Attention Human-ographers. Your puny planet is under attack. Lay down your Wacoms and surrender to the awesome might of PX Micron and Calculord 3!
Don’t worry, we’re not really under attack, so don’t go throwing yourselves out of the window (If you had windows, as most of you work from light-deprived basements) as happened when Orson Welles’s ‘The War of the Worlds’ was first broadcast in 1938. But I digress…
PX Micron and Calculord 3 are two rubbish robots. Not rubbish in the sense that they are badly animated or rendered, far from it, they’re great. But rubbish in the sense that they have more chance of taking over the world than I do not digressing on a post, but I digress…
These two tiny robot desperados spring forth from the new comic minds of Tom & Mark Perrett, who go under the cryptic moniker of ‘Tom & Mark’ on the Nexus Productions roster. That’s right, Tom & Mark are commercials directors who’ve adeptly turned their hands to comedy writing.
Now must of us consider ourselves to be pretty funny and now and again we can perhaps crack a funny down the pub and raise a chortle from sympathetic friends. But comedy writing, that’s another thing. So I thought I’d catch up with Tom & Mark (Who actually look a bit like the two robots) to find out a bit about invade ALL OF THE humans!!
Hey Tom & Mark! For those who don’t know, please tell us a little bit about yourselves, what you’ve been up to over the years and what you do for a living.
Hi. We are Tom and Mark! And we are animation directors and brothers from Cornwall in the South-West of England. Now based in London we have been directing commercials with Nexus Productions for the last ten or so years and that’s how we make our living. As well as making commercials to sell things like cars and ovens and different kinds of drinks (both fizzy and yoghurt based) we also perform live animation using an overhead projector to accompany the music of the London Snorkelling Team.
Many Motionographer readers will no doubt recognise Josh Raskin as director of the Oscar nominated short ‘I met the Walrus’. Personally I’d been wondering what Josh had been up to of late, so I was delighted to take delivery of his new spot for Google. The film starts with the familiar sketchy ‘Walrus’ style from the pen of Raskin’s illustration collaborator James Braithwaite, but then gives way to a looser style that to my eye is new for Raskin. So I thought I’d fire him over a few questions and find out a bit more.
You may remember that toward the end of last year, as part of our Work/Life series, we posted a survey asking you about motion life with kids and/or the prospect of kids. Well, we finally we got ’round to cataloguing the results. I know it’s taken a long time to post, but there have been babies to bath and nappies to change. Q.E.D. . . .
Firstly, a massive thank you to all who took time to complete the survey. A massive 2,236 of you managed to do so. Show this to your employers, your producers, your clients and your other halves. I’m pretty sure this is the first survey of its kind and there’s a heck of a lot that we can all learn from this, thanks to you!
As we’re beginners with this survey business, we went about a couple of things the wrong way. Primarily we assumed that everyone with kids had a partner, which is obviously not the case. So apologies for any toes we may have stepped on there.
Here’s a brief digest of some of the key stats for those of you who can’t be bothered hacking through the pie charts:
— 63% of the respondents didn’t (at the time of responding) have kids!
— Unsurprisingly, having kids takes its toll on extra-curricular creative projects. Nonetheless, 40% of mographers with kids still find time outside work to do motion things. Kudos!
— Once kids are on the scene, most motion workers try and get some kind of grip on their hours, but late working is still a regular part of professional life for most.
— We seem to have great partners who by and large tolerate long hours, although patience thins once kids are around.
— And 50% of those with kids said that having kids has made them think about leaving the industry.
Yes, you read that last stat right.
I love this industry and the chance it sometimes gives us to be boundlessly creative at work. The great people, the swerving, cartwheeling ideas we collaborate upon. I firmly believe that the combination of design and motion can in the right circumstances offer up something akin to creative nirvana. But there is something rotten here too. An industry so maladjusted that it renders itself potentially unsuitable for 50% of its workers who take on parental responsibility has one heck of a lot of soul-searching to do. But could this survey prompt employers to strike up a dialogue with staff who have kids or who want kids, to find out how to make it work better for all involved? Well, that’s up to you now, isn’t it? You have the icebreaker — it’s right here.
“Yes, I know I’m supposed to be bathing him tonight, but … Yeah, I know I didn’t bathe him last night either, but tonight we’ve got a hell of a lot to get through, client changes and … What time? I really have no idea, you know I can never tell until we … Dinner? No don’t worry about dinner, we’ll call out for take-away from here … Yes, I miss you too … He’s asking for me? Tell him I love him and I’ll definitely bathe him tomorrow night, I promise … .”
Anything in the above bit of fictional dialogue sound familiar? Yes, it does for me too. You see, we are creative people us motion folk and perfecting a design, a texture, a storyboard, a render or whatever it may be takes time. And despite working like demons all day to be “out the door”-bang on leaving time, fate and clients all too often conspire to derail our best intentions.
Now, when we just have ourselves and perhaps a willing “other half” (who has decided to throw their lot in with us) to consider, late nights at work are bad enough. Bags under the eyes and cold shoulders in bed are no fun. But throw kids into the mix and it’s a whole ‘nother ball game. Concerns and neuroses multiply and multiply again: My folks were around for my bedtime, and so should I! If I don’t see her all week, will she still know me? Is my patchy bedtime attendance causing her long-term psychological damage?!
But all the while, perfection is drumming its fingers on the desk and we can’t let something half-assed go out the door. And there you have it, the classic creative parent’s tug-of-war: Do I rush this thing and leave on time to see my kid or do I do myself justice as an artist and give this the extra four hours it needs? Do I leave my design baby screaming in the cot whilst I rush home to bathe and put to bed the human one?
Well here at the Motionographer Work / Life Think Tank (disclaimer: “Think Tank” may in reality refer to a couple of casual email threads), we have decided to throw this open to you, the readers. Why struggle on your own when you can take solace in the fact that many others are having the very same problems? To this end, we’ve created a questionnaire to see how work life after kids is shaping up for you. And those of you without nippers, we want to know how you think becoming parents will change your working lives.
When the results are in we’ll pump out a couple of fancy looking diagrams which will show us what you the Motionographer readers think about work/life with kids.
So what’s up with extracting oil (or bitumen rather) from Alberta’s oil sands and why do we need to know about this? Well extracting bitumen from oil sands (Often referred to as tar sands) is a hugely energy intensive process, requiring industrial scale heating (using natural gas) and 4 barrels of fresh water to produce one barrel of oil. So right there you have the depletion of the planet’s most valuable and scarce resource, clean water, along with the burning of natural gas to create another carbon emitting fuel…and so it goes on. Add to this the explosion of ‘rare’ cancers in areas where post industrial contaminated water is let back into the environment, and you have a bona fide, 100% proof environmental catastrophe on your hands. And tar sand mining is only going to increase as the world’s conventional oil wells dry up…
Despite the animation itself being rendered by the friendly hand of James Brathwaite (of I met the Walrus fame), it makes for uncomfortable viewing and in as much it does its job perfectly. Sequences are inventive and dynamic whilst tonally staying in keeping with—and never overshadowing—the subject matter.
For me, viewing this work and the trailer for the film came as a real wake-up call. I try and keep up with environmental news as best I can, yet I still thought of tar-sand mining as the institutionalized crazy uncle who’d never actually get released. After watching these clips it’s obvious that the lunatic has well and truly taken over the asylum.
Also, please remember that budgets for documentaries and specifically documentary animation are ridiculously low, especially compared to commercials and studio features. So La Moustache have almost certainly invested much of themselves into making animation of this level for a documentary film that doesn’t yet have a wide scale theatrical release.
Not so long back, commercials for seats of higher learning were composed of shots of the less scruffy bits of a campus, where clean-cut bright young things sat cross-legged on the grass sipping lattes and trading opinions on Nietzche and nebulas. Or maybe there’d be a chemistry lab shot of eager lab coated nerds heating up bubbling potions in test tubes. Either way, higher education commercials have never offered mographers the chance to flex their Wacom honed muscles, until now…
I love this spot because it essentially pokes a lot of fun at the very thing it’s advertising without denigrating it in any way. We arrive at the end of the spot having sold malls to martians, proving that for HEC graduates the sky is no limit! The film also assumes that aspiring business students must have a cracking sense of humour, which is something I was thus far un-aware of…
These Days and Finger Industries are ‘Friends of Glass’
Dutch agency These Days along with Sheffield based animation house Finger Industries have produced this heart warming viral for Friends of Glass. The animation makes up part of a well conceived campaign to encourage the use of glass over plastics and so on, because of its ability to be recycled 100%.
Hank the bottle (Although he has had many previous incarnations) acts as spokes bottle, cheer bottle and vocalist (Sorry, couldn’t squeeze ‘bottle’ in there) for his own tune which spins the yarn of his own super resilient life story.
Creating a convincing and entertaining character to head up a campaign is no easy task and in clumsy hands this can result in a head-shaking cheese-fest. But thanks to some deft lyrics writing by Paul Van Oevelen at These days and sweet animation work by Finger Industries, the result is a character and viral that really ‘warms the cockles’.
Also, make sure to check out all the letters on the accompanying website addressed to various luminaries of the showbiz world. The agency really rinse out the schwarzenegger joke that makes up the backbone of the campaign, as well coming up with a few more gems. Trying to get ‘Plastic Bertrand’ to change his name to ‘Glass Bertrand’ certainly raised a smile in the Robson household…
The “PSST!” model, loosely stated, is for each artist to create a section of video, pass it on to the next and see where it goes. The results here are stories of owls, a skate-boarding zombie girl, a gardener robot and a cult-guru and a jilted lover… Sounds like my Sunday.
I’m a big fan of this sort of “round table” collaborative affair. Differentiated aesthetics paired with a common drive can make something really eclectic and beautiful. The evidence is here. I wonder if PSST! is a pioneering model for the shape of creative things to come…Here’s hoping.
Buenos Aires based studio Punga have created two stop-motion inspired spots for Temaiken Bioparque (Biopark is apparently a PC way of saying Zoo).
Although the pieces are on ‘ones’ as opposed to ‘twos’, the grade and physical sets bring a warmth and charm that evokes the stop-motion days of yore. Patricio from Punga explains:
The idea was to create a stop-motion like piece. We took an artist to build the mockups (sets) at the studio and shot it in HDV, then using PF tracking and 3D studio max + after effects, we achieved these two funny little pieces: Chita and Mono… so what you see as scenario is not 3D, it’s paper and cardboard. The little characters are 3D
I can see that this way of working could really appeal to artists wanting to get their hands dirty with physical modeling, whilst retaining the control of CG for animation. Certainly the stop frame aesthetic seems to be resurging right now, all be it simulated by a full or partial CG execution. I know there’s been some debate over on ‘Cartoon Brew’ about Tom & Mark’s recent spot for RBC, and whether it’s fair game to use CG to re-create an art form that for many people is held very dear. IMO, if the idea and execution stand up, (As they obviously do here) then to me it’s not so important how the creators get there, but I’m no puritan…
A couple of weeks ago, back in the dark days of Motionographer 1.0 we posted Sydney based Sixty40′s showreel as a quickie. In amongst their work, this recent gem for Kmart particularly stands out as worthy of an upgrade to feature. So voila!
It’s great to watch as a studio ups their game to the next level, and with this spot sixty40 do just that. The character design particularly stands out to me. I love the helmet-sporting gorilla on the start line, and wish we could have seen some more of him in the rest of the spot. But then again with ads like this it’s all about dashing through a cool alternative reality that kids would rather live in. And that’s what the crew have delivered here; no wuckers…Good on ya fellas.
Really great copywriting and a friendly hand-made feel make this spot for Luft Logistics by Brazilian collective Monsta one of the most enjoyable commercials I’ve seen in a while. Like their previous spot for Luft, this one takes us on a whirl-wind ride through the reasons behind a scientific measurement that has it’s origins routed in some really basic and seemingly ridiculous history. The whole thing has the feeling of one of those “Did you know?” historical / factual books I read as a kid (some time in the early 1800s).
I love the fact that this spot all lives in its own space (a packing box), and the jerky, sticky-back tape feel of the motion is really endearing. I’m not in love with the heavy spot-lighting, but it does its job nicely of pulling our attention from one place to the next.
Monsta looked after art direction, illustration, filming (all done in one take) and post. The whole project took around 2 months to complete. Post was completed using AE, Poser and Cinema 4D.
Oh, and thanks to Boca for translation services. Cachaça are on me ; )
I’ve always been a sucker for a simple idea well executed. And right now I can’t think of a piece that achieves it better than this music promo by Lithuanian director Rimantas Lukavicius (korb), for Mario Basanov & Vidis feat. Jazzu, for the track “I’ll be gone”.
Taking the simple premise of using a cardiograph (Four of them to be precise) to represent different audio lines within the track, Rimantas manages to create something truly mesmerising. It’s one of those, ‘I don’t quite know why I like this so much, but I do’ pieces of work. I guess there’s something special about the piece being utterly devoid of visual clutter, and that so much currency is made from the right camera pans and cuts. It’s a ballsy move to stay with such a simple set-up throughout the whole promo and Rimantas succeeds in holding the attention without needing to introduce any further imagery. Hats off to him…
This latest instalment from Adam brings to life a series of striking paintings by Stefanie Augustine, all representing different aspects of the natural world. Says Adam:
“It is a personal piece. Honestly, the inspiration came mostly from Stefanie. She had made the first couple of paintings a while back, and when I saw them I thought they would be really great to animate. Luckily, she was kind enough to let me steal her work. i started making key-frames, and we further expanded on the idea, adding more scenes to make a more fully developed piece.
Stefanie’s sister, Alison, produced the great sound track. We’re planning to make several more animations based on the same theme, but each part may utilize different formats or technique.”
As far as I know this is Adam’s second personal project after the much-lauded ‘Lantern Fishes’. I’ve never made a secret of my appreciation of Adam’s work. To my mind he’s definitely one of THE directors to watch…
A funny thought struck me the other day whilst I was strolling through the extensive grounds of Motionographer Heights, I don’t think I’ve seen any bad work come out of Brazil. Now I’m sure there is some bad work, but everything that comes my way seems to be great. I have a theory that Sao Paulo is to design and animation what Nashville is to Guitar…
The latest case to back-up my theory is DOGDAY the portfolio site of Brazilian freelance designer, Daniel Bruson Moretti. Daniel’s site intersperses his motion work with illustration projects. His illustration work is simply put, brilliant. He seems to be able to pull-off a whole mixture of approaches and make them his own. I particularly like the way he mixes hand rendered type into his work. And I really like the way the techniques he uses in his motion projects all seem to push towards bringing his design aesthetic to life, as opposed to using techniques just for the sake of it.
Look beyond the reel and check out individual projects like ‘Dinamo Draft’ which reminds me of the sublime ‘forgetfulness’ by Julien Grey.
Most of you who know onedotzero will know them as the international event network and DVD label that has championed tomorrowâ€™s innovators in moving-image for over a decade. I think itâ€™s safe to say that onedotzero are greatly responsible for inspiring a whole generation of creatives and turning them (Me included) onto the possibilities in experimental moving-image.
For over three years now, onedotzero industries have been branching out into production work. One of their latest projects through dentsu japan, was to create short films for the Asics sponsorship of the recent Tokyo marathon. A five-way pitch coalesced into three films being made by Johnny Hardstaff, plusetplus and Seed. I especially like Seedâ€™s film and how they describe the environment with white negative space.
It will be interesting to see what comes next from onedotzero industries as a hybrid agency/production company, with the founder Shane Walters as creative director. Without doubt their position as curators of the moving-image explosion over the last 10 years gives them a unique perspective.