Interview - Physalia


  Physalia Studio 
Animation Studio - production and post-production

 Barcelona, Spain
Resonance received a rave reviews. Can you give us an insight on the process, the goals of the project and the difficult parts?

The brief for the project was to explore the relationship between geometry and sound. We wanted to experiment with real imagery, not CG, and tried to fit this idea in the project. We tried several things at first in this line that didn't work at all, and finally decided to try to use this cool software we had been wanting to use for a while, Pepakura, that allows you to create unfolded paper patterns out of 3D models. So we animated first in 3D our piece and then we made it real and shot it using our self-developed lightbox. You can actually check the process here:

So the most difficult part was obviously the pre-production, as we dumped some of our first ideas and then had to develop the lightbox, and then print, cut, fold and paste each frame, which made us develop this new injury we call “origami elbow”!! But then the production was very fast, we just animated in stopmotion all the piece, and there's absolutely no post-production in the piece except for very light colour correction, so it was very enjoyable to get results instantly and be able to try different animations right away.
Which one is your favorite and why?
We love all the pieces because they're all unique and show each of the creator's soul, but if we had to pick, we would go with Polynoid and also KORB, we really dig their work!
Tell us a bit about your company...When did you start? 

We started some 5 years ago. Marcos and Mauro knew each other from a  long time, and then met Pablo in a master's. We found we had a similar idea in how to approach projects, and started working in our first short Timelapsus, and so everything started!
With the market becoming more and more competitive, what do you believe is a must that a Motion Designer has in his portfolio or skills? 
We'd say it's being original! We believe that developing your own personal projects and comitting to your vision, even if it can be challenging at first (and unpaid) is very important and can actually help you a lot in the future. 

How big is your team?
The founders of Physalia are Pablo, Mauro and Marcos, and then along the way  have come our producer Belén and Alex Farriol, an engineer that's been an amazing help developing our last Motion Control system.
Your have an extended experience in advertising. What can you tell us about the Spanish advertising market?
The situation as you might know is quite tough in Spain at the moment, and this crisis permeates all the industries in the country. We feel very lucky though to be able to keep working so we can't complain.
How do you keep up with all the changes in technology?

This is one of the main reasons we started our Lab section and develop our own tools like our motion control system: some of the technological advances are totally unaffordable for studios like us, but still we want to use and enjoy this technology. So: what do you do? You build it yourself!
What was the biggest challenge in the MTV EMA Project?

To fit right in a big 3D production-for our standards anyway!
How about the Canal Super 3 package?

To ensure that the there was a smooth and logical change from a 2D branding to a 3D one in what is the most important kids channel, a public station, here in Catalunya. We grew up watching it, it was going to be a constant in the kid's lives, so we also had to make sure that it was bright and fun enough to please young audiences as well as older ones, and having in mind that these audiences will grow up watching the channel.
Out of all the projects you have done, which one is your favorite and why?

It would probably be the MAD MMX Opening Title Sequence, as we were in the middle of a hard time for the studio, not knowing what direction to follow in the future. But then this project came along, and we really loved not only the process, but the possibility to mix media again in a piece, which we hadn't done in a while and as you might have noticed love! We got a good promotion because of it, so it really was a turning point in Physalia's history.
What was the most difficult part in Vialis Aro? How about Volkswagen iGolf?

To modify the motion control in order to transform it in a tool that would control the sneakers' turns  and...working with snails! They're high maintenance!

For the iGolf project the biggest challenge was to find a worflow that would allow to integrate Inocuo's illustrations in a 3D environment-city -with a very tight deadline.
How did you find to participate in the F5 Re:Play fest?

The organizers from F5 contacted us and asked us to create a short piece (2 min max.) and we were really excited to be involved in a festival with such awesome artists participating. The only brief was “Happy”. We had with Gerardo del Hierro the idea of creating a machine and showing that process, as we have always thought the process of creating a piece is very magical. We also really enjoy creating our own devices to film our shorts. We had these ideas as concepts for the piece, and by some trial/error process tested a few other ideas that didn't work, other devices that were unfortunately unsuccessful. Finally, by a sudden spark of inspiration started by the coloured F5 logo, we decided we wanted to have these flying balls.
That was the idea, and the result, now after a couple months and in hindsight, was both surprising and unbelievable. We would have never imagined it would travel so far and get seen by people who have no connection with the field whatsoever. It's been really crazy, but we're very.... happy!
How do you start working on an idea? Do you use references or just imagination?
We use both, and we would also like to add a third source of inspiration: developing our own tools. That gets our brains working too.
Which effect do you believe was the most difficult to achieve? (How did you do it?)

It would probably be the timelapse that is the base of the Timelapsus project, fitting 6 hours in one minute with camera moves, for its complexity and also because of the real hard work we put in developing our first motion control system.
Do you use the same techniques from one project to another? What changes? What’s your favorite part?

Well, if we are talking 3D the techniques are usually quite similar, as you work in an environment where you control everything. If we talk about self-developed tools, the techniques are never the same-sometimes, they're radically different from project to project! Different tools bring different results. What we love about this is that we try to never reject anything for a project or idea, there's always room for Research and Development.
Do you also create the storyboards?
Yes, when necessary we do.
How important is it to have a proper education in this field?
Mmmm.. we think that nowadays you can learn about what you like to do anywhere, in a school or in your house searching the internet, there are some very talented people around that just need to find a way or tool to express themselves. We think it is more important to have a visual sensibility, and a visual culture as well. This is a very globalized world so you should know what other artists are doing, either to learn or to realize that someone might have had the same idea as you before you, and to train yourself to get inspiration but not contamination. This sort of education you don't necessarily get in school.
How important it is to have the right tools? (a good computer/camera/latest programs)

The most important thing is to have an idea, and then it depends on the project. There's cool things being done either with literally no resources or in huge studios. There are obviously great advantages in having the right tools, and probably the most important one is that they buy time, and that's priceless in commercial projects.
If you had the opportunity to spend a day with anyone from this industry, who would it be?
Can we pick two? This is hard! We'll say Chris Cunningham and Encyclopedia Pictura.
What do you have up your sleeve for future projects?
We'll be rocking the motion control! We have come a long way to have it ready and in full function, so we are looking forward to testing its boundaries and achieving results, whether in real time shootings, for VFX or in stopmotion, that we hadn't dreamt of. And probably one day, use it to create motion in real life... in unexpected ways.