Surface to Air: Favorite Color and Varathit Uthaisri Working Together

A while back, we made a post about the Bonaroo line-up animation, the basic concept of which was taken from Javan Ivey’s My Paper Mind. Despite not being involved with the Bonaroo project, Javan was honored to have his work sampled and taken further. In his words: “It looks great. I mean, I’m kinda bummed I wasn’t invited to the party, but I really enjoy seeing what they’ve done.”

The ensuing Motionographer comments raised questions about involving the originators of a particular technique in commercial applications of that technique. People wondered why Javan wasn’t brought on as a collaborator or consultant by Ghost Robot (who had, it turns out, contacted Javan about the Bonaroo project).

Acting as a model for how things can be done differently is the opening sequence for the Promax|BDA Awards created by Favorite Color.


A couple days before the awards opening was released, we saw an engaging experimental film created by Parson’s student Varathit “Tu” Uthaisri. Surface bore an uncanny resemblance to the Favorite Color project, and the inevitable cries of “rip-off” came from some of us here at Motionographer HQ (me included).


But then we looked closer, and we discovered that Tu was actually listed as an art director on the Favorite Color project.

That intrigued me, so I asked Favorite Color Founder/Executive Producer Dave Dimmick about it:

Frank [Pichel, Creative Director] went to a screening of Tu’s thesis at Parson’s right around the same time we were asked to do the Promax/BDA opening.  With the Promax/BDA theme this year being “leading the new economy of marketing and design,” we thought it might be a cool idea to do something metaphoric to how we interpreted that theme.

Our thought was that we could create a metaphor for the economy, where things are not exactly as they appear.  We thought Tu’s Surface film was the perfect concept for us to build from.

So they got Tu involved as a freelance art director. As simple as that. They brought him out to the shoot in upstate New York, and Tu helped set up scenes, working closely with Frank Pichel to achieve the right look.

But it gets better. Tu’s Surface was obviously inspired by other projects that came before it, as he clearly states in the Process area of his site, going so far as to link to the relevant works. His openness about his influences imbues him with a sense of confidence and integrity, setting a fine example for students and studios alike to follow.

Now, if we could just get advertising agencies on the same page…

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About the author

Justin Cone

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.



Great insight!


I worked with Tu on this project. He is a brilliant designer, and great conceptual artist. We had alot of fun taking his ideas, adding ours, and coming up with a new look that we were all proud of. This is the kind of open-source collaboration that should be happening across the board; not just for fun, but for actual clients.




Awesome concept, great job!!

Lilian Darmono

Thumbs up to Favourite Color. Great article, Justin—carries a very important message !


i love how, when it was thought the grad student’s project looked too close to the Favorite Color’s opening sequence it was a “rip off” but when it’s found out that Favorite Color is the thief, it’s “job well done FC”

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