because I don’t want anyone else to suffer the same internet fate as I do.

If you haven’t already watched the vlog, have a look at it below!

Fun fact about this vlog, we practised the webinar 7 times. Practised social distancing whilst doing the webinar. And learnt that public speaking (virtually) isn’t too bad at all. Though I can’t vouch for in-person public speaking, I think that’s a whole other level of panic.

Watch episode 8 here!

Shameless plug right here, but after you watch the vlog, watch our webinar too called “How To Design Your Instagram Feed To Educate Your Audience”. It’s now live on the Makematic VOD. It’s short and sweet, and you might learn something about how gen Z wants to use Instagram now. If you don’t fancy watching and prefer reading, I did write about the webinar in this condensed version. Just to warn you, this doesn’t have as much information as the webinar, so you might as well watch the webinar.

Belfast Design Week 2020: Educating Gen Z On Instagram

This year’s Belfast Design Week was a little different. Instead of coming together in person, it was all on Zoom. Zoom is fine, it’s just not the same as going to an in-person event, meeting new people and taking one too many free snacks.

Yesterday (04 Nov), we hosted a webinar entitled “How To Design Your Instagram Feed To Educate Your Audience” with a focus on how to gain the attention of Generation Z. For those who attended and to Belfast Design Week – thank you! For those who didn’t get a chance to hear what we had to say, we’ve put some key highlights about Post-Millennials (Gen Z) and how Instagram is changing as a platform in terms of how people are using it.

29.6% of Instagram’s users were in the 18-24 age group (Statista, 2020)

With the current social climate that happened this year and is continuously happening, Instagram is no longer an appropriate place to exist unfazed by current events, politics, cultural and social issues, and much more. 

Travel photos and group selfies have been replaced with protest photos and educational infographics.

With a quick search, you can find posts advocating for anything you can think about with thousand of engagements. Posting bite-sized squares of information in the form of a carousel which Instagram launched in 2017, has been used by activists, advocacy groups and well-meaned individuals as a way to educate and inform.

Consider it something like PowerPoint activism (Nguyen, 2020)

In a time of social unrest, these text-based slideshow graphics have found new resonance and an eager audience, like Gen Z, on the platform, which has been known for prioritizing still images over text.

But if you are planning to do this text-based slideshow graphics, make sure that it’s coming from a good place. This means that if you’re trying to educate your audience on a certain topic or matter, you need to make sure that you are practicing what you preach as Patel (2017) stated that “Gen Z is going to know very quickly whether they are a part of something special or are caught in a big-talk campaign”.

As social media users, it’s up to us to be more critical and intentional with our digital footprints. This is something Gen Z (individuals like myself) wants to use social media for. We want to be educated and learn more about what is happening in our society, as sometimes in schools we are not taught about certain things, therefore we take matters into our own hands.

Learn more about Post-Millenials and Civic Engagement here.

We had recorded the webinar so that everyone who did not attend is able to watch it – even folks who didn’t sign up. Look out for this next week!

Image of young woman smiling with an office background. Back to work, covid-19 edition stated as text

Back To Work: Covid-19 Edition | Makematic Behind-The-Scenes Episode 7

Technically, we’ve been working. We’ve never stopped. But in this vlog, we’re showing you the office space – COVID19 edition. So technically, we went back to our official workspace.

Fun fact, there were more sanitisers and face masks in the office than there were people. This is probably quite a common thing nowadays and our office in Belfast was no different. In this vlog, I take you an “unofficial” office tour to show you the measures we have taken to ensure that the space is safe to work in. I say “unofficial” as office spaces should be more lively, with more people and more banter, hence I vetoed this tour just like I am with 2020.

In this unofficial tour, you’ll see the layout of the office, the sanitisers and face masks that I mentioned, and clips of me aggressively wiping surfaces and anything that I’ve touched at the end of the working day. You’ll also hear various safety messages (e.g. wash your hands, wear a face mask, etc.) that you may have heard over the past six months because those messages are the only consistent and non-changing rule that we’ve been told to do.

If you haven’t watched the vlog yet you can watch it below, where I have embedded into this blog (you’re welcome).

Spoiler alert: we’re back at home because the rules change all the time. Literally, all the time. We’re complying and working back at home in our little office spaces. If you’d like to see our home office spaces, you can read it here.

I don’t know when we’ll be back. But when we do, I hope that we can go back to when we feel safe and when there are more people than sanitisers.

Watch episode 7 here!

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