UPDATE: The making of video is up, and it’s simply astounding:
The style and content harkens back to classic English illustrated children’s books, and the campaign extends to other platforms such as interactive ebook, classic kids book and an Ipad app. I love the blend of 2D characters against the background which I’m guessing is a combination of miniature and 3D backgrounds.
From the press release: ‘The marriage of traditional hand-drawn 2D animation with stop-frame model animation creates a tangible world full of texture and detail that conveys the honesty behind the John Lewis Christmas message.’
If you haven’t already watched Matthias Hoegg’s latest short, “Upstairs,” now is a good time to sink your eyes into it. If you’ve already seen it, watch it again. It rewards repeat viewings.
The short looks at the ways our imaginations run wild when given the slightest bit of sensory input — and how sometimes we don’t want to know the truth, even when it’s attainable.
Hoegg has a knack for crafting clever visual systems that act like narrative engines, pushing stories forward with a language of design. His characters operate in a playful space between iconography and naturalism that makes for unique, memorable experiences.
“Upstairs” was created for Random Acts on Channel 4 through Not To Scale.
Also make sure to check out Hoegg’s BAFTA-nominated “Thursday.”
Jonathan Jarvis burst onto the scene (or at least onto Motionographer’s homepage) back in 2009, when he created an extremely helpful 10-minute animation, “The Crisis of Credit Visualized.” The short film used iconographic imagery, concise narration and simple animation to explain how the 2008 credit debacle began. In addition to clearing up a lot of confusion, it was a powerful example of motion design’s ability to inform and educate general audiences about topics that might otherwise be impenetrable.
Jonathan is back, this time partnering with Ray Dalio, founder of the investment firm Bridgewater Associates — who, incidentally, had been raising the alarm about the 2008 crisis well before the actual catastrophe struck. At a staggering 30 minutes in length, “How the Economic Machine Works” (above) is based on an educational project authored by Dalio. It introduces general audiences to a cyclical model of the economy, which Dalio says is foundational to his success.
UPDATE: Props to studio Thornberg & Forester, who helped with concepting and handled all the animation, and Big Foote, who tackled the music and sound design. Sustaining the level of detail and clarity required for this project is no small feat.
While prepping for an upcoming article that I’m writing for Computer Arts magazine, I asked Jonathan Jarvis to explain why motion design is so well suited to explaining complex material like Dalio’s paper.
Jonathan Jarvis on motion design, “explainer” videos and the role of simplicity
Motion design works well for explaining complex concepts because it forces distillation. You have these concentrated visuals that communicate very quickly. The distilled visuals serve as anchors that take the heavy descriptive lifting off the narration’s shoulders, freeing it up to focus on the big picture. The narration describes some of the less tangible concepts that are difficult to visualize, and prevents the visuals from having to illustrate absolutely everything.
Pairing graphics with narration gives you a ‘the whole is more than the sum of the parts’ effect. A good animated explainer with have the narration and graphics compliment each other:
The visuals keep the details clear and the narration keeps the big picture clear.
Motion design is more effective than footage of talking heads for explaining complex concepts because the visuals are more informative and provide a better compliment to the narration. Talking head footage is mostly redundant to the narration. Imagine a video of someone talking and describing a collateralized debt obligation vs. an animated diagram of a collateralized debt obligation with the same description used as narration.
The sound design, music, and style of the graphics also play a big role. In an effort to let you focus on the big picture, I try to make every character and action look, sound, and act consistently. As the animation progresses, the characters and actions become familiar and (hopefully) intuitive. I want you to focus on the context and relationships between them instead of trying to remember who they are.
That’s one of the reasons I use very simple, graphic styles. Each character should use as little detail as possible to represent a concept. It’s the relationships between the characters and concepts that I’m trying to communicate: this-makes-that-happen. The characters aren’t the stars, the relationships between them are.
It’s different from a data-visualization. I actually try to keep numbers out of my pieces as often as possible. I try to aim for something more akin to information design or ‘knowledge design’ as I sometime call it.
Anyway, those are a few reasons I think motion design is special and has huge, barely tapped potential to help explain complex concepts, make the intangible tangible and help us understand our complicated world.
Director/animator Jeff Le Bars has an impeccable eye for composition and color, as his Emile Cohl 2012 graduation film “Carn” proves.
But the real magic of “Carn” is its story — an aspect of filmmaking most young directors struggle with. Built on a simple, fable-like structure, “Carn” ticks along with satisfying, grim precision until its fateful conclusion. The pacing, like the layout, is spare and artful, brimming with tension achieved through subtraction, not addition.
The music and sound design from Spectral Approche beautifully underscore the film’s emotional power.
Hat tip to Ash Thorp.
Columbus-based Leftchannel has been plugging away for over 10 years, but it’s been a while since we’ve posted them on Motionographer.
Their recently launched opener for the 2013 motion Conference, which kicks off this Friday in Albuquerque, breaks that silence. It’s a delightful typographic romp seasoned with cute character work and a couple visual surprises that make it worthy of repeat viewing.
Leftchannel’s Creative Director Alberto Scirocco will also be presenting three sessions at motion 2013.
As a follow up to our earlier post regarding the debut of Bot & Dolly’s mind-boggling short, “Box,” (above) we’re sharing an interview with the team as well as a behind the scenes video produced with The Creators Project.
Behind the Scenes
Interview with Bot & Dolly’s Tarik Abdel Gawad, Creative and Technical director on “Box”
Can you please confirm for our readers that none of the box visuals were comped in post?
Yes, this is a capture of a physical performance. The visuals are not added in post.
Where did the idea for this project come from? Was it commissioned?
Box is an internal project that grew naturally out the the intersection of art and technology at Bot & Dolly. We have a great interdisciplinary team of designers and engineers that made the project possible.
From the start, the exploration of classical magic fit with our creative process. Magicians have a long history of mixing technology with performance and the categories of classical magic were perfect inspiration for the geometric illusions in Box.
Can you tell us a little more about the robots? What are those robots normally used for?
The spec sheets on the Bot & Dolly website are the best source of information on our robots.
How did you work out the choreography between the performer and the robots?
Working out the choreography was a process of rehearsal and iteration. For mainly practical reasons it was actually me performing. I had the most experience operating the robots, and since this was an internal project, rehearsals often took place at night. Each robot weighs around one and a half tons so it takes awhile to get comfortable moving around them, and safety is important.
Check out some of the process below. Plus, there’s a 2-part interview on the D&AD website.
Just to make sure you understand what you’re seeing: The above video is documentation of a live performance. I’ve been assured there was no compositing in post-production. It’s all live.
Bot & Dolly calls their combination of robotic arms and projection mapping a “kinematic projection platform.”
Tarik Abdel-Gawad, Creative Director at Bot & Dolly explains the setup: “Through large-scale robotics, projection mapping and software engineering, audiences will witness the trompe l’oeil effect pushed to new boundaries.”
For the animated content, Bot & Dolly brought on none other than Bradley G Munkowitz, no stranger to Motionographer. His trademark attention to detail is on full display in every frame of the project.
Update: I neglected to give props to the outstanding work on the music and sound design from Keith Ruggiero/Sounds Red. Without audio, there’d be little motivation for the performance.
Interview coming soon…
“Coin” begins as a rather humble homage to fighting games of yesteryear, an 8-bit nod at nostalgia with lovingly crafted keyframes.
Then things get awesome.
More than just an epic fight scene, “Coin” is an odyssey told through the language of kicking ass. While mopping up the screen with hundreds of foes, the short’s hero journeys underwater, into outer space, through the belly of a whale and into the circles of hell. There are plenty of references to video games from my childhood, but even without that esoteric knowledge, it’s a wildly fun ride.
“Coin” was directed and animated by Chris Burns (Exit 73 Studios) with music, sound design and compositing by Bob Fox.