June 9, 2023


Season 3 Episode 6

Season 3 of our popular video interview series Hot Takes continues, featuring industry leaders’ unfiltered, unrehearsed responses to hot button topics within their field. Our latest episode features Nick Slade, CG Generalist, Lighting/LookDev at The Mill, speaking about the unexpected capabilities of CGI and virtual production.


In recent years, more and more top television programs have come to rely on CGI and virtual production for the majority of special effects– just look at the success of The Mandalorian, Stranger Things, and House of the Dragon. But outside the VFX houses and rendering studios, perspectives on digital special effects are still riddled with misconceptions about cost and capability. The false perception that CGI is only for big-budget productions still pervades the industry– meaning smaller budget productions are not taking advantage of a valuable creative resource.


This month, Nick Slade, CG Generalist, Lighting/LookDev at The Mill gave us his Hot Take: virtual production is being underutilized due to misconceptions about cost, time and capability. In the four years Nick has worked with The Mill, the studio has provided their special effects expertise on projects with a variety of budgets, including AAA video game trailers, Planned Parenthood voter awareness campaigns, and the Apple+ thriller series Severance. The Mill works with each client to deliver VFX solutions tailor made for their creative and budgetary needs, whether that’s adding a small reflection on a product shot in a commercial or animating a fantasy creature for a global blockbuster film.


Click below to hear more about how Nick started his career in the industry, his experience with mocap acting, and all the ways VFX is more than just green screens and LEDs in this episode of Hot Takes!

Season 3 Episode 6

Hot Takes is an original, monthly, Telly Awards interview series featuring a chosen industry leader and expert presenting an unfiltered, unrehearsed response to a hot button topic within their field. What’s your Hot Take? Get in touch with our Producer Jenahye Johnson at jenahye@tellyawards.com for the chance to be featured!
May 22, 2023

Hearst Media Production Group Is 2023 Telly Company of the Year

We are thrilled to announce that Hearst Media Production Group has been named the Telly Company of the Year! Each year, this special honor recognizes the organization with the most success in the Annual Telly Awards competition, across Gold, Silver and Bronze. This year,Hearst rose above a record-breaking field of almost 13,000 entries to claim the spot.

This year, the Telly Awards “”Break Through the Static” season featured an increase in work spotlighting social impact and sustainability issues. Hearst’s stand out Equity & Inclusion programming is distinguished by its quality and breadth, and a number of their winning entries featured these issues strongly. From covering American politics on Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien (Gold Winner, News Feature) to ethical animal rescue and rehabilitation in Lucky Dog (Gold Winner, Directing), to highlighting the successes and struggles of former inmates as they launch their first business in Free Enterprise (Gold Winner, Social Responsibility), Hearst is leading the way in creating approachable educational content for all ages.

Since its inception, Hearst Media Production Group’s commitment to excellent educational and informational programming has remained steadfast. As part of one of the oldest American media companies, Hearst Media Production Group carries on an award-winning legacy in journalism, film making and television. Producers of robust blocks of educational and informational programming, they not only provide an important service to broadcasters and networks, but also ensure Television serves as a source of knowledge alongside entertainment.

Here’s a sizzle reel roundup of some of their winning work:


Congratulations again to the entire team!

May 17, 2023


Sofia Lavarello, Communications Consultant

Our Q&A with Telly Judge Sofia Lavarello

Communications Consultant

For this month’s Judge Spotlight, we’re excited to introduce Telly Awards Judge Sofia Lavarello, Communications Consultant for FIFA! Originally from Argentina, Sofia has years of experience in sports journalism covering tournaments and competitions for Fox Sports and Kuarzo Entertainment. In 2021, she moved to the United States and worked for ESPN, covering the Us Open, the Acapulco ATP and various UFC dates. Her latest sports coverage was the Qatar 2022 World Cup as host of FIFA. 

Read our interview with Sofia Lavarello below! 

What was your first job in the industry? What did it teach you?

My first job in the industry was as a production assistant on a television sports show. It taught me the dynamics of being in a live show, managing the relationship with the on-air talents and it gave me the resources for solving unexpected situations. It also taught me to be prepared to be a sports host and to be able to work on it by being one of the hosts of the FIFA World Cup 2022.

What are the best and worst pieces of professional advice you’ve received? 

My worst professional advice was when someone told me that I was not going to make it. That I was not going to be able to make a professional career as a woman in the sports world.

And my best professional advice was given to me by the host of the tv show where I worked who was very generous and told me that I had the personality to do something else. He gave me the courage to look for new professional challenges. 

What’s a creative risk you took recently? How did it turn out? 

During the pandemic, I developed my own podcast (En Busca de algo más), dabbling in a new means of communication, where I told my personal story in the TV industry, until the moment I decided to migrate to the United States.

I didn’t know if it was going to be accepted or not and how the audience was going to receive it and I can say that it went very well and I loved being able to share my story.

What project are you most proud to have worked on?

There are two projects that I was able to realize that had always been a dream for me. One is having worked at the 2021 US Open as an on air talent, and the other was being able to be an on air host at the Qatar 2022 World Cup where I was able to grow professionally.

What’s the best part of your job? What’s the most challenging

The best part of my job is that it allows me to travel to different parts of the world. I get to learn from different cultures and people. 

The biggest challenge is constantly thinking about how to generate content that is different from what is currently on television or in social media in order to make a difference and attract the audience. 

What do you look for when reviewing Telly Award entries? 

I look for them to be creative, that the content they generate is original, different, and that it has an aesthetic sense. 

May 1, 2023


Season 3 Episode 5

The Implications of AI in Filmmaking

AI (artificial intelligence) has revolutionized the film and television industry in ways unknown to generations past. Algorithms can interpret massive amounts of data to help filmmakers make more informed creative decisions, predict box office success, and identify the most popular genres among certain demographics. AI-powered tools can have streamlined post-production processes such as color grading, sound editing, and refining CG renderings which can save time and money for the entire production. However, the use of AI also raises concerns about the potential displacement of human artisans. While AI can automate some tasks, it cannot replace the creativity and artistic judgment of human editors and digital artists. It is essential to strike a balance between utilizing the benefits of AI and preserving the human element that is vital to the filmmaking process. 

In this month’s episode of Hot Takes, we speak with Simon Brown, Head of CG at Passion Pictures. He speaks of the current and future implications of AI’s in motion pictures while highlighting AI’s ability to streamline post-production technology without its ability to replicate the cognitive capabilities of the human mind.

Season 3 Episode 5


Hot Takes is an original, monthly, Telly Awards interview series featuring a chosen industry leader and expert presenting an unfiltered, unrehearsed response to a hot button topic within their field. What’s your Hot Take? Get in touch with our Producer Jenahye Johnson at jenahye@tellyawards.com for the chance to be featured!
March 30, 2023


Season 3 Episode 4


This episode explores the intersections of Black Cinema and audience engagement through intentional viewing experiences.

Our latest episode features Anthony Andrews, co-founder and creative director of We Are Parable, speaking about the importance of establishing memorable and emotionally connective communal experiences during screenings as a way to bring viewers out of their homes and back into the cinema. The film screening experience has changed as streaming has become the norm, and We Are Parable are redefining and recontextualizing what it means to see a film in a theatre by creating unique and culturally relevant events that celebrate the best of Black Cinema with audiences. 

Hear more about We Are Parable, the experiences they curate, and how they’re intentionally transforming Black Cinema in the episode below!

Hot Takes is an original, monthly, Telly Awards interview series featuring a chosen industry leader and expert presenting an unfiltered, unrehearsed response to a hot button topic within their field. What’s your Hot Take? Get in touch with our Creative and Operations Lead, Dina Graham at dina@tellyawards.com for the chance to be featured!
September 12, 2022


In Focus: Blue Telescope Laboratories

Blue Telescope operates in a really unique space bringing high level visual effects to the non-fiction and immersive space. Give us a brief overview of what Blue Telescope does and how you landed at this nexus of work? 

When we approach a project, we hone in on the story we’re there to tell, and use technology to bring it to life, creating rich, unique, and meaningful interactions. Whether it’s the story of an individual, institution, historical artifact, scientific concept, or brand, we like to create multiple doorways to invite people into these stories. Perhaps you’re unfamiliar with the subject of an exhibit, but you might find your way in through an adjacent approach — a pop culture angle, or a spectacular soundtrack, or an engaging gameplay experience. 

Building multiple entry points into our stories is also a function of accessibility and inclusivity, which are at the foundation of what we do, both in our client work and internally at Blue Telescope. We believe that our company should be diverse because the world and audiences are diverse. Having interesting and different people, voices and life experiences leads to better work. 

Our work has evolved in very strange ways. In 2000, when we started the company, we did a lot more corporate and pharmaceutical work. The internet was a baby. Interactive technology was a baby. We were there at the beginning, pushing for experiential design to be more interesting and meaningful than just pretty pictures. We’ve always been at the forefront of using technology to tell stories and connect with people in new ways, but for us these are just the tools that we use to expand the human experience of listening to each other. 

You were able to win a Telly for “ Making the Nation’s Table” at The Africa Center x MOFAD.” Tell us about how this project came to life and what considerations were made in entering the Immersive, Interactive, & Mixed media categories.

We love partnering with institutions who have fresh, imaginative approaches to storytelling. It was such an honor to be a part of a project with the author and culinary historian Dr. Jessica Harris, and the advisory panel full of luminaries and scholars who consulted on the exhibit. We were brought in towards the end of the project to take all of the extensive research and interpretive planning that they had done, and use that to create something striking and powerful for visitors to connect with in surprising and delightful ways.

The content that they had needed to really be presented in a vibrant and amazing way. It’s really important to us that if there’s a teenager walking past, they find it intriguing to come in, not just those who are already interested. It needed to be fresh, vibrant, young. It needed to be broken up into bite-sized pieces that made the experience more accessible, and visitors didn’t have to work too hard to come away with learnings.

We cared a lot about this project. It was a unique story we only knew bits and pieces of to start with, and we recognized how important it was to really dive in and make those connections resonate for visitors.

The Immersive, Mixed Media and Interactive categories seemed right because that’s what we do. Experiential storytelling should not be typical; you need to feel enveloped by the story, interact with the story, and find ways to bring joy and surprise to visitors. 

We felt like this project exemplified the techniques of Mixed Media as we drew inspiration from the gorgeous Legacy Quilt that was commissioned for the exhibit from the Harlem Needle Arts group. Quilting is one of the oldest forms of gendered storytelling, and has played an important role throughout the history of African-American communities. We used these design elements — layers, colorblocking, embroidery —  to tell the stories of the chefs and their food in the exhibit media. Since the space was small, this helped us to make sure that the design was impactful, recognizable, and immediate, while also paying homage to historic and cultural motifs.


Non-Fiction often aim to educate, inform, and sometimes persuade audiences. Was there anyone on your team with a documentary background to help ensure that the visual effects and animations effectively support the informative objectives of this piece?

Yes, our team has an extensive and varied background in film settings, and as a company we have a lot of experience producing non-fiction narratives – everything from documentaries, major films, high end commercials, and personal stories. Executive Creative Director, Judith Zissman, began her career with NFL Films and Miramax, and Founder Trent Oliver worked in film in Los Angeles. All of this has allowed us to guide many of our clients as we tell stories through film and interactive media.

The curators had originally planned to display map images on the exhibit walls , but we felt that the central motif in a migration story is movement, and that the stories could be told much more powerfully through animation in a way that invited guests to move themselves through these stories along the same paths that the spotlighted people and ingredients moved.

The table place setting is its own character within this video. Tell us about the creative development and design of the table setting.

With food at the heart of this exhibit, it made sense to create a table-based experience and invite guests to share a meal. This allowed us to put something celebratory and joyous in the center of the room to help balance some of the heavier parts of the stories of slavery and forced migration. 

Working with the curators, we selected iconic meals and recipes, such as pepper pot stew, to highlight the migration stories that led to the creation of those meals. Each meal has a festive place setting, with a napkin that opens into a map for each meal, invoking the embroidery from the quilts and adding context to the dish and its creators.

Film and video is an inherently collaborative endeavor. Tell us about your team and what it was like working together to make this piece. 

This was a very tight deadline, as many of our projects are, which means we were developing in tandem and co-creating with our clients, which requires a lot of good communication and trust. We had to ensure that designs stayed grounded in what was possible to allow for rapid development, but we also wanted to push those designs as far as we could to create something new and exciting. 

We keep our designs easy and inviting so that people can walk up and immediately know what to do, how to interact, etc, without making them feel put off by a technology barrier. To achieve this combination of innovative design and accessible technology, we rely on our incredible team, who have the chops to bring these new ideas to life.

Our team also had some personal connections to the content, which always offers richer perspectives. 

Lead Creative Technologist, Ron Cunningham, recalls “I loved Dr. Harris’ Netflix series and book, High on the Hog, and feel a strong connection to the history, cuisines, and stories in this exhibit. Reese [our Creative Designer] provided authentic and fun art work for this interactive that really captured the various time periods and locations. It was exciting to be involved with this project.”


What was the most challenging part about this production and how did you and your team overcome this? 

Timeline, hands down. There wasn’t a lot of time or money, but it needed to be effective and push boundaries. Luckily, we are very familiar with this kind of setup and are comfortable diving in headfirst.

The other major factor was Covid. When we started this project we were still facing a really limited supply chain and access to hardware, as well as little to no face-to-face time with our clients.

Tell us about what it was like to partner with The Africa Center x MOFAD.

These are two institutions that create really interesting exhibits and experiences. They’re innovative, visionary curators. The partnership with MOFAD brought us this fascinating story, and the partnership with The Africa Center gave us a really meaningful location.

The team had a strong vision, and they trusted us to interpret it. We care deeply about our client relationships, and we love interesting people — so we were perfectly aligned to build a deeper connection and understand their needs. It was also great to see how eager they were to collaborate with us and make sure everyone got to dream about how it would be done. 

They were also really great on the approval process – quick, clear and honest – which allowed us to work quickly and efficiently. 

What does winning a Telly Award mean to you?

It’s an honor to be recognized among other exciting projects across the industry. There are so many powerful stories across the world, and it’s a privilege to get to tell them. The award also helps connect us with people who might not come across our work in other ways and see the value in it.

We love being a part of this community and hope to continue for decades to come.

We also want to thank everyone on our team who helped to bring this project to life: Trent Oliver, Judith Zissman, Dustin Stephan, Ron Cunningham, Reese Patillo, and Wendy Wen.

February 8, 2022


Fred Volhuer, CEO of Atlas V

Our Interview with Telly Awards Judge Fred Volhuer

CEO of AtlasV

We’re so excited to introduce you to Telly Awards Judge Fred Volhuer, CEO of AtlasV. Alongside his work as co-founder and CEO of the immersive reality studio AtlasV, Volhuer is the strategic advisor for several immersive technology companies, and has served as a panelist and a lecturer at Tribeca Film Festival, Mutek, MIT, and Brooklyn College. 

[This conversation has been edited for clarity.]

What was your first job in the industry? What did it teach you?

After my communication strategy studies, I got a job as an assistant in the strategic planning department of a major American ad agency. Of the things I learned during that [time], there are three that [remain] useful to me today: the power of ideas, the importance of reputation, and the relative impact of truth in decision making. 

Ideas are basically what ad agencies spend their time fabricating. And good ideas, the ones that make sense, attract attention, and influence customer behavior, are really hard to find. When you think you found it, in 99% of the cases, you will encounter someone in your agency or at your client office that will try to alter it. It is very hard for good advertising ideas to make it out there in a traditional agency model, but things are changing fast. Nowadays you can see how communication stunts with more creative freedom (and less corporate pressure) can become viral and impact millions of customers. Brands now have a lot more spaces to explore, new platforms like TikTok and soon the metaverse. When you mix new technologies with creative people, you can get something very explosive and enjoyable. 

The second thing I learned from one of my ex- bosses in this same agency: “There are 3 rules to accelerate as a company,” he said. “Reputation, reputation, and reputation.” Meaning, first being in control of your public image, secondly have influencers talk about you, and finally making sure clients and partners share your achievements. It is a very ‘ad agency’ principle in a sense that it implies information is above the tangible quality of a product or company. A statement that echoes a question we are all confronted with, as professionals or consumers: Am I choosing the best product or partner, or the one my environment thinks is best?

The third thing I learned is part of the next question. 

 What are the best and worst pieces of professional advice you’ve received? 

There is this statement that haunts me ever since I came across it. Actually, I would recommend that you stop reading now if you don’t want your brain to spin round and round. It’s both the best and the worst piece of advice I ever got.

I was struggling with an ad campaign for a non-profit client that deals with health-related issues. I knew that given the expectations of the audience, there was a thin line we had to walk on, and the campaign theme and tone had to be very sharp to catch attention. The client refused the approach and wanted something really bland. It would 100% go unnoticed. 

When I brought the problem to my boss he said to me, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to win?” 

He invited me to think about my objective and act accordingly. 

It may seem simple, but on many occasions we have to build towards objectives which values we do not share. This is probably why I now dedicate my life to fostering a generation of young artists with a very sharp vision and message! 

What does a typical work day look like for you?

I use every minute I have to do all the things I wanted to do. People are always amazed by the incredible number of things I can do in one day. Is it really sustainable though? There is room for thoughts here. 

What project are you most proud to have worked on?

My best project is to [have started] a company where people like to work together. As a CEO of an innovative entertainment company, [my] dream is built around entering a room full of different brilliant creative minds that are able to listen to each other, develop a common vision, and build amazing projects as a collective. 

What’s the best part of your job? What’s the most challenging?

There is no real good part of this job – it is mostly trouble all the time, a bit like climbing Mount Everest in flip flops. But there is this simple idea that makes you forget about the pressure, the risks, the questions. The fact that you can start with nothing and build an amazing creative adventure with partners you admire. It is [equal parts] love story (maybe because we’re mostly French?) and the American dream.

What makes you excited for the future of your industry?

When we started our company five years ago, we were telling everybody that [VR] glasses would enable people to jump from one world to another, and that we could [use them to] discover new worlds, learn, and socialize. 90% of people thought we were a bit crazy, but the world is changing now — what we see is a burgeoning industry [with] a lot of opportunity for artists to create new forms of entertainment. But also, the [stories, legends, and heroes] that we grew up with will also [continue] through those new formats. This is very exciting for us. 

April 26, 2021


In Focus: Force Field Entertainment

Martin de Ronde started working in the games industry over 20 years ago as a PR manager and later as development manager in publishing. After this, he wanted to see what life was like on the other side of the game industry fence and founded his own development studio in 1998, which he sold to multimedia conglomerate Lost Boys a year later. Here, Martin became co-founder and managing director of Lost Boys games, the company’s newly set up games division. Lost Boys games went independent in 2001 and was renamed Guerrilla Games when sold to cross media company Media Republic in 2003. Guerrilla Games grew into one of Europe’s largest independent developers. Martin was commercial director, witnessing the birth of PlayStation 2 hit Killzone for Sony Computer Entertainment and PlayStation 2, PC and Xbox hit Shellshock: Nam 67 for Eidos. Just before the studio was sold to Sony. After this, Martin founded Vanguard Games, delivering 2 games based on the world famous Halo franchise. Vanguard Games merged into Force Field in 2015, a company focused on AAA VR and AR. Over the past 6 years, Force Field has grown into a 65 man studio, delivering over 15 VR games and experiences for a wide variety of different VR platforms, most notably Oculus Quest.

 How did your creative process change given all of the unexpected turns of the last year?

 Interestingly enough, it didn’t change that much in the short term. We had just wrapped up the first part of a two stage demo/proof of concept for a new project, just before the lock down kicked in and we all had to start working remotely. The second part was delivered during lockdown and in terms of quality and creativity, the second part was as good if not better in certain departments without more time and budget needed. So you could argue that our process didn’t have to change that much to cope with the unexpected turns. And in some case, thanks to tools like Miro, a digital whiteboard for creative ideas, our creative processes were even better than before, the era of physical whiteboards and markers and post-its.

 Force Field has a motto of including an element of something that has never been done before in all of your work, how do you think that impacts the work that you make?

 We like to think that it has a positive impact on the overall quality of whatever you are making, as it helps foster a certain drive. If you are working on a demo, no matter how small and simple in terms of scope, and you know that it’s going to be revealed during a keynote as part of a new hardware reveal, as a world’s first, that makes it extra special. Working with unannounced unreleased hardware is frustrating sometimes, as the goal posts keep changing, but it’s magical at the same time. That helps foster a drive to turn that assignment into something special and that’s why we think it’s so important that there’s always something unique associated with our products. And it’s not just linked to new hardware. We have worked on games and experiences where we were doing something that had never been tried before in software. Again, somewhat frustrating when you are looking for reference titles or examples, but captivating at the same time because you are exploring uncharted territory and you know that you are one of the few studios in the world dealing with that subject matter. That makes the product that extra bit special and creates a drive to give it your best shot.

 What was the biggest hurdle you faced and what surprised you about creating during a lockdown?

As I said before, the biggest surprise was probably the relative smoothness with which we were able to transition. And credits here should go to both operational management, who did a stellar job of facilitating this new ‘normal’. But also to all our team members, whose flexibility and adaptability were instrumental in making this work. And then for them to deliver the same output as before, was amazing.

What do you think is the secret to having a successful creative team?

Force Field is unique in the sense that it is a creative work for hire studio. We don’t carry out work as an assignment, we are given a goal or high level objective by our partners and then pitch a creative solution to achieve that goal. That means we need to be creative but also are bound by predefined deadlines and milestones and strict budgets. That is different from an indie studio is laser focused on an internal idea they are committed to. That also means a different creative approach. 

The secret to being successful with such a company is to find a balance between those two worlds: the operational excellence (Force Field has never missed a milestone and always delivered on time and to budget) and creative freedom. It is also a result of finding a balance of creative ownership between company management and the team. This has been an on-going process and interestingly enough, it has been accelerated by the pandemic, as letting go was mandatory for everyone. So two of our most recent projects see an even more balanced division and I’d like to think they will again be better products than anything that has gone before, in terms of creativity.

 What do you Telly wins mean to you?

 These awards mean a lot, because they are all about recognition. Given the fact that we operate in a market that witnessed a lot of hype in 2015/2016 and then went through the classic trough of disillusionment, VR and AR haven’t been up there with other digital platforms in terms of limelight. It’s changing rapidly and the market is growing fast, but when you release a game or experience and sometimes only a handful of people experience because only a handful people have access to the hardware, it’s all the more important to see recognition coming back through any channels. It’s motivating for the team to read glowing user reviews, but it’s just as important to be recognized for the amazing work that they are creating.


March 31, 2021


In Focus: Velocity Creatives

NATALIE SCHWAN is an award-winning commercial and narrative director and producer who is known for work that celebrates the vastness of the human condition, the journey of the overcomer, and the spirit of adventure. She has received multiple Telly Awards for directing and producing, produced Webby-nominated work, and recently won 2nd place in the She Directed Audience Awards Competition for her J.K. Rowling biopic short film Jo.

She is constantly drawn to historical narratives, and is set to direct her debut feature Rebel, an action packed film based on the true story of Deborah Sampson, the first female soldier in US history who disguised herself as a man and fought in the Revolutionary war. She is also developing a period era Ellis Island narrative series surrounding stories of immigrant children, a female-driven scripted anthology series that celebrates hidden histories of bold women who dared to defy the status quo, and a traveling docuseries focused on international cuisines.

In 2015, she launched her full service, award-winning production company Velocity Creatives, which creates commercial and narrative content that present stunning visual stories that inspire, challenge and excite. She has created work for brands including SONOS, Colgate and Goldman Sachs. In Spring 2021, she is launching a new branch of the business focused on episodic and feature films. Her heart is in travel and exploring, and you can often find her planning her next international adventure.


How does your creative process differ when working on Music Videos vs working on other short films/branded work?

Every project is different, but in general music videos are unique in the sense that the client can often also be the talent. We’ve had great opportunities to work with artists directly when crafting music videos – which makes them specific to the artist’s vision and means we are creating something that really resonates with them on a personal and artistic level. It can give a bit more room for creative autonomy and expression, and the passion is always an undercurrent driving the project forward.

For our branded and commercial work, there are often more departments and decision-makers to coordinate with – whether that is the brand’s in house creative team or a creative agency (or both) and high level creatives involved. While this means there can be slower approval for each step of creative prep, the core of strong storytelling and authentic content remains integral in every video or photo campaign we produce. We have also had the opportunity to work with smaller brands and startups who have trusted us to craft all the scripts and creative concepts for their campaigns. We can be as truly full-service as our clients require; the unique requirements and approach for each and every project is what makes our job so dynamic and rewarding.

Short films run the gamut from developing ideas from scratch alongside the writers and directors, or taking a finished script and treatment directly to the screen. We work with filmmakers that want to tell stories that challenge and excite and align with our values as a brand. There isn’t a set formula on what kind of stories we put our name on, but we’re drawn to content that explores the vastness of the human condition, challenges perspectives and celebrates the overcomer.


What do you think are some essential elements to having a successful creative team?

Trust, integrity and competency. We work with creatives that have a strong voice, talented track record and a strong work ethic. We don’t like to micromanage our teams, and aim to give each department the autonomy to do their job well and then bring those ideas to the greater team in a spirit of collaboration and inclusion. When you set the tone of trust, you give everyone on the team some headspace to be inspired and work more creatively. (We’ve been greatly inspired by the Pixar memoir Creativity, Inc in the way we work and highly recommend this as a blueprint for creating a healthy work environment that fosters ingenuity and value). We don’t tolerate disrespect or internal competitiveness on our projects, and have attracted incredibly talented and hard-working freelancers because of our reputation in taking great care of our teams every step of the way.


How has your work structure changed with all of the fluctuation of the the last year?

When our typical commercial and branded production was put on hold due to Covid, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work developing our slate of longform (both episodic and feature) content. In coming months, we will be launching a second branch of our business that will deal exclusively with longform scripted and unscripted content. We have engaged in some exciting partnerships we will be able to announce in coming months for these projects. The same heartbeat of Velocity Creatives is mirrored in these projects – stories that challenge and excite, stories that encourage conversation, stories that celebrate the complexities of humanity.

When it was safe to do so, we got back on set working with our clients in alignment with COVID safety protocols. The entire world and the way we work in this industry has shifted, and we have adapted alongside it. Remote prep, smaller on set teams, and limited client exposure with virtual video village have all become the new standard of our workflows. We’ve been challenged to work smarter and more creatively without compromising quality.

What do your Telly wins mean to you and the team?

Winning a Telly confirms we are doing something right – it is a badge of honor that confirms our work is being recognized in our industry. Receiving a Telly Award validates the quality for our work, and gives each collaborator recognition for excellence in their respective craft. It is a benchmark we strive for in all of our work.

March 2, 2021


Defying The Limits: Weyo

Weyo is a creative-driven tech studio co-based in Melbourne, Australia and L.A, USA. We are storytellers, obsessed with bringing to life kids’ favorite content through the magical lens of Augmented Reality and interactive video. We empower trusted brands and content creators to engage directly with their little fans through digital play, to spark imagination and open up a world of possibilities. We are passionate believers in technology’s capacity to support learning and a growth mindset in an ever-changing digital landscape, striving to find new ways to inspire and excite young minds.

Baz Palmer is an experienced tech founder and CEO with a lifetime spent in content creation, licensing and managing IP & rights. Created Soundhalo, a global first HD live streaming mobile platform. Co-Founder of Vampr, the world’s largest musician network. Multi-platinum songwriter with iconic Australian band and Hall of Fame inductees, Hunters & Collectors.  

Stuart Berwick created the very first commercial application of  Augmented Reality for iconic “band” the Gorillaz back in 2010, when Head of Innovations @ PIAS. Stuart and Baz have worked together for 9 years, beginning with Stuart’s roles as Head of Product at Soundhalo.


 How did your creative process change given all of the unexpected turns of 2020?

With our two co-founders on opposite sides of the globe – Baz in Melbourne, Australia and Stuart, based in Venice, USA – to a large degree working remotely was business as usual, however significant opportunity to explore new opportunities came from this unlikeliest of scenarios. With travel time to our respective offices paused and similarly, Baz’s frequent trips to LA and NY nixed, a very considerable amount of time was freed up to pursue collaboration on our new Weyo Reading platform, and its product roadmap, which ultimately accelerated conceptualisation and development. With many others in the content industry seemingly in the same boat, we were also able to take many more meetings and ultimately fast-track partnerships and contractual conversations. The end result sees us launching Weyo Reading six months ahead of schedule in early 2021! Silver linings and all that :) 


What’s the most important lesson you learned while making work outside of the traditional video platform?

One invaluable insight we learnt from introducing our new user behaviour (interactive AR video) to kids is that they are even more open-minded and willing to engage in the “new” and immerse themselves in the experiential possibilities that come with it than we originally thought. Adults frame their engagement with all kinds of preconceptions, preferences and biases and too often shut down the imagination- the suspension of disbelief- with a critical mind. This is where the fun really begins! How much real potential is there for inculcating a growth mindset in young kids’ via digital play experiences? And, how far we can go in exploring creativity and open-ended play when breaking the fourth wall?


What do you think is the secret to having a successful creative team who thinks outside of the box?

Weyo is fortunate in that both founders have a lifetime of experience working in the creative arts and know intimately the journey of a successful product from inspiration and ideation, through to execution, launch and hopefully, mass-market adoption. The strength of the original idea and the evaluation of product market fit is fundamentally important, equally so, how they are realised in the product road map, app dev and marketing is inextricable to the products potential success. However, in our experience, all is for naught if the collaborative process, with all its dependencies and personnel, is unable to come together to take the product on its journey. An environment that supports creativity and inspiration, underpinned by mutual respect and a willingness to take on diverse opinions and ideas is essential. If the collaborative process is firing on all cylinders, then you are halfway there to making something amazing.


What was the biggest hurdle you faced during your creative process?

By “breaking the fourth wall” and bringing kids onto the screen and into the action – seeing themselves as their favorite characters and interacting in real-time with the AR face filters – was a massive UI/UX challenge. Considerable R&D and user testing were undertaken to get the initial onboarding right as well as the “signalling” for when a user (who let’s remember is only two years of age!) is to participate in the content creation. We also had to test appropriate content and granular editing to guarantee full attention and active participation. We also had to be mindful of not overloading the experience with too many Wizz-bang distractions. Another major consideration was the privacy, safety and security issues that come with the territory of capturing content from kids. Ultimately this led to the biggest tech challenge of all – doing all that Weyo does, in real-time on the device with nothing sent to the cloud, for instant viewing and saving to the camera roll, by kids!


What do your Telly wins mean to you?

It was mind-blowing to receive this level of validation from The Telly Awards’ judges and it’s voting community. As is so often the case, new technologies that disrupt the way we view the world and/or require new user behaviors can struggle with a real-world use case and adoption and even recognition from the technical community. These awards shout it out loud and clear that our unique user engagement is being noticed and appreciated. We had already captured our own extensive and consistent data from our analytics that definitively demonstrated kids’ preference for our interactive video experiences, choosing them over regular “lean-back” and passive YouTube-style video experiences by a factor of 3 to 1. So while we know kids love Weyo, having industry experts recognising the value of our apps as well as winning People’s Choice, was nothing short of thrilling. Thank you!



Nasreen Alkhateeb: Cinematographer

Our Q&A with Telly Jury Council Member, Nasreen Alkhateeb

Nasreen Alkhateeb is an award-winning Cinematographer, who has dedicated the last 10 years creating content that amplifies underrepresented voices. By illuminating racial injustice, marginalized youth, melting ice, women peacekeepers, and the construction of the largest telescope NASA has ever attempted, Nasreen thrives as a leader on diverse storytelling projects.

As a multi-heritage woman of color, Nasreen has a plethora of lenses she sees the world through. Being Black, Iraqi, and disabled she is constantly translating these worlds, with one foot on three continents.

In 2020, Nasreen was chosen as the lead Cinematographer for Oprah on the series Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, and the Kamala Harris campaign. In 2019, she produced East of the River that screened the Tribeca Film Festival, and captured two campaigns for NASA and Women’s March, in addition to the Director of Photography on two narrative films highlighting LGBTQ and disabled storylines. In 2016, Nasreen was awarded Cinematographer of the Year by NASA for her work in Greenland. Nasreen has participated in the Sundance Film Festival, and helped program AFI DOCS, The Nantucket Film Festival, The Brooklyn International Film Festival, CINE, TIVA, and the local EMMYS.

What Video/Television piece inspired you recently?

HBO’s Lovecraft Country uses a combination of historically relevant social justice
themes, coupled with stellar production design, to immerse audiences into current
political strife, while keeping them entertained.

What is most exciting for you at the moment within your idustry?

Studios, companies, and institutions are being encouraged to touch on human rights

What is one thing The Telly Awards community should know about you?

All of the projects I work on have social justice themes as a bedrock.

1. I was chosen as the lead Director of Photography for Kamala Harris’ campaign. (this
is not public information yet, so please do not share)
2. Night Waking is a film the Frankly Film Festival was just nominated me for Best
Cinematography award. A women lead scifi production, focused on a queer family.
3. East of the River, a film I Executive Produced, was chosen by the Tribeca Film
Festival in 2019. A film that focuses on the school to prison pipeline in Washington
4. In 2016 NASA awarded me Cinematogrwpher of the year for my work in the Arctic
covering scientist measuring the melting ice.

What is a piece of work you are most proud to have worked on?

In 2016 NASA awarded me Cinematogrwpher of the year for my work in the Arctic
covering scientist measuring the melting ice.

How has your work changed this year as a result of the unpredictable 2020 landscape?

With 2020 shifting my ability to be on set for 6 months, I was able to dedicate
more time to facilitating the creation of content coming from the disability
community and youths of color communities.