Interview with Motion Designer Hug Codinach

I had a chance to interview Hug Codinach, a freelance motion designer who does a lot of work with King and Country and Charlie Company, two of my favorite studios out there. He is unbelievably talented and has lots of great advice and tips for us. Thanks Hug for taking the time to share!

Did you go to school for motion graphics?

I studied media and film at EMAV school in my hometown of Barcelona back in 1995.  I specialized in graphic design “in motion” the concept of “motion graphics” didn’t exist yet so there were no motion graphics schools back then. Now you can kick a rock and find hundreds of schools specialized in motion graphics.  I really had to work hard to navigate my way through this developing, abstract field however I was so fortunate to meet and work with incredibly talented designers, who always had a strong idea on how to approach projects.

What did you study at school?

I studied film and video production, focusing on graphics for TV. I remember doing some work at school with a Comodore Amiga computer and using the first versions of After effects 1.5 on old Macs. Back then you had to think a lot before starting a project in order to make it work, because with the old software and computers it could be incredibly frustrating. But I knew from the beginning of my studies that this is was my passion and I wanted to make a career out of it.

How did you get into your first job in the industry?

I was lucky that a teacher at the same school was also a director and asked me to work with him. My first job was to put graphics on a tv lotto show for Catalunya, nothing exciting but it gave me a start. After that I bounced around between different local tv stations creating and supervising the network branding.

I remember working a lot and doing a lot of things at the same time, even supervising the technical department for one of the networks. Although it was stressful at times, it was worth it because it gave me a lot of experience and exposure.

After that I started working for El Terrat, which is a Spanish production company, and I worked for them for almost 5 years mainly creating graphics for their popular late night show Buenafuente. Later on I worked in Spain as a freelancer directing, designing and/or animating with my friend and amazing artist Frankie de Leonardis who has been already featured twice in Motionographer.

In 2007 I decided to take a big risk and moved to Los Angeles working freelance for various studios. The risk paid off and I am now living happily in LA with my beautiful wife. I have found LA to be a perfect place for me as I am passionate about film and hope to further expand my career into the realm of directing.

Tell me a bit about where you work right now

I am working freelance and right now there are two studios I mainly work with : King and Country and Charlie Company. They are both in Santa Monica and specialize in commercials, network branding, promos and visual effects. I am also working on a few personal projects, which I am very excited about. One of them is a teaser trailer for the amazing illustrated book Pincel de Zorro, so be sure to check back soon on my website.  I am extremely passionate and borderline obsessed with film and photography so I am continually shooting on my Super 8 and trying to figure out a way to successfully blend the old with the new.

How long have you been in the industry?

More than 15 years, wow I feel old saying that…

What software do you use?

I use Cinema 4D, After Effects, Final Cut, Photoshop and Illustrator as my main tools. Also Mocha for 2D tracking and Boujou for 3D tracking.

How would you describe your style?

Even after 15 years I wouldn’t say that I have a specific style, I guess people like to put a label on everything so its easier to identify you. However if I had to choose I would say that I have a tendency for retro and vintage style. I try to approach every project in a different way and I always try to escape from cliches. I appreciate the studios that have the ability to adapt to different kind of styles and projects rather than the ones that keep doing the same thing over and over…

Do you have any hints for people interested in the industry, any ideas on how to get started in motion graphics?

Create as many personal projects as possible and experiment. Design a website or create a blog and put all your projects on it and then send it to the studios that you would like to work with. Be persistent and try to “educate” your eye as much as you can, refine your taste. And most important of all is be passionate about what you are doing.  If you are not loving what you are doing then that will show through in your work.

Are there one or two things you wish you had known when you were just starting out?

When I first started I insisted on doing everything on my own, I felt I needed to prove myself. Over time I realized how important it is to share experiences and ideas with other artists and working together is actually the best schooling you can have.

Are there any fantastic plug ins, third party tools or books that you have found recently that you would recommend?

I will mention Turbulence from Jawset both 2D and 3D versions still in beta process but amazing for fluid and smoke simulation: Jawset.

Do you have any websites or books that you turn to regularly for inspiration and training?

I think that motion graphics is so open that you can learn from anything. I sometimes just prefer to spend time browsing through various art and design books. There are too many to name, but the Los Logos series is a great source for logo inspiration with a unique selection of designs. I also love classic paintings and Illustrations and I truly believe they are a great source of inspiration for me.

In terms of websites I would mention Motionographer, Stash, Behance or Art of the Title between many others.

I also love to wander the streets and take photographs. Another great source of inspiration comes from old films that I watch regularly,  I am a huge fan of Sergio Leone, Bertolucci, Terry Gilliam, Michel Gondry, Jean Pierre Jeunet between others.

What is the single most important thing you need to do or be to excel in our industry?

Challenge yourself over and over and remain inspired.

If you could have a dream job in the industry, what would it be?

My dream job is to direct my own projects, hopefully film, in the future.  I love directing in that it allows me to collaborate with others in a creative way and tell a cohesive story by putting together different pieces, I find the whole process very exciting.

Big thanks to Hug for sharing some tips he has learned during his amazing career. Check out his website here:

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