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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

LFC_screengrab

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)

Retin-A Micro – Exceedingly Good!

Filed under: Award Winner,Misc,Spots,Tech — Betsy de Fries November 5, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

Creating interesting imagery for complex medical applications is no easy task. There are strict FDA guidelines to adhere to, seemingly insurmountable regulations and a plethora of almost incomprehensible technical language to distill into copy that can be easily understood by your fellow human being – or as our copy writer would say: Exceedingly hard!

But it can be done if you’re lucky enough to find a client that believes in their product enough to allow it to stand out from the crowd. :”Let it be engaging and entertaining…” while getting the message across was the brief.

In, Retin-A, Microspheres, we take the viewer on a journey through a stylized creation of the product and illustrate, in a technical way, just how and why the product works. And it really does. Some things are magic and some things are just pure science at work.

Created as a video wall installation in Autodesk Maya, RETIN-A Micro, joins the Little Fluffy Clouds lexicon of award winners. The production received an Honorable Mention at the 2011 CLIO HEALTHCARE AWARDS and also captured an Award of Excellence at the 2012 RX CLUB AWARDS. So, we concur, Exceedingly Good!

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

Filed under: Festivals,Misc,Spots,Tech — Betsy de Fries May 28, 2013 @ 3:37 pm

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. ‚Ķ ¬†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. ‚Ķ 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

The Singularity Moves Ever Closer

Filed under: Festivals,Shorts,Tech — Betsy de Fries February 10, 2012 @ 11:51 am

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 Vernor 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

 

Toxik plagued by the 3Gig switch.

Filed under: Tech — Jerry van de Beek May 8, 2009 @ 1:59 pm

Just installed Maya 2010. Fantastic what you get for this new price. However I did have a little problem running Toxik – Maya’s compositing program. When I tried to launch the program it wouldn’t go beyond the initialization of the user interface. This had to do with the 3Gig switch I had turned on in my Windows XP. If you experience the same problem, turn it off, reboot your system and you should be fine.

UltraMon – A “must have” Software for your Wacom Cintiq

Filed under: Festivals,Tech — Jerry van de Beek September 10, 2008 @ 12:50 pm

Once every couple of years I attend Siggraph just to feel the vibe and to see if there are any cool tools that need some hands-on playtime. After feeling the cool thrill of seeing 3 of our IBM webverts on the big screen at the Nokia Theater in the 2008 CAF, I went back to the exhibition floor and found such a cool tool.

At the Wacom stand they were showing off their newish Cintiq tablets. I’ve seen these before but never really played with one. I’m always looking for devices and software to make the creative process smoother and this is one of those. The special feature of this tablet is that it has a built in monitor. This enables you to draw right on the canvas so it feels like you are drawing on paper. Those of you doing more pitches than jobs will realize immediately the worth of such a tool.

I’ve used Wacom tablets for over 10 years and can attest to the fact that they’ve saved my wrists. They are great for drawing and even for 3D but I still sketch on paper before I take the image into Photoshop. For me there has always been a strange disconnect to draw on one surface and to see it on another – the monitor. Now, with this Cintiq, that problem has been resolved and your brush strokes flow out of the tablet’s pen.

I decided to get the smallest one in their arsenal – the 12WX. I do like the 20 and 21 inch versions a lot but as I am a generalist, simultaneously using other devices, I didn’t want it to take over my entire desk space. Real estate is at a premium and I saw it more as a replacement of my regular tablet in combination with my 30 inch display. I wanted to be able to switch on the monitor part of the tablet for when I wanted to sketch.

Okay, so now you’re thinking, whoop-dee-doo, he finally discovered the Cintiq tablet. But although that’s great the cool thing I wanted to tell you about is a piece of software that makes using the Cintiq even sweeter.

Let me back up a little. The Cintiq 12WX is small and has a screen resolution of 1280 x 800. My 30 inch Dell monitor has a resolution of 2560 x 1600. The way you normally set up the Cintiq is by setting up your displays as DualView. This extends your desktop over 2 monitors and you can drag your canvas from PhotoShop to your second display – the Cintiq. If you want to work in Mirror View, in which both displays show the same image, you’ll have to set the resolution on both screens to the lowest one. In this case the one of the Cintiq. Believe me, 1280 x 800 on a 30 inch monitor looks awful. Also, I didn’t always want to always have the Cintiq monitor on and the Cintiq doesn’t have a switch to turn off the display (note to Wacom). When I’m not sketching I want to use the Cintiq as a regular Wacom Tablet by putting the monitor to sleep. What I found myself doing was switching display profiles in my Nvidia Control Panel every time I wanted to sketch.

I packed my bag and went out into the World Wide Web to find some help – and I did. The elegant solution that you all have to know about is the UltraMon at: http://www.realtimesoft.com. Their website is terrible but don’t let that put you off. I have to admit I paced up and down in front of this site before I found the courage to download their applet. UltraMon basically takes over your display settings. From your taskbar you can quickly switch from Single Display, Dual Display or Mirroring. This is great and already a lot quicker that opening your Display Control Panel to change it there but there is even a much nicer feature in UltraMon – it allows you to create short cuts. I created a shortcut for Photoshop in UltraMon. I won’t go into all the settings as I’m not writing a manual here but in essence this is what it does. When I click on my newly created Photoshop shortcut in my task bar UltraMon automatically changes my display settings to mirror. It wakes my Cintiq monitor up from sleep mode and displays full resolution (2560 x 1600) on my 30 inch display and projects this as well on my Cintiq. It probably does this by scaling 2560 x 1600 to 1280 x 800 but whatever it works. When I quit out of Photoshop UltraMon switches back my display settings to Single Display and puts my Cintiq monitor back to sleep. In short, UltraMon allows you to create shortcuts for each application that drive different display settings. UtraMon uses the icon from the original application for the shortcuts so it looks clean and professional.

This is a $40 “must have” piece of software if you own a Cintiq tablet.