Motionographer's Carlos El Asmar on creating PopUp F5

On June 12, 2018, creativity festival F5 is back after 3 years. This time as a four-hour PopUp, as part of the New York edition of PromaxBDA conference. Since 2009, F5 explores the intersection of design, art, and technology with a focus on motion design. The goal of F5 is to create meeting space where great minds diversify our perspectives. Show talents from places that exist out of comfort zones, and to foster creative collisions. Create moments of lasting insight and inspiration that occur when we smash into something unexpected. Carlos El Asmar is co-founder and owner of, The Motion Awards, and F5 Fest. He is the former Executive Creative Director of NBCUniversal, and currently, he focuses on growing the entire Motionographer ecosystem and have also been getting into producing theater. Since Neon Moiré is all design conference we asked El Asmar to share how he curates, lessons learned and what to expect at the upcoming PopUp F5 in New York City.
Teaser PopUpF5 at PromaxBDA 2018

What led up to organising the F5 Festival, back in 2009?

The idea behind F5 Fest was to be a physical embodiment of everything we were doing at Motionographer. At the time, Motionographer was the only place dedicated to the exploding industry of motion graphics, and we wanted to create a physical space where motionographers could come meet each other, get inspired by both the leaders in their field and artists of other disciplines as well, and, of course, party. F5 strives to bring together the thinkers and doers that are breaking ground and shaping new standards across all creative platforms. It’s an essential meeting point for future-minded individuals with the power to create lasting change.

What is the story behind the conference name, and where does it stand for?

The name F5 Fest came after days of trying to come up with a cool name. I finally hit the F5 refresh button from the windows explorer web browser, and I said “That’s it! We are overthinking it!” F5:REFRESH was the first theme of the first F5 in 2009. In 2011 we did HAPPYF5, and the last edition was F5LOVE. The main goal of F5 is to leave attendees feeling refreshed and inspired, and have a great time. We are not a stuffy conference: we like swear words, loud music, drinks, and weird things. We give our opening title creators and speakers full freedom to create and talk about what they want.

Now after 3 years F5 is back as a four hour PopUp, during Promaxbda NYC why in this form?

Why PopUpF5 at PromaxBDA? Good question, because we felt like it? Actually, F5 Fest runs on a not for profit mentality. It is a true labor of love. For that reason we don’t always know when the next F5 will be, we have to be feeling particularly brave. Organizing a conference like this is no small feat. But when Promax reached out to us it felt right. Promax was looking to bring in a more design-centered aspect to their conference just when we were feeling like it was time for F5 to come back out. Timing is everything.

Who can we expect to see on stage?

We’re super excited to have Barcelonian duo Dvein, back on the F5 stage. They created our timeless inaugural 2009 opening titles. Lola Landekic, Managing Editor and Co-owner of Art of the Title will be there. She is also Senior Designer at publisher HarperCollins. Lola started the 10 Women of Title Design series of articles on Art of the Title and the #womenoftitledesign hashtag on Twitter, which act as resources and highlight the work of women who design titles for film and television. We all know this industry needs more women at the forefront so we’re super proud to have Lola speak to that on the F5 stage. Extraweg is coming all the way from Berlin to share their bizarre and mesmerizing aesthetic. GMUNK is back. This designer, director, and galactic crusader needs little introduction: he’s crazy, we love him. Haitian American designer Handel Eugene recently took the plunge into freelance and is making a name for himself working on some of the biggest brands out there. And Nadia Tzuo of course, there’s no way you haven’t come across her work. From title sequences, VFX/UI design and concept art for film, television and the gaming industry, Nadia does it all and does it really, really well.

Dvein: F5 Titles 2009

How do you curate the program?

This is the most difficult part. This time it was a little easier because we focused entirely on motion artist and studios. Usually for F5, the curating process is more complex because we look for people that are changing and influencing in all creative arenas, not just motion graphics. I have a great team and we all pitch in ideas and research. We have a long list and start sculpting a line-up from there. We are cognizant of making sure our speakers are diverse, and we carefully choose who comes after who, and what music gets played before and after each speaker.

What are you most excited about if you look at the complete program?

I am most excited about the fact that we are doing it with PromaxBDA. It is completely unchartered territory for us and I like challenges. We’re out of our comfort zone, so we are truly practicing what we preach.

What do you want your audience to take home?

I know it sounds cliche but to leave inspired, questioning their work and life decisions. We get so many emails about people quitting their jobs after going to F5. If F5 makes you rethink your life, then we’ve done our job.

How does organising a design conference influence your daily work?

Well now, I am concentrating all of my efforts on Motionographer, The Motion Awards and F5, so it has become my daily work! When I was at NBCUniversal it was tough- I didn't sleep for a year!

What has been your highlights since you started as an organiser?

I have many. I always love it when we get emails after the conference from attendees telling us how amazing their experience was, or how it inspired them to quit their jobs and finally do what they’ve always dreamed of doing. Seeing the F5 opening titles is another one. It’s a very sacred rule at F5 that we are not allowed to see the opening titles before the conference. I like to see them when the audience sees them for the first time. And we want studios to have a chance to make whatever they want, without having to answer to anyone. I always tear up when they go live. The studios are always so nervous and anxious to know how we will react. They always far exceed my expectations and make me really proud.

What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?

That the experience is all in the details. We take great care in everything that we do at F5, we think about the attendees and speakers experiences at every step.

That when we are offline and connecting on a human level, one-on-one, magic happens.

I’ve made mistakes too. In the past I have not been introduced to the speakers. My reason was that I didn't want F5 to be a platform for me to network with great minds, or to be in the spotlight. But I’ve found out that some speakers thought I was being rude, and that’s not me. The most important lesson that I have confirmed over and over again is that kindness is my default setting and love my biggest ambition.

Where do you think design-driven events are heading in the next five years and how will you adapt?

Not sure how to answer that one. I just went to two design driven events- in Europe. And the format is always been the same for years. I don't like competition so, I don't think we need to adapt to other events, we already do the festival in a very unique and crazy way. F5 style.

What's your ambition for the F5 in the next five years?

To keep making it grow and broaden our audience so we can influence bigger and more impactful change.

Lastly, what is the signature drink of the F5?

Ha! Great question. I would love to say martinis, but that’s really more my signature drink. I will say beer. We all love beer.

PopUp F5

12 June 2018, At 9:00 AM - 1PM and after PromaxBDA kicks off and party at night.
New York Hilton Midtown, 1335 6th Ave, New York, NY
Get your ticket


  • Nadia Tzuo
  • Handel Eugene
  • Lola Landekic
  • RevThink
  • Rodrigo Moran
PopUpF5 2018
F5 crowd preview
F5 crowd Photo: F5

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