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Day in the Life of... Ubik


Next up in the series from the Creative Circle, Stephen Dalton explores his partnership with Nick Losse and creating Ubik

Day in the Life of... Ubik
Day in the Life of… is a new series from the Creative Circle, celebrating and championing the diversity of talent across Britain’s creative community. Encompassing creatives from all areas of the advertising and creative spectrum, each edition will focus on an individual and their role within our exciting community.   

Next up, we're delving in to the story of Ubik. Represented by 1stAvenueMachine, Ubik is made up of the combined talents of established animation and live-action directors Nick Losse and Stephen Dalton. Stephen talks a Day in the Life and love at first directing sight with partner Nick...

My role...

We are Ubik, a directing duo. We work mainly in advertising but have also created VFX for TV.

The working dynamic between us is generally the same, we both work on pitches, both write the text and pool references, then Nick will often create style frames. He tends to focus on storyboard and design while I work more on pre-vis/3D technical aspects.

How I got here...

My background is sculpture, and once I’d realised I wasn’t going to be the next Damien Hirst, that led me to an arts-based moving image Masters degree where I learnt how to animate. Within a week of graduating, I was working on a Lemon Jelly music promo at the now sadly defunct Tandem Films, where I met Nick, and it was love at first sight.

Nick trained as an illustrator and then went to the NFTS before working at Tandem as a rostered director. During our time there, we decided that when the opportunity arose we’d make a film together. A year or so later I was not getting much work as a director, and was asked if I wanted to make a short film for MTV to highlight global warming. I asked Nick if he fancied taking a month off work, unpaid, to make it with me and he foolishly said yes. We begged and borrowed and didn’t sleep and made the MTV 3650 film which went on to win the BTAA Craft award that year.  After that we were pretty much obliged to work with each other, so formed Ubik.

My typical day...

A typical day involves spending far more time staring at the computer than is good for us. Thankfully though, as we work across loads of disciplines we get a lot of variety in what we do. We are both very hands-on. Nick storyboards and designs a lot of our jobs and I often get heavily involved in the 3D and technical side, which keeps things interesting and means we have a lot of control over our work.

We may spend a couple of months on a full CG job involving fur simulations and ridiculous render times, but then the next week we could be out flying drones or in a studio shooting stop frame paper pigs. So, it’s a mixed bag, which keeps things varied and stimulating.

Hardest part of my job...

Unrealistic expectations. And keeping things exciting.

We’re constantly challenging ourselves in the pitch process. It can be quite demoralising to spend a week on a pitch, developing ideas and falling in love with characters, only to find that for whatever reason we didn’t win that one - then knowing we’ll have to go through it all again the next week. But that’s the job - and if you go into a pitch anything less than wholeheartedly, then you may as well not bother. 

What I enjoy the most about my work...

The best thing about what we do is the diversity. There generally isn’t a daily routine, each job has its own challenges, creative demands and rewards. Also, the chance to try out new and emerging technology, and then think of ways that this technology could be used to tell a story, or communicate ideas, is an amazing position to be in. 

You can check out Ubik's reel here.

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Creative Circle, Tue, 25 Apr 2017 12:17:31 GMT