Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now



Design/VFX House Welds Diverse Elements For High Impact Results

NEW YORK, NY, April 10, 2009─When rising British comedy star Russell Brand needed a show open for his American debut on Comedy Central, Mantra Design, Creative Group’s design and visual effects boutique, was given the formidable task. The edgy, high-energy entertainer wanted to incorporate seemingly disparate graphical components that were significant to him in a lush, sexy environment. And the comedy special’s production company, Den of Thieves, needed it done fast.

“Den of Thieves approached us with the challenge of properly representing Russell,� says Anna Toonk, executive producer at Mantra. “We were asked to find a way to combine the comedian’s love of Rock and Roll and Hinduism into the broadcast design. That was hugely important to him. We had to bring together a lot of different elements to make him feel he was being represented.�

Mantra also needed to bring cohesion to such discordant images as flying chakras, golden skulls, angel wings, and top hats, and do it in a way that wasn’t mere découpage. “Every single element was really important to him, it had a justification, and there was nothing there that was just for the sake of being there,� says Toonk. Mantra’s team also knew Brand himself had to be in the spot, tying it together and adding his visceral intensity.

In keeping with Brand’s edgy, slightly frenetic personality ─ and to avoid the certain nightmare of pulling clean keys around his equally edgy and frenetic hairstyle ─ Mantra chose to approach the spot with rough mattes. Taking footage shot of “Russell just being Russell while he was in New York City,� they comped in 3D design elements to play off some of the comedian’s many facets.

Using primarily Adobe After Effects, Autodesk Flame and Softimage|XSI for the 3D elements, they worked up the garbage mattes, which left a kind of spiky white corona around Brand. “We weren’t so caught up in perfection, we didn’t really need to be. We wanted to keep it a little down and dirty, a little rock and roll,� says Toonk.

The result was a kind of erotic kaleidoscopic effect that Den of Thieves and Russell both loved. “They really liked this idea because, once again, we were pulling from the many different sides of him,� says Toonk. “We showed them a couple of things as reference and they were like, ‘that’s it, this is how we’re going to treat this.’ So we just went from there, and it kept snow-balling with more elements.�

“The graphics are, like Russell, impactful, sexy and energized,� says Jesse Ignatovic, president of Den of Thieves. “They ooze energy and sexiness. We were blown away by the graphics. Basically, Mantra gave us Russell in a graphical form.�

Adding to the impressiveness of this graphical coup is that Mantra accomplished it in less than a week. “Ideally you’d want weeks so people would have more time to work on the elements, but we just really cranked it out,� says Toonk. “And I think it’s compelling that the quality didn’t suffer. We definitely, as a team, feel very strongly about this piece, we all like it for different reasons.� And Mantra was able to keep costs down at the same time, using many shots tacked on during rehearsals.

But Toonk explains that success wasn’t a foregone conclusion in the way they approached the artistic challenge. “It was something that you take a risk in doing, because it can look like a mistake and so you have to be so deliberate when you do it,� she says. “But when it works, it really works.�

About Mantra Design
Mantra Design is a premier design and visual effects boutique located in New York City’s Flatiron District. Its talented team of graphics and VFX artists are behind some of today’s most visually compelling broadcast and event design offerings including the 2008 Grammy Awards Show, the MTV Music Awards, and various show packages. Founded by Creative Group in 2007, it offers motion design, visual effects, creative editorial, event design and production for its clients, many of which are among the world’s best known brands, including CBS, ESPN, CNN, Saatchi & Saatchi, MTV Networks, Nickelodeon, History, and USA Network.

About Creative Group
Creative Group is a leading, full-service post production facility specializing in nonlinear, linear and HD editing compositing, visual effects, color correction, digital intermediates, DVD duplication and sound design/5.1 audio post mixing for the broadcast, film and DVD markets. The New York City-based Creative Group first opened its doors in 1993 with an imaginative and award-winning team of artists. The company has since expanded its industry presence to include Mantra, its Manhattan-based design and visual effects boutique, as well as its Bristol, CT location. The company has grown internationally, as well, to include facilities overseas in Shanghai. Working with such high profile clients as The Walt Disney Company, General Electric, Viacom, Time Warner, Paramount, NBC Universal and Momentum, Creative Group prides itself in its mission to offer an all-inclusive hub for value-added creative services. This affords clients the ability to differentiate themselves in today’s cluttered multimedia environment.