Creative Director — National Geographic Channels
Brian Everett is currently the Creative Director of Design for the National Geographic Channels in Washington, DC. His primary responsibilities include the branding of TV shows, events, & other channel priorities through the use of motion graphics, digital, & print design. He oversees a talented group of in-house designers and often collaborates with top-teir talent within the creative industry. He previously worked as the Design Director for Syfy/Chiller in NYC
Q & A
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN USING THIS FOLDER STRUCTURE?
I've probably worked this way for the last 6 or 7 years, but this structure has evolved over time…Before that my main focus was editorial jobs as a writer/producer so I was more dedicated to organizing larger amounts of media in broader terms based on projects (video, graphics, audio, etc). Also, I've just gotten more organized as I've gotten older.
CAN YOU LIST WHAT RESOURCES OR INSPIRATION OR PLACES THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE WORKED, MIGHT HAVE BEEN A FACTOR IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS STRUCTURE?
Since I've really only ever worked 2 places, I'm afraid I'm a little limited in that regard…But I've had great co-workers, mentors, and employees that have shared their experiences from different networks and studios which has been a big influence. Also, I've had the luxury of getting to work with a lot of excellent, top-notch design folks (such as yourself) that have offered insight. I think the question of organization, structure, and naming is a great conversation to have upfront with a new client to make sure you're all on the same page.
DO YOU HAVE DIFFERENT FOLDER STRUCTURES FOR DIFFERENT PROJECTS? SURELY NOT EVERYTHING YOU AND YOUR TEAM WORK ON AT NATGEO IS A SHOW PACKAGE, RIGHT?
The folder structure I use can vary slightly depending on the platform - promos, graphics, digital, print, experiential, etc. It's hard to have just one standard for everything since assets and processes aren't always the same, but the goal is to have something that's consistent for the sake of organization and efficient for the sake of work-flow. I like to plan for as many variables as I can, but make sure things aren't cumbersome. For me it also varies slightly depending on whether it's a project I'm designing, one that I’m overseeing with a member of the in-house design team, or one that's coming from an out-of-house vendor. The folder structure I provided here is a pretty good representation of how I like to work in most cases, and the AEP that's available to download is a structure we use for our promo toolkits.
IT APPEARS THAT YOUR FOLDER STRUCTURE IS PRETTY TIGHT, MEANING I DON’T SEE A LOT OF LOOSE ENDS ALLOWING MUCH ROOM FOR DEBATE ON WHAT GOES WHERE. CAN YOU EXPAND ON THAT?
I think designers need to have a certain level of flexibility in how they work - it needs to be a system they understand and feel comfortable with. It's hard to change your routines and if I'm asking someone to work in a different way than they're used to, it's important that they know where I'm coming from. The key things for me are that the structure is clean, concise and consistent - that includes organization, punctuation, use of caps, naming, etc.
I LIKE HOW YOU SIMPLIFY AND CATEGORIZE THE CREATIVE PHASES, FROM DESIGN TO FINAL DELIVERY IN ONLY 3 FOLDERS. WHAT’S THE THOUGHT PROCESS BEHIND THAT?
I usually break down projects by 3 key pillars; Design Phase, Approval Phase, and Delivery Phase.The Design Phase is further separated by creative development, source materials and working files. It’s where everything goes at the beginning of a project - a place to organize, store, and copy all source materials as well as working files. I make this distinction here in case I ever need to go back to the original source - which could be a product of wanting to re-name files or destructive editing for the sake of keeping my project as slim as possible from a file size perspective (in case I need to pass along my working files on their own).The Approval Phase is there to help keep track of versions and approvals, whether for my own designs or incoming materials. I keep this as a separate set of folders as it's a daily record of files coming in/out during the design phase. The file naming connects back to the versions I'm using in my working files for the sake of keeping things organized, but sometimes I need to customize the naming of my approval files based on who I'm sending them to (with a eye towards being as concise as possible the further up the ladder it goes).The Delivery Phase contains completed project files with collected assets for internal/external distribution and archival purposes. Hopefully everything in here is final…FINAL
THERE IS A MAIN FOLDER IN YOUR STRUCTURE THAT IS CALLED “STOCK,” I WOULD THINK FOR MOST STUDIOS THIS WOULD BE A SUBFOLDER AND EXIST INSIDE PERHAPS A FOLDER CALLED “FOOTAGE” OR “ASSETS.” WHY DOES “STOCK” TAKE SUCH A PRECEDENCE?
Tracking, organizing, and separating stock assets is important for me. The assets can (and should) go into the respective working/project folders as needed - specifically for linked files. As a network, we're usually responsible for licensing those files so it's important for me to keep them separate - if for no other reason than as a reminder to investigate the usage terms before re-using. Even if we own the license, it may not be for all platforms, or in perpetuity so I want to make sure the restrictions are clear for those assets and that people keep them in mind when working.