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The Directors: Daniel de Viciola



Butter director, Daniel de Viciola, on imagination, AI, CGI and "movie magic"

The Directors: Daniel de Viciola

Daniel’s work mixes striking visuals with seamless technical virtuosity, effortlessly weaving live action and photo-real 3D elements. Daniel has long played with artful experimentation in many forms, from book design to illustration; in his evolution as a director his work has retained that focus on craft and meticulous attention to detail.

Daniel’s work is known for its movement. One motion leading into the next, one image striking another like a string of dominoes - he creates poetic and choreographed films where every shot and every move has a distinct reason for being.

Daniel is a Uruguayan Swede, based in Stockholm, working all over the world. And surfing when he has time.

Name: Daniel de Viciola

Location: Stockholm

Repped by/in: Butter, Dublin


Campaign Brief’s - the Works, 2020 – NAB Nominee, Best Cinematography

D&AD Awards, 2017 – Design Museum 

* Wood Pencil 

Golden Egg (Guldägget) – Gold in Craft 2017  – Converse Couples / Nowness

the ArtDirectors Club, 2013 – FRANCE 5

* Grand Prix - Best Motion Design

Roygalan, 2010 - SAAB

* Gold - Best VFX

Golden Egg (Guldägget)  – Silver film 2009 – SAAB Change perspective

Epica Awards, 2009 –SAAB

* Bronze, Film

* Bronze, Interactive

D&AD Graphite Pencil / Websites / 

Animation & Motion Graphics / 2008 Stella Artois

New York Festivals, 2008 – Stella Artois consolidate

* Gold World Medal, Best Design, Corporate Information, Best Integrated Campaign, Beverages: Alcoholic

Epica Awards, 2007 – Stella Artois

* Silver, Interactive

* Bronze, Interactive

LBB>What elements of a script sets one apart from the other and what sort of scripts get you excited to shoot them?

Daniel> Strong scripts have a couple of things in common. First, there’s an interesting and engaging idea, something that makes it stand out and grab our attention. But the important thing, that goes hand-in-hand with that, is how effectively that idea speaks a truth to us, that is: how it unifies the proposition or product with an insightful truth that resonates with the viewer. A strong ad will have us sitting up saying ‘yeah, that’s true. I relate to that’.

LBB> How do you approach creating a treatment for a spot?

Daniel> It starts with thinking. Nothing happens before thought and reflection. Then I dive into research - I like to look at images which get my creative juices flowing. My work is very visually-led, so before I start writing, I like to conceive how the camera will move and how the story should be told visually. Then I dive into the task of breaking that out in a narrative and expanding it into a treatment. 

LBB> If the script is for a brand that you're not familiar with/ don’t have a big affinity with or a market you're new to, how important is it for you to do research and understand that strategic and contextual side of the ad? If it’s important to you, how do you do it?

Daniel> There’s an interesting distinction here. Much of my work is for global brands, so those scripts tend to work in terms of more universal insights, that is – story elements which work across markets. When I work in local markets, for a regionally specific spot, it’s vital to understand context. That could be cultural or relate to the product or some other specific detail. Every country has its own particulars and this is where attention to detail and research is important. What I mentioned about speaking a ‘truth’ comes into play here. If there is a subtlety to a local insight, you need to understand it properly, if you’re going to create in that space. 

LBB> For you, what is the most important working relationship for a director to have with another person in making an ad? And why?

Daniel> Well a key relationship often not mentioned is that of the director and producer. The producer and executive producer take on the director’s very detailed requirements and make them happen on the day. But for me, I’ll still opt for my relationship with the DoP. My work is so meticulously planned and the camera is often doing something unusual or moving in a tricky way, so having a DoP, grip and camera team who can make that happen efficiently is important to me.

LBB> What type of work are you most passionate about - is there a particular genre or subject matter or style you are most drawn to?

Daniel> I look for work that makes me inquisitive. And an idea and a truth that speaks to me - that spark my imagination to ask ‘what is the best way to make this? How can I make this stand out in a way which makes people sit up?’

LBB> What misconception about you or your work do you most often encounter and why is it wrong?

Daniel> One misconception I think exists is that I only do ‘technical work’. I love working with actors and playing with performances. It’s true that I have done a lot of camera-led, technical work, but for me the sweet spot is combining those elements in a way where the camera adds a wow factor but we are engaged with the characters.

LBB> Have you ever worked with a cost consultant and if so how have your experiences been?

Daniel> Ha ha. I leave that to the EPs. 

LBB> What’s the craziest problem you’ve come across in the course of a production – and how did you solve it?

Daniel> I have come across an array of different problems over the years; storms blowing in on our shoot days and rising up again a week later when we are using the weather insurance, animals not doing what we want them to do and shooting with famous football players that are divas (wanting to do less than expected from them). 

One time, during a car shoot, rain started to pour down heavily. Our rain deflector malfunctioned and it made the lens fog up. The U-crane team immediately wanted to stop and fix it but I loved the look and started screaming with joy that we should continue shooting. The shots ended up in the final version and to me that was an event of movie magic – that type of shot is hard to invent when you are behind a desk writing your treatment (and could be even harder to explain and sell to a client due to the lack of references). 

Production is really all about foreseeing problems and avoiding them but I guess when the unthinkable happens you’ve got to roll with the punches.

LBB> How do you strike the balance between being open/collaborative with the agency and brand client while also protecting the idea?

Daniel> Well, I really hope that there is no need to protect the idea. The idea is the agency’s idea. And the client has bought into it. So, I always hope we are broadly on the same page. After that, my role is about communicating effectively and showing everyone how we are going to make this work better and better as we progress.   

LBB> What are your thoughts on opening up the production world to a more diverse pool of talent? Are you open to mentoring and apprenticeships on set?

Daniel> Diversity and inclusion should be a given now I hope. And yet it is something we need to push for and protect. There are structural reasons why it might be hard for people to ‘break into’ the creative world. And that needs to be fought against to make our industry and our world more open, inclusive and meritocratic. 

In Sweden, we are pretty tuned into the need for mentoring and apprenticeships. Talent moves up and on so quickly. We also export a lot of talent. So, it’s vital to have new energy and new talent entering the sector year on year.

LBB> How do you feel the pandemic is going to influence the way you work into the longer term? Have you picked up new habits that you feel will stick around for a long time? 

Daniel> I think that some new ways of working will stick. And some will dissipate. The ability to do more remotely – be that casting or editing has given us a new suite of tools. But that doesn't mean it has changed things forever. New tech such as zoom casting has just given us some new options, which we might or might not want to use on a given production.

LBB> Your work is now presented in so many different formats - to what extent do you keep each in mind while you're working (and, equally, to what degree is it possible to do so)? 

Daniel> It’s certainly possible to plan for varied formats once that is discussed up front. We all know the tools for framing and composing for different formats. But it’s still creatively important to have a lead format which is the hero – for me that is still 16:9, but hey who knows what the future holds!

LBB> What’s your relationship with new technology and, if at all, how do you incorporate future-facing tech into your work (e.g. virtual production, interactive storytelling, AI/data-driven visuals etc)?

Daniel> Tech is definitely a passion for me. For example, I use 3D a lot to design camera paths, many of my films include photorealistic CGI and for treatments I often use AI to generate images. Usually the AI rarely creates a perfect image but with some tweaks in Photoshop they turn out well and save me days of trying to find a similar reference.

I also think that Unreal Engine with its real time render is changing this industry both in terms of how we shoot scenes but also the type of stories we can tell. It’s definitely a new tool to be embraced.

LBB> Which pieces of work do you feel really show off what you do best – and why? (Please upload 4 videos to your company archive).

Daniel> The films I’ve made which best reflect my approach are those where I’ve used the camera to create the aesthetic. Sometimes this is around a visual element, sometimes around people or spaces. If I pick four, let’s start with Toyota which is a fast-moving, multi-territory spot where the camera never rests. Apoliva is another multi-territory film, where the camera holds tight on the face of our hero. It is, in a way, the opposite of Toyota. In the first, the camera never stops. Next, the camera is locked. 

SATS is a Swedish spot where we wanted to mix techniques, sometimes  rotating, sometimes moving, sometimes floating – cutting quickly between our narrative elements. More flexible.

And finally, let’s include Svenska Spel, where the camera movement is repeated in blocks of a circling motion - arcing around, arcing over, arcing under. It creates a sense of unity between different sporting contexts and constant exploration and movement.

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Butter, Wed, 01 Feb 2023 11:44:11 GMT