Today’s Renaissance Man is D.i.g.i.t.a.l. Nick Calpakdjian: Techie, Beer Connoisseur, Activist, Storyteller
By Ariel Nishli
Tastemakers and fans of delectable eye and ear candy have spoken!
They want to know who designed the choicest treats on their Pinterest boards, the animators behind the most viral of videos, and what VJs concocted the laser art spectacle at last weekend’s rave, let alone who produced the unworldly beats spun by the DJ.
To answer the call, we ran a series in the waning days of summer profiling five of today’s hottest indie digital artists. Each was selected to reveal craft secrets to the world on KoldCast TV’s Pro Juice, a show that brings the best tips, tricks and showcase clips to legions of creative types and fans from the world of digital media.
Pro Juice is developing its second season, a truly innovative multi-platform production replete with tutorials, interactive features, and of course mind blowing digital art. But before you start counting the days, we have a little treat for you… Pro Juice: “THE LOST EPISODE!”
From a digital studio in Australia, we bring you this never before seen footage highlighting killer green screen techniques, mixing and mastering tools, plus how an old VHS can dirty up your beats… in a good way.
You are watching “The Lost Episode” of Pro Juice
featuring co-host Nick Calpakdjian
An impressive cadre of talented digital artists was lined up for grilling, and we were just tickled when series co-creator and co-host, Nick Calpakdjian, offered to share his own “Pro Juice Profile.”
ICING ON THE CAKE:
NICK CALPAKDJIAN AKA ANIMUS INDUSTRIES
Aside from his post as the co-creator of Pro Juice, Nick is a filmmaker working across the documentary, music video and drama genres. He’s currently editing the first feature film ever to be produced in East Timor, A Guerra da Beatriz, a mysterious love story spanning two generations and a bloody revolution.
Nick’s most recent editing project, Trafficked: The Reckoning, has been selected for the New York International Film Festival, Mumbai International Film Festival, FIFA and nominated for best documentary at the ATOM awards in Australia. He’s not solely focused on humanity’s dark side, however. The Beer Detective, a six-part documentary series Nick is currently writing, regales the history of the most imbibed beverage on earth.
The globe-trekking, multi-tasking, award-winning artist shared some of his insights from his experience in the field.
What are the most formidable challenges facing independent digital artists today?
Competition. Being an independent digital artist has become more affordable for many people than it ever has been in the past. This is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that competition from talented artists breeds higher standards of work from everyone. The curse comes from the price crunch. Simply being able to afford the gear needed to create good work does not mean anyone can produce good work.
What are the benefits and drawbacks to working as a “guerrilla artist” rather than as a company man for a major label, design company, or advertising firm?
It’s important to find a balance between working as a guerrilla artist and working as a company man. There are benefits to both structures. I work as a freelance filmmaker and predominantly as an editor. This can be quite a solitary line of work. This is great for maintaining a flexible lifestyle but can make it hard to form relationships with other artists and to bounce ideas and problems off other creative types. I try to map my year out to work for a number of different directors, companies and organizations in order to retain access to a variety of people to draw inspiration and learn from.
A still from A Guerra da Beatriz, Nick’s latest feature film.
How did you get started as an artist? What kept you going?
I was always interested in becoming a storyteller. From a young age I enjoyed writing and weaving tales. I gravitated towards documentary in my teens and fell in love with historical and science-based stories. When I finished school, I knew I wasn’t ready for the workforce so I enrolled in university, where I majored in film and design and minored in mass communications. I discovered I was particularly good at editing and loved being able to assist other people tell their stories better through creative editing.
What keeps me going is the love of good story. I’ve been involved in some great documentaries that tell important stories that have had a real impact on many people’s lives and have certainly changed the way I live my own life. I wake up in the morning and get to make a movie! I couldn’t think of anything better to do with my life.
Nick’s home studio in Australia, where Pro Juice and his other projects are edited.
How has the digital artistry landscape evolved over the last several years? In what direction do you see it going?
The Internet is the grandest evolution of the last several years. It has expanded the audience for independent work. There is less of a reliance on major broadcasters to pick up your film. It enables someone in North America to see a small film you’ve made on human trafficking in Thailand, nearly impossible ten years ago. While the revenue generation model still has a way to go to become more viable, it’s really up to guerrilla artists to explore and exploit this new sector of the media landscape.
What are some of the most innovative projects you’ve worked on?
Pro Juice is perhaps the most innovative project that I am extremely proud of. What began as an idea to make a traditional broadcast magazine television show has turned into an interactive web portal that has been viewed more than a million times across a number of networks, namely KoldCast TV.
We really stepped it up with Pro Juice, Season 2. Its companion website is running strong after three years online, remix competitions are launching regularly, and a companion soundtrack is to be released nationally. We’re also giving extended interviews, online-only tutorials, and offering downloadable digital packs to accompany the series; including projects, audio clips, texture packs and freebies to keep the creative juices flowing.
How important is a show like Pro Juice in helping to promote independent digital artists’ work, as well as provide new opportunities for emerging artists?
For an independent project made with a lot of passion and not much cash, Pro Juice has not only advanced our careers as filmmakers and music producers, but those of the guerrilla artists featured in the series. Pro Juice has become a platform for innovative artists to broadcast their work and be seen by hundreds and thousands of viewers that they would never have had access to.
While it started as a portal for audio and video producers to learn tips and tricks from, it has evolved into vehicle that can be used for much more than simply teaching. I think Pro Juice inspires people to think outside of the box. Sometimes, all you need is a little kick up the arse to take your work to the next level.
Ariel Nishli is the Editor-in-Chief of The Sixth Wall. He’s got a big apple in his heart but moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. After graduating from Vanderbilt University in 2007, he worked in the motion picture literary department at ICM, then moved on to feature film development at Parkes MacDonald Productions. Ariel’s wardrobe has steadily devolved from designer suits to worn out slippers, as he now focuses on screenwriting and journalism when he’s not obsessing over this magazine.