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Getting to Know Jack

jack is the new kid on the block of visual effects companies and is quickly making a statement. Having officially launched in Venice, California, feature film and commercial production companies now have a new creative partner for high-end visual effects, finishing and previs.

Scott McNiel, who previously held artist positions at Method Studios and 525 Studios, created the new company as artist/owner to provide an intimate and creative working environment for its clients. jack supports the philosophy of getting involved with the client in the earliest stages to be a part of the process and not just the result. jack wants to stimulate ideas, and experiment with methods tried and true, but also provide creative solutions that sometimes fall outside of the box.

jack will focus on digital visual effects, CG animation and live-action integration. Commencing at the pre-production stage of a job, the studio will offer design and previs tools to help their clients realize their conceptual goals.

The studio recently completed music videos for Queens of the Stone Age and Black Eyed Peas. Recent commercial campaigns include Pantene and Nissan through Grey/New York and TBWAChiatDay, respectively. jack is working on a new effects-oriented campaign for Sony PlayStation also through TBWAChiatDay Los Angeles. Among its most recent clients are directors Kevin Kerslake, Olivier Gondry and The Malloys.

My objective with jack is to build a company specializing in high-end visual imagery and providing exceptional client service, explained McNiel. Since the companys inception, the concentration has been to find the best talent to maintain a specialized, but fun and creative environment, while remaining a smaller and more focused company. We just want to do great work, which means well get involved in any project no matter the level of need or complexity. We enjoy the collaboration and by coming on board earlier in the process, we can save our clients money while conceptualizing and executing the creative.

McNiel said he has now assembled the right team of artists and exec producer/vfx supervisor Dan Connelly to finally launch jack as he has always envisioned. Most of the jack staffers have worked together on various projects since 2003 and have already established a solid working relationship. The company is now fully set up to give clients a work environment that promotes a synergy of creativity, talent and efficiency that exceeds expectations. Being two blocks from the beach is just an added perk.

McNiel has had tremendous success as an effects artist on many prestigious commercials, music videos and feature films since 1993. After moving up the ranks to become a bona fide Flame Artist at 525 Studios, he contributed to such music videos as Michael and Janet Jacksons SCREAM, Madonnas BEDTIME STORIES and Smashing Pumpkins TONIGHT TONIGHT. Feature film credits include ARMAGEDDON, TWISTER and FLUBBER.

In early 1999, when Jerry Cancellieri and Steve Michaels started Method Studios, McNiel was one of the first artists to help launch the visual effects company. He furthered his long list of credits by working on award-winning commercials for Mountain Dew/Pepsi Co., Nike, Nissan, and Intel, as well as music videos for Alanis Morrisette, Red Hot Chili Peppers and REM.

With jack, McNiel funds everything himself from the technology to the schooling and training for his artists. He keeps his artists up-to-date with new technology, giving them the means to think of new ideas and stay eager for the next project. This methodology, he believes, also frees them from basing their project choices solely on financial reasons and more on artistic and creative challenges.

I want an environment where everyone loves to come together and challenge each other to do better work, McNiel explained. Were all equals here; there is no differentiation between any of the positions. The people here share the same mentality that I do when it comes to this business do great work and enjoy where you do it.

With the recent addition of Connelly, McNiel knew that the timing was right to formally launch jack. Connelly has broad experience from the agency, production and post-production realms, which provides him with an intimate knowledge of agency requirements and sensitivities, making him invaluable to any production. As a producer at TBWAChiatDay Los Angeles and exec producer/vfx supervisor at Sea Level, he has collaborated with ad agencies such as Saatchi & Saatchi, BBDO/New York and Detroit, Wieden + Kennedy, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and Rubin Postaer and Assoc., and has contributed to high-profile campaigns for clients such as Toyota, Sierra Mist, Dodge/Chrysler, Nike, Hewlett Packard and Acura.

In addition, Connelly is founder of D-Train Prods., a production company that handles music videos, commercials and TV pilots, as well specialty projects such as DVDs for artists, including Moby. Drawing upon his varied background, Connelly is uniquely positioned to act as a resource to clients, facilitating a streamlined creative process.

Our goal is to provide our clients with a one-of-a-kind experience, added Connelly. We want to keep the work fresh, new and inspiring. For clients who have worked with us before, they know that we are problem solvers and can take care of anything for them. We want more people to know what jack is capable of and how we can effectively translate ideas into any visual medium.

We want to change the idea of a visual effects studio, concluded Connelly. We put an immense amount of time into research and development to make our jobs great. When a client needs an element for a scene, we will go out and shoot it ourselves, if necessary. jack will handle it all to give our clients the most painless, highly collaborative experience to deliver an excellent product.

jack ( is located at 215 Rose Ave., Venice, California, 90291. T: 310.656.2800. F: 310.656.2801.