Tag Archives: graphic design

Behind the Title: Alma Mater EP/producer Ben Apley

NAME: Ben Apley

COMPANY: Alma Mater

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Alma Mater is a visual studio dedicated to design, live action and animation. Our work has a strong foundation in design, and includes projects in traditional commercial advertising, as well as entertainment, and often includes digital extensions, branding and experiential executions.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Executive Producer/Producer

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
As executive producer, I target new opportunities, work with sales reps to strategically figure out how to pursue new business and manage the overall flow of the office from a business and resource standpoint. As producer, I manage production workflow and communicate project goals, needs, etc. to our clients.

My primary responsibility is putting the creative team in the best possible place to succeed. If you do that, then everything else kind of falls into place.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
There isn’t an established “right way” to try to do this job. The role really does shift around a lot based on where you are in the sales and production cycle, and you have to be comfortable adapting to immediate needs while still planning for longer-term business strategies.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
Closing on new business.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Turning down new opportunities when we’re too busy. That kills me.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
After my children go to sleep.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
Pursuing a career as a professional basketball player.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
When I was in college, I had a journalism internship at a news agency based in Washington, DC, one spring, and then a production internship in Chicago later that summer. I realized during the production internship that everyone on the crew appeared to be pretty happy while the journalists I followed always seemed kind of angry. So I decided to pursue production.

Rough Night

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
We just finished a campaign for Lennox, the title sequence for the movie Rough Night and a series of commercials launching the 2018 Ford F-150.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
Early on in my career, I produced the original Marvel theatrical logo animation. I remember being so excited to see something I had worked on in the movie theater.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
My phone, my computer, and my car.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK? CARE TO SHARE YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC TO WORK TO?
Sometimes I like to play “Everyday I’m Hustlin’” by Rick Ross while I work on bids.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I have three children who bring me back to reality on a regular basis.

Chaos Group and Adobe partner for photorealistic rendering in CC

Chaos Group’s V-Ray rendering technology is featured in Adobe’s Creative Cloud, allowing graphic designers to easily create photorealistic 3D rendered composites with Project Felix.

Available now, Project Felix is a public beta desktop app that helps users composite 3D assets like models, materials and lights with background images, resulting in an editable render they can continue to design in Photoshop CC. For example, users can turn a basic 3D model of a generic bottle into a realistic product shot that is fully lit and placed in a scene to create an ad, concept mock-up or even abstract art.

V-Ray acts as a virtual camera, letting users test angles, perspectives and placement of their model in the scene before generating a final high-res render. Using the preview window, Felix users get immediate visual feedback on how each edit affects the final rendered image.

By integrating V-Ray, Adobe has brought the same raytracing technology used by companies Industrial Light & Magic to a much wider audience.

“We’re thrilled that Adobe has chosen V-Ray to be the core rendering engine for Project Felix, and to be a part of a new era for 3D in graphic design,” says Peter Mitev, CEO of Chaos Group. “Together we’re bringing the benefits of photoreal rendering, and a new design workflow, to millions of creatives worldwide.”

“Working with the amazing team at Chaos Group meant we could bring the power of the industry’s top rendering engine to our users,” adds Stefano Corazza, senior director of engineering at Adobe. “Our collaboration lets graphic designers design in a more natural flow. Each edit comes to life right before their eyes.”

Behind the Title: Leviathan executive creative director Jason White

Name:  Jason White (@jasonlvthn) 

Company: Leviathan is a creative agency that specializes in designing digital experiences for physical environments. Some examples of our work would be projection-mapped concerts, experiential events and interactive installations.

Though our company’s core competency is content-related CG production, our differentiator is conceptual development, paired with software engineering to create custom systems and experiences for each new project.

What’s your job title?
Executive Creative Director

What does that entail? 
I’m responsible for our company’s creative direction: who we are and what we appear to be. I oversee all aspects of the company’s creative output, often helping my team look at everything we do from a holistic, art-centered point of view.

I also play a prominent role in defining the company’s culture — from coaching individual teammates to meticulously crafting our portfolio for public viewing. When it comes to public relations, attracting others into our orbit has got to be one of the most rewarding parts of the job.

What would surprise people the most about what falls under that title?
The left and right sides of the brain working in perfect harmony… at lightning-fast speeds.
The job is a delicate balance of focusing on the business end, from both our company’s and clients’ needs, while continuously expressing myself creatively, by always coming up with new looks and fresh ideas.

What’s your favorite part of the job?
Growing artists. I feel an enormous amount of satisfaction creating jobs for artists, creating paths for growth and seeing them succeed over time. It’s incredibly rewarding to not only be in the position to invent a company that provides jobs but to work alongside the staff and continuously re-invent the company together.

What’s your least favorite?
Stopping. I sometimes have to stop the creative fire within my team, that same fire that I’d ignited when the project started, that thing that we were so excited about as a team. Sometimes stopping what we’ve started means that clients changed their minds, direction or just ran out of money to support the project. Breaking that bad news to my team is hard, and I don’t like breaking hearts.

What is your favorite time of the day?
I’m into every minute of every day. There’s just never enough time to experience it all.

If you didn’t have this job, what would you be doing instead?
Creating non-commercial works of art and exhibitions.

How early on did you know this would be your path?
When I was in middle school, I was already creating my art and had a vision of building an art-centered culture and studio, inspired by a blend of Andy Warhol’s art factory and the strange world that Salvador Dali had conjured.

It wasn’t until college, though, that I realized computer animation would be the key to putting all of these dreams into reality and the moment I stepped into a post production boutique, I immediately knew that I would someday build one.

Airbus

Can you name some recent projects you have worked on?
We’ve recently wrapped two special exhibit projects. One is an experiential exhibit for Airbus, a commercial aircraft titan, that features sculptural projection mapping, using a touch interface for system control. The other project is an interactive exhibit within California’s PG&E energy training center that uses augmented reality to teach people how to conserve energy while touring through a real model home. Both of these exhibits share an instructional approach to the interactivity that informs and educates in real spaces, making for project assignments that are much more rewarding.

What is the project are you proudest of?
I’m in the middle of writing a book on the subject of Experiential Design, under contract with Routledge Press. It’s an industry-focused book that documents the extraordinary art and technology experiences surrounding us and, ideally, helps define our industry for the current and next generation of artists. I’m proud to say that so many studios and professional artists have rallied to the cause. They have been supportive and generous with content and interviews, and enriching this project.

Name three pieces of technology you can’t live without.
Laptop. Wacom tablet. Weather app.

What social media channels do you follow?
The ISS (The International space station) photograph feeds are so inspiring. Daily images from life in space puts things in perspective for me.

Do you listen to music while you work?
I have a work playlist filled with composer Cliff Martinez’s soundtrack work (Drive, Only God Forgives, Solaris) His recent The Knick series soundtracks are perfect to work to; delicate, meditative and curious.

What do you do to de-stress from it all?
I fight. Well, only through boxing in my gym. I’ve been doing it for almost two years now, and I have to say that it’s both the best full-body workout and mental stress reliever. The amount of focus required under intense pressure ironically puts you in a zen state of mind, where nothing else matters.

Behind the Title: Executive Creative Director Erin Sarofsky

NAME: Erin Sarofsky

COMPANY: Chicago’s Sarofsky Corp. (@sarofsky)

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
I always say we are a design-driven production company… but that’s my way of trying to consolidate a bunch of information into four words. The long and the short of it is that we produce work using live action, visual effects, 3D development, design, animation and editorial. We have clients in both the commercial and entertainment arenas. Ultimately, though, we are a collection of artists and producers that are problem solvers. Every day, clients call us with a task: to come up with the fastest, cheapest*, most innovative and beautiful way of producing their project.

* I’m not saying we are cheap. Actually, we are quite pricey, but budgets are what they are and we need to maximize the money clients have. We like to make sure the money winds up on screen and is not wasted.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
I am the owner and executive creative director. I am also live-action director, which is technically a small part of my job if you look at it by time spent, but it is a big focus as we become more and more entrusted with that aspect as a part of the studio’s capabilities.

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
My role is essentially to oversee the creative development of our jobs.

That probably seems like a lot of work, especially because we have multiple jobs of varying sizes happening simultaneously. Luckily, our projects are always in various stages of development. The beginning of a job tends to take up the majority of my time. It’s important that the client and I are on the same page, so that translates to a lot of communication and previsualization. We then kick it off in the studio with the right producer and artists attached. My executive producer Steven Anderson and I spend a lot of time discussing our teams and who is appropriate for what project.

The studio

After that, it’s really just keeping an eye on things and making sure the team has the resources and guidance they need. Luckily, I have a very talented group here. Our communication is better here than at any other company I’ve worked, which is essential to being flexible for our clients, and also supportive of each other.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
I think that the most surprising thing is that I can never really focus on anything. The most intensive work I do happens after hours at home or on a plane (which, now that we have Internet, is sort of a wash). There are always people needing to talk through things… clients, producers, artists, lawyers, accountants, contractors, business development, etc.

As the ECD and owner, I have the big responsibility of managing not only the day-to-day projects but also the company’s bigger strategy, which includes making sure my employees’ careers are on track and that we are making informed business decisions.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
I love my team. We collaborate all day… and there’s always a lot of laughter.

Really, it’s just amazing that we all make a living in the arts. I imagine that as we all went to art and film school we wondered if we would ever be able to balance the need to make a living with the desire to produce work that fuels our souls. Luckily, everyday we get to do that.

I also love that I can snack all day. I’m a bit of a grazer.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
When one of my artists is struggling and I know how to fix it, I have to give them the information, support and direction for them to figure it out themselves. I think as a CD, it’s important to embrace your role as a mentor, but sometimes all I want to do is grab the mouse and a pair of headphones with some cheesy ‘80s channel playing and do their work for them. Though, at the end of the day, that would make me a terrible CD, so I don’t.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
I love the moment before I fall asleep. When I am cozy in bed, feeling like the day was rewarding in some unexpected way (usually prompting a silly giggle) and thinking about tomorrow… and how it’s going to be crazy, wondering how are we going to get it all done.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I love, love, love American crafts. I am a knitter… not professional, but I can hold my own. All of my baby-making friends get little sweaters for their munchkins. So I think I would be doing something in the crafts, like pottery or woodworking or pattern making or even basket weaving. I love using raw materials and making stuff.

I’d like to think that my work would be shown in museums, but I’d probably be rocking a corset (begrudgingly) at a Renaissance festival selling my wares.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I began as a graphic design major but started folding in more technical courses early on. By the time I was a senior, I knew I wanted to stay to get my Masters in computer graphics, which at the time (1999-2001) at Rochester Institute of Technology was a combo of early After Effects, directing (LOL) and 3D. The second I could animate my designs, I knew that’s what I wanted to do for a living. I honestly had no idea what that even meant in terms of a career. I just knew that I loved that there could be a narrative aspect to my designs.

Captain America 2

Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
The last couple of years we have been producing main title sequences for Marvel. That work has really invigorated the studio and increased our visibility.

Our first project with them was Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier. When Anthony and Joe Russo went to Marvel to direct Captain America 2 they introduced us to the executive team there and asked us to pitch on the main-on-end. I had been working with the Russos since we produced the Community main title for them in 2009. Even though we had a great relationship, we knew we were the dark horse, having never worked with Marvel or been through their intensive security process. Ultimately, they loved the creative we presented and we got the gig.

Shortly after that project, we were asked to pitch again on Guardians of the Galaxy. We did the typography for the main title sequence as well as some fun locator cards. It was so wonderful to work with James Gunn. That movie was really, really special.

      am01pp

The last project we finished for Marvel was the main-on-end for Ant-Man. That was for sure the most challenging, because the development process ate a lot of our production time away. As a studio, we are so proud of the work we produced. The look is so unique and our process was so well developed that we really hold it in high regard. Also, for me personally, I know director Peyton Reed was really happy with the final piece. It’s really rewarding when the director is just super excited about the work you create for their film.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
Whatever I am working on at the moment.

This may be terrible, but as soon as I deliver a job, I am over it. I am already excited about whatever is cueing up. I am very “in the moment” when it comes to my work, and it doesn’t matter if it is a big feature main title or a commercial for a new herpes cream. I love the challenge of making something as amazing as it can be… so if someone is excited to work with me, and willing to pay me, I am all in.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
My car (I love driving).
My remote control (I am lazy).
My laptop (I got work to do).

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
Honestly, just Facebook. It’s basically a collection of photos of my dogs and some PR about whatever my latest work is. I have to be very careful about not being political or religious. I don’t limit my friends and I assume everything is public. When you own a company you have to understand that your opinions and behavior reflect on the company.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK?
When I focus and do design work, I like to choose a song and listen to it on repeat. It is crazy, I know. When I write or do admin, I usually have a Harry Potter movie on in the background. I’d like to believe my patronus would be a honey badger.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
If it get’s overwhelming, then a weekend where I just run errands with the cell phone left at home does the trick. But I find that the day-to-day stress can be easily managed when you have a lot of fun people around you who naturally laugh a lot. We all take our jobs seriously… but we certainly know how to make a joke about anything.

Hush adds design director Claudia Chagüi

New York-based design studio Hush has added design director Claudia Chagüi to its team. She brings with her a varied background in commercials, interactive installations, retail and events.

A native Colombian, Chagüi’s career has taken her from Central and South America to Kansas City, where she served as the creative director at Hint, the experiential/design division of T2. There she wrote, designed, pitched and led projects for brands such as TEDx, Sprint, McDonalds, Dell and Crayola, among others. She later helped expand Hush, starting with offices in Chicago and eventually New York.

Her work has won many awards, including Gold and Silver national ADDY awards.

“Claudia’s energy and enthusiasm for artistry and design is palpable. She’s a natural talent who has the foundation of traditional artistic pursuits, but has expanded her own practice to communicate how the craft of design can drive brands forward,” says David Schwarz, Hush creative partner. “Within a few minutes of meeting her, we knew we were very much aligned.”

 

Danielle LaFortune upped to SVP entertainment marketing at mOcean

mOcean has promoted long-time staffer Danielle LaFortune to SVP of entertainment marketing. She is now responsible for managing all theatrical and broadcast print and on-air creative teams and projects, keeping them on deadline and budget, and overseeing all campaigns from pitch to delivery.

“My role is to act as a liaison between our creative agency and our clients,” says LaFortune. “We have to be strategic in the way we assemble our teams and how we present to the client. I’m always trying to see everything through the client’s eyes, while giving our creatives the freedom to do what they do best.”

LaFortune originally joined mOcean in 2008 as VP of print creative services. Prior to mOcean, she was VP of creative services for New Wave Entertainment for 12 years. While at New Wave, she worked on projects such as The Big LebowskiBorat and Ice Age, as well as Star Wars: Episode I, II and III, acting as the agency-of-record liaison with Lucasfilm.

LA-based mOcean offers a team of strategists, writers, editors, directors and designers specializing in branding, marketing and content development.

Detroit’s Hudson Edit adds editor and designer/editor team

Hudson Edit in Detroit has added three to its talent roster, including editor Zach DuFresne and the editorial and design team Gentlemen (made up of editor Derek Swanson and designer Dave Graw). Gentlemen is also being added to the roster of Hudson Edit’s sister company, Avalon Films, for directorial representation.

Gentlemen are a creative collective that combines editorial with design and motion graphics. Graw and Swanson have been friends and creative partners since meeting in a basement at a band rehearsal back in 1999. That led to their longest-running collaborative project to date, the ongoing web series Solid Dudes Kitchen.

Graw worked as a freelance graphic artist and designer, first in print, later in motion, for a number of companies in the Detroit area, while Swanson worked as an editor for such companies as Beast and Mad River Post. In September 2013 they formed Gentlemen, which allows them to explore a variety of modes of content creation encompassing both production and post. Recent projects include a music video for the band Bars of Gold and a spot for the Detroit City Football Club.

Hudson_Edit_DuFresnesmall

Editor Zach DuFresne

Editor DuFresne joins Hudson Edit from Territory. In 2007, while at STS Griot, he won first place in the AICE Filmspotting (now known as Camp Kuleshov) editing competition for assistants for his PSA, Get Out.  More recently, his work on the Corvette Stingray project Biometric Test Drive for Chevrolet was awarded with a 2014 Bronze Telly.

DuFresne says the offer to join Hudson Edit’s welcoming atmosphere was too enticing to pass up. “I know the caliber of talent they’ve been bringing on and I love how actively they’re fostering a creative environment,” he notes.

LeftChannel creates annual happy holidays video

Columbus, Ohio —  LeftChannel (http://leftchannel.com), a motion design/animation studio led by Creative Director Alberto Scirocco, has released its annual holiday video feature — it features “warm and fuzzy” 3D animation that has a classic holiday feel. The :36 piece stars a hat and scarf wearing Gryphon flying through a winter wonderland with a special tree ornament.

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Be a part of Autodesk’s Best of the Best 2014 show reel

MONTREAL — Autodesk is now accepting submissions for its Best of the Best 2014 show reel, which will premiere at the NAB Convention from April 7-10, 2014 in Las Vegas.

Highlighting the year’s top talent and most innovative work created using Autodesk tools, the reel will be featured on AREA, the Autodesk website, the Autodesk YouTube Channel and at various industry events throughout the year.

Recent creative projects eligible for submission include animations, films, broadcast, cinematics, commercials, episodic work and/or music videos that were created with 3ds Max, Maya, MotionBuilder, Softimage, Smoke, Flame, Lustre or the Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suite.

For more information visit http://area.autodesk.com/submitcontent/2013/bestofthebest.