Animation

High Production Value from the Folks at Vox.

Over the last ten years, there has been a steady shift on the internet for news agencies and content creators to produce more video. The New York Times has been an absolute champion of this with a steady stream of well-produced documentary news shorts that have bolstered readership and helped the paper transition from a traditional news source to a multimedia powerhouse with content that rivals any broadcast news agency. Another online source that consistently blows me away with animation and visual information is Vox. They are producing some serious animated content that teaches and presents information with a high production value that is engaging and compelling for the viewer. Case in point, the video below on American / Cuban relations dating back to the 1850’s. Even if you aren’t really into history, it’s hard not to be drawn into this video and watch the entire 4 minute animated short. Why? Because it is so well done. Great visuals, solid script, smooth narration, and relevant information about a current event. Hat tip to the producers at Vox. Nicely done.

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WEF: Top Ten Emerging Technologies.

It’s Friday, watch something cool and learn while you are at it. I have to admit I had watch this a few times to get all the information because I kept looking at Felipe Vargas animation and illustrations and not paying attention to all of the text on screen. The video below was commissioned by The World Economic Forum to highlight the top 10 emerging technologies. Vargas, and Pablo Gonzalez directed the short which features illustration work by Vargas who was also the primary animator, along with small but very talented animation support team. It’s a great little short with a look that really reminds me of Charlie Harper ( not the character from Two and a Half Men ).

“A diverse range of breakthrough technologies, including batteries capable of providing power to whole villages, “socially aware” artificial intelligence and new generation solar panels, could soon be playing a role in tackling the world’s most pressing challenges.
The World Economic Forum requested a short Animation conveying this important message. A short deadline demanded simple, but attractive animations and graphics that could tell the story without a voiceover.”
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Directed by Pablo Gonzalez and Felipe Vargas at SMOG
Creative Direction by Pablo Gonzalez at SMOG
Design and Illustrations by Felipe Vargas.
Animation direction by Felipe Vargas.
Animations by: Felipe Vargas, Patricio Molina, Berni Bruner, Spiro Bunster and Francisco Castro.

ManvsMachine “Versus” and The Making Of with Cinema 4D.

I am a huge fan of Cinema 4D, and it is pretty insane just how much the tool has grown with each new generation. I mean if you think about it, When Cinema 4D was released in 1993 for the Amiga it was a solid tool, but there is no way the software on an Amiga system could have produced anything like what is in the video below. Frankly, there were no real desktop tools that could have produced this, which just goes to show how far computer graphics have come, and how we take their power for granted most of the time. I have been working with graphic design, animation, and editing software for more than 20 years, and if someone had asked me to produce this back in 93 I would have laughed.

This video was created by ManvsMachine to showcase the new tools and functionality in Maxon’s latest release of Cinema4D. “Versus” is a CG short inspired by the dualities suggested in the studio’s own name. This is a visual stunner that not only features great CG animation, but some really solid sound design which helped inspire the video. If you have them, put on your headphones. If you don’t turn up the sound on your speakers. I’ve also include the making of video to show you how it was done.

 

Ted Ed, How Hitler Rose To Power. An Animated Short.

The video below is a lesson in history and how fragile democracy can be. Alex Gendler and Anthony Hazard lesson were animated by Uncle Ginger for Ted ED, and as the video progresses creates some uncanny parallels to this election cycle in America. The video itself is wonderfully animated and illustrated. The look keeps the viewer engaged as the narrator  explains how Hitler came to power in Germany, and the events following the end of the First World War that helped to propel his rise in power. It is a quick overview that manages to summarize the history into a quick and digestible lesson. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about the parallels to this year’s elections and the candidates running.

 

PQ Mo•Bits.

Anyone who works in graphic design, broadcast, video or advertising, knows that time is usually pretty tight when it comes to getting work done. Deadlines are always shifting, last minute jobs are dropped in your lap and due by the end of the day. I’m not griping, I’m just saying, and that is why I am always on the lookout for content that I can use when I am in a jam and don’t have time to create it from scratch. Take the video below from Peter Quinn. It is the promo for his latest release, PQ Mo-Bits, a collection of “obvious, everyday icons that a motion designer needs to keep handy.” This guy does great work and trust me there are some of these that I can use on a regular basis. I’m not being lazy, I’m being thrifty because I don’t always have the luxury of time to create something this good.

Accidents, Blunders, and Calamities.

Once again student work that is blowing my mind with high-quality production values, attention to detail, story craft, and animation skills. The video below was put together by a team of 44 students at Media Design School. The students crafted 30 CG animals and blended them with live action footage to create a short black comedy inspired by the work of Edward Gorey. This really is a fantastic little short, and it truly shows just how far design, animation, film making, and illustration have come in the last 10 years. When I look back on the student animations and films that were being produced when I was in school, this makes them look positively horrible in terms of quality. Then again when I was in art school, a Mac II was about the most powerful computer you could find.

 

This is Why Timing, Cadence, and Tempo are so Important.

OK maybe it’s just me, but the narration on this exquisitely animated piece by French motion designer and director Cyrille Smaha  just ruins the visual. It sounds like some jacked up auto tune rendition. There is no punctuation, no timing, no cadence, no flow. Everything is delivered at the exact same tempo which creates an auditory tension that completely takes away from the collage of visuals that are really quite striking in form, and movement. Watch this with the sound off first. I say off first because once you hear it, the voice over will be stuck in your head. Just watch the animation and take it in, now turn on the volume, and give it a second go. It’s jolting, and disconcerting how the audio juxtaposes itself against the visual. this might have been the intent for artistic director Roxane Lagache but it seems to break the overall experience. If you watch it a third time, pause the playback and read out loud the words on screen as you would if you were speaking them with punctuation, and normal inflection. That will make it even more apparent that the voice over is simply not working. It seems completely out of place for the Chanel brand and product line.