In the early 2000s when huge names like Buck and Psyop were getting rolling in major cities like Los Angeles, there was a small shop in Kansas City called MK12 that was really pushing the bounds of motion graphics. They became a huge force in the industry without having direct ties to major markets that some other studios were afforded.
Their cutting edge work for clients like MTV and Adult Swim, mixed with their music video projects and wild personal projects, propelled them into the national spotlight. While they haven’t been in the spotlight as much over the last few years, they’ve still been producing stellar projects, and they should not be overlooked.
Let’s take a look at some of the projects that put MK12 on the map for motion graphics as well as some of their more recent projects that show they still have a magic touch and a great eye for creativity, with a little bit of humor thrown in for good measure.
A great place to start is with MK12’s “Twelve Years of MK12 Logos” produced 4 years ago. It shows off MK12’s humor, their constant nod to retro design ideas, and their ability to surprise with creative ways to animate simple concepts. It’s a great introduction to the design aesthetic that made MK12 an inspiration to loads of motion designers.
Another project that really pushed boundaries was MK12’s 2001 internal project “Sweater Porn”. Although it’s 15 years old, it still feels fresh. And a lot of the ideas that MK12 pulled off, retro aesthetics, merging of 2D and 3D, and some of the animation techniques were brand new to viewers at the time, and they launched trends that are still popular today.
In 2008, MK12 took a new turn when they created the main titles for the blockbuster James Bond film “Quantum Of Solace”. This was a huge opportunity for the edgy studio and they didn’t disappoint. According to a comment from MK12 on their Vimeo page, the entire open was built in After Effects, using Red Giant plugins, showing off just how capable After Effects has become, when put in the hands of the right people. It’s an impressive showing and quite an achievement for the studio for sure.
This piece created in a series for HP, shows MK12’s great work integrating tracked infographics over live-action footage.
This particular spot is flawlessly executed and stands out as great work, but with a ton of spots using this technique now, it may not seem as impressive. Until you realize that MK12 was a pioneer of this technique when they used it for several graphics sequences in the movie “Stranger Than Fiction” way back in 2006.
In the past few years, MK12 has really carved out a niche for highly detailed and technical UI and UX style graphics for various film projects. Below are two reals showing off graphics created for the movies “Operator” and “Equals”.
One more example of MK12’s ability to take data-driven design to a new level is in their recent opening cinematic for the Ubisoft game “Watchdogs 2.0”. Just watching the finely executed animation is enough to inspire designers. But, reading this detailed breakdown of the sequence on Motionographer will give you a whole new respect for the research that goes into building something like this.
Perhaps the best way to close out is to show off the latest reel from MK12. It’s important to note that while there are some 3D elements in the reel, MK12 really focuses heavily on After Effects and no one does AE better than MK12. For more information on MK12 and to see more of their work, visit MK12.com.