John Lewis - The Bear and Hare - 2013 Seasonal CGI Amazing coloured pencil drawings Tokyo City Symphony Luis Nieves - Baywood Red Light

26 March 2013

Monaco's most expensive apartment...

Sky news have published some CGIs of the proposed penthouse at the Odeon Tower, currently under construction in Monaco. Whilst not to everyone's taste, you have to admit the view will be pretty exclusive.

Perched at 170m tall, the penthouse itself is a whopping 35,500 sq ft (the size of an office block), spread over five floors with a rooftop swimming pool and water slide. Let's hope it's not too windy up there. The project has been criticised for spoiling the views of its neighbours and for the shadows it casts, leading to it being dubbed the 'Odious Tower'.

The price for the penthouse at the Alexandre Giraldi designed tower is estimated to be around $250m. Which is about the same as the biggest 'boats' in the harbour.

I will certainly be making an offer, once I can get my hands on the monies I have stashed in Cyprus. Seems to be a problem with my cashcard, which is odd.

Design and Architecture at SoVibrant

21 March 2013

Trinity is HERE!

It’s finally here!

Today in Leeds we see Europe’s biggest city centre shopping mall, Trinity Leeds (Developed by Land Securities), open it’s doors to the public and I for one am very very excited!

The £350m centre will house 120 retail outlets and restaurants covering 1,000,000 sq ft (92,900 sq m) and will offer a unique shopping experience like no other in the region and like no other I have seen in the UK. The video walls you see on your visit to Trinity offer tailored messages via gesture-recognition and touch-sensitivity, a first in a UK shopping centre I believe. This is exactly the type of experiential innovation that is required by retail destinations and, in my opinion, creates a successful brand experience.

Not only will Trinity offer a fantastic shopping experience all under one roof, Land Securities told me there will be little bits of “something special” to look out for around the centre, contributing further to the unique shopping experience – and we haven’t even talked “shop” yet!  Trinity goes the extra mile, housing shops and restaurants which we haven’t been lucky enough to see in the north. On your visit you will find Victoria Secret, Hollister, Apple - one we have certainly wanted in the Leeds area - the UK’s largest Superdry store!

But, although it’s exciting from a shopper’s perspective, the other thing today’s opening has done is put the spotlight firmly on the north - and Leeds in particular.  For once, it’s positive!

We have lived through so much gloom of late – and not just with the weather, but the opening of Trinity Leeds is an opportunity to experience something “SO vibrant”, exciting and inspiring again – and wouldn’t it be great if, as well as putting Leeds on the shopping map, it was the catalyst for some positive energy and belief across the region?

It’s true that Land Securities may have taken a risk to be the only ones opening a new retail centre this year – but, rather than being conservative, they’ve thought big and bold and they deserve credit for that!  Good work guys!

Today, and indeed for the foreseeable future, Leeds can certainly claim to have the newest shopping centre in the UK and can compete on level terms with the likes of Meadowhall in Sheffield, The Trafford Centre in Manchester or the Metro Centre in Gateshead.

But, just like our work at SoVibrant, Trinity Leeds is all about the experience - or, in their own words, the “wonder” – and, in my own opinion, the new centre isn’t just on a par with others in the region; it’s set the new standard.

Like I said, I’m very excited – and, after your first visit, I hope you are too.



Images courtesy of Google images, Victoria Stares, Trinity Leeds Facebook Page

7 March 2013

Feng Zhu : Guide to Success

Good afternoon readers,

In the past we have showcased many digital and traditional artists, ranging from industrial and transport designers, to film and game concept artists. Now these artists and designers are some of the best in the industry at what they do. But skills like these don't come easy and they definitely don't appear over night.... 

This blog is for all you students out there, who like me, want to spend your days and nights being creative, being inspired and one day, seeing something you've created on screen come to life.

Feng Zhu

Feng Zhu has featured on our blog quite a few times. An incredible digital artist in the entertainment industry, he now teaches, passing down his knowledge and skills learnt from over a decade of experience. One of the things I love about Feng is his willingness to help others.

Below are two very long but incredibly inspiring interviews I came across with Feng Zhu on "Creating a Visual Library" as well as a very informative "Question and Answer Session" on the way he works and how he became the artist and designer he is now.

You might not be looking to create art for movies or sketch characters for a new PlayStation game, but if you're looking to find your way in to a creative industry I suggest watching these videos. Hopefully you will enjoy them as much as I have.

To view more videos like these and to watch some of Feng's demo classes visit his Youtube channel HERE



Sovibrant / Media Productions

6 March 2013

Brazil 2014 & Rio 2016 - Sporting Codes !

Well two months in and I’m afraid to say 2013 isn’t a patch on the momentous year that was 2012; as expected I suppose. With only a 2013 Rugby League World Cup in England to look forward to, for all those hardcore fans of the 13 man code. Just to try and cheer everyone up from a sporting point of view I thought I would try and put a bit of Salsa in your future and remind everyone that we have a Brazilian double coming up - the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

In preparation for these great two years in their sporting history, as well as building some striking new stadiums, the Brazilians are adding something a little extra in a very subtle way. They would like the millions of tourists visiting their shores to learn more about the cities and positive traits, using the modern technology of QR Codes and smart phones, with traditional building methods of black and white mosaic pavements.

Rio de Janeiro began installing a series of QR code patterns onto its pavements on Friday 25 January, starting at Arpoador by Ipanema Beach. In scanning the pavement QR code, the user will be diverted to a tourist information website which lists details about the area where they are standing, including a Google Map so they can find their way about. It’s definitely a great concept for modern day signage that has no language barriers and still manages to maintain its strong cultural roots. So no need for any large notice boards to spoil the view - simple yet brilliant!

World Cup 2014 - Olympics 2016 - Design - Architecture - QR Codes


1 March 2013

Galaxy Chocolate - They had me completely fooled

Hello readers,

It's not often that I get caught out by a piece of CGI, but when AMV BBDO and Galaxy Chocolate aired their new advert "Choose Silk Chauffeur" it wasn't obvious to me that CGI had been used at all. This was slightly embarrassing as I didn't think this was actually Audrey Hepburn, but merely a really convincing double.

So lets delve into how they fooled me and hopefully everyone else too.

Through clever casting, the creators managed to get a perfect double for Audrey Hepburn who could, through her performance share the same facial features and characteristics. From this they then captured the double's face perfectly using a FACS (facial action coding system) session . This allowed the team to capture 70 possible muscle movements which could be translated to the CG Audrey model as well as capturing high resolution facial textures.

The real Audrey Hepburn

Digitally recreated Audrey Hepburn

The next step was to complete all the live filming on Italy's Amalfi coast. The footage of the double and all the extras which were given to Framestore, the visual effects studio working on the project. Framestore then brought together the footage and the CGI. Present at the filming where Framestore VFX supervisors William Bartlett and Simon French to make sure the correct lighting and tracking data was captured. This involved multiple witness cameras to perfectly track the actresses face.

Close up shows the level of detail in the modelling and the texturing

Using all the data from the FACS head scan, the digital facial rig was created multiple times for the individual facial expressions which could then be blended together during the animation phase.  The biggest challenge for the team in recreating an unmistakable Audrey Hepburn was getting the signature facial features spot on from her smile to her eyes. Originally the double was chosen for her similar eyes so that the facial rig could be built around them. In the end the team recreated every aspect of her face as this was the only way to get the look perfect. As for her smile, a team of four animators hand animated precisely posed expressions in every shot to realistically recreate the star. Simon French states that "it's amazing how unique and how recognizable a person's smile is. When you see it in this detail, it really needs to look perfect."

 Effective lighting using Arnold really brings the CGI to life

The rendering was completed using the Arnold rendering system. This system allowed the team to simulate accurate tracing of light and to perfect the soft, translucent feel of real skin.

Example of high quality photo realistic work

What I really like about this work is that it is so well done that it doesn't fall into the "Uncanny valley." This is a term used in the CGI industry for when a person is created in digital software that isn't 100% convincing. When you see it you immediately know something isn't quite right and you dismiss it as not being real, which ultimately can make you feel rather uneasy.

An example of the Uncanny valley

I think this advert is an excellent example of what can be done using CGI and I look forward to being completely fooled by work of this quality in the future.

Happy reading.

Ryan Blackburn - Media Productions