Novedge: Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do. Matt Greenwood: My name is Matt Greenwood and I'm a freelance Motion Artist and Art Director originally from the UK, now living in Canada. I work on Animation, Motion Graphics, Illustration, Titles, Commercials, Concept Art & Style Frames for broadcast, online and film projects. I also create non-commercial art based projections and co-run a Toronto Motion Design monthly meet up group. My commercial work can be found here. I work under the name Personnel for my art based projection pieces.
Novedge: How did you get where you are now in your profession? What is your background?
Matt Greenwood: I studied fine art (painting) in the UK, then moved into Design and Animation after being inspired by the kind of work being produced at a London post production house. I'm entirely self taught in design theory, software and animation; my career really began to take shape when I moved to Canada in 2003. I worked at various Design and Visual Effects companies in Toronto, but I feel that the decision to go freelance around 3 years ago has benefited me in many ways.Novedge: What are some of the projects that make you most proud and why?
Matt Greenwood: I'd have to say my project "Elements of Design". It was my first significant personal project which has gained a lot of attention and has opened a lot of doors for me. It's a short Animation illustrating some of the core principles used in design. The video has been viewed over 3 million times in over 150 countries. The success of this project has given me tremendous confidence in both my ideas and approach to work. I'm also proud that I actually finished it. I'm usually very busy with commercial work and It's hard to see a personal project through to completion. I find that a lack of deadlines or client requires quite a bit of self discipline and commitment. I'd also say I'm proud of my work for Movember. Great clients to work with and I actually produced the whole thing - wrote the script, arranged for a VO, created the storyboards, sourced the music, shot the live action elements and created the full animation for two 60 second spots. Movember was very supportive throughout the process and feedback was usually : "great! keep going". Novedge: What are you working on right now?
Matt Greenwood: I'm also proud of the piece that I just wrapped up with a local company called Thought Cafe. I produced a short animation for IISD (International Institute for Sustainable Development) who focus on sustainability solutions. They provide valuable communication and reporting services about environmental and development issues. I found it rewarding to contribute to the awareness of this organization.
I've also just started another fairly substantial personal project, so I'm looking to take some time off next month to start piecing this together.
Novedge: You have worked on commercials, feature films and online content. How similar and how different is to work in these three fields?
Matt Greenwood: Film is very different. Much longer schedules and usually lots of people involved so you might end up playing a small part in a big production. I did work as part of a small 5 person team producing work for Robocop, but the scope of the whole film was obviously very large.
The acid sequence shots on Taking Woodstock were interesting because the small design company who I worked with took total ownership of these individual shots from research and development stage right through to finals. When I worked as a full time Art Director/Designer I typically worked on a combination of TV commercials and TV shows (openers/titles/packages/branding). I liked the variety of work during this time, and got a lot of opportunity to pitch my work. It's a very different pace to film. With commercial work you'll be wrapped up in just a few weeks and onto a completely different project. Personally I like to try out lots of different visual styles, so shorter schedules tend to suit me a bit better. I'm not opposed to sinking my teeth into a big project at some point this year, but at the moment I'm happy working on shorter projects. As an independent freelancer I sometimes pick up Animation projects for online content and I've found that this type of job can provide quite a bit of creative freedom and flexible deadlines which can be a good thing when managed properly. Some clients can still be hesitant and conservative if it's their product is being shown as a TV commercial for some reason, so I've faced a few commercial clients retreating into a conservative approach. They usually call it ‘Clean design’.
Novedge: What does your workflow look like? What software do you use?
Matt Greenwood: I mainly use After Effects and Cinema 4D for Animation and Photoshop & Illustrator for creating 2D artwork. My workflow is - Styleframes/concept art work to give the client an idea of the final look and to let them see where I want to take the project visually. I’ll sometimes include a ‘motion test’ at this stage if I need to communicate a specific transition or animation technique. Then I’ll move onto (rough) hand drawn storyboards, which I’ll also use for an animatic. This consists of frames from my boards laid out in after effects to see how the timing will pan out alongside the voiceover. The animatic is an important stage to understand where I need to pad things out, or cut out sections if there’s not enough time in the animation. Then I will move into production which usually means a combination of animation using Cinema 4D and After Effects I sometimes like to work with a ‘flat’ look in Cinema 4D which can produce very fast renders. Ambient Occlusion, Global illumination and everything is turned off with just luminance on my textures turned on. This relatively simple way of working allows me to focus on Design and Animation without worrying about the many variables that 3D can provide. I really enjoy using the mograph module in Cinema 4D and things like the cloner object can be powerful when combined with various cinema ‘effectors’ .
Novedge: You are currently on the judging panel for VOTD. What is VOTD and how does it work?
Matt Greenwood: VOTD (video of the day) is a fairly new site which showcases a wide variety of Animations, Film, Commercials, Music Videos, Experimental Films. Anything under 5 minutes. If you want to submit a piece it is free and, if selected, it will be featured and voted on by the community and general public. I was chosen to be a judge on this site after one of my submissions successfully made it as ‘video of the day’. Judges vote counts for 75% of the overall score, so I give each submission the attention it deserves.
Novedge: You are working freelance , is there an ideal customer you would like to create for? Make a wish, it could be either one person or a corporation...
Matt Greenwood: I just came back from F5 Festival in New York and I think my ideal job would be creating the opening titles for this event. The organizers put on a great 2 day festival featuring a variety of interesting speakers from a diverse backgrounds. My personal highlight was seeing author and storyteller Scott Carrier and Dr Michelle Thaller from NASA, discussing Cosmos with the executive producer Brannnon Braga. Titles for this kind of event would mean total creative freedom and huge exposure in front of the very best in the industry.
Novedge: What's the best advice you have ever received?
Matt Greenwood: It’s a really simple one, but I was told “Just have fun with it” by a more senior Designer during a pitch. I was getting befuddled and stressed about how it should look but hearing this allowed me to relax, take my time and play with the Design. I can’t remember if we won the job, but this approach has always stuck with me over the years.