Illustration

“The Finish Line”. Honda’s Amazing Formula One Racing Promotion.

Four things I like. Good Design, auto racing, animation/motion graphics, and high-quality video production. When these elements combine into something that epically leverages all of them it’s hard to contain myself. 

I love this video. I’m not sure who the production company was behind it, or if Honda did this in house but the end result is spectacular. The video showcases Honda’s involvement in Formula One racing opening with racing legend Richie Ginther at the wheel of the Honda RA272, which won Honda’s first F1 race at the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix. The car then morphs into Ayrton Senna’s iconic MP4/4 from 1988 making its way around the narrow corners of the Monaco Grand Prix. Then the animation jumps all the way to 2006 when Jenson Button won the Hungarian Grand Prix at the wheel of Honda’s own F1 car and team. From there we cut to Max Verstappen and his heroic win at the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix, and then again at the German Grand Prix.

The piece is interlaced with live-action footage from the races, highly stylized animation, nice use of typography, all built on a limited color pallet of red, black, yellow, blue and white. The style of the animation has a nice graphic novel look, that is matched perfectly to the driving music and soundtrack of engine sounds, crowd, and announcer overlays that help pull the whole thing together. The small details like the speed lines that emanate from the bold titles and the insertion of the Japanese text is a really nice visual design touch that is carried throughout the entire video.

Well done Honda. This is one of the better promotional pieces I’ve seen for Formula One. I’m not sure where this is going to run but I have a feeling during broadcast F1 races. It has a run length of 60 seconds and could be edited down to a 30, or even a 15-second spot if needed.

The high production value on this is sure to pay off. So a solid spot.

Ahead of 2020, Beware the Deepfake – The Atlantic

There is plenty of political implications in the video below, but that isn’t why I’m posting it. The animation is really really nice, and when coupled to the voice over it becomes an engaging piece that draws you in and holds your attention for three and a half minutes.

Produced for the Atlantic this team of designers, animators, illustrators, and writers have crafted an informative short that addresses an issue that is going to become more problematic in the near future. The use of Deepfake technology.

I watched this first with the sound on, taking in the entirety of the messaging. Then I hit the mute button and watched it again. There is a great rhythm to the piece. Sections flow together and create nice visual layouts. The sparse color pallet adds to the drama and focuses your attention.

I don’t care what your political stance is, or which side you choose to vote for or why. This technology will have some crazy implications for things beyond elections in the near future. Oh, and be forewarned. If you google Deepfakes to see examples of how this is being used, there are a ton of adult videos that will show up.

“We are crossing over into an era where we have to be skeptical of what we see on video,” says John Villasenor, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Villasenor is talking about deepfakes—videos that are digitally manipulated in imperceptible ways, often using a machine-learning technique that superimposes existing images or audio onto source material. The technology’s verisimilitude is alarming, Villasenor argues because it undermines our perception of truth and could have disastrous consequences for the upcoming U.S. presidential election. I’do think deepfakes are going to be a feature of the 2020 elections in some way,” Villasenor says. “And their shadow will be long.”

A full credits list is at the end of the animated short if you are interested in the team that put this together.

The Anticipated Death of Illustration Never Happened.

When I first began my career the world of design, marketing, and advertising was 90 percent analog. There were phototypesetting tools available, but most of the work was very much old school. The copy was written up on typewriters, layouts were assembled via paste-up, color separation was done by hand and illustration was created with paint, pencils, ink, and other tangible items.

I remember having a discussion with a colleague in the early 1990’s where he proclaimed that the art of illustration was over. That digital had ushered in the end of an era and that Photoshop and Illustrator (maybe Freehand) were going to rule the world. Fast forward a couple of decades and take a look around. Just like the Kindle and iPad were going to kill off books, digital didn’t kill off traditional illustration methods.

There were extraordinary eras of illustration before mass media changed our viewing habits. Illustration was the most primary means of illuminating the word on paper. Today, when we get our words and images on screens as small as a watch face the role of illustration, might have shifted, but it is more free and varied than ever. Designers, artists, and illustrators are holding their own producing content for every kind of media.

Taschen recently released a new book “The Illustrator. 100 Best from around the World” showcasing 100 illustrators compiled by Steven Heller and Julius Weidemann over a ten-year period of time.

This 600-page book contains examples of work, bio’s of the artists that created them and truly shows sheer quality, diversity, intensity, comedy, and the vivacity of the work that is being produced. From veterans like Brad Holland, whose works for the New York Times’ op-ed section revolutionized illustrative content in the 1970s, to rising stars like Robin Eisenberg, with her pastel aliens cruising in spaceships on album covers, the 100 artists in this collection are just the tip of the iceberg, but they represent a compelling snapshot of the styles, techniques, and use of color by artists across the world.

What an inspiration.

Giant Ant for the “On Being” Podcast

One of my regular podcast listens is On Being and I have been listening quite a bit more in the last 6 months for a number of reasons I’m not going to go into here. If you have some free time give it a listen, I guarantee it’ll be worth your time.

Recently Giant Ant, one of my favorite motion graphics/video/design firms was given the opportunity to put together a short animated piece for On Being and results are wonderful.

Giant Ant was given a wide open brief to work with so they had plenty of room to explore and take some risks. What they produced is a 44 second animated short that moves from illustrative to abstract and back again balanced against O’Donohue’s narration. It’s really quite lovely and frankly, I’d love to see something like this done for the entire length of the podcast. (I know time and money…)

Rain or Shine Googles Latest 360º Immersive Spotlight Story

About a year ago Google launched a new line of video shorts for YouTube called Google Spotlight Stories, a specific immersive video platform with mobile users in mind. The video below can be panned through as the action takes place, but where this really shines is when you watch the video on an Android or iOS device in the native YouTube app.

Rain or Shine directed by Felix Massie is the latest in the series of shorts and is really quite impressive beyond the technology. The story and character development are superb drawing the viewer in and engaging with them as the explore the environment as the story plays out. The story is simple yet clever. The main character, Ella puts on a pair of magical sunglasses and travels through her London neighborhood creating chaos before learning how to use the glasses for good.

This really is a better experience on your phone, so if you have a chance watch it and the other Google Spotlight Stories there.

 

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James Lovelock’s Tool Kit For The Future

Well this will definitely be going into the personal library. When I was a kid this is the kind of book I would spend hours reading and re-reading, especially if it was filled with gorgeous illustrations like this one is. ” The big picture James Lovelock’s tool kit for the future.” By Taschen is illustrated by Jack Hudson, a British illustrator with a particular interest in scientific subjects and the interaction of macro and micro scales, and features contributions by quantum physicist Lisa Randall, Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, Pulitzer Prize–winning biologist Edward O. Wilson, and Nobel Prize–winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel. The book was Conceived by James Lovelock, inventor of the Gaia theory, this illustrated essay collection brings together an all-star lineup of thinkers and scientists to offer essential understanding about who we are, how we live, and where we might be going.

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The Road to Colorado

cub-lakeIn 48 hours I’ll be heading to Colorado for 5 days of hiking and taking photos in Rocky Mountain National Park. This is an annual trip, but this year is a bit special since we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park system in the United States. While noodling around on the internet over lunch I did a search on “National Park Posters” and found that the park service has a site dedicated to the posters that have been created for each of our National Parks so I decided to have a look. What I found is series of new posters that have been produced in the famous WPA style of the 1930’s and 40’s but with an updated look. The posters capture the spirit of the originals, and have a specific style guide that has obviously been applied to each, help to create a consistent look across the grouping. The look of the imagery varies slightly from poster to poster, with some that are obviously manipulated photos, or a digital painting that used a photo as a guide layer, but I have to say they are well done and work. The Park Service is selling the posters to help fund the National Park system and what you get for the money is a 13 by 19 inch poster printed on recycled paper that is signed, numbered, and dated. Below is a small sampling of the collection.

 

yosemite

yellowstone

olympic

kings-canyon

 

grand-canyon

grand-tetons

 

dunes

cub-lake

capital-reef

black-canyon

arches

acadia

cub-lake