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Utopias and childhood with an Annual 2021 Silver winner | #AnnualSpotlight

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The Annual 2021 winners have been revealed, with some of the most exciting winners in the history of Creativepool. Who are these amazing people and why do they represent the best of the best in the realm of creativity?

Pretty easy to find an answer to that question when looking at Leo Uehara's work. As soon as Leo joined the community last year, we knew he'd make the history of Creativepool – and with the second year as an Annual winner in a row, we can hardly say we were mistaken. Leo is one of the most promising and talented art directors in the community, and one simple look at his winning work below will quickly explain why. He was able to grab a Bronze last year, a Silver this year – will he reach the Gold in 2022?

In this Annual 2021 Spotlight, we are learning more about Leo Uehara, multi-year Annual winner and talented art director and motion graphics designer.

View The Annual 2021 Winners!

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What do you think impressed the judges about this project?

We wanted to create a short film that touches emotions and reconnects us with childhood, perhaps we have achieved part of that goal. 

Tell us more about the concept. How did it come to life, and why was it the right choice?

When the pandemic began, everyone locked themselves in their homes, children stopped going to school, and we had to reorganize our lives, our jobs and the dynamics of our everyday lives.

At one point my friend Frankie Walker contacted me to work on a project together, although without knowing exactly where this collaboration would go. We started talking about our daily lives, we both have young children and we share a similar story of living away from our homeland for many years.

Living with your children reconnects you in a very intense way with your own childhood, and we believe that this stage of life leaves deep marks on us, strongly influencing on who we choose to be.

Also, the fact of living far from our homes brought a feeling of longing linked to distant times and lands.

A phrase by a Brazilian writer named Caio Fernando Abreu translated very well into words what we had in mind: "... Naturally it is an utopian south, one that exists more in affective, filtered memory than in reality. But I always wonder: Why the hell do we have to leave? Returning, afterwards, is almost impossible. " (Free translation).

This is how "Utopian South" came about, which is a short nonnarrative film, with loose and somewhat chaotic images that represent the gaps of our childhood memories.

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This year’s winners are a testament to the power of creativity in hardship. How did Covid restrictions influence your winning projects and how did you approach these new challenges?

Actually, I've been working from home as a freelance designer for over 10 years, so the Covid restrictions haven't changed my lifestyle that much. What really changed was living with a 2-year-old at home full time. From spending more time with my daughter came the idea of creating "Utopian South", as an ode to childhood.

What is one funny or notable thing that happened during the production of the campaign?

There were two moments when our ideas - which were a bit fuzzy at first - settled in, and they traced a path clear enough to start producing images and sounds.

First when finding Abreu's writings, and later a graffiti that Frankie found on the street that said something like this: "What you long for no longer exists." 

What’s the main message of the project and why does it matter?

The video is about respect for childhood, respect for playing and for any kind of experimentation and about the simple things. It is also a kind of time tunnel towards childhood for those -like me- who grew up during the 80s and 90s. 

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What is one unique aspect of the short?

Unlike many projects in which there is a well-defined creative process (briefing, references, concept, design, animation, sound ...), in this project the music was developed in parallel with the animation. We believe that audio represents 50% of the short film because music has that particularity of being able to touch certain places in people, that the visual cannot and vice versa. Sounds and graphics working together create a splendid product, and in this project both parties have been equally important from the beginning.

From a technical and stylistic point of view, I have tried not to tie myself to structures and let things flow. One aspect of the project that stands out is that we combine various graphic styles, different animation techniques, image appropriation, and of course a lot of visual experimentation. 

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How long did it take from inception to delivery?

This was born as a passion project that had no delivery limits. We spent a lot of time discussing the idea, looking not only for audiovisual references, but also conceptual and poetic ones.

It basically took us about 10 months from when we started talking about the first ideas to completing the animation. 

What do you hope it achieves?

We hope that whoever watch our short, feels a little bit of tenderness, a little joy that we all need today. 

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What advice would you share with other agencies and individuals looking to grab an award?

That they work on what they are really passionate about and put all their effort into it. Working on a project that provides pleasure is already a reward in itself.

What is your most exciting project in the next year?

During the pandemic I started my studies in virtual reality, I hope that in the near future I can master this technology and create a new project for this platform.

Will you enter again in 2022? If so, what are your hopes?

I hope so! Who knows if there will be an interesting project coming in the next few months...

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Credit list for the campaign?

Images by Leo Uehara
Music, Guitar, Bass, Synths by Frankie Walker
Guitar by Lega
Drums by Rodrigo Carlachiani
Mastering by Charlie Egg (Axon Lab)

Thanks to:
Sea Sound Lab
Wagner Machado

Browse the best art directors here!

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