October 7th, 2014

Meet bif, a Mill+ directing collective made up of Jules Janaud and Fabrice Le Nezet, both accomplished 3D artists in The Mill’s London studio. Jules and Fabrice discuss their latest project creating a distorted urban landscape for the Playgrounds Festival 2014 Title Sequence.

The team met in Supinfocom Graphic Design & Animation school in France back in 2001 and hit success with their student films ’90 Degrees’ and ‘Dynamo.’ After starting in The Mill’s London studio as 3D artists, the team decided to form the directing collective bif, and have since directed a range of projects such as Ford ‘Pop Up’, Net Jets ‘Runway’, TCM ‘Lose Yourself In Film’, and the short film ‘Dix.

Bif Dix Video 1

Their most recent creative endeavor saw them collaborate with Playgrounds on the opening title sequence for their 2014 festival held in Amsterdam.

The annual International Digital Arts Festival is a festival for innovative and creative digital art. During the four-day event in Tilburg and Amsterdam, Playgrounds presents an impression of the latest developments in technology as well as creativity. The festival programme offers an inspiring mix of artist talks, inventive films, animation, graphic design, character design, games, interactive installations and performances.

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With the brief to create an animation that reflected something experimental, eclectic and artistic, bif created the concept of a 'digital playground', which we can see here in a warped urban landscape. The images perfectly pair with the distorted sound effects created by world-renowned sound designer Echolab, which aided in bringing the dynamic visuals to life.

Fabrice and Jules tell us more about the creation of their digital playground…

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Tell us about your inspiration behind the piece…

"Exercice de Style"

Over the last 10 years, titles have become a method of visual experimentation for all the motion designers, almost like promos for directors, they are a fantastic creative opportunity and also offer the chance to play with typography, which is a strong graphic element in itself.

We came across the idea for the sequence whilst we were experimenting with the compositing software Nuke. We liked the way that when you open an image on the wrong canvas size the pixels are stretched and depending on the pictures used you can get an amazing colour range.

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We then applied this effect to motion and volume. The first tests were very convincing, giving us some really cool surreal and abstract shots, combined with elegance and subtle color tones. We then developed this further to produce the final piece

This project it offered up more of a challenge in terms of design rather than story, but we still wanted to try and introduce a thread and a build a narrative.

By introducing moving planes, cars and trains, we wanted to create the idea of a journey through a surreal world, which also added an element of life and humanity to series of quote cold and sober images.

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How did you create the landscape and distortions?

All of the shots were fully CG and created in Maya, with a very light amount of compositing done in Nuke, as we wanted to create something visually pure and fast to render, before the 2D post effects such as circle shots, frames and typography were created in After Effects.

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We used photographs in some instances to create the colours on the refracted hairs, and developed the textures using a hair simulation system in Maya. We also used various techniques to experiment with the stretching and animation of each pixel’s volume.

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Would you say you have a distinct graphic style?

We like to use mixed media to experiment and innovate, using strong graphic visuals to tell stories. A good example of this would be our short film ‘Raymond’. Each time we work on a project we try and find a strong graphic language to serve the story, even if it is a simple one.

See more of bif’s work on their website and Vimeo and watch the Playgrounds Festival 2014 Title Sequence below: