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
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.
(Note that Volkswagen owns Audi. Perhaps they’re fans of surrealism?)
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.
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.
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.”
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.
If you’re like me, you get tons of ideas for creative projects you want to work on. I oftentimes feel momentarily possessed, jotting down ideas and business plans without much restraint. Right now what consumes my free time (besides idling on my couch, eating potato chips and thinking about working on things) are blogging, writing fiction, and exercising. If I had an infinite amount of time, which nobody on this planet is privileged of having, I would venture into making music and joining a roller derby team. First world problems, am I right?
I don’t think of myself as a very ambitious person. I certainly don’t aspire to cure cancer to to solve world hunger, but I love getting knee-deep making stuff and making sure I have enough time for what I love to do. So how do you level up on projects that could potentially take up a lot of time and resources? Here are a few ways to help you get started:
Example: Learn to record music.
Well, 20 years ago you essentially needed to have access to top-notch audio recording equipment that only professional engineers in the industry could afford. These days, all you really need is a computer, home audio recording software, and a few basic items.
Schedule some time each week to work on your project. I had started a 40 Days of Dating Your Passion Project series, which offers some parameters on how to approach working on your project. Find free or very inexpensive ways. For instance, if I want to learn about home audio recording, I can watch videos on YouTube the Pensado’s Place or fiddle around with Garage Band on your computer.
Give yourself a time limit.
After X amount of time, access how your progress and your interest. Is the momentum still there? Do you still want to keep doing it, to invest more, and to keep learning? It’s totally okay if you don’t feel like doing it. You can either drop it, take a break, or try to figure out what’s working and what’s not. If you want to keep working on it, proceed to the next step.
Alright, so you are getting more into recording music. What to do now? Allocate a little more funds and time to the project. If you were spending 30 minutes each week before and zero money, maybe you can spend an hour each week and invest in a USB audio interface for a few hundred bucks.
If you have pals who are into the same things as you, ask them if you can borrow equipment or buy their used wares. Or you can join a meetup to meet fellow hobbyists. You can also hunt for used equipment on Craigslist, Freecycle, or at one of those rock ‘n’ roll flea markets (yes, they exist). When I started getting into roller derby last year, I was able to loan gear during practice until I felt committed enough to spend $300 on my own gear. I waited close to a year before doing so. I would’ve felt bad throwing money away if I bought all that gear and didn’t end up using really.
So the idea is that you eventually “level up,” gradually spending more time and resources into the project. Ideally there should be a natural momentum.
Hope this helps get you started. Have fun!
What project are you working on, and what are some challenges you have for starting out?
“What’s the first rule of being a cameraman? That’s right! A cameraman does not speak! If you want to speak, you will speak with your eyes!” This ad campaign from 2011 for New Zealand’s Sky Television and their coverage of the 2011 Rugby World Cup is making the rounds today.
Like so many viral things, these fun ads are making the rounds today void of attribution, re-cut and re-uploaded without a hint of what we’re even watching. Here’s the lowdown on that campaign:
Part of a series of posts about great film, web, or design artists and their work abuzz online and in-person.
Always a fan of film websites that rock the boat. Shudder is one: a paid, online video platform that focuses collections of films into horror-specific genres, like “alien intruders,” “romantic bloodsuckers,” and “zombie jamboree.”
The site itself is actually a spin-off of Dramafever, a Korean-based site that focuses on Korean dramas and Latin American telenovelas — just with a little less creative copywriting involved.
The True Detective season 2 opening credits are pretty impressive visuals, crafted by Patrick Clair and the folks at Elastic. KPCC’s John Horn recently interviewed Clair for the radio program “The Frame,” which cites aerial photographer David Maisel as a key influence for some of the intro. Wired Magazine’s write-up also cites photographer Jake Sargeant.
Careful when you claim “first.” Jameson’s ad agency, 360i, got some press for a Facebook and Instagram “first” video ad that gives off a 3D look. But, as one astute commenter noted, they weren’t “first.” There’s already a whole Reddit for these things, which are coined split-depth GIFs. Here’s one that’s more well crafted for example made by a fan, ScottInLNK:
Since the jumpstart to crowdfunding — whether the platform of choice is Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Patreon, Seed & Spark, or the old fashioned way with cash and check — asking for money to produce your project has only become harder. There’s more peer competition and funder fatigue from the market being so saturated. That means it’s make-or-break to pitch clearly, quickly, and convincingly, especially if it’s all sitting online. Even if you’re just passing the hat (or flooding the social feed?) with friends and family, it’s important to knock it out the park that what you’re working on creates value.
At FWD:labs, we have experienced projects that have successfully funded and completely failed. What’s clear is that ones with passion, professionalism, and persistence all have a much better chance of reaching or exceeding their goal. There’s even research that’s been done to show that netting a certain percentage right out of the gate ensures a likelihood of making the goal. This makes the pitch video all the more important.
Instead of putting everything in the video — like who’s attached and what equipment you want to use, which all could change by the way — here are some tips for starting short and sweet. Remember, you’ll want to send out reminders anyway with your updates, which is the best way to go into more detail and share incremental progress.
Start with the Kickstarter standard, e.g. who you are and what you do — in one sentence. Cut to the chase of what the fundraising is toward, e.g. what you’re making — like a logline framed with emotional specs or features. Give a little context to provide legitimacy, e.g. what you’ve done.
Highlight why you’re making this project and how it solves a problem. Mention a competitor or trend that people can relate to, then why the world need you instead (or in addition) to have your project, e.g. “these other kinds of films have X, but we will disrupt all that with Y.” Stress the simplicity to help or enjoy the project, e.g. “you don’t need to in the industry to help.” Provide some context (and visuals for cutaways), e.g. “we’re working on X, Y, Z now and A, B, C can start once we’re funded.”
Share what’s unique about the project’s values or features, e.g. “we believe in X, Y, and Z” or “we have A, B, and C.” Give an example of each of at least three points, which could be illustrated with b-roll.
Briefly discuss the budget in a clear and transparent way, suggesting elaboration on the website body copy. Consider sharing the total goal in an itemized way as to explain and justify the total dollar goal. Perhaps justify why you’re crowd-funding versus self-funding.
Incentivize the “give” and connect back to the big picture, e.g. “you’re going to get X, Y, Z from investing.” Perhaps put together a really cool starter kit, e.g. early bird special only available this time. Connect the reward of investing to a higher value — for people who don’t want to just see your project, e.g. “we’re setting the stage for [fill in the blank] with this effort.”
End with a vision for the future, e.g. “this isn’t ‘the end,’ we’re just beginning.” Tease the roadmap without dropping dates, e.g. “invest now, here’s where we’ll go.” Leave a sense of urgency and importance, e.g. “we’re laying the building blocks for X, Y, Z.” And don’t forget to tie in the supporter as much as possible to the language, e.g. “we are building….. and you can become a part of that vision” or “with your help, we will all build the future.”
Remember to rehearse or bullet point out your script. Give ample care to video and audio quality, perhaps with similar aesthetics to the final project. And aim for three minutes or less.
Once it’s published, get the word out. Consider thanking individual donors, either individually or via social media. And don’t forget to schedule out some progress to share and remind your fans with project updates that are not all about the Benjamins.
What works for you? Share it in the comments below.
Over the last three years, I’ve worked with a number of designers who have great ideas, but struggle to get colleagues or potential backers to see the power of their vision. So if you’re a designer, how do you talk about your work effectively without falling back on blueprints or drawings?
The answer, not surprisingly, is pretty straightforward: tell a story.
To help you share compelling design stories, here are “5 Steps for Telling a Design Story.” Follow these guidelines and you’ll have yet another tool for amazing potential clients or fellow designers.
Start with Your Values
As designers know, good design starts with values, or core principles. The first step to articulating your values is to answer the question: What is the experience you want your end user to have of the product? Are you trying to achieve efficiency of space or economy of motion? Is the goal to save time or increase the number of clicks on a particular page? Start with a big idea (i.e. efficiency) and then break it down into its component parts (look, feel, etc). The clearer you are in answering these questions, the clearer you’ll be in articulating the overall journey, or experience, you’d like a potential reader, listener or user to have of your design.
Identify a Moment of Vulnerability
Since there are no shortage of vulnerabilities in the design world, this part is pretty easy. The challenge here is to try to find a moment where the failure hit a nerve on a personal level. To do this, identify a moment or experience in which the value you want your design to demonstrate (i.e. efficiency) was absent, and the impact that absence had on you. For example, if the experience you want people to have is about spatial layout, think about a time when you were jammed against a wall and couldn’t escape, or a time you created a space that had that same effect on someone.
Once you pinpoint the moment, take time to highlight each of the design failings (be specific!), how you reacted (be honest!), and any feelings you experienced, either in the moment or afterwards (make it personal!).
Demonstrate a Shift
After you’ve clearly identified a moment of vulnerability, outline how you responded. What did you do? Did you have any conversations about this design failing? Again, be specific about these conversations and actions. For example, after seeing a cabinet that was placed improperly, did you research and discover any trends in cabinet design? Did you share your experiences with your team? These moments and conversations will provide context for your listeners about both your solution and the design process. Many designers gloss over important details out of fear of bogging the audience down, but a detailed description of your response will actually draw people in by making design comprehensible. Again, be specific!
Present Your Solution
After you’ve created context for both the design vulnerability and outlined your response, walk the audience through yoursolution. This doesn’t need to be a complex breakdown of the idea (unless you’re speaking to fellow designers who want to hear it), but it does need to address the vulnerability identified in section 2 and the shift in part 3. Describe how the solution speaksto the initial problem and realizes the design value laid out in part 1.
End with a Call to Action
The final part of a good design story is to end with a compelling call to action. Your call to action should articulate what’s possible in this new, well-designed world. If you’ve already implemented your design solution, tell people what happened afterwards. Did the industry embrace your ideas? Did anyone offer praise or feedback? What became possible for users and designers in this new world? Did your solution provide secondary benefits that you didn’t initially anticipate?
If you haven’t implemented the solution yet, get people excited about the future (no more ATM’s in the sky!), and you’ll be amazed at the response.
Today the film and television industry is changing rapidly and evolving faster than ever. With new digital distribution channels such as Netflix, Roku, Hulu and even Vimeo and YouTube, the once strictly-regulated streams of media have been fragmented hugely, allowing for a much wider range of work to be seen, from a much broader pool of talent. Combine that with new sources of financing such as crowdfunding sites Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and Patreon, and the possibilities for independent media production multiply exponentially.
New generations of filmmakers and content creators are now faced with the growing opportunity of the new media landscape. Where once it was the norm for film students to aspire to join a large production studio, more often now we see new-comers making a name for themselves outside the studio system.
One such filmmaker is recent School of Visual Arts (SVA) grad Vivienne Medrano, who has been producing high-quality independent animated works and distributing them directly to her audience online. I had the chance to catch up with her recently and ask her a few questions about working in this new online indie frontier.
Tell us about your artistic education and background. How long have you been animating and illustrating?
Vivienne Medrano I graduated from SVA (School of Visual Arts) in New York City. I studied there for 4 years but I have been drawing, writing comics, and even practicing animation since before I can remember!
Tell us more about your passion for animation. Why have you been doing it forever?
VM When I was a kid I really adored animals and wanted to go into something dealing with animals. But when I watched some of the early Disney movies, I admired how they captured the movements of animals and combined that with the stylization of cartoony styles. I just was captivated by that. I already drew and made stories so, when I realized how animation worked, I just knew better what I wanted to do.
What are your influences? What inspires you to create the projects you create?
VM My biggest influence is music. It is my biggest source of creative inspiration. I also learn from other artists and styles of shows I grew up with, as well as films and comics!
You’re influenced by music, but how is that incorporated? Not everyone channels music, comics, television, and/or film, so how do you use other influences to help your creative process?
VM Music inspires me for stories, characters, and colors. I really adore musicals because they have stories and scenes in them and are fun to visualize. My musical tastes are as broad as my cast of characters because I like finding the uniqueness in different genres and using that as inspiration. I use music, lyrics, or singers voices to help develop how I see my own characters.
Now with Zoophobia, Die Young, Timber and various other music-projects on your YouTube channel, you’ve amassed a good amount of fans and subscribers, could you tell us about the process of managing your fan base, keeping your fan base engaged, and amassing steady attention on your YouTube channel.
VM I was lucky to have a fanbase that grew steadily over time. I like to produce a lot of work and engage with my fans as much as I can but, the more there are, the harder it gets to stay on top of things. So I just do my best to produce a lot of work for them and give them opportunities to showcase their support!
What are some of the challenges of doing this? How do you overcome it all?
VM Challenges of gaining a fanbase for original content are usually dealing with confidence in your ideas — or fear of what can happen when you put it out there. As I’ve grown up I just have learned it’s best to take the risks than to hide yourself away. It has done me worlds more good to share things then to keep them withdrawn.
You’re part of a generation of independent content creators, producing film and animation work directly for the public and your fans — without the use of a studio platform, agency, or paid distribution network. As someone who has both a YouTube channel and Patreon, could you talk a bit about the challenges of monetizing your work? How has that process changed and evolved over time? How difficult is it keeping up with the evolving indie support system?
VM YouTube can be tricky for people who don’t produce work on a regular basis. Most animators can’t create weekly content and, even for me, producing speed-draw videos weekly in-between films isn’t always the most financially set option for a growing channel. Patreon can be much more immediate and very helpful for creators, I certainly have found it to be an enormous help in the creation of my more ambitious personal projects! As long as you keep producing a lot, it is a very good system!
You have aspirations to get involved with studios, either in television or film. Though with the unpredictable nature of the rise and fall of animation studios, it’s maybe more important now than ever to be an independent artist as much as a studio artist. Could you share your thoughts on that?
VM I certainly have always dreamed of one day joining the industry. I would love to one day work on a film that goes into theaters. But I have always wanted to tell my own stories and make my own films and projects so, while I have the opportunity to do that, I want to make that my focus. I think it’s important and I want to take advantage of the opportunity while it’s given! I definitely think right now it’s very important for more unique stories to be told and more unique voices to be heard. Things like Patreon and YouTube allow that to be possible!
What advice would you give to kids who are in school now, studying to do what you do?
VM I would say, never be afraid to take risks! Reach out to people and take chances. You never know the connections or opportunities you might miss! Also keep practicing and don’t take rejection to heart!
While Facebook has been a valuable marketing tool for films and filmmakers since 2008 when they rolled out Facebook Film (since re-named), Facebook has still been considered a “walled garden” that’s painful to search and continues to play catch-up to many other video delivery networks.
At the first of two days of the F8 Conference, Facebook announced a few worthwhile upgrades that are relevant to filmmakers and, more specifically, anyone uploading video within Facebook instead of embedding or linking another video (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo, etc.).
Until yesterday’s announcement, video uploaded to Facebook was not embeddable on other websites; now it is (documentation); it’s unclear if embed views count toward the view counter
You can now “set an expiration date for a video and retain insights after takedown (currently in beta),” which might be a creative tool for filmmakers and other video content providers (read: advertisers)
As of yesterday, you can “restrict the audience of a video by age, gender, and location,” which opens up a whole can of worms for why one might do that
Playing catch-up with YouTube (which allows only its verified users — a fairly easy process) to pick their own video’s poster frame, Facebook now allows you to “add custom thumbnails for videos” rather than getting stuck with a random frame grab
Here’s a punch-list to get up to speed on how video on Facebook can help filmmakers:
Facebook recently provided an optional “call to action” after a video ends, allowing some choice over what to do next (source); they also work for Facebook Pages and include “Book Now,” “Contact Us,” “Use App,” “Play Game,” “Shop Now,” “Sign Up,” and “Watch Video” — all of which allow for leaving Facebook (source)
As of December 2014, Facebook has a department called Facebook Media, which promotes the movers and shakers (or business partners?) using Facebook for video
As of December 2014, video began to auto-play while muted (source, 12/24/2014); this was followed soon after by 15-second auto-playing video advertisements (source, 3/13/2014)
As of December 2014, select Facebook Pages can feature a video front-and-center and also have YouTube-esque playlists (Source, 12/24/2014) but it’s a very slow roll-out for public, non-partner Facebook accounts; this may be fast-tracked in yesterday’s announcement, which says “manage featured videos and playlists for a Page” (source, 3/24/2015)
As of May 2014, Facebook began to roll out Video Insights, which show retention per second and other stats (source)
Finally, in rare circumstances, some filmmakers or film companies may be invited to participate in “Facebook Live,” which is essentially a comment box alongside a live-streamed video but isn’t a feature that’s available to the general public:
Back in 2008, Facebook featured a creative project by Spike Jonze
While there’s now a lot more competition in social viewing experiences (e.g. uStream, LiveStream, etc.), they’ve just recently had video-specific live events for the 2015 Academy Awards and Game of Thrones Season 4 and now Season 5 (aka watching the red carpet premiere), which essentially provided a mini-feed alongside the live-streaming video player
But what’s wrong with all of the above? Show me the money.
What’s still missing from Facebook is monetization. Facebook “likes” and “views” may appear to be good, but still not in the pocketbook.
“The new stuff looks great but at the moment it’s vaporware. There’s a huge ecosystem around YouTube,” notes Daniel Keywan Hollister, who works at RocketJump and is a co-founder of 5-second Films. (By ecosystem, that’s referencing the search, users, money, and services that YouTube provides.)
“If we got a ton of views on Facebook and then those people didn’t watch it on YouTube, we’ll have lost money and the view count. We may put stuff on Facebook if we can still monetize it the same and whatnot, but there’s still so much more than just that over the last few years, especially for bigger channels like RocketJump. There’s a lot of merit to the ‘long tail’ effect and having our stuff everywhere, but there’s also a huge value to being a juggernaut on YouTube even if we’re nowhere else.”
Any thoughts on Facebook’s move with video that may help or hurt filmmakers?