Mark Kudsi

Mark Kudsi’s
rise through the ranks at Motion Theory, the Venice, California–based
design and production house, has been as mercurial as the fast-moving,
gestural show-and-tell maneuvers in the campaign he helped create for
HP. The clever, engaging spots—which feature cultural icons such
as pop singer–producer Pharrell and reality television producer Mark
Burnett—initially show only the gesticulations of their hands. A
combination of live action, animation, and voice-over demonstrates how
the featured celebrity makes use of HP technology. Then, gradually, the
star’s face is revealed.

Kudsi, now the art director at Motion
Theory, got his start there as an intern in 2002, while still attending
California State University, Long Beach, where he was pursuing a degree
in visual communications. He was hired full-time in 2004; since then,
he’s been involved in an eclectic range of projects, from rock
videos to viral media campaigns, all developed completely in-house.

His clients include some of the most formidable players in American
pop culture, in industries ranging from sportswear (Nike, Reebok) to
technology (HP, Microsoft) to music (Beck, Velvet Revolver). Kudsi
choreographs a full cast of creative talents to give familiar corporate
and media personas fresh and enlightening facets. “It’s a
collective of writers, directors, illustrators, editors—we do
everything here,” Kudsi says of his work environment. “And
we always stress concept. That comes first. Later, we figure out how to
execute it.”

For “Jerusalem,” a video for the
Hasidic Jewish reggae singer Matisyahu, Kudsi worked with director
Matthew Cullen to create a “wall of light” effect, in which
thousands of photographic images are assembled in a mosaic of human
struggle and compassion. Says Cullen, “He steered the design
team’s efforts to create the sense that the photographs and moving
images made up a living and growing history. The video strives to reach
beyond the religious and political connotations and convey deeper values
of connectedness.”

Connection is also pivotal to a viral spot
for Microsoft’s Zune media player. The animated spot depicts a
drab bird experiencing a fiery, phoenix-like rebirth when it encounters
a bright-hued feathered friend, and they enjoy an avian mosh to the
heavy chords of Ashtar Command’s “The Second Coming of the
Monkey God.” Kudsi explains, “The basic idea was to show how
something good comes out of sharing. This one bird is dumbed-down and
bored, but after the other bird shares with him, he becomes colorful and
they rock out.” It’s a fairly simple concept, but its
realization—with animator Nick Losq—is vibrant with
imaginatively rendered detail and a pleasing element of
surprise.

Considering Kudsi’s strengths, it’s no surprise
that he was able to convey the idea that sharing can be transformative.
“His greatest talent is his ability to work with others,”
says Cullen, who has seen Kudsi begin directing spots as well. “He
drives people while still bringing out the best in them, professionally
and personally.” In a culture that often prizes personal flair
above all, Kudsi is showing that teamwork can be as powerful—and
colorful—as individual expression. 

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