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.

ZERO In – Let’s Go Places!

Spring has sprung and tax day blues have turned to eco-green thoughts. So, now is the time for all good people to come to the aid of the party and get down to your Toyota dealer’s ZERO IN EVENT. Shake up your life, have some fun and help out the planet.

This zippy little special offer campaign of five spots on steroids was created in two weeks flat, made possible by the fun, creative and collaborative team effort between Little Fluffy Clouds and the agency of record.

The car was created and animated in Maya. The 3D camera data was exported to Adobe After Effects, where all other elements were added as needed to be able to change out offers on a clicks notice.

Prius, it’s the Number One car line in California. Treat yourself get a fantabulous deal on a Toyota Prius and Let’s Go Places!

Tweet your Love to Toyota #TrueStory

You know how Toyota owners love their cars? Yes we do! Well Toyota fans everywhere often post to #TrueStory on Twitter to say why. So it seemed only right to give this love a wider audience and make a series of spots to show the world just how dedicated we are!

In, #TrueStory, a campaign made for the newly minted, HL&P, we took these “tweets of love” and placed them in the center of our vision. Atop of these, text thought bubbles, sit tiny worlds made up of miniature sets showcasing the essence of this grass roots celebration. Each vignette brings a riot of color and an ingenious mix of tangible materials with just a tad of whimsy on that same reality. Everything is playful, modern and fun. And better still these spots leap off the screen every time they play on the TV or the web.

Sometimes an entire campaign of spots is a lovely thing to do. You get to play out a theme in more ways than one. For, Toyota #TrueStory, we got to explore and blur the edges of reality across all these commercials. These tiny worlds, based on Toyota owners’ tweets, make for a lively animated campaign indeed. So, text your love to, Toyota #TrueStory, and Let’s Go Places!

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

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. … 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. … 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

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!

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.

LFC Breathes Life into a Moving Painting for CALU Superbowl Spot

Blue sketches appear on a painted canvas. The spokes of a bicycle wheel spin. Singular watercolor images emerge from the framework of an underpainting – that gives way to richly textured architecture and foliage. A student rides forward weaving a tapestry of imagery as the campus of the California University of Pennsylvania reveals itself before his wheels. Ever advancing buildings grow from the imagined to the constructed.

This is the story of Built, a 30-second spot, the second in a continuing integrated campaign of broadcast TV, web, print and radio crafted for the CALU by Pittsburgh agency, Dymun + Company.

Built, like it’s companion piece, Journey, is a veritable kaleidoscope of images beautifully layered together. 2D and 3D animation are combined with hand drawn imagery to recreate the textured and layered look of a traditional watercolor painting. In a spectacular display of animating genius, LFC’s Jerry van de Beek, breathes life into this moving painting.

In Built the camera moves forward with the main character creating the campus as he rides towards the new Convocation Center which makes it’s debut in October 2011. The effect of the growing color palette, as it washes over the canvas to create vivid moments and fleeting glimpses of the campus, is nothing less than stunning. Once more a gentle pullout transports us skyward, like a serenely gliding plane, over the rooftops of new and older buildings to lay the entire campus before us and cradle us in the crook of the river bend.

The campus, characters and shaders were created in Maya. The animation created in multiple layers and finessed using After Effects. Compositing, color correction and post was handled in-house at Little Fluffy Clouds. Built, airs on the east coast from January 2011 including Super Bowl XLV.

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/

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.