Creative Processes: Motion Designer Pedro Allevato

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By Pedro Allevato AKA Sugar Blood

Award winning director and motion artist based in London, UK

Creative Process

Hey, who are you?

My name is Pedro Allevato and I’m an award winning director and motion artist based in London. I work with flat and 3D animation, graphic design, visual storytelling and art direction, in studios across Rio de Janeiro, New York, Vancouver and London.

Sugar Blood is my AKA / brand driven by good stories. It brings together my extensive experience with elegant design and obsession with beautiful movement. My unique style is defined by a seamless flirt between 2D, 3D animation and graphic design.

Besides being priorly the co-founder of Nucco Brain studio, I have worked with a wide range of companies and projects, from advertisement, the music industry, films, fashion, and sports. For the past 8 years I’ve developed my skills further by becoming a specialist in Art Direction, Character Animation and CGI film production.

I’m also obsessed by skateboarding and snowboarding! If you want to find me on the weekend I’ll most probably be at the Skatepark in Victoria park or at the Frontside, Hackney Wick 🙂

What saucy projects do you have under your wings?

I’ve been doing a series of short stories of former Major League Baseball players and their unusual habits, in collaboration with Cub Studio. Only this week we’ve been notified that we are running for a award which made us real happy! (SPD 52 Medal Finalists). Check out the latest video in the series. 

I’m also creating a video for Red-bull featuring Neymar…but I can’t talk much about it yet…hehe!

But more importantly, I’m finishing off a personal project that talks about bullying and stuttering. It’s a collaboration with the script writer Andrew Fleming AKA Flightrisker. I’ve decided to do this after the great response that I had with Elephants Are Wild Life and my lastest personal film At First Sight.

Let’s talk about your new film Stutter, could you describe it briefly?

Stutter is an animated film, dreamlike journey capturing the emotion and turmoil of a young boy with issues to communicate and how that affect his life. The film does not have a linear narrative, it is a lot more about feelings and emotions.

Scenes From Stutter

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Stutter Feature

Like I said before, the film was a collaboration with the writer Andrew Fleming, who had this amazing script describing the feelings of being a kid and having to deal with stammering and bullying at school. I found the text very emotional, rich in real feeling and sensation, unlike most of scripts of films that are driven by dialogs. Which allowed me to create strong visual metaphors and therefore have a strong contraposition between image and words.

Obviously, when you ” work for yourself” you have way more room to experiment and tell the story the way you want. And I find that very creatively rewarding.

Please break down the process in steps

Before I went on being a freelancer director I used to have my own studio. Which was a great learning lab. However, when you have a company with employees you might need to work on projects that not necessarily resonates with your artistic aspirations.

Luckily now, most of my clients contact me looking for my style and I’ve been able to focus a lot more in my way of illustrating and animating. Which for some people might be a bit unorthodox but it works from me.

Stutter is all vector based, Illustrator. And when I work with vectors I like to keep it very simple working mostly with silhouettes, simples shapes and lights. I must say, I’m a massive fan of Saul Bass. I know he’s a big icon, but just what he’s done is unbelievable! Something so simple and so graphical that turns into something so beautiful. And still very up to date. I take a lot of inspiration in his work.

I love carrying a sketch book with me. But most of my illustration and composition start directly on Adobe Illustrator, where I create my geometric characters and shadows. I use solid shades in an “overlay” mode to create my lights and shadows and quite often I import extremely simple textures (in pixels) into illustrator. It’s also important to say that I hardly ever use any gradient, all my “colour gradients” are applied in the post production (After Effect).

In After Effect I add some 3D lights and a few Photoshop adjustment layers, such as Apply Color LUT and etc.

Once the final look of the video is established, I jump into the animation: I pre-comp all my adjustment layers and work with the illustration layers as they came from adobe illustrator. Most of my character animation is developed using Duik and some classical animation. It’s important to mention that I always animate characters in a pre-comp and then animate the 3D cameras for each scene.

Finally I render everything in 12 frames to simulate classical animation.

I think that is it 🙂

Working on Stutter

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Stutter Feature
Stutter Feature
Stutter Feature

If you could do it over again, what would you do differently?

There were few parts where we had some classical animation, therefore animated frame a frame. For example the shark’s shadow attacking the boy and the water effect. I guess if I had more time, I would have added more of those.

Any learnings from this process that other motion designers might benefit from?

Most of the things I did, somehow brings me back to my childhood – which was amazing by the way.

I love when I see kids playing that they are secret agents or knights, and they’re not worried about who is watching them. I think deep inside I’m still a kid, so I’ve been watching shows like The Regular Show, Adventure Time or Rick and Morty – they keep my mind fresh. As well as the design industry, which I follow quite intensely.

Some of the other guys I really like are not much older than me, but they inspire me. Joshua Harvey is a designer and an animator, and there’s another guy in Seattle I really like called Colin Hesterly.

Might sound very cliché but stay true to yourself, it might sound cheesy but it is true. Don’t drown in work that doesn’t resonate with you because you won’t put 100% of your creativity in it. Choose wisely, develop your style and make the best you can, good work brings better work.

If you have any questions, bring em on in the comments below.

Stutter on Vimeo