LBB’s Addison Capper chats to founder and CEO Martin Woelke about housing some of Germany’s finest filmmakers, animators and VFX artists
At the turn on the millennium, editor Martin Woelke saw a gap in the German market. He was inspired by the title sequence art of Saul Bass (Goodfellas, Cape Fear) and Kyle Cooper (Se7en, Dawn of the Dead) and wanted to bring the fresh and alternative style of motion design those guys were pushing to the German commercials industry. And so Sehsucht was born, the name a play on two German words (but more about that below).
The company was founded in Hamburg but has since expanded into the German capital, Berlin. Its capabilities have also grown: Sehsucht now works on extensive VFX projects and has recently launched its own live action roster. It also works as much on international projects as it does on local German campaigns.
LBB’s Addison Capper chatted with Sehsucht’s founder and CEO Martin Woelke to find out more.
LBB> Tell us about the name - what does it mean and why did you decide on it?
MW> Sehsucht is a wordplay combining the German words for seeing and addiction, which then sounds like the German word “Sehnsucht“ which means aspiration. The name says it all.
LBB> What makes Sehsucht unique?
MW> We always approach our projects with the attitude of not letting go until it looks pleasing, pure and precise. It’s not always possible, but it is always our aim.
LBB> The business was founded in Hamburg but you’ve since opened in Berlin - why was it important to be in the city?
MW> To be honest, we were initially focused on expanding internationally at that time. But Mate Steinforth approached us after leaving Psyop in New York and with his experience and personal style, it made sense to open up the Berlin studio offering Sehsucht’s quality and innovation but with a Steinforth twist. The creativity and culture of Berlin definitely influences the output of the studio and a great, unique offering for the company as a whole.
LBB> When You launched the business, it was more geared towards animation but it has since expanded to work on live action and VFX too - how and why did that evolution take place?
MW> I think producing live action and VFX was a natural evolution for us the more we worked on photo realistic 3D compositions, alongside abstract motion design, in order to own and develop a more realistic and organic visual language.
Even in our earlier days we were combining these two worlds of live action and design, a good example of this are the much awarded films
we made for Dortmund Konzert Haus
. We were able to achieve much more powerful images by combining filmed material with our animation.
A more recent example of a design driven but photorealistic approach would be the Pure Ecstasy
film for Lexus, directed by our creative head at Sehsucht Hamburg, Hans-Christoph Schultheiss.
However, what’s really driving us above all today is the chance to focus on storytelling as a fundamental part of the work we do. Something which is unfortunately a rare commodity in the inflation of gimmickry in visual effects today.
LBB> How has the evolution of technology and mediums like VR impacted the way you work?
MW> Since day one, innovative technologies have had a huge impact on our creative workflow. As a creative production studio we have to refresh, renew, sometimes even re-invent our technical setup on a regular basis to stay ahead of the game. But that is just a matter of fact and we don’t like joining the general chorus of complaint at the overwhelmingly fast (and therefore expensive) progress of production technologies.
For us, emerging technologies have always been a chance to push our work in a new direction. VR and 360 is just the latest example for an ongoing process. Just another episode and evolution. Of course we have to implement new hardware into our workflow, from 360-camera-systems or realtime applications and stuff like that, to more profane things like extended render-power and data storage capacity. But, ultimately, it is all about unpacking the new toy, throwing away the manual and starting tom create.
LBB> Which recent projects are you particularly proud of and why?
MW> Mercedes X-Class Teaser ‘First of a New Kind
’ demonstrates our skill to design compelling visuals in car commercials. Director and partner Ole Peters and our experienced team in Hamburg pushed themselves to create some technically complex yet beautiful imagery for this project.
However we are also proud of many of our recent jobs, this is also the advantage of having different in-house directors creating unique distinct facets.
LBB> If you had to pick out one older project that you’re particularly proud of, what would it be? Why?
MW> Some pieces don’t age as fast as others and still offer a treat to the eyes many years later. For example “Doomsday
“ for Pictoplasma from our Berlin Office is pure and unique in it’s artwork and flow - one to play and rewind again and again ..
LBB> What do you look for when hiring new talent at Sehsucht?
MW> Talent and chemistry .. and assure that she or he is a teamplayer.
LBB> What are your plans and ambitions for the coming year?
MW> We are always looking for the chance to prove our talent on more and more challenging opportunities. We are also looking forward to getting the chance to collaborate on fresh work with our new ‘live action roster’ and of course expanding our project experience in VR.