Studio Tour: Giant Ant

(guest post by Lizbeth Salazar, DD37)

On February 1st, my class DD37 and I, went to visit Giant Ant. We were really excited because most of us, leaning towards motion design, really wanted to visit a motion studio and the day finally arrived.

We walked together all the way to the studio, which is located at the end of Chinatown. Once we got there, I was not surprised about their office: I knew they were a small company and would have an office space to match. We went inside the studio and the first thing I saw was all the people immersed in their work, some using tablets, others on their computers with headphones on and others in the kitchen probably taking a short break. Whatever they were doing, they were really into it and they seemed happy.

We were directed to their conference room, and we were lucky to meet Jay Grandin, Partner and Creative Director of Giant Ant. Since we were a group of 18 people along with Jay, the room was crowded once we all sat down. He showed us some of their work and told us about how Giant Ant came to life.

We spent most of the time asking questions. The topics ranged from their process of design, the amount of time it takes them in creating their projects, and all the way to him telling us that he never planned on making motion design for living or even have a motion studio. He mentioned that most things happened in unusual ways and not in the way we have thought about them but if we are happy and we have an end goal, then we have to let whatever happens in the way flow and everything will work out in the end. And looking back at this point of his life, he is happy about where he stands and how things worked out.

By the end we asked him about tips or things we should think about if we really wanted to pursue motion design and he gave the following advice:

1. Create the storyboard as best as possible to avoid wasting time later in the process. The better it is, the less time you’ll put in it trying to refine it.

2. Throw as many ideas you and your team have, good and bad ideas. Combine them and if it works, you’ll have a really strong idea.

3. Forget about the money and learn. Do as much as you can. Do work you think has value and that way people will come to you.

Thanks, Giant Ant!

 

Sequential Design

 (guest post by Sean Wright, DD35)

This past Wednesday (June 1st), the 35th Digital Design class had the distinct pleasure of visiting the work space of The Sequence Group, a premier design, visual effects and animation team that happens to be located here in Vancouver.

Guided as always by the vigilant Danny Chan and stoic Grigor Cheitanov, we paired off using the buddy system and departed the halls of higher learning at 420 Homer St. for a brief trek through historic Gastown. You can tell that Sequence have their fingers on the pulse of the city by their choice of location: Railtown. East of Main St. and north of Alexander St., this former industrial area is Vancouver’s next hot target for gentrification and redevelopment, and this studio has literally settled in at the ground floor.The Sequence Group got their start 10 years ago as a private venture by founder Ian Kirby: designing websites, DVD interfaces, motion comics and animated gifs for whomever needed the business. Since then, it has grown to a 15-person team (exact numbers vary by project, swelling to up to 50 strong for large jobs such as last year’s Halo: The Fall of Reach) that is proud to include two VFS DD grads.Upon our arrival the studio was operating under at least one non-disclosure agreement involving projects for the upcoming E3 Convention (video game Christmas) taking place in Los Angeles later this month, so our tour was swift and to the point. We were introduced to the team in their converted industrial space complete with three storey ceilings and rolling windowed doors facing onto a waterfront courtyard, but then quickly whisked away to the cinema room for a thorough demonstration of the team’s completed projects guided by Executive Producer Dan Sioui. Thank you, Sequence Group, for having us!

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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.

Animated Typeface – League Spartan

It’s that time again where students in Term 3 at VFS Digital Design get to work on the Animated Typeface project. Recap: It is a collaborative class initiative where each student makes a second long animated sequence for 3 – 4 glyphs. This time League Spartan was used and this typeface was created by Tyler Finck, Micah Rich, and Caroline Hadilaksono.

These sequences needed to be 25 frames long using three or fewer of the chosen colours. It has been amazing to see the incredible work.

To view the full project, please check out:

League Spartan Animated Typeface

Here is what some students have to share about their experience:

Lawrence Teng

Lawrence Animated Type Screenshot

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INDUSTRY IQ STUDIO TOUR: Giant Ant

(guest post by Kelly Kurtz, DD34)

Our second studio visit that was part of our Industry IQ course in the Digital Design program at VFS started with the most interesting question — How would you accidentally create an inspiring, industry standard raising, and successful company? Say what?! We, the DD class of 34, listened intently as Jay Grandin, Giant Ant Partner & Creative Director, described the story of how the studio was born.

Some 10+ years ago after graduating from an industrial design program, Jay Grandin and Leah Nelson (Wife, Giant Ant Partner and Creative Director) took out a camera on the weekends and created a video for fun. At that time, YouTube was just beginning to become popular. They posted it and it went unexpectedly viral. Companies started contacting them to make videos for them; they had so much interest that they both decided to quit their jobs for a year and try it full time. “We didn’t make any money in the first few years. It wasn’t until about 5 or 6 years in I was finally making $30,000/year, which by today’s standards (especially in Vancouver) is below the poverty line.”

The company continued to grow and they developed a sense of what type of work they wanted to put out there, and what type of work they didn’t want to take on despite the appealing money that could have come in, inspired us with their ethical choices. Many of us hope our work will be used for the greater cause, and we want to work on meaningful projects. Visiting Giant Ant showed us that companies with high standards exist and that in the end you choose what work you take on and choose what type of work you want to produce. Hearing their philosophy was empowering for us as students who are starting to develop our own sense of ethics and direction.

We had an opportunity to ask many questions that gave us insight into their company culture, what they are looking for in potential employees/talent, tips on getting into the industry. He let us in on their company rules, which are simple and to the point, which guide how they interact with each other to achieve the high quality of work they produce. Another real highlight was to see inside their workflow of award-winning motion pieces like Stickboy that was created to be shown at the Vancouver Opera in 2014. Seeing what it takes behind the scenes was inspiring and daunting at the same time, and left us wanting to see more and more!

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