Sunday, February 21, 2010

Digital Kitchen: process, passion, and layers.

Digital Kitchen (Bryce Wymer and Rama Allen) introduced us to the art of process through the ADCD last Thursday night. DK is known for their outstanding title sequence work. They have a way of saying everything while revealing nothing. I'm a fan of layers. For example, when an innocent morning routine becomes "serial." When there is more to something than what you initially see on the surface. I still remember the first time I saw the opening titles for Six Feet Under. Everything was perfect. The tone, the transitions, and the concept worked together in a way unknown to television previously. Every surprisingly elegant detail pulls you in, even the turn of a gurney wheel. I dropped whatever I was doing and was completely captivated.



As with most killer projects, there is not a lot of money in title work. In fact, even DK bills less than 15% of their yearly jobs in this category. Titles are definitely what they call "passion projects." Creatives get a halfway giddy adrenaline rush when they come in the door. (Tight deadlines and constraints aside, they are willing to give up any sense of a normal life routine to make them happen). Account people, well, not usually as excited.

They went into process details for one of their more current passion projects, True Blood. Working with the genius Alan Ball again, they decided to stay away from the expected vampire direction. No fangs or capes. Rama and his team were influenced by Harry Crews novels and the show's location, deep in the gritty Louisiana underbelly. Juxtapositions between the sacred and the profane along with the tempo and effects increasingly build tension. The sexual and religious pairings are further connected with implied violence. They explored nature as a predator or a parasite, which led to road kill (they assured us it was stock imagery, no one had to "live" with that fox). All of that is layered with subliminal effects, speed shifts, human elements taking on beast-like qualities, and the implied supernatural. The documentary assemblage of chemically-altered, Polaroid-style footage adds to the rawness. It's like pure evil emerges from The Bayou and assaults you. Originally, DK had a different soundtrack in mind. They presented their original love letter to the Gothic South. This was thankfully followed with a "chaser" photo (a cute pile of happy puppies).

DK is heavily influenced by music. They will make an extensive playlist before even starting work for a new client. This helps set the tone for the work. Here's a Devo-enhanced side project from Wymer, who keeps multiple sketchbooks. He advises creatives to constantly be creating.


"Flat Earth" Time lapse, Vol Two from Bryce Wymer on Vimeo.

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