Mark Kudsi’srise through the ranks at Motion Theory, the Venice, California–baseddesign and production house, has been as mercurial as the fast-moving,gestural show-and-tell maneuvers in the campaign he helped create forHP. The clever, engaging spots—which feature cultural icons suchas pop singer–producer Pharrell and reality television producer MarkBurnett—initially show only the gesticulations of their hands. Acombination of live action, animation, and voice-over demonstrates howthe featured celebrity makes use of HP technology. Then, gradually, thestar’s face is revealed.
Kudsi, now the art director at MotionTheory, got his start there as an intern in 2002, while still attendingCalifornia State University, Long Beach, where he was pursuing a degreein visual communications. He was hired full-time in 2004; since then,he’s been involved in an eclectic range of projects, from rockvideos to viral media campaigns, all developed completely in-house.
His clients include some of the most formidable players in Americanpop culture, in industries ranging from sportswear (Nike, Reebok) totechnology (HP, Microsoft) to music (Beck, Velvet Revolver). Kudsichoreographs a full cast of creative talents to give familiar corporateand media personas fresh and enlightening facets. “It’s acollective of writers, directors, illustrators, editors—we doeverything here,” Kudsi says of his work environment. “Andwe always stress concept. That comes first. Later, we figure out how toexecute it.”
For “Jerusalem,” a video for theHasidic Jewish reggae singer Matisyahu, Kudsi worked with directorMatthew Cullen to create a “wall of light” effect, in whichthousands of photographic images are assembled in a mosaic of humanstruggle and compassion. Says Cullen, “He steered the designteam’s efforts to create the sense that the photographs and movingimages made up a living and growing history. The video strives to reachbeyond the religious and political connotations and convey deeper valuesof connectedness.”
Connection is also pivotal to a viral spotfor Microsoft’s Zune media player. The animated spot depicts adrab bird experiencing a fiery, phoenix-like rebirth when it encountersa bright-hued feathered friend, and they enjoy an avian mosh to theheavy chords of Ashtar Command’s “The Second Coming of theMonkey God.” Kudsi explains, “The basic idea was to show howsomething good comes out of sharing. This one bird is dumbed-down andbored, but after the other bird shares with him, he becomes colorful andthey rock out.” It’s a fairly simple concept, but itsrealization—with animator Nick Losq—is vibrant withimaginatively rendered detail and a pleasing element ofsurprise.
Considering Kudsi’s strengths, it’s no surprisethat 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. “Hedrives people while still bringing out the best in them, professionallyand personally.” In a culture that often prizes personal flairabove all, Kudsi is showing that teamwork can be as powerful—andcolorful—as individual expression.