Vodafone Advert / YODO Creative

So here’s a project that I worked on last year with the guys over at YODO Creative – they were working on a number of films for Vodafone PR to promote the thirty year anniversary of the first mobile phone call in the UK ever. The son of the Vodafone chairman was apparently smuggled away from a New Years Eve party, and rang his father using the state-of-the-art handset (that cost almost two thousand pounds).

Cycle forward (nearly) thirty years, and I was using the same model handset as reference to build the 3D version. This was a hard surface modelling project in Modo, and a fun challenge – the film required the camera to be extremely close to the model, which was intended to be showroom fresh rather than thirty years old. I built in a lot of detail to ensure that we had complete freedom of movement with the camera, worked out the camera moves with the director, going through a number of iterations to make sure we were getting the right feel to the moves. Final lighting and rendering was handled by Richard Heard.

The film was very well-received by Vodafone; uncharacteristically for a PR piece, it was picked up by just about every territory that Vodafone operates in. It was great collaborating with the guys at YODO Collective, and I’m looking forward to the next project.

P.S. One of the other films was a montage of rather adorable interviews with young kids about the phone. Some of their answers are great.

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How To Improve Capitalism

Or at least, here are some ideas on ways that we could change it – I always feel that a video like this works best if it prompts you to at least think about the questions being raised, even if you don’t necessarily agree with all the answers – thinking about these problems (rather than just accepting the status quo) is the first step to finding workable solutions.

This is also the most recent project that I’ve worked on. The client in this case was Alain de Botton – a contact that I picked up through Twitter.

Starting with the script and voiceover provided by Alain, I had a chat with him to go over the project, check what his requirements were, who the intended audience were and so on. I was also able to ask if he had any specific themes or styles in mind for the piece (he liked the Guardian piece that I’d worked on with Alex Purcell, so I went with a similar art style). From there I created all the concepts, worked up the art direction for the piece, built all the art assets in Illustrator, and animated everything in After Effects. Sound design was done by Jonny Elwyn.

One thing that I specifically wanted to avoid was the use of maps when talking about countries – it’s used everywhere (as it’s frequently the shortest distance between information and understanding) but ultimately it’s just not that interesting. I felt the capitalist machine concept, with different countries being represented as machines painted in their respective flags, would work well for the subject matter (and I was able to play around with it a little bit – for example, Sweden has a lot more furniture on it’s conveyor belts).

It was a fun project to work on, as it’s always great when you have a bit of creative freedom. The release into the wilds of the internet has also gone well. At the time of writing, it’s been viewed over ten thousand times on YouTube, with likes far outweighing dislikes (always a good sign!).

Rufus Hound seemed to like it.

rufusHoundTweet

But the main thing is that the client was happy with it. It’s always great when you get feedback like this:

“The film is terrific, everything I could have hoped for. You’ve done a fantastic job. Thank you so much.” Alain de Botton

Quiet Mark at the Ideal Home Show

If you’ve visited the Ideal Home Show this past week, it’s just possible you’ll have seen some of my work up on the big screens inside the Earls Court convention centre. Just before the conference started I got called in by a studio that was producing a couple of films about the Quiet Mark Treehouse, constructed in the centre and stocked with Quiet Mark certified products – awarded to especially quiet designs for washing machines, dishwashers and other appliances that usually contribute to the general cacophony of modern living.

It was a fun little project to work on, and my first time collaborating with J&E Higham, who were a joy to work with. Also pretty cool to know it’s been playing at Earls Court these past few weeks.

My brother edited the footage together, and I was responsible for adding in the text and the expanding purple circles.

Why Is That Guy Sat On An Elephant?

An excellent question, and one that the second film for The Pioneers sets out to answer. This was the second of the two projects for The Pioneers, with this film focusing on the source of the inspiration for their logo design. It was also an opportunity to create some caricatures of Jonathan Haidt and Daniel Khaneman.

The video followed the same production methods as the previous film – based off scripts that were created by The Pioneers team, with some input and suggestions from myself and my brother. I then storyboarded out the film, working up concepts for each element, and got sign off from The Pioneers. After that, it was a matter of creating all the art and putting together the final animation, before handing it back to my brother to put together the sound design.

As always there was a lot of collaboration between myself and The Pioneers, a lot of back-and-forth communication, making sure the final film was going to meet their vision for the project. I’m pretty happy with the results (as happy as I am with anything that I make, admittedly).

The Pioneers have shown the film to both Jonathan Haidt and Daniel Khaneman, both of whom were happy with it – in the case of Jonathan Haidt, he liked it so much he got in touch with The Pioneers and (last I heard) was talking to them about putting together some new studies.

Who Are The Pioneers?

Well – these guys. They’re a new London startup who hired my brother and I to produce a number of short animated films. These films were to use the characters created by the graphic designer who put together their branding, be super-simple 2D in terms of aesthetics, and be relatively light and funny where possible. They’d be providing the scripts, my brother would do the sound design, and I’d do everything else.

The process was straightforward. After receiving the script, I board the film out and those boards are then signed off on by the client. This is usually happening concurrently with the recording, with two or more scripts being recorded on the same day to keep costs down. At that point it’s a matter of creating all the artwork (put together in Illustrator) and doing all the animation (all done in After Effects).

Creating the different characters based off the original designs was fun and an interesting challenge. I think I ended up producing better stuff building off the initial framework than if I’d had to design them myself from scratch.

I’m currently working on the next film and will be updating with that in a week or so. The “Shot A Week” project I’ve been doing will return once I have a bit more time in my schedule.

Ten Keys Project

Working from the titles of the different chapters of a guide to creating successful projects; each shot was conceptualised from the title, working to find fun and entertaining ways of opening each short film.

Shots were then storyboarded and the initial concepts signed off on by the client. Assets were then created, animated and composited together. Final renders were then handed off to the editor who added sound fx and completed each shot. Each title sequence begins with the same motif of doors opening before moving into the original animation for each key. A fun little project to do, and one where I got to do some 2D hand-drawn animation; the magic trick of drawing a few lines and then seeing them move never gets old.

Short

Most recently I’ve had some models back for a short film idea that I’ve been kicking around for a while, running through different possibilities for the story, and which I’m now pushing forward; will put up some work in progress material before too long I’m sure. Thanks to Adam Dewhirst for getting the models knocked out in the midst of everything else that was going on.

So a short update, but more will be forthcoming. Working my way through Jason Schliefer’s Animator Friendly Rigging at the moment, as I do have very simple characters to rig and hopefully it won’t be massively complicated to do. I also picked up Ryan Woodward’s ‘Thought of You’ in high-definition and the ‘Conté Animated’ book that accompanied the film, which has just made me want to work on my drawing skills far more. I am a big fan of the style of Ryan’s drawing.