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!

Ian Lumsden’s UK Animation Blog – The Journey is Everything.

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!


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.