Animation/VFX company Brigade recently worked for the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT), to complete a :30 PSA entitled “Physics Professor.” Brigade assembled a team of artists that completed the animation, compositing and particle effects from concept to final in under two weeks.
Brigade is a cloud-based studio that provides scalable creative teams for design, animation and visual effects. Founder Dave Dimeola and creative director Sean Broughton hand picked Flame, After Effects and Maya artists for the PSA from its roster.
In “Physics Professor,” the viewer has an immersive visual experience as smokey shapes fly through the screen in a black void. Each anomaly resolves into an equation drawn in chalk, calculating the probability and effect of various scenarios. Meanwhile, an off-screen professor reels off the complex mathematics concerning momentum and velocity in rapid fashion. As the spot proceeds, the numbers reveal their true location; a chalkboard, scribed by a wise old academic who sums up all the science: “It’s quite simple, really. Avoid death or injury by always wearing your seatbelt.”
Brigade relied on its proprietary software suites, Flock and VES, for project management and a positive experience for the artists and clients on project. Artists found entry to Brigade’s roster through personal referrals or by visiting the company’s Website, where a profile can be created to have portfolio material reviewed.
“Once the team members are booked, they’re invited to a central secure location where they can share their project [ideas],” said Dimeola. “Rough cuts of the NMDOT spot were uploaded to the central server, then distributed to the remote artists so they could begin working. Using Flock, we can track their progress, and scale the team up or down as needed throughout the project.”
VES is a system that allows Brigade to effectively manage the massive media assets that projects like the NMDOT project generates. “VES keeps the pipeline moving at maximum speed,” said Dimeola. “It keeps the team constantly informed on the project schedule, shot lists, asset tracking, rendering progress, and more. As a result, our creative directors and artists are consistently organized and in the loop with each other.”
Real-time visual interaction among the team members is an integral part of the Brigade process, which constantly incorporates Skype and Google Hangout to keep remote collaborators on the same page. “We want to recreate the environment of everyone being in the same room, despite being hundreds or even thousands of miles apart,” noted Dimeola. “In a project like this, improved communication can be critical for realizing the client’s vision, on deadline.”
Senior After Effects artist and team member on “Physics Professor” Mark Rubbo observed the benefits of collaborating with Brigade on multiple projects. “When I’m working with Brigade, it’s the ideal scenario for me as an independent visual FX artist,” said Rubbo. “Brigade brings in the client and I execute the idea. It’s great to be a freelancer and focus on creativity, without having to work on sales. Once the project is underway, it’s a seamless process. Brigade has really honed the workflow for remote collaboration. Communication and feedback are constantly flowing. It fits right in with the way I want to work.”
The Brigade model resulted in a successful collaboration amongst creative’s that were in multiple locations. Tasks involved 3D animation, compositing and advanced particle effects to generate the chalky environment and forming formulas. “There’s very little overhead in our structure, which keeps us cost effective for the client. It’s also attractive for freelancers because they get the flexibility to work from wherever they want on something highly creative, and still make their desired rate. That’s a better quality of life, and we believe it leads directly to better work,” said Dimeola.