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Archive for July, 2006

Bitfilm Festival Deadline Extended to August 8th

I was going to post a Quickie about this, but I figured it’d be better to post the full poop here:

The 7th International Bitfilm Festival for Digital Film has reinvented itself. From now on, filmmakers may submit their works by uploading them to the festival‘s website. All selected films can be watched online. Netsurfers are encouraged to recommend them to each other, generating virus effects. The global Internet community will thus decide about the Bitfim Awards in a “viral voting” process – making Bitfilm 2006 the first festival worldwide which completely relies on the virus movie principle. The films with the highest viral potential are going to take the awards in each of the seven categories:

3D SPACE AWARD — computer-generated 3D animations
FX MIX AWARD — digitally composed hybrids which mix various techniques
FLASH AWARD — animations made with Flash
MACHINIMA AWARD— films shot live in computer games
DEMO AWARD — software that generates PC-based realtime animations
MICROMOVIE AWARD — short clips designed for the small screens of mobile devices
GRAND PRIX TV DIGITAL — 3D or VFX-driven feature films (only trailers on the net)

Films may be submitted until August 8, 2006 at www.bitfilm.com/festival. The prize money totals 10 000 Euro. In addition, the winner of each category gets a Bitfilm Robot statue. However, it is not only the filmmakers who can hope for a prize. The festival is going to raffle attractive merchandise prizes amongst viral voters, with increased chances for the more active participants.

The award show will take place on November 1, 2006 in Hamburg (Germany). It will be complemented by screenings, talks, workshops and parties.

The screenings will be shown in the well-known Reeperbahn club Mandarin Casino which we transform into a four-screened chill-out cinema.

For more information: www.bitfilm.com/festival

Saturday, July 29th, 2006 | 1 Comment »

Takagi Masakatsu

I’ve never really liked ‘video art’. It just never seemed to transgress how complete our established and prefered artforms feel to us. A good motion graphic design piece gives me a great sense of satisfaction and inspiration, as does a still art piece that seems to have the right variables in place, on a personal level. I don’t know, but every video art piece I’ve seen always seems to be in some wierd and barren no-mans land in between traditional art, and motion graphic design, which is an art to me, at least any inspired motion graphic designer would ultimately like their work to approach the status of an artform. Of course there are exceptions, I’m sure, and this guy is definitely one of them. It is very inspirational, to say the least. It’s hard to pinpoint what’s so good about it. All I know is when I watch it I get that sense of satisfaction and inspiration, where it just seems to click, and you say, ‘yeah, this is good, I will keep watching.’ I think as a person who understands the technical side of what goes into all of this, it’s harder for me to really feel inspired by video art, because I might see something in the movement of the piece that suggests an amateur level of animation ability behind it. That turns me off. I’m sure it would mean nothing to the average viewer, but I think because of our position in viewing this stuff, we are the ultimate critic. Takagi has surpassed that, and while there are some quirky moments in the movement of this video art, he always seems to pull out of it fantastically, and make it make sense. And you can’t take your eyes off of it. I’d love to see it on a big screen. The visuals mixed with his beautiful music makes for a really interesting experience. Do I appreciate it more because it’s impressive on a technological level? Does that make it better art, or just better to me? In any case, regardless, it is really nice work.

It’s also interesting to look at the archive of his work, which starts around 2001, and notice the difference in the level of complexity from then until now. It’s an example of how technology is really driving art. You always hear that ‘it’s not the software, it’s not the computer that makes an artist’, which holds truth, but it’s clear here that it definitely plays a part. Alot of it is surely personal development as an artist, but no doubt there is a level of understanding the technology, and of course the abilities of the technology itself that is really allowing Takagi to do some amazing things now, as compared to his work from 2001, which is pretty simple.

Here is his website. Click on ‘video’ and then ‘digest movie’ to see a compilation of work from each year. The most recent compilation, from 2004-2005 starts off with something that reminds me of chris cunningham, and is followed by ‘light pool’, which resembles Lobos work they did for budweiser.

And here is a profile of him on the apple site. Check out Birdland #2. Is it a distant cousin of Psyops MTV HD work? Ha. Doesn’t really compare, but it’s interesting for sure. The real gem that you can watch in it’s entirety is ‘girls’.

Saturday, July 29th, 2006 | 20 Comments »

Clip-art loop. Amazing.

Clip-art loop. Amazing.

Friday, July 28th, 2006 | Comments Off

New Beehive Site with New Reel

New Beehive Site with New Reel

Thursday, July 27th, 2006 | Comments Off

Two More Envelope-Pushers

If you’ve been reading this site (or Tween) for any time at all, you know I love to talk about the convergence of web and motion design. When I first started thinking about it a few years ago, it all seemed so distant and vague. But now the revolution is upon is, and its supporters are multiplying.

I’m using the term “revolution” ironically, of course. Nothing is being overturned here. No great power is being dethroned. No long-held assumptions are being turned on their heads. A more accurate analogy is that of birth. Mom and Dad, in this case, are web design and motion design. (Not sure who’s Mom and who’s Dad, though. For some reason, motion design feels like Mommy to me… Freud would have a ball with that one.)

A generative or evolutionary analogy is better than a destructive one, because this new space is opening up in tandem with the old spaces. Yes, eventually, the old spaces will lose their teeth and start crapping their pants in a darkened corner of a nursing home for neglected media, but for now we’re all one big happy family gathered around the dinner table.

So what does this new baby look like? Does it have its mommy’s eyes? Its daddy’s smarts? Well, just like a portrait of a real baby, capturing its features is only good for a moment. In a few months, it’ll be a different shape and size, and in a few years it’ll hardly be recognizable. But there are a few features that promise to persist, features that are integral to the identity of Kid Convergence and as such will always be around, even if they eventually grow hair and need to be shaved.

A couple recently launched sites showcase two such features. The first is an experimental journey from Designgraphik, and the second is a commercial site for Nike Air from the wizards at Big Spaceship.

Video Without Borders

Designgraphik’s site gets off to a slow start, but once you dig into it, you’ll find some beautiful compositions that use video clips in interesting ways. Video is alternately treated as a graphical element (as in the scene with the dismembered eyes) and as an all-encompassing a/v onslaught (as during the full-screen clips of mouths speaking).

dg.jpg

In both cases, the video clips don’t have borders, except for those defined by the browser. This may seem like a trivial thing, but it signals a shift towards thinking of video the same way we think about static images in general. Everything that was once still is now potentially charged with motion. To put it another way, motion on the web is no longer confined to a 4:3 or 16:9 rectangle floating against a black or white background.

Motion is, instead, another tool in the palette of a designer. Because Flash and increasing bandwidth have eradicated many of the former barriers to employing motion on the web, its inclusion can now be an aesthetic or conceptual decision instead of a logistical one. This helps explain why many motion designers come from other design-related fields like illustration, web design and architecture. Motion is no longer the exclusive domain of people working in broadcast, it is a mode of communication that can be appropriated by anyone for anything.

Interactive Motion Graphics

I’ve long been curious about the way Kid Convergence would take advantage of his dad’s ability to interact with viewers. The Designgraphik site uses a fairly low level of interactivity: You simply click or mouse over things to trigger a new scene or visual.

Big Spaceship’s Nike Air site turns up the volume a bit by essentially creating a real-time motion-graphics engine that you control with your keyboard.

air.jpg

In essence, as a viewer, you’re being invited to play a visual instrument, a magical a/v synthesizer that seems to create beautiful images no matter how little you know about motion graphics. It’s an incredibly effective way of empowering the user. Yes, it’s an illusory form of creation—the viewer doesn’t have to actually do any work to get results—but you could argue that After Effects has automated certain parts of the creative process so much that they’ve become transparent and effortless as well.

What I think is important about this site is the way that multiple video clips are layered and linked to interactive moments. In the offline world, this isn’t really all that new. Live VJ’ing is basically the same concept, albeit driven by different motives. But in the online world, this is very new stuff, made possible by Flash 8, which not only lets you layer video, but apply real-time blending modes.

Big Spaceship seems to understand that when you’re playing with Kid Convergence, you don’t have to control everything down to the last pixel. You can set up parameters and then hand everything over to the audience. They’ll take care of the rest. And in so doing, they have the opportunity to forge a new relationship with the website and/or product/service/idea that’s being promoted.

So What?

A lot of you are probably thinking, “So what? Why does this matter to me?” For some of you, it doesn’t matter at all. Some of you are content working for television and film. That’s fine. I’m sure we’ll be posting a new piece from Buck or Psyop or whoever very soon, and everything will return to normal.

But there are a handful of you out there who are dissatisfied. Maybe you’re feeling a little anxious or claustrophobic. You feel that, even at time when the growing ubiquity of 3D is injecting a kind of excitement into everything, there’s something stagnant about all this stuff.

I think that for you select few, Kid Convergence may just be your salvation. You might need to wait a couple years while the baby fat melts away and the eye-hand coordination improves, but Kid Convergence is going to create loads of opportunities for people who know how to think in terms of motion. I’m not just talking about financial opportunities—although those are already growing like crazy—I’m talking about expressive, artistic opportunities.

In the meantime, add The FWA to your daily inspiration and let yourself think outside the rectangle of a QuickTime movie.

Thanks to Babe Baker for bringing the Designgraphik work to my attention.

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006 | 23 Comments »
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