Design & Freelancing

Our Review of OFFF 2017 – Second Day

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This is the second part of a series of posts where I’m sharing my experiences from OFFF 2017. If you haven’t read it yet, you can start here.

The second day of OFFF was definitely a visual overdose, with many artists from Motion Graphics, Title Sequences, and Creative Coding. It was a day full of inspiration and as always, every new day seems to be better than the last one. Personal Work was the big topic of the second day with a generous consensus that it helped to shape your career and your artistic style.

Among the different Studios and Artists there, the first one is a well-known studio in the Brazilian Motion Design Community. I’m talking about Cookie Studio, a studio based in London but created and directed by Thiago Maia., a Brazilian like us.

Thiago Maia from Cookie Studio talking about his work

Cookie Studio

Among the things Thiago Maia talked, one thing he kept highlighting was to have fun, and don’t lose your life working. We need to understand that it’s not about doing the work but about enjoying and having fun during its process.

Work hard and be nice to people.

Don’t forget that people and connections are what make us who we are. Be kind and look to always help the community at the same time you put a lot of effort in your work. It’s about “giving back” to the community more than just “taking” it.

Thiago also mentioned the importance of working hard on the time you have available to do the work. Focus is vital for you to reach success in what you do. Working hard doesn’t mean putting 12-14 work hours in a day, filled with procrastination or unproductive activities. Instead look up for how you can do more in less time. Focus on your work while you’re working so you don’t need to sacrifice other areas of your life.

A fun thing that Cookie showed was their studio in a 360 visualization. Even tough it can sound silly, I personally have a lot of curiosity about people’s studios. This 360º helped to give an idea of how Cookie Studio is from inside and how it would be to work in this space.

There was one part of the talk that resonated a lot with me. He said that ”A client doesn’t give a shit of your showreel, they want references of your work” and this is something I’ve been discussing a lot, for more than a year now. Your showreel can be cool but clients don’t understand showreels. Studios and other designer do, but your clients don’t give a shit about it. They are more interested in knowing how you worked with your previous clients, how you brought them results, and especially, some references from those old clients.

One of the greatest challenges Thiago Maia mentioned, was about how to keep the studio creative while doing “shit work”? He calls shit work the kind of work that helps to pay the bills but that isn’t that interesting to showcase in a portfolio, for example. To keep the creativity up, they invest a lot on personal work. One of the examples they showed were the variations on Cookie’s logo presented on their website, where almost everyone in the studio did a different style of it and animated it

Besides that, last year I was at Anymotion, a Motion Graphics conference in Brazil, – Yes, they exist – and I remembered seeing the title Cookie Studio did. They made this “game” inside the studio where each one (from the interns to the directors) would animate one of the speaker’s name, and deliver the last frame of the animation to next person. This way the person would never know what was animated before them, and they would end up creating a unique sequence, mixing numerous styles. The final result, as you can expect, was really good.

Also, they made part of the Animography project, developing some animated letters it. On Cookie Studio’s Instagram, they are also challenging themselves every time doing different kinds of personal projects – for example, a kind of the 36daysoftype, using only the letters of the word COOKIE in different styles.

To close his talk, he shared some of the “famous” shit work they made. The idea behind it is to make shit subjects good.

When he was talking in Brazil last year, he showed some of the projects they did for some “casino” games. It was not a fun subject, but our duty as professionals is to always look for ways to achieve better results than the ones expected. I honestly believe they did.

Those shit projects pay them to do the projects they actually want to do and that’s what really matters.

Claus Studios presenting the end titles they made for Deadpool


Claus was a nice speaker to watch. If you are familiarized with End Titles on movies, you probably have seen some of his work. He worked on some End Titles for Thor, The Book of Life*, and also *Deadpool*.

In all projects he shared, he showed us some “Task” – that were like a briefing that dictated each project – so we could understand the thinking behind everything he did.

One of the great things he said is that we need to understand the needs our clients have and approach them with problem-solving skills. Don’t be superficial and only deliver the “minimum”. Understand what is the problem the client is facing and figure out creative ways you can help him achieving it. You will not only make your client happy but will also be creating meaningful work.

Like I mentioned about the “Tasks”, Deadpool’s credits had the most curious one: Have all the fun.

In fact, he did it. Anything related to Deadpool is about being silly, having fun and making people laugh. That’s exactly what he achieved.

To sum it all up, if your idea is something you enjoy, just do it (it’s not an advertisement for Nike). He closed by saying.

”Do what you want to do. People will hire you for that.

Don’t be afraid of your silly ideas. Do them and show them to the world. You only need one person interested in your work and you’ll find a client.

Stink Studios

Stink Studios is a Digital Studio based in New York that presented projects from different areas of Design with a focused message on not letting the tools define what you can do.

If you don’t have a tool for something or if your tool is the best one to make your idea, make new tools instead. If you can’t find something, build it yourself. There’s no excuse to not put your creative work out there.

Also, during a specific point of their talk, they said something that anyone who has managed a team will relate to:

“Managing the work is as important as doing the work (and maybe more important).”

Making sure the work you are doing will go out, with high-quality and at the right time is a lot more valuable than we think.

An interesting rule they follow in the studio is what they call rule of 70%. It means that if they can understand 70% of what they plan to create, they are good. They’ll certainly be able to find later different ways to create the 30% that are still “unknown” for them.

As a great end thought, they left us with this great phrase:

the most valuable skill you can have is the ability to learn new ones. Always keep learning

Never stop pursuing new things. No matter how many years you have in the industry, there’s always something new to learn and discover. The capability of learning new skills is what pushes us forward and makes our work better every time.

The last two designers I’ve separated, are well-known faces of OFFF. I probably have seen them at least 3 times in all the 4 years I’ve been to the event. They are GMUNK and Joshua Davis.

Gmunk talking about the importance of being passionate about what you're doing


Gmunk is an OFFF Veteran that has made some many different projects that make it difficult to define what the hell he does, other than saying he does mind-blowing projects.

You may have seen his work before in many sci-fi movies, like Oblivion and Iron. He worked with different movie studios, developing animated UIs for those films –  Yes, those awesome futuristic interfaces we have seen on many sci-fi movies.

However, his work goes way beyond that. He resumed the changes between those phases as “I was bored”. Every time he gets bored with the work he is doing, he manages to reinvent himself. This skill is amazing and he does it with mastery.

Going back to the personal work subject, GMUNK made an experimental work using a kind of triangle tunnel and lots of LEDs inside it, to create really interesting effects.

He made it just for fun, curiosity and experimentation. However, after seeing this work, Adobe contacted him to do a project like this for them. Well, he did the Adobe project, and after seeing it, Samsung hired him for a project in the same line.

Is that enough? I don’t think so. The Samsung film helped GMUNK to attract Microsoft’s eye, and guess why they contacted him? Yes, to do another project, now for Microsoft.

Installation built to create a static image to be used as background for Windows 10

All those great experimentations ended up leading to something bigger, but they all started as a fun and personal work.

Another project you may have seen online is a video showing a new technology of tracking in projection mapping. The technology itself is something amazing, and only this would be enough to make a successful video. However, the way GMUNK did to explore this technology was incredible. It’s one of the most magical videos I’ve ever seen :)

Joshua Davis

This guy isn’t considered the “grandfather” of OFFF for nothing. He has been there since the first edition, 17 years ago. His work is based on creating visual patterns out of code. What started in flash many years ago is now done with help of Processing. If you don’t know what it is, Processing is one of the main software for creative coding – using code to generate images, interactions, and animations.

Last year, he did a live performance together with Kiran Gandhi, former drummer for musical artist M.I.A., where her drum was responsible for generating the graphics created by Joshua. It was rendered in real-time and was great to appreciate it live.

During OFFF 2015, he built a room with a huge screen where the animations were rendered according to a collaborative playlist he built on Spotify. It was a place for people to relax, and even sleep, even tough the times I went there it was always playing some Heavy Metal :P

About experimenting new techniques and publishing your work, Joshua has been doing it for quite a while and recently he has been posting a lot on his Instagram. One of those things ended up attracting the eyes of the Super Bowl team. Like they do every year, they have three days of shows before the big game. Joshua Davis ended up developing a project sponsored by Pepsi for one of those days – on Pharrell Williams’s day.

A few day later after the project was completed, the Super Bowl team contacted him again, saying that other sponsors were mad because Pharrell Williams’ day ended up being the best one, just because of the work Joshua Davis did. As you can imagine, after that talk, Super Bowl simply requested him to produce again his work for the next year’s Super Bowl(2017), but now for all the three days of the event.

All this started by experimenting and trying new stuff while posting them online. Now, he said that he only has a client a year, and it’s enough for him to do his job. It can be the dream for most people and he is the proof that it can happen.

With that great story, the second day was over. It was time to rest and prepare for the final day.

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If you want to read more about the third and final day, click here.