The Trichrome Project

welcome to the trichrome project blog, which documents the progress of the trichrome animation series, including research, artwork and news.

Friday, November 27, 2009

trichrome: top 5 in HKU award 2009

The Trichrome project has been nominated as one of the top 5 candidates for the HKU Award 2009! Although I do not believe I have a great chance of winning (I'm up against some fascinating projects), I am still so very honored. The ceremony (free drinks and party time!) is on December 10th, anyone who is in Utrecht is invited to join! Just visit the HKU Award site.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

expo 2009

an invite to any and all who are interested! my animation is playing at the HKU expo, an exposition of graduation work for my school. the expo is from 14:00 to 19:00 on friday, september 11, and my animation is playing in the auditorium at 17:30.

it will be at the KMT building on the oude amersfoortseweg 31 in hilversum.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

last post

It's been a while since my last post! This is mainly due to the fact that I was animating the entire time, and I didn't want to post any animation online until the film was entirely complete. By now, the animation has been complete for about a week and I had my final graduation presentation on Tuesday, August 25th. It went well: I passed with highest scores for all criteria! So I guess that brings an end to my time as an animation student. Now I am simply an unemployed animator with a European Media Master in Arts.

As for some final updates, here is the animation:

And I will also include a download link to my thesis, which I'm putting online for educational purposes. It is an investigation of animated shorts as an advertising medium and covers advertising history, animation's relevance to advertising, case studies on the Coca-Cola and Prada campaigns, and a chapter on my graduation animation. Here is the link:

Entertain Me: The Added Value of Animated Shorts as an Advertising Medium

And finally, I made some graphics for my final powerpoint presentation, symbolizing the evolution of the project. Just to make it a more entertaining experience for my teachers, I personified my project as a little blue creature. It worked: they said my project was very enjoyable!

Monday, July 6, 2009

animation test

it's messy, but i'm trying to get back into the animation groooove! and trying out some animation software for the first time on this laptop. (the last animation i did was on a different one.)

just a plain old boring walk cycle!

character sheet - final

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

storyboard finished

finally finished the first version of my storyboard for the animation. above are some random frames.
and now it's on to animating non-stop for a month and a half! YEAH!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

bubbles and lotuses

paper finished

woohoo! i finally finished the first draft of my research paper. i still need to add the contents page, bibliography, images, etc., but in its current "naked" form it is 29 pages long with gill sans font, 11pt, no double spacing. i figure that's a healthy size, haha. i'm pretty satisfied with the results.

anyway, for those who are curious as to the contents of the paper, i have created a wordle which shows the most frequently used words in the paper, the largest words being the ones used most often, and vice versa for the small words. almost the same as reading the paper! haha.

from this point on, 100% of my daily work time will go into the animation. HARDCORE!!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

concept phase

So, long time no post. Work on the paper is for the largest part finished and it's time to get started on the animated short I'll be making. From this point on I'll be posting concept art and tests for the animation - and letting the images speak for themselves.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

brand identity: the key to success

Top secret sources reveal four crucial points for creating a strong, successful brand without the use of the usual mass-media channels. I, however, am a mere animator, destined never to play a deciding role in managing any brand whatsoever. So I will approach these points from the perspective of, indeed, a mere animator. What can animation do for brands?

1. "Let brand strategy drive business strategy."

This basically means that the philosophy of the brand should penetrate the entire structure of the business, all the way up to the CEO. Exciting as this may sound, animation has nothing to do with this, so on to the next point -

2. "Clarify the brand's identity."

This means: figure out what your brand stands for and stick to it. Don't change your strategy! Benetton's controversial campaign is still famous today and raised a lot of awareness about the existence of the clothing brand, but apparently it also destroyed sales. Why? Because it conflicted with Benetton's previous campaign which was all about colors, tolerance, multiculturalism and positivity. Apparently customers were all psyched and excited for more positivity when they were suddenly bombarded with depressing imagery about problems of the world - a real turn-off.

How can animation help to form brand identiy? First of all, it is a medium well-seasoned in transferring a large amount of information in a short period of time. Seeing as the process is tedious and very un-spontaneous, every frame requiring manipulation to the last detail, animators have no choice but to be economical about transferring meaning to an audience, and tend to do so in very poetic and inventive ways. Second of all, the style of an animation can be manipulated into practically anything you want, especially nowadays. Therefore, very easy for reaching out to your target audience by using recognizable imagery and styles.

3. "Brand exposure creates visibility."

Being seen is important for a brand. Beyond the obvious fact that people will know the brand exists, apparently studies have shown that people tend to like 'visible' and well-exposed brands more, even if they haven't even used the products. How to do this without mass-media venues? Sponsor events and get involved in anything that can make your brand seen by the right people.

Animation is a medium that has a huge amount of venues. Besides television, there's also cinemas, festivals, and of course the internet. Don't underestimate what the internet has done for animation. Community sites like youtube and newgrounds are saturated with amateur animation, a phenomenon made possible with the accessibility of animation tools nowadays. Consider the new genre of brickfilms or (less compelling) flash animation. On the other hand there are festivals and enthusiasts who seek out quality animation that can be considered "art." And then there's of course the cartoon genre, with a target audience ranging from little kids to teenagers and adults.

These are audiences that Coca-Cola and Prada tapped into with Happiness Factory and Trembled Blossoms. Happiness Factory was for more of a mainstream audience, but it did all it could to reach out to every last little corner of that mainstream audience with flash games, msn games, contests, merchandise, etc etc. Trembled Blossoms leaned a bit more in the direction of 'high art' enthusiasts (who don't know anything about animation and therefore take no notice of the crappy motion capturing in the film). Both films seeked out potential clients in venues outside of television.

4. "Involve the customer in brand building experiences."

A must-do for today's web 2.0 age. Even Prada took note of this and organized a music score contest for Trembled Blossoms on the internet. Coca-cola took this concept to extremes and arranged so many participatory events accross the globe that I don't even want to start naming them because it's slightly nauseating. But before Happiness Factory, Coca-Cola made the wise move of being the Oympics' first official sponsor in 1928.

Speaking of Coca-Cola, it's difficult to speak of 'brand building experiences' in reference to a company that's been around forever and practically defines the concept of brand identity. The name coca-cola is enough brand identity for this famous drink that by the way is what I need to get through a normal school day. Even so, coca-cola finds ways to get people excited about the brand: they have a 'heritage' section on their website which includes a list of all of their slogans throughout history. The only one I really remember is 'always coca-cola' with the polar bears. Which by the way included animation! YAY ANIMATION!!

One last fact: As it turns out, the first animation made for advertising purposes was a short. Logical since TV didn't really exist in 1899.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

new workspace!

My workspace at school is a classroom that I share with three other students. However, none of us have used the space much lately and when I worked at school yesterday it was just lonely and DEPRESSING here. So today I took a bunch of decorative junk I had lying around in my room and brought some life back into my workspace! Check it out:

Note the awesome James Jean and Happiness Factory inspiration wall. Woohoo! Let's hope this means more productivity in the coming months.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

animation and advertising

It's been a while, and after a few meetings and rounds of feedback the time has come to seriously get started on the research paper. If things go according to plan I'll be finished with the bulk of my paper by the end of this month, so I have my work cut out for me.

Since the paper will be addressing the question: "What is the added value of using animated shorts as a medium for advertising," the best way to begin would be to look into the relationship between animation and advertising. Why is animation utilized to begin with? And what would make a company take the step of investing into an entire animated short, something I can assume is a relatively expensive decision, to promote their product? Why would an animated short achieve a positive effect?

The good old days

It's not a hard question to answer seeing as there's such an abundance of animation in advertising, since 1899 in fact. Since the good old days it has been an ideal tool for bringing mascots to life and presenting products with a bit of humor and style. Not all of these commercials were necessarily intended for kids, but more often than not they had a goofy and playful tone. A quick look at the highly entertaining vintage TV commercials YouTube channel brings some interesting examples to light:

The snickers and tic tac commercials actually from some pretty interesting parallels with the 'animated shorts as promotion' phenomenon, since they sort of mimic complete stories in a highly shortened and compressed form. They are both short little stories with settings and characters, plus a beginning, middle and end with a small dramatic build-up. They obviously exploit an already-existing fondness for animation and try to build an association between this and the product. The huge difference with the animated shorts I'm looking at is, of course, that mine are actually animated shorts and not TV spots.

So it's obvious that animation and advertising make a pretty good pair. The flexibility of animation makes it perfect for promotion purposes. You can bring anything to life, and tell any story you want. Back in the good old days, this was limited to 2D animation so they were all based on cartoony illustration styles, perhaps for budget reasons but perhaps also because this was very accessible to audiences. Nowadays, animation techniques are so broad that the average person probably can't even tell if it's being used. 9 out of 10 car commercials feature a meticulously modelled 3D version of the car rather than a filmed one.

This could account for the equally broad application of animation styles in advertising today. Although the cartoony, sketchy animated commercials are far from dead - I feel like I've been watching the same Red Bull commercial my entire life - I can also enjoy tons of other approaches as well. Or not enjoy - never underestimate the abundance of animated eye-sores during commercial breaks.

Animation vs. Animated Shorts

So it's obvious: animation is well suited to advertising needs. To go one small step further: how are animated shorts well suited to advertising needs? One might say "the exact same way that animation in general is suited to advertising needs," but there's a huge difference between animated shorts and animated TV spots: the venues for viewing them are completely different. Airing a commercial on TV is a common and widely embraced form of promotion, but a full animated short must be displayed elsewhere, requiring a lot of promotion in order for it to get the same amount of exposure as a TV spot.

Other differences? An animated short goes much more in-depth. The story and style are generally much more developed and the production process is much more complicated and lengthy. Happiness Factory is an especially fitting example of this - the gigantic range of characters, the large and epic settings, the huge variety of narrative potential. Trembled Blossoms also takes much more time to tell a story than a TV spot could, which is a crucial aspect of the short.

I guess that's the reason I find the whole thing interesting enough to write a paper about. Apparently there are opportunities for commercial animators to find work that lies somewhere between working on large projects, like features, and small projects like TV spots, that are also challenging and require some critical thinking. That is, if you're so lucky (or talented) to land one of these projects in your career! Fortunately I get to invent my own project, haha. By the way, I've been talking to teachers of mine about the possibility of getting a big company to work with me on this project and help direct the creative process of the animated short I will create, which would be an interesting challenge. Updates soon to follow about how that will work out...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Field study, day 2

Today was all about books. I went to the film museum in Amsterdam and browsed through their library to search for some interesting sources that could eventually become the backbone of the paper I'll be writing. Some would describe that as the "boring part." The truth is, it wasn't boring for me, but probably a little too boring for a blog post. Alas for the blog! I'm making a post anyways, just to stick to my principles.

Art vs. Advertising

What I found interesting was the tension between 'art' and 'advertising.' When these two concepts are dealt with simultaneously, it usually begins by stating that these two are often seen as mutually exclusive. Many of the books I found focused on either one or the other, OR on the debate as to whether they can be considered one and the same.

As a side note, I'd like to mention that it's not hard to find instances of art and advertising united as one and the same. Alfonse Mucha, Warhol, Norman Rockwell, anyone? In Mucha's case, it's interesting to note that he used the same style for his advertisements as he did in his personal artwork.

Can an advertisement have significant artistic or cultural value? Of course anything can be analyzed from a cultural viewpoint and yield interesting results. Take for example the atrocious advertising campaign of Cillit Bang, which even involved the creation of a fake blog that supposedly belonged to the really annoying Cillit Bang guy, Barry Scott. Everything from the heinous, aggressive shades of neon pink, the comical character of the mascot, and the multimedia-oriented approach to the advertising campaign can be analyzed to reveal interesting observations about today's media and culture. But at what point can an advertisement also be considered 'art'?

Artistic advertisements: Selling out?

One of the questions my teacher asked me when I proposed my research plan was: "What is your opinion of animated shorts being used as parts of an advertising campaign? If shell approached you to make an animation to promote the use of oil, would you do it?" Many of my findings at the library today were about the threat of new media and advertising on cultural heritage and more expressive, less commercial forms of expression. Shortly put: the threat of mass media on the fragile, helpless individual and its morals and culture.

My personal opinion: There is an 'art' to creating an animation for promotional purposes. There is a way to do it that leaves room for creativity while still achieving its original goal, namely to promote or advertise. I stumbled across a book about Animated Shorts used for propaganda purposes in the U.S during WWII. Whether that's relevant to my research is questionable, but it is an interesting parallel. Why are people fascinated by these animations and write books about them? Because the ways in which these animations promote a certain ideology is fascinating, whether you agree with the ideology or not. It's not about the end, it's about the means.

And to answer the question my teacher asked me: No! I wouldn't! Somewhat randomly, this reminds me of a pretty cool commercial I saw on Belgian TV this weekend, intended to tentatively promote the idea of nuclear energy in Belgium:

Monday, February 9, 2009

Field Study: day 1

Day one of the field study has commenced. 'Field study' basically means gathering lots of rough data that has something to do with your subject before starting on the actual paper.

I kept it simple: I browsed some sites, took a look at a few animations that were relevant to my topic, and tried to figure out how these advertising campaigns worked. Of course I got started on the two animations that inspired me to begin with...

Trembled Blossoms

To be honest, the animation in this movie does not impress me very much. I'm not a 3D animator so I can't honestly say that I could do a better job, but I just think that the transition from James Jean's beautiful concept art to this sub-standard 3D film is unfortunate. But something must be said for the decision by Prada to be involved in creative products such as these. In fact, as it turns out, they've been investing in various creative projects for years now, sponsoring the creation of murals, artwork, short films, and animation.

In a way it makes sense, seeing as fashion is also a sector of the creative industry and is in many ways closely linked to these various art forms. It's interesting to see what these projects do for Prada: while promoting themselves and creating an artistic and even expensive image for themselves, Prada is in turn also promoting independent artists. As far as I can tell, the 'projects' that Prada invests in are unique products of the artists that work on them. Trembled Blossoms is not a sparkling gem of animation but the concept and style is undoubtedly unique to James Jean, who was free to create his own spin on the clothing line.

Coca-Cola: Happiness Factory

This campaign is targeted at a larger and more mainstream audience than Prada, and includes not only this animated short (showed in cinemas) and the teaser which was played on TV, but also spin-offs, merchandise, an interactive website, contests, mobile phone activities, and so on. The animated short was made by Psyop, a sickeningly awesome animation studio known for some of the awesomest animated commercials I've ever seen (including the Converse video).

In an interview I stumbled across, it's suggested that the advertising campaign was not planned this way. In fact, Coca-cola was so fond of Psyop's spin on the 'Happiness Factory' concept (which only existed in script prior) that the conceptualization phase became a very long one, involving the design of tons of characters and basically an entire universe for the happiness factory. Although Coca-cola evidently played a strong role in guiding the creation process of the short, it is clear that Psyop should get the credit for the awesome look of the animation.

General thoughts

How lame does 'general thoughts' sound? But truthfully, that's all I have to offer right now. In browsing around today, I became preoccupied with a few things...

  1. As of yet, I have only these two animated shorts that really fit the definition of a short that is used as a format for advertising. However, there's a vast amount of commercial campaigns that come close. The quality and concept of the commercials are excellent, creative and unique, and the brands are using these great commercials to emphasize that they are a brand that invest in quality. A strong example of this is the Sony Bravia campaign.
  2. 'New media': It's difficult to deny that there's a new generation out there that does not limit itself to one medium. Advertising campaigns make use of teasers, games, and similar things to lure people from a younger generation to the internet or to their mobile phones to further immerse themselves in a product. The Coca-Cola advertisements not only establish Coca-Cola's image as the way to express an optimistic and happy lifestyle; they also draw people to the interactive website of Happiness Factory and numerous other activities that promote the soft drink. Another example that comes to mind is the promotional campaign for Cloverfield, aimed at an audience of people who dig a lot deeper than what is simply handed to them by a TV screen. Why am I ranting about this? Well, to me, brands investing in animated shorts are clearly making use of this new form of promotion, the 'animated short' being just one of many formats which can be used to advertise.

Anyway, that's it for now. I will leave you with a link to Psyop (also to be found earlier in this post, but I have to post it again, because this studio is just awesome). This studio really sets the standard for animation in advertising today and also it's just fun to click stuff.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Hello to anyone who might be reading,
I created this blog to document the process of my EMMA project at the HKU, which I'll be working on until the end of August, at which point (hopefully) I will obtain a Master's degree in design for the completed project.

The EMMA project basically involves writing a research paper and then making stuff. I get to choose what to write about and what to make, so the possibilites are very broad. For the coming months I'll be primarily focusing on the research, which I didn't intend to document in a blog. However, yesterday a very inspiring and succesful graphic designer, Tarek Atrissi, gave a presentation at our school with some tips on how to handle the EMMA project, he himself being a graduate of the program in 2009. He suggested, amongst many other things, documenting the research process in a blog or something similar. Having thought about it, I decided that this was in fact a good idea. It'll help me to structure my thoughts and keep working in small steps rather than attempting to write the whole paper in one weekend as per my usual approach.

So, welcome to my EMMA project blog! For those who are wondering what my EMMA project will entail, my current pet name for the project is "The animated short as a format for advertising." I wanted to look at how animated shorts are used as an advertising technique, for example "Happiness Factory" by Coca-Cola. I'll try to keep it interesting, but for now I'm logging off.

Feel free to check out my other websites for more mindless entertainment.