VFX Studio KILT Completes 2K Sports Project

Managing Director/Producer Matthew McManus and Creative Director/Flame Artist Andrew MacDonald, award-winning talents and long-time collaborators, have joined forces to launch KILT. A digital studio with a focus on visual effects and postproduction, the new company is positioned well for the changing production landscape and new economy. KILT has just finished its premiere project; a commercial for 2K Sports which launched earlier this month.

According to McManus, the company philosophy is “rooted in the belief that a small, flexible highly-talented, multi-disciplined, and experienced staff can produce good work,” he says. “KILT is well suited to meet the changing needs of the production landscape as we experience it today.”

A service company to advertising, content originator and production companies in commercials, features, music video and television, KILT’s approach is unique. As MacDonald points out, the duo saw the “digital tsunami” coming a few years ago, but they were unable from within an already-existing visual effects/post company to change direction due to dedicated architecture and overhead. “The move away from traditional means of advertising and content, to that of Internet and mobile technologies has created a new way of collaborating with clients,” he explains. “Companies now more than ever have to be flexible to meet the ever-evolving media environment.”

KILT launches with a core team that includes founding partners: McManus and MacDonald, as well as CG Artists Andy Lesniak and Michael Johnson. Together, they have a multi-disciplined approach and the ability to adapt their working pipeline to any project (as opposed to forcing a project into an existing, and potentially damaging workflow) regardless of the delivery format: television, mobile, internet, etc. A key aspect of the studio’s flexibility is scalability. “We can easily expand and contract as the project requires, and we are portable as well. So we can set up and work wherever our client is or wants us to be,” adds MacDonald.

This new mode of collaboration served KILT well on its premiere project, a commercial project for Director Peter Berg and 2K Sports. Featuring the collision of two trains against a desert landscape, symbolizing the power of baseball, the KILT team was called on to create the train’s collision. The athletes had already been shot on-set, so creative problem solving was needed.

The KILT team recommended to Director Berg that they create an entirely computer-generated 3D environment, and then integrate the CG elements with the live-action footage. The director agreed, so a small team from KILT led by Producer Matthew McManus traveled to the high desert and shot reference plates with the Red Camera.

They then integrated the cg trains and environments into the commercial’s live-action footage of the athletes. KILT artists were able to create fully CG trains using Maya and Mental Ray, and rendering using Lightwave. They had to custom-write some software for the integration of the three programs, but all this was accomplished on deadline and to budget.

KILT is now hard at work on a DirecTV campaign, which includes a series of 14 spots for NFL Prime Ticket, also scheduled to break in July.

KILT Studios

Managing Director/Producer/Partner:
Matthew McManus Matthew McManus is a leading executive in the postproduction community. In 2005, he was hired by Ascent Media to reinvent the RIOT VFX brand. Through a rebranding effort and increasing RIOT’s visibility, he generated over $6 million per year in revenue, a goal which had previously alluded RIOT. During his tenure at RIOT, Matthew led local and national seminars for both HD production workflows and digital acquisition workflows such as RED. Prior to joining RIOT, Matthew served as Executive Producer at Radium for three years, generating revenues of $4.5 million per year. His credits at Radium include the Pass That Dutch video by Missy Elliot, the 2004 VES Awards winner for Outstanding Achievement in Visual Effects in a Music Video. Previous to venturing into the postproduction world, he served has Head of Production at commercial production companies, Fahrenheit Films, M-80 and Bedford Falls.

Creative Director/Flame Artist/Partner:
Andrew MacDonald MacDonald served as creative director at METHOD/RIOT and previously at CreoCollective. He has built his reputation and staff around the idea of artistic excellence and innovation. His background also includes service at Digital Domain as a senior visual effects supervisor. Collaborating with the top filmmakers in advertising, MacDonald was instrumental in the creation of classic spots for Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Isuzu, MCI and many other advertisers. His work was recognized by numerous awards including four Clios, a Bronze Lion at Cannes and several AICP Awards for excellence. Born in England, MacDonald earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Coventry Polytechnic. He began his career as a postproduction artist, working through such London postproduction companies as Rushes, The Mill and Moving Picture Company. He went on to found several companies of his own, spanning a diverse range of creative and technical services. One of them, Hughes MacDonald, was the first independent visual effects firm in London.

CG Artist: Andy Lesniak
Andy Lesniak has applied his considerable skills as a CG supervisor and artist to feature films, television, commercials, music videos and interactive games. Among his recent credits are spots for NetZero, Lincoln and Canon. Lesniak was an original staff member of CreoCollective and a co-founder of Station X Studios. At Creo, his work included the film The Core and commercials for Volvo, Nextel and New Balance, among many others. At Station X, he contributed to the film Dogma and My Favorite Martian, and to commercials for Chevy, Toyota and Sony Wega.

CG Artist: Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson joined RIOT in 2005 and has applied his broad-based animation skills to projects for Subaru, Honda and Scion. Johnson previously spent three years at CreoCollective where his work included the films Hostage and The Core, and commercials for Ford, Microsoft, Nintendo, Olympus and Sprint. He also held a staff post at Tippett Studio in Berkeley where he was part of a team that created a series of thrilling action sequences for the film “The Matrix: Revolutions.” His background also includes freelance work for Rhythm & Hues, Eden FX and Gray Matter on projects ranging from commercials for Burger King, Ford and Nintendo to the television series “Star Trek: Voyager.” Johnson began his work with Digital Domain. He contributed to numerous commercial projects, as well as the ride film “StormRider” for Disneyland Tokyo and the film “X-Men.”


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