NAME: Ted Markovic
COMPANY: LA-based Steelhead
CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
We are a content studio and cross-platform production company. You can walk through our front door with a script and out the back with a piece of content. We produce everything from social to Super Bowl.
WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
I am responsible for driving the overall culture and financial health of the organization. That includes building strong client relationships, new business development, operational oversight, marketing, recruiting and retaining talent and managing the profits and losses of all departments.
WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
We all have a wide range of responsibilities and wear many hats. I occasionally find myself replacing the paper towels in the bathrooms because some days that’s what it takes.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
We are a very productive group that produces great work. I get a sense of accomplishment almost every day.
WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Replacing the paper towels in the bathrooms.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE TIME OF THE DAY?
I get a lot more done while everyone else is busy eating their lunch or driving home.
IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
Solving the traffic problem in Los Angeles. I see a lot of opportunities there.
HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I am a third-generation post production executive, and essentially grew up in a film lab in New York. I suspect the profession chose me.
CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
I am currently working on a Volkswagen Tier 2 project where we are shooting six cars over seven days on our stage at Steelhead. We’re incorporating dynamic camera shots of cars on a cyc with kinetic typography, motion graphics and VFX. It’s a great example of how we can do it all under one roof.
We recently worked with Nintendo and Interogate to bring the new Switch games to life in a campaign called Close Call. On set with rams, air mortars, lighting effects and lots of sawed-in-half furniture, we were able create real weight in-camera to layer with our VFX. We augmented the practical effects with HDR light maps, fire and debris simulations, as well as procedurally generated energy beams, 3D models, and 2D compositing to create a synergy between the practical and visual effects that really sells the proximity and sense of danger we were looking to create.
While the coordination of practical and post was no small chore, another interesting challenge we had to overcome was creating the CG weapons to mesh with the live-action plates. We started with low-resolution models directly from the games themselves, converted them and scrubbed in a good layer of detail and refined them to make them photoreal. We also had to conceptualize how some of the more abstract weapons would play with real-world physics.
Another project worth mentioning was a piece we created for Volkswagen called Strange Terrains. The challenge was to create 360-degree timelapse video from day-to-night. Something that’s never been done before. And in order to get this unique footage, we had to build an equally unique rigging system. We partnered with Supply Frame to design and build a custom-milled aluminum head to support four 50.6 megapixel Canon EOS 5DS cameras.
The “holy grail” of timelapse photography is getting the cameras to ramp the exposure over broad light changes. This was especially challenging to capture due to the massive exposure changes in the sky and the harshness of the white salt. After capturing around approximately 2,000 frames per camera — 9TB of working storage — we spent countless hours stitching, compositing, computing and rendering to get a fluid final product.
WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
About eight years ago, I created a video for my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. My mother still cries when she watches it.
NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
The wheel is a pretty essential piece of technology that I’m not sure I could live without. My smartphone is as expected as well as my Sleepwell device for apnea. That device changed my life.
DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK? CARE TO SHARE YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC TO WORK TO?
I can work listening to anything but reggae.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?