Last week, the ADC Gallery played host to a phenomenal level of talent and wisdom, as the Design and Motion juries of the ADC 95th Annual Awards met to select the very best work of the past year. And while we can’t quite share with you who will be bringing home a highly coveted ADC Cube from the awards galas this June, we can give you a little taste of the experiences of the various Jury members who studied, debated and eventually choose which entries will be immortalized in ADC history.
Judging, Day One.
I wake up, have no clue where I am, and there’s someone in my bed. I guess i’m in a hotel. It’s March 1st in Lower Manhattan NYC. I’m delirious. I haven’t spent more than 2 days in one place in the past month. NY>Amsterdam>England>Amsterdam>NY>LA>NY>LA>NY>Pittsburgh>NY>LA. I’m either really busy and important or the worst creator of itineraries, ever. Or, everything went wrong.
The three biggest stresses in life are death, divorce, and moving. I covered ⅔ of this the week of The ADC judging. My aunt who’d predicted I’d be a director died unexpectedly as I was moving to Los Angeles. Fuck death and moving. If any of you are thinking of moving across the country, talk to me and I’ll tell you 5,000 things not to do.
I’ll be at The ADC for the first day of judging in one hour. I want to be awesome, but instead I don’t have clean underwear. I spray on a lot of perfume, assemble my hair so it looks less like baby rats, and pull a poncho-moo-moo-sweater-cape-blanket-thing over my head. Maybe no one will see me.
I have deep contemplative thoughts on the way Uptown to The ADC. When I joined the Motion Jury, I was honored and thrilled. I super-admire the ADC, won a YG11 award, and was excited to see and meet old and new colleagues. After all this chaos and heartbreak, I felt like wasps were ripping apart my insides. “Don’t embarrass yourself”, says anxiety.
I arrive at The ADC and am greeted by a sea of smiles and style. Like beautiful mermaids and mermen, the ADC team guide me to the group with grace. ADC’s Director of Awards Programs Jen Larkin Kuzler introduces herself along with ADC Board Member Brian Collins, and I feel a flood of calm, the first in a long time. I remember I love ADC because WOW, I’m in a room filled with insanely talented and successful artists, designers and that I actually love people.
It feels like the first day of day camp. The motion judges file upstairs to a room filled with beautiful ADC books from the past century. We settle in. The ADC crew hands us all iPods for judging. So future. We dive into the 1000+ entries. We judge based on instinct and move swiftly.
Jen hands us a 1-10 list. She has taken the time to describe what 1-10 means. We find this entertaining and super helpful.
I only know this hand picked jury by their talent and reputations, but it’s getting amazing quickly. Rama, Jodi, Dan, Maren, Erica and I were vibing. It feels like Christmas and the gifts are new friends.
I’m still delirious and when delirious I feel “accepted!”. Jodi and Erica emphatically tweet things I say they think are hilarious. Jodi hands me a paper he labels “Jargon” and tells me to write shit down.
Jen reports “I’m getting complaints there is too much laughter up here”. It’s amazing. A cubby hole of happiness in The ADC.
“Lauren’s fault!” says Jodi. I appreciate this. I’m the girl who is told once a day is told to use “indoor voice”. This is the first time, here at ADC with these judges, where being oneself is euphoric happiness. We’re wild and unapologetic, passionately deliberating the work. We listen to one another. It reminds me of when I was an author on the industry site Motionographer and we were this rascal online community pledging allegiance to this thing called “Motion Graphics”.
After an intense 6 hours, on to judging the student category…
We are blown away. “Should we all just give up now?” says Jodi. None of us “professionals” know how the hell these “students” are creating such magnificent pieces.
The day wraps and I have to bolt back to PSYOP to work. I stay there until 6am. I return to the ADC and the team is busting at the seams with enthusiasm for the day.
Judging Day 2.
Today we judge the final rounds. How? Unlike yesterday, we don’t have Jen’s 1-10 cheat sheet. Instead it’s about our voices. We’re are encouraged to debate and discuss.
It gets beautiful and it gets dirty. It’s like playing rugby with design and animation samurai. If these guys could fight with words, this is how they’d do it:
Jodi– Sweet, darling man who wept tears of happiness when judging ads of fathers and daughters. Deceptive because the guy carries word daggers and fights the good fight to get the good stuff in. He’s unapologetic in his opinions and I deeply admire this. “Damn, I wish I were that brave”, I think. The guy is super talented so I hold back a bit, watch, listen and learn as he cuts through the BS and goes straight for the soft spots of any piece. His points are valid. His voice is respected.
Erica– Ah, Erica, my beloved “motion graphics” vs. “animation” nemesis. This beautiful little woman is massive talent and like Jodi, she gets straight to the point. I’m amazed by her boldness. That said, a single ad had Erica and I in a hot debate. “It’s AMAZING”, said Erica. “I just… don’t get it”, said I. Reversely, I praised a piece I thought was fantastic. “Meh”, says Erica. We battle and I remember women are kick ass.
Rama– Rama comes to the top of the table, our leader, our captain, like a wise man with a beard. Obi Wan. Yoda. Whatever. He spends a lot of time listening to us chatter on and then, like the swiftness of a sword, cuts right into what we’re discussing. It’s thoughtful, encouraging, and clear. I can immediately see why he’s at the helm of the creative team at The Mill NY. I want to learn from his calm confidence. “When I grow up, I want to be a man director like him”, I think. “But a woman.”
Dan– I’ve known Dan for a long time. I always saw him as real “thinker”, super talented, and focused. Judging the awards, this man used these strengths like a python preparing for a marathon. Dan listened. Then, in a clean and purposeful attack, he threw sharp opinions in the air which left us lifted and in a brilliant debate. His laugh carried the room. We listened when he talked.
Maren– Maren was like the secret weapon in discussions. Self professed dark and Norwegian, her talent and asethetic senses get us all talking. She commands the room with a single sentence. She confidently sits in the chair like a boss. “Who are these amazing women and where have they been my entire life?” I think.
Lauren – Small dark haired woman who admits she has taxidermy bats.
The process of judging feels like walking through the looking glass. Every project leads us in a direction of a new challenge or debate. What is the difference between Motion Graphics and Animation? What makes a great title sequence? On and on. This isn’t just judging work, this is the work enabling us to explore the semantics and meaning behind what artists in motion are actually creating.
Joy. All day long. The process of debating the merit of a piece in the realm of “Art, Craft, and Commerce”, the ADC mantra, with such gusto tells me one thing: The prestigious ADC Cube isn’t only based singularly on art, craft on merit, it’s about creating work which engages with meaning and purpose.
Judging for the ADC Annual Awards was a game changer for me. I leave NYC for LA more inspired and lifted than I’ve ever been in my entire career.
J A R G O N
On understanding what a “festival interstitial” is...
“What is this, a festival interstitial?” – Jodi
“What is a festival interstitial? Is it like when they want you to sit the fuck down to watch the festival so they play something loudly?” – Lauren
“Yes, that’s exactly what it is.” – Jodi
“Wow, you’re so industry.” – Lauren
“Worst compliment ever!” – Everyone
On how everyone loves Michelle Higa…
Everyone loves Michelle Higa.
On how simple things can blow your mind when judging motion…
“I can’t even animate a circle. That circle animation is like, mind blowing to me.” – Lauren
“Wait, I have that bat!” – Lauren on admitting she owns a taxidermy bat in the commercial.
On how Buck is annoyingly good at everything…
“Fucking Buck.” – Everyone in response to how good Buck is
On judging motion design…
“MMM…. Line weight.” – said every designer, ever.
“Someone got away with small font” – Rama on students using small fonts on their titles
“I’m learning a lot… to be happy.” – Lauren
“Oh that’s like my mom’s reaction” – Dan Gregoras telling another juror that they react to motion like his mother
On seeing something you’ve never seen before…
“It’s like a disembodied finger niblet”
“I’ve never seen that before”
“It’s like, so fresh.”
The ADC 95th Annual Awards Advertising and Digital judging takes place April 11–15, 2016.