Motionographer The artwork of drawing references

Editor’s be aware:

Elliott Chaffer, Government Artistic Director at Trollbäck+Firm, he talks to us about his artistic course of and the way he makes use of references to encourage creativity, talk concepts and join with individuals.

References are my love language. Once I meet somebody I like, I’ve a behavior of following up the following day with an enormous checklist of hyperlinks, references and concepts written for them – oversharing to the purpose the place I usually do not hear again for days. Little question it’s overwhelming at instances for some individuals. We barely met and now they’ve an entire checklist of movies from me!

I have been referred to as a number of names: Ref King, Ref Chef, Refbeast, Refmeister, and many others. and I humbly settle for all of them as a result of I exploit a number of references in my work, speech and life.

Early in my profession, I selected to not design or animate after realizing that I could not stand taking a look at what I rendered on the pc. I come from a extra photographic and cinematic background, and over time I ought to have honed my design expertise, run a artistic store and directed. I deliberately moved “out of the field” to free myself to suppose far and broad outdoors the field. Quick ahead a number of years later and I’m ECD at Trollbäck+Firm. How? Easy reply – pulling the set off!

“It isn’t the place you get issues, however the place you are taking them.” — Jean-Luc Godard

Why Ref?

References assist encourage and shortly talk a imaginative and prescient to purchasers and/or artistic groups to get everybody’s juices flowing, preserve everybody centered on the large image, and preserve the dialogue open and impressed. They help you lose your self within the primordial stew of really inspiring work so you may have that “Eureka!” second that results in nice creativity.

I lately found that I’ve ADHD and now I perceive why I like this a part of my job. We’ve got a superpower to deal with the issues we like, which sadly comes with the whole abandonment of the issues we do not like. I feel in footage and discover phrases difficult. It is fortunate that footage converse a thousand phrases then, do not they?

Within the preliminary phases of checking in with a shopper, references are a good way to speak the general tone of the challenge and construct pleasure. Clients need an emotional connection. Having instruments out there to guarantee the shopper that you just perceive their challenge targets results in extra belief and relationship constructing.

“Many suppose that references are primarily a part of the brainstorming section, however they’re an enormous device and a motivator to maintain discovering till the challenge is full.” –Krysta Coates, Junior Designer + Animator at Trollbäck+Firm

As a part of us rebrand for FOX Leisure, we have been requested to make a model movie to advertise the brand new technique, tone of voice and model imaginative and prescient to inside stakeholders. The time was quick, however the scope was massive and we have been capable of talk a imaginative and prescient in a short time with the referee, permitting us to enter manufacturing and shoot at breakneck velocity.

All credit score to Ian McRitchie and his superb group who obtained it instantly and have been as excited as we have been to push the model language nicely past the model pack.

As soon as the movie was accomplished, I introduced to the group, “And now I can die joyful after exhausting all my favourite referees in a single piece.”

For the love of Ref!

Whereas I get pleasure from main initiatives, I simply as a lot get pleasure from being concerned in attracting referrals for different colleagues (and buddies). It is like a dream! I usually joke with considered one of my producers when he tries to speak to me about one thing and say, “Go away me alone, I am making an attempt to make artwork.”

Once I get a quick that I am impressed by, I get an immediate dopamine rush. My prefrontal cortex goes into overdrive and actually concrete concepts come dashing to my thoughts. It is like while you begin a sentence and the remainder of it begins to compile earlier than your cursor, solely to me it is like the remainder of the paragraph. My thoughts immediately kicks into excessive gear – connecting plenty of dots and I am keen to seek out issues to show that the concept hasn’t been completed, or that it ought to, and even might be.

“I am not solely certain Elliott ever did something — as a result of he would not need to. He connects all of the dots, remixes them, brings one thing new and incredible out of everybody he works with, and will get purchasers excited to pay for it.” -Erin Kilkenny, Affiliate Artistic Director at Trollbäck+Firm.


I lately began a folder referred to as the References Dump the place I now copy all of the reference folders from earlier jobs right into a central hub within the hope that at some point I will have time to kind all of it out – however I do know I will not! I will usually create folders on my exhausting drive, labeled with an organization title, listing, or vibration.

Doing so helps me keep in mind references from the start, particularly when making ready keynotes. However these days I discover myself re-downloading photos and movies or copying them from one challenge folder to a different. This isn’t probably the most environment friendly use of pc and human reminiscence time. I all the time discover method too many issues after which discover it exhausting to seek out time to assemble all the suitable gadgets. However as a result of I benefit from the course of, I attempt to make investments additional time in it.

When it comes to reference assets, the applying rang My thoughts it’s a savior for me. Their mission is “no recordsdata, no collections, no wasted time organizing.” It really works like your actual thoughts, permitting for a single stream of consciousness. To search out one thing in My thoughts system, simply search for it: a colour, object, or phrase that helps you keep in mind what you are in search of. Put it aside and the synthetic intelligence takes care of the remainder. Your new thoughts analyzes photos, articles and web sites, mechanically tagging them for you so you may simply discover them later.

“To spark my creativity, I usually reuse items from my different work…principally collaging my very own stuff.” — Nate Williams.

Some helpful suggestions

For shows, I will extract sections from movies to loop as gifs on a photograph web page or run as transferring backboards on part breakers. I often edit collectively a temper piece on a chunk utilizing references to make sense of the narrative and motion, lighting and animation kinds.

There’s additionally a helpful function the place you may embed video hyperlinks straight into the web page, which cuts down on file measurement significantly, however you do not get the various customized controls that include embedding a film.

If I am engaged on complicated CGI scenes, I will edit the storyboards subsequent to a reference grid so we will talk many concepts without delay for every scene. I may also use references in movement assessments and playblast edits to assist create vitality or feeling for the methods within the room.

Within the course of, I absolutely lose myself within the maze of tenuous connections and discover myself in vortices of lateral considering that solely I perceive. It is identical to that scene Being John Malkovich the place he sees a number of variations of himself and walks round saying, “Malkovich, Malkovich.” (Could not resist throwing a Spike Jonze referee in there!)

In these moments, I keep in mind wanting up and considering, “Wait, did I massively disappoint myself and exit of scope right here?” It’s totally straightforward for me to do and I do it so much, possibly on goal.

“Do not trouble to cover your thievery – have fun it in the event you really feel prefer it.” – Jim Jarmusch

What I am saying is…

Be endlessly curious and hungry. To have an open thoughts. Do not be intimidated by issues, however relatively lean into them and picture potentialities. Assume how one can apply your considering to innovate – do itdo not simply copy and move it.

When you solely have a look at websites the place the algorithm offers photos, then chances are high your opponents and prospects are referencing the identical issues. So do not be lazy; suppose outdoors the field. Go searching you. To something. Take footage even when there isn’t any goal. Placing your self in a state of psychological circulate like this enables your thoughts to make visible connections quicker down the road.

“If I am working alone on a private challenge, I strive to not pull in too many references in any respect – it is the one time you may simply see what comes out of your mind while you depart it alone. Ah, however the referee remains to be there, lurking within the unconscious.” Erin Kilkenny, Affiliate Artistic Director at Trollbäck+Firm.

Discover out the place (and when) to look

We’re fortunate that Jakob Trollbäck, the founding father of Trollbäck+Firm, is an avid e book collector, so now we have an in depth library of unimaginable design, structure and pictures books at our disposal. If you do not have this luxurious, go to design galleries and bookstores the place you may wander for hours.

Permit your self to go down the rabbit holes of Google and Vimeo and Pinterest. Nice journey. View credit for individuals’s jobs and observe the work of their collaborators. Attain out to the artists, photographers, filmmakers, animators and designers you reference and make connections with them to start out dialogues. And most significantly, be trustworthy that it is a ref and also you did not create it.

Additional, understanding when to cease it is necessary. The additional you go, the extra concepts pop up after which it turns into overwhelming that there is not sufficient time to specific all of them. However it may possibly nonetheless be good to have a number of issues in your again pocket if wanted.

Fools rush

Lastly, I’ll let you know to offer your self sufficient time to formulate your ideas. Specific them in a customer-friendly method that may be simply understood if you end up not within the room. Keep in mind that your individual creativeness could make extra visible connections than your group or purchasers, so that you must make clear your strategy so individuals aren’t delay by the flawed component of a reference. So much can and does occur, and at that time, you’ve got missed the boat or wasted time with a designer going within the flawed course.

I talked so much concerning the energy of a fantastic referee, my private course of for capturing them, and suggestions and methods for promoting. That is all nicely and good, however I give all of the credit score to our superb workers and freelance expertise world wide who assist make these benchmark desires come true.

I particularly thank our purchasers who take leaps of religion to do daring and thrilling work with us that we hope can have a long-lasting affect on their audiences.

I depart you with my private frames of reference.

Design platforms and blogs:

Pinterest, Behance, big, Vimeo, YouTube, Design inspiration, tick, That is lovely, Visible, The inspiration grid, The thoughts shines, Design circulate, good man, Man buddies, TDC, Now


GMUNK, Satellite tv for pc laboratory, Olafur Eliasson, Snohetta Architects, Silence, David Adjaye, Joelsons, Zaha Hadid, Felice Varini, James Turell, Bruno Aveillan, David Carson, Kyle Cooper, Michael Gondry, Spike Jonze, Jonathan Glazer, Brett Foraker, It is Devlin, Anti VJ, Antibody, Dan Holdsworth, Common The whole lot, Quayola, Tendril, Man vs. Machine, 1st AveMachine, Onedotzero, Remedy studio, UVA, DBLG, Echolab, Roger van der Zwaag, Studio Nonotak, Jonathan Harris, Joe Picard, FX WRX, Joanie Le Mercier, Renan Ozturk, Jimmy Chin, Humza South, Skyfall Shanghai scene, Christopher Doyle, Tony Hill Riggs, Todd St. John

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