From creative to tech, business to music, these companies and artists represent the spirit of invention that pervades every aspect of animation and VFX.
Location: Flying back and forth between Moscow and Los Angeles. Years experience: 27 First professional project: A collection of animated shorts titled Lift 1, released in 1989 by Moscow studio Pilot. Current projects: Masha and the Bear its spin-off series, Masha’s Tales. What We Say: Masha and the Bear is one of the most successful global animated series in recent years, tapping into a wide audience of both young and old viewers who are captivated by stories that resonate across the globe with minimal dialogue. To demonstrate how wide its success is, the show has been translated into more than 25 languages and airs in more than 100 countries, while one episode of the series ranks among a handful of YouTube videos that has racked up more than 1 billion views. What He Says: “I think my biggest accomplishment is that I managed to put together a team of extremely talented artists and technicians that was capable of propelling the local national project to an international level. In the future, I hope they will help me to bring my new ideas to life.” Location: Los Angeles Years experience: 30 First project: Animation on the music video for A-Ha’s “Take On Me”. Current projects: Rhythms + Visions / Expanded + Live 3, a large-scale, outdoor visual music event; Beyond Music, Composition and Performance in the Age of Augmented Reality, an immersive visual music concert; Measures and Frames, a live visual music concert. What We Say: Patterson has broken animation out of the traditional bounds of the movie or TV screen and found new forms for the medium and new ways for it to interact with music that have pushed the boundaries for creativity. What He Says: “With encouragement from animator-designers Jules Engel and Saul Bass, I pursued a directing career in animation. At the time, it was very challenging to break in if you weren’t a character animator. Coming from a more experimental style, music videos turned out to be a fantastic place to begin a career ... Creating the animated, five-screen Pictures at an Exhibition in 2011 for the opening of Frank Gehry’s New World Center in Miami Beach was a turning point. This collaboration with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and an amazing team of our USC animation students and graduates showed what was possible in the live visual music medium. Since then, we’ve created multiscreen and immersive projections for contemporary composers. For me, it’s been essential that as an animator, I do not limit myself to just one medium, but freely combine animation with all forms of image-making. Animation is the hub that can connect and synthesize an unlimited number of ideas and concepts.” Location: London Employer: Splendy Interactive Ltd. Years experience: 23 First project: Little Robots, LEGO series for BBC. Current projects: The Bunker, Camera 6, The Baking Bears. What We Say: The potential for combining animation, visual effects and gaming to create a new narrative experience is something that has been promised for years, but Plenderleith is actually delivering it. What He Says: “I enjoy telling stories in new and innovative ways, and today’s technology is now giving storytellers the opportunity to do just that. The Hunting was my first video game after spending years writing scripts for children’s series, and it was so interesting and challenging writing something which was nonlinear with multiple paths. Writers always have many ideas and options when writing a script, but in a game we can pursue all of our ideas and let the players decide which path they would choose. The Bunker, our next game, out later this year, is taking that concept to the next level — a full length feature film which you experience in your own way, discovering the story on your own terms and becoming responsible for the fate of John, our main character, a man alone in a nuclear bunker 30 years after the blast wiped out England. It was a real challenge writing the script — giving players the right amount of freedom while still dictating the arc of the story. I couldn’t write it in Final Draft — it was more of a 3D map, which changed over time — so it was a challenge to convey the story to the crew during filming. Thankfully I had storyboarded every shot, which helped me to pre-visualize the elements I had to direct during filming. It was a big storyboard — my hand still aches!”