Passion + Projects: Onesal's Nahuel Salcedo on Animation, Business, and Japan.

"I think the best advice I received when I started working is that no matter how busy you are with commercial work, always make time for passion projects. Passion projects are the ones that can take your craft to the next level." -Nahuel Salcedo

Nahuel Salcedo is the Director of the Tokyo-based animation studio, Onesal.

The work that is being produced by the team is bathed in dynamic splendor and excites many viewers with it's vibrant color profiles.

While some of the animation has an abstract philosophy at it's core, there is a particular brand of hyperrealism that makes for an intriguing aesthetic that is definitively beautiful. 

Nahuel and his crew are leveraging their skills and business acumen to collaborate with storied brands such as Discovery Channel Japan and academic establishments a la University of Melbourne

With the brand gaining significant buzz as a result of it's quality efforts, it is exciting to hear Nahuel discuss his move from Buenos Aires to Tokyo, Japanese business ideology, and the animation itself.

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Prox: Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and what inspired you to pursue art?

Nahuel: I’m a motion designer born in Buenos Aires and living in Tokyo where I work as director at Onesal.

Getting into graphic design wasn’t really something I planned on doing. Instead it was something that just happened. I was interested in film and studying media at school, but being a computer geek I started doing some After Effects tutorials at home, trying to build a small portfolio making some mock animations. Then I landed my first job as a motion designer in a small production company in Buenos Aires. I was lucky enough to jump into other studios like 2veinte where I learned tons about the world of design, which was new to me, and my interest grew.

Nowadays creating visuals is something I enjoy to the point where I think I wouldn’t feel as happy doing anything else.

Prox: One thing that always interests me is why an artist chooses one medium over another. What can you say with your work via the medium of animation that you would have difficulty saying with other art forms?

Nahuel: I think with animation you can tell something that you can’t with just a still. Animation adds a whole new dimension to a piece and while some of my personal and studio work at Onesal are stills, I feel more comfortable doing animation. In a way it is as if I can stretch my legs.

Animation for me has the power to shock, to impress (in a good or bad way) the viewer. It also allows me to have fun and make something that in nature would be static and make it move in an organic way, which I find very cool.

Prox: Buenos Aires to Japan is quite the jump. Why did you decide to base Onesal there and how has the culture impacted you from a creative and entrepreneurial standpoint?

Nahuel: Both from a geographical and a cultural perspective Japan is in the antipodes of Argentina, and I was always fascinated by the idea of living somewhere so different from what I was used to. I moved to Tokyo and a few years later Onesal was born with the objective of putting together an international team designing for clients all over the world. I think this mix of cultures (Onesal has a mix of Argentine, Japanese and Danish designers) shows in our style.

The way of doing business in Asia is diametrically opposite to what I was used to abroad when working freelance for clients in the UK or United States, where everything is quick and to the point. I think doing business in Asia is about building relationships based on trust and mutual understanding and nothing is short term. Those relationships take time and effort, and as a small business we are learning to work our way through it.

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Prox: What dictates what you’ll animate? How does a project typically start for you?

Nahuel: For commercial projects we are either asked to come up with a concept based on a product/brand or we get a brief from the agency and go through the creative process together.

This is the basic workflow for a CG short film:

We start having a concept approved by the client and move on to create some concept art (still frames) showing in final quality the look we are after.

Then we move to the animatic stage where we create an end to end animation without textures or special effects to have a general understanding of times.

Finally we move on to render the film, followed by the compositing stage where we put everything together, add effects, color correct, etc.

For passion projects (and also personal stuff) it's a bit different. Usually the objective is to learn a new tool or technique so we explore that until finding something that looks cool, and then we see where and how we can fit that thing we developed.

Prox: What would you like your fans to take away from their encounters with your pieces?

Nahuel: More than anything I enjoy creating abstract pieces, imagining places that don’t exist, and making them come alive. I really get a kick out of getting different interpretations of what the viewers see on the stuff me or my team put up. I like making stuff that I feel I want to reach out and touch and it’s fun to see some people reacting in the same way.

Prox: For those interested in created similar pieces, what is some hardware and software that you’re using?

Nahuel: We use Cinema 4D with Octane Render and Houdini mainly. I use an old workstation with an Intel core i7 2600k (I have the oldest computer at the studio!) and 16gb of ram. It does has three 1080ti graphic boards running together for GPU rendering and a good SSD array.

Prox: Who are some of your favorite artists and/or intellectuals?

Nahuel: In the world of motion design I really enjoy the work of Zeitguised. Dvein makes incredibly inspiring work too. At the studio we also love ManvsMachine, More and More, Analog and Sehsucht.

Prox: Could you share some tips for aspiring artists?

Nahuel: I think the best advice I received when I started working is that no matter how busy you are with commercial work, always make time for passion projects. Passion projects are the ones that can take your craft to the next level. Also try to get stuff out as often as possible and ask colleagues and fellow designers for their opinions.

Prox: Final thoughts?

Nahuel: With so many great tools to learn, create and promote your work, it is a great time to be a motion designer.

Stop by Nahuel's BehanceInstagram, or the Onesal website for more information on how you can get them to work on your next project.

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