Our collaboration with TikTok continues with work from Kenny Brandenberger, Jon Emmony and Sophie Koko Gate

Still riding the wave from the launch of Creative Canvas, we’re excited to be releasing three more TikToks to the world today.

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TikTok is the leading destination for short-form mobile video. Its mission is to inspire and enrich people’s lives by offering a home for creative expression and an experience that is genuine, joyful, and positive.

We’re working with TikTok on a series called Creative Canvas which sees 12 creatives producing their own TikToks to live in the “TopView” slot of the app. With names like Carlota Guerrero and Lucas Zanotto involved, each creative will be bringing a new discipline to the app, interpreting a different emotion in an attempt to reflect creativity with humanity and the self-expression that TikTok has become synonymous with.

A few weeks back we launched our collaboration with TikTok and it’s safe to say it went down well. Here at It’s Nice That, we’ve been eagerly opening the app to catch a glimpse of the project in the TopView slot and, clearly, it’s opened some of the team’s eyes to the joys of the app. There have been references to the Smeeze and Lil Huddy – we even caught one colleague humming Watermelon Sugar during a Zoom call. And we hope it’s introduced you to a new platform for inspiration, experimentation and a good old laugh too.

Following in the footsteps of Lucas Zanatto, who kicked off the project with an absolute belter, earning himself 70,000 new followers in the process no less, today we’re excited to be chatting to the next three creators in our series, Creative Canvas.

In case you missed the launch of the project a few weeks ago, here’s the jist: we’ve partnered with TikTok to explore creativity with humanity and the experimentation that the app inspires. To do so, we’re asking 12 creatives to interpret one emotion each, giving them carte blanche to visualise their word in whatever way they deem right, soundtracked by Sounds Like These. It’s not often that you’re able to offer creatives such an open brief, and we’ve been amazed by the variety of the work produced thus far.

Kenny Brandenberger: Interest (centre). Work in progress footage (left and right)

Following on from Lucas’ incredible TikTok debut, Kenny Brandenberger was the next creative let loose on the app. Based in Lausanne, Kenny’s work is known for its interplay between graphic design, 3D and motion, seeing letters and words morph and ungulate on moving posters and animated spots. Interpreting the word “interest”, Kenny has taken the project in an entirely new direction, producing something which is absorbing to the point of being entrancing. As soon as the clip begins the play, grayscale TikTok logos begin to cascade and implode in a sort-of Fibonacci waterfall which tricks your mind several times over. This, Kenny explains, was born from his investigation into “tricky geometric motion,” the concept which initially jumped out to him when he read the brief. The idea, he continues, was that it should be “something that people would not directly understand how it works and it would therefore quickly catch their interest.”

His response, in turn, uses deep perspective; a point of projection which your mind eventually focusses on. “This started unexpectedly to look more and more like the iris of an eye with TikTok’s logotype moving deeply and seamlessly into it,” Kenny explains. “The eye, the perspective, the depth, the focus were all connected to the emotion of interest.”

The most rewarding part of the project for Kenny was the experimentation it prompted, something which was directly spurred on by the theme of “creativity with humanity”. Not only did it influence his outcome, but it encouraged him to share his process, detailing how he ended up at the final piece, revealing the human side of the 3D design process. “It was also a good opportunity to share techniques with other creatives and hopefully inspire people,” he adds. “To me, this project was all about sharing and inspiring others.” And it’s something he aims to continue doing too, revealing the myriad steps in his process that otherwise become “lost and forgotten in my computer.”

Finally, when asked about his experience of the project as a whole, Kenny responds: “It was amazing! TikTok’s community is so fun and friendly that I’m really enthusiastic about posting new content on it. It was impressive to see all this live – I never thought I’d have over 200,000 views on my feed and 54,000 followers in my lifetime. Special thanks to the ones that reacted to the ident with a Duet!” Across his ident and BTS videos, Kenny received an overwhelmingly positive response with one WIP TikTok receiving over 239,000 views alone and nearly 700 comments. The resounding feedback was that of astonishment, with one user remarking: “This hurts my brain. I praise you for being able to be this creative!”

Jon Emmony: Triumph (centre). Work in progress footage (left and right)

Taking us on a somewhat intergalactic journey through bioluminescent flora in his interpretation of “triumph” is Jon Emmony, a creative director and digital artist based in London. Having produced work in the past for Balenciaga, the V&A, Dazed Beauty and Charli XCX (among many others), Jon brought all this experience and whole lotta time spent watching “old TV idents” when creating his TikTok. “They are often playful in nature and the most memorable seemed the most open ended and unexpected, which is a great place to start any project,” he explains.

Concept-wise, Jon’s short is centred around the idea of dotting the “i”s and crossing the “t”s, an idiom which references completing something with attention to detail; an accomplishment. “I thought about what triumph feels like as an emotion; overcoming something or realising that a journey (mental or physical) has been undertaken,” he says, adding “accomplishing something feels triumphant.” Throughout the video, therefore, we follow the dot of the “i” in the TikTok logotype as it finds its way to the rest of the word, becoming a symbolic gesture when it reaches its destination. “I planned a route for the orb to take through these – sometimes feeling slightly vulnerable, sometimes lingering and inquisitive,” he adds.

The point at which the human element of Jon’s TikTok comes into play is fascinating. Over the past couple of years, he’s been working with artificial intelligence, integrating into his practice and this project was no different. “I enjoy embracing ‘mistakes’ and unexpected outcomes in my work as they take me somewhere new, and often try finding ways for the computer to ‘guess’ or interpret what I intend,” he explains. “This dialogue is even more apparent when utilising artificial intelligence as there’s a sense of creativity being added to the work from ‘somewhere else’.” In this instance, Jon first rendered the scene and then began running clips through an AI, training it on images of “orchids, bioluminescent jellyfish, algae and other organic forms.” The result is an amalgamation of abstract and recognisable imagery and, although he was using technology, Jon describes this as the most human part of the project. The AI interpreted something and discovered new ways to see the world.

Jon, too, saw an onslaught of positive comments from fellow TikTok users, with one of his BTS videos garnering over 183,000 views, with one user asking “How do you do things like that?” and another simply stating “BRO U NEED TO TEACH ME”. Safe to say it went down well, then. Looking ahead and off the back of this feedback, Jon is dead-set on the idea of continuing to post his work on TikTok as, for a while, he has been looking for a platform on which it makes sense to share in-progress footage of his work, and “TikTok feels like a natural place to do that.”

Sophie Koko Gate: Satisfaction (centre). Work in progress footage (left and right)

Next in line is Sophie Koko Gate, a London-based animator and director well known and much-loved for her bizarre sense of humour and the absurd work she creates. It’s with much pleasure that Sophie was assigned the emotion of satisfaction to interpret, therefore, leaving us intrigued as to what she would produce. While initially her thoughts were centred on creating an alternative “slime/gunge/foam video”, it was while scratching her boyfriend’s head that she had an epiphany: “I realised that’s quite a cute idea – to just make the whole ident about an itch that wants to be scratched.” Then taking inspiration from her “favourite thing” which is a ceramic cow she once made, based on her dad, the narrative of Sophie’s TikTok is simple and it follows a four-legged creature struggling to “scratch its butt”.

While Kenny embodied humanity by revealing the steps that led to his final outcome, and Jon did so by working with AI, for Sophie, her response to creativity with humanity was more thematic. “Humanity is a funny word,” she says, telling us she Googled it to find out the definition is: “Characteristics that belong specifically to us, human beings.” When those characteristics are attributed to non-human beings, “we humans think it is cute and funny but can also relate better,” Sophie says, which is essentially what she is concerned with all of the time in her practice. Therefore, “the brief was easy to approach because it dealt with things I think about in my own personal work.”

A particular highlight for Sophie was seeing her dad’s reaction when he first saw the ceramic cow come to life – “he literally whooped in the air.” From a technical standpoint, however, the project also allowed Sophie to explore a new technique within 3D animation, something she is very new to. In a statement which also reflects Jon’s opinions on humanity within creativity she adds: “I like all the ‘wrong’ things that happened in the animation process, things that most 3D animators would probably cringe at like objects going through each other and moving unnaturally.” While this provided challenges, she had animator Jack Wedge to help guide her along the process, and ultimately it meant she avoided having to draw 12 frames a second, something she is “sick to death of”.

So that’s four down and eight to go but who’s next we hear you asking. Well, in no particular order, we are more than a little bit excited to see what Margarida Ferreira, Carlota Guerrero, Parker Heyl, Natalie Liu, Greg Barth and more have to offer. Watch this space, download TikTok and give us a follow while you’re there…

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About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.

rbd@itsnicethat.com

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