Tag Archives: motion design

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.

Quick Chat: Leftchannel designs promo for Gateway Film Center

By Randi Altman

When the Columbus, Ohio-based Gateway Film Center needed a new promo to play after all trailers and before their feature and independent films, they called on local motion design studio LeftChannel and its creative director Alberto Scirocco.

Scirocco was brought into the project early on. “We designed it to feature some of the signature architecture of Columbus, treated subtly so that the piece still had universal appeal yet had a particular interest to the local viewers who would recognize the city’s architecture,” he says.

We reached out to Leftchannel‘s Scirocco to find out how they worked with the Film Center to get the promo they had envisioned.

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Red Giant focuses on new tools, user feedback with Universe

Red Giant, makers of Magic Bullet, Trapcode and PluralEyes, has launched Red Giant Universe (a public beta) — a community that gives members access to pro tools for editing, filmmaking, visual effects and motion design.

“It’s rare we get to introduce technology that is entirely new,” said Red Giant’s co-founder and CTO Sean Safreed, who has been working with his team, behind the scenes, on Universe for the last year and a half. “Universe is an entirely new foundation for tools. It marries the simplicity of JavaScript with the power of the GPU to deliver speedy renders and pixel-perfect results. Users are going to love how quickly we offer new plug-ins.”

Knoll-EZ-Arsenal-Esmall

Knoll EZ Arsenal

In total, Red Giant is releasing 50 new plug-ins at once — with more already in development. Every tool in the Universe library of effects and transitions is GPU-accelerated, both Mac- and Windows- compatible, and works across multiple host applications including After Effects, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro X and Motion. The Universe library of tools is continuously growing— new effects and transitions are added regularly, and existing tools are updated often, based on user feedback.

In addition to the expanding library of plug-ins, Universe also offers Premium membership, which gives users access to even more tools – including new effects and transitions, as well as existing Red Giant favorites ported over to the new Universe platform (such as Knoll Light Factory EZ, Holomatrix, Retrograde and ToonIt). Premium membership is available through monthly and yearly subscription, as well as a one-time lifetime membership fee.

Red Giant Universe free membership is available now, with the Premium membership available for purchase this month. Premium pricing will be $10 (monthly), $99 (yearly) and $399 (lifetime).

“I’m a motion graphics and visual effects artist, and definitely not a coder,” said Aharon Rabinowitz, Red Giant’s director of content and communities. “Even so, along with the Universe development team, folks like motion designer Harry Frank and I have been secretly cranking out plug-ins for the last few months. Our new development tools have made it surprisingly easy. I’m super excited that we can finally share the stuff we’ve been making.”

Through Universe Labs, members get to help choose what effects and transitions Red Giant builds next, and premium members are eligible for invitations to early betas of new products, allowing users to give early feedback and actively help shape Universe’s expansion over time.

Check out the video explaining more about the Universe: http://vimeo.com/87001310.

Running A Business: Roger’s Terence Lee

Terry Lee & Betty White

Terry Lee hanging with Betty White

NAME: Terence Lee

TITLE: Owner/Executive Creative Director

COMPANY:
LA-based Roger (http://roger.tv, @RogerTVLA), a mixed-media production studio specializing in motion design and animation. Recent clients include Lifetime, AMC, Disney XD, Burger King, Utah Transit Authority, and Mobile Roadie.

WHAT FIRST INSPIRED YOU TO START YOUR OWN COMPANY?
Many moons ago when the motion graphics landscape was a much smaller place, a few of us had the desire to create an environment that we all wanted to work at day in and day out. We also wanted to create an aesthetic that we could call our own and hopefully, get clients on board with our approach to projects.

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