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Blend Fest 2017

By | after effects, brand, brand identity, design, design systems | No Comments

Blend Fest is an animation festival held biannually in Vancouver, BC. Over two days, guests hear talks by over a dozen award winning animators, directors, motion designers, and sound engineers. It is a place where animators and designers can come together under one roof to collaborate, improve skills, and geek out about keyframes. The festival was built out of love between four friends from Wine After Coffee – a vimeo channel that curates exceptional motion work. Lets get to it!

Here is festival opener, The Blend is Near, created by Oddfellows:

Whoa. Back up. Did you see that?Blend welcomed us all by including each attendee’s name in the title sequence. This gesture highlights how hospitable the festival was to us.¬†From a branding standpoint, this was very powerful way to make a memorable experience.

Here are a few of my favorite speakers from the festival:

Justin Cone:

Justin was this year’s Blend host. You may have seen his contributions around the web in the form of a website called Motionographer. This site is a juicy pitstop with healthy helpings of animation, design, and storytelling. Thanks for keeping the show running smoothly!

Bee Grandinetti:

Bee Grandinetti is an independent designer, animator, and illustrator from Brazil. In 2015 Universal Everything commissioned Bee to create a 30 second animation loop based on the word “Shrink”. Her work was then projected mapped on the side of the Sydney Opera House. This living mural included work from 20 animation studios and animators. Check out Universal Everything’s documentation to see all animations on the Opera House.

Bee was also the lead designer and animator for this years Blend Fest branding. Before the festival stared, Blend asked each guest to create their own geometric avatar when signing up. Upon arrival, they gifted each one of us our very own physical avatar as a totem. Every single shape was cut, sanded, and hand-painted. These delightful keepsakes allow us to take a part of Blend with us wherever we go.

blend fest lanyard

One thing I really love about Bee is her gratitude. To help give back to the community, she uses her well-deserved recognition to spotlight other women animators.

Oddfellows

Oddfellows is an award winning animation studio with offices in San Francisco and Portland. As a company created by animators, there were gaps in knowledge for running a business. They quickly realized this problem and reached out to other animation studios for advice. Luckily this tight knit community met them with warm welcomes. Competitors soon became allies in establishing best working practices for the community and began to help prop each other up. The big takeaway: ask for help if you need it. This is a community that loves to share and help others. Don’t forget to share your knowledge and offer help in return.

Because Oddfellows is a relatively new company, they had to hustle to get noticed. In one example, the studio was moved by the actions AirBnb hosts have done for their guests. They took this opportunity to reach out to AirBnb to propose a new project as a way to show their support for this messaging. After impressing the AirBnB team, Oddfellows was hired for additional work.

Erica Gorochow

“Originality is a by-product of authenticity”. Erica Gorochow, also known as Pep Rally, is an independent director, animator, and designer in Brooklyn. One wise piece of advice she shared with us was, “If you have an idea for a self-initiated project, cut it in half. Then cut it in half again. That is your project.” This rule lead her to create VoteGif, the website with a simple task to let voters know registration deadline for each state. She then animated characters for each state and rendered them in very easy to share gifs.

Erica also directed Dear Europe, a highly acclaimed video about the then-upcoming European elections in hopes to educate voters on the lessons learned through Brexit and the US Election. This collaborative video included over 20 animators to help drive the message of unification.

John Black

Sound accounts for half the picture. John Black, aka CypherAudio, is a sound designer and original music creator. This award winning music artist has created work for Apple, Google, Nike, and dozens of others including Blend Fest. The beautiful CypherAudio brand identity was designed by Worship Studio.

Animade

Animade is a London based multidisciplinary studio that creates animation, games, and interactive sites. They talked about the importance of internal studio projects. It’s a way for them to practice, experiment, fail, learn, foster studio culture, give themselves a place to play, and help gain attention from potential clients. If there is studio downtime, employees pull ideas (most often puns) out of a box and animate it. Animade has grown quite popular online as they share those animation collections on social channels. These small ideas sometimes morph into much larger aspects of client work, thus further funding additional studio projects.

One of my favorite studio projects is Party Pooper, a web experiment game where your character tries to poop the party. ¬†It pushes the boundaries of SVG animation by utilizing¬†Bodymovin‘ (you’re welcome). NOTE: watch this video AFTER you play Party Pooper for yourself!¬†

Additionally, Animade showed off another studio project called Boords. They designed a system that makes creating storyboards quick and easy. They are now releasing it to the rest of the world.

Sander van Dijk

Sander co-founded Blend festival. He is a big talent with an even larger heart. Anyone that has ever crossed paths with Sander will know how genuine and passionate he is. His style utilizes simple geometric shapes, bold color, and wicked transitions. This type of thinking is great for companies trying to push a flexible branding ecosystem.

Sander has an extraordinary work philosophy – making a conscious choice on who to work with. After leaving his dream job at Buck, he began to work with companies that have a better vision for the world.¬†The path to get there is simple, work with companies that inspire you. Creating this work helps companies you support gain traction and succeed. “Following your dreams will require a change in life, but if anyone can make a transition it’s motion designers.”¬†Below is an interview with animation podcast, Animalators:

Along with this inspirational mindset, he has developed a unique workflow and released tools to empower others. For example, check out his Ray Dynamic Texture plugin which allows texturing shape layers with just a few clicks:

ILLO

Design studio Illo is run by power partners Ilenia Notarangelo and Luca Gonnelli. Their talk was broken up into 3 parts: Sharing a desk with your partner, sharing your desk with your team, and sharing your desk with a robot. Illo are as charming as they come. Frequently referencing their love for pizza, they discussed the challenges of working with your partner, the importance of valuing diversity (7 of 11 employees are women), and how they were able to create over 200 videos for The 2016 Rio Olympics‚Äďall while on vacation.

‚ÄúKeyframes are overrated. Better use code.‚ÄĚ Among the design work they do, Illo created an algorithm named Algo they continually work with. Building this AI has allowed them to use real-time data to generate videos all within a few seconds. They have also utilized Algo for Italian soccer league Serie A and the S&P500 daily video recaps for Bloomberg.

Andrew Kramer

Andrew Kramer is the After Effects godfather. He is notably recognized for creating After Effects tutorials under the name Video Copilot. Anyone in the motion discipline can tell you they have learned from him. After many years of teaching us his secrets, he went on to develop plugins for the community and started creating visual effects for blockbuster titles such as Star Trek and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Andrew talked about the challenges of working on massive projects while maintaining a healthy relationship with his family. ‚ÄúWith today‚Äôs software and hardware anyone can make some something – the real issue is actually having a good idea.‚Ä̬†Thanks for sharing your heartfelt story, Andrew. And now, another very exciting tutorial.

Tips & Tricks

Sprinkled throughout the conference were short 2 minute sessions of tips and tricks. Here are some amazing tips you can try in your workflow:

Sarah Beth Hulver: Masking a texture

Zak Tietjen: Parallax Rig (everyone at the conference let out an audible gasp after hearing Zak share his tip)

Vucko: A tip for writing on notes

Kyle Martinez: Rubberhose

Animalators: live at Blend Fest 2017 with Andrew Kramer, Patrick Osborne and Erica Gorochow:

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List of speakers:
Host – Justin Cone of Motionographer
Andrew Kramer
Animade
Bee Grandinetti
Carson Ting
Erica Gorochow
Illo
John Black
Oddfellows
Patrick Osborne
Robert Valley
Sander Van Dijk
Tuna Bora
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Thank you Blend!

day for night logo

Day for Night- Part II: Artists

By | design, dj culture, gergwerk, photography, process, travel, Uncategorized, Video | No Comments

Situated in a 1.5 million square foot post office sorting facility, Day for Night orchestrated a two and a half day, all-you-can-handle festival full of music, live performances, and high quality digital art installations. In case you missed the first Day for Night post, check out my recap video here: www.gergwerk.com/day-for-night. In part II, lets explore some of the groundbreaking digital artists at Day for Night 2016. Although the line-up boosted a diverse collective of artists, I’m going to take a closer look at those that utilize technology in innovative ways.

ARCA:

ARCA hypnotizes. Blending heavy electronic sounds with dark hip hop vibes, ARCA co-produced seven tracks from Bj√∂rk‚Äôs Vulnicura and contributed to Kanye‚Äôs Yeezus. Paired with ARCA’s tracks are astounding visuals by Jesse Kanda. Mirroring ARCA‚Äôs sound, Kanda’s visuals embrace the imperfect by presenting grotesque figures in order to question perception of beauty. The results are breathtaking.

Jesse Kanda:

Longtime friend and collaborator of ARCA, Kanda has created extraordinary visuals for FKA Twigs and Björk, as well as, exhibited at MoMA PS1 in 2013. A mix between Chris Cunningham and Phil Hale, Jesse’s hyper-real figures swell, twist, dance, and flux along ARCA’s unique sound.


Jesse‚Äôs latest project is a VR music video for Bj√∂rk. After hearing her newest album, Vulnicura, Jesse Kanda wanted to¬†‚Äúcreate something as intimate as possible because Vulnicura, the album, the whole album, is really one of the most intimate things that I‚Äôve ever heard‚Ķ The mouth, being Bj√∂rk‚Äôs vessel from which she expresses her primary art, inspired me to try to do something with that.‚Ä̬†– source. Here is the resulting video:


Jesse and his team built a 4 foot replica of Bj√∂rk‚Äôs mouth and filmed inside it using 12 cameras to produce a 360¬ļ image. Meant to be viewed in VR, this larger-than-life immersive experience allows viewers to share an unsettling, intimate journey within Bj√∂rk. See more behind the scenes photographs and read the full interview at Dazed Digital.

Bjork Mouth Montra process

Björk Digital:

If you were lucky enough to secure a spot, Bj√∂rk Digital exhibited a series of VR music videos for select ticket holders. This installation was a one of the major draws for the festival. People without tickets waited in a standby line for over 5 hours in hopes to get a chance to view the exhibit. I was unable to obtain a ticket, but luckily most of the experiences have been released online. Four VR videos in total, these 360¬ļ experiences range from listening to Bj√∂rk sing while crawling in caves, (Black Lake), perform on a beach in Iceland (Stonemilker VR), travel from the depths of her throat (Mouth Mantra VR), and fly through the air while interacting with a procedurally generated Bj√∂rk (Notget VR).

Here is a teaser for the fourth VR experience, Notget VR:

Notget was Analog’s first attempt at VR. According to their team in an interview, they utilized their usual tools like Houdini, Maya, 3ds Max, vray, and Zbrush. Imaginarium recorded Bj√∂rk’s movements with motion-capture¬†software. That data was used¬†to re-build her performance¬†in¬†3d to match her movements. Unlike the other Bj√∂rk experiences which are video, Notget‘s content is drawn in real time, often having to hit 90 frames per second for a smooth experience. Below are some of the designs created by Analog.




Björk Performance (photo by Roger Ho):

Bj√∂rk’s live performance on Sunday polarized the audience as she curated a DJ set from behind a row of potted plants. The performance was less about being seen and more about experiencing the music. Regardless if you liked her set or not, there is no denying Bj√∂rk defies industry standards. She consistently pushes technology to its limits and is a consistent (yet unpredictable) creative visionary when it comes to live performances. It is refreshing to hear the wide range of eccentric sounds included in a set. Here is a mix she DJed¬†for a Tri-Angles record party:

At recent performances, Bj√∂rk has been notably wearing 3d printed masks. Some of the more technologically elaborate masks were designed by The Mediated Matter Group. Their printed mask project, Rottlace, explores Material Ecology, the practice of ‚Äúoperating between machine and organism.‚ÄĚ According to the creators, “the series originates with a mask that emulates Bj√∂rk‚Äôs facial structure and concludes with a mask that reveals a new identity, independent of its origin. What originates as a form of portraiture culminates in reincarnation.” Read an in-depth article about Rottlace over at Creators Project.



Bjork mask series Rottlace
Aphex Twin (photo by Roger Ho):

“Unforgettable. Noise, jungle, acid, and a torrential downpour.”¬† These words perfectly encapsulate the experience that went down during Aphex Twin‚Äôs set. As if orchestrating a storm from behind his gear, Aphex’s tracks conjured a cold front that hit in the middle of his set. The temperature dropped 20 degrees, freezing rain cut through blankets of green lasers like a static on a tv, and violent winds forced the crew to lower the entire speaker setup. The crowd couldn’t get enough. As expected, someone recorded the entire performance from their phone. Not the best quality, but you can listen to Aphex Twin’s set here (starts around 10:30):

Internet sleuths put together the tracklist from Aphex Twin’s set before the weekend was over. Amongst all the madness, AFX released a mysterious 12″, specifically made for Day for Night. Only 500 were available. Someone uploaded the¬†recordings from the¬†special record within a day of its release:

Squarepusher:

It’s no surprise, Squarepusher’s performance was loud, fast, and highly energetic. His knack for combining epileptic visuals with pulsing audio is straight-up fun. In case you missed his Ufabulum tour, Squarepusher performed in front of a large LED wall while wearing a LED mask. I had the pleasure of experiencing this full performance¬†at the Creators Project in San Francisco in 2012. Here is a clip from one of his tracks, Dark Steering:


LIMB & Eric Todd: OCTO (photo by Ismael Quintanilla)


Limb, local to Houston, performed a live set in the center of a compact room. OCTO utilized 8 full sized speakers placed in a circle around the perimeter of the room. This allowed the artists to sweep their energetic sound around the room at breakneck speed. While LIMB handled audio, Eric Todd managed audio reactive lights that hung above the audience. This performance was one of the highlights of the festival. If you’re still in HTX, keep an eye out for more shows. See below for a close look of the light panels.

LIMB + Eric Todd: OCTO

A video posted by Eric Todd (@erictodd) on

Shoplifter: Ghostbeast (Image by Poonehghana)

Shoplifter uses hair as a medium and projects mesmerizing patterns on top of it. Like grass swaying underwater, psychedelic patterns dance around static, fur-covered structures. This installation brought out smiles in everyone. It was reminiscent of hot summer days running around the playground, rolling in grass while the intensity of the Houston sun beams vibrant sunspots into the backs of my eyes.


AV&C and Houze: Phases

Phases is a new immersive environment that utilizes robotic mirror arrays to fold complex light patterns into an evolving dimensional kaleidoscope. Thin strips of mirror rotate in and out of sync while projectors blast streams of light onto the moving panels. The result is a beautiful array of light patterns that spiral around the room. Check below for video footage and process behind Phases.

A video posted by AV&C (@avcnyc) on

Michael Fullman of VT Pro: Bardo

Bardo is “an exploration of presence and absence in a non descript¬†location, vectors of light track you through darkness.” One of the more popular¬†installations, I felt as if I was experiencing digital divine intervention.


NONOTAK: Highline

“NONOTAK studio is the collaboration between the illustrator Noemi Schipfer and the architect/musician Takami Nakamoto. In early 2013, they start to work on light and sound installations, creating an ethereal, immersive and dreamlike environment meant to envelope the viewer, capitalizing on Takami Nakamoto’s approach of space & sound, and Noemi Schipfer’s experience in kinetic visual” – snippet from NONOTAK.com

Their new work, Highline, utilizes 12 mirrored panels (arranged in a V) that are dissected by long led bulbs. In the image below, you can see a detail of this ingenious setup. nonotak installation

NONOTAK: Shiro

Additionally, NONOTAK had a live audiovisual performance¬†called Shiro. Debut in Montreal’s very own digital art festival, MUTEK, this show was an instant hit.


United Visual Artists (UVA): Musica Universalis

No lack of talent from this group. UVA creates memorable installations with light. Musica Universalis was described as “a spacial instrument that investigates the resonances from far away objects in our solar system. Musica Univeralis is a series of kinetic, physical sculptures and is inspired by Pythagoras’ theory ‘The Harmony of the Spheres’. The sculptures each contain a spherical form and a mechanism driving a rotating light source and speaker. Light is cast through the space creating interventions and interactions with the architecture.source


Tundra: Outlines

Hailing from Russia, the four members of Tundra used over a mile of wiring to power over 400 lasers. No small feat, these thin, red lasers dissected the room into segments. According to the creators, “the name [Outlines] has a strong meaning in Russian representing the idea of stepping out of an initial grid and rising above the fundamentals by trespassing your imaginary boundaries.” – source


Ezra Miller:

Ezra, WebGL rockstar, used TouchDesigner to create his latest work at Day for Night. Unlike his work that is normally viewed on computer screens, Stream was projected over an 80 foot wall. In an interview with Derivative, Ezra talks about his process creating the work: “The piece takes in a camera feed and performs an optical flow algorithm on the feed to detect the motion of objects in the feed. It uses this optical flow to control a few things. It goes into a shader feedback loop that creates a textural “painting,” mixing together about 100 image textures which I’ve taken over the course of a few months living in NYC. This textural composition is fed into another shader feedback loop that performs a sort-of reaction diffusion system on it, whose direction and flow is controlled by the optical flow shader. The camera feed controls the color and flow, allowing you to “paint” with your body. Super excited for people to see how it looks!

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Whoa. Did you just read that all? Thank you for¬†your attention. This is the end of a very fun, long journey to experience some amazing, innovative artists. Blind tickets for 2017 are already for sale. Standing for over 48 hours, sore knees, ringing ears, and little to no sleep‚ÄĒyeah I would do it all over again.

Squarepusher

Day for Night: Festival of the Future

By | dj, dj culture, gergwerk, photo, photography, travel, Video | No Comments

What a way to end 2016. I had the opportunity to travel down to Houston, TX (HTX) for Day for Night: the festival of the future. Combining headlining musicians with immersive art installations, Day for Night transforms live music production by introducing new sensory experiences to the festival landscape. The festival consisted of dozens of music acts as well as multiple art installations. Here are some of the experiences I had:

aphex twin, day for night SquarepusherVT Pro: BardoLIMB + Eric Todd: OCTOshoplifternonotak installationNONOTAK: Highlinenonotak performanceAvac + Houzé installation gifunited visual artists installationJohn Durst: Axelradball zone_
Artists included in video:
(0:09 – 0:11) Marcel, Rami, and Bachar Khalife
(0:11 – 0:14) Guy with hat
(0:15 – 0:18) Lightening Bolt
(0:19 – 0:26) Squarepusher
(0:27 – 0:29) Blood Orange
(0:29 – 0:31) Tycho
(0:31 – 0:41) LIMB + Eric Todd: OCTO
(0:41 – 1:08) Michael Fullman of VT PRO: Bardo
(1:09 Р1:35) AV&C + Houzé: Phases
(1:36 – 1:56) NONOTAK: Highline
(1:57 – 2:13) NONOTAK: Shiro
(2:14 – 2:25) Tundra: Outlines
(2:26 – 2:50) Shoplifter: Ghostbeast

Audio: ARCA
Video & Post: Gerg Werk
Camera: Canon 60D
Lenses: 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS & 50mm f/1.8 II

Stay tuned for a detailed write up about some of the groundbreaking artists at Day for Night!

Stimulant featured in Communication Arts

By | design, gergwerk, gui, multimedia expereince, portfolio, Stimulant, touch screen, Video | No Comments

I am very proud to say a handful of the projects I worked on over the last few years are being recognized in Communication Arts. Read the full eight-page article here: Stimulant: The San Francisco-based experimental studio brings dreams to life through digital interactions.

Here is sneak peak of the projects I worked on that are featured in the article:




Lusio: A Night to Awaken

By | gergwerk, Seattle, Video | No Comments

Lusio: A Night to Awaken was an immersive evening of light and sound. For one night only, pockets of Volunteer Park lit up with interactive installations, live performances, LED wearables, large scale projection walls, and ambient music. Lusio featured local PNW Seattle artists: Miguel Edwards / Jonathon Womack / Marcell Marias / Bryan Ressler / Scott K James / Kelly Fleek / Noble Neon / Mokedo / & many more.

To see more artists and track upcoming events, visit lusiolight.com

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Audio: Nosaj Thing
Video & Post: Gerg Werk
Camera: Canon 60D
Lens: 50mm f/1.8 II