The Kinetic :: Crank Up The Creative [Exclusive Interview]
I always love stumbling on an impressive body of creative work, only to find out that the creator(s) are from South Africa. Whilst doing my usual poking around behance.net I discovered The Kinetic, a Johannesburg based studio that really resonated with my design sense. They are 3 young dudes that put out an incredible product that evades being any particular medium/category/artform, but don’t be fooled, they are working with the country’s biggest and best. These boys treat their visuals the same way I like my beats: upfront and devoid of tomfoolery, spanning different styles with a finesse that is distinctly their own, uniquely South African and yet worldclass. After I failed to come up with the time to do this interview over a few drinks the last time I was in JHB, their great idea not mine, I sent over some Q’s for the guys to A, and this is what they had to say for themselves.
Give us a brief rundown of a week at the kinetic, as three young dudes how do you decide who does what and in which order?
A week at the Kinetic is loud, we like working with volume. Every brief that comes in always lends itself to someone specifically, we all have our passions and whoever lies closest to what is needed takes point. We’re all in it together and so it naturally evolves into something more than one person could generate quite quickly. It’s a great workflow. Order wise? Brief in, brainstorm, concept to client, sign off, get to it.
For us? Great. Considering our varied talents it was just about the only logical choice. Specialization is great but it often leads to creative stagnation, we need the variation and stimulation that comes from working across disciplines. Some days you need to spend hours tweaking a design, and others it’s far more appealing to be out doing set up for a VFX shoot, either way you don’t get stuck doing one thing and they all feed off one another and inevitably lead to new ideas.
What steps did you take to become industry ready, in terms of studies, experience in the field, personal work, etc? What advice would you give the those young(er) design freaks out there in terms of setting up their own design studio?
We all studied. Stephen and Estian at The University of Pretoria and myself (Neil) at the Open Window. We all gained some experience from our previous jobs. What you learn fastest and hardest is putting meaning to all the abbreviations that get flung around, and technical training, learning new programs. You pick up little tips and tricks as you go along. Though we know people who got started without tertiary training I still feel it moulds your thinking in the right way but the rest is up to you, it’s time spent actually doing that makes the difference.
For anyone else considering the same we would suggest that they just get on with it. There will never be a perfect time, and the longer you wait probably the less chance you’ll even try it. For everything you need to know there is a person willing to teach you or a wiki that’s easy to read, but if all else fails, sit down and start working, it’s the fastest and most reliable way to learn.
What software/hardware do you use? Do you find that cross pollinating between the different mediums is an important part of your creative process?
Hardware… Pretty much the fastest processor we could get our hands on and as much RAM as we could fit in the box. Actually all our workstations are pretty interchangeable, our projects are run off a central server so we can throw files around and all work together without anyone having to wait around. Software is a eclectic mix but we have some regulars; Our primary tool for animation and compositing is After Effects, for 3D it’s Maya and for everything in between, well depends on the concept. We’d edit on an Iphone if it had something to offer a project.
Your style is quite distinctly sleek and minimal, which is a contemporary style that most South Africans are not used to seeing in everyday media. Do you think this an inevitable step in the development of local design? Or do you think these kind of trends always need to be translated into the context of the particular viewership?
In a sense, translation is the core of what we do. Every project has a execution that would best get the point across, sometimes it needs to hit you over the head and be loud and in your face, other times whispered simplicity is the way to go. Whether it is sleek and minimal in the end is up to what the brief requires, we don’t impose any specific style on any work that comes in but everything that goes out is considered, we are very proud of what we do.
With media making such a shift online and becoming increasingly screen based, how do you see the future of the existing ad agency/broadcaster business model?
We all agree that it will probably take a long time for the current agency business model to become redundant, but with that said, there is a shift looming, if only conceptually at this stage. Online media has made it so that it is not only ludicrously easy to get a video watched, but also by the right people and with virtually zero distribution cost, which could hurt a system where only expensive hardware and exclusive timeslots could guarantee the same thing. Online has lead to more daring campaigns and following their successes has lead to more daring productions for TV itself. The whole system is progressing, and for us, it really is a great time to be in production.
You are based out of Joburg, what’s your take on Jozi-centric and SA-centric design and creativity in general at this stage of the game?
We believe that trying to describe design or creative pursuits in general in terms of where they originate from is a pursuit bordering on redundant. Design and creativity is an ever evolving, always changing creature that people try and label with places and times. “There, now that is African/South American/The Himalayas.” Fact is it doesn’t always translate, and it tries to force a way of thinking and feeling about things that isn’t natural or necessary. We don’t think you can set out to be Jozi-centric or SA-centric, because they are concepts that don’t exist long enough for you to know them. You can just create, and what you make will as much define where you are as it has defined you.
How do you guys like to let loose after a heavy week of work?
Thanks for the insightful words fellas. Follow The Kinetic’s portfolio on behance here, and visit their website here, where they have some mighty tasty free downloads. But first have a peek at some of their works below.
CANCEL FASHION COLLECTIVE