Bottled Up and the importance of collaborative projects

Editor’s note: The motion design community is home to countless collaborations and thankfully, each year we all get to benefit from the fruit of this labor. Throughout the years, we’ve seen these collaborations cover a wide gamut of topics from advocacy films, to films which dive into deep topics, to politics, and even projects whose sole intent is simply to act as a vessel for abstraction and experimentation. Today’s Guest Post is brought to you by Chris Guyot. Aside from being extremely talented, he is also the mastermind behind the recent collaborative project “Bottled Up”. Bottled Up is a project that is equally as beautiful as it is thoughtful and it’s definitely worth your attention.

As with many personal projects, the idea for Bottled Up was initially inspired by a real-life situation. Back when my wife (who happens to be a florist) and I shared common office space, she had multiple shelves full of floral supplies filling our office. One shelf, in particular, was specifically reserved for glass containers and vases ranging in a wide array of shapes and sizes. One day as I was chatting with a couple of friends about the possibility of forming a larger collaborative project, I glanced over at them all and thought “Perhaps there’s something there.”

“Ambition” by Berd

I’ve always loved collaborating with friends on personal work for many reasons. One of the biggest being that it constantly brings me back to a place of feeling excitement and joy with regard to our craft. I’m fairly certain that most of us got into this because at some level, we genuinely enjoy creating art. It’s very unlikely that anyone would stay up until 2 am meticulously tweaking the f-curves on an animation because they want to use art to become some rich and famous celebrity. Personal projects have always allowed me to get back to that place of creating from a place of freedom instead of obligation. Of course, client work is clearly important, but at times it may not be the most fulfilling.

“Confidence” by Chris Guyot

More importantly, making personal projects with friends also allows me to experience that joy alongside people that I care about. I’m a firm believer that relationships are extremely valuable. At times with some personal projects that I’ve taken on alone, I’ve gotten to a point where I get bored and then put the project on the backburner. This has occasionally led to the death of the project. However when working with others, it’s easy to constantly remain excited by what they may be contributing. This helps the project to continue to be fresh, and keeps the process moving forward.

“Curiosity” by Peter Tarka

Working closely with other people also offers multiple perspectives. I may overlook or overwork something that someone else with a fresh set of eyes might offer different insight into. This will not only elevate the quality of the work, but will often lead to mutual self-improvement as well. When working with friends who have strengths that complement your own, you naturally grow and improve as an artist.

“Regret” by Andrew Prousalis

Another reason why I love collaborative projects is because it connects people. There are many people who are now my close friends that I would have likely never met or extensively spoken with had we not both participated in a collaboration of some kind. In an increasingly remote-oriented work environment, many people not living in major metropolitan areas may be more isolated. In those instances, connecting with other artists can be challenging. Online collaborations give us the opportunity to close that gap. The scenarios are endless, but I’ve noticed a very consistent theme regarding personal project collaborations. I have more fun when I’m working with friends, and that typically reflects in the quality of the work.

“Calming” by Patrick Sluiter

Prior to Bottled Up, the majority of the collaborations that I have been involved in have been smaller teams of people. In the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to do something that included a lot more artists for two primary reasons. The first reason being that many of my friendships have originally formed from collaborations. I was hoping to create a large project that might provide a similar experience for many others. Secondly, collaborations often highlight a wide range of styles and skill sets. This showcases the vast amount of artistic diversity within our industry.

“Complicated” by Ijia Shoo

With those two ideas in mind, I began brainstorming and chatting with some friends. Creatively, the two primary goals were to provide a bit of structure for the project to be cohesive, while also attempting to give people as much freedom as possible to fully express themselves. It was really important to establish a framework that would achieve both. Immediately, I realized that the glass cloche sitting on the shelf next to me might be just the right way to accomplish that. By limiting each artist to a specific scene template structure, camera angle, and general theme of an emotion, we were able to achieve a sense of cohesion within the vast stylistic diversity of each individual piece.

“Despair” by Geoff Keough

While it was overall a relatively smooth experience, we definitely faced some unanticipated challenges along the way. One of the biggest difficulties were getting perfectly identical images rendered out of Cinema 4D and Octane across various versions. Although we used the exact same render settings, materials and lighting setup for all of the wide shots, I previously didn’t realize how vastly different Octane renders images across various versions. In other instances where scenes may not need to perfectly match a template, this wouldn’t be as big of a deal. However, one of the core concepts of Bottled Up was that all of these pieces would live in the same pseudo digital museum art gallery. It was important that they all looked like they were within the same room. After receiving a few submissions, I quickly learned that Octane version 3.07 and 3.08 calculate light very, very differently. The images looked like they were rendered from entirely different template files. After searching for a solution for probably a touch too long, I ultimately just decided to comp each of the wide shots in Photoshop.

“Indifference” by Jeff Briant

Personally, my favorite thing about Bottled Up is the diversity. The moment the first few entries began to roll into my inbox, I was immediately captivated by both the skill level of the participating artists, and how different every entry was when compared to another. Seeing such a wide range of artistic styles, subject matters, and narratives is what I find to be the most interesting aspect of the project as a whole. Each artist really brought their best work to the table. I’m blown away by the time and energy that everyone poured into this. I’m truly honored to be apart of a community that values individual artistic expression as much as this community does.

“Depression” by Jean Pierre LeRoux

As Bottled Up is a project centered around collaboration and community, here are some insights from some of the contributing artists:

“Emotionless” by Linus Zoll

“For me, collaborating with other artists is one of the most fun things to do. Combining the different styles and skill sets of two or more people in one projects opens many doors to create new things.”

-Linus Zoll

“Suffocation” by Alejandro Pérez

Collaboration is a great way to share perspectives and ideas. It allows you to see what other people have to say in their own unique style in combination with yours. It also provides a great opportunity to get to know artists from all around the world.”

-Alejandro Pérez

“Confusion” by Wes L Cockx

“When working in the commercial artistic space, often times you don’t get to express your true vision. Personal work allows you to show your uncompromised vision in you work, and really gives you a voice. This helps you to stand out as an artist, which also elevates your work.”

-Wes L Cockx

“Glee” by Sekani Solomon

“[Collaboration] gives you the opportunity to learn and gain new perspectives, ideas, and ways of working/thinking. My artistic development couldn’t have happened as it did if I hadn’t had the chance to work with some super talented artists. Their knowledge really helped me to grow.”

-Sekani Solomon

“Serene” by Paul McMahon

Working with other artists creates a project you never thought possible on your own. You grow much faster as an artist with high-quality collaborations. You also learn different skills as you pick things up from those you are working with.

-Paul McMahon


Project Creator: Chris Guyot

Artists: Alejandro Pérez, Alex Jacobo-Blonder, Andrew Prousalis, Berd, Blake Kathryn, Brendi LW, Casey Latiolais, Chris Guyot, Cristian Malagón Garcia, Drew Nelson, Frankie Principe, Geoff Keough, Handel Eugene, Ijia Shoo, JeanPierre Le Roux, Jeff Briant, Joey Camacho, Jonathan Lindgren, Laura Sirvent, Linus Zoll, Liron Ashkenazi Eldar, Luke Guyer, Mike Humphrey, Patrick Sluiter, Peter Tarka, Sekani Solomon, The Rusted Pixel, Wes L Cockx

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About the author

Joe Donaldson

Joe Donaldson is a director, designer, and animator who worked on Motionograpgher from 2014-2020. Previously, he was an art director at Buck. Over the past decade, he's lived and worked in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles and has directed work for clients such as Apple, Google, Instagram, The New York Times, Unicef, Etsy, and The New Yorker. In addition to his creative work, in 2018 he started Holdframe. He's now working as a professor at Ringling College of Art and Design and when not teaching he can be found spending time with his family or out running.