Audionamix – 7.1.20

Category Archives: Branding

Creating a sonic identity for Fiat’s new electric car

More and more, people are looking for an alternative to gas-powered vehicles, and Fiat’s new electric car is one of those alternatives. The Fiat 500e was going to be unveiled at the Milan Auto Show, but the COVID-19 crisis hit, and new plans were made. Instead, the car was introduced via a video shot on nearly empty Italian streets by Fiat’s Olivier François.

Electric cars are quiet, so a lot goes into creating their sonic identity. For the 500e, Fiat called on music agency Syn, which worked remotely with Red Rose Productions and Helsinki-based voice artist Rudi Rok. They were all tasked to create something that sounded like a human voice combined with the melody of “Amarcord” by Nino Rota — marrying the innovative and the organic.

Nick Wood

Syn creative director Nick Wood turned to Rok, who has given voice to a wide range of projects — from the engine sound of electric cars to games, movies, exhibitions and virtual reality experiences. Under the EU legislation, automakers must equip any electric vehicle with an Acoustic Vehicle Alert System (AVAS). This system emits warning noises when the car is moving at a slow speed. Rok’s voice became the interpretation of an engine sound where none exists, which was layered with the orchestral track for a sense of soaring beginnings.

While we typically cover audio for picture, we thought that others could learn from Syn’s experience in sonic branding and from this project in particular.

Syn created a making-of video that walks us through the process, and we reached out to Wood to find out more.

How early did you get involved?
We received a phone call at the end of November 2019 from Olivier Francois, the president/CMO of Fiat, and he explained they were looking for something unique for the engine start-up and hadn’t yet found it. I thought we’d have two to three months to really nail this, but he told me he needed our first presentation by December 18, so we jumped in.

What was the creative brief you were given by Fiat?
There is a legal requirement for the AVAS systems to generate a sound when electric road vehicles are reversing or running below 20kmh (about 12mph). The reason for limiting the speed is that at higher speeds, the tire noise usually drowns out the engine. The brief touched on both the practical and legal aspects, with strict technical requirements that would be tested and the creative opportunity to create a unique sonic identity for this car.

Olivier made it very clear he wanted the AVAS sound to have character and personality to enhance this iconic car and its established heritage and history. What they didn’t want was a generic-sounding turbine noise, the spaceship, Jetsons and other cliché engine sounds. The brief was more about what they didn’t want, with the expectation that our creative abilities would bring something unique, quirky and fun.

Were there any specific technical constraints in terms of approach or delivery for use in the car?
Yes, there were many. First of all, the quality of the speaker didn’t allow for any low-end bass, so forget anything inspired by THX or IMAX. The specifications for the playback system for the sound design were quite limited. The audio file had to be a mono, 16-bit Wav with a sample rate of only 32KHz, which is far less than our usual production output.

In addition, the sound frequency band had to be within 300Hz to 8KHz, again quite a limited range to work with when creating the sonic identity that would become the sound of the 500e engine. The additional challenge was to make sure that the composition could be looped seamlessly without any glitches.

How would you describe the sonic branding? And what aspects of the audio go into sonic branding?
Sonic branding is all about registering an idea or emotion, or both, that become interconnected with a product or company. Here, it’s human and machine that produce movement.

I was looking for elements that could be mixed together to give the engine sound soul and personality to create a recognizable sonic identity. In this instance, the sounds for the Fiat 500e feature the human voice instead of using synthesized sounds, and as the car reached 20kph, we seamlessly marry Nino Rota’s iconic melody from “Amarcord” with the engine sound, thus giving the car a very special sonic identity that we hoped would become synonymous with the Fiat 500e.

Rudi Rok

How did you come up with the creative approach?
We tried many approaches working with international teams of sound designers in Tokyo and LA, and they were all good, but they ultimately did not embody the specific personality and essence I was looking for. I traveled to Kyoto and was sitting in a Buddhist temple, and the idea of the human voice came to me when I heard the monks chanting. It’s at that moment I thought of Rudi Rok in Helsinki as the right person to collaborate with. He’s one of the world’s leading vocal artists.

Did you direct Rudi’s performance? How did that collaboration take place, virtually speaking?
I had worked with Rudi on a recent Disney project, and I knew he had the range and creative imagination to use his voice beyond typical sounds. We had several FaceTime sessions to discuss and brainstorm how to approach the legal and technical requirements whilst making this aesthetically inspiring. There were many, many revisions to get this right.

We went through so many variations; we tried adding in different layers and elements and had to mock up the pitch to bend as it would when the car’s speed increases or decreases. We were giving Fiat ideas right up to the deadline of the road test, when the sound had to pass the legal requirements.

What tools were used to create the sonic branding?
To record his voice, Rudi used a custom-made LDC (large diaphragm condenser) microphone straight into a Metric Halo ULN-8 interface. We wanted to capture the authentic voice/timbre without adding in any unnecessary coloration to the source.

Sound design and further manipulation of the source material were done in Ableton Live, also using plugins like the ones from FabFilter and Oeksound. For the mixing and mastering stage, we used Avid Pro Tools as the DAW, importing the files. These were then processed using iZotope’s Ozone suite, which provides a very useful set of clearly laid-out mastering tools, including filters, EQ and dynamics, which are ideal for this type of application. Of course, tools are only a means to an end, and the real magic is in the long-term creative collaboration.

How did the process of creating a sonic brand for a car differ from doing so for a brand campaign that would air on TV, for example?
One big difference is that this was a legally required sound; it has to be tested on a road track with microphones to ensure it passed sonic guidelines. We had limited sonic quality in the speakers that Fiat used, so we could not think big and audiophile like THX or IMAX, no bass.

The frequencies we used had to be checked and pass their tests, and it had to sound pretty interesting. I would say it was a drastically different approach with far more restrictions, and the objective of ensuring that pedestrians know there is a car coming was a considerable responsibility. Functionality and aesthetics combined.

You can see the making-of video here:

Behind the Title: Trollbäck ECD Elliot Chaffer

This artist’s biggest passion is live-action directing, “specifically in-camera VFX and CG integration.”

Name: Elliott Chaffer

Company: Trollbäck+Company

What does Trollbäck do?
We are a branding and design studio that builds strategy, multi-platform brands and moving experiences. Our founder, Jakob Trollbäck, started the company in 1999 with the goal of revolutionizing the way we communicate through motion graphics and emerging technologies. Since then, we’ve grown into a multidisciplinary design studio that offers brand design and content across industries and platforms.

What’s your job title?
Executive Creative Director

What does that entail?
As we are a small company with big ambitions, I wear many hats and really enjoy the broad range of projects we bring in.
Primarily, I am responsible for leading creative teams from pitch through production to delivery and amplification.

On any given day, I can be found ideating, in new business meetings, upselling to current clients, building decks, pitching creative, participating in strategic workshops, editing, directing animators and editors, directing live-action shoots and now with the lockdown, homeschooling my two kids at the same time.

Elliot Chaffer on set

What would surprise people about what falls under that title?
That I am not an “on the box” creative director, and you don’t have to be.

What’s your favorite part of the job?
I love it all. Mostly the team and our energy that we put into our work. My biggest passion is live-action directing, specifically in-camera VFX and CG integration; I try to apply that to projects where it best suits the client’s needs. Maybe because I’m old-school and ADD, I don’t like to sit still (hence why I am not on the box) but prefer to move fluidly between my different teams and have a more personal one-on-one connection than through Slack. Also, as I mentioned before, I love the variety of projects. It helps to keep it fresh and to learn new things from new people all the time.

What’s your least favorite?
The ones that got away. The jobs you were deeply invested in, pitched on hard and didn’t win, or that just disappear because of uncontrollable circumstances. Also, the jobs you are super-proud of but are not allowed to promote due to contractual agreements with clients. And finally, filling out time sheets and trying to account for the various minutes and hours spent on a whole range of projects.

What’s your most productive time of the day?
In the old days, it used to be after 8pm when the office went quiet, but more recently it was 8:30am after I dropped my daughter at school and had that hour of peace before the floodgates opened.

However, now that we are in COVID quarantine, I find that the whole day feels more productive because it is easier to be more focused when you are not all together in the studio. But I do miss the direct contact with the team and the energy that is created by being together. Zoom calls are just not the same.

If you didn’t have this job, what would you be doing instead?
Since childhood I always wanted to be an underwater cameraman exploring ocean caves, so maybe I would finally follow that burning passion. And then after work, I would float to the surface and go surfing, sit on the beach and watch the sun go down, sleep early, rinse repeat.

FX

How did you choose this profession?
I feel that it chose me to a certain extent, and it came about organically. In school I was only interested in art and languages, and everything else just seemed meaningless. (I was wrong, of course.) My dad had a photographic studio, and I used to spend a lot of my holiday time taking pictures and teaching myself how to develop and print them, which I found hugely satisfying.

I studied graphic design at art college and picked that course because I knew I wanted to have a broad approach and be able to work across different mediums. I got a chance to intern at MTV in London by pretending to be my brother, who actually had the internship but could not make it. Pretty soon I discovered the creative department, and, naturally, I wanted to work in graphics but was urged to be a director/producer, so I thought, OK, I’ll give it a try.

Very quickly I realized I loved combining my design and photography knowledge in ways I never thought about while at college. I learned to animate on the job, and the combination of these three fundamentals led me into branding on a larger level. It gave me so much pleasure to make stuff and see it go out on air to the whole of Europe that day. I was hooked and have never looked back. My career has been about continually creating my own luck and rolling into the next thing, from co-authoring the first-ever coffee table art book about sneaker collectors to starting a design company to going freelance to moving to USA and working at two of the top creative shops in NYC with a great team for meaningful brands.

Can you name some recent projects you have worked on?
FX Networks’ masterbrand design system — We created a new visual identity, motion theory and custom-coded typeface that’s able to adapt to any mood, any series and any setting to maximize the brand’s attribution across platforms.

IRIS

We redrew a typeface and then deconstructed each letterform to create a custom animated typeface, designed to be built and manipulated in Adobe After Effects through the use of a custom script UI panel.

Fox Entertainment rebrand — Following the Disney merger, we relaunched Fox Entertainment as a bold new challenger brand and created robust systems for messaging, tone of voice, design and animation across every touchpoint, including on-air, streaming, digital, social, print and IRL applications.

Iris headphones — We developed a substantive, industry-disrupting brand identity for Iris, a new audio brand promising to change the way see, live and experience sound in the world around us, defining Iris as an audio brand on a mission to reshape the culture of sound.

I am currently working from home, rebranding ABC networks and the BET Experience and working on a title sequence for a new series coming out on Amazon. As a studio, we are also getting involved in a large creative collective that will be responding to the current COVID-19 crisis, using our skills to help the world.

Fox

What is the project you are most proud of?
The Fox Entertainment internal brand film, because it combined all of our skills of brand strategy, writing, animation, in-camera VFX and CG integration, edit and sound design to create a really powerful piece that inspired a collective sea of change throughout the brand.

Apple live wallpapers — I got to go to Thailand to shoot hundreds of beautiful tiny Siamese fighting fish on a Phantom camera. We had to smuggle a high-powered zero-heat LED light into the country so we could film the fish without boiling them in their tanks! We were capturing abstract shots of movement that could be activated by pressing the iPhone screen. When the job was done, it was a moment of pride to see something you have done in the hands of millions all around the world and used on video walls and interactive point of sale in Apple stores.

The Super Bowl halftime show graphics for The Who — The sheer scale of the audience for the halftime show was staggering, and the high-stakes stress of connecting a giant LED stage in 12 minutes and to see everything sync up perfectly with the lighting cues was probably an all-time career high.

What social media channels do you follow?
I only do Instagram and LinkedIn and mostly follow friends, family, competitors and collaborators:
@rogiervanderzwaag — This Dutch guy makes some really inspiring optical illusions in camera that are so simple and graphic.
@fxwrx — My good friend and collaborator Christopher Webb has an amazing studio dedicated to shooting in-camera VFX.
@_xlmilk — This is a channel recently started that is posting spreads from the Sneaker book we made in the ‘90s and will be promoting the launch of the new book that is currently in production 20 years later.

I also like to watch Houdini tutorials on Entagma.com.

Do you listen to music while you work?
Yes. When I eventually get to my desk, I like to listen to abstract ambient music with no lyrics so I can hear my own thoughts. Nils Frahm, Kiasmos, Olafur Arnalds — that kind of stuff. Also, whatever Spotify Discover Weekly wants to serve me up usually hits the mark.

Name three pieces of technology you can’t live without.
My QS6 synthesizer. It keeps me sane when I want to zone out and get away from the noise and make music. My cappuccino machine. Keeping me caffeinated, safe from going out, and saving me money during the COVID-19 lockdown. My laptop.

What do you do to destress from it all?
Now that we’re working from home, I like to get up and play along to background music on my keyboard when I need to refresh my mind or just untangle my thoughts.

Also, now that I have more time in the mornings and don’t have to do the school run, I like to make a routine of going to the park at 7:30am and 7pm to meditate, stretch and exercise. On the weekends I like to skateboard and snowboard and surf in the summer, and spend time with my kids, of course.

Audionamix – 7.1.20

Behind the Title: Gretel designer/animator Johannes Geier

Back in his home country of Germany, Johannes Geier started building cars in Photoshop when he was 11. Now he’s working on campaigns for IFC and The New York Times.

Name: Johannes Geier

Company: NYC’s Gretel

Can you describe what Gretel does?
Gretel is a design and branding studio. We work with clients to get to the heart of who they are, then we express their brand through image and language. Intuition is a crucial part in every step of the process.

What’s your job title?
Designer and animator

Can you talk more about your role?
Working in branding means a focus on systems and longer-lasting solutions. Even campaigns get systematized here. My job requires the ability to switch quickly between both micro and macro — in the details and at a higher level. Everything we create must accurately express a brand’s unique truths, so keeping strategy in mind is important. This starts with an awareness of what else is out there before quickly jumping into sketches, style frames, first proofs of concept and thinking about motion languages.

How are you handling the shutdown and working remotely?
It took some time to properly break up a day but other than that it works pretty well with the same workflow we always had. Something I miss about being in the studio together is seeing different projects on other screens.

New York Times

What’s your favorite part of the job?
The beginning when everything is open and possible. The fear and respect of the blank paper. Where a short abstract sketch can define a whole direction and has the potential to trigger the fantasy to create greater stuff on top of it.

What’s your least favorite?
Joining a project after everything is defined.

What is your most productive time of day?
Early in the morning and at night. No meetings, no nothing.

If you didn’t have this job, what would you be doing instead?
I could imagine teaching at a university, designing workshop formats and such. Initiating my own faculty has always been a dream, especially in my hometown of Passau in Germany, where I grew up. When you offer programs to educate young people with reasonable design skills, cities look and think differently. When the awareness of design is present in a place, it can have a huge impact. Even when it’s bad, people see that and get inspired to make it better.

How early on did you know this would be your path?
I started Photoshopping cars at the age of 11 and editing basketball mix tapes at 14. Suddenly, those areas came together. I always did what interested me at the moment, and this led organically to what I do now. I went to a secondary school where we had art history and practical art taught early. Working with wood, clay and all things fun. One day we built rockets that could fly 1,000 feet high and had their own parachute.

My intention first was to learn classic drawing there. While others were practicing realistic drawing, I was working on a short film. When my teacher discovered that I could edit in Apple Final Cut, I ended up doing short films every year.

After that I went to a technical school for design and arts, but this time we built things like chairs and jewelry. It was about getting a feeling for every kind of material. During this time, I also joined a new magazine launched in my hometown in Germany and did editorial work there. Then I got to know an artist who exposed me to new philosophies about design and the understanding of abstraction. I supported him for a book release with a sculpture.

When I was interested in studying animation and visual effects, I joined a secret international team for a channel rebrand. As films became interesting again, I went to film school (Baden-Württemberg Film Academy) where I attended a motion design class. The focus was the interplay between sound, image and much more experimental approaches, called “visual music.”

During this time, I was an artist-in-residence in the remote Bavarian forest and collaborated with a musicologist. The university was very open-minded and free — a platform to do anything you wanted once you found the right people to work with. I somehow found them and did a graduation film about the 100m sprint using inflated, metaphorical worlds with light installations to stretch time. Then it was enough film for me. I was looking for something that could channel all my interests into one thing, and the result is branding.

Can you name some recent projects you have worked on?
Work for the New York Times, Amazon Prime Video and MoMA.

IFC

What is the project that you are most proud of?
IFC is one. I worked on it at the beginning of my internship at Gretel with a very small dream team. I still look back at earlier frames we did then for ongoing projects today. I like that although it’s strictly type and color on a screen, the motion behavior and design can feel so unique.

Name three pieces of technology you can’t live without.
Apple Pay, Uber, Google Maps

What social media channels do you follow?
The ones that stand out for me are:
@rentalmag: It’s an aesthetic I like, and every single post has a strong visual impact full of derivations.
@alv_alv: When you scroll down there’s a really nice archive of interesting indie film title sequences.
@RIPstreets: It’s a great resource for street races around NJ burnouts and stuff, you know?

Do you listen to music while you work?
Yes, and I very much prefer loud music. Mostly electro and minimal. Philip Glass and Steve Reich are also in my top five. For other music, we have a Gretel playlist on Spotify.

What do you do to de-stress from it all?
(Answered before the shutdown) To free my mind, I take long walks on Fridays and see where it leads me. I mostly land at Washington Square Park and go to venues around that area. The Oculus at World Trade Center is a good place on weekends. Seeing people from far above moving like one wave, the same rhythm over and over, is like meditation.

How has animation changed since you first started your career?
At the beginning, there was this era of homemade VFX and DSLR cinematography with integrated motion graphics. Highly saturated Vimeo videos are a good example of that. The quality didn’t matter that much, it was more the idea.

The awareness and accessibility of it changed rapidly. In 2016, the Google Creative Lab 5 developed a job application page to find “the next” The Five, a one-year paid program in the lab. They had keyframes there to animate the Google logo in order to submit as a first task. This was a sign for me that people recognized the craft and knew what keyframes were. We now see it on Instagram, how images and graphics are starting to move within one swipe.

Today, the graphic approach feels cleaner. More precise and on point. Animation exists everywhere now —everything needs the ability to live on a screen. This simpler, clearer approach translates easily, so the focus on animation has never felt so important.

To be fair, animation is a much bigger, complex field, and this answer is directed to commercial animation. What people do at Gobelins in Paris or Eastern European animation like in Lodz, Poland, is a whole different story. It’s more artful and doesn’t necessarily need to be tied to trends.


Behind the Title: Loyalkaspar EP Scott Lakso

“People probably don’t expect that sometimes being an EP involves jumping into After Effects to render something, or contributing written ideas to strategic and conceptual projects.”

Name: Scott Lakso

Company: New York City’s Loyalkaspar

What does Loyalkaspar do?
We’re a creative branding agency specializing in brand strategy, identity, marketing and production. In human terms: We like to make good work that people will enjoy, and we try to do it for companies that make the world better!

SyFy rebrand

What’s your job title?
Executive Producer

What does that entail?
It entails a little bit of everything you’d expect, but mostly it involves making sure our clients are happy so that they’ll want to keep working with us on new projects. It also means establishing relationships with potential clients. At the office, it means overseeing the team of producers and making sure that everyone is happy and productive. There are a lot of proposals, budgets and timelines as part of that, but all of the nitty-gritty stuff is in service of fostering healthy relationships inside the company and with outside clients.

What would surprise people the most about what falls under that title?
People probably don’t expect that sometimes it involves jumping into After Effects to render something or contributing written ideas to strategic and conceptual projects. The title makes it sound like a reductive position, as in an “executive” producer doesn’t do any of the tasks they used to do as a coordinator or mid-level producer, but it’s actually more of a cumulative role — all of the skills I’ve developed over the 11 years it took to get to EP are still used anytime it seems appropriate.

What’s your favorite part of the job?
My favorite aspect is having the freedom, capacity and trust of the company leadership to do whatever I feel is best for our people, our clients and Loyalkaspar as a whole. Sometimes that’s helping a client out of a bind on short notice, encouraging a staffer to vent over a pint or organizing a spontaneous karaoke night when the time is right… which is more often than you might think.

What’s your least favorite?
When the circumstances of a project or situation require me to work reactively rather than proactively. I’m not a fan of winging it! It feels like driving at night with the headlights turned off. I’m much happier when I can plan a few steps ahead and help everyone avoid the headaches of hazardous speed bumps.

What is your most productive time of day?
Anytime that I can tune out distractions and focus on the task at hand. That’s more about creating a productive window in which to work rather than waiting for a specific time of day.

If you didn’t have this job, what would you be doing instead?
I’d be doing literally any job that NASA would be willing to hire me for, given my lack of astronautics knowledge and experience. So I’d probably be scrubbing dishes in the Cape Canaveral food court or something equally unglamorous.

How did you choose this profession?
“Chose this profession” is a strong phrase, given that I had no idea this kind of work existed until I moved to New York after college. I think I technically stumbled into it. That being said, at some point while stage-managing high school theater, I probably subconsciously chose to go down the path that would lead me to something like this as an adult.

Super Bowl halftime show graphics 2010

Can you name some recent projects?
For the past few months, I’ve been mostly dedicated to the brand identity development for Peacock, the new streaming platform from NBCUniversal. But other recent standout projects have been an interactive film for a museum in Philadelphia and involvement in pitches to the Sesame Workshop and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.

Do you have a project you are most proud of?
It’s hard to pick only one, but producing the Super Bowl halftime show graphics in 2010 and overseeing our all-encompassing rebrand of SyFy in 2017 are a couple of personal favorites.

Name three piece of technology you can’t live without.
I’d have a hard time living in a world that didn’t have the technology to enjoy music and movies/television, so let’s say a good screen of some kind, a record player/stereo/iPod and some good headphones.

What social media channels do you follow?
At this point, only Instagram. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that most social media content makes people feel worse about themselves and the world. At least on Instagram, people seem interested in posting things that others will enjoy rather than just broadcasting whatever will get them the most attention.

Do you listen to music while you work? If so what kind?
I find it impossible to work without music on. In terms of what specifically, almost anything instrumental is good for working to, but I really love old, cheesy music like bossa nova, retro Italian film soundtracks, 1960s/1970s library music, Burt Bacharach, etc. That probably makes me sound pretentious, or maybe like a dork, but I’m not exactly proud of my weird taste in music.

What do you do to de-stress from it all?
There are tons of options! When time permits, traveling and hiking outside of the city (especially outside of the country) are great for stress. I know that exercise is good for stress but that doesn’t make it any more enjoyable, so I have to trick myself into accidentally getting a workout while doing something like being in nature or exploring a foreign country. On a smaller scale, just drinking wine with my wife, going to a movie with my phone turned off or doing anything you can find in a book on “hygge” (like reading in my pajamas or cooking comforting food).


The-Artery sees red, creates VFX for Huawei’s AppGallery

The-Artery recently worked on a global campaign for agency LH in Israel, and consumer electronics brand Huawei’s official app distribution platform, AppGallery.

The campaign — set to an original musical track called Explore It by artist Tomer Biran — is meant to show the AppGallery as more than a mobile app store, but rather as a gate to an endless world of digital content that comes with data protection and privacy.

Each scene features the platform’s signature red square logo but shown in a variety of creative ways thanks to The-Artery’s visual effects work. This includes floating Tetris-like cubes that change with the beat of the music, camera focuses, red-seated subway cars with a floating red cube and more.

“Director Eli Sverdlov, editor Noam Weissman and executive producer Kobi Hoffman all have distinct artistic processes that are unforgiving to conventional storytelling,” explains founder/executive creative director Vico Sharabani. “We had ongoing conversations about how to create a deeper connection between the brand and audiences. The agency, LH, gave us the freedom to really explore the fun, convenience and security behind downloading apps on the Huawei AppGallery.”

Filming took place across the globe in Kiev, Ukraine, via production company Jiminy Creative Tel Aviv, while editing, design, animation, visual effects and color grading were all done under one roof in The-Artery’s New York studio. The entire production was completed in only 16 days.

The studio used Autodesk’s Flame and 3DS Max, Side Effects Houdini, Adobe’s After Effects and Photoshop for the visual effects and graphics. Colorist: Steve Picano called on Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve. Asaf Bitton provided sound design.


Quick Chat: Editing Leap Day short for Stella Artois

By Randi Altman

To celebrate February 29, otherwise known as Leap Day, beer-maker Stella Artois released a short film featuring real people who discover their time together is valuable in ways they didn’t expect. The short was conceived by VaynerMedia, directed by Division7s Kris Belman and cut by Union partner/editor Sloane Klevin. Union also supplied Flame work on the piece.

The film begins with the words, ”There is a crisis sweeping the nation” set on a black screen. Then we see different women standing on the street talking about how easy it is to cancel plans. “You’re just one text away,” says one. “When it’s really cold outside and I don’t want to go out, I use my dog excuse,” says another. That’s when the viewer is told, through text on the screen, that Stella Artois has set out to right this wrong “by showing them the value of their time together.”

The scene changes from the street to a restaurant where friends are reunited for a meal and a goblet of Stella after not seeing each other for a while. When the check comes the confused diners ask about their checks, as an employee explains, that the menu lists prices in minutes, and that Leap Day is a gift of 24 hours and that people should take advantage of that by “uncancelling plans.”

Prior to February 29, Stella encouraged people to #UnCancel plans and catch up with friends over a beer… paid for by the brand. Using the Stella Leap Day Fund — a $366,000 bank of beer reserved exclusively for those who spend time together (there are 366 days in a Leap Year) — people were able to claim as much as a 24-pack when sharing the film using #UnCancelPromo and tagging someone they would like to catch up with.

Editor Sloane Klevin

For the film short, the diners were captured with hidden cameras. Union editor Klevin, who used an Avid Media Composer 2018.12.03 with EditShare storage, was tasked with finding a story in their candid conversations. We reached out to her to find out more about the project and her process.

How early did you get involved in this project, and what kind of input did you have?
I knew I was probably getting the job about a week before they shot. I had no creative input into the shoot; that really only happens when I’m editing a feature.

What was your process like?
This was an incredibly fast turnaround. They shot on a Wednesday night, and it was finished and online the following Wednesday morning at 12am.

I thought about truncating my usual process in order to make the schedule, but when I saw their shooting breakdown for how they planned to shoot it all in one evening, I knew there wouldn’t be a ton of footage. Knowing this, I could treat the project the way I approach most unscripted longform branded content.

My assistant, Ryan Stacom, transcoded and loaded the footage into the Avid overnight, then grouped the four hidden cameras with the sound from the hidden microphones — and, brilliantly, production had time-of-day timecode on everything. The only thing that was tricky was when two tables were being filmed at once. Those takes had to be separated.

The Simon Says transcription software was used to transcribe the short pre and post interviews we had, and Ryan put markers from the transcripts on those clips so I could jump straight to a keyword or line I was searching for during the edit process. I watched all the verité footage myself and put markers on anything I thought was usable in the spot, typing into the markers what was said.

How did you choose the footage you needed?
Sometimes the people had conversations that were neither here nor there, because they had no idea they were being filmed, so I skipped that stuff. Also, I didn’t know if the transcription software would be accurate with so much background noise from the restaurant on the hidden table microphones, so markering myself seemed the best option. I used yellow markers for lines I really liked, and red for stuff I thought we might want to be able to find and audition, but those wasn’t necessarily my selects. That way I could open the markers tool, and read through my yellow selects at a glance.

Once I’d seen everything, I did a music search of Asche & Spencer’s incredibly intuitive, searchable music library website, downloaded my favorite tracks and started editing.  Because of the fast turnaround, the agency was nice enough to send an outline for how they hoped the material might be edited. I explored their road map, which was super helpful, but went with my gut on how to deviate. They gave me two days to edit, which meant I could post for the director first and get his thoughts.

Then I spent the weekend playing with the agency and trying other options. The client saw the cut and gave notes on both days I was with the agency, then we spent Monday and Tuesday color correcting (thanks to Mike Howell at Color Collective), reworking the music track, mixing (with Chris Afzal at Wave Studios), conforming, subtitling.

That was a crazy fast turnaround.
Considering how fast the turnaround was, it went incredibly smoothly. I attribute that to the manageable amount of footage, fantastic casting that got us really great reactions from all the people they filmed, and the amount of communication my producer at Union and the agency producer had in advance.


Randi Altman is the founder and editor-in-chief of postPerspective. She has been covering production and post production for more than 20 years. 

 


PBS celebrates 50 years with new on-air graphics

LA-based Nathaniel Howe Studios (NHS) has partnered with PBS and creative consultancy Lippincott to create a new on-air graphics package to coincide with the public broadcaster’s updated identity. This includes a refreshed logo, bolder color palette and custom typeface. The new on-air look for PBS — home to shows such as Masterpiece, Nature and Frontline — will roll out throughout 2020 as the network celebrates its 50th anniversary.

PBS looked to NHS to translate its new identity for modern screens while providing brand coherency at both the national and local levels with its 300-plus member stations — the studio called on Adobe’s Creative Suite to create the look. “Nathaniel and his team took our multi-platform vision to heart and developed a broad range of inspired ideas,” says Don Wilcox, VP, multi-platform marketing and content at PBS.

“The design and animation play a supporting role, framing the content and delivering all the key information effortlessly within the new ‘digital-first’ brand architecture,” explains NHS founder/CD Howe, adding that he really enjoyed getting to work with people deeply connected to the PBS brand. “Some of our clients have been with PBS for over 20 years. It was rewarding to serve a brand that is so loved across this country, one that does so much good through storytelling, and to find the balance of respecting its history while subtly evolving for the future. In the process, we also got to meet so many diverse people across the country and help to solve their creative challenges.”

Howe explains that the PBS logo provided the perfect framework to keep the visual system focused while reinforcing the brand in a subtle yet unified way. “Its new flat design also lent itself well to the motion theory behind the package, which favors minimal design elements, gentle key frames and purposeful applications of accent colors to complement the hero PBS blue.”

NHS kicked off this massive project during the early phases of the rebrand strategy, working closely with PBS and Lippincott to help translate the updated identity for digital and broadcast screens. To address the unique needs of PBS’ member stations, a process that included multiple phases of testing and feedback, NHS delivered a customizable Adobe After Effects tool kit and led a nationwide on-boarding process. This included the production of video tutorials and webinars as well as in-studio training programs and presentations for PBS summits and conferences.

“Our greatest challenge was solving almost endless co-branding scenarios within an After Effects toolkit and maintaining balance between unification and local market self-expression,” explains Howe. “This project took place over the course of a year, so we had to keep the focus locked and the fire lit throughout. And we also had to fight off the challenge of adding extra design elements or complexity for the sake of it. Simplicity was the key here.”

According to Howe, the vitals of the PBS rebrand live within a master tool kit that is quick and easy to use for everyone. “The beauty of Lippincott’s minimalistic branding system came into play here as it enabled us to eliminate technical limitations, standardize the graphics creation process, and speed up workflows across the board.”

Howe is no stranger to PBS. For over a decade, he has collaborated with the channel on on-air graphics promos for several Ken Burns documentaries (Jackie Robinson, Prohibition), the Indian Summers series and the PBS Arts Fall Festival. He also helmed the brand refresh of PBS’ long-running anthology series, Great Performances, and sizzle reels for network summits.

“We simply wanted this package to generate excitement around PBS while honoring the integrity of the brand and the value it offers in our cluttered media landscape,” concludes Howe. “As a team, our hearts were aligned from the outset — and as a new father, I was personally inspired by the thought-provoking and educational nature of the content PBS offers to such a broad-reaching audience.”


Behind the Title: Matter Films president Matt Moore

Part of his job is finding talent and production partners. “We want the most innovative and freshest directors, cinematographers and editors from all over the world.”

NAME: Matt Moore

COMPANY: Phoenix and Los Angeles’ Matter Films
and OH Partners

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Matter Films is a full-service production company that takes projects from script to screen — doing both pre-production and post in addition to producing content. We are joined by our sister company OH Partners, a full-service advertising agency.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
President of Matter Films and CCO of OH Partners,

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
I’m lucky to be the only person in the company who gets to serve on both sides of the fence. Knowing that, I think that working with Matter and OH gives me a unique insight into how to meet our clients’ needs best. My number one job is to push both teams to be as innovative and outside of the box as possible. A lot of people do what we do, so I work on our points of differentiation.

Gila River Hotels and Casinos – Sports Partnership

I spend a lot of time finding talent and production partners. We want the most innovative and freshest directors, cinematographers and editors from all over the world. That talent must push all of our work to be the best. We then pair that partner with the right project and the right client.

The other part of my job is figuring out where the production industry is headed. We launched Matter Films because we saw a change within the production world — many production companies weren’t able to respond quickly enough to the need for social and digital work, so we started a company able to address that need and then some.

My job is to always be selling ideas and proposing different avenues we could pursue with Matter and with OH. I instill trust in our clients by using our work as a proof point that the team we’ve assembled is the right choice to get the job done.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
People assumed when we started Matter Films that we would keep everything in-house and have no outside partners, and that’s just not the case. Matter actually gives us even more resources to find those innovators from across the globe. It allows us to do more.

The variation in budget size that we accept at Matter Films would also surprise people. We’ll take on projects with anywhere from $1,000 to one million-plus budgets. We’ve staffed ourselves in such a way that even small projects can be profitable.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
It sounds so cliché, but I would have to say the people. I’m around people that I genuinely want to see every single day. I love when we all get together for our meetings, because while we do discuss upcoming projects, we also goof off and just hang out. These are the people I go into battle with every single day. I choose to go into the battle with people that I whole-heartedly care about and enjoy being with. It makes life better.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
What’s tough is how fast this business changes. Every day there’s a new conference or event, and just when you think an idea you’ve had is cutting edge and brand new, you realize you have to keep going and push to be more innovative. Just when you get caught up, you’re already behind. The big challenge is how you’re going to constantly step up your game.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE TIME OF THE DAY?
I’m an early morning person. I can get more done if I start before everybody else.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I was actually pre-med for two years in college with the desire to be a surgeon. When I was an undergrad, I got an abysmal grade on one of our exams and the professor pulled me aside and told me that a score that low proved that I truly did not care about learning the material. He allowed me to withdraw from the class to find something I was more passionate about, and that was life changing.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I found out in college. I genuinely just loved making a product that either entertained or educated people. I started in the news business, so every night I would go home after work and people could tell me about the news of the day because of what I’d written, edited and put on TV.

People knew about what was going on because of the stories that we told. I have a great love for telling stories and having others engage with that story. If you’re good at the job, peoples’ lives will be different as a result of what you create.

Barbuda Ocean Club

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
We just wrapped a large shoot in Maryland for Live Casino, and a different tourism project for a luxury property in Barbuda. We’re currently developing our work with Virgin, and we have a shoot for a technology company focused on developing autonomous driving and green energy upcoming as well. We’re all over the map with the range of work that we have in the pipeline.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
One of my favorite projects actually took place before Matter Films was officially around, but we had a lot of the same team. We did an environmentally sensitive project for Sedona, Arizona, called Sedona Secret 7. Our campaign told the millions of tourists who arrive there how to find other equally beautiful destinations in and around Sedona instead of just the ones everyone already knew.

It was one of those times when advertising wasn’t about selling something, but about saving something.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
My phone, a pair of AirPods and a laptop. The Matter Films team gave me AirPods for my birthday, so those are extra special!

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
My usage on Instagram is off the charts; it’s embarrassing. While I do look at everyone’s vacation photos or what workout they did that day, I also use Instagram as a talent sourcing tool for a lot of work purposes: I follow directors, animation studios and tons of artists that I either get inspiration from or want to work with.

A good percentage of people I follow are creatives that I want to work with at some point. I also reach out to people all the time for potential collaborations.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I love outdoor adventures. Some days I’ll go on a crazy hike here in Arizona or rent a four-wheeler and explore the desert or mountains. I also love just hanging out with my kids — they’re a great age.


Behind the Title: Element EP Kristen Kearns

NAME: Kristen Kearns

COMPANY: Boston’s Element Productions

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Element has been in business for 20 years. We handle production and post production for video content on all platforms.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Executive Producer / COO

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
I oversee the office operations and company culture, and I work with clients on their production and post projects. I handle sales and bidding and work with our post and production talent to keep growing and expanding their creative goals.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
I wear a lot of hats. I think people are always surprised by how much I have to juggle. From hiring employees, approving bills, bidding projects and collaborating with directors on treatments.

WHAT TOOLS DO YOU USE?
We love Slack, Box and Google Apps. Collaboration is such a big part of what we do, and we could not function as seamlessly as we do without these awesome tools.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
The people. I love who I work with.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
When we work really hard on bidding a project and we don’t win. I understand this is a competitive business, but it is still really hard to lose after you put so much time and energy into a bid.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
I love the mornings. I like the quiet before everyone comes in. I get into the office early and take that time to think through my day and my priorities. Or, sometimes I use the time to brainstorm and think through business challenges or business goals for the overall growth of the company.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I am a bit obsessed with The Home Edit. If you don’t follow them on Instagram, you should. Their stories are hilarious. Anyway, I would want to work for them. Crazy lives all wrapped up in tidy cabinets.

Alzheimer’s Association

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
We recently launched a project for a local bank that featured a Yeti, a unicorn and a Sasquatch. Projects like this are what keep my job interesting and challenging. I had to do a bunch of research on costumes and prosthetics.

We also just wrapped on a short film for the Alzheimer’s Association. Giving back is a really important part of our company culture. We were so moved by the story of this couple and their struggles with this debilitating disease. I was really proud to be a part of this production.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I am proud of a lot of the work that we do, but I would say most recently we worked on a multi-platform project with Dunkin’ that really stretched our producing skills. The idea was very innovative, with the goal being to power a home entirely on coffee grounds.

We connected all the dots of the projects, from finding a biofuel manufacturer to the builder in Nashville, and documented the entire process. The project manifested itself into a live event in New York City before traveling to the coast of Massachusetts to be listed as an Airbnb.

Dunkin

NAME PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
I recently went to Washington, DC, with my family, and the National Museum of American History had an exhibit “Within These Walls.” It highlighted the evolution of one home, and with it the changing technology. I remember being really taken aback by the laundry exhibit. I think we all take for granted the time and convenience it saves us. Can you imagine if we had to spend hours dunking and ringing out clothes? It has actually given us more freedom and convenience to pursue passions and interests. I could live without my phone or a television, but trap me with a bucket and a clothesline and I would lose my mind.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK?
I grew up in a dance studio, so I actually find that I work better with some sort of music in the background. The office has a Sonos system, so we all take turns playing music.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
Immersing myself in art and culture. Whether it is going to a museum to view artwork, seeing a band or heading to a movie to truly appreciate other people’s creativity. It is the best way for me to unwind as I enjoy the talent and art of others.

Behind the Title: MPC creative director Rupert Cresswell

This Brit is living in New York while working on spots, directing and playing dodgeball.

NAME: Rupert Cresswell

COMPANY: MPC

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
MPC has been one of the global leaders in VFX for nearly 50 years, with industry-leading facilities in London, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Bangalore, New York, Montréal, Shanghai, Amsterdam and Paris. Well-known for adding visuals for advertising, film and entertainment industries, some of our most famous projects include blockbuster movies such as The Jungle Book, The Martian, the Harry Potter franchise, the X-Men movies and the upcoming The Lion King, not to mention famous advertising campaigns for brands such as Samsung, BMW, Hennessy and Apple. I am based in New York.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Creative Director (and Director)

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
Lots of things, depending on the project. I am repped by MPC to direct commercials, so my work often mixes live action with some form of visual effects or animation. I’m constantly pitching for jobs; if I am successful, I direct the subsequent shoot, then oversee a team of artists at MPC through the post process until delivery.

VeChain 

When I’m not directing, I work as a creative director, leading teams on animation and design projects within MPC. It’s mostly about zeroing in on a client’s needs and offering a creative solution. I critique large teams of artists’ work — sometimes up to 60 artists across our global network — ensuring a consistent creative vision. At MPC we are expected to keep the highest standards of work and make original contributions to the industry. It’s my job to make sure we do.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
I feel like the lines between agency, production company and VFX studio can be blurred these days. In my job, I’m often called on for a wide range of disciplines such as writing the creative, directing actors, and even designing large-scale print and OOH (out of the home) advertising campaigns.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
There’s always a purity to the concepts at the pitch stage, which I tend to get really enthusiastic about, but the best bit is to get to travel to shoot. I’ve been super-lucky to film in some awesome places like the south of France, Montreal, Cape Town and the Atacama Desert in Chile.

Additionally, the industry is full of funny, cool, creative characters, and if you can take a beat to remind yourself of that, it’s always a blast working with them. The usual things can bother you, like stress and long hours; also, no one likes it when ideas with great potential get compromised. But more often than not, I’m thankful for what I get to do.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE TIME OF THE DAY?
There’s a sweet spot in the morning after I’ve had some caffeine and before I get hungry for lunch — that’s when the heavy lifting happens.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I always knew I wanted to go to art school but never really knew what to do after that. It took years to figure out how to turn my interests into a career. There’s a lot to be said for stubbornly refusing to do something less interesting.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
I finished a big campaign for Timberland, which was a great experience. I worked directly with the client, first on the creative, then I directed the shoot in Montreal. I then I oversaw the post and the print campaign, which seemed to go up everywhere I went in the city. It was a huge technical and creative challenge, but great to be involved from the very start to the very end of the process.

I also worked on one of the first brand campaigns for the blockchain currency, VeChain. That was a huge VFX undertaking and lots of fun — we created a love letter to some classic sci-fi films like Star Wars and Blade Runner, which turned out pretty sweet.

In complete contrast, my most favorite recent experience was to work on the branding for the cult Hulu comedy Pen15. The show is so funny, it was a bit of a dream project. It was refreshing to go from such a large technical endeavor as Timberland with a big VFX team to working almost solo, and mostly just illustrating. There was something really cathartic about it. The job required me to spend most of the day doodling childish pictures — I got a real kick out of the puzzled faces around the office wondering if I’d had some kind of breakdown.

Pen15

WHAT OTHER PROJECTS STAND OUT?
Some of my stuff won glittery awards, but I am super-proud that I made a short film, called Charlie Cloudhead, that got picked up by many festivals. I always wanted to try writing and directing narrative work, and I wanted something that could showcase more of my live-action direction.

It was an unusually personal film, which I still feel a little awkward about, but I am really proud that I put in the effort to make it. It was amazing to work with two fantastic actors (Paul Higgins and Daisy Haggard), and I’m still humbled by all the hard work a big team of people put in just for some kooky little idea that I dreamed up.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
The idea of no phone and no Internet gives me anxiety. Add to the horror by taking away AC during a New York summer and I’d be a weeping mess.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
I’m pretty much addicted to scrolling through Instagram, but I’m lazy at posting stuff. Maybe it’ll become Myspace 2.0 and we’ll all laugh at all those folks with thousands of followers. Until then, it’s very useful for seeing inspiring new work out there.

I’m also a Brit living abroad in the US, so I’m rather masochistically glued to any news of the whole Brexit thing going down.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK?
I do. Music is incredibly influential. Most of the time when I’m working on a project, it will be inspired by a song. It helps me create a mood for the film and I’ll listen to it repeatedly while I’m working on script or walking around thinking about it. For example, my short film was inspired by a song by Cate Le Bon.

My taste is pretty random to be honest. Recently I’ve been re-visiting Missy Elliott and checking out Rosalia, John Maus and the new Karen O stuff. I’m also a bit obsessed with an artist from Mali called Oumou Sangaré. I was introduced to her by a late-night Lyft driver recently, and she’s been helping set the mood for this Q&A right now.

I should add, I work in an open-plan studio and access to the Bluetooth speaker takes a certain restraint and responsibility to prevent arguments — I’m not necessarily the right guy for that. I usually try and turn the place into Horse Meat Disco.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I recently joined a dodgeball league. I had no idea how to play at first, and I’m actually very bad at it. I’m treating it as a personal challenge — learning to embrace being a laughable failure. I’m sure it’ll do me good.

Behind the Title: WIG director/DP Daniel Hall

NAME: Daniel Hall

COMPANY: LA-based Where It’s Greater (@whereitsgreater)

Dan on set for Flyknit Hyperdunk project.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Where It’s Greater is a nimble creative studio. We sit somewhere between the traditional production company and age-old advertising agency, meaning we are a small team of creatives who are able to work with brands and other agencies alike. It doesn’t matter where they are in the spectrum of their campaign; we help bring their projects to life from concept to camera to final delivery. We like getting our hands dirty. We have a physical studio space with various production capabilities and in-house equipment that affords us some unique opportunities from both and efficiency and creative standpoint.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Along with being the founder, I am director and lead cinematographer.

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
That entails pretty much everything and then some. Where It’s Greater is my baby, so everything from physically lighting and capturing the photos on shoots to making sure we’re headed in the right direction as a company to securing new clients and jobs on a consistent basis. I take out the trash sometimes, too.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
I think what may surprise people the most is that we work mostly client-direct. A lot of agencies or cinematographers have agents or reps that go out and get them work, but I’ve been fortunate enough to personally establish long-lasting, fruitful relationships with clients like Nike and Beats By Dre and MeUndies.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
By far, my favorite part is creating beautiful advertising work for great brands. It’s really special when you get to connect with clients who not only share the same values as you, but also align and speak the same language in terms of taste and preferences. Those projects always come out memorable.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
All the other mundane tasks I take on during a day-to-day basis solely so that I can create some truly great work every now and then. But it’s apart of the process; you can’t have one without the other.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
Anytime a client calls me with an exciting new opportunity (smiles).

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I could see myself doing a few different things, but they are all in the creative/production field. So I would most likely be doing what I’m doing, but just not for myself.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I always remember having a creative eye from a young age. I get that naturally from my dad who was a camera operator, but it wasn’t until my cousin put a camera in my hand around 18 or 19 that I really fell in love with photography. But even then I didn’t exactly know what to do with it. I just followed the flow of life. I took advantage of the opportunities in front of me and worked my ass off to maximize them and, in turn, set myself for the next opportunity.

After 10 years, I have a 4,000-square-foot studio space in Los Angeles with a bunch of toys and equipment that I love to use on projects with some of the top brands in the world. I’m very grateful and fortunate in that way. I’m excited to look up again in the next 10 years.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
We most recently worked with Beats By Dre on their global ‘Made Defiant’ campaign. We were commissioned to direct and produce a series of product films and still-life imagery to showcase their product line of headphones and earbuds in new colors that resemble their original headphone in order to pay homage and celebrate the brand’s 10-year anniversary. We took advantage of this opportunity to use our six-axis robotic arm, which we own and operate in-house. The arm gave us the ability to capture a series of beauty shots in motion that wouldn’t be possible with any other tech on the market. I think that is what made this job special.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I really loved what we did last summer for Nike Basketball and Dick’s Sporting Goods. We directed and produced a 30-second live-action spot centered around one of the most popular basketball shoes of the summer, the Flyknit Hyperdunk. Again, we were able to produce this completely in-house, building out a stylize basketball court in our studio space and harnessing our six-axis robot yet again to make a simple yet compelling advert for the sportswear giant.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
Chemex — I’m by no means a coffee snob, but I definitely have to have a cup to start my day. There is something therapeutic about it.

Color meter — I can live without my light meter. I rarely, if ever, shoot film for commercial jobs, at least at this phase in my career, but I love my Sekonic C-700R color meter. It allows me to balance all my images and films to taste.

Hyperice foam roller — In the last year I’ve been a lot more active and more into health and fitness. It’s really changed my life in a lot of ways for the better. This vibrating foam roller is a major key to keeping my muscles loose and stretched so I can recover a lot faster.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK?
Of course. I got my start growing up in Atlanta directing music videos for some pretty noteworthy artists, so there is frequently some form of southern hip-hop playing throughout the studio. From the iconic duo of Outkast to the newer generation of artists like Future and 2 Chainz, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with, I always have something playing in the background.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I do some of the typical things on a regular basis: exercise, massage therapy, vacation time. Nothing special really as of yet, but if I crack the code and find a new technique I’ll be sure to share!

Quick Chat: FOM’s Adam Espinoza on DirecTV graphics campaign

By Randi Altman

Denver-based creative brand firm Friends of Mine (FOM) recently completed a graphics package for DirecTV Latin America that they had been working on for almost a year. The campaign, which first aired at the start of the 2017/2018 soccer season in August, has been airing on DirecTV’s Latin American network since then.

In addition to providing the graphics packages that ran on DirecTV Sports throughout the European Football League seasons (in Spain, England and France), FOM is currently creating graphics that will promote the World Cup games, set to take place between June 14 and July 15 in Russia.

Adam Espinoza

We reached out to FOM’s co-founder and creative director, Adam Espinoza, to find out more.

How early did you get involved in the piece? How much input did you have?
We were invited to the RFP process two months before the season started. We fully developed the look and concept from their written creative brief and objectives. We had complete input on the direction and execution.

What was it the client wanted to accomplish, and what did you suggest? 
The client wanted to convey the excitement of soccer throughout the season. There were two objectives: highlight the exclusive benefits of DirectTV for its subscribers while at the same time showing footage of goals and celebrations from the best players and teams in the world. We suggested the idea of intersections and digital energy.

Why did you think the visuals you created told the story the client needed? 
The digital energy graphics created a kinetic movement inherent in the sport while connecting the players around the league. The intersections concept helped to integrate the world of soccer seamlessly with DirecTV’s message.

What exactly did you provide services-wise on the piece? 
Conceptual design, art direction, 2D and 3D animation and video editing
.

What gear/tools did you use for each of those services? 
Our secret sauce along with Cinema 4D, Adobe Premiere, Adobe After Effects and Adobe Illustrator.

What was the most challenging part of the process?
Evolving the look from month to month throughout the season and building to the climatic finals, while still staying true to the original concept.

What’s was your favorite part of the process?
Being able to fine tune a concept over such a stretch of time.

Behind the Title: Undefined Creative founder/CD Maria Rapetskaya

NAME: Maria Rapetskaya

COMPANY: Undefined Creative

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Undefined Creative is a Brooklyn-based media production agency specializing in motion graphics.

Our portfolio spans television, digital marketing, social media and live events, making us the perfect studio for big brands, agencies and networks looking to establish holistic creative partnerships. We deliver premium-grade motion media, at fair and transparent prices, on time, on budget, on the mark and with a personal touch.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Founder/Creative Director

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
There are two sides to my job: the entrepreneur and the creative. The “entrepreneur” is the founder part, and that makes me responsible for nearly everything, even if only in a supervising or approval role.

I am responsible for the majority of business development. I set the company vision and work on the strategy to get there. I work in tandem with my executive producer on marketing. I oversee finances and operations, and do a good deal of maintaining client relationships.

The “creative” part of my job is being the creative director of a boutique. This encompasses setting the aesthetic direction of the studio in general and each project in particular. Communication with clients about all aspects of a project, and guiding the creative along the production process and — since we are a boutique — a good deal of hands-on production. I love that last part, since I never wanted to get away entirely from actually DOING what I love.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
Being both an entrepreneur and a creative director is primarily about managing people. I have to manage our clients by setting realistic expectations without creating negative sentiments, or guiding them effectively through the process so that they understand and appreciate the creative decisions and directions we’re taking.

I also have to manage my team, making sure that everyone understands, for example, that there are objective and subjective comments when it comes to my critiques. The objective comments are not a judgment on anyone’s aesthetic, but a way to develop the best solution for the problem at hand. If I fail to do any of these, all I wind up with is miserable clients and miserable co-workers. So, in essence, the success of this studio depends in a large part on my ability to communicate accurately, efficiently, courteously and emphatically.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
Getting unsolicited happy feedback from our clients. We’ve gotten such amazing notes following project delivery. It’s part of our company mission to never forget that our clients are people, so knowing that we made them look good, that their experience of working with us was enjoyable… that they’re less stressed out because they know we’ll take good care of them. All these things really inspire and encourage all of us here.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Experiencing a project I was really excited about become drudgery. It happens and it happens everywhere, to all creatives. There’s usually a combination of factors that contribute to this, like deadlines getting pushed up suddenly and significantly, or a lot of voices in the approval process pulling in completely different directions that are incompatible. I’ve learned over the course of my career to keep a healthy distance from my work, and that helps me manage my reactions, stay focused and motivated. But I’m still human, and even if I don’t get bummed, it’s hard to see the occasional disappointment in the team when this kind of stuff happens.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE TIME OF THE DAY?
Whatever I can squeeze in before 9am. Zero distractions, plenty of caffeine.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I’d do something that combines people, travel, teaching/mentoring and health/wellness.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I was always into, and good at, art. So once I recognized that the only high school classes I was super-excited about were my art classes, I knew I could do this for a living. I come from a creative family of people who love to work for themselves, so even starting a company of my own wasn’t a big surprise. However, with respect to the specific discipline I chose being animation and motion graphics that was pretty random. I picked animation as a college major by default, on the advice and encouragement of an older friend who was graduating from the animation department when I was a freshman. And I didn’t discover motion graphics until about a year after I graduated.

The NHL Awards

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
This summer, we branded the NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas, creating all of the live-event animations for multiple screens on the show stage. We re-branded the Maury Show for the seventh time, creating new graphics packages for on-air, marketing and social media. We did a couple of cool broadcast promo spots for A&E. We worked on an animation for the US Navy and Men’s Health that described some fun facts about sailors (did you know the fitness test includes two minutes of pushups?)

Most recently, we created a graphics package for the United Nations Equator Prize to play on stage during their 2017 Awards Ceremony.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
That’s a very hard question to answer. I don’t think it’s an individual project, but rather our commitment to doing work pro bono for social causes. We’ve created 10-plus (I am actually losing track of how many) awareness videos since 2010, as well as a number of other projects for organizations and missions we care about.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
My iPhone, although I am now very conscious of when and how much I’m on it. My analog alarm clock that ensures my iPhone can stay out of the bedroom. My MacBook Air, which lets me get away from my desk even if I’m still working.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
None, if I can help it. I don’t have much love for social media, and if not for needing it to run a business, I would gladly disconnect all together. I do appreciate LinkedIn as a business community, but I try to not get sucked in.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK? CARE TO SHARE YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC TO WORK TO?
Funny you ask. In my twenties, I listened to music while working… loudly and all day long. Now, I just love silence when I work. Helps me focus.

THIS IS A HIGH STRESS JOB WITH DEADLINES AND CLIENT EXPECTATIONS. WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I’ve been a professional creative for nearly 20 years, and coming up with fresh ideas on demand and all the time isn’t easy. Neither is running a company, which is a Ferris wheel ride of gaining clients, losing clients, getting jobs, not getting jobs. People depend on me to pay their bills. My job can be either exhilarating or exhausting, and which it will be depends on my ability to stay creative, productive and encouraged.

If I don’t take care of my mind and body properly, consistently and thoroughly, I’ll burn out. So I take control of my time. I don’t work after hours unless it’s actually necessary. I meditate every day. I try to get a workout in daily. I disconnect whenever I can. I stay off my smartphone when possible. I don’t have a TV — in fact, I rarely watch anything once I’m done working. Staring at a screen all day for work makes it far less enticing to stare at one for leisure. I love what I do, but I take time off to travel whenever I can, and I never guilt myself for wanting a life outside of work

Behind the Title: 2C Creative CD Marni Wagner

NAME: Marni Wagner

COMPANY: Miami’s 2C Creative  (@2cmediaTV)

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
2C is a creative agency and content production company based in beautiful Miami. Our staff is like a family. We spend more time with each other than anyone else.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Creative Director

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
I get to write and produce my own projects, but I also oversee other producers on their projects and give feedback and guidance to them.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
That I’m also in charge of craft services. ☺

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
Writing.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
When there is not enough time or money to execute an elaborate idea.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE TIME OF THE DAY?
When the cork comes out of the wine bottle! Actually, that’s my least productive time.

I would say first thing in the morning is when the ideas start forming.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
Playing in a pile of puppies.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I have always been a creative writer and loved doing it, so television felt like the natural fit when I got to college – though my parents thought I was pre-med.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
Page Six TV launch campaign (Twentieth Television), Nashville season launch campaign (CMT), Inside With Chris Cuomo (HLN).

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
That’s a hard question, so I’ll say what I’m most proud of recently, and that would be the Page Six TV launch — I loved the writing on it.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
I can’t live without my iPhone, Apple TV and my flat iron (is that technology?).

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

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK?
I don’t listen to music while I work because I am always so busy writing that it just interferes with what’s in my head. If I could multi-task in that way, I would listen to Billy Joel – don’t judge!

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I spend time with my 2 ½ year-old. Her perspective on things is so amazing and eye-opening that it totally de-stresses me and puts a smile on my face.

Quick Chat: The making of Big Chicken Small Movie

Big Chicken Small Movie is an animated short film that pays homage to Marietta, Georgia’s beloved 56-foot-tall steel fowl. This iconic attraction is part of the local KFC franchise that recently underwent a massive renovation. In the film, a young boy, who is a bit of an outcast, finds a friend in the gigantic chicken and they go on an adventure in North Georgia.

We reached out to agency W+K, animation company Awesome Inc and music company Bluetube about this unique opportunity to honor the local monument in a charming, design-driven tale of friendship.

How did the idea for a film celebrating the Big Chicken come about? What was your inspiration?
Matthew Carol and Mike Egan, Wieden+Kennedy: We wanted to celebrate the re-opening of the Big Chicken KFC with something that locals would love because they’ve given this big steel vaguely chicken-like structure a lot of love since it was built in 1956. It is such an imposing steel structure it seemed funny that it could come to life, befriend a boy and go on a fun adventure while inadvertently leaving a path of destruction in its wake. We were inspired by animation classics from our childhood and, of course, The Iron Giant was mentioned a couple times when we were developing the concept.

Why was animation your favored route to bring it to life?
Matthew Carol and Mike Egan, Wieden+Kennedy: Our first plan was to bring the Big Chicken to life using artificial intelligence and Japanese robotics, but it turns out that an animated film was way more feasible and less dangerous for restaurant visitors.

How did you select Awesome Inc was the right partner for the project?
Matthew Carol and Mike Egan, Wieden+Kennedy: While we did have an Atlantan on our team, we’re way up in Portland, Oregon, so we hoped we would find an Atlanta-based studio who would put some passion and local insights into the project. Awesome Inc really took ownership of the story, character design and all the little details that help the story feel like a celebration of Marietta and the Big Chicken’s place there.

Tell us a little about the style inspiration?
Craig Sheldon, Awesome Inc: With almost all of our projects, color scheme and style are the first things we begin to sort out. We knew that this was a simple story with a lot of emotion, so we chose a limited but bold color palette to bring it to life. Using basic shapes in an illustrative style seemed to aid in our storytelling as well, so we looked to examples with a like-minded philosophy for inspiration, some newer and some more classic.

What did you learn along the way?
Craig Sheldon, Awesome Inc: As far as animation technique, we learned a great deal. We tried out new methods of character rigging and integrating 3D in a seamless way that we hadn’t before. We learned some valuable storytelling techniques during the boarding and animatic phase that we’d not yet encountered on previous projects. We also learned that not only is the phrase “less is more” true in style, but also in storytelling, as we ended up deciding to take out a number of almost completed scenes that weren’t advancing the overall narrative of the piece. It is tough to see so many hours of work hit the cutting room floor, but in the end it made for a better film.

How did you decide on the style of music for the film?
Michael Kohler, Bluetube: I think with most scoring situations, the style of the composition is heavily influenced by the content, look and execution of a scene. With Big Chicken, the character design and animation really helped shape the story, and without any dialogue the music had to complement that feel. The only track that was written before seeing any moving animation was the one that plays as the boy and chicken go on their adventures — that track was the first piece created for this project, and it was started based only on the amazing storyboards.

Can you talk a little about your balance of traditional instruments to digital tools/plug-ins used for the soundtrack?
Michael Kohler, Bluetube: I’ve always been a fan of using both traditional and digital instrumentation when the opportunity presents itself. I think both have positive and negative aspects depending on the situation. For this particular genre of music I tend to start with and almost always incorporate guitar. That was my first instrument and still the one I’m most comfortable with. After that, the sky is the limit with the amazing digital instruments and tools we have at our disposal, giving us opportunities we didn’t have previously.

What was the collaboration like with the W&K team?
Allison Sanders, Awesome Inc: W+K approached us with strong ideas and open minds, presenting an excellent platform for collaboration. They gave us a great deal of creative freedom while at the same time providing the bedrock concept that made this short great. They provided quality feedback if something wasn’t quite working, with the added bonus of positive encouragement along the way. With their understanding of the client’s goals and our first-hand knowledge of the surrounding area, we were able to create a film that sparked interest in the refurbished franchise, while evoking a fond sense of nostalgia for Georgia residents and Big Chicken devotees.

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.

MTV International’s Flanker Channels get graphic rebrand

LA-based animation and design studio Laundry has rebranded MTV International’s Flanker Channels, seven music-themed channels that broadcast in international markets and complement the MTV flagship channel. They worked closely with MTV World Creative Studio, the network’s international creative unit. The new brand identity is now on-air and online.

The MTV Flanker Channels offer viewers a wide variety of choices across seven different subsets of programming: Live, Hits, Classic, Rock, Music, Dance and Base. While the new branding package has a unified look, each channel’s theme is tailored for that type of music. Within the package there is a series of genre-inspired “party animal” characters that dance, shake and move to the DNA of each channel.

“We were faced with the challenge of finding a conceptual and visual thread that connected everything,” says Maximiliano Borrego, creative director at MTV World Creative Studio. “Something unique and identifiable across the channels that would, above all, entertain our audience. It was a big visual creative puzzle.”

“Adhering to MTV’s ‘Kill Boring’ mantra was a welcome license for us to make bold, creative choices that the network can own,” says PJ Richardson, partner/executive creative director of Laundry. “All seven Flanker identities reveal something distinct and unexpected, yet holistically fit within the larger brand ecosystem of the MTV family of channels.”

Laundry developed a graphics system for the rebrand based on “Wireframe + Skin,” MTV’s visual framework to branding. This conceptual and modular design approach dictated how they composed and arranged graphic content to interact. Assets included IDs, bumpers, key art, on-screen graphics, end boards, background animations, invaders (loopable animated elements), 3D logos (on-air and online), container boxes and crawls for each Flanker Channel.

They called on Maxon Cinema 4D and Adobe’s Creative Suite.

“We pictured MTV as a virtual reality planet where each sub-channel is a genre-specific continent — inhabited by party animals,” says Anthony Liu, partner/executive creative director of Laundry. “They’re the perfect visual metaphor for the diverse music genres and fans of the world; different in their influence and location, but the same in their fandom and human spirit.”

The party animals are 3D characters rendered to look graphic. Each one distantly references a real animal representing the music styles of the specific channel: an eel reflects the smoothness of electronic music like a glow stick, and a crab with a speaker-like shell is a nod to Jamaican dance-party vans. The creatures were designed to provide a lot of latitude across different moments in animation. For MTV Rocks, a 24-hour alternative music channel, Laundry built a frenetic mosh pit-inspired character made of drumsticks and guitar picks. While the animation is not specific to any one band or type of rock music, it captures the overall wild energy of the genre.

In total, Laundry created more than 300 elements for the MTV International Flanker Channels. The team also developed insanely vibrant layouts that reinforce MTV’s “Kill Boring” mission statement by combining the invader graphics with off-the-wall logo treatments and color palettes. Once the entire rebrand was brought to life, Laundry created a style guide with templates, so MTV teams across the world could use the assets consistently, but with enough flexibility as to not be repetitive.

“The MTV World Creative group really understood viewers’ shortening attention span, but increased appreciation of creativity, which was a vision we shared,” concludes Richardson. “Challenging in all the right ways, what made the collaboration so spectacular was the process of evolving the look and feel of the rebrand to nail both of those things and make a final package we’re all super stoked about.”

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.