Framestore’s Chicago office, a year after the launch

"The Zoo" at Framestore's Chicago office

“The Zoo” at Framestore’s Chicago office

With a growing client portfolio and a staff that includes “scientists, mathematicians, developers and engineers,” the Windy City outpost of the global company makes a dazzling Midwestern impression

In the year since Framestore opened its Chicago office with a launch party at the Adler Planetarium last September, the company has more than lived up to its name. While expanding from 17 to 32 employees and landing an impressive list of new clients, the Windy City outpost of the global powerhouse has become a distinct and collaborative member of the local creative community.

Reel Chicago visited the Greektown location to see how they get it done.

“With each office that Framestore launches, the challenge has always been: how are we going to be like Framestore’s office in Montreal? How are we going to be like Framestore’s LA office?” says Managing Director Krystina Wilson.

Krystina Wilson
Krystina Wilson

Wilson has worked hard to establish Framestore’s Windy City presence from the get-go. Besides providing clients with access to the company’s global motherlode of Oscar- and Cannes-winning talent, she has built a staff that combines company veterans and local creatives to form an “equal balance of Chicago and born-and-bread Framestore talent.”

Also Read: Framestore focuses on Chicago

Creative Director David Mellor is part of the company-groomed crowd. “I started in London, moved to New York,” says the 15-year employee. “When they were looking to open up the studio here, they approached me to come up and create.”

With the Chicago office, the word create is taken quite literally. For Reel Chicago, Mellor posed in front of The Zoo — an arrangement of iconic CG characters that Framestore created for various ads, movies, and shows.

A ménages of biology, science, and art distinguishes Framestore in the film and advertising communities.



Beyond its visual effects and color teams, Wilson emphasizes, “A lot of people don’t realize that innovation is at our core, and we are not just visual effects. We hire scientists and mathematicians and developers and engineers and this whole broad staff across our offices.”

As a result, she continues, “a lot of (Framestore’s) work is NDA (non-disclosure agreement), so that is the hard part.” However, she does reveal that they are creating content with Facebook and Magic Leap “as creative developers or technologists.”

Framestore's Chicago office
Framestore’s Chicago office

According to Wilson, Magic Leap is “an augmented, mixed-reality startup” and Framestore is “working with them behind the scenes to create original content that is going to be released later this year on Magic Leap One.”

Magic Leap One is an AR headset that can be used to play games, develop software, and create digital art.

While the bulk of Framestore’s Chicago-based clients are from the advertising community, Wilson states, “A quarter of the work that we are seeing or currently working on is in that experiential sector.”

Beyond commercial success, Wilson and the Chicago office have made a concerted effort to foster and contribute to the greater Chicago community.

They have hosted a variety of industry events called Framestore EFFECT with organizations, such as the Foundry and VES.

“Once a month, we either host at our space, or somewhere else we’ll host or be part of a lecture series,” says Wilson.

One that especially stood out to Reel Chicago was the June event, titled An Evening #InColour.

Also Read: Framestore to host “An Evening #InColour”

David Mellor in front of
David Mellor in front of “The Zoo”

For the event, Wilson explains that the Chicago office was turned “into an art gallery featuring the art and photography of all of our US colorists.”

“(We) had color experiments in each room and different projections, and it had an artist speaker, Judy Ledgerwood, talk all about color and how our eyes perceive color, the emotion of color, and the science of color,” she continues. “It was really cool.”

The exhibited included work by Framestore’s colorists Maria Carretero and Edwin Metternich.

In addition to their impressive painting and photography portfolios, the pair represents the Chicago office’s hybrid of new Chicago talent and veteran Framestore talent.

Besides being an established colorist and artist in Spain, Carretero was the Head of Grading at Carbon VFX in Chicago for over two years. Metternich, on the other hand, has been with Framestore since 2007.

“Both are really successful,” says Wilson. “Maria is used to grading beautiful visual storytelling, and Edwin definitely has a background in grading those large-scale VFX jobs. So they really compliment each other’s aesthetics well.”

Maria Carretero and one of her paintings
Maria Carretero and one of her paintings

In addition to hosting industry events and cool exhibits, the Chicago office has also placed an emphasis on collaborating with mission-driven organizations like Penedo Charitable Organization, Project Syncere, and Women in Film.

Framestore’s relationships with Penedo and Project Syncere provide underprivileged youth with exposure to the VFX and post-production industries.

Women in Film Chicago hosted an open house at Framestore in January 2018, and in many ways, Women in Film’s mission reflects Framestore’s own mission.

“Framestore was founded by five people,” explains Wilson. “Two of them were women. Fifty percent of our executive board leadership (is) women

Currently, Framestore’s Chicago office is planning to host a Framestore EFFECT event in the fall that will focus on “female leadership and creativity” in the industry.



Wilson says that her six years of experience in the Chicago market have taught her that this city “is all about relationships with people.” She also believes that an international company like Framestore “cannot just come and put your name on the door, and say, ‘Hey! We’re Framestore. Come work here.’”

Knowing this, Wilson and the team work hard to make sure every client feels that Framestore has “a boutique vibe with an incredible and large global pipeline and scale behind it.”

Whether it’s “$15,000 jobs or $1,000,000 jobs,” Wilson emphasizes that Framestore puts the same amount of passion and effort into “everything we do.”

As for large-scale advertising work, she stresses that the Chicago office has developed “incredible” partnerships with both DDB and Havas Chicago.

“We just completed a beautiful campaign for Moen with Havas in June,” she adds.

The Kitchen at Framestore
The Kitchen at Framestore

Moen is a faucet, shower fixture, and appliance company.

The collaboration between Moen, Havas Chicago, and Framestore resulted in a sophisticated campaign that takes water out of the picture to emphasize the fundamental role it plays in daily life.

Also Read: Havas launches elegant new campaign for Moen

Framestore has also partnered with DDB on a number of spots, including a State Farm commercial scheduled to broadcast during NFL and NCAA football games.

“There are two packages, but the Aaron Rodgers stuff is the best,” says Wilson. “I say that because I’m a Packers fan.”

Despite Wilson’s loyalty to Green Bay, the Chicago community and the Windy City’s ad agencies have already adopted Framestore as a local and essential member.

To learn more about Framestore, click here.

Contact Joey Filer at or follow him on Twitter @FilerJoey.