Yes Captain: Charting A Course Through The Seas Of Motion Graphics

More Than a Kilometre of Digital Signage in 30 Days

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Earlier this year, Melbourne based motion graphics and animation studio, Yes Captain was commissioned by the AFL to create digital fan engagement for five clubs. A project the studio delivered in just 30 days.

Established in 2013 by designer, animator and filmmaker James Cowen the studio is a one-stop shop for clients who want a no fuss approach for their motion graphic and animation projects.

“The creative output for AFL was massive," explained James. “We produced more than a kilometre of digital signage which was featured across two seating levels, at three of Australia’s biggest sporting stadiums, Etihad, the MCG and Simonds Stadium.”

Employing a range of techniques, including traditional hand drawn animation, 3D character animation, motion graphics, and 3D elements, Yes Captain brought to life pre-game excitement, key in-game moments, plus a swag of team mascots including a running and barking Bulldog, a flying Captain Carlton, a boxing Kangaroo, and a screeching Geelong Cat. At over 47,000 pixels in width, is the largest digital screen content in Australia.

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When 30,000 Pixels is Just Not Enough

“Given Adobe After Effects taps out at 30,000 pixels, the project presented quite a few challenges in creating, viewing and judging the work on our studio monitors! Our team came up with some clever scripting and project structuring to make it work.”

You can view the end result here.

Detailed 3D Cityscapes for Victorian Government WiFi

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Alongside the event, film and television motion graphics that Yes Captain produces, the studio has also been called upon to create explainer videos, something that many organisations are using more and more of in their customer and employee communication.

After winning a competitive pitch, Yes Captain created an explainer video for the Victorian Government when they launched a pilot of free public Wi-Fi in central Melbourne, central Ballarat and central Bendigo. Yes Captain managed everything from the greenscreen shoot, through design, extensive 3D modelling, and animation, producing a series of videos and printed material to support the launch of the campaign.

This project meant building detailed 3D cityscapes of each town.

“We drew heavily from a variety of online map services to get the locations and layout just right, and our talented modelling team met the challenge head on using Cinema 4D’s robust modelling tools.”

View The Victorain Government Wi-Fi explainer video

yes captain james profile_300“We’ve been using Cinema 4D for sometime now and can’t imagine not having it in our studio pipeline. Having used other 3D packages in the past, nothing compares to the flexibility and sheer joy of using Cinema 4D”
James Cowen, Creative Director Yes Captain

Yes Captain Production Pipeline

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Yes Captain uses Adobe Creative Cloud suite for design and compositing work and Cinema 4D is their superior 3D weapon of choice.

“We’ve recently added Arnold for Cinema 4D to our pipeline which is a very exciting, unbiased physically based renderer.”

Arnold is the go to renderer for Hollywood feature films such as the Academy Award winning Gravity. Its interactive preview feature allows for super fast 3D look development and art direction, and it's also blindingly fast outputting high quality frames when dealing with complex surfaces.

Photography and Computer-Generated 3D Combined

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Yes Captain was able to give Arnold a good work out on a recent project for the Summer Foundation, an organisation building a better future for young people in nursing homes. Creating a 30-second animated TVC that used both photography and computer generated imagery, the passion project delivered on a few levels.

“It’s always rewarding to not only help out a worthy cause but also to be able to boost our technical capabilities and trial the latest in software advancements,” said James.

View the Summer Foundation project

Simply Can’t Do Without Cinema 4D

Cinema 4D is a program that James says the studio simply can’t do without.

“We’ve been using Cinema 4D for sometime now and can’t imagine not having it in our studio pipeline. Having used other 3D packages in the past, nothing compares to the flexibility and sheer joy of using Cinema 4D,” says James.

“We’ll do anything to sneak it into every job, even ones you wouldn’t expect it to be used on, because it’s just so much fun to use which best allows us to flex our creative muscle. Cinema 4D already allows an artist to quickly experiment and try a variety of ideas.We can’t wait to try the new take system in R17 that promises to push this workflow ideal even further.”

New Software and Ideas for Creative Solutions

James has more than 18 years of experience across feature films, television, advertising, music video, short film, events, documentaries and digital and says entertaining, narrative driven, emotive design and animation is at the heart of the work Yes Captain produces.

“Creative collaboration is one of the most rewarding parts of what we do. Essentially we are storytellers. It’s how we interpret and transform the story onto the screen that sets Yes Captain apart.”

“We love taking the client’s brief and breaking it down to reveal the characters and the worlds that best tell an emotive story which we then get to create from the ground up. Each job is unique. There’s no ‘cookie cutter’ approach to the work we do!”

Yes Captain is always researching and trialling new software and technology so they can offer clients fresh ideas and find creative, competitive solutions to their briefs.

“We’ve just started to use Blackmagic Design’s free node based compositing app Fusion which has only just been released on Mac for the first time in a public beta.As each job often requires unique solutions, it’s great to be strengthening our toolset for any type of project.”

Network of Talent to Draw From

Yes Captain’s clients include television and production studios, recognisable retail brands and services and creative agencies. The studio is equipped to handle any job – regardless of size or scale.

“We have an extensive network of artists and talent that we work with from Australia and around the globe. That’s the exciting thing about working in the digital age – geographical locations are no barrier to creative output. In fact, on some of the bigger jobs it means we can literally work around the clock as the team is spread across different time zones. Quite handy when you’re on a deadline!” says James.

Charting a Course for Success

Yes Captain focuses on crafting beautiful title design, emotive animation, and engaging branded entertainment for film, television and digital platforms and this single-minded approach continues to win clients and delight eyeballs both in Australia and internationally.

Earlier this year James’ wife Kim joined the studio as Executive Producer, bringing with her 17 years of corporate communication and strategy experience. With hands-on experience in media and talent management, marketing and film production Kim keeps the ship sailing in the right direction by overseeing production in the studio and is the go-to-gal for many of Yes Captain’s clients.

With a creative portfolio that has trebled since inception, it’s clear that Yes Captain has chartered a course for success in the motion graphic and animation landscape for the film and television industry.