Renan Pacheco Sheds Light on How He Became a Digitally Influencing Phenomenon

Renan Pacheco
Digital Influencer Renan Pacheco in Mykonos, Greece

As you scroll Instagram, have you ever seen someone beautiful, in an equally breathtaking setting, and wondered how they managed to land hundreds of thousands of followers? These digital influencers indeed have what seems like the best job in the world. By amassing a loyal following, they have the unique position of traveling the world as a digital influencer where their costs are footed by sponsorships from international brands.

Of course, there are millions of exceptionally beautiful faces out there, so what is it specifically that makes a digital influencer stand out? Look no further than Renan Pacheco, a French digital influencer and undeniable heartthrob with thousands of fans across the globe.

I was lucky enough to catch up with this global Instagram sensation to find out what it’s like being a digital influencer, and how he got his start. He is currently nominated for two Monaco Influencer Awards, which will take place in October.

While his insta profile currently boasts nearly 650K followers, Renan was dazzling cameras long before he made his way into his incredibly profitable career as a digital influencer, where he admits that he often earns “a five figure number per post.” Earning a minimum of $20,000 per post is a pretty impressive figure, one that makes it quite obvious that Renan’s reputation for engaging viewers with his creativity is a major profit source for the brands that ask him to come on board as an influencer in their market.

Renan Pacheco for Havaianas Europe

Though he was raised in France, Renan was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil — and you can bet that the combination of his multicultural upbringing and looks work to his benefit as an influencer. Renan was first ushered into the spotlight at the age of 14 when he won a modeling competition.

“A friend of mine sent my Facebook pictures to an online contest and only told me about it when I got selected to attend a catwalk in Paris,” Renan recalls.

“Once I got there, I looked around at the other models that were far more experienced and it seemed like they were feeling no pressure or stress whatsoever. We were all competing for some very valuable prizes and opportunities. It was my first time feeling ‘under pressure’ as a teenager and I’m proud I took it head on… Having 650,000 people seeing every day what I’m doing is something young Renan in that contest with an audience of 100 could probably not fathom!”

That seemingly destined contest win led Renan to land numerous other modeling contracts, at the same time while still a teen in Paris, he went on to make a name for himself as an actor. Back in 2014, he starred in a national commercial for Danone, followed by social media campaigns for Zadig and Voltaire, L’Oréal and Jean Paul Gaultier.

Renan Pacheco with Xenia Adonts at a Jean Paul Gaultier show

Filmmaker Matthieu Khalaf says, “Renan is a ‘one cut’ actor. I rarely ever have to re-shoot something with him or edit things out which is very convenient. Renan is an artist with an engineer-like discipline. He brings creativity as well as punctuality, discipline and work ethic which inevitably compounds to putting him ahead of the pack.”

Over the past few years Renan has played leading roles in films such as “Partons, dans un baiser,” the crime series “Falco,” and the French hit “Nos Chers Voisins,” where he took on a comedy role as the love interest of the lead character. And his ease as an actor and model have definitely lent themselves to his skill as an Instagram influencer.

As Instagram grew so did brand interest in what Renan had to offer. His first contracts were for L’Oréal and French footwear giant Courir.

“I had to post about them on Instagram. Instagram was a very new tool at the time, and my follower count being only in the low 5 figures, the required posts were made as a verbal request,” recalls Renan. “No one thought at the time that there would be written contracts for this one day! My first written contract for an Instagram post was for Kapten & Son, a famous eyewear company.”

For Renan there are undoubtedly perks that include traveling the world, attending posh parties and awards ceremonies, and making a pretty penny for posting on behalf of brands. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to put effort into what he posts. He has a unique understanding and awareness of what his audience wants to see and makes incredible efforts to deliver. On top of that, he has to bring a high level of creativity to the images and stories he posts in order to serve the high-profile brands that support him.

Renan Pacheco for Harley Davidson

In terms of blending media exposure and creativity into his posts, Renan explains, “My pictures must take both criteria into account. ‘Media exposure’ means taking into account what my community wants to see. ‘Creativity’ means including the story the brand wants to tell. Often, the picture is what will satisfy the follower, and the caption is what will satisfy the storytelling.”

While a photo can say a thousand words, Instagram photos still require some catchy and thoughtful captions, and Renan is a pro at coming up with tidbits that will keep his audience engaged.

“I love reading and listening to audiobooks. I take active notes and like to share them as short nuggets of wisdom to complement my pictures. My followers gave such fantastic feedback that I decided to start posting pictures that complement the caption and not the other way around,” admits Renan.

“Approximately 1 out of 5 of my pictures are now about a story, a painting, an artist, a movie etc. It’s challenging but very rewarding and my community has definitely responded with the best feedback.”

On top of creating engaging posts to serve both the brand and the audience, one of the reasons that Renan has developed such a loyal following is the fact that he interacts so consistently with his audience. For most us, responding to countless direct messages and comments from over 650k followers would get exhausting, but Renan admits that is something that he actually enjoys.

Another aspect of Renan’s ability to maintain such a strong following and keep his career moving forward is the fact that he doesn’t just support any old brand that approaches him, for him remaining authentic and supporting brands that he can whole-heartedly get behind have been key.

Renan Pacheco at a Vampped Event in Palm Springs, CA

“If I don’t like the product, service or storytelling, I have to pass regardless of the financial compensation. People have a sixth sense for detecting what is truthful and what isn’t, and particularly now, I I think a big part of my success is always focusing on my follower experience.”

Renan is an avid traveller and brilliant visual storyteller renown in the social media world for his hard working spirit, integrity, and exceptional track record with leading brands. Outside from all the glitz and glamour, he admits that at the end of the day his favorite part of his career as a digital influencer is, “Meeting different people from all walks of life have been the most rewarding moments across my travels. Their stories, their lessons and most often their pains have been the building blocks for my life since college and I don’t think any other experience could be a substitute to that.”

“The Way We Get By” Star Francesca Ravera Prepares for NYC Premiere of “Espresso”

Francesca Ravera
Italian Actress Francesca Ravera shot by Mario Buscaglia

Italian actress Francesca Ravera, who has made a huge mark for herself in the U.S. film and theater industry over the past few years, recently brought her talents back to her home country where she wowed audiences with her lead role as Beth in the acclaimed production of “The Way We Get By.” 

After a hugely successful run at the Urban Stages Theater in New York earlier this year, “The Way We Get By” embarked on an Italian summer tour with performances in Milan, Turin and Genoa. 

Written by American playwright Neil LaBute and directed by Kim T. Sharp, “The Way We Get By” revolves around Beth, played by Ravera,and Doug, two young attractive singles who meet at a drunken wedding reception and end up having sex at the apartment Beth shares with her control freak roommate. However, the intimacy that commences between the two is far from organic, and the underlying root of that is one of the main complexities of the story that makes it so intriguing. 

“Beth is a sweet and sensitive girl who has been hurt by fleeting flings with boys who only wanted her for her body. Used to being seen as an object or a trophy, Beth tries to connect with Doug the only way she knows how- through seduction,” explains Ravera. 

“I enjoyed exploring her needs, her desire to connect with Doug and be free to love him. I dug into her dreams, fears and contradictions.” 

After waking Beth up with his insomniac fidgeting, Doug deflects her sexual advances and she reveals that they share a surprising bond from the past. Beyond this startling discovery, we also learn that Beth is dealing, or in the moment, not dealing, with a riddled sexual history where, having been previously objectified by men, she’s learned to rely upon her sexuality as her only way to connect.

“The role [of Beth] called for an actor who could commit to the moment while still having a complicated, conflicting history she needed to access as the action shifted,” explains director Kim T. Sharp. 

A sexy and fast-paced rom com about love, lust and life, there’s no doubt about it, Francesca Ravera was the perfect actress to play the starring role of Beth in the production.

“It was fabulous to see [Francesca] unlock one moment after another as she found the foundation of Beth. When the action shifted and Beth was faced with her past it was both surprising and, yet, understandable. Francesca brought Beth’s two worlds together in a richly satisfying way.”

Francesca Ravera
Actress Francesca Ravera shot by Giada Lefebvre

“The Way We Get By” depended heavily on Ravera, and her performances in both Italy and the U.S. did not disappoint.

“In addition to her talent and commitment, she possessed a presence on stage. ‘Presence’ is an elusive quality that keeps the audience engaged even when the actor is not talking, moving or doing business; the audience is simply drawn to the character,” says Sharp. 

“In my experience as a director, it is a rare and intriguing quality that even very talented actors don’t have access to. Francesca’s presence was an essential part of the success of the project.”

For Ravera, who moved to the States a few years ago, where she has little expectations other than to complete her training and become a better actor, coming back to Italy with the production of “The Way We Get By,” which was performed in English, is like coming full circle.

“When I moved to New York I was focusing on what I had to give and offer, as a person, and as an actor. Little did I know back then that so many offers would come my way here in the U.S.,” admits Francesca. “‘I began feeling, every day, overwhelming gratitude, which translated into an urge to give even more. It was about then that this amazing opportunity opportunity came my way, and I was able to bring my work, and the work of an incredible American Playwright, to Europe, and perform it in its original language.”

In addition to illustrious list of powerful theatrical performances, Ravera has been praised internationally for her film work. She recently took home numerous Awards for Best Actress from the Oniros Film Awards, Care Awards, the Diamond Film Awards, Best Actor Award, Milestone Worldwide Film Festival, Mindfield Film Festival Albuquerque, Five Continents International Film Festival, and Los Angeles Film Awards for her titular role in the dramatic film Claire. 

Actress Francesca Ravera
Actress Francesca Ravera shot by Claudio Catania

Directed by Andrea Silvestro and produced by Adrama, which  Ravera previously worked with on the film Ulysses: A Dark Odyssey, where she shared the screen with four-time Primetime Emmy nominee Danny Glover, Claire tells the story of a young woman who is trying to hold on to a failing relationship despite knowing deep down that her fiance no longer loves her.

Claire screened in July at the at the Venus Italian Film Festival in Las Vegas, where Ravera took home yet another Award for Best Actress, as well as the at the Chain Film Festival last month. 

Up next for the actress is the production of Canadian playwright Lucia Frangione’s “Espresso,” which is slated to run in New York in 2020. 

Earlier this month “Espresso” had its first NYC premiere via a staged reading at Urban Stages Theatre in NYC directed by Kim T. Sharp, who directed Ravera in “The Way We Get By,” where it earned powerful and positive reviews. 

UK media outlet The 730 Review writes, “Clever banter and meticulous metaphors abound in Ms. Frangione’s bold and brilliant script, yet no word ever feels misplaced, forced, or indulgently included for the sake of ostentatiousness. The actors confidently give convincing performances, no matter the role they are playing in any given moment.”

Francesca Ravera
Jesse Koehler & Francesca Ravera in the Staged Reading of “Espresso” by ACV Photography

“Espresso” revolves largely around Ravera’s character Rosa Dolores, a first generation Canadian, and her Italian family. In fact, Ravera takes on three pivotal and starkly different roles in the production, the first as Rosa, the co-narrator of the story and the daughter of the now hospitalized patriarch Vito, her grandmother Nonna, and her stepmother Cinzella. 

Ravera says, “This story is inspired by the playwright’s life, and I could feel this. ‘Espresso’ is a generous and beautifully written gift, filled with humanity and passion. It makes you laugh, and cry, and ache and think, and hope. It’s a blessing for me to have been cast in it.”

Ravera plays opposite Jesse Koehler, who interchangeably takes on the roles of Vito, Jesus and Amante, who serves as both the Holy Spirit and a symbol of Eros.

A passionate story about family values, religion, oppression and transformation centered around three women very different women in need of deep healing, “Espresso” is definitely one production theatre goers won’t want to miss. 

 

Guitarist in the Spotlight: Agam Timor of the Barns Courtney Band

Agam Timor
Guitarist Agam Timor shot by Monika Wilczynska

While the frontman in a band usually gets most, if not all, of the media’s attention, the bands we love would not be what they are without the integral contributions of the rest of the members. When it comes to the guitar stylings and overall musical contributions of Israeli musician Agam Timor, his are ones that deserve exponential recognition.

You may know Timor as the lead guitarist for the Barns Courtney band, whom he’s been touring the globe with for the past year. Signed to Capitol Records, the band has skyrocketed to international acclaim in recent years with sold out shows and several of their singles topping the charts.

“After so many gigs together, almost every night, it creates a really warm environment, like a family,” says Timor.

Timor’s rhythmic fluidity, precision on the guitar, and mesmerizing stage presence have proven to be a powerful addition to the Barns Courtney band, just as they have for a long list of other bands over the years. While Timor’s talent has helped bring him into the spotlight, his success didn’t just happen overnight. It’s the result of years of dedication and an inexhaustible passion for what he does.

Growing up in Tel Aviv, Israel, Timor discovered his love for music at the budding age of 6. Quickly picking up the violin, piano and saxophone, his passion for music grew, but it was upon discovering his connection with guitar that he found his true love.

“Since I was 12 I never put the guitar down,” admits Timor. “I immediately fell in love with it.”

Most Israeli citizens living in Israel serve in the military at some point in their lives, and while Timor is no different, he served the country in a rather unique capacity. During his three year military service he was the guitarist and arranger for Israel’s military band.

Timor says, “I enjoyed the fact that although people from different places can be very different, love different things and going through different experiences in life before joining the army . They can still go through a similar experience while watching the show, at the end of the day, people want to feel something. They want to feel the energy and forget about the tough day they had on the base”

After completing his military service Timor was free to take his musicianship to new heights and it wasn’t long before he became a national sensation in Israel. He would go onto share stages with some of the country’s most idolized talents, including singer and actress Ruthi Navon, Momi Levi and Moran Mazor, who competed in Israel’s Eurovision Song Contest, Chen Aharoni, who appeared on The X Factor UK, The X Factor Israel and Kokhav Nolad (Israel’s version of American Idol), vocalist Meital De Razon, and many more. Timor would also go on to perform as the house guitarist on the hit series The X Factor Israel, in the hit musical “Mary Lou,” as well as on Sports Channel 5 Israel, where he played the morning show hosted by Slutzki and Dominguez. Timor actually played the morning show on more than one occasion, often being called in to  play a few songs each time with a new rising artist, and then chatting with the hosts on air about life and music.

Agam Timor
Agam Timor shot by Arielle Kassulke

“I assume that any musician that keeps practicing and listening to music eventually would play great. The difference between being a professional and an amateur is pretty much the attitude and the amount of dedication one has to the project, always aim higher and keep evolving your craft,” says Timor.

Though there is definitely substantial truth in the age old saying ‘practice makes perfect,’ few will make it quite as far as Timor has over the span of his short life no matter how much they practice. At age 26, he has already proven himself to be among the world’s top guitarists. With his virtuosic talent, it’s not surprising that Timor was accepted to the Berklee College of Music, one of the most competitive music schools out there. Not only was he accepted, but he was given a scholarship, a rare award that few receive, and in 2018 he went on to graduate Summa Cum Laude.

While Timor’s strength and versatility as a guitarist has led him to be tapped to play with a pretty long list of heavy hitters in the music industry, it’s not the spotlight that drives him to perform. Behind the scenes, he is a powerhouse when it comes to writing and arranging music, and he’s used his talents in that area to create music for other artists over the years. In 2014 he worked alongside legendary producer Luis Lahav on the album for artist Or Colenberg.

“For this project I recorded all the guitars and arranged the album with my colleagues Amit Shtriker and Tom Lahav. I will never forget this project and how much we felt involved in the recorded music,” recalls Timor. “The most incredible thing is to add your own personal taste to someone else’s music and watch it become something whole.”

Another project that Timor holds dear to his heart was when he recorded the album Beit-Aba with the artist Doron Raphaeli, the founder of the popular music group Tararam.

“We spent days in the studio working on this album, I especially remember the day when we recorded the guitar solo for ‘Aguim’ that it was so late at night and Doron fell asleep in the control room while the engineer and I finished recording the song.”

With a plethora of cultural influences and experience playing diverse genres such as pop, funk, r&b, blues-rock, gospel, middle-eastern, fusion and jazz, Timor brings the full-package to the table as both a guitarist and arranger.

“When I work with artists, I first try to understand their character and what I can add from my perspective that would complement their music. When I succeed in doing that I feel that’s when the artist is being satisfied the most. Add your flavor to the same field.”

Last year Timor made another huge mark in the Israeli music industry when he was tapped to compose the intro for Omer Adam’s show, which was the first concert to be performed at the Sammy Ofer Stadium and was a sold out success. Having competed on the series Kokhav Nolad, and releasing four hit albums over the last few years, Omer Adam is arguably one of Israel’s most famous contemporary artists.

Timor admits, “I got amazing comments about the musical intro to his show and how much it enhanced Omer’s character as an artist.”

Though playing in shows such as the celebrated Israeli musical “Mary Lou” have led Agam Timor to become a celebrity in Israel, and his role in the Barns Courtney Band has led him to play in front of hundreds of thousands of fans across the globe, what Timor enjoys most is the simple art of creating music.

Guiding his life and career by the famous quote, “Do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life,” Timor is an inimitable pro at doing what he loves and doing it in a big way.

Entertainment Journalist Maurice Cassidy: From Humble Beginnings to Covering the Lives of Celebrated Stars

Maurice Cassidy
Journalist Maurice Cassidy in Los Angeles, CA

When others are asked to describe acclaimed entertainment journalist Maurice Cassidy, the words ‘passionate,’ ‘hardworking’ and ‘reliable’ frequently pop up. In a current news landscape filled with a multitude of bloggers, self-proclaimed influencers and ‘fake news,’ Maurice Cassidy has risen to the top through sheer integrity and hard work.

Indeed Anna-Marie LeBlanc, the founder of CelebDirtyLaundry.Com, an entertainment news outlet that boasts more than 15 million readers per month, sings Maurice’s praises when asked about how she has known him since he started in the industry, and seen his rise through the journalism ranks.

“Maurice always had a passion for entertainment, even when he was working as an intern,” Anna-Marie exclaims. “He didn’t mind covering the articles that others would skip out on because they were deemed ‘boring.’ In terms of reliability, Maurice could not be faulted in any way.”

Anna-Marie also elaborated on another of Maurice’s strengths, patience.

“There were several instances were breaking news would need to be covered on our main site and given that Maurice was living in London and our writers were located in the United States, Maurice would more or less update the site on his time zone, which greatly helped us upkeep our traffic 24/7.”

As many others will attest as well, Maurice’s patience is one area of his character that has led him to excel at what he does.

While writing for CelebDirtyLaundry.com, Maurice experienced tremendous success as an interviewer of some of the hottest contemporary stars, such as pop star Natalia Kills, whom he marks among his favourite subjects to interview, and Mayra Veronica.

I remember being asked if I wanted to interview pop singer Natalia Kills, and the idea of interviewing a celebrity left me feeling nervous, seeing that I was still a teenager at the time, and I had never interviewed someone before,” recalls Maurice. “Needless to say, the interview went smooth and, again, it made me fall in love with journalism all over again because I was stepping into situations of my field I had never been before.”

While Maurice’s success as a journalist has continued to flourish, his humble memories of how he first began in such a competitive industry have kept him grounded throughout.

I started writing from a very early age; I believe 16. I started interning for an entertainment website, which had a fairly large audience with over 4 million readers a month. I would produce roughly five 400-word articles per day and for each of those posts, I’d make, maybe, $3.”

A low-starting salary however was not enough to deter Maurice from pursuing his passion and far-reaching talent as a journalist. He elaborates.

“The money was simply complementary to the dedication I had put in those articles. I remember when I first started writing in the field of entertainment, I didn’t know how to phrase sentences effectively, or in channeling the tone of a news outlet.”

Maurice’s persistence and attention to detail has clearly served him well. His reputation has also been bolstered by his experience as an entertainment writer for the popular news publication the Inquisitr, which averaged 90 million page views per month during the time that Maurice’s pieces were being published on the site.

“Upon having heard about the [Inquisitr] job role as a freelance journalist, I immediately applied, but it was a tough process. There was a 50-page handbook that every application must read before they take on a quiz consisting of roughly 40 questions. All of them had to be correct in order to be even considered for a position,” recalls Maurice about the rigorous process.

Ultimately Maurice’s dedicated nature and willingness to devote himself to the challenge of completing the application process for the Inquisitr paid off, and he was chosen out of thousands of other applicants. Though it was still early on in his career, Maurice was steadily climbing the ladder.

He admits, “It was a great achievement given that this had been the biggest company I had worked for at that point.”

Maurice’s experience at the Inquistr gave him the opportunity to exercise his skills in a uniquely independent and creative way, allowing him to flourish as a writer and reporter, not to mention the fact that his pieces attracted international attention.

He explains, “While I was at the Inquisitr, you really do work independently. There’s nobody really telling you what to do: you choose the stories you want to write and focus on making it the best possible article of that particular topic.”

In one story, Maurice chose to focus on Grammy-award winning superstar Mariah Carey and her performances, a buzzing subject considering Carey’s international appeal. Catchy, poignant and an invigorating read, Maurice’s article revealed his knack for catering to the gossip interests of a hungry public. He proved his ability to snuff out stories that most interest the Inquistr’s readers through his coverage of Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck’s marriage woes. In both cases, such stories required a highly specialised understanding of the entertainment industry and Hollywood that only a select few seem capable of mastering.

The freedom Maurice enjoyed while serving as a lead entertainment journalist at the Inquisitr brought with it a unique set of demands, such as those that required him to push his skill as a photography editor  to the next level. Never one to shy away from a challenge, he quickly became a skilled Photoshop master, which gave him the power to effectively curate the visual imagery that accompanied his stories.

Over the years the German-native has become increasingly well-known for his journalist work as a showbiz reporter at the Daily Mail, a flocked to news publication that receives over 270 million page views per month.

“Landing a position as a showbiz journalist at the DailyMail was a pivotal moment for me because I grew up reading this particular news publication in my teenage years in London,” Maurice admits. “Two weeks into my position as a showbiz journalist for one of the biggest media firms in the world, my editor Heidi Parker had assigned me to write a breaking news article which was to be featured on the frontpage of the website.”

A rare occurrence for a new writer to land a front page story at such a massive outlet, Maurice covered the death of “Sons of Anarchy” star John Vasquez, who passed only minutes before he received the alert at the news desk.

He recalls, “I was initially nervous, given that I was still new at the company.” Despite his nerves Maurice’s journalistic dedication persevered and he not only published the article with a record turnaround time, he continued to update the story as more details emerged.

Daily Mail covers live red carpet events on a daily basis, as arduous undertaking considering all of the occurrences that Hollywood has to offer its A-list celebrities. As a showbiz journalist, writers like Maurice are often assigned to recap outfits, such as those at big event including the 2019 Breakthrough Prize Awards and the GLSEN Respect Awards.

“It can be challenging sometimes to keep up with all the big names showing up on the carpet and finding different ways to describe each ensemble. At this point, you somewhat rely on teamwork; we’d often support one another in writing up red carpet events such as a recent article I did on Kendall Jenner being named Icon of the Year at the Revolve Awards,” explains Maurice. “It was a collaborated effort given the amount of details that had to be covered in the story, but, again, the experience was to partner up with a colleague and put a piece of content together.”

To go from being a loyal patron of a news outlet to becoming one of their revered writers has got to be among the top achievements in terms of personal fulfillment for any journalist, and Maurice recalls these moments fondly.

“I remember being on the bus, on my way to school, and I’d be reading all the latest news they had to offer. So, when I found myself in a position where I was even just interviewed for the role, it felt very surreal at that time. Writing for a company that boasts of [that many] readers is nerve wracking when you think about it, but it left me feeling with so much excitement… I couldn’t wait to embark my career in journalism at an established firm as big as Daily Mail..”

While readers across the globe have embraced his writing, he takes the praise in stride, never failing to recognize what matters most is doing his job.

Art Director Corinne Daldorph Utilizes Social Media for Hugo Boss

Corinne Daldorph
Art Director Corinne Daldorph shot by Angeliqa Daldorph

Art director Corinne Daldorph is known and respected throughout her field for spearheading dozens of innovative campaigns for a long list of illustrious brands. Her job demands that she draw attention to her clients, many of which compete for consumers in a saturated market. To that end, Daldorph is remarkably effective. Her expertise covers a broad swath of applications within the creative and advertising industries, including an unmatched talent for the use of social media platforms to reach potential customers in the most crucial demographics.

“Without labeling myself as an Art Director at the time, I think my first art direction position was in my own company,” Daldorph said, describing her early experiences with the enormous array of responsibilities her future career would hold. “I would create concepts, be on shoots making sure the overall idea and execution were in line with the concept, and then oversee the entire edit.”

For decades, her predecessors focused primarily on the artistic and creative side of advertising. In the modern world of social media and big data, however, there are more tools than ever to help advertisers identify who their current and potential customers are and what appeals to them. One of the effects this explosion in the use of “big data” has had is to create a sort of arms race within the advertising industry. The cost of ignoring or misusing these new tools can be staggering. Working as an art director in advertising today demands that Daldorph be as fluent in the high-tech data-driven aspects of the industry as she is with the more conventional creative component.

“I got interested in strategy and worked for a start-up as an influencer marketing strategist, at the time when influencers started to become more and more relevant. I moved to New York, where I continued my career in integrated strategy,” Daldorph said. “The plan was always to return to the creative field once I gained an understanding of how data works, in order to make smarter creative work… Having an understanding of how to work in a social field is crucial not only for advertisers, but for any creator.”

Daldorph stands at the cutting edge of the advertising industry. Not only is she an exceptional creative force in her own right, she’s also capable of utilizing the full potential of social media platforms to deliver meticulously-crafted content to millions of possible customers.

Among her illustrious clients is Hugo Boss, the iconic German fashion company. The Hugo Boss brand has long been associated with its ultra-high-end formalwear, and is perhaps best known for its sleek and stylish men’s suits. In 2018, however, the company began a new venture to reach a more youthful, casual clientele. It would continue selling its classic, more mature formalwear under the brand name BOSS, while offering a new line called HUGO, which embraces a younger aesthetic and audience. Determined to put the best team together to promote the launch, Hugo Boss contracted advertising firm Annex88, where Daldorph worked at the time.

“I, together with Annex88, was tasked to create a campaign to highlight the collaboration and to create hype around the launch event,” she explained. “This was the first big activation for the HUGO brand which allowed me to not only create a multi-platform campaign, but to establish their social presence and legacy.”

Because of her proven effectiveness on similar projects, Daldorph was the obvious choice to head the project. The firm immediately approached her to be the art director for the campaign.

“Hugo Boss is one of Annex88’s clients, and I was assigned to the project as they saw it fit my skill set, as it tied social concepts together with an experiential execution,” she said. “Together with Annex88, I was tasked to create a campaign to highlight the collaboration and to generate hype around the launch event.”

As the lead creative figure, Daldorph was given an immense amount of responsibility on the HUGO release promotion campaign. She headed up the campaign’s social media channels, designed imagery for each of the accounts, and developed promotional concepts that would connect the brand’s roots with its new brand ambassador, Liam Payne. Fans of the enormously successful boy band One Direction will remember Payne as a singer in the group.

“I was the lead creative for the entire campaign, in which I was responsible for creating digital teaser content for HUGO’s social channels including Youtube, Facebook and Instagram,” Daldorph recalled. “By taking inspiration from HUGO’s logo and the Liam Payne campaign footage, I designed the profile pictures for all of the channels. To further our teasing phase, I was tasked to come up with a concept to tie-in Berlin with the overall image of Liam at the forefront of music and fashion.”

Her tireless efforts and brilliant creativity were critical to the campaign’s ultimate success. The amount of work Daldorph did on the HUGO campaign drove a massive wave of buzz around the launch. Those who worked alongside Daldorph on the campaign saw up close just how talented a leader she is. Among those is Reginald Van Nurden, Assistant Creative Director at Annex88.

“I’ve worked on a number of accounts, projects and campaigns with Corinne over the past two years, each one more complex than the last,” Van Nurden said. “Working with Corinne is an incredibly collaborative process driven by both strategic insight and pure creativity. In tandem with her indefatigable work ethic, these qualities contribute to an incredibly strong working experience.”

The HUGO launch was not the only Hugo Boss campaign on which Daldorph worked. She was also at the forefront of the company’s other big launch event for the BOSS line. The counterpart to the HUGO line, the BOSS line was aimed at a more traditional and mature clientele. Daldorph elected to design the campaign around a concept that while the new line was formal, the high-end fashions were versatile enough to be worn in any occasion.

“I was the sole art director on this campaign which included everything from concept, choosing talent and locations, making storyboards and directing on set,” Daldorph explained. “I was tasked to shed some light on what’s possible to do while wearing a suit. I picked athletes from the worlds of BMX, basketball, skateboarding, and freerunning, with campaign content featured on the brand’s website and Instagram. By working with a range of athletes, BOSS is showing consumers there is a place for tailored suits in more adventurous settings.”

 

The BOSS campaign, dubbed Suit Challenge and featuring actor Chris Hemsworth (of Marvel’s “Thor” and “The Avengers” series of films), was an enormous success under Daldorph’s leadership. Olivia Reid Cooper, senior art director at the marketing and advertising firm Laundry Service, worked with Daldorph on the launch event campaign and sang praise of her colleague.

“I worked closely with Corinne on an influencer-driven project featuring Chris Hemsworth called Suit Challenge for the fashion brand Hugo Boss. Corinne created and executed the campaign to shed light on what exactly is possible when wearing a suit, collaborating with athletes from a variety of sports,” Cooper said. “Corinne brought a high degree of craft to both the ideation process and to her directing of the video series for the campaign. It’s by her hand that the project came fully to life.”

Daldorph’s experience leading the campaigns for Hugo Boss granted her a sizable advantage in another of her incredibly successful projects. One of her most effective projects to date, at least in terms of its social media reach and response, is the campaign she ran for the launch of the MAFF.tv website. The site’s name is an acronym for ‘Music, Art, Fashion, Forward,’ fields which comprise the central focus of the media platform’s content.

“The platform highlights new and upcoming artists as well as established musicians, curators and painters to name a few. All of the content lives in the world of either music, art or fashion, the purpose being to bring those worlds closer together, with creativity as the common denominator,” Daldorph said, describing the project’s objectives and how she became involved.

“Lauren Nadel, the founder of MAFF.tv, had seen my work for Adidas Originals and had been to a few events I art directed. She reached out to me and we had a conversation about it, and she immediately brought me on.”

Nadel swiftly saw how valuable an asset Daldorph would be to the site’s ultimate success. For MAFF to take off, it was critical to spread awareness of the project and to steadily increase the momentum of the growth of its user base. The first step was to constantly keep the site full to the brim with content from new artists, designers and musicians. The next challenge was to reach through the noise and tap into the deep well of ideal potential users. This particular challenge would be Daldorph’s domain, and was yet another opportunity for her to prove herself an unrivaled art director. According to Nadel, she couldn’t have hoped for a more skilled and efficient person for the job.

“Corinne art directed the most beautifully designed site, being a master of Adobe creative suite and understanding the web and its code. Corinne developed from scratch our latest CMS and front interface in a trendy and brilliant way,” Nadel said, explaining how varied and important Daldorph’s work was to MAFF. “Not only did Corinne spearhead the creative direction of the website but she also leads our social channels… She was responsible for the brand’s art direction and graphic design for all mediums, and she contributed tremendously to the success of the design team and marketing program.”

Measuring the success of a campaign like MAFF’s is much more accurate and immediate in the digital age of big data. Upon taking charge, Daldorph immediately set about exceeding even the most optimistic hopes for the campaign’s success. Nadel, who had placed her confidence in Daldorph, was blown away by the results.

“Under Corinne’s direction, MAFF’s social media followers increased by 700-percent in less than three months — improving the engagement and visibility of the brand, as well as the sales,” Nadel said. “Corinne has garnered up nearly a 10k platform across social networks within 3 months. She has strategized and creative-directed our YouTube channel, which has a total of more than a million views.”

The level of growth seen following Daldorph’s work as MAFF’s art director is simply staggering. The number of MAFF.tv site users and social media users sharing posts about MAFF grew to a fever pitch, building a solid foundation for the site’s future. Much of Daldorph’s success with the MAFF campaign can be attributed to her strong personal belief in the project’s importance. Unlike other streaming platforms devoted to a single niche, MAFF offers artists and creators across mediums the chance to be featured in the spotlight.

“When all of the spotlight shines on the musician, it’s usually not visible who was behind the production of the actual video. So with Maff I saw a possibility to bring a greater focus to the creators themselves,” Daldorph explained. “Every single person that we know who was a part of a given production automatically gets their own hubpage on the site that will be populated with all of their content.”

The spirit of MAFF reflects Daldorph’s own beliefs in the power of art to reach the masses. In a saturated industry, she stands out among her peers as one of her generation’s most skilled and successful art directors. Entrusted with the success of hugely-expensive campaigns for brands like Adidas and Hugo Boss, she has never failed to exceed the hopes and expectations of those who seek her out. Corinne Daldorph is an art director capable of maximizing the power and reach of her position far more effectively than any other figure in the industry today.

Jack Loy: Bodyguard Bound for the States

Award-winning British actor Jack Loy is used to attracting attention.

The 6’4” performer, known to worldwide audiences for his acclaimed work in ‘Jenifa’s Diary’ and the recent British crime flick ‘King of Crime’, nevertheless embodies the humility of someone shorter in both resume and height. 

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Jack Loy: used to the attention, but never defined by it. 

Such is the integrity of this artist though, that, while a towering presence on both screen and in real life, Jack is more concerned with leaving anyone with whom his work comes in contact feeling better for the experience. 

“I think one of the best things about acting is that you get the opportunity to entertain people.”

The trained thespian, of part Indian heritage, goes a little further.

This might be by bringing a smile to their faces and an opportunity to escape ‘real life’ or it could be something that inspires new ideas and thoughts.”

It’s clear that this attitude at leaving a positive impression on people has helped Loy in more ways than one. Most obviously, Loy recently won the Best UK Actor Award from the London International Motion Picture Awards for his leading role as Nick in the film Beautiful In The Morning. 

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Jack Loy at the premiere for his film, ‘King of Crime,’ with Hainsley Lloyd Bennett.

The most obvious of these is that Loy is consistently cast in a number of impressive productions all over the world, with a number of filmmakers jumping at the chance to work with him. 

In the past few years, the stages and screens of the UK, India and Russia have been blessed with Loy’s presence. Next stop? The US. 

“I’m really excited to be entering the U.S market. It’s surely the biggest acting market in the world.”

Loy is attached to a number of US projects, including one involving him filming across Nevada and Los Angeles. The role will call for him to use his well-known charm with a dose of darkness.  

Editor Haansol Rim’s Remarkable Visual Eloquence

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Photo by Chiao Chen

In the world of film and video, no other single craftsman exerts as much influence over a film as the editor. As the legendary Orson Welles said, “The notion of directing a film is the invention of critics—the whole eloquence of cinema is achieved in the editing room.”  It is a very particular skill, one that demands a profound aesthetic sense, a gift for visual rhythm and a wealth of technical knowledge, a complex set of capabilities which editor/creative editor Haansol Rim possesses to the highest degree.

Whether he is doing a television commercial or music video, Rim’s visionary approach determines the tone, pace and feel of every project. With his international heritage (born to Korean parents in Germany) and the benefit of his classical training in fine arts and an extensive musical background (he is an accomplished composer, arranger and performer), Rim’s multi-faceted creativity always operates at the highest level.

The New York-based creative editor enjoys a thriving roster of jobs at well-known creative production company MATTE, and he brings in every assignment with an elegant final cut that perfectly complements the project and consistently exceeds expectations.

“His understanding and versatility of skills are priceless,” MATTE’s associate creative director Danny Yirgou said. “Because he has such a diverse background and experience in multiple fields, Haans knows how to stylize his edits and design them according to each project. For some he might edit focusing on the tempo of the film, creating a certain tone; vs on others, he might edit using more fast paced effects, and diverse frames to create a different speed and tempo, ultimately creating a completely different film altogether.”

Some prime examples of this impressive range are Rims’s work on commercials for famed luxury fashion brand Prada, athletic footwear giant Adidas and a promotional world tour announcement video for Grammy-winning EDM duo the Chainsmokers (recently named by Forbes magazine as the highest paid DJS in the world).

Taking on such a wildly disparate work load from some of the highest profile brands and clients in the world would intimidate many, but the gifted Rim —thanks to his coolly professional attitude and boundlessly creative approach—always makes it look easy

“As an editor, I choose works in which the director’s vision aligns with my editing style,” rim said. “I think synergy between the director and editor is essential to really bring to life the best version of the project.”

To achieve this end, Rim also applies a shrewd analytical approach: “Commercials are based on the client and the consumer, so I need to consider the psychology of the buyer. What would appeal to them? What shots, editing, and story would draw the consumer to purchase the product?”

That kind of comprehensive understanding and anticipatory finesse are hallmarks of Rim’s highly individuated and winning style as a creative editor. On the Chainsmokers video Rim, typically, nailed it from the start.

“I was initially assigned to work on the pitch video for this project,” he said. “The Chainsmokers loved our pitch, and chose us for the commercial. Since I had edited the initial pitch video, I got to edit the final work as well.”

“They were looking for the film to be visual effect heavy and overall, for it to look cool. I have a background in visual effects, so it was easy to collaborate with the VFX team. Based on the client’s feedback, we worked to make their vision come to life.”

“It was released earlier this year and seen everywhere. This was a world tour commercial for all of 2019, so it was posted in all video streaming sites such as YouTube.”

The Adidas job allowed Rim to mix stylish visuals with a semi documentary format: “The commercials are all heavily reliant on the client’s wishes,” Rim said. “So o celebrate the launch of James Harden Vol. 3 shoe line, MATTE brought the next chapter in James Harden’s ongoing narrative to his greatest fans, shooting over the course of two days through premium activations in Houston. Then, as creative editor, I matched the commercial to the director’s desired style and vision”

The Prada commercial was set in a particularly rich visual milieu—the Chinese New Year’s celebration, always a riot of giant lion dancers and fireworks.

“Prada wanted to pay homage to the Chinese New Year celebration with the aim to promote products developed specifically for this holiday,” Rim said. “The commercial was dedicated to modern Asian youth culture and style.”

Once again, Rim’s sensitivity and artistic skill as an editor perfectly suited the spot’s needs.

“Since the director’s goal was to make it seem like a one take film,” he said. “There weren’t a lot of shots, it was mainly a long single take shot without a lot of cuts. I tried to make the editing as seamless as possible to make it fluid.”

With his constantly growing resume of internationally known, high-prestige clients, Rim’s penetrating, holistic approach is a true recipe for success.

“I am naturally curious and analytical,” Rim said. “My brain works both ways, from beginning to the final product, and from the final product to the beginning. That’s why I am adept at handling these processes so well.”

John Wate brings authentic Japanese culture to ‘Samurai Headhunters’ documentary

Whenever John Wate steps onto a film set, puts his eye to a camera lens, and starts making a movie, he is living his dream. Directing is a pleasure he can’t compare to anything else; it allows him to be in tune with what is happening in front of him, and all his senses go into overdrive. He spends every day doing what he truly loves, and this passion translates directly into his beautiful work.

For this German native, making a good movie is all about the research. He always aims to find the perfect story and the right characters, with the singular goal of leaving an impression on his audience. With his work on the Smithsonian’s Epic Warrior Women film series and movies like Samurai Warrior Queens, he does just that, showcasing why he is an industry-leading director in his country.

“I would say as a director you are a storyteller, and the way you have lived and seen the world will organically shape how you tell your stories. I found that the world is a treasure trove that has so much to offer in terms of stories and characters. Once I find that ‘one thing’ that interests me, I can start digging and I usually find gold,” said Wate.

Wate has spent many years directing masterful films and television series, including the TV movie Samurai Headhunters in 2013, that allowed him to explore a unique part of world history. It is a documentary on the dark and brutal side of the samurai warrior clans featuring the life of peasant Masa who is forced into the ruthless world of the samurai.

For over a thousand years, the samurai have been celebrated as an aristocratic warrior class. Exceptionally skilled and loyal until death, their very name has become a byword for honor and dignity. This film reveals the unknown dark side of the samurai – a fascinating tale of greed, treachery, extreme cruelty and violent death. Based on newly discovered samurai war manuals, Samurai Headhunters reconstructs the life of a young peasant farmer who is press-ganged into a warlord’s army. Driven by his love for a village girl of noble birth, young Masa quickly rises through the ranks from simple foot soldier to venerated samurai commander. But his reward is to be one of betrayal, lies and finally forced suicide by his fellow samurai. Interwoven with this dramatic story, two British historians track down remarkable new evidence from ancient war manuals that show the true, dark world of the samurai. The drama documentary also features a living samurai master and his students, as well as CG animation, stunning re-enactments, original costumes and historic locations.

“Everyone knows the samurai as loyal, courageous fighters with a strong moral code – but not many people know that this is only part of the story. During the almost 200 years of civil war in Japan the samurai got rewarded for their deeds in battle, which often meant for the number of heads they had taken. The film explores the unknown dark side of the samurai, how they cheated, lied and murdered to gain favors and advance their careers, the forbidden love between warriors, the atrocities of samurai warfare, and the danger to rise to fame in such an environment. I found all these facts about the dark side of the samurai as grizzly as they were fascinating,” said Wate.

After great success with his previous film, Ninja Shadow Warriors, Wate teamed up once again with Urban Canyons Producer Sebastian Peiter and together with researcher Anthony Cummins, they researched and built the concept for the film. Living in Japan at the time, Wate not only had extensive experience, but he also had direct links to the famous Japanese film studios in Kyoto, and through all his previous other documentaries had direct access to Japanese cultural icons, such as sword masters, swordsmiths or traditional armourers. He was the ideal director for the job.

“You need to have a feeling for Japanese manners and that what they say is not always what they mean. I think a lot of the fascination for the samurai comes from the exotic mixture of stoic readiness, their manners and proper conduct in life and in battle. But if you want to show that, you have to know HOW they did certain things and why. You can’t just use a Western blue-print to invent what the character would do. At that time I lived in Japan, I spoke the language and understood their manners and hints, like that a certain gesture can reveal the opposite of what has been said. The timing, the tempo or movement of people speaking at formal gatherings. These are all subtle things that can build an authentic exotic flavor that is fun to watch,” he said.

Samurai Headhunters has been extremely popular since its release. It has aired in over thirty countries, not only on television channels but also various exhibitions about the samurai culture. It is currently showing in the prestigious Kunsthalle Munich, a German national art museum.

Creative Director Debo Delivers The Sugar Factory’s Delicious Designs

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Creative Director Debo

For Deborah Magnan, best known by her mononym, Debo, making a scene is a job requirement. As the creative director for a stunning range of clients, Debo has proven herself invaluable as an unparalleled architect of campaigns the world over. Her entire life has been shaped by the enormous influence exerted by those who held the title of creative director before her. Even as a child growing up in Cannes in the South of France, the power and importance of branding and marketing were apparent all around her.

“It was magical to grow up by the beach in that beautiful city,” Debo said of her upbringing in the legendary home of the Festival de Cannes, “and to be able to get an international vision of entertainment and branding from Cannes Film festival, the MTV parties, and TV and licensing conventions.”

That upbringing, immersed in a world where marketing is king, awakened an early passion within Debo. She saw the ways companies would generate massive buzz through all kinds of innovative marketing tactics, and she knew exactly what she was meant to do.

“I began by making my own events in partnership with Barbapapa, an old kids’ cartoon licence… The events became so big that the brand came back very strong both in the market and on TV, so I got a name for that,” recounted Debo. “Then I opened my first nightclub called the Mini Club. I was in charge of designs, fabrics, lighting, floors, the name and logo, DJs and special guests, marketing and PR, and even smell, I did everything, and it was a hit! I was able to cover all the creative aspects of the business, fulfilling the role of creative director.”

Since then, Debo has sharpened her instincts and expertise to become one of the most potent and innovative creative directors in the industry today. Her relentless determination to carry every one of her clients to the absolute pinnacle of their potential makes her an unrivaled figure within her industry.

Far more than simply marketing, branding, public relations or advertising, Debo possesses an uncanny sense for exactly what will make her clients’ brands trend and explode. It’s a product of the unceasing and unwavering focus she’s always devoted to her clients. Before she ever wet her feet with Barbapapa and Mini Club, Debo has always had a keen and intuitive understanding of each of her clients’ unique needs.

“I’m able to cover concept to design, branding to marketing, merchandising to food, beverage to menu and production to show,” Debo said, explaining the vast array of responsibilities with which she is entrusted. “I have a 360 degree approach that few people have in this field. I’m able to take a brand and make it grow in every direction and dimension — where a lot of other creative directors only focus on one side of the brand: either logo, production, or merchandising.”

As a creative director, Debo’s job is to guide her clients through the complex process of establishing and evolving their brands’ identities. To that end, she is an unrivaled force in the industry. Among her illustrious list of clients is world renowned, Grammy Award winning electronic music pioneer David Guetta. Working closely with Guetta, Debo planned and executed a worldwide tour of parties dubbed “F**k Me I’m Famous” to coincide with Guetta’s album of the same name.

“‘FMIF’ went from a party to an international lifestyle… I did all the merchandising and collection design for more than 1,000 different products. I was in charge of production, packaging, show concepts, prop design, marketing, and branding,” Debo explained. “That meant planning everything from the giant neon door to the lollipops giveaway, outfits, handling the full creative direction of performers, as well as the neon swing, onscreen visuals, merchandising, store design and advertising.”

Among Debo’s most inspired work is the remarkable campaign she designed for the Sugar Factory. A restaurant chain headquartered in Las Vegas, the Sugar Factory has expanded to 30 metropolitan locations in major cities around the globe, including New York, Chicago, San Diego, Dubai and Manila. The Sugar Factory relied heavily on Debo in order to reach that level of worldwide market saturation.

“I was responsible for creative direction, food and beverage concept, and the entertainment concept,” Debo said, describing the wide range of her responsibilities. “I did some branding, such as the Gummy Bear World logo, Foodgod candy box logo… I designed a full museum of candy, 20 rooms full of sweet experiences. I did a lot of food, beverage and entertainment concepts.”

It was Debo who conceived Sugar Factory’s greatest claim to fame, the Rainbow Slider Burger. A favorite of both kids and adults, the Rainbow Slider also proved immensely popular with the celebrities and influencer patrons who love Sugar Factory. The long list of big names who’ve helped make Sugar Factory wildly popular includes Kylie Jenner, Kendall Jenner, Britney Spears, Drake, Nicole Scherzinger, Kim Kardashian, Eva Longoria and Rupert Grint.

“The client was looking for a branding signature, and that’s what I did with Rainbow Sliders,” Debo said. “The sliders perfectly match the Sugar Factory logo.”

As it turns out, Sugar Factory was an absolutely perfect client for an innovative creative director like Debo. Most of her peers could only dream of successfully promoted a brand by creating a product that appeals to every age group, in addition to being wildly popular among some of the world’s biggest celebrities. For Debo, Sugar Factory provided the perfect opportunity to express her true talents.

“I love the fact that it’s a family business. They care about every detail of the company and are very open about creativity,” Debo recalled. “Sugar Factory will always give you a chance to test a new recipe.”

No matter who the client, where the venue, or what the brand, Deborah “Debo” Magnan’s innovation and tireless dedication put her miles ahead of her peers in the industry. For clients determined to stand out in the crowded arenas of hospitality and hospitality, there isn’t a shred of doubt that Debo is the best, most driven, and most innovative professional to have in their corner.

 

Xin Yi helps take us back to the ‘80s with new ‘Rocket League: Radical Summer’ trailer

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Xin Yi

As a renowned 3D Artist, creating stunning visual effects seen by audiences around the world, China’s Xin Yi is incredibly adaptable in her work. She does not have a specific style or trademark, but rather focuses on creating the most stunning imagery she can in whatever style the project demands. She can make visual effects look as realistic as a photograph, blending seamlessly with their surroundings, or a stylized animation that captures the hearts of its viewers.

This outstanding versatility is evident in all of her work, no matter the genre or medium. Whether creating the virtual set for NFL Redzone or modeling, materials, lighting, and some transitions and characters for the World of Warcraft Arena World Championship, Yi focuses on the details to create artistic effects.

Recently, millions around the world saw Yi’s work in the Rocket League: Radical Summer trailer, although they may not know it.

Rocket League is a vehicular video game developed and published by Psyonix. It is like soccer, but with rocket-powered cars and has up to four players assigned to each of the two teams, using rocket-powered vehicles to hit a ball into their opponent’s goal and score points over the course of a match. Released in 2015 for Microsoft Windows and PlayStation 4, with ports for Xbox One, macOS, Linux, and Nintendo Switch being released later on, it is a now iconic game, with its own professional league and a vast worldwide following.

Radical Summer is an extension of the game, a celebration of ’80s movies, television and culture. The extension has new items, game modes, DLC, and more. Available From 6/10 to 8/12 on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

“It is a pretty fun game to play with friends, even though I am not usually a gamer. The Radical Summer pack is super fun and cool as well,” said Yi.

After previous success on the Rocket League: McLaren 570S Car Pack Trailer in late 2018, Yi and her team at the motion graphics design and animation production studioCapacity were once again invited to create captivating cinematics to promote this new development of the game.

Before beginning work on the trailer, Yi did some research on Rocket League to know more about their style and at the same time, she watched movies from the ’80s and listened to music from that time period. Understanding more about the time period was essential in creating an ‘80s appearance and style in her work.

Yi did all of the rigging parts and exported them to let other teammates make an animation out of them and she also helped to animate one of the shots. She worked tirelessly to make the trailer both stunning to watch while matching the game’s style. She also did transition work to make the shot transfer to the next shot smoothly and did a composition for the TVs in the trailer to allow other artists to replace the footage easily.

“It is a really interesting project to work on. It brings us back to the ’80s, the rock music years. The pack is also using many elements from some 80’s culture, television from the decade and blockbusters,” said Yi.

Yi’s work on the rigs, animation, composing, materials, scene transitions, and renderings of this trailer paid off. The trailer was released on Rocket League’s official website and YouTube in June 2019. It received many positive comments and a lot of people were looking forward to playing the newly released pack. It has over 3.6 million views on the official YouTube link so far, and greatly contributed to the Radical Summerpack’s ongoing success.

You can check out the Rocket League: Radical Summer Trailer to see some of Yi’s beautiful 3D artistry.

Composer Weijun Chen dances away with audiences’ hearts in Aspen

The moment Weijun Chen puts his pencil to a piece of staff paper, he allows inspiration to overtake him. From the outside, watching him sketch notes onto a piece of paper, it may not seem like the most glamorous job, but when an orchestra is performing his music that he spent so long crafting, he feels truly alive.

Chen is a classical composer, writing music for symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles, instrumentalists, and singers, which is then performed at grand concert halls and music festivals all over the world. He is a renowned composer, best known for Three Earlier Songs, Watercolors, and Canoe, to name a few.

“I write every single note on the page, from vague ideas, sketches, to complete scores. In terms of the writing process itself, I am quite old-fashioned. I always start with pencil and staff paper, and eventually move to the computer during the engraving and mock-up stages. Once the piece is finished, I work closely with the musicians to bring the music to life. Often times, some of my works were written for a specific soloist or group of musicians, so the collaboration process starts during the writing stage. I also enjoy collaborating with artists from other disciplines, as my music often draws influence from poetry and visual arts,” said Chen.

Chen has seen much success throughout his career, but he believes the highlight came when he wrote the orchestral version of his piece Dancer. Already a success as a chamber piece, Chen decided to rework Dancer for an orchestra after being awarded the Jacob Druckman Prize by the Aspen Music Festival in 2015 with an invitation to the 2016 festival to premiere new work.

“I believe that writing for orchestra is a composer’s highest calling, and there is no better feeling than hearing your music performed by a large orchestra at a premier classical music festival in the beautiful mountains of Colorado,” said Chen.

Despite the title’s implications of continual movement and activity, Danceropens with somber stillness, a single chord that then gradually collapses under slowly descending scalar lines. As the glacial motion rises again through chromatic dissonances, gentle clusters form periodically, producing alternating moments of tension and relaxation. Then, after building in intensity, scale fragments and rapid turn figures cascade through the orchestra, initiating the swirling, dancing central section. This culminates in a growling climax and a grand pause, leading into the concluding slow section.

“When I was drafting this final slow section in February 2016, I was shocked and saddened to hear the news of American composer Steven Stucky’s passing. Stucky was the director of composition at the Aspen Music Festival where this piece later received its premiere. The last section unmistakably became an elegy, in memory of my beloved mentor,” said Chen.

Chen decided to create an orchestral version of Dancer after the success of the original chamber piece for several reasons. Musically, when he was working on the chamber version, he realized that the intended soundscape, in particular the overlapping scale lines, would have great potential written for an orchestra. When the opportunity arrived from the Aspen Music Festival in 2016, he jumped on it immediately.

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2016 Aspen Music Festival
Bowing after the premiere of Dancer
W/ Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra & conductor George Jackson

The orchestral version of Dancer is both an expansion and a reduction. By expansion, the ensemble got bigger by ten-fold, and Chen was able to fully take advantage of the color palate of an orchestra. Dovetailing techniques are used extensively in the piece, as Chen threads the scale materials across the entire orchestra. By reduction, he deleted a large portion of music from the chamber version, specifically the Spanish-dance-influenced melodic section, as he felt that the materials were out of focus and not as compelling.

“It was simply amazing to see how my music came alive in the hands of seventy incredibly talented young orchestral musicians, under the baton of Maestro Jackson. It was also immensely gratifying to hear the transformative improvements from one rehearsal to another, and the premiere performance was deeply moving,” said Chen.

After its premiere at the 2016 Aspen Music Festival, the performance received a brief mention in The Aspen Times. The reviewer, Harvey Steiman, stated that “Dancer explored resonant harmonies and sonorities and reflected fine command of orchestration and form.” The piece was also a finalist in the 2017-18 The American Prize in Composition, Orchestra Music.

“I felt extremely grateful. As composers, we completely rely on others (i.e., the musicians) to bring our wildest imaginations to life. It is even more true in an orchestral setting, simply due to the sheer number of players and moving parts. This piece would not exist without the support and dedication from the music festival, Maestro Jackson, and the amazing musicians of the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra,” said Chen.

On top of its success, Dancer has deep meaning for Chen. The greatest reward, for the composer, was honoring his mentor and friend.

“It was impossible not to think of Steve when I was at the premiere in Aspen. I was honored to share this piece with many of his colleagues, friends, and students in the audience. I miss him dearly, and I hope that the success of the premiere would make him proud,” he concluded.

 

Cover photo by Ahron Cho

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