I’ve written about Pacifica, one my favourite studios, before and now it’s time to rave on about them some more. Their latest identity project for Troll, a post-production company based in Berlin, is a good example of a successful design originating from a really simple idea. Taking the company’s name at face value, they have utilized the fortuitously-shaped set of letters in the word Troll to create a character to represent the brand. The imagery may have fallen flat on its own, but they have taken things a welcome step further and used motion-capture technology to turn the 2D logo into an animated 3D figure. Since the character’s movements trace those of a human actor, the animation of the identity feels very fluid and natural. This little troll gives off a very amiable vibe, despite the malicious attributes of its namesake.
The friendliness of the character has been offset by gorgeously gloomy art direction from Pacifica, infusing the collateral and photography with plenty of sooty blacks and backdrops of cracked dusty stone and graveyard granite. The styling of the photoshoot conveys the mood of the brand beautifully, toying with the viewer’s imagination and drawing us into a dark, mysterious wonderland. The potential of the character is demonstrated in a little teaser, made by fellow Portuguese creatives Loopa. They collaborated with Pacifica to animate the identity, elaborating upon it in the teaser, to depict the troll emerging from a spooky forest scene. The short recently won them bronze at Cannes Lions. You can find a couple of making-of videos on Loopa’s Behance page—worth a watch!
When I first heard about Schulz’s ‘Peanuts’ getting a 3D animated feature makeover I got excited and worried at the same time. Now the first teaser trailer is out and from what I see, this is looking very promising.
Most concerns have been put to rest when I heard producer Craig Schultz (the son of Charles Schultz, creator of the original comic strips) insists on handling the legacy with respect and creating something timeless that is true to the original generations have grew up on in the US. Snoopy won’t start talking and Charley Brown won’t be Facebook chatting on an iPad.
From what I can see in the trailer, the visual style got an elegant 3D makeover that does not go overboard. The characters look exactly as you remember them, the animation style follows the jagged movements of the old cartoons and they kept textures to a minimum. Incredible restraint and a refined approach get the concept exactly right. We also have comic strip style hand-drawn movement indicator lines and circles added, which I find clever and cute.
I am excited to see how the story and the characters will turn out. The premier is a long time away, the Peanuts movie will open November 6, 2015.
Source: FOX Family Entertainment
Do you remember the movie ‘Her’ when Joaquin Phoenix played a holographic motion-sensor operated video game with an adorably foul-mouthed snowball / alien child character? It was certainly one of the highlights in the film so I have embedded a recap of the scene (warning, explicit language — but cute).
Well, the visual artist David OReilly — who created the concept and animation for the game in the film — is releasing his first indie game called ‘Mountain’.
It is a mountain simulator built on the Unity engine. What. The. Heck. — you ask? It is actually a quite clever concept. The game starts off with a couple of intimate questions trying to dig into your psyche. Answering the questions you are eventually drawing up a mountain that is a reflection of you at that moment. Then the mountain will come to life, running in the background on your computer. Changing, evolving. You’ll see the change of weather, things grow and die as time moves ahead. You’ll witness nature expressing itself, yourself. There are no control functions in this game, but there is a rich soundscape, weather simulation and 50 hours of ‘gameplay’ that ‘has an ending’.
Intrigued? I am!! Fortunately don’t have to wait too long as ‘Mountain’ will be released on the 21st of June for around $1. It’ll run on PC, Mac and iOS.
Images / video: Annapurna Pictures, http://www.davidoreilly.com/
This darkly poignant but beautiful short film is by Natasha Belle, who recently completed a Graduate Diploma of Creative Technologies at Media Design School. The animation tells a tragic tale of a young bear, captured by poachers as a cub and forever-fated to perform in a circus. There has been a lot of media around orcas held in captivity lately, with SeaWorld getting an increasingly bad rep after the brilliant documentary Blackfish was released in 2013. Free is yet another example, albeit fictional in this particular case, of the cruelty of keeping wild animals in captivity for entertainment. The simple but effective story tracks the experience of a bear who is being treated meanly in a circus, as he recalls the pleasant memories of being out in the wild with his mother, and the moment he was captured. Finally, he has enough, attacking his keeper in a final attempt at regaining freedom.
The animation is rendered in lovely, soft watercolour hues when our protagonist drifts into a reverie, with grungier, darker textures illustrating the unsavory circus environment. There are some gorgeous moments set in the grassy plains. This beautiful gentle backdrop gets disrupted with the figure of a poacher, which is abrasive and crude in comparison—a nice contrast. I really like the transitions between the bear’s reality, memories and what appears to be a deservedly peaceful afterlife.
The animation may seem hand-drawn upon first glance, but Natasha went through a very interesting process in achieving this style. Intent upon translating the fluidity of hand-painted animation by computer generated means, she combined the different techniques by printing out the characters’ UV maps, hand-painting each piece and feeding them back into the software to create a wrap around the figures. Phew, all this in four months! The resulting animation style reminds me of Alexander Petrov’s Old Man and the Sea, which was created by physically painting layers upon sheets of glass. It’s interesting to see how old and new technologies can combine to achieve similar effects and Natasha Bell’s exploration is a lovely example.
Life is Beautiful’s protagonist is a particularly wretched character. About four times shorter than the slim inhabitants of his city, he skulks about with a hopeless demeanor. I bet that we have all felt lonely, slighted or lost at some point in our lives, but hopefully not to this extent. He gets kicked around, his existence unrecognised by those around him—there is a particularly comical, but cringe-worthy elevator scene where this is made clear. This guy is easy to sympathize with, especially after the clever introduction to his life up to this point, in a comprehensive pan across a wall of unfortunate childhood photos.
After miserably making his way about his day, he decides to end it all at the top of a skyscraper. Even this final undertaking doesn’t quite go smoothly. Taking on a heavy subject like this is very difficult, but the director Ben Brand does it well. The short is tragicomedy throughout and, while it gives us some serious things to ponder, it manages to stay light. When he dies, our character is beamed up to space to join thousands of other spirits on their journey towards the unknown. However, his after-life doesn’t free him of his troubles—an important detail. And I like it that the ending is open ended—nobody knows what happens when we die after all! But, this 3D short makes a worthy attempt at contemplating the possibilities. Watch it, and then check out the Facebook page for some great behind-the-scenes images.