Splicing up biological elements and reforming them to create brand new species to illustrate the beauty that results from the exchange of ideas at a conference like OFFF is splendid and must have been a joy to work with as a theme…or at least that’s my take on it. Regardless, what led you to your concept and how did you go about developing it?
Jeff Stevens: The original, over arching concept was strength vs beauty and the affinity that each has for the other. At the same time, I wanted to create something that was abstract yet ‘seemingly’ natural. So, creating an environment that was underwater mixed with air began to take shape. Texture was important to me, so when Kim began illustrating, the contours and rawness of materials started to create a landscape and pattern for all of our characters. The best part was that nothing needed to be real. We could have suggested more reality but I think the blend of species, environment, and biomechanics perfectly summed up that affinity I was looking for.
Titles for conferences can be quite ambitious projects to undertake with the lack of budget, long(er) form animation and having to find a way to cram in numerous titles (in your case 45 or so). What would you say was the most difficult part of this particular project.
JS: The most difficult part was having to cut down on ideas. We took a long time to develop designs and concepts but then, when the reality of producing the scenes set in, we realized that the amount of manpower needed to actually produce every scene we’d planned would be tremendous. So, we had to let some grand ideas go.
Boo Wong: From a production and animation point of view, the largest challenge was in creating 6 completely different worlds for the title sequence. Once designed, each section had its own unique development and execution in 3D and compositing. There were no economies of scale, no reuse of assets. Our creative team in animation came up with beautiful ways time and time again to solve extremely difficult technical challenges in rigging, animation and rendering.
How does this new department within the Mill integrate into the larger company? Is it an entity unto itself or is there a lot of exchange between the artists in the different departments?
Colin Pearsall: Design is integral to everything we do at The Mill. So, naturally it’s important to us that new artists we bring in complement our existing talent, not work separately from it. Our 2D artists, 3D artists and technologists sit together and pitch together, under the lead of our creative directors. Their plans and vision are supported by a production crew with specialized but integrated skills who customize a pipeline for every project.
There have been a few new motion based companies that have formed recently with different strategic visions for how a studio in our industry can operate. What would you say is the Mill’s vision or goal with the creation of a design department? In other words, what do you think will set the Mill NY’s design and animation apart from the rest of the industry?
Colin Pearsall: Our goal is to extend Mill aesthetic to a wider spectrum of projects by cross-pollinating talent from diverse backgrounds (CG, graphic design, character animation, typography, etc.). Our work is a collaboration of creative directors adding their expertise at different stages, making visuals that benefit from multiple tools and eyes working together. This is our unique strength, we’re a collective force that can achieve a level of polish and complexity that’s hard to rival.
Thank you for your time we look forward to seeing what comes out of the Mill’s design department next!
OFFF (International Festival for the Post-Digital Creative Culture) Opening Titles
Premiere: June 26
The Mill NY
Alistair Thompson – Managing Director
Angus Kneale – ECD
Colin Pearsall – EP/Content
Jeff Stevens – Design Director
Kim Dulaney – Designer
Rob Petrie – CG Lead
Boo Wong – Senior Producer
Moss Levenson – Editor
Fall on Your Sword – Music
Henryboy – Sound Design
Weston Fonger – Sound Mix