Giant Ant Interview
We kindly got the opportunity to interview one of our favourite design studios, Vancouver based Giant Ant. They describe themselves as a storytelling studio who produce content for digital platforms and television. Here is what Jay, Partner/Co-Creative Director, had to say
How did Giant Ant form?
Giant Ant started a bit by accident. My then girlfriend, now wife & business partner, Leah, and I made a silly video in 2007 that went viral. That was enough to get the attention of MySpace, who asked us to make a series for them. It seemed like such a weird opportunity that we quit our jobs and went for it. After that first job we began to get a bit more serious about making videos. For the most part we were making really lousy live action sketch comedy stuff and the odd stop motion piece and, miraculously, people slowly began to hire us. Giant Ant grew at about the pace of our understanding of the medium, industry and tools. And, here we are.
Did you all study motion graphics, or did you come into through other ways? i.e graphic design, illustration
Animation is only half of what we do here but, on the animation side, we have fairly diverse backgrounds within the general field of design: Industrial Design, Graphic Design, Classical Animation, Motion Design, Cinematography.
You are quite a new company. Do you think this affects your credibility?
I’m not sure if we’ve ever really thought about credibility in that way. Our aspiration is that we be judged by the clients we choose and work we produce. Personally, I’ve got a [potentially altruistic] belief that if we continue to push ourselves to do our best and put love in our work, that like minds will find us—in the form of new collaborators, agency partners, and clients. In the end, to us, It’s really about the work.
You have a portfolio that spans from footage to 2D work, how does this work within your studio. Do you have specialists in each area?
Being that we’re a fairly small studio, everyone really does wear many hats. Certainly everyone has something that they’re particularly good at, but we do our best not to find ourselves typecast individually or as a studio. What’s interesting about that is that it creates a nice culture of mentorship that flows in all directions depending on the type of project we’re working on, or the type of problem we’re trying to solve. But it also means that we’re often embarking on things that we don’t know how to do and need to figure out as we go. Luckily we’re a group of people who like solving problems!
Explain your typical work process from brief to delivery.
Whoa! This could take pages and pages!
Where do you pick up inspiration for your work?
Who do you admire in the animation world?
Personally, there are so many folks out there that I admire deeply. Whenever I see a studio or collective consistently making work that I know is full of love, I get really excited. It’s easy in this industry to choose work based on money alone, so I get pretty inspired when I see groups working hard to make work that they believe in. I also have a deep admiration for the artists I work with here at Giant Ant, and am constantly learning from them.
Do you think there is a current trend in the animation?
There’s always a current trend! Motion graphics can fall victim to fashion in a serious way, and it’s amazing how quickly those little trends change. Right now, “storytelling” is really at the forefront of the work we’re being asked to do, which is incredibly exciting. It’s hard to think of “story” as something that’s on-trend, but sometimes I wonder if the current appetite for earnestness is part of a pendulum swing away from the cold data-heavy infographic. I’m sure it’ll just keep on swinging, but we’re pretty happy to be doing that work right now.
What has been your favourite job to work on and why?
One of my personal favourites of the past year was the Target Fall National Meeting Opener we worked on. It was an incredible challenge for a few reasons. One was that it was a nearly open brief… other than the colour scheme and the music we were provided. The other was that it gave us a chance to explore the idea of narrative outside of a voice over and with no characters. We approached the piece as a building montage of styles that became ever more complex. The project really allowed us to use the talents of everyone in the studio to their fullest. It’s always a blast to be able to have everyone working on the same piece at once, which doesn’t happen that often.
Target Fall Meeting Opener
Giant Ant Studio
What would be your dream brief?
An opportunity to approach something differently than we ever have before, with the trust that we’ll deliver something special. So… I don’t know what it is because we haven’t done it yet :)
A lot of your photos feature food. Is this a big part of studio life for you?
We try to have “family meals” often to give us a chance just to hang out. Sometimes it’s a birthday lunch, or a pancake breakfast in the morning before we start working. As the studio gets bigger, it gets more complicated, but we really do love spending time with one another and food makes for a good excuse.
What do you guys do to relax after a busy period?
Sometimes we work on personal projects as a bit of cleanse, and as a way to reset and learn some new things before the next big grind. Sometimes we take long weekends just because we can. Sometimes we duck out for 30 minutes to play hackysack in the park. But, in general, I think we’re getting better at regulating the flow of projects and also understanding how to predict efforts. We don’t get as crushed as we used to.
What are 3 essential things you need to have in your studio?
Giant Ant has 3 rules:
1) don’t miss a deadline
2) don’t be a jerk
3) put love in your work.
I’m pretty sure that’s about it. Although computers, a stocked fridge, and the odd beer really helps, too!
Thanks to Giant Ant for taking the time to answer our questions. It is great to find a studio that is close knit and enjoys spending time together as friends as well as a team. This might be a contributing factor into the production of their great work, Keep it up Giant Ant!
If you would like to see more of their work, visit their website here.
Posted: Thu 6th Mar 2014
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