Brickyard VFX in Santa Monica has added VFX supervisor Benji Davidson to its staff. Davidson’s experience includes live-action directing, creative directing and VFX supervision. He joins Brickyard from MPC, where he served as VFX supervisor since 2008.
In his career, Davidson has worked as an on-set VFX supervisor, lead 2D artist and director, among other things. Born and raised in England, he got his start at acclaimed commercial production company HKM/The Directors Bureau before joining MPC LA.
His notable projects include Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops III Seize Glory, EA Sports’ Madden NFL 16 Madden: The Movie, Samsung’s Do What You Can’t and Super Bowl spots for Coca-Cola and Acura. He also contributed to the Los Angeles Olympics bid.
“I think in today’s climate, with rapid turnarounds, there is a benefit to being involved early on,” says Davidson. “I aim to help the director and agency, not hinder them. I’ve enjoyed being on set, sometimes that’s the only place everybody is together, which is invaluable when you get to post. You already know the expectations. There’s a secret short-hand from that shared experience.”
Brickyard is a digital production studio working in high-end visual effects, animation, design and creative development for advertising, feature films and emerging media.
Andrew Bell has been named managing director of Brickyard VFX in Boston, known as Brickyard VFX Atlantic. The studio has also promoted long-time senior VFX producer Amy Appleton to executive producer.
Bell comes to Brickyard from MPC, where he spent more than 15 years, most recently as a managing director of MPC Los Angeles. He began his career in 1999 as a PA with MPC in London, working his way up through the company, handling production responsibilities for several years before coming to LA in 2008 to help open the studio’s first expansion facility in Los Angeles as head of production. Bell became the managing director in 2011, a role he held until fall 2016, when he began consulting for Apple.
Appleton has been at Brickyard for 10 years, producing hundreds of projects for clients such as Frito-Lay, Progressive Insurance, Cadillac, Columbia Sportswear and Royal Caribbean.
In addition to the management moves, Brickyard’s East Coast studio has recently upgraded its technology infrastructure and is installing a grand roof deck with views of the downtown Boston skyline.
“We have just received four Flame workstations featuring dual 12-core 3GHz processors and the new Nvidia P6000 graphics cards,” reports Brickyard founder Dave Waller. “For our VR department, we’ve upgraded to Cari 1.04 from The Foundry, and to improve efficiencies in our Data Center, we’re moving our archiving workflow over to LTO-7 tape system. This will more than double the speed at which we archive and restore our work. All these improvements will enable us to respond to our dear clients’ requests even faster.”
Brickyard VFX’s Santa Monica studio worked with production company Mercy Brothers and ad agency FCB West on a new two-spot Ghirardelli campaign. Brickyard provided complete creative solutions for the campaign from start to finish, including production, edit, motion design, VFX, and finishing.
Chocolate Carving brings viewers into a completely chocolate world with detailed animated drawings that come to life in chocolate, carving out iconic San Francisco hallmarks, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, a cable car and, of course, Ghirardelli Square. Brickyard motion designer Anton Thallner created the illustrations of each element in Adobe After Effects, which CG supervisor/creative director David Blumenfeld then animated in Autodesk Maya to appear as if they were embossed within a 3D chocolate canvas.
“They presented us with a carved chocolate tour of San Francisco with Ghirardelli Square as the destination. We created the visual palate, ” explains Brickyard managing partner Steve Michaels. “Anton Thallner designed the chocolate story and created all the iconic elements of San Francisco, while David Blumenfeld turned Anton’s line animation into chocolate carved images and timed the piece to tell the story.
As far as the TimeLapse spot, the agency afforded Brickyard a great amount of creative freedom. “We decided to bring Chachi Ramirez of Mercy Brothers in to direct the spot and take on the construction of the entire Ghirardelli Square,” explains Michaels. “They presented the concept of a Ghirardelli fan so enamored with the product that he creates an homage to the factory entirely using only the mini chocolates. The design and execution was a labor of love between the forces of Brickyard VFX, Mercy Brothers and Bix Pix Entertainment.”