Antonio Cicarelli ECD of Design, Radley

radley-antTRUST chats with Radley ECD of Design Antonio Cicarelli about the benefits of starting over, replenishing your bag of tricks, and what it means to be a leader.

What are some of your favorite projects to have worked on at Radley?

I’ve enjoyed a lot of projects we’ve worked on, but we are sports fanatics here. Anything sports-related, we just love working on. Looking back, PAC 12 asked us to do the live events packages for them. We shot amazing college athletes doing 18 different sports. Full contact football, basketball, swimming, soccer – you name it, we shot some great athletic performances. They asked us to come up with a unique look for their graphics package, so it was a great challenge.

A favorite non-sport-related project we did was The Temptations “Can’t Get Next To You” video for a Promax session “Videophonics.” We shot a fully dance-choreographed video that was completely immersed in a CG world. We had five Temptations and a troupe of nine female dancers. My partner Kurt Spenser (our CCO) did a masterful job directing the live action and edit. I developed the look and supervised the CG/VFX, taking a green screen edit of the performance and creating a world around it. I had a team of nine artists that were super passionate and dedicated to making it great. I was so proud of them. Running a studio, we don’t often make the time to do passion projects. They are such a great outlet for creative energy. Definitely want to do another studio project soon.

How did you first get into the world of design and animation? What drew you to it?

I started off in mechanical design at the precipice of 3D manufacturing in the mid-90’s. I picked up my 3D drafting and design chops doing product and component design. Eventually I moved on to architecture, supporting design architects creating 3D renderings for a large architectural firm in Colorado. I was responsible for all the pitch presentation designs and 3D walk-through animations. The dot-com bubble burst and I got laid off in the middle of a bad recession. I decided to go back to school and get a graphic design degree.

The University of Colorado had a great program in Denver that was exploding. It was super intimidating. There were about 200 talented students in the program, and they had a rigorous interview and qualification process. My 3D design experience fit right in and I really started digging into After Effects, Photoshop and Final Cut, and combining all that with 3D Studio. Looking back, I’m so thankful to have had that time to explore this wide open field. I later graduated top of my class and entered a bleak motion graphics market in Denver. I freelanced for a several agencies and did pretty well, but I really wanted to take it to the next level and knew I had to get into a bigger market. So I moved to LA, where I am happy to be today.

I’m always keeping my skills sharp. If I learn a new technique, I try and use it in my design work. This industry moves and changes so fast. As in athletics, we artists have to practice and stay in shape, or we lose it.

Which of your broadcast branding projects were particularly memorable?

I would have to say the Discovery Rebrand has been one of my favorites. I don’t think I would have ever said that about a rebrand. Usually they can be hell, and people talk about going through them like they were a stomach virus. This one was different for us. I’ve worked on many in my career, and this was amongst the smoothest. Don’t get me wrong–it had its challenges, the biggest challenge being time. We did two rounds of pitching before being selected. The pitch process took about 2.5 months.

Once we were awarded, we had about eight weeks to get it done. We had to create a 3D package of seven custom globes that had to be completely ready for promos. They needed to be visually complex, but simple and easy to use. Our client at Discovery was adept at making quick decisions, which helped a lot. In the end, everyone was really happy and very proud of the final product. As of this writing, it is still airing today – a year later – so that’s a good sign.

What are some things you do for creative inspiration?

A walk through the art museum does wonders for me. It may not spark specific ideas, but it certainly helps put things in perspective. If I am looking for something specific or searching for an idea, I often find that the harder I look, the more elusive that idea becomes. Sometimes it just has to hit you.

I generally like to keep current with what designers are doing, so I’m always going through design and VFX sites. I just love to find new and exciting work. It pushes me to do new things and replenish the bag of tricks. I’m still very hands on at Radley, and I do design on many of our projects. I find that learning new things helps a lot for inspiration.

I often do video tutorials on say Cinema 4D or DaVinci Resolve for example. I’m always keeping my skills sharp. If I learn a new technique, I try and use it in my design work. This industry moves and changes so fast. As in athletics, we artists have to practice and stay in shape, or we lose it.

What are some goals that you look forward to accomplishing this year?

Personally, as I mentioned earlier, I’m always working to improve my skill set. I want to get fluent at the DaVinci Resolve and learn to color this year, just so I have an understanding of how it works and what’s possible.

On the leadership front, my biggest responsibility is to build the right teams and inspire them to do great work. This year my goal is multiplication by division, meaning to grow, we have to expand and multiply. To accomplish this, I am empowering others to lead more, dividing the leadership roles. It’s a slow process but it will be worth it. By far, the most satisfying part of my job is to foster a team of artists and watch them develop and do something great.