Ryan is an Australian graphic designer who has a diverse visual style and a unique range of experience over the last 15 years, including feature films, video games, and television. Ryan’s passion for art, combined with his love of feature films and video games, naturally led him to pursue a career in the motion design industry. With an exceptional style of his own, Ryan quickly gained recognition for his design work in Guardians of the Galaxy, Jupiter Ascending and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Since joining MPC Ryan has worked on BMW (The Next 100 Years), IBM (Watson on Language) and Adidas (Boss Everyone). For his latest project Ryan was graphics supervisor working with director Morten Tyldum on the movie Passengers. Ryan has also contributed to the design and direction of some of the worlds top grossing video games including Call of Duty Advanced War, Adr1ft, Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, Resistance 3, and many more titles.
Growing up in Australia, what did you read/play with/watch/look at/listen to as a kid or teenager and did anything particularly resonate to have a lasting effect on you choosing a creative profession?
Comics. I was a massive comic geek growing up in Western Australia so reading through mountains of comics definitely had a lasting effect on my professional career.
Can you describe your creative professional route to your current position?
Round the houses. After 3-4 years of art school my first job was in web design and multimedia, then the graphics team for a TV broadcaster, before moving to London in 2004. After a few years of working in broadcast branding I then moved into video games on in-game cinematics and interface design. Finally transitioning into feature film graphics five years ago which lead to my position at MPC – spanning both advertising and film.
Do you surround yourself in your studio with objects that inspire or comfort you? If so can you share some of your favourite “things” in your studio and why you love them?
The nature of working on film projects is to hot desk, which means you ‘ride-light’. But my office at home is filled to the rafters with things like art books, posters, action figures and my kids toys.
What’s your role at MPC and what does a day in the life for you look like?
My day usually starts early, checking up on the dailies for each project I am working on and then working out a plan for the team on each project for the day. The day would then be split up into various meetings with VFX Supervisors and producers to review the on-going submissions we have throughout the day. Lastly the day would usually end in conference calls with our LA clients and studios to review the work.
A new project lands on your desk…take us through your initial process?
As it’s usually a film project these days. I would either do my research on the subject or read through the script. After I have immersed myself into the subject matter I start mocking up mood boards that will help both the client and me, and the artists working on the project, understand the direction I think we should move forward with. Once we have sign-off from the client, it’s onto style frames and animation tests.
Can you describe your role as graphics supervisor working with director Morten Tyldum on the movie Passengers? How much preparation goes into planning a project like this for you even before a camera is rolling? Can you discuss the collaborative nature of this?
The role of Graphic Supervisor on any film is to work closely with both the Director and VFX Supervisor to create a visual language that runs throughout a film. Working closely with the film department at MPC during the post production process on Passengers is a great experience and was one of the reasons I took on the position at MPC.
What work of yours, commercial or otherwise, represents a real breakthrough moment?
I have a few projects actually. The first is Call of Duty:Black Ops with the studio SPOV. I didn’t really have a idea on how big the franchise was until one of my nephews went nuts when he found out I had worked on it at a family function. The second was my first experience of the film industry working on Guardians of the Galaxy with Territory. The conference room at Shepperton Studios was packed with concept art and miniature scale sets for the film that just blew me away. It definitely brought out the fan boy in me.
Your Motion work spans many mediums from Film, Advertising to Gaming, with many high profile projects such as Guardians Of The Galaxy, Ghost In The Shell, IBM, BMW (to name a few) can you describe your approach for each,how they differ and the similarities? Do you have a preference?
Film is my preference right now, but that changes back and forth. The approach with every project is different as the boundaries are always shifting but the one aspect that is always the same is design. Like any project if you have a strong design aesthetic running through it you are winning the battle.
What is your essential studio toolkit?
Photoshop and After Effects are the main design tools along with MPC 3D department proprietary rigs and particle systems.
Do you have any advice for someone interested in following in your chosen path?
Keep at it and never stop moving forward. I am lucky to be in the position I am today but that is all down to putting in the time and effort over the last 15 years. I am by no means the most talented designer in the company but I put in the hard yards and people notice that.
How important are non-industry/work related influences on how you think and produce work? Can you give an example of an important non-industry influence for you?
Very important. I try and use non-industry related subjects for all aspects of our design work on feature films. One instance was on Guardians of the Galaxy we used deep sea jellyfish as a reference point for the dark aster interface. Always keep an eye on the unusual as it may come in handy one day.
What you are working on at the moment and planning to work on in the next few months?
Over the next month we will be wrapping up our work on Passengers, starting our new major film project which is Ghost in the Shell and pitching on a few others we have in the pipeline.