Company Profiles in association withLBB Pro

Limitlessness, Flexibility, Strength: The Steelworks Solution To CGI and Animation

Post Production
London, UK
Dominic Giordano founded CGI and animation specialist studio Steelworks in 2017. Here, alongside the team’s executive producers, he tells us how his company is leading the way for limitlessness creativity

Founded in late 2017, Steelworks was born out of a mission to create work ‘as strong and beautiful as steel,’ with an emphasis on CGI, animation, motion, and post-production. In just a handful of years, the company, a creative partner to some of the world’s leading brands, has grown exponentially in the US with bases in Los Angeles, New York, Portland, and San Francisco before crossing the Atlantic to set up a base in London at the start of this year. 

Having worked with the likes of Dolby, Starburst, Nike, Casper, and now on a global campaign with Meta, LBB sat down with the company’s founder Dominic Giordano, and the team of executive producers, to get to the core of this pioneering CGI and animation studio. 

A creative partner for limitless CGI and animation

“When it comes to CGI, anything is possible. We have some clients where they know loads about it, and some for whom it’s their first time. It’s a whole new world for them, and we get to show what we can do,” says executive producer Hannah Byers-Brown. “They don’t know what’s possible yet.” 

The team emphasises how working with CGI and animation offers a high level of flexibility that can’t be found with traditional photography. “Once you have a finished image, beyond retouching you’re locked in. With CGI, it’s limitless,” Hannah adds. 

Steelworks finished a global campaign in late 2021 with award-winning creative agency, Anomaly for their client Oculus, by Meta. Now live, the campaign can be seen out of home across the world and on multiple social and digital platforms. 

Clients can immerse themselves in a ‘playful’ new world when working with CGI, and the team is keen to emphasise how fun the process is, and how it can take creativity further than previously. 

Take Steelworks’ work with Starburst for example; The team proposed how the brand could reimagine the world of candy production through animation. The resulting imagery taps into the colours and brightness associated with the brand, and Steelworks was able to create scenes unreachable outside of CGI and animation. 

Playful possibility; endless creativity 

The team at Steelworks share that the depth and breadth of their current capabilities come from a growing team of artists and producers who in previous roles had traversed a varying number of sectors and now bring together a complementary set of skills to boot. 

While the team tells us they had different starting points, when LBB dug into their backgrounds it became clear that CGI was a common thread going back years. Executive producer Chago Venable tells LBB how he was a photographer, and later a retoucher in the automotive industry, but had taken a post-grad course in CGI at NYU; Producer Luis Flores took a similar retoucher route; Executive creative producer Hannah Byers-Brown was first exposed to CGI as a child when her father worked as a CGI animator, she then studied photography herself and worked in production before making the leap to CGI and joining Steelworks. 

“Our clients recognise we have a big range - and that’s based on the model we've been building from the start,” says Dominic. “All of us have come from diverse backgrounds; from fashion and beauty, consumer goods and automotive, live-action to stills photography. Combining all that with our ethos that whatever we create, it has to look beautiful, has strengthened us.” 

With the endless possibilities out there when working with CGI, animation, and VFX, LBB asked Dominic and his team what common thread holds the work together: “Whatever we do, it has to have the wow factor, imagination, and an element of storytelling. Our journey has been about not wanting to be limited,” he said. 

Steelworks’ hunger for limitlessness led the team earlier this year to set to work on an internal project that, rather than being client-led, aimed to show the potential of Steelworks’ talent when it comes to creating photorealistic spots. The ‘Lux Sounds’ case study shows off the technical capabilities of the team, who fully imagined the product on show. The 360 experience combines dynamic close-ups with texture and a luxurious atmosphere to push on the boundaries of what clients can expect with CGI. 

Fabrics and liquids are notoriously difficult to capture with CGI, and so Steelworks’ knack for photorealism has drawn in clients looking to elevate their output. The team’s work with Casper highlights the potential for fabric and material imagery; Steelworks has taken a consumer brand, and with the teams’ backgrounds in luxury, elevated it to a new level. 

When watching Steelworks’ work for Nike’s Air Max 270 line, it’s clear how the team tapped into their own cultural understandings and experience to visualise the iconic footwear brand’s classic shoe in a new fashion. To convey the lightweight tech of the footwear, CGI air bubbles were created to step up the detail beyond the realm of photography. 

The Steelworks story 

CGI caught Dominic’s attention in 2016 when he was still working in post-production with high-end, luxury photography; He tells LBB it was the opportunity to create beyond the traditional means of photography that led him to launch Steelworks: “My excitement came from the challenge to work in a different space,” he says. “I started Steelworks to focus on using CGI simply as a tool to create cool, beautiful work in the luxury space elevated by technology.” 

So how did he open a CGI studio within a year of the idea sparking?

It’s a twofold answer: Dominic immersed himself in practising CGI to understand the growing power these tools hold. It was about applying what he knew from 17 years in the luxury market to a new emerging one, where the possibilities for what can be made are endless. But it was also in response to growing industry trends: “The economy was becoming more of a gig economy, and I saw the opportunity to pull in talent and work with different artists across all industries; tech, pharma, consumer goods - the opportunity to go into any industry was exciting. In the beginning, the vision was to be able to build a whole new space where when we meet with any client we can support them,” says Dominic. 

Creative partnerships are key to the company’s success so far; “We’re unlimited too in our structures, so we can always put the best team forward for each brief; We make changes to build the right relationships and teams to constantly expand our level of talent and creativity,” says Dominic. “There’s a lot of amazing talent to work with that we love to work with, and there are people we trust and have a strong bond with. It’s a valuable partnership and we definitely invest the time there.” 

Chago explains that when it comes to producing great work and cultivating talent, the thing that actually plays an important role is personality: “Are they great with teams? How do they work remotely? There are so many more aspects involved in creating this technical, creative work beyond the technicalities.” 

Steelworks has offices across the US and UK, and Dominic says it’s ‘certainly always been a goal to have global expansion,’ for many reasons: talent, creativity, culture - and ultimately what it can also offer to clients. “We can provide clients with a larger network of talent, more resources, and more input on the work we are creating - it’s more efficient,” he says.

It comes down to the strategy too. Dominic says the Steelworks team is a ‘brain trust’: “We’re the bridge between communication and solution, changing approaches based on the clients’ needs while implementing and staying on top of the newest tech to offer them the best service we can,” says Dominic. “We constantly want to elevate, and grow; we’re motivated by creative excellence and each project should act as a new challenge, and a challenge both the team, and crucially the client, can be proud of.”

Work from Steelworks
HOKA / Anomaly LA
HOKA / Anomaly LA
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