April 17th, 2013

Last week Sonos Studios Los Angeles was over-run with BUGS. I caught up with Mill LA Head of Production, Arielle Davis, on her pet-project and how this collaboration of creative and innovative minds was born.

How did you first get involved in BUGS?

We collaborated with Tom Kuntz in 2011 on the 1st instalment of BUGS which was displayed at The Sydney Opera House. In the original iteration, we were exclusively the animation partner.

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This is an epic collaboration between true creative geniuses; can you talk me through how it came to fruition?

I have worked with Tom Kuntz since the early days of the Mill LA. He has helmed some of our most critically acclaimed work. There is a real sense of collaboration when we work with him, so when he approached us at the end of 2012 about a BUGS revival it was a no brainer to participate again. This time he commissioned Dan Deacon, Sonos, and The Mill LA to bring it to life. Our role expanded to include production management, VFX and technology for the project.

What role did The Mill play in the final result?

We brought the band back together so to speak, with myself producing, and animators Greg Park and Dan Lang on the box! They rocked it last time, so I knew they'd be up for it again.  Tom designs the bugs, and Greg + Dan bring them to life through rigging and animation to set tracks by Dan Deacon. We also added some new people to the crew!  Editor, Luke Kraman stitched sequences together to allow Tom to have some creative control over the randomized BUG playback madness. Technical Innovations Manager, Tawfeeq Martin came on board in the early phases to create a blueprint to the installation.

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Tawfeeq commented "Being able to contribute from concept has been an exciting opportunity to showcase the Mill's technical innovation sense that compliments our creative talent. My approach was a network manageable solution that could very easily be taken on the road. Mix in an A/V box with some out of box thinking and then a space-time continuum may very well have been defied. Some software tinkering allowed us to randomly trigger infinite combinations of video and audio samples, but more importantly maintain time and beat sync. The result is a continually evolving and immersive sensory experience that truly comes to life through the SONOS PLAYBAR."

What were the highs and lows of the process?

It was amazing to work with peers on an artistic collaboration with a sponsor who promotes innovation. Sonos was a great partner, and their speakers being ace didn't hurt… Working with Tom in a non-traditional capacity was rewarding for all involved. Balancing schedules of everyone was a challenge, but that is often the case with busy talents.

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How was the exhibition received at the opening night at Sonos Studios?

It was awesome to observe people's positive response to the exhibit, as it's unique for our work to launch in a live setting. Sonos Studios was designed to have site-specific installations, so they have a little underground following. That in combination with fans of Tom Kuntz and Dan Deacon, allowed for a great 200+ crowd the whole night who were all genuinely excited to see a live jam session. When Dan Deacon + Friends played a myriad of instruments alongside the BUGS performing in their monoliths, it was an entertaining and transfixing experience. The BUGS continue to live in the space for another few weeks at Sonos Studio, but the night of the launch they came alive with human interaction.

What is the plan next for Bugs?

BUGS is an interesting concept at its core, and lends itself to evolving further. We would jump on the opportunity to take it to the next level if it presented itself!

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How do you feel in general about creepy crawlies..?

I know a mother isn't supposed to play favorites, but Bug 5 has a special place in my heart.  Don't tell the others!

//Thanks Ari & Tawfeeq for this exclusive insight. If you couldn't make it down to Sonos Studios, lead animator Greg Park was on hand to film this time-lapse experience of the opening night.