Great Inventors: Sir Frederick Banting – Insulin

Often, in this age of celebrity worship, recognition of some of life’s true heroes goes unnoticed. This Saul Bass inspired motion graphic short is part of a larger health initiative campaign focusing on some of those great inventors in science and medicine.

Dramatic, vibrant and striking, yet deceptively simple, the piece uses bold graphics emphasized by a vivid color palette and direct messaging to create a good, strong effective piece that succinctly tells the compelling story of surgeon, Frederick Banting and his determination to find a treatment for the life threatening disease, diabetes.

In 1920, working on a hunch, Banting made one of the greatest discoveries to benefit mankind ever – the correlation between diabetes and insulin.

Banting struggled to get his theory recognized and funded so that he could make, refine and demonstrate it’s effectiveness. He persevered, refusing to take no for an answer, lobbying for a laboratory and some simple supplies.

Working day and night with associate, Charles Best, and research student, James Bertam Collip, Banting finally succeeded in distilling a treatment for a disease that remains incurable to this very day. Insulin is still the only treatment for diabetes making the difference between life and death for millions of people worldwide.

In 1923 he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine, sharing his prize winnings with Best. In a great humanitarian gesture, Banting sold the rights for the patent to the University of Toronto for just one dollar, ensuring that insulin could forever more be available to anyone in need.

LFC give Half a TED at the SF de Young Museum of Fine Arts

LFC_Powerball

The creative directors of Little Fluffy Clouds, Jerry van de Beek and Betsy de Fries, are pleased to be giving a half a TED talk at the San Francisco de Young Fine Arts Museum, as part of, Micro-Presentations – Orange Nights: Amsterdam and San Francisco. The talks, part of an on-going series exploring the connection between the two cities, take place on Friday, May 31st, 2013. … And we call it half a TED because it’s half the usual length of a regular TED talk.

Our talk, focusing on design and advertising, features stills from more than 26 past LFC productions in a Power Point presentation (yes! PPT slides…) that we had to make for the event. … I guess in fine art museums the still image is de rigueur! We intend to dazzle the audience with some very fetching eye candy while they learn a little about production.

It’s just one part of the museum’s wonderful programing of late Friday night offerings. Tickets to the talks are available for free. Get them at the Koret Auditorium located within the museum anytime from 6pm onwards.

Along with us others on the same bill will talk about: City Bike Culture; Urban Sustainability; HIV research and The Hippie Movement and Changing Drug Culture. … We guess ours is the (little) Fluffy (clouds) part of the program.

For more info: http://deyoung.famsf.org/deyoung/calendar/micro-presentations-amsterdam-and-san-francisco

Techulation Baby!

Film maker, Doug Wolens gets, as we Brits would say, a well nice review, from the Bay Guardian’s, Cheryl Eddy, for his documentary, The Singularity.

We’re partial to this film and not just because we created the animations but because it’s a story well told and a subject of endless fascination for we humans – Artificial Intelligence. Just when will robots become smarter than their human programmers and who will become Master of the Universe then?

The Singularity is an inevitable moment in our history when we will be able to create computer systems with greater-than-human intelligence, bio-engineer our species and re-design matter through nanotechnology. These future technologies will transform the course of civilization. The SINGULARITY FILM sidesteps the sci-fi cliches about robots versus humans and presents an intellectually thrilling debate that begins with a basic question: What kind of humans do we want to become?
~~ Doug Wolens, Director

Read what Cheryl Eddy has to say here: http://www.sfbg.com/2013/03/06/techulation and check out the trailer here: http://vimeo.com/51240278. Better still buy the film! We don’t get residuals, honest!

Billy Collins Reads Animated Poetry for TED and NPR

Proud to have been 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 down home 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 favor and watch and listen to these poems – and you will see why Billy Collins has been credited with the accolade of bringing poetry to the masses.

TODAY, was one of the twelve Billy Collins 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 – see for yourself.

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

 

The Singularity Moves Ever Closer

In 1993 the Hugo award winning ScFi writer, Vernor Vinge, wrote an essay entitled, “The Coming Technological Singularity” that opened the door to a theory which fired the imagination of both scientists and the public alike. This theory, simply stated, recognizes the creation of superhuman artificial intelligence and presages a moment of no return, one at which Vinge states, “the human era will be ended”. This event horizon for the human race is of such advance that it is believed that no current models of reality are sufficient to predict beyond it.

In the decade that followed the futurist computer scientist, Ray Kurzweil, wrote and rewrote his book on the notion of Singularity culminating in the 2005 Viking edition: The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. In his book Kurzweil makes many predictions for the future of The Singularity and for mankind. (See http://bit.ly/6Womy). This fired the neurons of many scientists worldwide and debate ensued on the accuracy of these predictions which has raged on in academia ever since.

Fast forward to 2012 and the timely release of documentarian, Doug Wolens film, The Singularity. Wolens explains the theory and his film thus:

The Singularity is an inevitable moment in our history when we will be able to create computer systems with greater-than-human intelligence, bio-engineer our species and re-design matter through nanotechnology. These future technologies will transform the course of civilization. THE SINGULARITY sidesteps the sci-fi cliches about robots versus humans, presenting an intellectually thrilling debate that begins with a basic question: What kind of humans do we want to become?

Director Doug Wolens speaks with leading futurists, computer scientists, AI experts and philosophers, who turn over the question like a Rubik’s Cube. Those who insist this paradigm shift is only decades away emphasize that we’re on the cusp of creating nano tech machines that patrol our bloodstream and repair cellular damage, athletes with jacked-up genetic code who sprint like gazelles, an Internet that downloads directly to the mind and medical labs with computer-replicated brains working by the thousands to cure disease.

Ultimately, if we become more machine-like, and machines more like us, will we sacrifice our humanity to gain something greater? Or will we engineer our own demise? Even if the answers are impossible to know, THE SINGULARITY makes clear that we cannot postpone addressing the questions.

Intriguing? I think so. And Little Fluffy Clouds was happy to provide the animated elucidations that accompany the many entertaining interviews and explain the deep and diverse concepts of The Singularity. More info and festival screenings here: http://thesingularityfilm.com/index.html

 

Power of Sound and the Subconscious Moment.

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.

The sampans, water, moon, ocean and background skies are made of particles and projected lights. So, not modeled. 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 – even in a commercial. And so it was here. Power of Sound became less about the technology and the message and more of an artistic response to the shock of the Japanese earthquake and the resultant tragedy. An homage in a way to the Japanese people and a small story about the lifting and triumph of the spirit in such dark moments.

Software: AFX, Trapcode, Sapphire and Maya.

LFC Mercedes spot stars in SIGGRAPH 2010 Computer Animation Festival

SIGGRAPH 2010 Computer Animation Festival – Out of thousands of animation and VFX entries, LFC’s Mercedes SLR 300 spot, Out of this World, made the cut. And yes, we are sporting smiles as wide as that Nokia Theater screen on which we’ll have the pleasure of seeing our work.

Celebrating its 37th year as the world’s most innovative and stimulating showcase of computer-generated animation and visual effects. This five-day international event presents a wide spectrum of computer animation genres and styles ranging from narrative character animation to scientific visualization and from commercials for TV to digital effects for futuristic movies.

If you are attending a single animation festival this year – SIGGRAPH 2010 is the one. Get your tickets here: http://www.siggraph.org/s2010/ Cheers and see you there!

Better late than never. The Car and The Road – Prix Ars Electronica

How delighted was I to get a Google alert this morning for LFC Short, The Car and The Road. It’s probably the first one ever for that short. Hey, not only that, but the file clearly states that TCATR made it into the prestigious Austrian animation festival, Prix Ars Electronica. Prix Selection: Smart Worlds. How did we ever miss that in this day and age of all points bulletins at all times of the day and night 24/7? So, for all of you that missed it when it first premiered I’ve resurrected it from the archive and I’m featuring it here and now. Thank you Google Bot for all your hard and diligent work.

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, as the road bares his inner passionate self to woo the fun loving car “that can do things other cars only dream about.” Sigh… a true love story 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…”
~ Association Internationale du Film d’Animation

The Car and The Road pays homage and takes its inspiration from Chuck Jones’ Oscar winning film, The Dot and The Line. Original composition for the 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 short will be seen on all broadcast media – that’s Cinema, TV and Web.

Journey – A Watercolor Painting Comes to Life.

Most of us look back at our time spent at university with true fondness – a time of amazing achievement and pivotal moments unsurpassed by any other. A time when dreams become aspirations and aspirations become reality and every second is shared with friends made – ones that we carry with us for the rest of our lives. This is the story of Journey, a 30-second HDTV commercial and the first in a campaign for the California University of Pennsylvania.

Executed in an elegant painterly style, Journey, combines both 2D and 3D animation to recreate the texture and layered look of a traditional watercolor painting. In this watercolor world, one in which we can freely move around, the story unfolds of a student’s journey through life. Beginning with a single brush stroke on textured paper the river of life is revealed depicting two friends in a rowboat. As the canvas blooms into vibrant color the two friends begin to move through the university campus. Casually meeting up with another friend, together, they enter into the pulse of university life.

Effortlessly the camera moves us gently back to gradually orbit around the characters and in an echo of the story, allows us to fully take in both the pastoral scene laid before us, with students going about their day, and the effect of the growing color palette as it washes over the canvas to create vivid momentary and fleeting glimpses of the campus in all its diversity. A gentle pull out, up through a canopy of trees, moves us skyward like a soaring bird over the rooftops of the buildings to lay the entire campus before us.

The campus, characters and shaders were created in Maya. The animation was created in multiple layers finessed in After Effects. Compositing was undertaken in-house at Little Fluffy Clouds.

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.