Motion Theory has created stunning visuals using generative art techniques, derived from a newborn’s vital signs, to convey that IBM’s technologies help analyse data to build smarter hospitals. The data-driven artwork forms part of a new TV commercial for IBM via ad agency Ogilvy & Mather/New York. Directed by Motion Theory’s Mathew Cullen, the :30 spot “Data Baby” is part of IBM’s Smarter Planet campaign.
“We wanted to convey to people that we now have the computational power and advanced analytics to see data in new ways so we can make sense of it to help build a smarter planet,” said Tom Godici, Executive Creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather/NY. “We knew Motion Theory had a lot of experience with generative art, turning mathematical algorithms into dynamic natural patterns, and could work with us to find the most compelling ways possible of visualizing actual data.”
The cornerstone of the Smarter Planet campaign is a new visual language developed collectively by the director, designers and code artists at Motion Theory. The team built custom code that translates spreadsheets of raw numerical data derived, in the case of “Data Baby,” from a newborn’s respiratory, heart rate, blood pressure, EKG, oxygen saturation and temperature readings into motion paths that move and evolve design elements organically across image sequences.
In the spot, patterns gently float up in-frame, seemingly from the surface of a newborn baby resting in a neonatal ward. Ethereal CG life patterns, fractal-like shapes and other visual expressions flow upwards to form a stylised mobile that is captured as a reflection in the baby’s eye. These beautiful design elements warmly envelop the baby, delivering an authentic visual representation of the myriad pieces of data made available to doctors with the help of IBM technology. This is data, as the spot conveys, that helps doctors treat babies more effectively and build smarter hospitals.
Production on “Data Baby” spanned the first three months of 2010. R&D included bringing on board a medical consultant, developing custom code to process and visualize data, and implementing a workflow for importing camera motion paths and tracking, curves, and models of the baby to match the exact movements of four infants filmed live on set. Cullen directed and oversaw a three-day live-action shoot in LA, teaming up once again with Academy Award-winning DP Guillermo Navarro, a longtime Motion Theory collaborator whose feature film credits include “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “The Devil’s Backbone” and “Hellboy.”
Production, VFX, editorial and finishing was handled in-house at Motion Theory. In addition to C++ code developed for this campaign, the production toolkit included Autodesk Maya, Maxon Cinema 4D, Adobe After Effects and The Foundry’s Nuke.
“Our challenge for ‘Data Baby’ and IBM’s overall campaign is to strike a balance between artfulness and an accurate representation of technological data. It took extensive R&D and a unique production pipeline that included a specialized team of programmers helping to visualise mass authentic real world data sets,” said Cullen. “‘Data Baby’ is at its essence a spot that seeks to humanise data and reinforce the comforting presence of science and human interconnectedness. It’s the most challenging generative project we’ve ever done and the culmination of our almost 10 years working with scientific visualisations and programming art.”
View and download a behind-the-scenes videoMetadata Title: “Data Baby” Length: 30 seconds Campaign : IBM “Smarter Planet” AGENCY Agency: Ogilvy & Mather/NY Executive Producer: Lee Weiss Associate Producer: Rich Fiset Sr. Partner/Worldwide ECD: Susan Westre Sr. Partner/ECD: Tom Godici, Greg Ketchum Creative Director: Rob Jamieson, Chris Van Oosterhout PRODUCTION Production Company: Motion Theory Director: Mathew Cullen Executive Producer: Javier Jimenez Line Producer: John Marx Director of Photography: Guillermo Navarro POST PRODUCTION VFX Company: Motion Theory Creative Directors: Kaan Atilla, Mathew Cullen Producer: Patrick Nugent VFX Supervisor: John Fragomeni Art Director: Angela Zhu Design Leads: Paul B. Kim, Satomi Nagata Designers: Heidi Berg, Leanne Dare, Kenneth Lee Onset FX Supervisor: Sean Looper, Trevor Tuttle 3D/Nuke FX Lead: Marion Spates 3D/Lighting Lead: Trevor Tuttle Pre-visualization: Trevor Tuttle 3D Artists/Animators: Brandon Lester, Gil Hacco, Casey Hupke, John Robson Matchmover: Joe Cullen Comp Lead: Danny Koenig Compositors: Andrew Ashton, Chris Riehl, Daniel Raschko, John Stanch, Dorian West Code Artist Supervisor: Keith Pasko Lead Code Artist: Josh Nimoy Code Artists: CJ Cenizal, Ekene Ijeoma, Jeremy Rotsztain Finishing: Danny Yoon Rotoscope Artists: Megan Gaffney, Gil Hacco, Rob Liscombe, Eva Snyder Production Manager/HR Director: Tina Van Delden Production Coordinator: Paul Pianezza Production Assistant: Sarah Smith Medical Consultant: Kathlynn Michelle Dominguez, MD, MPH EDITORIAL Editorial Company: String Editor: Jeff Consiglio Assistant Editors: Jeff Aquino SOUND DESIGN + MUSIC Sound Design Company: Sound Lounge V/O: Forest Whitaker Music track: “Boatfriends” by Black Moth Super Rainbow Executive Music Producer: Karl Westman