Julián Nuñez, Javier Bernales and Gonzalo Nogues met while studying graphic design at the University of Buenos Aires. After graduating in 2013, they jointly pursued their dream of opening a creative studio. Together they founded Inland Studio, where Nuñez’s TV background; the detailed and intimate imprint of Bernales’ characters; and Nogues’ penchant for animation and abstract art converge.
“We could not imagine it as something small, which is why we ended up naming it ‘Inland,’ because we all had our own universes, tastes and backgrounds. We came up with the idea of inland, which is something you cannot imagine until you enter and discover it for yourself,” says Nuñez. “Each of us brought our own visual concepts; our own boat to our individual ‘inland.’”
Adds Nogues: “In it, we find a place for each of our aesthetics. Everything converges on the idea of a journey, a road, a place and a discovery. Everything has a somewhat magical, fantasy hue,” adds Nogues.
To represent this land, the three decided not to limit the company to a single logo, but rather allow it to adapt to each individual platform.
“We prefer to present ourselves in a transparent way and to be acknowledged based more on our projects than through a logo,” says Bernales. “In the case of the reel, the logo has a more ethnic and futuristic look, adapting to the story we are telling.”
When reflecting on thinking about the studio’s beginnings, Nogues recalled an anecdote from well-known Argentine singer Fito Páez: “He said that when he began his career he wasn’t aware of what he was starting. And that is somehow what happened to us.”
Inland took its first steps working from an apartment on projects for Argentine food channel El Gourmet.
“There is a distinct difference between both pieces,” says Nogues. “The first has some illustrative and graphical similarity in terms of plain colors and how they are used. In the second, we understood more about animation and creating smooth transitions.”
They progressed by moving from 2D to 3D, with more carefully thought out animations.
Initially, the studio suggested working with art deco before moving toward a more abstract proposal that incorporated elements of wine and other beverages being consumed, which is something the channel requested.
“In the animation, we took solid and concrete elements and stretched and broke them so that viewers couldn’t see it was a bottle of whisky until it was completely assembled. We wanted to break away from what was being seen, from what was expected on a fixed frame. It was a change of direction,” says Nuñez.
Developing a Common Thread
Inland began growing thanks to the flow of its pieces and how the trio are crossed by a story.
For instance, the graphics package for Sentirse bien (Feeling Good)—a wellness and lifestyle program of Casa Club TV—contains transitions that are much smoother than Inland’s original work.
“The client requested something that looked feminine, that spoke of relaxation and identified with women. We thought about moments of relaxation at the start of the day, like when you open a window and see the sun, or think about how to decorate your home,” says Nogues.
The piece was fully developed as an illustration, with simple lines, no invasive elements or shadows, and a predominant blue aesthetic alluding to the ink used to write in notebooks.
“We pictured a girl painting on her notebook and designing her day and her home,” Nuñez says. “We wanted to convey the feeling that [the piece] was a drawing in a personal diary.”
The other big step for Inland came with Maravillas de Colombia (Wonders of Colombia), the first full 3D branding development created for Discovery Channel Colombia jointly with production company PostBros. This campaign showcases four important examples of Colombian engineering, such as the International Airport El Dorado.
“We wanted to create a contrast with structures that seem real, but appear more abstract as you move away,” says Nogues.
For example, what at first appears to be an airport parking lot turns out to be a letter and, later, a logo.
The spot also ripples with vanishing points and architecturally-designed lines and shadows.
“The walls have traces of time, traces of Latin America; they are not something cold,” says Nuñez. “We wanted the images to be warm, because we are talking about architecture in Colombia. The 3D tones are intended to reflect this.”
Focusing on Character Design
Another turning point came when the team took on a branding project for MTV created with the production company for Video Love, a program based on interactions between its viewers and the TV screen.
“We had to reach a teenage audience that was actively sharing their emotions on social media, at a time when everybody already was talking about social media. And we needed to do this in an ‘MTV’ way,” says Nuñez.
They worked through several different stages before deciding to focus on the concept of emojis.
“[We looked at] how viewers communicate their emotions and we transformed them into protagonists. These were the emojis,” says Nogues.
Nogues and Bernales—who headed the project—also created two emoji characters—a good one and a wicked one—designed to reflect their own personalities.
Another milestone for Inland was the holiday season ID for Kappadue, a kid’s channel that is part of Discovery Italia
The piece gave way to other character-centered projects, such as a campaign for Oreo cookies, which includes eight 2D videos and a 360-degree 3D experience.
“It was here that character design exploded,” says Nuñez. “We were asked about 360-degree, we did some research and created a 3D concept that combined the real world with a user-friendly display that could be seen and touched.”
Pursuing Branding Projects
Inland also branded men’s lifestyle channel DMX, for which the concept and creative were developed by Discovery’s in-house team, with Inland Studio then collaborating externally with the production.
“Discovery Max was being renamed, and this meant changing its identity, but not its brand position. One of the objectives was to ensure the audience understood DMAX was going to be the same channel,” says Mauro Zinni, on-air manager of Spain and Portugal Discovery Networks, who defined the campaign’s creative concept and strategy along with Elena Hermosilla Galcerán, director of marketing and communications, Discovery Networks.
Teasers were created using a phrase that identified with the channel’s core genres: engine, nature, magic and journalism/discovery.
“We worked on a straightforward communication through these four themes, using the narrative of each to explain the logo change from Discovery Max to DMAX. We knew we wanted to go with 3D as a graphic language, and Inland Studio developed the look and feel of each universe, proposing frames, color palette, and language,” says Zinni.
The goal was for the transition from the old logo to the new one to be quick without being too obvious. For example, the journalism theme used an old light bulb and the flash of old cameras. The bulb filaments burned out in slow motion when the photograph was taken, and from the same light the DMAX logo emerges.
Developing Recent Projects
For MTV Music Stunt, the studio went a step further by incorporating graphics into video footage.
“MTV told us they wanted to use a creative language that reflected Snapchat,” says Nuñez.
It’s not something Inland was used to doing, but they were successful.
The studio is continuing to develop projects with an Argentine and Latin American flair inspired by several artistic influences such as literature. In addition, it’s working on finishing a short horror film it started making when it was first founded, which encapsulates how far the studio has come.
Overall, its listening attentively to translate concepts into pieces with its own unique imprint that represent Inland Studios’ country and its culture.
“The idea is that in the future,” Nuñez says, “when you see Inland you see Latin America.”
Version español: Creative Review: Inland Studio