Long ago, Virgin Airways embraced the simple fact that no one pays attention to the poor flight attendants as they drone on mechanically about oxygen masks and flotation devices.
Why not use that time to share something genuinely entertaining, something that communicates the necessary safety information and conveys the playfully chic persona of the Virgin brand?
Take a Trip
The latest in Virgin’s flight safety film series, “Trip,” comes from Art&Graft. At over 5 minutes long, it’s an ambitious project. But the premise behind the film gave the team essentially unlimited creative freedom.
At the film’s opening, a drowsy passenger slips into a dream state while the flight attendant recites her safety spiel. We follow the passenger through a series of surreal vignettes inspired by genres of film, everything from sci-fi to westerns. Each scene communicates a core safety tip before moving on to the next unexpected scenario.
To bring our ideas to life, the A&G team combined an illustrative approach with exciting 3D and 2D animation techniques. All the character animation was produced using a traditional frame-by-frame technique – very labour intensive, especially when creating a 6 minute film, but the results look beautiful and are extremely rewarding!
Elements throughout the film were modelled in 3D; allowing us to ’wrap’ our illustrations around these models to keep the illustrative feel yet giving the scenes fantastic depth and space. This allowed all the camera angles to be planned out and ensure the 2D characters could then be animated in each scene with the addition of further textures and casted shadows.
NYC-based designer/animator Joe Donaldson was commissioned by the New York Times to create an animated interpretation of “Under His Misspell,” a column penned by Jessie Ren Marshall for The Times’ Modern Love series.
For several years, Modern Love has been a place for guest authors to share “deeply personal essays about contemporary relationships, marriage, dating [and] parenthood” — but the addition of animation is a new development.
I wanted to find out more about Joe’s approach to the project and learn about the New York Times’ thinking behind the series. What follows is an edited version of email conversations with Joe and The Times’ Zena Barakat, who came up with the idea of using animation for the Modern Love series.
Q&A with Joe Donaldson
Tell us a little bit about where you are in your career.
I typically work in the advertising/motion graphics world, making the rounds at the different studios here in NYC. So much of my time is spent animating other people’s designs/visions that I soon realized I didn’t have a well-defined voice of my own.
Occasionally, one must break the tradition of writing only about work that includes some form of animation, in order to recognize one of the giants of film.
With the loss of Chris Maker in 2012 and the loss of Alain Resnais two days ago, we may be witnessing the end of an era that will forever be inscribed as one of the most powerful and magical in the history of film, and in the history of film-informed mediums. Resnais, whose career sprung from Hiroshima Mon Amour, a film as poignant as it is inventive, often resisted labels and classifications.
Unafraid of tackling difficult topics, he directed Night and Fog, a documentary shot in Auschwitz some ten years after the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, as well as the bold and mesmerizing experimental film, Last Year in Marienbad. While his films were often perceived as French new-wave emblems, as films about the intermingling of war and memory, about subjectivity and love, about dream and loss, Resnais never made the same film twice. He was a film “auteur” only in the sense that he reinvented himself over and over again, with the same finesse, courage and fearlessness.
His film career may be one of the richest and most diverse ones of the Silver Screen. Exploring every role of production, Resnais seamlessly navigated between the roles of director, editor, writer, even cinematographer. He tackled all topics with intelligence, and tapping into the great minds of writers such as Jean Cayrol, Marguerite Duras, Jorge Semprún and Alain Robbe-Grillet. He was one of a kind.
PES doesn’t release new work very often, so when he does, we tend to get excited. His latest, “Black Gold,” was commissioned to accompany the launch of Delfina Delettrez’s new jewelry line on retail site Yoox.com.
Unlike PES’s other works, which turn everyday objects into unexpected characters and situations, “Black Gold” is a meditation on bodies, beauty and the inevitable entropy that ultimately returns us all to nature. With shots of ants crawling out of a breast and a giant grasshopper perched on a cheek, it’s full of imagery that lingers long past the last frame.
With a charming jewel tone palete and lovingly wrought 2D animation, designer/director Celyn (Nexus Productions) shows how simplicity and complexity can coexist in “Map Table.”
The spot’s main aim is to convey the modular nature of Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby’s Map Table desk, produced by furniture manufacturer Vitra. But in Celyn’s hands, the story becomes unexpectedly beautiful — and reassuringly human.
In California, a class action lawsuit against The Mill and Yurcor has been tentatively settled, striking a major blow against Yurcor’s “Employer of Record” service. The core of the dispute was the practice of using employee wages to pay for employer taxes. That’s a no-no.
The New York artists originally voiced many of the same complaints made in California, but added that the practice was much more prevalent in NYC. We are now ready, willing and able to help New York artists. (Source)
Interest form for NYC Artists
If you’re a NY artist who’s worked through Yurcor and want to recover questionably deducted wages, TAG is encouraging you to fill out this form.
NOTE: Please only fill out the form if you’ve worked through Yurcor in NYC.
If you’re interested in learning more about this issue, TAG’s Steve Kaplan has been writing about it for quite some time:
With the same understated poignance that is his hallmark, Mr. Clair’s latest project is a title sequence created in collaboration with Antibody (Clair’s studio) and Elastic for HBO’s new series, “True Detective.”
As we started to plan the movement and animation, we faced some interesting challenges. We wanted the titles to feel like living photographs. But the footage was too kinetic and jumpy and stills were too flat and static. Many shots feature footage that has been digitally slowed to extreme degrees. The digital interpolation and artefacts created by slowing footage down often looks strange or tacky, but we found that in this case it evoked a surreal and floaty mood that perfectly captured what we were after.
Syndrome Studio creates the opening titles for the 2014 Pause Fest in Melbourne, Australia. Executive Producer, Monica Blackburn describes the project as “a dream project with full creative freedom” in which “we envisioned the sequence as a journey through a surreal, living art installation piece. Visually representing each aspect of the festival – start-ups, motion, gaming, web and creativity – as physical objects that combine and interlock to form a whole, the open underlines the festival’s theme, “everything is connected”.
The mixture of dated and futuristic technologies, of dusty machinery and glossy interfaces, shape this wonderful homage to the creative process, in which live action and CG merge seamlessly to form a lyrical technological dance.
Animator/performance artist Miwa Matryek incorporates the silhouette of her own body into projections of her lush animations. Having seen her perform at last year’s Vimeo Festival, I can attest to the power of combining a live theatrical performance with clever front and rear-projection. There’s a bit of magic as you see the “cuts” happen in real life – one moment a hand looms large in frame, her silhouette thrown huge across the screen, the next moment an entire body wanders into frame.
See her previous work, Myth and Infrastructure, below. My favorite “movement” starts at 2:53 – when the living silhouette serenely becomes part of the environment, rather than just creating one-to-one interactions.