Category Archives: animation

Nike | Go Lighter, Go Longer: ManvsMachine

I’ve been a huge fan of design and motion studio ManvsMachine for years, and their latest award winning project for Nike goes to show that they’ve undoubtedly still got it! Winning the only UK design studio gold at Cannes Lions 2017, they explored the created a “metaphorical exploration of air and the negative space it occupies”.
The campaign was created for the new Nike Air Max, exploring negative space with a colour scheme I’ve totally fallen in love with.

The designs work flawlessly as both a motion piece (above) and as 2D images (below). The campaign has been executed across numerous mediums including social media, DOOH, billboards and product packaging. I am obsessed.

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Meet Julia: Sesame Street’s First Autistic Character

Sesame Street is incredibly nostalgic for me – I used to watch it every lunch time with my mother whilst eating shepherds pie after a morning at pre-school. Random. Anyway, Sesame Street is a truly iconic American show that seems as immortal and recognisable as The Simpsons. The difference between this and other kids shows is that Sesame Street was created (in 1969) as an experiment with the intention of finding out whether television could be used to educate young children. We now know how influential both TV shows and adverts can be on children. Since, they’ve written story lines ranging from basic learning skills to race issues and even coping with death.
On April 10th, “Sesame Street” aired the special episode “Meet Julia” on HBO to introduce viewers to their newest character. Julia was created as part of the ‘Sesame Workshop’ (the non-profit educational organisation behind Sesame Street), alongside their autism initiative, Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children’For years, Sesame Street received requests from parents to feature storylines surrounding autism, so Stacey Gordon (plays ‘Julia’, below) and Christine Ferraro (the writer of the “Meet Julia” episode) who both have close family relationships helped bring this character to life. Stacey was uniquely placed to take on the job as her son has autism: “Had my son’s friends been exposed to his behaviours through something they had seen on TV before they experienced them in the classroom, they might not have been frightened. They might not have been worried when he cried. They would have known that he plays in a different way and that that’s OK.”

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A common concern amongst parents of autistic children is how their peers will understand, communicate with them and treat them. As autism has such a broad spectrum, the team wanted to ensure that Julia was represented based on extensive research into common traits of kids with learning difficulties.

Bringing Julia to life as a Sesame Street Muppet is the centrepiece of all of our new materials to support families of children with autism. The response from the autism community to See Amazing in all Children has been extraordinary, and we are committed to continuing our efforts to promote understanding and acceptance of autism, as part of our mission of helping all children grow smarter, stronger, and kinder – Sherrie Westin, EVP of Global Impact and Philanthropy, Sesame Workshop

Although the team were cautious regarding the representation of such a broad learning difficulty in just one character, writer Christine wants Julia to exist as herself, rather than be known as “the autistic one”. Aside from this, the main aim is to teach viewers about inclusion, understanding and patience. I don’t know if it’s the childhood personal tie I have with Sesame Street, but watching the intro video above actually made me quite emotional – the way in which Julia is represented is so endearing and gentle, with Big Bird patiently trying to understand all the facts about her learning difficulty. Scenes include Julia meeting new people, the relation between autism and eye contact, common physical reactions like “flapping”, becoming overwhelmed when she hears sirens and the heartwarming scene where they all join in on Julia’s version of ‘tag’.

The most important part of this well-written storyline is how they have steered away from Julia’s differences being the source of confusion or fear, and instead created the narrative to focus on the rest of the muppets enjoying their relationships and having fun. Whilst parts of Julia’s behaviour were clearly explained to Big Bird and the viewers, the main focus was on integrating Julia into the group, like all the other muppets. My heart has melted!
It just goes to show that whilst TV can be a very scary place for easily influenced children, creatives and marketers can use their platform to educate in a way that has never been done before.

 

P.S. take a look at the comments on the YouTube video – lots of users have praised the creation of Julia as something they wish they could have seen on TV as children.
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Aardman | Morph: emoji stickers for iMessage

Aardman’s ‘Morph’ is a serious trip down memory lane for me – a real childhood favourite on SMart, and an immortal TV icon. Animation studio Aardman have previously released ‘Face Bomb’ stickers for iMessage to celebrate 40 years of animation history in 2016:

Now, they have released ‘eMorphjis’ for iMessage as animated stickers that can be sent as emojis or incorporated into photos:

The Face Bomb sticker pack looks like it works better as face filters on photos, rather than emojis. What makes Morph so perfect for this social campaign is his recognisable face and adorable emotive expressions. Also, Morph as a character is a universal face that on TV often replied to presenter Tony Hart in gobbledygook, but with meaningful gestures that could be understood by all ages and languages.
Morph co-creator Peter Lord made each of the emojis from modelling clay before graphics and animations were added:

When someone said to me; ‘We could do Morph emojis’ it was like this huge lightbulb going on. Of course. That’s just perfect! Morph has a lovely round face and he does great expressions; he really is like a living emoji. Who wouldn’t want Morph’s happy (and sometimes grumpy) face all over their messages? Bless him. So I jumped on the idea, and I’m so happy with the way they’ve worked out, they’re really funny and charming.

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All the Things

Motion Designer Chris Guyot worked with 3D Designer Paul McMahon (‘The Rusted Pixel’) on this bizarre and colourful animation. ‘All The Things’ is a “collection of individual narratives, unified by a cohesive style.” It’s interesting to read about the concept behind each narrative, but even without any back story I like the random compilation of scenes.

The full creative process can be viewed here on Behance.

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D&AD Identity 2017: The Beautiful Meme

Agency ‘The Beautiful Meme’ have been commissioned by D&AD again to design the creative for the 2017 D&AD Festival. The iconic D&AD Pencils have been animated alongside textures, designed to individually represent the award levels or categories from the D&AD Professional Awards.

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Ben Haworth, Creative Director says:

In advertising and design the D&AD pencil, the symbol of excellence, is ever-present. Around it the industry is weft and warp and flux. Nothing stays still and that’s as it should be. That’s what this year’s identity is about.

This amalgamation of 3D, geometry and motion design is proving to be a very popular design trend, and this has to be my favourite identity for D&AD to date. I particularly love the black Pencil above as it’s using just one colour (bar the yellow D&AD logo), which also happens to be my favourite colour… Also, the animation reflects the popular gif culture that has taken over the art and design world, with the designs working well as both statics and animations.

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The Boy Who Fell and the Man Who Picked Him Up Again

Illustrator and animator Hanne berkaak collaborated with the Norwegian leading professional organisation in psychological trauma, RVTS Sør, for an animation about self-harm. RVTS Sør work with those experiencing violence and traumas, migration health issues, and suicide prevention. Their primary goal is to ensure that those in need of support are met by conscious and competent professionals in all areas of the health services, with dignity and care.

This topic is really hard to tackle without creating something really obvious, or cringe-worthy, or untrue, or triggering. The list goes on! Hanne has managed to convey the struggles with self harm in an imaginative, relatable and warm way. As someone who is open about my own mental health and self harm addiction, Hanne has created something that I find incredibly relatable, totally appropriate and not like anything I’ve ever seen for this sort of topic. I also like the way in which the adult is portrayed – he is not hysterical or accusatory – which is how the adult confided in usually reacts (from my experience). Hanne portrays the teacher who clearly goes the extra mile for the boy, in a sensitive and calm way. Using muted colours contrasted with bold reds, she represents the physical cuts metaphorically without being distasteful or graphic.

Hanne said:

Doing research for the project, I found that children and teenagers often could remember that one person who did something out of the ordinary and made a huge difference. The film tries to encourage professional support workers to have the courage to meet traumatised children in a dignified way, not as clients, but as humans.

Hanne brought her emotional illustration to life with the help of lead animator My Eklund and producers from Mikrofilm.

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FOX Channel’s Pop-Up Tattoo Studio

Last year, FOX Channel teamed up with creative studio Black Ship to create a tattoo studio, where fans of their shows such as The Simpsons, The Walking Dead, Family Guy, Prison Break, Futurama, American Horror Story, American Dad, How I Met Your Mother etc. could get inked with their favourite characters. The studio was created for last year’s Comic Con Portugal, lasting 4 days, consisting of 4 local artists (from Heavy Handers Tattoo studio) who designed more than 80 tattoo options related to the wellknown series of FOX and FOX Comedy.
The ink was free, resulting in over 100 people receiving their favourite characters, logos, objects and quotes of their chosen FOX series. Those who were too slow to book a place were able to watch via livestream on social networks.

Now that’s a bold (and permanent) idea for a campaign! Great video editing by Black Ship.

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Vicious Cycle

Vicious Cycle by Michael Marczewski features a group of robots performing a range of repetitive functions. Driven by mechanical devices, the machines speed up and the robots struggle to cope. Aside from the bizarre and mesmerizing animation, I love the colours and typeface Michael used for this animation!
You can watch the making of here.

Of course Michael works as a motion designer at ManvsMachine! What a guy.

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Spotlight: Fyn Ng

In a world where flat colour and long shadows are the go-to design trends, motion designer Fyn Ng has turned design on its head. Playing with 2D UI, Fyn has created stunning 3D versions of everyday technology.
Fyn mixes texture, nature and everyday objects to create surreal 3D narratives using brands like Google, Facebook and Apple.

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Looking on his portfolio, I actually prefer his daily 3D renders, weekly series project over his professional work. What a great collection of downtime work! Check out his Instagram for more.

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Mainframe: For Approval

Look at those renders. Motion Graphics studio Mainframe took an idea for a downtime project by using recognised objects and movements, and turned them on their head. For Approval is a combination of seamless motion graphics elevated by the work of sound designer Max Greening. Chris Hardcastle (Mainframe, Manchester) says that the concept was “simply to subvert the physical properties of objects and materials and have some fun with a viewer’s expectations of how those things should behave”.

I could literally watch this on loop all day. Also, love the art direction.

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