In Awards and Achievements, Department of Design, Faculty and Staff

Communication Arts recognizes the MODE 2017 opening titles, a video by Brent Barson that highlights the technological and stylistic capacity of modern motion design.

The Design Annual issue of Communication Arts magazine recognizes the best in visual art across many industries. Though Department of Design Professor Brent Barson has been featured before, he’s happy to be recognized by the publication once again.

“It feels really good,” Barson said. “It is tough to get into, there are around 4,000 entrants. It’s very gratifying, makes the effort worth it.”

Communication Arts honored Barson for his work on the MODE Conference 2017 opening titles video. MODE, or Motion Design Education, commissioned Barson’s work. MODE has regularly scheduled conventions and continues to “encourage, share and help motion design by providing a platform for research pedagogy,” as stated by the organization’s website. Though the organization was originally founded by three motion design educators, it has since quadrupled in size, with Barson being among the professors who have joined on.

“I attended the second MODE they ever had and I asked to get involved, so I was one of the six founding members for the third,” Barson said. “It’s really exciting to see it growing.”

The video has a distinct aesthetic. Though the colors were decided by the conference’s color scheme, the rest of the video is almost entirely the product of Barson (the music was done by Micah Dahl Anderson).

“The project was born of my academic leave from BYU,” Barson said. “It was a deep dive into this 3D software, Octane Render. What was exciting about it to me is that it can render completely photorealistic scenes. I thought, ‘That’s an interesting idea, to create reality while also filming surreality.’”

A frame from Barson’s MODE 2017 opening titles.

“Realistic surrealism” is a good description of the video. During its roughly two minutes of run time, the video contains a dancing cloud, a woman with elastic arms and a man with a bouncing-ball head.

One of Barson’s other intentions in making the film was to comment on motion design itself. As Communications Arts says in the video’s description, “the most primitive way for us to communicate, describe and teach motion design is to move our hands or perform movements with our bodies.” Alternately, the most advanced methods of motion design involve complex rendering software, like Octane Render. By combining moving limbs and bodies with high-end software, Barson juxtaposes the primitive with the technologically advanced.

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