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).

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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

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.

Japan Cubed

So I was experimenting with a technique in a video tutorial that the guys over at Greyscale Gorilla put together a long time ago (I would highly recommend the training over at Greyscale if you haven’t checked it out yet, there’s some great ideas for people looking to bring some 3D into their motion graphics projects – and their products are also fantastic).

I made the choice of using photos from Japan as a little throwback to when I lived there (and not at all because I’m feeling a little nostalgic for Nippon-koku, honest). The technique from the tutorial allows for a huge amount of flexibility in the images that are used and the timing of everything, and it’s perfect for transitions and photo montages. I’ll be playing with this idea in future as I already have some thoughts on things I want to try with it.

Of course there’s always things about it that I would tweak, but for a five second test done in a couple of hours I’m happy with it.

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.