Racing forward with Frankie, NASCAR and Mi studios
Mi is unique as a modern-day production studio in that all their projects still start with paper and pencil. The team pride themselves on creative appeal over mainstream performance, and so produce some of the most unique, quirky and captivating visual effects in the business.
We caught up with Mi’s technical director Gareth Thatcher to discover how Frankie fits into this tried and tested pipeline.
Please tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I started in the industry 15 years ago creating medical animations, and have been with Mi for 12 of those years. I’ve worked on a wide variety of projects, touching on most aspects of the CGI process.
My technical specialty lies mostly in character rigging and technical animation, along with pushing forward the evolution of studio pipelines. Developing quicker and more efficient ways of working has become my main focus as company director, and Frankie definitely fits into that goal. More recently though, I’ve been turning my hand to real-time graphics as virtual reality starts to make pace.
What have been some of the most exciting and unique projects of your career?
Creating visuals for the NASCAR game launch trailer was exciting, as it was the studio’s first project of this kind and posed some interesting technical challenges. It also helped streamline and improve our pipeline to pave the way for much larger jobs.
I also enjoyed working on Delta Airlines new safety video, as it involved working with some really talented people, both starring in and working on the project around the globe. Plus, I got to supervise the video shoots in New York, Miami and LA – which was fun!
How important is remote collaboration to the company pipeline? Do you establish a single point of contact, or does every artist get involved?
Very important, especially early on in a project. Our clients must be able to see visuals as we walk them through changes, especially when on a call with clients who are not experienced with the CGI process.
On what project did you start using video review tools?
We started using cineSync a while ago on our NASCAR projects in around 2011. Since then, we have been using Frankie on all of our animation projects.
Was there a specific feature of Frankie that you immediately responded to?
The online nature of Frankie is great – it cuts out the hassle of having our clients install a piece of software, then browse for a specific video they have to download. Automatically emailing a summary of comments after the session is a handy feature. Also, if other parties on the project are using Frankie from a different time zone, we can keep track of their comments without being involved in the session.
How accessible do you find working via browser?
Very, there’s no surprises, it just works. Everyone has a web browser and as yet we haven’t had a client struggle to get Frankie up and running. It makes conference calls a lot more productive.