The digital, as promised，is on the way to conquering everything. That’s increasingly how we communicate, how brands do promotions, and how commercial films and videos are spiced up with visual effects. When a special effects studio offers a different approach, rooted in deft use of various materials and artistic techniques from the good old days, the result is eye-catching. AilLiMeiLe is a new hot shop in Shanghai, that does just that, and we’ve had a chance to catch up with the team behind it.
From doing concepts and storyboards, to special effects, set designs, character designs, model/ mock-up/ puppet making, prototype design as well as animatronics, AilLiMeiLe stands out in the market as an art studio, that balances a high quality hand crafted approach with an untamed force of imagination. AilLiMeiLe artists strongly believe, that a good idea is always the basis of a great product, and they are in their element coming up with concepts, as well as masterfully bringing them to life. For a few months they were a part of Make Studios in Shanghai, but now have decided to be on their own and looking forward to use their creative minds in full.
So, Alice Melloni, Davide Masi, and Davide Gardini are a family at the core of AilLiMeiLe. Combining decades of experience in several industries like feature films, commercials, animation, exhibitions, installations, events, design and fashion, the three has worked on some movies known to the large public back in Europe: “The Great Beauty”, “ The Tourist” with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, the TV series “ The Borgias”.
而Alice Melloni, Davide Masi, 和 Davide Gardini 一家则是AilLiMeiLe的核心。他们有着多年跨行业经验，包括故事片，广告，动漫，展览，装置，活动策划，设计和时尚等领域。多部在欧洲几乎家喻户晓的影片，这三位艺术家都曾参与制作，例如：《绝美之城》，约翰尼 · 德普与安吉丽娜 · 朱莉参演的《致命伴旅》，以及系列电视剧《波吉亚家族》。
Alice Melloni (the mother) came to the industry with classical art education background and desire to find the type of work that would allow her to apply all her skills. She wasn’t interested in limiting her practice to only one medium, instead, she focused on using all materials to find the best way to share the meaning of the story. Glass blowing, sculptures, miniatures, paintings—Alice shifts between artistic techniques and media to create works of art that unveil deep emotions.
Alice Melloni (母亲) 入行时有古典艺术教育背景，她渴望找到一份能让她尽情施展所有才华的工作。她不希望将自己束缚于某一种媒介，于是她总是专注于利用多种材料去找寻最合适传达故事本意的方式。吹制玻璃，雕塑，微缩模型，绘画 —— Alice辗转于各种艺术表达形式与媒介，她的作品也因此常常能触动人们最深埋于心的情绪。
Davide Masi (Alice’s husband) also has the art major background which he also enriched with the study of animation at the National Film Board of Canada. Having worked since he was 18, Davide is a special effects technician, who’s learned the craft inside out from the point of set designer, character designer, model maker, sculptor, and mock-up maker.
Davide Masi (Alice的丈夫) 同样有着艺术专业背景，并在加拿大国家电影局进一步进修过动画。18岁便入行的Davide，是一位特效师，在场景设计，角色设计，建模，雕塑和模型制作方面的经验，使他对这一行里里外外的技艺了如指掌。
Davide Gardini (Alice’s son), the mastermind behind the family’s move to Shanghai, gradually shifted from psychology and foreign communications studies to sound engineering. Together, they make the rare kind of special effects that have everything from painting, sculpture, to mechanics, music, and more— all the forms of art.
Davide Gardini (Alice的儿子) 是一家人举家迁居上海的总策划师，最初学习心理学和对外交流的他，逐渐将专业转为音响工程方向。如此多才多艺的一家人，将绘画，雕塑，机械，音乐等各种形式的艺术融会贯通，形成了他们独具一格的特效风格。
AilLiMeiLe’s craft and way of doing things is new to the market, giving an edge to the brands that choose the studio’s services. For instance, their latest work for The Woolmark Company brought animatronics and meticulously made costumes to the peculiar world. In the commercial a fashionista learns about merino wool from an encounter with sheep. The video could’ve looked differently, as originally the client only wanted realistic costumes of sheep, and to take care of the mouth and eye movement with post-production. In 26 days since the concept, the result of AilLiMeiLe’s suggestion to use animatronics instead was met with such enthusiasm, that the brand extended shooting one more day to do an additional live-stream event, where the sheep was giving online interviews to the curious audience.
对市场来说AilLiMeiLe 的技艺与做事方式都令人耳目一新，而这一特色也常为合作方带来优势。例如，他们最近为The Woolmark Company拍摄的广告，就用电子动画特效技术与精心制作的服装打造了一个光怪陆离的世界。片中，一位时尚达人通过与绵羊的一次邂逅了解到了美利奴羊毛的魅力。客户一开始只要求做一只栩栩如生的绵羊，而眼睛和嘴巴的动态由后期完成即可。但AilLiMeiLe 建议采用动物机械玩偶，概念设计完成26天后，AilLiMeiLe 的作品受到了空前的欢迎，品牌客户甚至还要求加拍一天，多一个直播环节，让这位“羊主角”召开了线上记者会，回答好奇观众的问题。
Among their favorite projects in China, the team also names stop-motion animation for Aperol, which put them in charge of concept, papercraft and animation.
For the Peninsula project, AilLiMeiLe created the concept designs and sculptured a miniature chocolate & resin made winter wonderland village, as well as a chocolate puppet made with chef Jacopo Bruni. (pictures + making of)
除此之外，在Peninsula（半岛）的项目中，AilLiMeiLe 提供了概念设计，并雕制了由巧克力和葡萄干制作的微雕冬季欢乐谷村庄，甚至还与大厨Jacopo Bruni合作制作了巧克力玩偶。
Creating a bas-relief made with the new lipstick collection 2020 for the Chanel advert, made the team realize and experience the differences in how projects are made in Italy and in China. Alice and both Davides discuss those differences emotionally, interrupting each other, laughing, and interjecting stories of impossible demands.
“Sometimes the clients think we are magicians”, shares Alice. Lacking knowledge about how certain materials work leads to requests like making (silicone) ice cubes “for tomorrow” when it takes 4-5 days for the material to be finalized. Lack of visual imagination, on the other hand, means the clients want to see examples of previous works identical to theirs, and it’s not every day the studio makes a strawberry cake explode. Another aspect is the pace of work: at the beginning, the AilLiMeiLe team didn’t know how to make things their way focusing on quality, when Chinese film production speed is 2-3 times faster than Italian. Add the different type of mentality which manifests in changing the project along the way — not a common practice in Italy, and there’s been a bit of adjustment period. For three years, since the family united in Shanghai, they slowly start to be comfortable in this new environment and most importantly excited about their new adventure, new life and new opportunities to use their brains and hands to envision and create for others. They don’t shy away from challenges, already testing their notions of what’s impossible to make, delivering fresh solutions to clients at a speed unimaginable before. AilLiMeiLe envisions ideas that were not originally on the table, makes tests and prototypes, and bring to life meticulously handcrafted worlds, that clients might not have imagined. They’ve done this work all their lives, keeping the old-school artistry of special effects not only alive but evolving to suit the modern age requests without losing the authenticity of it. There’s no way of knowing how both AilLiMeiLe and creativity in China might change after the encounter, but it’s sure interesting to follow. So, we hope to see more and more collaborations of this brave Italian “golden hands and minds” family with the local creative community.
“有的时候客户认为我们都是魔术师”，Alice说到。因为客户缺乏相关的材料经验和知识储备，所以会提出类似“明天”就要见到（硅制作的）冰块这种要求，但事实上，这种材料需要4-5天才能制作完成。而有时候客户又无法纯靠想象力来想象最终效果，他们会要求看看之前类似的作品是什么样子的，但工作室又不可能每天都恰好爆破一个草莓蛋糕。另一方面，大家的工作节奏也不同，最初由于中国电影制片的速度比意大利快2-3倍，AilLiMeiLe 都不知道到底如何才能保质保量地完成工作。而中国又常常在项目中加入不同的想法，造成项目会边做边改 —— 这种情况在意大利非常少见，这些“水土不服”让AilLiMeiLe花了些时间来适应。一家人来上海已经三年了，渐渐地他们也适应了新环境，更重要的是，他们对新挑战，新生活，新机遇还是干劲十足，期待用自己的智慧与双手为客户去描绘去创造。面对挑战他们毫不畏惧，常常尝试完成不可能的任务，力求以最快的速度为客户提供最新的解决方案。AilLiMeiLe 超出预期的概念，巧妙的手工艺模型，孜孜不倦地测试，将灵魂与生命注入了他们精美绝伦的手工世界。他们从来都是如此工作，不仅让经典的特效工艺保存了下来，还让旧时代的艺术在新时代焕发新生，在保留纯粹与真实的同时，与时俱进。那么AilLiMeiLe与中国创意的邂逅究竟会对双方有什么影响呢，目前还不得而知，让我们拭目以待。我们期待这一家勇敢的意大利“金手党”与本地创意社区的更多合作与碰撞。
Tap Davide Gardini bellow to contact Davide Gardini in English, Chinese, Shanghainese
点击“Davide Gardini”，你就可以用英语，中文和上海话联系Davide Gardini！