David Rosenbaum is a director for Mothership with a wildly impressive background in visual storytelling. He started his career as an art director at Digital Domain, where he worked on award-winning commercials for Nike, Saab, Microsoft, Epic Games and Hummer. He moved into pre-visualization for commercials, and in 2008 became a creative director, working on campaigns for Honda, Epic Games’ Gears of War, and Lincoln. He was a lead pre-vis artist for the feature film “Tron: Legacy.” One of his most recent directorial accomplishments is the Nike FlyKnit “Biomorph” ad – which made our jaw-drop and eyes-pop – which led us to this interview we scored with David below.
Where did your passion about directing live action and CG derive from? I don’t think I’ve ever made a conscious decision to direct things that have both live action and CG in them…I’m passionate about communicating a story or an idea and sometimes the right tool for the job is CG. With the advent of technology, I think it affords you the ability to communicate ideas differently, and that’s always a good thing.
You work many different brands. What is a campaign you have worked on that you felt that you were the brand’s target demographic? Ironically, I think television commercials are wasted on me because I don’t watch a lot of TV. I like to run, so I guess I’d be the demographic for my Nike FlyKnit “Biomorph” ad.
How did you collaborate with the production and CG team to bring a complex spot like “Biomorph” to life? These days there really isn’t such a thing as ‘post-production.’ When the project is so intertwined with CG, collaboration starts right from the beginning. We started with storyboards and some style frames that could define the look and feel, then even did some R&D animation tests on the knitting effect. By the time it came to shooting the live-action, I had a tone and an idea for how I wanted everything to come together. We shot high speed with the Phantom Flex and set out to capture all of the ideas and visuals I had in my head. Editing was just about finding the right narrative and pacing. The team was amazing the whole way through and there was never any “we can’t do that,” or “that’s not possible.”
What activity do you find most relaxing when you are not at work? Fixing things around the house. There’s something immediately satisfying about it that I don’t seem to get much of at work. I like starting something and finishing it in the same day.
What is something you geek-out over? I’m in love with the Internet. I allot a couple hours a day to looking at content. My bookmarks are meticulously organized into categories like photographers, sculptors, painters, graphic designers, and even paper craft. But then those are categorized even further. I also keep a huge visual library of images and videos that I’m constantly adding to as well. I’m a visual whore.
What has been a digital video you have seen recently that has impressed you? A couple of friends just completed a two-year long production of a zombie movie called Spoiler. It was the absolute definition of low-budget and what they came out with in the end was epically impressive.
Given that digital media is so pervasive, high-powered equipment is becoming easier to access – what is your thought on how the new wave of filmmakers and digital storytellers are going to standout from one another? I think the accessibility just evens the playing field. I’ve seen people with unlimited budgets make crap, and people with nothing glue me to the screen. Whether it’s visually or emotionally, you have to connect with your viewer and be remembered. That’s how it has always been in film…and with all things being even, I think that’s how it will always be with any media.
How does working on a film vs. working on a digital ad campaign compare for you creatively? It really doesn’t matter what I’m working on as long as I feel that I can contribute creatively to the project. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to direct a feature film, but I’ve worked on many in different capacities. There can be a stale factor with a film because the process is so long, but if your role is exciting, then it can be equally as rewarding as creatively leading an ad campaign.
Who would be your dream artist to collaborate with? Why? What would you make? That’s like asking what my favorite movie is and my response will always be, “today?” I’d like to film live-action versions of Jeremy Geddes cosmonaut series of paintings. And I’d also love to design a stage/movie theatre with Zaha Hadid. Lofty dreams.
What/who is on your radar right now? I just saw this great photography series called “Underwater Girl” by Jacob Sutton. It’s gorgeous photography from him, adding to his already amazing work.
Where do you think digital media is going? To the cloud … we’re all heading to the cloud.
Watch the making of the Nike FlyKnit “Biomorph” campaign below. Visit Mothership to find out more on their impressive roster of directors.