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Microspheres – Exceedingly Good!

Filed under: Award Winner,Misc,Spots,Tech — Betsy de Fries March 24, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

Creating interesting imagery for complex medical applications is no easy task. There are strict FDA guidelines to adhere to, seemingly insurmountable regulations and a plethora of almost incomprehensible technical language to distill into copy that can be easily understood by your fellow human being – or as our copy writer would say: Exceedingly hard!

But it can be done if you’re lucky enough to find a client that believes in their product enough to allow it to stand out from the crowd. Engaging and entertaining whilst getting the message across was the brief.

So, in, Retin-A, Microspheres, we take the viewer on a journey through a stylized creation of the product and illustrate, in a technical way, just how and why the product works. And it really does. Some things are magic and some things are just pure science at work.

Created as a video wall installation and now an award winning addition to the Little Fluffy Clouds lexicon of winners. Exceedingly good!


Billy Collins Reads Animated Poetry for TED and NPR

Filed under: Award Winner,Festivals,Shorts,Spots — Betsy de Fries June 6, 2012 @ 11:36 am

Proud to have been a Poet Laureate, America’s most accessible poet,¬†Billy Collins, reads poems from his Nine Horses collection in this animated talk for TED – Every Day Moments Caught in Time. Using five of the twelve animated poems New York agency¬†JWT¬†commissioned for their client, Sundance Channel, as his backdrop, Mr. Collins strides the stage in his usual comfortable downhome way and charms the crowd to their feet with his wry suggestive tone.

When you get a poem [in a public place], it happens to you so suddenly that you don’t have time to deploy your anti-poetry deflector shields that were installed in high school. – Billy Collins: Everyday Moments, Caught in Time.

If you are even an occasional listener to NPR his is a voice you will recognize immediately and if you are not do yourself a favour Рwatch and listen to these poems Рand you will see why Billy Collins has been credited with the accolade of bringing poetry to the masses.

Although not one of those featured here, TODAY, was one of the twelve poems chosen by JWT to be animated. Unharnessed from the usual client restraint the agency gave full unfettered creative freedom to their appointed animation studios. We count ourselves fortunate to be amongst them.  In many ways the project was a watershed moment for us at Little Fluffy Clouds - it gave us the chance to do things differently Рsee for yourself.

Watch the entertaining Mr. Collins’ TED talk here: http://bit.ly/GW2C5m.¬†See all the animated poems in the line-up here: Billy Collins Action Poetry¬†and listen to NPR’s TED Radio Hour here:¬†http://n.pr/Npfer7. A treat for the ears, a feast for the eyes.


Chicago Public Radio features TODAY on Mission Amy KR’s blog

Filed under: Award Winner,Publications,Shorts — Betsy de Fries April 3, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

At¬†Little Fluffy Clouds¬†we’re always thrilled when one of our more cerebral projects is plucked from the archives, dusted off and given some national attention. ¬†So, we were more than pleased when¬†our animated,¬†Billy Collins¬†poem, TODAY, was featured by¬†Chicago Public Radio¬†as part of their poetry awareness month. The former poet laureate was interviewed and read some of his favorite poems from the collection,¬†Nine Horses.

This tiny nugget of literary appreciation came courtesy of Chicago blogger and¬†WBEZ¬†radio host,¬†Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Her program and associated blog,¬†Mission Amy KR, is¬†brought to you from the same folks that bring you,¬†This American Life. Here’s what Amy had to say:

Just when I thought Billy Collins’ poetry couldn’t possibly get any better, this comes along.¬†I’d rather not taint your experience with unnecessary intros and blabbing. ¬†So here, just enjoy: ¬†¬†Billy Collins Action Poetry¬† ¬†(And let me know if you were able to stop at one, or if you simply had to watch them all.)

So, thanks Amy for the mention ‚Äď we‚Äôre in some stellar company there!¬† You can read her blog, see all the animated poems and support the station right here: http://bit.ly/mINv65.¬†Go ahead fund the arts but first watch this!


LFC is doused with Platinum PIXIE 2012 dust

Filed under: Award Winner,Misc,Shorts,Spots — Betsy de Fries November 13, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

Imagine the incredible surprise of being awarded not just one, but two, platinum Pixel Academy Pixies. Well, that was the news around here this morning. Making the win super sweet is the knowledge that these awards are judged by our fellow animators and VFX artists. High praise indeed.

First up, with a 9.7 score, was¬†Power of Sound, itself an¬†interesting take on the character of sound. This traditional 2D animation uses origami to illustrate the narrative whilst skillfully synthesizing that imagery with CG models to underscore the use of technology in sound applications today.¬†The sampans, water, moon, ocean and skies are created using only particles and projected lights and are not models. The ‚Äúwaveform‚ÄĚ is also particle based but here movement is initiated by the music. VFX, using plug-ins, comprise the transitions. The origami horses, boats, kites and cranes are all 2D as is the floating text and the Golden Ratio shell animations. The larger shell in that scene is it‚Äôs 3D counterpart.¬†Here’s what the judges had to say:

“A very powerful creative work. Imagery is very strong, created by excellent animation.”

Next up, with a 9.2 score, was CALU Built, which like it’s companion piece, Journey, is a veritable kaleidoscope of images, beautifully layered together in 2D and 3D. These stunning Super Bowl spots combine hand-drawn imagery with CGI to recreate the textured and layered look of a traditional watercolor painting – one that breathes life into the canvas. Built scored 9.2 and here the judges said:

“A very well done animation with very realistic body movements. Good job!”

Winning the Pixies does feel like a good job indeed. So, well done us!

Power of Sound and The Subconscious Moment.

Filed under: Award Winner,Festivals,Shorts,Spots — Betsy de Fries August 2, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

A rising moon, a star-lit sky, a gentle ocean of drifting Sampans, brightly colored fish, tumultuous waves, origami paper boats, prancing horses, soaring kites, folding cranes all moving in a carousel and dancing through a landscape peppered with eye catching VFX. Set this to a powerful soundtrack and this exploration is the Power of Sound.

Using simple animation accompanied by programmed expressions, Power of Sound, is an interesting take on the character of sound. The animation, running at just over a minute, is a pretty good example of a mostly 2D piece using 3D cameras in 2D space, coupled with occasional CG models to underscore the use of technology in sound applications today.

The sampans, water, moon, ocean and background skies are made using only particles and projected lights. These are not models. The “waveform” is also particle based with movement initiated by the soundtrack. VFX, using plug-ins, comprise the transitions. The origami horses, boats, kites and cranes are all 2D, as is the floating text and the “Golden Ratio” shell animations. The larger shell in that scene is it’s 3D counterpart.

There are moments in the life of an animation when the subconscious takes over Рeven in a commercial.  And so it was here, where Power of Sound became less about the technology and the message and more of an artistic response to the shock of the Japanese EQ and their resultant tragedy. It became an homage in a way to the Japanese people and a small story about the lifting and triumph of the spirit in such a dark moment.

Software: AFX, Trapcode, Sapphire and Maya.

LFC Breathes Life into a Moving Painting for CALU Superbowl Spot

Filed under: Award Winner,Spots — Betsy de Fries January 22, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

Blue sketches appear on a painted canvas. The spokes of a bicycle wheel spin. Singular watercolor images emerge from the framework of an underpainting Рthat gives way to richly textured architecture and foliage.  A student rides forward weaving a tapestry of imagery as the campus of the California University of Pennsylvania reveals itself before his wheels. Ever advancing, buildings grow, from the imagined to the constructed.

This is the story of Built, a 30-second HDTV commercial that is the second in a continuing integrated campaign of broadcast TV, web, print and radio, crafted for the California University of Pennsylvania by Pittsburgh agency, Dymun + Company.

Built, like it’s companion piece, Journey, is a veritable kaleidoscope of images beautifully layered together. 2D and 3D animation are combined with hand drawn painting to recreate the textured and layered look of a traditional watercolor. In a spectacular display of animating genius Little Fluffy Clouds’, Jerry van de Beek, breathes life into this moving painting.

In Built the camera moves forward with the main character creating the campus as he rides towards the new Convocation Center which makes it’s debut in October 2011.  The effect of the growing color palette, as it washes over the canvas to create vivid moments and fleeting glimpses of the campus, is nothing less than stunning. Once more a gentle pullout transports us skyward, like a serenely gliding plane, over the rooftops of new and older buildings to lay the entire campus before us and cradle us in the crook of the river bend.

The campus, characters and shaders were created in Maya. The animation created in multiple layers and finessed using After Effects. Compositing, color correction and post was handled in-house at Little Fluffy Clouds. Built, airs on the east coast from January 2011 including Super Bowl XLV.

Unbranded for UTA wins a 2010 Silver Telly Award

Filed under: Award Winner,Spots — Betsy de Fries June 24, 2010 @ 3:20 pm

Unbranded, already a multi-award winning spot for agency Lipman Hearne and the University of Texas at Arlington, has just won another gong. This time a Silver Telly Award in the “Non-Traditional” category. ¬†While we’re not too sure exactly what that category is, given the maverick quality of the spot and it’s Unbranded attitude, we think that’s very fitting.

So, it’s all smiles here on the west coast at Little Fluffy Clouds and on the east coast, at Rhino FX, and down south at the University of Texas, Arlington. See this larger than life commercial play at the Dallas Cowboy’s Stadium on the 17 story high Mitsubishi jumbotron – the largest TV screen in the world – and prepare to be WOWED by the accompanying stadium ribbons that wrap around the stadium while you watch your team play.

Unbranded and non-traditional – a winner in every sense of the word. Yes, Ma’am!

Made for Rhino FX, directed by Harry Dorrington with LFC’s creative director, Jerry van de Beek, as designer, VFX supervisor, animation director and sole animator. Music on this version was scored by Jay Green at Big Science Music.

UTA Unbranded – a giant spot for the Dallas Cowboys stadium

Filed under: Award Winner,Spots — Betsy de Fries May 12, 2010 @ 10:32 am

Everything in Texas is big. Some say there ain’t nothing so big as the 17 story high, giant Mitsubishi TV screen that dominates the field of the Dallas Cowboys stadium where, Unbranded,¬†plays to thousands of spectators at every game.

Now an award winning spot for Lipman Hearne and the University of Texas at Arlington, Unbranded is fun, colorful and jam packed with many different characters in many interesting situations. It brings to life in a very fun and immensely colorful way all the best programs that UTA has to offer and moves along at a really fast clip.

The Unbranded campaign is really a series of spots made both for broadcast and for multiple sized stadium screens ranging from the 17 story high Mitsubishi jumbotron – the largest TV screen in the world – ¬†to vertical HDTV screens situated in the public areas. ¬†Two accompanying :60 second “ribbons” circumnavigate the stadium in a continuously tiled loop.¬†The ribbons use some assets from the ads but each has their own unique look and feel generating excitement as the best of stadium graphics do.¬†Obviously seen at their best in situ at the Dallas Cowboys new football stadium, the spots themselves are easy to put on the website and reel but we still haven’t figured out a way to show the enormity of them plus the razmataz and ‚ÄúWOW‚ÄĚ factor of the way everything looks in place. In a word – dazzling!

Both the :30 and :15 second commercials are airing regionally in the south and showing in rotation for the next two seasons at The Dallas Cowboys Stadium. Unbranded is one spot that might just blindside you. ¬†Made for Rhino FX, directed by Harry Dorrington with LFC’s creative director, Jerry van de Beek, as designer, VFX supervisor, animation director and sole animator. Music on this version was scored by Jay Green at Big Science Music.

Ian Lumsden’s UK Animation Blog – In Praise of Barack Obama

Filed under: Award Winner,Shorts,Spots — Betsy de Fries November 7, 2008 @ 4:09 pm

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¬†deFries.¬†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/

Little Fluffy Clouds wins a Silver Creativity Award for TODAY

Filed under: Award Winner,Publications,Shorts,Spots — Betsy de Fries December 17, 2007 @ 11:40 am

The studio’s short, TODAY, commissioned by Sundance for their Billy Collins Action Poetry series, has won a silver 2007 Creativity Award in the Consumer TV category. With more than 2700 entries from 37 countries, judges declared that:

“The winning entries¬†stand out because of their ambition, strong communication, and excellent design.”

The 400-page Creativity Awards Annual, a veritable bible of excellent design, is published by Harper and Collins and will be available in 2008.

The Sundance Channel promotional film, commissioned in association with JWT NYC as part of their, Billy Collins Animated Poetry series, was directed by Little Fluffy Clouds creative team, Jerry van de Beek and Betsy de Fries. The film is an animated poem written by US Poet Laureate, Billy Collins, who narrates the piece.

For more info see: www.creativityawards.com

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