Skip to main content

How To Engage An Audience Who Don’t Want To Be Engaged

Barrie McDermid performing a live show.
Barrie performing a live show.

A journey into making young folk pay attention

Today's guest post is by teacher, musician, creator and father/husband, Barrie McDermid, who is the creative force behind, and host of The Punctuation Show.

Don’t we all want to be noticed more?  Aren’t we all looking for an extra ‘like’ on social media? Don’t we all just want to be loved?  

Maybe a bit dramatic…

As a typical business owner, no doubt you want to find an audience and engage them.  Think about the typical classroom teacher: they have a captive audience, who often don’t want to be engaged.  As someone who loves a challenge (or maybe as a bit of an idiot), I started a business that has both of those challenges.

After a few years in various sales jobs, I retrained as an English teacher and absolutely loved the job.  Working with young people is a privilege, because young people have so much energy and honesty.  The honesty does not always go in your favour.

For a number of reasons, after a moderately successful career in teaching, I decided to go it alone with a concept that combined my love of teaching with a love of performing and I created The Punctuation Show.

The concept centred around my findings that people are more engaged if they’re having fun.   This doesn’t just apply to children either as I have noticed from my work as a musician/performer.

So the next question is what makes people laugh? 

The answer to this will depend on the demographic of your audience.  As a teacher/educator, my target audience tends to be age 7-13.  They like listening to songs (which is handy as I’m a musician), they like jokes and cartoons.

I’m an English teacher, so writing a few puns and jokes is easy enough, but making cartoons - that’s really time consuming.  In order to get the show off the ground, I tried placing some flat images over the audio file in iMovie.  They were bright and colourful, so it worked to a degree, but I wasn’t totally happy.

Looking for the solution.

I tried an older version of Toon Boom.  It was great - I managed to follow some tutorials and learned some basics about animation and even produced a couple of moving characters, but it took so long.  Anime Studio Pro (now known as MOHO) had the same issue for me.  Some great tools and lots of free tutorials available, but the speed of workflow just wasn’t there.

Previously, I’d had a playaround with Reallusion’s CrazyTalk.  Quite a few people in education were using it to make the heads of famous figures talk and deliver lessons - easy to use and fun, but only worked with heads!  

I then learned that Reallusion had another product in its stable called CrazyTalk Animator (now known as Cartoon Animator).  I got this at version two when it it was going in the direction of vector drawings and Flash.  You could get great results, but I felt the vector look was a bit cliched and probably a bit too ‘corporate explainer’ video for my needs.  That was until I discovered the content store and a couple of artists really caught my eye.

One company called ToonsUnlimited had managed to create an entire Universe, with props, scenes and customisable characters.  They had kind of a ‘South Park’ feel to them, which was perfect for what I wanted to achieve (kids are particularly keen on something they feel they’re not supposed to be watching).  

A still from Barrie's animations
featuring a Garry Pye Character.
The other artist I was particularly keen on was Garry Pye (who I now work with as a voiceover artist).  He had some fantastic scenes and characters reminiscent of the cartoons I used to love as a kid.  

Along with Reallusions own ready made motions, I was able to easily realise the vision I had for the animated sketches I wanted to create.  Due to my work in audio and as a voiceover artist, I was able to get really professional looking results fairly quickly and I had my solution.

The cartoons I’ve created have been seen by live audiences all over the UK and number into the thousands.  Due to Covid-19, I’ve moved my shows onto Facebook Live, where you can watch me talk about punctuation and grammar on a Tuesday morning at 10:15am (BST).

Why not check it out and say hello.

The Punctuation Show Links:

About Barrie McDermid

Barrie McDermid
Barrie McDermid
Barrie is an English teacher, musician, creator and father/husband from the UK.  He is currently running his Punctuation Show on Facebook Live as Covid-19 is preventing him from visiting any schools!




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Pricing Animation Services - USD$10,000 Per Minute Might Not Be Enough For an Industry That's Collapsing... Wait, What?

T his post was inspired by an Amateur Animators Facebook Group , public conversation between two professional animators working at entirely different places in their careers but both with at least a decade plus of experience.  Indy Animator Versus Studio Animator The conversation  centered around an original post by an amateur animator asking if USD$115 payment for a four to five minute, frame by frame animation, was a good deal? Anyone who has done even one second of frame by frame animation should at least have some concept of how long it would take to make four to five minutes and know that $115 is definitely not a good deal for most people. However, professional animator one, who I would describe as an independent animator, running a successful content and training business, while not suggesting the deal was good, made the point that there are many factors that go into pricing and that ultimately it is for the individual to set their prices based on what they're happy to work

Inochi2D - Free Open Source 2D VTuber Avatar Rigging and Puppeteering Software (Part 1)

Inochi2D Creator - Free Open Source VTuber Software. If you've been looking for a way to live perform as a 2D cartoon avatar on camera, whether it be for a live stream or for pre-recorded content like educational videos, then VTuber software is a low cost (or even no cost) option worth looking into. In my previous post, How to Become a VTuber - 2D and 3D Software for Creating and Controlling Your Avatar , I took a brief look at the relatively new but completely free and open source Inochi2D  which I thought showed great potential for my own needs of creating a live performance character rig for my own TET Avatar that I use for all my promotional materials. While it is possible to live perform my character using Cartoon Animator itself, Reallusion's MotionLive2D capture system isn't great - with lip sync in particular. More importantly though, I can't exactly teach people how to use Cartoon Animator if I'm using Cartoon Animator to control my Avatar. What is Inochi2D

Wonder Unit Storyboarder - Free Storyboarding Software for People Who Can (or Can't) Draw

Wonder Unit Storyboarder.  As an independent and solo animator I'm always tempted to try and skip storyboarding my animated shorts because they're usually only single scene sketch comedy type jokes. As a result I have many unfinished projects that kind of petered out due to having no clear finishing line. Storyboarding your productions, no matter how small, gives you a step by step guide of every shot that needs to be completed (no planning shots as you animate). It also allows you to create an animatic that gives you a rough preview of the finished production. In short, you shouldn't skip storyboards as they, generally, increase the chance of the project being completed. Disclaimer - I'm Not a Fan of Storyboarder Upfront, Wonder Unit's Storyboarder  is not my preferred storyboarding software. However it's completely free, has a number of very compelling featu

Dollars Mocap: Full Body Webcam Motion Capture (Including Hands and Fingers) For iClone and Cartoon Animator

Even though I should be further away from the camera Dollars Mocap MONO still does a good job of  tracking my arms, hands and fingers. Ever since I wrote my series on becoming a VTuber , discovering it was possible to do full body motion capture, including hands and fingers, with just software and a webcam, I've been on the look out for any motion capture software that can bring that functionality to Cartoon Animator. Dollars Mocap is a low cost motion capture application with a free trial that I learned about through the YouTube Channel Digital Puppets  and their test video . It can record full body, upper body, arms and hands, and facial mocap from a live video source or pre-recorded video. Investigating further, I discovered not only does Dollars Mocap have a free iClone7, iClone8 character profile file download (look for it at the bottom of the main program download page), so you can use the saved motions with iClone8, they've also got a demo video for how to convert your

Six Lip Sync Animation Tips for Cartoon Animator (That Really Apply to Any Auto Lip Syncing Application)

A nimating a character's mouth talking in any form of animation is one of the more time consuming jobs of character animation. Particularly if your project is dialogue heavy or your character has the urge to sing. Fortunately auto lip syncing in many animation software studios is becoming more common and is helping to speed up the lip syncing process. Reallusion's Cartoon Animator is no exception with a fairly good auto lip sync feature. I made a tutorial video demonstrating how to auto and manual lip sync in Cartoon Animator here . However auto lip sync is not perfect (yet) so you'll definitely find yourself manually lip syncing a character at some point. Or maybe you just prefer to manually lip sync yourself because you like that level of control. Whatever the reason here are Six tips to help improve your lip sync and to stop you getting bogged down into really small details that literally do not matter for the amount of screen time they'll get. 1. Auto Lip Sync is NO

The Ultimate Independent Animator's App and Resource List 2019-2023 - Animation and Video Life

Image created with Cartoon Animator 4. Being an independent animator is not like a studio animation job. There's so much more to do that is indirectly related to the actual task of animating. Over the years I've sought out many apps, tools, and services that can help me achieve that one single task, expressing myself through animation. Below is my Ultimate Independent Animator's Resource List for 2019-2022. It started out as a list of free or low cost apps that could help you in every stage of producing either 2D or 3D animation, and then just kind of grew from there. You may not have been looking for a Time Management App as much as you needed something to get you started in 3D animation but when those commissioned projects start coming in you'll have a head start on maximizing your time. All the apps and services on this list had to meet two main criteria: They had to be useful and relevant to an Indy Animator/artist. The base app/service had to be US$

Moho 14 Released - Still the Best 2D Animation Software for Indy Animators on a Budget

Moho 14 Released. Regular readers know I am a Reallusion, Cartoon Animator advocate through and through. Hands down I would recommend Cartoon Animator 5 first over Lost Marble's Moho 14 to anyone who is just starting in 2D animation, is a team of one, or just needs to animate as quickly as possible. However, feature for feature, Moho is, arguably, the best 2D animation software for the rest of us who can't justify a Toon Boom Harmony , or Adobe Creative Cloud subscription (and even with their applications Moho is very competitive on features). You can get started with Moho Debut for just USD$59.99 which is a cut down version of Moho Pro but it still has the most essential features needed for 2D animation. While Moho Pro is a whopping USD$399.99 (Cartoon Animator, which only has one version, is just USD$149.00) upgrades to new version numbers come down to a quarter of the price at USD$99.00. Even though Reallusion just released features like Motion Pilot Puppet Animation and