Psyop Instagram Artist Takeover: Nikki Pymm

Week 3 and going strong! If any of you aren’t aware, everyone following the official Psyop Instagram account this past week has gotten quite an eyeful of what it looks like to be a hip NYC Psyop-er (Psyopian?). We couldn’t be more thrilled to have had Eunice as our weirdo-in-command. If that wasn’t enough for you, keep following her at @eunibonnie!

So we’ve taken a glance at Vancouver and spent some time in NYC, but now it’s high time for some LA hangs. Don’t you agree? Luckily, we have gotten our very own west coast member of Team Psyop to step up to the plate on this one! A bit on her: Imagine Joshua Tree. Next, imagine your favorite local organic farm-to-table cafe. Now, imagine if Joshua Tree and said groovy cafe were a human being. Meet Nikki Pimm.

Name: Nikki Pimm (@moon.daze)

Position at Psyop: Receptionist for the LA Office

You take way too many photos of: The desert

Latest Netflix binge: Well I haven’t actually been watching TV lately… Been more on the go with traveling and going to concerts. Most recently though, probably Bloodline. It’s pretty dark and depressing sometimes, but it has me hooked.

Who on Team Psyop do you nominate to take over next?: Taylor Shortall (@taylor_shortall)

Here is a preview of Nikki’s feed to get you prepared:

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Artist Lois van Baarle, on Creating Characters for Coca-Cola’s “Man and Dog”

If there is one campaign that best defines Psyop’s commercial success, it is likely our work with Coca-Cola on “Happiness Factory” and the expansion of that unique universe and cast of characters for years after releasing the initial spot. However, this past year we found ourselves collaborating with the famous beverage brand on something entirely new; an animated spot in a hand-drawn 2D style that is rarely seen since the advent of 3D.

The spot, “Man and Dog,” has been a huge hit online, netting over 7 million views since it first went up. Hundreds of hours of creative work from dozens of artists went into the spot. Among them was Lois van Baarle, who was brought onto the project to work with directors Kylie Matulick and Todd Mueller as character designer, and whose illustrations would become the final look for both the man and dog at the heart of this animated short. We spoke to her about that process:

 

What was most important to you in terms of character creation for Man and Dog?
Lois: The brief was for a scruffy, overworked but loveable guy with a cute, energetic mutt as his pet. For me, it was really important for the guy to have that awkward, long-limbed clumsiness that Disney always captures so well, like Roger Radcliffe from 101 Dalmatians or George from Paperman – dorky but cute! I found that communicating this is mainly in the details: a half untucked shirt, oversized feet, large hands. It was a lot of fun!

Personally, what was your original theory/concept for what you wanted this spot to turn out to be?
I joined the team quite late in the process so it was more a question of providing some character art for an existing vision. For the character, what I really wanted to achieve was a character who appears really grumpy and unapproachable but somehow you can tell that he’s a really nice guy who’s just having a bad day, and can easily make the transformation into an energetic and cheered up mood.

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What was it like to create characters for a company as iconic as Coca-Cola? What pressures were there?
I definitely just stuck to the classic style, staying close to my Disney inspirations. I knew it would be a good fit for the charming, old fashioned 2D animated feel!

What was the biggest road bump in executing the work in your role?
The dog was a tough one to nail. The look and breed of the dog changed a couple of times throughout the process, with a lot of feedback and modifications from Psyop’s team. It was a lot of fun, but I did find myself getting really attached to each dog I was drawing! I was especially fond of the fatter dog with floppy ears. He was so cute!

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As the process went on, many versions of the Man and Dog were created. What were some specific aspects of both (visual-wise) that you were dead set on keeping throughout the character creation phases?
What I personally really liked for the man was the red nose and ears, and the bags under the eyes. These may sound like unappealing character traits but to me, they have a Norman Rockwell-esque charm, and really help emphasize the guy as being a bit awkward and scruffy! I loved being able to add these details in the concept art phase where you can go a lot further with color variation and shading than you would in the actual 2D animation.

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What did you do to prepare for a project like this? For example, if you or friends have dogs, did you pay attention to their movement/mannerisms/quirks more closely?
Unfortunately there is a huge lack of people around me with dogs, but our family dog that I grew up with was a cute, scruffy, playful Lhasa Apso so she was a huge inspiration for the playful movements and running style! I did check out a lot of reference images, although I had to be careful not to get too carried away with just looking at pictures of cute dogs!

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Why do you feel Psyop along with yourself were a good fit for this campaign?
Besides the fact that I have been a huge fan of Psyop for many years now and would have jumped at literally any opportunity to work with them, I think that Psyop’s specialty is providing a unique, colorful and refreshing take on things. That really helped make this classic 2D animation concept even cooler with their amazing dog POV scenes. The backgrounds and concept art they had created when they approached me were stunning! It was especially exciting to put my character sketches over their backgrounds to test how they would work together – I felt like it was a good mix.

What outside influences inspire you when it comes to creation as a whole? Why?
Rather unsurprisingly, concept art for Disney and Pixar features are particularly inspiring to me. The incredible 2D art that goes into the creation of a strong 3D character animation feature is always so amazing to see, and I love collecting “art of” books to see the process that went into creating the characters. Next to that, animations by Sylvain Chomet – especially the exaggerated proportions of the characters and the beautiful washed out colors – are a big inspiration.

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If you could describe your artistic style in 3 words, what would fit you best?
Cartoony, expressive, sketchy (the good kind).

What is a type of project that either you haven’t done before, or would like to do again in the course of your career? (Dream collaborators/companies/subjects/mediums)
I would love to contribute to an animated feature for a very large chunk of the production process. I have done some concept art for features but the time spent was fairly short and quite early in the process. I’d love to spend a year or more developing a certain style and look. The longer you spend on a concept, the more you push yourself beyond what you initially thought you could do, which is really exciting!

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Who is your animated character alter-ego?
Female animated characters tend to be very bubbly and optimistic which I am not! I was a really awkward teenager so I guess I could go with Violet from The Incredibles.

What is the first project or artist that you can remember having a major impact on you? In what ways did it affect you and have you carried any of those qualities over into your own career?
I think the artist that impacted me in the biggest way was Alfonse Mucha. I didn’t rely on that style for this spot, but my personal work is very heavily influenced by Art Nouveau and Mucha’s beautiful portraits and posters! Everything from the style to the subject matter has its foundation in the moment that I discovered Art Nouveau. I still never tire of it!

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Psyop Instagram Artist Takeover: Eunice Kim

Hopefully many of you caught word of Psyop’s latest addition to social media entertainment last week – the ‘Instagram Artist Takeover!’ Getting to see everything from coffee fieldtrips to the graffiti-covered views on the way to work, we loved getting an insight into a week in the life of Vancouver based Psyoper, Shannan Louis. Talk about the perfect way to kick off the first week of takeovers! The woman rules; am I right?

Next up, let us introduce Eunice Kim. If you are a fellow believer that Instagram has been flooded with way too many cat pictures, you’ll be pleased to know that Eunice actually claims to take too many pictures of–wait for it–her dog. Get ready for a week full of NYC fun by reading more about Eunice:

Name: Eunice Kim (@eunibonnie)

Position at Psyop: Art Director / Designer

You take way too many photos of: Definitely my dog Bonnie (#mybonniekim)

A current trend/fad you don’t totally hate: I sort of, kind of, do not hate them mom jeans.

Who on Team Psyop do you nominate to take over next?: Anh Vu (@Anh__vu) or Denny Khurniawan (@dkhurniawan)

 

To see what Eunice posts this week, make sure to follow Psyop on Instagram@PsyopTV!

 

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Psyop Pup Roundup: Captain

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Meet our latest addition to the #PsyopDogs roundup, Captain! This little guy may look like he’s all smiles and kisses, but make no mistake – He’s onto those mailmen and knows exactly why loud, crinkly potato chip bags can’t be trusted.

Name: Captain
Owner: Rich Pring and his wife Rachel
Office: Psyop LA
Breed: Mixed – best guess is American Eskimo, Long Haired Chihuahua, & Pomeranian
Favorite Food/Treat: Rotisserie Chicken & Turkey Bacon
Birthday: Born in January
Fun fact: The bravest scaredy-cat ever. Jumps off second story decks to go say hi to other dogs, yet he’s terrified of potato chip bags.
Good Habits: Total mood matcher. He will match whatever mood you’re in
Bad Habits: Plotting the demise of our mailman.
Doppelgänger: Arctic fox. Baby seal.
Favorite TV Show/Movie: Cartoons, anything with animals in it, or SportsCenter.
Nickname: Cappers/Capitano

 

 

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Psyop Instagram Artist Takeover: Shannan Louis

Here at Psyop, we believe that Mondays are hard enough.

However, one thing that makes them slightly more bearable: World domination. Well okay, maybe not WORLD domination but I guess we’ll settle for Instagram domination.

Something new we’ll be doing every other week, starting today, is an “Instagram Artist Takeover.” We’ll be handing the reins of our account over to a different employee from one of our LA, NYC or Vancouver offices each week where they will then post to the official @PsyopTV account all week long. Our hope for the takeover is that it constantly gives all of you a fresh perspective on the world of Psyop from inside the walls and through the eyes of the awesome individuals who make up our team.

So let’s get right to it. This week, our first EVER Psyop teammate to instigate total Instagram domination is… drum roll, please… Shannan Louis! Here are a few photos from Shannan’s personal profile and some quick tidbits about this lovely lady to help you get acquainted. Then all there is to do is sit back and wait for the magic to happen.

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Name:  Shannan Louis

Personal IG: @sketchylouis

Position at Psyop: Studio Manager – Vancouver

You take way too many photos of: Sunsets

Your life theme song: I’ve Done All The Dumb Things by Paul Kelly

Who on Team Psyop would you nominate to take over next?: in Vancouver: Marshall Krasser. in LA: Dan Levitan.


And if you aren’t following us already, be sure to go check us out, follow us, and get ready to see a new side of the company you think you know…

Psyop Pup Roundup: Syrah

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This week, we’re profiling #PsyopDogs star athlete, Syrah, a competition runner, jumper, and stay-er with more blue ribbons than your kid’s entire track team.

 

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Name: Syrah
Owner: Bruce Dobrin
Breed: Southern Sumatran Jungle Wolf (Australian Shepherd )
Favorite Food/Treat: See list for what a Tasmanian Devil eats
Birthday: 7/13/2005
Fun fact: Was abandoned at 2 years old and found wandering in a vineyard, hence the name. Is an anchor for the Santa Barbara Flyers Agility Team, nationally ranked with USDAA (http://www.santabarbaraflyers.org/)
Good & Bad Habits: walks without leash, stops at all intersections until told to cross. Chasing cats is FUN (unless they won’t run, then they’re scary.)
Favorite TV Show/Movie:  Babe
Nickname: FuzzButt

 

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For a look back into the #PsyopDogs archive, take a look at Eleanor Rigby, Dag, Chip, Muffin, and Beans.

Bong Rips, Frying Pans and CIA Hunter Drones – Psyop Film & Television Gets In on the Summer Action with American Ultra

When Jesse Eisenberg’s character Mike makes his first appearance in the trailer for American Ultra, a new action comedy set to hit theatres on August 21st, it’s easy to make some simple assumptions about him. His scraggly hair, his dingy t-shirt, the sizable joint he rolls for himself first thing in the morning–he’s a stoner, of the archetypal Cheech and Chong, Jeff Spicoli, call-me-The-Dude variety. What we don’t know about him yet, and what makes American Ultra a credible summer movie release, is that Mike is also a full-on action hero, the likes of which would give Bond or Bourne or whatever Liam Neeson’s name is in the Taken movies a running, gunning challenge at the Hit Man Olympics.

Dan Schrecker, who worked as a VFX Supervisor from Psyop’s New York office, oversaw dozens of shots for the film that not only accentuate its intense action scenes, but also enhance the film’s comedic, independent spirit, as envisioned by director Nima Nourizadeh and writer Max Landis.

What makes American Ultra not only an appealing film to work on, but also a great expression of what Psyop really excels at, is the way in which it marries an incredible amount of spectacle with some very earnest and compelling core story concepts, in this case primarily built around an otherworldly feeling of things not being what they seem to be. The movie is, first and foremost, a romance between this small town boy, played by Jesse Eisenberg, and his girlfriend who he loves deeply and hopes to marry, played by Kristen Stewart. What happens is that another genre of film entirely–gritty, bloody, modern action–invades this romance and tosses the characters on their heads, which they then have to deal with somehow.

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To do our job well and support this film’s artistic vision, Psyop had to create a lot of different visual effects across a very wide spectrum. There are the usual traditional action effects in here, like explosions, gunplay, and gore–plus no small amount of smoke, of course. There are also fully CG aircraft, CG props, and a number of set enhancements like trees and foliage. But the most important principle that guided our work on this particular project, even though it’s a “comedy,” is that it all had to be completely seamless and visceral, not exaggerated, cartoonish, or silly. As the main characters take this trip down the rabbit hole, they’re forced to contend with the fact that all of this really crazy stuff is actually happening to them. For the audience to go on that journey with them, it means they need to believe that it’s really happening, too.

We won’t spoil the film, but we can point to a great example of Psyop’s work in action, which can be seen within the film’s trailer and helps to hint at the action in store for this August. In a moment when Eisenberg, somewhere along the road to completing his badass awakening, is held down by gunfire in the kitchen of his apartment. Drawing upon his subconscious warehouse of military grade munitions knowledge, he gets crafty with a cast iron skillet and deflects a bullet into the heart of a gun-toting bad guy. “The old frying pan flip trick,” he says, like he does it every day. Too good to be true? Maybe… maybe not.

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The Psyop Circuit – Laurent Ledru (AKA Biddy)

Welcome to another installment of The Psyop Circuit, where we profile Psyop’s wildly talented staff. This week, we turn to director Laurent Ledru, who people call Biddy for some reason that he has refused to tell me until now. Maybe this time he’ll finally share the story…

 

laurent_ledru_selfieHow did you get into this industry? What other work almost diverted you into a different life along the way?
I started 25 years ago in video games. I was what we called a “bitmapper,” creating pixel art for games. Then I discovered 3d, with the first version of 3d Studio.

I came to the USA from France as a 3d artist working for Method Studios, with [Psyop Managing Director/Executive Producer] Neysa Horsburgh, and since then we’ve always been working together. Working at Method at that time was a great opportunity to learn many things. It was a small boutique company with very talented people. I learned about filmmaking by following many directors like Gore Verbinski , Francis Lawrence, and more.

Eight years ago, I was asked by Neysa to join her in creating the LA office for Psyop. I had always had a true passion for live action with VFX, and innovative design. Psyop presented an opportunity for me to bring my knowledge of film and VFX and learn a lot about design and animation.

What’s the hardest part of your job, and what’s the most rewarding part?
I think the hardest part of any job is the execution. I find it very exciting to have the freedom that I have to develop ideas, concepts and narratives. Executing on those ideas while addressing client requests, budget challenges, and so many other variables can be quite a challenge.

The biggest reward is when a final project is just as good or even better than you imagined it, or coming across a challenging creative script and turning it into gold.

 

Styleframes & Concept Art for Laurent’s films:

 

What tools are essential to doing your job well?
As a director, I rely on the infinite flow of information I get from the net.
I can gather references, text, images, and more.

I also need some zen (meditation) time, to make sense of everything, to organize ideas
based on my inner thoughts–not only on the endless stimulation from my computer screen.

How do you define the culture of Psyop?
Super talented, collaborative, crazy–of course–and passionate. Continue reading

Introducing The Elder Scrolls: Legends – Another New Game Gets the Psyop Trailer Treatment

Gaming mega-publisher Bethesda used their E3 2015 presentation to make some pretty wild announcements this year, and Psyop was there when it came time for them introduce one of their most unexpected new titles.

The Elder Scrolls: Legends is a collectible strategy card game set in the mythic fantasy universe of The Elder Scrolls, home to blockbuster hit games like Oblivion. Skyrim, and The Elder Scrolls Online, just to name a few. Gerald Ding directed the spot which introduces the tone of the game and features just a handful of the characters who will be found in the final game.

 

Take a look at the trailer:


Here are some stills that show off just how detailed the character designs have to be in order to honor the deep mythology of The Elder Scrolls’ world:

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RECORE, a Highlight of E3 2015, Trailer by Psyop

After six months of hard work, we’re excited to see our latest video game trailer finally go live in front of the entire world!

This morning, at the top of their much-anticipated E3 presentation, Microsoft announced ReCore, a new game from renowned creator Keiji Inafune and developer Armature Studio. We are proud to say that the trailer was created in-house at Psyop by our incredibly talented team, led by director David Chontos.

 

 

Take a look at the detail in these stills from the piece:

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From The Verge:

Microsoft is introducing a new game series and Xbox exclusive called ReCore, which looks like a mashup of two of the most fun sci-fi worlds out there: Star Wars and Wall-E. There isn’t a lot that we know about the game yet, other than that one of the creators behind Mega Man, Keiji Inafune, and the makers of Metroid Prime are behind it. ReCore stars a woman — one of the last surviving humans — who’s fighting her way through a destroyed desert world, working with a series of quirky mechanical pets to help her fight mechanical villains. And that’s really about it for what we know. It arrives on Xbox One in the spring of next year, so Microsoft will probably be showing more of ReCore soon.