Sound Design

A Little Christmas Rapping and Home Shaming from IKEA

According to Stash, this is IKEA’s first Christmas TV spot. Somehow that doesn’t seem right to me. I swear I’ve seen holiday-themed ads for IKEA in the past. Maybe this is the first one for IKEA UK.

The spot was put together by the UK VFX powerhouse Electric Theatre Collective. A cast of toys and tchotchkes come to life revealing the hard truth about a family’s home with a bit of rapping and “home shaming”.

Mother has put together something with rock-solid production value that was directed by Tim Kuntz. The 3D animation and live-action footage work really well together and that rabbit cookie jar absolutely creeps me out.

The original track was overseen by Dave Bass and Arnold Hattingh at “Wake the Town”, and the rap was voiced by the legendary MC D Double E.

It’s a fun piece that clocks in at a minute thirty so it’ll be interesting to see how they do the 15/30 edits for broadcast.

Agency: Mother

Production: MJZ
Director: Tom Kuntz
Producer: Emma Butterworth
Production Manager: Daniel Gay
Production Designer: Chris Oddy

VFX/post: Electric Theatre Collective
VXF Producer: Magda Krimitsou
VXF Coordinator: Larisa Covaciu
VXF Creative Director: James Sindle
2D Lead: James Belch
3D Lead: Patrick Krafft
2D Artists: Chris Fraser, Tomer Epsthein
3D Artists: Jordan Dunstall, Ryan Maddox, Mark Bailey, Remy Herisse, Edwin Leeds, Gregory Martin, Nikolai Maderthoner, Will Preston, Stefan Brown, Adrian Lan Sun Luk, Piers Limberg, Zach Pindolia, Olivia Grimmer, Romain Thirion, Richard Fry
Colorist: Luke Morrison

What if Everything You Thought Was Real Was Actually Fake?

I was out on Vimeo checking out the latest work by Eoin Duffy for TedEd and decided to share this animation for a couple of reasons. First, the quality of the work is just outstanding. The quality of the animation and illustration is really well done. The sound design enhances the mood and works so well with the visual style of the piece, and the writing/narration leads the viewer through the story so well.

The subject matter is one of those great “wrap your noodle around these concepts”. What if everything you think is real is just a giant simulation that some supreme set of beings is controlling? What if its all fake and were just too complacent to realize this? Take a few minutes to watch the video and then spend the rest of your day contemplating all of this.

You can check out more of Duffy’s work on Vimeo here.

WRITER – Zohreh Davoudi
ANIMATION – Eoin Duffy & Henrique Barone
VOICE – Christina Greer
AUDIO – QB Sound
CLIENT – TedEd

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 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.

The Infinity Wall

Over the last few years, I have seen a ton of projection mapping projects for everything from commercial product launches to venue openings and trade show keynotes.  Most of the time they have glitzy over the top projects that have a very specific theme or story line. I think the reason I am so impressed with the example below is because it is a hypnotic blend of simplicity, monochrome hues, and mesmerizing shapes.

In an empty lot on the outskirts of the city of Doha a 54,000 square foot tent was erected for a private event. In front of the tent stands a 360 foot wide by 30 foot tall fabric-covered wall.  On to it digital projectors,  projection-mapped 3D animations onto the it, giving the illusion of a large-scale kinetic modern art installation floating in the desert.

With less than three weeks lead time Megavision Arts, and top Qatari event producer and designer Fahad Signature tasked produced the 3D projection-mapping effect in order to mystify, entertain and engage the 1200 guests as they arrived at the event site.

With support from BARTKRESA Design and Creative Technologies, Megavision Arts Creative Director David Corwin and producer Amber Bollinger quickly assembled a team of artists, designers, technicians, and programmers to complete the project. With only one face-to-face meeting between Corwin and Art Director Vincent Rogozyk, the entire team assembled in Doha five days before the event. A fully-equipped design and animation studio was temporarily configured in a meeting room at the St. Regis Hotel in Doha, and they managed to produce this spectacular piece.

Based on the clients’ request for a 3D projection mapping that would be “very modern, artistic and magical” Corwin and Rogozyk began playing with abstract concepts that were evocative of Fahad Signature’s designs for the event, which included elements such as curvilinear wood furniture and sculptural wooden columns. Polish artists and animators Maciej Bałauszko and Michał Czubak were added to the team and began expounding upon the sketches, turning the rough curvilinear biomorphic and geometric ideas into polished animations. Four basic scenes of abstract 3D kinetic animations were programmed to loop, morph and transition from one design to the next over the course of just under 3 minutes. The animations included Optical Waves, Piano Tiles, Ribbon Architecture and the Involuted Helix.

Eighteen double-stacked Panasonic DZ21K projectors converged and were blended using a Dataton Watchout media server to create one large seamless image. They illuminated the Infinity Wall with over 300,000 lumens of light. The animation files consisted of 14,148,000 pixels per frame, which equates to over 21 BILLION pixels per minute being pushed through the system.

As guests pulled off the highway onto a freshly graded and paved driveway, to their surprise and delight they encountered a fantastic undulating phantasm looming on the horizon. As they continued towards the projected mirage, a custom score with synchronized sound design elements enhanced the illusion even more.

Hyundai (Brand Vision) from Trizz Studio

Back in the early 1990’s I attended a lecture on automotive advertising that made a comparison to the way cars are, or were advertised in Japan at the time versus the United States. In Japan, it was less about the car and more about the mood or feeling. Here in America, little has changed. Most car ads talk about how fast you can go, how much you can haul, will this vehicle help you compensate for something missing in your life, etc. It was and still is an interesting comparison as to how different cultures perceive product relationships and branding. For example the video below, not for a Japanese car, but for Korean Hyundai. The video is an abstraction on relating to the automobile Hyundai’s design sensibilities. It is a short film that combines natural senses and emotions with visual abstractions that relate to what the product stands for; confidence, essentials, refinement, sensuality, effortlessness. It conveys all of this without ever showing a single Hyundai car, and not revealing the brand until the very end of the clip.

The video is an abstraction on relating to the automobile Hyundai’s design sensibilities. It is a short film that combines natural senses and emotions with visual abstractions that relate to what the product stands for; confidence, essentials, refinement, sensuality, effortlessness. It conveys all of this without ever showing a single Hyundai car, and not revealing the brand until the very end of the clip.  What a completely different approach to branding, and one that is the polar opposite of the way automotive branding and advertising is handled here in the good old US of A.

Produced by Trizz Studio for Innocean Worlwide and Hyundai, this is a fantastic blend of CG work, live action footage, and sound design. High production value, and the opportunity to create an abstract representation of what the Hyundai brand represents helps to sell this piece. I think it is wonderful, and frankly would like to see more car ads like this, but I know for a fact no agency in America is ever going to pitch this kind of concept to an automotive client, let alone have an automotive client actually buy in, here in America.

WAtch it full screen and turn up the volume.

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.