In one sentence, can you tell us about Genesis?
Genesis is an award-winning boutique motion graphics and animation studio based in sunny Singapore.
How large is your team? How has your day-to-day changed since the pandemic began?
Our small team is currently 10 strong! We stopped working from the office in April 2020, and have been embracing digital tools, platforms, and software to enable a seamless workflow with our team members.
What impact has the pandemic had on your agency and how well-positioned do you think the industry is going forward as a whole?
When Covid-19 hit Singapore's shores and the government implemented response measures, advertising and branding businesses were put on hold, as the situation was unclear. Soon after, we were all put into sudden lockdown, which caused panic for business owners across all industries. Thankfully, we were planning with foresight and had fully shifted our operations remotely by then!
As we work in the digital space, we're thankful that the demand for work continues and requests for content increase each day.
The industry has been quick to adapt, and we've seen many amazing projects still being launched, so we're extremely hopeful.
What does a typical project look like at Genesis?
A typical project runs through three general phases: discovery, planning, and execution.
Discovery - During the discovery phase, we aim to be the listening ear. Understanding goals, budgets set, issues faced, and attempted solutions (and why they didn't work) are just some of the questions we ask before we determine if our studio can provide value and the right fit for the client.
Planning - Concepts are then ideated and drafted out into proposals. Once the direction is knocked out, we move on to developing a timeline for the project, booking our team's time (thanks, Float!), and creating a story and visual direction through a series of imagery (storyboards) and design frames (style frames).
Execution - When the foundations are locked in place, it's all hands on deck as we develop the assets needed and give the project life and excitement through the world of animation.
Is there any difference in your approach when your client is a startup versus when they're an established brand?
Absolutely. Both have their own pros and cons! Established brands tend to have a system already set up with multiple hierarchies and a brand guideline that has been set and must be strictly adhered to. This can be beneficial as it gives a small margin of error to keep the content consistent.
Startups are more open to trying a new approach, as there are fewer risks for them. However, if they're undecided in a direction, it could also backfire and take longer than expected.
Do you work on any internal projects? How do you balance passion projects with paid work?
Yes, occasionally. They're mostly focused on social media content and pushing out messages we support (recently, Black Lives Matter). We also take time to experiment with new techniques to keep ourselves on top of all things tech.
Speaking of which, are there any technology trends that you're excited about using in your work in the future?
Definitely! We've been starting to incorporate Augmented Reality in our work as it is getting more prevalent through our mobile devices on social platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. Incorporating code into our work is something we've been experimenting with and will help continue to move things forward.
What is the most challenging project you've worked on?
The most challenging project we have had to date was a 60-second spot for BWIN's EuroLeague Basketball, in collaboration with our friends from Greece, YETI Pictures. The project's complexity meant working across different time zones for our collaborators, artists, and animators.
It was technically challenging as we planned for hyperdynamic scenes that required a trained eye to pick out the complexities and roadblocks ahead of time. The timeline of two months was also tight and added to the complexity. We assigned tasks to the team based on everyone's strengths to ensure we got their best quality work and commitment, which allowed us to work fast and deliver the project on time.
Huge shoutout to our friends from YETI Pictures, Tony Zagoriaos, Thanos Kagkalos, and Vasiliki Evangelopoulou, for trusting us to get it done!
How does Asian culture influence your work?
Being born and bred in a country mixed with many nationalities like Singapore is definitely something I consider a blessing. I noticed something in common working with people from different cultures—competitiveness and hustle.
Our environment requires us to be competitive by nature, and while we work hard, we like to play harder. All of these things influence our internal culture, which is about setting standards for what we want to achieve and caring for the people at Genesis.
How do you overcome creative blocks?
Creative blocks usually happen as a result of two things: burn out and the lack of inspiration. Burnout happens very often in this fast-paced industry. In my later years, I've learned that spending time doing the things that seem "unproductive" is actually productive to my tired mind!
When I feel that my ideas become repetitive, I explore different mediums of visuals. Architecture, nature, street signage, and product design are various forms and shapes from which I take inspiration.
One of your agency's tenets is to maintain transparency between yourself and the rest of the team. Why do you think that's important?
I think in any relationship, business or personal, transparency is key. Being vulnerable helps to build trust, which, in return, allows you to stay grounded. It reminds everyone on the team that no one is perfect and that we value advice from the group.
We share a different form of transparency with clients, and should there be any dissatisfaction from either end, we bring it up immediately and talk it out so that we can get back to focusing on our project goals.
Who are some other motion designers that you admire and how does their work influence yours?
Too many to count! I get inspiration from both individuals and companies. My all-time favorites are Giant Ant, Art & Graft, STATE, Laundry, Ordinary Folk, and a whole lot more. Some of them influence me through their storytelling techniques, and others through expressing brand tonality with a strong and prominent visual aesthetic and animation.
Is mentorship something that you're passionate about? Did you have any mentors who came from a similar background as you?
As Singapore has a very small motion design community, I try to give back as much as I can within my means. Whether through an internship or work review, it's something I personally enjoy doing. I didn't have a mentor and had to learn by a method called "shadowing"—observing and following steps similar companies took and trying to reason why they didn't take different steps instead.
As a design enthusiast, can you give us an example of great design that even a nonprofessional can appreciate?
The foundations of design are based on making life easier and more functional. For example, walking to the subway/metro and understanding signage instructing you on which direction to go, or taking a look at complex station maps and understanding the layout in a heartbeat. That is what makes a piece of design great.
Is there a project you've worked on recently that you're particularly proud of?
We recently worked on a music video (with our friends from Vilas Entertainment) called "Honey In The Summer" by PUBLIC. The video was done entirely remotely: from filming the band members and directing them via Zoom; to post-production here in Singapore; and then back to Los Angeles, California for the director's review.
I fell in love with the song the moment I heard it. Usually, you get sick of listening to the same song over and over again, but I was listening to it for both work and pleasure!
This was the first official music video we've ever made under VEVO, which is a huge milestone when we're all the way over in Singapore, and that's what makes it special. Shout out to the director, Magellan Rubin, for believing in us!
What advice would you give to someone who is considering starting their own creative agency?
What a coincidence, I just had a call on this about a week or so ago. My main advice was to figure out what you actually want. Is it for the money? Doing great work? Or just to give it a try?
Think carefully, as you will be the first person to join the company and the last one to leave.
I have to manage finances, people and situations, hiring and firing, etc., which I had no clue about when I started. There were also times when I could not get a good night's rest because I was so worried about the company's financial situation, as we only had a month left of funding at one point.
There is a lot more than just doing great work!