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We've collected Kaws vinyl toys for years and have always been a huge fans. The first time we saw his Kate Moss bus shelter poster that he modified in the late 90s on the internet, we were hooked. Something about the expressionless X eyed faces that somehow have so much personality were so amazing, mischievous and definitely different than traditional graffiti. Scouring toy releases online & trades on ebay, we've collected more than a dozen of his pieces, vinyl characters, posters, his 4 foot companion, even a mouse pad and foot rug.
As designers, we're always trying to learn something new. We love making graphics and illustration, but I always got a kick out of gifs we'd see on dribbble and instagram of these illustrations doing every day tasks in hilarious ways. Markus Magnusson in particular makes these loops that have always made us laugh even though they are so simple. We were inspired especially by how we took everyday people and movements and added motion that gave them so much humor.
Characters sorta like actors open up such a larger world creatively. Technology is finally in a place where learning how to do it wasn’t as intimidating as it used to be (for us at least.) You can find almost anything on the internet resource wise, tutorials, 3d models, animation presets, anything. We were looking to buy a 3d model on turbosquid for a client project and accidentally happened upon a kaws companion 3d model.
A friend of ours had told us about character animation motion capture rigs which we googled. There was some hilarious ones of people doing everything; walking, jumping jacks and dancing. The dancing ones were especially hysterical. Google pointed us to some rigging tutorials and how to get Mocap data attached to 3d models.
We had been experimenting with new rendering techniques. In particular Octane Render for c4d which is very intuitive because it renders fast . Theres a live view to see your work almost real time. We did this single test to see if the workflow was holding up and posted it to instagram. Our friend Levi Maestro called us freaking out at how hilarious the test was, and we thought what more can I do with this? All still just for fun to learn something new and more.
We had been wanting to do VR and 360 work, but a lot of what we've seen or been invited to collaborate on have ben low res and boring. We saw a photo of one of kaws characters on The Modern Fort Worths instagram and it gave us an idea. What if the art pieces in the show came to life? What if you took one of the characters and just changed the colors much like the vinyl toys do. A dance party was born. We are simply in the middle of it in the gallery. Every direction was a different move and that seemed funny, but also using the physical space in a sensible way.
In cinema 4d, We built a square room, applied seamless tiled wood photos to the ground and lit the room with a single light from the top. We found artwork online that we put in on the walls in the scene for some context. We dropped the companion characters in and changed the materials to be 3-4 different looking characters. We found and modified dance moves we downloaded so that it felt like a slightly different experience each direction you looked in. It took a few tests to get the physical distance to work and some tweaks to the moves to have a bit.
When objects are too close in 360 space they start to bend around the image even when you aren’t looking in that direction which is odd spatially and visually. The workflow to render from octane was a simple camera setting to make it panoramic, but the renders for 360 have to be pretty big, so we output at smaller sizes to upload and test on youtube 360. We used youtubes recommended spatial media metadata injector
which added code to the file to uploaded. Final renders took about 30 hours on an 8 core mac tower with a GTX 770 card, and only had to render 2-3 times to get it working.
In art school, one of the techniques to learn new crafts was to emulate the greats. This felt like an extension of that for us, but with a new dance party twist. It was definitely easier to stay motivated with such a technical approach because of our fandom.
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