Skazka – The Mill (again)

I know I’ve been going on a bit of a Mill kick with posts lately, but I keep finding such great stuff on their Vimeo channel that I’ve missed. Here’s a fantastic piece for OFF St Petersburg 2014 – I absolutely love this film, the fantastic abstract particles, the way the scenes build and move, the human elements of the dancers – it’s just brilliant.

The particle work was apparently all X-Particles in Cinema4D – it’s a plugin that I know of but haven’t had the opportunity to get hold of yet, and I definitely want to look into it after seeing this gorgeous piece. There’s more behind the scenes goodness over on The Space Between, with a more detailed look at the inspirations for the piece. One thing that I adore is the combination of analog and digital techniques, with hand-painted typography brought into 3D, the printing and painting effects that were then brought into the 3D environment, and the motion capture work for the dancers (original choreography brought into the digital space).

Very different to the last piece that I highlighted by The Mill, and that’s another thing that I love. They’re quickly becoming a studio that I definitely want to work for at some point (to my shame, although I knew the name, I’d yet to have a close look at their motion graphics or commercial output).

My Way // The Mill for Eviivo

Back with another lovely piece from The Mill, here’s a beautifully charming advert for Eviivo – an online booking management system. I really love the art style they went with, and coupled with the great music writing, turned out a really lovely piece.

There are a number of things to love here – firstly, it’s a charming, funny, piece – but it also tells the story of the company and how that can help their client. They haven’t lost focus on delivering to their audience the point of the film itself, which would be easy to do as you get swept up in the creation of the piece.

There’s another great blog on The Space Between on the process of making the film, it’s evolution into what it ultimately became – starting with the song and building the visuals – it’s such a good example of the different creative fields fitting together and complimenting each other to create the final product. I was also interested to hear that it was put together in Cinema4D in a relatively short time frame as well.

A city … in a suitcase?

Here’s a really lovely spot that was brought to my attention via the people at CreativePool. It’s called City In A Suitcase, and was done by A+C Studios – they do a lot of stop-motion work, and so were a good fit for the project.

There’s also a great ‘making of’ video that can give you an insight into how it was done. There’s a really lovely feel to the paper craft look, something that director Dan Richards was particular interested in using, with the integration of the live action footage into the piece using a process called ‘pixellation’ – not a term I’d come across before, but essentially shooting the live action footage on fours so that you get the choppy feel to the movement of the hands, so it’s less jarring when integrated with stop-motion shot on twos. There’s a little vfx magic going on, with elements like the planes added from blue screen footage, but the vast majority is in-camera. Really great piece.

Marco Polo – The Space Between

I really loved the artistry in the title sequence for Marco Polo – the art direction is just perfect, drawing as it does on traditional Chinese painting, but with the underlying themes coming through in the imagery.

There’s a great article over on The Space Between, the Mills own behind-the-scenes blog, on how the title sequence was put together and where the art direction and themes came from. It’s well worth a read.

The most interesting part for me was the creation of the ink effects, using a high-speed camera so they could better control the timing of the footage later on, and recreating the artwork with water on heavy stock paper – when the ink was added, it spread out following the invisible water artwork. It’s an great technique that works really well for the piece.

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

Forgive the absence…

I had a rather busy end to 2014! I’ll be posting more stuff here soon but I just wanted to quickly draw your attention to this motion graphics piece featuring an Ira Glass quote that I’m very fond of.

I’m not a hundred percent certain who created it, but I’ve been told it was probably Saar Oz. Really lovely work – and thanks to Dieter who’s tweet sparked this post in the first place.

Characters In Motion

A quick post, as I just saw this and loved it. This is going to be very much an animation nerd post, so ye be warned.

Big Hero Six is the new film from Disney, and by all accounts it’s a great film – we in the UK won’t actually know until the end of January because apparently oceans are still a thing.

There’s a great bit of playlist that’s been released as part of the marketing, a character study for each of the main characters in the film. It’s a great exercise to do as for animators who are developing a character, to feel out how they should be animated for a film – you pick a simple action, such as walking into a room and sitting down in a chair.

characterStudyScreenshot

It’s a straightforward thing to do, and mechanically animating it to feel believable is one thing – but animating with character is something else. Every single one of the tests has different choices that speak to who that person is, what they feel about themselves, how they treat others. Now you’re not just moving things around on screen, you’re creating the illusion of life. Really brilliant stuff from the guys at Disney and I’m seriously looking forward to the film. As I said, animation nerd.