Monthly Archives: November 2015

Playgrounds Festival 2015 – Day 3

by Maurice Vinken / www.kleurstof.eu

by Maurice Vinken / http://www.kleurstof.eu

White Noise Lab (US)

Roger Lima, sound designer and initiator of White Noise Lab, and creator of the music of the Open Titles of this year’s Playgrounds Festival, shows the best of his portfolio. From commercial to personal projects, from the sound design of short films to that of experimental ones. He especially casts a light on his project “Specialized Beats”, a personal project inspired by a bike to make any kind of sound and mix it into an interesting composition. He later used this idea to design a very creative advertisement playing with the parts of a car. This is a perfect example of how creativity can be fed by personal, artistic, and non-commercial works. He finishes his talk with the statement: “Sound design is also music”. With this phrase he shows the passion that he puts into his work, and how this passion is reflected on to his projects.

Vincent Lammers (NL)

Vincent Lammers – designer, illustrator and animation director – mainly talks about his experience as an intern at Buck (creative agency based in the USA), and later as an animation director at The Ambassadors. He explains his work for Mona, a stop-motion animation currently screened on Dutch broadcasting channels. What struck me in this project were the character design and the timing of the animation. The stage and background are inspired by a traditional Dutch house, which serves to create a connection with the public to which the advertisement refers. Vincent also suggests that sometimes it is necessary to take a break during the workflow, in order to see everything from a fresh perspective. Among his suggestions: taking a walk, talking to someone, or most of all, start smoking!

GMUNK

20151106_Playgrounds_LR_069_9827The afternoon program started with Bradley G. Munkowitz, or GMUNK. In his two hour long presentation, the San Francisco based artist entertained the audience by alternating irreverent gifs with inspiring advice for young creative professionals. GMUNK has worked in the visual communication field, creating commercials, graphic design, artistic installations, music videos, and a lots of other visual projects. What really transpires from his work is his strong experimental attitude that allows him to boldly experiment with light, geometry, technology, and music. One of his obsessions, he explained, is to recreate the things he sees while high on drugs: optical illusions, colored geometries, ‘trippy’ images that constantly move and change, impossible figures. And creating these things makes the creative work fun, it’s what keeps your brain awake, what allows you to constantly evolve. His talk and his work prove exactly this point: being creative, as GMUNK explains, is about always trying to enjoy what you’re doing. And if your work doesn’t satisfy you, create something on your own, even something ‘meaningless’, because eventually that is the work that’s going to attract the attention of clients. Furthermore, constantly experimenting is going to help you step out of your comfort zone, and grow from a professional and artistic point of view.

MPC (UK)

Animation and VFX studio MPC show us mainly the process to create the advertisement for IKEA ‘Fly Robot Fly’. Their talk goes into the details of the production process: from the inspiration and creating the concept, to more technical issues, explaining what it’s like to deal with artists and producers to pitch the project. From general topics like costume design and background integration, to very specific ones like the composition in Nuke, or the rendering of the clouds with Turbulence FD in Cinema 4D, we get a glimpse of what went on at the background of such a production. MPC also took time to explain how the collaboration with the concept artist was, explaining the process of making changes until they get exactly what they think is necessary for each project.

Last but not the least the Closing Party hosted by The Ambassadors took place, where everyone could relax and chill a bit after a packed program full of inspiration. Some of us interviewed the guests of the festival briefly, but mostly people were enjoying a beer and getting into the DJ set.

Even after the festival ended, the spirit of the festival remained with us, reminding us to create work you want to do and believe in, staying true to who you are.

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Playgrounds Festival 2015 – Day 2

by Maurice Vinken / www.kleurstof.eu

by Maurice Vinken / http://www.kleurstof.eu

Moving from Breda, the second day of the Festival is set in the fascinating Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam. Surrounded by the elegant atmosphere of this theater, a new fresh wave of inspiring talks is about to begin, starting with:

2VEINTE

One of the most important animation studios in Latin America, 2Veinte, shows us their unique style: a mix of synthetic motion graphic design from Germany, and the irreverent style of the US. They get their energy from abandoning forms, create offensive concepts and crazy color schemes, which undoubtedly influenced many animators in Latin America and in the rest of the world. 2Veinte is specialized in morphing, and has brought this technique to an extraordinary level. It’s also worth to mention the character design that 2Veinte has developed, from robots that try to destroy a city, to amorphous creatures leaking on the floor.

MARSHMALLOW LASER FEAST

Another really interesting collective that is part of Playgrounds is Marshmallow Laser Feast from London. The group’s approach is based on a continuous investigation of the relationship between shape, sound, motion, and the connection with the human perspective. For MLF storytelling is about interaction. By allowing the user to take part in the installation itself, he/she feels more connected to the story.

by Maurice Vinken / www.kleurstof.eu

by Maurice Vinken / http://www.kleurstof.eu

At Playgrounds, Barney Steel and Robin McNicholas presented their new work, ‘In the Eyes of the Animals’, a virtual reality installation that enables the viewer to experience the animal perspective when exploring the forest. The installation, as they explained, was originally set in a forest in which the trees were mapped, and then recreated in a 360° virtual world using a system of particles constantly changing in size according to the viewers perspective. The most fascinating thing about this project was that, since the trees mapped in the VR experience were actually the ones that were in the surroundings of the original installation, the viewer eventually recognizes the space and associates it with the experience. What we as humans find interesting, Robin says, is the change of perspective. So in experiencing the animals’ point of view, our perception of our own world totally changes. MLF really test the possibility of virtual reality experiences, reinterpreting the world in an effective, non-realistic way.
They explain that in order to do what they like, they have to do what they jokingly call “prostitution”: working for the commercial field. But their artistic approach is always visible, even in spots like the one for McLaren. Here the shape of the car is visualized through light beams that simulate the wind flow. These commercial projects are fundamental in order to survive in a creative environment — eventually you always need to pay the bills. And in their case, the main bills are the ones concerning the acquisition of new technology, in order to build a prototype of a project that will later be presented to a possible client.

DOUBLE NEGATIVE

Mark Ardington – Animation Director, Animator & Character Rigger and VFX supervisor – focuses on the work for the feature ‘Ex Machina’ (2015). In the talk the process of character design and 3D animation is explained in great detail. In the film ‘Ex Machina’ the main character is a combination of a woman and robot. The woman is portrayed by the actress Alicia Vikander, while the CG animation was mapped onto her later in the post-production phase. Witnessing the highly detailed and perfect work of the studio was really impressing, and it also provided a precious insight into the level of complexity behind it.

by Maurice Vinken / www.kleurstof.eu

by Maurice Vinken / http://www.kleurstof.eu

The talks finish at 18.00, but the day is not over yet. The program also involves an exclusive meeting in one of the most famous creative studios in Amsterdam: Post Panic. At the Panic Room all the participating artists — and whoever previously registered at the event — meet to share their thoughts while having a drink on the house. Some of the artists show a few slides about what they do, and what they like. Among them there’s Aaron Duffy, 2Veinte, and also GMUNK, whose talk is scheduled for the day after.

Attending Panic Room gives the guests the opportunity to talk with each other in an informal way. You realize that the artists you previously saw on the stage are actually very approachable human beings you can have a drink with, or chat, and experience the sacred art of networking.

In the past I attended several kinds of festivals: design, music, animation. The festivals’ atmosphere is always relaxed, and that makes people more approachable than usual. At Playgrounds somehow this feeling of relaxation is even more amplified, making you wish it would never end…

Playgrounds Festival 2015 – Day 1

Playgrounds offers different perspectives on the creative world, and shows how creative minds approach different kinds of projects. Set in two different locations – Chassé Theatre in Breda (day 1) and Stadsschouwburg Theatre in Amsterdam (day 2 and 3) – , the artist talks provided some interesting food for thought.

by Maurice Vinken / www.kleurstof.eu

by Maurice Vinken / http://www.kleurstof.eu

AARON DUFFY

Aaron Duffy is a director and creator. His talk was one of the most captivating of the festival, challenging the bad image advertising has by showing that creativity is possible in this context. He revealed the thought process behind his successful commercials for Audi and Google and shared some of his earliest projects with the crowd, before becoming a famous director. He made it clear that in order to produce a memorable piece one doesn’t need a big budget or sophisticated software – it’s mainly about the idea.

EMMANUELLE WALKER

Emmanuelle is an illustrator and animator, originally from Canada. She studied animation at Gobelins in France and then moved to London to get more professional experience. In her talk she shared the change her work has been going throughout the years as a professional illustrator and animator with the audience. Emmanuelle showed her personal colorful illustrations that were published in books, as well as commissioned work as an animator and illustrator. One of the highlights of the talk was Emmanuelle presenting in a humoristic way the process of character design and the never ending correspondence with the clients who constantly demand changes. It was inspiring to see her professional attitude and skill to adjust to the client’s needs without losing her own style.

by Maurice Vinken / www.kleurstof.eu

by Maurice Vinken / http://www.kleurstof.eu

PIPS:LAB

The talk of PIPS:Lab during the festival was closer to a performance that to an actual talk. Presenting their project Diespace, Thijs de Wit, one of the creators of the collective, staged an interactive theatrical experience in which the audience could leave its signature on the big screen. Before entering the Chassé Theatre each person was given a small light. Thanks to three camera’s placed in front of the audience, the audience itself became the main protagonist of the performance. With the light they were given, each person had to write his own birth date, name and surname in the air. This data was then collected by the camera’s and transmitted to a computer, so that for each position there was a corresponding name and birthdate. And at the end of the performance, the data was shown on the big screen, for an entertaining, engaging finale. Diespace is presented as a metaphor of the afterlife, an imaginary space populated by information about the audience.

Apart from their live performance, the work of PIPS:Lab is interesting also for the approach they have towards technology. Among the inventions of Keez Duyves (one of the members of the group) is a motion capture studio with photosensitive instruments that allow the user to paint in 3D, turning the real world into a 3D canvas. The results are live painted digital images that amaze and add a level of complexity to reality. And all this while having fun!

ILM / Jorik Dozy

Jorik is a visual effects artists that works at ILM. He participated in the making of legendary films such as The Avengers, Jurassic Park and more. In his talk he gave us the opportunity to see what’s behind the visual effects of such a production: how the scene is being planned and filmed and how it’s being aligned with the work of the animators and visual effects artists. He showed the tricks that are used to make life easier for the animators and for the actors as well. Since Jorik is part of a team, his part in creating the movie is very specific, opposed to animators working independently. It was interesting to hear from an animator that works in a team. Also it was inspiring to hear about his travels while pursuing his career as an animator. He noted that the film industry is no longer centered in California, but in London and Singapore. He has been working in Singapore on a project for the last couple of months and he’s currently in the process of creating his first personal film.

by Maurice Vinken / www.kleurstof.eu

by Maurice Vinken / http://www.kleurstof.eu

After a long and rewarding day full of information and talks in Chassé Theater in Breda it was time to process it all with the music of Binkbeats. Binkbeats’ experimental music is based on loops that he records live using more than 50 different instruments. All the instruments are beautifully put together in an abstract installation that resembled a missile launch station more than a music show. The lighting and smoke from the theater contributed in creating a mysterious concert that closed the first day in a lovely way.

Playgrounds Festival 2015 – Immersive Storytelling

by Maurice Vinken / www.kleurstof.eu

by Maurice Vinken / http://www.kleurstof.eu

With the rise of new digital technology that allows the user to experience stories in a new immersive way, an insight into current practices is really useful to define the current status of storytelling. On the 3rd of November, before the grand opening of the Playgrounds Festival, five different creative minds gave their personal insight on immersive storytelling.

The first speaker was Joris Weijdom, one of the initiators of the Media & Performance Laboratory (MAPLAB) at the HKU in Utrecht. He started his talk with a simple question: which aspects of immersive technologies such as the Oculus Rift are new? The answer, he explained, can be summed up in three main points: 1. dynamic frames, which allows the user to change his or her point of view; 2. user interaction; 3. an embodied experience.

This new technology is being used for different kinds of media content. One example is the music video ‘What do we care 4’ by Steye and the Bizonkid, in which a lot of things can be seen happening at the same time, depending on the viewer’s point of view.

Another project Joris mentions is ‘The Machine to be Another’, an investigation into the relationship between identity and empathy, giving users the possibility to be immersed in another person’s body, changing gender and/or age. Other examples, mostly related to the gaming field, are ‘SightLine: The Chair’, a game that changes while playing, and ‘The Void’, a virtual reality theme park. In ‘The Void’ people can play games from a first person perspective, using the Oculus Rift combined with vests and gloves that create a tactile experience. Thanks to virtual reality technologies, we are able to involve not only vision, but all of our senses when we tell a story.

by Maurice Vinken / www.kleurstof.eu

by Maurice Vinken / http://www.kleurstof.eu

The second speaker of the afternoon was Yaniv Wolf, one of the producers at Submarine Channel. He presented one of the company’s latest projects of the company: ‘Refugee Republic’, an interactive documentary about life in a Syrian refugee camp in Northern Iraq. The online platform lets users visit the camp through an interactive map by illustrator Jan Rothuizen, enriched by audiovisual content about the daily life of its inhabitants. This project is a very interesting example of cleverly combining different visual languages to tell a story.

Next up, the duo Sense of Smell presented one of their projects called ‘Famous Deaths’. Sense of Smell are Marcel van Brakel and Frederik Duerinck, from Avans’ Communication and Multimedia Design Breda. While the previous talks were mostly about audiovisual experiences, in this one a more underrated sense took center stage: smell. The concept at the basis of the project is the duo’s shared obsession for death. That’s why their project enables the user to experience the deaths of Lady Diana or J.F. Kennedy, by entering a copy of a morgue locker. While in there, the user is treated to a combination of different scents and sounds, related to these famous deaths.

by Maurice Vinken / www.kleurstof.eu

by Maurice Vinken / http://www.kleurstof.eu

The other guests of the afternoon are Marshmallow Laser Feast from London, talking about their VR project ‘In the Eyes of the Animals’, and PIPS:Lab, who tell about their experiences as live performers and the experimental approach to technology they use in their work.

The various speakers this afternoon showed that immersive storytelling is very much a hot item with a broad scope of possibilities. But they also reminded us that not all aspects of these new technologies are really new, and that instead of getting too carried away by these technological gadgets, we need to keep in mind which stories are worth telling.

Playgrounds Festival 2015 – Opening

From the 3rd to the 6th of November the Playgrounds Festival took place, with the theme Imagine Whatever. For the Master of Animation students the start of the festival marked the end of their first period. At the opening the one minute animations they made in the last couple of weeks were screened, accompanied by the piano music of Kapustin, performed live by Frederique Lucanet. And our very own Jelle van Meerendonk (graduated last year at BA Animation, currently student of the master program) won Best Dutch Student Film! A great kick-off of a great edition.

In the next four blog posts you can read the festival reports of students of the master program: Federica d’Urzo, Aser Perez and Daniel Wesseik.

by Maurice Vinken / www.kleurstof.eu

by Maurice Vinken / www.kleurstof.eu

by Maurice Vinken / http://www.kleurstof.eu