Raoul Marks’ work as a digital animator has taken him from a publishing house in Perth to the red carpet of Hollywood. The Curtin graduate’s striking visual style, which recently earned him an Emmy, is as multilayered as his career.
Raised in Fremantle, Marks completed a degree in multimedia design at Curtin. He fondly remembers a number of lecturers who played a role in his formative years, notably Dr Andrew Hutchison, Xavier Ng Cheong Tin, Georgina Noble (retired) and Steve Rubeck (retired).
Marks says some of the course’s most valuable aspects were the robust debates that took place in-class about the ability of design to explore deeper issues.
“Finding that link between broader politics and design was a really engaging and illuminating part of the course,” he says.
After graduating, Marks designed publications for Perth companies and then took up a film-advertising job in Edinburgh, Scotland. There, he learnt the “artful skill of adding exploding cars, muscled superstars and machine guns” to DVD box art.
The experience sparked his interest in the entertainment industry and motion graphics. He joined Antibody, a creative production team based in Sydney, and designed graphics for commercials and computer games, including Tom Clancy’s The Division and Ghost Recon.
Catching the attention of major US producers, Antibody was invited to pitch for True Detective. The team beat four industry-experienced firms to take on the project and, with Marks as head animator, won the 2014 Emmy for Outstanding Main Title Design.
Marks’ appreciation of complexity and nuance is perhaps best demonstrated in the work. Incorporating intricate detail and carefully overlaid imagery, the talented animator shows a keen understanding of visual allegory. In the montage, images of fire, streetscapes and polluted Louisiana waterways fill up the characters’ silhouettes.
“We liked the idea that the characters and the landscape were intrinsically linked,” Marks says. “They are born of that environment, in the way that a tree grows crooked on top of a windy hill. These characters are people born of a psychological wasteland.”
In recent years, TV series like True Blood and Game of Thrones have cemented the titles sequence as an art form.
“[For True Detective] the most crucial element was to help tell the show’s story, to enrich it,” says Marks. “The biggest compliment for me is being told, ‘we didn’t skip the titles’.”
Marks has since been involved in the highly successful Adidas FIFA World Cup campaign and worked on the titles for the acclaimed new AMC TV show, Halt and Catch Fire. Now based in Melbourne, he is continuing his work as a freelance motion designer for local and overseas clients.