More than a century ago, in 1907, he published Scientific American magazine A face of breathless happiness. The Telharmonium – a technological breakthrough in sound recording – was about to take the world by storm. “No musical instruments employed!” explains the cover text, marveling at a machine that can produce ‘orchestral-like’ music by pressing a few keys.
In retrospect, Scientific American was right to build its hype. While you may not have known it at the time, the teleharmonium was a collision between classical tradition and modern electronic music. Since then, music in the words of the magazine can be made without musical instruments.
So it makes sense for this fusion between creative quality and technical wizardry, that creators can all draw on a background in electronic music. For partner and creative director Irfan Nato, cinematographer and director Simon Tirlawi and operations director David Kanava, electronic music was a formative creative playground where they cut their teeth.
Now, their intoxicatingly unique studio is pulling the same trick on events, commercials, movies and more – taking traditional creative values and combining them with game-changing new technology. “Electronic music is our personality,” says Irfan. It’s about mixing analog and digital to make something completely our own.
The result is a studio that cannot be ignored thanks to the efforts of the trio, along with technical director Byron Quinos and 3D artist Eric Clavell.
One of the problems that comes with being on the lookout is that it can be difficult to define everything they do in the language of the modern industry. Create for this, perhaps best described in the studio’s cheeky – but perfectly accurate – tagline: “We make cool work.”
Of course they do. “This weekend we are putting together an immersive 3D projection map and laser show for creativity,” said Irfan. “We’re using the crazy XR platform, but we love it so we wanted to give it a go!”
But when this Create team isn’t blowing their minds on the weekends, their day job is creating memorable content for some of the biggest brands imaginable. The likes of Nike, Facebook, the NBA and Virgin Galactic – along with artists including Billie Eilish and Selena Gomez – can all be counted among the studio’s client base, and their work consistently draws on the technology that is the studio’s USP.
At the heart of this creation is a 35ft x 24ft UV-mapped projection size, part of a suite of technologies that can house photo-realistic environments and audio-responsive visuals, among countless other capabilities. On the software side, the studio has a versatile track record including Unreal Engine, Houdini, Touch Designer, Notch and Resolume. Despite all this, it is not the creation of technological know-how that has ensured their success so far. Rather, it is their perspective.
“Every project is very different, and we love what we do,” says Simon. “But what unites many of our jobs is the technology that we can easily do and use when we need it, so we can do it in a short amount of time.”
Irfan nods his head in agreement.Create wants to emphasize that this is more than just the impressive XR level. “There’s an attitude that we really like to emulate in the underground music scene, which is about a strong work ethic. When it has to be done, it will be done,” he says. “Because sometimes it’s just show time.”
And it’s when the show starts to create that it really starts to shine. Their work ethic was demonstrated when they worked on 7 Diamonds – a landmark project for the team. “It was about raw power,” David recalls. “This was actually one of the first times we used the XR platform.”
Above: Create This with 7 Diamonds was the first sign of the studio putting its technical chops to work.
Since then, the team’s ambition has been to go from strength to strength. Perhaps the best example of their ability to create outside the box is Rival Speak – a digital show produced by Wil Wheaton that is a three-month interactive media experience called Rival Peak. The show combined a wide range of influences like Tamoguchi and The Hunger Games to create something – fittingly so – that was unlike anything else out there.
Above: Beloved sci-fi legend Wil Wheaton’s face-to-face talk show, a special game show project powered by Z Create.
“We would love to start creating our own content in the future,” Irfan explained. “And I think Rival Spike will be a little bit of inspiration for that — it’s kind of like the future of the game show and I know we’re going to have some surprises.”
There’s another reason why Rival Speak has proven to be such an innovative project for Team Create – the schedule. It was such a huge project that was put together on such a tight schedule that it’s a wonder it even existed.
“The filming and editing had to be done on the same day,” explains David. “Some edits were done overnight, then quality checked the next day, and broadcast the next night. We thought that was normal! ”
It’s in that story, however, that Create This” value – and perhaps its mission – becomes clear. In today’s world, our media environment is so fast-paced that it demands flexibility and the ability to turn on a dime when needed. But, coupled with that, the industry can be the brutal one it is today – built in the image of the old media world where time moves slowly.
Perhaps the best way to explain Create is that this studio is not built in the form of yesterday’s industry – but rather in today’s world. That ability to simulate—to take technology as needed and put it aside instead of relying solely on it—feels perfect for dealing with today’s creative pressures.
Not a bad place to be for a studio defined by electronic music culture. He is quick, witty and has a knack for expressing culture. Like the Telharmonium a century ago, Create is a studio that looks like the beginning of the future.