Studio Visit with The Sequence Group

Written by  Administrator , on Thursday, 31 January 2013 14:39

Tucked upstairs in their Cordova and Abbott Street studios, The Sequence Group is a local, full service production doing big things in the world of animation and live action projects. With clients spanning from Warner Brothers, Microsoft, and Disney, with work on projects like Halo andEnd Game under their belt, their varied artistic style and creative focus has, clearly, paid off well. "It's really about creating a fun, cool space for people to come and work, rather than a job where you go punch in," says Ian Kirby, founder and owner of the company. Day to day, the team relishes in creative freedom, and each member contributes to the company's well-appreciated, painterly style.


In a few words…what do you guys do?

It’s kind of evolved. The beginnings were heavily into motion comics, so myself and Andrew worked on a project called Broken Saints. It was kind of our labour of love that we worked on for three years in my parents basement. That was one of the first incarnations of a motion comic, as quoted by Wikipedia.

It was really a passion project, and in the end I decided to create my own business and do animation, design and motion graphics on my own. The motion comic just became a lot of our work just through the fact that we were one of the only companies doing it and there’s such a wide range of motion comics from really crappy, stiff animations to way more cinematic and beautiful simple animation.

We took that medium and pushed it further and further everyday.

What are motion comics?

People argue that. Some say it has to be a printed comic book, which is turned into animation, and that’s how we work sometimes. That’s how we worked with Inception, but sometimes it’s just a limited form of animation where you’re taking a painted image and doing limited animation on it.

Do you have a particular style you adhere to?

I think a lot of our work tends to be very painterly. That’s something that isn’t done a lot. The illustration style is super painterly. It’s making paintings in a way that you wouldn’t usually see. A lot of it is literally painterly brushstrokes.

You are well known for your title sequences. How is that creative process?

You are trying to detail property sometimes in seven seconds. Titles are cool because they are always totally different, and they are anywhere from six seconds to forty seconds, and you really have to tell a story, try and engage people to care about the characters, and understand what the whole premise of the show is in a very short period of time.

Usually they want it to be very stylized and have its own look but they’re inspired by other titles, so you don’t want to rely too heavily on the influences. Production companies and broadcasters are battling to find a vision that works to relay both parties’ interests. They want it to be really appealing to this one demographic and we want to pay homage to the show.

Tell us a bit about your creative process.

There aren’t ‘titles’ here. We will bring everyone into the room and pitch ideas together. That way we all get a chance to pitch designs as well. We work in a generalist style as opposed to specialized. There’s shortcomings to it, but it’s a lot more rewarding. For one shot, generally speaking, it will be painted and texturized by one person, but after that all the animation, the 3D, the rendering, and compositing and all the steps will be done by one artist.

In a specialized special effects studio, one person does the lighting, one person does the effects, one person does the animation, one person the rendering… It’s literally eight people whereas we do it in two. There’s advantages to that but it also becomes a Ford assembly line of work and at the end of the day youre responsible for this one little piece, which is not exactly very fulfilling. It’s a lot more fun for the artists here.


How does that affect the outcome of the work?

Our artists take ownership of the work that they do, and they get to see it and follow through with it so that its something that they’re proud of.  They have a lot of creative freedom here.

Where does Vancouver fit into the industry?

It depends. A lot of title work and motion design happens in Toronto and New York. We’re the biggest motion design company in Vancouver.  In terms of animation studios, Vancouver is pretty big.

A lot of them are more focused on the traditional 2D animation or they go entirely 3D, so for us to have a style that’s almost an amalgamation of the two, with a painterly look but with full 3D assets set us apart.

It worked really well for Halo. They have super high end, million dollar cinematics and then they have the game play. We work really well because we are back story telling, where they want it to have it’s own feeling as well. It’s kind of based on a concept art style, so its very much in the painterly concept of art creation of the game.

Check out The Sequence Group's impressive body of work in animation, title sequences, motion comics and more here. 










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