Multitalented game designer and producer Zi Li effectively changes the game

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Zi Li combined her passions – art and science – into a thriving game design career.

 

The innovative game designer and game producer Zi Li has spent years studying various forms of media and entertainment. Originally from Guangdong, China, the experienced creator has demonstrated a proficiency of filmmaking and animation in addition to her expertise in the world of gaming.

With four years of game designing under her belt and two years of game producing, Li is known for her work with companies such as Firefly Games Inc., Floor 84 Game Studio, and Ericsson Communications Company. As a designer, producer and artist, Li has contributed to top, award winning games of various genres, including “Dissonance,” “Leviathan,” “Dungeon Crash,” “Epic Knights,” “Paralect,” and “MiraLab.”

As a game designer, Li’s role is similar to that of a film director’s, where as a game producer is in charge of overseeing the development of a video game, acting as a liaison between everyone involved with the project.

At an early age, Li developed a passion for science and art. “Unlike a lot of game developers, I didn’t fall in love with games first,” Li stated. “I spent more than six years studying paintings. I always thought I could become a part-time artist. Later, I dabbled in animation, however, neither satisfied my needs of expressing my engineering mindset. Eventually, I understood that in the gaming industry, science intersects art. For me, games are a media that allow both areas to collapse together.”

Li first got her start in the industry as a graduate game design student at the University of Southern California (USC). Through her extensive work on various independent projects, Li was able to gradually figure out her strengths, ultimately learning what it takes to become an effective inventor aside from the expected creative and technical aspects. “One of my main strengths is execution,” said Li. “As a game designer and programmer, I can execute myself very well. As a game producer, I can push other people to execute ideas well and understand every aspect of the game.”

Steve Cha, producer and fellow Collaborator on “Dissonance,” raved about Li’s talents. “Zi is not only about coming up with ideas, but also completing them with efficient ways. Dissonance is a game with relatively new gameplay and needed time to implement. Since everything in the game has two shadows, the team needed to make a system that casted two shadows for one object. Some talked about recalculating the vertices and some suggested using black 3D objects to make the shadows. Zi came up with the idea of using two cameras and casting images from these cameras to the walls. Her ideas efficiently solved the issue without slowing down the computing process. Zi can always find efficient ways to solve problems and keep everything running forward simultaneously.”

There are several required characteristics a game designer must have in order to be successful in their career. Every game has a target audience, and as a designer, it is his or her job to be aware of said audience. “Game designers communicate with the players through their games. A game designer should love his or her players and aim to work their design around their audience in order to provide a complete gaming experience,” said Li.

When it comes to her games in particular, Li works hard to engage these qualities that will ensure audience fulfillment as well as personal success in her own designing approach. Commenting on the matter, Li said, “I love being able to see into other people’s minds through their work, and I try to provide my players with a glimpse into my own through mine. My passion is communicating with people through the game as a form of art rather than just being passionate about making a game with no meanings.”

As a designer, it is Li’s responsibility to apply design and aesthetics to a game for its players to enjoy. More often than not, this type of work expresses the theme of the game. “For example,” Li explained, “I came up with the mechanics that translate the idea of psychological concept related to dualism in “Dissonance.” The two shadows involved in the came are casted from different lighting and visualize the abstract concept of dualism. One shadow represents logic and actions, while the other represents intuition and feelings. This approach I’ve created is unique and has never been done before. The game communicates the psychological concept through gameplay and people can see the idea even if they don’t speak the language – one of the main reasons why I believe “Dissonance” gets recognition from so many countries.”

“Dissonance,” an award winning, video game developed by Team Dissonance, is a puzzle-adventure game. After six months of development, what started out as Li’s personal thesis project, expanded to a team of over ten people. The developers transmitted the psychological concept about dualism into the core mechanics of the game to make it more than just a puzzle.

Since it’s initiation, “Dissonance” has received awards such as Most Innovative Game in Indie Prize and Experimental Game Finalist in Out of Index Festival, as well as appreciation from several different countries and organizations.

“I draw inspiration from all sorts of things,” Li answered, when asked from where she draws her ideas. “I often find myself motivated by other media, biology, psychology, and life experiences.” “Orbanism,” a game Li created with her friend Anisha, is inspired by the biology concept of mutualism and interspecific competition. Regarding how the game works, Li said, “It’s a two player game in which players are competing against one another and working as a team to overcome obstacles.”

Similarly, Li’s game called “Greek to Me,” is a game in which each player hears multiple different languages and has to distinguish which is English in order to reach their goal. “The game shows how hard it is for a foreigner to achieve things in a strange country,” said Li, detailing its purpose.

Li’s years of experience in designing and producing video games have allowed her to explore various diverse genres, ultimately rounding out her impressive framework of success. Her projects range from the puzzle genre to games that fall into the category of RPGs, ultimately proving a type of versatility that not every game designer carries.

“Through working on various projects, I can easily understand different aspects of a game and, overall, the image of each project. Though they all vary from one another, every step of the process teaches me new skills and perspectives of game development. These experiences contribute to me becoming a better designer who can be creative and resourceful. Thanks to my past experiences, I have learned how to be a better leader and am very confident approach to game designing and producing,” said Li.

“Dungeon Crash” and “Epic Knights” are two of Li’s mainstream mobile RPG games. With over 1 million download, “Dungeon Crash” was featured at both Android and Apple Stores, and was rated as a top-grossing Android game. With 50,000 downloads from over 100 countries, Li’s “Epic Knights” was rated the same.

Observing Li’s leadership abilities, Annie Chan, associate producer of “Dungeon Crash,” affirmed, “The developers of all games always want to put every fun element into their game, which not only slows down the development, but often creates a lot of bugs. Zi quickly spots this tendency and puts a stop to it. She directs the team to focus on improving the current version of the game and providing users with a user-friendly experience. Since Zi has stepped in and corrected the direction of “Dungeon Crash,” the overall performance of the game as well as its player reviews has gone up.”

Aside from Li’s sought after designing and producing abilities, her work as an art director has also reached a massive number of audience members. As the art director of “Leviathan,” Li is accountable for the overall look and feel of the Leviathan-world, as ensures the quality and style of the world as it is built.

The game itself is a bold and daring mix of virtual reality, augmented reality, cinema, and the novel based on the celebrated steampunk series by Scott Westerfield.

For her role, Li was required to conduct research in order to offer various ideas for the creation of an assortment of creatures for the game. “Zi came up with creatures that carried the story plot and were consistent with the rest of the world,” explained the creative director of “Leviathan,” Sunil Kalwani. “In the ship of “Leviathan,” the main characters need a communication tool. Zi designed Messenger Lizard, which is similar to a mobile phone, which offers an incredible user experience. Messenger Lizard’s skin color can change based on the emotion of the person on the other side. In this way, users can see the visualized emotion of the messages and choose if they would like access to whatever type of emotion or person. Zi’s creativity brings vivid life and a friendly, visualized experience to the Leviathan-world.”

“Leviathan” won the award for New Frontier Project at the Sundance Film Festival and has been featured on The Creators Project, a joint celebrity blog of art and technology by VICE, as well as at the internationally renowned Consumer Electronics Show.

In an industry that is still dominated by males, Li takes pride in being a successful, Asian female game designer. “Every time I’ve attended a game festival, I’ve noticed that the majority of the developers are male,” Li recalled. “As an Asian, female game designer and producer, I realize that my background is definitely different from most of the game developers I know.”

As a child, Li was fascinated with the Asian culture, art pieces that speak universal languages, and struggled with being both logical and sentimental. Now, she’s discovered her voice in the industry, and doesn’t hesitate to own her perspectives, thoughts or feelings. “I like to express my progressive, Feminist views through my work. I am proud to be a woman working in a field that used to be entirely dominated by men. I hope I can bring more of my unique viewpoints to the table and push the game industry to be more progressive with my knowledge and skills,” said Li.

Continuing that thought, Li added, “Contrary to popular belief and stigmatism, games aren’t always products used to simulate violent actions in the virtual world. Games can be used for educational, medical or experimental purposes. For me, I would like people to have fun and also find satisfaction within the spiritual communication through the gameplay when they play my games. That is what I aim to achieve.”

For more information, please visit: http://liizii.com/

 

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British Journalist’s mandate is ‘percolating and sifting the information of the world’

BritWeek
Journalist Richard Bence specializes in travel narratives and is a fixture among world-class publications.

 

British-born journalist Richard Bence has an elegant, energetic and always expressive professional style. His capable navigation of the oft challenging post-print landscape has earned Bence a solid reputation as a versatile writer with a comprehensive grasp of subject and clarity of presentation. These gifts have taken him from a solid decade-plus stint as a travel writer to the loftiest pinnacles of specialized prestige periodicals and web presences, serving both as a contributor and editor.

Bence, who is equally at ease creating in-depth magazine features and effective public relations campaigns, realized his calling at an early age, thanks to none other than Superman and his “mild-mannered newspaper reporter” alter ego, Clark Kent. “I distinctly remember watching “The New Adventures of Superman” with Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher in the mid ’90s and knew that is what I wanted to do,” Bence said. “It seemed incredibly glamorous and exciting, like having a kind of diplomatic immunity which gave you access to another world. Back then magazines held the keys to what was cool, they were the gatekeepers, the opinion-formers, the style makers. I wanted to be one of those people, percolating and sifting the information of the world.”

Bence wasted no time pursuing his vocation.

“I was fortunate to know someone at the Express Newspaper where I gained my first valuable work experience and never looked back. Every summer I would contact a magazine, GQ, Attitude, and get more experience, all the while becoming more and more certain that this was the career for me. It was my manifest destiny, and seemed like the ultimate rock and roll profession. It is ridiculously tough to make a go of it as a writer, but fortunately I have always been blessed with staff jobs.”

Gifted with two critical qualities—talent and instinct—Bence has distinguished himself at some very high profile outlets, as a contributor to the prestigious London Sunday Times Style, Condé Nast’s Tatler and as managing editor of Barclays Bank’s elite, invitation-only Little Book of Wonders website, among many others.

“I was a travel journalist for 12 years and that type of journalism will forever be part of my DNA, but things really took off in 2011 when I made the digital leap to become editor in chief of CoutureLab, a luxury e-commerce site for global nomads,” Bence said. “I was the conduit for Carmen Busquets, the high priestess of couture. That was interesting because I wasn’t so much telling my story but that of the chairman, a Venezuelan entrepreneur who entrusted me with communicating her message to the CoutureLab customer.”

From that auspicious assignment, Bence went on to become managing editor of Little Book of Wonders, where he specialized in developing inventive ways to help brands connect with Barclays’s ultra-high net-worth customers.

“This was a shift for me and allowed me to see the commercial power of content,” Bence said. “I had been helping places tell their stories for airlines as an inflight magazine editor. It was a natural progression to use those skills I learnt at the coalface of travel journalism to help enhance experiences for the global elite.”

He excelled in this new capacity, as Creative Director Laura Rule, whose clients have included Victoria Beckham and Mario Testino +, described:

“When Richard was at Couturelab, a leader in the field of online luxury, I commissioned him to consult on two luxury brand projects for Mario Testino +. Richard provided in depth and knowledgeable marketing research and inspired creative ideas, which in turn informed the brands vision on the projects,” Rule said. “Richard has achieved an incredible amount in a short space of time. Needless to say, I am always beyond excited by the results of our work together. Even as a consultant I consider him to be an excellent and highly valued part of my team.”

With a solid international reputation that’s made him a familiar, recognizable force at the highest altitudes of journalism, editing, promotion and marketing, when Bence relocated to Los Angeles he promptly began to expand his professional palette, adding broadcasting—for Monocle 24, a 24-hour online radio station with 400,000 listeners per month—to his already formidable resume.

“Since moving to the U.S. in 2014, I am fulfilling my ambition to become an expert on all things California and have found a special niche celebrating British creativity and innovation in Los Angeles,” Bence said. “As a print journalist, I focus mainly on travel, design and style, but more recently, I have gravitated towards the arts and on air journalism as the West Coast correspondent for Monocle 24. I get to talk about art, architecture, TV and film, which is a dream really. Radio is definitely having a ‘moment’ and I am glad to be part of its renaissance.”

The high flying Bence’s ambitions are matched only by his capabilities and his sterling roster of achievement is uniformly celebrated by professional associates.

“Richard has been an essential asset as a publicist and editor. His ability to establish connections and contribute to all aspects of editorial and creative direction at a high level has been fundamental to the success of our award-winning publications.” said Juliet Nilsson, Creative Director at Vind & Våg Publishing House. “I have no doubt moving forward that whatever journalistic role he will play his professional manner and highly skilled approach will be of significant benefits to future projects.”

Kate Petersen: Stunt Woman and Role Model

 

Known for her multiple roles as an empowered woman, one might argue that 23-year-old Kate Petersen, acclaimed stuntwoman and performing artist, is not an unlikely candidate as a role model for young women everywhere.

In an age where youth are chronicled as struggling to focus on a singular task at hand and technology rewards our brains for precisely the opposite, Kate has turned her passion for several activities into a successful career, advantageous in this field expressly for its rare diversity.

With a childhood start in gymnastics, figure skating and circus aerials and groundwork, Kate began her career with the “Trix Circus,” touring Australia at the age of 12. Not long after, she began landing lead roles in some of the world’s largest live stunt shows such as, “Super Performance Centre,” Seaworlds’ “Pirates Unleashed,” Movie Worlds “Fright Nights,” Dream World’s “Kevil Hill and Daydream Circus” and Chimelong Paradise’s “Countdown till Destruction” and “Cyber Evolution.”

One of Kate’s first recurring live performance jobs was with Super Performance Centre, which is regarded as one of the best gymnastics and circus clubs on the Australian Gold Coast. There she was cast in a number of productions and events taking on many different (but always leading) characters, with each production allowing a different side of her diverse experience in gymnastics and circus performing to shine. As one of Super Performance Centre’s star performers, Kate made her mark in the minds of massive crowds through many memorable solo acts including the “Spanish Web.”

Not only did Kate’s work with Super Performance Centre give her the perfect venue to showcase her on-stage skills early on in her career, but it also tested her skills as choreographer and production coordinator, strengths she would go on to use in many future productions.

Kate’s diverse skill-set including fire burns, high falls, precision driving and acting, has made her a sought after performer for both live and scripted productions, with one of her first major film roles being that of the strong and sexy “Rescue Ops” secret agent trained to infiltrate the world’s most dangerous organizations. Kate not only starred in the action-packed hit, but also performed all of her own fight scenes and stunts.

“I love performing the skills that I’ve worked so hard on and doing something that I absolutely love as a career. This is something I’ve trained towards my entire life and I can’t imagine doing anything else, this is my absolute passion and it drives me everyday to do these amazing things that I dream about,” explained Kate when asked what she loves about being a performing artist.

It’s difficult to not feel inspired by Kate’s striking combination of the formidable and confident persona that she brings to the stage and screen, and her equally impressive passion and drive in her personal life. Kate aims to motivate young people to pursue a career because, “it makes you stronger, more confident and it’s a lot of fun.”

Kate is an embodied example of precisely why this attitude towards our career choices is so necessary. She attributes her passion for performing and the joy that it brings her for the ability to overcome the unavoidable challenges that accompany a diverse and highly athletic job description. In 2010 Kate underwent back surgery, putting her out of training for six months, one of her biggest challenges in her career. Within a few months back, she had regained all of her stunt skills, feeling stronger than ever.

A woman who can do it all, we can all stand to learn a lesson from Kate and her valuing of both physical and emotional strength, focus and passion for life and work alike. Continue to follow her exciting and action-packed career with her upcoming leading role in the live show, “Tidal,” a dramatic mix of circus and street entertainment, touring the US in September 2016.

KidCrusher Puts Horrorcore on the Map in Australia

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Nexus Effected (left), KidCrusher and Xibalba Bunny (right) shot by Rom Anthonis

When one thinks of Australia’s music scene, death metal hip-hop, more commonly known to fans as horrorcore, doesn’t necessarily come to mind. However, this style of music, which is considered a subgenre of hip-hop with a strong horror-theme influence, cryptic lyrical content, and brutal imagery, has garnered quite the worldwide following due in large part to an electrifying artist by the name of KidCrusher.

Initially stimulated by hardcore hip-hop, “I started my first rap group at the age of 12 and released 2 albums on cassette tape (around 1996), when I reached high school I was introduced to metal music and assembled my own cover band, ” says KidCrusher as he recalls his early love for the music genre.  

The Adelaide, South Australia native exploded onto the music scene back in 2005 when he released his first single “A Dirty Fuckin Murder,” and the accompanying music video, which instantly went viral. With over 280,000 plus views online, the popularity of the video skyrocketed and became a sensation among fans, the irony of this is the fact that the musician filmed the video by himself in his own backyard! What is even more impressive, and something that has lent to the major traction KidCrusher gained in the public eye back in the early stages of his career is that fact that it was included an episode of the hit TV show Law & Order. KidCrusher gained a huge cult following online and around the world, and the talented musician came to the fated realization that a career in music was his true calling.  

Check out the music video below:

After that there was no turning back for the KidCrusher. He began churning out albums  like there was no tomorrow; and, the worldwide praise he has received in exchange is monumental.  The unconventional, multi-talented musician (who also plays guitar, bass, programmed drums, piano, and also produces most of his own beats) released 12 studio albums over the past decade. In addition to this prolific pace, his live shows have definitely been a major cornerstone of the artist’s success, Over the years he has been featured on the bill with other popular global artists such as Insane Clown Posse, Xzibit, Tech N9ne, Hed(pe), Mushroomhead, Hopsin, and many more.

The musician’s most recent album “Metal Murder 3D” is perhaps his most universally acclaimed production to date with the album going on to win the Faygoluvers Metal Album of the Year Award in 2015. The award winning album also features a track entitled “Alice in Zombieland,” and with the support of Strongman Productions, a film-driven music video for the hit song was created and released in theatres throughout Australia during Monster Fest Trasharama.

“Music has always been like my best friend forever, I connect so well with it that to me, music is my life, career, past present and future of me. Every time I finish an album I say to myself ‘I’ll take a mini break and relax for a bit’ and it never happens, it pulls me back in, I feel so separated without it. I don’t know if its boredom or the drive for that amazing feeling of creating a masterpiece,” says KidCrusher.

And there doesn’t appear to be any slowing down as far as KidCrusher’s passion for making music and movies go. He recently released “Back to the KidCrusher” a video that celebrates his ten year anniversary of making music which also happens to coincide with “Back to the Future Day” on October 21, 2015. After the music video ends, there is a 30 minute documentary that highlights KidCrusher’s ten year career entitled “Ten Years of KidCrusher.” 

You can see the music video and documentary below:

Regardless of what medium is used, KidCrusher’s drive to make music and movie magic is nearly unmatched by any other performer in the Australian scene.  

Q & A with Cinematographer Ross Radcliffe

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Cinematographer Ross Radcliffe on set of “Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet” shot by Dallas Childers

It’s not often you’ll find a cinematographer with the eye of a skilled artist and the mindset of a trained athlete, but that’s just what cinematographer Ross Radcliffe brings to the table. Well-versed in the technological aspects of filmmaking and seemingly indestructible in any harsh environment, Radcliffe possesses a unique combination of talents invaluable to the industry. He is able to keep up with the greatest extreme athletes in the world, giving viewers the opportunity to experience life’s adventures in corners of the globe we’d otherwise never see.

Radcliffe has been directly responsible for capturing cutting edge footage included in some of the nation’s top-rated shows including Travel Channel’s critically acclaimed series Jackson Wild as well as The Last Alaskans, Animal Planet’s second-most-watched series last year.  A professional lacrosse player turned cinematographer, Radcliffe has dedicated thousands of hours to perfecting his craft, and has captured breathtaking images from the Alaskan Yukon to the great African plains while keeping up physically with the world’s most extreme sporting.

No stranger to the frigid Alaskan temperatures, Radcliffe displays his strengths flawlessly for multiple shows based in the Alaskan climate. One show in particular, National Geographic’s Dr. Oakley: Yukon Vet, showcases this cinematographer’s visions magnificently. Without Radcliffe’s sharp eye, technological ingenuity, and physical stamina, Dr. Oakley’s life-saving emergency surgeries performed in season 2 may have never been captured. Radcliffe’s contribution to the production not only brings picturesque scenery and landscapes into homes worldwide, but it also opens up the doors to catch a glimpse of science and biology so uniquely fascinating, yet otherwise unobtainable.  

Last week I got the opportunity to interview Radcliffe about his work as a cinematographer. In our interview, he opens up about what led him to pursue a career in the field, his views on the relationship between technology and storytelling, and the importance of physical fitness in his field of work. For more information on Ross Radcliffe, be sure to check out the interview below.

 

Where are you from? When and how did you become a cinematographer?

RR: I’m from Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, on Vancouver Island. I became a cinematographer in college; I was actually a star athlete on both the lacrosse and track & field teams- I was even drafted to play professional lacrosse- but unfortunately, after sustaining a series of bad injuries, I made the tough decision to put an end to my athletic career. I quickly turned my attention to camera work, dedicating all the time I’d previously spent training my body into training my eye behind a camera. Before long, I was producing my own videos, which lead to an internship with Susie Films, a full service, pitch to post production company. That internship turned into a full-time job, and before I knew it, I was shooting content for reality TV, commercials and short films. I now work as a freelance cinematographer for National Geographic, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, and Travel Channel. As a cinematographer, I specialize in the projects that are both physically and technically demanding.

What does the work of a cinematographer entail? What are your responsibilities?

RR: To be a cinematographer is to be a visual storyteller. I get to craft images that effectively move the audience through a story, with all the twists and turns of emotions along the way.  As a cinematographer, I test and select camera and lighting packages that will best tell the story at hand, and I communicate with the director to best craft the image of the story they strive to tell. I think a big responsibility of mine, due to the type of projects I shoot, is to stay on top of my physical conditioning. When I film a subject, I want to make sure their are no barriers between the story and the audience, so I have to be a pro at following along, no matter the conditions or situations might be. In my field, a good cinematographer blends into the situation to let it play out as naturally as possible.

What do you think makes good cinema?

RR: I believe that good cinema comes from the relationship between technology and storytelling. When those two things work well together, people will watch.

What has been your favorite camera to use so far and why?

RR: My favorite camera is the Sony FS7. This new camera, capable of filming footage in 4K resolution, is the perfect camera for adventure-based cinematographers like myself since it is lighter than its predecessors, and has the ability to shoot a wide variety of profiles to suit all types of projects, and can be outfitted with a variety of third-party accessories. To that end, the Sony FS7’s native E-mount lensing system can easily be adapted to use both Sony and Canon lenses, which are both phenomenal lines of lenses.

Can you tell me a little bit about the projects you’ve done?

RR: I was the director of photography on The Travel Channel’s show, Jackson Wild. The show revolved around the Jacksons, a family comprised of the world’s best professional kayakers. During this production, I followed the Jackson family to Germany, Austria, South Africa, England and Zambia, where I faced the crazy challenge of keeping up with them- physically. Being an athlete myself, I was able to capture mountain biking through Europe and waterfall jumping in Africa but, for the record, running around Africa with a 40 lb camera on your shoulder isn’t easy!

I also worked on National Geographic’s Dr. Oakley: Yukon Vet, as the director of photography. I really enjoyed being just one step behind Dr. Oakley, a famous wildlife veterinarian, through Alaska and the Yukon as she gave aide to all different types of animals. While this project was extremely demanding physically and sometimes entailed stepping in stinky animal droppings or running from an angry muskox, I was honored to be part of such a small, handselected team. Each member demonstrated such an amazing ability to wear many different hats, so to speak, and the results were well worth it. Looking back on the experience, I really loved capturing the vast personalities of the beautiful Alaskan backdrop, and using it as almost another character in the show.

Perhaps one of the most fun and challenging project I have contributed to is The Animal Planet/ Discovery Channel’s The Last Alaskans, where I was worked as a specialty camera operator and equipment mechanic for the entire second season. The Last Alaskans has garnered critical praise from top international publications around the world for its genre-busting take on the people and families who reside in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge, located just above the arctic circle. During production, the crew lives out in the field with the talent; to give you an idea of what this is like, I can tell you that every morning I woke up in a tent in -30 degree weather, and immediately started a fire. Long story short, making this show wasn’t easy, so producers gathered only the best crew in the TV industry to execute the show’s production because of its extreme physical and technical nature. With the great success of this show discussed in the New York Times and the Washington Post, I am proud of my important contributions to the production.  

What would you say your strongest qualities are as a cinematographer?

RR: I take great pride in my physical ability to endure extremely harsh and exhausting environments while capturing content. I also keep myself well versed on the latest and greatest camera technology as it hits the market, and I figure out how it can be best utilized in the field.

What projects do you have coming up?

RR: I am the Director of Photography for the next season of Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet. I have also been offered a job with Discovery Channel’s Alaska: The Last Frontier, but until I have a visa, it will be impossible for me to accept this opportunity.

What are your plans for the future?

RR: I plan on continuing to travel the world, gathering and telling stories of unique people in captivating places. I am also interested in working on feature films.

What do you hope to achieve in your career?

RR: I want to create a body of work that I am proud of; ultimately, I’m determined to tell stories that inspire and move people.

Why are you passionate about working as a cinematographer and why is it your chosen profession?

RR: Being a cinematographer is the only job I have ever had that doesn’t feel like work.  Every day that I wake up on location, I truly cannot believe how lucky I am. I’m honored and humbled to be instrumental in telling stories about people and places that would have gone otherwise unnoticed. It gives me a beautiful opportunity to put myself in the shoes of people living a different life experience than me, and I love trying to see the world from their eyes.

 

‘Muted Woman’ ad campaign gives Women a Voice against Domestic Violence

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Polisan Home Cosmetics and Kollektif’s “Muted Woman” campaign raised awareness on domestic violence against women.

Her voice wasn’t heard.

But the message couldn’t have been louder.

It was an impactful ad campaign called “Muted Woman” and was a project carried out by Kollektif, a prominent advertising agency headquartered in Istanbul, and Polisan Home Cosmetics, a 31-year old home décor retailer in Turkey.

The campaign is moving, gripping and emotion-stirring. It takes head on this frightening and disheartening reality: “Every second woman in Turkey is subject to either physical or verbal abuse.”

Leading the campaign was Kollektif VP and Creative Director Ozan Yurtsever, Kollektif senior copywriter Gorkem Ciftci and M. Cagri Kara, who consulted the art direction on the project.

“The subject matter, ending violence against women, was truly uneasy and dark content,” said Ciftci.

With an emotionally raw and unprecedented strategy, the campaign’s message was expressed in a simple, but brilliant way.

Using a video posted to Polisan Home Cosmetics’ Facebook page July 31, 2015, the campaign unveiled a woman sobbing and crying out for help with her eyes closed for 33 unforgettable seconds. Her plea is muted, entirely unheard and representative of that of many suffering women in Turkey.

At the end, the narrative on violence against women says it best with the Turkish subtitle: “It’s time to raise your voice.”

Said Kara, “We wanted to shine a light on a problem that’s paralyzing many embattled women in Turkey. More than that though, we hoped to reach women anywhere in the world who are unfortunate victims of domestic violence. It’s a shameful social problem and our objective as creatives was to pool together an influential directive and use social media as an effective launch pad to get this out to the world.”

The mission was undoubtedly accomplished.

“Muted Woman” was viewed more than two million times in just three weeks and a massive conversation was sparked on social media addressing domestic violence toward women.

It has nearly 12,000 likes and more than 2,500 shares. It won many prestigious awards in the advertising industry including three 2015 Crystal Apple awards and the 2015 Mixx Awards Gold.

As to the art direction, the woman in the video wears a black t-shirt and sobs in front of a gray backdrop. Her hair is disheveled and she raises her left hand toward her face revealing a wedding ring on her finger. She cries out words, but they are not discernible or audible.

“The colors were designed and selected to convey the needed tone,” Kara said. “It’s a kind of minimalist theme that’s intended to stay secondary to the performance, but it supplements the message. Dark color palettes are of course associated with grieving and distress. We hoped the design would only enhance the message.”

Yurtsever has collaborated with Kara on many ad campaigns including for brands such as Audi, Finansbank, Frito-Lay and CNN.

Of “Muted Woman,” Yurtsever said, “From the conception of the design, Cagri demonstrated his prowess as an intuitive art director with expert command of his craft. He led an entire team to produce the images that we needed for our campaign, determining the overall style and tone that corresponded best to our theme and the production’s statement as a whole.”

Kara, an Istanbul native and award-winning art director for brands such as Coca-Cola, Lamborghini and Fox Television, also wrote and composed music for the “Muted Woman” case video that demonstrates the campaign’s mission and execution.

“Mr. Kara’s presence on the production of “Muted Woman,” added enormous depth and meaning to the project,” said Ciftci. “Cagri completely understood the concept and what we needed to keep the material dignified.”

Visit www.cagrikara.com for more information and watch the “Muted Woman” case video here: cagrikara.com/#/muted/

Model in Focus: Axel Swan

Axel Swan
Axel Swan shot by Szilveszter Makó

In the world of modeling, having a certain look and being able to pull off many is crucial, and after seeing the photos and ad campaigns featuring British Italian male model Axel Swan, it is easy to see that the international heartthrob has that special something that turns heads.

Standing at 6’3” with glossy chin-length hair, a skinny frame and tattoos on his arms and legs, at first glance you might assume Axel is the typical bad boy, but in reality he is a fun loving, laid back guy who loves to play bass guitar, skateboard and create art using graphic design.

Like Cindy Crawford and many of the world’s most iconic models, Axel was originally ‘discovered’ at a mall at the ripe age of 15, but he didn’t take the fashion world seriously until several years later when, at the age of 21, he exchanged numbers with a booking agent he met at a bar. Finally ready to dote his natural beauty and gift for becoming various characters in front of the camera upon the modeling industry, Axel went on to sign with Barcelona’s Uniko Models and Two Management in the U.S., two of the world’s leading modeling agencies.  

The decision was certainly a wise one for the model, as he has since been tapped to work with some of the biggest and best photographers and most fashion-forward designers working in the industry today. 

“Modeling is a great way to get to know great and talented creative people, and it gives you the possibility to see places and travel more,” says Axel.  

Axel was featured as the main model in an ad campaign for renowned Japanese designer Junya Watanbe and iconic Spanish luxury brand Loewe where he modelled their rich collaborative collection of fine leathers and crisp denims; and boy did he do it with style!

The editorial was included in GQ Italia, in addition to being featured on the magazine’s website alongside the fashion video.The video shows close ups of Axel and the other models swaying, and slowly moving around in their gear, all while a clock ticks in the background, as if to imply that their apparel is “the bomb.”

You can check out the video below:

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/73335431″>Loewe x Junya Watanabe</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/magmhi”>magmhi.com</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Axel was also the driving force in a series of editorials entitled “Lucha Libre” where he sports the brilliant fashions of famed designer Barbara Sanchez Kane for Fucking Young magazine. The gifted model goes all out by wearing a variety of colorful fabrics and conveying emotions, while genuinely capturing the true spirit of the “Lucha Libre” traditions.

In astonishing contrast to the bright colors and looks he sported for the Sanchez Kane editorial, Axel went to the dark and melancholic side in a series of editorials entitled “Shiele Reloaded” for Papercut Magazine.

The focus of the fantastic high-art series, Axel perfectly resembled the characters from various turn of the century paintings by famed Austrian expressionist painter Egon Shiele; and what’s more, as he sports an array of styles from contemporary brands such as Myths and Munn, he manages to brilliantly blend the old and the new.

“I’d always been really shy and introverted growing up and I thought the industry was the right place where to force myself to show others my personality as well as getting to know talented individuals. I managed to improve my personality kicking away most of my shyness,” admits Axel.

His statement has proven to be undeniably true as his repertoire of work to date, which includes modelling hair products for Urban Tribe, premium handbags for Italian brand Catherinelle, colorful swim trunks for Evin Beachwear, and footwear for prominent Italian brand Cult shoes, reveal Axel as a cool, calm and confident hunk that we cannot help but be captivated by.

Although breaking out of his shell appears to have come rather effortlessly for the 23 year old model judging by his photos, nothing in the industry can put a model’s confidence to the test quite like strutting down the catwalk. And Axel has definitely not shied away from that aspect of the industry either. Walking for leading designers at the renowned Barcelona Fashion Week where he sported creations for esteemed fashion designer Krizia Robustella’s “Black & Gold Kings” show, Axel showed audiences and buyers alike that he is one model that not only knows how to nail the mark, but one that leaves us wanting more.

Whether it be a print ad or a runway show, Axel Swan is sure to please even the harshest of critics. The sought after and diversely talented model has a lot of campaigns set for release this year, but one that will unquestionably introduce him to those who aren’t familiar with his work yet is the upcoming campaign he shot for Coca-Cola, which is slated to hit billboards across international markets very soon.

 

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