Shadow Play

KU: We’ve been working together for roughly 2 years now. When we began you were just getting settled into your studio in Canada. What are some of the best and some of the hardest things you’ve encountered since then?

Wow it’s been close to two and a half years! Time has really flown by. Since settling into the industry here in Canada I have to say one of the best things I have encountered has to be my team. I have the pleasure of working with some of the most talented individuals in the industry on a day to day basis. It really is a treat to work with like-minded creatives who love what they do and are so passionate about it; it keeps you inspired to keep creating and pushing past all limits! And on the opposite side of the spectrum, I think it’s always really tough to say no, whether it’s to a client, an idea, or even a collaboration. It truly hurts my heart to say no to working with someone or for someone, but unfortunately there are only 24 hours in a day and in order to have a healthy work life balance one can only take on so much! If I had the ability to freeze time I would love to create non-stop for and with everyone! 😀

KU: As a CineDrive and Second Shooter and now Second Shooter Plus user, is there a certain way you describe to others the Kessler gear that you use on a consistent basis? What has been the best part for your creative process with using Kessler motion control products?

Kessler is known in the industry to stand for quality and reliability; the second you mention “I use Kessler for all my moco” there is always a nod of approval by anyone who’s listening. I always describe Kessler as a company that is constantly listening. It’s really amazing to have a dialogue with the creator of a tool and have that tool evolve and adapt to the industry needs.

It’s been great to work with each one of the motion control systems; each system has its unique benefits and reasons to use when creating content. The CineDrive is extremely precise when mapping a complex move. There really isn’t any better tool in my arsenal to execute a 5 axis move. The second shooter works miracles when wanting to have a secondary motion control move, or even the primary one but done faster and a little simpler. The Second Shooter Plus seems to be sitting in-between the two, and as I am testing it to gear up for my next project I feel this hybrid is going to quickly become my go to piece of kit!  Having used each one of these systems on almost every project, I have found the best part is the way they complement my creative process. I know which system is best for which sort of shot I want to achieve and use it to its maximum potential.  I am confident that it will (and does) preform the same every time!

KU: Specifically with Shadow Play, what was your inspiration? Can you describe the production for us, because from our perspective it looks like a legit tech monster was born in your studio.

Thank you so much for the kind words! So happy to hear you guys like it 😀 It started with a small thumbnail where I knew with the right amount of Kessler products suspended and arranged in an abstract manner, and with one key light, we would be able to create shadow art. And in this case the shadow art should depict the Kessler logo. I always try to push towards blurring the lines between reality and fantasy and coaxing viewers to think outside of the box. Kessler products are primarily seen in BTS images and reviews. I wanted to shake things up and create something that shows the design side of these products and create a spot that gets the cine-tech-heads (like myself) excited about the gear, as well as intrigued about how we created this spot.

The production was planned as being simple and straightforward; we would use a projector and project the “K” onto our background and then start shaping out the negative space around it. We quickly realized that the projector light will interfere too much with our key light, and so we decided to print out the K to scale and use that as a guide.

We then started blocking out the broad strokes of the negative shape without knowing if this was really working, as the print out was still in the way. After 5 magic arms, 10 super clamps, a number of wire based rigs and 2 days later, we felt it was now time to remove the paper guide and see if we are actually close. And we were pretty spot on 🙂

Now that we had it complete and ready, all that was left was shooting a few passes of the entire setup before we jumped into stop motion. This meant we had to take it all apart frame by frame, as it was going to all come together backwards.

This project sort of evolved in front of our eyes, and we did quite a few things on the go, since the suspended pieces of equipment was not something that could have been planned accurately.  We knew we would have to adapt the stop motion and push the movement of everything assembling together as much as possible; lucky for me that I was working with my Lead Animator and all round super star Anna Berezowsky. Anna was quick to take me through what she felt would work well and we went though a quick blocking and started to disassemble down to a blank canvas. Before we knew it, voila! We were now in postproduction. I was able to stitch it together pretty soon. All the rigs that were used in the stop motion were removed fairly quick with the sharp skill of Simon Huang, and we were ready to ship it to my lead Sound Designer,Mattia Cellotto.

A few rounds in sound design and some tweaks later, Mattia was able to deliver the final mix and we were all set to take this project live.

KU: Where’s your work taking you right now? Who are you working for?

For the last year and a half I have been almost exclusively working with Mega Bloks/Mattel. Running their Video and Photo department. Currently, I have found myself with a small pocket of time! I am using this time to really hone in on some new concepts, play with some unorthodox ways of story telling and really push myself and my team to truly blur those lines between fantasy and reality while always dancing in-between stop motion and live action. When working with a corporation like Mattel you have the opportunity to partner up with larger studios and companies like Nickelodeon, Universal, Microsoft, to name a few. In order to make sure that I stay current and razor sharp when it comes to content creation and innovative storytelling, I am currently switching into what I like to call “creative refuel mode” as I focus on more personal projects and explore new ways to approach and deliver content.

KU: Biggest goals for the next year?

I strongly believe that the collective power of like-minded and creatively charged individuals is the essential ingredient needed to create impactful content that will make a difference in the way people think and view stories. One of my goals for next year would be to create one project that is truly crowd steering and thought provoking! Through creative exploration I hope to grow, learn and evolve my team along with myself to a point where we can create such a project, even if it is just one next year. I feel we don’t ask two questions enough, “why” and “how”. I want to be able to create content that has you asking exactly those questions and shifting your perspective, even if it’s ever so slightly.

KU: We have to ask the question, if we’re ever in the neighborhood – where’s the best place to grab dinner in Montreal and what should we order?

Well that has to be the toughest question yet. There are so many unbelievable places to eat here, you would need at least a month and a healthy appetite to really get a feel for the culinary bliss that lies in Montreal. My wife and I try to find a new spot every couple of weeks, and since we very recently ate here and the taste is still fresh in my mind, I have to say Salmigondis (http://salmigondis.ca/en/). It’s a quaint little spot in little Italy and the food has to be the best I have eaten so far! You can not go wrong if you go for the chefs tasting menu! But my favorite was definitely their Arctic Char Ceviche! So let me know when you are planning to come down, I’ll be sure to book a table, and I can guarantee you will love the food! :D