For Power of Sound a Review Worth Having

When Ian Lumsden, the UK’s most revered animation blogger, reviews your work it’s more than an honour. It’s a testament to his unwavering ability to sort through all noise, and regardless of paid PR, level the playing field. His focus is on good animation and speaks only to that. So, it is in itself a reassurance that even in this commercially overloaded world, and somewhere within the overcrowded bandwidth, there’s a person out there of great wit and intelligence who notices – and some how it makes it all worthwhile.

Thank you Ian for everything you do to promote incredible animation from around the world with no thought of financial gain and industry sway. Yours is a review worth having.

It is a pleasure to see the work of skilled professionals and Jerry van de Beek and Betsy de Fries (littlefluffyclouds) are consummate professionals. Bose: The Power of Sound embraces a host of animation techniques, from 2D to 3D to origami. Jerry is a master, artist and technician both, employing whatever software, or scissors, it takes to convey the message.
Given a high end product like Bose, it figures the one minute piece requires something extra special. Technologically advanced article waveforms emanate from the music itself, scissored horses and cranes soar through the skies and scarlet sampans traverse the ocean; there is even a mathematical Fibonacci sequence of numbers in free flight.
This orchestral and visual feast is a masterclass. I’ve not asked but I guess the ad is linked to the tsunami that hit Japan. The giant wave crashes down and soaring out of the explosion red flowers climb towards the moon. It seems like a rebirth to me, a proud nation responding to devastating adversity.
I need to add that I had intended, and still do, to write about two other ads in the small (in size not stature) California studio’s impressive library of work, one a very traditional cartoon (like they used to do it) and, secondly, a follow-up to an earlier piece I had written about on the blog. But I got waylaid. Jerry, by the way, hails from the Netherlands and Betsy from the UK. It’s warmer in California.

Check out Ian’s blog and spend some time catching up on incredible animations.


Designing with Color – Concepts and Applications

About a year ago I wrote about, Designing with Color – Concepts and Applications, when it was still in it’s formative stages. You can read that post dated Jan. 10, 2010 in our archives. I commented then that good design books are hard to come by and how pleased we were to be contributing to one that, from the galleys, looked like it would be just that.

As an animation and design studio Little Fluffy Clouds often provides images and commentary on our work to writers, editors and publishers, only to find that for whatever reason the book in question never sees the light of day. I could write an entire post on the whys and wherefores of the publishing industry and how difficult it is to bring a book – particularly an instructional one – to market in this day and age of instant apps but for right now I’m just happy to report that the book is now published. Hats off to Fairchild Books, a division of Conde Nast Publications, for staying the course and making this happen.

Written primarily as a workbook for students who want to work in the field of arts it might also benefit art directors across the board in the way that only good design publications and the theory of art outlined within can do. After all, the joy of the “happy accident” is short lived in an artist’s entire career, of far more use is the ability to confidently articulate why an image – a project – a campaign – was created that way and publications such as this one help put you on that path of knowledge backed up by experience.

Designing with Color takes examples from nine disciplines: advertising, animation, fashion, fine art, graphic design, illustration, industrial design, interior design and photography. The idea of this is less to separate these areas of art but to “inspire” and illustrate “the interconnected nature of all the visual and applied arts.”

The book is divided into 17 subject areas in two parts: part one color, part two design. Each chapter is choc-a-block with images from artists: photos, drawings, diagrams, paintings that come together to succinctly illustrate the chapter point. Space is allowed for those keen enough to contribute their own ideas – a sort of journal of art – along the lines of “process and idea” so the entire book can be personalized and students can take advantage of the myriad of tools – camera phones, apps, iPads – available to them.

Here’s an introductory quote from the authors talking about the porous nature of the crossover in media that is the mainstay of today:

One defining feature of the postmodern era we live in is the breakdown of disciplines. An artists practice might resemble that of an architect: an illustrator’s that of a 3D modeler. With the pervasiveness of marketing and media in our current culture, people in disciplines such as advertising, photography, graphic design, illustration and 3d animation frequently collaborate. The disciplines of fine art, industrial design, interior design and fashion also merge to create, represent and disseminate a product and the visuals that surround it.

Designing with Color – Concepts and Applications, by Chris Dorosz and J.R. Watson, published by Fairchild Books a division of Conde Nast Publications, is available now. What are you waiting for? Go out and get your copy.




Ian Lumsden’s UK Animation Blog – The Journey is Everything.

One of the best independent animation blogs on the internet today is Ian Lumsden‘s UK, Chock full of incredible animation and interesting observations, Ian Lumsden, who apart from facilitating this blog is not actually in the media or the animation biz.

Ian has a unique perspective on animation. Quite simply he profiles what he likes. Oblivious to the PR hype that so often surrounds a project and keeps a few chosen companies constantly in the public eye, Ian zeroes in on the way a piece makes you feel while barely mentioning the technique. I like that because that’s the way a good animation should be – thrilling you with it’s content yet so expertly made that the technique employed is almost invisible. I think life is all about the journey taken and that journey is filled with emotion not software.

I send him everything we do as much because I value his honest and constructive criticism as because I like to see LFC’s work recognized by his blog. When Ian reviews your work it’s a notice worth having. Here’s what he had to say about our first CALU spot, Journey.

“Jerry van de Beek and Betsy De Fries comprise the small but perfectly formed Little Fluffy Clouds, a California based company that from what I can make out seems to turn its adroit hand to whatever project is put its way. Take, Journey, a 30 second ad for the California UniversityofPennsylvania. Watch how the curved blue line moves outwards towards a rowing boat before we alight at the university campus, gradually being populated by students, the buildings and trees such warm colours, to be whisked upwards, above the entire university, a community set inside a blue sea. Pastoral and enticing, the freshness of it all makes one want to start again. A watercolour mix of 2D and 3D, using Maya and After Effects, college life as one might wish it to be. Parents would certainly. Clean living. And a very cool ad. There’s more work on their website, for some very prestigious clients, as indeed is CALU. I want to go there.”

Thanks Ian!

Conde Nast chooses LFC Friskies images for new design book

Really good design books are hard to come by so we at Little Fluffy Clouds are more than pleased to be featured in one – which from the galleys to date – looks to be just that. Picture Perfect: Seeing and Understanding Color and Design, by Chris Dorosz and J.R. Watson, is an upcoming design publication by Fairchild Books, a division of Conde Nast Publications.

This extensive text/workbook takes an interactive approach to the study of color and design, highlighting the elemental importance for designers to understand how color is perceived, experienced, and manipulated in order to be used effectively in their designs. A highly visual text, Picture Perfect, will explore and apply the principles of color and design and help stir the imagination of today’s art and design students.

The Friskies images from Little Fluffy Clouds were chosen for their skillful use in paring the end “client”, in this case a cat, to the advertised product. An extract from the book expands on this and speaks eloquently of the processes at work in the design:

“Picking one color to work around in a design can establish a dominant impression, reference or mood. This Friskies cat food commercial has taken the orange color of a Tabby cat as the key color and expands it into an analogous palette using yellow oranges and red oranges. More subtly, it engenders feelings of warmth and happiness as it taps into primordial instincts of the regenerative powers of the sun.”

Picture Perfect: Seeing and Understanding Color and Design, by Chris Dorosz and J.R. Watson. Order your copy now.

Professional Digital Compositing: Essential Tools + Techniques


Reviewing Lee Lanier‘s latest book, Professional Digital Compositing – Essential Tools and Techniques, Kirk Buckendorf eloquently states – and I couldn’t have put it better myself –

“While not as glorious as 3D animation or as artsy as digital design, digital compositing is the unsung hero of multiple industries. Without it the 3D animation would never make it to the screen and beautiful artwork would never come alive.”

While not a book for the neophite – because it does contain a lot of technical material – Lanier’s book is definitely readable and extremely informative covering all aspects of the oft neglected “soldier” of animation and film production. As you thumb through it reads like an all star cast of the best companies in our industry and the interviews, with some of the best compositors in the game, give us an on the ground view of those companies and a little taste for their working philosophy. Best of all there’s real intelligence to be had in the advice given and actual instruction as opposed to PR fluff. Each chapter has a “Tips and Tricks” section which is invaluable and the accompanying DVD allows you to drill down further and pick up even more usable info.

In an inspired flash of brilliance, Lanier posed most of the people he interviewed at their station (only a few stodgy companies submitted standard PR stills). I got a kick out of seeing everyone at their desk because you get an instant hit for the personality behind the work.

Above, seated at his desk, is Little Fluffy Clouds own Jerry van de Beek. Methinks this image speaks volumes :° )

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:

Little Fluffy Clouds wins a Silver Creativity Award for TODAY

The colorful studio’s short, TODAY, commissioned by Sundance for their Billy Collins Action Poetry series, has won a silver 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, is a veritable bible of excellent design and is published by Harper and Collins.

This Sundance Channel promotional film, commissioned in association with JWT NYC, was directed by Little Fluffy Clouds’ creative team, Jerry van de Beek and Betsy de Fries. The film is an animated poem and is written by US Poet Laureate, Billy Collins. The poem is from his Nine Horses collection. Mr. Collins narrates the animation.

FPS MAGAZINE podcasts with Little Fluffy Clouds

There’s no better on-line animation magazine than Frames Per Second. Edited by the inimitable, Emru Townsend, who somehow manages to produce a superb on-line zine, blog and related podcasts, hold down a heavy hitting job at Autodesk, keep a young family happy and amused and in his spare time chair SIGGRAPH’s Computer Animation Festival. … Am I impressed? You bet your sweet life I am. Am I a fan? Hell, yes!

Check out the dulcet tones of Mr. Townsend and hear my partner, Jerry van de Beek and I, rattle on about animation, production and life as lived in a small indie animation studio.  It was a lot of inspirational fun being interviewed by this marvel of modern radio. I may just start podcasting myself :°)