Jan Sladecko Embraces the Creativity and Freedom of Motion Design and VFX
Throughout his career as a motion designer and VFX artist, Jan Sladecko has collaborated with many studios, including MPC, Mainframe, and Golden Wolf, and worked alongside many other amazing artists. After starting out seven years ago as a 2D Compositor on feature films, TV shows, and commercials, he made the switch to motion design and now enjoys the daily challenge to push the boundaries of what’s possible and trendy while learning new things. Today, he works on high-profile commercial projects for clients including Nike, Google, Vodafone, T-Mobile, and Samsung.
Adobe: How did you get started in visual effects?
Sladecko: I started playing around with visual effects when I was only 11 and created my first animation when I was 13. Later, I was introduced to Adobe After Effects and I fell in love because I could combine real footage with graphic design in my animations. I enjoyed exploring those combinations for a number of years. After I finished school I started working at a post-production house as a 2D compositor, where I worked on feature films, television shows, and commercials.
Adobe: What made you change your focus?
Sladecko: Working as a 2D compositor helped me realized that I enjoyed working with motion design animations more that 2D graphics. I left my job and started working on projects where I could combine Cinema 4D and After Effects CC, with some 3D as well. I also use Adobe Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC. I’m not a graphic designer, but Illustrator CC helps me work with vector art in After Effects.
Adobe: What type of projects do you work on?
Sladecko: In the past year I’ve primarily worked on television commercials. I also work for television networks in the Czech Republic, creating various identities. For example, I worked on a huge TV rebrand for Slovakia national television, which won a golden Promax award in New York. I also worked on a Czech TV sports channel creating some identities for new sports being introduced.
Adobe: What is your project workflow?
Sladecko: My project workflow depends on the company I’m collaborating with. On my last project for Nike in Germany I was part of a team of creatives. The creative director showed us the storyboards and after discussing the concepts with him we each took a part of the project and came up with a technical solution for it. I delivered a series of shots and felt good about my overall contribution to the project.
Adobe: What is your technical workflow?
Sladecko: It might start with looking for images, preparing mood boards, and making storyboards. Then I’ll go straight into After Effects or Cinema 4D. I create the animatic with images or primitive shapes and do some simple animations to get the timing right, which is essential. When the time dynamic is working I can put more details into it. Even if I do the whole project in Cinema 4D I always open After Effects in the background. Any time I render anything in 3D I look at how it works in After Effects in the timeline. I can add some simulations, particle effects, or smoke and then use stock footage to see if it will work in After Effects. It’s an essential part of my workflow.
Adobe: What other advice would you give someone who is looking to get into motion design and visual effects?
Sladecko: I learned most of what I know from the Internet. Andrew Kramer of Videocopilot.net helped me learn a lot about how After Effects and Cinema 4D work. His composition and motion design tutorials are excellent. It is hard work, so you definitely need to be passionate about it. I try to follow the trends and keep up with what is going on, while still trying to be original and work on projects that inspire me. I also encourage everyone to develop their own style.
Adobe: How do you stay connected to others in your field?
Sladecko: I went to work in London for a while, and when I came back I created a Facebook group and community for motion designers and visual effects artists. We do meetups, share our work, and look for ways to think outside the box. I recently invited people from the gaming industry to one of our meetings so we could learn more about developing content for game engines. It’s great to meet up with other professionals to learn from each other and talk about where we see the industry going in the future.
Jan Sladecko will be presenting in the Adobe stand at IBC2016 on Saturday, September 10th at 4:00 PM.
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