Halo 4 Spartan Ops From Axis Animation

Client: Microsoft Games / 343 Industries
Director: Stuart Aitken
Animation: Axis Animation
Senior Producer: Debbie Ross

Halo 4 Spartan Ops is a series of ten episodes following Fire Team Majestic aboard the massive UNSC Infinity six months after the end of the main campaign of Halo 4. Watch the rest of the episodes here.

Sehscut MTV EMA 2012 Making Of

Client: VIMN MTV World Design Studio
Director: Mate Steinforth
Animation/VFX: Sehsucht Berlin

Mate Steinforth, creative director/partner at Sehsucht, Berlin: “MTV approached us with a very open brief for the European Music Awards 2012 broadcast package. The main part of it was basically just the idea of ‘visual overload’. It was up to us to transform that idea into a tangible film.

“This is the kind of situation where we can really flex our muscles. We’re not a classical post-production studio, but really more a design studio, which specializes in the art and craft of telling stories through film.

“We thought up a wide range of initial concepts to discuss with the guys from MTV. We like working closely with our clients, which are mostly agencies, and include them in all steps of the process. This way of working ensures quick feedback so we don’t waste time on routes which might not be promising.

“We delivered about 10 rough concepts, from which the idea of a zoetrope using animation loops clearly stood out. Now the real work began, as we had to flesh out the huge sculpture of the zoetrope itself, with all its intricate details and shapes.

“In animation, usually it’s pretty easy to get away with murder: Stuff only needs to work for this one camera position or just for that one shot. Not this time! We wanted to build the thing for real – virtually, that is. Which meant our animators had to develop animations which were not only loopable, but which would also fit in the overall design and layout of the zeotrope – a mind-bending challenge.

“In this main development phase we again worked very closely with the client to bounce back and forth ideas. All the images in the zoetrope are related to messages and values that the MTV brand contains. As the social media interaction in the EMAs went up significantly in the last year, we wanted to include popular social media services in the mix. So we used a blue bird flying and a laptop to symbolize those ideas.

“When we were done with the concept phase, the detailing started. We wanted to elicit the illusion of a real structure, so we modeled everything to scale and with as much detail as possible. To bring our virtual zoetrope on the screen, we used state-of-the-art render technology which simulates the physically accurate way light behaves. With this, we had all the little reflections and colors bouncing off each other in our images which makes them so rich and mesmerizing.

“Apart from the technological and design challenges the project contains, it also had a plethora of different deliverables, which made very tight producing necessary. We had three flights of a lot of different elements, which needed to be at the TV station at the right time and in the right formats. The designs were also used for all the interactive elements of the event as well as for the printed matter. It was a truly a 360 degree effort.

“But wait, there’s more…we also created an interactive version of the zoetrope, which lets the viewer move around the structure in realtime, in the browser, without any plugins. The feat becomes feasable through avantgarde technologies such as WebGL, which is supported by all modern browsers. There’s even a musical game to play online! Visit http://lab.sehsucht.de to check it out.”

For VIMN MTV World Design Studio, Milan/Italy
Creative director: Roberto Bagatti
Associate CD: Anna Caregnato
AD: James Walpole, Carlos Carrasco
Senior producer: Cristina Mazzocca
Senior designer: Giorgio Schwarz
Coordinator: Beatrice Cardile

For Sehsucht Berlin
Director: Mate Steinforth
Artists: Remo Gambacciani, Helge Kiehl, Florian Panzer, David Weidemann, Christian Zschunke
Producer: Christina Geller, Christian Jacks

Music: Von Sallwitz Sound Architecture (Nikolai von Sallwitz)

Inside Psyop’s “Ear of the Tornado” for JBL

Agency: Doner
Directors: Eben Mears, Anh Vu
Animation: Psyop

Psyop Creative Director, Anh Vu: “Doner executive creative director, Murray White, had a concept for JBL’s second cinematic branding spot that would fully envelop the viewer. He wanted people to witness the birth of a natural phenomenon and vividly experience the destructive sounds of mother nature.

“We were aware we needed to communicate a real narrative even though we were going for a photoreal look, the spot had to be artful and carefully finessed chaos.”

“‘Ear of the Tornado’ contains around 70 million particles from start to finish. The choreography and animation of the flying and crashing objects were all designed with particular attention to the rhythm for the sound design. Psyop collaborated with Skywalker Sound to guarantee the 5.1 mix of the audio was as impactful and engrossing as possible.”

For Doner
CD: Murray White
EP: Laurie Irwin

For Psyop
CDs: Eben Mears, Anh Vu
Lead TD: Dan Gregoras
EP: Lydia Holness
Producers: Ave Carrillo, Erik Gullstrand
Designers: Anh Vu, Lauren Indovina, Naomi Chen, Eunice Kim
Storyboard Artist: Robin Nishio
Previz: Michael Shin
Animators: Anthony Travieso, Ryan Moran, Dan Vislocky, Chris Meek
Modeling: Dan Fine, Thomas Smith, Todd Daniele
Rigging: Zed Bennett
Tracking: Joerg Liebold
Effects TD: Miguel Salek, Dave Barosin
Lead lighter: Jonah Friedman
Lead compositor: Nick Tanner
Compositing: Thomas Smith, Adam Flynn, Matt Hanson

For Skywalker Sound
Sound designer: Steve Boeddeker

How MAKE Made “Quitsmoking.com”

Director: MAKE
Animation/VFX: MAKE

Danny Robashkin, creative director at MAKE in Minneapolis: “The two spots were made completely in-house, the idea started with the desire to do a 2D animation interaction with real actors in an interview setting.

“Using the infamous anti-smoking slogan, ‘Monkey on your back’ as a base, we went on to write the two spots. It was important to keep them fun with splashes of humor, yet still hit the mark that smoking will kill.

“Visualizing and directing not only the actors, but the monkeys that weren’t there was definitely a challenge. Thank goodness for storyboards and animators who volunteered to be puppeteers. Even though we were on a greenscreen, there was a lot going on. Making the performance of the actor and monkey feel cohesive was key. Figuring out all the exact moves with the animators prior to shooting was extremely helpful.

“Designing the monkeys so they would work with the actors, but still be fun to look at was also a hurdle. We asked a lot of questions like, ‘When the monkey gets shot, what should the blood look like?’ ‘How stylized do we want the cartoon gun?’ ‘How gross should the turkey be?’ Not to mention the animation supervisor left part way into the project to go to Disney.

“Integrating live action with 2D animation and CG elements was a huge challenge. In terms of the animation, there were strict rules to follow because the monkeys had to feel like they were on the actors. If the actor shifted, you had to make the anticipation of the monkey’s movement feel right.

“We animated on ‘ones’ so there were a lot of frames, plus we were doing all this as 4K files. On top of that, each monkey was broken into several layers. So between the large file sizes and communication to the compositors about all the different layers, there were a lot of details that couldn’t be overlooked.

“We also had to do a lot of puppeteering tests with clothing, fishing line, and stand-in objects to know what was working performance-wise and what could be roto’ed or covered with the animation.”

Schedule: “Shooting was only two and a half days, but we had several days of prep and tests. Animation and finishing took several weeks.”

CD: Danny Robashkin
Writer/director/producer/editor/sound design: Mike P. Nelson
DP: Nick Junkersfeld
Production Sound: Tom Colvin
Puppeteers: Justin Weber, Josh Clos, Chang Dai, Alec Mueller
Animators: Andrew Chesworth, Justin Weber, Aaron Quist, Chang Dai, Alec Mueller, Michelle Yoon, Josh Schneider
Assistant animators: Jordan Hill, Niklas Norman
Compositing/finishing: Daniel Broadway, Josh Clos
3D artist: Aaron Dabelow
Talent: Kevin Kline as The Interviewer, Charles Hubbell as Eric, Lindsey Dumire as Lexi, Aaron Quist as The Monkeys