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Uprising: Tyler Scheitlin on the Curiosity That Drives Creativity


LBB’s Ben Conway speaks with Sarofsky designer/animator Tyler Scheitlin about the people that make his work memorable, bringing a “sense of life” into the digital world and being an “incredibly curious person”

Uprising: Tyler Scheitlin on the Curiosity That Drives Creativity

Growing up in a “microscopic town in rural Iowa”, Sarofsky’s designer/animator, Tyler Scheitlin, spent a lot of his childhood outdoors and using his imagination in the local woods. Along with his friends and twin brother he loved building things with his hands; bike ramps to a pedal-powered go kart and a leaf blower hovercraft. During high school, he discovered the 3D computer graphics software ‘Blender’ and quickly became obsessed with the possibilities that the program opened up to create entire worlds from scratch.

“I always knew I wanted to pursue a creative career in film/TV. My twin brother, who is an audio engineer, was my first collaborator. We were always writing short stories and even animating a few with PowerPoint. It was a great way to learn how to work with others and learn the value of compromising on creative choices.”

After graduating high school, Tyler attended the Tribeca Flashpoint Academy in Chicago to study animation and visual effects, with a focus on compositing. Whilst he found the classes and teamwork rewarding, what was most helpful was the experience of living in a city with such an active design scene. “It helped me quickly get internships at studios like Leviathan and Protokulture and led me to motion design meetups in Chicago like CMAG (Chicago Motion Artists Group) and Chicago C4D.”

From these early experiences, the young creative learned the importance of adaptability, realising that people in the world of production are “service providers” and that the final product “isn’t meant to be ours.” So on projects these days, he tries to maintain a consistent visual appeal whilst still being flexible and embracing new directions and feedback. 

The first professional project he worked on was a show package for BTN Live on the Big Ten Network (an American sports network based in Chicago). “It was such a wild experience to be involved in. We had a small and young team to create a large amount of deliverables. I was lucky enough to work on parts of the entire process from pitch, production, and delivery.”  He says, however, that his most “career-changing experience” was the Dairy Queen ‘Miracle Treat Day’ campaign he worked on at The Mill. “[That project] changed everything I thought we could do as a design studio. It brought together a huge amount of talented modellers and animators and was one of those projects where everyone recognised how great the brief and the direction was that we wanted to push the envelope of what we thought we could do with Cinema 4D.” 

In whatever production he’s working on, the designer and animator says that he’s always trying to involve “a sense of tangibility” in his work. As everything he creates is digital and therefore lacks any real-world physicality, this authentic “sense of life” is something that he is always striving to achieve in each of his projects – to create something “that feels like it exists” in real life.

But what makes Tyler truly enjoy his vocation – besides the exciting projects he’s involved in – is the people. “The people I work with have always been my favourite part,” he says. “I’ve made so many friendships by working alongside others at various studios. The work will always be interesting but the people we get to collaborate with are always the most memorable part.” A self-described “incredibly curious person”, he also likes to go on deep dives into credit lists, where he finds new artists and studios that resonate with him to follow on social media.

Tyler is currently based in Chicago – his home now for the past 10 years – and found the lockdown experience interesting, witnessing both benefits and negatives of a more physically isolated working environment. “I’ve missed in-person collaboration quite a lot. As good as screen sharing is, it’s not quite as streamlined as working together. Although, because of lockdown I have had the chance to work with some awesome artists across the globe.” Coming out of this period of remote working, he expresses his excitement for the future of technology and AI in the industry. “DALL·E 2 is an AI system that can create images based on text descriptions. I don’t see it replacing people anytime soon but it’s clear how it will be adopted as a tool for idea generation and concepting.”

On the other hand, a constant frustration for him is an industry phenomenon he describes as “the push for one size fits all”. As a designer, he says he is always trying to find the best solution for individual clients’ needs - and that this “push” towards more content-format homogeneity can cause a degree of conflict when trying to repurpose content that “rarely translates well” from one format to another. A recent creative challenge that Tyler faced was collaborating on a title credit sequence for Netflix’s ‘The Gray Man’. “The project involved creating statues of frozen moments from the film. The direction left us with so many ways to explore and approach the scene stuck in time but crafting a narrative that felt both interesting and honest to the moment being featured was the most challenging.”

To gain inspiration for his own work, he looks to his industry contemporaries and other creatives in the commercial and filmmaking space – one of these being Emmy award-winning director and graphic designer, Johnny Likens. “Johnny is a director whose work I really resonate with. His work on the 2016 AICP titles sent ripples through the motion design community and those influences are still there today. There are plenty of others like Nidia Dias, Jesus Suarez, Paul McMohan, and so many past and current directors I’ve worked with.”

Outside of the world of work, Tyler likes nothing more than riding his bike along the lakefront in Chicago. “There’s so much inspiration I get from the lake itself, the architecture along the lake, and even the people I see on the bike rides,” he says. He’s also a huge cinephile and is constantly tracking down and watching more films that appear on his radar - as well as video essays online. “Creators on YouTube such as Nerdwriter1 are some of my favourites in that area. It’s interesting to hear about someone else’s perspective on a form of media and the nuances they discover when they dedicate time to studying something.”

These hobbies and his interest in hearing others’ opinions and analysis of culture and the world all tie into Tyler’s greatest life-long motivator: his curiosity.  Whether it be finding a new way of implementing a “sense of life” into his work, solving creative challenges for clients or learning something new from a movie or video essay, his curiosity and hunger to know more is what keeps him looking for new concepts and inspiration. He says, “The search for how something works, or how it could work better, is constantly leading me to new creative ideas and endeavours.”

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Sarofsky, Mon, 30 May 2022 16:10:00 GMT