This was my third Offf conference. First one I visited was some five or six years ago in Paris. This time it happened in Barcelona.
Although the format of the event is the same – each year it gets bigger (3000+ people this year) and better organized. There are two “rooms” – main room called “Roots” and smaller room called “Open Room”. All the world famous people are talking in Roots and less known people are talking in Open Room. This year I stayed in Roots all the time so I have no idea what happened in Open Room. Each talk is about one hour long. Start is at 11am in the morning and ends at 9pm.
As for me – each year I get a lot of inspiration and fresh ideas about work and life. Big part is just seeing people behind famous projects and hearing about their struggles and how they overcome them. At the end you see that they are just regular people like yourself, who are just working very hard and there is no magic. At least for me – that is a great boost.
Here I will shortly describe what presentations I saw there. Not much value – just a little overview for those who are wondering what Offf is all about. I also added links to all the mentioned people – you can easily check out their work in their home pages.
First presentation was from a group of design students, who created visual identity, opening titles and bumpers for this years Offf. They just showed several making of videos and told about the process.
Next was a sponsored Adobe speech – some guy introduced to-be-released Adobe stylus for iPad + accompanying sketching app.
Next was some guy from Double Negative studio who first showed some personal artworks and then showed a lot of bits of work in progress from different famous movies, where his studio was doing advanced 2D and 3D face replacements and other VFX work.
Next were guys who created Polynoid (3d animation) studio. They were a bit depressed and talked about how running their own studio turned out now so fun as they imagined while studying in german Filmakademie and doing their own projects. They talked about how hard it is to get decent jobs and to make money in the industry. One thing is that at first clients always promise creative freedom, so you accept the job, but at the end everything turns out the same – clients are micromanaging every step and all the freedom vanishes – job turns out to be just executing clients stupid ideas and never-ending requests. And the result is terrible – something that satisfies the bureaucracy of client but is not something you are proud your self.
Next was a studio called Mucho. They just showed different projects and talked about them. Not much to add.
Seb Lester was next. He is a font designer and calligrapher. He is a really nice guy not much people know about and he is really down to earth, but actually he has designed a lot of world famous typefaces (fonts). His fonts are used all over the world by different companies (Intel), Government organisations and even in Vancouver Olympic games. He is also a very talented calligrapher and he showed some of his work. I really suggest to check him out!
His advice was simple – “Hard work and focus is mayor factor. Self belief is critical. I believe almost anyone can achieve almost anything if they put their mind to it. The key is to find your passion. Aim high! Set goals and pursue them with all your heart!”
Crowd went crazy after his speech.
AAron Becker is a movie title designer – relatively new in business and therefore has worked on not-so-famous movies so far. His main point was to use as much of real life practical effects as possible, because computer graphics evolve – old stuff goes out of style, but real things are forever.
Actually a lot of presenters talked about using practical effects in their work – it seemed like computer craziness is slowly ending and people are starting again to appreciate “magic” in real – hand made stuff.
Chip Kidd is a famous designer – known for his work on book covers. He talked about several projects and how even after many years of work, he still often struggles with clients who don’t appreciate his ideas and sometimes even ruin good projects.
First was Oliver Jeffers – ilustrator, book author, artist, funny guy. His main thing is creating illustrated books for children, but he is also a well known painter and has even created music video for U2 with super small budget (this was funny story – he showed how he filmed without real dolly just by riding on skateboard with camera in his hand). He has talked also at Ted talks. He talked about his life and his work and how he got there. One thing I remember from his talk was about how all young artists/designers feel like being a fraud at the beginning – when they don’t have much experience and confidence and feel like they are not “real” professionals. His advice was just to act as an artist you would like to be and in time you will become like that for real.
Hvass & Hannibal are two girls – graphic designers/illustrators from Denmark. One project I remember was – they created some of built in Windows 7 wallpapers for Microsoft. Other from that they talked about their life, career and some projects. I was a bit surprised why they have become so famous (I did not like their work very much), but at the end it was clear – if your boyfriend/husband plays in world famous music band, you get cool jobs from them/other bands and get to know famous people who also give you cool jobs.
Next were two people from Second Story – studio specializing in interactive installations, apps and experiences. They showed several of their projects but for me their talk seemed too pretentious – lots of smart “blah-blah” about pioneering, empowering audience, pushing boundaries, concepts and ideas although from experience I can tell that it does not work like that and behind these two smart asses is a large team of hard working people.
Alex Mathers is an illustrator – a bit depressive guy who was talking about how to become self reliant (successful freelancer). He talked a bit about his career, showed some works – cover of Wired magazine, illustrations for Google+ and others well known.
His main point was about finding your niche – finding your specific audience/clients and specializing on one type of product you can to better than others. (This is definitely a safe way to go, although it is much more interesting to have some variation in your projects)
He also suggested to have a goal, be healthy and get organized!
Robert L. Peters is a designer, strategist and consultant. His talk was about “unfucking the world with design” – how the world is fucked up and how designers are responsible for it. The idea is that designers are those who influence the masses to follow trends, buy stuff etc. Therefore by designing smarter (i.e. environment friendly packaging) and not doing things bad for the world, can save the world.
His point was that advertising is a design for persuasion to buy unneeded things. Therefore designers working in advertising are doing bad for the world. Designers are on the front line of mental occupation and almost none of designers understand the harm his actions are doing.
At the end he told about his passive solar house in Canada (house without heating) and gave fatherly advice about how to live green:
Casey Neistat is a youtube celebrity – film director, who became known after his “Bike lanes” video on youtube. He told about his bumpy life – how he came from nothing to this. Just a funny guy. At the end he made a selfie with audience with google glass and a mirror in his hand.
Next was Ian Anderson from the Designers Republic studio. A rude guy showing average work – nothing special. However I liked his thoughts about minimalism (using a lot of negative space) in design. He commented the famous saying that “Less is more”. No – less is less! Designers often use negative space as an excuse for having no ideas!
Last one on the second day was Danny Yount! Amazing movie title designer who has worked in several studios (Prologue, Digital Kitchen and others) and has been the mastermind behind titles for many famous movies – Iron Man series, Oblivion and other movies and shows. He was also behind the holographic effects in Iron Man movie. Very talented guy! He showed different work in progress shots, motion studies etc. and talked about the process.
Lotta Nieminen is a very talented graphics designer, illustrator and art director from Denmark. She talked about her education and career path. She also told about some hard projects she was stuck with and how she overcame them by forcing to generate many ideas (5 min on each x 30 ) without getting attached to them to free her mind.
One thing she also mentioned was about how important is to do other things and get inspired away from computer, because computer is not a place to get inspiration – it is a tool to realize inspiration.
Kate Moross is a crazy young designer from London. She describes herself as a Jack of all trades. She talked about her life, Japan, her design studio and how Pinterest and Tumblr is bad – people go there to look at other peoples work out of context and then try to copy them. Interesting girl, although I kept wondering how she managed to get enough money to do stuff without doing serious work for so long.
Next was Erik Spiekermann. World famous designer, typographer, design studio owner, owner of Fontshop. He has designed many famous typefaces (fonts), runs very successful design studio, owns many bicycles and is a very experienced and funny guy.
He talked about his studio – how they are using agile (scrum) workflow and why it is much better that the old waterfall model. They have several strong principles that they expect their clients to respect – clients must trust them fully, they don’t do pitches and clients always have to come to meet them in their studio face to face.
He also made fun about designers that use Helvetica font because of some “deep” philosophy behind the font. They are just lazy – helvetica is just a font – and as good as any other.
Guys from Post Panic studio talked mostly about their kickstarter funded movie project “Sundays” which is about to be released. I remember they talked about this project already 3 years ago when it was just in concepting phase. One thing they talked was about how useful is Google Streetview. They used streetview to plan entire shooting in Mexico city without even visiting it. You even took screenshots from streetview and painted over in photoshop to make sketches for 3D VFX work and test out different ideas. It is really amazing how much they achieved for “Sundays” with quite small budget.
Joshua Davis is a creative programmer/illustrator/designer who does most of his work by programming (generative design). He is quite famous and has had exhibitions around the world. He has worked for several well known music bands on their music videos and much more.
He talked about his career and how he manages to find new creative voice when his old one wears out. He also talked about how obstructions are good for creativity and how complete freedom is the worst.
Also he is an author for The Hype framework (programming helper library for Processing).
Last presentation I saw before I had to run to airport was Man vs Machine – motion studio from UK. They told about their slightly different approach – how they don’t do any personal work and instead try to do only good client work – they try to work on interesting projects that will take them to a higher professional level. Also they are strongly against working stupid hours – there is no point in working late hours as you will just trim them from next days morning. If you are organized enough – you can be productive in working time and have proper rest.
They showed couple cool projects they did for TV channel re-branding – again involving a lot of practical effects which could be done in CG, but real thing has “magic” in it.
I missed the Main Titles presentation this year. Each year some famous studio or person is making main titles movie for the festival. Each year they try to do something new and different from other years. Therefore usually this is very interesting. I was a bit sad to miss it, but after seeing the titles – i’m not so sad.. In my opinion, this years titles are not very interesting.
Thats about it.. if you have any questions – I can definitely tell more.