(guest post by Ignacio Florez)
It was a Tuesday afternoon when we, the Digital Design Class 33, found ourselves walking through Chinatown, Vancouver. We were looking for a little place known as Giant Ant. Today was going to be the day when Jay Grandin, one of its founders, was going to give us a talk.
Giant Ant is one of the most respected motion and live action production companies, not only in Vancouver or even in Canada, but possibly in the world. When someone thinks about motion graphics, it’s undeniable that this studio comes to mind. It’s known mostly for its colourful animations and playful style.
We made it to Giant Ant. In a way, the big room where designers, cinematographers and the whole team work made a lot of sense — It was a creative environment. There were Macs everywhere, Wacom tablets, a handmade bicycle rack, and even some cool, hanging, round lights. There were around 20 people working on their computers, completely focused.
Jay greeted us and we followed him to the meeting room. He’s a laid-back guy and, in a way, Giant Ant seems like a reflection of his personality. He was honest from the start: there is no structure when it comes to introducing this type of production company to students. He started talking about the history behind the company; he’s an industrial designer who got into the video world and started Giant Ant with his wife, Leah. In the beginning it was only them and a phone, then things started growing – and growing.
Jay showed us some of their latest work, which inspired many questions from our group, and we looked at some of their storyboards as well as their whole creative process. It’s worth noting how detailed their storyboards are – as Jay explained, at first they were very simple, then they realized that they had to make them as detailed as possible so that the production process could be smoother. Pre-production is probably the most important part of the creative process!
Our questions were mainly divided into two categories: market experience and Giant Ant. There were many things we were curious about: what are they looking for when they hire, how many videos they make a year, how the relationship is between them and the client, how they divide the workload between them, how much time it takes to make some of their motion pieces, how their cinematography team works, what kind of work an intern does, etc.
Giant Ant’s overall objective is to give life to the message, and ensuring the message is as good as it can get. They can be working on a 3D animation piece, but they may have cell animation on top and some After Effects animation in there too – whatever it takes to make it look great. We also discussed how to ensure a piece is well done yet also creates something that tries to break barriers and introduce new ideas to the studio. They’re not afraid to approach unknown techniques and take the time and experimentation to get the result they want.
As for us, we will continue to find our own style and hopefully our way through the journey in which we embarked on when we arrived at VFS.
Thank you for having us, Giant Ant!