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Ntropic Brightens Up Its New York Office With the Hiring of Colorist Ayumi Ashley
February 25, 2018
Ayumi Ashley joins Ntropic as the creative studio continues to ramp up East Coast operations.

Ntropic today announced the hiring of Ayumi Ashley as colorist in its rapidly growing New York office. Ayumi’s addition to the creative team rounds out Ntropic’s East Coast offerings as a well-versed studio that can take on all aspects of content creation.

A global perspective informs Ayumi’s work. Having been raised in several countries with multilingual parents—both classical musicians—Ayumi was surrounded by arts and culture from a young age. Ayumi’s self-assured career path began to make waves early on. It was while attending the Academy of Art in San Francisco when she forged the University’s first colorist track—changing the curriculum offerings in the Motion Picture & Television department to this day.

Even before graduation, Ayumi began to work as a high-demand independent artist.

She eventually co-founded Mission Film and Design where she developed a robust portfolio working directly with Silicon Valley giants such as Google, Dropbox and Facebook; as well as with leading advertising agencies such as BBDO, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and Y&R to service top tier brands.

Following her successful career in San Francisco, Ayumi’s creative spirit and desire to take on the East Coast market brought her to New York. We are proud to announce that Ayumi is now heading up Ntropic’s NY color division.

“I’ve always been drawn to the creative energy of NYC. As a colorist, I’m eager to pursue bigger projects in the world of fashion, beauty, auto, beverage and other high-profile categories. Ntropic New York is the perfect place to do that, especially in its new office space with a talented, growing team. Everyone there is not just passionate about where the company is now, but where it will be in the years to come, and I’m excited to be a part of that vision,” Ayumi says.

Beyond a portfolio of admired work, Ayumi brings a knack for client relations and a desire to help grow the East Coast office in her new role.

“I’ve been following Ayumi’s career for the last couple of years and we immediately hit it off upon meeting,” says Nate Robinson, founder and executive creative director at Ntropic. “After getting to know her, I was intrigued by her personal story, artistic eye, and passion for the work. I saw a huge opportunity for her to help us grow our New York office and after various conversations I knew that I wanted her to be a part of our East Coast team. I am very excited to see her excel in the New York market.”

About Ntropic

Ntropic is an award-winning content creator, producing work for commercials, music videos, and feature films as well as crafting experiential and interactive VR and AR media. Working with elite directors, agencies, brands, and artists the team crafts distinct visual projects for an array of prominent clients. With locations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City, Ntropic is at the center of innovation in an evolving industry.

Co.Design: Grieving Is Hard, Long Work. Could Technology Help?
January 16, 2018
The phone booth where people go to grieve for loved ones lost in the 2011 tsunami is the centerpiece of a new VR experience.

In 2011, a devastating tsunami hit Japan, killing 18,000 people. Many people impacted by the disaster found an unusual way to grieve–an empty telephone booth that a resident placed in his garden in the coastal town of Otsuchi. The booth has a disconnected rotary phone inside. After the tsunami, hundreds have come to “call” their lost loved ones on what’s known as the “wind phone,” sending their love to the dead on the sea breeze.

Now three stories of people who have visited the phone booth to speak with their dead loved ones are part of a new virtual reality experience. Created by the creative studios Ntropic and Yes Please Thank You in partnership with Oculus, the experience Phone of the Wind is a mix between live-action footage, animation, and an interactive finale. The project is underwritten by Oculus as content to add to its VR platform, making it an experience that anyone with an Oculus can purchase and watch. With its heart-wrenching subject and mix of storytelling techniques, Phone of the Wind demonstrates VR’s capacity to move us–and perhaps help us come to terms with our own grief.

For Nate Robinson, the founder of Ntropic, the project came at a difficult time. A close friend’s husband had passed away suddenly, and Robinson was feeling the wrench of loss. “It was one of the first times in my life where someone was taken so suddenly without rationale,” he says. “When something happens so suddenly like the tsunami in Japan, it just kicks you in the gut.”

To create the VR film, the team working on the project went to Japan to visit the real phone booth. They used a drone to do an aerial opening shot, where the viewer drops down from on high and ends up inside the phone booth. Then, for each story, there’s a short animation telling the story of the relationship between the living and a lost loved one. One story is about a grandmother who brings her two grandchildren to talk to their lost grandfather–this part is live action. But as soon as she picks up the phone, the world is taken over by an illustrated dream, as she relives the memories of their time together. “We want when people watch this to not get depressed, but to celebrate the connections and the memories,” Robinson says.

The final piece is an interactive phone booth, where viewers have a chance to call their own lost loved ones on a virtual rotary phone or write down a note for them. Anyone who visits the virtual booth can see the notes that others have written as well, turning the project into a communal memorial. “We recreated it exactly how it is,” says Andrew Cohen, a CG artist at Ntropic.” It’s not a tourist attraction. It’s a real place where people use this tool for real reasons. To embellish it too much would have felt wrong.”

Robinson hopes viewers will be as moved as he is by the story and the experience of the phone booth (which is also beautifully documented in a This American Life episode that will leave you in a puddle of tears). The immersive elements–building a real model of a phone booth, complete with a rotary phone, for people to stand inside as they go through the experience–are designed to simply amplify the experience. That way, when it comes time to talk to someone you’ve lost, there’s something real to hold on to.

Read the full article here.

Amanda Amalfi And Andrew Cohen Sign To Ntropic
December 08, 2017
Ntropic’s San Francisco office has hired husband/wife pair of VFX artists Andrew Cohen and Amanda Amalfi. Cohen joins as senior CG artist and VR developer while Amalfi will be senior flame artist. Amalfi has previously worked at shops like The Mill, MPC and Framestore, on brands including Maybelline, Old Navy, Nike, and Chanel. Cohen brings several years of CG experience to the creative studio, having worked with MPC, Mass Market, and Psyop among others.

 

Amalfi joins the team having previously worked at shops like The Mill, MPC and Framestore, providing her talents to heavyweight brands including Maybelline, Old Navy, Nike, and Chanel among many others. The native east-coaster brings a knack for creative problem solving and client relations to her new role. “The reason I worked freelance for so long in New York is because I really like a good mix,” Amalfi says. “I like working with clients that I’ve known forever and have a rapport with and I like working with new clients and having that new energy and challenge.” Amalfi was drawn to the team at Ntropic, which she says, like her, is passionate about the work and creating content that pushes boundaries, engages viewers, and exceeds expectations. “In meeting the crew at Ntropic, I really felt like I found a home that would nurture my creativity and goals,” she says.

“I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Amanda from our senior producer Veronica Ware,” says Ntropic Founder and Executive Creative Director Nathan Robinson. “I hit it off with Amanda right away while talking about Flame and what makes great work. Based on her passion and talents, I knew she would be an incredible asset to our San Francisco team.”

Since joining Ntropic, Amalfi has already worked on exciting pieces for brands like Coke, Visa and Vogue. As a senior flame artist, she will collaborate with a talented group of producers and creatives to craft singular content for a wide range of clients. One of those colleagues is Amalfi’s husband, Andrew Cohen, who also made the move out to the West Coast and joined Ntropic as a senior CG artist. The duo has collaborated on prominent projects in the past and is excited to bring their skills to the Bay Area.

Cohen brings years of CG experience to the creative studio, having worked with MPC, Mass Market, and Psyop among others. A career of collaborating with various premium brands has helped Cohen master the art of CG as well as client relations. “I’m good at understanding the client and knowing what they’re looking for. And if they are unsure of what they want, then I’m excited to explore different options and figure out what they would be thrilled with.”

It was the company’s artistically-focused culture that helped encourage Cohen to make the cross-country move from New York to San Francisco with his wife Amanda Amalfi, who was hired on as Ntropic’s new senior Flame artist. “I am excited that Ntropic has this vibe of really respecting their artists and the people who work for them. It’s not just about budgets and bottom dollars,” Cohen says. “In my experience, when you’re just trying to make money, and the quality is second to that, the work environment suffers and the artists can feel that. … Everything that I’ve observed so far at Ntropic is that the work truly comes first here.”

“I really connected with Andrew’s passion for his craft and style,” says Ntropic Founder and Executive Creative Director Nathan Robinson. “You can see how much he cares in the way he is constantly tweaking things, doing his best to ensure that the final product is something the clients love and he is truly proud of. It’s inspiring to see, and hugely important to our team,” Robinson says.

Cohen’s love of CG started young, “I remember being about 13 years old, playing video games, and I saw some cutscene that looked really cool and I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do when I grow up,’” he says. “It’s a little bizarre that I am doing that now and I’m actually taking it a step further and making interactive, game-like pieces.” Cohen has already worked on an exciting Unity project since starting at Ntropic, fulfilling his desire to develop engaging VR content. “I’m excited to dive deep into this new medium,” he says. “Advertising tends to demand new and seemingly random skills, and I think that’s what makes it so fun.”

See the duo’s shout out in AdWeek or read the full Source Creative article here.

Ntropic Founder and ECD Nate Robinson Chats with Little Black Book About Fostering a Creative Company Culture
December 11, 2017
Like many creatives from California, Nate Robinson, became inspired to create by skateboarding. After a chance meeting with some well-known skate professionals, he was given the chance to create videos and graphics for their company which was also luckily for a young Nate, was also a major US skate brand.
 
After a few years of creating work for them and learning his craft, Nate founded Ntropic, a design studio with a difference, that aimed to offer a full range of creative production services.
 
Nate has now operated Ntropic for the last twenty-one years. The longevity of the studio speaks volumes about how successful the studio has become. We sat down with him to chat about how he got his start in advertising, how he has grown his business and his thoughts on the future of VFX and production.
LBB> Would you briefly sum up Ntropic’s journey, starting with skate videos in a garage to becoming an award-winning content studio with three offices and a portfolio spanning the biggest global brands?
NR> Growing up in the bay area I used to skate with my friends. I was fortunate to connect with Jeff Kendall and Rob Roskopp. They brought me in to collaborate with them on films at Santa Cruz Skateboards, a well-known brand based in California. The experience working with them truly was the best filmmaking school I could have attended. We would shoot, edit, design logos/graphics, and work with different punk bands to provide the soundtrack. It was the perfect sandbox to start my career. It allowed me to look at filmmaking from a holistic approach and pave the way to open up Ntropic, a studio that operates as an integrated whole rather than departments.
This foundation enabled the team at Ntropic to easily pivot into music videos, feature films, TV, broadcast, commercials, experiential and most recently augmented and virtual reality.
Reflecting back on the last 21 years after opening Ntropic, this approach to our process and pure love for what we do has allowed us to create content and tell stories that are genuine and authentic. It’s something our clients appreciate and why they value us as a partner.
LBB> Given the nature of ever-changing advertising landscape, how do you foster a company culture that not only sticks but also encourages collaboration and creativity? 
 
NR> It all starts with our values. They are what guide us and keep us connected. With that strength, we are able to be agile and adapt to anything that is thrown our way. The team is always excited about problem-solving and the opportunities we are given.
We also are huge on respect and value what each person brings to the table. Our culture is egoless by nature, and we all like to be thoughtful about our interaction with one another.
In addition, I believe what helps foster an appealing company culture is that we are an artist-led studio. We put the creative and work first and don’t sacrifice quality to make an extra bit of profit. We pride ourselves in wanting to get it right.
I work to ensure everyone here knows that I care about them and appreciate what they bring to the company, and that has a positive effect on our company culture.
Read the full Little Black Book interview here.
Ntropic Welcomes John Yu as Creative Director In Its Growing New York Office
November 01, 2017
Yu was most recently creative director and senior Flame artist at Suspect.

Adding to its expanding roster, premier content studio Ntropic has brought in John Yu as creative director/senior Flame artist. Yu joins the team in its newly relocated NYC office, which opened this past summer in the Flatiron District.

The East Coast team will benefit from Yu’s expert knowledge of Flame as well as his unique aesthetic as he joins Creative Director Ryan Duggan. The duo has collaborated on many projects over the years and have a shorthand that allows them to tackle a diverse range of content with ease. Yu comments: “Ryan and I have different perspectives that complement each other, which is super exciting. It helps us build off of one another’s ideas and craft dynamic, engaging work.”

Yu started his career in broadcasting, launching various well-known channels: “The first half of my career was mostly in broadcast design and the second half has been in advertising,” Yu says. For over a decade, Yu has honed his craft working with brands including HondaJet, Mercedes-Benz, Braun, Verizon Wireless, and Samsung on boundary-pushing advertising work. Now with Ntropic, he is excited to bring his talents to VR projects as well as develop innovative content for social media channels.

When deciding where to head next in his career, Yu was drawn to Ntropic in big part due to the enthusiasm of Founder and Executive Creative Director Nathan Robinson. Yu explains: “It was great speaking to Nate because, even after being in this industry for more than 20 years, when you talk to him you can tell that he is still passionate about the work he does. That’s exactly how my mind works as well—I’ve been doing this since ’95, but I still get excited about every project.”

“There was an instant connection with John. I could immediately tell that he values the same principles that Ntropic entrusts in. His passion and enthusiasm adds a powerful element to our team,” says Robinson. “John combines thoughtful design with expert execution to deliver high-quality content, so I knew he would be a perfect partner to help run our New York office and be an ambassador for Ntropic.”

Born in Korea and raised in NYC since he was a child, Yu also brings established industry ties, as well as relationships with some of the finest artists in the area, to Ntropic. “There’s really no one like Ntropic in New York right now,” says Yu. “I think that the New York office is in an amazing position to create unique, memorable projects for a wide range of clients.”

 

Ntropic Helps Bring +Pool to Life with Immersive VR Experience
October 05, 2017
     

A giant, water filtering, floating pool in New York Harbor is not an easy idea to wrap one’s head around, which is why the team behind +Pool asked Ntropic to help create a VR experience that would plunge viewers in the middle of the picturesque scene. Working with M ss ng P eces agency and Tribeca Studio, Ntropic collaborated on “Floating an Idea: The + POOL Story,” which premiered at a waterfront party this summer.

Working on all stages of creative development, Ntropic shaped how the pool would be revealed, determined the camera positioning, crafted select animation elements, and helped with sound design. “We were heavily inspired by the art of David Hockney in creating the VR piece, we wanted to give it a painterly look and incorporate some pop inspired colors,” says Ryan Duggan, creative director in Ntropic’s NY office. “Our goal in creating this was to show off the +Pool in a way that really accentuated the experience and got the viewer pumped for the real thing,” Duggan says.

Ntropic’s sister company Tactic, a leader in VR and AR technologies, also offered support on the project. “Tactic’s goal was to help harness the team’s strong design and CGI experience, and translate those strengths into the 360 and VR realm,” says the company’s President and Principal Creative Technologist Peter Oberdorfer. The result is a VR piece that fabricates the innovative +Pool model and singular New York locale, allowing interested parties to get a realistic preview of the dynamic design. “Ryan Duggan and his creative team at Ntropic worked to innovate visually within a new medium, and we think it shows in the result,” Oberdorfer says.

“Collaborating with M ss ng P eces on this project was a great opportunity,” says Ntropic Managing Executive Producer Michael Bennett. “Ryan and team creatively embraced the concept and ran passionately with it. From the late nights and technical roundtables to the exploration in style aesthetics, workflow and animation, we feel incredibly proud of the final product.”

Friends of + Pool is a 501c3 nonprofit that intends to make it possible for New Yorkers and its visitors to swim in a clean city river for the first time since 1938 when the water became too contaminated to enjoy. Heineken is offering $100,000 to the project if the team secures 100,000 pledges of support. The VR film is an effort to promote awareness of +Pool and ensure that the nonprofit is on its way to building a one-of-a-kind recreational resource for the city. For more information about +Pool, visit swimintheriver.com.

Credits:

VR +Pool Experience
Executive Creative Director: Nathan Robinson
Creative Director: Ryan Duggan
Chief Technology Officer: Peter Oberdorfer
Lead Compositor: Eric Concepcion
CG Animation & Lead: Jasmine Bobe
CG Animation & Lead: Steve Burger
CG Animation: Steven BoltCG Animation: Jun Nagaoka
CG Animation: Jun Nagaoka
Texture & Lighting: Jeffrey Lee
Texture & Lighting + VR Pipeline: Joe Pistono
FX & Sim work: Santosh Sailesh
FX & Sim work: Hassah Taimur

Producers
Managing Executive Producer: Michael Bennett
Exec. Producer: Helena Lee
Producer: Veronica Ware

Ntropic New York Adds Executive Producer Helena Lee
August 04, 2017
The industry insider brings a keen eye, valued relationships, and years of hands-on experience to her role.

The rapid growth continues for premier creative content studio Ntropic. Not only did the multifaceted company recently move its New York City office to an impressive new location, it also added more firepower to its East Coast roster with the hiring of Helena Lee as executive producer.

“Helena will be a driving force as Ntropic harnesses the power of recent achievements and looks forward to the vast possibilities ahead,” says Nathan Robinson, founder and executive creative director at Ntropic. “Her ability to build long-lasting relationships and foster creative environments makes her a vital addition to our team. We know her leadership will help our enterprising New York office thrive.”

Lee will play a key role in the continued success and development of Ntropic, utilizing her experience from years working with diverse post-production houses and creative agencies to bolster the dynamic team and lead it into the future. Beyond her distinguished resume, Lee brings a notable passion to her work as well as an eagerness to push boundaries and encourage novel concepts.

“I am thrilled to join the Ntropic team! It has always been a standout studio in my eyes,” Lee says. “My main goal is to continue to grow the business as it adapts and morphs in this innovative field.”

Ntropic Handles the Hues in Bruno Mars’ New Music Video “That’s What I Like”
April 28, 2017
Edit out the multitude of synchronized dancing extras, pair down the lofty sets, and simplify the story: In the new video for “That’s What I Like,” Bruno Mars takes center stage and gives a swoon-worthy performance, grandiose in its minimalistic charm. Aided by the talented work of in-demand senior colorist Marshall Plante, as well as a few perfectly-placed graphics from General Population, Mars demands attention with his quintessential swagger.

The song, off the singer’s recently released “24K Magic” album, does much of the work on its own, but Mars’ one-man-show abilities are highlighted throughout the video. Dancing in front of a white background that—with the help of Plante’s praised work—shifts in shades, the piece continually transitions and evolves for a solo saga.

This isn’t the first time Plante has collaborated with the pop star. The colorist also lent his talents to the dynamic entertainer in Mark Ronson’s vintage-inspired video for “Uptown Funk,” which featured another scene-stealing performance by Mars.

Watch the mesmerizing video here.

CREDITS:

Director: Bruno Mars & Jonathan Lia
Director of Photography: Santiago Gonzalez
Editor: Jacquelyn London
Producer: Jeremy Sullivan
Graphics: General Population
Colorist: Marshall Plante
Color Assist: Kristy Navarro
Color Producer: Kevin Miller

From Conception to Realization, Ntropic Produces an Otherworldly Crunchyroll Promo
April 28, 2017
It’s a seemingly simple scene, a man enters a cafe and studies his fellow patrons, but with the help of the Ntropic team, the cafe becomes an otherworldly place with instantly complex characters and revelatory anime-inspired effects. This ode to anime was crafted for leading global Asian media video service, Crunchyroll and quickly became a labor of love for the Ntropic crew.

Written by Ntropic’s Ron Moon and directed by Founder and ECD Nathan Robinson, the promo titled “Cafe Anime” creates a fascinating space where fantasy and science fiction intermingle for the piece’s hero. “It’s this really magical experience where through the Crunchyroll app, he basically can see these things that nobody else can see,” says Tali Oliver, ACD at Ntropic.

The production team garnered inspiration for lighting, wardrobe, and location from many popular anime shows, ensuring that they stayed true to the original content and the culture that is connected to it. “Nate Robinson, our director, tied all these elements together while getting great performances from our actors,” Oliver says.

The meticulously shot piece was further enhanced with the help of our animators and a team of effects artists who added unique touches throughout the promo. The end result is a product that artfully portrays the Crunchyroll community and inspires users to interact with it.

Enter the Crunchyroll world here.

CREDITS:

Director: Nathan Robinson
Director of Business Development/EP: Michael Bennett
Executive Producer (LA): Michelle Hammond
Writer: Ron Moon
Storyboards: Duff Moses
ACD: Tali Oliver
Senior Flame Artist: Maya Korenwasser
Cell Animator: Ha Huy Hoang
Cell Animator: Lyuben Dimitrov
Cell Animator: Matthew Everton
VFX Artist: James McCarthy
VFX Artist: Aaron Townsend
Previz VFX Artist: Chase Hochstatter
Editor: Alan Chimenti
Colorist: Marshall Plante
Color Producer: Kevin Miller
Sr Producer: Emily Avoujageli
Flame Assistant: Gillen Burch
Assistant: Yvonne Pon

Audio House: One Union

Sound Engineer: Matthew Zipkin
Sound Producer: Lauren Mask

Music Production: Marmoset

Music Supervisor/Producer: David Katz
Music Track Title: Disjunctive
Artist: Cold Storage Percussion Unit

HOT SPOT: NTROPIC DESIGNS INTERACTIVE TIMES SQUARE BILLBOARD FOR FOX’S ‘EMPIRE’
August 18, 2016
To kick off the season-three premiere of Fox’s Empire, San Francisco-based Ntropic designed the above interactive billboard, which currently lives on Times Square in New York City.

In just a few seconds, the billboard tells the story of the rise of Lucious and Cookie Lyon from grit to glamour as the king and queen of Empire Entertainment.

“To celebrate the return of our hit show Empire, we wanted to create a big, splashy piece for our outdoor media venue,” said Ian MacRitchie, Fox’s vice president of broadcast design, in a statement. “We found a creative partner in Ntropic to create a piece of marketing that breaks through – in this case, in a very noisy environment like Times Square.”

Led by Ntropic’s Creative Director Simon Mowbray and Art Director James McCarthy, the team found inspiration in the show’s focus on fashion. Describing the challenge of transitioning from still art to live-action footage, Executive Producer Michelle Hammond said, “We needed a breakaway moment, but we didn’t want it to feel violent, or to look like the paint was washing away their faces. The idea of using fabric to model the motion of the particles and the infusion of these gold elements and lots of dust particulates allowed us to emphasize the fashion elements of the show and drive home the characters’ rags-to-riches story.”

Bringing their collective expertise in particle effects, the team tested and iterated on the simulation until the movement flowed naturally and the vision was brought to life. “Particles are hard to art direct; they’re based on physics and involve a lot of unseen geometry to achieve the desired effect,” said Ron Moon, head of production and senior producer. “With particle simulation, we do a lot of work to handcraft something aesthetically beautiful.”

The billboard will remain in place in Times Square until the show premieres on Fox on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 9 p.m., and it will also appear over the Godzilla Theater later this month.

CREDITS:

Creative Director: Simon Mowbray

Art Director: James McCarthy

CG Modeler: Dustin Zachary

CG Artist: Mark Wurts

Head of Production/Senior Producer: Ron Moon

Executive Producer: Michelle Hammond

See the work here.

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