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The Directors: Espadaysantacruz


1stAveMachine's directing trio on new challenges, the importance of an open mind and faking it until you make it

The Directors: Espadaysantacruz

Espadaysantacruz is a hybrid design creative studio based in Madrid since 2011. They combine craft innovation technology and creativity.

Espadaysantacruz creates innovation projects that challenge brands and people. Their projects range from Product design, Experience Design, Interactive Installations or New Media Arts. They are a team of visual artists, creative engineers & coders, product designers and creative directors working together from the idea to the execution.

Every project Espadaysantacruz do is a new challenge. They adapt and mutate each time to be fast and flexible to make ideas reality.


Location: MADRID - SPAIN

Repped by/in: 1ST AVE MACHINE


LBB> What elements of a script sets one apart from the other and what sort of scripts get you excited to shoot them? 

Espadaysantacruz> We are always excited when a scripts create a challenge which has a meaningful visual or narrative perspective. Like using AI to create dialog like we did on 'Date more human' for Jose Cuervo, using robotic arms to coordinate light and camera moves like we did for IBM ‘Think’ or in Wembley’s ‘Pursuit of greatness’, or designing an evocative mechanism to damage a car like we did on ‘Y ahora que?’ 

We love the feeling of being briefed from an agency and being put on edge, being challenged in doing something we have never done before is what keeps us moving. 

LBB> How do you approach creating a treatment for a spot?

Espadaysantacruz> Ideas are key. We take our time to think about the possibilities that creative ideas open, how these possibilities are meaningful, how they fit in with the objectives of the campaign and the philosophy behind the brand. We love to push ideas to their limits and make them bigger. We ask ourselves ‘how can the execution explore the idea beyond the expected’. With the answer to this we focus on how we can design the project to make it ours, to be consistent with the work we have done before, and with the research we are doing. When an agency wants you to present your view, that is what they are looking for: your view, so we try to focus on having a vision of the project that is truly ours. 

LBB> If the script is for a brand that you're not familiar with/ don’t have a big affinity with or a market you're new to, how important is it for you to do research and understand that strategic and contextual side of the ad? If it’s important to you, how do you do it?

Espadaysantacruz> For us it is key to be aligned with the needs and context of the brand. Whether it is the first time we hear about the company or not, our mindset needs to be very aligned with the commission. That does not mean that we do not share our vision as a studio with the client. We definitely go deep into the projects to do our best, but always knowing that the brand has a clear message to communicate to the world. Our goal is to make as much impact as possible. 

LBB> For you, what is the most important working relationship for a director to have with another person in making an ad? And why?

Espadaysantacruz> In general terms, an equal relationship is essential. We think it is important to always have an open mind.

LBB> What type of work are you most passionate about - is there a particular genre or subject matter or style you are most drawn to?

Espadaysantacruz> Without any doubt, what we are most passionate about are creative challenges, doing things that have not been done before. We always think beyond media or specific genres. What we love is exploring the expressiveness of new technologies and pushing them to their limits.

LBB> What misconception about you or your work do you most often encounter and why is it wrong?

Espadaysantacruz> You have to understand that working with us is a little different than working with other directors or production companies. We always think that the best results come from research, so projects should not be started with a preconceived idea of ​​what the final script is going to be like or how they are going to be visually. Making a memorable project is a process in which we have to work together with the agency and client, step by step, adapting to the possibilities that open up along the way.

LBB> Have you ever worked with a cost consultant and if so how have your experiences been?

Espadaysantacruz> Never, so no experience. 

LBB> What’s the craziest problem you’ve come across in the course of a production – and how did you solve it?

Espadaysantacruz> Early in our career, we were making a project for Brugal rum: an interactive installation using Brugal bottles to make live music. We were working on it for more than a month and rehearsing with the band for a week. Everything was working perfectly. We found the perfect location to shoot the show: a rooftop in downtown Madrid. It was a documentary style movie of the band performing alongside our installation, but on the day of the shoot, nothing was working. Everything was looking ok, wires, sensors, electronics… but we looked up, and there was a gigantic telecommunications antenna producing more than 10V in the air! Our sensors were working with 5v, so basically there was more energy on the air than in the wires. There was nothing to be done. So we talked to the band and the producer, we said nothing to nobody and did the best playback in history! Fake it till you make it is our line now. And we also check for high voltage antennas and energy in the air when we scout locations too!

LBB> How do you strike the balance between being open/collaborative with the agency and brand client while also protecting the idea?

Espadaysantacruz> We do not think the IDEA is an untouchable diamond that needs protection. We love what we do but we are not artists, we are creative people working with other creative people trying to do the best job in every project. So based on that, we try to be very communicative, we argue every proposal, every thinking… and never take something for granted. Listen and make yourself understood, it is basic. So, the most important thing is being very aligned with the agency and brand. 

LBB>  What are your thoughts on opening up the production world to a more diverse pool of talent? Are you open to mentoring and apprenticeships on set?

Espadaysantacruz> We love that, we are always looking for new talented people to work with. The creative universe expands when enthusiasm and talents come together. It is like a great party where everyone enjoys it and the result is always amazing!

LBB> How do you feel the pandemic is going to influence the way you work into the longer term? Have you picked up new habits that you feel will stick around for a long time? 

Espadaysantacruz> We have been working globally in different markets for a long time, so working remotely was very natural for us. Although it is not what we liked the most during the pandemic, we have seen that it is possible to shoot remotely and that, if you surround yourself with good professionals, the experience is just as satisfactory as shooting in person.

LBB> Your work is now presented in so many different formats - to what extent do you keep each in mind while you're working (and, equally, to what degree is it possible to do so)? 

Espadaysantacruz> In the world we live in, which is constantly changing, it is not possible to speak of formats as something fixed and immutable. The boundaries between formats are actually blurring.

What people want are meaningful experiences, whether online or physical, the format is not important, what is important is how they generate emotions.

LBB> What’s your relationship with new technology and, if at all, how do you incorporate future-facing tech into your work?

Espadaysantacruz> We do not call ourselves directors, we are a creative technology studio, so everything we do has a lot of technology behind it: from AI, to robotics, custom electronics or data based technology.  But technology is just a tool we use to create a project that connects with the public, and this can only be done when you have a powerful concept or idea behind it. Here is an example: we were approached by Phenomenon LA to create an interactive piece in the new offices of Central Pacific Bank in Honolulu. From the beginning we wanted to use wave data. What is more rooted in Hawaiian culture than the ocean and its waves? So we created a kinetic sound installation that uses real time wave data to generate the sound of the ocean in the middle of downtown honolulu. This installation is very sophisticated from a technology point of view, but what people remember is the sound of the ocean and how it made them feel. 

LBB> Which pieces of work do you feel really show off what you do best – and why?

Espadaysantacruz> IBM 

For this project we used a combination of motion control and industrial robots to create a choreography of light and camera moves to reveal the new IBM Think perspectives sculpture. 


We used data from the most iconic Lionel Messi goals to create a sculpture that showcases how innovation leads to world-class agility in football.


We love to use concept product design as a communication tool. When you see an inspiring product, it's like a good story, it moves you to a new horizon of experiences that this design can open for you. 


We wanted to bring the flexibility and the level of responsiveness to the environment that an online experience has, to a retail showcase. So we developed a system that connects robotic arms with screen content to develop a physical mood board that reacts to different inputs like weather or social trends. 


You are in downtown honolulu, and there is something you are missing, something that is rooted in Hawaiian culture: the ocean, the sound of the waves… so we used real time data to create the experience of hearing and seeing the waves through a kinetic art installation. 

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1stAveMachine, Mon, 24 Jan 2022 13:34:16 GMT