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The people behind the craft

07 October 2021


Nik Bowler, Motion design director 


What drew you towards a career in motion design in the first place?


As a kid, I had a Fisher-Price hand-powered projector that allowed me to scrub through short animation clips frame-by-frame. I remember watching the scene from the Rescuers, where they take flight upon the back of the seagull, and being amazed by the detail in each frame and how it all came together to convey the sense of motion.


Later in life, my passion for music and skateboarding exposed me to new and exciting forms of visual language and expression. I’d spend hours designing my own album covers and skateboard artwork, eventually leading me to discover graphic design. Years later, these two elements converged while studying interactive (UI/UX) design at university, and here we are.


What’s your favourite film/series at the moment? 


Love Death + Robots on Netflix is a collection of animated shorts spanning a range of narrative genres. Each episode is produced by a different team of animators working with diverse and interesting animation styles and techniques. Also, anything and everything animated, obviously.


What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on?


Having a huge passion for science, especially biosciences and nature, it’s great to be leading on the science imagery and animations we produce for GSK. Being able to meet the people behind the science and experience their passion and knowledge first-hand is a real pleasure. As well as experimenting with new techniques and tools to translate their ideas visually, and then putting them into motion, is an amazing opportunity.

Emily Clements, Head of film & animation


What drew you towards a career in filmmaking in the first place?


I’ve always loved stories. As a child, some of my favourite moments were spent performing and hanging out backstage at the local theatres, or with my head in a book. I had always thought that nothing would rival the thrill of live performances, but I then discovered the buzz of working as part of a team on set, crafting something special and I have never looked back.


What’s your favourite film/series?


One of my current favourites is The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix. I love it because the sheer craft of telling stories through film shines through. From the beautifully and thoughtfully designed sets and costumes to the almost choreographed approach to the story – it makes you feel like you’re watching a ballet rather than a drama. It’s one of the most compelling things I have watched, and something we can draw inspiration from in the way we approach stories and performances in our own work. 


What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on and why?


I absolutely love that no two days of my career have been the same, and I have been lucky enough to work on a huge range of topics spanning all filmmaking genres over the years. I have found myself in some extraordinary places: from launching a feature film at the Cannes film festival early in my career and receiving an invite to the BAFTA’s, to interviewing fascinating people (like Ban Ki-moon and Tony Blair among others at a middle eastern peace summit in Abu Dhabi), and creating dramas with extraordinary talent including Helen Baxendale, Alistair McGowan and Dom Jolly. So, it’s incredibly hard to pick! A recent highlight was the brief we had from GSK to create 15 seconds of ‘wow’ to open a senior leaders conference – the client described it as his star wars moment, and it was certainly fun to be given such an open and creative brief.

Dom Powers, Executive Producer


What drew you towards a career in filmmaking in the first place?


When I was at school, I always thought I wanted to be an actor and managed to get a part in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. However, when on the set I realised that I was much more interested in what was happening behind the camera than in front of it. So many of the special effects were shot in-camera so I was totally in awe of the craft that goes into filmmaking. The crew were amazing and were happy to answer my many, many questions about the process and that’s when I really knew that I had to work in film.


What’s your favourite film/Netflix series etc and why?


Tricky to choose just one favourite but I would probably have to use the same answer I’ve had for about 25 years and that is Beetlejuice. While there is definitely a place for computer-generated graphics and FX (especially as the technology is now so good and is constantly evolving) there is something really charming about using practical FX in film, like Beetlejuice. This film has always inspired me in my filmmaking and whilst obviously not the same style of film (especially as there are no sandworms in it!) I loved working on Allianz – Embracing the Future as all the special effects were captured in-camera which meant we had to get creative with how we produced the film. From filming some scenes in reverse to creating all the props, this project was great fun to work on.


What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on and why?


At RY we get to work on such a breadth of varied projects from 3D animation through to interactive film so everything feels so different but I think I would choose GSK Vaccinate for Life, as it was not only a massive project, with a large cast and numerous locations but the brief was so open that the possibilities were endless - produce a film which shows the different stages in life that vaccination plays a part. With that, we managed to craft a beautiful narrative and a final film which I’m really proud of.

Steph Jee, motion designer


What drew you towards a career in motion design in the first place?


I loved drawing from a young age. I always had a sketchbook with me, and I particularly enjoyed drawing cartoon characters, copying my favourites trying to perfect them. I then met an animator who was creating a hand-drawn character on paper and a lightbox, flicking the pages to show movement and bring the character to life. I couldn’t believe how lucky they were to do that as a job. Years later, I went to university to study Animation and Motion Design.

What’s your favourite film/series?


One of my favourite animated films (and there are a lot!) is Song of the Sea. It’s a lovely (very emotional) story based on Irish folklore. The artwork, textures and animation combined with amazing storytelling are incredible.


What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on?


I really enjoyed working on the WRAP social campaign. Helping to create a fun, bold series of simple, but effective motion graphic pieces are always good. But it’s even better knowing it’s for a sustainability charity promoting the importance of recycling.

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