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PROFILE: Design Student Has Picture-Perfect Co-op at Warner Brothers

During two recent co-op quarters at Warner Brothers Pictures, UC digital design student Tim King was able to focus on his skills.  He created or contributed to the Web sites associated with the recently released films Corpse Bride, A Sound of Thunder, Constantine and House of Wax, as well as next year’s Superman Returns and Happy Feet.

Date: 10/3/2005 8:00:00 AM
By: Mary Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Lisa Ventre
UC ingot Hollywood directors like Tim Burton were the ultimate judges of work that University of Cincinnati student Tim King did on his last two cooperative-education quarters for Warner Brothers Pictures in New York City.

From his co-ops at Warner Brothers, Tim brought home movie momentos, including the limited-edition cane, left, a reproduction of the one used by Johnny Depp in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Only 2,000 of the reproduction canes were made.

Tim just completed one of his required co-ops, working for WB during the summer of 2005, capping a first co-op quarter he’d had there from January through March 2005.  (Co-op is the practice, invented at UC in 1906, wherein students alternate quarters in the classroom with paid, professional work related directly to their major.)

Tim completely designed WB’s Web site for A Sound of Thunder. He contributed to the sites for Corpse Bride, for Constantine and for House of Wax. And he came up with the earliest Web-site concepts for the upcoming Superman Returns and Happy Feet, both due out in 2006.

Currently, you can see sites Tim created or contributed to at:

“I really learned a lot about how the movie-advertising business works,” said Tim. “If a movie is expected to do well, trailer advertisements can start showing in theaters six months before its release. And you usually start building the Web site from that trailer.  You build offerings into the site for fans: wall paper, buddy icons, a plot synopsis, a simple photo gallery, downloads. For instance, I began working on the site for Corpse Bride [out nationally as of Sept. 23] in February 2005.”

That contrasts with another movie Web site Tim began working on in June 2005. That’s when he completed the design work for A Sound of Thunder's site even though that film was released in August. 2005. “If they don’t think a movie will do too well, work on the Web site begins later in the process,” said Tim.

Since Corpse Bride, featuring the voices of  Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter and directed by Tim Burton, is expected to fare well at the box office, UC’s Tim began working on Web elements and concepts this past winter. “A CD of my proposals went all the way to Tim Burton. I was told that he liked them,” explained Tim, adding that his co-ops at Warner Brothers did help him grow in confidence. “You do have to defend your work. You can’t just shrug and say ‘Whatever’ if there are criticisms or questions. You have to be assertive, and communication skills are vital. You need to be able to show sample images and explain how they’ll move, how will they communicate, what might be missing.”

Tim continued, “You might be doing this with nothing to work with but the script which isn’t even finalized yet. Sometimes, the earliest concept materials are produced about a year-and-a-half ahead of time.” For instance, for the 2006 Superman Returns and Happy Feet films, Tim already formulated the earliest ad proposals for sites like Yahoo.

For his final co-op quarter set for January through March 2006, Tim is hoping to again work for Warner Brothers, but this time in London. He explained, “One of the best things about these co-ops is all the contacts you can make. One of my bosses was a UC graphic design grad, Andrew Stachler, and he and other supervisors are trying to get me a posting to London early next year.”

Tim is not the first UC student to co-op with WB’s On-Line Marketing team in New York. Classmate Sean Gresens has also worked in the promotions office, contributing to the Web-site creations related to Troy, Harry Potter 3, Polar Express, Oceans 12, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Batman Begins. While Sean definitely wants to pursue design work in Hollywood upon graduation in 2006, Tim thinks he’ll likely stick to the Midwest, designing for a variety of clients. He doesn’t want to be typecast, limited to a single genre.

“I’ve really liked the co-ops at Warner Brothers. Obviously so, since I’m hoping to have my last co-op with them in London. But for my career, I want to do a wide variety of projects. In my first three co-ops before I went to Warner Brothers, I produced visualizations, consumer-product commercials in 3-D, demonstrations of engines, building layouts and medical infomercials. I think I need that kind of variety,” explained Tim. 


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