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protomen 10 year anniversary_042513

protomen 10 year poster

our dear friends?the protomen are 10 years old this year – the same age as us in fact. above is the poster we created for their anniversary show in nashville this weekend. hidden in it are various artifacts dating back to when they recorded their first song, due vendetta. hard copies are of course available at the show, and likely afterwards too.

here’s to another 10 years as magnificent as the last.

cheers,

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gabriel bruce_040513

gabriel bruce show poster

long-time fans of gabriel’s music, we approached him after one of his shows in new york and had a quick chat. it turns out that aside from making beautiful songs, one of his band is also directly related to john cassavetes. this could only be a good sign. cassavetes, if you didn’t know already, is a fantastic film director and a huge influence on some of us here at (v).

i digress. a few months later gabriel got in touch and asked if we wanted to put together a poster for his forthcoming album release party in london. jumping at the chance, we cut out some of the photographs we’d taken of him performing in new york, and created 5 different designs. the above image is the one he went for, and below is another edition we were fond of from the batch.

gabriel bruce show poster
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ten years (v)_030613

ten year party poster

2013 marks the 10 year anniversary of the founding of our company, version industries. to celebrate the occasion we threw a party at the cake shop in manhattan, new york. it was a magical affair to say the least, with friends and collaborators flying in from europe and all over the US to be a part of it.

we created a poster and an engraved, acid-burned copper plate to commemorate the occasion. these we gave out to those in attendance. the plate itself of course inspired by the late joy division’s record sleeve for their song,?love will tear us apart.?each plate’s lettering was hammered in by giles and myself personally.?both the concept and the treatment just seemed apt somehow.

copper plate
copper plate

the following are some photographs from the night, which consisted of food, drinks, live music, dancing, glowsticks and all manner of other madness. none of which would of course be possible without incredible performances from?SONOIO, makeup and vanity set and BELLS?, and of course the?help of andy boder and all the other fantastic people working at the cake shop.

dj
bells
makeup and vanity set
sonoio
dancing

thank you a million times over to everyone who’s ever asked us to work for them in any capacity. we are only still here because of you and you’ve quite frankly given us a reason to live. not to mention a chance to see some of those ridiculous dreams we had as children realized.

here’s to you.

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caspar vs. monocle magazine_022813

monocle march 2013 cover

caspar was recently interviewed for monocle magazine. here’s an excerpt from the piece –

describe your work with bands.
i am responsible for visually creating their sound. i get images in my head from listening to their music and create everything from sleeves, posters and videos to documentaries. i only work with bands i like.

is art more influential in the music business now?
record labels have faded. bands work with us on artwork and we in turn can become a catalyst for them working with each other. it’s a creative nucleus. we all talk online but it’s as though we’re meeting up in a bar. it’s unusual that so many bands are grouped around us, linked by interest in our design ethic rather than necessarily sharing a musical theme. i’m treated like a band member – i’ve even gone on tour.

we’d like to thank belinda bamber for conducting such a wonderful interview, and of course?joshua simpson?for taking the great photographs.

you can read the rest of the interview here. the magazine itself is in stores now.

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not fade away (part 2)_012913

not fade away website

our website for david chase’s rock ‘n’ roll, coming-of-age feature?not fade away, is now live. as hinted at in our previous post?the site represents our first public foray into hollywood studio design work.?paramount pictures came to us upon the recommendation of jon reiss, and requested that we create an award-winning website for them for a forthcoming feature film. they then provided us with some examples of the kinds of websites they felt were truly successful on a number of levels – their choices were excellent and we were excited by their expectations. in fact it was in every way one of the more exciting moments in our now-10 year life as a company, as we’d dreamed about such an opportunity since the moment we saw hi-res! flaunting their talents in a similar fashion 10 years earlier.

as is our usual way, we conceived of three differing, strong and complex approaches that we felt would capture at the very least the tonal nature of the film, as best we could determine from their words about the film alone. they were excited by our suggestions and not long after this we were given a chance to see the film at press screening in new york.

of all our ideas, paramount wanted to move forward with our suggestion of a a series of location-aware, fully soundtracked, living photographs that would be tailored to each of the site’s sections. to achieve this we first pitched the relatively new technique of creating PNG animations as a more compatible and controllable form of GIF animation ? in essence, canvas-based video. it was a technique that we’d first noticed being used by jon skinner on the website for?sublime text, and later, the apple website, and one that we knew we could adapt in order to bring the site comfortably to the iphone and ipad.

on top of this, because we could not use music from the film, we had approval on the creation of supporting soundscapes, custom radio recordings and also a full musical score in support of each animation. our trick, of course, being that each soundscape would be different depending on where you were looking at the site within the USA, and the weather outside at that time. each radio news report would be native to your location, should you have been alive in the 60s, and all the songs you heard on the radio would be imitations tracks of bands?from the so-called british invasion of the US. in essence, we were striving to conjure up a disarmingly fragile series of moments in an otherwise rather raucous film, and these looping visual tangents would allow us to illustrate the various tonal elements of the film without having to seriously spoil any of it.

not fade away website, filmmaker page

after making notes during the screening of the scenes we felt would be most suited to this idea, we were sent a quicktime reel of the scenes to produce compositions from.

we then started in earnest to create the soundscapes, radio recordings and music. gavin singleton, who runs our studio in london, headed up the audio production. he created a series of soundscape beds for each scene, and also cut up and mixed the other elements together as they were passed over to him. zach barocas, who manages our studio here in new york and who’s had previous work as a voiceover artist, recorded hundreds of custom, historical radio news and weather reports. adam shaw and pete newton, two trusted commercial composers from england, set about recording a series of rock ‘n’ roll songs in differing styles. giles and i then set about vetting the various elements, offering feedback where possible, in order to harmonize the audio with the visuals we were developing.?it was perhaps the most exciting, unified team effort we’d invested our time in to date – a real showcase of all our various talents.

towards the end of production we found out it was in fact possible to use the music from the film, as long as we used only 30 second clips of it. this meant we had to replace our custom sound work with a player featuring short loops much like itunes does in its track previews.

the site is an unusual and beautiful site in many respects, and we are proud of it.?we hope you enjoy the experience we’ve created. if you’re interested in taking a look at the site with the original sound engine still present (including locale-based news reports, custom rock songs and louder soundscapes), you can do so by clicking here. we’re calling it our director’s cut. we’re thankful to have been commissioned to build such an engine even if it was never used, and one day hope to be able to re-develop it for another project in some capacity.

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i drove all night_012313

i drove all night outside cover

the above layout is a part of the latest in our ongoing collaborations with the protomen – it’s the inlay of the cassette single for their cover of roy orbison’s i drove all night. it’s been public knowledge for a while that the band have been working on a covers LP, and this marks the first release from that project. never a band to back down from going all the way in terms of developing a narrative around their releases, this covers record is going to be a very unique thing indeed. striving to be both the greatest covers record you’ve ever heard, it may also turn out to be the greatest soundtrack to a film you’ve never seen. either way we are yet again being pushed by the protomen to pull out the stops on creating the most immersive artwork experience we can in support of it.

the i drove all night cassette single, whilst just a teaser of what’s to come, provided a good warm-up to working on the larger release. you see for?the protomen?the process of selecting songs to cover?is a little more in depth than with most bands we’ve worked with.?i drove all night?was chosen not just because it’s a tough old jam that harks back sweatily to another time, but also because lyrically it echoes very strongly elements of the protomen’s own story. expanding upon this, what you see when you open the cassette up and turn over the inlay is this –

i drove all night inside spread

calling once again on the mighty talents of john delucca, we went back and forth on various different angles and layouts until we had in essence captured what we felt told the story best. once john had drawn in all the details we were after, he brushed in the colour and we took over with various aspects of post-production and layout work. all of this in order to bring it in line with the band’s reference-fueled vision for the overall package.

the cherry on top was of course including the name and logo for the film for which this covers album would be the soundtrack. aptly named?the cover up, we wanted with just a logo to give fans a little taste of what’s to come – what the story of the covers LP might be about and what sort of tone it might have.

i drove all night cassette

only 1000 copies were printed of the cassette ?- you can grab a copy of it here whilst stocks last.

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film posters (part 2)_011613

future weather poster

following up on our previous film poster round-up, here are a selection of recent film posters we’ve produced for various filmmaker collaborators. it’s worth noting this time around that some of the editions you see here weren’t actually used to promote the respective films in the end. however in retrospect we felt they were worth seeing nevertheless – if anything they can now be seeing as ‘fan posters’ of a sort.

LUV poster
detroit unleaded poster
pavilion poster
brooklyn brothers beat the best poster

as ever we look forward to what’s next and further honing our skills in this really very new and exciting aspect of what we do. a huge shout out and thanks to the filmmakers who’ve granted us these opportunities thus far.

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what about dick, how’s your news, pauly shore + joe rogan_011113

what about dick

since our initial work in the burgeoning direct-to-fan film sales world, we’ve been asked to produced platforms for a variety of different outfits. sometimes they want the whole rig from us as what about dick? and how’s your news? did, and sometimes they simply want to license the technology and design the look and feel of the platform themselves, as both pauly shore and joe rogan have. either way we’re extremely thankful to be asked to help in these developments, and flattered to be able to sit down in the fine company of those great talents interested in taking this new direction.

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your days are numbered_120312


about this time a year ago i was back in england with my brother wandering around london buying gifts and the like. at some point somewhere between the various shops we’d been to, i ended up with a tabloid sized newspaper in my bag with an drawing of iron man on the front, bleeding from his eyes. just above his head in a circle read the words, your days are numbered.

sitting down to grab a bite somewhere in soho i pulled out the paper and spread it across the table in front of us. immediately i was taken aback by the design of the layouts on every page. it’s long been a great sadness of mine that so few seem to have learned from magazines like the ray gun and the face, that one should endeavour to design layouts in response to their content, rather than the other way around. of course to find that this?free publication was being braver than the majority of expensive mags weighing down the racks in shops worldwide, should of course have come as absolutely no surprise. free fanzines and their brethren have been developing their punk aesthetic this way for decades now, and this new beauty in front of me was clearly no different.

in their own words, your days are numbered?is an independent graphic fiction magazine documenting the world around creators, comics and pop-culture. a world that whilst i have a huge respect and appreciation for, am absolutely ready to admit i’m not involved in as much as i would like, or perhaps should be. this ostentatiously designed thing lying spread-eagle over my burger and fries however, was about to pull me in deeper into that world that i ever thought i’d go.

arriving back in new york i found the issue in my bags and immediately pinned it to my bedroom wall. if anything it was simply going to remind that there’s still hope. however, over the next few days i kept looking at it and eventually pulled it down from the wall, opened it up and flipped to the masthead. i was going to write to these guys. they had to know how brilliant i thought they were, and as is my curse, i was absolutely going to offer to work for them, at whatever cost. it’s one thing to think something’s great, another thing to encourage them to continue – but if you really believe that what they’re doing is great, you have to work to take them to another level in whatever capacity you can.

firing off an email into the void, it was quite a while before i got a response. eventually i got a very nice email from their editor steve turner who immediately pointed out the humour in the fact that i was an english guy in new york writing to an american in london, and pretty soon we were talking about all of that and more. they immediately asked if i was interested in doing a layout or two for the next issue. not just that, they were asking if i wanted to layout an interview with alex garland?about the script he’d just written for the new judge dredd feature film. as a fan of dredd from when i was kid, and a big critic of alex garland’s work, it was perhaps more than i could have ever hoped for. certainly as my first shot at designing a magazine layout of any sort.

they were very clear about the fact that i could absolutely do whatever i wanted, and simply sent me text and images to work with. i couldn’t really ask for more.

then another serendipitous thing happened. a parcel had arrived in our studio during the spring containing a big brick of a comic book with the title king city. i had no idea who had sent it and during some time off in los angeles this summer to edit a short film i’ve been working on, i started to read it. it was captivating to say the least. the artwork, whilst not typically my style, married so beautifully with the playful dialogue, characters and science fiction concepts, that i was a quick convert. in fact i had to take care to not read it too fast, as comic books in my experience are too easily ripped through and thrown in a pile never to be visited again, and i’d not enjoyed one this much in a while.

after emailing around, curious as to where the book had materialized from, i soon discovered an old friend and comic book enthusiast had simply thought i might enjoy it, so had fired it off at me from his amazon account.

well of course then i get an email from steve at YDAN saying that they had another layout they were interested in me doing, an interview with the creator of?king citybrandon graham. once again i’d been blessed with that sacred thing in design – a great love and understanding of the content i was being asked to lay out. furthermore after being put in touch with brandon so that i could get some of his artwork from him, he offered to do a custom drawing just for the interview. i was over the moon. i set to work immediately, once again on two double page spreads and whilst this was definitely a tougher layout this time, am happy with the results.

afterall you can only do so much before the words have to take precedent, but i felt the balance between what was readable and how much character i got to put into the layouts in order to make it a memorable and exciting reading experience, was good.

the brandon graham issue is now on the shelves and i’m told doing better than any issue they’ve had before, in their admittedly short life thus far. you can find it in london at rough trade, brick lane coffee, eggs milk butter and gosh comics. i’m told it’s gonna be winging it’s way into various comic book stores in new york in the not too distant future too. so you know, if you have the means, it is?free afterall. whether you’re a comic book fan or not, steve and his team are doing the most fucking fantastic job of covering all sorts of relevant content.?most importantly of all however, they are trying to make every issue powerfully different, entertaining just to flip through and fully immersive once you get reading.

sitting back and looking at the various issues laying now on my desk and talking about the whole situation with steve, and some other friends, i am beginning to see the incredible potential of what these guys are trying to do here. more so than i perhaps did at first. it’s been too long since i’ve been excited by any publications of this kind (excluding of course the mighty little white lies), and i feel like?your days are numbered could comfortably be a part of any new vanguard movement striving to show people what a little free will, free press and design fundamentalism can achieve. i am very happy to be a part of this team and am excited to see where they steer this ship to next. i’ve been asking to be involved in magazines of one form or another for a long time, and in many ways i think i may well have found the most perfect spot to exorcise all the demons i have haunting my thoughts about the printed publication world.

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beyond the black rainbow_101312


the feeling you get watching panos cosmatos’ science-fiction film?beyond the black rainbow?is akin to what alex delarge must have felt when subjected to the ludovico technique in anthony burgess’ ferocious novel,?a clockwork orange. even if just to cleanse your palette you should subject yourself to its wiles at the nearest opportunity. it is of course not an easy watch. it will test your patience. however it will also leave an indelible mark on your brain. it’s coercive, narcotic audio-visual dictum will remind you that off the side and not so far away, there are those slaving away on the unforgiving, relentless and duty-bound task of making things that change the way you look at the world. things that take great pleasure in revisiting and cherishing the smallest details about the cultural carcasses we leave in our wake.

after seeing the film?here in new york, i found myself back in that familiar late night haze of coffee, loud music, sore back and twitching eyes, carving out the pieces you see above and below. whether you’re a fan of the results or not, we hope you are so moved at least to see the film and perhaps understand why we were so compelled to publicly display our affection for it.

you can watch a trailer for the film here.

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