Cre­ative chaos

Stu­dio founder Karin Fong on har­ness­ing her Imag­i­nary Forces

Computer Arts - - PEOPLE -

Our stu­dio Imag­i­nary Forces is lo­cated on the west side of LA. We’ve been in this space for six years now, and I think my favourite thing about it is all the nat­u­ral light. It’s a ware­house-style space with big open win­dows, so we get a nice breeze. And we have our own park­ing lot – rarer than you’d think in LA.

My work space is best de­scribed as the clut­tered chaos of cre­ativ­ity. You can’t trust stu­dios that are too neat! I’m old fash­ioned – I still like to cut out pa­per frames and Post-its when lay­ing out sto­ry­boards. There’s usu­ally not a spare sur­face – even the walls have drawn frames taped up on them. I’m a big be­liever in the power of mix­ing ana­logue and dig­i­tal, and my area re­flects that.

This empty bot­tle of Old Cana­dian Whiskey (1) was cre­ated for the Board­walk Em­pire main ti­tle shoot on the Jer­sey shore. We shot them in the sand, in the wa­ter, even used a spe­cial rig to smash and shat­ter the glass. The bot­tles were orig­i­nally cre­ated and shot with­out la­bels, all the bet­ter to have them ap­pear il­le­gal – or so we thought. Wrong! We were told in post-pro­duc­tion to put la­bels on all of them. We de­signed the la­bel and reshot some of the bot­tles in the surf, but also added hun­dreds more bot­tles into the ex­ist­ing shots us­ing CG.

Also in the stu­dio are the char­ac­ters from a LEGO Star Wars com­mer­cial (2). Dur­ing prep, we went to the LEGO store in New York to pick out minifig­ure parts to make our team, so they could min­gle

among the LEGO cast on set. I’m com­plete with a mega­phone, ready to com­mand the Stormtroop­ers. Af­ter the shoot, our VFX su­per­vi­sor Meng Lu put the rel­e­vant bricks and minifigs to­gether in groups so our CG team had all the colours and tex­tures in one place. It was such a good time, which in­cluded work­ing with the ‘toy doc­tors’ who flew in from head­quar­ters in Den­mark. They knew the mod­els brick by brick be­cause they had de­signed them.

Also pride of place is a Hiroshi Sugi­moto pho­to­graph (3). It re­minds me of the beauty of the blank screen, wait­ing to be filled. Sugi­moto is a mas­ter of giv­ing a sense of time through light. I es­pe­cially like this se­ries of theatres. He cap­tured them by keep­ing the shut­ter open while a film was play­ing, so that it’s the ac­tual cu­mu­la­tive light from the pro­jec­tion that yields the ex­po­sure. The movie it­self cre­ated the im­age.

Then there’s our Spar­tan hel­met (4) from a trailer for the game God of War – I have it for pro­tec­tion, nat­u­rally! It’s a sou­venir from one of my favourite shoots, in which we trans­lated the ori­gin story from the Sony PlayS­ta­tion game into a live ac­tion ver­sion.

Fi­nally, here’s an an­niver­sary card (5) from my daugh­ter Sa­van­nah (then aged five), who drew what she en­vi­sioned I looked like on my wed­ding day. It’s a mas­ter­piece by one of my favourite artists. I es­pe­cially like how she imag­ined my rain­bow gown – I just might have to get her de­sign made for an an­niver­sary.

Karin Fong is a found­ing mem­ber of cre­ative com­pany Imag­i­nary Forces. The Emmy award­win­ning de­signer and di­rec­tor has helmed iconic projects in film, tele­vi­sion, gam­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing, tak­ing in­spi­ra­tion from an ar­ray of in­flu­ences – from sur­re­al­ism to School­house Rock. www.imag­i­nary­forces.com

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