An Interview With The Creative Minds of Alter

Alter is the premier studio repped by Janice Moses Represents, that does not limit themselves to just CGI alone, but dives headfirst into everything from photography to retouching, VFX to VR. From conception to post-production, Alter partners with creative minds to produce striking imagery for print and interactive media. Their approach goes beyond the technical and into the creative. They have spent 15 years cultivating an atmosphere that promotes a collaborative approach to providing cutting edge solutions for their clients’ visual needs. Every Alter artist is a valued team member who is passionate about their craft, and dedicated to delivering stunning imagery that goes well beyond their client’s’ expectations.

Lucky for us, we were able to catch them in between projects to chat about what got them started and to pick their brains about all things CGI and so much more.

Agency Access: You say your roots are in traditional photography, so how did you get involved with CGI? What was it that interested you?

We started off in photography, offering some retouching, then retouching became more and more robust, combining it with digital illustration and compositing. So, really it was the natural progression of what we were doing that led us to CGI.  At first, the programs were very, very expensive and they didn’t do a whole lot. As they programs became more robust, we saw a ton of possibilities to have much more creative latitude to do whatever we wanted.  It really took off the limitations that we had with existing ways of creating images.

AXS: Thus far in your career, what has been your favorite project/campaign?

Samsung campaign for Leo Burnett. We did a beautiful project that was a lot of work, done in a very short amount of time. We had a lot of creative latitude to do what we wanted to do with that. We worked with a pretty intense Art Director, but we loved the outcome.

AXS: How did you get involved in it? 

I tapped into our connections at Leo Burnett. We’ve done a lot of work for them in the past on increasingly more challenging and difficult creative campaigns. They know we have the capabilities to incorporate CGI, and we have the horsepower to get it done relatively quickly, as opposed to the time it should take.

AXS: When it comes to the conception of a project for a client, how much creative freedom do you have? 

It really depends on the client. We want to be able to serve the client. We have people who come in with very, very tight layouts and creative decks where we’re again more executional than collaborative. Other times we just get a concept. Then we hear, “this is what we’re trying to convey” and we’re creating content from the ground up. So, it’s a whole spectrum. Everything now is leaning more toward the latter; of us being more of a creative partner as opposed to just execute their specific idea. I think that comes from the fact that people just know what’s possible with the art and the technology that’s available to us now, and it’s being integrated.

AXS: What’s the most impressive use of CGI you’ve seen recently?

Oh goodness, that’s all Hollywood (Hahaha)… that’s a Juan question.  “A:  Anything Juan does!” (Juan Salas, our Director of CGI)……anything Juan puts his hand on, anything Juan does is the most impressive use of CGI I’ve ever seen….. (in the background, Jim says: “No, Juan, that’s not a good answer.”)  If you can’t tell, there’s a huge amount of joking that goes on among the guys at Alter.

AXS: Again, What movie do you think is really impressive use of CGI?….. 

Pixar, the company that makes The Incredibles and Toy Story and everything else like that. They take the software that they use to create these animations and offer it to the general public at some point in time. They have a demo for Pixar’s current render engine that has a various impressive output, and very impressive with digital effects.

AXS: Can you think of examples of campaigns by Alter where audiences might not realize that it’s not actually a real photo but actually CGI images?

Yes, our Bose work we’ve done.  Nobody knows it’s CGI!!  It’s so beautifully done and perfectly rendered. The detail that’s put into it, the over-the-ear pieces, the leather, and the materials we’re creating on their behalf that just take it over the edge.

AXS: What project are you most proud of?

Samsung. Love the Bose animation, love the Clio Awards we did for Leo Burnett, and Cyclops, we think that’s a great project that was well executed. Under Armour is great work too, the only problem is we don’t shoot that; we get what they give us and we make it work. We do all the compositing and create the stadiums in the background.

AXS: What would you say is the most exciting innovation currently happening in the world of CGI?

Anything VR “Virtual Reality” related.  It’s very. very new and fresh technology. There’s huge possibilities with that and everyone is scrambling to figure out how to apply it and how to use it. That’s definitely the hottest thing going right now.

Lindsay Partridge

Lindsay has been with Agency Access for seven years. After a transition from Campaign Manager where she managed multiple client campaigns, she found her home as Marketing Manager. She enjoys working in the creative world and bringing her Public Relations background to the forefront.

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