Flip, a post-production company based in Shanghai, first opened in 2016 and has since grown into a one-stop shop for directing, filming and post-production, all with a focus on CGI. At the helm of this is Kum Au, Flip’s CGI Supervisor. We got the chance to catch up with Kum and chat about his vision for the studio, advertising opportunities in China, the World Cup and more.
Kum Au, CGI Supervisor at Flip
Kum moved to Shanghai a few years ago after long working in Hong Kong’s post-production scene at companies like Digital Domain.“Shanghai is a great city,” he says. “Like many of us, I was searching for opportunities in the commercial center of China, where there’s bigger jobs and more variety than Hong Kong.”
Kum’s showreel emphasizes the color and contrast he brings to Flip
“I’ve been in post-production for many years. It started in university when I studied advertising — and that’s my strength,” he replied in response to what he brings to Flip. “Lots of professionals in CGI or post don’t understand why agencies and directors make so many changes, but having an advertising background helps to make these changes more smoothly. CG projects are often long-term, where a simple thing may take a few days or even a few weeks, so it’s important to be efficient.”
Bringing a new leadership style to Flip, Kum trains team members to work smarter across the various stages of a CGI project. Compared to bigger outfits where each team member is tasked with only a specific task, Kum’s team members are trained to be fluid and multi-disciplined. With this model, he estimates that project times can be reduced to almost half, translating to cost savings for Flip’s clients.
Stills from Kum’s portfolio
On his design theory, Kum says, “Unlike other artists, we have to deliver a work of art that is also commercial. In art, you have unlimited time to create your own world, something that represents your own thoughts. But commercial work requires digesting the client’s needs before you create and design, then making art within a strict timeline.”
Kum has created a set of rules for himself that streamline and improve his work, focusing on contrast in light, color, speed, camera movements, size, textures and other features that come across clearly in his showreel above.
“We are always thinking consciously about these rules of contrast when we work. This, with an understanding of the client’s concept, means you can guide smoother execution. You have to work closely with the client and director. Then you need to create visual impact, something that attracts the audience. For CGI, you always need to think about how you can improve what you make. So I keep these rules to make sure I’m continuously checking how to make the work better and better.”
Kum also chatted about his many sources of inspiration. “I think it’s important to watch a lot of references to learn, like movies, art and animations. Its instantaneous learning — the most direct and engaging way to improve your work is to explore more and think, ‘How did they make that? How can it be done?’ Young creatives have so many tools now to take advantage of for learning, and can find content from all over the world on YouTube or Vimeo — it really opens your eyes.”
Kum也聊到了他的诸多灵感源泉。“我认为多观察学习借鉴很重要，比如说电影、艺术、动画。就是一种即时学习，改进作品最直接最有效的方法就是多探索多思考。‘别人是怎么做的？如何做出来的？’现在年轻一代创意人士有很多渠道可以利用，不但学习，在YouTube和Vimeo网站上能看到世界各地的内容 – 一切尽在眼前。”
“I also get inspiration from other areas of life. With traveling, seeing new things and new cultures, you get new perspective you can apply to your work. It’s like with snowboarding — you have to clear your mind and just go for it. You’ll fall down many times, but you’ll stand up many times too. And you’ll feel tired, but you’ll be so happy and accomplished when you’re finished.”
Kum is breaking into live-action directing, starting with shorts like this for KFC
Kum’s newest projects include a live-action short and the opening credits for an upcoming TV show. “These two projects have presented very unique opportunities for me and Flip. The live-action shoot for Douyin and KFC was a great way for me to break into directing, and I hope I have more opportunities like this in the future. And the series’ opening credits involved a lot of hard work, starting from the creative concept and storyline through to execution. I’m excited for it to go live and earn the same recognition that American TV is getting with their title sequences. We plan to enter it for international awards.”
The team at Flip is always looking for fresh young talent to join
“Working with my team at Flip reminds me a lot of the World Cup, it’s all about teamwork. You have to know each other, and apply certain jobs to the right person according to their strengths. Then everyone learns together and can go out on the pitch together. I need partners at my side. We’re always open to motivated new team members!”
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