Tag Archives: Moving Picture Company

Jon Hamm

Audio post for Jon Hamm’s H&R Block spots goes to Eleven

If you watch broadcast television at all, you’ve likely seen the ubiquitous H&R Block spots featuring actor Jon Hamm of Mad Men fame. The campaign out of Fallon Worldwide features eight spots — all take place either on a film set or a studio backlot, and all feature Hamm in costume for a part. Whether he’s breaking character dressed in traditional Roman garb to talk about how H&R Block can help with your taxes, or chatting up a zombie during a lunch break, he’s handsome, funny and on point: use H&R Block for your tax needs. Simon McQuoid from Imperial Woodpecker directed.

Studio C /Katya Jeff Payne

Jeff Payne

The campaign’s audio post was completed at Eleven in Santa Monica. Eleven founder Jeff Payne worked the spots. “As well as mixing, I created sound design for all of the spots. The objective was to make the sound design feel very realistic and to enhance the scenes in a natural way, rather than a sound design way. For example, on the spot titled Donuts the scene was set on a studio back lot with a lot of extras moving around, so it was important to create that feel without distracting from the dialogue, which was very subtle and quiet. On the spot titled Switch, there was a very energetic music track and fast cutting scenes, but again it needed support with realistic sounds that gave all the scenes more movement.”

Payne says the major challenge for all the spots was to make the dialogue feel seamless. “There were many different angle shots with different microphones that needed to be evened out so that the dialogue sounded smooth.”

In terms of tools, all editing and mixing was done with Avid’s Pro Tools HDX system and S6 console. Sound design was done through Soundminer software.

Jordan Meltzer was assistant mixer on the campaign, and Melissa Elston executive produced for Eleven. Arcade provided the edit, Timber the VFX and post and color was via MPC.

VFX supervisor Michael Gregory joins MPC LA as head of 2D

MPC Los Angeles has brought on veteran VFX supervisor/lead artist Michael Gregory as head of its 2D department. He comes on board from MPC London, where for the past 13 years he has focused on commercials, working with directors such as Jonathan Glazer, Traktor, Nick Gordon, Noam Murro, Mark Romanek, Tom Tagholm and Neil Gorringe. Gregory has a numbe of industry awards on his resume, including a VES honor for Outstanding Animated Commercial for Cadbury Spots v Stripes.

Gregory joins MPC LA as they get ready to move into to a new 25,000-square-feet studio space in Culver City this summer. At the new facility, the studio is putting VFX, content production, color grading, VR and film pre-production and VFX supervision onto one floor. “It’s going to be fantastic to have every department on the same floor,” says Gregory. “The best work always comes from collaboration. Great communication between different disciplines always achieves the greatest results.”

“Michael joining from the London studio will help us maintain the MPC culture as we expand,” shares Paul O’Shea, creative director, MPC LA. “His work ethic, creative values and passion to create work of the highest standards make him a great mentor for the team. These days we work with MPC teams globally on projects, so moving talent between offices is very healthy for us. And, he supports the finest football team in England — West Ham — which also helps!”

Gregory loves working in VFX. “Every time I receive a script it excites me more than the last. One week it will be a dragon fighting Vikings, the next, a girl who explodes into a 1,000 butterflies. When you read, ‘… and a dragon rises from the ocean,’ what more inspiration do you really need?”

Behind the Title: MPC’s Will MacNeil

NAME: Will MacNeil

COMPANY: MPC  @mpc_adv, @mpc_film

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
MPC is an international creative studio. You’ll find our work just about everywhere, from the VFX sequences in feature films like Godzilla to a mobile app for the X-Factor series, and everything in between. I work in our motion design studio in London. This is technically our advertising department, and we do a lot of commercial work. But we also make pop promos, virals and film titles.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
I’m a senior motion designer and director. We’re not afraid of long job titles here.

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
Motion design covers a vast spectrum of work, from graphic 2D animation to photoreal 3D. Our clients bring us a huge variety of work, so I’m usually jumping between a range of tasks. One minute, I might be in a meeting with clients, bashing through treatments and schedules. The next minute, I could be animating a complex 3D scene. The rest of the day-to-day work usually involves leading a team of animators as we put together a TV commercial, pop-promo or title sequence.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
A lot of use come from fields outside of animation and design. My degree is in American Literature. Right now I share a desk with a former sommelier. We also have a former rock star in our midst, but he’d rather I not mention it.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
I think it’s the mix of the creative and technical roles. When I was little, I loved taking apart things in the house and putting them back together, with varying degrees of success. My dad got so fed up. He eventually started bringing home broken appliances, like radios, for me to play with. These usually involved mains electricity. So I really shouldn’t be alive today. Since then I’ve always wanted to take things apart, see how they work, and then put them back together the way I want them to be. I see it as a form of creativity. So using technology to tell stories is a dream job for me. I think motion graphics is full of people like me: people who want to be creative and technical at the same time.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
The gender imbalance. We really need to get more women working in our industry.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
Anytime the phone stops ringing and the email stops pinging and I can get down to work.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
Good question. Hopefully, something with a little more fresh air, but, honestly, I love this work.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I have a learning disability, which makes it very difficult to work with traditional media, like a pencil or brush. This was a real frustration growing up because I’ve always loved design. I remember the rush I got watching Star Wars; all those beautifully designed ships. Even the Star Wars logo inspired me. I desperately wanted to make my own spaceships and title designs, but I couldn’t even draw a straight line. That changed when I started playing with computer graphics. Suddenly my clumsy hands didn’t matter anymore. Even the rudimentary tools in the first Mac computers were enough to convince me that this is what I wanted to do.

Adidas_Still4

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
I’ve just wrapped up a commercial for a cognac brand. The job involved over 10 shots of fluid simulations, so it was a technical challenge, but a rewarding one. We’re pretty confident we can animate any sort of falling booze now. I’ve also worked on the Adidas Predator Instinct commercial (above) and  projects for Liberty Human Rights (pictured below left) called Where Do They Go? and Amnesty International called I Have a Name (pictured below right).

LibertyAmnesty

Conversely, I’m now directing a series of 2D character animation films for a pharmaceutical brand. It feels like a completely different world. But it’s a great chance to direct something with a bit of humor.

I’m also doing some tests using game engines for our animation work. This could be a new frontier for us.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
Many years ago, I made two ads for charities I support: one for Amnesty International, and one for Liberty Human Rights. They just started out as ideas that I wanted to try out, but as I worked through them, I realized they could actually help these groups out. So I showed them both to their target charities. In both cases they picked up the spots and integrated them into their TV, cinema and online campaigns. Looking back now, the ads were pretty simple, and in some ways naïve. But I’m still glad I got them out there. Working in advertising often means creating work that pushes the boundaries of honesty. So I think it’s vital we use our skills to help people, rather than just convince them to buy things.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
It’s probably obvious, but I can’t live without my smart phone. The strange thing is I hardly use it as a phone. It’s kind of a digital Swiss Army knife. I have a long commute to work, so my phone is like an entertainment center. I watch films on it, read books and Tweet the occasional rant about my train service.

And the Internet… I think sometimes we forget that it’s a piece of technology, but it’s had such an impact in the way we work. It’s an amazing resource for learning and researching projects, but at the same time, I think it facilitates laziness. It’s so easy now for designers to find something cool online and knock it off as their own project. I see quite a few creative briefs come in that are clearly little more than a trawl through the creative blogs. So I suppose it’s a blessing and a curse.

I don’t actually own one, but my girlfriend and I desperately want a camper van. We’ve got a fantasy about drinking tea at some remote beach. Actually, she’s drinking tea. I’ve got something stronger.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
The usual suspects: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. I’m also pretty active on forums like CG Talk. I regularly check the motion graphics blogs like Motionographer, Stash and Mograph, but I really prefer the face-to-face meet-ups like See No Evil in London.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK?
I rarely get a chance, but when I do, being an expat American, I like to listen to US online radio stations like KCRW.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I’m a father of three. Work is where I go to relax.

MPC adds Jo Arghiris as EP for VFX

Jo Arghiris has joined MPC Los Angeles as executive producer for VFX. In her new role she will work closely with managing director Andrew Bell and alongside executive producer Elexis Stearn to build and strengthen client relationships, oversee operations and manage production teams.

Arghiris began her career in production at MPC in London and has over 15 years of VFX advertising experience. Before rejoining MPC, Arghiris rose through the ranks at The Mill working across London, New York, and most recently Los Angeles as an executive producer where she has led projects with leading agencies, including Deutsch, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, 180LA, Wieden+Kennedy and TBWA Chiat Day.

Arghiris has won a Silver Lion at Cannes, two Yellow Pencils at D&AD, a Gold Clio and a Gold at the One Show, among others. She has worked with directors such as Traktor, Nicolai Fuglsig, Jake Scott, Stacy Wall, Dante Ariola, Harold Einstein and Jim Jenkins on campaigns for Nike, Budweiser, Adidas, Target and Coca-Cola. She has also been instrumental in projects such as Tooheys The Quest, directed by Garth Davis at Exit Films, and PlayStation Greatness Awaits directed by Rupert Sanders at MJZ.

Quick Chat: MPC Colorist Richard Fearon

By Randi Altman

London — MPC’s Richard Fearon, a London Film School graduate, became a full-time colorist back in 2006 when the company he was with (Blue Post) asked him to go to Mumbai to grade commercials.

The move made sense. He was trained as a junior — grading promos and short films. “Luckily for me, back then people were still shooting mainly on 16mm and 35mm film, which gave me a great base to build upon on as a colorist.”

When Fearon returned from Mumbai after six weeks, he had gained invaluable experience that could only be found in a color grading suite and on real-world jobs.

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