Outlook: Small teams create big ideas
Vico Sharabani
Issue: November/December 2020

Outlook: Small teams create big ideas

This year in our industry, we’ve been handed the opportunity to completely restructure the way we do things. This has fostered some incredible innovation across the various artistic, technical and business aspects of what we do, but here’s one I don’t think we’ve touched enough upon yet: small but experienced teams have become the industry’s most creative secret weapon. 

At first, one would think the democratization of our tools in addition to more virtual opportunities is at the source of this trend, but I think that undersells our talent. The work-from-home situation has cemented the importance and versatility of smaller, expert teams, even among their larger creative partners. Normally, increasing the number of people on a team increases productivity in a linear manner but takes an exponential toll on management. Now, in our WFH world, talent, experience and the chemistry of your team are critical foundations for management to evolve the direction of an organization and not get caught up in the mundane.

I speculate that much of this year’s work demonstrates some aspect of this, but one of my favorites was the music video for artist Bronson, titled Keep Moving, directed by Swedish collective StyleWar, with VFX by production company Smuggler. The idea and approach were brilliantly crafted by what I assume must have been a select team working from home, adding credit to their creative ingenuity as well as the idea of doing creative things creatively. Smuggler looked within its own creative body to find the right artists, allowing it to vertically integrate VFX into its production offerings and boost its capabilities. 

At The-Artery, we crafted some great work of our own with a handful of talented and experienced artists. Our music video Chosen for electronic rock band The Living Tombstone, which envisioned the band’s five anonymous members in an vibrant, epic stage performance driven by striking visuals and powerful vocals, was brought to life entirely through at-home CG and motion capture. This project forced us to elevate our capabilities in virtual talent creation and virtual production, and I could not be prouder of the result. The fact that we were able to capture such unique, detailed motion elements and consolidate design, modeling, editing, animation, lighting, rendering, compositing and color grading to a handful of artists working from our homes was a major feat for our team. 

The-Artery was built on the principals of high-end, diversified talent managed in a creative way, so this trend did not take us by surprise. But many may wonder what this means for the future. I’ve learned that good and bad are subjective and even time-specific concepts, so I prefer to measure things in terms of alignment and value to our industry. This year, we as individuals and organizations were forced to consider the alignment of our identities with the work we do, and some of us need to rethink our ideas to accommodate this new world. And while the value of these lessons looks different to everyone, for us, the most valuable experience was not simply doing creative work but doing the work creatively, turning a difficult situation into an opportunity for a new kind of creative expression. 

Vico Sharabani is the Founder and Executive Creative Director of the multi-award-winning creative company The-Artery (www.the-artery.com) in New York City.