Do you love learning? Here are some key takeaways from Envato's month-long learning festival, Feb Fest.
Envato recently hosted Feb Fest – a month-long learning festival curated by our People team to showcase the skills and talents of Envato employees and empower attendees to learn from their peers.
Feb Fest featured bite-sized sessions ranging from 15-minute snippets to hour-long presentations on everything from balance and wellbeing to creative tricks and tech tips, as well as professional development skills like how to stand out on LinkedIn and present with confidence.
“We know that Envatians are all experts in their fields so we wanted to showcase their skills, hidden talents, and side hustles,” explains Tina Hamburger, Envato’s Vibe Team Manager. “Learning new things gives us a feeling of accomplishment which, in turn, boosts our confidence in our own abilities. Our business’s purpose is to help people to complete their creative projects, so we thought, why not turn the lens inwards and celebrate our own creative pursuits? With the majority of Australia forced to work from home due to Omicron in January and February we knew we had to make this month’s event 100% virtual, engaging and have something for everyone.”
To guarantee an eclectic schedule, Tina and her team put the call out to the entire company with an invitation to anyone who was interested to come forward and share their skills. For those that volunteered, it was an opportunity to teach on a topic that they’re passionate about and inspire others to learn in the process.
Whether you’re interested in animation, cake decorating, or long-distance running, take a glimpse at some of our fave Feb Fest presentations, as well as the key takeaways from our Envato experts.
First up, Envato Engineer and animation expert Anikó Házi gave a detailed rundown on the different kinds of animation and how to get started at home, as well as an exercise on how to make claymation from scratch.
“Animation is a really fun art form, and while it can be a bit time intensive it’s easy to experiment with animation at home with a minimal setup,” says Anikó. “This art form sits at the cross-section of filmmaking, visual art, and storytelling. In my presentation, I talked about the kinds of animation that are more accessible to try at home, like object animation, lightbox animation, rotoscoping, and claymation.
When making a claymation, you should have a clear view of the photos you’re taking, and access to the object you’re animating without disturbing the rest of the setup. There should be lots of space in the frame around the object you’re animating. Plasticine is completely malleable so you have unlimited options – you could experiment with morphing and transformation, movement, speed, and character. If you’re not using plasticine try to start with a simple and minimal shot and return to that same shot for the last frame.”
As Envato’s Community Forum Manager, Ben Leong certainly has ample experience in not only engaging with our extensive creative community but also working with a variety of people across the business. In his presentation, Ben had some great advice on how to use social capital to get things done:
“My talk on social capital was essentially a sociologist’s guide to getting work done with other people,” Ben explains. “We apply it in our community, but it’s just as applicable when working within (or across) teams. It’s a lens for looking at problems, exploring the structural factors behind how we access information and influence. Bridging across groups or being embedded within one both provide different benefits: by understanding how those function, we can work more effectively.
One top tip for using social capital is understanding your environment. No community is completely homogenous, which means that information isn’t necessarily equally shared – there are some people in our community who know things that other people don’t. So it’s important to understand what your environment looks like – how many subgroups are there? How many of those groups are you in? And how many of those groups can you access?”
Envato’s Senior Data Platform Engineer Grace Angel is an expert in her field – but when she’s not kicking goals in engineering, she’s off exercising a particularly decadent hidden talent. Grace is a qualified pastry chef and patisserie pro who’s worked in several commercial kitchens, and her presentation was just as mouthwatering as it was informative.
“In my Feb Fest presentation, I give tips on how to assemble and decorate your own cakes, including the tools and techniques to get the smooth and sharp edges,” says Grace. “My top tip for cake decoration is to frost a cake that has been set very cold, ideally in the freezer.”
Bing Li, a Site Reliability Engineer at Envato, gave a presentation on Sonic Pi – a live coding environment based on Ruby. Bing shared her experience teaching children programming with Sonic Pi, as well as the program’s usability for coding music. While the topic may have been overwhelming for those new to the world of coding, Bing’s session was not only interesting and rich in information, but accessible to those with little to no coding experience.
“Sonic Pi is designed to support both computing and music lessons in schools. It was developed by Sam Aaron at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory in collaboration with the Raspberry Pi Foundation. I used to teach children programming with Sonic Pi as it comes with instant gratification and a sense of achievement. Children, especially at a younger age, can code music intuitively without knowing the nitty-gritty of technical terms. My top tip is to use the Sonic Pi community for inspiration, and to share your work there for others to listen to.”
As an experienced runner and running coach, Envato Senior Engineer Patrick Robinson gave an array of expert tips and advice on long-distance running, and how to overcome mental hurdles.
“When we were asked if we wanted to present to Envatians about a topic of our choice I instantly thought about running. As a coach, I love nothing more than sharing knowledge and encouraging people to strive for their goals. My top tip is to figure out what motivates you – simply trying to run faster and longer isn’t sustainable for the long term.”
For many, merely the concept of investing – let alone actually doing it – can be overwhelming. To help demystify the world of investing, Envato’s Content Ops Manager James Tomaszek gave us a terminology tour, including what it is, how to do it, as well as the different kinds of investments you can make.
“The aim of my presentation was to provide an overview of the common types of investments out there to pique the interest in individuals who don’t know where to start with investing. Whether it be stocks & shares, commodities, cryptocurrencies, or unconventional investments (also known as Angel investing), you need to educate yourself, research areas that you’re interested in, and seek Financial and Tax advice before making investment decisions. If you’re tired of your money resting in your bank account, then 2022 is the year you get yourself educated in investing.”
Lally, Envato’s Senior Data Engineer, shared with us one of their most impressive skills and unique hobbies – miniature model making. Covering everything from how to create a miniature model to the mental health benefits that creative hobbies can provide during this day and age, the value of this crafty presentation was anything but miniature.
“For my Feb Fest presentation, I wanted to share something that I enjoy and have found helpful in the last few years inside. Recreating nature scenes is a nice mental holiday when a physical one is off the table. It’s fun to look at objects lying around and think about how you can repurpose them.”
In addition to his miniature model presentation, the multi-talented Envatian also ran a fun and engaging workshop on how to make your own emoji.
“The emoji workshop was a real pleasure to share. They’re so expressive and I love seeing new ones pop up around the company, so it was really a gift to myself. Creating an emoji is really accessible, even if you don’t have access to graphic design, photo or video editing software – you can just use websites like GIPHY.”
Before joining Envato, Tuts+ Video Producer and Presenter Tom Graham was a commercial and corporate film director often working with ‘untrained’ talent. He’s spent many hours coaching high-flying CEOs, marketing directors, and startup founders on how best to get their message across, and how to do it with confidence. Whether you’re giving a presentation on Zoom, in the boardroom, or pre-recorded to a camera in a room full of crew, Tom has a treasure trove of tips for preparing and presenting ideas with confidence.
“Since the beginning of the Pandemic millions of people have been thrust in front of the camera thanks to Zoom and the like. They’ve been forced to present their ideas to a sea of muted faces, juggling their presenter notes and desperately trying to remember not to stand up because they’re just wearing pajamas from the waist down.
If you’re using supporting visuals, decide if you need all the information to be shown and if you’re happy for the audience to take a moment to read. Or, whether you want to include less information on the screen and talk over it in further detail. Don’t ask your audience to make the choice between listening to what you have to say and reading what you have to show: they simply can’t do both effectively!”
As Envato’s Head of Talent Acquisition, Nat Firth knows a thing or two about how to stand out online. She and her team are constantly searching through a sea of qualified and talented people to find the right candidates, so she’s an expert in how to stand out to potential employers on LinkedIn. Here’s some of her advice:
“I often get people asking me for help on their LinkedIn profile because for most people it feels hard to put yourself out there. A LinkedIn profile is more than just something you need when you’re job searching. It’s a reflection of your personal brand and importantly, also a reflection of the company you work for. If you’re a people leader, potential new employees will research your profile to see if you’re someone they want to work for.
When it comes to standing out on LinkedIn, it’s really important to make sure you nail all the basics. Add a professional profile photo, as well as a headline and an about blurb. Add your current or most recent position, as well as at least 10 to 15 skills and a minimum of 100 connections. Don’t include commercially sensitive information on your profile, and beware of connecting with strangers – look into their profile and connections and only reply if they seem relevant.”
And that’s a wrap on Feb Fest 2022! We hope you picked up some hot tips and learned something new. At Envato, we love learning so much that we have our own learning platform – Envato Tuts+! Level up your creative skills over at tutsplus.com, or check out the Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel to start learning today – for free!