You’re known as a ‘founding member’ of The Mill Chicago. Tell us about your role in the opening of the studio and now?
When we first opened the studio there were only 12 staff members in total and three in CG, so I had to do a bit of everything. We’ve grown a little over the last seven years and are now at eight in the CG department. That means I spend less time on the box and much overseeing the work that’s in the studio, helping bring in more, and shaping the office from a creative perspective to ensure we’re seeing more of the kind of work we want to be doing and that our clients are excited about.
As Creative Director, what are you always on the lookout for?
The quality of work that is delivered is a huge deal to me. I always want to be sure that we’re constantly improving and pushing the envelope of what’s expected and beyond. With budgets and time tables shrinking, this often means looking to new techniques and technology that can help us raise the bar while still coming in on budget and on time.
Tell us about working on commercials for Windex Birds? How do you approach a project like this?
What a fun campaign! We knew we had to make some photoreal magpies, so we spent a lot of time studying bird anatomy and feathers during the creation process to make sure we got them just right. After that, it was continuing to sell their authenticity in the animation even though they’re doing some very atypical bird things. We didn’t want them to feel like stylized interpretations of birds, so a lot of focus was spent on the weight and nuanced bird animation.
What are the benefits of using animation in commercials?
I really love working on fully animated CG projects where we can work in conjunction with our design colleagues. The entire team (both of them) ends up so involved with the project from all facets, that new great ideas come from every direction. It’s great to see the artists get excited, and the final results really show how much fun (even with some late nights) they all had.
Similarly, what are the challenges that this can bring about?
That passion and excitement I spoke about earlier can have a tendency to snowball, and the job can grow. The biggest challenge is trying to harness everyone’s excitement, and focus it toward something that’s achievable within the time we have without killing the team.
How else can animation be used to elevate a brand or message?
Animation can be fantastical and allow us to see something we think we’re familiar with in a totally new light. We did a McDonald’s commercial a few years ago that treated the famous filet-o-fish sandwich — something that’s been around forever and almost everyone is familiar with — as a legendary prize.
It can also help us to put a face or bring life into something that you wouldn’t necessarily think about. The Wholly Guacamole commercials we did last year felt that way to me. We’ve all thought about the characteristics of avocados as we look for the perfect one in the store, or are anxiously awaiting ours to ripen. To see these the finicky fruit animated and as characters with distinct personalities makes the brand stand out and consumers begin to relate to the creatures. .
Keen to find out more about working with animation? Get in touch with us here.