Mike Tosetto, motion designer, The Design Conference

We believe the power of audio and visuals combined can be exciting, engaging and at times, emotional ...

The worlds of animation and design are both in continuous flux. As technologies in these industries improve at a break-neck pace, those responsible for harnessing the technology are creating work of unparalleled quality. One of the key figures cresting the wave of new design technologies is motion designer Mike Tosetto. Mike and his team at Never Sit Still have been creating stellar motion graphics for a client base full of impressive names, earning acclaim and a reputation for being one of the best studios in the business. At The Design Conference, which will be taking place at the Brisbane Powerhouse from May 24-27, Mike will host a feature talk and a workshop for the purposes of imparting his knowledge to industry up-and-comers, but before he takes the stage we decided to throw a few questions his way to find out what makes him tick.

We’d love for you to take us back to your early days in the industry. What first sparked your interest in design, particularly the realm of 2D and 3D motion graphics?
In 2003 I started studying Digital Media at the University of Sydney. That was also the year Semi Permanent held its first event, so I bought a ticket and went along, not really sure what to expect. My mind was blown! I saw the work of motion studios like Lobo, MK12 and TwinThing. I was super inspired and decided it was a career in motion graphics that I wanted to pursue.

Last year you launched Never Sit Still – your very own motion design studio. What sort of work does the studio take on?
We specialise in motion design for brands so we work with a pretty even mix of design agencies and direct clients. Some of our clients include Adobe, TEDxSydney, Semi Permanent, Vivid and MAAS (Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences). And we also work with studios like Re, Interbrand, Frost, End of Work, Saffron and For The People. Every job is unique and we work on all sorts of motion projects. Stings, bumpers, title sequences, brand stories, TVCs, end frames, interfaces and more. If it moves, we can make it.

What do you look for in a prospective project to ensure it is engaging creatively for you and your team?
We’re in a fortunate position where we’re offered way more work than we can handle, so we’re very selective about what we take on. We try and only say yes to projects that excite us, so we generally work with organisations in the areas of arts and culture, design and creative and not-for-profit. We also like to work with good people who pay their invoices on time!

We are particularly interested in how motion design can enhance communication. How can your field of animation and motion help enhance a branded statement?
On our website we say, ‘We make things move, to help move people’. We believe the power of audio and visuals combined can be exciting, engaging and at times, emotional. ‘Motion is a shortcut to the soul’ is one of my favourite quotes from Chris Maclean, a Creative Director I worked with at Interbrand. This is spot on and when motion is done well, it can instantly connect with its viewers.

Your talk at The Design Conference is one of the most anticipated of the festivities. What can attendees expect from your talk on Thursday night?
That’s very kind of you to say and I’m very much looking forward to attending such an awesome event on the creative calendar! My talk will be a story about my journey as a creative, including the good, the bad and the ugly. Hopefully it will get a few laughs as I’ve dug deep into the archives for this one.

You’ll also be hosting a workshop on Saturday May 27 breaking down the essentials of motion design. What can budding designers expect to glean from the session?
This workshop will focus on motion design for branding, and how to think about producing meaningful motion design, rather than just making things move. I’ll be sharing real-world examples of some of the brands I’ve worked on as well as covering the thought process behind the motion. The aim is that designers will be able to think about motion from a different and fresh perspective.

What would you say has been your career highlight so far?
Last year we created the opening titles for Adobe’s Make It conference. We had a decent budget and plenty of time to craft a beautiful piece of work – a rare combination that don’t often go hand in hand. It was such a thrill to see our work on such a large scale to a full house of creatives at Carriageworks in Sydney. We also collaborated with Luxx on that project to make something extra special, and now we’ve formed a partnership that allows us to take on bigger and better projects. Adobe has become a client of ours and we’re doing the titles for Make It again this year, so we’re super excited to get our teeth into that project soon.

Additionally, what’s been the most challenging project you’ve worked on?
We’re on the tail end of the projections for the Sydney Opera House Sails as part of Vivid this year. We collaborated with Luxx and together we’re handling half of the shots. Spinifex is the other production studio and Ash Bolland is directing the piece, along with music by Amon Tobin. Hands down this has been the most challenging project I’ve ever worked on. We’ve had seven weeks to complete over seven minutes of high-end 3D animation. We’ve constantly come up against endless technical challenges and the render times have been insanely high due to the 4K resolution required. We’ve worked late nights, weekends and public holidays to get this project done. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel and we can’t wait till it’s up on the Sydney Opera House sails.

Naturally the design industry as a whole is constantly changing and evolving – what are some trends or developments in your corner of the industry that you are currently finding exciting and inspiring?
It’s an exciting time for motion designers. These days most of the content we digest is on screen, so brands need to be designed with movement in mind. Motion is no longer a nice-to-have – it’s a necessity, so there’s more demand for motion than ever before. And with web services like Vimeo and YouTube, which stream full HD video over a decent web connection, it’s easy to share videos online. Technology is also more advanced and more affordable than ever. PCs that rival the power of the Starship Enterprise can be bought for a few grand and stuffed full of graphics cards that allow for faster, photo-realistic rendering.

The Design Conference is taking place at the Brisbane Powerhouse from May 24–27. Head to The Design Conference website to register your pass.


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