Q&A: Wenhao Tan – ‘Technology, When Made Intuitive, Helps the Creative Process’

Wenhao is Founder & Director at Method & Madness.

Branding in Asia recently caught up with Wenhao Tan, Founder & Director at Method & Madness, a film, VFX, and CGI production company based out of Singapore with offices in Montreal & Belgrade.

Tan has worked on ads for brands including Apple, Pepsi, Greenpeace, and Razer, but the company’s work with Greenpeace last year on ‘Wasteminster: A Downing Street Disaster’ “put us on the global map” Tan told us. Leading to his team working with creative studio No. 8 on an award-winning MV with Ed Sheeran.

Over the course of our conversation, Tan talks about Method & Madness, working on the Ed Sheeran project in Ukraine, industry trends, some of his favorite ad work, and more.

 
 

Tell us more about your slogan: “We bring the method, you bring the madness”.

Method & Madness has multiple meanings for us. The coming together of technology and creativity, heart and mind, craft and ideas, approaches between digital and analog, new school and old.

Technology, when made intuitive, helps the creative process and does not impede creativity. On that note, a good creative process is grounded in the discipline of delivering impeccable craft.

It is in this duality we walk and the belief that they are two sides of the same coin, when interwoven seamlessly, delivers stories with soul.

 
 

You worked with Ed Sheeran on a music video. How did that happen and what was the experience like?

Amazing. We did a project for Greenpeace last year titled ‘Wasteminster: A Downing Street Disaster’ which went viral and won awards such as the Cannes Lion, London International Advertising Awards, and two British Arrows. It was this campaign that put us on the global map.

No. 8, a creative studio based in London that’s done some amazing work that we really respect, reached out to us shortly after asking if we’d be interested to work on an Ed Sheeran MV. To which, I of course said “okay” and next thing you know I was on a plane to Ukraine.

Prior to flying down, we’d seen the treatment and knew that it was a very delicately orchestrated dance of vehicles and people moving together to the beat coupled with extremely complex camera moves and transitions. Think: Inception meets Tenet meets Interstellar – It was an idea that stood out compared to usual music videos conceptually and visually that got us very excited.

“Technology, when made intuitive, helps the creative process and does not impede creativity. On that note, a good creative process is grounded in the discipline of delivering impeccable craft.”

The shoot itself took 3 days with about 4 weeks of pre-production/ planning and involved about 500 people including all the additional dancers and background talents. The project had a ton of interesting challenges and to overcome certain hurdles, we had used techno cranes, motion control cameras as well as steady cams. I do believe we shipped every track we could find from London to Ukraine for the shoot.

What we created is something that’s very different from traditional music videos. With the VFX and CGI, we really pushed our limits of both creativity and executional capability to create something very unique. The amount of intricate details that went into each scene as well as the transitions were pretty challenging as well.

Through these challenges we met incredibly talented people, the best in their business from all over the world who flew into Ukraine for one purpose. What made this project even more special was Ed Sheeran deciding to donate all the proceeds made from the views of his video back to Ukraine to support them during the war. Working with the Ukrainians on ground was an amazing experience and I’m looking forward to another opportunity to work with them again.

I’m particularly proud of these last two projects (Greenpeace and Ed Sheeran) because people now know that Singapore agencies and talent can produce global gold standard work. It’s put us, and hopefully in the future more local talent on the world map.

We’ve had some previews of what the metaverse might look like once it rolls out, including Mark Zuckerberg being widely mocked for his avatar. From a creative and technological point of view, how “real” should we expect it to look?

The metaverse will continuously improve in realism just like how games have become closer and closer to life. The metaverse is here to stay but just like the internet, it will evolve in its ability and purpose based on our needs.

In regards to realism, that is just one factor in this new frontier, just like art, renaissance art was about replicating natural reality whilst Chinese paintings were about capturing the essence of beauty, both were art but just different philosophies. Both have a purpose and both conjure different thoughts and feelings from its viewer and the artists that created them also have their own perspectives.

“I think the whole virtual influencer wave hit a peak about two years ago where every client was looking for that but it feels like the tech is slowly catching up.”

When the metaverse becomes just like reality, and it will, what that does is it gives us more options but humans will look beyond that when that time comes as it is human nature.

I believe the more important question for brands playing in the metaverse is why, what and how can I use this technology in a way that engages my target audience with my brand in a seamless and intuitive way such that the technology is not the point of discussion or the subject matter. I think it is like any good VFX project, if done right, no one should have noticed there was any work done.

What is some recent work you’ve seen that just made you go “wow”?

I think the string of Burberry ads directed by Megaforce has for many reasons including clients bravery to push towards such abstract storytelling has truly reinvigorated my love for wonderfully crafted ads.

What are some recent trends in the industry that you are seeing?

I think the whole virtual influencer wave hit a peak about two years ago where every client was looking for that but it feels like the tech is slowly catching up and I bet there will be a resurgence once we hit that tipping point of being able to deliver extremely realistic characters more affordably.

Real-time technology such as Unreal Engine that allows film production crews and directors to see and do things and experiment more in real time is on the uptrend as well. Games, cinematics and the whole Web3 thing is all really picking up speed and soon, the way we approach production will definitely change too.

Games and Web3 are getting so advanced that things we create for games can be used in movies and then brought across to cinematics so everything is converging and from there, the ways we can tell stories will be limitless.

Bobby McGill

Bobby McGill

Bobby is the founder and publisher of Branding in Asia.

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