a cumulus

LFC Transforms with a new Responsive Web Design

Filed under: Imagine,Photography,Publications,Shorts,Spots,Tech — Betsy de Fries May 22, 2014 @ 1:30 pm


AT LITTLE FLUFFY CLOUDS we change out our website a lot. Since our first one in 1996 we’ve crafted no less than 16 sites, always in tune, and sometimes ahead, of the prevailing technology. The aim should be to give anyone landing on your site the most optimal visual experience they can have. So, it should be good to look at, easy to navigate through and be as informative as you can make it.

LFC is a production and design studio so the way we profile our work differs from say an agency or a news portal. We made conscious choices in the design of our site to give preference to functionality over gimmickry. Not that some tricks aren’t fun, don’t get me wrong, it’s more that we want the user to have a specific experience and we want to direct that experience.

Our job is to create interesting and vibrant visual content and that‚Äôs what we give you, right up front. People want to be entertained yes, but in return for their participation they deserve a robust experience. The new responsive website was designed by creatives, Jerry van de Beek and Betsy de Fries and LFC’ creative director, Jerry van de Beek, programmed it himself. Here he talks about it.

My aim was to provide information in a streamlined fashion so it is easy to learn a lot about Little Fluffy Clouds work and the company with minimal interface interference ‚Äď all of which speeds things up for the mobile user.

Most web developers use pre-programmed templates as a jumping-off point for their sites. They also use pre-programmed plug-ins to add functionality to those templates. I decided against this because I wanted to have full control over the functionality and design. So I started with a blank slate, programming the entire interactive experience in JavaScript and HTML 5, and created my own template and plug-ins.  

The site is completely responsive meaning that the layout of the site, including the font size, adapts to the device it is viewed on. This is exciting as LFC’s new site can now be seen – without compromising resolution or content – on any mobile phone, any tablet, any computer and even on a video wall.

Now, go people and check out this thing at: www.littlefluffyclouds.com. It does a whole lot more than a cookie-cutter, off-the-shelf one and is optimized for all your devices. Those would be iOS, iPhone, iPad, Android and other European and Asian tablets and phones as well as your good old CPU. It works in Chrome, Safari, Fire Fox, Internet Explorer and Opera and probably any other exotic browser you care to name. Besides, it’s gorgeous looking and coded appropriately to maximize the strengths of each. Oh yes people, it is a thing of beauty indeed :¬į)

The Fall Day

Filed under: Imagine,Misc,Publications — Betsy de Fries November 11, 2013 @ 11:11 am


Watch as birds float freely on the slipstream of a passing breeze

Wind chimes sound bell tones across the valley

These are some harmonious times

Crisp, bright and clear, the way all fall days should be

Freesias fill the air with spicy aroma and look handsome in the vase

They burst their buds. Leaves on the Live Oak turn to colour

But still, even more, hold fast to their summer green coats winter defiant

Like soldiers ready for battle against the chill of a Great North.


A full moon burns orange in a starlit sky

And shines a bright path down upon our leafy lane.

Now we walk over to the old man for celebration hot chocolate toddy

And later still, when we return, that same mischievous moon

Spotlights our garden and everything it touches with eerie magic

Blue shadow bright.

The fire crackles. It fills the house with woodsy warmth

And all is cozy and right in this small world.


While talking quietly

And drinking wine and eating food aplenty

That same full moon reaches a zenith

And comes creeping in through skylights clear

To dust our heads with madness

And touch our not-yet-so-dreamt, dreams.

The fire burns. The flames twist and turn and make our eyes all sleepy

So down to bed, perchance to dream go we, to sleep amongst the moonbeams.


Tales of The Miwok Lodge ~ BdF 2012

Techulation Baby!

Filed under: Festivals,Publications,Shorts — Betsy de Fries March 6, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

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 the Cheryl Eddy article 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!

Chance or Chancery

Filed under: Imagine,Misc,Publications — Betsy de Fries November 5, 2012 @ 4:01 pm


Life truly is like the Court of Chancery. Whereas it really should be a place of infinite justice, in which all are treated equally, often it is simply unfair. This was the very truth Miss Flite, the very astute and seemingly minor character in Charles DickensBleak House, found out from her many years of living on only the vaguest promise of a slender thread of hope Рit is often the ruination of the soul.

Presented here a list of her aptly named birds all ‚Äúto be released on the day of judgment‚ÄĚ.¬†Take your chances where you find them.

Hope¬†‚Äď Desires, expectations, longings and dreams.

Joy - Happiness, revelry, pleasure and jubilance.

Youth¬†‚Äď Adolescence, inexperience, jejunity. Innocence yet to be despoiled.

Peace¬†‚Äď Accord, truce and conciliation. A longed for harmony.

Rest¬†‚Äď Calm composure and quiescence. That which may give you tranquility.

Life¬†‚Äď Essence, √©lan, spirit and the very joie de vivre of being.

Dust¬†‚Äď Ashes, cinders, dirt and the fragments of life.

Ashes - Charcoal, ruin, relics and the sad burned remains.

Waste¬†‚Äď Reckless spending, decay and desolation. A life squandered.

Ruin -  Destitution and bane. Bankruptcy.

Despair - Anguish, sorrow, hopelessness and misery.

Madness - Delusion, insanity, lunacy and mania.

Death - Annihilation, dissolution, eradication. The final cessation.

Cunning¬†‚Äď Sly, artifice, guile, deceit.

Folly¬†‚Äď Absurdity, rashness, stupidity, triviality.

Words¬†‚Äď Colloquy, utterances. The means of communication.

Wigs¬†‚Äď Periwigs. The trappings of the court’s costume.

Rags¬†‚Äď Scraps, shreds, tatters. The remnant of the matter.

Sheepskin¬†‚Äď The testimonial document. The certification. The credentials.

Plunder¬†‚Äď Theft, contraband and that which is stolen.

Precedent¬†‚Äď Antecedents and the authoritative exemplar. A paradigm.

Jargon¬†‚Äď Exclusive phraseology. The pernicious patois.

Gammon¬†‚Äď To fleece, to dupe, chicanery and the game of swindle.

Spinach -  The prevarication. The avoidance of truth. The bald lie.

For Power of Sound a Review Worth Having

Filed under: Publications,Shorts,Spots — Betsy de Fries May 17, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

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 animation blog http://www.animationblog.org/¬†and spend sometime catching up on some incredible animations.


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!


Designing with Color – Concepts and Applications

Filed under: Publications,Spots — Betsy de Fries February 21, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

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 ‚Äď 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 – go out and get your copy.

Ian Lumsden’s UK Animation Blog – The journey is everything.

Filed under: Publications,Spots — Betsy de Fries March 18, 2010 @ 12:32 pm

One of the best independent animation blogs on the internet today is Ian Lumsden’s UK, http://www.animationblog.org/.¬†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

Filed under: Publications,Spots — Betsy de Fries January 5, 2010 @ 9:43 pm

Really good design books are hard to come by so we at Little Fluffy Clouds are more than pleased to be featured in one Рwhich from the galleys to date Рlooks 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, will be released in the fall of 2010. Order your copy now.

Professional Digital Compositing: Essential Tools + Techniques

Filed under: Misc,Publications — Betsy de Fries November 3, 2009 @ 3:45 pm


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 : )

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