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Collider Makes Projects Come Alive with Art, Design and Emotive Beauty


Managing partner and executive producer Rachael Ford-Davies talks to Esther Faith Lew about how the film production company and design studio bends genres and excels at the intersections of disciplines

Collider Makes Projects Come Alive with Art, Design and Emotive Beauty

Collider had its beginnings in Sydney, named as such to represent the ‘collision’ of film, art and design. Its DNA is about embracing a multidisciplinary approach in its work that cuts across the disciplines of mediums and platforms. While Collider is described as a film production company and design studio, its application of creative technology such as AR, VR, XR, 3D animation or 3D photogrammetry techniques positions it in a space of its own. 

Managing partner Rachael Ford-Davies describes Collider’s work as being “at the intersection of emotion and aesthetics”. This might sound like abstract rhetoric, but a look at its projects brings those words to life, and shows how Collider weaves beauty-in-motion through its work. They seem like art performances or moving design installations, rather than just creative projects packed with tech-savvy applications.

Art in Motion and Production

From a concept film for a property development or a surreal game world video for musicians, to a launch film for an automotive brand, Collider executes them all with artistry – and moving music. It might be the CG effects of florication for a sustainable building, or the fluid forms of dancers blending with a car’s curves, that draws the audience in - but the music, too, is a key element in engagement. It’s the finishing touch that leaves a lingering impression on the senses.

Very aptly, Rachael elaborates, “We’re always looking to bend genres and blur the boundaries between film, art, and technology to find that place where message, performance, and design are aligned. We play in every genre working together with creators to elevate every production. But if there is one thing we’re always looking for, it’s that memorable resonance. A lingering emotion that keeps you coming back.” 

Even in terms of its application of technology, Collider’s approach is about “finding a path to an emotion, a feeling, an experience”. In a practical sense, what that means for Collider is having its tech teams, directors and artists “working collaboratively and investigating solutions with an approach that is explorative and experimental”. 

“It’s about trying to find a new way of seeing something that feels inspiring. Often it involves thinking about how a new technology can be used to create something beautiful that no one has ever seen before,” says Rachael.

“That feeds into production as well. Rather than using tech for its own sake, we’re able to find new ways to shorten pipelines or get better results out of new platforms, thanks to a lot of the R&D we regularly implement.  

“We’re also working a lot more with Unreal Engine, LED Volumes and generative image making. That, in combination with AI, is certain to be part of the future but it needs to be used in the right way.”

People in Action

Rachael considers Collider’s mix of specialists and artists to be its key strength. The diversity in talent enables the studio to adapt quickly to different demands. “That might mean solving a particularly tricky combination of 3D techniques for animation or post today, and the next day, it might be using AI or interactive technology for an in-real-life experience. A great example was a recent project for Belong, where we harnessed a number of AI platforms to solve around 40 individual design challenges, resulting in a D&AD award last year,” she says.

In its film division, Collider plays host to a range of talented directors whose disciplines vary from the obvious - commercial, long form, art film, photography to the more obscure and niche – puppetry, stunt design and puzzle making. 

“Each brings their own unique talents and disciplines to the team, whether that’s animation, performance direction, or spectacular CG. And of course, we love to encourage experimentation and collaboration,” adds Rachael.

Such diversity in skillsets was what inspired the launch of Collider in 2001. Founding partners Daniel Askill, Andrew van der Westhuyzen, and Sam Zalaiskalns are the visionaries who came together straight out of university to conceptualise Collider. They play key roles in directing, designing, and business management. Managing partner Rachael joined the company in 2010 and contributes to the talent pool with her agency and producing background. 

A Collider Showcase

One of the projects that Rachael was keen to highlight was director Daniel Askill’s Universal Machine, a “spellbinding meditation on cinema, dance, sci-fi, martial arts and ritual”. It showcased a seamless intersection of CG and live action along with stunning choreography, and it involved a huge collective effort from the entire team.

“We also love the large-scale light projections we created on the Sails of the Royal Opera House for Vivid Sydney with one of our directors, Andrew Thomas Huang. Whilst there was a huge amount of technology harnessed behind the scenes (such as motion capture to feature the movements of dance choreography), the result was a really elegant and organic form of animation of Australian native flowers shown on one of the most iconic landmarks in the country,” says Rachael.

Other meaningful projects that Collider undertook included the ‘I Touch Myself’ project for International Breast Cancer Awareness Month. “Serena Williams' incredible performance of the Chrissie Amphlett song was raw, real and revealing, balancing vulnerability with strength,” says Rachael of the tennis legend who used her voice for a good cause. It was a project that aimed to highlight the importance of doing regular self-checks.

Also deserving of a special mention was Collider’s work for the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Says Rachael, “We are still touched by the reaction that was inspired when we took over all moving screens in Times Square for the foundation’s short film The Power of Words. The film played each night for a month.”

Clients range from international brands such as Apple, Nike, IBM, Ikea, Samsung and Sony to leading organisations such as Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac.

Collider has its presence in Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland and New York. Its fully equipped AUNZ studios are helmed by teams of film directors, CG animators and tech developers. Meanwhile, the New York office is a special projects division that services clients. 

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Collider, Wed, 15 Feb 2023 04:40:31 GMT