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Interview: Rob Chiu

Rob Chiu is a UK based graphic designer specialising in motion direction and design for print. He is a regular contributor to national publications such as Grafik, Computer Arts, Digit and .net and has been a visiting speaker at several international conferences such as Toca-me, BD4D and Digial Arts World.

In may 2000 Rob founded 'The Ronin' as a design studio for motion and print and has since developed a reputation for being a leading expert in motion graphics, with his unique style becoming widely recognised internationally.

More recently Rob has taken on the role of creative director of Beyond magazine, news editor for design portals BD4D and French and fresh and lectures at the MMU School of design.

With a client list that is the envy of most freelance designers, Rob gets to work with a diverse mix of interesting people as well as get jet off to around the globe, which gives him the opportunity to bring international element to his growing portfolio of photography.



How did you first get involved in digital film and video?

I studied graphic design at Manchester Metropolitan where I first ventured into motion graphics for my final degree piece. "Journey" was the first short film I ever created and was also the first time that I had ever used Adobe After Effects. The film went on to get me into an international student year book and a first class degree!

How has the visual language of feature length motion picture influenced your work?

Films. Actually I'm writing this answer after just coming away fully inspired by watching a film. I've been mentally blocked on a project for some time getting no where and churning out sub standard stuff that when I saw the film it all became clear to me what I should be doing. My vision is totally different to that of what I was inspired by but theres something in the film I saw that kick starts off a whole new wave of ideas and points of view. Right now I'm feeling good.


Could you tell us your typical process of creation, and your technique at work?

My usual work process although it can vary greatly depending on what it is that I am working on - would be to engulf myself in music that I am considering for the project until I start to see the visuals in my mind. I would then start to work heavily in Photoshop creating mood boards etc until I am happy and then I would either commission my audio designer- DoSC ( www.diagram-of-suburban-chaos.com ) to create some sound scapes for me. Sometimes I jump into After Effects and get things moving a little before I talk to DoSC depending on how busy he is but I prefer to know the direction of the audio before I make the motion as the music is generally what inspires me and creates the emotions in my work that fuel the visuals.

Are you formally educated in design or are you self taught? How important would you say design education is for people working in motion graphics?

The only reason I went onto do a degree was to find my own voice (I was already currently senior designer at a local agency) therefore after I found my graphic voice I used Journey as a tool to market myself towards the motion graphic/film side of things. My first commission was for Service Point UK for which I did a short commercial entitled Imagine.


Collateral project ....

The Black Day To Freedom project is one of my favourite projects as it was a combination of motion and print design. There was a book which can be purchased from the site ( www.blackdaytofreedom.org ) which contains over 30 invited international designers and illustrators to express their views via the visual medium on the subject of refugees. I was able to work with many friends and peers I had been inspired by for a long time. I also created a short film for the book which is included on a DVD that comes with the book. We launched the project at the ICA in London in May 2005 and since then the film has gone on to be shown at a number of film festivals worldwide.

Thanks for yout time Rob, any final words?

Ronin spitirs live forvever.