Bright colours, vivid animations and groovy synthetic music - that’s what viewers can expect when watching ‘Masterbrand’. Created for the Ontario-based craft brewery, Collective Arts Brewing, the 37-second spot was not only internally directed by the team at Studio Feather, but had its motion design and colour work all done in-house.
Taking watchers on an animated ride that sees multiple brewery bevvies distort, bend, spin and travel through colourful worlds - all accompanied by original music and sound design from OSO - the spot representation the value that can come from doing multiple post processes under a single roof, and more importantly, serves as a fun reminder for Canadians to ‘drink creatively’.
LBB’s Josh Neufeldt sat down with Studio Feather creative director Karol Kisiel, and motion designer Julian van Mil, as well as OSO creative directors Daenen Bramberger and Harry Knazan to discuss how this work came to vivid, vibrant life.
LBB> Tell us about how you got involved with this campaign. What was brief, and what immediate ideas came to mind?
Julian> We saw the brief and knew this was an opportunity to showcase our skills, so we went after it pretty hard. Perhaps, in a way we haven’t had the opportunity to in the past. At Feather, we’ve got a really great mix of VFX and motion design talent, and I’m always on the lookout for projects where we can put the design strengths of the company in the spotlight.
LBB> Where does one start on a project like this? How did the responsibility of directing the spot factor into the creative process, and how did you go about planning the final piece?
Karol> Projects like this are really hard to plan without starting the work right away. The first step was choosing illustrations that we wanted to animate. Around them, we started building ideas - little stories that animation could convey. Then, by building a very rough animatic, we could see how those ideas worked in relation to one another, and how the flow of the story unveiled itself.
Julian> A choice we made early on was that each artist on the project would work on their section in isolation, anchored by the overall camera move and positioning of the product. Our creative was to make each section feel as unique and special as the illustrations we were working with. This disconnection made the overall spot somehow feel more connected.
LBB> Sister Merci was the creative agency involved with the work. As such, what was the collaboration like? How did you combine to create the final work?
Julian> I think once we were chosen as the vendor for the project, Sister Merci really trusted us to take the lead and develop something special. Once we showed a really strong animatic, it was really in our court to develop a unique and memorable spot. Our only real creative constraint was ‘put the product in the middle’.
LBB> You were responsible for the motion design - tell us more about this! What did this process entail, and how did you approach working with realistic elements like the bottle, versus the more animated aspects of the spot?
Karol> Motion design is a vast field. It might be an animation, frame by frame, or drawn on paper. People working as motion designers usually specialise in one field. Some are better at drawing, some at lightning, some at simulations, etc.
Julian> The product was fully CG. I think what really ties the spot together was that many of the illustrations we used to create the environments were imported into 3D and recreated. This took the 2D illustrations and added that next little touch of lighting and reflections to the product.
LBB> Were there any elements of this campaign that were especially challenging? And if so, why?
Karol> The most challenging task was glueing together 2D animated illustrations with 3D rendered cans and bottles. We had to find a solution in each scene on how to do it, and check to see if it makes sense storytelling-wise. The scene in the sky is a perfect example - where a 2D bird skates around a falling 3D can.
It was also a challenge to select the best illustrations. However, Collective Arts has a treasure trove of fantastic illustrations - all used on their label art.
Julian> I think we got to a point where we over-engineered some of the scenes. We had a relatively tight timeline, and I think we wanted to make each scene as good as it could possibly be. However, we ended up with some lengthy render times early in the creative process. We did do an animatic, but a project like this changes so much when it comes to life and we have to make sure the client still has time to react and provide insight when it gets more refined. With a little more time, I think we could have flushed out those iterations a little more. Luckily everyone was thrilled with the output, so it went smoothly.
LBB> You were also responsible for the colour and finishing. How did you make the final piece pop?
Julian> Not a lot of motion design projects do a traditional ‘colour transfer’ at the end. I’m a strong believer that getting the eyes of a colourist on the final output really helps tie a project together, even if it is a graphical piece rather than live-action footage. In this case, we had the project entirely finished, and the client approved it before we did one final colour pass. It’s one of those little touches I think brings a project from 95% to 100%.
LBB> Studio Feather’s sister company, OSO, was responsible for the audio. Tell us a little more about how sound design and music were used to enhance the visuals of the spot!
Daenen & Harry> We wanted the sonics of the spot to reflect the beautiful, bright mosaic of the visuals, and we had a bit of an advantage in being able to work with animation that was already well on its way to completion. There was no shortage of inspiration for us to pull from!
From a sound design perspective, we tried to ground all of our sounds in reality. Even things that may appear as fully synthetic started from a truly organic place. The idea for this came from the animation feeling very tactile, almost as if every element was drawn on paper first. An example of this is the sound that lines up with the colourful ribbon surrounding the ‘Rhubarb & Hibiscus’ bottle. This was achieved by waving an empty plastic tube around and capturing the sound of the wind passing over the opening. Then, we edited/processed the sound to adjust pitch and tempo, and tightly lined it up with the visuals - bringing the colour ribbon to life.
LBB> Is there a shot or an element of the work you’re particularly proud of? Why?
Julian> I think the ‘underwater’ gin section is particularly strong. Karol created that wavy background and pedestal in 3D, and it really solved a section of the spot we were struggling with. The caustic lighting and illustrations from the label art projected onto the geometric shapes really worked in a way I wasn’t expecting.