Volume 23

March 28, 2019

What We Do in the Shadows

Promo Package

March 28, 2019

The Truth About Killer Robots

Film Design

At the center of his film lies the question: “when a robot kills a human, who takes the blame?” - Zach Vasquez, The Guardian

In an HBO Original Documentary about our increasing dependence on artificial intelligence, we collaborated with the team over at Third Party Films to generate the overall graphics approach for The Truth About Killer Robots.

Initial Main Title Exploration by Doug Chang

We began by exploring design for the main title, and ultimately ended up with a monospace scan-line treatment. Our next step was to bring the credit sequence to life by marrying motion with sound effects and footage of robotics working away meticulously, all leading up to the main title reveal over an off-black backdrop.

Final Main Title Sequence by Doug Chang and Casey Drogin

Once we locked the main title, we began designing all other elements for the film. While most of the graphics were bespoke, these allowed use to create a diverse film design in our animations for each unique or bizarre story. Through this approach, we created robot simulations, diagrams, coding simulations, and schematic blueprints.

Animation by Chris Scales, Brian Landisman and Casey Drogin

For the lower thirds & location IDs, we developed the technical behaviors of facial and spatial recognition for each subject (including the narrating robotic figure) as their names and locations become deciphered. These custom IDs added a layer of cohesion and appealed to the overhanging tone of artificial intelligence surveillance.

Animation by Chris Scales and Brian Landisman

We loved the process from start to finish and the opportunity to tell a story that will continue to develop throughout the ages. Thanks again to our partners, artists & computers for the collaboration!

Animation by Casey Drogin


March 28, 2019

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool

Film Design

We drew inspiration for our archival treatments from the extraordinary photography produced by Leloir, who often took photos of Miles creating and performing music.

Firelight Media came to us with an in-depth documentary about the life and lasting signature talent of the legendary musician, Miles Davis. In Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, director Stanley Nelson examines the people, places and inspirations that carried Miles through his childhood, all the way through his career.

We were thrilled when we saw the first cut and began isolating all the moments we wanted to put our hands on. From the beginning, the team at Firelight had an incredible bank of archival imagery of Miles and his collaborators, along with those in his life that impacted him the most, like the incredible talented & lovable, Frances Davis (who had the best legs in the business).

Initial Main Title Styleframes by Josh Norton | Ink Exploration above by Doug Chang

We drew inspiration for our archival treatments from the extraordinary photography produced by Leloir, who often took photos of Miles creating and performing music. Applying the idea of sequential flow over time, we brought the highly-energetic stills into a more life-like stop motion world. These sequences delved into his time in studio with Gil Evans, the 2nd Quintet, and the “time-hop” open, along with a cut-out version for Frances and her experience as a dancer.

Frances Davis Sequences - Animation by Brian Landisman and Ivan Viaranchyk
Animation by Chris Scales

In addition to these scenes, we had the opportunity to add extra flair and go all-out in animation. We brought sheet music and 52nd street to life, created a psychedelic layer of movement to the infamous “Bitches Brew” album cover, and moved through animated layers of his well-known sketches.

Animation by Brian Landisman, Ivan Viaranchyk, Chris Scales, and Casey Drogin
Animation by Brian Landisman and Ivan Viaranchyk

Thanks again to Stanley Nelson and the Firelight team for allowing us to take part. The entire process was fascinating and dynamic, and we were honored to be able to string visuals together and help tell Miles’ story.

Animation by Ivan Viaranchyk, Jane Wu, and Brian Landisman | Title Sequence Edit by Shannon Hall


March 28, 2019

Artist Spotlight: Theo Daley

Art Director / Designer

As an insightful, skilled artist and creator, we know we can always rely on Theo to bring something elegant and well-crafted to the table. Not only does he produce consistently inventive, beautiful design concepts, but he envisions the process in a clear and concise way, making him a valuable team-player.

Theo has freelanced with us for many years, playing an important role in several of our large-scale 3D projects, from The Purge campaign, to Inside North Korea’s Dynasty and much more.

It’s our pleasure to feature him in this month’s spotlight and showcase his many talents. Read below for peek into his process!

The Purge: "Emblem" - Original 3D Design by Theo Daley

Q&A with Theo Daley -

When did you first realize you wanted to be a designer?
When I first saw a poster by Henri Toulouse de Lautrec in high school. I realized there was a way to combine my love of fine arts with typography, and from then on there was no going back.

What is your process when approaching a new project?
I tend to try to get as much information about the project as possible. The more I can become an expert, the easier it is for me to create a visual that is authentic to the subject matter. Once I have a solid grasp, I try to write 2-3 sentences to give myself a firm idea, collect references based on the concept, and then I start to sketch out rough layouts.

What do you feel is the most important quality in a designer or art director?
Anyone can create a pretty picture, but those who are able to create a rationale inside their work and articulate why they compose a piece the way they do will have an underlying foundation which will always shine through to the team, client, and most importantly the viewer.

What perspective do you bring to the industry- what makes you different?
Coming from Canada and growing up in a diverse population has made me extremely inquisitive and open to all perspectives. I also think having a problem-solving mind has allowed me to look more at a project as a way to integrate any visual language as long as it is rings true for the subject.

The Purge: "Mask Materialized" - Styleframes by Theo Daley

What is your ultimate goal as an artist?
This may sound like a cop-out but I never have looked as myself as an artist. I truly look at each project as a way to solve a problem. I try to find an expression that resonates with me and (hopefully) will resonate with the audience but it is purely in service of the project. So I suppose my ultimate goal is to be able to move the viewer emotionally with my work.

How long have you been designing?
Professionally for 13 years. But I have been designing since I was 14 and drawing before I can remember.

Are there any inspirations that you pull from on a regular basis?
The idea of contrast is something I try heavily to utilize in my work, be it in shape, color, or size. I definitely adhere to those principles mostly. So lighting akin to Caravaggio, compositions like Saul Bass and structure such as Ingmar Bergman or Akira Kurosawa always are in the back of my mind.

Original Concepts for SYFY Krypton by Theo Daley

What are you most passionate about professionally?
The idea that no two projects will ever be the same constantly invigorates me. I approach each job as if I am trying to solve a puzzle and the best part is knowing there are countless ways to approach the same problem but usually only a select few that will deeply connect to the viewer on an emotional level.

Do you have any side-projects you continue to work on?
I try my best to learn as much as possible in my downtime with mini experiments, for the past couple of years though I have been trying to get a short film off the ground. Let’s see where it goes!

How do you determine the success of a piece?
If the viewer is ultimately moved to feel some form of emotion. In advertising a lot of the time we are wrapped in the trappings of what something looks like, but if we can make a viewer genuinely feel - fear, sorrow, joy, intrigue, excitement, etc. that is the greatest success for me.


Volume 22

Next Project: Volume 22
Telling the Bigger Story