The partner spotlight is a weekly series where we go behind the scenes with some of the companies that make VendorDB great. Next up is Leviathan!
Year Founded: 2010
Specialties: Experiential, Motion Design, Out Of Home, Post Production, Production, Digital, Interactive
What inspired you to start your company?
The three partners at Leviathan had firm roots in broadcast design & production, having worked at animation studios and post houses, though in our younger years we also had a creative hand in building “physical” things. One of us engineered and programmed robots for a touring robotics troupe; one made his living selling his paintings and sculptures; and I was a project manager for A/V and interactive installations for tradeshows, museums and other environments. That blend of digital content and physical installations is what we all craved and had not seen much of, so this was the basis for founding Leviathan.
Though we got our start in Chicago, there were initially questions of whether the market could support our type of work as well as, say, New York or Los Angeles. We quickly ignored those questions and were right to do so…the projects we work on come from all over the world, including Chicago. To boot, it has firm roots in design and architecture, its people are very kind and generous, and the work ethic here is strong. Chicago is great for so many reasons…and if you can survive the winters, it’s worth staying.
Which work or brand are you best known for?
Our projection mapping for artist/DJ Amon Tobin is still our most recognized work, though that very same project gained us traction to land projects for the likes of Dodge, Microsoft, HP and the North Face.
Which project is your most underrated?
We’ve now produced half a dozen projects with Disney’s Imagineering group, and they are ridiculously cool gigs in terms of the technology we get to engineer and implement. The trouble is, we’re not allowed to show any of it off, which is a shame indeed.
How has the business changed since you started?
When we formed Leviathan, the economy was just starting to come out of a recession, so thankfully our industry continues to support hybrid studios like ours that mix content and experiences. That said, with so many agencies trying to bring aspects of production, post and experiential work in-house, it makes companies like ours push innovation even further to stand apart from everyone else.
What advice do you have for agency producers or creatives?
The biggest advice: call on production partners early during concept development. So often we’re called upon to execute a concept that has very limited feasibility, time and budget (typical advertising issues, we know), but 15 minutes on the phone during creative development can save both sides a lot of stress when and if the project actually happens. Plus it allows both agency and production partner the opportunity to feel out if the other is a good fit long term.
What is the best thing about working at Leviathan?
The diversity of projects is pretty terrific. One day we’re pitching on a TV show title sequence to HBO, the next we’re flying to Disney World for an installation, and another day we’re creating CG content for a BMW gig. But the quality of the work is also balanced by wonderful people and a good quality of life. It’s a pretty terrific environment.
Where is the best bar in Chicago?
So many top restaurants and bars are within walking distance of our studio. We’re 2 blocks north of Randolph Street, affectionately known as “Restaurant Row”, so whether you prefer wine, whiskey or malört (just ask us), it’s not easy to pick a single favorite.