Based in east London, ManvsMachine is an award winning motion design studio that goes to great lengths in creating some of the most visually immersive animations in the industry. Most recently their innovative work - which includes campaigns for Microsoft’s Xbox, Channel 4, and Nike - has been joined by a video series for Squarespace.
ManvsMachine worked with Squarespace on their 2017 fall advertising campaign. The project comprised three films, which ManvsMachine describe as “a tactile-take on the online experience.”
We got the opportunity to talk with creative director, Adam Rowe, about what the Squarespace project involved, and what goes into such a visually complex advertising campaign.
ET: What drew you to this project?
Adam: First and foremost, the people at Squarespace. Very early on in our discussions with the client-side team we realised that they were a really forward-thinking group of people who shared our design ambitions.
The topline brief for the project was also hugely inspiring to us. We got the opportunity to bring an amazing product to life in a truly unique way. We were also given some creative freedom which allowed us to be open with our ideas.
ET: What’s it like having creative control on a project such as this?
Adam: Sometimes too much creative freedom can make it harder to focus. While we’re always excited by a totally open brief, we also see the value in having a problem to solve and parameters in place. This brief was pretty much perfect for us, as it was a clear objective with a completely open path.
We thrive on this sort of creative control because it helps us achieve the best end result. It wasn’t like we were calling all of the shots as we worked very closely in collaboration with Squarespace, which involved plenty of back and forth in order to craft our approach.
ET: How do you approach the conceptualisation and delivery for a project like this?
Adam: It really does depend on the project and the client as to how we approach the conceptual phase. With this particular project we started off by exploring a series of topline creative territories that were all open-ended in terms of execution. From there, alongside our client team, we whittled our ideas down to two and continued to stress test them.
Our final idea actually shared characteristics from two of our preferred concepts, which is something we normally aren’t keen on. However, in this case the contrasting elements of the different concepts ended up singing harmoniously together.
ET: Where did the ideas for the visuals come from?
Adam: In our first presentation with Squarespace we were given the overarching art direction that they wanted to achieve. From there we knew exactly where we wanted this project to land.
More specific concepts for visual scenarios were reached during a thorough research process where we worked closely with each of the featured creatives. We then made sure that every setup represented their personality and/or a process that they go through when carrying out their craft.
ET: What software and hardware did you use for the VFX?
Adam: We used a wide range of software and hardware for this particular project. This included Cinema 4D, Houdini, Maya, ZBrush, Redshift, Agisoft Photoscan, After Effects, Nuke - just to name a few.
In terms of hardware, we used a mix of Mac Pros, HP Z840s and Z640s with NVIDIA GPU technology. We also used our in-house GPU render farm to get through the large amount of renders and a Canon camera for photogrammetry.
ET: Did you find that your equipment from Escape Technology was particularly helpful?
Adam: Escape Technology helped us to expand our render capacity via a server rack and also helped to set up multiple HP workstations, which we used for designing, simulating and rendering. When churning through a huge amount of render power it was mission critical that our setup was failsafe and Escape made sure that we could rely on the pipeline.
ManvsMachine continue to work on some of the most innovative motion design projects around, pushing the boundaries of what a studio can achieve in a short amount of time. You can learn more about ManvsMachine’s projects on their website, or contact us to discover how your studio can deploy GPU rendering.