Ok, here is the straight out truth. I love sharing stories of people in our profession that aren’t afraid to take risks, put themselves and their assets (so to speak) on the line with our ProductionHUB family. I met up with Sean and Stef Mullen of Rampant Design just a couple of years ago as they were navigating their small company into the big time of NAB. I was quickly impressed how their small company was able to rock it with the big boys and make some pretty big impressions at the show. I also got the vibe that besides being genuinely real people (a nice change) that they had bigger dreams. Don’t we all! So it was no surprise to me to hear that are chasing down the dream by opening a new studio space in Orlando, Florida.
PH:Tell us a little bit about yourselves and the company.
Sean: I’ve been a compositor and VFX artist for 20 years. I’ve been creating my own practical effects since my first comping gig decades ago. My mentors were optical gurus that worked on the original Star Wars and Gremlins and they taught me everything I know about practical effects and compositing. I’ve taken their recipes and mixed them with my own and that’s what you see at Rampant.
We love creating effects and tools that help video content creators do their job and hopefully make their lives easier. I’ve told this story before, but at one point I was an assistant editor looking to make the jump to editor, and I remember seeing the first iterations of Rampant Design Tools (which I still have on DVD by the way), ordered them and now I honestly believe they helped me get a promotion to editor. That’s why we do this. That means the world to us. Our goal is to help editors and artists do their jobs.
Stef: I am an artist, teacher, editor, and the FCPX guru for Rampant. I design and create all the Rampant FCPX products/plugins and all the FCPX content (training, tutorials, etc.). I also handle all the customer service for Rampant so when you call or email, you get to talk to me.
PH:Viewers may know you from your popular vlogcast out of the spare room of the house. How did that all get started?
Sean: We wanted a way to be able to talk directly with our friends and fans. We also wanted people to know that we’re just two people and we’re figuring this out as we go. We often get mistaken for being a large company, when in reality it’s just Stef and Sean.
Stef: Sean and I have always wanted a way to show how we run Rampant. We were getting many questions daily about how we run the company, how we work together, etc. and we thought, why not share that with everyone. So Running Rampant was born. We started out recording a show every week and now we have progressed to a live stream. It is a fun way to recap what is going on with the business and to talk about all the ups and downs that come from running a business in general.
PH:What made you two decide to bite the bullet and open a studio space? Was it client demand or potential new clients? Did you just run out of space? Is it just a leap of faith or both?
Sean: It was a mix of all of that. I’ve wanted a dedicated space since we started this thing six years ago. Living at work is not the best and to be honest I need lots more space to facilitate new ideas. We have clients in Hollywood that are asking for higher resolution projects and we’ve got new partnerships that need new content. All in all, lots of demand for new things that we just could not create in our home studio.
Stef: It was definitely a mix of everything you mentioned. We were busting at the seams in our home. Literally tripping over gear to make breakfast in the morning. During our Black Friday sale, we had folding tables up in every room in the house just so we could facilitate making all the hard drives that were ordered. We also have some bigger projects coming up that just could not be done in our garage studio so we knew that it was time to start looking for a space.
PH: Who do you view as your typical client and what kind of work do you want to focus on?
Sean: I don’t think we have a typical client. We cater to most, if not all content creators. I’m a VFX artist first and foremost, so my love will always be with the practical effects. We also create style effects for editors and content creators and now we are creating tools for everyday editing. We ultimately cater to anyone who makes video or film of any kind.
Stef: Exactly what Sean said. We make content for all video creators.
PH:How much renovation work is there to do, what kind and when do you expect to open your doors there?
Sean: The previous tenant left some serious wear and tear. Plus the space was broken into two halves, separated by a large wall. We had to tear down the wall, as well as paint and clean the space. We were able to knock the wall down, paint the space, move in and set up in about a week.
Stef: The space was not ideal when we first saw the location. There was a lot of wear and tear that we knew we needed to fix and also, like Sean mentioned, there was a huge wall dividing the space in half. In order for the space to work for our needs, we knew we needed the wall removed. We managed to remove the wall, paint the entire space, clean all the floors, pack the home studio, load it up in a U-haul, unpack/organize everything and we did it all in 6 days.
PH:Tell us about your neighbors. Have they been supportive?
Stef: We moved into a great location right next door to Green Slate Studios and Omni Productions in beautiful downtown Orlando. We are fortunate enough to have a landlord that understands our business and is also a customer. We consider this a win-win location and look forward to the future in this space.
PH: What kind of gear are you going to be shooting on? Going all green screen? What is your post gear/workflow? What are people asking for?
Sean: No green screen work here, but if we need it, Green Slate Studios is right next door. They have a killer green stage. We shoot everything on RED and deliver at 5K or higher. We’re delivering some 8K work to our private studio clients right now.
PH: What did we miss? What do you want people to know that they might not know about Rampant?
Sean: We’re theme park junkies. We’ve both worked for Disney in many capacities. I was a Monorail Pilot and worked for various marketing divisions and Stef was in the parades at EPCOT and was an Attraction Host at the Land Pavilion, which is where we met. When we’re not in the studio creating products, we’re traveling to various parks or just chilling with our many gatos.
You can check out our products for Editors and Artists here: http://www.rampantdesigntools.com.
Check our our weekly vlog 'Running Rampant' every Monday at 4PM EST Live on Facebook and YouTube.
You can catch replays of any 'Running Rampant' episode at http://RunningRampant.biz.
Check out 'Rampant Live' every Tuesday and Thursday at 9PM Live on Facebook and Youtube.
You can catch replays of any 'Running Rampant' episode at http://RampantLive.com.
About the Writer
Mark J. Foley, MBA BA is the Technology Editor for ProductionHUB. When he isn’t out looking for the next big thing in technology he is working on his latest documentary “The Herreshoff Legacy."