If you have suffered from the blank screen syndrome, here are 5 brainstorming techniques to fight the creative block.

Creative blocking? It has happened to all of us who work in this “professional creativity” area.

We wish we always had the freshness of mind, motivation and inspiration we need to bring a large dose of creativity to any briefing or project that falls into our hands, but we know that this is not always the case.

Have you ever felt it? That cold sweat that starts to show up in your temples, that knot in your stomach that tells you that “this time I won’t be able to” or that lack of clarity when it comes to knowing when an idea, a graphic or an animation style is the one that works best for the project?

Don’t worry, that the so-called creative blockage is just one more (not very pleasant, though) part of our work. For those moments of tension that we suffer when the deadline is looming over us, there are several techniques of creative unblocking that usually involve sharing ideas with more people in what is surely the best known process of co-creation: brainstorming.

Why is it positive to use creative brainstorming techniques for motion graphics projects?

Because it allows for the exchange of approaches from different people and for reaching creative solutions that have been validated by different personal and professional profiles. And that, without a doubt, is a guarantee of the potential of the idea to “please” or “convince” larger audiences.

Let’s go for it!

  1. The “Classic” Brainstorming

There are many forms and styles of brainstorming, probably as many as motion graphic studios or advertising agencies. But in any of them you need an orderly process that we describe below.

Before talking about the stages of brainstorming, we must emphasize the importance of a facilitator in the meeting, whose role is not so much to decide which idea is the best, but to encourage the participants to bring out all those ideas they have inside.

The 5 basic phases of a good brainstorming

1. Heating / “Warm Up”

Brainstorming proposes a simple problem that has nothing to do with the briefing or project to be addressed. During about 10 minutes the participants propose ideas to solve this problem and “let go. This phase serves for people to warm up a bit, get rid of complexes, put aside nerves or insecurities and start creating the right climate for the success of the brainstorming.

2.  Approach

The facilitator then explains the real theme of the meeting, providing all the necessary information so that participants can start to launch ideas. This is where the magic begins to emerge. And where, once the minds and moods have warmed up, the real creative work begins.

3. Generation of ideas or ideation

At this stage we must generate as many ideas and proposals as possible. It is important that the ideas are not judged prematurely and that they do not go too deep. We simply make as long a list of ideas, proposals or concepts as possible, which we will then return to throughout the brainstorming process.

4. Improving ideas

We start from the long list of ideas in the previous point and go on to analyze them in a team, thanks to the opinion of each of the brainstorming participants. This is the moment to enrich the ideas and combine them with each other until we find the proposal that shows the most potential in this selection process.

5. Evaluation

In this last phase, the criteria for evaluating ideas and decision making are established, those that do not meet the objectives set out in the briefing or are unfeasible due to development time or cost are discarded from the “shortlist” and the final decision is taken.

2. Mind mapping technique

It is a brainstorming support technique in which we will use a tree-shaped representation of the ideas and proposals, where the central element is the main idea, and the branches are secondary ideas or proposals that derive from the trunk or central core of the proposal.

What do mind maps provide?

Sometimes it is difficult to see the path that an idea or proposal has if we do not go deeper into it and analyze all its possibilities. The use of a tree diagram (where each idea depends on a hierarchy tree-main branch-subsidiary branch-…-leaf) can help us evaluate the list of ideas and make decisions

How to start applying the mind mapping technique?

We must write the main theme in the center of the board and connect it to both sides with secondary elements, until we build a map/tree structure. From each branch, ideas will emerge that are further and further away from the main problem, but also with more freedom and originality. Once the mind map is finished, it’s time to reorganize the elements and mix them up to find new creative solutions for your project.

Tricks for your mind map

  • Mix pictures and words on the board to stimulate your brain processes and the effervescence of ideas.
  • Don’t be too analytical in this process. It’s all about flying a little and not being airtight. Let the ideas flow.
  • Have you run out of ideas? Use the self-questioning trick: ask yourself questions out loud and see how everything flows a little more and you can keep drawing your creative treasure map.

 3. Random stimulus technique

This is a technique for unblocking the creative process that is also often used in brainstorming and that appears in the book “New think. The use of Lateral Thinking” by Edward de Bono. It is a very funny creative tool based on forcing the apparently non-existent relationship between your problem or project and an idea/word chosen at random.

The important thing when implementing this technique is to break with the classic associations of ideas (more logical and rational) trying to find unexpected combinations (a bit crazy) that may not be 100% usable in the end but that may allow us to reach somewhat more ambitious creative solutions.

This is how the technique of random stimuli works

  1. Choose a word completely at random, for example by opening a book to any page and pointing to a word with your eyes closed.
  2. Point to that word and write a list of words associated with the initial term (this association if it is semantic) for example if “living room” appears, we could add sofa, chairs, paintings, decorator, coffee.
  3. Try to relate your problem or project to those words. Even if it’s hard, you’ll find a way. And the most positive thing is that during the process interesting approaches and stimulating ideas will appear that you can take advantage of and fit in with your project in some way.

4. Role storming

It is a brainstorming technique created by Rick Griggs whose objective is to stimulate the power of creation of ideas by making the participants stop being themselves for a few hours to play a different role or character (role playing). In this way, if, for example, we represent the role of a hitchhiker travelling around the world, we will multiply the approaches and proposals and open up new possibilities for creative debate.

According to Griggs, there are some brakes typical of human behaviour that, to a certain extent, “limit” brainstorming

  • The conservative tendency of human beings to support the most realistic or obvious ideas.
  • The anxiety that causes us to have our ideas rejected by the rest of the participants in the brainstorming.
  • The dominant role that some people can play because of their charisma in a group meeting.
  • The inability of some people to have to make creative proposals “in real time” in front of other people who can judge them.

In this sense, the role storming forces participants to put themselves in the skin of another, freeing them from fears and insecurities.

If we want to make the technique more fun or communicative, we can choose famous characters that we can even imitate or even encourage us to put ourselves in the shoes of one of the colleagues with whom we are sharing brainstorming.

5. SCAMPER technique.

SCAMPER is a brainstorming technique devised by Bob Eberlee, whose name is an acronym for “Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to other uses, Eliminate and Rearrange”:

  • Replace
  • Combine
  • Adapt
  • Modify
  • Use otherwise
  • Delete
  • Reorganize

How does SCAMPER work?

Very easy. We start from the problem to be solved or from the creative briefing and go through the list of actions we have just seen: first we replace one element of the product with another, combine elements, adapt it to a new use… and so on.

For example, if we want to make a 3D motion video of an oven and we want to let our imagination run wild, this could be an example of the ideas that could come up in a brainstorming using the SCAMPER technique.

  • Sustituir: ¿Y si sustituimos el cuadro de mandos del horno por un teclado de piano?
  • Combine: What if we put in some blades and make it possible for you to cut and chop products as well?
  • Adapt: What if we make it portable to take to a meal in the field?
  • Modify: What if we add a screen so that we can watch series while cooking a chicken?
  • Use in another way: What if we make it able to dry clothes as well?
  • Delete: What if we remove all the buttons and make it program with the mobile phone?
  • Reorganize: What if we put the controls on the counter instead of on the door?

All these questions, even if they do not coincide with the real product, can open our mind and be taken advantage of with some conceptual, visual or animation resource making our 3d motion video much more spectacular and creative.

This is where our ideas come in today. We hope that these 5 brainstorming techniques have opened your mind and awakened your desire to create. I’m sure you have a project around the corner where you can put them into practice.

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