The Crystal CG creative director behind London 2012 Olympic animations – including the Chemical Brothers-soundtracked Velodrome – charts his life.
1 Cure for good old rocket lag
“Sci-fi has had a big influence on me, and I often draw on scenes from films as reference for timings and camera positions. Growing up in the early 1980s, my uncle [Kelly Groucutt] was the bass player in ELO and they were doing the whole spaceship thing, so the idea of space travel seemed real.
“He was always surrounded by gadgets that he brought back from the US and would take me along with his kids to see the latest film releases – ET blew my mind. He would loved to have known that Mr Blue Sky was the wake-up call for Christopher Ferguson on the final Space Shuttle flight.”
2 From the Midlands to the seaside
“I left the Midlands in 1993 after studying at Stourbridge Art College with some amazing people. I learned how to explore ideas there; to harness an idea and push it from concept to completion. I then went on to Bournemouth to study. I loved living a few miles from the beach. There was a key group of us who were all really into films, music and design. I met my wife, Maxine, there and we now have a gorgeous daughter, Theodora.”
3 If music be the food of love…
“Coming from a musical family, it’s very rarely quiet in our house, and for me, music and design go hand in hand. I’ve played drums since I was 12 and have always been a big lover of beats. I was lucky enough to play in a band that twice toured the US and worked with some great producers and artists. Travelling around exposes you to a vast array of cultures and sounds.”
Darren worked on the Velodrome video shown before every race at the London 2012 Olympics' velodrome, which was soundtracked by the Chemical Brothers
4 Bermuda in the Big Smoke
“I moved to London in the summer of 2000 as a freelance designer and animator; a friend needed help to finish a job for Volkswagen at Bermuda Shorts. I had never been in the environment of a production company before and it was three floors of mayhem and great creative energy.
“I was surrounded by amazing people that have become my lifelong friends. I was only meant to be there for six weeks, but stayed for six years. I was learning at the same time as I was designing and then directing. It was a great stable of talent: Run Wrake, Adam Smith and my good friend Will Barras.”
5 An (Olympic) leap to Crystal
“When opportunities arise you have to make the leap. This is what happened with Crystal. When a company phones you up, tells you they are the sole digital provider for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games and offers you the position of animation and film creative director, you have to get involved. I did and the experience so far has been out of this world. I’m surrounded by talented people from mixed backgrounds.”