digital samurai


Name: Rob Brunner, 27, far left and third from left; Mike Mercuri, 32, far right and third from right

Occupation: multi-media specialists

Talk about your double takes. Television personality Rob Brunner and media cohort Mike Mercuri are the dynamic duo behind Digital Samurai, a multi-faceted design shop that specializes in video production as well as graphic and web design. Their clients range from local artists who need music videos; to corporate giants (like Rogers Communications) that want commercials done; to a television station (MTV Canada) that was on a quest for broadband content.

Brunner and Mercuri have just survived what seemed like an impossible feat: churning out a half-hour TV special in three days. The task was Auto Show TV, a televised special devoted to last week’s 2007 Canadian International Auto Show. Roped in to co-host the program, I was an eyewitness to the pair’s boundless energy.

“In this industry it’s always a lean mean budget, but it’s not about what you can do with what’s given to you. It’s about what you can do period,” says Mercuri, referring to their ability to churn out a snazzy show in not only rapid time, but also on a shoestring budget with only a handful of freelancers on board.

“The Auto Show wasn’t about the money. It was about proving we could complete an entire 30-minute show in two days and not make it look like it only took two days. We shot on a Wednesday and Thursday, and we needed it by Friday noon. Our team stayed up working 40 hours straight and we got it done with about 10 minutes to spare,” says Brunner, who took on producing, directing, filming and editing duties.

“Yes, we go through some sleep deprivation once in a while, he adds, “but sleep is overrated.”

The 27-year-old Brunner made a name for himself as host, producer and editor of Bang TV, an extreme sports show that aired on Global TV for three years. Juggling the same three hats, he further indented his name on the small screen with the popular program Teens Dating.

Mercuri’s media roots began at the University of Toronto, where he pursued fine arts and history. He was drawn to photography and graphic design, and five years of experience at design houses furnished the married 32-year-old with experience in web and graphic design, motion graphics, After Effects and Photoshop. But like Brunner, Mercuri can also jump behind the camera to direct a shoot or slide into the client-servicing chair.

The pair befriended each other at the gym. Working out, rock climbing, surfing, mountain biking —- all that good stuff that brings sporting buffs together eventually sparked a business union. In 2000, Digital Samurai was born and a diverse portfolio of work has been amassed as illustrated in its website,

“We really like to say we can do just about anything that comes our way. If we don’t know how to do it, we will figure it out and try to go beyond the standard,” says Brunner.

“Our philosophy is the way of the samurai,” adds Mercuri. “You have to have a balance between work and recreation. And as the samurai do, treat everything as art.”

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