Industry IQ STUDIO TOUR: AXIOM ZEN

(guest post by Ana María Posada, DD34)

With rain on our backs we eagerly entered the underground building of Axiom Zen. Amy, a UX designer, welcomed us with a friendly smile. Axiom Zen is a Vancouver-based innovation company that develops apps and experiments with new technologies working with industry giants like Apple, Google, Baidu, and Facebook.

The first thing that struck me was the stillness in the office and the people who work there in an atmosphere of calm and concentration. I stood in awe watching employees working in front of their screens, some standing, some sitting, typing lines of code. They were so immersed in their work that few noticed our sizable presence.

We joined Amy in an open-spaced corner of the studio and sat down on Molo-designed seating for a brief introduction about the studio. She explained to us the dynamics of the work environment, their creative process and the types of projects that have been developed in the studio. Later, Amy was accompanied by Brian, Dieter and Nick to explain more about Axiom Zen and to answer all of our keen questions.

Read More

Our visit to Habanero

(guest post by Karam Mahmood)

As design students, we value the time we can meet and be inspired by industry professionals. Vancouver Film School provided us the opportunity to visit an industry leader of user experience and interactive design. This was an opportunity to get hear stories and get advice from the interactive team of Habanero.

Studio visits are a part of our Industry IQ course, and it was great to see VFS alumni during our tours of Motion and Interactive Design studios. At Habanero, we were warmly welcomed by Bradley Smith, a Senior Interactive Designer, who can trace his roots from the first intake of the Digital Design program. Accompanying him were Christopher Parsons, Senior Front End Developer aka “The Coding Wizard”, Zak Woytowich, Interactive Designer and a Digital Design alumnus, and Senior Interactive Designer Kurtis Beard.

After we had all settled down, we were given insight into the process of a how a project develops from the initial client meetings to the final delivery. It was great to see how well the VFS Digital Design curriculum is devised to cater to the industry standards as we followed similar steps. Habanero has very strong views in building authentic relationships with clients. Getting to see inspiring projects that they worked on gave us a really positive vibe from them towards their clients in building a long-term relationship.

We took a tour of their office and got to see the rest of the team, all fully focused and involved in their tasks. We also learned about Habanero’s approach in occasionally shuffling seating arrangements so employees can collaborate and be inspired working with different minds.

Thanks to Louise Lee for arranging our visit, and many thanks to Habanero for hosting us!

Read More

Our visit to Tribal DDB

(guest post by Jay Lee)

DDB is one of the most successful and award-winning international agencies. Digital Design Class 33 had the pleasure of visiting DDB Vancouver to catch a glimpse of their creative process. Upon entering the office, the walls proudly displayed framed work they have produced for various brands. We were escorted to the lounge, where we were greeted by Antonio Roman and Gabriel Santiago, Digital Design alumni who are now interactive designers at the agency, and Josh Fehr, the creative director of Tribal DDB.

After brief introductions, we were presented with some of their recent projects with EVO, Volkswagen, and Metropolis. The presentation was followed by a Q&A session where Josh and Antonio emphasized the importance of ‘share value’ in the digital era and original ideas that deliver tangible results. They led us on a tour around the office, where we experienced their creative process first-hand. The walls were covered with moodboards and style guides, which we have become very familiar with in our school curriculum. The team members were discussing ideas in a meeting with champagne in hand, which we learned is a fun Friday afternoon ritual at the office.

Read More

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!

 

STUDIO TOUR: Axiom Zen

(guest post by Julien Herras)

“It’s an exciting time to be a designer.” We’ve had this thought since we started not too long ago, and our recent trip to Axiom Zen just made it clearer. It was a sunny Friday afternoon and everyone was eager to relax and unwind; however, none of us thought our day could get any more exciting.

It was a short walk from VFS to their office that was located right beside BC Place. As we took a class photo outside their doors while waiting, we were welcomed by a glorious photobomb from Amy Ngai, a UX designer for Axiom Zen. They quickly ushered us into what seemed to be a huge coffee lounge with an island of computers in the middle and whiteboards all around. This turned out to be a big chunk of their office, and it was exciting to see the environment in which these individuals cultivated their ideas.

Read More