It started in a square-shaped glass office, where Eliraz Dekalo, Guy Levin, and Hezi Jacob, who form the Wix Motion Graphics team – were having a heated discussion. The topic was the different creative processes designers go through, and how it defines who they are. Though there was tension in the air, they had a goal to keep: pinpointing three distinctive characters amongst designers and outlining how they work.

The mission at hand was a triple project for the Wix Playground website, which incorporates a new visual language with a customized template collection and content, specifically aimed towards designers and creative minds. The brief they received had just three simple rules: each project should have a frame, a human figure, and a playing field. The overarching vision was to depict the Wix Editor as a blank canvas that enables designers to manifest their creativity. Eliraz, Guy and Hezi began by brainstorming.

Becoming your own audience

As this project was aimed at designers, the three of them thought of themselves as their audience, considering what they would find interesting, banal, overdone, or unprofessional. Both excited and challenged by the scope of the project, they needed to balance between their high standards and even higher self-criticism. Through the conceptualization process, they realized that a designer doesn’t simply produce material, but actually has a unique experience of the world. That led to https://www.wix.com/blog/design/2018/06/designers-motion-graphics-challenge/?preview=truethe suggestion of thinking of each header as a creative world on its own – one for each of the different ways to “be” a designer.

The three creative worlds they selected were the methodological, the experimental, and the formalist designers. These were derived from the brief that mentioned patterns, emotions, and sports as the starting point. Once the outline and first sketches were ready, they started creating each environment in a 3D model with lighting, materials and color, and meticulously planned a photo shoot for all three headers. To ensure cohesiveness, the designers incorporated a structure-defining element that would repeat across all the three videos: a loop. “We needed to think about this entire project as a loop. Technically it meant bringing a simulated shape into its exact starting point,” as Eliraz explains. “But working on three projects simultaneously meant that every mistake turned into a lesson, gradually streamlining the final production.

The formalist designer

Working time: Approx. one month
Software: Cinema 4D, Maya, After Effects
Team: Six crew members working on visuals alone

The Playground site header mockupThe formalist designer required the team to think of “all the smallest details: the location of each element, the lighting angles, the colors of the characters’ clothes,” Guy explains. “We created a mockup to understand how the shadow, reflection in the water and movement would play out.”

The themes of continuity and loops were central: “Seemingly small details are in fact major elements, here,” Hezi noted. “For example: tracking the girl’s hand movement, so as to ensure it’d be at the exact same point each time, or maintaining eye contact with the sphere.”

#luisbarragan

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While developing the set design, they were inspired by the work of legendary Mexican architect Luis Barragán. The play of colors was enriched by incorporating water into the scene. As Hezi describes, “working around the sphere’s reflection in the water required constant scaling and comparing between visuals and simulation.”

The methodological designer

Working time: Approx. one month
Softwares: Cinema 4D, Maya, After Effects, Octane Render
Team: Three crew members

Their second project, the methodological designer, started from the idea of “patterns”. This drove them to understand how they can translate the theme of patterns into a creative approach. Here, the conceptual development turned out to be the hardest part. The connection they were looking for was that between a daily routine and this particular, pattern-like perspective. Guy noted that once they thought of “patterns as a structured place, a machine,” they knew that the header had to involve a structure or a system. But what remained unsolved was the designer’s relationship with this system: “how to show it was created by the designer, rather than operated by them.” 

Behind the scenes of Wix Playground
“We needed someone who knows how to MOVE”

Breaking down this reciprocity wasn’t simple: “something wasn’t working for me,” said Guy. “I had to leave the studio for about a week. I needed to find the justification and to understand what this pattern was. Through the work process, I realized I  was engaging in a work-observe-sleep-stroll-work repetitive cycle, and that was exactly the system we were looking to define. It was this methodological approach to things that also brought me to find the loop structure, in this designer’s everyday cycle.”

Once the foundation was laid, the three turned to find inspiration. They found their machine-based structure in the sculptures of artist and neuroscientist Peter Dallos, particularly in his series “Abstract Machines” and color treatments in the works of Polish sculpture Katarzyna Kobro.

"Spatial Composition," Katarzyna Kobro, 1929. Found via @phaidonsnaps #katarzynakobro

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Sets inspired by the sculptures of Peter Dallos and Katarzyna Kobro

Behind the scenes set of a motion graphics challenge
The structures were inspired by the sculptures of Peter Dallos and Katarzyna Kobro

Returning to the studio after taking a creative leave, Guy took up developing this new world around a central figure. He knew this person should be able to communicate and embody the relationship with the machine. After a long search, they chose a professional dancer to master through the complex structure, forming an emotional connection with the frame.

Behind the scenes of the Wix PlaygroundThe result is a 40-second composition, a “dance between doing too much and not going far enough.” Divided into four areas, the designer starts from working, then observing his work, then resting and finally strolling while thinking. There are two deep focal points and two in the foreground. “The entire choreography is done through and by this machine that enables movement, ensuring the designer remains in the limits of their work. It also expresses how this creative process is much bigger than the final result.”

The experimental designer

Working time: Approx. one month
Softwares: Cinema 4D, Maya, After Effects
Team: Three crew members

The third and final project for the Playground was the experimental designer. Though it was the first project to be discussed, it turned out to be the most challenging project of the series. Dropping it and getting back to it later on, the team already knew that they could move further away from the original brief, something that is reflected in the result. Originally inspired by the works of M.C. Escher and his game with perspectives, the team was looking to create a playful interaction with the space.

To simplify their point of interest, they stripped the scene bare and were left with the chaotic dynamics of a ball being tossed around in a space.

Behind the scenes of the Wix Playground header set Behind the scenes of the Wix Playground header set

Eliraz noted: “That’s the essence of the experimental mindset.” Once focused on what was happening, they photographed the storyboard, turning it into 3D and back to square one. “It’s the richest world in terms of palette and handling, but in technical terms it was the easiest to produce,” said Eliraz. The experimental mindset is also expressed through the inconsistent narrative – structured chaos. The playground treatment was inspired by Pigalle Duperré’s collaboration with Ill Studio, along with long hours watching squash players roaming through the floor.


Inspired by perspectives of M.C. Escher, the team created a playful interaction

Concluding their process, Eliraz, Hezi and Guy agree that the most challenging part was the conceptual aspects of the project. To get the best result, they actually needed to think like the designer they were creating for. Throughout the process, they delved deeper into the inner minds of designers, better understanding and learning how each of them works. Oh, and they burned two computers.

Visit the Wix Playground to see the headers in action.