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

29 August 2013

I'm always up for a hint of Pantone!

Good evening all,

I was recently looking for a short break away and happened to stumble accross an extremely unique hotel which made my decision for both location and accommodation ... The Pantone Hotel, Brussels (Designed by Belgian interior designer Michel Penneman and Belgian architect Olivier Hannaert, complete May 2010).

So let’s start with a little bit of history.  Pantone is known worldwide for the colour matching system invented by its founder Lawrence Herbert in 1963. Having expanded the system from its roots in graphic design to other “colour critical” industries including digital technology, fashion, home, plastics, architecture and contract interiors, more recently the brand has extended into a Pantone ‘universe’ of products incorporating everything from mugs to stationery.  Such items aren’t seen at SOV HQ yet but maybe after my October visit I could start the trend!

Like most, but in particular being a designer, we all like to stay in “good looking” accommodation particularly on our holiday.  The main reception invites guests with eye catching rotating wall imagery, multi coloured bike displays (of course, what else in a hotel reception) and an eclectic mix of low level waiting room furniture.  Not something I would usually specify but in this space, it looks right at home.

This 59 bedroomed hotel offers unique design and brand experience to each floor with a specific Pantone colour allocated to each room.  Within each of the rooms there is the story displayed of the photography and photographer (Victor Levy) for the imagery used.  Pantone colour value canvas’ can also be found along with reiterative Pantone elements such as hanging mugs and Pantone inspired lamps!  Each of the hotel’s seven floors are enlightened by different colour palettes to complement guests’ emotions with distinctive hues.  Pretty quirky eh?  The hotel aims to educate its guest on how colour can be used to express certain feeling and emotions and I for one can’t wait to see their rationale and understanding into how the designers came to their conclusions.

I’ll let you know what it’s like in a few months time but for now, explore for yourself at http://www.pantonehotel.com/ or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdwpvzsqPcA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LalUAxm_jA


Brand and Experience
Images courtesy of Google Images, Design Milk and Sleeper Magazine

23 August 2013

Elysium - A VFX breakdown

Hello readers,

Today I want to talk about Neill Blomkamp's sci-fi epic "Elysium", but I will try my hardest not to make this blog a movie review. No spoilers guaranteed.

Image courtesy of Google images
 It was back in June 2009 when a movie trailer showing an image of a huge extra-terrestrial ship hovering over the city of Johannesburg, brought film director Neill Blomkamp to my attention. This film was "District 9", a mockumentary about an alien race forced to live on earth in slum-like conditions. With a budget of $30 million, the film was a huge success with a worldwide gross profit of $210 million.

 Teaming up with Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, Blomkamp wowed audiences with his writing, directing and technical vision, developed during the making of short films and projects he's worked on, as well as from his background in the CGI/VFX industry. Taking nothing away from the directing and the writing it was the visual aspect of "District 9" that really impressed me. I remember being amazed by the standard of the CGI work, it wasn't over the top and there was a real gritty feel to it; a realism and a subtlety that worked perfectly with the bleak vision portrayed by Blomkamp in the film.

Image courtesy of Google images

When Neill Blomkamp announced to the world he was working on his second sci-fi story "Elysium" you can imagine my excitement. I was fortunate to be able to go and see "Elysium" last night and I wasn't disappointed. Visually the film is a masterpiece and has really raised the bar of VFX. Getting a sense of realism was a must for Blomkamp, this resulted in a push on creating as many of the shots in camera and on set as possible. Achieving this required numerous models, sets, miniatures, props and some really hard core location filming. This can only be a good thing for films going forward as having physical props and locations will massively improve acting performances, which have dipped in recent years with the over use of green screens.

Image courtesy of Google images
Image courtesy of Google images
Blomkamp teamed up with a whole host of studios on Elysium from Image Engine, Weta Workshop, Whiskeytree, Method Studios, ILM, The Embassy and MPC. Along with legendary concept artist Syd Mead, Blomkamp's vision has been brought to life in spectacular fashion.

Fxguide.com have put together an excellent and detailed breakdown of some of the films most breath-taking shots. The link for the page is at the end of this blog.

The movie is set in Los Angeles in the year 2154, with the city looking polluted and diseased. Filming took place in Mexico in one of the worlds largest rubbish dumps. This perfectly depicted the desperation and misery of the people left to try and make a life on earth, Whereas the people fortunate enough to reside on Elysium live in paradise free of crime and illness. To achieve this paradise filming was completed in Malibu and with the use of digital matte paintings Elysium was created. 

Original footage of Malibu. Image courtesy of fxguide and Whisketree

Final scene after VFX and matte painting background. Image courtesy of fxguide and Whiskytree
The droids in the film were achieved using a technique of using stunt men in grey tracking suits who were replaced with the 3d digital models in the post production stage. This allowed the actors to interact with the proposed droids giving both a greater performance.

Matt Damon with grey suit stunt men. Image courtesy of fxguide and Image Engine 

Post produced droids added into the final edit. Image courtesy of fxguide and Image Engine
 I've only touched upon the full article with this blog but I thoroughly recommend it. It's not often I am left totally speechless and totally inspired by a film. Recognition must be given to everyone who worked on the film especially the art department, all VFX teams, the actors for some great performances and finally the director for bringing it altogether. What an achievement.

Go and see it and share with us you're thoughts on the film. I've added some of the amazing visuals from this film below.

Image courtesy of Google images.

Images courtesy of Google images.

Image courtesy of Google images.

Ryan Blackburn - Media Productions

15 August 2013

Tokyo City Symphony

Hi everyone,

My post today is based around a fantastic video I came across recently whilst browsing cgarchitect.com.

Image courtesy of Google Images

The video in question was created as a ten year celebration theme for Roppongi Hills in Japan. The animation takes a 1:1000 scale model of the cityscape and breathes life into it through the use of 3D projection. There is a link below to the featured article and full video.

To begin with, the actual scale model they have created is amazing. The level of detail and attention to small imperfections really adds to the overall depth of the model. Also the use of the popular tilt-shift effect (photography technique) does a great job of focusing your attention on specific details.

Image courtesy of Google Images

When I first watched this video I hadn't read the description which explains how it was achieved.When watching it I was trying to work out whether they had used CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) or an actual model to represent the city. After taking a step back for a moment I realised that this is something that I find I do all the time in everyday life. Because CGI is improving in quality so quickly and becoming such an integral part of the media industry, it is more and more difficult to separate what is CGI and what is real.

Image courtesy of Google Images

It is very interesting to see how many people, even those in industry, are now not sure about the origin of what they are seeing. The fact that people debate and have to think about whether what they are looking at has been created virtually is a direct result of how we are exposed to so much that isn't real. As time goes on the line between the virtual and the real will get more and more blurred and it will get even more difficult to tell.

Image courtesy of Google Images

When that time comes, will we even be trying to work out whether everything we see actually exists? At the moment we are not sure what is CGI, but it is scary to think of a time when everything is virtual and we are not sure what is real.

I hope you enjoy the animation. Philosophy aside, it is a very well executed and exciting animation which shows good use of some modern cinematography techniques.

Thanks for reading.

Media productions

14 August 2013

Wreck it Ralph

Good afternoon readers

Today we are discussing the  ending to an incredibly well designed and well thought out movie from Disney – Wreck-it Ralph. If you haven't already seen it, don't worry, we won't spoil it for you so read on without fear! We will however tell you that this is a must see movie, especially if you are an old school gaming fan.

Images from Google Images

In Wreck-it Ralph, Disney literally bring the world of gaming to life, showing us what happens after the game over screen and when you aren’t playing. Power leads are the train lines that lead to a secret world based beyond your plug socket. The amazing world of Wreck-it Ralph is populated by characters from all of your favourite platforms, titles and genres, old and new, creating a wonderfully nostalgic experience for gamers and an exciting new family of heroes and villains for younger viewers.  

But enough about the movie, what we want to talk about is the end credits. These days the design of opening and closing credits is a big deal. Opening credits are the first opportunity for a film to set the mood and capture the audiences attention, luring them in whilst well executed end credits can leave them wanting more and in this day and age, screaming for a sequel. 

Images from Google Images

As with anything where design is involved there are credits that do it better than others. James Bond movies use amazing motion graphics running alongside now classic, epic bond theme tunes. In the insanely funny film The Hangover, (shame about the sequels),  the cast spend the entire movie not remembering their epic night out until the movie ends when they find a camera.  The photos from the camera are presented alongside the credits like a scrap-book, making you leave the cinema in stitches and helping you to leave feeling good about the film you have just watched. 

Images from Google Images

A shining example, Wreck-it Ralph has closing credits that are some  of the best I have seen. They mix some of the most memorable scenes, characters, environments and fonts from your favourite childhood games making the credits as memorable and enjoyable as the movie itself. It is well worth a few minutes of your time to check them out - take a look by clicking  HERE 

Sovibrant / Media Productions

8 August 2013

Luis Nieves - Baywood Red Light

Hello readers,

Today I share with you some work that I stumbled upon that really inspired me. Here at SoVibrant we deal with high quality 3D work on a daily basis so we can appreciate a truly great image when we see one. For us what really makes a nice visual is the level of detail within an image, all the little aspects that don't seem that important until they are brought together and take the piece to that next level.

The person responsible for the work in question is Luis Nieves, a digital artist based in Northern California. I first came across Luis Nieves's work a few years back when it was featured in a well known CG magazine.I remember then thinking that his work was especially good, as every part of the image just worked really well from the level of detail within the model, the texturing and the lighting. I have placed the featured image below along with a newer visual featuring the same model.

Image courtesy of Google images.

Image courtesy of Google images.

I love the style of these visuals, so I was happy to find out that Luis Nieves has created some new work. Following on from the Ford GT40, the Pagani Zonda Cinque was the car chosen for the new set of visuals. I am especially pleased with this choice with the Cinque being one of my dream cars, as it is a pure expression of a flamboyant hypercar.    

Image courtesy of Google images.

Image courtesy of Google images.

The quality of the lighting has definitely improved, the image is gloomy which emphasizes the glow from the rear lights and traffic lights. The shot of the rear of the Cinque has a very subtle reflection down the side of the car which gives a great contrast between the dark and lighter parts of the shot. Having the lighting like this makes the car sit perfectly within the scene, giving it a real sense of weight.

Texturing is of a really high standard, the finish on the Cinque's surfaces has a real gloss to them, what you would expect on a car valued at 1.5 million pounds. It's the level of detail that Luis Nieves has gone to with the texturing, from the slightly scuffed central wheel nuts and the detail and dust on the tyres, to the direction of the carbon fibre weave. The carbon fibre weave is especially important as this is something Horacio Pagani, the creator of the Zonda has pioneered and is a major part of the cars DNA. This has to be one of my favorite parts of the visual just because it would be a challenging task getting the UV's correct so the weaves all line up correctly.

Visuals such as this one are great because they are so engaging, making you lean in towards your monitor as you look closer at each of the intricate details.

This scene and model undoubtedly capture the essence of a Zonda Cinque. I am pleased that Luis Nieves has done an amazing job in replicating one of my all time favorite cars, allowing everyone to appreciate this work of art.

Thanks for reading.

Ryan Blackburn - Media Productions


1 August 2013

Design Classic no.145a - The London Underground Map - Updated!

Greetings 'Design Classic' fans. I bring you an update to our incredibly popular post 'Design Classic No.145 - The London Underground Map'

Harry Beck's remarkable re-design of the traditional, topographic underground map into the schematic but readable map as we know today, may be superseded by a revolutionary (boom boom) new map by Max Roberts.

Max came up with the idea whilst integrating London's new Orbital Rail Link. Still following the schematic principal, Max's map introduces a circular element that simplifies complex junctions yet retains the classic Beck look:

compared to the current map:

Max's ideas are encapsulated here.

Max has applied his circular look to other underground systems too:



Design at SoVibrant