4 key takeaways from the OFFF Festival

Étienne Godiard, Senior Motion Designer at Wolff Olins, outlines his key takeaways from OFFF

Creativity, art and technology all came together at the recent OFFF Festival in Barcelona, which taught me a thing or two about being brave and upfront, why preconceptions are best avoided and how AI with purpose can have a huge impact. 

Keep on moving: never get stuck in one mental place.

Marcel Ziul, partner at LA-based global creative studio State Design, presented a short movie on different mental states we experience in our careers, and more generally in life: trouble, depression, peace, happiness… Ziul’s way of dealing with these is to ‘never get stuck in any [state] for too long, it’s never good’. He reflected on how the process of working with some clients can be difficult - something we can all relate to i’m sure - before turning to topics such as drugs, gambling and his experience of being sexually abused. It was honesty in its most raw and touching form, and highlighted how being open and talking about some issues is the best way to recognise and overcome them. It's a brave thing to do in front of hundreds of strangers and it shows just why the creative industry has a part to play here, as our work touches on so many people’s lives in different ways.

Have an absolute beginner’s mindset.

Field.io is a multidisciplinary studio focusing on creative technology, working with brands such as Nike and running projects with institutions such as The Royal College of Art. It used art and technology to demonstrate how the way things are done is constantly changing: it’s a step by step process known as incremental progress. Take the journey from the invention of the skateboard to how progressively official this sport became, to the point of being playable on the Xbox today. 

It also highlighted how preconceptions around tools can do more harm than good. Motion is not only about After Effect or Cinema 4D anymore, but generative design and AI. Approach things with a beginner’s mindset: never take a process or skill for granted or you might just miss out on the next big thing. Keep travelling to nurture your mind and help to see things from different perspectives. But it’s also important to know when and how to deconstruct existing knowledge; thinking that perfectly highlights the radical change we’ve seen in the motion design industry.

Train your own AI. For good.

Will MacNeil, Experience Design Director at The Mill, a global network of VFX artists and creative technologists, highlighted how, by ideally inventing your own AI, or training an existing AI with a specific mission, you can give real purpose to your work. And the more positive impact it has on people and communities, the more we can trust AI.

The Mill created a campaign with Saatchi & Saatchi for EE and Hope United, following the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022. ‘It’s not her problem’ focused on sexist speeches online and how those comments negatively affect women. During every football match, peaks of sexist hate would emerge in a singular way on the charts. The Mill partnered with Hate Labs, an AI company developing technologies that can scrub the internet and classify any hate speech data in an understandable way, to transform this data into graphic patterns, using a tailored generative visual tool. They would then be printed on men and women’s football shirts, reminding the audience of the issue.

Learn how to manage your time.

Ash Thorp, an LA-based designer, creative director, animator, director and photographer is best known for designing cars from concept to modelisation and graphic design, including the last Batmobile. Speaking about this process, he recalled how the Batman film crew wanted every detail to be detached from the time Christopher Nolan was directing the franchise. After creating the first version in a week, probably the most intense exploration he had in his life, he had to completely rethink the car. Any personal exploration can lead us to the biggest international projects, but time management skills are essential to achieve this.