Keeping Up with Autofuss

Ever since releasing their first in-house short in 2008, Katelyn, the crew at Autofuss has been toiling diligently in their San Francisco offices, building a body of work that thoughftuly blends live action and CG. In this post, we review their latest output and get some behind-the-scenes goodness after the jump.

Halo: Remember Reach

Autofuss’ latest effort, a collaboration with agency AKQA, is an interactive installation promoting the newest entry in Microsoft’s Halo franchise.

Autofuss puts it nicely:

Visitors [to the Halo Reach website] were able to remotely control the robot by assigning their name to one of 64,000 points of light. The robot would then proceed to physically plot the light in a studio space in San Francisco. Through long exposure videography, a 3D monument of light depicting the game heroes emerged.

It’s one of those intriguing ideas that hinges entirely on execution. What I like about the end product is the way it presents the robotic arm and the light sculptures on equal footing. Both are the focal points, and yet one never upstages the other. Technology making art—and vice versa.

For Autofuss, the project signals a definitive entry into the world of interactive design, one that is increasingly becoming a second home to many motion design firms.

For more making of info on Halo Reach, read Machima’s excellent article.

University of Phoenix

Autofuss has been steadily releasing an elegant series of spots for the University of Phoenix and agency Pereira & O’Dell. The first spot, “Thought Leadership,” presents an abstracted world of architecture and typography populated by University of Phoenix students going about the business of learning.

Still from “Thought Leadership”

The newest two spots, “Quality” and “Access” add new dimensionality and richness to the universe of “Thought Leadership.” We had a chance to chat with Autofuss about the spots, and they generously shared some making-of goodies (after the jump).

Still from “Quality.” Note the increased dimensionality compared to “Thought Leadership.”

What was your favorite aspect of these latest spots?
University of Phoenix students are all over the country, but they are all part of this bigger thing. We got really into thinking about what this thing might look like, and how we might show something that feels big, but also interconnected and approachable.

Once we decided that amazing architecture was going to make this spot cool, we created a reference library of buildings and public spaces by architects like Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Louis Kahn, Richard Meier, Santiago Calatrava, and Renzo Piano. We even brought in some architects and worked with them for a month or so to help us concept the buildings. It was also fun to think in terms of dimensionalizing our previous work. We got to finally break all the boundaries we set up for ourselves last time.

What were some of the technical challenges you faced?
For the shoot, we did a lot of worrying about perspective and lenses, measured everything we could think to measure, calibrated and re-calibrated our automotive robot, pre-vised everything in Maya with a to-scale replica of our studio, sent the camera moves to the robot, built a rig to attach the camera to the roof, built some green sets, programmed a real time compositing system in Max/MSP to get an idea of how it would look, and brought in our actors.