JAKE FERGUSON, Motion Design 2016 Graduate and
KIYOON NAM, Motion Design 2018 Graduate

Emmy award winning alumni Jake Ferguson and Kiyoon Nam

The list of Ringling College of Art and Design alumni who’ve made us proud continues to grow. Academy Award winners (Brandon Oldenburg and Patrick Osborne). A YouTube star Nick Pitera). A makeup entrepreneur (Michelle Phan). A TV personality (David Bromstad).

And now we can add another two Emmy winners to that list.

For their main title design for Counterpart, a science fiction thriller TV show on the Starz channel, Motion Design grads Kiyoon Nam (’18) and Jake Ferguson (’16) each won an Emmy at the 70th Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony in September 2018. Nam shares the details about that amazing accomplishment as well as Ringling College’s role in his success.

Watch the Counterpart title sequence.

Q. How did Ringling College’s Motion Design program prepare you for your work on Counterpart?
A. The Motion Design department really thickened my skin and prepared me to put in the long hours necessary to succeed with a big project. All of the late nights working on class assignments and projects at Ringling College really carry over—there will be times where you have to stay just as late at work to deliver something the next day.

Q. Describe the experience of receiving an Emmy.
A. Amazing. They held it at the Microsoft Theater, which is a massive venue. It was an out-of-body experience walking next to celebrities on the red carpet and having telescopic lenses pointed at your face. We really weren’t expecting to win because we were nominated along with so many other talented artists and directors, and we were the only nominees for the Starz network that night.

I don’t clearly remember walking up to and standing on the stage because I had such adrenaline-fueled tunnel vision after hearing us get called. But the afterparty was a really grandiose and expensive event—I remember that!

Q. What type of research was needed in order to create the main title design for Counterpart?
A. In terms of visuals, Karin—one of the creative directors here at Imaginary Forces—wanted us to focus on the architectural aspect of the show and its setting, which aesthetically is a late 80s to late 90s Berlin with Brutalist architecture. A lot of research went into what kind of landmarks would be in or around the events of the show as well. The visual research really lent itself to the conceptual research—the geometric, concrete structures of Berlin really opened us up to playing with the idea of duality and separated, compartmentalized realities.

The showrunners sent us work-in-progress cuts of a few episodes as well as some props from the actual set to use as assets or reference, which helped us a ton.

Q. If you had to summarize the most important thing that you’ve learned from your work on Counterpart, what would it be?
A. Learning to accept changes to something you’re attached to. Many times during the project, the client asked us to change certain shots or add things or trim some time from the overall edit. The title was such a passion project for everyone involved that it was hard at times, but with Karin directing and the badass team of artists I was a part of, all of the changes only made Counterpart better.

Q. What’s the most important thing that people should know or understand about Motion Design?
A. 90% of the real-world jobs you work on as a motion designer aren’t flashy or grandiose, but they’re important and worthy of your best efforts.

Here’s another thing. At Ringling College, you’re so used to making meaningful and conceptual art and being in total control over your own project. But once you become a professional, you have to relinquish some control over your own art whether it’s for the client or the creative director. Some might find that to be a challenging adjustment.

Q. Any tips for current Motion Design students?
A. Apply for an internship—it doesn’t matter what city or studio. Don’t be picky. There are so many processes and workflows, project types, hierarchies, and other things that Ringling College simply cannot teach or show you them all. However, the survival and adaptation skills you learn at college will help.

Plus your success in this industry can be heavily influenced by people you meet, so find an internship and meet professionals. You never know what they could offer you and what you could offer them!

Q. What’s next for you?
A. I hope to become an art director here at Imaginary Forces. I’ve been putting in the long days and many, many weekends toward securing that goal. I really like this company and the people I work with. I plan to climb the ladder here and continue to work on meaningful, beautiful projects.