Chris Do has had a varied and robust career, from founding Blind in 1995, to being an original Cream O’ the Crop member, to winning an Emmy and even working in academia where he taught at Art Center. Over the past 20 some odd years Chris has worn many hats and acquired a wealth of experiences and perspective both on and off the box. Recently, Chris’ interests have lead him to the world of YouTube and online education through his new venture, The Futur.
The Futur has grown tremendously over the past year and if you take a look at their offerings it’s easy to see why. From podcasts, to tutorials, critiques, and case studies the list goes on and on and it’s safe to assume there’s something for everyone in their content.
In this Motionographer Q&A we chat with Chris about his new focus, the future of Blind, and give you a glimpse at the kind of content you can find on their YouTube channel.
Q&A with Chris Do
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us Chris.
First, can you tell us a bit about The Futur and how it came about?
The Futur was originally called The Skool and was the brainchild of Jose Caballer (my former partner). Jose and I partnered to produce videos, events, and training materials in 2014 in the hopes of building an online school to teach design. I was dabbling with launching Bind U and he convinced me to join forces.
Initially, I followed Jose’s lead on what kind of content to produce. I was reluctant to being on camera and was hesitant to talk about our business practices, client issues, etc… Like most introverted, creative types, I was much more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it. After shooting, my jaw was sore from clenching my teeth. To make matters worse, I hated the way my voice sounded so I instructed our editor to stop editing when I was in earshot. It was a painful process of getting used to being on camera. Obviously, I got over it.
Ultimately, Jose and I had differing ideas about content, direction, and leadership styles. I knew that if our friendship was going to survive, we both needed to do our own thing. Luckily, we had some great friends who helped us work out an amicable split. We rebranded as the Futur and have been charging forward ever since.
As this project has grown I imagine the time you put into has grown as well . What would you say is the ratio that you’re working on The Futur these days?
Most of my time is now spent working on the Futur. Ben Burns came on board early 2017, to be our digital director for client direct work. Matthew Encina and Greg Gunn oversee all of the agency work. A typical day for me now begins and ends with responding to questions and comments on Twitter, FB, IG and Youtube. I spend my time reading books, writing content, brainstorming ideas with the team, and designing keynote decks.
How does Blind play a role in The Futur, are they one in the same or have you been able to keep these two entities separate?
The two entities are completely separate from a legal point of view, but we share the same space and there is some overlap. The Futur now has 3 full time staff (editor, videographer and graphic designer) and 2 interns. Blind has a completely different team of designers and animators.
Of course some of our energies bleed over as Matthew, Greg and Ben write, produce and star in segments for the Futur. They also author kits and create resources that are distributed through the Futur.
Naturally, from a content point of view, we will document ongoing projects, the creative process (highs and lows) and share as much as we are allowed to. Interestingly, we are now starting to generate leads from the YouTube channel. Real clients are reaching out and only know us from our channel. That’s pretty cool.
You’ve been in the motion design industry for a long time now, outside of the obvious production benefits how would you say this has given you an advantage with The Futur?
I think our combination of real world experience, body of work, client base, and work methodologies give us a lot of material for the show. I think our audience also recognizes that we’re not a bunch of amateurs and decided to produce a show on YouTube. We are speaking from experience and share in a very transparent manner. This is a real advantage in my opinion compared to many YouTube creators.
We also know our craft and have crazy access to gear, talent, guests and resources at are disposal. Our show would be incredibly cost prohibitive for a typical YouTuber to produce based on the hardware specs. We shoot on (4) Canon C100s, Sony FS-5, use a bunch of lights, mics, laptops and video switching gear (for the livestream).
Similarly, once you’ve done something for so long it can make branching out and trying new things that much harder. What has been the hardest part about this transition for you?
Any time you do something new, it can be frightening. Some of my staff couldn’t reconcile that we were moving in an entirely new direction and it was uncomfortable for them. They don’t understand the motivation or see the long term vision. This has been the biggest challenge.
Working without a client is also an odd transition for us. For over 2 decades, someone else determined the direction of what we produced. Now, we were setting our own agenda and weren’t accountable to anyone except ourselves, and the fans that tune in to watch the show. That kind of freedom can be paralyzing.
Lastly, as I mentioned before, creatives don’t want to be in front of the camera. It’s been difficult to get others to want to join me on our broadcast. I’m happy to report that over time, most everyone from Blind, has figured out a way to contribute to the Futur.
You recently reached 150K (now 175K) subscribers on YouTube. Congratulations! That is a pretty big milestone. How does that feel?
It feels amazing. Not going to lie. When I first joined Jose, we had around 1,300 subscribers. So we’ve come a long, long way from those early days. I remember celebrating when we got 1k views on an episode. Now, I’m disappointed if we don’t hit 4k views in one day.
We’ve built an amazing global, creative community that reaches out to all corners of the globe. Everyday, I get a note via email, instant message or as a comment on FB or YouTube, telling me how much of a difference we’ve made in their lives. People share stories about how they were on the edge of giving up, or how they were able to feel confident enough to ask for more money, just by watching our videos. Knowing that we are making a difference has really impacted my own self-worth and world view. It pushes me to be even more prolific.
Can you tell us about any initiatives you have in the works that we should keep an eye out for?
In addition to the YouTube channel, we’ve launched a companion podcast, and already wrapped up season 1 with 34 episodes in the can. We’re working on publishing 3 books, one on typography, and the other 2 are on logo design. The Futur magazine for creative entrepreneurs is also in development along with a host of new tools, worksheets, events, and online courses. And of course, more content!
For anyone wanting to take the leap into something new, what advice do you have for them?
Everyone has their own timing and risk tolerance. But if you wait too long, the moment and opportunity will pass you by. Sometimes, you have to throw caution to the wind and just go for it. Jump from the plane knowing that you can build the parachute on the way down.
Finally, what’s next for you, Blind, and The Futur?
I think we are making real headway as a content and education platform. We first need to catch up to our big bros like School of Motion, Learn Squared, GreyscaleGorilla and Mograph Mentor. We need to take the show to colleges all over the country and then go abroad. We’re going to keep scaling and take on the establishment and truly disrupt design education.
Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has ever supported us whether with their eyeballs, comments, purchases and donations. We can’t do this without you!