Animation

“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.

BETC Rebuilds The World With Lego and Some Help from Traktor

For the first time since the 1980s, Lego has unveiled its first brand campaign. Produced by the French agency BETC in conjunction with multi-award winning collective Traktor the project titled Rebuild the World features a live-action film and micro-site designed to send a positive political message about the power of creativity to enable change.

BETC met Lego 18 months ago and worked with the brand’s internal agency to develop the concept, Rebuild the World. “We thought about what would be important for Lego to say today,” said BETC founder Rémi Babinet. “They are one of the most loved brands in the world, no one argues with Lego! It’s like Apple in the beginning; innovation and creativity are both brand and philosophy. That’s rare in the commercial world. The problem it has is that while it is known for the educational aspect of Lego, that perception is a problem for all the parents who don’t have an affinity with the brand. They think it’s about following instructions. But it’s more than play or education – it’s about creativity. To be creative today is the way to achieve something, to navigate the new world. Mathematics and rationality used to be the most important skills, but now creativity is the most valuable skill, and Lego can enable that.”

The tagline “Rebuild the World” resonates beyond Lego itself, to chime with the issues of the contemporary world. 

It is a tag line that everyone can relate to when associating it with the Lego brand.

In keeping with the campaign message, the video goes against expectations by not featuring a single Lego brick. Instead, it is a live-action and CGI adventure caper that sees a rabbit chased by a hunter with a bow and arrow, overcoming every challenge thrown at him with increasingly creative solutions. This was inspired by Lego’s ethos for problem-solving. BETC chose to go down the live-action route because, as Rémi states, “When you are in the head of a child, the bricks become the real world, the world they create with Lego is a real story for them.”

Rebuild the World Micro-Site

Every tiny detail of the film has been considered to reflect the Lego universe and its billions of fans. In the town of Valparaíso in Chile, buildings were repainted to match Lego brick colors. Clothes worn by all the characters in the video are 2D printed like Lego characters. If you look at the bad guy, his shirt, tie, jacket, and binoculars are all printed onto one T-shirt. 

The cars and trees match the cars and trees of a Lego kit. The people bend backward at the hip or turn their head around just like Lego people do. Every scene features a builder to reference the iconic Lego figurine. At one point, a line of ducks crosses the road, which references Lego’s first-ever product. Even the props, such as the camera, cups and the bow and arrow, are made to scale, oversized like Lego accessories.

“There were no limits,” Rémi says. “Lego was a cool brand to work with. It was an opportunity to find things you can never do with other brands. So this film is about what your imagination can do with Lego.”

For all the out-of-home imagery and animated vignettes, which will roll out globally on billboards from London to Los Angeles, BETC did use Lego bricks, shot by photographers who are used to working on luxury brand campaigns – “We wanted to capture the incredible beauty of the bricks. These images subvert stereotypes, challenge expectations, and at times send political messages. They are simple ideas, but often at a societal level. Rebuild the world could be just for fun, or it could address issues in the world today. You can transform the world as you want. It’s not a political campaign. You could go far with these messages, we tried lots of things… but this is a balance between meaningful and fun. It’s conscious, but in the end, it’s only about kids.” – Rémi Babinet.

The entire campaign is reinforced with a solid micro-site, social media, print, and outdoor campaigns. As we roll into the holiday season, it’ll be interesting to see the shorter 30-second broadcast versions of the ad plus any additional online vignette videos that are produced to bolster the entire campaign.

The Look of Things to Come?

I spend a lot of time looking at other people design work. It’s the nature of my job and something that helps to keep me current with design trends that are emerging. Over the last few months, something I’ve noticed with more frequency is the emergence of minimalist 3D animation paired with pastels that leans almost to abstraction. I have a feeling this is going to become a hot look over the next 18 months and will run the risk like so many other trends of jumping the shark as it gets picked up by every agency and marketing firm in the world. It looks cool now, and I’m really liking it, but that feeling may change if it becomes oversaturated the way the sketchbook look, the retro 80’s look, the ugly design look, the you name it you’ve seen to much of it looks did.

The Sound of Yorkshire

Unless you are a sound designer you probably don’t pay that close attention to how sound can shape and influence the way animation is perceived. I know for a fact that I often get caught up in the visuals focusing on technique, color, visual layout and more.

The two and a half minute animation below is not only a feast for your eyes, but also for your ears. Created by Marcus Armitage “That Yorkshire Sound” is a perfect example of how audio can help to shape a piece.

Throughout the animated short Armitage gives us a series of hand-drawn quick cuts that visually weave the piece together. The glue, however, is the audio track that has been carefully crafted to match and enhance the visual experience for the viewer. After watching this, I put on my headphones, turned up the volume, and closed my eyes. Just listening to the audio track is a fantastic experience.

Do yourself a favor and take the next two minutes and thirty-one seconds to enjoy this, or five minutes and two seconds if you want to simply listen to it as well.

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…)

The Light in the Dark

It’s generally been a crappy week for a lot of people in the world. hurricane’s, monsoon’s, wild fires, nut job dictators launching missiles, political crap, economic collapse, and so much more. Unfortunately, that’s life, and while we can’t change it, we can at least accept the fact that things get better. It’s Wednesday afternoon and I just watched a really wonderful animation that was written by Hannah Maschoff, directed and animated by Eli Guillou, about loss, and moving forward. Shine a little light into your afternoon and enjoy the story and visuals.