Interview- w0w inc
Hello and thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Tell us a bit about yourself. What are your company goals?
My name is Kosuke Oho, and I'm a creative director of WOW. WOW is a visual design studio based in Tokyo and Sendai in Japan, and Florence in Italy.
We don’t have any specific goal on purpose, because we don’t intend to make a company in a certain level. The present style of WOW was not shaped on a specific policy. We have cherished relationships between talented people not only in motion graphics and advertisement industry, but also in any other industry. We can gradually extend our new and different field such as cutting edge design, motion graphics and space design through these good relationships. Making movies is not our goal.
What programs/ plugins/ scripts do you use?
Mainly 3DS MAX and Cinema 4D. Some designers use SoftImage and AfterEffects. It depends on the project and each designer.
The SonyEricsson exhibit received a lot of attention. Can you give us an insight on the process, the goals of the project and the difficult parts?
WOW had the first exhibition abroad in Tent London, in 2007, which the organiser of Tent London did like our work, and then they offered us their 2008 show with a sponsor, and then we met Sony Ericsson. The manager of Sony Ericsson also did like WOW’s works, and they let us work freely for the project. The basic idea was based on our project DECO BOCO, which is a unique combination of visual design and space design, video is projected onto, and interacts with, raised and indented physical objects in the screen itself.
The work for Sony Ericsson involved placing two phone models in the center of a large screen equidistant apart, and then projecting motion graphics onto the screen so that it appears their movements are altered in reaction to physical contact with the phones. Only black and white tones were utilized in order to develop a more primitive, geometrical visual that has futuristic and powerful elements. These images were focusing on the brand images of Sony Ericsson and XPERIA more than the details or functions of their product. We had only two weeks from developing idea to installing the installation. That was the most difficult thing of this project as many projects.
The Suiren video continues to draw a lot of attention. What were the challenges on this project?
The creator of Suiren, Tomoya Kimpara answered as follows:
"First of all, Suiren began with the thought of just wanting to test a technique that probably nobody had tried using. Pursuing the type of techniques that I most excelled at, I hoped to discover new techniques and ways of expression with the use of these special effects. It was quite tough to research and test new techniques before making this movie."
You managed to master the particle systems (Suiren) in a way that’s both professional and artistic. What programs/plugins do you use? Do you find it difficult to write storyboards in those type of scenarios?
Tomoya: "I mainly use 3dsMax. Of course, I used other technologies like a strong plug-in “FumeFX” for making smoke effect and fire effect, and also “RealFlow” for making water effect. Regarding the scenario, I focused on making expressions that would well reflect the techniques. All scenes were Full-CG animated."
What was the most difficult part in the Pissenlit project?
Tsutomu Miyajima answered as follows;
"It was not a part, but we made a hard effort to make the sequence smooth. Apparently objects were not connected in this movie at first, so we gradually blurred joints and add effect between objects."
We’re still amazed at the interactivity in Digital Design Sensations. What programs do you use for interface design? How long does it take?
Original Light Rain was made with Processing in10 days, but we modified with openFrameworks based on C++, for the Decode exhibition at the Vicotoria and Albert Museum, in London. Also we used OpenCV to capture the outline of the audience with a web camera.
Do you recognize differences between VFX companies, in terms of style? How does your style compare to the best you’ve seen?
As I mentioned, we don't’ intend to complete a style. Maybe some people can see and feel “WOW’s style” from outside. There are directors like me and Mamoru who direct and check plannning and quality of our works, but each project is shaped by each designer’s character, and it lease to WOW’s uniqueness. It’s not a solo work, but “our” work. I don't think planing the future of a company is an easy task. However, I believe WOW can extend what we want to make flexibly.
Which effect do you believe was the most difficult to achieve? (How did you do it?)
Tomoya: In technical terms, it was the most difficult to merge data of both the software that made fire effect and the software that made water into 3dsMax. Both are fluid simulation software, so I extract good aspects from them and mix together, then I merged in 3dsMax. The software often froze when I was working on. The process was different from key frame animation, which I made animation in simulating, so I could not get a good result every time.
What is the typical starting point in a VFX project? How long does it usually take?
I usually decide the whole direction, which is perceived by audience, like solid, soft or natural etc. It’s really important. If we skip the process, the work would not be lively. It doesn’t take so much time. Maybe in one or two meetings.
What’s the one project that you received the most praise for?
We used to have a better reputation of non-commercial works until 3 or 4 years ago, but we have been acclaimed for commercial works as well recently. It’s hard to choose the best one, but if I choose ones as follows;
1. CITIZEN INFINITY
3. Roof Scape (This was the first video installation to show outside.)
Do you think computer graphics changed visual advertisement and consumer behaviour?
Yes, in both a good way and a bad way. Nobody is surprised with small tricks, because CG has been very common these days. It’s really hard to have an impact like Star Wars did. We are pursuing not only techniques but also ideas and the process that based on each project.
With the market becoming more and more competitive, what do you believe is a must that an artist has in his portfolio or skills?
If we have both great techniques and exceptional ideas, we can survive. I think an artist need ideas rather than techniques.
What is your favourite movie/ commercial?
In my personal opinion, if I pick one, “Diva” would be the one. The cinematography and the sound track is really impressive.
What do you have up your sleeve for future projects?
We are working with a Japanese fasion designer for a project, which we are making the runway background movie at the Paris Fashion Week in the end of June. We will also create a video work for the Japanese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in August.
If you had the opportunity to spend a day with anyone from this industry, who would it be?
Not in this industry, but I would like to work with innovative architects such as Renzo Piano and Jean Nouvel.
If you had unlimited resources (from artists to money) what path would you take? What advice would you give to someone who wants to specialize in special effects and 3D for advertising?
To project large motion graphics onto the skyscraper would be fun. I’m interested in different ways that people can enjoy motion graphics, which we get used to it in movies. If I give advice, please cherish not only techniques but also your ideas. The ideas and concepts are really important in any kind of creative process. Maybe they have already realized though.