Grant Lovering: Resin Design

Published:  March 24, 2011
Grant Lovering: Resin Design

Words: Jo Spurling

Whoever said bigger is better? That’s what I’d like to know, because when it comes to boutique studios there’s some amazing work afoot. Just look at the visual effects and design studio, Resin, for example. Starting out back in 2006, it has been responsible for a pretty impressive body of work to date – including having a hand in Spike Jonze’s movie adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are and also creating a number of recognisable TV show idents for shows such as Poh’s Kitchen. Then there is Resin’s TV commercial work and the wonderful work it does for design body AGDA.

Grant Lovering has been at Resin since the beginning, which is a good thing really considering he is one of the studio’s co-founders. Coming from a design background, Lovering advises he gravitated towards motion design and compositing after finishing his university degree. “I was learning After Effects and remember seeing the film titles for Seven – and I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do’. Today my role involves directing and compositing as well as colour work, not to mention the business side too,” he says.

Resin is a visual effects (VFX) and animation house located in Adelaide, and from the beginning Lovering and his business partner Lincoln were determined to carve out a niche for themselves in the industry with a focus on design-led motion projects. Lovering advises that at the time this was a unique proposition. “We have a mixture of talent in the studio that is designer/director types and visual effects artists. The studio is a combination of open plan workstations and some rooms for specific tasks,” he says. “We use a whole range of toolsets and it’s constantly evolving. We rely pretty heavily on our render farm and have a calibrated compositing/grading theatre where projects are finished.

“We employ eight people,” he continues, “and have placed enormous importance on this versus a freelancer model. This gives us tight quality control over the work the studio produces and provides a stable work environment for our team.”

So, in the burgeoning VFX and motion design industry, what marks Resin out from the pack? Lovering says that this is something often discussed in their studio, but he hopes that it’s finding that often intangible ‘little bit extra’. “The studios in the top tier have that extra few percent that elevates their projects above the pack,” he explains. “So we are always looking for a way to close that gap and make the next project the reason to update our reel. This governs all of our decisions at a project level, in the business, our process, who we are interested in hiring and the types of clients we’d like to work with. We also place an enormous value on work/life balance and try to limit the crazy times that most studios just accept is part of the industry.”

On a more personal level, Lovering says that it isn’t difficult to find motivation, inspiration or that little bit extra. “I’ve always been into films, and there is something about working in a medium that has narrative and storytelling elements that is intoxicating. I’ve often said if I wasn’t fortunate enough to be earning a living in this medium, I’d be doing it in my own time, and that would be true of everyone working here. It’s a shared passion. I’m very driven and know we have something quite special in terms of what we can create as a team. It’s now about finding the projects that give us the opportunity to realise the potential, pay the bills and hopefully some left over.”

With a drive to be considered one of the best boutique VFX and motion studios in Australia, however, Lovering is also careful not to fall into the trap of being defined by the projects that “come across the table”, as he puts it, and so keeping a look out for work by which Resin can differentiate its offering is par for the course. “We find when we present to people who may not know much about Resin that they are amazed at the diversity of the studio and the type of projects we’ve worked on. I think this is partly a product of working in a smallish marketplace in Adelaide, where you need to have some versatility in your business, but also it is a product of the design roots in the business and the methodology that will often lead to a process of exploration into new territory because it is the best solution for the project.”

For Lovering, the VFX and motion mediums are both exhilarating and enticing. One of the big drawcards in this arena for him is the opportunity to combine 2D, 3D, CGI and more in a way that perhaps no one has seen before. “What I love about the mediums we work in is they allow us to work on ‘hybrid’ projects that blend the disciplines of design, animation, live action production and visual effects,” he says. “It gives us a greater base to innovate from and means we aren’t limiting ourselves to one production pathway. I believe one of our major strengths is our ability to get to a photorealistic place with our CG work, but I think it is at its best when it is taken to a stylised realism or hyper real place that amplifies little details and can take something quite pedestrian and portray it in a very beautiful way.”

At the time of writing, one project of which Lovering is particularly proud makes use of this Resin talent for photorealism, but why not let the man himself tell us how the project unfolded?

“That would be our commercial for the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution,” he says. “The entire project is CG; technically it was a huge challenge. We also directed the project, so were able to steer it creatively, which is very rewarding. The project came to us through advertising agency Clemenger BBDO and the cool thing was that this vehicle is kind of a one-off in the product range, so we were allowed to break the rules and do something that sat in a very different space to all their other advertising. This project stands out because visually it is the most impressive thing we’ve created to date. The work has been very well-received and has helped lead to other opportunities.”

Speaking of challenges no design medium is perfect. Nor is it foolproof, and so we hit Lovering up for some Resin secrets when it comes to troubleshooting a project’s sticking point. “Research,” he states. “And a lot of the time a production-based challenge has been solved by someone else. Internet-based resources are an amazing resource for research and seeking help from the community. Also, importantly, we document our technical processes and the nuances, so if similar problems resurface we have a reference point and it can be handy for the development of new team members.”

Before we leave Lovering to return to another long day at the render farm, we ask him what’s next for motion – especially considering the advent of technologies such as the Apple iPad. “Motion has just been going from strength to strength, and audiences are becoming more visually sophisticated as they are saturated with motion content, but I can’t wait for the day where 3D isn’t contained to a screen. Also, technology can’t seem to get motion content quickly enough. The technical barriers to delivery are disappearing and it is shifting the barrier to the creative possibilities. The Viv magazine prototype created at the time of the iPad launch was very innovative and no doubt has publishers thinking of the possibilities In fact you should be talking to Resin about doing this!”

Images copyright Resin.

From Desktop Magazine.

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