Visualizing Food


Samuel Glenn

Our final vignette depicts a person going through their and realizing how much food is wasted every day. Our first scene is of a television advertisement which tells the viewer some facts about food waste. We then zoom out of the screen to and see a person sitting on their couch, living a normal life. They then get in their car and drive to work. We decided that lights should flash in his building to add spice and keep the viewer interested. He then drive to lunch where we see a chef throwing out perfectly fresh tomatoes because one was rotten. The main character then leaves, see the tomatoes and gets an idea. Later he goes back to the restaurant and picks the fresh tomatoes out of the trash. The camera zooms into the tomato where the word Fin! is now visible on the skin. After that credits appear on the screen.




Nathaniel Tong

We started off the studio by watching videos all about food. Videos about dumpster diving, and food made in factories, we noticed that a lot of the videos left us with a negative feeling. We then started to brainstorm about possible topics for our animations.

We decided that we didn’t want to go the industrial/manufactured food route or dive into the future with 3D printing food. We knew what we didn’t want to make an animation about, which made it a lot easier to find the topic we did want to make our animation about.

We wanted to make an animation about slow food and how satisfying it is to grow your own food, nurture your food, then eat it.

First off, we storyboarded the whole video. We did this so we had a plan, and would know how the whole animation would fit together. Our original plan for our story went like this: The beginning of the animation will show the manufactured gross food we eat now. It will look gross, and probably have a few facts on the screen about the gross food we eat. Then it will show the opposite side, and show this guy planting a seed and watching it grow, until he picks it and turns it into soup. This will be beautiful and nothing like the first hunk of the animation. Once the soup is done being made, we will show the screen split; on one side will be the soup guy slurping away and on the other the manufactured food dude is pigging out. The final screen will probably say something like “You ­Choose” or something similar along those lines.

We were then told that it was impossible to animate our story that we had planned out. Our story had characters in every scene, and characters are the hardest to animate.  We decided to filter some of the scenes out of the story, rather than completely starting over.

We then decided that our story would go like this. It starts out with our main character pouring out a can of soup. The soup looks really disgusting, and maintains the can shape. Some of the soup goo flies into his eye. Gross. The Character then “sees the light” as he looks out the window and sees an open field. The light shines on him through the window as he realizes the opportunity. It then shows the character walking out side and he drops a seed. The next frames are watching the seed grow. The character then comes back to the plant, picks it and takes it back home. The next scene we see is the plant (onion) being cut up, and put into a pot. The pot transfers into a bowl, and shows the character happily eating soup. He winks at the end.

After we completed our storyboards, we taped them onto the wall in front of us, so we wouldn’t loose them. Kate started doing some of the drawings on Photoshop, while Nathaniel set up the shots with shapes in Illustrator.

We had a good system. Kate would do the art, and Nathaniel started animating. This way, both of us are working while its fresh in our minds. Once the drawings were finished, we both worked in After Effects on the animation.

We have learned that it is much easier to animate objects than people. We are animating our character with the puppet tool. The puppet tool allows us to put key points on our character. We then manipulate the placing of the key points, which allows us to move the character.  The puppet tool is really awesome, but it is really easy to screw up. It was hard to make the character not look like he was made of rubber. Moving one point might completely warp our characters body. It is completely frustrating when all you want him to do is move his arm, but instead his waist gets twisted up.

We continued animating for days. Once we were done with the animation, we looked for background music. We knew we wanted foreign music, because we didn’t want words to be a distraction from all the animation work we had done. We Googled the top ten foreign songs, and we found our song pretty quickly. Our song worked out extremely well. It was the perfect length, and different sections of the song would come in just when the animation would change. It added a lot the overall zen of the animation.


Nathaniel Tong

This story focuses on the character's dissatisfaction for the canned and processed soup that he was planning on eating. Clearly unhappy with the contents of the can, he sets out to create his own soup from scratch. Gathering an onion from his own garden, and preparing it the way he pleases, he was finally satisfied with his meal. 

Seed to Soup is a video representation of how the slow food movement needs to be reignited in society. Food of today has become faster and more efficient as opposed to being home grown and organic. Being more efficient doesn't always mean better. Food starts to lose its taste and wholeness, and it just feels less personal. Seed to Soup helps portray our distaste for the fast food ideal. Instead of driving to the store to pick up fruits and vegetables that shouldn't even be stocked all year, we want to entice the viewer into growing it themselves.


Lizzie Beer

100% Printed is a parallel between the way we think about food today and the way we will think about food in the future. The video starts by depicting a restaurant that heats up frozen pizza replete with chemicals for its customers. Then, we see the same scene in the future, but instead of frozen, preserved pizza, the restaurant serves its food from a 3D printer. The video ends with four customers each taking a slice of their fresh, 3D printed pizza. 

Three main ideas were utilized in the making of this video: seductive and misleading advertising, the trouble with factory foods, and one possible way that 3D printing can fix our broken food system. The advertising component gets tackled through our "authentic" restaurant and the factory system is debunked in our factory scene. 3D printing becomes introduced about halfway through the video to show how a restaurant can control the ingredients of a food, make that food fresh in a short amount of time, and do so with the precision of a computer.   


Sam Rae Chu

The Process

The first days, we watched a bunch of movies in order to spark inspiration. Then we brainstormed on what we wanted to research and make a skit about. After we decided on waste we had to come up with a story and a style of art we wanted to use.

The rest of the first week we primarily did Illustrator, and making the characters and objects that we needed to actually create the animated film. I was terrible at Illustrator, and this was mainly because of the choice I had made on the first day, which was to make all of our drawing in perspective. We chose the angle to be 140 degrees, because that was the angle that Biscous les Copains the artist who’s style we took used. Although it looked much cleaner than just a flat picture, it was much harder. Another hard part about doing it in perspective was that every scene had to have the same perspective, because even if the line was off by mere millimeters, the illustration would look off. At first we usually did not get the perspective right, and then Amro would come around and say “this is not good”. Luckily Sam really liked illustrator, so he made most of the pictures. I managed to make a couple of buildings and objects Illustrator, but I did not like it much.

    On Friday of the first week I began to do After Effects, which is where you animate the people and objects. The first scene was basically the introduction where we show how much we waste, and then he gets up and drives off to work. I had a lot of problems with this part because, it was my first one, and I could not figure out how to change opacity and other basic things like that. After Effects is really tricky in the beginning because you have to figure out which icons do what, and how to use them correctly. Also in the first days, I kept forgetting that I had to move in time, so I kept having to redo parts of a scene.

    To me After Effects was not that hard, you just had to have will to finish the scene, because there were so aspects to each scene, like walking, or fading in and out. The only place I had problems in After Effects was the restaurant scene, because I had to make the Chef throw away tomatoes and was really hard to get that throwing motion down and look realistic. Luckily I had Amro, and he helped me, but then I had to repeat that motion. My problem after that was when I added a part to the scene before the throwing, I had to retime everything.

    After Effects is mainly about timing, because if you leave a part out or add a part, its a real pain to do it over again.

I had a particular trouble with the dumpster because I wanted to make it playful looking, but also look like a dumpster. I had a dumpster that I was pleased with it, but I, unfortunately, forgot to save. I wish I could have done slightly more before the final. One thing I enjoyed was putting details into objects that I made. While the viewer might not be able to see the order that is on a notepad, I think it added something special. One thing I was really proud of was the credits which I made, albeit with a little help. It is a wonderful experience seeing all you hard work coming together.

From storyboards to renders: our design process

Sam Daitzman

Initial Research

After watching a number of movie clips relating to food waste and the massive problems revolving around the food industry as a whole, we decided to focus on recycling. We quickly discovered that most of it doesn't actaully get re-purposed like were told, but ends up in landfills all over the world. After researching the issue and making calls to local recycling centers, we found that many water bottle companies may be lying to us by saying they are eco-friendly.

We decided to make an animated PSA video to show people the truth. We created a storyboard to organize our ideas. We based the style on a video created by BP, featuring a minimal design style with no outlines or unneeded effects.


We picked a clean palette of bright colors that looked well together, and then used Adobe Illustrator to create graphics of all the objects in our storyboard. For many of the objects, we used a pre-existing image like a car or barrel and traced it, then removed the original and adjusted it. Once we had every object we needed, we began to use another program called After Effects, which is used for animation.


After learning the basics of After Effects we had to transfer all the images we created from Illustrator to After Effects and animate them. We exported them as images in a separate folder, organized by the order we expected to use them. We went over every scene and decided what we wanted to animate and what looked better as a static object. Each scene was created as a separate composition, and once they were finished we began adjusting the details.


At several points in the animating process, we strayed from our original storyboard. We decided clear text in a consistent font and position would be more clear than a person speaking, and that our original facts were too wordy for the average person. We simplified these facts and adjusted the details of each scene until the style was consistent.


Once all the scenes looked great separately, we began to combine them. We created a final composition and imported all the others, then adjusted them to create smooth transitions. Using simple shapes without outlines allowed us to animate a shape or background from one scene into some other graphic in the next one, creating a more cohesive appearance. We then chose a song, Daydream by Tycho, for its smooth melody which fit well with our theme, and rendered for the first time.


Our first few renders had minor issues, so we adjusted accordingly. We switched from a general location to specific coordinates for our text, and adjusted its size for easier reading. After several more revisions, we added credits to thank our coaches, and ended the video playfully with a drop of water.


Marcia Zimmerman

We started off very interested in 3D printed, so we knew that we wanted to do something with that. The ideas came naturally as we storyboarded; we would start with food today and end with food tomorrow. The original idea was to have a video that zommed in to the next slide after every frame. For example, we would see a billboard overlooking a highway, then zoom in to something on the billboard that was included in the next scene. We wanted to have our music resemble that of an Italian restaurant, but ironically, the best music we could find was French.

Since neither of us had experience using Adobe Illustrator or After Effects, we knew that we should stick to 2D animations. We watched videos for inspiration and came up with background patterns and color schemes; our backgrounds are a grey gradient pattern with repeating squares and our floors are a light wood striped gradient. We struggled with keeping the same font, color scheme, scale, and style throughout different scenes, but I think it turned out well in the end once we understood what to do. In After Effects, we learned that our original zoom in idea would not work with every slide, so we tried to vary our transitions. We had to make decisions about which parts of the scenes to animate.

Working with After Effects was hard because many of our animations worked with characters. The way that we made our characters was not condusive to the puppet tool, so we had to be very precise with where we placed the puppet pins

Our main problem was that we spent so much time in Illustrator that we had very little time to animate in After Effects, so we had to stay late one day after NuVu. If we had managed our time a little better, we could have had smoother transitions and more precise animations. 

Overall, I think this project went very well. It was so different seeing the final on the screen and knowing where we had come from to get there. The decisions we made, like our color palette, characters, front view, and animation transitions, helped us to come up with a cohesive video. 



Final Project: What's your excuse?

Sam Daitzman

We created a video depicting how many water bottles the world wastes and how bad they are for the environment. We showcase a reasonable solution that has the potential to end this problem and greatly reduce the number of water bottles ending up in land fills and the ocean. This issue should be addressed more prominently and we hope to inspire people with this video.

The video asks a clear rhetorical question: why would anyone would buy plastic water bottles when a reusable water is not only environmentally friendly, but far more cost effective? The video speaks for itself: what's your excuse?

Know What You Eat

Max Ingersoll

"Know What You Eat" is 2.5 minute animated film that combines digital drawings and low-poly 3D models to educate viewers about obesity, nutrition, and the risks and preventions of heart disease — created by Max Ingersoll and Sam Ingersoll during the Visualizing Food studio at NuVu.

We were inspired by Thrive, Brendan Brazier’s book about optimal nutrition, health, and fitness, having tried this approach, noticing how much better we felt. We wanted to convey Thrive’s key ideas in a short animation. The key ideas are that the leading cause of death in America, heart disease, is completely preventable through better nutrition and increased physical activity.

The film has two parts: the problem and the solution. The first part links poor nutrition and the lack of exercise as the causes of heart disease using graphic transitions. Here we used data on heart disease from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. After laying out the problem, the background, which was red becomes a more positive blue and a question “What can we do about it?” appears. At this point the film illustrates positive diet and lifestyle changes that can help prevent heart disease.

To achieve a simple and playful look we used a low-poly style for our 3D models. Low-poly(gon) refers to simplified 3-D models which have fewer faces. To create the 3D models we used Autodesk 3DS Max. We usedAdobe After Effects to animate the film.

Final Render

Sam Daitzman

After ensuring all the settings were correct, we exported our final video as a .mov file, then opened it in Quicktime to be converted to the correct format. The video is done!