A few years ago I headed to Vegas with the express purpose of visiting Steve Wynn's new hotel and casino, The Wynn. I'd read plenty about the classy decor (including surprisingly non-cheesy carpet patterns), but I was most intrigued by its outdoor theater called the Lake of Dreams. Taking our seats at a bar on the shores of a pretty-enough manmade lake, we steeled ourselves for that awful/awesome blend of Vegas "entertainment." But instead of a drag-queen pirate swooping onto the scene, to our pleasant surprise the lake began bubbling to a beat, dancing with choreographed lights like an underwater disco. And then a head—yes, a 25-foot head!—emerged from the water, its "face" a projected, lip-syncing pastiche of stop-motion, claymation, and stunning makeup artistry, singing to the head-bobbing hit by Yello, "Oh Yeah." This blend of film, graphic design, animation and live-action drama reflecting on this lake-theater was one of the most captivating few moments I'd ever experienced—a show on the Vegas Strip that could easily compete with the best of Broadway.
Behind that curtain, as it were, was Karin Fong, a director, designer, and founding member of Imaginary Forces, and master of the cinematic experience. I wrote about the Lake of Dreams for the magazine in 2007, but the revolutionary work that's poured out of Karin and Imaginary Forces have made them Fast Company regulars: We recently named Karin as one of our 100 Most Creative People in Business.
Karin's career began after creating an animated alphabet book for her senior project at Yale (far before such things were the norm) and she went to work on WGBH's smash-hit animated series Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Her work in designing television titles with IF earned her an Emmy Award for Masterpiece Theatre's American Collection and a nomination for the hit NBC series Chuck. Further bridging the worlds of design and live-action, Karin has directed commercials for Target, Honda, Sears, and Herman Miller. She's also directed the title sequences for films like The Pink Panther 2, Ray, Definitely Maybe, and Charlotte's Web. Recently her work went beyond the title sequence for Terminator Salvation, where she also developed the "Machine Vision" used by the robots in the film, which she talks about in our exclusive video.
This week, Karin is going to introduce us to the concept of "in-between," a technical term that refers to the adding of frames between two images so that their animation appears smoother. "The in-betweens are key in creating the illusion of motion," she says. "They are the blend between one state and another." The same could be said for Karin herself, constantly moving between genres, disciplines, and even physical locations—she splits her time between New York and Los Angeles. Here are some stills from Karin's recent work:
The Pink Panther 2 main title sequence; Studio: Sony, Feature Director: Harald Zwart; Designed with Dana Yee, Arisu Kashiwagi Watch the entire sequence in motion.
Target "Keeps Getting Better" television commercial; Agency: Peterson Milla Hooks; Co-directed with Bryan Barber, Believe Media; Designed with Lauren Hartstone, Alex Maleev, illustrator
Herman Miller "This is You" recruitment video; Agency: Fairly Painless Advertising; Designed with Lauren Hartstone, Jeremy Cox
Read Karin's blog The In-Between Spaces