Monday, March 21, 2011

Sumo Science

Yay, springtime has finally arrived! With that I wanted to post on a little animation featuring spring themes that are very "little" indeed. In fact, this animation is so tiny it holds the Guiness Book of World Record's achievement for being the "world's smallest stop-motion animation". Please enjoy, Dot:

I love the bumble-bee ride over the ocean of pencil shavings. :)

Dot herself is only 10cm tall!...

Much too tiny to manipulate in any traditional way, so instead 50 different poses of her were created using the resin drippings of a 3D printer (cool)...

...painstakingly painted, and then switched in and out of each frame to simulate her movement. Any smaller and her tiny appendages would not be able to stay attached.

The entire movie was shot on a Nokia 8 cell phone with a microscope. That's right, a cell phone. It's specifically called a CellScope, invented by Professor Daniel Fletcher and his team at Berkley. It allows for doctors in developing nations to snap pictures of magnified blood samples and send them to anywhere in the world for instant analysis. It's brilliant, and it saves lives.

Ed Patterson and Will Studd, a team of duo-directors who call themselves "Sumo Science", were hired under Aardman studios to shoot the film (yay for Wallace and Grommit :) ). On average they shot about 4 seconds of animation per day, meaning it must have taken them about one month of shooting to complete the whole thing. Not too shabby.

Both Ed Patterson and Will Studd graduated from UWE Bristol, and since then have been working under Aardman Studios helping out on such projects as Wallace & Gromit, Planet Sketch, Purple & Brown, and animating various commercials.

Have you ever seen those shorts of Purple & Brown on YouTube? Ah, the hilarity:

Sumo Science uses traditional stop-motion techniques with everyday objects and sometimes 2D animation. I had a chance to look at some of their past work and I especially like their Innocent Orange Juice ad:

Apparently these commercials are so popular in Britain they have a few parodies. Here's one for fun. :)

"Plump... and ready to burst." Mmm, I want an orange.

Here's a funny "Stuff vs. Stuff" episode. They're only vegetables, but you can't help but grimace when they get hurt:

Here are some of Sumo Science's creative Idents meant to occur in between commercial breaks:

And finally, here are two animations of theirs I just like: The first is simply called, Plates. The second is a 2D animation of glowing Clockwork Plankton. Very dreamy:

Have you ever seen such creativity be expressed by two people in so many diverse ways? Each animation is as unique and original as the next. It's good to know that stop-motion and 2D animation are not dead--quite the opposite; in fact, these styles seem to be teeming with new methods and fresh ideas coming from all over the place.

I have no doubt Sumo Science will continue to be a leader in the forefront of this stop-motion "reawakening"; constantly brightening our days with the cooky antics of their characters and the colorfulness of their imaginations. It is a welcome renaissance.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Yelena Bryksenkova

From the moment I first saw these inked/watercolor creations I fell instantly in love.

They are by the young and very talented Yelena Bryksenkova, a Russian-born, American-raised freelance illustrator based in Baltimore. She seems to have recently graduated and is now ready to take on the world with her raw talent.

So far she has received many commissions from fashion magazines and specialty clothing lines wishing their products to be featured in a more stylized way. Bryksenkova accomplishes the task in the most lovely, tasteful manner.

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Bryksenkova has a style uniquely her own, with color palettes, textures, and patterns inspired by Eastern European art and culture. Here are some pages from her travel journals to Prague and Russia.

She also seems to draw inspiration from the years of glamour and fashion long since passed.

I absolutely adore the way she draws hands...

Perhaps what most characterizes her work are her delicately hand-painted patterns that dance from one edge of the frame to the next in sporadic harmony.

They add a depth and texture that remind me of the intricate patterns of Erte, and the organic nature of Alphonse Mucha's work, both Eastern European artists themselves.



Also, the contours of her figures and their relationship to space often reminds me of the work of Brian Kershinsnik.




Even if someone isn't an art connoisseur, or doesn't understand the "rules" of composition or design, I believe the human eye has an innate ability to determine if a line or drawing is amateurish or refined, inept or "beautiful". Yelena's drawings certainly have a refinement and maturity to them. You can tell she has a deep understanding of line and form, balance and weight.

Nature, and the whole universe for that matter, is embedded with mathematical equations that manifest themselves in ways which are beautiful to us. Whether they're the Fibonacci numbers found in plants, flowers, and trees; the "golden spiral" found in shells; or the "golden ratio" found in animals and the human body, we all have an instinctive recognition of what we may only be subconsciously aware.

I think that's why when you look at Yelena's drawings there is a sense and affirmation of the beautiful. I'm not sure how, but I think if we applied a randomness algorithm to her patterns, or the golden ratio to her work, we'd see that they correlate very closely.

Each time I revisit her blog I'm constantly taken-aback at what new pieces she has crafted. You can see how her creative process and skills continue to develop into more grand and intricate designs. It will be very exciting to see where her talent leads her in the future. Good luck, Yelena!