The Art of Animation | PALOMA

NERD Productions team sat down with a director duo Paloma to talk all things animation, their inspiration, favourite work and the concept of less is more!



We had a great chat with both Alicja and Lucas and we can’t wait for you to dive deep into their world!

How did you fall in love with animation?

Lucas: Spending summers in Catalunia as a kid, I was lucky to watch lots of animated movies. Having a background in graphic design, I was always surrounded by people who were interested in animation and naturally, it became something that I wanted to do. I wanted things to move 😀

Alicja: My background was in fine arts and liked to draw. I didn’t know much about animation, that’s when I went to do my Bachelor’s degree at Kingston in Animation and Illustration. I was convinced I would stick to illustration. However, in the second year of Uni we had to choose and I was so confused as to what to pick, sleepless nights and my gut helped me to choose the right path and go for animation. Once I made my decision I started feeling like the fish in the sea.

Tell us about the animation project that kick-started your career?

Lucas: I was working at the animation company and building a wider portfolio for myself. All of a sudden a producer contacted me with an offer to work on a TV show with an incredible story. It was 6 months of all ink illustration/kinetic animation and I worked on it with my wife. This became my first award-winning project that opened a lot of doors!

Alicja: For myself, fresh out of school with no confidence, I went on a Festival round with my own personal project that kick-started my career.

How would you describe your art style and what are your biggest inspirations that developed it?

Lucas: We try to simplify everything as much as we can. When we do our design we always look and see if we can de-complicate our drawings. Although at the same time, as a solo animation director I don’t think I have a particular style as I have mastered a few different visual styles.

Alicja: I totally agree with Lucas. One of the main inspirations for me is an American Illustrator – Saul Steinberg along with Johnny Kelly and an animation duo Kijek / Adamski. I love their simplistic style which contains lots of information. 

We also love lines that form things and characters and over the years it developed into one of our signature moves. 

From your perspective, what’s the key to animation that really lives?

Lucas: In animation, I really love the fact that I can be very self-sufficient. While I also work in live-action where there are a lot of the things I can’t do on my own. Whereas, animation is something I can do even when I am very old and grey, I know I will be able to have the idea and create animation thanks to technology and lots of simple tools. This is what makes animation live for me.

Alicja: To make an animation that really lives it is all about having an idea and the energy behind it. Sometimes it is quite hard to control your imagination and you can always roam free when working on personal projects, unlike commercial work.

Show us your favourite or most impactful project that you’ve worked on – tell us, what is it that makes it special and what were the memorable moments or challenges?

Lucas: Definitely Casper – it has characters, it was very fun and we had an amazing relationship with the agency. Overall, from the very start to the very end of the project everything was perfect.

Alicja: I agree with Lucas and I would also add my recent personal short film Turbo Love which recently got nominated for the Golden Unicorn at Alpinale in Austria, and got an Audience Award at Prowinjonalia, Poland in April.

What is your favourite piece of technology or software that you use and how does it help your creative process?

Lucas: I love technology in general. I fight against settling with just one software and I am always hungry to explore all the new software and plugins to connect with technology. When my son was born I had quite a bit of time and learnt DaVinci. We always try to find new things and learn how to use them in our work. 

For example, working on our current project for Google, we are using new things once again.

Alicja: I work a lot with Toon Boom and Lucas always pushes me to try new stuff. I am very grateful for this as I am of conservative nature but do try to learn every day!

Outside of the field of animation, what really inspires you?

Lucas: For me, it is live-action transitions, how you can magically go from one thing to another without using VFX and stop-motion. I get a lot of ideas when I do sports, ride bikes and surf. This is where the magic happens, all the ideas come through on my 1.5h bike rides.

Alicja: I look at a lot of things online, everyday life and of course, sports. It always helps to clear your mind even when you are stuck with ideas.

What do you think are the misconceptions about animation throughout the industry?

Lucas: Sometimes people still see animation as a childish thing, something that is only meant for children. This is common for people who don’t have a lot to do with the industry, although we are happy to see how it is changing.

Alicja: People think it takes less time than it actually does. Some clients do not realise how long some things take. Reflecting on what Lucas said, I recently watched Undone on Amazon Prime and it was clearly a very adult story.

Any advice you would like to give to aspiring artists?

Lucas: Find inspiration and create your own world in animation in your personal projects. Fight for doing  what you love while you have more time and you will see how these personal pieces will bring you commercial work too. 
Alicja: Build relationships in the industry, that’s how I met Lucas and here I am. Be open to opportunities and tough challenges!

See more from Paloma here.

NERD’s Airwick ‘Breath of Nature’ wins ‘Best Animation in a Commercial’ at BAA 2022

AirWick

Our photoreal film took the ‘Best Animation in a Commercial’ award at BAA2022 last Thursday. Crafted in collaboration with Havas London and directed by Peter S., this nature-inspired commercial made a lot of noise since it first aired last March. Its incredible high-end animation and whimsical sounds take the viewer through a sunny garden inspired by the director’s local flower market.


One of the most magical features of this spot was the focus on sound design to create a Zen zone that we are witnessing virtually. To accompany the mood of the commercial our team focused a lot on the pace of the animation to dissolve movement and create tranquility of the piece.

Our Executive Creative Producer, Milana Karaica (who is soon to have a lovely baby boy) and Director Peter S. accepted the award on the night:

The rest of the team joined to celebrate:


NERD’s team is incredibly grateful for the recognition of hard work and talent. We are proud to be a part of the community like BAAs as they are the only awards to recognise all forms of animation and reward the work of both new and established animators across all aspects of the UK Animation scene, from student work to commercials, children’s entertainment, short and experiential films, music videos and new technologies.

Diablo II: Resurrected – A real labor of love and respect by Billelis

Diablo II: Resurrected is a remastered port of the classic dungeon-crawler and we got to craft some truly spectacular labors of love for Blizzard’s iconic franchise.

​While working on this fiery set of artworks, Billelis focused on the importance of the franchise’s heritage, its lengthy history, and endless fan love while also managing his own creative needs and ideas. The combination of all these elements has shaped Bill’s voice within the artwork itself.

Billelis was an obvious choice for this project as there’s no one better suited to portraying such recognisable characters in this distinctly dark, mysterious, and powerful visual style!

The key visual art took around six months to create as there was a lot of back and forth communication with the client to make the piece true to the brand’s vision and legacy the game already has. Blizzard’s original artwork was created over 12 years ago and Billelis nailed the rebirth of the artwork shaping it into a whole new, contemporary style. 

For NERD Productions it was one of the most exciting projects that Billelis has worked on and we were extremely excited to support the creation of such iconic pieces. Once again, an unbelievable collaboration with the artist who truly loves the franchise and his craft.

See more from Billelis here.

Whole Earth ‘WE’RE WITH YOU THE WHOLE WAY’

We’re proud to announce that our latest TVC for Whole Earth goes live today! This collaboration was made in peanut-buttery heaven as we love the brand’s creativity, heritage, patriotism, love of sport, and dedication to making the Earth whole again. 

There is nothing more we enjoy than using our creative skills to craft visuals for feel-good brands that have sustainability at heart.

Milana Karaica, EP.

This film was a true collaboration with creative agency Isobel featuring Joe Fraser, Holly Bradshaw, Helen Glover and Zoe Smith; four outstanding Team GB athletes living the Olympic dream and training relentlessly for the upcoming Games in Tokyo.

The tactile film transports us across the globe to a quirky, sunny and earthy animated rendition of Japan dreamt up by the animation and design team at NERD where we get a glimpse into the lives of our Team GB athletes. We feel their passion come right through the screen as we see them vault, split and heave their way to victory.

NERD’s very own Shay Hamias directed the charming, handcrafted film, his playful sense of fun and whimsy visual approach is a natural fit for the spirit of this film. 

“I had a real blast creating this film! We used hand-drawn animation, photography, cutouts and all sorts of different textures and layers to craft this mixed media universe. The hardest part was probably arranging to film the athletes as their busy schedules, difficulties with access to their usual training spaces and double-safe COVID production measures made for a real challenge!”

Shay Hamias, Director

The creative process was made particularly enjoyable by the agency team who gave us a lot of freedom to explore the best visual ways to bring different elements to life, like when we had to come up with novel ways to incorporate jars of peanut butter into an athletic routine. We also needed to find ingenious methods to get the required live-action footage, including digging up a vintage rowing machine for Helen and figuring out clever ways for Holly to simulate some vaults. Whole Earth generously provided us with an overflowing supply of peanut butter on set – we just chalk it down to the perks of being a production company!

The real fun came after all the footage was captured and we went into post-production as we needed to get just the right blend of smooth animation and organic, crunchy textures for Whole Earth’s lovable, delicious product. We wanted the visuals to be every bit as authentic as the yummy spread itself. Animating the athletes was no easy feat either, but we luckily had help from another NERD director Peque Varela. She perfected their playfully natural cartoon movements and made sure the object tracking was on point.

We were lucky to work with friendly, fantastic, best-in-class talent on every side and we’re really happy with what we’ve all created. It’s always a fun, collaborative process when we get briefs like this from perfect agency teams and we’re always down to cook up new approaches and try out-of-the-box routes! 

The spot airs nationwide from today, if you happen to see it do cheer our team on. Watch the spot here and join the journey!

NERD Productions is a creative production company in London. We represent a diverse roster of hand-picked directors, illustrators and photographers who craft memorable, engaging and award-winning animation, illustration, live-action, mixed-media and photography for television, digital, social, editorial and everything in between.

NERD’s Queer Artists on What Pride Means to Them

#PrideMonth at NERD is a special time when we reflect on our efforts to represent LGBTQIA2S+ community throughout the year 🌈 ! Our goal is to keep increasing awareness of the community, its history and identity. We are proud to represent LGBTQIA2S+ talent and spread the word about everything they do 🏳️‍🌈. This year we will be sharing a brand new series of posts called ‘NERD’s Queer Artists on What Pride Means to Them’ updated every Wednesday till the end of June!

Ira Giorgetti

Pride month is a time when people from all creeds, backgrounds and beliefs come together to uplift one another and celebrate the things we all hold in common. It’s a time of gratitude, of love, of peace and of hope. A time to unite and appreciate how far we’ve come in our fight for a more equal, diverse, inclusive and representative world. 

Pride By Ira Giorgetti

I find Pride month is a great time to reflect on my work and how it relates to, engages with and enriches the lives of others in the community. Alongside my commercial work I love to collaborate with other queer artists and discover the interesting truths and stories people in the community have got to share. My personal project in development titled ‘Transmigration’ was inspired by all the brave and amazing queer folk I’ve crossed paths with and gotten to know over the last couple of years, many of whom I met at Pride! 

Pride by Ira Giorgetti

It’s important for LGBTQIA2S+ people to celebrate their individuality, spirit and history as well as an opportunity for the entire community to come together and unashamedly be who they truly are. Celebrating Pride and diversity and the spectrum of sexuality gives everyone an opportunity to expand their thinking and grow more accepting of the people they share their cities with. It’s also a great time to just have fun and uplift those around you, some of whom may be going through more than they let on.

Ira is a London-based creative producer and photographer at NERD Productions. See more from Ira here.

Roman Bratschi

Pride means to me to be who you are and do whatever you want without living in fear or shame! I’m grateful to live my life as I want and always have the support of my friends and family.

Roman is a 3D Illustrator and Animation Director. See more from Roman here.

Shay Hamias

With pride month being taken over by commercial companies in recent years, it has lost its origins of speaking truth to power, and I feel less represented by it.

When I was asked to write about what pride month means to me, I wasn’t sure what to say. NERD, led by Milana, is truly all about diversity.
I am proud to work for a company that facilitates diversity and inclusion across race, gender and sexual identity throughout all of its projects. I am proud that I get to collaborate with people from a range of diverse backgrounds, and I’m proud that it’s done all year round, not just one month of the year.

Shay is an award-winning Animation Director and mentor at NERD. See more from Shay here.

James Gifford

For me, Pride is about love and acceptance no matter your identity. Pride welcomes anyone who’s ever been made to feel out-of-place or ashamed of who they are. I don’t think self-love should ever be quiet or hidden away, but rather celebrated loudly, proudly, and with open arms.

James is an Illustrator at NERD. See more from James here.

Ian Clarke

Visibility matters. Pride started as a protest, and that protest later became a celebration of all things LGBTQI+. People were initially quite uncomfortable seeing gay people proudly parading themselves on the streets, and refusing to apologise for being themselves. London in 2021 is a fantastic place to be a gay man, I am married to the person I love and society’s recognition of that union means everything.

However attacks against LGBTQI+ in the UK are on the rise again. In other less tolerant countries Pride parades are violently dissolved, with assistance from local police forces. Trans people face discrimination and the threat of violence on a daily basis. You see, although, some of us have legal protection and acceptance from society, many more struggle to be their authentic selves every single day.
Visibility matters. Pride should always remain a loud and proud protest.

Ian is an award-winning Animation Director. See more from Ian here.

As Pride month comes to end, we would like to remind that inclusivity and LGBTQA2S+ rights should be a priority during the whole year, both in your day-to-day life and in the workplace.

Discovering ‘Medela’, directed by Shona Auerbach.

This calming film by our Shona Auerbach was one of the projects this year that has brought the sense of normality and joy to everyone on set and in production! 

Click the image to play.

Many mums would agree with us that breastfeeding can sometimes be exhausting. This is where Medela takes over and you can have more time to enjoy a few moments doing what you desire with your little one!

This was a project shot mid-COVID featuring REAL new mums, real people! It was important to bring a sense of confidence and comfort to the set.

Let’s see how Shona pulled it off:

To be honest, I hardly noticed the restrictions other than wearing masks.  I often work with the same crew, we are a good team together, we like each other and that makes a big difference. The team I didn’t know was the agency. We had done several Zoom calls beforehand so I felt like we had spent some time together. That helped us, and I think we worked well together.

Click the image to play.

Our Founder & Executive Producer Milana Karaica also adds:

We had to capture that very special & delicate bond between a new mother and her precious little baby, now try doing that during a global pandemic. Our task was even more challenging by the fact that we wanted to capture these special moments by real mums and babies, not actors. As a new mum, myself to a 5 month old baby girl, at the time, I knew exactly how anxious mums can be and what our mums were going through during these unfamiliar times.

This is why I knew Shona was the right person for the job! If we were to get our mums to relax, trust and open up to us so we can be let in on those intimate nuggets, we needed a director that would make the set feel safe and mums looked after.

Click the image to play.

It is such a calming and relaxing film, Shona was working with little angels this time, while previously directing professional actors like Gerald Butler in her feature films.

How different was it this time for Shona?

I think the babies in Medela were great, but it helped because they were with their mothers most of the time, so they didn’t really notice whether we were filming or not.  Filming non-actors is always different and working with children is another type of direction too, so you have to approach it with a more captured attitude.  

Pre-filming, I have ideas in my head on how I would like it to play out but inevitably working with children allows some spontaneity. They are too young to direct in a formal sense and therefore I try to guide them in a direction but I am open-minded that they may give me any number of alternative moments which I have to then adapt to. Although I may be aiming for a particular vision, it may not always be possible because they are not actors, therefore I try to create a space where they can feel as comfortable as possible, allowing me to capture moments. 

Working with actors is different again, I can have an image in my head and how I would like it to play out and with the help of the actor, I can go all out to make that happen.  All these options work for me, and ultimately in the end I am looking for the most natural performances, they are just different techniques of getting it.

Enjoy the film and see more from Shona here.

NEW SIGNING: NERD Presents Its First Ever Photographer – Gabby Secomb Flegg

MidSummer

We are excited to welcome Gabby to our roster of amazing talent and get creating and empowering from day ONE. We are convinced she will rock the commercial world with her powerful and refreshing visuals!

To properly start the season of new beginnings, we signed our first photographer – Gabby Secomb Flegg. Gabby is a queen of magic and a pro of telling people’s stories through her shots. She brings powerful female energy everywhere she goes and makes sure to capture authenticity and diversity of every person who happens to be in front of her camera.

A few words about this big step for NERD from our Founder & Executive Producer Milana Karaica:

As a production company that prides itself on being forward thinking, promoting collaboration and diversity, it was only a matter of time before we added talented and fresh photographers to our talent pool!  To make our NERDy mark on the industry and truly complete our creative offering to our agency and brand clients, alongside the live action directors, animation directors and illustrators we are proud to present the first female NERDy photographer! Gabby, who shares our ethos and mission is an incredible addition to the family. Her work is concentrated on diversity and female empowerment which is exactly what we practice at NERD.

To help you get to know Gabby a little more, we spoke to her about her story, inspiration and plans with NERD:

When did you decide to become a photographer?

I have been photographing since I was 19 years old (coming close to that 10-year mark now, yeesh!) but I only took it very seriously when I was around 25. I was working as an event manager full time for an insurance company and was shooting weddings, 21st, formals, christenings and everything in between on weekends. It got to a point where I was getting so busy and worn out that I couldn’t maintain the energy for both of those career paths, so I took the plunge into photography full time and have never looked back since! 

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Take the plunge earlier! Not that I didn’t take it at a great time, but I could have saved myself a load of suffering by not working as a check out chick at a local supermarket. However, that being said, I believe everything we experience makes us who we are (even the hard stuff) so had I taken the plunge earlier and missed out on all those in between jobs, perhaps I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now! 

What played the key role in your positioning as a photographer?

Getting rejected from college. Yep. I took my then portfolio to apply for a full-time photography course but was advised I wasn’t ready to take it. This was such a critical part in my desire to prove people wrong and to thrive without any formal education. I took their 12-week weekender course for beginners to understand the basic functionality of my camera, but I went off to do my own thing after that! It was one of the best things that never happened to me.

What excites you the most about being the first photographer to join the NERD talent family?

Who doesn’t love being the first in something haha?! Really though, what I love about NERD is the diversity in their talent and their desire to represent women in this space. I’ve admired NERD from afar for about a year and decided to throw myself out there a few months ago to just see what would happen – and here we are! What I am super excited about is the opportunity to help build this sector of representation in the NERD family and to have the opportunity to work with so many incredible like-minded, talented artists. 

What inspires you on daily basis?

Inspiration is a funny one, I don’t think it’s a daily experience, it’s more of an anomaly. Seems to show up when it feels like it but when you chase after it you can never find it! For me I find myself most inspired when I am travelling or interacting with other talented people. Seeing others thrive in their creative field really sparks joy in me which can then lead to inspiration. But usually, inspiration hits me in the quiet pockets of space I try to carve out through the week. 

What shot are you most proud of?

I had a full afternoon shoot just for fun with my friend Renee and incredible makeup artist Anthea Billet. We took to the Newcastle beaches in Australia to get some moody fashion snaps and I convinced poor Renee to get into the freezing water and make floating look effortless and ethereal. Turns out floating in a sequin dress is actually really hard, so we tried some standing shots.
By a stroke of pure magic, the sun came out and beamed through the misty sky and lit both the sky and water up like liquid gold. It was the most perfectly timed shot I’ve taken to date and I’m so proud of it.

Tell us about your women empowerment strategy while shooting.

Before I started shooting more editorial and fashion-based work, I shot as a female empowerment boudoir photographer. I spent 8 years as a pole dancer so female empowerment was a huge message that threaded through this experience and kind of subconsciously made an impression on my work. I really thrive helping women see a side of themselves that they’ve never seen, it brings me so much joy for them to look back on their images and say “holy shit, is that me?!” 

I think there are so many photographers out there who give no direction or positive reinforcement (a lot of them definitely don’t shout ‘YASSSS QUEEENNNN’, mid-session) which can have a huge impact on the result of the shoot. 

I really enjoy making people feel comfortable and eliciting genuine reactions at a shoot, so I am lucky to say that empowering people comes very naturally to me. 

What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?

I’m actually a massive introvert. I can come across as very extroverted to people but I recharge best being on my own! Give me cartoons in bed by myself any day over a social function! 

See more of Gabby’s work here.

Breath of Nature with AIR WICK directed by PETER S.

Breath of Nature Air Wick by NERD Productions directed by Peter S.

‘Every single decision we made, had that “Zen feeling” in mind’.

It only takes pressing the play button to take a deep breath in and exhale in relief. This wonderfully textured photorealistic CGI piece, crafted by NERD Productions x Havas London for Air Wick, takes rhythmic pulsing and deep breathing to a whole new level. Just when the world needs to breathe in the new season; the film brings the whooshing sound in the ear, blended with the graceful flower dance and water rippling effect, right on time for spring!

Orange Air Wick - still from the film
Click to play

Director, Peter S says:  ‘A blossom’s wonder only increases the closer you investigate them. For this film, I was surprised to find that lavender bulbs are so fuzzy!’ The spot transports us to an enchanting garden, warmer climates and reminds us that you can experience calmness from the comfort of your couch.

Peter’s local flower market visually inspired the animation during the pandemic. The sound design, which is so important to immerse the viewer in this Zen zone, echoes the beauty of what we are witnessing visually.

Lavender Air Wick still from the film

‘It all comes down to the pace.’ says Peter, ‘Having the edit and animation work together at a unified pace which were treated with cross dissolves so that absolutely nothing disturbed the film’s tranquility. Every single decision we made had that” Zen feeling” in mind. Each camera movement stays at a certain speed. The animation of the flowers sticks to a certain rhythm.’

Rose Air Wick still from the film

Executive Producer from NERD, Milana Karaica also mentioned: ’Working on this piece during winter, being in lockdown made it very special as we were all looking forward to those much-needed brighter days’.

From the client, agency, and down to the last animator, this brief felt exceptionally refreshing.