Sports Animated

   

Stills from Silver award-winning spot honored during the Ad Club’s 53rd Annual Hatch Awards

Eric Funk ’12 (Animation) has always been passionate about sports.  As a youngster growing up in Acton, MA, he had aspirations of becoming a professional baseball player.  Even though he eventually decided to pursue a degree at MassArt, sports still remain an important part of his life and creative expression.

As a student coming into the Animation program after studying Graphic Design, Eric was encouraged to broaden his approach to his work. He recalls Professor Flip Johnson saying that it is alright to mess up in a frame, as viewers won’t notice the details in the final animation. Making each still too beautiful would be a waste of time. Also, having the opportunity to study abroad at the University for Creative Arts in Farnham, England, further expanded his creative skills and thinking. “After being in a new environment and being exposed to different teaching styles, everything began to fall into place,” recalls Eric. Both of these experiences were very freeing to Eric and influenced his approach to his senior animation degree project about basketball. The work is made up of bold strokes of moving lines and colors, which capture the essence of playing the sport.

After completing the project, Eric made it public on his Vimeo web page so it could be viewed by potential employers.  Within a week, the video went viral and to date it has had over 56,000 views. ESPN picked up the animation and featured it on its online Playbook. “It was the coolest thing,” said Eric Funk. “It took on a life of its own and I felt like everything I had worked for was happening.” As a result of the widespread exposure, Eric started receiving offers for freelance work, including animating a music video for Warner Brother Records.

After graduating from MassArt and returning home to work in a local bank, Eric was then able to schedule an informational interview with Connelly Partners, one of the largest independent marketing agencies in the Northeast. The head creative at the firm was impressed with the basketball short and became really interested in his animations. He was offered freelance work in the beginning, but this shortly led to a full-time position.

 

Stills from animated promotional spots for Salem Five Bank featuring likeness and voice of Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox

Eric’s first big project at Connelly Partners was a series of promotional spots for Salem Five Bank featuring Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox—this year’s World Series Champions.  The second baseman was one of many team players who grew beards for 2013 season. Eric’s animations were built upon 4 hours of audio interviews with Pedroia.  Keeping up with Pedroia’s beard growth during the process of creating the animated shorts was difficult; there was a one-week turnaround time on the last animation in the series. Eric is a Yankees fan, so staying objective during the course of the project was challenging at times.  In the end, being able to lightheartedly poke fun at Pedroia’s beard in the last animation spot was fun for him.

Eric’s senior degree project continues to enjoy success.  Most recently, it was edited into a 30-second promotional spot for Shooting Touch, a local non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the sport of basketball as a way to improve health, education, and opportunities for young people around the world.  He collaborated with colleagues Steve Connelly, CEO of Connelly Partners, and Alyssa Toro, Chief Creative Officer, to rework the video and they added a new soundtrack.

This November, the newly-launched animation spot was recognized with a Silver Award for the Best Spot Super Budget Under $15K Single Entry, at the Ad Club’s 53rd Annual Hatch Awards. It was a proud moment for Eric to receive recognition for his work so early in his career and to be credited as both the animator and art director for the spot. “I had no idea we had won an award until it was announced during the event,” said Eric Funk. “Being able to meld my animation work with my passion for sports has been a dream come true.” Along with working at Connelly Partners, Eric continues to create personal animation works. To view more, visit: ericmcfunk.com

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