ROLE: 3D and Motion Design Lead
AGENCY: Qonkur Media
YEAR: 2020 - 2021
Bringing an illusion of depth into my work was always fun, but it almost seemed like a cheeky joke until I got the position at Qonkur Media. Initially I was there to just make content, little animations and mockups, but I started getting involved in fleshing out the 3D department in both the technicals and the artsy side.
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As someone who spent too much time buried in Illustrator, being forced to work in the 3D space presented many fun challenges such as chronic stomach ulcers brought on from the thrills of learning about shaders and raytracing, as well as modelling, sculpting, and animating with a new axis.
02—Long tErm stratEgy
There was a lot I needed to get right in order for our department to be self sufficient while also keeping our ports open and ready for the other departments. An initial decision I made was the prolonged use of a free open-source application called Blender, which may draw some audible groans from those who have experienced it in the past. I won't write out my manifesto here, but seeing it grow as an excellent generalist tool with grants and development support from major industry players such as Epic Games and Valve made it an attractive option.
Authoring our own materials meant we could try new concepts before costly test prints! Featured in this mockup are: Metallic and iridescent foils, UV gloss, and matte materials.
This enabled me to show the graphic design department how to bring their mockups to life through the magic of UV mapping without the need to shell out for expensive licenses that wouldn't be fully utilized.
I also got us trained and available for Cinema 4D projects, given that is is considered industry standard for motion graphics, making it that much easier to work with future candidates. Onboarding with the intent of teaching folks Blender would not have been a efficient use of our time, especially when we expected our department to grow far beyond ourselves.
03—short tErm stratEgy
Every company developed their own modus operandi when it came to COVID-19 and its effects on their specific industry. Despite everything turning upside down, new dispensaries were popping up in the Metro-Detroit area left and right, making it a challenge to distinguish one from the next when two or three were set to open in any city at any given time.
Grand openings shuttered into just openings, live performances and entertainers could no longer be booked due to new capacity limits.
Virtual spaces designed for Narvona White, Gray, and Black line of products. These spaces were designed and executed by Jamie Johnson.
Our 3D department was well equipped for this, we created realistic mockups for the clients who needed to show off their goods without needing the services of photographers and took many steps to grow their presence without the need for the full retail experience. Taking cues from other digital storefronts such as Glossier, we developed conceptual spaces that leaned into the core values and lifestyles that our brands emitted. It meant a lot for clients like Narvona to take their customers into the "Narvona Mindspace" and create lasting impressions of what it means to use their products.
There are cobwebs in my brain from the vast network of interconnected choices I needed to make. Hardware specifications to future-proof us amidst a global chip and GPU shortage left me with night sweats. Laying out the software stack required us to carefully consider what we could accomlish on our hardware. VR was a major selling point when it came to modelling the interiors for dispensaries, which required us to seriously advocate for Rhino and its self-standing plugin, Enscape, as the dedicated stack for architectural and interior design work. Enscape requires a relatively powerful GPU for the best results, which were in short supply during the time:
2021 was an abysmal year to extend our hardware capabilities.
When it was all written down we had a pretty concise list of software we needed in order to sell our most promising services to the best of our capacity.
This proprietary blend led us through many hidden alleyways that would give us a huge leg up when it came to figuring our how to execute our next big project. Seamlessly blending 2D motion and animation, 3D spaces and interactivity, and some coding hacks when necessary meant our creativity was not bound by any limitations.
The van from Cheech and Chong's "Up In Smoke"
Our 2020 3D showreel
Unique monthly content for Empire
Cap mockup for a KAHN Cannabis and Platinum Vape promo
Logo animation for ULTRA in-store displays
MKX bumper for the end of our animations