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Maribeth Rayfield | 09.15.20

Piledriver 5 Ways

We sat down (virtually) with our friend and MoGraph partner Matt Petrocci, the man behind Piledriver. We’ve worked with Matt for years—on many exciting projects—and we always seem to learn something new about him in the process. The energy and commitment Matt brings to his work is rivaled only by his passion for the trails and the slopes.

Was there something or someone who influenced you towards motion graphics?

I was always interested in motion graphics but my path to pursuing a career in it was an interesting one. I graduated from RIT with a degree in graphic design, but the internet had just come out so I taught myself how to design and build websites. CDROMS were also hot at the time and I taught myself Macromedia Director, thinking I might want to make digital comics. Like that’s where I thought I was gonna go. I moved to SF during the initial web boom and thatʼs when things really took off. Flash started to become a big thing and I left my agency job to start Piledriver and focus on flash animation. Then after I got married, an opportunity opened up at a studio which allowed me to learn After Effects and work on really cool, high profile projects. Iʼve been lucky to have these opportunities and meet so many inspiring people. Itʼs been an interesting trajectory. Iʼm really happy to be where Iʼm at today and Iʼm excited for whatʼs in store for the future.

Whatʼs behind the name Piledriver?

I’ve been a huge fan of wrestling, especially during the 80s. That period had a lot of over the top characters and action. It was dramatic and also very, like goofy, at the same time. I feel like a lot of my design energy is pulled from my youth and I wanted a name that reflected my style and thinking. I like to believe my work can be fun and energetic but also dramatic when it needs to be. So I kinda thought that was a good fitting name.

Wow! That’s a great, great description too, and I think you really do embody a lot of that energy in your work and in your personality. Yeah, so that’s super cool. I love that.

Yeah, you know there’s partly a symptom of like—there’s a part of me that just hasn’t grown up—but it’s also a job requirement, you know, you gotta bring some fun & energy to things. It’s like oh, it’s perfect!

I feel like a lot of my design energy is pulled from my youth and I wanted a name that reflected my style and thinking.

Matt Petrocci

Describe your most epic day on the slopes.

Oh…there’s so many to choose from! Iʼve been lucky enough to visit some great mountains but these days the most epic days are the ones where I’m with my family and watching them shred. Itʼs such a great feeling to be ripping down the hill and your kids zip right past you.

I know that feeling well!

Yeah, I think like, I’m at the top of my game, and all of a sudden they just vrooof right past you. I love that feeling—I love it, and I love watching them get excited over learning something new. And you know, it’s like what you’re trying to do as a parent, you’re trying to get your kid to do better than how you did—and in snowboarding I can see that—and it’s a good feeling.

It’s a great feeling, I agree!

And also, if I can, you know, rip with the kids and see all that, and still squeeze in a dad jump or two, Iʼd say thatʼs pretty epic. BTW, a dad jump is getting about 2 inches of air and yelling “wooooo” So that’s where I’m at with my skills.

What types of projects interest you most?

I would say the projects that interest me the most are the ones where there is a creative problem to solve and the client is giving me free reign to solve it, or pitch something unique. You know, when a client trusts you to create something that is maybe out of their comfort zone, it gives me like that focus and determination to hit a home run for them. And Iʼm also interested in stepping out of my own comfort zone a bit because it usually results in personal and professional growth.

You know, when a client trusts you to create something that is maybe out of their comfort zone, it gives me like that focus and determination to hit a home run for them.

Matt Petrocci

Whatʼs the animation sequence from a movie or tv that you love but nobody talks about?

Well in addition to the movies and shows I used to watch while growing up Iʼm really digging the capitalization of todayʼs super hero genre. I think the creativity, imagination, and production is all mind blowing. Iʼm inspired by the intro to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It was intended to look like a living comic book and itʼs everything I dreamed of when I was wanting to put comics on CDROMS back in the 90s.

Well, I think that wraps it up. Thanks Matt for your time and willingness to share with us! We really appreciate your partnership and look forward to many future projects together.

Absolutely! This was great. I appreciate you guys including me!