Tell us about your role at The Mill?
I am an Executive Producer at The Mill in Los Angeles. My role is to help agencies, brands, clients and partners solve their specific brief and facilitate the right creative teams to craft the best work possible. Another part of my role is to have oversight over projects once they are running, ensuring that creatively our collaborators are happy and have the best experience possible.
What drew you to working in Visual Effects?
The combination of creativity, attention to detail, organization, and working closely with people to make the impossible, possible on screen. In production that’s the goal, to interface closely with different teams of people and translate that into the creative result. All those things, plus working with amazing talented humans!
What can you share with us about how the current crisis is impacting our industry?
Many of our close collaborators are being impacted by the current restrictions on shooting live action. We are all constantly thinking about our community, in particular our production company friends. We really care about them and want to find ways to support them at this time. We are keen to keep collaborating however we can with everyone!
We are all creative people and there’s still an appetite to imagine new things. Now more than ever the earlier we can be involved in conversation, the more we can help evolve a workstream to support our agency and brand partners. We all want to make the best work possible despite the limitations of our current climate.
Can you give us a quick primer of the different Visual Effects offerings in this new, remote world?
In this difficult time, we are focused on helping people find creative solutions to continue to reach their consumers. These include fully animated CG worlds, enhancing stock footage, repurposing live action footage replacing existing elements with new CG assets, 2D and 3D animation, typography and design. These have always been crucial parts of the business and are coming to the forefront to enable digital offerings without any shoot required.
Can Visual Effects substitute real locations, people and elements?
Yes. Ideally the goal is to have a foundation that is based on real life and there are multiple ways to achieve that. For example, using stock footage or shot footage, we can change out specific elements (ie vehicles, animals, etc) or replace an entire environment and keep talent performances. We can also go down a path of full CG, in those projects we use great references from previous shoots or from our live action library of animals/people walking, talking etc. to ensure that we have an authentic output.
Talk us through the benefits of creating a project using a fully-CG environment and assets?
The benefits are numerous. Creating fully-CG characters, objects and environments means you are building a library. If you create, for example, a new character or vehicle you then have that fully CG asset to use again and again in multiple pieces of content. There is also a huge amount of flexibility and control . When something is shot using specific lighting or environment you’re beholden to that throughout the rest of the project. In CG you’re flexible with lighting and look, as everything is created from scratch. From a design perspective, we can create and establish a visual language for one project that then forms a toolkit of parts. From that kit we can then create digital content, banners, and so many other additional assets within one job.
Talk us through the most memorable Visual Effects heavy projects you’ve worked on?
Projects are memorable to me for a multitude of reasons . Sometimes it’s the relationship that was built during it, sometimes it’s the creative end result, and sometimes it’s honestly the complexity of the project itself.
The Kia ’Hero’s Journey’ commercial which we worked on with MJZ and David&Goliath comes to mind as it was a mixture of all of those things. This was a huge Super Bowl spot which required many fully CG environments and complex CG water effects. We used small shot pieces of celebrity talent but crafted epic environments and animals to support her performance. The commercial topped the USA Today AdMeter chart and later bagged a VES nomination. On a personal note, it was my first Super Bowl back after having a child and my son sat in the suite while we delivered it!
I’ve also been involved in several Nike projects that use varying degrees of CG: stadiums, full environment augmentation and face replacement (the young LeBron James in Nike ‘LeBron James ‘The Tattoo’ ). A consistent thread to all the projects is working with the great people at Wieden + Kennedy where there is trust and respect on super collaborative creative. The goal is always to make the best work possible, whether that be for the Olympics, World Cup, NBA Finals or other key cultural moment.
Finally, the Marvel ‘Strike Force’ projects were another powerful example of everything coming together. We got to work on characters that we all know and love from the iconic Marvel universe. We up-resed game video games assets and re-textured and created fully CG pieces for Robert Sethi and David Lawson to co- direct. BarrettSF was a terrific client. Also on a personal high note, Ryan Reynolds himself did the v/o in Team Up so I was excited to finally be within 6 degrees of separation from him.