Review: Division05’s “Snapdragon”

If you’ve never seen Division05’s tutorials, you’ve missed some of the best motion design instruction available — online or offline.

Division05 (a.k.a Carey Smith) uses After Effects as a magical podium from which he delivers mind-altering wisdom gleaned over 15 years of pushing pixels and massaging keyframes at some of the most admired studios in the business.

So what is it, exactly?

This isn’t a tutorial about making god rays glint off a sexy smartphone spinning in outer space.

It’s a story.

A story about a real brand (Qualcomm’s Snapdragon) and how a small team pushed that brand’s existing visual identity to new heights while ushering it into the world of motion.

A shot from the final animation

A shot from the final Snapdragon animation

Like all good stories, this one has twists and turns. Carey shows the ugly mistakes and costly missteps he made along the way. Then he shows you how to avoid them.

A masterclass for the rarest of talents

In other words, Snapdragon is a comprehensive — and very entertaining — masterclass that teaches you how to do two things that many professionals never learn:

  1. Think clearly
  2. Tell a good story

Carey says it best:

You and I both know there isn’t a series of quick tricks for success or plugins that’ll instantly give the satisfaction of having made something actually interesting.

If you want to make unique, detailed work with character — work you can really own, work that’s really yours and yours alone — that obviously takes the investment of your own ideas.

And it also takes time. Animation is just a real labor-intensive art form, if you want something both unique and detailed.

What’s included?

When you buy the course, you get three hours of video content and the final source files used to create the Snapdragon animation featured throughout the lessons.

Part 1

  • Concept + Storyboarding
  • Refining Goals
  • Internal Logic
  • Visual Signifiers

Part 2

  • Discovery Through Making
  • Warming Up
  • Remix + Rethink
  • Cliché

Part 3

  • Adding Value
  • Visual Metaphor
  • Levels
  • Know the Structure (Hero’s Journey)
Applying the Hero's Journey framework to a logo animation turns out to be pretty helpful.

Applying the Hero’s Journey framework to a logo animation turns out to be pretty helpful.

Who’s it for?

This course is for anyone interested in being a better motion designer by understanding the ways in which design and storytelling work together to create high-value visual experiences.

Cliché can be okay — Carey explains when and how.

Cliché can be okay — Carey explains when and how.

Had I watched these videos 15 years ago, at the beginning of my career, I would have avoided a lot of frustrated groping through the blind alleyways of self-instruction that left me feeling inadequate and ineffective as a designer.

Even after spending $80k on a graduate degree, I felt like I was missing a huge, foundational chunk of my education.

For me, “Snapdragon” is that chunk.

Up to this point, Carey’s been giving his tutorials away for free (via YouTube). But with Episode 6: Snapdragon, he’s changing that. And at $29.99, it’s worth every penny.

Who is this not for?

If you’re thinking of buying this course for the After Effects or Cinema 4D source files, don’t. You’re missing the point.

Yes, it’s nice that those files are included, but they’re really just a cherry on top of a gargantuan sundae of wisdom.

After Effects serves as an illustrative tool for Carey's lessons.

After Effects serves as an illustrative tool for Carey’s lessons.

The value you might get from the source files is minuscule in comparison to the value of seeing Carey’s design process dissected in real-time.

A note about Carey’s visual style

Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “Carey’s visuals just aren’t my style. I’m more of a 2D person or a character animator or a [fill in the blank].”

Rest assured that Carey’s visual style is irrelevant. The lessons he’s teaching in this course are universally applicable to all motion designers, regardless of your stylistic inclination.

Links


Editor’s note: Motionographer has not received compensation of any kind for this review.

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About the author

Justin Cone

/ justincone.com
Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer and F5. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.

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  • mauborba

    Just got it. Can’t wait to get home and watch the whole thing. Carey is awesome.

  • Mark Miller

    Thanks for this review! I was really interested in this but wanted some more info before buying it. This was super helpful.

  • I couldn’t agree more with this review… Carey has figured out a way to take a topic that doesn’t fit neatly into the “tutorial” format and made it digestible and REALLY fun to watch. Dude’s got a gift… I’m taking notes!

  • Darrell

    i’m tempted to buy this!!!…I’m a graphic designer by profession who wants to transition to motion graphics but realize I cant just simply use the same toolset & thought process in motion graphics…my only concern is can all the things I need to learn can be covered in 3hrs of video…I would hate to write this guy a ton of emails with questions…I’m sure he has a life and has better things to do than sit on his computer all day replying to emails…but this got me a little excited, I can’t lie :-)

    • Teun

      This is not about the tools or even the project itself. This series is about the process of being a thinking designer and going through the creative process. As such it is SO much more valuable than tutorials dealing with technique. Also, it’s 30 bucks. Why are you even considering?

  • Donavon Brutus

    Didn’t know the guy by name, but after going to his youtube realized I watched his Demo reel series before. I’m pretty interested in checking this out now.

  • jeffbriant

    An incredible approach to teaching something that isn’t easy to teach. Well worth the money and tons of things to re-watch when you’re stuck on a job and need some inspiration.