My Top Priority
My goals as a drill writer is simple: put your performers in the best possible situation to succeed. In order to do that, my top priority is communication. Asking the right questions and being available to the director, staff, and other design team members is critical to creating a visual design that is consistent with the vision of all the parties involved.
What Makes Us Different
Most drill writers are individuals with a set fee structure. The most experienced are almost always the most expensive. Many band programs operate on a limited budget and are often forced to hire young, inexperienced writers from their community.
At JJ Visual Design, we function as a team. You will have a primary drill designer, we never use ghost writers, in addition to a senior writer who will provide oversight as an editor and mentor. This gives us the flexibility to work with almost any budget. It also gives you the benefit of our efficient workflow, and multiple sets of eyes on every chart that goes out.
Dinner and a Movie
The first step is always to get acquainted. I like to meet face to face when possible with the band director (and staff) to talk about the program. How did last year go? What’s been your previous experience with other drill writers? What’s your goals for the coming season? Who is your favorite group?
The Gift of Gab
Design meetings and phone calls abound. We’ll work with you to start to build a horizontal timeline of your show. Whether you purchase a prewritten show or arrange something custom, it’s critical to figure out what your “moments” are going to be. We’ll also formalize the business relationship and make sure that everyone’s expectations are clear.
Once we’ve got a horizontal mapped out, and the arrangers work their magic, it’s time to pull together all of the elements into a unified production sheet. We’ll take the music, notes from the initial meetings, color guard directions, and our own ideas and put them all together in a spreadsheet. This document will break everything into counts, contain notes on important moments and staging considerations, and show a total number of sets in each movement. The production sheet then gets circulated around the entire design team. This gives everyone an opportunity to chime in with ideas and notes before the pen ever hits the grid paper.
Dot Dot Dot
With the production sheet in hand, we’ll start creating your show chart by chart using the latest version of Pyware 3D. The music will be synced in to the animation and you’ll receive regular updates on the progress of the show. Once each movement is finished, you’ll receive a set of deliverables via a private, password protected section of our website. This provides you and your students a secure way to access all your files from anywhere (without having to dig through your email). As the dots go out, we’ll give lots of notes on ways to produce the moments in the show. We can even create HD web videos teaching the band body throughout the show. Often the holds in the drill are opportunities to stand out, not stand still.
Once the drill is done, what’s working and what’s not? Is there a section in the band that just can’t hit a move? We want to know how it’s going long before the first judge’s tape. Often a minor change in the drill can make a major improvement, usually without any additional fees. As the competition season gets underway, we’re available for consultations (both in person and video) to make sure we’re generating the most effect possible. Our success as a design company hinges on your success as an ensemble.
State of the Union
Once the season draws to a close, we like to have a debriefing meeting on how the season went. This is an often overlooked but very important step in the process. Once we’re all out of “the grind” but still have the season fresh in our minds, we can often collect valuable information on how we can improve our services and also better collaborate with your team.