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  • Published in Design

With media banned by the IOC from using GIFs or live streamed video, The New York Times got especially creative. Here are some cool ways they showed just one athletes achievements the Rio Olympics, which ended yesterday:

rio-olympics-nytimes-1

Caption: “Usain Bolt and the fastest men in the world since 1896 — on the same track”
Source: @nytimes for nytimes.com

rio-olympics-nytimes-2

Caption: “How Usain Bolt came from behind again and won gold”
Source: @nytimes for nytimes.com; also see another article on this recommended by Kottke

rio-olympics-nytimes-3

Caption: “Usain Bolt surged late to win the men’s 100 meters for the third time in a row”
Source: @nytimes for nytimes.com

rio-olympics-nytimes-4

Caption: “Bolt reacted .01s faster today than in 2012, but he was still almost last out of the blocks”
Source: @nytgraphics for nytimes.com


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact



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  • Published in Web

Choose your own adventure. Photo: Aaron Proctor

Choose your own adventure. Photo: Aaron Proctor

Illustrator and filmmaker Matt Busch shared a concern that many people have been having recently: with all the social media out there, why bother keeping up your own website?

Having been involved with websites for over twenty years now, where social networks come and go, here are my two cents:

  1. Ownership

    With your own site, you own your site’s domain name and all its content.

    With social media, you’re a guest.

  2. Rules

    With your own site, you make your own rules. If you want to collect e-mail addresses, you can (but be cool with out-outs to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003). If your online store has the whole pipeline under your purview (e.g. Stripe), you can know more about your customers and can offer better customer service.

    With social media, you got fans, friends, and followers — but that’s it. You can’t pull e-mails. You can’t easily export. You can have the most followers around, but if they don’t go somewhere else to help (e.g. buy a product, support a crowd-fund, etc.), how valuable are they?

  3. Control

    You control the design, paradigms, and priorities. If you want someone to see something, you’re not playing into algorithms whether or not a newsfeed reached your entire audience.

    With social media, you often need to pay to reach people. You have to compete with other noise in news feeds. Time of day of posting or frequency of posting is suddenly important.

  4. Synergy

    With our own website, you can do a “domino effect” to save time and get a better ROI for your effort. If you update your site first, get the permalink you want, and post to social media natively with that permalink, you can then get people coming back to the best online headquarter — your own site.

    Side note: each social media follower doesn’t like jumping from one to another. Embrace native posting to catch some eyeballs, like your photo and video within Facebook or within Twitter, not via YouTube. A link to a photo gallery on Facebook from a tweet on Twitter is a painful jump; a YouTube embed on Facebook fails to deliver versus a video using Facebook Video. Simply providing an outbound link for “more info” at your (hopefully) fast, mobile-friendly site is the win-win.

  5. Discoverability

    With your own site, you can best curate your links to be easily findable on other social networks. Matt Workman of the Cinematography Database recently did a video podcast about what he looks for in websites — and one top tip was to quickly and clearly link to one’s own Instagram. (Some say Instagram is the new showreel: sell yourself in short but frequent clips, rather than yearly reels or longer work.)

    By having the official site link to the right account, you’ve saved people time searching the often hard-to-search social networks to reach you. You’ve also tackled verification by yourself — it must be true if it’s your official site — and you’ve interconnected one or more social networks by making yourself even easier to follow or contact.

If your website or workflow isn’t working for you, FWD:labs can help.


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact



  • Published in Film + Web

Part of a series of posts about great film, web, or design artists and their work abuzz online and in-person.

Visual effects shop The Mill worked with JemFX, Performance Filmworks and Keslow Camera to create a car rig called Blackbird for photoreal CG cars. Why shoot one car at a time, or be limited to one car in a shot, when you can more easily combine practical and digital effects into the same workflow. Lots of talk about how this is a game changer.

Rally Interactive's National Parks Case Study

Interactive studio Rally goes above and beyond with their work and their case studies, like this one for their National Parks app for National Geographic. They give you some great insight into their thinking process for some complex work and even touch upon mistakes as lessons learned. That level of transparency is a cool approach, surely appealing to clients who appreciate that candor. It’s also an inspiring move to run any business where it’s okay to share what works alongside what doesn’t.

Codrops: Collective Examples

Codrops has a consistently impressive blog (and e-mail newsletter) that highlights web design and web development resources. The updates often involve hosted demos of cutting-edge work (e.g. an interactive mall map and multi-layer page reveal). Codrops also frequently highlights inspirational websites (e.g. a site dedicated to flag design and Quechua’s Lookbook) and — like this series on our blog — blurbs about home-grown digital tools that rock the boat. It’s a little tricky to subscribe to their e-mail list, but just click the mailbox icon in their header to get their posts via e-mail.


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact



  • Published in Web

Climb up in style, just like Wal Green circa 1950. (Creative Commons / Blue Mountains Library / Flickr.)

Climb up in style, just like Wal Green circa 1950. (Creative Commons / Blue Mountains Library / Flickr.)

One of our clients recently asked about the point of organic content like a on-going blog or social media strategy, rather than just paid ads. They recently re-branded and wanted to get ahead in search engine ranks along with grow their social media followers.

Instead of paying for results, they’ve got options. Create some of your own content on a regular basis, and you’ll have a longer and cheaper win-win.

To elaborate, here is part of our consulting effort to help articulate fast and cost-effective ways to climb the ranks with two kinds of great content: their product pages as well as blog posts about their products.

Paid vs. organic SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

1

Paid means always paying for placement and therefore some kind of result

Organic means paying once (for original content) and rising naturally for free


2

Paid placement means selling / sharing a product

Organic placement means selling / sharing a story that also sells a product and brand awareness


3

Paid (for content that isn’t new every week) means no fringe benefit for “freshness”

Organic inherently gets extra credit from search engines because it shows your site is “fresh”


All ads* aren’t the same (* Search and social ads)

4

Paid ads/keywords for evergreen, timeless pages will focus around search networks (e.g. Google AdWords, Bing Ads)

5

Paid ads/boosts for organic, timely posts will focus around social media networks (e.g. Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads)

6

Bulking up pages may look like clutter (e.g. Product Detail 1, Product Detail 2, Product Detail 3, etc.) …

… but we can easily repeat products if the angle of the blog content is different each time (e.g. best food in Los Angeles, best art in Los Angeles, best beaches in Los Angeles, etc.)


Why paid and organic is a win-win for marketing

7

Destination content provides you with timeless content: products for sale

Blog content provides you with timely content: stories to encourage sales


8

If just paid, you have to keep paying to keep you rank up.

If just organic, you keep producing content to keep your rank up.


But if both are done well, the result is fast and can last. One could even scale back from doing paid ads and stay afloat with a good (free) ranking in search.

9

Other sites & influencers might not link to product pages as much as they might link to blog posts (which in turn are linking to the product pages).

10

Content is king: it informs your social media posts, your e-mail marketing blasts, and your brand’s voice.

It might not convert new customers as well as a destination landing page …

… but it might be better at getting customers in the door, knowing your name.


###

If this was helpful or you have a need for organic/paid marketing, drop us a line.


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact




Part of a series of posts about great film, web, or design artists and their work abuzz online and in-person.

foil-background-on-buscemi-website

Shoemaker BUSCEMI recently used part of a commissioned short film as their website’s hero video. It’s provocative to barely show your product, yet push the envelope with a captivating intro that complements your brand.

The video was directed by Taylor Twist, featured world champion fencer Miles Chamley-Watson, and was edited by Daniel de Winter.

“Children See Children Do” is an ad from 2013 for Australia’s National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN). This tearjerker has been incredibly viral, reaching over 10,000,000 across different channels according to their site.

(Link via Robert Sean Griffith.)

Mike Alger, who is now a VR Designer at Google, talks in this self-made demo video about the user interface design and user experience of virtual reality. He goes in depth into visual design methods once you’re wearing a headset.

It’s interesting to see this go beyond the “Minority Effect” approach and how we’re getting closer to these interfaces in real life. (See our interview from 2010 with Department of the 4th Dimension’s Matt Checkowski who worked on some of those designs for Spielberg.)

(Link via Carlo Eugster.)


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact




Alejandro González Iñárritu on the set of "The Revenant."

Alejandro González Iñárritu on the set of “The Revenant.”

Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu on Medium about undocumented dreamers:

There is no human being who, as a result of desiring to build a better life, should be named or declared Illegal, and be dispossessed or considered disposable.

I would rather propose to call these people Undocumented Dreamers, as were most of the people who founded this country. By naming them that, we can instead start a real and human conversation for a solution, with the most precious, forgotten, and distinguished emotion a human being can have: Compassion.

Bryan Cranston and Vince Gilligan on the set of "Breaking Bad."

Bryan Cranston and Vince Gilligan on the set of “Breaking Bad.”

Actor Bryan Cranston to Fast Company on collaboration as a dance:

I’ve adopted this: Even if you have a disagreement, it’s always put in the form of a preface. And the preface is, “I have a pitch.” I’m not telling you you’re wrong. We’re dealing with a subjective point of view. Who’s wrong and who’s right? You and I watch a movie together and you’re “meh” and I’m weeping. You can’t dare tell me I can’t be weeping to what I saw. I had a personal experience. It didn’t connect for you. You’re not wrong either. That’s what’s so great about this. No one can be wrong.

Hoyte Van Hoytema (center) with Spike Jonze (right) on the set of "Her."

Hoyte Van Hoytema (center) with Spike Jonze (right) on the set of “Her.”

Cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema via HitFlix on the merit of moodboards:

“In every project, I sort of find 30 or 40 stills that, in a way, capture one part of this thing that you’re maybe after. And if you’re collaborating with somebody, the other person understands that and those certain elements that are represented there. But you never really know it until you start working and start putting everything together and making concrete images. And then the pictures you create yourself become the reference, and you start learning from them and putting things together from those. It’s a very hybrid, liquid, abstract process for me.”


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact



  • Published in Film + Web

In appreciation of all the nominees for the 2016 Academy Awards, here is another perspective at the 57 different nominees — their official film websites.

Some highlights of looking through them all include:

  • How many official film sites used Tumblr as their platform? 6, but one wasn’t working so well.
  • How about using Facebook as their official site? 2 — and both were distributed by Netflix, a digitally born company that ought to do better next time.
  • How about WordPress? 8.
  • How many sites rolled their own code? 30!
  • How many run a banner ad for something else above the fold? 1! Blasphemous!
  • How many films didn’t have a clear official website? Definitely one! Woah. We’re here to help.

Now, on with the show:

45-years

“45 Years”

  • 45yearsfilm.com
  • Nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role
  • Website powered by Tumblr

100-year-old-man

“The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared”

amy

“Amy”

anomalisa

“Anomalisa”

  • anomalisa.com
  • Nominated for Best Animated Feature Film
  • Custom HTML5 website with some Google Fonts typography

ave-maria

“Ave Maria”

  • avemariafilm.com
  • Nominated for Best Live Action Short Film
  • Custom HTML5 website with some Fancybox jQuery

bear-story

“Bear Story”

  • bearstory.cl
  • Winner for Best Animated Short Film
  • Website powered by WordPress

big-short

“The Big Short”

  • thebigshortmovie.com
    Winner for Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Directing, Best Film Editing
  • Custom HTML5 website using React boilerplate

body-team-12

“Body Team 12”

  • bodyteam12.com
  • Nominated for Best Documentary Short Subject
  • Website powered by WordPress

boy-and-the-world

“Boy and the World”

bridge-of-spies

“Bridge of Spies”

  • bridgeofspies.com
  • Nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Sound Mixing
  • Custom HTML5 website with lots of JavaScript and some TypeKit typography

brooklyn

“Brooklyn”

  • foxsearchlight.com/brooklyn/ [there’s also brooklyn-themovie.com running on Tumblr, but it’s not loading consistently]
  • Nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Generic studio template housing a custom HTML5 website with some TypeKit and also Google Fonts typography

carol

“Carol”

  • carolfilm.com
  • Nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Original Score
  • Custom HTML5 website with Bootstrap CSS

cartel-land

“Cartel Land”

chau-beyond-the-lines

“Chau, Beyond the Lines”

cinderella

“Cinderella”

claud-lanzmann

“Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah”

  • lanzmannfilm.com
  • Nominated for Best Documentary Short Subject
  • Website powered by Go Daddy Website Builder

creed

“Creed”

  • creedthemovie.com
  • Nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Website powered by Tumblr

danish-girl

“The Danish Girl”

  • focusfeatures.com/the_danish_girl
  • Winner Best Actress in a Supporting Role
  • Nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Costume Design, Best Production Design
  • Custom XHTML 1.0 website with Bootstrap JavaScript among other libraries

day-one

“Day One”

  • dayonefilm.com
  • Nominated for Best Live Action Short Film
  • Website powered by Squarespace

embrace-of-the-serpent

“Embrace of the Serpent”

everything-will-be-ok

“Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)”

  • patrickvollrath.com [not technically an official site for the one project]
  • Nominated for Best Live Action Short Film
  • Website powered by WIX

ex-machina

“Ex Machina”

  • exmachina-movie.com
  • Winner for Best Visual Effects
  • Nominated for Best Original Screenplay
  • Custom HTML5 website with some Google Fonts typography

fifty-shades-of-grey

“Fifty Shades of Grey”

girl-in-the-river

“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness”

hateful-eight

“The Hateful Eight”

  • thehatefuleight.com
    Winner for Best Original Score
  • Nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Cinematography
  • Custom HTML5 website by Familiar crafted with a handful of JavaScript

hunting-ground

“The Hunting Ground”

inside-out

“Inside Out”

joy

“Joy”

  • foxmovies.com/movies/joy
  • Nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role
  • Generic studio template housing a custom HTML5 website with some assets served by Amazon S3

last-day-of-freedom

“Last Day of Freedom”

look-of-silence

“The Look of Silence”

mad-max-fury-road

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

  • madmaxmovie.com
  • Winner for Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing
  • Nominated for Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Directing, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects
  • Custom HTML5 website with some open-source JavaScript libraries like MediaElement.js

martian

“The Martian”

  • foxmovies.com/movies/the-martian
  • Nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects
  • Generic studio template housing a custom HTML5 website with some assets served by Amazon S3

mustang

“Mustang”

“Prologue”

  • No official website
  • Nominated for Best Animated Short Film

racing-extinction

“Racing Extinction”

revenant

“The Revenant”

  • foxmovies.com/movies/the-revenant
  • Winner for Best Cinematography, Best Directing, Best Actor in a Leading Role
  • Nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects
  • Custom HTML5 website with some assets served by Amazon S3

room

“Room”

  • roomthemovie.com
  • Winner for Best Actress in a Leading Role
  • Nominated for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Directing
  • Custom website

sanjays-super-team

“Sanjay’s Super Team”

shaun-the-sheep

“Shaun the Sheep Movie”

shok

“Shok”

  • shokshortfilm.com (which is getting a lot of traffic right now and frequently offline)
  • Nominated for Best Live Action Short Film

sicario

“Sicario”

  • sicariofilm.com
  • Nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing
  • Custom website

son-of-saul

“Son of Saul”

spectre

“Spectre”

spotlight

“Spotlight”

  • spotlightthefilm.com
    Winner for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay
  • Nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Directing, Best Film Editing
  • Custom website

star-wars-the-force-awakens

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

steve-jobs

“Steve Jobs”

straight-outta-compton

“Straight Outta Compton”

stutterer

“Stutterer”

theeb

“Theeb”

trumbo

“Trumbo”

war

“A War”

“We Can’t Live Without Cosmos”

  • No official site
  • Nominated for Best Animated Short Film

what-happened-miss-simone

“What Happened, Miss Simone?”

when-marnie-was-there

“When Marnie Was There”

  • marniefilm.com
  • Nominated for Best Animated Feature Film
  • Website powered by WordPress

winter-on-fire

“Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”

world-of-tomorrow

“World of Tomorrow”

youth

“Youth”

For all screenshots, we took an old standard (1024px width by 768px height) and removed the browser chrome to reach a 690px height. We made an animated GIF if video was involved, but not if interactions were required (e.g. closing a lightbox). We truncated some of the loading screens to cut to the chase.


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact



  • Published in Film + Web

Part of a series of posts about great film, web, or design artists and their work abuzz online and in-person.

star-wars-effects

The most recent “Star Wars” film, “The Force Awakens,” made an effort to bring back practical effects alongside cutting-edge visual effects. iamag.co came across a showreel which shows how BB-8, Maz Kanata, and the Millennium Falcon were crafted together. This is a must-watch for anyone interested in how complex and massive work like this breaks apart:

pewdiepie-popular

PewDiePie, aka Felix Kjellberg, makes $12 million on YouTube for swearing while playing video games. Forbes recently looked at the highest paid YouTube stars to see what they have in common. In a world of carving out your niche and making money in untraditional ways, videos like this one by Felix show you that anything’s possible:

Vertical ad example on Snapchat. Burger King project by Conor Champley via Behance.

Vertical ad example on Snapchat. Burger King project by Conor Champley via Behance.

The strange phenomenon that is Snapchat is experimenting again with vertical video ads. The company — who once charged $750,000 to advertise with them for a day, before dropping their prices to $100,000 — usually takes 10 second ad unit. But now, according to ADWEEK, they’re now trying 2.5 minute trailers. Even though Snapchat has told USA Today that vertical ads have a 9x higher engagement rate, we’ll see how well that goes over. (Hat tip to Chris Thilk for the lowdown.) Here’s more about their pitch for vertical video ads:


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact




10-best-posts-of-2015

This year we published 13 articles on film, web, and design, in addition to sharing a few dozen posts on Facebook / Twitter and hosting three more salons. Here are our favorite subjects covered this last year.

  1. Video on Facebook is Getting Better, But It’s Missing One Key Feature
    While there have been a ton of big improvements to video on Facebook, it still sucks for content creators when compared to YouTube.
  2. How to Level Up on Your Creative Projects Without Burning a Hole in Your Pocket
    Our guest post by Jackie Lam of Cheapsters broke down how to learn something new, using the example of learning how to record music.
  3. Behind Surrealism in Car Advertising
    We came across a fairly recent television spot and dug in deeper to find its creative team and other similar work.
  4. Opening Title Sequence for “Halt And Catch Fire”
    We enjoyed how every detail of the AMC show’s opener worked for setting the look and feel. An analysis of the work was also featured over at Art of the Title.
  5. “When you create social media accounts or a website for a film, is it bad PR to just stop updating it after all releases are done? Or should you delete ’em altogether?”
    We enjoyed Luke Winkie’s article at The Daily Dot, citing films that flop at the box office. This one came from us from Chris Thilk of Movie Marketing Madness.
  6. Design in Mind: 5 Steps for Telling A Design Story
    Our guest post by Andrew Linderman framed up how to talk about your work effectively without falling back on visual aids.
  7. “We don’t ask for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”
    We stood behind at least one thing Taylor Swift did — her stance with Apple Music’s initial payment plan for artists, which were even more pitiful for smaller artists.
  8. Motion Poster for “The Forest”
    We shared one of the marketing pieces made for Jason Zada’s upcoming film “The Forest.” We also enjoyed the film’s microsite at thesuicideforest.com.
  9. Tips for Your Crowdfunding Video
    We looked at six easy ways to make your crowdfunding video a slam dunk. This post was especially helpful for filmmakers who have been stuck figuring out how to get started with structure and content for a pitch video.
  10. The New Online Indie Frontier
    We interviewed Vivienne Medrano, who has been producing high-quality independent animated works and distributing them directly to her audience online.

Got a favorite that’s not here? Browse the archive and comment below.

Finally, check out our 10 best posts of 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008.


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact




Part of a series of posts about active artists with the tenacity to take their project to completion.

ellis-by-jr

In between doing oversized black-and-white paste-ups in cities around the world or collaborating with filmmakers Agnes Varda and Darren Aronofsky, self-described “pervasive” artist JR (a pseudonym, in case you’re wondering) directed a short film with Robert De Niro at Ellis Island.

“Ellis” is an immigration-centric short film whose voice-over driven narrative touches upon the hyper-relevant refugee crisis of years past that’s still relevant today. It premiered at the New Yorker film festival and even had some free public screenings in places like London’s Lazarides Gallery and New York City’s Galerie Perrotin Pop Up Space. The Tribeca Film Festival also spotted it projected on some walls.

ellis-poster

While the trailer has been online for months, the entire 14-minute film is now officially free on iTunes. The project, which included a photo book by JR called “The Ghosts of Ellis Island,” was part of the Save Ellis Island initiative, which hosted his “Unframed – Ellis Island” exhibit, featuring black-and-white photos of immigrants who used to be there. The short, which featured those archival photos, was written by Eric Roth, shot by Andre Chemetoff, and scored by Woodkid.

Having just visited Ellis Island myself for the first time last week, I wondered about the other buildings on the island, which are all unavailable to tourists after being abandoned over half a century ago. In an interview for the MPAA’s Where To Watch blog, the artist shared that he “was documenting something that will never be documented again and has never been before, which is pretty rare.” (In some of the press material for the film, I learned there’s a “hard hat” tour, where you can see some of JR’s installation in person.)

The production process was also not that rushed: to give more wear-and-tear to his work, he installed the paste-ups months before filming the walk throughs. The review in the New York Times also cited an epic snowstorm and that “permission to shoot on a historic site that had been closed to the public for 60 years.” His mantra for releasing the film for free, he told the Times, has been “to just try to get people to see it.”

Impressive. Most impressive.

(The last time we featured JR was in 2011 when he won the TED prize for his global art project.)


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact




surrealism-lg

It’s so rare to see surrealism in advertising, let alone broadcast spots for cars and made with practical visual effects. This Honda ad from 2013 does both, ringing true to its name, “An Impossible Made Possible.” The spot only aired in Europe.

Agency: mcgarrybowen London
Client: Honda
Executive Creative Director: Paul Jordan
Executive Creative Director: Angus MacAdam
Copywriter: Richard Holmes
Art Director: Remco Graham
Planner: Max Kennedy
Agency Producer: Richard Firminger
Media Agency: Starcom
Production Company: Gorgeous
Director: Chris Palmer
Editor: Paul Watts
Postproduction: The Mill
Colorist: Seamus O’Kane
VFX: Tom Sparks
Audio Post: Parv Thind
Audio Post: Wave

(Uncredited in the trades, the music in the spot appears to be the main theme [“Carter Takes a Train”] from the 1971 movie “Get Carter,” originally composed by Roy Budd and re-recorded by L’orchestra Cinematique.)

Equally impressive is their behind-the-scenes video, where the illusions are each revealed as in-camera effects.

The ad is reminiscent of one for the Audi A6 called “Illusions,” which was made in 2004. Production company Amarillo Films and director Anthony Atanasio did the spot with agency BBH London and creative director Russell Ramsey. Learn more about the behind-the-scenes work in a case study by the VFX house, Framestore. The spot only aired in the United Kingdom.

(Hat tip for AdWeek pointing out this one in their review for the 2013 Honda spot.)

Other well-known surrealist ads (of which there are very few) include Volkswagen’s Polo BlueMotion. Inspired by René Magritte and Salvador Dali, DDB Berlin was involved with the surreal ad, along with art directors Marian Grabmayer and Marcus Intek, with illustration by Kirill Chudinskiy. More on AdsOfTheWorld.com.

vw-bluemotion-dali

vw-bluemotion-magritte

(Note that Volkswagen owns Audi. Perhaps they’re fans of surrealism?)


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact




Part of a series of posts about great film, web, or design artists and their work abuzz online and in-person.
Illustration by Stuart Goldenberg for the New York Times.

Illustration by Stuart Goldenberg for the New York Times.

I remember years ago when I started seeing high-end fashion stores with flat screens mounted vertically to better show runway walks and thinking how well that format suits the visual story. Remember when David Lynch came out saying films should not be watched on phones? Later he made a 6-second film for Vine, which is great. Now when the motion picture narrative is mobile-first, maybe there will be other creative opportunities. There certainly have been in with other devices: interactive films for iPads and mobile/mouse aware videos in 360-degree and full virtual reality.

Most readers here on FWD:labs are filmmakers who love all kinds of horizontal aspect ratios. But audiences who create, consume, and share more video on their smart phones may buck the trend. Farhad Manjoo wrote a piece for the New York Times entitled “Vertical Video on the Small Screen? Not a Crime.”

In her research, [Zena Barakat, a former New York Times video producer who spent the last year researching vertical videos as part of a John S. Knight journalism fellowship] found that many people didn’t reorient their phones to watch horizontal videos in full-screen mode. “As a person who makes videos, I was like, ‘You’re not seeing it the way we intended it!’” Ms. Barakat said. “And they were like, ‘We don’t care!’ They found it so uncomfortable to hold the phone the other way, and they didn’t want to keep switching their phones back and forth.’”

The argument that vertical videos are visually displeasing is also confounded by the stats. Vertically oriented videos are the lingua franca of at least a half-dozen social and video apps, including Snapchat, whose users watch three billion mostly vertical videos every day. In its Discover section — a spot for professional publishers — Snapchat lets media companies post both horizontal and vertical videos, but the company says vertical videos perform up to nine times better on many measurements of “engagement.”

John Lasseter accepting the Special Achievement award for 'Toy Story' at the 68th Academy Awards in 1996.

John Lasseter accepting the Special Achievement award for “Toy Story” at the 68th Academy Awards in 1996.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which has ramped up its online presence in recent years, shared a great excerpt on Medium from John Lasseter’s presentation at “Technology and The Evolution of Storytelling.” It’s from an event of theirs called “The New Audience: Moviegoing In A Connected World,” which was held on May 12, 2015:

“Surround yourself with people you trust.

Be thirsty for knowledge.

It will always make your work better. The market is changing really, really quickly.

Who knows what the business will look like ten years from now?”

While technology keeps changing, it’s still oh-so-important to focus on story and creative teams to keep pushing forward. Gary Horsman, a graphic designer who left a comment on the article, sums it up best: “I think the takeaway from all of this is that even if technology changes and evolves, so long as it serves the immutable art of traditional storytelling, you can create great things that move people through emotion and empathy rather than simply with spectacle. The biggest challenge is surrounding yourself with good, smart, creative people who know how to focus on the storytelling. It’s too easy to find engineers who are invested in technology but have no artistic sense or those who are easily swept by the tools themselves rather than how they serve the bigger cause.”

Universal's dominance of the 2015 box office

Universal’s dominance of the 2015 box office

Todd VanDerWerff at Vox penned a think piece called “Universal made more money than any movie studio ever this year — without a superhero movie.”

Here’s another juicy excerpt from the piece about a fresh strategy amid a field of perpetuating the status quo:

“Universal’s strategy seems to be finding underserved segments of the marketplace and then aggressively courting them at times in the year when audiences don’t have a lot of other options. Certainly Straight Outta Compton appeals to more than just black audiences, but it doesn’t hurt that it’s been the only major release about black characters in months. Similarly, opening the female-friendly Pitch Perfect 2 at the early height of male-centric summer movie season proved to be a counter-programming masterstroke. Release schedules still matter, and so far, Universal has scheduled its films better than any other studio in 2015.”

The article goes into detail about its infographic, which clearly show how each studio cashes out on their films. For Universal, the article notes some stats for six films made them the biggest cash cow:

  • Fifty Shades of Grey ($166 million domestic; $570 million worldwide)
  • Furious 7 ($351 million domestic; $1.16 billion worldwide)
  • Pitch Perfect 2 ($184 million domestic; $285 million worldwide)
  • Jurassic World ($638 million domestic; $1.61 billion worldwide)
  • Minions ($315 million domestic; $963 million worldwide)
  • Straight Outta Compton ($75 million domestic; no worldwide release to speak of yet)

Now, all of this will be obsolete once “Star Wars” comes out, but cheers to trying to diversify.


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Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
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