Team Insight | Art directing ink spills for Channel ‘Seedsmanship at Work’

We caught up with Mill Director Donnie Bauer, Producer Rachel Burke and Designer Luis Roca on how they crafted this deliberate and focused ink-inspired spot for Channel.
Work August 4, 2020

On creating the spot, Mill Director Donnie Bauer says: “We had the pleasure of partnering with HLK to execute this very honest and authentic message for Channel. The goal was to create an ad that got to the heart of what Channel offers their clientele – immediate and long term support and planning to help farmers make the most out of their season. This ad isn’t meant to be flashy, instead it’s very deliberate and focused on what’s most important – farmers and the difficult challenges they face.

Without the ability to capture new footage of farmers and their crops, we developed a three-pronged approach to delivering this message; combining heritage footage provided by the client, stock photography and live-action liquid elements. We leveraged our design team’s capabilities to marry all of these elements together to the film you see today.”

Producer at The Mill, Rachel Burke, comments: “With a job like this, it was critical that the artists are all on the same page and in constant communication. Design was working alongside edit for the entirety of the project and we completed multiple rounds of color tests with the help of 2D long before our color session. We started the job working in the office but halfway through production we went into lockdown. Our team was able to seamlessly transition into remote work and produced a beautiful spot on schedule. It was such a joy working with this team and gave all of us a boost of confidence in our at home capabilities.”

Mill Designer Luis Roca talks us through the process: “We started with a simple idea in mind, to make it look like a piece of newspaper. We decided to go back when newspapers were printed through relief printing, requiring printers to organize letters and inking the machines by hand. So we rolled up our sleeves and went to work!

First, we started by doing styleframes, taking images, masking them and revealing them through ink textures. We wanted to recreate relief printing by allowing the ink to touch and show a photograph right at the moment of contact with the paper. But we also wanted the ink to be spilled and roam freely around our picture, making it messy and fun to play.

After we found the look and feel, we went ahead and shot ink spills on top of paper that would later be comped in After Effects. We shot several ink spills that we then selected and art directed to reveal certain parts of the picture, allowing each image to have its own rhythm. By letting the ink run freely in comp, we were able to create elegant strokes and detailed imagery with its unique voice.”

Check out some behind the scenes that shows the making of the live-action liquid elements we created for this spot below.

View the full list of credits here. You can check out more work from our Design Studio here and get in touch with them via