• Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021
Ruel Smith named head of VFX & animation at Stept Studios
Ruel Smith
LOS ANGELES -- 

Creative production studio Stept Studios and its post division, Lockt Editorial, have added long-time collaborator Ruel Smith to its team of artists as head of animation and visual effects. The Jamaican-born filmmaker brings more than 16 years of experience in VFX and animation to his new role. 
 
As an animator, Smith has extensive expertise with creative works that involve epic CGI worlds, as evidenced in his work with A-list directors such as Ryan Coogler, Jon Favreau, David Fincher, and Clint Eastwood. Smith has worked on blockbuster films including Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Flags of Our Fathers, Riddick, and The Jungle Book; and notable game titles like Disney’s Tron Legacy, Medal Of Honor, Resident Evil 5, Mortal Kombat X, and Gears Of War 4. He’s also directed several short films, with several other upcoming projects currently in development.

Smith was instrumental in bringing Stept’s recent campaign for Riot Games’ League of Legends World Championships to life as co-director and VFX supervisor. The ambitious film promoted the 2020 esports competition, with more than 95% of the project completed in CG and done with everyone physically distancing and working from home. 

Smith’s latest work is a powerful animation campaign for Best Buy featuring the stories of six teens from marginalized communities who have big dreams for their futures. The campaign poses the question, what do you want to achieve on the highest level? In response to that query, each story is rendered in a different animation style, reflecting the diversity of their visions, unique individually but collectively functioning as a vivid and inspiring whole. Said Smith, “I’ve been in their shoes. Growing up in Jamaica and wanting to dream big but not having the access or circumstance to the tools I needed to make that future possible. So being a part of this project was especially meaningful to me.”

  • Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021
BSSP hires associate creative directors Robison Mattei, Will Sands
Robison Mattei
SAUSALITO, Calif. -- 

Independent creative agency Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners (BSSP) has hired Robison Mattei and Will Sands as its newest associate creative directors. Both industry vets--who have held senior-level creative roles at agencies including TBWA\Chiat\Day, 180LA and Deutsch--will work across all BSSP clients and new business projects, helping the agency to further elevate its creative work and effectiveness. They will report to group creative directors Nicole Michels McDonagh and Sinan Dagli.

Mattei has spent the last decade working at agencies around the globe--from São Paulo to Dubai to Los Angeles, creating work for McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Toyota USA, ABInbev, Asics, Nestlé, P&G, Google Cloud, among others. Brazilian born, to an Italian family full of artists and creators, he was naturally drawn to design. Mattei started his ad career at F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi Sao Paulo and worked his way up the creative ladder with stints at Lowe, JWT, Leo Burnett, Crispin Porter + Bogusky and 180LA. Most recently, he served as a sr. art director at TBWA\Chiat\Day. His work has been recognized by several major award competitions including the Cannes Lions Festival, New York Festivals, The One Show and the Dubai Lynx International Festival.

A truly integrated creative, Sands has spent time at both traditional and digital agencies including 180LA, Deutsch, and AKQA, working as a copywriter on major brands like Jordan, Volkswagen, Bud Light, Postmates, and Taco Bell. It was during his tenure at 180LA where he and Mattei first worked together. Over the last year, Sands has freelanced for various L.A.-based shops including Virtue, 72andSunny, and Decoded. His work has received industry awards at the Cannes Lions Festival, The One Show, D&AD and ANDYs; he’s also participated on juries for the CLIO Awards and The Webby Awards.

 

  • Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021
Editor Mah Ferraz joins Cut+Run
Mah Ferraz
LOS ANGELES -- 

Multi-award winning film editor Mah Ferraz has joined the roster of Cut+Run. Her history of client collaboration includes Nike, adidas, Apple Music, Spotify, Instagram, ESPN, Vogue, Marc Jacobs, Volvo, Grey Goose, Marriott, and the NFL. Select music-related editorial features artists like Rosalía, A$AP Rocky, Megan Thee Stallion, Burna Boy, and Mariah Carey. 

Being a Latinx woman and part of the LGBTQA+ community, Ferraz often uses her voice to collaborate on work with a powerful social message, such as Oreo’s “Proud Parent” and Megan Thee Stallion’s New York Times Op-Ed piece, “Why I speak up for Black Women.” Ferraz’s international presence includes work in Brazil, U.K., Portugal, Germany and Nigeria, along with Spanish-speaking work from Spain and Puerto Rico.

“Editing is my art; it’s the way I express my creativity. I’m very passionate about it and try to add my fingerprint and vision into anything I touch,” said Ferraz. 

A candid conversation about editing and the state of the industry with Cut+Run Founder Steve Gandolfi was, in fact, instrumental in Ferraz’s decision to join Cut+Run. Understanding the culture and genuine connectedness at the company, Ferraz was struck by the frankness with which he and the other company partners spoke about why and how they operated in the world. 

In 2019, Ferraz became the first editor to become a Young Gun. Other Awards and nominations include Webbys, The One Show, ADC, The MVPA, One Screen, and Berlin Commercial. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Nowness, Paper Magazine, Vogue, Elle Magazine, The Atlantic, It’s Nice That, and has also been a Vimeo Staff Pick five times. Prior to joining Cut+Run, Ferraz had been freelancing.

“Over and over I have watched work that takes my breath away, only to learn that the editor behind each incredible piece was Mah. She is truly a force of creativity, who blends imagination and technique in a rarefied way,” commented Michelle Eskin, managing partner, Cut+Run, which maintains locations in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin and internationally.

 

  • Monday, Feb. 15, 2021
Casey Swircz joins Harbor as sr. spot producer in Chicago
Casey Swircz
CHICAGO -- 

In a move that further enhances its growing presence in Chicago, Harbor--which also maintains operations in NY, L.A. and London--has hired Casey Swircz in the role of sr. producer, commercial. She joins the Harbor team after building a career as a freelance producer with Carbon and The Mill. She will oversee all postproduction; creative editorial, conform, color, sound, and VO operations for Harbor out of Chicago. Her role is central to providing clients with talent local to Chicago, as well as the global artistry offering for which Harbor is known.

With over 15 years’ experience, Swircz handles and executes large-scale projects across multiple platforms with top agencies in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. She has collaborated with brands including, Capital One, Firestone, Nintendo, Corona, Porsche, State Farm, McDonald’s, Toyota, Allstate, Cheez-It, Bank of America, and has generated award-winning campaigns such as the Clio-winning “Ben’s Glasses” for Pearle Vision, and Jeep’s “Recalculating” global campaign. 

Harbor founder and CEO Zak Tucker said, “Casey comes to Harbor with proven expertise and solid relationships built on trust.  Casey will now be able to draw upon Chicago talent as well as tap artistry and resources at Harbor New York, Harbor LA, and Harbor London as productions scale and require global support in service of our clients.”

  • Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021
Editing duo Kid Sister arrives at Work
Emilie Aubry (l) and Niles Howard, aka Kid Sister
LOS ANGELES -- 

Kid Sister, an editing duo consisting of Niles Howard and Emilie Aubry, has joined the roster of Work Editorial for global representation. Howard, born and raised in Detroit, and Aubrey, who’s from Bordeaux, France, are now base din Los Angeles.

After the pair coincidently left their former companies at the same time--Howard was at Rock Paper Scissors in Los Angeles and Aubrey was at Division in Paris--they both cut their teeth as young freelance editors in L.A. When a mutual friend introduced them for a professional project, they quickly realized that they shared the same taste, style, and workflow. From the very beginning, it was a natural, organic collaboration. Skilled at bouncing ideas off of each other, they work incredibly well and efficiently. After collaborating as a team for the past four years, they are now ready for the next stage of their career at their new roost, Work.

Jane Dilworth, Work founding partner, said of Kid Sister, “They work together seamlessly and have a wonderful to and fro in the edit. Individually they are brilliant and creative people and the four eyes make for some amazing pieces of work--they are also great people!”

Marlo Baird, Work EP in Los Angeles, cited Kid Sister’s work ethic, hustle and dedication to craft.

Kid Sisters’ credits span such global brands as Adidas, Spotify, Facebook, Amazon and Reebok, the edit duo has collaborated with artists including Beyoncé, Cardi B, Moses Sunmey, Paul McCartney, and Post Malone.

Kid Sister hits the ground running at Work with a new Instagram campaign for Ogilvy NY and a piece for Facebook celebrating Black History Month, “You So Black” directed by J.M Harper at Park Pictures and performed by Theresa tha S.O.N.G.B.I.R.D.

  • Monday, Feb. 8, 2021
Michael Burkin joins HUSH as director of growth
Michael Burkin
BROOKLYN, NY -- 

Experience design firm HUSH has added Michael Burkin as director of growth. 

Previously Burkin worked for strategy, design and technology company Reaktor and was also a partner and managing director of Stockholm-based design studio Doberman. As VP of strategic design company Smart Design, he helped to scale the company to three locations, championing their culture as a way to foster collaboration between teams. Some of his most notable projects include the Aida™ calculus app for Pearson, the recent design of the MoMa website, Smart Design’s NYC taxi experience, and the SMART pediatric growth chart app for Harvard Medical School. 

Burkin plans to draw on his varied experience as he helps take on HUSH’s next evolution. “The stakes are very high for the caliber of experiences that will exist in the post-pandemic world,” he explained. “Because we are now comfortable accomplishing so much at home, the bar for going out into the world has risen significantly. As an experience design firm--of offices, of public spaces, of buildings, of educational centers, of branded spaces--we have to create the most powerful, destination-worthy, IRL experiences to make them worth the trip.”

Burkin will tackle this workplace challenge by helping HUSH become a stronger strategic partner to their clients, as they consider what the return to work experience will be for their employees. But he also believes there are areas for HUSH to open up the conversation and talk about experience in an even broader way, from brand installations that signal a company’s vision or mission to multi-channel experiences that are integrated into a corporate campus or cultural space.

“I think we have a huge opportunity in front of us to think about experience more broadly, and HUSH is in the perfect position to grow this conversation even further,” Burkin continued. “Over the summer, [founding partner] David [Schwarz] and I discussed what growth means within a design studio. I believe a progressive, dynamic and innovative studio is built around three holistic pillars: growth, quality and culture. These pillars are intimately connected and interrelated. And growth is never for growth’s sake--it unlocks our ability to attract and inspire best-in-class talent, which fuels HUSH’s unique culture, and provides the space to design and develop category-leading concepts at scale.” 

  • Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021
Uppercut Atlanta adds Flame artist Pistono, editor Dodsworth
Chelsea Pistono
ATLANTA -- 

Editorial, finishing, and VFX studio Uppercut is adding two team members to its recently opened Atlanta office. Flame artist Chelsea Pistono is brand new to its roster of talent, and editor George Dodsworth moves to Atlanta from Uppercut’s flagship shop in the heart of New York’s Flatiron District.
 
Pistono began her career in New York where she spent over seven years working in VFX at both boutique post houses and global studios. In 2017, she moved to Atlanta. She graduated from The University of Georgia in 2009 with a focus on filmmaking and video production. She specializes in visual effects and beauty retouching and has worked with a number of top advertising agencies, including Wunderman Thompson, HUGE, Wieden + Kennedy, and BBDO with clients like Tom Ford, Reebok, Revlon, Calvin Klein, Samsung, and Coca-Cola. Prior to joining Uppercut, she was at Method’s Atlanta studio.
 
After starting his career in VFX, Dodsworth quickly discovered he had a passion for storytelling. Dodsworth brought this passion to editing, where he creates impactful stories, striving to produce an emotional response from the viewer. “I want to make them laugh or cry in 30 seconds or less,” he says. These skills are most recently evidenced in his work for Volvo, "Safety Heroes," directed by Christopher Ewers. With candid musings delivered in black and white, allowing you to focus more fully on the humanity in each of their faces, these safety specialists at the Volvo manufacturing plant in South Carolina share what their roles mean to them. Dodsworth, whose other clients include Blue Cross, Toyota, Verizon, Mercedes, and Adidas, was recently promoted to editor after joining Uppercut’s NYC studio as a cutting assistant in 2019. Dodsworth’s relocation to Atlanta marks the Brit’s return to the city, as he first moved to Atlanta post-college, living there for two years. 

 

  • Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021
Producer/director Justin Liberman joins ELEMENT
Justin Liberman
BOSTON -- 

Video production and post studio ELEMENT has added filmmaker Justin Liberman to its creative roster as a producer/director. 

Liberman began his career in the feature world working under Michael Mann (Heat, Collateral) and David Mamet (House of Games, Heist) and was a shadow director on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. In 2014, he started directing commercials with acclaimed editor Judah-Lev Dickstein under the name Tank + Bunker. That duo earned a slot in SHOOT’s 2014 New Directors Showcase. Liberman’s commercial directing credits span such brands as Google, Remy Martin, Lonely Planet, and General Mills.

Liberman’s own narrative films have been screened and distributed internationally at film festivals and streaming platforms and have won over 25 festival awards and jury prizes. His latest film, Tobacco Burn, was sold to Gravitas Ventures and streams on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.F.A. in film directing from Columbia University.

Liberman is no stranger to ELEMENT  having worked with the company as an executive producer and creative consultant in Nashville, Tenn.  Now he has relocated to Boston and has joined the award-winning firm full-time.

Liberman said, “I’ve bounced around the country working for different production companies and I’m thrilled to now have a home here at ELEMENT. There is no irony here, no doubt, just focus and assurance. ELEMENT has cultivated and continuously curates an incredible band of filmmakers and I can’t think of a better group to be a part of.”

ELEMENT COO/executive producer Kristen Kearns said, “Justin brings a diverse range of skills where he is both efficient and highly creative. As the marketplace evolves, his ability to both produce and direct at a high level is a great fit to continue supporting our clients’ production needs.”

Eran Lobel, ELEMENT CEO/exec producer, said, “The demand for quality story-driven content continues to grow, and Justin helps us provide the very best to the market.”

  • Monday, Feb. 1, 2021
Roan Bibby joins PANOPTICA as executive producer  
Roan Bibby
NEW YORK -- 

Production company PANOPTICA has hired Roan Bibby as executive producer. Bibby’s experience runs the gamut from commercials to branded content, feature films, and series. He will oversee production, develop PANOPTICA’s roster of directors, seek out new creative talent, quarterback sales, and cultivate client relationships, working closely with founder/director Hughes William Thompson. 

Hailing from Berkeley, Calif., Bibby has worked around with the globe with the likes of 72andSunny, Big Block Content, Mustache Agency, ArtClass, Roger, Bodega, Mekanism and Vox Media, creating work for brands including ESPN, Google, Hotels.com, Marriott, Chase, Talenti, Samsung, Peloton, CNN, MSG, Hulu, Lee Jeans, T Brand, Macy’s, Conde Nast, Pandora and Carl’s Jr.  

Along the way he has had the opportunity to work with such notables as Anderson Cooper, Swae Lee, Lil Yachty, Joe Montana, Allison Williams, Scott Van Pelt, Andy Cohen, Daniel Kaluuya, Ken Jeong, Anna Wintour, Trudie Styler, Maria Dizzia, Paloma Elsesser, Jason Wu and Emily Ratajkowski.

Bibby’s long-form producing credits include Jeremy Hersh’s The Surrogate (SXSW 2020), Michael Feinstein’s The Browsing Effect (2017), and Forever Alone, a digital series commissioned by Adaptive Studios. He was also recently featured in the BBC series Talking Movies, exploring the role of producers in the film industry. 

  • Monday, Feb. 1, 2021
Framestore's L.A. office hires head of 2D, FX and CG supervisors, TD
Woei Lee
LOS ANGELES -- 

Oscar-winning creative studio Framestore has grown its Los Angeles team with a series of key hires; Woei Lee as head of 2D, Victor Grant as FX supervisor, Clément Renaudin as CG supervisor, and Aldrich Torres as sr. lighting and look development technical director.

With two decades of experience as a compositor and supervisor, Lee joins Framestore to manage and further build out the 2D department. Previously as head of the compositing department at Atomic Fiction, he oversaw offices across San Francisco and Montreal, growing the team to nearly 100 compositors. He also played an instrumental role in the company’s successful pipeline transition to Method Studios, shortly after Atomic Fiction was acquired by Method. 

Lee has worked on projects including Pirates of the Caribbean, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Deadpool, Star Trek Into Darkness, Star Trek Beyond, Transformers (film series), Stranger Things Season 2, The Walk, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, and Welcome to Marwen, which was nominated for VES Outstanding Compositing in a Feature.

Grant joins Framestore’s CG team as FX supervisor with 18 years of experience spanning work on Oscar-winning and VES-nominated films such as The Golden Compass and San Andreas, as well as commercial projects for Bud Light and mobile game Clash of Clans. He has worked for studios including Sony Imageworks, Rhythm and Hues, Psyop, Method Studios, and most recently Digital Domain as FX lead. In his new role, Grant will be responsible for overseeing FX elements on all L.A.-based projects, working on complex shots and mentoring the team of FX artists.

Renaudin developed his career in both his native home of France as well as the U.S., joining Framestore to lead teams on commercial projects. His time at Luma Pictures as CG supervisor saw him work on blockbuster films including Spiderman: Far From Home, Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey, and Godzilla vs. Kong. Prior, he spent time at MPC in Los Angeles where he supervised commercial projects for the U.S. Navy, Honda, Nissan, Dr Pepper, Call of Duty, as well as the Goosebumps film. He also worked at BUF Compagnie in Paris on films including The Dark Knight and Thor. Renaudin has claimed a host of industry accolades from VES, D&AD, and SIGGRAPH competitions. 

Working across New York and Los Angeles, Torres served at Psyop as lead 3D artist before joining Framestore. He has worked on brand projects for Coca-Cola, Hyundai, and Cricket Wireless, as well as blockbuster films like Ready Player One, Beauty and The Beast, and Iron Man 3. While spending time at The Mill in Los Angeles, Digital Domain, Rhythm and Hues, Digital Giant, and CoSA VFX, he focused his career on lighting and look development.

“We’re proud to put our weight behind building out a strong team with accomplished leaders who can consistently deliver world-class work across projects, particularly as the industry continues to respond to the ever-changing landscape,” said James Razzall, Framestore’s president of advertising, U.S. 

In addition, Carla Attanasio has assumed the position of director of production, a role that will find her responsible for the smooth and efficient running of all of Framestore’s projects out of the L.A. studio.

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