Category Archives: Branding

Behind the Title: Midnight Sherpa creative director Miguel Lee

NAME: Miguel Lee

COMPANY: Midnight Sherpa (@MidnightSherpa)

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
We are a boutique creative CG studio built on the ideal that all our work should be effectively communicative and visually engaging. We’re not shy about embracing new technology and experimentation. Our work ranges all mediums — from large-scale environmental exhibits to content for mobile.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Co-Founder and Creative Director

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
I see myself as a lens for our clients to view the world differently. Most people engage us when they’re looking for a new perspective on their product/brand. I tend to venture outside the realm of design to draw inspiration. Whether it’s attending lectures on gravitational waves or just getting into my car and driving to new places without a map, I incorporate my experiences and sensibilities to craft a unique vision for the client.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
I believe that being well versed in the tools is a huge plus to being an effective director. In the same way that many of the greatest symphony conductors are also skilled instrumentalists, a creative director who can design, animate and experiment alongside his team will inevitably come up with more groundbreaking and nuanced ideas. I constantly try to learn new software and techniques while continually refining my design and animation skills. The trick is to not get so mired in the minutiae as to miss the bigger picture.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
I love presenting ideas to a client. Coming up with concepts and forming them into powerful narratives and unique experiences is the hallmark of what we do. Sharing ideas we are passionate about gets me so excited that I often can’t sleep the night before a presentation. I am also a huge fan of defining the work culture — making sure that both our artists and clients have positive experiences with us.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Not knowing the future — though it’s also kind of exciting that way.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
Early in the morning, right as the sun peers over the horizon.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I would teach. I’m fortunate to have taught the past 10 years at my alma mater (the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena). I find great joy in sharing knowledge with those who are eager to learn it.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
There were two constants in what I’ve always wanted for my career: to create and to make an impact. Despite always having an interest in digital art, I studied engineering and english when I was in college thinking that I could build or write to achieve that impact, respectively.

It wasn’t until I formally studied art and design that I realized the potential of reaching the masses by creating visual content. After I graduated college, I attended Art Center, where I dove into motion graphics during my first term. At that point, I put all of my focus into mastering that medium. Along with film, it remains the most powerful tool I know for visual communication and for making an impact.

Hunted

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
We recently created some content featuring top-tier players for Riot Games’ League of Legends, a broadcast package and title sequence for the CBS’s reality drama, Hunted, as well as theatrical brand content for Dolby Cinema, which recently won a Golden Trailer Award.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I directed the main and end sequences to Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim in 2013. Guillermo very graciously gave me the freedom to design and execute my vision for the titles of his film. With an elite team of animators, we completed the sequence in less than two months (which included a stereoscopic 3D delivery.)

I also single-handedly created the opening title sequence for the film, which was an exciting technical and artistic challenge. The whole project proved to be a case study on the art of developing efficiencies to get the project done within the aggressive schedule without any compromise to the vision and scope. Seeing the end result on a huge IMAX screen was glorious.

NAME THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
The Internet, air conditioning and Tylenol.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
I’m an avid follower of CGP Grey, Vsauce, Numberphile and PBS Space Time on YouTube. My guilty pleasure is the NES Speedrunning community on Twitch, for the sheer ingenuity and obsession of people trying to beat 30-year-old video games in record time. Archdaily, CGTalk and 500px are constant sources for visual inspiration. Facebook has proven to be a fantastic tool for staying connected with friends and colleagues around the world.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK?
Only when I’m engaged in a task that doesn’t require reading, writing or coming up with ideas (modelling, animating and compositing are good times for tunes.)

My current go-to’s are Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, Beethoven’s Hammerklavier, A Prairie Home Companion, and the entire soundtrack to Evita.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
My way of dealing with stress is to simply bear down and work harder — I tend to like running toward the fire, not away from it. Besides, I think I would be too fixated on the problem to enjoy any activity not related to solving it.