IBM: Ninjas vs Superbugs

1st Avenue Machine’s Nico Casavecchia broke out the paper and glue for his latest directorial effort, a quirky short promoting IBM’s work in bioengineering.

This spot is fiercely hybrid, mixing puppets and physical objects with traditional animation and CG. Mr. Casavecchia was kind enough to explain some of his process and some production work with us.

Nico Casavecchia on making “Ninjas vs Superbugs”

I tried to focus the resources we had and come up with a system that could allow us to tell the story with minimal resources. I decided to use a chessboard system in 3 sizes, this allowed me to recycle the landscape depending on the shot value. Close ups would be done in the small board, and wider angle shots in the biggest.

We created different props to match the sizes of the boards, so we had the little boots of MRSA for the wider angle moments, and a giant boot to fit the small board, when the ninjas cut his leg off. The props were created using a combination of techniques, some of them were traditionally sculpted and painted, like the kid and the cells, boots and doctors office, and the MRSA and Ninja polymers were 3d printed, due to the amount of detail required.

The hand made props were created by Tilburs & Gazz in Buenos Aires, they did an amazing job with the finishing.

We puppeted the props and used a free-motion, hand-held camera to achieve the shots, pretty much what you could expect in a live action shoot.

Back in NY, we shot the piece and worked on the animation locally in 1stAvenue Machine, adding details, additional characters and effects.

“Ninjas vs Superbugs” is a follow up to another interesting project for IBM directed by Casavecchia, a “Boy and His Atom” (full Q&A), the first animation ever produced at the scale of an atom.

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Moth Collective: Amazonia Security Agenda & Sarah’s Story


London-based Moth Collective (David Prosser, Marie-Margaux Tsakiri-Scanatovits, Daniel Chester and sound designer Joe Tate) recently released work for two causes – the Amazonia Security Agenda and the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children).


For more about the making of the Amazonia Security Agenda, check out the excellent interview with Moth Collective by Rob Munday at Director’s Notes.

Sarah’s Story matches voiceover of a victim of abuse with a single POV shot out a train window. The landscape evolves to match the protagonist’s tale. I love how the illustrative style parallaxes and layers. The wind and rain in particular feel visceral.

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Haynes “Beans”

This mock commercial is just too much fun not to share. I only wish real clients had the guts (pun intended) to fund this kind of work.

Cinesite created this project as a showcase for their artists. With superb comedic timing, lushly rendered animation and brilliant creature work, I’d say it’s a slam dunk. The short was written and directed by Animator Alvise Avati and produced by Animation Director Eamonn Butler.

Cinesite on the look development:

The look of the lunar environment is based on NASA film footage and actual lunar photography. Eamonn says, “At the start, the film is quite serious in tone and then it develops, becoming more dramatic as it progresses before ending on a surprise. To support this, the environment needed to be photo-realistic. We also wanted to push the animation and effects as far as we could to make the film as dramatic as possible before the payoff.

Tip o’ the hat to Todd Akita.

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Main Road Post: Stalingrad VFX Reel

Stalingrad is a Russian WWII drama directed by Fedor Bondarchuk. Main Road Post, headquartered in Moscow, is responsible for all the VFX work on this film.

Impactist: Cartoon Network “Halloween” and “Winter Holiday” Bumps


Love that Cartoon Network Summer Video? CMYK alums Impactist (aka Kelly Meador and Daniel Elwing) put together eight Halloween-themed promos for Cartoon Networks shows using characters and themes from each series. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE. Nine winter-themed promos plus a new Impactist music track, Wintertone!

Carl Krull: Walker


We’ve posted Carl Krull‘s beautiful time-lapse drawings before. Love the camera motion in Walker, a spot made for a campaign focused on traffic safety. Sound by Simon Steen-Andersen.

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Louis Morton: Passer Passer


Synaesthesia? Yes, please. Louis Morton‘s Passer Passer caught my eye in Cartoon Brew’s excellent Sundance coverage. It kicks off with echoes of Oskar Fischinger, but then compellingly walks the line between representational and abstract images, layering them visually with the elastic logic that works best in animation. Amazing sound design provided by Katie Gately.

For more of Louis’s work, check out Shape Dance (co-directed with Amy Lee Ketchum, the deliciously physical Adobe First Frame opener (embedded below), and more synaesthesia in Platter.


Hat tip to Cartoon Brew.

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Alan Poon, Eric Malika, Robin Nishio: Tim Horton’s “Coffee Art”


coffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffee FRESH POTS!!! Toronto-based Common Good and directors Alan Poon, Eric Malika, and Robin Nishio use coffee to tell the story of coffee at Tim Horton’s.

Interest piqued by sand animation? Check out the work of Corrie Francis Park, Caroline Leaf and Cesar Díaz Meléndez.

Hat tip to the DragonFrame Blog.

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Animation for a Cause

Nicely timed with the giving season, Mexico City-based designer/animator Yaniv Fridman has launched Animation for a Cause, a nonprofit dedicated to creating short explanatory motion graphics projects for social causes that need a voice. All for free.

Animation for a Cause acts as a matchmaker of sorts, pairing up charities with studios and individuals who get paid to design, animate, narrate and create sound design the projects. The money comes from donations to Animation for a Cause.

Nonprofits wishing to have their message animated apply online and submit a script of roughly 180 words. Then, Animation for a Cause’s board reviews the submissions and chooses which one to produce. The more funds on hand, the more they can produce.

So far, Animation for a Cause has produced two videos, including the introductory video above, directed by Yaniv Fridman.

The second video for Fundación Ofakim’s Child Care Center was directed by Sebas & Clim. Flow Audio handled music and sound design for both projects.

Both videos sport a clean, flat aesthetic that’s become popular for so-called “explainer” videos on the web. The animation whisks the viewer from concept to concept with cascading visual metaphors and silky transitions.

Karni and Saul: The Staves “Winter Trees”


London-based Karni and Saul blend beautiful compositing with peculiar creatures inspired by laser-cut wood in this music video for The Staves’ Winter Trees.

For more woodcut-goodness, check out Nando Costa’s The New America and the work of Huntergatherer.

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