About Betsy de Fries

Betsy de Fries is founder, director and producer of Little Fluffy Clouds Animation studio. She and her partner, Jerry van de Beek LFC's creative director, bring an imaginative edge to concept design, character development, animation, VFX, photoreal modeling, title sequences and on-line media. As a multi award-winning studio LFC specializes in high-end motion graphics and digital animation of all flavours. Diversity of style is our byword.

Mercedes-Benz SLR 300 is Out of This World.

The Mercedes-Benz SLR 300 is a machine like no other – sleek, sensual and legendary – the ultimate in bling. Not just the fastest production car in the whole world – with a top speed of 207 MPH – but a veritable goddess among luxury automobiles. In fact a possession so indulgent it’s positively out of this world.

So while the star of the spot is the McLaren SLR 300 undoubtedly the star of Little Fluffy Clouds studio is our creative + animation director, Jerry van de Beek, who modeled the car using available photographs only and without the aid of any factory specifications or a cad cam version. Working with partner, Betsy de Fries, the two designed and directed the spot together. Van de Beek animated the entire piece – writing specialized shaders, applying final gathering techniques, rendering complex layers and compositing the piece in After Effects. VFX extras were skillfully actualized to create a look as luxurious as the car itself.

Out of this World is an original spot designed, directed and animated by Little Fluffy Clouds. Production took roughly 8 weeks – sans model. This sizzling all CGI spot is animated in Maya, composited in After Effects and rendered with Mental Ray. The stunning VFX extras use Real Viz, Trap Code and Sapphire plug-ins.

Make me a Millionaire little Talking Squirrel!

“She’s a happy homemaker from Sunnyvale who plays the oboe. Welcome, Courtney Mortimer!”

 

Hey, if someone told me I’d won the lottery I’d think I was dreaming but if a talking squirrel met me at the door to tell me the good news I’d think I was more than dreaming…

Yet that’s the story line in this funny California Lottery spot from BBDO West.

Our part in all this nuttiness was to create that talking squirrel making him as realistic as his real life counterpart. That we did by removing the head of the real little guy and replacing it with one of our own creation. We assure you no actual animals were hurt in the making of this spot but there were a few harnessed squirrels on the live action set along with their veritable unharnessed wranglers.

That cute squirrel was modeled and animated using Autodesk Maya by our illustrious creative director, Jerry van de Beek. Make Me A Millionaire! plays regionally and has an after life forever more on You Tube making Courtney Mortimer – famous!

On the passing of Emru Townsend 1969-2008

emru Emru Townsend 1969-2008

Emru Townsend came into our lives back in 2003. We made a little animated short by the name of Au Petite Mort. Emru saw it at Siggraph that year and reviewed it on his site. I did not see that great review until months later but as soon as I did I wrote to thank him. I felt he truly understood the intent of the piece and was so happy he appreciated all the work that went into it. That moment of contact started a long, interesting and incredibly diverse friendship. Our conversations via email and Skype covered all sorts of topics from animation, the arts and the state of industry on any given day, we discoursed on culture and simulculture, we nattered on about friends, relationships, family ties and touched very lightly on our backgrounds. It was easy and casual. I sent him everything Jerry and I worked on and solicited his honest opinion with which he was generous.

Many moons passed and we arranged to do a podcast for Frames Per Second. Through a series of technological mishaps it turned into a weekly event of chitchat on the phone while being recorded. Many of those sessions failed to record or transcribe or simply vanished like a poof of smoke in a cosmic disappearing act. It was as strange and baffling as it was amazingly funny. But it kept us talking for weeks on end always starting with, “Now, where were we?” Somewhere along the line Emru got a cold that he couldn’t shake. We commiserated because I had one too that seemed to drag on for weeks. He said it was making him feel strange and was going to see the doctor if it didn’t shape up. The rest is history.

We followed everything Emru posted by the day and sent encouraging notes. And even when things seemed bad I refused to accept that he would not somehow just get better. There were so many highs and lows and even at the worst moments I found myself rocking with laughter at some of the things Emru wrote, said or described. When Emru’s sister Tamu wrote, “Game Over”, I couldn’t believe it. I almost still can’t… So, it’s taken me months to write this piece and also start writing the blog again.

Sometimes people come into your life for a short time only. They make a profound impact and when they depart the planet they leave a gaping black hole where once there was an outstanding human being. Emru Townsend was one such person. We are all richer for having known him and all poorer for our loss. Now become a donor and help save a life.

UK – Anthony Nolan Trust, African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust

USA – National Marrow Donor Program, DKMS Americas

Canada – Hema Quebec Stem Cell Registry, OneMatch Stem Cell Network

Ian Lumsden UK Animation Blog – In Praise of Barack Obama

I like reading blogs as much as writing one myself. In fact I often neglect mine in favour of reading others. So, imagine how great it felt when I checked in on fellow Brit, Ian Lumsden’s, intricate animation blog and found our piece, TODAY, there – In Praise of Barack Obama. Here’s an excerpt from what Ian had to say.

“It seems appropriate on a grey day here when such little light as exists is cast by events across the Atlantic. The words resonate with hope and the CGI piece is beautifully crafted by the design team, co-founders, Jerry van de Beek and Betsy de Fries. Quintessentially American rural landscape on a perfect Spring day, butterflies, canary let out of its cage, splinters of light, flowers and a young couple squinting in the bright sunlight: the piece unfolds and matches the rich voice of the narrator and lyrical beauty of the poem. Lovely and uplifting.”

Thanks Ian for discovering our work and pairing us with this breathtaking moment in history.

Check out Ian Lumsden’s wonderful blog and even more wonderfully animated films at: http://www.animationblog.org/

Update from Emru Townsend: The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning

From: “Emru Townsend” emru@pobox.com

Date: October 29, 2008 5:47:08 PM PDT

The good:
I’m back! Actually, I’ve been home since last Friday, trying to readjust.

The bad:
The reason for my discharge and transfer back to my old hospital is because although the transplant itself was an awesome success by any measure, I haven’t gone into remission.

So what does this mean? Well, there’s a chance that I’ll develop Graft vs. Host Disease (GvHD) which might attack the leukemic cells. But frankly there are too many ifs in that statement, and there’s no guarantee it would wipe it all out, as far as I know.

The ugly:
I asked one of my hematologists in Ottawa how much time he figured I had. He said less than a year. I asked the same question of my hematologist today, and she said weeks, maybe months.

Those are the facts about the leukemia. I have a lot more to write but I started today about twelve hours ago by collapsing and needing to be be brought in to the hospital by ambulance. I’m quite tired. I have just enough energy to ask a favour. Could those of you who are on mailing lists I’m on (or used to be on) please post this? I don’t have the energy to go to PWAC-L, the various SIGGRAPH lists, CE-L, and so on. You’d really be helping me out a lot. Thanks.


Emru Townsend | emru@pobox.com
Frames Per Second magazine: http://www.fpsmagazine.com
Black History Pages: http://www.blackhistorypages.net
The Accidental Blog: http://5x5media.com/accidental
Are you a match? Find out how you can help save my life:  http://www.healemru.com

LFC creates – The Car and The Road for Lexus

The Car and The Road: A Romance in Automation follows the trials and tribulations of a sensible, straight road as he seeks to reinvent himself for the car he loves. Watch in awe as The Road bears his soul, along with his inner passionate self, to woo the fun loving and flirtatious Lexus – “that can do things other cars only dream about…” Sigh…a romance in automation for the modern era.

This charming work, directed by Jerry van de Beek and Betsy de Fries of Little Fluffy Clouds, was created for the Lexus Car Corporation. Described by the Association Internationale du Film d’Animation (ASIFA) as, “A lovely animated fable…” The Car and The Road pays homage to and takes its inspiration from Chuck Jones’ Oscar winning film, The Dot and The Line.

Original composition for this almost 4 minute film was scored by Trivers-Meyers Music whose arrangement fits hand in glove with the visuals. Commissioned by Los Angeles ad agency, Team One, The Car and The Road, is a colorful and imaginative feast for the eyes and fun to boot!

Animated using Adobe Illustrator, After Effects and Photoshop with Autodesk Maya and hand drawn frames. The Car and The Road will be seen on all broadcast media: Cinema, TV and Web.

Sprint unveils the Samsung Instinct

Samsung Instinct Phone

The much-anticipated Samsung Instinct has hit the market. Packed with all the latest features and mobile phone wizardry this wireless device is Sprint’s biggest handset launch of the year. Scoring high in the reviews, pre-registration for the Instinct surpassed all expectations. The sleek look and touch-screen design is all set to go head to head with Apple cult favorite, iPhone.

Retailers report that the Instinct, which is cheaper than the iPhone, is flying off the shelves since launching June 20. Six days after the phone’s launch, Sprint called the Samsung Instinct “the fastest-selling EVDO handset in the company’s history.”

Photo real model and layouts created by Little Fluffy Clouds for Goodby Silverstein and Partners, San Francisco. Check out the buzz at:http://www.instinctthephone.com/

The Master Planets a book by Donald Gallinger

Okay, I confess, when I blog it’s usually in the service of Little Fluffy Clouds animation. We’re not as big a studio as Pixar so we have to maximize every opportunity to toot our own horn. It’s kinda like that when you’re an independent film maker or a first time author. If you’re flogging the new iPhone 35 everyone wants to print your press release verbatim but if you’re Don Gallinger and you’re only on the cusp of fame and fortune and not yet on the Oprah book club list, then you’ve got a hard row to hoe. So, to this end every friend with a blog or horn must be enlisted towards the effort.

The Master Planets by Donald Gallinger. Here’s a brief synopsis:

In the summer of 1973, Peter Jameson, a buoyant, handsome, already-idolized rock wunderkind stands poised to take his band, The Master Planets, to the top. Then his mother, a suburban housewife with a flower shop, is found dead after murdering an elderly German man living in Ohio. Suddenly, past collides with present in a sequence of loss and betrayal that ends his dreams and forever changes his life. When everything you wanted is taken away, what is left behind?

Intrigued? Away you go then to Don’s blog to read a longer excerpt and order a real copy via Amazon at:http://www.donaldgallinger.com/

A Cartoon Network Party with The Lunchables Brigade

PARTY is the latest in a continuing series of kids spots for Oscar Meyers, Lunchables. It stars the irrepressible Lunchables Brigade, of Oscar, Maya and Abel.

In this episode the firm friends bring their own brand of explosive fun, mayhem and chaos to the school playground. Follow the action where just opening a pizza box sets off a party to be reckoned with.

One of the Lunchables school yard regulars, young Buck, only has eyes for the best tasting pizza ever, and even though confetti, balloons, streamers and hi jinx happen all around him his rapture never wanes.

Airs nationally on Cartoon Network this 30-second spot was created using Autodesk Maya and Adobe After Effects.

Un Reve Français the 9th Elektra International Digital Arts Festival

I am an unabashed Francophile. SO imagine how happy I was to hear that our short film, TODAY, was being featured not only at Festival NEMO in Paris but also at the 9th Elektra International Digital Arts Festival in Montreal. Deux Reve Français – if I may make make so free with the Franglaise.

The mandate of ACREQ is to forge links between electronic music and other visual media. Here at Elektra you can immerse yourself in the latest aesthetic currents in artistic practice with new technologies at their core. The Elektra refuses to be restrained by the boundaries created by many so schools and styles in our field. It is their mission to promote only the highest quality work. Robotics, digital imagery and music come together. Added to this fertile mix is a genuine desire to attract a wider audience, to democratize and make this culture more accessible – while also satisfying the specialists in attendance with more specific interests.

This high-calibre Montreal-based cultural initiative, presents artists and works of art that align the latest electronic music and visual creations derived from new technologies (animation, installation and robotics). Elektra unites creative media like music, video, cinema, design, gaming and audio or interactive installation with the latest digital technologies. Artists from all disciplines – composition, performance, dance, visual arts et al all with a common interest in artistic applications of new technologies – uniting visual with sound. Elektra not only welcomes artists from all over the world, the festival also features local talents, helping make Montreal the North American meeting place for digital arts. Our best wishes for a successful festival! We only wish we could be there.

Elektra 9e Edition International Digital Arts Festival Mai 7 – 11, Montreal, Quebec. Enjoy the blog and the live festival site at: http://www.elektramontreal.ca/