The good folks at Hill Holiday & Planet Fitness drew a line in the sand. The tagline for their new years eve spot was: Get down with your judgement free self. Rather than have 2019 resolutions to upgrade yourself, boogie with the body you've got. No judgements.
With a little hip-hop here, and a little disco there, we wanted to create an idealized world of Planet Fitness where getting in shape is as fun as rocking out like nobody's watching. Dancing on treadmills? Check. Making the logo out of velvety dripping gold? Check. A discoball man in a yellow track suit? Double check. We played with a camera language where momentum is preserved across the cuts, transporting us around the world of Planet Fitness. Careening from our crazily art directed live action sets to our CG typography layouts in a single, fluid move. JB Smoove as front man brought the funny, and tied it all together.
The best thing about this spot introducing the new Rose Gold color for the S9? There was no CG. We took real phones and filmed them dropping into vats of gold paint, blasting through the surface, and getting dusted with metallic magic.
There was definitely some compositing help getting some of our footage elements to live together in one frame, but there were no fluid sims and no 3D phone renders, just honest to goodness messy live action experimentation!
Nuveen is a bit of a rare egg. In a good way. They’re a big financial firm, but look to invest in responsible efforts from renewable energies to preservation of underground water tables in farming. They wanted to showcase this positive impact by starting with a single drop (an idea, an initial investment) that creates a sort of self-propelling ripple. Momentum builds, other people and industries get involved, and the world is improved.
Our first passes at this idea were too quaint: a neighborhood street where a mom and pop shop gets renovated. In fact, Nuveen’s impact can be best described from a much broader view of entire ecosystems and large scale infrastructure builds.
Another important piece: Nuveen doesn’t create whole cities from scratch, their influence grows and improves existing structures. Once we had the idea in place, a ton of R&D went into defining just how things “build up” or are improved as the ripple passes through. Dozens of versions of trees, ground undulation, and architectural expansion tests later, we had our look!
Samsung came to us with a unicorn. It's rare that a project comes along with both an open exciting brief, and the means to realize an ambitious vision. They wanted to showcase the vivid colorful detail of the new QLED line of televisions, and in the process make the Q famous.
We brainstormed dozens of ways to use the Q, materials to make it out of, environments for it to live in, and ways to surprise and delight. To hit the ground running, we put together a massive document filled with beautiful, sculptural abstract reference. This became our visual bible for the rest of the project.
Our shoot covered three products using motion control cameras and device rigs. This allowed us to shoot extra lighting passes to catch interesting shapes and apply a finishing coat of magic.
Meanwhile, Psyop's wizards were concocting simulations and animations that bent the laws of physics and playfully subverted expectations. In the end, we loved how all these elements came together to create the eclectic finished piece.
The Xbox One X has the most computational horsepower under the hood of any gaming console yet. But instead of talking about GPUs and teraflops, they wanted to communicate how that power makes you feel. Your pulse quickens and emotions are heightened when games showcase more true to life color and resolution.
Starting with shoots in San Francisco and Montreal, editing in LA, and VFX in New York, this project had many talented hands helping it along. Thanks to our DP Christophe Collette and an amazing crew in Montreal, we hustled through a two day shoot with 9 actors and 8 sets.
The edit was its own beast, and Psyop stayed flexible to changes while stitching our live action and game worlds with effects and seamless camera moves. Hats off to the whole team!
Every year, as the holidays roll around, Patron drops a new bottle design. Tequila enthusiasts, much like sneaker heads, hotly anticipate the release. Maybe it helps that the holiday bottles are extra big at 1 liter?
This year’s design was a netting of green and silver lines caressing the glassy surface. We took inspiration from that, and the iconic green ribbon each bottle of Patron ships with, adding our own silver ribbon to the family.
They careen through the air, sparring with each other, aligning, and begin to reveal the bottle’s shape from the ether. As they peel off to do whatever floating ribbons do in their down time, they unveil the new bottle design, ready to sit on shelves across the country.
The final product never strayed far from our very initial styelframes, included below. Add in a remixed Sinatra holiday classic, and you have a toe-tappable, merry AF spot.
Google wanted a tantalizing debut for their new phone, the Pixel. We lit the phone dramatically and sparingly, just teasing edges and at times barely articulating the form with reflections. Like an artist signing their great work, for the first time Google was branding the device with their distinctive G.
The animation style of the What’s a Computer? campaign all started from a single motion test. Meant to just be an end tag for iPad Pro commercials, we created a simple case-folding animation where the iPad folds itself into the typing position. That animation became the basis for an entire campaign including a hero broadcast spot and multiple social animations.
Everything was shot for real, including the choreography of hands interacting with in-screen content (no screen replacement!). The iPad folding itself between poses are the only CG elements.
That behavior was a tricky mix of the iPad having agency and real world physics. If it moved like Pixar’s Luxo Jr. lamp, things felt too cartoony and like the device had a mind of its own. If it moved like a robotic manufacturing arm, things felt to rigid and stiff.
The sweet spot we found was to give a magical initial impulse of energy, and let the rest of the motion feel like it was playing out with real gravity. So there’s an upward force that comes from nowhere, but how the iPad lands and bounces into its case feels plausibly real.
To prepare for Kaplan's latest round of animations in their Relax test prep campaign, I went deep. I relived high school era memories of being a stressed out bundle of hormones. Of course, these were memories I'd rather leave in the past, but anything for the art.
Enjoy these two rapid fire animations about the delights of being in way over your head on exam day.
Role: The Whole Shebang
Each illustration is a key word taken from a Victor Hugo quote. He nicely captured the different ways people can perceive the future; some see it with bight-eyed optimism, while others feel defeated by the challenges that lay ahead of them. The illustrations are visions of the future seen through the lens of a different personality.
The future has many names. For the weak, it's unattainable. For the fearful, it's unknown. For the bold, it's ideal.
- Victor Hugo
Role: The Whole Shebang
I'm participating in 36 Days of Type this year and will be uploading letters here as I create them.
Role: Co-director, Designer
E*Trade came back to Psyop to continue their Fun with Finance campaign. The idea is to break down a heady financial term with fun visual mnemonic animations.
Never used the words "macaroni defense" during corporate buyout situations? Have no fear; after watching the animation, you'll never forget the term!
Role: Interactive Director
Tiffany & Co. asked Psyop to create a holiday gift guide shopping experience with a dreamy romantic quality.
Aligning with Tiffany's print campaign, we created six paper diorama vignettes, each one cradling a different Tiffany gift item. The dioramas respond with parallax to scroll and mouse movement, and each has an extra interactive easter egg. For instance, place your mouse cursor over the watch face in Grand Central, and watch the ceiling.
Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner!
Role: Lead Designer
Aggressively granular model dissection drives these styleframes, as the camera careens through and among abstract slices and pieces that coalesce, forming the Hyundai Santa Fe in different beauty angles. Each time, the fragments speak to a different feature or quality of the car; for example, glass panes highlighting the sunroof.
I had a lot of fun playing with elements to sell the depth in frame. After the mood was right with the comping and light in the scene, I brought in extra swarms of glass and car parts rendered out of C4D to really immerse the camera in the action.
The folks at Stash were kind enough to select these frames for their Style Frames NYC gallery.
Role: Art Director
Working with Star Wars characters for a pitch? Yes please.
These style frames were created for a pitch announcing Star Wars Weekends, an event hosted in Disney World. There was a tv spot where the Death Star fires its beam to light a fireworks display, as well as two billboard concepts.
Awesome render passes of Darth Vader provided by David Lewandowski.
Role: Interactive Art Director
Target & Google came to Psyop with the challenge to make holiday shopping more fun for children. We designed and developed six holiday themed games starring a cast of animated characters. Hidden throughout the physical Target store, kids found printed signs with unlock codes they could use to flesh out the games with new characters or vehicles. This way, children were engaged throughout the store while shopping with Mom.
To lower barriers to entry, the whole experience was built in-browser with WebGL rather than as an app download, pushing the boundaries of the emerging technology at the time.
In addition to the games themselves, there were also two 15-second Youtube preroll ads animated to promote the project.
As art director, I was involved in character & environment design, the Bullseye's Playground logo & game signs, as well as the user interface for the game screens.
Role: Infographics Animator
For a magnificently dark and moody sci-fi Gillette spot, I was in charge of the animation and integration of dozens of infographic HUD elements. Each was animated in After Effects first, then placed as a texture in Cinema 4D (with an imported camera from animation) to achieve the curved layering formation around the central hero razor. Finally, the renders were brought back in to After Effects for the holographic display detailing.
The duo of AE and C4D are also responsible for the end tag.
Music - Shut Up and Let Me Go (Left/Right remix) by the Ting Tings
Produced at psyop
Role: Co-Direction, Design & Animation
This super fun project was for a start up looking to solve the awkward moment in networking situations. You've had a great conversation, and now it's time to give them your info.
Writing it down on a napkin? Too messy. A business card gets thrown away. An email may never get read.
What if there was a simpler way to pass info quickly and keep clutter to a minimum? The animation follows the story of an artist looking to share work at a cafe with a potential client, and the pitfalls that could arise, before finding a cleaner solution.
Role: Lead Compositor
This series of animated shorts took the fruit flavors in Chobani yogurt and recast them as wild animals on the African Savannah. Broken up into two spots focusing on their mating rituals and predatory tactics, the animations follow several species interacting over the course of a day. The audio house even found a David Attenborough sound-alike for added authenticity!
I led the AE team in compositing the matte paintings and cel animated characters to get the right light-soaked magical look. We set up the cameras and 3D space, along with plenty of supplemental animation in comp.
Role: Art Director & Co-Director
Cisco came to Psyop with an ambitious and far reaching campaign idea. They wanted to show that web-enabled objects are everywhere, and how the "internet of everything" helps cities run like clockwork.
To begin, I co-directed a fully animated CG spot with interactive pause moments for the iPad. The same building models we made in CG were then used to drive the 3D Printing for a physical installation in San Francisco. Phone pairing, bus shelter ads, and arduinos oh my!
Role: Styleframe Designer
Starting with high speed footage of top athletes sprinting, biking, and swimming, Gillette wanted to pause at explosive moments, reveling in the raw physical power. In this frozen moment, users could navigate through infographic screens highlighting muscle groups or equipment performance.
Similarly, the razor would explode into its various parts, and explore product features.