Visit Tour: Giant Ant Studio

(Guest post by Matt Stulberg, DD40)

Recently, our class had the opportunity to visit Giant Ant, a Vancouver-based creative studio specializing in animation and motion graphics. With a client list featuring big names like Google, Facebook, and Disney, and a reel filled to the brim with jaw-dropping visuals, Giant Ant has a well-earned reputation for being the best of the best at what they do. Admirably, they hand-pick the clients they work with in order to always be involved with companies who want to change the world for the better. In taking this approach while producing impeccable visual work, they have managed to create for themselves a rewarding work-life, and have taken home a wide array of accolades and awards in the process. As young Motion and Interactive designers many of us are new to the industry, so we were all incredibly grateful to find out that Giant Ant would be opening their doors to give us a behind-the-scenes look at who they are and what they do.

After a long walk through Chinatown on a rainy afternoon, we abruptly arrived at Giant Ant, hidden away on a quiet street between an Oyster Bar and a vegetable stand. Walking into their cozy workspace, we were greeted by a small community of designers quietly working away in front of iMacs and Cintiqs. As our visit progressed it became more and more apparent to me what a fitting moniker “Giant Ant” is, as it’s quite impressive how a small studio of fewer than 20 people can produce work that feels so immense.

Once we had not-so-stealthily strained to get a quick glimpse of what they were working on, we headed into the conference room where Jay Grandin (Founder & Creative Director), Conor Whelan (Designer & Animator), and Angel Chen (Studio Manager) were kind enough to give us a look into their world. After explaining to us a little bit about their mission and vision, we had the privilege of viewing an exclusive showcase of their projects, both completed and in-progress. I was completely captivated by the stunning visuals, as Giant Ant has a distinctive art style that seamlessly blends various mediums, particularly beautifully stylized illustrations with 3D worlds and environments. However, I was just as impressed with the insight Jay and Conor gave us into the inner-workings of their creative process from start to finish. Being presently involved in our ‘Big Idea’ project ourselves (where we work in teams to create deliverables for a real-life client) it really put things in perspective to hear that they rapidly create these beautiful works in timelines sometimes as short as a few weeks.

Beyond the benefits of getting a peek into the inner-workings of their creative process, I was also very impressed with the quality of storytelling and creative direction found in Giant Ant‘s work. Jay and Conor showed us a piece they had recently completed and were quite proud of titled “Finding Out You Have Cancer”, an animation intended for children and made for the Imaginary Friend Society. Despite an undeniably difficult subject matter, they succeeded in creating a piece with both substance and style, managing to hit all the right notes and for all the right reasons. Ultimately, it was really inspiring to be in the presence of a group of people working hard, taking pride in what they do, and doing it all for causes they believe in.

Before we left, Jay and Conor were kind enough to stay and let us pick their brains, answering our questions in detail until we completely ran out of things to ask about. It was a great experience, and as we said our goodbyes and headed back out into the rain, there was no doubt that we were all inspired… and excited to get back to work!

On behalf of the entire DD40 class, I’d like to extend a big thanks to Giant Ant for taking the time out of their day to give us a tour of their home.

GranFondo Whistler

Vancouver is renowned for its active lifestyle. Various events are sprinkled throughout the year to take advantage of the city’s proximity to great outdoor spaces. The RBC GranFondo Whistler is one such event. Imagine riding a bike for 122-km from Downtown Vancouver to Whistler. The route is filled with breathtaking scenery. However, it is also challenging with steep climbs and thrilling descents.

Loosely translated from Italian, gran fondo means “big ride”, and these mass participation cycling events have a long history in Europe and are gaining popularity in North America. This past Saturday, about 5,000 cyclists took part in one of the premier cycling events in North America. Cyclists rode at their own pace, and they took anywhere from roughly three to eight hours to complete the course.

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Art Battle – A Visual Throwdown

Painting Art Battle

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to participate at Art Battle 54.  Art Battle?  Was that like a visual snub-off where fellow artists paint preposterous pictures of their competitor’s mother?  It was billed as a live competitive painting event where painters create the best work they can in 20 minutes. What ever the case, I was eager to find out!

Until I heard of Art Battle, I never came across the idea of competitive painting.  Painting up until that point was a very private process that was usually spanned the course of days, if not weeks but to have the opportunity to unveil the illusion of art making was very attractive.

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Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains

North Shore Mountains photo by keepsitreal Kyle Pearce

In Vancouver, it’s easy to take for granted the sheer natural beauty of the city and its surrounding landscape. Having lived in this city for well over 10 years now, I can safely call myself a “Vancouverite”, and I enjoy the privilege of living in the “best place on earth”. But despite the number of years I have inhabited this place, one of the many things about this city that never ceases to amaze me (no, I’m not talking about the rain — perhaps that’s simply the cost of living in this pretty city) is the North Shore Mountains. The natural backdrop they provide against downtown Vancouver is a sight that I can never get tired of. Especially now that I take the number 16 bus to get to VFS Digital Design on a daily basis, I have the pleasure of taking in the captivating mountains set perfectly behind English Bay and Stanley Park as my bus glides along Granville Bridge. In fact, I try my best to seat myself on the right side of the bus just so I can catch the breathtaking panorama everyday (given that the weather isn’t dismal).

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VFS Hosts IxDA Vancouver: Interaction 12 Redux

On Saturday, May 12, VFS Digital Design will host IxDA Vancouver’s Interaction12 Redux: a half-day mini-conference with speakers and discussions about interaction design, industry trends, inspiration, and ideas.

As Presenting Partner for the event, VFS welcomes local designers to the VFS Main Theatre for a lineup that includes Scott Nazarian (Frog Design), Mike Kruzeniski (Microsoft), and Ryan Betts (Adobe). The event follows the full Interaction12 conference in Dublin, so if you missed it in February, IxDA’s got your back!

We’re working with IxDA as part of our ongoing commitment to support the design community in Vancouver and beyond. For a small group of outstanding Digital Design students, it also means the chance to attend Interaction12 Redux. We’ll have a report from one of them next week, so stay tuned.

Want to know more about Interaction12 Redux? Get all the details right here. If you’ve already got tickets, we’ll see you at VFS on Saturday!