• Friday, Sep. 13, 2019
Nice Shoes signs MIRROR+SPARKS for immersive, XR representation
MIRROR+SPARKS consists of Joerg Liebold (l) and Zidi Liebold

Creative studio Nice Shoes has signed directing duo MIRROR+SPARKS for U.S. commercial and film representation in immersive and XR experiences. The Munich, Germany-based duo, comprised of Zidi Liebold and Joerg Liebold, fuses its diverse skillset in live action, design, 3D animation, VFX and cross-platform storytelling to craft vivid experiences featuring non-linear narratives that allow viewers to interact and explore beautiful environments. 

This marks the first U.S. representation for MIRROR+SPARKS whose body of work spans such brands as Audi, Cook Medical and Janua, along with leading global art institutions including the Pace Gallery, Clyfford Still Museum and Aspen Art Museum. Recently, they earned two coveted Gold German Brand Awards from the German Design Council in “Excellence in Brand Strategy and Creation” and “Brand Communications” for their 360 VR experience for furniture brand Janua. They are currently working on a VR narrative experience that provides users with an inside perspective on the personal and professional life of renowned artist and director Julian Schnabel.

“The work that MIRROR+SPARKS creates is astounding in terms of their approach to scale, which allows users to be a part of the story, not simply be a fly on the wall,” noted Nice Shoes EP Nick Litwinko. 

“It is vital to us to partner with a studio that holds the same level of importance toward consistently top-level creative standards, and Nice Shoes is just that,” added Zidi Liebold. “Their work is grounded in superior visual technique and impeccable attention to detail, and we look forward to working together to continue to push the limits of what is possible in immersive storytelling.” 

Zidi Liebold brings a design focus to every project, leveraging her background in 3D animation, photography and design to develop creative concepts and spearhead the visual execution from a technical POV. She began her career across the advertising and design industries, working on projects across multiple mediums for such top brands as Coca-Cola, Siemens, Air France, IBM, Procter & Gamble, Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. As a designer, she spent over six years defining and elevating the visual language in the beauty and fashion space while working with Victoria’s Secret Beauty, developing and overseeing direction for cohesive design-driven concepts across integrated creative campaigns.

Joerg Liebold launched his career as a photographer before transitioning to postproduction. After contributing to the success of animation and post studios as VFX supervisor, he took the next step in his career to focus on animation and design by joining Psyop in its New York headquarters in 2003. He spent over a decade at the shop as a technical director and sr. VFX director. Constantly investigating new filming techniques and technologies, he worked on his first VR project in 2013, a VR pilot experience for a Formula One race in Austin, TX. Joerg is also passionate about educating a new generation of creative talent and is a professor for VFX, animation and emerging media at the University of Applied Sciences, “Hochschule Macromedia,” in Munich.

  • Wednesday, Sep. 11, 2019
Andrea Theodore joins Bindery as executive producer
Andrea Theodore

Indie film and content studio Bindery has appointed Andrea Theodore as executive producer.

Reporting to founder Greg Beauchamp, Theodore will be responsible for managing a portfolio of work across Bindery’s current roster of clients, including agencies and brands alike, with an eye toward developing new relationships with both client partners and talent.

Theodore joins Bindery from Washington Square Films, where she spent the last three years as executive producer. Before that, she worked at Humble in New York, starting as head of production and working her way up to EP over five years. Theodore began her career on the agency side and quickly made the transition to production after getting hooked on her first on-set experience. She climbed the ranks from PA to line producer, working on commercials and music videos, and managing projects in the U.S. and abroad. 

Theodore’s hire is the latest addition to the Emmy-winning Bindery team following the appointment of Jason Goldman as producer in June.

  • Monday, Sep. 9, 2019
Dan Roberts promoted to EP at The Mill LA
Dan Roberts

The Mill has promoted Dan Roberts to executive producer in its Los Angeles studio.

Roberts has been an integral part of the production group for two decades, holding senior roles in multiple Mill studios. He has overseen an impressive portfolio of celebrated jobs such as Hay Day’s “Too Much Wool,” multiple Old Spice campaigns and the award-winning Nike “Write The Future.” Roberts is known for his effective running of projects, expertise in production processes and enthusiasm for identifying and nurturing up-and-coming talent.

  • Friday, Sep. 6, 2019
Bonfire adds partners Corbett, Baxter, Dimeola, seeks to usher in new post era
Bonfire partners (l-r) Peter Corbett, Brendan O’Neil, Aron Baxter and Dave Dimeola

Bonfire, the NY-based boutique postproduction facility launched in 2016 by veteran Flame artist Brendan O’Neil, has expanded with the addition of three new partners, who bring a depth of experience and expertise designed to usher in a new era in post, including VFX, design, CG, animation, color and finishing.

Joining Bonfire are Click 3X founder Peter Corbett, former Click 3X creative director Aron Baxter and Dave Dimeola, founder and executive producer of The Brigade, which specializes in in remote VFX and post. Corbett will hold the title of partner/new business, while Baxter will serve as partner/creative director and Di Meola will be partner/executive producer. Also joining Bonfire is sr. producer Jenn Frangella, who also comes over from Click 3X, and Kait Johnson, VFX Flame assist.

The newly expanded operation offers what O’Neil described as a ‘secret sauce’ for clients. It’s been cooked up by a crew of top-level, highly experienced professionals from the design, visual effects and animation disciplines, working out of a state of the art Flatiron facility and backed with an innovative, cloud-based system for sourcing, executing and delivering VFX, color, design, animation and finishing work, tapping a global network of artists and specialists in the process. 

Based on years of trial and error, Dimeola has developed a unique, decentralized platform for remotely connecting everyone that dramatically reduces both costs and timeframe while maintaining state-of-the-art quality. “With Bonfire,” he said, “we’re offering a boutique experience backed by our cloud-based firepower.”

So how does the Bonfire system work? “We put the right artists to work at exactly the right time, and the right sequence at the right volume – whether this is one artist for an hour or multiple artists for days,” Dimeola explains. “And we provide them with a sophisticated platform that can deliver the right software licenses on demand, and can render the results at high speed. This is coordinated not just by our producers, but by our platform, which largely automates the process.”

The roots of this go back to Dimeola’s days with Smoke & Mirrors, when he began building his global network of artists and tinkering with a variety of ways to manage the process of having them work remotely. “A lot of real-time tools were coming online around that time, and I found that I could get set up and move quickly, but in the beginning it was not that easy. We were really early adopters of cloud services, and we found that we needed to build a propriety system to manage the workflow effectively.”

But the results were surprising: “We were actually able to deliver files directly into Flame, while clients were sitting in the room,” he recalled. “It was beyond just off-shoring.” As his database and approach to cloud methodology grew, so did his client list. Dimeola eventually began to handle overflow work for many of the top effects and animation houses in the industry, as well as working directly with agencies. “We have protocols in place to vet talent, and we offer secure, tight collaboration between all parties – all of which is based on my dedication to engineer the very best experience for creating digital artistry in real-time,” he added.

Now united, the Bonfire team says they’re ready to re-write the rules of how things get done: “With the four partners coming together, our greatest advantage is strength in numbers,” said O’Neil. “Individually we were all doing great things, but together we supplement each other so well on every level that we’ve been able to create a unique and flexible solution to the biggest and most aggravating question in our industry which is, ‘why does it cost so much?’ Our approach lets us cater to any size project and hand-pick the best teams for each, often within hours, if needed.”

“What we’re really offering here is a new way of working,” added Corbett. “With the cloud as our backbone and our processes in place, we can manage the entire workflow in a better, more efficient way, one that lets us lower costs by a surprising margin. This is done entirely online and is continuously available in real time, allowing our clients to monitor their progress from anywhere in the world. Having seen it in action, all I can say is that it’s truly revolutionary.”

What this means for the quality of the work bodes well for people like Baxter. “I’m genuinely excited to be working with the partners here,” said the CD, who joined Click 3X in 2015 after working on staff at such studios as MPC and Nice Shoes and freelancing with The Mill. “It’s a new team, a new space, a new brand and a new method, all of which has galvanized me about the future.”

Baxter continued, “I’m a firm believer in having technology and creativity well-aligned, of having the best technology at hand that allows you to serve the best creative talent. Our ability to adapt and find better, smarter ways of working means we’re able to devote more creative playtime to each project and deliver better solutions.”

The career paths of the Bonfire partners have crossed numerous times in the past. Dimeola, for his part, started his career at Click 3X before working for a variety of other VFX shops and media companies. He’s been collaborating with O’Neil since early last year, during which time O’Neil recognized that his remote-based system mirrored in many respects reflected the more client-facing system he’d developed when freelancing directly for brands or agencies. “I saw the potential for combining forces, so when I built the Bonfire space, I invited Dave to come and work out of our office,” O’Neil explained.

The design of the Bonfire studio is deeply informed by O’Neil’s extensive experience working at just about every major studio in New York. “We’ve tried to embody all of the best pieces of each studio we’ve all worked at, and even created a few of our own,” he notes. “We’ve curated an amazing facility with our clients and artists in mind. We want our space to reflect the work we do, and for people to be comfortable and inspired.”

  • Thursday, Sep. 5, 2019
Warren Marenco Chase named Firewood COO
Warren Marenco Chase

Digital marketing agency Firewood has brought on Warren Marenco Chase as its first chief operating officer to support continued growth across its seven offices. The new hire speaks to the direction Firewood continues to pursue in disrupting the traditional agency model by focusing on partnerships and building in-house teams to support clients globally.

Chase most recently served as COO at Verizon’s in-house creative agency “140” and brings more than 20 years of experience running agency operations in all areas of creative, digital, and media communications. He previously served as EVP, global director at Wunderman San Francisco. Chase also served as global director at BBDO New York and held CEO positions at various BBDO/OMD offices in Latin America.

Firewood will leverage Chase’s unique background across both the traditional and in-house agency space to push Firewood’s evolving model beyond its current state.  

“Having been on both sides of the fence and in multiple international markets, I can attest that Firewood’s unique model and approach is a disruptive solution for brands’ ever-evolving, real-time marketing needs,” said Chase. “The company leverages the strength of deep partnerships with clients to deliver amazing creative solutions fast and at scale.” 

“Warren understands the importance of our culture and values, and his significant experience is a perfect fit for our next stage of growth,” said Juan Zambrano, co-founder of Firewood. “His leadership will also play a key role as we aggressively expand in the New York and Latin American markets.”

  • Wednesday, Sep. 4, 2019
Agency vets Horner, Swindell launch The Rapids
Ben Swindell (l) and Jack Horner

Jack Horner and Ben Swindell, two agency leaders with extensive expertise across creative, tech, content and entertainment marketing, are launching The Rapids, a London-based shop.

Horner and Swindell will run the new company as explorer and navigator respectively--job titles they feel best describe their complementary skills and the roles they play within a model that looks to solve creative problems at speed. In contrast to the retainer centric and lengthy process normalized by traditional agencies, The Rapids packages up sprints and high energy workshops for fast strategy and rapid creativity. 

Its launch projects include the creation of a new whiskey brand, repositioning a tea business, shaping creative teams for a global entertainment company and innovation on an ad-tech model.

Horner is the founder and former global executive creative director of FRUKT, the entertainment agency that launched in 2001 and scaled to over 150 staff in seven countries He now invests in diverse areas including music tech platforms, tea, non-alcoholic spirits, cyborgs and augmented reality. He started his career at Warner Music in international marketing and ran the entertainment side of pioneering digital agency AMX Studios, before moving to consult for Accenture on a global music platform.

Swindell has held managing director level roles at Holler, Leo Burnett and Engine. He also founded Blend, which departed from the traditional agency model by employing no full-time staff, and instead built bespoke teams based on the task at hand. Alongside The Rapids, Ben is also launching a men’s underwear brand later this year.

Swindell said, “We have both experienced far too much wasted time during our careers and this drove us to ask the question why everything was done over a period of weeks and months. We know if you get the right people, in the right environment and adopt the right process then amazing things can happen, and fast.”

Horner added, “Some challenges may well benefit from a slow process--but in an age of innovation, so much readily available information and incredible tools--sometimes it’s better to cast a super sharp team and turn up the volume and pace.”

  • Friday, Aug. 30, 2019
CVLT adds creative director/VFX supervisor Paek, EP/creative producer Sun
Charles Paek (l) and Frank Sun

Bicoastal content creation studio CVLT Production has expanded its executive suite with the additions of Charles Paek as creative director/VFX supervisor, and Frank Sun as executive producer/creative producer. Both will serve to oversee production and postproduction for client projects based out of New York and Los Angeles.

Paek has been behind award-winning creative projects for clients such as Lexus, Target, Acura, Infiniti, Marvel, Paramount and Tanqueray, while at CBS Broadcasting, HER3SY, Digital Domain and Artifact Studios, among others. Sun brings extensive experience shooting commercials, music videos, feature films and photography for Red Antler and his own production company XY Content, collaborating with clients including Google, Cartier, Norwegian Airlines and Nike.

A longtime filmmaker and VFX supervisor, Paek has distinguished himself in the industry from his early days as a lead designer at CBS Broadcasting to his past work at Digital Domain. Over the years, he cultivated his signature creative style of high-end, photoreal design in all of his projects. In the past decade he has worked as a director, art director and VFX supervisor, earning a VES nomination and a Clio win for his creative projects. 

Sun’s career began as a cameraman on the sunny islands of Survivor. He later moved to New York City to pursue a life in filmmaking. His passion for crafting vivid imagery led him to cinematography, where he helmed brand spots, films and music videos. He founded XY Content in 2013 alongside his creative partner, Habib Yazdi, and led a successful collective of roster clients and talent for five years, working with such clients and agencies as Publicis, WPP, McKinney, Red Antler and Google. 

  • Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019
The Mill Chicago hires EP Jenny Lumpkin
Jenny Lumpkin

Jenny Lumpkin has joined The Mill Chicago as executive producer. She spent the past seven years at Chicago-based Quriosity Productions. As sr. producer she developed Quriosity’s production offering from the company’s inception, overseeing production across all departments, managing artists and working to maintain the highest caliber of client and artists relationships. 

Lumpkin has worked with brands the likes of Chevrolet, McDonald’s, Sony, and MillerCoors. In addition to her commercial endeavors, she is highly involved in the industry’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, championing a more inclusive industry with Free Spirit Media, the LGBTQ National Business Associations and producing content for the 2016 Hillary Clinton for America campaign. She’s also been instrumental in AICP Midwest’s success. 

Lumpkin will be working alongside The Mill’s three other EPs: Peter Hullinger, Blake Nickle and Brian Smego. She’ll be focused on forging relationships with creative production company partners and expanding the company’s reach in Chicago and beyond.

Lumpkin said, “Many of the artists and employees have been my friends for years. The Mill has always felt like a second family to me and their work is simply stunning. What really drew me in was the opportunity to work with the two women at the helm: Tracey Khan, now head of production, and Erica Hilbert, the studio’s managing director. They’re strong leaders and inspiring women who have a real vision. For me, they represent a new era at The Mill in Chicago, and I couldn’t be more honored to be a part of their team.”

  • Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019
M&C Saatchi aeiou appoints Chenghua Yang as its China CEO
Chenghua "CH" Yang

M&C Saatchi aeiou has appointed Chenghua (CH) Yang as its CEO in China. The multi award-winning industry veteran until recently served as the CEO of Publicis Shanghai and Guangzhou for close to 12 years.

At M&C Saatchi aeiou, Yang will work closely with agency founders Michael Liu and Tony Liu.

Moray MacLennan CEO, M&C Saatchi Worldwide said “The appointment of CH to be our CEO of our China operation reflects our ambitions for the future in this key market. CH not only has a deep understanding of the Chinese communication landscape, but importantly, combines this with an entrepreneurial spirit.“

Yang’s illustrious career spanning nearly three decades started with Ogilvy & Mather in 1987 in Taiwan, where he worked as copywriter. He then was with firms like JWT, D’Arcy and Dentsu, before moving to Publicis Shanghai as the business director in 2002, managing clients like China Mobile, Cadbury’s, Yili milk powder and San Miguel.

In 2007, Yang was appointed as the general manager of Shanghai operations and in 2010, promoted to the managing director’s position while adding Guangzhou office to his remit. In 2012, Yang took on the CEO responsibilities and managed the full scope of agency operations, growing the team from 60 in 2007 to 200 in 2018, and the agency portfolio to more than 40 clients.

Stated Yang: “The communication business of the future will belong to agencies like M&C Saatchi, which are smaller, faster, agile and understand clients’ business nature; at the same time, respect the value of brand and creativity.”

Yang will be based in M&C Saatchi aeiou’s Shanghai office.

  • Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019
Threaded Pictures signs director TG Herrington for Texas representation
TG Herrinngton

Threaded Pictures has signed director TG Herrington, representing him for commercial and branded content work in Texas. Herrington joins Threaded Pictures’ growing roster of directors that includes Ben Tedesco, Two Headed Boy and Taylor Washington.

A multi-faceted filmmaker with a diverse body of work, Herrington has to his credit the feature documentary A Tuba to Cuba, at SXSW last year, which captures the deep roots musicians in his hometown of New Orleans share with musicians across the Gulf in Cuba. He recently finished concepting, shooting and directing Paul McCartney’s latest track, “Come On To Me,” and currently has several projects in development, including an animated series, a feature screenplay and an historical episodic.

Brian Hwang, executive producer at Threaded Pictures, now reunites with Herrington. The two earlier worked together when Hwang was a producer at McCann in NY and Herrington, then at Cut+Run, edited some Verizon spots. Hwang said of Herrington, “We’ve always had such a great working relationship, and I’m so excited to introduce his talents to our clients in Texas. Not only does he have a strong background in producing and writing both long and short format work, he’s also an exceptionally talented editor--something that both boosts his skills as a director and gives him the ability to cut his own footage. Plus, TG is fluent in Spanish, which further opens up his options.”

Born in New Orleans, Herrington spent his formative years at boarding school in Argentina, which he credits as giving him a strong worldly perspective. He began his career at Red Car in Hollywood, editing commercials and music videos for such noted directors as David Fincher, Michael Bay and Michel Gondry.

His postproduction experience parlayed a move into the director’s chair, filming commercials for Nike, Budweiser, Toyota and other global brands. In 2011, at the urging of director and frequent collaborator Simon West, Herrington signed on to edit the action film The Mechanic. The experience of having worked in the feature film arena led Herrington to his first foray into directing narrative via the award-winning film Mr. Okra, which became an official selection at both Sundance and Cannes.

Hwang said, “TG’s strong appreciation for history and his rich southern roots is what allows him to be able to tell stories with such heart, humor and wit. For me, A Tuba to Cuba captures all these attributes in both its story and structure. I’m really looking forward to taking advantage of all he’s learned on the long form side to tackle our client’s shorter format work.”

Herrington related, “Today, as directors, we’re being asked to do projects of all scopes for various distribution channels. Working with Brian and the team from Threaded Pictures is a great opportunity to add more to my mix. I look forward to getting into that nice rhythm where the ad world and my other projects can constantly be feeding each other.”

Threaded Pictures is the production arm of post house Republic Editorial and design and animation studio Infinite Fiction. This family of companies is able to provide comprehensive creative solutions and services for any project.

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