On a whole other spectrum of vibrant and moving imagery with Builders Club
Digital Art & Design Studios Builders Club are masters of going beyond what is possible in terms of creating, producing and frankly imagining ways to tell compelling stories. Drawing from backgrounds in photography, film, design and digital art, Builders Club reinvent media in all its shapes and forms. Their dynamic and eruptive style is mainly driven by mixing old and new technologies and challenging the status quo. We shot the founders of Builders Club Jonas Hegi and Julian Simshauser some questions and asked them about their take on navigating growth, collaborating creatively and pushing the industry’s standards to establish your own.
Let’s dive back into 2015, how did it all start?
Jonas: It all started in a pizza place in Hackney where me and Julien met and we quickly realized that if we combine each other’s backgrounds, mine in film and photography and Julien’s in digital art, we’d end up with something that felt interesting and new to us. From there we just started experimenting. We did a lot of self initiated projects in the beginning, from small fashion shoots to a short film. And these projects and a bit of luck helped us to set up the foundation for what Builders Club is today.
Creative studios can scale and develop over time while maintaining a collaborative, collective approach. Is there one thing you’ve noticed that has remained the same in your output over the years?
First and foremost change is a good thing. We grew a lot from when we started, new people joined and with that new ideas and new perspectives, which we welcome a lot. It’s important to be flexible and adapt to our ever changing world. What remains the same is our excitement about learning new things and pushing ideas where we can. Mixing new and old technologies, learning new ways and questioning old ones is very much in our DNA. For example mixing AI generated imagery with scenes shot on 35mm – which we just did for Nike.
How did you approach the first clients right after starting Builders Club? Did you already have a client base?
We were lucky enough that some of our work got quite a lot of attention online which helped us get noticed by brands and agencies. At the same time we used social media to promote us and our ideas.
While working with big names such as Nike, Apple, Mercedes-Benz, Snapchat, Ikea and others it must be tricky to balance the creative process without any intervention. Do your clients usually give you full freedom to create?
Every client is different. We had probably every possible experience. From full creative freedom to the opposite. We definitely got better over the years reading clients and their briefs and avoiding projects that aren’t healthy for us in terms of production and creativity. But it still happens. The best clients are always the ones we can collaborate with and are open to new ideas.
What qualities in digital design work make you think that it’s actually good?
When it’s relevant and has a message while creating a reaction in the audience.
One of your recent portfolio highlights is the film for Apple. Where did the inspiration for this project stem from?
We started early on experimenting with live action and CGI mixed worlds. The Apple film was a continuation of what we’ve explored with films we did for Rimowa or Beats by Dre for example. At the same time the Apple film was challenging as it was basically just people talking about very technical stuff. So the main goal of this film was to make it exciting to watch for someone who doesn’t care about processor speeds and GPU memory.
While creating forward-thinking moving image for brands, entertainment and culture, what do you think is a crucial mechanism behind how to develop your own brand?
Being able to adapt to the changing world and being open to new ideas and perspectives is crucial and probably the only way to stay relevant. At the same time the most important thing for us is to have fun and make sure everyone who works with us has fun doing so.
How does developing a creative motion concept normally start and what do you think makes it different and special?
It is the same as every concept for moving image or any film. It starts with a good idea. The big difference is that there are fewer limits when it comes to the execution compared to let’s say a live action production – which is a different challenge. Instead of not being able to do something it’s getting more important to answer the question why we do something and what makes the most sense in context of the story we want to tell. Often it’s about simplifying rather than doing too many things at once.
Creating technically advanced high-end works and being really playful, artistic and personal at the same time creates the magic for the audience. What fascinates you most about working with 3D?
Everything is possible. I guess for us CGI was always another tool we can use, like film or photography, to tell a story. Being able to play with people’s perception and to create worlds that are pure imagination is something very powerful and fascinating.
You always experiment and search for new ways of visual expression. Which combination of animation techniques do you normally use?
We work with a variety of programs but C4D and more recently Houdini are the ones we use most for our CGI work. Animation techniques themselves constantly evolve and adapt depending on what we need for each project.
How do you think has technology opened up new opportunities for art-making?
Beside that fact that the digital world has amazing new ways of creating art and expressing creativity, it’s also creating a completely new space to perceive art, to exhibit it and to share it. Especially how the NFT space is evolving is something we’re curious about.
Any tips for creatives who’re about to keep on rocking a 3D animation design world?
Be weird, be different, have fun!