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.

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.

Radio Shack Santa GPS or what happens if he doesn’t have one…

A long suffering Santa tries his best to deliver Christmas gifts to the world while Rudolph and the reindeer team go round and round in circles unable to find their way.

This darling little Christmas ad for Radio Shack has a crinkled paper, stop motion look and feel with a sweet Christmas musical score and some very funny copy – given a brilliant delivery.

Hey, it’s not often you can say that the voice over for a spot you’re working on is priceless but the V/O in this ad is just so great we cracked up the entire time we were in production.


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.

Make me a Millionaire little Talking Squirrel!

“She’s a happy homemaker from Sunnyvale who plays the oboe. Welcome, Courtney Mortimer!”


Hey, if someone told me I’d won the lottery I’d think I was dreaming but if a talking squirrel met me at the door to tell me the good news I’d think I was more than dreaming…

Yet that’s the story line in this funny California Lottery spot from BBDO West.

Our part in all this nuttiness was to create that talking squirrel making him as realistic as his real life counterpart. That we did by removing the head of the real little guy and replacing it with one of our own creation. We assure you no actual animals were hurt in the making of this spot but there were a few harnessed squirrels on the live action set along with their veritable unharnessed wranglers.

That cute squirrel was modeled and animated using Autodesk Maya by our illustrious creative director, Jerry van de Beek. Make Me A Millionaire! plays regionally and has an after life forever more on You Tube making Courtney Mortimer – famous!

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:

Sprint unveils the Samsung Instinct

Samsung Instinct Phone

The much-anticipated Samsung Instinct has hit the market. Packed with all the latest features and mobile phone wizardry this wireless device is Sprint’s biggest handset launch of the year. Scoring high in the reviews, pre-registration for the Instinct surpassed all expectations. The sleek look and touch-screen design is all set to go head to head with Apple cult favorite, iPhone.

Retailers report that the Instinct, which is cheaper than the iPhone, is flying off the shelves since launching June 20. Six days after the phone’s launch, Sprint called the Samsung Instinct “the fastest-selling EVDO handset in the company’s history.”

Photo real model and layouts created by Little Fluffy Clouds for Goodby Silverstein and Partners, San Francisco. Check out the buzz at:

A Cartoon Network Party with The Lunchables Brigade

PARTY is the latest in a continuing series of kids spots for Oscar Meyers, Lunchables. It stars the irrepressible Lunchables Brigade, of Oscar, Maya and Abel.

In this episode the firm friends bring their own brand of explosive fun, mayhem and chaos to the school playground. Follow the action where just opening a pizza box sets off a party to be reckoned with.

One of the Lunchables school yard regulars, young Buck, only has eyes for the best tasting pizza ever, and even though confetti, balloons, streamers and hi jinx happen all around him his rapture never wanes.

Airs nationally on Cartoon Network this 30-second spot was created using Autodesk Maya and Adobe After Effects.

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 :°)

Win Big at the Barnyard in American Idol Auditions for CO Lottery

In a candid, behind-the-scenes look at the barnyard American Idol auditions for TV, seven barnyard characters try their luck, and win – or lose – in a big way. The nonchalant Goat sweeps past us, the broken hearted Cow sobs at the door, Speak to the hand!, gestures the disappointed Duck, leaving us in no uncertain terms about how he feels.

But four lucky critters – the Bunny, the Rooster, the Prairie Dog and the Pig – make it on to the Colorado Lottery scratch card. And they jump, strut, scoot and fly before their eager friends and family, captured by the exit camera. In, AUDITIONS, it’s ee-i-ee-i-dough indeed!

AUDITIONS was created by Little Fluffy Clouds director, Jerry van de Beek, using the studio’s now signature 2D/3D combination of Autodesk Maya with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. After Effects was used to composite. Audio completed in Adobe Audition.