In an 80-year-old red, white, and blue beach house in Venice, California, two young Hispanic entrepreneurs are prying open the door to Hollywood with a blend of tech-savvy and artistry.
Meet Javier Jimenez, 32, and Mathew Cullen, 24, co-founders of Motion Theory, a graphic design and production studio that combines motion graphics, computer animation, Web-site design and programming, film and digital video shooting, and editing and post-production work.
In little over a year, Motion Theory has racked up an impressive list of clients, including Fox Family Channel, Walt Disney Studios, DirecTV, Nike, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Toyota. Motion Theory’s Web documentary for Nike on cyclist Lance Armstrong netted a Silver Award from the Society of Publication Designers.
“It wasn’t too long ago that Web sites were completely separate from films,” says Mr. Jimenez, Motion Theory’s executive producer. “Now if you go to a Web site and there’s no QuickTime, it’s boring. Before, graphics were separate from commercials. Now you see them married throughout a piece.”
Technological advancements and the acceptance of new media in recent years have catapulted companies like Motion Theory into the thick of the entertainment industry. More are certain to join the fray, says Diego Londono, associate director of marketing and online entertainment for Fox Latin America in Los Angeles.
“With the number of layoffs that have occurred in the past six months, you’re finding a lot of freelance graphic artists and programmers who understand media and are starting their own companies,” he says.
At once more advanced and less expensive, computer technology is leveling the playing field for a new generation of entertainment entrepreneurs, agrees Michael Bryce, associate creative director for the advertising agency Deutsch Inc. in Marina Del Rey, California, which hired Motion Theory last year to do a commercial campaign for DirecTV.
“They were a refreshing choice because they’re new, they’re hungry, and they’re really flexible,” he recalls. “What’s great about Motion Theory is they can hire freelancers to help them do whatever they need to do to finish the job. They can customize themselves to whatever the assignment is. That’s the future of this business.”
Mr. Bryce expects technology like motion graphics to become more widely used in the tradition-bound entertainment industry as companies and advertising agencies search for new ways to reach consumers.
“I think five or 10 years ago there wasn’t the multitude of choices that people have now,” he says. “The time we have to get people’s attention is milliseconds. You need to dazzle them with creative energy or with complete clarity.”
Creative energy is what led Mr. Cullen to launch Motion Theory. In late 1999, he approached Mr. Jimenez, whom he’d met through industry work, about a partnership. For Mr. Cullen, who has been in the graphics and film industries since the age of 18, the idea couldn’t miss. He envisioned combining his experience with that of Mr. Jimenez, a UCLA graduate who has been doing film production and graphic design since the early 1990s.
“I told him it was going to happen with or without him. I needed him, but I was passionate about making it happen,” says Mr. Cullen, Motion Theory’s creative director. The firm’s name is intended as a tribute to his late father, a mathematician. “When you’re passionate about something, you don’t care how you’re going to get there. You just know you’re going to get there.”
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