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.

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.

 

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 http://www.animationblog.org/ and spend some time catching up on incredible animations.

 

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

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 – we’re 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 dust

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 “waveform” 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’s 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.

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.

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.

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/

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.