Luma is an award-winning and internationally acclaimed Digital Content Creation Studio. Luma started in 2001 just after 9/11 when Paul Meyer, Jason Cullen and Jacques Venter were retrenched from their animation jobs at The Worx. A year later Gerhard Painter and Dale Best joined as designers to answer to the demand for motion graphics and design. Luma has since grown to a complement of 45 animators, producers, designers, illustrators and photographers. Their mobile game created for Microsoft, The Harvest, is ranked as number 3 in the top 10 best mobile games of 2010 across all platforms. They have also developed an animated series that was sold to Disney and was shortlisted as a finalist in the Best Series Family Category of the KidScreen Awards. Their specialities include visual effects and digital high definition for film, as well as for television series. Heavy Chef chatted to Gerhard Painter, Creative Director at Luma, to hear about how technology is advancing advertising.
Hi Gerhard. So what is character animated TV advertising and how does it differ to the norm?
Character animation has had a very colourful history and has entertained people of every language the world over. From simple line drawings to current day Avatar creatures. Character animation has become the number one medium to transport the viewer to any fantasy world. In the commercial advertising space, local agencies have long held animation as an option for when their budgets don’t quite cover a traditional shoot. This however is changing on a daily basis. With local animation studios upping their quality and skills, we’ll be seeing a lot more fully computer generated commercials in the future. In a lot of ways, animation gives unprecedented freedom to a client’s vision that needs to convey a specific idea to the general public. Imagine needing to show kids riding on oversized fruit through a fantasy world. This would only be possible in the movies a couple of years ago. Now we can actually create digital versions of the kids, have them do summersaults as they jump from fruit to fruit and at no risk to the real kids. The director gets exactly what he wants, as does the client.
Is this method of 3D shooting becoming more favourable among agencies in South Africa?
It’s important to differentiate between the various ways to do commercials in today’s advertising environment. First there’s the traditional way of shooting with a big crew, expensive equipment and pretty girls. Then there are fully animated ads. Here, everything on screen is computer generated and controllable right up to the time the ad takes flight on TV. The newest visual effects, a gift from Hollywood, is a combination of live footage and animated content. This still allows for the usage of specific human talent, while being able to add almost anything that’s not possible to shoot. Both fully animated, and the visual effects methods are increasingly used in South African advertising.
How do emerging markets affect the role of digitally animated TV, and how do we compare to more developed countries?
The toughest thing in creating digital content is doing something great with the least amount of money, in the shortest amount of time. Places like India and China have put a lot of energy into creating cost effective ways to do the business of animation. The trouble with that is that clients expect more and more for less and less. Animation is, and always will be an art form that takes a whole host of talents and experiences to create something memorable that inspires people. We believe that if we continue to hold on to this and keep delivering stories that people like to share and talk about, that we can proudly compete on a global level.
Can you give us a great example of a 3D advert that your agency has done?
Yes, our latest DSTV commercial is a great example to show what’s currently possible with digital technology.