mastering animation: the crucial role of storytelling

I have been creating videos for 9 years before joining Mile 80. My luck was that I had quite a few returning clients who stayed with me for long periods, but not as consistently as I wanted. Anytime a project was completed I was entering in a state of anxiety of now knowing when the next project will come. I've always wanted to work with someone who can focus on clients so I can do the creative part.

Freelancing was a bitter sweet experience that gave me freedom, thought me how to be disciplined, how to be conscious with my money but also gave me a lot of stress.

I wanted a shift....


When I joined Mile 80 full time as an animator back in 2019, I found another business model that shocked me literally. I didn’t understand that's a thing.

Back in 2018-2019, Mile 80 was just me and Ryan. We were doing a lot of internal videos for a handful of big companies such as Intuit, WE Communications, Speakeasy Political and so on... We were doing good and started to hire a few other artists to help us with the projects.

My mind couldn't understand how it was possible to work for the same few clients for multiple years and still be able to pay the bills for the entire team and have profit too. Not to mention this happened during the first COVID crisis when the entire world was forced to stay indoors, and businesses were hit hard.

I never worked in a big company before, never been employed in a corporation to understand how they work. From my limited perspective, I never imagined big companies communicates internally via videos and that they prepared yearly budgets to invest in such things. If I knew this earlier, I would be probably having a different approach to get clients.

I believe the sweet spot for an artist is to be hired by these big companies (1000+ employees) and function as an entire creative department. The truth is that, from a creative perspective, most of these videos aren't overly demanding. Animation is straightforward, and frankly, anyone can become a proficient animator after 1-2 years of daily practice and be a good fit.

As a studio, Mile 80 acted as an entire department for these types of companies. And while animation is easy, there was another aspect I wasn't really aware of back then: the concept behind each video. As a freelancer I never wrote scripts and I was never too curious about this part of the process.

Behind each video lies a story, a concept. Usually the person doing these concepts gets the bigger checks 🫰. And that's the Creative Director.

The main role of a Creative Director in a video agency is to provide creative leadership and strategic direction for all visual and artistic aspects of a project.

storytelling is king

Today, I feel this step is more important than ever. If you want to stand out as an animator in 2023, I suggest staying with the level of animation you know now and start developing your storytelling abilities.

How to do that?

  1. Read more literature and science fiction books.
  2. Observe and be more present in day-to-day events.
  3. Follow the news/trends in the most influential countries, primarily the USA.
  4. Start writing more (it can be a journal, blog, social media posts - literally anything).
  5. Study how creatives write for commercials.
  6. Practice, practice, practice.

At Mile 80, we've reached a point where we need people who can tell stories through videos. We encourage them more and more to not act mechanically and think more about the logic and reasons behind any project.

To sum up: in a world where video content is literally everywhere, storytelling is king 👑, and companies are willing to spend big budgets on good stories. Execution comes right after, but that doesn’t mean it’s less important. If you believe you know how to tell good stories through videos, we’d love to meet you.