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The Enabling Team

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Lessons, impressions and conclusions from the unbelievable project the Wix Studio Video team created for OFFF Barcelona 2023

Have you ever finished a project and felt like everything went as it should from start to finish? Like you had a clear vision of what you wanted to achieve and you made it happen without any major setbacks and compromises? Like the final result was exactly what you had in mind from the beginning?


If you have, then you know how rare and satisfying that feeling is. Most of the time, projects are messy, unpredictable, and full of surprises. You have to deal with changes, conflicts, obstacles and doubts. You have to adapt, improvise, and iterate. You have to accept that the end result might not match your initial expectations.


But once in a while, you get lucky. You get to work on a project that seems to have a life of its own. A project that flows naturally from concept to execution. A project where your dreams and your reality perfectly align.


One of these rare projects was the incredible installation the Studio Video from the Wix design team had built for the 2023 OFFF festival in Barcelona (you might have seen glimpses of it in our Instagram account as we shared it over the last couple of weeks). A towering digital wall was erected at the entrance of the festival, featuring 25 motion videos designed and produced by the team, generated and activated by a 25-cell grid system. This project wasn’t without its challenges. Between the tight deadline, budget, ambitious scope, and a complex workflow that involved different talents working together, it had every opportunity to go sideways - but it didn’t.


This remarkable achievement was a great excuse to sit down for an in-depth conversation with the team’s creative director Eliraz Dekalo and animator and motion designer Hezi Jacob. As we spoke, the tale of the project unfolded as a 4-part story: the team’s unique structure and style; the project’s grid and the framework it provided; the videos and the complete freedom they encapsulated; and wrapping up the whole experience.


Wix Studio Video wall installation from the 2023 OFFF Festival in Barcelona

A Creative Lab


Q: Let’s start by introducing yourselves and your team.

Eliraz: “We are the Studio Video team. Within the design guild we take on everything that has to do with motion creative and exploration: new techniques and technologies, coding languages, building tools, etc. We are made up of 3D artists, motion designers, 2D animators working in After-Effects, modelists, a video editor, and of course the managers of the team - in both creative direction as well as team management. We mostly work internally - with other Wix teams as our clients.”


Hezi: “One of the things that really characterizes the team is that we work in a collaborative process. There’s no top-to-bottom hierarchy in our projects and we encourage each team member to take on any role they desire in each project.”


Q: This way of working - is it inherent to your discipline? Or was it a conscious management decision you’ve made?

Eliraz: “I’d say it’s inherent to the unique definition of the team: a creative lab, an R&D team at our core. Naturally, the people who join us and those we end up recruiting are explorers at heart. It’s innate to who they are - unafraid to take on new challenges and try new things that are still in their infancy stages of development. It’s important at the personal level, but also professionally - this field of design and technology requires you to always be on your toes, always be searching for the next big or small thing that’s out there. Our team members are naturally these types of people - and essentially fit to perform and take on many roles within the team. Our way of managing projects just lets those qualities shine and proves them valuable.”



The Enabler Grid


Q: Tell us about the OFFF project. How did it all start?

Eliraz: “The Wix Playground team approached us again this year with ‘On the Rise' project - a partnership with the OFFF festival in Barcelona. The idea was to create this massive, huge wall that will be a main focal point for visitors in the festival, representing Wix Playground and our design guild. On the wall, we will screen whatever it is we decide to create. We wanted something that will represent us in the best possible way, demonstrating how we are at the forefront of design and innovation. This festival is one of the most influential design events out there, and the creatives who attend are on top of their game, so you really need to stand out. You can’t afford to showcase something that’s anything less than amazing.”


Q: How did you come up with the idea for the grid?

Hezi: “We needed to decide how to best utilize this enormous wall. One of the main challenges of broadcasting on it for 3 days straight, is that you need a generative mechanism that could theoretically play itself forever, while still being fresh and interesting. That’s how we came up with the idea of a grid that is constantly alive and acts as the catalyst for all the content and videos within it. Conceptually, it also fitted perfectly with the theme of creation and creativity.

We ended up with a 5 by 5 cell-based grid system, totalling in 25 cells, each containing a video. They all adhered to the structure and rule of the grid, expanding to display themselves and converging back to show the grid and expose other videos from different cells. When we tried to describe the project, we asked ChatGPT and he named it ‘The Enabler Grid’, which was a great way to emphasize the potential the grid provided us with.”

Wix Studio Video wall installation from the 2023 OFFF Festival in Barcelona

Eliraz: “We knew we didn’t want to create a narrative-based film. There is no sound in that public space, so no matter how appealing a film would be - it wouldn't be enough to captivate the crowd. That’s when we began exploring the idea of creating a mass of short films.”


Q: Describe how it worked, once you finalized the grid concept.

Eliraz: “At first, we tested out optional behaviors of the grid. What type of movements, or metrics that the cells and the videos within them could move according to. Once we had a green light to move forward, we developed these behaviors and continued the research in that arena. For example, what happens if one cell expands and pushes all the others to disappear. Before we even touched on animation, we gathered a list of interesting and relevant keywords and topics for the festival and its visitors. What would they like to see there? What fascinates them? And we used that list as a reference point.


Eliraz: “It also related quite beautifully to the Playground’s tagline - A Space for Creative Growth. This was exactly what the grid provided us with - a space for creative growth.”


Wix Studio Video wall installation from the 2023 OFFF Festival in Barcelona

The Videos: Pure Creative Freedom


Q: Let’s talk a little bit about the process of working on the videos. Ideation, the restrictions of the grid, working with generative outcomes.

Hezi: “In terms of a concept, the conversation developed organically around themes of creation and creativity. After all, this wall was about to be displayed at a design festival, and the brief we received from the design guild and the Wix Playground team was one that focused on these themes as well. So the word Creativity was there all along.

It was beautiful to see it unfold and evolve, how creativity as a theme turned into this complete freedom we had in our own creation process. Because we had the grid - this very clear set of rules and structure - we were able to be very free in whatever we placed inside it. It was creativity at its purest.”


Eliraz: “As for the generative aspect of the project - because we knew this was an important part of the concept, it allowed us to freely accept the results that the computer generated. We knew what we wanted, but we could also be quite lenient about the actual outcome we received. Instead of being stuck on a specific idea about what things should look like, we just let the generative process take care of that and embrace the results.”


Hezi: “With the videos themselves, there was a bit of a challenge to begin with, deciding where to draw inspiration for our designs and animations. Eventually, most of our choices ended up being quite personal, or handmade, creating an interesting tension and balance with the mechanical nature of the generative process, which has no personality or individual choice to it. Overall, the outcome really benefited from this duality.“


Q: Working with this scope of creative freedom, and when so many different talents and minds are involved - how do you make sure the final result is cohesive?

Eliraz: “Again, it’s all thanks to the grid. All the videos were geared towards focusing on the grid as a motivator and as a focal point - and so they end up working together. When you look at the overall result, things relate to one another thanks to the grid. That’s the overarching theme, and even when it’s hidden - it’s palpable, it’s there.

Of course we also worked with a color palette which helped in adding cohesiveness. I think this is also where the team’s work was very beneficial. Since we were all involved in pretty much all of the videos - elements sip into one another, and find their way to other videos, creating a visible and invisible line, connecting the dots and unifying the videos.”


Q: What was the main reasoning behind the decision for the teamwork methodology?

Eliraz: “I honestly believe that any idea, concept, and project benefits from it. It creates a cross-pollination from a variety of people. We come from different backgrounds and carry our own unique voice and cultural influences, and that makes any idea richer. It’s like cooking with spices - we all bring our flavor to the final result.”



The Aftermath


Q: Finally, could you each share what was the most challenging aspect of the OFFF project, and what was the most joyful.

Eliraz: “The most challenging for me was proving we can make it happen. When we just pitched the idea, everyone looked at us with disbelief, as if we’re crazy to think we can achieve this. No one thought we would be able to actually produce this amount of videos and content within that time frame. So it was a big challenge to prove everyone wrong.

Which lends itself to the most joyous thing about the project - the day of installation at the festival, seeing it come to life. It was exactly the way I imagined it, a spitting image of the sketch I presented when we pitched the idea. I think it was the first time in my professional career that I delivered a result that was exactly what I promised to begin with.”


Hezi: “The most challenging part was The How. Naturally, since I was the person in charge of the technical side of things, understanding the mechanics behind everything, and how it all fits together as a structural mechanical system - I was very preoccupied with The How. We had all these great ideas, but at the end of the day, I was the one sitting down in front of the computer, trying to figure out the right solutions and dealing with all the technical challenges.

The joyous part of the project is something I referred to earlier, and it is the complete freedom we had. It is far from trivial, to be granted this level of freedom - creatively and emotionally. It is definitely something to be grateful for, and I enjoyed it immensely.”


Wix Studio Video wall installation from the 2023 OFFF Festival in Barcelona

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