Years ago the CEO of a company I was working for was hospitalized at the time the board of directors’ group photo had to be taken for the annual shareholders report. Another executive who was roughly the same built as the CEO was recruited to stand in his place. Later a photo of the CEO’s head was pasted and airbrushed onto the stand-in’s torso. It looked okay, but anyone who knew the CEO found something about his pose unsettling.
For another annual report cover, we had a shot of a logging truck traveling on a freeway past a forest of gorgeous fall colors. Due to reasons I’ve forgotten, the photograph had to be flopped, so the freeway sign made it look like the truck was driving on the wrong side of the road. If I remember right, a print had to be made of the photograph so the retoucher could fix it, and then it had to be converted back into a transparency.
That was in the days before Photoshop. Because significant manipulation of a photograph was such a big deal back then, it used to be said that “the camera never lies,” Now designers are often overheard saying, “Don’t worry. We’ll photoshop it in (or out) later.” Photography has become an “impressionistic” art form. Seeing isn’t believing. Changes can be made in an instant on a computer by virtually any designer. The airbrushing and retouching professions have all but disappeared. Through Photoshop, a hybrid art form has emerged that is producing some incredible images. More and more, designers have assumed control of the photograph, and taken it out of the hands of the photographer.
Until now, 3-D mapping has largely been used to project dazzling special effects onto the facade of buildings at outdoor events. The display of colored lights, towering cascading images and shadows of dancing giants enthralled crowds. But as awesome as these performances were, they felt random and experimental, a new invention that had potential but, as yet, no defined purpose beyond a gee-whiz demonstration of its possibilities. That’s why this 3-D court projection produced by Virginia-based Quince Imaging in partnership with the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team is so interesting. It uses 3-D mapping to enhance the excitement by integrating it into its regular program. Using a combination of 3-D mapping techniques and video content produced by the Cavaliers’ QTV team and Think Media, Quince transformed the court surface and surrounding screens into an immersive video environment. The system was comprised of 16 HD projectors, creating a pixel space of 3600×1878.
When Johnnie Walker signed onto the Join the Pact initiative to promote responsible drinking, the whisky maker did more than lend its name to the campaign; it gave an impactful demonstration of what might happen when you drink and drive.
Marketing agency APAC Iris Singapore worked with Johnnie Walker to create this 90-second public service spot. The agency took advantage of the fact that Johnnie Walker has been a long-time sponsor of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula One racecar team, and proposed building a CGI model of a Formula One car out of 1,750 Johnnie Walker whisky glasses. The project, headed by Iris regional creative director Grant Hunter and film/3D director Russell Appleford, proved to be an arduous task. Just the crash scene alone required more than 100 gigabytes of data. Two-time world drivers’ champion Mika Häkkinen, Johnnie Walker’s responsible drinking ambassador, was brought in to give the voiceover message authority, advising, “Staying in control is what matters in racing. Split-second decisions are the difference between finishing first and finishing last – or not finishing at all.” For a liquor company, this approach is bold and civic minded. It addresses the potential danger of their product directly and doesn’t try to slip in a self-serving “buy more whisky and party hearty” plug.
The symmetrical patterns and multiple reflections created by a kaleidoscope served as the perfect metaphor for the art of dance and gymnastics – and a means to demonstrate the ease of movement offered by the dance and fitness apparel manufactured by Freddy Wr.UP of Italy. For the making of the video, DLV BBDO Milan collaborated with Abstr^ct:groove production company to build a simulated kaleidoscopic view of performers in motion. Considerable storyboarding preceded actual production. Abstr^ct:groove producer Mauro Mastronicola says, “To understand how to achieve the graphic patterns we wanted, we started by studying small scale models and then we went into CGI simulations. All the effects were obtained in camera without the use of added post-production.”
Not everything happened in camera, however. Abstr^ct:groove designed and built four thaumascopes of different sizes and shapes, the biggest being about 30 feet long with an triangular opening of about 8 feet and the smallest being about 5 feet in length with a square opening of about 2 feet. The Italian National Team of Rhythmic Gymnastic ‘le Farfalle’ was asked to perform the gymnastic movements which were choreographed by their trainer Emanuela Maccarani. Luigi Pane directed the film and Franky B (aka Cryptic Monkey) produced the music.
Anthimos Xenos in Athens, Greece, produced this animated introduction for the Greek environmental television network, EcoNews. For the 30-second video, Xenos served as art and creative director, motion designer and 3-D animator, and completed the project from start to finish in one month. Music and sound compositing was by Xenakis Lefteris and additional direction by Nikos Tsimouris. In February 2013, Xenos founded his own firm, Darling Creative Motion, in Athens, to focus on TV branding and advertising.
It is nice to see that Apple is still channeling Steve Jobs in this new ad campaign by TBWA/Chiat/Day. The “Intention” video is classic Apple. Like Apple’s products and its packaging, it feels elegant, devoid of fussiness and ostentation. It communicates simply, directly, softly. It doesn’t provide boastful descriptions of its own engineering prowess or gee-whiz features. In fact, it doesn’t show or name its products at all. It tells you how it strives to deliver what you want to feel when using Apple products. It’s all about you… your desires… your pleasure. If iMac was a guy, he’d have women swooning at his feet.
There are many videos about various aspects of typography, and we’ve posted several of them here, but this is the only one I’ve seen to date that explains the evolution of type faces in such an engaging, clear and concise manner. The video was made by Ben Barrett-Forrest of Forrest Media, a graphic design and media production firm with offices in Whitehorse, Yukon, and Hamilton, Ontario in Canada. As charmingly simple as it comes across, making the five-minute video was an arduous task. It took Forrest 140 hours to hand-cut 291 paper letters and make 2,454 photographs for this stop-motion animation. It was worth it. Enjoy.
When Oreo launched its Pollyannishly optimistic “Wonderfilled” ad campaign recently, it chose to air it on AMC’s darkly cynical “Mad Men. ” Quoted in AdAge, Janda Lukin, director of Oreo at Mondelez International, Inc., says that the show’s adult audience is the demographic Oreo wanted to attract. “Kids already have a sense of wonder in how they see the world, but adults have to be reminded of that. The stories resonate with different people, but overall, it’s an adult campaign.”
Today would have been the legendary Saul Bass’s 93rd birthday and Google Doodle has paid tribute to him on its homepage by piecing together some of his signature film title sequences – “Vertigo,” “The Man with the Golden Arm,” “Psycho,” “Anatomy of a Murder,” “West Side Story,” among others.
This brought to mind my brief encounter with Saul. About two years before he died, I was assigned to interview him for an article on film title sequences. In his late 70s then, Saul had downsized his Sunset Boulevard studio maintaining what he called “a repertory group,” a small core staff with additional expertise brought in on an as needed basis. At the time, he was doing a title sequence for his friend “Marty’s”(Scorsese) film, and explained that at this stage in his career, he only wanted to work with “nice people who respect and like us and who we respect and admire…I don’t want to deal with clients who think we’re just doing a job for them. With rare exception, all our clients think we are wonderful and we think they are wonderful.” From a career standpoint, that seemed to me like the ultimate luxury.
BBC Knowledge & Learning (K&L) is exploring a range of topics, from social history to science, in a series of three-minute online Explainer documentaries. In this case, London-based Territory Studio was commissioned to produce an animated film on the subject of DNA. The Territory team, led by art director/ animator William Samuel, chose a primer-like retro approach that didn’t veer off into futuristic complexities. The graphics are kept simple and elegant, using mostly circular shapes, a limited color palette and mostly circular movements to explain the double helix of DNA. The information also is succinct and accurate, with molecular biologist Dr. Matthew Adams teamed with writer Andrew S. Walsh to distill the text to the most fundamental elements required to understand how DNA functions and affects living beings.
For decades, Moleskine has been renowned for its little black notebook that artists, designers, and writers carry with them everywhere to capture their first inklings of brilliant ideas. Other brands offer notebooks too, but only Moleskine, in iconic black with its external elastic band and ribbon bookmark, signals that you are an authentic and serious creative type. So, Moleskine’s announcement that it is releasing its notebooks and planners in four bright colors, in addition to black, is newsworthy. Insecure creatives may be reluctant to buy a color other than black.
Not much is known about the artist who created this Gangnam Style video, except that he goes by the moniker “etoilec1” on YouTube. The hand-drawn images are synced precisely to the music, making this animation fun to watch. Some report that the audio had to be removed for copyright issues, but it is up now…for how long, we don’t know.
Starbucks in the UK found a novel way to promote its discount latte special, available only on Mondays until February 18. London-based ad agency AMV BBDO created a stop-motion video to tout other great events that happened on a Monday, citing Neil Armstrong’s first walk on the moon, the first chiming of Big Ben, the first performance of Shakespeare’s Macbeth as examples. The entire commercial was produced in-house at Brand New School, using items from Starbucks for props. Coffee cups, napkins, wooden stir sticks, straws and corrugated java jackets serve as stand-ins for super heroes, landmarks and Macbeth’s three witches hunkered around a cauldron stirring up “toil and trouble.” The charm of the animation is its playful homemade quality. The only question is did someone at AMV dream up the idea on a Monday?
With the right technology (and talent), there’s no such thing as still photos anymore. The technique in this video is called “parallax effect,” which makes it appear that objects closer to the viewer move faster than those that are farther away. Joe Fellows from Make Productions in London made this film using still images from the World Wildlife Fund archives. As quoted in SLRLounge.com, Fellows explains, “We used Photoshop to cut out individual parts and then animated them in After Effects…There was no 3D mapping, all in 2D. There are many layers per shot, the ears, the teeth, the whiskers, the head, the body, the background are all separate layers. Then the layers are parented to one another and moved either by position or by using something called the puppet tool.” Set to the music of “What If This Storm Ends” by Snow Patrol, the result is a “high-speed” slow-motion parallax sequence film that presents a poetic, dreamlike study of nature in motion.
New technologies go through a number of phases as they progress from “drawing board” idea to prototype to public awareness, assessment of possibilities, learning and experimentation, to practical applications. Augmented reality (AR) seems to be in the late experimentation phase, although some very practical commercial uses are being introduced. Here two Swiss AR experts Martin Kovacovsky and Marius Hugli demonstrate the possibilities of AR by bringing the pages of “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” to life. The images printed on the paper leap into action on the screen when a camera (in the lamp) is focused on a page. Suddenly, traditional print becomes a multimedia vehicle, and the boundaries between analog and digital content all but disappear.
At the Expo 2012 in Korea, Hyundai Motor Group staged a mind-blowing display using a controller area network (CAN) called mechatronic. This is a message-based protocol originally designed for automotive applications and now also used in areas such as industrial automation and medical equipment. Hyundai’s Hyper-Matrix installation was designed by Seoul media arts firm Jonpasang. In just two months, the team built a mammoth three-sided display out of thousands of Styrofoam blocks that could be manipulated like pixels.The 11-inch cubes were driven by 3,375 customized actuators and stepping motors that moved the blocks back and forth according to a specially prescribed program. The high-speed data transfer program constantly reconfigured the cubes to create a mesmerizing show.