Q&A with Ignacio Florez

We recently had a chance to speak to another Digital Design alumnus, Ignacio Florez, Graphic Designer and Videographer at TapSnap.

Can you briefly summarize what your grad project is about?
Poiesis” is a reflection on how we all have a creative side. Some of us have forgotten about it along the way for a number of reasons, but it is there. It is hard to do something and push yourself in a creative manner and in the end you can only keep on trying and doing your best.

How do you come up and define your story line?
I usually work with storylines but for this one I walked away from traditional storytelling and let it flow, almost like a poem. It was basically a voice trying to find the words to express what it meant to him or her what defines creativity and stumbling in the way.

What is the most important step that you think cannot be skipped when you are in the pre-production stage?
Pre-production is the most important phase of the whole process. I’d say one has to always respect the steps in order to get to where you need to be to jump straight into production. Having said that, for me the script is the backbone of every piece I make. No matter how amazing the art direction, animation or anything might be if the script is not powerful enough, everything collapses.

Do you have any tips and tricks that help you manage your scope and goals?
I try to keep my scope as realistic as possible. I come from a world of production and was a TV producer for a couple of years, I guess some of that stayed with me. I prefer having a concise simple piece than an ambitious over the top video that doesn’t quite accomplishes what it wanted to say. Furthermore, when you accomplish your goals fast you get the opportunity to work the project and keep making it as good as you can till delivery date.

How did you define success for a project and how did you measure it?
For me a personal project is successful when I feel that the message got across, when it transmits something.

Did you, at any point during your grad project, feel lost and unsure on how to proceed? If so, what helped you get back on track?
I felt lost throughout all my grad project but I embraced it from the beginning. It was kind of a meta experience: doing a project about how hard it is to be creative and working in a creative process. When it came to process it is again a matter of following the steps of pre-production, production and post as good as one can. You have to set dates, if you’re not happy by the time you should’ve had the final script, for instance, you’re just going to have to keep on going and making small changes along the way.

What are challenges that you need to overcome when creating a motion piece?
From the right art direction choices to establishing the scope of the project one keeps finding challenges throughout. However, with a good pre-production you can overcome these.

What are some of the tools you used? Are there any tools you would recommend?
I used tools from the Adobe suite such as Photoshop, After Effects, Premiere, Audition and also Cinema 4D. I’d recommend Grut Brushes for Photoshop to anyone trying to get a different feel on their digital painting, there are a bunch of other options out there too though.

Looking back, what would be one part of your grad project you would have done differently?
I had the crazy idea, at some point, of printing out every frame and painting them by hand and then going back to digital again. I didn’t do it because of time constraints but I would definitely want to try something like that in the future.

Do you have any advice for current students when it comes to choosing a topic for their grad project?
I’d say do something that feels genuine to you and something that challenges you, while keeping in mind your strengths. It’s not that much about exploring something to learn something new, it’s about making the best thing you can do with your current skills.

What is next for you?
After my year at VFS, it has been almost a year since I graduated, I haven’t stopped working on a number of projects. I love learning little things in each video that I do. Other than my Monday to Friday job I try to do as much freelance work as I can, mainly for non-profit organizations, there’s always more to learn.

What sort of things do you fill your head with?
Perhaps the things that I consume the most are music and movies. I come from a film background and I love getting inspiration from movies.

What do you read?
I tend to jump to different types of books in a random manner. I do find a lot of inspiration from books. I used to read mostly fiction but lately I’ve been having a lot of interest in human psychology, evolution and history. There’s a lot to learn and when it comes to information and general knowledge I always feel like I’m behind the rest. I have to keep on reading to catch up!

What’s inside your scrapbook?
My scrapbook is very personal and it holds a side of me that maybe reflects what I’d like for the future. It’s mostly random drawings which I do in my way to work. From cartoon characters to fast doodles that I do while watching people in the street.

Thanks, Ignacio!

Salazar Awards 2016

Congratulations to Ignacio Flórez for winning a Salazar Award last night in the Video & Motion category for his project, Foxy Matter, a title sequence for a fictional animated movie. He was presented with a cash prize and an award certificate. Ignacio follows in the footsteps of a long list of VFS Digital Design graduates who have won this award. The Salazar Awards are presented by the British Columbia Mainland Chapter of The Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC/BC) and founding sponsor Metropolitan Fine Printers to promote the work of students from design programs in BC. Hanna Cortés was named a finalist and honourable mentions were also given to Adriana Ogarrio and Jay Lee for their motion design projects.

Congratulations to everyone!

The evening also included a panel discussion, moderated by Johnathon Vaughn Strebly, President of GDC/BC, between Roy White (Subplot Design), Nancy Wu (Nancy Wu Design) and Katie Maasik (Lululemon) addressing topics related to agency, freelance and in-house design career opportunities.

Our visit to Giant Ant

(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!