The Drought Continues

I don’t know. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m being too picky. Maybe I’m burned out. But whatever the reason, I haven’t been knocked on my ass by a mograph piece in a while. Is anyone else feeling this way? Maybe it’s a global phenomenon… something to do with the climate change, perhaps…

Oh well, keep on truckin’, right?

Buck at FITC

I love that FITC is putting the presentations from this year’s conference on their website. It’s great advertising for their future events.

One such presentation of note is the Buck session given by Ryan Honey and Orion Tait. I like their honesty and willingness to talk openly about the process of working from brief to final product. It’s obvious from their presentation that Buck has a genuine commitment to creativity; it’s not just a bullshit promise made in the heat of a pitch.

(Via mograph. Thanks, Ryan.)

Birdwatching on “Harrowdown Hill”

In case it’s not painfully obvious, birdsâ€â€?specifically eagles, crows and crow-like birdsâ€â€?are the new deer heads of motion graphics. That’s not a bash against the Thom Yorke “Harrowdown Hill” video from director Chel White at Bent Image Lab. It’s just an observation. Birds are hot. Get ’em while you can.


In all fairness to Bent Image Lab, their usage of a bird is clearly related to the tilt-shift photography in the first half of the video. The second half of the video unfortunately doesn’t really jive with the first half, and the bird starts to lose its relevance amidst muddy imagery of protests, police brutality and an apparently drowned Thom Yorke. Towards the end, the video starts to feel like four or five videos mashed together.

I would have liked to see more of the first half approach. I think that a meditation on the miniaturization effect that tilt-shift photography creates would have produced some interesting ideas about how we, as members of democratic societies riddled by fears of terrorism (I’m thinking mainly of the US and the UK) have miniaturized ourselves (and our civil liberties) by putting ourselves under the supposedly protective gaze of our governments.

Maybe that’s what the bird is supposed to represent. But if so, its meaning is clouded and ultimately lost by the end of the piece.

Incidentally, there is a history of animal exploitation in graphic design and motion graphics: Lions and eagles (in family crests and the rash of family cresty logos around 2000), squirrels (in just about everything from the ’90s), the aforementioned deer headsâ€â€?the list is long and probably includes most of the animal kingdom, if you go back far enough. I predict that the duck-billed platypus will take the place of the bird in a couple months’ time.

Speaking of trends, one theory I have is that the lifetime of a trend is bookended by two outstanding usages of that trend. The first outstanding usageâ€â€?the birth of the trend, so to speakâ€â€?is noteworthy because it’s new and excitingâ€â€?some may say innovative, but that sounds like we’re talking about vacuum cleaners. This birth moment is not necessarily the first time the trend is used, it’s the first time the trend is used really well.

The second outstanding usage is the death of the trend. (Or at least it should be the death of the trend.) This is the time when some studio or individual takes the trend to its logical end and makes something so beautiful and stunning that everything else afterwards will be regarded as second-rate hackery.

With regards to the bird trend, I’d say Psyop’s MTVHD piece was the “birth” of the trend. The death… well, I think the death hasn’t happened yet. There are still flocks and flocks of birds to come.

Okay, I’ve let myself go on entirely too long. I can’t wait to read the comments on this post.

About the author

Justin Cone

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.



That’s it. I’m starting my own trend… yeti. Yeti everywhere. Now THAT’S good mograph.


Yeti have been done, dude. Geoff McFetridge totally pimped out Yeti like three or four years ago. Sorry, man.


I live in Portland. I also know some of the people that worked on this spot. Yes, birds are taking over…. but, its already kinda dated here. Birds were the hot shit on every local fashion designer, poster maker, graffiti kid for like 2 years here. So theyre just playing off of what they saw for the last few years, including the stencil on the wall bit.

I really dont like this piece. i agree with you justin that its like a mashup. it kinda feels like

a. tom yorke started sticking his fingers into the pot, because the song is about the weapons inspector killing himself, hence the protest scenes.


b. 5 different studios collaborated, and forgot to talk to each other with what they were doing.

i think animals are as much a trend as ink in water, spray drips, pink, rainbows, blah…. it only becomes cool, because we havnt seen it for so long, and its a feeling of nostalgia that makes it awesome to us.



it was only a matter of time before someone used the ’tilt-shift’ effect on video. Came out pretty well in this, but it could be pushed so much further. I like justin’s point about it being tied into the concept. Had that been the case, this video could have been really really good.

I love they created a visual element from the process of stop motion with the hands on the bird.


There is a film by David Russo that was part of the Animation Show called “Pan With Us” It is the stop motion bird. I think there are actual pieces of that movie in the Thom Yorke video.

Bruce Allen

What about “There There”? Birds in that one were cool. I think crows actually jumped the shark on the Louis XIV “Finding Out True Love is Blind” video (the US version, not the UK version). Or else that Mars Volta video?



i think if you look at all the work thats been put out. StarDust’s Nissan “Soar” spot was out before the Psyop MTV piece. So to state that Psyop was the “birth” place of the birds transformation thing…is a bit over the edge.


Damn, how could I forget “Soar”?

Well, there goes my theory. :(


Justin don’t be sad. Your theory is correct.
It was simply a short trend.
StarDust gave life…Psyop took life.
It’s official, “The birds are dead, the birds are dead.”


Anyone care to briefly define “tilt-shift photography” for us n00bs?


its a lens that turns and twists so that you can change your point of interest where ever you want.



mmm, there have been series of Coke stuff that was just done, (And apparantly the Psyop Coke didnt impress you, wow, you even did an interview with them about it) there was a series of Adidas stuff just done, i can go on and on….
Maybe you need to get yourself a copy of STASh justin… or lay off the weeddizzle.
Does Motionographer have a headquarters? I can send you a copy


bent image has the worst fucking website EVAR. i can’t even get the link to work, is anyone else having trouble with this?

PennyDreadful seems to be working fine for me.

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