As trade patterns shift, smart marketing and content from China is more important than ever…

Originally posted to #Linkedin by Gabriel Gornell

As a content creator and marketer who has done a fair amount of work recently for Chinese brands – helping them effectively reach American audiences, I believe this report from the The New York Times represents both an immediate need for Chinese businesses… as well as an opportunity for American marketers and content creators. More than ever, Chinese businesses require more effective content and brand messaging in order to build (and rebuild) relationships with American audiences… beyond price-points and features.

Our most recent branded live stream for a Chinese client attracted over 400,000 live viewers during our 2 hour livestream window. Not cumulative… Live! Check out the report in the NY Times


December 2023 Honored to have been selected to EP and Direct the Renogy Holiday Live Stream starring our charismatic host Rachel Reenstra (ABC’s The Wildlife Docs, Discovery’s Ms. Adventure) which garnered an incredible 425,000 live viewers for the 2023 holiday season.

Our “end-to-end” production delivered a “talk show inspired” two-hour live stream driving incredible sales (case study to follow in the coming weeks) for the revered energy brand.

The live experience featuring interviews, off-grid “how to” segments, RV influencers, and live promotions. Thanks and continued appreciation to our agency partners SparkX for their continued support.

Deliverables included: ROS, Script, Casting, Location, Sets, On-Air Graphics, Direction, Production, Uplink, as well as a :30 second promo to market the live stream.


Proud to be supporting the #fintech brand CoinMover as their Fractional CMO. CoinMover is a growing player in crypto currency providing financial services in areas of leader cash management and Bitcoin ATM operations with a network of 200 locations in the US – and growing.

Leaning into this executive position as a content creator, my first campaign with the team delivered impressive results.

Leveraging some snarky headlines and the brand’s bright-green identity, our CTR increased from 0.7% to 8.2% (greater than 100x increase) under my tenure and I drove down our CPCs from $2.50 to $0.35 across digitals and socials.

I’m excited to continue working with this growing brand – and I look forward to our next campaign. Below is a snapshot of the campaign’s on-going creative.

GARDESOL for Amazon (2023)

Very happy to have collaborated with the outdoor home brand Gardesol on their 2023 Pergola and outdoor Umbrella content package. Gabriel led this endeavor as Director and Creative EP in collaboration with US and China based agency SparkX and the Gardesol marketing team. The challenge was to develop an actionable creative and production strategy that delivered a full package of content (photo and video) for the marketing and social teams to leverage across earned, owned, and paid digital platforms – on an ambitious schedule and at a cost-effective price point.

The package included:

  • 50 Image Photo Library for Socials, Website, and Catalog
  • Two :30 Second TVC Spots (:25/:05)
  • B-Roll Package for Socials and UGC
Snapshot of our 50 Image photo library – including both product and lifestyle images

C3 Presents SOUND OF FASHION [Current]

Sound of Fashion delves into music’s influence on style and fashion (and vice versa) over time.

Very happy to be leading this music-meets-fashion short film series in partnership with C3 Presents / Live Nation as the project’s creator and director. The first two short films in the series are linked below.

The first short film in the series (link below) entitled “Louis The Child X Lollapalooza” premiered on Hulu on August 6, 2023 during the telecast of Lollapalooza.

During this short, we spent the day with DJs Louis The Child in and out of streetwear boutiques on Fairfax Avenue in West Hollywood, CA where we explored how style and fashion has evolved within the world of DJ culture. From Fatboy Slim to Daft Punk to Swedish House Mafia… we got into all of style trends which had an impact on Chicago’s own, Louis The Child.

Louis The Child in Sound Of Fashion

The second short-film In the second short in the series came in October. Entitled “Nessa Barrett X ACL Fest” which premiered on Hulu during the October 6, 2023 ACL telecast, we spent the day with artist and influencer Nessa Barrett during wardrobe design and rehearsals for her upcoming tour. And beyond our lively conversation about what’s important and what her influences are… we also got a sneak peak at her (at the time) soon to be released new single ‘Club Heaven‘ during her rehearsals.

Nessa Barrett in Sound Of Fashion

Stay tuned! This series is ongoing. MORE. TO. COME.

Nessa Barrett: Self

Louis The Child: Self

Creator/Director: Gabriel Gornell

Executive Producer: Daniel Gibbs

Executive Producer: Douglas Caballero

Producer/DP: Jaime Andres Salazar

DP: Lorenzo Diego

Post Audio: Alessio Caltagirone

How AI is changing Post & VFX

Original post appeared on Gabriel’s May 19th ‘Content, Music + Media’ newsletter on Linkedin

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In 5 out of 5 of my last production bids, the client asked about AI. Now they didn’t come right out and say it… but it felt like they were thinking “Doesn’t AI basically just make your commercials for you?”

Six questions answered by an industry leader

Not yet. But the recent AI media-frenzy certainly has many-a-marketer thinking this is the case. Aside from AI having a great press agent in its own right, this bean-counter perception is also fueled by a perfect storm of media coverage focusing on endless corporate layoffs, recession predictions, bank failures… and now the writers’ strike. So regardless of AI advancements, the continued downward pressure on commercial production budgets is real. But that’s not to say AI is positioned to replace commercial production as we know it.

In terms of commercial production, Post and VFX seem to be leading the AI charge. So I caught up with a long-time colleague and post-innovator Lucien Harriot of Mechanism Digital in New York City to better understand what’s going on. And possibly ease some concerns.

Btw… Lucien has been president of post and effects house Mechanism Digital since 1996 (which is a thousand VFX years) producing award-winning visual effects, animation, and new media for films, television, and marketing. And long before AI was a buzzword, Lucien has been leveraging AI technologies and advanced workflows for content production. So let’s get into it.

Question 1: Hiring Impact

BBC reported that AI will very likely eliminate 300 Million Jobs. And The Guardian reported that it expects AI to widen the wealth gap. That all sounds pretty doom and gloom. In the real life day-to-day of post production and visual effects, do you really view AI as just another tool… or do you see it as a movement which will inevitably decrease the number of people you hire?

Lucien: AI has definitely improved our efficiency when it comes to the software we use, streamlining our work and making things more efficient. This means we can achieve better, faster, and cheaper results. If there’s enough demand in the industry, our studio could take on more projects. However, if we can’t double our workload, we likely won’t be hiring new people. This may impact newcomers more, while benefiting experienced professionals since we need more experts to oversee VFX, animation, and post-production. AI is excellent at handling many tasks, particularly the simpler ones, but it still requires the guidance of someone with a discerning eye to ensure everything is on the right track. The cost reductions that come with AI-powered efficiencies might give us a competitive advantage. But it’s important to keep in mind that other studios will probably adopt similar technologies, which would level the playing field once again. So while AI is undoubtedly a valuable tool, it may also lead to hiring fewer people, especially at the entry-level, as the industry continues to evolve.

Question 2: Which Tools Do You Use?

Of all the VFX and post-production AI tools that you’ve been exposed to over the past six months, which specific AI tool do you expect to use as product offering for your clients most?

Lucien: Over the past six months, we’ve seen impressive advancements in VFX and post-production AI tools. Rotoscoping, keying, and tracking have shown significant improvements. Audio cleanup tools have become more efficient and user-friendly, while voice-over technology is now suitable for scratch tracks and speaking legal copy. ChatGPT has been particularly helpful in solving technical issues by offering suggestions when troubleshooting software errors. Additionally, we’ve been able to breakdown and get cost estimates for VFX shots in feature film scripts, which used to be a time-consuming process when bidding on new projects. Although the above tasks require a seasoned expert to guide the process, these tools hold great potential as cost reductions and added value for our clients.

Question 3: Who does AI best in post?

There are quite a few players in post. Which better-known post production platforms have the most interesting AI integrations and plug-ins thus far?  What are they?  

Lucien: Among the well-known post-production platforms, our primary 3D software, Maya, has gained a few interesting AI integrations that generate textures, backgrounds and dynamic scene generation. It’s important to note that these tools are currently being developed by users, which allows for faster innovation compared to waiting for Autodesk to develop new features. RunwayML is another promising software, offering a collection of browser-based editing and post-production tools. These include object removal from moving video and AI-generated text-to-image/video tools. While the quality of these tools may not yet be suitable for feature films, they do provide accessible options for consumers and less critical video projects, such as corporate, educational, and late-night talk shows. This democratization of tools has the potential to benefit a wider range of users and clients. Another interesting change we are seeing is most AI solutions are web-based which makes them available to a broad range of people since a good amount of post-production work no longer requires high performance workstations.

Question 4: Pick One

A, B, or C: You can only pick one (a) I expect that AI tools will grow my efficiencies and current offerings which will drive my VFX and Post income up. (b) I expect that AI tools will drive my VFX and Post income down (c) I don’t see AI impacting my VFX and Post income for the foreseeable future.

Lucien:I believe that AI will likely drive the overall gross income of our VFX and Post business down, as we’ll probably reduce prices thanks to the new efficiencies but will also need to remain competitive against others who are also cutting their costs and prices.

However, I anticipate seeing an increase in our profits, at least in the short term, assuming prices won’t drop drastically right away. One advantage I see with our current setup is that we have been entirely cloud-based these past three years and no longer have the substantial capital investment that we did during the first twenty-five years of our business. Although cloud computing can be more expensive than purchasing hardware, the flexibility it offers can lead to considerable cost savings. As new AI tools become increasingly cloud-friendly, we can further benefit from their adaptability and integration into our workflows.

Question 5: If You Could Go Back In Time

Of all your memorable projects over the years… which project had a significant production challenge (be specific) that would have been a lot easier if you had access to a current AI tool that wasn’t available then.  Details would be very cool.

Lucien: There are two projects that come to mind, which would have been considerably easier with the help of current AI tools. The first was a music video where we had to create an effect showing a woman’s face gradually becoming more bruised from domestic violence while she sang to the camera. With today’s neural style transfer tools, we could have effortlessly applied this effect to the subtle contours of her face while her face was in motion singing. The second project was a blue-jeans commercial which was accidentally filmed against a blue screen, which required manual rotoscoping for every frame. Modern AI techniques can now recognize people and objects based on their shapes, much like humans do, rather than relying solely on a single color for background replacement. This technology has the potential to replace traditional blue and green screen keying in the future, making tasks like these much more manageable and even reducing production costs and concerns.

Question 6: What else?

For readers to better understand the potential real-life impact of AI on Visual Effects and Post Production… what question do you wish I had asked?

Lucien: An interesting question you could have asked is what other technology from the past has had as significant an impact as AI. My answer would be, not just in post-production, but across all industries. In my opinion, AI will influence our world to the same extent as the invention of the wheel or the harnessing of electricity. The changes brought on by AI will be profoundly transformative, and I think we’re just beginning to grasp the extent of its potential. Until recently our intelligence set us apart from other living organisms on this planet, along with our opposable thumbs, of course. While AI might not be a living organism and may not technically possess “intelligence,” it can simulate intelligence so effectively that we can’t tell the difference. As AI continues to evolve at a rapid pace, it will eventually replace the need for most humans who are paid for their thinking or reasoning skills.  AI’s strength lies in its ability to access information from around the world, connecting the dots to solve problems. The outcome could be a utopia where nobody has to work or a sci-fi horror movie scenario with revolutions and uprisings, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. At least we’ll still have our opposable thumbs!

Well… here’s to our opposable thumbs. Following Lucien’s lead, I personally believe that the biggest AI advancements to come might be in industries like residential plumbing. AI can pass the bar exam… but it’s unlikely that it will soon be able to climb under your sink to replace a pipe. So I believe traditionally manual trades will greatly increase in value as the result of AI pushing many white collar trades out of relevance. So here’s to our future plumbers and their very useful opposable thumbs.

Big thank you to Lucien Harriot and Mechanism Digital for sharing his insightful POV on things to come in Post and VFX thanks to AI. You can check out their work at the link below.

Hey producers… you should invite Lucien to bid on your next project!

Until next time, remember… message over data. And likes don’t mean they’re actually gonna buy a ticket. TTFN.



Led the aspirational outdoor brand’s first ever live-stream event as Director, Writer, and Creative EP. The program leveraged the fanbases and followers of several outdoor influencers including Mr. Adventure Tristan Hamm, Pro Surfer Ian Crane, Van-lifers Meghan and Matt, and DJ Disco Shrine on the beaches of Southern California. And together, we drove , Views, Engagement, and UGC for the brand.

In just two hours we garnered…

514,000 Live Views


Thousands of UGC Posts During the Campaign – Over 50K Total To Date

34% Organic Engagement Rate

Director Gabriel Gornell with First AD Roberta Sparta

DEI Pledge of Gabriel Gornell and LocoDistro

Inspired by DEI Commitment Statement from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we’re committed to the following pledge:

We will:

  1. Achieve the impact we want to have in the world by actively listening to our partners and the communities they work within and serve, investing in and elevating their voices and ideas
  2. Create an inclusive workplace culture that recognizes and values all backgrounds, voices, roles, and contributions
  3. Foster practices to help us build a globally and culturally diverse workforce, empowered and supported to perform at their highest potential
  4. Hold our leaders accountable for developing diverse and inclusive teams, making decisions equitably and transparently, and modeling inclusive behaviors

As we work toward these outcomes, we will hold fast to our vision: that every person will have the chance to live a healthy, productive life and be treated with dignity, humanity and respect — in our organization and around the world.

Rihanna before Rihanna: Farewell to the Gambler. 

On this day three years ago we lost Kenny Rogers, one of the best selling music artists of all time. Kenny was Rihanna well before Rihanna. Not only did he chart 120 hit singles, he was a 360° media and business mogul. He even pioneered hick-hop long before Lil Nas X with his 1998 Coolio collab.

Kenny was in the movie business (Six Pack), the food business (Kenny Rogers Roasters), the TV business (the Gambler series) even the automotive business (Gamber Chassis Co). And his legend has been featured in storylines from Seinfeld to HBO’s Big Love to Geico commercials.

I only had the pleasure of working with Kenny for a short period. We were business partners for a couple years and ultimately created our own 360° experience which included a Festival Line-up, Casino experience with MGM Grand, an Oprah episode… and even a TV Special distributed by BBC. Kenny’s legend helped us secure Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie, Darius Rucker, Alison Krauss, Smokey Robinson, Wynonna Judd, Billy Currington, Chris Isaac, the Oak Ridge Boys and so many more.  

When you consider today’s landscape of new and niche festivals across the US… this experience was WAY ahead of its time, just like Kenny. 



Cheers to the cultural contributions of the Irish. From Jonathan Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal’ (1729) to Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ (1895) to James Joyce’s ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ (1916) to U2’s ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’ (2000). For centuries, the Irish have provoked and inspired. And who doesn’t love a pint of Guinness. #culture #stpatricksday #artist #irish