Interview - Carlo deAgostini

Carlo de Agostini
Freelance Art Director

Contact: Morbegno, Italy
Email: ago [at]

Tell us a bit about yourself...

I’m an Art Director, I work mostly in the television field for the creation of channel/program identity and on air promotion/campaigns. I have a major in Industrial Design and a master in Communication Design. I started my design career drawing snowboards for Blackhole. I was approached to do broadcast design at La7 television in Rome, at the beginning working with promos, then TV shows, campaigns and network identity, participating in two channel rebrandings. I’m now freelancing with TV stations and studios from UK, USA, Italy and Brazil. I’ve recently held a series of 18 lectures on brand strategy and creative ideas for national and provincial channels in China.

When did you discover 3D? What programs/plugins/scripts do you use?
I’ve been playing around with Maya and Cinema4D since I was at university, but at a very low level. At a certain point in my career in order to lead more complex projects I decided to attend a visual effects course at Escape Studios in London. Apart Maya I heavily use After Effects for compositing and mograph, Boujou and PF Track for 3d tracking, Photoshop, Illustrator and Final Cut.

With the market becoming more and more competitive, what do you believe is a must that an artist has in his portfolio or skills?
Masterpieces are important to catch the new clients, but personally working with strategy and communication I believe it’s essential to demonstrate a good vision of the project, the brand and the business/production aspects. Adding case studies or a small description to the images shows perfectly what’s in your mind.
Do you recognize differences between graphic designers, in terms of style? How does your style compare to the best you’ve seen?
Especially at a high level designers tend to have a quite distinctive style. I don’t feel I have a particular one, I try my best to make the look as appropriate as I can to the project I’m working on.


What is the typical starting point in a 3D project/commercial spot? How long does it usually take?
First: I define a solid brief with the client, the typology of the brand/product and its position on the market. Second: research, references, brainstorming, concept, sketches, moodboard, storyboarding. Then I start to work on the project, which can be live action footage or CG. There is never enough time, working with TV the average time frame is 2-3 weeks. Generally 50% of my time is on defining the idea and its visualization, 50% is on the production/post. On the “Pianeta Rugby” project we spent almost 2 weeks to develop and define the idea and 8 days to make the final spot.

Do you use references or just imagination?
I use a lot of references, online, books, movies, TV, even reading the news every day. I love to travel and take pictures. I love to turn off the computer and think. The imagination comes when you have to translate the references in your own project.
Do you use the same techniques from one project to another?
I like to try different techniques, I love to build real things. I believe an art director has to know a bit of everything in order to choose the better solution case by case. “Effetto Domino” was shot with a Canon 5D II on a micro set using a custom made dolly, mixing CG objects with live footage. “La Valigia dei Sogni” was shot with a DSLR camera in stop motion.


What do you have up your sleeve for future projects?
I’m about to start the branding of a new television channel that will keep me busy for a while, then hard at work finishing a new set in my own studio.
We know the “ups”, but tell us about the “downs” in your career. Was it an easy ride?
I admit I’ve been lucky so far, maybe because I’ve never pretended too much, or I’ve always had something else to do such as tutorials or experimentation.


What’s the one project that you received the most praise for?
The rugby campaign I made for the 6 Nations 2009. It was a big challenge because of the low budget, the celebrities involved, the different locations, and the very short time available. In the end both the two clients involved loved it and the audience responded very positively. It was considered a very successful campaign.

If you had the opportunity to spend a day with anyone from this industry, who would it be?
More than a person I’d like to work for a while with some top VFX studios, either on the set or post, following the whole process maybe on a complex commercial.
What’s your favorite movie?
Big Wednesday (1978), I can watch it again and again.
What would you like to add to your portfolio?
I wish to receive an award! I’d like to have a big commercial, and why not design a typeface?

If your child wants to be a 3D artist what would you tell him/her?
You must love this job, passion and curiosity are the only things that keep you awake night after night.