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Legwork or Legend? The Career of Aaron Ray

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Want to build a legendary career? Get ready for some hard work.

Think about your career as an artist. Are you really where you want to be? Are you headed toward the top of the right mountain? The Design and Animation industry is constantly changing, which makes it hard to know if your career is headed in the right direction. What does the end of the road look like? Who are the artists you should aim to follow? And how can you, forging your own path in this subjective career, create your own legend?

Enter Aaron Ray, one of the legends of Motion Design. With 40+ years working in this industry, his efforts wore down the road that we now tread upon. Motioneers, we are all still kind of part of the first generation of motion design, and that "finish line" is looming for a lot of us. What does the end of a career even look like? More to the point, do we need to think about the end when the middle has been so dang interesting?

You are about to hear secrets of the industry. This is "keys to the kingdom" stuff, and you don't want to miss out. Grab a notepad, block out any distractions, and let's talk about what it takes to create a legendary career.

Legwork or Legend? The Career of Aaron Ray

Show Notes

Artists

Aaron Ray
Joel Pilger

Chad Ashley

Jonathan Lacocque

Clara Lehmann

Studios

Legwork
Impossible Pictures

Spillt

Three Legged Legs

Flesh and Bones

Not To Scale

Coat of Arms

Pieces

Akira (1988)
Pulp Fiction (1994)

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Arcane

Ponyo (2008)

Tools

Houdini
Unreal Engine

After Effects

Resources

Wacom
Motionographer

GreyscaleGorilla

Transcript

Aaron Ray (00:14):

You know, we've all heard people sort of talking down on the fact that maybe a lot of what we do is making commercials, but I, I try to think about that in the bigger picture of the world and in other careers. And I'm like, we're still being creative. We're still creating some sort of art. You're still using your skills as an artist to make that commercial. And that should be, I think that should be exciting.

Ryan Summers (00:39):

Are you truly happy in your career right now? Are you satisfied? Do you feel imposter syndrome all the time? Are you where you thought you would be when you started in this industry in motion design? Well, those are some of the big questions that I like to ask people all the time and most of the time it's because I don't know many people who have actually made it to the finish line, made it to the end of a career inside motion design, because what really is motion design. Anyway, it's constantly changing. And even though we seem like we've had lots and lots of people work through a career, there's not many people can tell you what it looks like on the other end. That's where Aaron Ray comes in. Now he's not finished, but he's been through quite a bit from getting into the industry, working at a large studio, seeing that studio close and considering what to do next. And what I love about Aaron is that you can always see his interest, his artistic tendencies in his work throughout the entire run of his career. But especially now as he is working as a freelance creative director, buckle up and sit in and let's listen to an amazing set of experiences from an even more amazing artist. But before that, let's check in with another School of Motion alumni.

Zach Christy (01:54):

Hi, my name is Zach Christy and I am a School of Motion alumni. I've taken, I think three or four different classes through School of Motion. And honestly, it's been really great. I started off kind of living in Ohio and not really knowing what I was doing with my career. And then I kind of stumbled upon School of Motion and actually Joey's 30 days of After Effects and really just kind of taught myself from there, basically everything I do now. So yeah, I went from basically being like a full time video guy to a guy that does After Effects and Cinema 4D and illustration and a little bit of everything. I had moved out to Los Angeles and I basically felt confident applying and working out some of the biggest studios in the country. I don't think that that really would've happened if I hadn't pushed myself through school of motion. And I'm really grateful for this platform because it will change my life. And I think it will for you too.

Ryan Summers (02:57):

Motioneers, we talk to a lot of different people and we've talked to a lot of different situations for different career paths inside motion design, but something I've always wondered about. And it's starting to become more in the back of my mind. Something that nags at me is that we are all still kind of part of the first generation of motion design to shape the arc of a career from start to finish. And that finish part is starting to become looming for a lot of us. I don't really know anyone that's actually made it to retirement age of motion design, which is kind of crazy to say, because we feel like there's lots of generations of motion designers out there from the very beginning to before motion design was even a name to people working right now in Houdini and working in unreal that maybe they feel like they're just starting out. And they're looking to people who have been around for a while. So curiously enough, I had someone reach out and say, I might have a unique perspective that you haven't actually covered all that much on this podcast. And I thought this would be the perfect time to bring on Aaron Ray to talk about what it's like to be a, is it okay to say this Aaron 40 plus motion designer working in the industry?

Aaron Ray (03:58):

Yep. No problem with that at all.

Ryan Summers (04:00):

Awesome. So Aaron, I'd love to kind of just like set the stage because I think there's probably a lot of people listening to this that are either just starting to like, what is my career gonna look like over the entire arc the whole time? And there's probably other people that are at the same position as you are iron, or maybe even a little bit further, like where does this go? <Laugh> am I on the box all the time? Or am I supposed to give all that up and become a in quotes director? You've had an extremely amazing journey so far. And if anybody goes to AaronJray.com, you can see his work. It's extremely qualified for this conversation, I guess is the best way to say it. But Aaron, like, can you give us just a little bit of like the, the elevator pitch on like how you found motion design and take us up to, to where you're at today, just to set the context for the conversation.

Aaron Ray (04:42):

Yeah. and thanks for having me on it's always inspirational to hear all the guests that you guys have. And I'm excited to be here really where, where it all started for me creatively was, you know, going back, growing up, it was, and maybe cliche to say these days, but it was skateboarding and sort of punk music and comic books that really kind of got me into this. And skateboarding in particular was sort of my first introduction into sort of real visual creativity as a career mm-hmm <affirmative>. And then music, I think kind of showed me like what it meant to be DIY and sort of anything you put your mind to, if you put in the effort, you can do it. Those things kind of sparked the interest in creativity as a career. And so that eventually led me to college in I think, did you go to the art Institute or was that the Chicago Institute of art?

Ryan Summers (05:32):

I <laugh>, I went to the Illinois Institute of art, which was not the good art Institute inside Chicago. I went to the factory school, so I don't, that was your experience, but okay, good. Yeah. Yeah. Well, good. So we're brothers in arms in much, much different way.

Aaron Ray (05:46):

Right. And you know, I'm not, I got what I needed out of school, but yeah. I went to the same school, just the Denver version of it. And mm-hmm <affirmative> I went to school for 3d animation and this was late nineties, early two thousands is kind of when I was in school. And at that time there really wasn't motion design. It was more focused on visual effects and sort of 3d character animation for film. And that was kind of a new industry. So they were really pushing that and they were, they were getting away from cell animation, which I think, you know, I probably wanted to be like a cell animator in, in retro spec kind of growing up in Disney and ARA and all that stuff, but they only had 3d animation. So that's kind of what I, I went into, you know, I just wasn't that inspired when I was at school there and, and I don't think it was necessarily because of the school. I think it was because some of my other interests still kind of went back maybe to skateboarding and music and stuff like that. So I still had this idea of sort of graphics and graphic design and illustration that I wasn't really getting, you know, in school mm-hmm <affirmative>

Ryan Summers (06:50):

Yeah. I feel, I, I feel like we had very similar backgrounds in the sense that I went to school specifically for cell animation. And although we had a program, we literally were seeing no one graduate <laugh> and get jobs doing that. The only people that were getting jobs were 3d people and all the cell animation people were coming back trying to teach at the school. And I think halfway through my time there, I was like, oh boy, me and maybe two other people were like, I think we need to figure out what 3d is like what's going on. Right. Because it just, the writing was on the wall that it just, whether it was locally or even on like a global scale that wasn't there. And I think it I'll be interested to see how this goes with you, because I feel like a long part of my career was reacting to the situation. The industry was telling me versus taking charge of what my obsessions were. My interests were, my loves were and forging my own path. So I, I wanna see how that tracks for you cuz I think we at least had very similar beginnings.

Aaron Ray (07:41):

Yeah. Yeah. And, and that's actually a really good point because, you know, I graduated and I learned 3d, I think probably, and we did have some self classes, so I got the fundamentals of that. We were working on paper still at that time. I don't even think there were sys or anything at the school at that time. Yeah. But I got the fundamentals, but you know, I learned after effects in college, which ended up being my, my biggest tool I guess when I was doing animation at points in my career, but I graduated and I was still, I was in bands and still kind of in music. And at the time there was still physical music, media, so records and CDs and stuff. So I wanted to do album packaging design for bands. And so I got a job outta school at a record label here in Denver.

Aaron Ray (08:29):

And that was really great. Cause I, I learned something that I didn't know I learned print production, the difference between screen resolution and print resolution and how to lay things out. And I learned how to use, you know, layout tools and design and all that stuff. And that was really fun. And I got to do all the kind of band merch. I got to do album packaging artwork, which is very conceptual. And actually in some ways that seemed like sort of like title design to me, you know, like show or movie title design, but just in a, in a band CD format. And so that was a lot of fun, but that only lasted a handful of years, but that led to another position at a place where I was doing snowboard graphics and skateboard graphics and ad campaigns for these brands that were under this umbrella.

Aaron Ray (09:18):

And that was also like, I don't know, all, all of these points in my career have taught me different things that I've learned and kind of taken on, but from like technical point of view, you know, I learned the print production at the record label. And then I learned how to traffic ad campaigns in, into various magazines. And I went to China to proof check snowboard graphics. Oh, wow. Yeah. So it was, it was fun. And I got to do so many different things. So there at that job is around the time when I started noticing motion design again. And mm-hmm, <affirmative> very specifically, I remember Shiloh an old studio. You probably remember them.

Ryan Summers (09:55):

I've got the book and the, the, the DVD sitting.

Aaron Ray (09:58):

Yes. Yeah. I had that. I was just thinking about it earlier and I don't know what happened to it. I'm bummed that I don't have it, but I remember seeing their work and being like, wow, this is really cool. It's 3d animation, but typography incorporated and music and editing was really cool. So while at that job, we started doing more kind of video and, and motion content. So I got to sort of open up after effects again and start using that skillset there. And then I guess that's kind of what led me back into what we would call motion design.

Ryan Summers (10:29):

So then where, where does, where does legwork come into all of this? Because that, that's where I knew of you like that, that studio, I, I knew of the studio before I knew of you and then eventually realized that you were behind a lot of the work there that I love, but how, how did you go from all of this stuff, this very DIY indie learning, what it is that you dig, doing, finding places to kind of like infuse that and then like how, how does this view come into play?

Aaron Ray (10:52):

Yeah, I think like you said, it, it really is that DIY kind of thing. And so I had met one of my partners at the record label years before, and he was like a web designer. And then one of our other partners was just, you know, another friend of ours and he was kind of more of a business side. He actually did a lot of the business management for the record label. And so the three of us just started talking and, you know, we should do a, a company and it made sense to do a design company. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> so, you know, we were coming from interactive design and sort of animation and print design, so kind of all of it. So sort of everything in the beginning. And I was sort of, I guess, knew a little bit to the sort of advertising agents agency, world, and production world, you know, I hadn't thought too much or looked too much into what that really meant.

Aaron Ray (11:41):

So going into legwork, I was just like, all right, well, we're starting a design company and, and that's kind of how that started. And it was, it was kind of a long process before we actually got back into or before I got more into doing kind of animation and heading up that side of the company, cuz initially, like I said, it was, I think I didn't really know exactly what I wanted to do. I was like, I wanna do band stuff, but that's not really paying the bills. We can technically do motion stuff, but how do we get that work? So that was all a learning process too, like going out and doing screenings and networking and all that to sort of get the work and let people know that we did this stuff. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> the interactive stuff came a little easier. I think at that time, you know, websites and that kind of thing were really fresh. And especially for the advertising world, they were looking to build websites, microsites, whatever for brands. So that actually came pretty quickly. And I think that definitely sustained the company for a while. Actually funny, I was remembering that Joel Pilger, his old production company, impossible was one of leg work's first clients.

Ryan Summers (12:52):

Oh really? I didn't know that.

Aaron Ray (12:54):

Yeah, we did their website and then we kind of worked with them on some rebrand kind of stuff. And then spillt, which I know, you know, is another studio here in town. They were like our second client. So it was pretty funny.

Ryan Summers (13:07):

That's amazing. So, so you, you go from kind of discovering that animation's something you love or design focused stuff is something that you're into and you have all these, these places that become outlets for it. You make more work doing that. You start a studio and then you transition to doing, it seems like legwork did a lot of like interactive and web design. At least that's what I, yeah. I kind of found them as right. But that feels very, I don't, wouldn't say dislocated, but different from where you started off as like where you, you, this just interesting design. I feel like you mentioned a Kira, you mentioned animation a lot of things similar to me. Right. And I had the same similar arc where it was like, I never, in my wildest dreams, would've thought I'd be making slot machines for a living <laugh> right.

Ryan Summers (13:44):

I really wanna do character animation. Love. 2d can find a way to make 3d work if it's based around like performance and narrative. And then the industry kind of grabs ahold you and somehow through the waves, the currents that it has, whether it's because of geographics or connections or whatever, you kind of get propelled into a direction. Right. Which may find, you may find happines you find excitement. But at some point, I don't know if this felt this way with you or if it was because of, you know, legwork eventually going the same way that so many studios I love go the way, like I, I think of three legged legs, I think of super fat. I think of legwork, you know, like studios, I love creating work that I couldn't wait to see the next thing comes out. And then, you know, one day the doors close, which I'd love to hear more about that too.

Ryan Summers (14:22):

But you know, when that happens, right. When, when, when legwork is no more, where do you find yourself? Do you find yourself thinking, oh, I I've made a career doing these kinds of things that are serviceable. There's a place for them. There's clients who want them, but do you also find yourself with something nagging in the back of your head? Cuz I look at your portfolio now, you know, if we go to Aaron, J ray.com and, and look at it, there's very little of what I thought of when I thought of like the type of clients in work that were the standout work from legwork. So what, what happens there then? So legwork, you know, it's closed its doors. Where, where do you face in your career? What are you in existential crisis mode? Are you stoked? Are you looking for another place to just like, do you, do you think about opening a studio? Do you look for a home just to like have a place to just do work? Like how does, how does that all happen then?

Aaron Ray (15:06):

Yeah. I mean all of those things, but even kind of just taken a step back, you know, legwork was a long, a long period. It was mm-hmm <affirmative> 10 years, pretty much that we were open. And like I said, I was kind of finding my way within the company having the skills to do animation, but our bread and butter was kind of interactive design, but eventually that kind of shifted a little bit. So some of the, the companies we were doing websites for, we'd also start doing animated pieces for, you know, videos, whatever. So it kind of started growing that way. And before that I was kind of, I think I was doing a lot of the brand stuff of the company itself. Right. So I was kind of managing the look and feel of the, the company I was doing our reels and, and all that kind of stuff, which was fun that was, you know, satisfying.

Aaron Ray (15:53):

But yeah, there came a point where I was like, I need to do more or I need to start kind of being more vocal about the kind of work I wanted to do and you know, so it was animation. And so I started taking more of a role and kind of pushing that forward. And you know, by the time we closed, it was PR it was like half and half, you know, we were doing interactive stuff, but we were also doing straight up commercials and titles and whatever pieces like that. So yeah, like at that point, I, I knew what I liked to do. So as of where I'm, you know, where I'm at now is design illustration and direction, the direction thing kind of can't came, like I'd thought about it. But it kind of happened after I had written a an article for Motionographer about closing leg work.

Aaron Ray (16:39):

Yeah. And I had people reach out to me and, and talk to me about that. So I had a direction rep approach me after that, but I, yeah. I mean, I, I'm pretty clear about where I fit right now. It's just interesting going from cuz I am older than a lot of these artists I'm working next to like if a studio is hiring me as a designer, the team around me is probably in their twenties, thirties for the most part mm-hmm <affirmative>, which is interesting. But I just, I'm a big fan of the industry and I love seeing like the work that's coming out of it. So mm-hmm, <affirmative>, I really don't have any weird feelings about my age and kind of what I'm doing right now. I'm just, I'm doing work that I enjoy doing. And I'm working with people that I enjoy working with and that's from the studio side, you know, I kind of work in two different ways these days.

Ryan Summers (17:22):

Mm-Hmm <affirmative> I mean, I, I love, I have to say this, that if you want more insight and that's the reason why I didn't want to go deep into it because I think the Motionographer article that you put out and if I remember correctly, there even was like an update to the site, possibly.

Aaron Ray (17:36):

Yeah. We did a microsite to go along with it.

Ryan Summers (17:39):

I thought that was one of the classiest ways to end a chapter of a career or close the doors on a studio that I've ever seen. And I think it, for me, I've been through a couple shops closing and it's pretty traumatic, regardless if you're just a freelancer or if you're high up or you start it yourself. I thought it was just a great example of like, this is the natural lifespan of studios, right? Like in the motions design world, it's, it's almost impossible to imagine a studio starting with two people with no idea how to run a business, just being art focused or however they start. And they always start with the best of intentions and then they grow and you learn like it's almost impossible for them to stay around forever. And I look at the shops that are, and you know, there's a lot of stories behind how they're even open now and they're all unique and different, but that idea that, you know, a place can close and it's not the end of a career. It's not the end of, you know, the spirit that lived there. I just really, really appreciated that. I thought it was really thanks. Like I said, it was classy. It was, it, it, it was one of the first signs of maturity. I thought that I'd seen in an industry that feels like it's perpetually 13 years old. If that makes any sense.

Aaron Ray (18:43):

Yeah. Thanks for saying that. It's funny cuz I, I did hear some rumors out there that some people may have thought it was kind of weird optically to like put out a reel when you're closing and do a microsite and you know, I've thought about that. I'm like, well, to me, we did it. This was a good chunk of our lives so far. Yeah. And we loved the company and we did it because we love what we do. So it's like just cuz we're closing doesn't mean we don't wanna sit here for another two weeks and like do a real and hang out together. Like it was, it was fun to do. And I think, I think back to that, I'm like, oh yeah. I mean it's cuz we care about what we do and it's not just a job to us and we want to do one more project together. So

Ryan Summers (19:26):

I mean, I, I mean that I, man, I, I just think about it. I love that because there's, I think of all the studios that I can't go back and look at, and I, I've probably mentioned three-legged legs more times than people care to hear on this podcast. But I love the fact that somehow, you know, when they closed the doors, whatever state their site was in, you can still go back and look at it. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> and you can still get a strong sense of the energy and the spirit that existed there. And I, I look at you, it still is an example of, you know, like at least from optically, from the outside, like if I ever started my own shop, what I, what I would want a place to feel like. And it's a, I'm glad that you, you, you mentioned earlier that you, like, you kinda came from this like music based DIY skateboarding world.

Ryan Summers (20:03):

Because like, like when a band ends, that doesn't mean that like it's gone from history, right. It doesn't mean that it's disappeared. Right. Or it's, it's forgotten. Right. The people in the band go on and some people go do other things, but there's still like an honor of the work that was done together as a group. Sometimes they come back, sometimes there's the greatest sit album, but even with skateboarding, there's still this sense of honor of like, man, like there's skateboarders, you can't skate anymore. But that doesn't mean that like you don't remember them, you don't, you don't like go back and look at what they've done. But I feel like in motions design, there is almost like a maybe because it's client work, maybe cuz it's advertising. Maybe it's because so much of what we do is like ephemeral and like disappears that second we hit publish or send it off to the client.

Ryan Summers (20:41):

But I feel like that, that there is that like lack of maturity of like, no, like what you make actually has some meaning. Yeah. Whether it's just like the energy you generate in the room with the people making it, or like the people that saw it, like what they reacted and how they, like it was either inspiring to them or it gave them a new idea, like there's value in what we do that. I think sometimes we don't even allow ourselves to like admit and express. And that was the first time I saw something like that. And I was like, wow, there's, there's something more right. There could be a history book to motion design, but we just let it all go as soon as it's done.

Aaron Ray (21:10):

Yeah. And I, I definitely agree with that too. I think, you know, we've all heard people sort of talking down on the fact that maybe a lot of what we do is making commercials mm-hmm <affirmative> but I, I try to think about that in the bigger picture of the world in, in other careers. And I'm like, we're still being creative, we're still creating some sort of art. I mean, hopefully there's some, obviously some bad commercials out there that have, <laugh> no redeeming value, but you're still using your skills as an artist to make that commercial. And that should be, I think that should be exciting.

Ryan Summers (21:46):

Mm-Hmm <affirmative> well, I mean, I think it goes back to, I, I talk about this a lot too, but I think you and I are both from the generation where, you know, like before motion design as a name, we called everything mogra. And before that, before there was even a name, it was just like, I, I don't know. I go back to the idea that I think there's still a growing identity crisis with motion design. And even as recently as like, even like last week, I think Chad, Ashley from grace gorilla said like, you know, IST name, motion, design outdated, or is it, is it something that's not, it's never been accurate. And there was a great, just like outpoint of opinions and conversations. But to me like, like motion design, if you were there at the beginning, like motion design, wasn't visual effects and it wasn't animation and it, and it certainly wasn't after effects plus C four D equals motion design.

Ryan Summers (22:28):

It was the wild west and it was the wild west in approaches and references and touchpoint and types of types of artists that even worked in it. But to me, like the thing that was most exciting and I, I think you can still [email protected] and get a sense of this is that there's a unique way in motion designed to solve people's problems because we have to use tools quickly. We don't have established pipelines. We're randomly picking collections of people to kind of bolt onto the people we work with day to day, that there's a different spirit of like innovation and a different spirit of storytelling that does not follow the track or the history or the lineage of any of the other kind of like creative arts industries. And for me, motion design is actually, I feel like our industry is finally actually growing up to that name, motion design, like to me motion, design's an umbrella term that actually sits over TV animation or VFX or feature film animation or stop motion. Like, like it, it encompasses all of those things cuz I don't know how you felt, but I, I was so excited at the beginning of the day that it was like, you could pick up a pencil, a camera, you could, you could use a photocopier. It is like whatever you could use to get into the computer to put something out, everything was vital, everything was viable. There was no rule set of like what was right or what was wrong.

Aaron Ray (23:36):

Right. I lean more towards the term motion design. I, I'm not sure that I ever really called it motion graphics, but motion design makes sense to me. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> I hadn't thought about it as an umbrella to all these other sort of disciplines within it. But I think that makes sense too. I think for me, I think of since our day, you know, the early two thousands, mid two thousands, when motion design was first coming up, it was, you know, there was usually typography involved and, and a graphic sense to it, but that's changed so much now. And you look at things that are just straight up animation, whether they're, you know, it's character based animation or, or whatever. I kind of feel like if there's not typography or any graphic element to it, I might just call it animation, you know? Yeah. I just call it animation. But motion design makes sense from a lot of different perspectives as an umbrella. I like that.

Ryan Summers (24:29):

I think as, as the, the clients expand and the, I don't even like calling them screens, but like the, the canvas expands for what's possible, you know, we start talking about like experiential design and designing for spaces and designing for glasses and for overlays and you know, multiple versions of the same world where you're still using your sense of color, your sense of contrast, typography, your composition, all, all of those things that, you know, like you don't necessarily learn when you're an animator in 2d animation, right? Like you're not using the full spectrum of graphic design fundamentals applied to motion. Right. That, that, that umbrella term is gonna be even even more needed or even bigger, right? Like motion design to me grows with the, the, the needs of, you know, the clients and of the stories that have to be told. Whereas like, when you say animation, you know, like you can go to a studio in LA and they will give you a, a rate sheet for all of the roles that for the last a hundred years have been very tightly defined as like, are you a timing chart person?

Ryan Summers (25:27):

Are you a 2d animator? Are you doing storyboards? And it's like, each one of those roles is a specific person who just does that their entire career. Yeah. Whereas here, like I'm looking at your site now and it's like, I find it really interesting, Aaron, that like on your site, you've got director design animation on one, another job, creative director, another job just animation. You don't have a demo reel on your website, but at the same time, as I scroll through all of this and I, it, it washes over me. All of this feels like it comes from a person. It doesn't feel like it comes from a studio. I feel like the only place that that's possible is in an industry like motion design.

Aaron Ray (26:00):

Yeah. It's, it's really interesting. Like the point about the experience stuff being designed. That's an interesting point because you're totally right. It's design traditionally was graphic design layout kind of stuff. But now we're laying motion out on these different panels in different rooms and walls and shapes. That's kind of a cool way to think about that.

Ryan Summers (26:21):

A and honestly soon, like in 3d space, right. You know, like, yeah. Apple and Facebook in, in 12 months are gonna have something you, you strapped to your face and put an overlay in the world and you're definitely are gonna want to have type. And you're definitely going to have like graphic design skills to, to work within that space.

Aaron Ray (26:38):

Yeah. I mean, I think it's so open. There's so many different ways you can go with it and who knows what my future will be. I know, like right now I'm pretty happy doing what I'm doing. I like working on canvases. That kind of stay the same. I think maybe that's cuz that's where I came from. Right. The options are endless right now. I believe.

Ryan Summers (26:57):

Well, I mean, I, I mean, I'm just looking at like your, your Nike piece where you're actually integrating, you know, on your site and you have, you know, really cool hand drawn things type integrated to live action. Like there's a world where your directing skills and your vision 2d animation on top of the actual product like that, that evolves directly with the kind of stuff we're talking about as well. I, yeah, I wanna go, I wanna go back to, you said that you said there's a couple different ways you work now compared to maybe previously. And I I'm wondering if that means sometimes in your, in your career, you're on the box design and animating and other times you're creative directing. Is that the way you're, you're splitting your brain or splitting your kind of roles right now as a freelancer?

Aaron Ray (27:35):

Yeah, kind of. So I do direction work through my rep, so that's similar to what I was doing at legwork. There's really not a huge difference. Mm-Hmm, <affirmative>, you're basically pitching a concept doing a treatment coming up with probably style frames or whatever. And if you win the project, you're the director. And then from there you, you build out a team, whatever the best team is, I guess that's, that's a difference at legwork. We mostly did everything in house and we didn't really work with freelancers too much. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> until the end, but, but now it's like directing, you know, you bring on the team and you know, at that point I, I usually do the storyboards and the design and then we bring on animators and, and I'll usually kind of just give notes and kind of work with them and create assets that they might need sometimes I'll animate, but, but not often, I feel like I'm a much better illustrator and designer than I am an animator. So I like to kind of leave that up to the people who are really good at it. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> and then the other way of working is, you know, studios hire me directly for style frames or whatever. So I'm just helping out with design on projects.

Ryan Summers (28:38):

Mm-Hmm <affirmative> so talk to me a little bit about the whole idea of being like a rep director, because I think years ago that was almost like a, a blind spot for a lot of people working in the industry, or it was like almost like a secret. And I think now as more and more people are working through, you know, coming up, interning apping, starting to work at a shop, seeing how it works, getting the point to pitch, and then they maybe start to get a little bit of the friction of like, oh man, I might, I might wanna do this a different way. Or I would, I would want, I wanna pitch to different types of clients or, you know what, I really like working a certain style, but my studio can't support that style. People are starting to find out about this as kind of like a career. Can you talk a little bit about how, how that happened for you? Like how, how did you get wrapped? Who are you wrapped by? What is that experience kind of like, cause I, I don't think a lot of people have worked alongside or seen that example all that often.

Aaron Ray (29:26):

Yeah. And you're kind of hearing about it a lot more recently. It seems like mm-hmm <affirmative> and even, you know, younger artists are being wrapped as directors, but like I said, I, I wrote that article for Motionographer and had a handful of inquiries and studios even reached out for like potential full-time positions and things like that. But I really wanted to try out sort of just being solo and freelance. So the, the rep companies called flesh and bones and they are based in LA and Charleston, South Carolina. So two partners live in either city. They read the article and reached out to me and you know, I'd thought about it, but I wasn't a hundred percent sure if that's where I wanted to go. But being that they're kind of a new company, their risk seemed pretty low and they were, you know, we had a good conversations. I think we saw kind of eye to eye mm-hmm <affirmative> so essentially, I mean, yeah, that's kind of how it happened, you know, assigned a contract with them. And then it's been since 2000 end of 2019 now.

Ryan Summers (30:30):

Oh, nice. So how do, how does that work? Just as an example for, for people listening that might find that interesting, do you, did they essentially get a certain amount of kind of like opportunities coming into them and then I'm assuming they, you know, like they, they rep several different people. Mm-Hmm, <affirmative>, I'm assuming with different styles or different kind of like, you know, angles on, on content or angles on, on like, you know, pitching, did they kind of cast the right, like RFP to the right director and then you're like, oh, cool. I'm gonna go ahead and try to put a pitch together for this. Do you receive essentially like opportunities from them? How does that work?

Aaron Ray (31:00):

Yeah. You know, we're on slack pretty much every day, even when we're not doing projects together, we're chatting and stuff. I've actually grown kind of a, a good relationship with the guys. And so we, we talk all the time, but yeah, essentially they get boards or concepts from agencies, brands, some brands as well. And then they will pass that off to whoever's on the roster. That kind of makes sense to do that project. A lot of it goes to style, I think, especially if it's an animated project, cause they do live action as well. But if it's animated, I think it, a lot of it comes down to style. So if it's a style that they think I'd be good at, they might pass me that mm-hmm <affirmative> and then I can choose to pitch on it or not. For the most part I've pitched on everything that they've brought me, you know, usually about a week or so sometimes less, you know, but usually a week to put a treatment together. Yeah. And then we go from there and then, and then the EP over there will kind of work with me to budget. I'll kind of estimate what I think it'll take, how long it'll take, how many people I want on the project. And we'll kind of put a budget together and yeah.

Ryan Summers (32:08):

And then you start to assemble the team and then mm-hmm <affirmative> so they act also as the production company then. So essentially you pitch, if it wins, it goes towards you, you handpick your team, everything gets budgeted out and then it gets executed through, through them essentially with the kind of like team that's rolled up for that project specifically. Yep.

Aaron Ray (32:24):

That's awesome. Yeah. The, the team that I've worked with or teams, the artists have all been freelance, so they don't actually have like an in-house team. Like somebody like not to scale might have or something like that.

Ryan Summers (32:36):

Mm-Hmm <affirmative> I do remember I, I just started looking for and found it. I think there was like a, a bank Midwest or something project. And I think that might have been the first time I heard of flush and bones cuz you posted something with this really cool, really cool style. And it was specifically a shot of like a, a 3d living room. Yeah. And there was a 2d tiger on top of it. <Laugh> and I just started looking back to go and find it. I, it was like one of the first ones on their yeah. Their site that stood out. But that was the first time I remember, I don't even know when that was from maybe like a year or two ago.

Aaron Ray (33:03):

Yeah. 20, 20 I think.

Ryan Summers (33:04):

Oh dude, that, that was like the first time I was like, wow, this is super cool. And then you start to see more of your work coming through where it, it, it, again, I start feeling like, oh yeah, there's there's Aaron that I can see Aaron in his work. Now again with that got me really excited that I was super thrilled when you were like, oh, we should talk about this whole kind of like, I don't even know if it's like Renaissance, but it's like a, a, a like later stage in your career having this opportunity to start showing more of yourself in the work. I feel like that might be a common thing that people are listening. This might be struggling with is that, you know, you, you invest a lot in yourself. You invest a lot in training and like the struggle to get the, you know, whatever skill it is you want to the point where you, you can actually make what's in your head real.

Ryan Summers (33:44):

But then the second half of that is like find new places where you can actually do that work. I guess all this ends up in like, do you feel as somebody, you know, you've worked for a long time, you worked in a major studio that studio kind of, you know, went its own way. Kind of like you found yourself in this new stage, you've been doing this for a couple years. Like, do you feel like you have the same level of like happiness and satisfaction that you had 15 years ago? Or is it, is it a different kind of happiness and satisfaction? Or like where are you at? Like in terms of your, your like art making journey, I guess not just like career and how much money you make, but just like the art that you're making now, do you feel engaged with it the same way you did previously?

Aaron Ray (34:22):

Yeah. I actually think since closing legwork, most of the work I've done has been really satisfying and I'm kind of happy. And like you said, like going, you said my work is kind of showing more mm-hmm <affirmative> or maybe my personality through the work. And I think that's totally true, especially with direction, cuz you're pitching your visual and story concept to something that a ad agency might, might have really rough boards to you're coming and giving your point of view. So that's definitely been, been nice, you know, at legwork, we got to do that as well, but you're also working with partners and there's other, there's more, more voices in the room, so you're collaborating. And so it might not fully be my point of view. It's more of a collaborative effort. Right. So, which is kind of nice about the direction stuff now is, you know, I get to throw my ideas out there and it's cool when, when they win, I'm like, all right, cool. I'm going in the right direction.

Ryan Summers (35:18):

I was a reminder of this recently because I think my buddies over at coat of arms posted something and I was like, oh man, that looks really cool. I, I feel like I know who did that. And then I think within a day you posted the boards for the actual animation. And I was like, oh, that's right. That was Aaron's work. But the thing that, the thing that blew me away was that when I, I saw the, the actual boards that you created, the animation looked like it was, it looked like you had created literally like finished style frames and then someone reverse engineered how to literally animate <laugh>. It almost feels like a one to one, but it was amazing to me because it's not just a one-to-one, but it's a one-to-one of like a really purely distilled specific person's kind of style and interest. Like a media was like, oh yes, of course that's Aaron's work. That makes so much sense. But I was amazed that they were able to capture as much of what was in your boards, in the actual like animation itself. Can you talk about that piece a little bit or like how that kind of came together? What the experience was like making that.

Aaron Ray (36:09):

Yeah. And so that's sort of an example of a, a studio hiring me kind of as a design designer. In this case, it was kind of our direction. There were a couple other designers up front, so there's, I think three of us working on boards at first, I started with the kind of opening shot and I think what they did was they took the, the boards from the different artists and then kind of presented them to client and then client kind of chose a direction and we kind of went from there, but code of arms they're, they're great. I've actually worked with them a handful of times since closing legwork. And they have so much trust in their artists. That is actually a place where I do feel like I get to let my personality show through in the work. And mm-hmm, <affirmative>, they're always cool with it. But so created those initial opening frames and then just sort of built the, the remaining frames of the spot off of there. And then animators, while I was still designing some of the frames kind of started exploring how to bring some of that look out in animation, like in particular, the, the little plane that's in the spot mm-hmm <affirmative> I saw that going back and forth as they're kind of developing how to get the right texture and grain and grit and all that on it.

Ryan Summers (37:18):

I, I, they're so unique, I think in the world of motion design because I, I, I I've been lucky enough to spend some time with Jonathan just talking about the industry and, but Jonathan, Claire, I think we're in the level up course, we put together, they were amazing to just come in and talk about like set up a studio. But I, I don't know if there's any other studio that really just feels like almost like patrons of the industry. Like I almost feel like they set up code of arms to basically just like get work, to hire some of their favorite artists and see what came out of putting them together. I know they're obviously like they have a financial interest in keeping the place open and running, but I, every time there's just such a, a certain amount of joy, whenever you talk to Jonathan about like, oh, like we are able to put this person together with this person or this person, we're able to get them with a client that maybe they've never been toward and look what they made, like, look at the, there's just this pride in like being able to create these opportunities.

Ryan Summers (38:09):

That it's awesome to hear that, like, you felt that way, that like your, your work when you work with them really comes out as more of like your vision, cuz it from the outside looking in, it feels that way too.

Aaron Ray (38:19):

Yeah, you're totally right. The way that they work seems that way. They're just so laid back and mm-hmm, <affirmative> fun to work with. And it does seem like they just are big fans of the people that they, they hire. And I think that style of studio is maybe kind of something that makes sense for the future of studios, honestly. Yeah. And if I was gonna start another studio, I might look at something like that.

Ryan Summers (38:45):

I see you, you made the perfect segue because I did want to ask you with all this experience, you know, this whole journey, you've seen a lot of different sides of the industry. You've seen, you know, starting off small, making a studio, the lifespan of a studio, you're now creative directing, still working for other people, but also seeing more of your vision come out. If you were a kid, somebody in their twenties coming, getting ready to come outta school right today in, in 2022, the world, as it is, or the clients as they are with the way we work now, the way we work, which is so radically different from what it was even like two or three years ago. But you had all of your experience. What do you think you would do now? I think there's probably a lot of people that are in that situation right now, but don't have the benefit of your experience. What would you do? Where would you go? Like where would you, where would you target like all of this creative energy and capability? Yeah.

Aaron Ray (39:31):

Well, one thing just thinking about kids coming outta school now, or like the younger generation they're coming outta school, way more talented than I, or any of my peers were at the time. Like they're just coming outta school with like such high end work. And I think, you know, I chalk that up probably to access to the internet and they're able to compare their work to what's the professional work and we didn't really have that so much. Right. So if I was coming out of school right now, I would assume that I'd probably be a lot better than I was when I did. And if I added my experience to that, I don't know. I mean, I think honestly I might kind of shoot to do what I'm doing right now. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, which is kind of direction, cuz like really direction just comes from being able to understand like how to approach a, a brief, you know, and, and pitch and work with a client and that kind of thing.

Aaron Ray (40:22):

So that's, that's that experience. And then being able to sort of multitask and manage a team throughout a project. And like I said, there's, there's younger and younger people I'm seeing that are being hired as, or rep as directors, whatever. So I might do that and I'm, or I might, you know, I don't know if I would start a studio right off the back. Cause I think right now with the pandemic who knows kind of what the future of a studio is mm-hmm <affirmative> so I'd probably wait that out a little longer and get some, some experience under my belt. I think one thing I would do differently would I'd probably move to one of the hubs just to sort of experience that. Yeah. So New York or LA whatever.

Ryan Summers (40:59):

Yeah. There's so much unpack with what you said. Cause I think there's, I still suggest to people who have like a high ambition to work on like high profile projects or to level up their skills quickly, especially as we hopefully start coming out of a COVID based world where people can actually work in studios. Sometimes there is a, a way to kind of like turbocharge your career by getting access to the right projects, the right collaborators. Yeah. That said at the same time, you know, like I feel like a lot of the other creative arts industries no longer have like gatekeepers that say, Nope, you need to spend eight years working here. And then you need to have X amount of, you know, client jobs where you're kind of art directing and then get access. Like it motion time still feels like there is a certain amount of like, Nope, you have to put 10 years in before you can never in quote creative, direct.

Ryan Summers (41:46):

Whereas other industries like you look at the music industry and it literally is just, I hate using the term merit base, but it's like, if you can produce somebody and your work sounds dope and it sounds different from someone else and it sounds palatable to a current audience. It doesn't matter who you are, where you came from, what age you are, where you made it. Like the possibilities are endless, right. Filmmaking it's the same way, right? Like there's a reason why we have like young guns and 30, under 30 for design and for filmmaking, but motion design, there still is a little bit of this sense of like, Nope, you don't really know what you're doing yet. Cuz you haven't sat down with a client, but then there's so many people like cool. Then put me down with a client like, Nope, you haven't earned it yet.

Ryan Summers (42:19):

But I think that that's gonna, I think that's gonna start changing because I think the world, the, the clients are, are, are willing to go with, at least in a pitch they're willing to say, okay, historically, you know, popular, big name studio X, and Y we want you to pitch, but also individual person I found on Instagram. How about you pitch too? Yeah. And they'll go head to head. We're seeing it happen all the time now. And, and people are picking not on the merits of the history or the render farm or the clout of the name. They're like, no, like this is really cool creative. And it's speaking to a younger audience in a way only a younger person could we'll figure out how to get you, the team you need and give you the experience it's starting to happen. I feel like that's actually something that like at School of Motion, in other places, like we could probably even do a better job of creating environments where you emulate the, the kind of client experience. Yeah. And give you real world examples of like what it's like to lead a team and what it's like to pitch and what it's like to, you know, that sliding scale of like humility and ego that you have to have as a creative director. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> like trying to teach how to like navigate those waters a little bit. But it's exciting to hear that.

Aaron Ray (43:22):

Does School of Motion do any sort of like client based courses?

Ryan Summers (43:27):

We do. We do have one course it's I think some people skip it or, or, or they kind of don't notice it called explainer camp just because in the name, you know, explainer has, since we've made, it has become kind of a lightning rod for, you know, people thinking like that's lower, like kind of like quality work, but explainer camp does a really good job of taking you through RFPs and kind of like mock client interactions. But I think, I think there's something we could do even further, you know, where it's, it's a little bit more interactive or potentially, you know, like we have teachers teaching assistants that help you figure out how to use Photoshop and figure out how to figure out after effects. It'd be really interesting to be able to assemble a team of TAs that can actually be like, all right, cool. I'll be your mock client. You pitch me and I'll tell you what you did wrong. Do the pitch again next week. Yeah. You know, and like, that's not that hard. It's just, you know, it's just like drawing. You can do 10,000 drawings with nobody looking at it and still suck. But if you did 500, the right drawings with a, you know, master draftsmen, they can get you up to speed a lot faster. Right. You know, it doesn't take much to just make those adjustments as long as you put in the work

Aaron Ray (44:25):

To the point about young directors too. And I think if you look at maybe a production company or a director rep kind of company, and they have a young director, I guess in that case, maybe if it's a director who hasn't really worked with clients that much, you probably have your, your EP or your producer there, right. To also kind of help along the way.

Ryan Summers (44:46):

You know what? I think I, a thousand percent agree cuz that, I mean, that is to me. And you, you mentioned this a little bit to me, what is even a studio anymore because the, the software is all democratized. The hardware is getting cheaper and more accessible. You don't even have to have a great computer at home anymore. You could pay to VPN into an amazing set of machines, you know, for a nominal fee. So when you don't have those things and most studios are really just like a quilt of like freelancers randomly put together under like one creative director, if a studio doesn't have that, like a really great EP with a great leadership for creativity, like there's not much that actually qualifies as a studio anymore. Right? Like, unless you own real estate. Yeah. You know, like what is the benefit of a studio really? Other than the people there that are staff and their reputation, there's not much left.

Aaron Ray (45:34):

Right. And I actually have a few friends here in town that have studios and, you know, nobody's really at the studio yet. And I wonder if it's gonna go back or not. And I feel like, honestly, for me, one of the best parts of having a studio is just to, to work and be around people you love every day and sort of experience that. I think Jay from giant was talking recently and talking about how mm-hmm <affirmative>, you know, lot of that magic comes from being in the same room with people. And I think I would miss that, you know, so if I was to start another studio, there would still be people that were probably full time and local, but it probably would just be more stripped down. Yeah.

Ryan Summers (46:15):

I mean, I do, I do hope that that's what this all settles into is that there's still, that you talked about it, you know, like, like whether it's like skating or it's being in a band or it's just being in art school, around other people and having the, having the luxury of having, you know, a place where everyone's kind of single mindedly focused in that thing that they like, there's a different energy that comes from that. I hope I, I hope studios somehow find a way to get back to the idea of being able to have the PLA like, like there's no app that lets you have the happy accident that just having five people in the same room gives you. Right. Right. Like there's no service that provides that. But at the same time, I hope we find a way to take that and bolt on this idea that there is a literally global, you know, set of artists that are capable to tap on the shoulder and integrate into your team as well. That I think that's gonna be the next step forward. It's not just youth. It's not just cheaper labor. It's not just having 24 hour every time zone availability for work. It's also, there are people with other interests, other backgrounds, other stories that you can bring into your jobs can bring into your company culture that I hope, you know, that's the, to me like the, the, the like awesome opportunity about whatever version of motion design is going forward.

Aaron Ray (47:22):

Yeah. And that's actually one of the best parts about, I think where I am now too, is being able to work with all these artists from everywhere that I had only just kind of seen their portfolios or, you know, followed on Twitter, but actually getting to build a team and, and I can pick and choose these people that I'm fans of and, and work with them. It's, it's awesome. The whole like new studio thing too, I kind of relate it a little bit to kind of what School of Motion versus traditional school is in a way mm-hmm, <affirmative> I think back to my time at school and I probably didn't put in what I should, but I think there, there were benefits of being at school. And again, I was meeting people and being around people physically and seeing what they're doing. I think that's actually pretty valuable. Yeah. And I know you guys do a good job of it with the with the online, you, you know, you have classes and teams and everybody can communicate and all that, but

Ryan Summers (48:12):

Still not the same, still not exactly the same. I think that's the place that that's the place in the whole kind of like rubric of like great content, you know, curated, you know, TAs teaching you the, the community part, I think is still something that I love our community, but there's always more ways to do it. Right. There's always more ways to add those, those accidental interactions where you hear somebody listening to a song that you thought you're the only person who knew what that band was, or somebody's reading a comic or somebody's watching something, or they're making something you're like, how the hell did they do that? Like that is still like, that's the hardest thing to capture is just the, like the stuff you can't plan for, but it's guaranteed to happen. If you have your eyes and ears open around a bunch of other people doing similar things like you, can't, it's hard to replicate that energy and that those like opportunities.

Aaron Ray (48:56):

Yeah. I mean, something about just being around people too, kind of gives you a mental break, you know, right now I'm working in my basement and I don't see natural sunlight. And so all my conversations all day long are just on slack for the most part. And I don't know. I can't do that. That's tough for much longer. I, I need to get into a, like a studio space where I see sunlight and maybe see people every once in a while.

Ryan Summers (49:21):

I mean, that that's, I mean, literally with you in a position where you're your, your success is given by your ability to kind of come up with creative solutions. Like you're, we've all literally been for two years, basically dulling half of our senses down, right? Like half of our, like, like literally just like feeling the wind on your, on your skin or taking a walk and meeting up with somebody for coffee and having a conversation about interest or like, like there, there there's a, a force limitation on your creativity when it's literally just screen based and type based interactions, I think. Yeah. And it's, it's, at some point you have to almost just like untangle from all of it and find a way to like refresh or like reset.

Aaron Ray (49:58):

Yeah. Do you get out often? You're in Chicago, right?

Ryan Summers (50:02):

I'm in Milwaukee now. Okay. I was in Chicago. But I, I did recently go back out to LA and I, I, not for anything work related, but I was able to connect with a couple of like groups of people outside. And it was without even planning for it, it was like, like you know, in pulp fiction when, when there's that moment where somebody gets the adrenaline shot. Yeah. And they like, literally come back up, like they're from the dead and like totally awake and aware. I literally felt like after two days of was just like randomly running into people and, you know, one, one group talk with like 15 people. I literally felt like for the next two weeks, like I was just like on like another level. Like I felt like all my, like, like sensory receptors were different. I was having different ideas.

Ryan Summers (50:41):

I was just recharged and I didn't do anything other than just like sit down or stand next to other creative people and listen and talk and ask questions. And it was, it, it was very eye open to me. I was like, oh my gosh, I don't know if this is, if this is something that was so strong because it's been so long or it's just like something that we regularly did, but didn't realize like, you know, you work in a studio and you have, you have an ongoing conversation for weeks with someone about something and it finds a way and it's to work and then you go to lunch and three other people say something that you didn't expect. And so, like I said, there's no app that can capture that. Right. Like there's no way you can prompt those things from happening. But I

Aaron Ray (51:16):

Know

Ryan Summers (51:17):

I, I was gonna ask you, you know, like, you know, like you've had this great experience and this great career, and you're, you're having this resurgence of finding your voice and, and, you know, your work is literally coming out as you know, you in the next five years, you know, like what kind of stuff are you excited about, you know, in terms of like looking at the industry from your unique perspective, is it whether it's just personally or just tools or trends or for the industry in general? I always love hearing from people who have this unique kind of like parts of their career going on right now. Like what what's exciting about you coming up down the, down the road,

Aaron Ray (51:47):

You know, personally, I'm looking forward to defining my style more and seeing if I even have a style, I'm not even sure if I really have a style, I like to kind of go in different directions visually. But I wanna see if I can kind of hone that in. And then you know, I'm, I'm really just excited to see kind of where, where the industry goes and especially the younger kind of generation to seeing what they do, you know, following all these people that I follow on Instagram and, and Twitter, like they're already blowing up. So I'm just excited to see five years from now. Mm-Hmm, <affirmative> where they're gonna be. And kind of within that, like, what is, you know, we don't know where the industry is gonna go, I guess, five years from now, it'll probably be fairly similar, but like you said, there's the whole meta VR stuff. That's just on the cusp of, I think going insane. So mm-hmm, <affirmative>, that will be interesting to see kind of what comes of that.

Ryan Summers (52:42):

Yeah, no, I know it's, there's so many different ways I could go. There's so many new influences. I feel like there's a whole generation of people that have grown up with anime and manga that are finally going to get to the and video games that are gonna its point, not just on our side of the equation, but also on the client side of the equation that I think are radically gonna change the way we talk about motion design within advertising, right? Like people's taste levels and sophistication on the client side, I think are going to be much higher and they're going to want to be patrons of this stuff, and they're gonna wanna see the things they love reflected in the work that they're doing. And they're gonna be asking that of us. And I think that is that's super exciting because I think it's gonna create potentially more freedom and more expression, maybe return back to more cell animation or hybrids of, you know, 2d and 3d and less of this just like trend based, oh, this tool does this.

Ryan Summers (53:32):

So now the next two years of everything's gonna have these three things in it, you know, like, it'll be, I'm excited for that. Cuz I feel like for a little while motions then did become an echo chamber of after effects plus C 40 D and whatever GPU rendering can give you, like whatever new feature is added, all of a sudden everything's gonna have that. And I feel like that that's gotten reflected in everything we do, whether it's title sequences or broadcast graphics or experiential, it's like, oh yeah, we got three months of bloom on everything because now you can do it, you know, on your phone, you know, or, you know, whatever GPU rendered thing or unreal can do it now. Yeah. I'm way more excited of being like, oh my gosh into the spider verse came out now everybody's trying to figure out and, and pull apart the DNA of what made that special. And then arcane comes out and there's this kind of like sixties, era of music, column, response, pattern, that's stuff I'm super excited about because that's what pushes things forward in terms of like artistic expression. Not necessarily just the tools.

Aaron Ray (54:24):

Yeah. I mean, stylistically, I'm always a huge fan of anything that sort of feels like it has some kind of handcrafted or analog approach to it. And I think where that really shines is when you can take that look, but then sort of mix it or map it on to maybe CG mm-hmm <affirmative>, you know, like I guess in my mind, I'm kind of thinking like I like to do 2d stuff over photos or 2d stuff over yeah. 3D, but at the same time, I, I can count at least five times I've pitched style frames that have this like oil kind of oil painted sort of look and either the project doesn't happen or there's not the budget to really like explore how to make it happen. Yeah. I don't know. I'm ex I'm just excited to see what people are gonna do crazy things. And like

Ryan Summers (55:09):

That's another thing I think where I am excited about tools is that that kind of look that you're talking about, like being able to create handcrafted styles for frames, to pitch something and then things like style G and EB synth and you know, machine learning, being able to create that stuff. However, you need to create it in terms of the, the structure that that stuff has to be pinned onto, but then being able to transfer, you know, like I'm looking at you have some really dope boards that it looks like they're like ripped from PIO, from like a studio JBI film that it, I guess they didn't, they didn't go anywhere, but they look awesome and, you know, curse the, the, the client that didn't go with those. But you know, like I see that and I'm like, oh man, that, and then like you take that frame and you do like a hand painted texture over the top of that.

Ryan Summers (55:49):

And you make the fish in 3d and you project it back on, you let machine learning, you know, express that over however many frames of 3d, like that stuff is all like on the cusp of tools that are literally like freely available. It's not even like locked away in another tool suite, but like that stuff is something that like, as creatives start getting more comfortable with that and playing with the technology in ways that isn't necessarily expected or there isn't an instruction manual or a YouTube tutorial that says how you're supposed to use it. That's going back to, I think what we start off with of like what to me MoGraph and motion graphics, and then motion design. That was the spirit of it back then was like, take your influences, abuse the tools to the point where they actually do what you needed to do to make something that you couldn't do outta the box. Any other way. I feel like we're right on the cusp of being able to do a lot more of that.

Aaron Ray (56:34):

Yeah. That's awesome here. And you're kind of reminding me that I should probably brush up more on the tech side of things cuz you know, I'm usually sort of focused in, on just drawing a nice picture, but there's, it's cool to hear that there's like technology where this stuff is gonna be reality very soon.

Ryan Summers (56:53):

Yeah. It's getting closer and I think it's always gonna be an eternal chase, right. It's always gonna be like, oh, can I connect with a programmer who understands a little bit about art to get what I need out of those like open source tools. And then two years later, all of a sudden there's just an AI routine inside of Adobe sensei that just does it for like, it's, it's always a chase, but when it's the chase is being driven by an artistic vision, it's way more exciting than just like here's what a bunch of stuff could do, figure it out. Yeah. Dude, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. I feel like we could probably go on for another hour as an after show to just talk about all of your work and stuff you're interested in, but we'll have to have you back on another time.

Aaron Ray (57:28):

Yeah. Thank you for having me on,

Ryan Summers (57:29):

But I really appreciate just like sharing, sharing your experiences. And I really think if you can, you have to check out Aaron, Jay ray.com and then also if you've listened to this I think it's just legwork studio.com. That is the kind of the goodbye microsite version of, you know, legwork kind of history and lineage. It's definitely worth going in just seeing the work that was done. And also as you start to explore it kind of, I think it unlocks a really dope, like I think almost two minute long reel of all the work that legwork did, even though it says leg didn't work, legwork did work and it worked for a long time and it's a, just a great kind of almost like time capsule and love letter to all the work that you and the team put together. It it's definitely worth taking a look if you haven't heard of legwork before this podcast.

Aaron Ray (58:15):

Yeah. Ryan, thanks so much for having me on, like I said, I love what you guys are doing and it, it actually keeps me excited about the industry and gives me ideas every day. So thank you.

Ryan Summers (58:28):

Whew. That was a really good talk. Wasn't it? You could tell how excited I was to find out where Aaron's at right now, because I feel like a lot of my path has been shared with him. We both started it close to the same time. We have a lot of similar interests and we've kind of questioned where we are and what we're doing throughout our career in similar ways. Now, the thing that I love about Aaron is that he's pretty far into his career yet. He's starting to see even more and more of himself in his work. And his vision is starting to be expressed for his clients, for his reps and for his own artistic expression. And that's something that I think is really rare in an industry. As you start to move up that corporate ladder, as you start to move further in your career, maybe thinking about art, directing or creative directing, a lot of times your work looks more like what your client needs it to look like versus what you've seen in your head.

Ryan Summers (59:18):

The whole time you've been working. I think that's a really enviable place to be in and something that is an amazing target for all of us, no matter where we are in our careers to understand that it is totally possible to get to that place. Well, I hope you were inspired and I hope you've taken some time to go and check out Aaron's work, whether it's at legwork or that is Instagram or at his own site, because the mission here is always to inspire you, to introduce you and keep you going every single day. When you wake up, you fire up that monitor and you fill the blank page. So until next time, peace.