Don Porfirio Creates Un-Titles
and Unlikely motion Reunion
In the tiny Piazza di Santo Stefano right off the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy, a man taps Elaine on the shoulder. We both turn to look as he asks, “Do you remember me?”
It took a beat before the glimmer of recognition set in. A collective grin widened across our faces as we shouted in unison, “Roberto!”
In 2010, Roberto and his wife Ariana attended motion and at the close of the event, he came over to us to say how compelling his experience at motion had been.
What were the odds that we’d bump into Roberto Puig – five years later and half a world away from our home in Albuquerque, USA and equidistant to his in Mérida, Mexico?
This was truly an unforeseen and unconventional motion reunion!
And this is where it all started.
Unconventional Times Call For
Clearly, this was one of those ‘meant to be’ moments you always hear about. Roberto said it best this past June when speaking at motion:
It was amazing to me that it was enough for us to meet for a couple of days many years ago,
and when we met again in Italy, it felt like we talk all the time.
We were laughing.
We were telling stories.
…and that’s when I got invited to do the titles.
He’s right! On the spot, we invited Roberto and his creative team at Don Porfirio to design an upcoming motion show open. And this unexpected and happy ‘meant to be’ moment in Italy became the inspiration for the whimsical story he would tell in this year’s motion show open.
Creating the motion UnTitles
Each year, the brief we give the studio selected to do the show open is simple:
Do whatever you want
as long as it’s creative,
you’re having fun –
and you’re showcasing your studio.
Roberto wanted to pay tribute to the connections and experiences that are made and shared at motion – as his were back in 2010.
“The kind of connection, the kind of stories, and the kind of interaction that you get at this event is very different from many other design conferences that I’ve been to where people are doing great work but their talks are more focused on the technical aspect or their process as a studio.”
“At motion it’s about real experiences and sharing,” he explained.
Roberto Puig, Founder/CEO/Creative Director at animation and broadcast design studio Don Porfirio is on the motion stage in Santa Fe presenting the motion 2017 ‘un-titles’ to an audience of his peers.
motion’s identity as ‘the un-conference’ set the tone for their project. The Don Porfirio team wanted this piece to be as unique and fresh as motion is – a full 180 degrees from their client work – and a divergence from their previous title design projects. It had to have a strong story – one that resonated with other creatives.
“Our idea came about from what happens here at motion. How we felt the first time we were here. And how we got to meet amazing people.”
Zeroing in on the motion tagline ‘Feed Your Creative Brain’ – Roberto and the Don Porfirio artists wanted to explore the idea of using a brain as their main character. Their brain had to have heart, personality, and emote convincingly. They did a lot of visual research and were especially inspired by the UK-based Studio AKA. Roberto had been a long time, self-proclaimed fan of their work – using simple characters to tell complex stories in an entertaining and profound way.
As any creative can tell you, the first idea may be the best idea…unless it isn’t.
Telling the Story: Part One
Their first draft went like this: the main character – a ‘creative brain’ – is full of amazing ideas that continually get rejected at work and eventually costs him his creative job. He takes a downward spiral and becomes homeless. One day, in exasperation and defeat, he tosses his “will think for food” sign and sees that a sentimental image of himself and his “human body” is on the backside. In a panic to get it back, he chases the sign being blown in the wind only to have it fortuitously land at the entrance of a building hosting a “support group” for creatives. The brain character goes inside and is thrilled to find others like him. He is happy and inspired!
We really liked the idea of mixing animation in real world locations.
We felt it could be a great ingredient for this piece.
We knew that shooting at ground level from the perspective of our main character
could strengthen the concept of how helpless he felt in this big world.
Not unlike some of us can feel at times.
Conceptual art was created. Storyboards were drawn. Test shots were completed.
In the end, the creative team decided it was just too dramatic, way too literal and they scrapped it.
Creativity is universal. Everybody has it, and it’s not the same for any two people – or brains!
Leaving It Up To interpretation: Unveiling the UnTitles
Roberto and the team took a step back, asked some hard questions of themselves, and re-calibrated their aim. This had to be playful and fun – and most importantly – they wanted to have a good time creating it.
The technique of the project wasn’t really that important since the audience does this same kind of work – it’s the story that’s important and what makes it fun is how the story is interpreted –
it’s not so literal or obvious.
The new story was decidedly left up for interpretation. Through the use of abstract art – colorful and graphic, their character with its unique personality travels through a vast world of floating shapes and textures. Along the way it encounters structured groups of unfamiliar beings seemingly wary of this brain’s extraordinary manner of expressing itself. Time and time again, the brain finds itself alone.
Ultimately, it arrives at a threshold where the bold choice is made to cross into unfamiliar territory. In this contrasting world, there are characters who look familiar, speak a common language of vivid colors, round shapes, and sounds with a beat you can dance to. A joyful scene ensues where everyone is delighted, excited, and inspired to be in the company of one another.
For this project they wanted to take an organic approach in creating their brain character. They knew what they were skilled at and comfortable doing – but wanted to try something completely off their creative radar.
Then they found it! Inspiration… and instructions… on YouTube: ‘How To Make A Brain Cake for Halloween’. It was a fantastic find. They had loads of fun making and painting brains. They took pride in watching their progression from crappy looking brains to very good looking ones. Once they were satisfied with their brain creations, they shot them against a green screen and animated them in 2D using Toon Boom.
Spread The Love
For us as a team, it was a very cool experience. It was great to do something we wouldn’t usually get the chance to do with commercial projects. I loved doing it!
After unveiling the untitles, Roberto concluded his appearance on the motion stage with this heartfelt call to action – “I invite you all to ‘spread the love’ for art, creativity, and design and make motion even better every year.”
motion takes place June 5-8, 2018 in Santa Fe, NM.
Visit the motion website for further details and to reserve your seat.