Layer Tennis

layer tennis

Time constrained competitions between new media artists are all the rage nowadays. From Cut & Paste to Fjorg! they remind me of South Korean gaming events that resemble concerts or sports events. Fitting in a world where capitalism demands accelerated creativity. At the risk of sounding like Andy Rooney, I’m not inclined toward such events. They’re a factor in building misconceptions that are forcing visual creatives to complete projects at an increasingly faster rate. A significant issue, epitomized by the continuing ramifications in the visual effects industry after Spielberg’s War of the Worlds wrapped post only three months after principal photography.

That aside, these visual jam sessions can be a great outlet for artists and entertaining for onlookers as evidenced by Layer Tennis. A well executed venture of the Chicago based design, advertising and interactive studio, Coudal Partners.

Matches are played “using lots of different applications, from Adobe Photoshop to Adobe Flash, but the basic idea is the same no matter what tools are in use. Two artists (or two small teams of artists) will swap a file back and forth in real-time, adding to and embellishing the work. Each artist gets fifteen minutes to complete a “volley” and then we post that to the site. A third participant, a writer, provides play-by-play commentary on the action, as it happens. The matches last for ten volleys and when it’s complete, everyone with an opinion sounds off in the Forums and we declare a winner.”

Jason Koxvold, the Director of the MotoDanica microsite that I contributed toward, had a motion graphics match with Bran Dougherty-Johnson using Adobe After Effects on December 7th. In an impressive bout, more so given the 15 minute volley limit, Jason came out on top. It’s amusing to see Jason desperately trying to shift away from the tennis metaphor in volley four, only to have Bran maintain it with such creative flair in the subsequent volley. All complemented by Matt Haughey’s entertaining play-by-play commentary. An absolute riot!

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