Category Archives: Art Director

THE LOOK OF A NEW SPORT: TIM SMYLLIE

If you want proof that the technology which surrounds us is changing every aspect of our lives, look no further than E sports. Unless you’ve buried your head in the sand for the last couple of years, you know that E sports has evolved into a massive industry with attendance that rivals other major sporting events. The Riot Games – 2016 League of Legends World Championships had 20,000 attendees; that’s a rock concert sized crowd. Riot Games understood early on that this event was going to be unlike anything seen in E sports previously, which is why they contacted Troika whose status is iconic in the sport graphics industry. The tech minded fans of E sports are hard wired to be aware of the most cutting edge presentation and Riot Games rebuffed any notion of disappointing them. Troika partnered with Riot Games to develop a broadcast package and live projection mapping, both built and designed together as a cohesive story for the 2016 League of Legends World Championship. The unique, game-driven visualization showed which teams had the advantage, built anticipation for crucial moments, and celebrated spectacular achievements. All of this was designed to enhance the live game experience and bring to life this virtual sporting event on a massive scale.

The intention of Riot Games was forward thinking and far from short sighted. The young and emerging E sports industry is set to take over the world. Riot approached Troika to help them innovate and cultivate a style not only for their band but to change the perception of the overall industry itself. Tim Smyllie was at the heart of that innovation. His designs were both the basis and set the style for the final piece. Tim was brought in due to his bold and unique design aesthetic. A native of the UK, Smyllie brings a decidedly European uncluttered clarity and personality to his work that is streamlined and timeless in its restraint. The purpose being to have impact through a bold use of typography and color without being brash or shouting. The influence of those Tim has worked with in the American industry has left subtle impressions on him leading to an even more original character to his sensibilities.

Though he had been a gamer in his earlier days, Smyllie’s unfamiliarity with this particular game required some education prior to contemplating an approach. League of Legends is a team game which pits rival teams against each other. The vast and expanding professional league is part of the phenomenon of E sports. The finale for the world championships of League of Legends (LOL) was held at the Staple Center in Los Angeles. Riot Games tasked Troika with creating all the graphics for the live finale. The graphics would be played on vast screens in the center of the arena and projected on the huge floor where the players were seated. Tim’s role on the project was that of lead designer/art director. Leading the creative development stage, he would manifest a brand new identity from scratch. This required Smyllie to work closely with the client to ascertain exactly what they desired. Part of Troika’s process is to involve the client early on in the creative development stage to produce a truly collaborative experience. Once Tim established the look, a team of animators executed the package using his designs as the basis. Tim worked closely with Gil Haslam, Seton Kim, and Mark Lee on the project. Troika Creative Director Seton Kim remarks, “Tim’s creative development on Riot’s LOL was outstanding! He always tries to push the boundaries and his determination to think outside the box on this project was inspiring to the rest of the team. This was an amazing opportunity for us to innovate. I was determined for us to experiment and challenge the client with what was possible. Tim was very much the experimental progressive part of our team. When we presented his work to the client, we had a few ‘wow’s’ and they were clearly impressed by what he had created. Riot Games came to us to help them see what was possible and help guide them to something new and exciting. Tim clearly wanted to lead this challenge that the client sent us and that attitude was exactly what I was looking for.”

League of Legends varies greatly from traditional sport, making it much more challenging in terms of creating the proper sensibility. It was essential that what Troika created was authentic to the game and the tonality was true to spirt of the genre. To understand this, the team brought in avid LOL fans as reference points. LOL is incredibly detailed and complex. There are many aspect and layers to the game. Players can completely immerse themselves in the gaming experience, spending very long periods of time playing. Learning the principals, essential details, back story, and spirit of the game were essential for Tim to convey the proper attitude in his work for LOL. As a designer/art director working in branding, getting the tone right is the core of every project to connect with an audience. Fans have a very deep connection to the game and anything that doesn’t feel authentic will be rejected immediately.

While the work of designing, presenting, and creating these visuals can be arduous, it’s only by witnessing the public’s reaction that they are truly judged as successful or not. Luckily for Tim, the League of Legends World Championships took place at the Staples Center during a time when he was able to attend. The experience was impactful. Smyllie recalls, “Having never been to anything like that before, it was a very interesting experience. Seeing and interacting with the fans was very rewarding and gave me invaluable insight into the industry itself. I learned so much about the sport from seeing it firsthand. In my line of work, to get an immediate first hand response from your audience is rare and there is nothing more powerful than having 20, 000 people screaming a response right next you! To see the work on the big screens is also very valuable. There is no way of testing out graphics on a huge screen so getting to see it play out in real time meant a lot.” Mark Lee (Art Director, Troika) adds, “I loved Tim’s ambition on this project. The success of Riot owed a lot to his drive for excellence. Out of anyone on the team, Tim was driving the innovation.  His relentless desire to push the envelope on this project was inspiring to myself and the rest of the team. Working on a new phenomenon such as E sports is when you need the best and most experienced heads to be on the team because we need to make the most of this golden opportunity. Tim seized the opportunity with both hands and I loved that.”

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Art Director Ji Young Lee immerses audiences in virtual reality experience ‘Delusion: Lies Within’

When Ji Young Lee was ten years old, her mother took her to the musical Alibaba and 40 Thieves. She was fascinated not only by the magical set, which had a flying carpet, moving cave, exotic Arabic costumes and music, but also by the dynamic reactions the audience displayed. It was then when she fell in love with this strange world created through the set, and that was the day she started to dream of becoming an artist who designs sets. She was amazed by how the set design could create an environment where people could escape from their ordinary lives and mundane scenery and experience a fantasy world. She still experiences this amazement to this day, but the difference is, she is the one creating that feeling for others.

As an internationally sought-after Art Director, Young has realized her childhood ambitions to their fullest. She has put her touch on the award-winning films The Bird Who Could Fly, and The Sacred Mushroom, as well as the new UFC commercial with Academy-Award winner Charlize Theron. She also worked on the upcoming virtual-reality film Delusion: Lies Within, and got to experiment with a whole new world of art direction.

“I’m very strong at telling the story through colors, mood and imageries, which people will see in the set first, and also I love paying attention to detail which is necessary for virtual reality films, because people will look around 360 degrees and walk around and lean forward to see the set and props closer. I like overcoming challenges with a hardworking team,” said Young.

Initially interested in the project because of her enjoyment of interactive theatre, Young knew she wanted the challenge of designing for a virtual reality set. In Los Angeles, there is a popular interactive horror theater show called Delusion, which she had a great interest in. Skybound Entertainment, founded by Walking Dead Creator Robert Kirkman, decided to produce the virtual reality game version of Delusion into a feature film.

“I had never worked on a virtual reality film before, and I was curious about the process. I also wanted to work on fantastical or surreal set, and I believed Delusion was going to be a great opportunity for me to learn something completely different,” said Young.

During the 1940’s in the American South, Delusion: Lies Within is about the reclusive author Elena Fitzgerald, who built a zealous following with her Stygian Ascent series; an epic of dark fantasy following the life of young Mary on a quest to be rejoined with her mother. To the larger world, Miss Fitzgerald was a beloved novelist, yet to Daniel and Virginia, she was everything. They’ve wept over the lives and deaths of her characters. They’ve dreamt of walking in her world. A world now out of reach as Elena went missing before the fifth and supposedly final book was written. For years there was no sign of Elena. In its place rumors of madness, murder, and something otherworldly persisted. Most of Elena’s fans quietly mourned the loss of a finale yet Daniel and Virginia refused to let go. The worlds, characters and stories must continue. Thus, the two decide that Elena needs their help to finish what she started. To close the chapter on a world left untended. Leaving their grim reality behind, the two begin their search.

“Creating surreal, fantastical and eerie world was my favorite part of the job. There is still some sort of reality that needs to exist in the set, like period furniture or period costumes, to make it believable, but I could be creative and use my imagination. Also, I was so grateful for our art department crews. This was mentally and physically very challenging project, but everyone respected my opinions and worked very hard with positive attitudes until the end. I loved working with them,” said Young.

Young focused on the aesthetic of the set. After reading the script and looking at the production designer’s reference images, she started to come up with the color palette and mood for each set and create art works for the main set dressing, such as murals on the ceilings or paintings, and drafting for certain customized furniture or window. The ceiling murals were very important for the director, and Young made sure to realize his vision. She also maintained a strong line of communication with Production Designer Kevin Williams, who knows after working with her that Young is one of the best.

“Working with Ji is akin to having a second brain. Not only does she instinctively understand the projects that are given to her, but she’s able to add a level of polish and professionalism that enhance the challenges she’s faced with. On set, she maintains a level head and is able to offer up solutions and artistic flourishes that inevitably bring a greater level of depth and beauty to the tasks at hand. I would hire her for any future project without hesitation. Ji is exceptionally detail oriented and focused on delivering a perfect product. Her design instincts are supremely keen and driven to tell the best visual story in her own unique style,” said Williams.

Attendees at the San Diego Comic Con earlier this month had the opportunity to see the feature of Delusion: Lies Within at Skybound Entertainment’s panel, but for those that missed it, the film is expected to be released next year.

GORKEM CIFTCI: BEHIND “WOMAN WITH NO VOICE”

Gorkem Ciftci is pleased with himself, not in a smug manner but with a sense of satisfaction that he has made a positive impact. As the Art Director of the campaign “Woman with no Voice” Ciftci conceived of and created a campaign (with his team) to dramatically raise awareness of domestic abuse in his homeland of Turkey. While his vocation most often has him working with clients who are promoting everything from interior design/aesthetics to cars to TV programs, Gorkem has also utilized his talents to promote many socially minded ventures that exist in and border on altruism. The role of art director is itself steeped in both the creative mind and the business sense; it perfectly suits someone like Ciftci who thinks of helping others aspire to a better life and possesses the real world skills to enact this. While this may sound like an extremely benevolent view of those involved in the business/advertising realm, one need only consider Gorkem’s work on “Woman with no Voice” to understand it in a real world application. He passionately explains the situation and his motivation to become involved stating, “The real problem about domestic abuse in Turkey is that nobody is brave enough to speak out. The women who suffer from domestic violence are often economically dependent on their husband; this is why they choose to keep silent and not to talk about it. Silence of the oppressed makes this violent epidemic inevitable. Moreover, in rural parts of Turkey, religion and bigoted traditions contribute significantly to the suffering of women. They are often forced to get married in very early years, very few of them have chance to get education, and they are not really counted as human beings but rather the commodities of men. As a proud feminist, I have been seeking any chance to get involved in campaigns to combat patriarchy in Turkey. And I was fortunate to take part of a few over the course of my career. I knew that this one was going to be the boldest one. I knew from the start.”

This campaign was part of a greater movement named ‘’Every Breath, a Voice’’ that was dedicated to combating and ending domestic violence in Turkey. Numerous campaigns were created and events held annually to raise awareness on the issue. This group wanted a bold and provocative campaign that would spark national debate. As art director, Gorkem wanted to find a unique and dramatic way to convey the idea that the plight of these women was not receiving the attention that it deserved. He explains, “After researching and reading the stories from victims of domestic abuse, I had reached to the conclusion that a single major characteristic of victimized women is their silence, hopelessness in other words. With this focal point, we needed to come up with a creative execution that demonstrates the silence of these victimized women in an interesting and creative way; that execution was to associate this oppression with Facebook’s automatically playing mute videos (Facebook plays videos on mute in order to not disturb users while scrolling down on the newsfeed. This feature has been very significant to the Facebook users).

 

This idea was powerful but also created a major problem for Gorkem. This gravitas of the presentation rested on the idea of silence; if this silence was broken by a voice over it would diminish the power of the visual. The presentation would be decidedly simple. A woman cries out in front of the camera, wearing a plain dark shirt and a wedding ring while standing in front of a dark gray background. The drama is exponentially intensified by Ciftci’s decision to place text in the box to the right of the screen (the voice icon on Facebook video bar) corresponding to the Facebook feature. This communicated the twist that the cries for help from these women are not heard as the viewer attempts to increase the volume of the audio. It cannot be overstated how emotional and heart-wrenching the campaign is (https://vimeo.com/172093012).

Thirty Turkish actresses were viewed to portray this simple yet highly emotive role. The performance of the actress seen in the campaign is haunting, which is appropriate. Far from the glamour and excitement normally associated with being on set, Ciftci relates, “The set suddenly become a dark and depressing place as we began shooting. This was quite surprising for me. Even though we all knew that it was a screenplay, the screams of the actress were something terrible to witness knowing that millions of women suffer domestic abuse and had to face these horrors on daily basis. The original film had no audio, but we had to hear her screams in the studio for the sake of persuasiveness. Witnessing a re-enaction of such horror was upsetting to all on set that day. However, I also knew that this was a powerful cause and could not wait to have the film published so it would start contributing to the positive change.”

A significant difference between the “Woman with no Voice” campaign and those of a similar intention in the past is that the decision to use Facebook and Twitter to share its message resulted in a mass proliferation (via “shares”) and immediately accessible metrics. As opposed to traditional TV or print campaigns in which the public’s reaction is often uncertain, social media allows for immediate responses and feedback, without censorship. As the creators of “Woman with no Voice” had hoped, a national debate was triggered and millions viewed it. One of the most unexpected outcomes of the campaigns viral nature was that men were very eager to talk about the issue and were among the majority of those who “shared” it.

Polisan Woman with no voice Crystal Apple

(CRYSTAL APPLE FESTIVAL AWARD CEREMONY 2015, UNIQISTANBUL, ISTANBUL)

“Woman with no Voice” was overwhelmingly accepted and praised by the public. In addition, it received copious accolades that included: 1x Gold, 1x Silver, 1x Bronze at Crystal Apple Festival of Creativity (2015), 1x Gold Mixx Awards Turkey (2016), 1x Bronze Mixx Awards Europe (2016),
& 1x Gold, 1x Merit at Kırmızı Advertising Awards (2015). While awards always have a beneficial effect on a professional’s career, Gorkem states, “My involvement with this campaign truly deepened my understanding that I could use my role as an art director to really make a change. I think if we all found ways to use the abilities we have to help others rather than only to support ourselves, the world would be a much better place for everyone. I am humbled that I was able to do even a little bit to help the women of my country and I’ll be looking for opportunities in the future to do more.”

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(KIRMIZI AD SHOW 2016, ZORLU PERFORMANCE HALL, ISTANBUL)

 

Production Designer and Art Director Katsuya Imai brings life to ‘The Next Generation Patlabor’

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Katsuya Imai on the set of The Next Generation Patlabor

Katsuya Imai is more than an artist. He is a storyteller. His passion for art that started as a child, painting and building models, transformed into something much more as he grew. His love for movies became more prominent; not just watching them, but observing them, noticing the craft and skill that took place behind the scenes. With interests like these, it is no wonder why Imai became a production designer and art director. However, it is his talent that has made him the success he is, and recognized as one of Japan’s best.

Throughout his career, Imai has had the opportunity to work on projects that he was already a fan of throughout his life. As production designer on the film Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger: 10 Years After, he was able to design for his childhood heroes. While working on the films and television series The Next Generation Patlabor, he was able to do the same.

“I have loved the animation in the original Patlabor films since I was a student. I watched these so many times and have some books about the art setting and method of directing in them. I have knowledge of these background, so it was very helpful to design it,” said Imai.

The Patlabor franchise includes three films and a television show. Therefore, The Next Generation Paltabor has many background stories that do not need to be mentioned in the script. Imai has worked on many different aspects of The Next Generation Patlabor, including the film The Next Generation Patlabor: Tokyo War.

“It was very exciting. I was so happy that I could read the new script of the film. The script was connected to Patlabor: The Movie 2. That is my favorite film. I really enjoyed designing it. I thought it was one of my dreams coming true,” said Imai.

As a fan of Director Mamoru Oshii’s films (Ghost in the Shell, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, and the original two Patlabor films). Imai also wanted the opportunity to work alongside one of his filmmaking heroes. He immediately impressed all those he worked with, and contributed greatly to the film’s success.

“Katsuya had years of experience and was very skillful, so we could leave the shooting to him. He is very serious and calm as art director. He always directed surely to the other crews,” said Supervising Art Director, Masato Ando.

The film tells the story of an attack that takes place on Rainbow Bridge in Odaiba, Tokyo by the fighter helicopter `Gray Ghost`. Two days earlier, the Gray Ghost was stolen. The perpetrators are followers of Yukihito Tsuge. Yukihito Tsuge planned a coup of Tokyo 13 years earlier. The leader of Special Vehicle Section 2, Keiji Gotoda, sets out to stop the terrorists. It went on to be an Official Selection at the Montreal World Film Festival.

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Katsuya Imai on the set of The Next Generation Patlabor

“I was very happy to hear that. It’s always an honor that the film I worked on is watched by many audiences,” said Imai.

As Art Director, Imai went to location scouting, trying to find the perfect set for the film. His knowledge of the Patlabor series were designed elaborately and rated highly by the fans. This made him an asset to the television series The Next Generation Patlabor as well.

“Normally working on a television show, we shoot each episode at a time. We are given the next script during filming the previous episode. The production has to reflect the review and reaction from the audience to the script. However, this project already has all 12 episodes scripted in the pre-production. This made it easy to plan and design the whole project,” said Imai.

The show is a story of a world where giant robots are built and used for labor, a special police force of robots is created to handle crimes relating to these machines. Imai built two full-size robots. Each one was eight meters high. This made the series a bit conspicuous.

“While we were filming, fans were not aware of a Patlabor revival. However, we had to do shooting at the location with a full-size robot. It was impossible to hide it because it’s too huge. Some people noticed that robot and posted the photo to Twitter. All the Patlabor fans were excited on Twitter,” said Imai. “We ended up using the full-size robot for the promotion. It’s huge and attracts people. The Patlabor fans said the film became reality.”

Episode 10 of the series went on to be screened at the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2014. Without Imai’s keen eye while designing the set and special props, such as the iconic robot, the show may not have achieved what it has. Fans of the original series were immediately enthralled with The Next Generation Patlabor, enjoying how true it kept to its base story. Imai, as a big fan of the show, knew exactly what was needed to win over the hearts of other fans, and he definitely succeeded.

Art Director Mark Nicholson brings authenticity to award-winning Adidas campaign

Creativity has always been a fundamental aspect of Mark Nicholson’s life. As a child growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, his artistic side was evident even from a young age. Over time, this childhood hobby developed into much more, and now, Nicholson is an internationally celebrated Art Director.

While working on several high-profile campaigns around the world, Nicholson’s talent has directly led to the success of each project he has worked on. He created the concept for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation competition to “Make millennial’s care more about charity work and causes happening around the world,” and their campaign Plight Map went on to win the prestigious Cannes Chimera Award. While working as an Art Director for the rebranding campaign of 118118, the project went on to be nominated for a British Arrow Award. He has worked on several popular commercials with the world’s most recognizable companies, such as Nike and Microsoft. He also contributed greatly to the success of the Adidas Break-up Service campaign.

“Adidas is iconic. It’s created work globally that has pushed advertising into new territory. This, combined with my natural interest in Asian culture, seemed like a match made in heaven,” said Nicholson.

Break up Service was a multi-media advertising campaign for the latest Japanese inspired safety wear fashion range from Adidas Originals. A film, print campaign and website followed a young man that worked for a fictional ‘break-up’ service and the danger that falling in love creates. The film won a Silver Cannes Lion Award at the prestigious international festival, as well as a Bronze BIAA.

“The campaign is one of my proudest pieces, the team we worked with in Japan – especially the award-winning director Kosai Sekine, it was all fantastic. Learning first-hand about Japanese culture whilst on location allowed us to adapt the script as we went, working with the Japanese team to make it as authentic, but as entertaining, as possible,” said Nicholson.

After having previous success with TBWA London on a campaign with the Chelsea Football Club and Adidas, Nicholson was immediately sought-after for the Break Up Service project, knowing that he had the exact skillset needed. As the Senior Art Director, Nicholson first created a mixed-media campaign idea and presented it to the client to secure funding for the project. He wrote the script, and oversaw storyboarding, design and branding. The project required a unique knowledge of Japanese subculture, which was a specific skillset that Nicholson possessed. After funding was secured, he was responsible for finding and collaborating with an authentic Japanese director, refining the script and making creative decisions whilst production was already underway. While filming in Tokyo, he was responsible for all on-set creative decisions. He also oversaw a fashion shoot that was in tandem with the TVC, advising on location and models. He was the creative advisor for the online content that a third-party agency was creating. There is no doubt that his work was instrumental in the campaign’s success. 

I had the pleasure of working with Mark while serving as Executive Creative Director at TBWA London. He was lead Art Director on the Adidas Originals campaign about a fictional Break-up service in Tokyo. Mark ran the project under demanding timescales and cultural challenges and he was rewarded with a Cannes Lion. It was an amazing piece of work,” said Al Young.

Because the film was set in Japan, Nicholson’s knowledge of Japanese culture proved to be a great asset. He has always had a longtime love of manga and anime, like the classics; Akira, Ghost in the Shell and anything Ghibli. He found that this, combined with his work on the Japanese influenced work I created for 3Mobile at WCRS, gave him a good knowledge of Japan.

“How wrong I was, there was so much more and it was fun learning along the way,” said Nicholson. “I had to create a huge style presentation. Introducing Japanese fashion styles, locations and cultural nuances. We introduced the client to Japanese Pleasure Hotels, Capsule Hotels and Cosplay so we had to be prepared. I researched Tokyo’s relevant scenes, modern Japanese art, designers and comic book pop-culture, and then created thorough presentations for the client. The more familiar I got with the culture the more interesting our ideas became, but I also had to be very mindful that we didn’t come across as a predictable Western brand looking into Asia. Authenticity was paramount, and luckily the culture naturally allowed itself to be weirdly authentic.”

As well as the film, Nicholson and his team ran a poster campaign that reflected a distinctive Asian art direction. They also created a commerce website dedicated to the campaign, which had several more fake content films showing Japanese fan girls humorously confessing that they use the break up service. The website even included a video from Akira himself, emotionally describing the origin of his service, when he had to tell his mother that his father was breaking up with her.

“Working on this campaign was fast and fun. The shoot was exceptionally smooth. The planning was exceptional, and the final product was amazing,” said Nicholson.

With all the work that Nicholson did, he still managed to overcome the “all work and no play” mantra, taking advantage of his surroundings.

“It was my first visit to Asia so that was an experience that had been a long time coming. Outside of filming, I was able to absorb the local art, animation history, and the Godzilla museum,” he concluded.

You can watch the Adidas Break Up Service film here.

Art Director-Motion Graphics Designer Ilya Tselyutin Thriving in Hollywood

Art Director-Motion Graphics Designer Ilya Tselyutin works in one of the most fascinating, fast moving and over looked fields in modern media. Motion Graphics is a constantly evolving, creatively fertile niche that entails creating everything from eye-popping feature film title sequences to innovative television commercial applications. It’s a complex mix of graphic design, animation and cutting edge technology that requires innate resourcefulness, meticulous attention to detail and the ability to bring life to  a very broad spectrum of images—qualities which the Russian-born Tselyutin has no shortage of.

 

“While studying computer science at university, I developed interest in 3D graphics,” Tselyutin said. “I was always curious how this technology worked. At the same time I started looking at works by some famous graphic designers and learned about typography. I wanted to bring all of this together – 3D graphics, animation and design. Also, I drew my inspiration from title sequences from Hollywood movies, as well as the special effects in sci-fi movies.”

 

A painstaking, gifted craftsman whose outstanding work has been recognized with international awards—Silver winner for Art Direction at Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards, and a Silver Win for Graphic Design/Animation at PromaxBDA, both in 2013—Tselyutin has distinguished himself with an impressive roster of career achievements. All this has led him to the field’s epicenter, Hollywood, where he enjoys a position at the prestigious Troika Design Group, a top branding and marketing agency that specializes in working with entertainment and media companies

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“Troika is one of the most notable companies in the industry,” Tselyutin said. “I had learned about it a while ago and they were looking for a lead motion graphics designer to bring the quality of 3D graphics to the next level. Paul Brodie, the Managing Director, was closely following my work and invited me to join the company in 2016, where I am currently working as Art Director/Motion Graphics Designer.

 

At Troika’s Design Department, Tselyutin has successfully undertaken jobs for a disparate series of high profile clients. “We have a very busy schedule with plenty of projects coming my way every day,” Tselyutin said  “The most interesting projects so far have been for AT&T Sports Network and ESPN College Basketball. The video for AT&T included working with the client’s static footage. As a lead designer on this project I suggested using a special technology in Cinema 4D software to cut the static footage into several pieces an then project them onto 3D models, and the result made both the team and the client happy.”

 

Tselyutin’s gift for surpassing expectations is a result of his widely varied cultural background and educational experience. With a Bachelors of Arts in Information Technologies and New Media from the Kuban State University, Krasnodar, Russia and a resume of jobs all over Europe, Tselyutin brings a refreshing international perspective to any project assigned him.

 

“While I was studying computer science, I started working at the local TV channel as a designer discovering the world of 3D graphics,” Tselyutin said. “I developed interest in design, typography and animation and after graduation, I moved to Moscow to work at the national largest TV network Channel One Russia, where I had the privilege to learn from the best and most experienced broadcast designers in the country.”
 

“My work brought me around the world,” Tselyutin said. “For example, I produced a 3D mapping show in at the Technology University of Mangalore, India. In 2013 I moved to work at VUCX creative agency in Cologne, Germany. Working and living in Europe with its variety of art museums, exhibitions and strong school of design was a great experience that helped me expand my portfolio and explore motion graphics even further.”

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For the driven, ambitious Tselyutin, whose formidable resume is already packed with enough accomplishments to stand as the full measure of a professional career, it is only the beginning. “I am eager to continue my personal development as an artist, 3D professional and art director while growing professionally within the company,” he said. “I see myself working on large-scale commercially successful projects.”

“My motto is: be curious, be professional, never give up.”

Art Director Diego Coutinho tackles award-winning film War on Drugo with perfect execution

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Part of the crew of War on Drugo

They say when you do what you love, you never work a day in your life. Diego “Couts” Coutinho knows this to be true. The art director and motion graphics designer spends every day living his dream, and enjoys everything he does. But what makes his job even more enjoyable is working on projects that he truly believes in. When a film sends an important message and he is part of creating it, there is a sense of purpose that goes far beyond loving what you do.

This is exactly what happened when Coutinho worked on the Brazilian film War on Drugo. Although the film was recognized internationally and received many awards, it was working on something he believed in that was truly special.

“I can honestly say that this movie wouldn’t have been possible without Diego as Art Director/Production Designer. He was my right hand throughout the whole production, responsible for directing the Concept Art Crew while also working as Lead Concept Artist; overseeing the production of puppets and settings to make sure the original visual concept wouldn’t get lost,” said director Gabriel Nóbrega.

Commissioned by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, developed by Almap/BBDO agency and produced by Vetor Zero/Lobo studio, the film was to created to motivate a reflection on the consequences of 40 years of “war on drugs”, and to foster a broader discussion of drug policy reform. War on Drugo is set in a fairytale setting. The movie explains the disastrous war against drugs by telling the story of a dragon banished from an ancient kingdom, and how people who spent time with the dragon were thrown into jail. The visually appealing metaphor uses a simple narrative that is designed to help overcome these barriers and break taboos when it comes to discussing the issue with the public.

“The good work in this project was to create a tool to raise people’s awareness, so they can better understand the issue of drug abuse in the contemporary world,” said Coutinho.

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Artwork in War on Drugo

Coutinho took on multiple roles to ensure the film’s success. As production designer of the project, he was responsible for pre-production during the beginning stages. He followed storyboarding, creating and developing characters and scenarios. At the same time, he was the lead artist of the team, so beyond the creation of scenarios, characters and special effects, he was required to pay attention to the development of the project, ensuring other artists were consistent with the conceptual proposal of the film.

After the pre-production was finished, he followed the production and preparation of the pieces so that they were faithful to the concepts. In the sequence, he went to work in the post-production, assuming part of the coordination in the final moment. He also worked as a composer, being responsible for the main special effects of the film.

“It is normal not to have the answer to everything, but you must to be prepared to change what is necessary and correct process failures as soon as possible. So, the sooner we make a mistake, the sooner we correct the problem,” said Coutinho.

Despite War on Drugo being an extremely important project, it became Coutinho’s most-awarded project to date. Besides a lot of print and online press coverage, it was acclaimed by many of the most important awards in the field, and went on to win gold at the London International Advertising Awards for Motion Graphics Design, gold in animation at the Cannes Lions 2015, Gold at the IF Design Awards 2015 in Short Animation, and 16 other awards worldwide.

“Couts isn’t just one of the most talented Art Directors I have worked with, he also has integrity in the way he treats the project and the people,” said the animation director of the film, Lee Peffer.

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Set from War on Drugo

After the success of their previous project, the credits for the Brazilian film Brincante, Coutinho, Nóbrega, and Peffer decided to embark on this project. They knew they worked well together, and therefore used a similar style of artwork for War on Drugo. They used one of the oldest types of animation techniques: stop-motion, using hinged cardboard puppets and miniature sets. Most of the artwork was printed and glued onto pieces of laser-cut MDF, while some settings were hand-painted or created with mixed materials. Coutinho’s team took over 30,000 photographs, and built a total of 13 scenarios and over 300 characters, of which around 80 were animated, meaning they had a structure of articulated joints.

“It was a great time because it was almost like a family, where everyone stopped to talk,” said Coutinho. “We developed the proposal to mix both temporal moments in the film. We can see the logic being applied throughout the film. Early at the beginning of the movie, we see the shot of the king, he’s showed in an American capitol that has a mixed architecture with a castle. The logic also applies to the design of the clothes. In the first scene, you can see two women in medieval clothes walking with shopping bags, as if they were returning from shopping at the mall. The result is a visual of a story of fairytales, but has obvious and direct relationships with today, which helps in having a public identification with the subject, and so we get the opening to about drugs dialogue.”

You can watch the powerful film here.