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Work / Film

Builder’s Club creates warping, bubbling and morphing 3D animations for Baidu

Builder’s Club is known for its mind-bending 3D animations but this latest project goes one level up the eye-boggling scale. Hypnotic and satisfying to watch, the short film – made to promote a new speaker from Google’s Chinese rival Baidu – brings to life the product’s qualities with hyperreal sheen.

The London studio, led by film director Jonas Hegi and motion designer Julien Simshauser, was approached by Baidu to make a series of short animations to launch its AI smart speaker Raven H. The result splits into four, emulating the speakers qualities: connectivity, signal waves, AI and colours. Waves shows ripples and undulations through liquid and solid materials, while Connectivity shows seemingly solid objects in marble, wood and metal which morph and mould together before showing layers of the speaker itself assembling. Artificial intelligence features a botanical scene appearing from thin air, with tropical leaves, mushrooms and grass spreading across a floor; and finally Colours features sheets and amorphous blobs of block colour gradually covering various surfaces.

“The overarching theme is ‘domestic materiality’,” explains Julien. “We created [animated] materials associated with industrial products and home environments… then distorted and transformed them in a magical way, made them come alive. We also added imperfections such as scratches and wrinkles to make things feel more real, while still going crazy.” Visual references were drawn from modern art, product design, architecture, film and fashion; for example Connectivity was inspired in part by Jeff Koons, and Waves took aesthetic cues from chemical reactions. AI drew from “a crazy plant video art piece by Cyprien Gaillard where plants are moving in slow motion like living beings,” says Julien. “When we combined this with drone led lights – it made the perfect fusion of real and artificial intelligence for us.”

To connect the four disparate visuals in one hero film, Builder’s Club created a consistent light quality throughout. “For this we wanted to move away from the usual soft light used heavily in 3D motion graphics, and mainstream-friendly pastel colours. Instead we went for monochromatic materials combined with a few punchy accent colours.” This is accompanied by music by Simon Pyke, giving the whole film an otherworldly feel.

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Builder’s Club: Baidu

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Builder’s Club: Baidu

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Builder’s Club: Baidu

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Builder’s Club: Baidu

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Builder’s Club: Baidu

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Builder’s Club: Baidu