Industry veterans David Gioiella and Mark Littman have launched Mr. Wonderful, a new design and vfx company. The entity is an offshoot of their Northern Lights Post boutique and will cater to high-end broadcast design, feature film and television projects.
Under the aegis of creative director Beirne Lowry and producer Damien Henderson, Mr. Wonderful will be flexible in its approach to projects, applying a variety of techniques depending on what is best for the client and their goals, and pulling from a wide range of resources and talent, including the artists at Northern Lights Post.
Lowry's hands-on design, technical expertise and creative insight elevate each project beyond expectations. "We are committed to providing cutting-edge and smart solutions whether the project involves conventional or nontraditional forms of design, animation and visual effects. Our role is to serve as a resource and collaborator to our clients helping them develop a distinctive visual language."
Mr. Wonderful will initially share space with Northern Lights Post; however, it will be marketed separately and eventually move into its own office. For Gioiella and Littman, the philosophy behind Mr. Wonderful is to make great design accessible to clients without any pretense or attitude.
"Our focus is simple: offer the best creative and technical services that we possibly can to help our clients achieve their vision," offered Littman.
"We felt the time was right to expand and spin off a new entity," added Gioiella. "We have the strategic insight, abilities and talent to do high caliber design work and we want clients, existing and new, to feel they can come to us for their specific project needs."
Lowry's background includes a successful 16-year tenure as creative director of Betelgeuse Prods. and its design division, Betsy. Credits include graphics and promo packages for VH1 MY COOLEST YEARS, ABC Monday Night Football, CBS Sports, Comedy Central, Oxygen and ESPN, as well as ABC Figure Skating and The Super Bowl, which earned him multiple Emmy Awards for Outstanding Graphic Design in 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2004.
Henderson brings extensive experience in live-action production, post, design and visual effects. He was most recently at Betsy, where he served as co-exec producer. Henderson collaborated with Lowry on the aforementioned projects for VH1, Comedy Central and various sports packages. Prior to Betsy, Henderson's positions have included a stint in live-action production at The Farm, and various freelance gigs as an editor and motion graphics artist.
"The artists and creative directors at Mr. Wonderful have such diverse backgrounds, we can offer new and innovative flows of information," added Henderson. "We have a large team of people available for these projects including live-action directors who can supervise and shoot. We feel it is important to find different avenues for broadcast design. By drawing upon the different creative abilities here, we can up the ante and maximize the results."
In addition to Lowry and Henderson, the Mr. Wonderful team will include the talents of senior editor/designer Ross Shain, flame/smoke artist Christopher Harrison and smoke artist Michael Palermo.
The design and visual effects entity launches with four notable projects in the works. For the new season of the popular MTV show, SUPER SWEET 16, Mr. Wonderful created the entire show open, packaging elements and end credits. The highest rated series on the network, SUPER SWEET 16 documents the fabulous, sometimes flamboyant birthday parties of teenagers for whom "budget" is an abstract concept. Mr. Wonderful worked closely with Nina Diaz, the show's exec producer and director of development, MTV news and documentaries, to create a design that fit within the boundaries of the show. Lowry and Shain had to find a way to target teenage girls, the largest viewer demographic, with graphic elements that were riveting and exciting. This was achieved by adding cool transitions and sparkle effects to the hand-held DV footage to enhance the extravagance and drama of the show.
In a new commercial for Reese's Puffs Cereal via ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi/New York, the shop created text that appeared as though it were running through a flickering projector to give it an organic feel. WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? is an atypical cereal spot, which targets young adults and teens, and focuses more on selling an image than the product. Lowry designed the look of the type and developed various techniques to blend the text into the background. The text was tracked to each shot and roto work was done to place it behind foreground elements. Lowry also created the end product shot by making a clean background plate from the existing footage, using a tabletop set-up and shooting the product with a digital camera. The Reese's cereal was added to the plate, which was then seamlessly blended into the spot.
For Outdoor Life Network, Mr. Wonderful contributed to a branding spot for a field sports programming block, as well as the show open for AVP Volleyball coverage. For CAMO, the studio created an image promo that supports the field sports line-up on OLN. From archery to fishing to hunting, the energetic spot utilizes a unique camouflage motif that is generated from 2D and live-action elements and appropriate to the content of these sports. The studio also provided a wraparound package, typography and end titles for the client to use in related shows.
To promote the network's coverage of AVP Volleyball, Mr. Wonderful produced a dynamic show open and branding elements in which video footage of actual players graphically evolves into 3D animation. Lowry and his team employed a MATRIX-like bullet cam around the players and created a pop/mod look to the graphics using a color palette of bright yellows, browns and earthy blues, as well as spiky vine patterns inspired by tribal tattoos. The technology used for the project includes Poser for modeling the players, Maya for modeling and match moves, After Effects for the graphics, Smoke and Flame for compositing, and proprietary tools. Mr. Wonderful also supplied bumpers, transitions and different versions for the open.
Mr. Wonderful (www.mrwonderful.tv) is located at 135 West 27th Street New York, NY 10001.