NEW YORK â”€ Mantra Design, an award winning creative content design and visual effects boutique, knocked down technical walls to build virtual ones with its breakthrough 3D graphic environment for the set of a new television show, In the Qube, airing on international channels including Sony's Animax. Mantra's achievement in bringing to life this cutting-edge project is underscored by its ability to do it under the extremely tight time constraints of a weekly series.
In the Qube takes viewers around the world to explore the hottest trends in pop culture, including movies, video games, music, sports and the people who are defining what's new and exciting for today's youth. To create a presentation as new and exciting as the content itself, Embassy Row, the pioneering New York City-based global format digital production company handling the project, turned to Mantra Design.
The concept behind the television show was to place hosts Maria Sansone and Tom Hatton within an actual 3D environment (“the Qube”), but instead of building expensive physical sets for filming, a virtual set was created digitally by Mantra. To reflect the show's avant-garde topics, the supporting visuals needed to be equally hip and edgy – and redesigned each week to keep them fresh.
“Embassy Row needed a cost-effective approach to continually providing new sets for In the Qube and asked us if we could do it digitally,” says Mantra's Anna Toonk, producer for the project. “So we conceived, designed and built a virtual set, â€˜the Qube.' Then we developed a workable pipeline to bring in original content for each episode.”
Embassy Row and Mantra partner to create the design for the shows, with Embassy Row providing footage and general guidance to Mantra artists Chris McCard and Aaron Kent. The two then render the content in Adobe After Effects and Maxon Cinema 4D to create the high-energy, high-impact images that paint the digital set.
Adding to the challenge of the sheer volume of work involved is the time pressure of delivering it for a weekly show. “We've provided as much as 11 minutes of content for a 22-minute episode, turning it around in four days,” says Toonk. “The way our artists are using our render farm and sharing files is completely new. It's that innovative approach to structuring the workflow that enables us to do it.”
Fred Salkind, creative director at Mantra, credits the success of the project to the hard work and technical skill of everyone involved. “We're proud of what we've achieved with In the Qube. Using familiar technology in innovative ways has allowed us to push the limits of what's possible in delivering digital content,” says Salkind. “That's a real testament to our team as well as to our incredibly smooth working relationship with Embassy Row.”
Embassy Row's Stephanie Masarsky, co-executive producer of the project, agrees. “When we were presented with the challenge of how to make this show feel high-end and bigger than anything of its kind, we knew that collaborating with Mantra was the only way this would be possible,” she says. “Mantra's artists and producers are innovators and love the creative process. It was the only company that we engaged with, and we could not be happier with their work and their integrity.”
Currently, In the Qube will air in 40 countries worldwide. The Mantra team for this project included Fred Salkind as director; Anna Toonk as producer and Mantra artists Chris McCard and Aaron Kent. The Embassy Row team included Stephanie Masarsky as co-executive producer, Michael Davies as executive producer and David Tuohy as supervising producer.
About Mantra Design
Mantra Design is an award winning creative content design and production studio specializing in creating media for broadcast, commercial, event, retail, digital signage and installations. Located in New York City's Flatiron District, Mantra's talented team of designers and VFX artists are behind some of today's most visually compelling broadcast and event design offerings including the 2008 Grammy Awards Show, the MTV Video Music Awards, and various show packages. Founded by Creative Group in 2007, it offers motion design, visual effects, creative editorial, event design and production for its clients, many of which are among the world's best known brands, including CBS, ESPN, CNN, Saatchi & Saatchi, MTV Networks, Nickelodeon, The History Channel, and the USA Network. Visit Mantra online at www.mantradesign.tv.