Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Introducing...Ugrow by Luca Paulli

Pod Director Luca Paulli revealed his latest design and animation for his fictional brand Ugrow this week. We caught up with him to find out more about it and see how the launch went..

PP: So Luca what exactly is Ugrow?
LP: UGROW is a fictional brand I created, it's a pill that gives you extendable arms. This idea then evolved into a campaign titled ‘Things you can do with extendable arms’ in a series of short animations illustrating some of the things you can do.

PP: Where did the inspiration come from?
LP: The inspiration came from author Nicola Barker saying that ‘ we live in a sociatey of spectacles’. She argued that we define our power and status through acts of consumption and excess under the guise of having fun. At the same time  I read that, I had an idea for a series of animations where the characters where doing funny and silly things with extendable arms. The two things clicked together and I decided to explore the concept Barker is talking about, using animation. I want to provoke a reflection on our society and look at how we define ourselves through our behaviour.
There is a duality in each character action  that should make the audience raise some questions. Are they really enjoying what they are doing? Is it making them happier?

PP: The woman playing Table Tennis is interesting,  she is the only one using her arms to replace another person, is there more to her than meets the eye?
LP: Yes, the woman playing table-tennis on her own is funny at first, but I want people to wonder why does she do it? Doesn't she have anyone to play with? Maybe she doesn't like to lose? Or she is using a highly encoded language to tell the audience that she wants to be seen as unique and so she puts on a show.

PP: You have three animations so far, are you going to add more to the series?
LP: Absolutely. I have a lot more ideas and I will release them regularly on social media, on the Ugrow Facebook page, and Instagram and Twitter. I want to start a conversation with people and see what they would do and maybe make some of their suggestions.

PP: Did you have any suggestions from your guests at your Private View?
LP: Yes! People had some very funny and unusual suggestions:

 PP: You can check out Ugrow and keep up to date with Luca's animations for things you can do with extendable arms at and @HelloUgrow

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Summer Exhibition: Sexy Watercolours by Anna Benner

This summer we have some fresh new art in our Picasso HQ Gallery, a cheeky little selection of miniature watercolours by the talented and witty Anna Benner of Jens & Anna.

Enjoy your very own private view right here:

Tuesday, 28 June 2016


We love making new friends so we are very excited to bring you Umbrella! A fresh collective from the cultural hotspot that is Budapest.  We caught up with them to find out everything about them so you all  can see why we like them so much...

PP: Hello! So who are you all?
U: We are Balazs Simon, David Dell’Edera, Miklos Mendrei, Daphne Samaras, Luka Kostil and Emil Goodman.

Watch here
PP: And where are you based and are you all from Budapest?
U: We all currently live in Budapest, sometimes we move to other cities such as Barcelona, Berlin, and NYC, but always come back! Most of us are born and bred Hungarian, Luka is Russian, David is partly Italian, Daphne has Greek grandparents and Emil is from Slovakia, so we are pretty multi-cultural.

Watch here

PP: How did you all get into animation?
U: All of us have always had a passion for visual techniques and telling stories, but not everyone knew they wanted to be an animator professionally. David had actually trained to be a stuntman until he one day he couldn't jump from a certain height and that was the exact moment he decided to become an animator.  Miki credits Tom & Jerry and Samurai Jack as his inspiration for a career in animation, and Balazs was 14 when he read an article on computer animation and that was it, best decision ever.

PP: So who is Umbrella? And where did the name come from?
U: We are a bunch of curious, creative people, we love experimenting with different techniques and solutions to telling a story within a certain time frame or in a certain style. Working on different platforms allows us to work with a wide variety of clients which means really interesting projects. We are many different talents all under one roof, so Umbrella is the perfect name for us and what we represent. 

Watch here
PP: Do you have a house style or do you have a mixture of techniques?
U: It’s pretty varied. We all have our own styles, some are simple, some expressive, some colourful and lively and the great thing is, they all compliment and contrast each other. For example Miki loves character orientated design, Luka has a more abstract approach, Balazs experiments with technology but we are all a team so can pool our talents to create the ideal style for each client.
PP: What is the biggest influence /inspiration in your careers?
U: Wow, this is hard to sum up. There are a lot of influences we all incorporate into our work and obviously the internet is a source of daily inspiration, but if we had to list our top few: Hiro Murai, Coen Brothers, Nabil Elderkin, Denis Villeneuve, David O’Reilly or Alex Webb.

PP: Is there one project that stands out as a favourite for you?
U: There are a quite a few that are favourites. David’s film “Balcony” is one of the projects we are all very proud and has just won the Jury Award at Annecy this year.  He worked in every part of the process and creating a world with the team was really exciting.

Then there is also Balazs music video for Nils Frahm. He often refers to that project as one of his favourites, since Nils was really kind and easy going, so it was fun work on that.

And Luka really enjoyed our collaboration with the Art Directors Club. Three short films which  describe immortality from three different point of views - a scientific, human and from an artistic perspective. All three films are symbolic and meditative.

PP: Can you give us an insight on living and working in Budapest, is it an inspirational place to live and work?
U:  Inspiration works kind of the same way for everyone here. Certainly places, atmospheres, friendships and amusing people play a huge role in this and of course Budapest has all this. It is also important that there is a certain vibe of the city, since we kind of feel that East and West meets here so that creates a special atmosphere.

PP: Please can you tell us a secret that no one else knows about Umbrella?
U: About 10 years ago, we had a relatively big project for the national bank of Hungary, obviously with a short deadline. We worked the last 24 hours leading to the deadline nonstop, so you get the feeling in what state we were in. We managed to write the Dvd with the final delivery just in time, gave it to the courier, then high-fived each other that we finally finished the project. Soon the phone rang and it was the client. He said: "Thanks guys for the DVD, my colleagues already installed the Prince of Persia Game that was on it, but we'd love to see our film as well!" Shortly after we delivered the right DVD to them, thankfully they had a sense of humor!

To view a selection of Umbrella's work - click here.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Tokyoplastic visit Hyper Japan!

Sam Lanyon Jones, half of iconic directing duo tokyoplastic agreed to come along to Hyper Japan Festival at the O2 to find out what it was all about:

 We found a Bonzai tree exhibit...

We found a 15ft giant model of the head of Titan from 'Attack on Titan' soon to be released as a live action film...

Sam chatted about about upcoming festivals in Hokkaido

 He introduced us to the world of Bubble Tea...strangely delicious and a little chewy!

We sampled authentic cuisine, a kind of omelette pickle lolly, and a sweet red bean pancake fish, made by a man in a fish hat, naturally.

We met some interesting people, including a fellow graphic novelist...

 Finished off by a spot of shopping for some beautiful comics and books...

We had a lovely afternoon out, thanks Sam!

Monday, 6 July 2015

The post Cannes post...

Smith. open and close Cannes Lions 2015 with a ... ROAR

Our talented Toronto based collective Smith. created stunning visuals that capture the energy and atmosphere of the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.  If you weren't lucky enough to attend the opening and closing Gala or see them on the massive screens at the Palais de Festival - then check them out here:

Opening Gala Film:

Closing Gala Film:

For a look at some behind the scenes footage of what went into this project, check out Smith's Facebook page here.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Introducing...Breakfast of Champions!

We are very excited to announce Breakfast of Champions are joining our roster of talented directors. This London based innovative motion graphics collective have already worked with an impressive array of brands and clients, including 02, McLaren, Intel, Nike and HTC.

As all our followers know, we love to share a bit more about our Directors, so we headed over to Covent Garden for a cuppa and to find out what makes them so special...

PP: So who are you?

BofC: Breakfast of Champions – headed up by James Murphy and Justin Lowings.

PP: Where in the world were you born /grew up?

BofC: James was born in England but despite sounding like Prince Charles, regularly claims he’s Irish.  ‘You’re not a horse if you’re born in a stable’. Justin grew up in Cambridgeshire, and isn’t quite sure if he was in some way the inspiration behind Stephen Hawking’s gravitational singularity theorems. 

PP: So who are Breakfast of Champions - where did the name come from?

BofC: We are a collective of about 10 people, depending on who’s giving birth or deported at any time.  Our 3d guy lives in Tokyo and our main Maya animator is in LA, so we do work funny hours.

The name’s from a book by Kurt Vonnegut ‘Breakfast of Champions’ the story of "two lonesome, skinny, fairly old white men on a planet which was dying fast".  It’s clever, funny and good illustrations too.

PP: How would you describe your style /styles - How has it developed over the years?

BofC: We’ve always focussed on adding personality to our projects. We got very good at taking dry and complicated content and making something fun from it. So I guess our style has developed from that. Whether we shoot it, make it in 3d or animate in 2d, we always try and have fun with bright colours and simple illustrations.

PP: Who/ What has been the biggest influence on your career?

BofC: I think the London has to be our biggest influence. The inspiration is infinite. The diversity of the people and its creative culture means there’s always something to inspire you to be better.

PP: Is there one project you feel is a bit of a favourite, and if so why?

BofC: Probably the Intel Ultrabook film

We wanted to show how technology could be beautiful, from an aesthetic point of view rather than simply being about clock speed or performance.  So we came up with the idea of the construction of one of the machines, in a slightly whimsical way. 
Somehow we even got the client to buy into the weird candy worm things we have shooting out of the screen, alien style.

PP: Where do you see the future of Breakfast of Champions? What are your hopes and dreams?

BofC: We’re not interested in being big just for the sake of it, so it’s definitely about quality rather than quantity.
We want to deliver high quality, thoughtful, personality driven films.  To have people watch & engage with them.  It’s quite a privilege when people let you into their living rooms to take over their TV screens, so we’ll do our best to deserve that.

PP: Tell us a secret about Breakfast of Champions that no one else knows.

BofC: Ah, really?  Well, one of us has been in jail and one’s a cage fighter.  And there are no vegetarians.

To view work by Breakfast of Champions please click here