Startup discusses creativity in the digital world

The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism hosted Adobe Days: SoulPancake, a presentation and discussion given by SoulPancake, a Los Angeles-based startup created by actor Rainn Wilson, most well-known for its YouTube channel by the same name, in the Annenberg Auditorium Monday night.

By far the most popular SoulPancake video is “A Pep Talk from Kid President to You,” which has nearly 30 million views on YouTube to date. The company has rapidly become a leader in methods of delivering multiple media forms in an engaging and modern manner.

Many students came to the event and were very excited and interested in the presentation.

“When I found out that it was started by Rainn Wilson, I immediately had to know more about it,” said LaVafjah Williams, a graduate student in communication management. “I looked it up and it looked super creative and innovative and progressive, and it was very engaging, so I wanted to come see how they’re using these digital platforms to create something so amazing.”

The actual presentation and discussion was preceded by a “Pancake Bar” where those attending had the opportunity to eat pancakes with toppings and sausages in the Annenberg East Lobby.

“The pancakes are delicious and the presentation was awesome. I’m very impressed,” said Elliot Kim, a freshman majoring in economics.

Martin Desmond Roe and Georgia Koch spoke at the event. Roe is an Oscar-nominated filmmaker whose company, Dirty Robber, is a preferred SoulPancake partner that does post-production work for most of SoulPancake’s work. He was nominated for a 2012 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film for his short film Buzkashi Boys. Roe is also a graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Channel Manager of SoulPancake Georgia Koch oversees the development of the startup’s daily programming on their YouTube channel.

“It’s cool to see USC alum working in the real world and doing real things,” said Jennifer Chen, a freshman majoring in art with an emphasis in sculpture and design. “It’s also inspirational to me, and to see such a young and innovative company doing this kind of work really gives me the motivation to try and start something like this myself.”

At the presentation itself, Roe and Koch spoke about how they used the Adobe Creative Cloud throughout their work, as well as their experiences working in the creative industry.

“It’s consistency and dedication. It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Roe said of his experiences of working in the creative industry.

The SoulPancake representatives also spoke of how they had gone from a small startup with 5,000 subscribers to more than 677,000 subscribers in one year. The two were impressed by how more than 35 percent of Annenberg students had downloaded and were using Adobe Creative Cloud. They considered multimedia literacy and knowledge and familiarity with industry-standard creative software to be imperative to those seeking to work in the communications and entertainment industries.

“When you’re first starting, you need to be a generalist. You need to know how to put text on a film, how to do an audio pass and how to make graphics in Photoshop all yourself,” Roe said. “But later on, you become a specialist, so knowing both sides is very important.”

Many students thought positively about the event and greatly enjoyed both the pancake bar and the talk afterward.

“It turned out to be more professional and sophisticated than I thought, because I thought that it was going to be a really fun event. Not that it doesn’t look fun, but it’s very professional as well,” said Albert Yue, a freshman majoring computer science (games).


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